The way we think about POS systems has drastically changed over the past decade. What used to simply look like a static cash register at the checkout counter now takes up a variety of shapes and forms, from a handheld card swiper to an online website or mobile app on your customer’s phone. But beyond the physical form of the device, the role of the POS systems has evolved too. From just being a device to process a transaction, today’s POS systems are also expected to collect valuable touchpoints and customer data to power the entire customer experience. The most successful F&B or retail businesses have figured out how to maximize the POS system to not only make the customer journey delightfully simple, but also personalized based on the terrific amount of information that gives businesses the contextual content on who their customers are, where they are, when they make purchases and more.
These trends will only continue and accelerate, powered by technological advances. Below are some trends and technologies in POS that you should be aware of, especially if you manage foodservice or retail operations.
1. POS systems are becoming decentralized
The concept of “POS in a pocket” is increasingly common these days. It typically refers to customers being able to order and pay on their phones — either via a browser-based website or a downloadable app. Not only does this make the businesses’ job easier by not having to staff a cashier role, but also it puts the power in the hands of consumers to make a purchase whenever and wherever they want.
With the digital revolution, such mobile order & pay solutions provide speed, convenience and guaranteed payment for merchants, as well as security and transparency for all parties involved. According to Wirecard, 8 out of 10 customers worldwide use a tablet, smartphone or computer of some sort at the location where they make a purchase. In fact, there are expected to be 85.6 million mobile POS users in the United States by 2025. In addition, 82% of consumers say they first refer to their mobile devices to find out more about the purchase they’re about to make.
Regardless of the type of business or location, “POS in a pocket” is easily achievable today. Be it sports fans browsing concession stand options on their phones and ordering right then and there from their seat, or retail customers adding merchandise to cart for checkout without waiting in the checkout line, mobile ordering and pay is no longer the future — it’s happening now.
2. POS systems are becoming cloud-based
Instead of being tied down to a specific device, today’s POS software is often cloud-based, which allows businesses to access their platform and data from any compatible device at any time. The cloud POS market size already surpassed $1.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to $6 billion by 2025.
By using a cloud-based POS system, merchants can easily access their data across multiple devices, and make sure all data sync is across any device they use to access the software. Additionally, any upgrades to the system can be updated in real time.
3. POS is used to deliver a personalized customer experience
According to a survey by Accenture, 91% of consumers said they tend to shop with businesses that give offers and suggestions based on their profiles and past purchases. Especially given how competitive today’s markets are, it’s crucial for businesses to develop a customer relationship by providing a personalized experience.
Therefore POS is an important piece of your toolkit to collect data points about your customers and develop a full profile of them. Such information could include geographical location, basket size, purchase frequency, date of birth etc. You can leverage these data gathered throughout the user journey to segment your audience for marketing campaigns, and promote offers based on their interests and purchase habits.
In the context of a stadium, if we know that someone has just added a beer to their cart on the phone, and we know that the most popular item purchased together with beer is hotdogs, we can send a pop up within the ordering platform recommending the stadium’s famous hotdog meal. This not only delivers a personalized experience, but drives greater revenue per cap for the venue.
4. Capture buyers in a non-linear buyer journey
People typically don’t follow a linear path to purchase. They might see a product on social media, or walk past your storefront multiple times, but eventually make a purchase online after chatting with a friend about it. Therefore capturing the buyer physically at the checkout cashier counter is increasingly less feasible — it also means you’re leaving money on the table by missing the many more opportunities you could have captured that buyer.
This means it’s important for businesses to give customers a way to order whenever and wherever they have the intention to. The best way to do so is on their personal mobile devices, which people don’t part with these days.
There are many ways to do so. For example, by having an online storefront that enables mobile ordering, merchants can add the URL link to their website, social media and more so people can easily access it and place an order. You can also enable pre-ordering for pickup and/or delivery, so that when people have the intention of purchasing, they can place an order even if your store isn’t open for business yet.
Technologies are constantly evolving and POS systems will only become more varied and powerful. For example, AmazonGo and Amazon Dash Cart allows people to simply walk out without having to input what they’re purchasing, or process a transaction. They use computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items and automatically charge the customers. While such technology hasn’t been adopted by the masses, it gives us a good indication of where things are going.
What businesses can do right now is take advantage of the technologies at their disposal, and upgrade the customer experience to win in the competitive landscape. In the meantime, it’s important to keep abreast with where the industry is going, so that you won’t be caught by surprise when new technologies become the status quo.
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