Abstract

This work was aimed at developing portable Point of Sales (POS) for the shoppers in form of an Android application supported by the Open ERP database. We developed an App that can be used for billing of items by the shoppers themselves which may be seen as a convenient alternative of the manual point of sales in a supermall. It scans the QR code containing login information of the shop ERP and connects the individual shopper to the ERP database. We believe that this App will save shoppers time that they are bound to spend in long queues at the Point of Sales by providing them with the billing facility that they get at the POS till. In the backend this App also does inventory management and invoice creation for the shop. XML RPC over http is used to connect to the ERP server and all the communication between ERP server and application is done through internet and via an intermediate server.

Problem Statement

Shopping malls being a regular destination for retail shopping, the shopping experience plays a very important role in the customer satisfaction and retention. Availability of many brands under a single roof, satisfying range of products, assured quality and cosy ambience are some of the major reasons for people preferring shopping malls over general retail stores. The need for a completely automated POS is no longer deniable since the following problems with current POS are considerably hampering customers shopping experience:

  1. Recent advancements including payment through cards, mobile phones and cash cards have changed the way users pay at these counters. But the billing processcreates a bottleneck in the complete process and the shopping experience of any individual remains no more dependent on his purchase, but also on the shopping carts of the customers ahead of him in the queue as well.
  2. Also some customers may find it really uncomfortable while standing in queues for so long with other customers and the person sitting on Pos counter viewing all his personal purchases.
  3. Considering the time taken to bill one item by reading its barcode and adding it to the list is a fixed time of 'x' units, and each person purchases Pi products, which vary from customer to customer and there are 'n' customers ahead of the target customer 'A' in the line and each customer takes a time of 'y' units for payment irrespective of the mode of payment. If the customer 'A' has Pa products to purchase, then the total extra time spent at the POS terminal by 'A' will be:
    Equation for extra time
    A customer has no control on all these variables and irrespective of how many items he is purchasing, he gets a waiting time T at the POS counter. This creates an unsatisfactoryand unnecessary hindrance in the shopping experience of the customer in a shopping mall.Main aim of the application is to remove this waiting time from the shopping experience of the customers and let them spend only as much time as they require for their own shopping. We aim to provide an experience for the customer where they feel the privilege of a dedicated POS terminal at their service. They need not wait in a queue for the purchases of other customers to be billed.

Proposed Solution

This project is aimed to remove the waiting time spent by customers in the queue. This can possibly be achieved by increasing the number of POS counters proportionate to the number of customers in the shop at a given time. The best possible scenario is when the number of POS counters is equalto the number of customers. Since each POS counter is a direct cost to the management, this is not a feasible solution, even though this approach gives a customer full satisfaction.

Our solution use Open ERP and Android. Open ERP is a free and open source software which can be used for sales management, accounting, purchase management, point of sales, warehouse management and customer relationship management etc. Open ERP has been used as the ERP software in the project.

Android is an open source platform owned by Google that serves as a very eficient operating system for mobile devices. Mostly used for powering mobile phones, it brings the power of Google and the web into users hands. With an amazingly fast browser, cloud sync, multi-tasking, easy connect share, and the latest Google apps (and thousands of other apps available on Google Play) the Android powered device is beyond smart. With advancement in mobile hardware and availability of a decent operating power with android, it provides a good substitute for a computer terminal. Number of people shopping in malls has been showing increasing trend in recent times and tends to increase with advancement of facilities and availability of many brands under a single roof. As the number of people shopping in a shopping malls increase, while the processing speed of the POS authority remains constant and limited, the POS terminals start creating an annoying standpoint in the shopping experience of the customers.

The ubiquity of the mobile phone provides us with a different approach to the billing process at shopping malls which might involve the customers and their mobile phones. Design of the application uses the power and ability of Android operating system (OS) in creating a virtual POS counter for each customer on her Android phone.

The necessary components of a POS counter include a barcode scanner, a computer terminal, internet connection and a payment methodology. We propose to create an application for the Android OS which can scan the barcode of the products, connects to the ERP system of the shopping mall using the GPRS to get its price, generate the bill and calculate the total bill payable. This App must also be capable of informing the ERP about the details of the items sold out so that the inventory can be managed reliably. With the possibility of coming up technology of mobile credit cards, we suspect that payment of the bill may also be processed using this platform very soon. Google Wallet is one such near future possibility. By using this approach, the total billing time of all such customers may be reduced to almost zero who have today been standing in the queue for at least several tens of minutes non-productively. Considering the same customer 'A', the shopping time now includes the time she spends on choosing the products only. Hence, the waiting time will get reduced by T0 , where
Equation for extra time

This Android App will serve as a personal POS counter for each customer and hence provides the exclusive feature of increasing the number of POS counters without asking for extra investment from the management side. The problem of increasing and decreasing the POS counters in accordance with number of customers can be achieved using this proposal as there is no any physical setup required for this.

Proof of Concept