For static, “closed” POS terminals the final hour is approaching – now the new era of cutting-edge ePOS terminals has begun.
Currently, there is a lot of moving and shaking on the international payment scene:
- There are new players, like the multitude of innovative and disruptive FinTech companies
- New methods, like Alipay or WeChat Pay
- New customer solutions, like mobile payment – just to mention a few
This is why it is safe to say that never before has the payment industry undergone such major transitions as today.
It is also no wonder that the point-of-sale (POS) terminals in brick-and-mortar shops are in a process of change these days. This is inevitable to cope with the many new demands from customers and merchants. But also in order to compete with the very strong and omnipresent competitors from e-commerce – or to offer the combination of the offline and online channel, like in an omnichannel approach.
Classical POS terminals just can’t cope with new requirements
Let’s have a quick look at how old-school POS terminals work:
POS terminals traditionally are a combination of software and hardware that allow merchants to accept credit or debit card payments by reading the customer’s information, checking whether the funds of their bank account are sufficient and transferring the purchase amount to the seller’s account. And at the end, a receipt can be printed.
The communication occurs via internet protocol (IP) – which, however, is not to be confused with full internet connection.
The key weak points of these old generation POS terminals are mainly that they are “closed” terminals – updating their software is expensive and time consuming, and it’s not possible via internet.
Possible extensions of their functionality are therefore very limited. This is further compounded by the hardware which consists of a physical keypad and a small monochrome, non touch-sensitive display. That means: If you need more features, you’re usually forced to buy new hardware.
The evolution from POS to ePOS
The electronic Point-of-Sale (ePOS) ushers in a new era for commerce in general and payment in particular.
Basically, thanks to a full internet connection via API interface, it has become possible to offer a much wider range of further services – based on the already existing infrastructure. And this can be done quickly, easily and at low cost.
5 features to look out for if you want a future-proof POS terminal
Given the limitations of the “old” POS terminals, a new generation of smart ePOS terminals is now entering the markets: they are much more intelligent, more versatile and open up completely new opportunities to merchants.
If you want to take advantage of it and are thinking about entering the 21st century in terms of payment terminals, here are 5 pieces of advice on what to look for when investing in a future-proof solution.
Let me illustrate some of my recommendations with pictures of the very progressive Poynt ePOS terminal, the world’s first smart terminal, which has only recently become available in Europe and Asia as well:
1. Hybrid ePOS terminals: Mobile, tablet and card reader all-in-one
In times where everybody carries a little supercomputer – a.k.a. smartphone – in their pocket, why should an ePOS terminal be any less smart?
Modern, smart ePOS terminals offer the performance of mobiles, plus the functions of tablets (with big, hi-res displays, which also allow you to play product videos), plus card readers.
By enabling inputs completely based on a touch-display, not on physical keys, any future features can be included.
2. Keep it open to future innovations
Who knows which further great innovations are waiting for merchants round the corner in one, two or five years? And who can say today how their requirements may change?
So make sure your ePOS terminal not only includes the current state of the art technology – such as contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) or communication via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), QR code and barcode scanning or receipt printing; but it also obviously has to include standard functions as magnetic stripe and EMV chip reading.
And if one day hands-free payment via beacons, in-app payment or payment via Bitcoins may be the thing, a smart ePOS terminal will be ready in no time.
3. User-friendliness is key – both for merchants customers
Everybody loves tablets thanks to their user-friendliness – they are so fun and easy to handle that even little kids can use them with ease.
This successful recipe has been transferred to smart ePOS terminals. A user-friendly, self-explanatory interface is not only intuitive to learn and easy to use, but it saves shop clerks plenty of time. Especially when simple handling combines with a fast processor and a high-speed internet connection.
And what are some of the main advantages for customers?
With a second screen directed to them there is no need to turn the device back and forth. Customers can not only see the due amount, but they can also see what payment methods are possible, they can be addressed by name (“Hello Mark, how did you like your lunch today?”) and instantly give a rating, can sign by using their finger, insert their PIN, see what other products fit with their choice or what are current discount campaigns.
Last but not least you can offer them loyalty programs – which make the shopping experience much more personal. This can be collecting points, using a digital stamp card or accepting vouchers, or specific advantages for customers, like giving them every 10th haircut for free.
4. Boost your omnichannel strategy – cleverly combine ePOS and e-commerce
There was a time not long ago, Poynt founder and CEO Osama Bedier recalls, when people did not really understand what omnichannel actually means. Simply put, it means making all of the shopping channels work as a single experience – or alternatively one channel delivering multiple ways with one view of the customer. And experts agree that omnichannel is the future of retail.
In order to enable merchants to successfully set-up their omnichannel strategy, a new-generation ePOS terminal can help a lot. Merchants don’t even need a central POS system any more, but all information is exchanged between ePOS terminals and your core software – e.g. SAP – and allows a deep integration.
Here are a few of the insights possible thanks to the drastically expanded data streams:
- payment data
- inventory data: warehousing, available stock
- customer relationship management data, e.g. who are your regular customers or which products are often bought together – and should therefore be placed in proximity
- click-and-collect solutions
Basically, a modern ePOS terminal tirelessly collects a lot of relevant data. By the way, if you want to get deeper into the matter, read more about how big data streams from customer touchpoints can be used effectively and about the fundamental role artificial intelligence will play for the retail of the future.
Choose a forward-looking, smart #ePOS terminal solution which offers the best opportunities
5. Choose a solution that enables tailor-made solutions
In life, like in business, you never know how things develop. So make sure your ePOS terminal solution can adapt precisely to your evolving business needs.
An important factor for flexibility is a common operation system, e.g. based on Android. Like that, when you need an additional feature, you just download an app. Of course before being provided, these apps go through a thorough safety check.
To make it more specific, let me illustrate this with a hypothetical example: Imagine you run a shop for exclusive high-grade sneakers which you in paral also offer online.
- You decide to enlarge your shop?
It is enough to simply buy additional ePOS terminals, not expensive stationary terminals.
- You want to open an additional branch?
The warehousing data is made available in realtime by your smart ePOS terminal. And if some product is not available in a branch, you offer free home delivery.
- You notice that your customers appreciate your awesome advisory service?
Store retail applications allow you to understand your customers’ individual preferences (e.g. they already own two types of a sneaker model in different colors – so let them know when a new design of the same model becomes available).
- More and more of your customers come from foreign countries?
By just downloading an appropriate app, you can offer them tax refund.
- You notice that Chinese customers especially love your products?
Via a simple remote update you add a “China package” to your ePOS terminal, allowing you to accept payments via WeChat Pay, Alipay and Union Pay.
These are just some examples of how many opportunities a modern ePOS terminal solutions can offer you. Just use smart technology to offer a great consumer experience, a great selection of products and attractive prices. “You have to be a technology company to be in retailing in the future”, the CEO of Poynt emphasized when talking to the online specialist medium pymnts.com.
To conclude, whichever decision you make – be sure to choose a forward-looking ePOS solution that allows you to get the most out of your business, today and tomorrow!