Apple’s disruption of the Point-Of-Sale

Apparently, rumors are abound that Apple may be planning to launch an update to its retail store iOS app that will allow consumers to utilize self-checkout for purchases of accessories and other shelf-stocked items at the company’s retail stores. I believe that with this move, Apple is taking the first step to disrupting the POS, starting with its own stores. This may be Apple’s first volley in to the emerging payments space, at the same time drawing a clear distinction between itself and other stakeholders who has invested in mobile commerce.

Apple understands that centering any payment initiative merely around the checkout is missing the point. To have a winning value proposition for its customers to even consider it, it has to remove existing blocks and streamline the buying experience and that includes if necessary, eliminating the point-of-sale altogether. Which is what it will accomplish by this.

More over, Apple understands that it can provide a better customer experience and garner more profits by leveraging cross and up-sell opportunities if its store representatives were engaging customers instead of being stuck behind a POS. Apple store customers who just need a quick accessory purchase can now pick out their item, pay for it themselves and walk out, all with out having to stalk any available store represenatives. More over, Apple’s margins on these accessories may be quite thin that it makes sense for them to invest their store resources to selling Apple products that has considerably higher margins. Makes a lot of sense.

I wrote an article calling why Google Wallet is a missed opportunity because Google forgot what it once was – a true disruptive innovator. And it seems that Apple is assuming the position that Google has vacated, and once again proves that it can indeed – Think Different. Kudos!

If you agree or disagree, please voice them below under comments:

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Board of Advisors at SimplyTapp - creators of Host Card Emulation driving democratization and open access to NFC in Android. Mobile Commerce & Payments Lead at Experian Global Consulting, serving Experian's clients in Banking, Retail, Consumer Credit & Payments. A strategic adviser w/ over 17 years of international Tech & Business Strategy consulting, advising firms in banking, retail & asset mgmt that seek clarity & insight in to the myriad business models around payments, fraud & commerce. Founded DROP Labs, a mobile payments/commerce strategy & advisory practice. Tweets here. I'm on LinkedIn here.
Cherian Abraham
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  • Logan Browne

    I’d really love to see this kind of self checkout. Were apple able to do this without the need for NFC by using the device screen and internet connected nature in some fashion, that would be great. I’d love to see this in more places, like Home Depot or a Grocery store. Scan the items as you put them in the cart, pay for them and then display a unique receipt value on screen for store loss prevention personnel to match with their exit system and email a receipt to the customer.

  • Agreed, this would be awesome.

  • Jun Wang

    I like your opinion of “Apple understands that centering any payment initiative merely around the checkout is missing the point. ” Why there has to be a “stationed POS checkpoint” if there is a payment and account info exchange software in the mobile phone? The distance between the payment info provider party(handset) and the receiver (reader) party doesn’t really matter. Just like online shopping and payment, as long as there is a secured way to transmit the payment info, a “POS” machine is not necessary.

    -JW