Additional Features, New Verticals Continue To Fuel All-In-One POS Growth
VARs must learn complementary technologies as they continue to sell all-in-one point of sale (POS) solutions into new verticals.
Surprisingly, there are still retailers who need to understand how POS technology can improve business processes. That opens the door for VARs specializing in POS, but once in the door, what are your best options for making a sale? An all-in-one system is often the best option selling to this market. However, according to several all-in-one vendors, VARs must think long-term to remain a vital player in POS and understand how expected trends such as radio frequency identification (RFID) technology integration, self-service kiosks, and new verticals such as gaming can provide future streams of revenue for their businesses.
Move Toward New Trends With Proven Technology Providers
One reason the demand for retail-hardened, all-in-one terminals continues to grow is that those systems offer several advantages over traditional PC-driven POS systems that may not stand up in harsh environments. Dropping costs, a small footprint, and ease of installation help make all-in-one POS an appealing fit for many customers. “Integrated terminals are easier to troubleshoot and service, and the evolution of ‘fan-free’ technology has further reduced service calls,” explains Tim Becerra, EVP of business development and sales for Posiflex USA Business Machines. “It’s easy to justify a slightly higher cost for these terminals with customers that value those benefits, and VARs should be aware of those features compared to PC-based POS systems.”
Karl Schoessler, VP of POS-X, urges VARs to find solid all-in-one POS base equipment before moving on toward trendier solutions. That advice includes not settling on the lowest price when bidding on a solution. “This is not the place to risk using low-quality hardware,” says Schoessler. “Find a quality product that meets your customers’ needs, utilizes top-quality components, has a two-year warranty or better, and comes in at a competitive price. Do your homework,” he urges VARs. Allen Lee, EVP of Protech Systems, echoes Schoessler’s warning about quality and reliability. “Many VARs are very sensitive on the pricing, but they don’t know that quality and service are much more important when they select POS products. Since POS is mission-critical, having one machine down at the store affects the whole operation and decreases the sales volume,” says Lee, adding that there are also software questions to resolve. “Don’t forget that the features and specs of the all-in-one equipment you choose should be compatible with the POS software selected.”
Consider How Trends Can Serve Your Customers
Once a VAR has selected hardware and software vendors with which to partner in the POS market and established a POS practice, additional growth can be achieved by considering what cutting edge technology might mean to your customers in the future, says John Confrey, director of sales and marketing for Logic Controls. For example, Confrey says he anticipates technology integrations such as the addition of RFID to all-in-one POS and POS technology used in or adapted to self-service kiosks. Confrey suggests there are many reasons POS terminals will move toward more integration, with common sense among them. “For example, adding RFID into a terminal saves space and cost, and it is located where the customer wants it,” says Confrey, who adds that the push for more integration of separate POS components comes primarily from retail verticals. “We have ended up with an industry where the company who makes the RFID reader and the company who makes the printer are different and separate, and I think you’ll see that evolve to full suites of POS solutions from one vendor in the future,” says Confrey.
Another area where vendors expect to see more change is in the realm of self-service kiosks, the offspring of ATMs and self-service post office outlets we’re all accustomed to using. “There are many instances where businesses can utilize kiosks to reduce costs and increase service, such as in restaurants, just as ATMs did decades ago,” says Confrey. Posiflex’s Becerra agrees that many trends will include embedded features, such as integrated contactless payment modules built directly into POS terminals.
Regardless of specifics, VARs interested in remaining viable in the POS space will be faced with learning new, complementary technologies as new features become embedded in all-in-one equipment. “VARs will need to study more and learn more technology [future trends] available on POS products to ensure they are able to provide the right and better solution for their customers,” says Lee. One place to find resources for tracking industry trends is within a solid partner program, says Becerra. “Focus on finding partner programs that offer you a wide array of sales and technical tools to be more effective in the field,” he says.
New Verticals Offer Additional Opportunities
Becerra also notes that there are new verticals opening up for POS installations, such as healthcare, gaming, and government. “These markets present great opportunities for VARs that can design and produce products or customized features that meet the specific need of each market,” says Becerra. “For example, casinos have been converting quickly to tableside terminals to process guests’ rewards cards and winnings. Casinos can also use all-in-one technology for bar game applications, retail shop sales, as well as show tickets and attraction kiosks.”
As for healthcare, POS offers this historically paper-based environment a better option for the collection and recording of data. Becerra suggests that POS terminals can eliminate vexing problems in the healthcare vertical, such as missing or inaccurate data, failure to comply with patient care standards, and slow feedback about patient condition. “Those errors can cost a facility tens of thousands of dollars in legitimate reimbursement, reduce the effectiveness of patient care, and even increase the risk of liability,” explains Beccera. He suggests VARs can move into the healthcare market by selling and implementing software and touch screen terminals with customized features that make data collection easier and more accurate.
Additionally, POS VARs should consider the opportunities available within the trend toward electronic voting. As governments move to eliminate those troublesome ‘hanging chads’ on paper voting ballots, VARs can offer — as an alternative — automated POS terminals for secure, electronic voting.
Regardless of the trend VARs believe best fits their customer base, Schoessler suggests they partner with an all-in-one manufacturer that has the ability to quickly change in response to trends such as these. He recommends several steps for finding a nimble vendor. “Look at the entire product line of the all-in-one manufacturer and ensure they have products that meet the modern level of computer specifications,” says Schoessler. He adds that while the POS industry does not typically require the newest specifications as compared to the overall technology industry, a POS vendor must show they have the ability to accept the latest processors.
He also suggests questioning whether a vendor’s product line is Microsoft Vista-compatible. “Even if you don’t require Vista specifications at this time, it is a good gauge to see if the product line is meeting modern day specifications and needs,” says Schoessler. “With the upcoming elimination of Windows XP, many software upgrades are being written for Vista specifications, which will leave many of the current offerings on the market outdated.”
Lastly, our vendors say to check with a vendor you are considering as a partner to see if the internal components in a POS offering are open market or customized. “While some vendors choose to go with completely customized components [such as the motherboard], it definitely reduces their ability to upgrade swiftly as the industry changes,” says Schoessler. “All-in-ones designed to work with standardized motherboard form factors allow much greater flexibility.”
For VARs entering or currently in the POS space, partnering with a well-established yet forward-looking vendor will help eliminate many steps where new POS VARs stumble, such as compromising on quality and reliability and not offering embedded features. Beyond that, as in any market where complementary technologies are converging, keeping one eye focused on trends ahead in POS will keep your POS business growing.