At this week's Big Show, the National Retail Federation's conference in New York City, Microsoft is showing off a Windows 10 point-of-sale (POS) solution aimed at providing more engaging customer experiences at brick-and-mortar shops.
"The new Windows 10 POS solution will transform traditional, stationary workstations into interactive mobile experiences," said Jeremy Korst, general manager of Windows Product Marketing at Microsoft, in a Jan. 17 blog post. Acknowledging that mobile POS systems are nothing new, "what's different about the Windows 10 mobile workstation is it offers a more secure and automatic log-in with Windows Hello, unlocking the Windows device by recognizing the retail associate's face," he added.
In the wake of the massive Target data breach of 2014, POS security has emerged as a major concern for retailers. One of several new Windows 10 security features, Windows Hello eschews log-in passwords by taking a biometric scan of a user's face.
Enhanced security aside, the Microsoft's new POS system can help store associates adopt a more shopper-friendly workstyle.
"Throughout the day, retail associates can seamlessly transition from a mobile touch-tablet mode to a traditional desktop mode, and even project to a larger display with Continuum, which adjusts your experience to match the activity, device and display," said Korst. Continuum is a Windows 10 mode-switching technology that dynamically adjusts the operating system's UI to suit a touch-screen or full-fledged display.
Korst envisions that the technology will help shopkeepers score a sale even if an item is no longer on the showroom floor.
"For instance, let's say the associate wanted to show off a new living room set that is not in the store," he said. "It's really difficult to show that on [a] 5-inch screen. The Windows 10 device can 'dock' seamlessly to a larger screen so the customer can see it in greater detail."
Echoing one of Windows 10's most celebrated features, namely backward compatibility, Korst added that Microsoft's mobile POS will plug into a wide variety of existing retail hardware. "The device can also easily dock to peripheral stations to access receipt printers, EAS [electronic article surveillance] deactivators, flatbed scanners, scales and more," he added. "This enables retail partners to leverage one set of devices and experiences for new and engaging retail experiences, as well as accomplishing their traditional transaction workflow."
Microsoft's new Windows 10 POS system is part of the company's unified commerce vision, which encompasses a wide range of hardware, software and cloud services to narrow the gap between so-called e-tailers and physical stores.
In a separate Jan. 17 announcement, Tracy Issel, general manager of Worldwide Retail at Microsoft, described the company's efforts as "an evolution from omni-channel to unified commerce, in which shoppers no longer have to choose between the rich selection of online shopping and the service and attention of an in-store experience. Instead, new tools, systems and solutions, including the power of the cloud, create a truly seamless customer experience across digital retail and the brick-and-mortar store."