13 December 2019

By Caitlin GUILFOYLE – AURES UK Account Manager

It’s that time of year again – as we enter the final few days of 2019, the countdown to a new year begins, another opportunity to catch our breath, hit the restart button, contemplate where we have come from and where we are going.

Of course, this particular completion of the Earth’s journey around the sun is symbolically more significant than usual. We are on the cusp of a brand-new decade, traditionally the start of a brand-new era.

Thinking in terms of point of sale, this is a very apt moment to pause and take stock. Just think of how far EPOS technology has come in the space of the past decade. Ten years ago, cloud-based systems and touchscreens were in their infancy. Mobile POS solutions and self-service kiosks were just pipedreams.

So, as we stand at the dawn of a new decade, what can expect from EPOS in 2020 and indeed through the decade beyond? Here are our predictions for the most important trends going forward.

Expect EPOS to become more flexible

Factors like wireless technology and the cloud have all played their part in chipping away at the concept of POS being a fixed point in the store. But perhaps the biggest development in this regard is the emergence of the ‘cashless society’. With card payments overtaking cash as the most frequently used payment method and use of contactless increasing by around 30% a year, the need for fixed POS terminals on top of dedicated cash drawers is starting to dwindle.

As retail, hospitality and leisure operators adapt to this trend, expect to see more and more Mobile POS tablets, complete with integrated contactless payment portals, used to take point of sale to where the customer is.

Expect EPOS to get more personal

They say that data is the new king commodity driving the global economy. As digital transformation continues apace for businesses around the world, the switch to fully digitised operations generates all the data organisations need to become smarter and more intelligence-led in everything they do. EPOS systems already help businesses tap into the value of their data resources. Doubling up as business intelligence interfaces, the modern EPOS system puts all sorts of invaluable information right at the fingertips of management and staff, from stock flow and inventory to sales trends and margins. If you want to see how a top line is performing, see when you need to restock or check if you have got your pricing right, you can nowadays do it all from your EPOS.

Expect the next phase of this evolution to see businesses making better use of customer-centric data at the point of sale. The lesson from digital commerce is that market segmentation is no longer enough – consumers want precise, personalised service, and that can only happen when organisations get the hang of drilling deep into their data. Using CRM data at the point of sale to direct conversations is a good start, but we can foresee a future where technology allows this to go even further. For example, through the use of app-based loyalty schemes which, when the customer ‘taps in’ their account, throws up a range of personalised offers, discounts or up-sell suggestions. Combined with the added flexibility of staff moving around stores with Mobile POS tablets, this will lead to a much more intimate level of service.

Expect EPOS to get more interactive

The idea of customers using branded apps to unlock a more personalised experience when they shop or head out for a meal is also an example of retail becoming more interactive. Eight out of 10 consumers already say they use their smartphone or tablet in store as they shop, whether to compare prices or to look up product alternatives. This opens up clear opportunities for businesses to interact with their customers in innovative new ways.

Some exciting ideas include using Bluetooth beacon technology or NFC proximity scanning to identify when a customer is using their smartphone in store and trigger some sort of digital content to appear – offers and promotions on digital displays, additional product options on ‘infinite aisles’, even interactive AR interfaces where customers can virtually try on clothes, play games and so on.

Another example of EPOS becoming increasingly interactive is the rise of the self-service kiosk. This ties in to the trend for consumers using their own devices as they shop – they want to be in control, they want to shape their in-store experiences the same way they can when they browse and buy online. Offering self-service kiosks where they can look up information themselves, place orders, make reservations and pay is all part of tapping into that.