Digital Innovations powered by technology have revolutionized the world we live in. Technology has driven innumerable opportunities with endless resources that have transformed businesses. With the emergence of Industry4.0, industries are harnessing the power of digitization to improve their overall efficiency, operations, and revenue. One such forward-looking sector is Retail.
As the digital and in-store experiences blur and become more consistent, digital innovations are opening exciting new possibilities for retailers. Point-of-Sale systems or POS have changed the face of the retail sector, making purchasing and maintaining the count of products more accessible. The emergence of digital/mobile POS has had a significant impact on enriching customer satisfaction and the shopping experience.
Technologies such as video and image recognition, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and IoT have transformed the traditional POS systems to align according to the needs of today's retail businesses and customers.
What is POS?
As the name suggests, POS or Point-of-sale is a checkout point where the payment for a sale is made. Traditionally POS is set at the exit of the stores, but nowadays, POS can also be mobile. New age POS are much more than just card processing instruments. They have various features such as Mobile POS features(mPOS), e-commerce integration, contactless payment options, QR codes, Chatbots, voice ordering and Augmented Reality (AR). A POS generally serves as the main component of a retail business; It has various functionalities:
Types of POS systems
Terminal POS -This is the most common type that we usually see in grocery stores, retail stores, and supermarkets. The terminal in the name refers to a display screen that displays the information to the employee operating the system. It is connected to other attachments like barcode scanners, cash drawers, credit/debit card readers, etc.
Mobile POS (mPOS)- is when a smartphone or other mobile device like a tablet (Tablet POS system) is used as a POS terminal. Payment accepting options such as card readers and POS software are easily integrated with a mobile device. The advantages that these mPOS have over desktops POS are that they are easily portable and help with an efficient checkout process.
Mobile POS systems are smaller and take up less space than a Terminal POS system and thus are used by small retailers and mom-pop stores. Like the terminal POS, these mPOS can also be integrated with barcode scanners, contactless payment options, etc., and can support CRM, Inventory management, analytics, and other functionalities.
Self-service kiosk- Facilitate self-checkout options. These are suitable for businesses with large spaces. It provides greater efficiency in the sense that the customers can checkout themselves without the involvement of working staff, thus reducing wait time.
Also, the employee can concentrate on more valuable services. These kinds of Self-service kiosks are famous in quick-service restaurants where users can easily order and pay via the kiosk POS without the intervention of a waiter. They are used in movie theatres, parking lots, and sporting arenas.
Multichannel POS - Nowadays, many businesses are omnichannel. This means they sell offline as well as online. A multichannel POS allows businesses to integrate all the POS systems: Online(their website), Offline (brick-mortar store) and 3rd party marketplaces (like Amazon, e-bay, etc.). Ideally, a multichannel POS system should have the functionality to track the sales along all the channels.
Here are some of the trends in the Point-of-sale system for the retail market:
Retailers are investing in solutions centered around device-to-cloud IoT solutions, secure and reliable gateways, intelligent embedded modules inside PoS and comprehensive cloud and managed connectivity services.
E.g., Amazon's Dash Buttons facilitate purchasing of everyday products by pressing a button. Amazon has tied up with over 200 partners to sell their products via these dash buttons, which serve as a digital PoS for the users.
Beacon technology allows retailer-owned mobile apps to listen for signals from nearby beacons using Bluetooth technology. Thus, they deliver hyper-contextualized content to users based on their location with checkout features. These check-out features have revolutionized PoS with the convenience of in-store shopping and mobile checkout.
E.g. Macy's, in association with Shopkick, rolled out retail's largest beacon installation in its stores nationwide to install 4,000 shop Beacons. As shoppers entered Macy's, they received push notifications on their smartphones to open their Macy's apps to receive promotions, deals, and discounts.
Chatbots are automated, intelligent assistants that drive the conversation with the user on the digital platform. They begin these interactions with the user by asking and answering simple questions. With Natural Language Processing powered by AI and ML algorithms, they can learn and handle complex tasks such as providing product recommendations to the user and facilitating payments.
E.g., H&M bot in their Kik messaging app enables customers to create their style theme to provide personalized recommendations to the customer. The bots also send abandoned cart notifications to facilitate in-app purchasing.
Augmented Reality can help retailers collect more information about customers, which, when used in conjunction with an efficient POS system, can help deliver personalized loyalty programs and rewards.
Ikea's "IKEA Palace" -a mobile app available on the App Store and powered by AR enables the customers to place the furniture virtually in their home setting and then decide if they would like to purchase it. Moreover, the virtual furniture is resizable to fit any corner of the room.
Voice assistants such as Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Siri have changed the way people interact with their devices. Retailers are adopting this technology to enhance the customer experience through voice ordering.
Customers can ask Google Home and Alexa to add products to their online shopping cart. The apps search for the customer's preferred brand and pack size before adding it to the online shopping basket, select a delivery slot, and check out the order.
E.g., Starbucks rolled out voice recognition ordering through mobile order-and-pay technology by integrating with Samsung's AI chatbot, Bixby. As a result, customers can use voice ordering to order a drink that suits their taste.
POS systems driven by image recognition technology are being increasingly adopted by many players in the retail sector where the customers don't have to pay when they physically check out in a retail store.
E.g. Amazon's cashier-less store, Amazon Go, uses cameras and sensors on shelves and a computer vision system to scan the items being purchased by a customer and automatically charge them to the shopper's Amazon account.
ZAP's new point-of-sale (POS) app allows merchants to accept transactions on the Lightning Network independently. The Lightning Network is a technology that adds another layer to Bitcoin's blockchain and enables users to create payment channels between any two parties on that extra layer.
Zap's new PoS was recently tested at a Chicago cocktail lounge. The lounge admin uploaded the menu onto the mobile app and allowed customers to use a QR code for tipping.
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