Tech focus: Key trends in POS systems for 2015 – Bikash Kumar

Shopping is a favourite past time in Singapore and at the heart of the vendor’s efficiency and the consumer’s experience is the Point Of Sale (POS) being used.

As we step into 2015, Bikash Kumar shares his thoughts on some of the key trends shaping the evolution of POS technology in 2015.

Mobile POS enables greater consumer interaction with the sales staff.

Mobile POS enables greater consumer interaction with the sales staff.

* This article is a guest post written by Bikash Kumar – MD, Integrated Retail Management Consulting Pte. Ltd. The opinions expressed are his own and do not represent that of tech4tea.com.

Bikash Kumar has a Bachelor of Business Studies (1988-91) from the College of Business Studies in the University of Delhi; and an MBA (1991-93) from the Faculty of Management Study from the same university.

Bikash Kumar has a Bachelor of Business Studies (1988-91) from the College of Business Studies in the University of Delhi; and an MBA (1991-93) from the Faculty of Management Study from the same university.

The Point of Sale (POS) system is where consumers pay for their purchases in a retail store.

Traditionally, the POS systems have been used to generate information on transactions within a retail outlet.

However, the POS technology has been improving significantly, allowing retail staff to deliver multiple operations, besides just scanning merchandise and generating bills.

According to Integrated Retail, a firm that specialises in designing, deploying and maintaining POS systems across the region, the POS systems are likely to see further enhancements in 2015.

Here are five key changes that we are likely to see.

  1. Morphing from Point of Sale to a Point of Service
  2. POS is increasingly mobile and it is lighter
  3. POS systems are becoming inter-connected
  4. POS system activities are traceable in real time
  5. POS is driving up productivity

Below are my thoughts on each of these key changes.

Morphing from Point of Sale to a Point of Service

A POS system is growing in stature from being a simple sales register into being a Point of Service.

This trend is visible not only in a services retail outlet like a Salon or a Spa but increasingly in merchandise sales outlets too.

The POS now has information on products that you purchase e.g. product technical specifications available at POS in Courts Mega Store.

The consumer can source, compare and decide upon products to purchase, either assisted by sales associate or as a DIY (do it yourself) mode.

Related products are being shown to a consumer, appropriately helping the, to decide on a complete ensemble.

For example if a mother is buying stuff for her baby at a J Runway outlet, related product information are available at the POS, or on a mobile POS.

Similar add on product information can be made available on a customer facing display screen at POS.

The POS has been very successfully enhanced by Changi Airport, into a continuous shopper feedback capture device to track the satisfaction levels.

This has elevated the POS into a system that enables clear, actionable customer service information, traceable to each sales receipt.

POS is increasingly mobile and it is lighter

The POS systems are getting increasingly mobile, non-tethered and less expensive.

At all Sakae Sushi outlets, a computer monitor with a mouse attached has been replaced with iPads.

This has led to smaller more responsive devices being deployed with greater consumer familiarity.

While the tablet based POS have become ubiquitous in smaller and food and beverage (F&B) retail outlets, there is a growing trend of tablet devices replacing the computer based POS systems even in merchandise sales retail outlets, like fashion retailers.

Metro Department Stores have deployed several mobile POS devices, fully integrated with their new POS systems.

These Mobile POS (MPOS) devices allow for 100% of the fixed POS functionality being available on the MPOS, allowing for greater consumer interaction.

A large specialty retail outlet Tokyu Hands has completely done away with traditional computer based POS systems and deployed tablet based POS systems.

POS systems are becoming inter-connected

Point of Sale systems are getting connected to various systems within a retail organization.

At Uniqlo outlets, an associate at a POS can now look up stocks and inventory positions at all other outlets using an iPod device.

A traditional POS (Point of Sales) terminal.

A traditional POS (Point of Sales) terminal.

Metro Department Stores MPOS allow for consumers to buy or reserve and complete the full transaction, including credit card payments, without the need for the consumers to queue up for payments.

At Muji Stores a consumer can book for deliveries and time slots at the POS rather than having to go to another system.

At Common Thread Outlets a POS is integrated with the store camera system allowing the retailer to generate useful reports on walk-ins and conversions in real time.

Increasingly the new POS design is seen to connect to external services like Groupon for coupon validation, Facebook for consumers to like the store page from within the POS in the same interaction etc.

POS system activities are traceable in real time

As the POS systems get connected, they now provide data in near real time, trickling on to mobile phones of the management.

This allows retailers like Metro Department Stores, to share information with their suppliers and affect stock replenishment before a stock out situation over the crucial weekend.

In the past visibility to POS activities was available at the head office only at the end of the day, which meant delay in making crucial decisions.

Additionally, the POS systems now gather information from different sources and then push a consolidated data feed for a more holistic analysis of retail operations.

For example, a retailer may have devices like iBeacons deployed, to interact with consumers.

Once the consumer’s presence near the store is established, the POS system acts to consolidate information on sales with consumer engagement in the stores, to generate richer analytics.

Retailers are also using real time connectivity at the POS to trace compliance with the standard operating procedures laid out for the store staff.

POS is driving up productivity

More than anything else, the POS is now a key productivity driver for staff and for operations.

With acute shortage of store staff, the POS is being enhanced to improve operational and consumer interaction efficiencies.

The real-time inventory check on the shop floor at Uniqlo, the ability to register for home deliveries in Muji outlets, at the POS without the need to go to another system etc. allow for the retailer to run the operations with leaner staffing.

The POS allows for staff to multi-task and become more productive. Instead of a POS being used for only scanning and billing, the POS, especially mobile POS allows staff to reduce billing queues, check inventory, communicate with other stores, and inform consumers on products.

In the process the staff achieve higher productivity.

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