ASPs Invade POS
Want to profit from POS Networking? Then, you should spend some more time learning about ASPs and less time on cash drawers and credit card readers.
The goal of POS (point of sale) networking is as obvious as it sounds - connect POS devices to a network so they can communicate with each other. However, VARs today are faced with providing customers with solutions that not only connect devices within a facility, but also connect the devices over the Internet to a host application server.
Lee Stagni, president and COO of Comtrol (Minneapolis) sees an ASP (application service provider) trend in POS networking. "We are seeing a lot more solutions being developed to connect devices over a network. Devices are still being connected locally, but the POS application is being hosted on a main server somewhere else."
Networking All The POS Pieces
So what does all of this mean? Say for instance that a restaurant wants to remotely monitor the temperature of its freezer using an application hosted by an ASP. The freezer is connected to the restaurant's POS network, which has the ability to send a message to the ASP when it drops below a certain temperature. In order for that message to be sent via e-mail or pager it needs a method of delivery. In other words, the restaurant network needs to be able to access the application server over the Internet. As long as the freezer is networked over the Internet, the freezer's temperature could be managed without ever going on-site.
"We are working with software companies that are trying to deliver their product over the Internet through an ASP. We want to provide a gateway between on-site networks and host servers," says Stagni. "Currently, we are developing new technologies that allow for Web-based configuration of our serial hubs, as well as e-mail notification, by embedding Web-servers and e-mail clients in our systems."
Centralized Administration Cuts Costs
According to Chuck Pheterson, director of product marketing for Equinox (Sunrise, FL), "ASPs started out doing office automation applications. As the Internet and networks become more pervasive and more reliable, it just makes sense to migrate POS applications into an ASP model. It is all predicated on networking."
With an ASP, retail chains can change their basic POS application at the main application server. This can help VARs save time and money because they no longer have to reconfigure each POS system at all of its customers' locations. With ASPs, sales information can be quickly gathered from multiple locations at the end of each day. "If everything is running on a main server, then all the information is already there. The whole polling effort is curtailed," says Pheterson. Additionally, with ASPs, sales clerks can be easily talked through problems. This cuts down on the expense of sending service technicians out to deal with remote issues.
Knowledge And Understanding Can Lead To Increased Revenues
POS VARs must have knowledge of ASPs and networking technology in order to provide this kind of integrated solution to their customers. VARs can increase their revenues in many ways by selling a total connectivity solution in the POS market. For example, some ASPs pay resellers a percentage of the subscription-based service agreement. Resellers can also profit from continually providing training to their customers as applications are updated. VARs will still benefit from hardware maintenance and support service contracts.
ASPs give small- to medium-sized companies the ability to create enterprise-like solutions at a lower cost of ownership. They don't have to invest in a lot of the software and hardware. In addition, they don't need an IT staff because a VAR can handle their service needs. ASPs give POS VARs the opportunity to create a total connectivity solution or build on customers' existing networks. The bottom line is POS VARs can profit from ASPs if they do their homework.Questions about this article? E-mail the author at KatyW@corrypub.com.