The theme for this year’s National Retail Federation Big Show 2016 (Jan 17 – 19) is “Retail in a Big Way,” which is something of a misnomer when you consider that retail really hasn’t done anything in a big way in quite a long time.

Wait, what? What about mobile commerce? Buy buttons? Geo-location? Personalization? Haven’t they driven the digital commerce revolution? Yes. But these innovations have focused on the roughly 8% of the retail market that is ecommerce. When it comes to the other 90-plus percent – the amount of shopping taking place in physical stores – retail is in the dark ages.

The technology powering most physical stores is typically older than the associates working there. This aging, past-its-prime technology is unable to meet the demands of even current consumers, let alone that of the even more sophisticated connected consumers of tomorrow.

That said, stores must find a way to deliver new functionality and innovation in a bigger way. This means integrating intuitive technologies that break down the traditional barriers between the associate and the customer while delivering more functionality faster.

But how?

Cloud based point-of-sale systems give retailers these abilities and allows them to meet the expectations of connected consumers, and in the process, become a more connected brand.

More specifically, cloud-based POS:

Establishes a new pace for innovation

Cloud-based POS allows retailers to deliver faster and more frequent technology updates to their store environment, allowing them to take advantage of innovations like new payment or mobile platform capabilities, as they become available. With eMarketer forecasting 210% growth in the total value of mobile payment transactions in 2016—or close to one in five consumers with smartphones using mobile payments —retailers need to address changing preferences faster than ever before. Compare this to the alternative; waiting a year or longer for updates to be delivered, and dealing with the complexities of testing, integration and deployment of the new technologies. .

Unites digital and physical

The cloud allows visibility to all a retailers’ cloud-based technologies. This means that the same pricing, product, inventory, and customer information can be used across multiple channels within the retail environment, allowing for a seamless and personalized experience no matter where a consumer shops. Imagine being able to easily view product inventory availability at other locations or available to ship from online. Even better, imagine that a product can be sold to a customer, to pick up from another location or ship to home, while they are shopping in the store. This means customers will hardly ever need to leave the store without their purchase just because it is out of stock in the store, and never again will a retailer lose a sale that can be fulfilled online.

Empowers associates

Cloud-based POS allows associates to better leverage registers, tablets, and other devices. Apple pioneered the use of mobile devices in its stores, where associates quickly check out customers from anywhere in the store. No lines. No waiting. By arming associates with mobile devices, associates can move around the store freely, checking out customers, helping them find items, resulting in a much more satisfying and less frustrating experience for the shopper.

These are just a few of the benefits cloud-based POS brings to retailers. Demandware will be at NRF Big Show booth #4103 demonstrating this next wave of retail innovation.

Yes, it’s time for retailers to bring their stores out of the dark ages, and go big

For an in-depth look at digital technologies that will power the store of the future, download the Future Store Manifesto, in partnership with Boston Retail Partners.