The point-of-sale (POS) system is the lifeblood of any retail or restaurant operation, so it’s imperative that merchants stay abreast of the latest POS technology to keep their operations running smoothly. There have been a number of recent innovations in POS software, POS hardware, and cloud technology. Since POS hardware is a major investment for any merchant, it’s important to stay abreast of current trends to determine where and when to upgrade.
In the hospitality industry, for example, restaurant operators spend about one-third of their technology budget on POS hardware and software according to Hospitality Technology. The magazine reports that restaurants want to keep their POS systems for about seven years, but about 25 percent of restaurants are going to be in the market for new POS systems.
Retailers are also adopting new POS platforms to take advantage of mobile POS hardware. IHL Group reports that more than 28 percent of retailers are adopting mobile POS systems, and that mobile POS is now a $5.7 billion global business. While some of those mobile POS upgrades are going to proprietary hardware, much of it is going to off-the-shelf iPad and Android tablets to run enterprise software or cloud-based transaction apps.
So what does the POS hardware market look like for 2015? Here are just a few of the trends:
Tablets are Taking Over
With the addition of mobile POS to retail and restaurants, the biggest hardware seller is tablet computers and peripherals.
Apple iPads are proving very popular in the restaurant business, especially with quick service restaurants (QSRs). iPads are being used as fixed cash registers as well as for tableside service, and with the growing popularity of food trucks and popup restaurants, iPads are proving extremely useful for creating mobile cash registers. VDC Research reports that the global market for mobile POS is expected to hit $227.4 million in 2015 and major retailers such as Nordstrom, Home Depot, Disney, Gap, and Guess have already started using iOS systems, despite their limitations for security and enterprise integration.
Android tablets are also gaining in popularity, especially for integration with Windows systems. Many software vendors are offering POS solutions for both iOS and Android.
Growing Demand for Tablet Peripherals
Along with the growing popularity of off-the-shelf tablet hardware there is a boom in peripheral sales. To convert an off-the-shelf smartphone or tablet to a transaction device you need to be able to accept credit cards. Vendors such as MagTek are offering solutions that offer secure credit card transactions using any smartphone jack.
Device security also is on the rise. One of the challenges with using handheld devices for POS is they can be mislaid or stolen. Vendors such as MMF POS are offering tablet security hardware that makes it easy to convert a tablet into a countertop cash register and secure it in place so it can’t be stolen.
And other vendors such as Zebra are introducing their own portable printers and other mobile peripherals to support mobile transactions.
Vendors Offer New Mobile POS Solutions
For retailers who want the convenience of mobility but don’t want to rely on consumer hardware, there are a number of vendors offering their own mobile POS solutions.
ELO Touch Systems, for example, has its own touchscreen systems, including the Elo Tablet, which runs Windows software and has an integrated MSR, barcode reader, and smart card reader. It also has Wi Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and RFID capability built-in – all the convenience of a mobile POS solution but with all the features you want in a retail device.
PowaPOS has its own tablet POS systems, the PowaPOS T25. The T25 is a tablet POS system nut with support for iOS, Android, or Windows. It also features a built-in thermal printer, barcode scanner, EMV-ready card reader, and other features you want in a POS system.
APG Cash Drawer has released a new NetPRO wireless interface for mobile transactions. The cash drawer communications with mobile POS devices to provide cash drawer control. For security, it includes biometrics and barcode claiming, and it collects transaction data to identify security issues and support training. It’s the ideal way to extend the cash drawer to mobile without losing control.
More Cloud Providers
As part of the race to mobile POS, many retailers are going to consider adopting new transaction systems. Rather than hosting their own POS software, they are going to be looking to cloud POS providers such as Square, PayPal, and others. These providers offer turnkey POS operations using hosted software, making it attractive for merchants looking for a fast startup or an interim POS solution.
For merchants looking for a proven platform, Intuit has introduced QuickBooks Point of Sale. The result of a partnership with Revel, QuickBooks Point of Sale has a desktop version and integration with QuickBooks online, so an iPad or other mobile device enters data directly, which simplifies reconciling the books. It includes advanced inventory and reporting to improve sales reporting, and tracking discounts and orders.
So when looking to new POS hardware solutions for the coming year think mobile POS and consider what it will take to integrate mobile transactions. There are new mobile solutions and peripherals that can suit any point-of-sale need.