POS problems drive customers out of stores: survey

A study released Monday by Leger Marketing indicates that Canadian retailers may be losing $1.7-billion in business due to poor point-of-sale management.

The study, conducted on behalf of Moneris Solutions Corp., indicates that 56 per cent of Canadians have walked away from a purchase due to long waiting times at the checkout. Montreal-based Leger Marketing spoke to 1,510 Canadians in a May telephone poll. About 60 per cent of them said the maximum acceptable waiting time is five minutes.

“”It is extremely significant,”” said Rena Granofsky, a retail analyst with Toronto-based J.C. Williams Group. “”You’ve just turned away business that you never even knew you had, and there’s really no way to track it other than surveys like this. What you really want to do is make sure your POS systems are as quick as possible (and) that you have enough of them.””

Moneris Monday introduced its HiSpeed 3100IP terminal, a point-of-sale device that can conduct debit and credit card transactions through a retailer’s existing high-speed Internet service.

“”Merchants could be doing everything right but just because of the nature of their business, they get long line-ups. That’s where the technology comes into play,”” said Kevin Tait, senior manager of communications with Moneris.

Toronto-based Moneris the result of a joint investment from Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada. In February, the company announced its intention to move its transaction-processing retail clients away from legacy architecture to an IP-based platform.

Many businesses have already moved to an IP architecture for transaction processing, including Moneris clients FutureShop and Staples. There are some hold-outs, particularly for tier-2 and tier-3 retailers, which operate smaller storefronts, and still use dial-up technology for their POS transactions. Moneris says it can save those retailers 18 seconds per transaction using its 3100IP terminal and help cut back on line-ups at the checkout.

“”I’m sure you’ve stood in line where you can actually hear the terminal dialing up after your card’s swiped. The new terminals are more like highspeed Internet. You swipe the card, you’re already connected, the transaction goes through and gets authorized,”” said Tait.

The move to IP for retailers is practically inevitable, according to NCR Canada president Brian Sullivan. There are still some large chains that use their own networks for transaction processing, but most retailers have by now built IP networks into their POS strategies.

“”An IP-based terminal offers a little more functionality but it also becomes part of a bigger picture — how am I going to deal with information in my enterprise? — of which payment is a small subset of many things that go on,”” said Sullivan.

“”Loblaw’s or Sobey’s or any of the big guys, they have a well-defined network strategy that includes the Internet, and they didn’t do it yesterday, they did it two years ago.””

NCR offers a variety of POS solutions, including software that can help retailers manage POS devices over the Internet if they’re connected to an IP network.

The Leger study indicates half of Canadians use a credit or debit card for purchases between $25-$75. For purchases over $75, it’s 81 per cent.

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