By Alexander Sund-Nielsen
Point of sale (POS) systems have long been an important part of your business – they keep track of transactions and allow you to complete a sale. However, POS systems have made huge leaps over the last few decades, and every business owner owes it to themselves to seriously consider the value-creating potential offered by modern POS solutions today, which extend much further than simply handling transactions. When you’ve got no one to compete against, it’s easy to win. Without competition, there can only be one winner of a 100-meter sprint. Add another sprinter to the race, and it provides an incentive to train, improve your skills and go the extra mile in order to finish first. While this may seem very obvious, the same rules apply to businesses. With growing competition, it becomes harder and harder for your business to stand out and create the value that ensures your customers continue to choose your business over your competitors. Modern technology and its developments are continuously providing consumers with opportunities to communicate across geographical and cultural boundaries, exchange information, and essentially make more educated and informed decisions regarding their purchasing behaviour. Power has, to a large degree, shifted into the hands of the consumer. Making your business stand out in a sea of competitors (who on the surface look very similar to you) is increasingly difficult – customers today want to buy what they want, when they want it and wherever they want it.
So what happens next? Marketing research has discussed the transition as a move from a goods-dominant logic to one that revolves around services. If product A is similar to product B, which is barely different in appearance and price to product C, how do consumers navigate the ever-growing ocean of choices? It becomes a question of offering your customers value above-and-beyond what is expected of the initial transaction. Consumers start to look for the company that provides them the best support in case something goes wrong, or provides benefits to their daily life (such as ”all X customers get a 15% discount on gym membership!”). Consumers want to feel special and wanted, and providing good service through personal interaction has become a crucial part of keeping them satisfied.
Point of sale or point of service?
What does any of this have to do with POS? POS solutions have made huge leaps in the past few decades, evolving on par with other technologies towards more simple and mobile solutions. The days of the old-school mechanical cash register whose main purpose was to simply hold the money and prevent theft, are long gone. Business-owners and entrepreneurs started to realize the potential in POS systems, and functions such as keeping track of sales transactions and automation of tasks started to make life easier for business-owners. Fast-forward a few decades, and we’re at the cusp of moving in to the next generation of POS as new companies are, once again, starting to take advantage of technological advancements in the form of tablet and app solutions and cloud technology. This has a large variety of noticeable ramifications for a business – partly because the possibility of running everything through tablets and apps have made investment into expensive hardware solutions unnecessary and instead replaced them with affordable license fees, and partly because it provides businesses the means to deliver higher quality service through the functions POS systems offer today. Today’s customers embrace technology just as rapidly as they emerge, and they expect the businesses they shop from to do the same. A flexible POS system that allows businesses to cater to the individual needs and requirements of their customers will become a cornerstone of business strategy in just the next few years for companies in direct contact with their customers.
These mobile POS solutions (MPOS) use the cloud to synchronize information and financial data in real-time, which in turn provide managers with invaluable insight when it comes to making smarter business decisions. While the benefits offered by MPOS systems vary from competitor to competitor, there are some general tendencies that dominate the market. Tablets can be removed and used as you walk around your store, meaning you can meet your customers where they are. When there are updates to the software, they can be pushed straight to your tablet quickly and for free without any major installation required because it only requires you to update the app. Furthermore, integrations with 3rd party software and cloud technology gives you access to vital business data from wherever you are in the world, allowing you to manage several crucial parts of your business in one place, such as customer relationship management, keeping stock of inventory or your accounting. Cloud technology even ensures that you don’t lose business if the internet goes down because transactions can be saved offline. With payment solutions taking a huge leap forward over the last 5 years in the form mobile payments, MPOS systems simply make it easier and quicker to accept a larger selection of payment types. Essentially, the new wave of POS solutions are capitalizing on the opportunities brought on by the increasingly dominant omnichannel perspective – that is, providing a connected and meaningful customer journey, from pre-sale to post-sale. From knowing your customers favourite order, to providing a seamless mobile experience that doesn’t even require them to use their wallet – the possibilities for development and further advancements within this space are endless, to the benefit of both business-owners and the end-consumer.
Point of sale is dead. It represents an outdated look on business management, one that simply doesn’t hold up in today’s competitive world if you want to stand out from your competitors. Sale today extends way beyond the financial transaction. A more fair way to view the software required to complete a transaction today would be Point of Service, precisely because these solutions provide you the tools to deliver an improved service experience. You can move around with the customer, the software takes care of boring business functions and time-consuming organizational tasks that free up your time, increasing your face-time with the customer – where value is actually created. To put it shortly, MPOS makes your life as a business owner easier and cheaper, while delivering more value to the customer in the end. There is little doubt that MPOS solutions will take up a larger slice of the POS landscape in the future, even for larger enterprise businesses. The benefits are immediate, and the investment small.