Profit From Touch Screen Sales In Retail
Shrinking hardware costs, next-generation hardware offerings, and mature touch-enabled retail point of sale software drive widespread adoption of touch screens.
It has been widely anticipated, for some time, that touch screen technology would be broadly adopted in retail point of sale (POS) applications. Until recently, however, the rush toward the use of touch screens in retail has been more of a trickle. That is now beginning to change, and that change creates new opportunities for VARs ready to lead the way. Shrinking hardware costs, next-generation hardware offerings, and the broader availability of mature touch-enabled retail point of sale software leads me to believe that 2001 will be the year that touch screen applications move into mainstream retail. The widespread adoption of touch screen technology by hospitality retailers over the past five years has been driven by faster throughput and reduced training time - made possible by a user-friendly graphical interface. While these same benefits affect retailers, adoption in the retail sector of the market has been inhibited by several factors. Among the major issues have been the lack of mature POS software and hardware designed to meet the specific needs of retailers and the cost differential between touch-based terminals compared to keyboard-based hardware.
The barriers to adoption of touch in retail are dissolving. The variety and maturity of retail POS software designed to maximize the benefits of a graphical user interface (GUI) have improved significantly in the past year. New touch screen hardware platforms - designed specifically for retail POS - have been introduced. Retail-specific touch screen features such as keyboards integrated with LCD touch monitors or integrated terminals offer an ergonomic design that optimizes functionality of the user interface.
Cost barriers are also being reduced. A variety of inexpensive POS software packages that incorporate intuitive touch screen graphical interfaces is now available. This development, combined with the downward trend of touch screen hardware costs, has narrowed the price premium for touch screen retail POS solutions.
Providing touch-based retail POS to small chains and independents offers opportunities for VARs who have struggled to profitably serve this important market segment. Reduced training time, made possible by graphical touch-oriented software interfaces, allows VARs to spend less time hand holding the customer after installation. Another important consideration for this market segment is the VAR's ability to remotely reprogram touch screen terminals via a software update. This replaces costly on-site service calls required, for example, to relabel keycaps in traditional keyboard-based terminals.
Vertical Market Selection
As in the hospitality POS market, the greatest benefits of a touch screen POS interface are increased transaction speed and reduced training time. It makes sense that the early adopters of this technology have been in vertical markets where high transaction volume and high employee turnover are common features. It is not surprising that convenience stores are among the first market segments where significant penetration of touch screens has occurred at the POS. The benefits of touch screens make them an obvious choice for all types of retailers, as cost decreases and maturity and selection increase.
The VAR Opportunity
Offering touch screen-based POS solutions tailored to retail markets provides excellent opportunities for POS VARs looking to get ahead of the demand curve. While most retailers are not yet asking for touch screen-based solutions, given the quality and price points of the hardware and software now available, the benefits are clear and simple to demonstrate. This approach provides VARs with a double benefit. First, leading with a touch screen-based POS solution enables VARs to distinguish themselves from the competition. Secondly, the reduced training, programming, and maintenance costs offered by touch screen solutions will allow VARs to serve a larger customer base at a lower cost.
In summary, the combination of maturing touch-enabled POS software for retail, decreasing touch screen hardware prices, and consumer acceptance of GUIs makes touch screen solutions for retail POS a product that will become more broadly adopted. Within this trend lies a profitable opportunity for POS VARs.Questions about this article? Contact the author via the website www.nsadistribution.com.