New Angles On All-In-One Sales
By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine.
Add-on opportunities and emerging verticals could boost your all-in-one POS business.
Retailers looking for all-in-one POS solutions want more than just a way to collect payment. They are trying to differentiate their store experience, create a dialogue with their customers, and generate new customer data points that they can use to improve marketing and stimulate sales. At the same time, they are still interested in practical considerations like serviceability, modularity, and long-term costs, as well as integrating new customer-facing peripherals.
That’s what leading vendors are saying about the all-in-one market, trends which VARs will need to creatively address if they want to increase margins and move their sales beyond basic transactions and into new and emerging markets. “POS terminals are no longer restricted to just point of sale and are highly adaptable to various industries and applications,” says Doyle Ledford, VP of sales at Posiflex Business Machines. “Outside of point of sale, these applications can be appropriately termed as the ‘point of interaction’ — providing an enriched, engaging experience. Almost all vertical markets like gaming, healthcare, logistics, and education have a place for point of interaction, even when there is no transaction taking place.”
Specialty retailers are increasingly moving to allin- one solutions, as are users in other industries that require interactive touch points for self-service, assisted selling, and information access. “Even though all-in-one systems are traditionally used in restaurant POS environments, they are benefiting from the growth of self-service or interactive touch points,” says Mike Adams, director of retail sales at Dell Retail Solutions. “All-in-ones are being used for patient check-in in healthcare, ticket kiosks in museums and theaters, or as an assisted selling tool in a retail store aisle. The key is for VARs to partner with application providers who can generate compelling interfaces and content that encourages customers to utilize these touch points.”
New mounting options and improved computing horsepower are opening up other markets, as well. Food trucks, for one, are taking advantage of hardware that can be wall- or pole-mounted to save valuable counter space, while adding new peripherals. “The onset of food trucks and their popularity has opened up a new market for VARs,” says Bryan Daughtry, VP of sales and marketing at UP Solution. “The influx of deluxe food trucks has resulted in a demand for maximizing efficiency from order entry to consumer payment, while reducing the POS footprint as much as possible. We have seen a large number of VARs who have quickly adapted new solutions and marketing tactics to maximize this opportunity.”
In addition, retailers and other users are being driven by consumer demand to implement fullsize, customer-facing LCDs and digital signage, touch-capable displays, and other innovations in order to improve the customer interaction. VARs need to be able to design solutions to follow suit. “Typical two-line customer VFDs (vacuum fluorescent displays) cannot provide the advertising, suggestive selling, or social media content that you can get with an interactive display,” says Steve Schoenecker, product engineer at Panasonic.
POS In The Cloud? Maybe
Customers are evaluating cloud-based POS solutions because this hosted model can extend the IT arm without adding new infrastructure and licensing new software, while reducing the cost to deploy a new system. However, there are security risks associated with payment card industry (PCI) standards compliance, the availability of the solution, and data integrity. In addition, there are more variables at play that could potentially cause a disruption, including the reliability of the Internet provider, the server, and the internal network.
Some of the reluctance to launch cloud-based POS solutions is based on incorrect information regarding access, however. “The general assumption with early versions of this solution is that it could not operate if there was an interruption in Internet service,” Schoenecker says. “This may not be the case, but as a result, there hasn’t been much traction in cloud-based POS solutions as of yet. However, one of the merits for the cloud-based solution would be less processing power required in the store, allowing the customer to install a lower-cost, fanless workstation versus one of the more high-end models.”
Add-On Opportunities Abound For All-In-Ones
There are a number of emerging opportunities and addons that can help POS VARs increase their sales and their margins, while providing valuable new services to their customer base. Digital signage is one of the biggest, since it allows real-time changes to store promotions, pricing, and menus, and can be used for personalized shopping solutions. Wireless audio, security solutions, and timers are also popular add-ons.
“Combined with the cost-effective impact of no longer having to print and distribute signage, digital signage is here to stay and has changed the point of sale forever,” Daughtry says. “We also have seen a growing demand for customer-facing LCDs, which allow a merchant to convey a customized message to its captive audience while at the point of sale.”
Mobile solutions also present a potentially valuable (but still emerging) opportunity. “Mobile POS is a lucrative untapped market for VARs,” says Craig Paritz, president of Touch Dynamic. “VARs can now add mobile POS to their traditional POS sites to complement previous installations and add additional revenue streams.”
Digital surveillance and analytics can be added to a POS solution to provide people-counting and queue management functions, as well as new business insights (beyond the standard loss prevention benefit). Retailers using this data could more effectively staff the POS, track conversion rates, and reward employees.
Services related to all-in-ones (troubleshooting, downtime management, etc.) can also generate incremental revenue on the postsales side. “The key to earning better margins for the VAR is to find reliable hardware that runs on maximum uptime,” Ledford says. “This keeps everyone happy — the VAR’s customers, their end users, and the VAR since they will not have to spend time on technical glitches but on building their business.”
POS As The Customer Experience Hub
In the short term, most of the vendors in this story expect to see a continued focus on increased speeds and memory, along with wireless connectivity in the all-in-one space. Customers will want to do more with their POS software, and these additional applications will require more memory. “Hardware manufacturers are continually releasing faster specs with much higher memory to keep up with the software demands,” Paritz says. “2012 will see great advances in hardware specs due to the implementation of all-in-ones that run Intel’s latest I-series processors.”
The POS will become the hub of an overall interactive experience that will help retailers glean new insights into their consumers. “The market is being driven by the active content and the customer experience,” Schoenecker says. “While being driven by software, more and more content will be driven by the all-in-one workstation. More devices will be interconnected, and the interoperability of the systems in the installation will be centered on the POS and its processing power.”
According to Daughtry, the all-in-one industry is also being impacted by the merchant-acquiring industry. “More acquirers and ISOs are shifting focus to the POS market, which has already resulted in free POS programs, POS rental programs, and other significant incentive programs [discounted hardware and software, free payment modules, etc.] for VARs that are willing to partner with these organizations for their customers’ merchant-processing business,” Daughtry says. “While many VARs are reluctant to embrace this change, it is becoming more evident that they need to have a solution in their arsenal to compete with those VARs that already have.”