The Traditional POS is Dead: Why Customer-Centric POS Is What the Future Has in Store

As published in RIS News

1) Are today’s POS solutions equipped to meet the needs of today’s empowered omni-channel customer? What functionalities are/will be most important in effectively serving this customer? The answer is no! Most POS solutions in use today are not meeting the needs of this new customer-centric, omni-channel world. Traditional best-of-breed POS systems that are interconnected with disparate backend systems are a prescription for problems, especially with regards to latent information. Delivery of real-time visibility, usability, and manageability of customer, inventory, pricing and sales information at any point of business is the most important functionality required in any POS solution today. The traditional cash wrap and POS hardware configuration are a thing of the past. Sales associates require a mobile tool kit of information driven by business processes that utilize today’s innovative workflow capabilities. To create store experiences that not only satisfy but delight customers, personnel need to have instant access to any and all information in an easily-consumed and repeatable format. This means total convergence of customer and product information. People, not product, are now at the center of the retail enterprise.

2) As mobile POS deployments proliferate, how can retailers best use mobile functionalities while simultaneously protecting their investment in current POS solutions? The simple answer is that retailers cannot protect their old “cash registers”. As with anything, to grow they must change and adapt. Tablets, along with kiosks, interactive digital media and various forms of self-checkout are what the future holds and are what will prevail in most retail environments. Customers are increasingly coming to expect an omni-channel experience from retailers, and the POS is no exception. The POS of the future should improve the customer experience, promote consultative selling, and broaden the scope of where and what a retailer can sell. Retailers looking to evolve need to be on board with adopting a new type of POS.

3) Several new payment technologies are or soon will be available. What are some key criteria retailers should use to maximize acceptance while still keeping control of costs for POS software, hardware and peripherals? The simpler retailers make it for customers to complete a transaction, the more readily new payment technologies will be adopted. Retail staff needs to be trained on how to facilitate payment, and customers need to be incentivized to use the new technology. If payment methods are simple and render staff more efficient, ROI will be a natural bi-product of that. Starbucks’ implementation of Square is a great example of how customers will adopt new technology if the right approach is used.

4) What roles do you see for SaaS/cloud-based delivery vehicles and virtualization in the POS area? The concept of installing a solution that requires continual updates is also a thing of the past. SaaS/cloud-based delivery means the application runs remotely and the device retailers are using is continuously connected. Cloud delivery for the POS will allow smaller retailers to benefit from the latest technology without the upfront financial and infrastructure investments required from a non-hosted POS deployment. Should those retailers decide to grow, this type of delivery is also highly-scalable. Overall, SaaS/ cloud-based delivery vehicles provide the benefits of a rich user experience using a more rapid, manageable approach.

5) Looking ahead, do you see the POS as we know it continuing to play as central a role in the customer experience as it does now? The traditional POS is dead. In the future, different verticals will each have their own unique deployment of in-store devices. This will be dependent on the supporting business process required to create the ultimate experience for customers in that space. However, regardless of the vertical, the POS is moving away from simply being a transaction-processing solution towards becoming an added touch point retailers can use to enhance and solidify their customer relationships.