U.S. operator Sprint, in partnership with Vantiv, a U.S.-based payment-processing solutions provider, is launching a tablet-based, cloud-connected point-of-sale (POS) system, powered by NCR’s Silver technology. The system permits business owners to securely process sales either on-site or off-site, track sales and profitability, analyze buying trends, manage inventory and market directly to customers. This all-in-one offering includes a tablet and stand with cash drawer and countertop receipt printer, wireless connectivity and an encrypted credit-card reader. Accessories such as scanners and Bluetooth printers are also available.
We think this POS system is a bold collaboration and represents an innovative way for mobile operators to make money in retail—not retailing their own services and devices, but theoretically any retail. The solution being offered is essentially Vantiv’s development (and also NCR’s, insofar as the Silver technology actually enables the money to be transferred), but the key point here, in our view, is that Sprint is providing the internet connectivity. That role could have been performed by a fixed line operator, but Sprint correctly perceived that the increasing mobility within the retail world—with points of sale migrating within a single location or beyond—has created a need for a degree of flexibility that can only be provided by a completely mobile solution.
As we have discussed in previous stories, MNOs have recently been engaging with the retail world by offering their subscribers promotions in partnership with merchants large and small. But this POS technology appears to open a new horizon. Operators would be well advised, we believe, to take a page out of Sprint’s book and get involved with it. The cloud-connected Vantiv system does much more than simply ring up sales—it also performs inventory, analyzes buying behavior and even markets products via the internet directly to customers. These functions consume quite a bit of data, so in addition to the profits to be generated from selling merchants subscriptions to the service, there should be some meaningful revenue for operators from data use alone if these POS systems proliferate.