POS Goes Wireless
Wireless networking gives VARs new selling opportunities, as retailers look for ways to reconfigure their stores to improve the flow of customers.
"The retail environment is always changing to make the shopping experience easier for customers. One way is to add point of sale (POS) stations as needed during seasonal and peak sales times," says Bruce Sanguinetti, executive vice president, BreezeCOM, Inc. (Carlsbad, CA). BreezeCOM manufactures wireless technology products for telecommunications, data communications and wireless LAN applications. It is a privately-held company with 200 employees worldwide.
Wireless Cash Registers
"Wireless networking is making the wireless cash register a popular application in retail," says Sanguinetti. Five years ago, most cash registers operated using serial ports. Today, many cash registers are Ethernet-based. These cash registers have Ethernet power onboard and an RJ-45 jack and 10BaseT plug. BreezeCom's new device – the SA-10 PRO.11 station adapter - plugs into the 10BaseT path, instantly making the cash register a wireless register. The alternative, replacing the Ethernet NIC (network interface card) with a wireless circuit board, which is expensive, creates support overhead that leads to higher system costs, says Sanguinetti. With BreezeCom's product, the register can operate as a wired or wireless register. Using a wireless NIC only makes the register wireless, points out Sanguinetti. The idea of portable registers is expanded further with the use of wireless kiosks. BreezeCom's wireless device – about the size of a deck of cards – attaches to the Ethernet port of any computing device (PC, Macintosh, laptop, etc.). The kiosk only needs to be connected to AC power to operate.
Standard Expands Applications
Sanguinetti says that the adoption of wireless standards, such as 802.11, is helping to expand these types of wireless applications. Developers are building to these standards, making integration easier for VARs and integrators.
"Wired Ethernet is becoming an open standard, due in part to 802.11. We're moving away from proprietary to open systems, which enables VARs to broaden their solutions," says Sanguinetti.
Selling To New Markets
What does this mean for VARs? According to Sanguinetti, VARs can sell a new application to previous customers, as well as to new markets. A retailer, for example, can have a number of wired and wireless registers for added flexibility. The wireless registers can be used for busy seasonal sales or as replacements for inoperable registers. They can also be taken outdoors for sidewalk sales.
The hospitality market is also taking advantage of wireless registers. "Large hotels use them on various floors for remote concierge services and in convention areas," says Sanguinetti. Another growing market for wireless cash registers is gaming/casinos, he adds.