Technology impacts all aspects of the payment industry, but this is especially true of point-of-sale systems. POS systems have improved drastically over the past decade to help deliver a better customer experience and provide more tools to business owners at lower costs.
If you're currently shopping for a POS system or you're considering upgrading to a newer system, knowing what the current trends in the industry are and what options are available can help you pick the best possible system for your business. A lot of people are hesitant to move on from their current POS simply because it was a significant investment, and for lack of a better term, they're "stuck" with it. In such cases, merchants often want to try to shoehorn a payments integration with these systems or simply just reject the notion of upgrading or streamlining their POS systems. It is likely that these merchants may not be aware, or worse, may not care about what benefits they could be missing out on with a modern POS application running alongside their payments.
Knowing what the latest trends are for POS systems, can help you keep your hardware and software up to date, ensuring you have the tools needed to provide the best possible customer experience as well as giving you the sales and customer insights that will help you make informed business decisions. Here are some of the trends we've seen in the payment industry that have affected point-of-sale systems and how we could see the systems continuing to evolve as technology continues to progress.
Mobile Payments and Tablet Point-of-Sale Systems will Continue to Grow in Popularity
It is anticipated that more business owners will adopt mobile payment options and tablet point-of-sale systems to meet their payment needs. As the consumer landscape continues to change and customers expect to make payments wherever they are, traditional brick and mortar storefronts are evolving to incorporate more pop-up events and frequent collaborations with other businesses. These instances may require you to have payment equipment and software that is able to travel with you wherever you go.
Using a tablet point-of-sale with a mobile card reader gives you the flexibility to offer a traditional checkout experience when you're in your retail location, with the option to move the POS and card reader to another location if needed. This means you don't necessarily have to invest in a second POS or card reader specifically for events or pop-ups. According to a recent article by PYMNTS.com, the mPOS terminal market will be worth $55 billion by 2024.
Card readers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated these days as well and are continuing to blur the lines between the roles card readers and traditional terminals play for businesses. There are now card readers that maintain their advantages of being more mobile, more affordable, and more data-driven while also being able to accept any type of payment method that a traditional terminal can. It's fairly safe to say the landscape of credit card processing hardware is changing dramatically, and having more options always benefits merchants.
You will have Access to More Data to Shape Your Decisions
While we have all heard of the revelations of "data," in today's business world, the truth is that many of us are still scrambling to be able to use all this data in meaningful ways. But with access to more intelligent business technology, merchants now have the tools needed to collect, track, and evaluate your customer's data and gain valuable insights into your customers and their buying habits, and these systems do so more or less automatically as you use them. As point-of-sale systems become more sophisticated they are also able to collect customer information at different stages of the customer journey and you can use this information to see what customers are purchasing, what they're looking at, what items get abandoned in your shopping cart, and what items get returned most often.
Having access to more data can give you valuable insights into what sales are going to perform the best, which products your customers prefer, and how to reduce waste and manage your inventory more effectively. The more you know about your customers and their shopping habits, the easier it is for you to understand their needs and deliver customized communications or marketing material, allowing for a closer relationship with your customers.
Data can also be applied to your inventory management and products. The more you know about which products are selling and, more importantly, which products are not selling, the easier it will be for you to adjust your product orders and predict what customers are going to want before you have to place an order.
Being able to access customer and product insights at all levels of your business means that POS systems will need to be unified systems that are able to share the same data across all of your devices and retail locations. Customers may be frustrated if they visit different locations and receive different information or have inconsistent experiences at each store. For example, if a customer gets their vehicle serviced at one of your auto shops then visits another location six months later, it could be beneficial for the mechanic to be able to reference what services they had done at the other location.
You Point-of-Sale will be Easier to Update
Unlike the traditional legacy systems that took up a lot of counter space and were expensive to install and maintain, there are now streamlined point-of-sale offerings that are run off cloud-based applications. Not only are these systems more cost-effective compared to their predecessors, but they are also significantly easier to update. Whenever a mobile POS system needs to be updated, the company simply needs to push an update that will let you know there is an update available for your POS and to download it at a time that is convenient for you, or it can be updated automatically.
Being able to send out online updates for POS systems makes it easier to keep up with customer trends, add new functionality, and fix bugs or issues if they arise. Mobile updates also make it easier to ensure all of your locations are updated simultaneously by scheduling updates to go out to all devices at a specific time, instead of having to schedule a time for someone to come out and manually issue an update. In addition, to keep the initial implementation costs down, the mobile POS will also keep maintenance costs down because you're not going to be stuck with bulky and outdated hardware that can't be updated.
Quick Access to Data for Customized Experiences
As POS systems continue to evolve and add additional features and capabilities, the systems will be able to build comprehensive customer profiles that let you access their detailed purchase history, transaction frequencies, and preferences in only a few clicks. When your customer data is combined with the flexibility of a mobile POS, it makes it easier to allow a customer to do things like order a product that is out of stock or to have something sent to someone else as a gift. You'll be able to instantly process these types of transactions using the payment information you already have on file for them.
Using a cloud-based POS system will also allow you to check if another retail location has a product in stock that your location may not. This allows you to give the customer multiple options for receiving that specific product including shipping it to their home, sending it to another store, or reserving it for the customer to go pick it up at a time that is convenient for them.
You can also use customer data and your transaction reports to identify purchase trends and get to know your customers better. These reports can be helpful when training new employees or educating your team on how they can best serve your customers and increase sales.
Security will continue to be a Top Concern
As POS systems add more customer data to their systems and are improving their mobile capabilities, ensuring that the systems are secure and that your customer information is protected will continue to increase in importance. A data breach has the potential to make headlines around the country and be extremely damaging to a business's reputation, so following best practices for security, including never storing credit card information outside of a card vault and not exposing customer information to unnecessary risks will be important for maintaining your business's reputation and avoiding lofty fines.
Your POS or payment provider should be able to give you a detailed response as to how they store your sensitive customer and payment data and what security precautions are in place to prevent a breach. Be sure to ask what amount of risk they are assuming on behalf of your business for storing this information and what amount of risk your business is exposed to.
What's New is Old Again
The payments industry is constantly changing and payment processors will be looking for new ways to upgrade and enhance their point-of-sale offering to provide you with better insights into your customer's shopping patterns and more ways to intuitively and efficiently manage your products and inventory. POS systems that may have been considered (or appeared to be) "state-of-the-art" even 5 years ago, can often look clunky and antiquated now. It can be difficult to move on from such a big investment, but with how easy it is to set up powerful POS systems on iPads and tablets today with simple apps, you can rest assured knowing that it won't be necessary to make a similarly significant investment again.