By John Badovinac, Senior Manager, Acquirer Relations, Discover Network
Expectations of the POS have changed
Heads up POS providers — apps have gotten better! Take a second to look at your phone and consider your favorite apps. Whether they help you connect, consolidate news feeds, find deals or speed up your checkout at the coffee shop — these apps have definitely gotten better. They meet specific consumer needs while fitting into our daily routine more seamlessly. In the process, these apps have raised consumer expectations for what user experiences should be. It’s key to remember that these app users are also the consumers that shop at our merchant locations and the business owners that evaluate and select POS (point of sale) systems. Increasingly, both consumers and business owners will demand a more app-like experience from their in-store POS interaction. These increased expectations of the POS will provide opportunities for Dealers to profit from transitioning the POS to a more app-like experience.
These changes will only accelerate due to the empowerment of the developer community by two important trends: access to open APIs and cloud-based hardware and storage. Developers now have free access to software used by many of the world’s most capable tech companies, and ridiculously inexpensive access to application hosting hardware. Barriers to individual application development that used to exist have recently been blown away. Business owners are now being approached by new POS entrants armed with applications that are focused on driving value beyond payments by offering embedded loyalty, or client management systems. They now promote loyalty programs that promise to demonstrate the efficacy of their campaigns in real time. While the number of POS applications continue to proliferate, it’s important to recognize that they are limited by their ability to be quickly implemented at the POS. It is also clear that established POS developers are improving their applications to respond to the challenges of new channel entrants. Dealers can benefit from this transition by accelerating the deployment of these new or improved applications to the POS.
Dealers are uniquely positioned to benefit from this change
Dealers own ‘the last foot’ of connectivity to POS. Cool apps are just great ideas unless they can be delivered at scale to the POS. While developers can create new solutions, and payments infrastructure can provide a rail for connectivity, Dealers are often the most critical dependency for a new service since they usually install it at the POS. They have earned the role of the merchant’s trusted advisor by understanding their business needs and by becoming familiar with the POS hardware and any proprietary ISV software deployed there. As the role of the Dealer becomes increasingly important to the deployment of new large-scale applications, Dealers can maximize their opportunities by demonstrating that they can drive change to the POS faster than their competitors. This will also increase their value to organizations focused on driving change to the POS.
Discover wants to work with Dealers to accelerate this change to the POS
By now most of the channel understands that Discover enjoys being ‘Different’. We are proud to provide merchants with new opportunities at the POS, both from our international partnerships and from our relationships with alternative payments companies. Discover has engaged the channel to identify and promote mutual goals. We recently convened a group of channel thought leaders to develop partnership opportunities that would also help Discover advance our key priorities. A key take away from this input session was that in order to ensure delivery of new opportunities through ‘the last foot’ of the payments infrastructure we would need to engage Dealers. The group also identified ways that ISVs and Acquirers could support the process and benefit from the increased throughput that Discover’s relationships with Dealers would provide. The overall consensus was that we need to work together, and we need to work fast! We are currently working with key relationships to identify Dealers for pilot projects focused on quickly driving change to the POS through targeted local initiatives. Contact us at (800) 951-0633, or at VARconnetion@discover.com to learn more about resources available to Dealers and to explore opportunities for growth in 2014.