OPOS Opens The Pole Display Market
Vendor warns VARs to look beyond price to pole display functionality when selling this POS peripheral.
Many of our customers are asking for USB point of sale (POS) peripherals," says Sarah Ahmadinia, v.p./COO of EMAX International, Inc. USB (universal serial bus) is a hardware interface that enables POS peripherals to be daisy-chained or linked together. This eliminates the problem of not having enough available ports for peripherals on a PC-based system, Ahmadinia explains. EMAX (Santa Fe Springs, CA), founded in 1992, has 15 employees. The company manufactures pole displays, keyboards, monitors, touch panel systems and other POS hardware systems.
Just as USB offers VARs more flexibility in configuring systems, a new industry standard may soon make peripherals from multiple vendors truly plug and play. The new standard has been developed by Microsoft and several POS hardware vendors and software developers. This standard, known as OPOS (Object Linking and Embedding [OLE] for Retail POS) provides a common interface for 32-bit Windows applications. The Association for Retailing Technology Standards (ARTS), an organization of retailers and vendors, has already adopted the OPOS standard.
Retail software developers are developing new software versions to this standard. VARs can choose OPOS-compliant hardware from different vendors when putting together a system for their customers.
Complying With Standards
Ahmadinia says for vendors, making products OPOS-compliant may be an expensive, but necessary process. It often means reengineering entire hardware product lines. In the case of pole displays, changes must be made to the pole display's printed circuit board. However, VARs will find that using OPOS-compliant peripherals allows them to choose the best products from multiple vendors for their customers.
Will New Standard Affect Competition?
One concern Ahmadinia has about OPOS is how it will eventually affect competition in the market. Ahmadinia acknowledges that cost may often determine the choice of pole displays as they become more standardized and plug and play. She cautions VARs to consider other factors, in addition to price, when choosing a pole display vendor.
What To Look For When Choosing A Pole Display
Ahmadinia suggests VARs consider the following:
- Product quality - VARs should look for the Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) mark on all pole displays sold in the United States. There is an additional mark, the CE mark, required on products sold in Europe. This mark indicates a vendor has tested its products to an additional standard.
- Product warranty - Does the vendor guarantee its products? VARs should ask what warranties, if any, are on the pole displays. Also, VARs should ask who is responsible for service if a pole display fails after installation?
- Return policy - Similarly to the warranty, VARs should ask vendors about return policies. EMAX, for example, will "swap out" pole displays, sending new ones to end users in exchange for the non-working displays, as an added service.
- Pole display features - Pole displays now incorporate many messaging features like four-line displays, split screens and scrolling capabilities. Retailers with limited counter space, for example, can have a pole display do "double duty" as an advertising medium and a price display.