Seeing in-person shopping growth, Shopify updates POS hardware

POS Go aims to allow retailers to offer checkout from anywhere in a store, and connect online and in-store shopping.

Seeing in-person shopping growth, Shopify updates POS hardware

Shopify POS Go in action. (Screenshots via Shopify)

Shopify has new hardware for brick-and-mortar retailers at a time when in-person shopping is returning in force.

The news: Shopify announced the launch of POS Go, a point-of-sale system that facilitates in-person sales. It’s the latest generation of mobile hardware that Shopify makes available to merchants who sell inside stores.

How it works: The smartphone-sized, WiFi-enabled device is designed for a world in which brick-and-mortar store transactions have expanded well beyond a single checkout point and a few payment options. In a news release, Shopify shared the following features for the system:

  • Checkout anywhere: POS Go has a built-in barcode scanner, which is designed to allow retailers to start checkouts from anywhere in the store.
  • Customer info: The hardware also provides a view of detailed product information, customer notes and purchase history across online and offline.
  • Start cart: Through the POS, merchants can start a cart for a customer in the store, then email it to them for completion later through an online sale or return visit.
  • Payment: The system has a built-in card reader to take payment, accepting tap, swipe and chip cards.
  • The wide view: Through POS Go, Shopify said merchants can view sales, analytics and inventory from every channel. Updates from Shopify admin will automatically sync.

Key quote: “Retail is evolving quickly and merchants need flexible solutions to help them succeed. More than ever, brick-and-mortar retailers need technology that keeps them nimble,” said Arpan Podduturi, VP of Product at Shopify, in a statement. “With POS Go, we’re empowering our merchants to deliver world-class, differentiated in-store experiences. Offline retail is all the way back, and we’re investing heavily in hardware that’s fit for the fastest-growing, most innovative retailers in the world.”

What it means for Shopify: Shopify is known for providing ecommerce infrastructure to build online stores, and it still has a big business with plenty of new offerings in that area. But it has also long provided technology for brick-and-mortar. Its first, tablet-sized POS debuted in 2013. This year, Shopify has seen offline sales grow markedly. On the company’s second quarter earnings call, executives reported that gross merchandise value for offline commerce grew 47% year-over-year. Executives said the company added thousands of new merchants onto the POS in the quarter, and saw existing ecommerce customers add hardware for brick-and-mortar. As it rolled out a slew of releases with Shopify Editions, Shopify highlighted in-person retail with new releases that included a partnership with Stripe to enable Tap to Pay on iPhone, and an integration with Google that allowed merchants to sync local inventory, and alert customers when nearby items were in stock.

What it says about shopping: As Podduturi noted, 2022 has been marked by a return to in-person shopping as pandemic restrictions were lifted. At the same time, shoppers have returned to a store environment that in many cases offers options like curbside pickup, and they may arrive with information about items that are in stock that they’ve already searched online before making the trip. Shopify is taking this into account with the new features in POS Go. The mobile functionality disaggregates checkout from a fixed terminal, while the ability to construct a cart provides the option for the store to be a point in a shopping journey, rather than the be-all, end-all destination. In 2013, Shopify was explicit about how the POS connected offline and online retail. Now, that messaging isn’t as bold, but the company has built for a world where that crossover is a requirement that is built-in. As Neighborhood Goods CEO Matt Alexander put it in Shopify’s announcement, “Whether meeting [customers] for curbside for pick up, ordering online, or shopping in our stores, POS Go helps us provide a unique experience and we're excited to continue rolling it out as we grow."

One last question: Will these new features expand the market for Shopify’s offline retail? In the past, it has positioned POS mostly as a tool to help businesses that started online manage sales at physical locations to augment their business with a boutique. As direct-to-consumer businesses opened their own physical stores, this was a progression that Shopify followed to respond to its customers. Will a new POS allow Shopify to expand with retailers that started with physical locations? That will depend on how it meets the store operations needs of retailers. It's also an area where Square has built a big brand. This phase of growth may not only be about offering growth opportunities for existing merchants. It could also require convincing businesses to switch to Shopify. If Shopify wants to play it – and it hasn't made clear that it has – that feels like a different game.

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