Does it matter to you that experts think mobile devices could have a big impact on the point-of-sale (POS) system market this year? It should if you’re looking to ditch your restaurant’s current POS system for one that does more, costs less—maybe even nothing up front—or can integrate with your customers’ Facebook accounts.
Research firm IHL Group tracks global shipments of POS systems made to restaurants and other retail businesses. While 2010 was a banner year, with the worldwide POS market growing at a 6.9 percent rate, IHL sees potential trouble ahead for the companies that make these products.
“2010 was a strong year overall, but several threats appear on the horizon for this market,” says IHL Group president Greg Buzek. “New mobile devices, inspired by the Apple iPad price point of $500, are a significant threat to the traditional POS market, particularly for specialty stores and hospitality establishments. Our recent research studies found that upwards of 50 percent of specialty retailers are looking to deploy handheld POS devices to replace many of their standard POS systems.”
It’s a threat for manufacturers, but perhaps an opportunity for restaurant operators. 2011 could be a good year to replace or upgrade your restaurant’s POS system. One company, payment processor United Bank Card, has linked up with POS system maker Harbortouch to offer restaurant operators a new, full-featured POS system for free. The two requirements are that the restaurant maintains a merchant account with UBC and signs a monthly service agreement for the system.
The idea, says UBC head Jared Isaacman, is to allow smaller operations who can’t afford the sizable up-front costs of a new POS system to get one, the better to compete with big chains that can afford the latest technology.
“Large national restaurant chains and big-box retail stores have been taking advantage of this technology for years because of the myriad benefits it offers,” he explains. “At a time when many small and mid-sized businesses are struggling, we are providing these benefits that many business owners may not have previously been able to afford. In addition to speeding up payment transactions, POS systems automate many aspects of day-to-day business including employee management, thus streamlining a merchant’s overall operations and allow them to focus on keeping their customers satisfied and spending.
“Another tremendous benefit provided by POS systems is the comprehensive reporting they provide. Advanced reporting functionality provides business owners with greater control and allows them to make more informed business decisions while saving on accounting and bookkeeping expenses.”
Is UBC crazy? Apparently its experience with providing free credit card terminals, begun in 2003, and free electronic cash registers, which started in 2009, makes the company think it’s a good investment on their end. You can see the details at: http://www.unitedbankcard.com/news/Jan_1_11_Free_POS.html.
We don’t know if it’s a smart move for you. But it might be worth a look, because the never-ending pace of technological progress affects everything digital, even POS systems. Check out the latest wrinkle from Beanstalk Loyalty, whose product “leverages data within your POS system and takes advantage of your customer’s order history, dynamically loads offers onto their account and closes the loop on redemption to easily track ROI.” You can find out more about what this company dubs its “integrated customer loyalty platform” here: www.beanstalkloyalty.com.
Certainly the promise is tantalizing, at least from a marketing perspective.
“Our unique integration with Facebook enables retail stores and restaurants—with their customers’ permission given during loyalty registration—to check them into Facebook Places, post on their wall and potentially influence their Facebook friends while at the same time leveraging the POS information to influence their behavior,” says Beanstalk v.p. Gilbert Bailey.
If the idea of deploying this much digital firepower on your customer base is appealing, Beanstalk’s technology might be worth a look.