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04 Oct 2023 | 11:00

The future of POS: Integrating technology into the customer journey

Consumer behaviour has been undergoing a huge shift for a number of years. Personalisation, omni-channel shopping experiences, the rise of ecommerce and the ebb and flow of traditional bricks and mortar stores on the high street have all rendered the purchasing landscape almost unrecognisable compared to even a decade ago. In response, businesses have been forced to adapt and innovate in order to keep with the changing dynamics of shopping. One key aspect that has undergone perhaps the most notable transformation is the Point of Sale (POS) system. Once seen as a stationary tool with a large footprint and often unwieldy user interfaces, POS technology has evolved and become a fully integrated part of the customer journey. 

Advancements in technology have taken the static POS and put it into a more portable, more high-tech, more mobile solution. In partnership with our technology experts at Epson, we explain how the traditional POS has morphed into what it is today, how recent events have impacted the consumer experience and, finally, how the advancements can be applied to, and used within a range of environments including retail and hospitality and leisure. 

How did the pandemic change the consumer landscape? 

The global pandemic had a significant impact on consumer behaviour. Most notably, the entire high street was forced to close its doors; either pivoting to online shopping experiences or finding alternative ways to do business such as contactless drop-offs. This also forced their customers to adapt, too. 

Research published in 2021 by Think With Google UK found that in the pandemic, many consumers were forced to shop online for the first time which accounted for the bias shift towards online shopping. In 2023, this was forecast to continue, but Insider Intelligence predicts that “UK ecommerce sales will dip further by 0.6% in 2023. That means ecommerce’s share of total retail sales will fall to 32.0% this year, compared with its peak of 37.6% in 2021.” They go on to explain that “despite high inflation, UK retail sales are performing better than expected as consumers keep spending—albeit with cuts to nonessentials. But ecommerce will lose further share in 2023 as more shoppers return to stores. To continue growing online sales in the face of a shrinking market and Amazon’s ongoing dominance, retailers and brands will need to be innovative and agile.”

On the move: the evolution of POS systems

The evolution of the point of sale system has been integral to the development of the consumer experience. The very first POS system was introduced in 1879 by saloon-owner James Ritty of Ohio, USA. His cash register (ECR) paved the way for IBM to launch their first POS system for restaurants in 1973. 

As the first computer-based POS, waiting staff could now relay orders to the kitchen instantly via remote printing; a time-saving mechanism that’s still used to this very day. Even now, the POS system has changed almost beyond recognition; gone are the cumbersome cash registers that can only be used for transactional purposes. 

Now we have dynamic, mobile solutions which can manage everything from contactless payments to employee shift scheduling, inventory management and even sales forecasting! The modern POS system is designed to enhance customer experiences and streamline operations simultaneously.

The benefits of modern POS systems

Whether you're in retail, hospitality, or leisure, the path of innovation, efficiency and agility can be found in the humble POS system. 

The key benefits of adopting modern, mobile, POS systems include: 

  • Integrating the online and offline experience

  • Maximising space 

  • Elevating the hospitality experience

Let’s explore these in greater depth. 

Integrating online and offline: The new normal

As we have already discussed, the pandemic greatly accelerated the shift towards online shopping, creating an immediate need for businesses to better integrate their online and offline experiences more seamlessly. In fact, 73% of shoppers reported that they expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations. 

This is where your choice of POS can really help to elevate your customer experience. An integrated system will help your business, and your staff, connect the dots between your customers online and offline shopping experience. Not only can an upgraded POS and printer allow you to take payment in various ways (one of our popular printers, the TM-M30II and TM-M30II-SL printers by Epson allow printing direct from mobile devices!) but customers can now even access online offers, promotions, and personalised messaging directly from your POS, too! 

Maximum impact, minimal space

During the pandemic, retail premises were forced to close their doors. While the news headlines may have expounded that the virus killed the high street by changing everyone’s shopping preferences to online over in-person, the data tells a different story. Despite inflation and the nasty sting that it carries in its tail, data shared by The Spectator reveals that sales volumes actually increased in June 2023, bucking previous post-pandemic trends. 

