Future of point-of-sale technology in the cloud

David Russell, sales director at Secure Retail, says it’s an exciting time for the retail industry, as businesses assess the opportunities new in-store technology brings.

A lot has been said about the benefits of mobile point of sale (MPoS) in the industry, and the urgency with which retailers must acquire it. Flexible customer interactions; queue busting; upskilling staff with operational and inventory knowledge; we’re all familiar with the benefits.

However, what hasn’t been addressed so clearly is the practicalities of transitioning from traditional PoS to newer technology.

In an ideal world, retailers would love to be operating the most up-to-date system, in order to increase customer service levels and drive conversions. The reality, though, is that businesses are at different points on the mobile journey. Some organisations will still wholly run fixed PoS systems. Others will be running outlets through tablet solutions alone. The rest will be somewhere in between.

One of the challenges retail firms who fall into the final category face is blending old and new technology in a way that enhances customer experiences. MPoS is only an effective solution if it fills in the gaps that traditional tills can’t, to create a seamless end-to-end customer journey.

Until now, many retailers have found it difficult to build this journey, due to a lack of solutions that harmonise fixed and mobile PoS. Instead, they have been forced to independently source each element and negotiate price in order to implement a multichannel solution. More often than not, this can escalate into a complex, costly process with mixed results.

The good news, however, is that there are new payments technologies entering the market addressing this issue, which enable retailers to implement a multi-format solution through a single service provider. The PowaPOS T25 is a great example of this, as it’s the first universal tablet PoS that can run on iOS, Android or Windows.

It’s not just adopting a single type of hardware that benefits retailers, either. Using one payments solution provider streamlines the transition to mobile, removing the costs and logistical challenges associated with multiple partners. In the event that something goes wrong, there is a central point of contact responsible for getting issues sorted – rather than several vendors, all of whom blame the other for a technical glitch.

Despite the many benefits, there are some retailers who feel nervous about handing their in-store technology deployment over to a single provider. Naturally, there is a high degree of trust when ‘putting your eggs in one basket’, so to speak, but this doesn’t have to be a negative point if businesses find the right payment service provider for their needs.

The key to choosing a technology partner is to look not just at what they can offer right now, but their ability to scale and adapt in-store solutions as the retail landscape changes. One of the vital components to future-proofing store interactions is finding a solution based in the cloud.

Cloud PoS systems are easy to implement initially, especially in terms of their online/offline integration capabilities. Not only that, they offer added-value features such as automatic software updates without the need for downtime.
As technology progresses, cloud PoS will outlast hardware – so retailers can replace the tablets and mobile devices they are currently using with newer, more efficient models, and the data powering those new PoS will be ready to connect immediately.

This is an exciting time for the industry, and as mobile matures we will see more and more retailers build outstanding customer service solutions through in-store technology. Some of these businesses will make it hard for themselves by trying to create their own solution from scratch. The ones that quickly and efficiently bring new functionality to the store, however, will invest in a cloud-based solution from a single payment service provider – and will continually adapt this solution as customer behaviour patterns evolve.

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