Spielwarenmesse: Interactivity at the Point of Sale

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digitaler Point of Sale


Interactivity at the Point of Sale

from Eva Stemmer und Jörg Meister

POS-debates still differentiate strictly between online and offline modes. But the market has long been offering much smarter solutions which tie in the contact points between merchandise, brands and interested buyers. It is very much worth taking a look at how other industries approach this topic.

Buzzwords like Digital Disruption, Omnichannel and Customer Journey are currently giving the traditional retail trade a headache. In fact, it is not that easy to stay abreast of the latest technical developments at the POS and to work out which of the costly innovations are suitable and sensible for one’s own shop concept - especially since everything is in a constant state of change and will not consolidate that quickly.

Digitisation presents new opportunities to the traditional retail trade in relation to an interactive Point of Sale:

  • beacons, sort of small responders, track how shoppers move around in and around the retail premises;
  • interactive racks that know what the customer is looking at or which products they are taking from the display;
  • seamless payment - which creates a fast check-out experience for added shopping convenience;
  • Augmented Reality Displays demonstrate what is inside a packaging or create a clear, vivid visualisation of other digital content;
  • electronic order displays which are currently also being trialled at fast food chains and facilitate Click&Collect orders inside the respective location.

No need to point out that these individual solutions do not represent the final stage of the development. A careful consideration on behalf of customers and the retail trade is therefore understandable. But one thing is for sure: The connections between all retail channels and digital contents are becoming stronger. And retailers who ignore these developments will find it more difficult in future to be part of the interconnected world that centres on the customer.

New opportunities for innovative, versatile start-ups that move natively in both, the digital and in the real world

But even start-ups - in spite of all change - focus on man. As a result, markets and market halls are booming and emotionalise and transport real, almost archaic experiences. A combination of temporary, event-based retail concepts paired with slow culture is evolving. This supports a multi-media initiation of the customer by publishing events or specials on social media platforms. Shopping as something of an event, however, takes place in unusual retail spaces and maintains a high emotional value.

By the way - interactive does not necessarily have to mean digital. Wanzl, a maker of shop interiors, has developed the variable market stand-like retail system, YourTable. It offers multiple design combinations and gives customers new possibilities every time they visit, to discover merchandise for themselves and to interact with the floorspace.

Digitisation of the warehouse rack

retail system by Wanzl
retail system by Wanzl

Digitisation can produce advantages not only for an improved customer experience. An interconnected warehouse management and inventory maintenance also holds major potential, especially if several sales channels are used simultaneously.

rack system with RFID technology
rack system with RFID technology

Tegu, a maker of wooden toys from Honduras, for example, uses interactive racking systems to maintain inventory at the retail trade. Since the brand is represented mainly at owner-managed specialist retailers, re-orders are often only triggered once the display hook is empty since either there is no material management in place or people simply do not have the time to regularly check stocks on shelves.

Seeonic’s rack system which tegu uses registers purchases interactively with the help of RFID technology. Articles that have been sold are reported to the manufacturer and automatically settled with the customer and the rack is replenished. The company was able to achieve distinct increases in sales for retail spaces that apply this system.

Mobile payment

For a long time, the use of smartphones while in-store was frowned upon - retailers considered them a thorn in their side and a gate to the world of cheap online products. The talk was often of information freeloaders and showrooming. But another trend called ROPO (research online, purchase offline) is also on its way.

Studies suggest that both channels are equally referred to. Retailers are recognising the value of the mobile Internet for customers: Without electronic input on the floor space, explanatory clips about products can be prompted using, for example QR codes located on the shelf, or the availability and stock levels at other branches or the retailer’s online store can be checked since customers tend to have their terminal device always in their hands when shopping.

LocaFox POS

But even exciting Click&Collect forms are proving to have a beneficial impact when, for example sales assistants put together purchases with the help of a tablet, settle the buy via the customer’s online account and once shoppers are ready to leave, the ready-packed shopping bags are already waiting for them at the check-out. LocaFox has just assembled an attractive and sensible system for retailers composed of the POS, a cash journal, a material management system plus an online presence.

The beauty of the diversity of these approaches: retailers can find just the right system for themselves. But this benefit can also be considered an obstacle when getting started.

Am I placing my bets on the right horse when switching over? Or will my system already be obsolete come tomorrow?

Industry and sector standards have so far not emerged - but that is only a matter of time. More recent surveys indicate that genuine bargain hunting is on the decline: quality is becoming increasingly important for customers. This also includes competent advice for customers who often have already done their research on the Internet. They expect different channels to dovetail online as well as offline. Trend researchers talk about “no-line” since both worlds have long merged into one.

Retailers that consider technology at the POS merely a tool for continuing as before will lose out in the long run to companies that understand that this is not about a change that you can sit out. “You snooze you lose” - words of wisdom which once again prove to be true.

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