With the high street in a period of recovery, businesses are confronted with the challenge of modernising their operations to align with the latest and greatest shopping trends. In a world where consumers flit between chatbots, instant recommendations and next day delivery, physical stores must find ways to offer a unique, positive, in-store experience to draw customers back through the doors. 

 In order to reduce the friction of queuing, many retailers are turning their attention to smaller, more modern POS solutions that take up much less space, are mobile and can roam the shoppable space with their staff, and make more room for purchases to be made. The Epson TM-M30II All-in-One mPOS system is a great example of this; combining a print and a tablet stand to free up space at the point of sale. All-in-one devices like this are often also compatible with popular platforms such as Lightspeed, Square, SumUp, Deliverect, Reveal POS, Just Eat, and Uber Eats. This further reduces the need for POS ‘clutter’ and for your staff, and customers, to have multiple touchpoints. Now, with all of the data you need in one, compact, POS you can ensure a seamless experience for your customers and workforce. 

Retail transformation: From counters to the shop floor

We can even take this one step further. The traditional POS terminal, while functional, often results in long queues and limited interaction points. In fact, UK POS shared that 59% of shoppers are not willing to wait in line, and that a further 68% of consumers cited long checkout lines as a reason for not shopping in store. 

Now, mobile POS devices reign supreme on the shop floor. Equipped with handheld devices and hooked up to a portable printer, such as the Epson TM-P80II, retail workers can engage with customers directly on the shop floor. This allows the convenience of immediate checkout, without the need for the customer to ever join a queue. This flexibility not only enhances customer satisfaction, but also optimises floor space; transforming every square foot of your shop into a potential sales opportunity. 

The same can also be said for the leisure and hospitality industry. 

Leisure and hospitality; streamlining operations

The leisure and hospitality industry have experienced a similar transformation in the POS systems. 

Take a busy restaurant environment; the outdated approach of taking orders on paper and shuttling them to the kitchen often resulted in errors, delays and hungry, frustrated, diners. Today, mobile systems using solutions like the Epson TM-M30II series paired with a tablet, plus a handheld device for workers on table service, are able to take centre stage. 

Not only do mobile POS devices enable you to automatically send orders directly to the kitchen without having to leave your customers' side, but they can settle up the bill, add notes to the kitchen and even check allergen information without moving a muscle. 

This helps to eliminate miscommunication and accelerates the order-to-table process. For leisure partners, mobile POS systems and printers can be used to quickly sell tickets, concessions, and merchandise from anywhere within the venue, reducing congestion and ensuring a seamless, profitable, guest experience. 

The next steps: embracing the future of POS systems 

In the ever-changing business landscape, staying relevant is a top priority and the role of the POS system has never been more crucial. It’s no longer just about making the transaction; your POS is an essential part of the customer journey that can have an impact on everything from your bottom-line sales to your staff efficiency to your customer satisfaction scores. 

How can The Barcode Warehouse support your business? 

Solutions such as the Epson TM-M30II printers, paired with a tablet, have been designed with a space-saving shape, enhanced connectivity and unrivalled mobile compatibility. This takes the challenges of limited counter space, miscommunications in orders and consumer demands out of the equation. A portable printer, such as the Epson TM-P80II , paired with a handheld device, takes retail experiences to a new level, enabling businesses just like yours to engage customers beyond the traditional checkout area.

Final thoughts 

In summary, the future of POS systems lies in their ability to elevate the customer journey. Those who embrace innovative solutions, like those offered by Epson, are well-positioned to create memorable experiences that resonate with today's tech-savvy and convenience-driven consumers.

 Ready to step into the future? Experience the power of compact design, enhanced connectivity, and seamless integration as you elevate your customer experiences and drive your business forward. Explore our innovative point of sale solutions today and take the first step towards transforming your operations today. 

 

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