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The Future of POS – From Payment Origination to Business Management Tool
June 20, 2018
David Johnson, Senior Vice President, Emerging Commerce Products
How will transforming your POS affect your value chain?
The humble point-of-sale (POS) device has undergone an evolution. Today, consumers and merchants alike are now looking to in-store technology – including the POS – to simplify and complete the payment experience.
However, the standalone POS terminal’s role in payments is not fundamentally changing; it will remain the primary payment device for most merchants and consumers for many years. What is changing is how the POS is used and what it is capable of. Three forces are at play: the transition to chip cards, mobile POS devices and the delivery of business data in addition to payments.
Modern POS systems have changed radically from simple card readers to a vital piece of the in-store retail experience. We’re accustomed to the terminals accepting both debit and credit cards, but we’re no longer impressed by bulky, proprietary and expensive counter-top card readers. A modern, single POS device is slick, clean and sophisticated – a workstation with a touchscreen that can flip to face the customer as needed for collaborative information sharing and on-screen signatures. It features easy configuration for multiple selling environments and can print documentation on demand. Most importantly, it handles multiple payment types – debit and credit cards, the cash drawer and even contactless tap-and-pay, such as Apple, Android and Samsung Pay.
The Need for Mobility
With all of these added needs, is the physical POS desk check out a thing of the past? Increasingly, stores and smaller retailers are rolling out mobile POS devices that offer pay-on-the-go capability. Sophisticated POS capabilities can even be offered through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, completely bypassing the need for a centralized POS station.
With a simple plug-in or dongle, a mobile device can offer the same flexibility as desk-based POS terminals. That’s proving a winner with smaller merchants, food trucks, vendors and event retailers, and others who want payments on the fly.
From Card Reader to Management Tool
That’s far from the only value POS devices can offer, however. With powerful processing capabilities at your fingertips, the POS terminal – mobile or at a desk – could integrate many more services, enhance the customer experience and empower your retail sales team.
Looking beyond standard payment origination, POS devices are now incorporating gift token acceptance and loyalty programs. This makes it possible for you to offer instant rewards to loyal customers – 15% off the bill if you buy with points, for instance. Similarly, the POS is the right place to handle returns through the issuance of instant gift tokens or rebates linked into the loyalty program, which further ties a customer to you. Another step is to incorporate the acceptance of prepaid cards and also electronic benefit transfers from government programs. In the past, consumers were obliged to use a separate terminal for EBT / SNAP payments, but an intelligent POS device can incorporate them all in one machine.
Store staff themselves are looking to in-store technology to help them provide exceptional service. The POS is quickly expanding to become a point-of-information solution. It can provide access to inventory, unique products, special offers and more, which may be of interest to your customers and entice them to spend. A POS device that incorporates additional services is also increasingly the ideal source of management reporting and quick behavioral analytics.
One Step Beyond
We can safely cast aside any preconceptions about the imminent demise of the standalone point-of-sale terminal. Whether at a dedicated desk or via mobile, the POS device is not going away anytime soon. With payments at its heart, the POS is now evolving into a full and irreplaceable business management tool that enhances an engaging customer experience.
The POS will increasingly become a hub for many retail services and, further ahead, will become more interconnected with the entire retail value chain. Ultimately, expect it to become the core of the customer-retailer-supplier relationship.
The explosion of order- and pay-ahead services through consumer smartphone apps plays well into an intelligent POS device proposition and further enhances a consistent multi-channel customer experience. And with direct stock reordering based on POS activity, the retailer and merchant relationship is tightened as front- and back-office systems become increasingly intertwined.
Whenever a customer needs to pay, wherever they happen to be – at the table, at the desk, in the aisle, during delivery or in the field – the POS will be there. It will accept whatever payment mechanism the customer prefers and even combine multiple sources to meet a single bill. The evolution is natural when it keeps the customer satisfied and returning.