The headline-making stores in the retail industry focus on the promise of a new era of retail, characterized by an unprecedented pace of innovation. For example, we are witnessing the use of virtual/augmented reality, new and highly sophisticated applications of artificial intelligence, bots, and more. Point of sale (POS) technology may not get much attention in the dazzle of these emerging technologies. However, POS remains a key component of driving commerce in the physical store. Despite the growth of pure-play digital commerce, physical stores are still the heart of the commerce for retailers. As the physical and digital worlds merge for the end-consumer, POS technology is an important tool in driving friction-free retail experiences.
The world of retail commerce is moving to an increasingly digital future and POS technology needs to evolve to support it. The next generation of POS technology should be a “platform of service” rather than remain as a point-of-sale. The next generation POS will have an open ecosystem enabled by centralized cloud services, that have extensibility to a variety of digital applications that can evolve at the speed that the retail industry is getting disrupted. Many retailers today are eager to make that journey.
In a recent report by RIS News, 43% of retailers said their POS does not meet their essential needs or capabilities for the next two to three years. Further, 23% of this group said their POS doesn’t even meet their essential needs or capabilities today, which can result in significant frustrations for both shoppers and retailers. How can this be? Many retailers have underinvested in their POS systems over the years, perhaps because of focus on newer, flashier technologies. The report goes on to describe an environment today where a good portion of the respondents is “in need of an immediate POS upgrade.”
Not surprisingly, some of the biggest areas of focus retailers have identified for investing in the POS include improving the basic checkout processes for scanning items, connecting with loyalty systems and processing returns. The emerging technologies retailers have prioritized for new POS systems include near-field ID for payment, operation on store associates’ mobile devices, and integration with consumer mobile apps providing the ability to order-ahead and move seamlessly between their devices and store systems. Each of these features helps give consumers more choice – in how they pay, in how their orders are scanned, and in how they ultimately complete their transactions.
No matter the top priorities retailers have for their enterprise in both the near- and long-term future, there’s a clear need for a new generation POS that can punch above its weight to move well beyond transactions to enable meaningful interactions. As the rate of change continues to accelerate – not just in terms of technology, but in consumer behavior, demographic and geographic shifts, and more – it’s becoming critical to invest in systems that can help prepare for a future full of unknowns. By embracing a platform of service, retailers can achieve greater peace of mind about being ready for the “Next Big Thing” that lies ahead.
We are humbled to have been named the leader in global POS software for two years in a row by RBR – we are excited to work hand-in-hand with retailers to develop and deploy solutions that fit their unique business, and equally excited about the learning opportunities this enables in preparing for future innovations. By: Murali Patnam