Point of Sale (POS) Technology
Future-focused retail stores, restaurants, and hospitability companies are embracing a new generation of POS technology that makes it easier than ever for customers to find and buy what they want and provides businesses with new opportunities for efficiency, growth, and success.
These new retail POS systems are powerful tools that come in a variety of form factors and can integrate with computer vision, artificial intelligence, edge computing, IoT sensors, and other emerging technologies to give businesses unprecedented insight into the changing customer journey.
POS Systems: Past and Future
As the retail, food services, and hospitality industries have evolved over the last few decades, so too has POS technology. Stationary terminals—operated by employees—are the original and most common type of POS system. Self-checkout kiosks put customers in control of their transactions by incorporating POS systems with the latest AI, IoT, and edge computing technologies. Multidevice systems, which comprise desktop, mobile, all in one (AIO), and self-service POS solutions, are also rising in popularity because they can be scaled up as customer traffic demands.
To determine your ideal retail POS solution, familiarize yourself with each form factor and its benefits. You should also consider which system will best support your business activities, align with your staffing levels, and provide the shopping experience your customers want.
Desktop POS solutions are the tried-and-true traditional POS systems relied on since the 1980s. They are operated by employees and run on a PC or laptop to enable one central location to handle all transaction tasks. They connect to other POS devices, such as barcode scanners, credit card readers, and cash drawers.
Businesses can extend the value of their desktop POS solution by integrating with other apps and technologies to uncover actionable insights for marketing or accounting purposes.
All-in-One (AIO) POS
All-in-one POS systems are a subset of desktop POS systems and also date back to the 1980s. They incorporate PCs with touchscreen monitors to provide businesses with a sleek, modern terminal that can handle all transactions without the need for peripherals, such as printers and credit card machines. They are straightforward, so staff can begin using them immediately with minimal training. Many businesses also enjoy using AIO POS systems because of their small footprint. When occupied space takes away from new sales opportunities, a smaller POS system is ideal.
One of the most popular types of POS solutions is the mobile POS (mPOS). Introduced in the 2000s, mPOS systems use tablets or other handheld devices to complete customer transactions. They are often carried by retail or restaurant employees for fast, ultraconvenient customer service. mPOS systems have a low up-front investment cost, making them accessible to smaller or startup businesses. To stand out from the competition, many businesses are now integrating their mPOS systems with edge computing solutions and technologies to gain near-real-time insights about their customers.
Are you an OEM, solution builder, or system integrator in retail? See how AAEON’s Intel® processor-powered solution can help you deliver advanced AI for your retail edge offerings.
Self-Checkout and Contactless POS
Despite the first self-checkout POS systems being placed in a Kroger store in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1986,1 they weren’t widely accepted until the mid-2010s, when more than 63,000 units were shipped worldwide.2 Since then, their use has only increased. Today, self-checkout POS terminals are the dominant grocery checkout format, accounting for 55 percent of transactions in 2022.3 These systems need minimal staff intervention because most—if not all—transaction steps are completed by customers in grocery stores, quick-service restaurants, banks, and hotels.
A subset of self-checkout POS solutions that’s gaining traction among businesses and customers is the self-service kiosk station. These POS systems typically serve one specific business need, such as selling a movie theater ticket, allowing customers to check in-store inventory, or providing and processing parking garage tickets.
Recently, businesses have started integrating self-checkout POS systems with IoT technologies, such as cameras powered by AI, to add new capabilities like computer vision to their systems. With computer vision, self-checkout systems can become contactless, removing physical contact between shoppers and staff while the technology confirms that the products being scanned match those items in the virtual basket to help ensure accuracy, reduce theft, and better manage inventory.
In 2020, many businesses starting implementing popular contactless POS technologies, such as mobile wallets and near-field communication (NFC)‒enabled payments, where customers scanned their phone or hovered a card over a payment terminal to finish their purchase, to meet increased health and hygiene measures during the pandemic. Contactless self-checkout POS systems are still being used today by businesses looking for new ways to create engaging, ultraconvenient experiences for customers.4
Retail POS Features and Benefits
It’s also important to explore the most common features included across form factors and assess which best align with your business needs and can provide a differentiated customer shopping experience.
Payment processing is a crucial POS system feature. While payment processing used to be as simple as accepting cash or a check for your products or services, today’s modern POS technology provides you and your customers with many more-convenient, frictionless payment processing options.
One important point to remember is that POS solutions are not payment processors. However, payment processing is often a feature bundled as part of a POS technology package. If payment processing is not included in your POS system, there are hundreds of third-party processing companies available to act as your payment processor for credit or debit card transactions.
Having accurate and near-real-time inventory management has never been more important for businesses. Poor inventory management and stockouts can drastically hurt your bottom line. Aside from the lost revenue from the sale, recent research reveals 21 percent of consumers who experience stockouts will take their business elsewhere5 to find the product or brand they want.
Luckily, modern retail POS technology can help you keep products in stock. Businesses can now integrate edge-to-cloud solutions with their POS solution to collect and process data and then apply AI and machine learning to uncover key insights to streamline processes, automate forecasting, and improve efficiency.
Customer Purchase History
Every time a customer purchases from your business—whether that’s through an e-commerce platform, in store, via a mobile app, or other digital touchpoints in your omnichannel retail strategy—that transaction data is captured in your POS solution and waiting to be harnessed. Analyzing that data helps you better understand your customers so you can enhance their future shopping experience, personalize communications, and identify opportunities to offer near-perfect product recommendations. In turn, your customers connect with the products they want at the right time and in the way they prefer, building their brand loyalty and creating a smarter, more profitable business for you.
Real-Time Sales Data
Collecting, processing, and analyzing POS data in near-real time can be a great way for retailers to enhance customer experiences, better manage inventory, mitigate product loss, and make more-informed data-driven decisions to move business forward. For example, Rotkäppchen-Mumm, a wine business in Germany, runs real-time dynamic promotional content on digital signs throughout the store. Because the sign content syncs with POS sales data and retail analytics, if a specific product is out of stock or in low inventory, it won’t be advertised on screen.
The Future of POS Systems
POS technology has come a long way, from serving as a simple way to complete transactions to being an integral tool to better understand and connect with customers.
As retailers continue to blend online and in-store shopping experiences and move to an omnichannel approach, exploring and embracing emerging POS technology will be critical. Start your exploration by looking at the next-generation POS technologies that will allow you to provide customers with innovative and exciting experiences they didn’t even know they wanted.
Leading retailers are already implementing the next evolution of POS solutions—frictionless self-checkout POS. These POS systems use technologies like computer vision, AI, deep learning, edge-enabled sensors, and other emerging solutions to streamline the customer buying experience. For example, Nourish + Bloom grocery in Fayetteville, Georgia, allows customers to shop with no checkout lines and no cashiers. To shop, customers simply download the store’s app, scan your phone when entering the store, load groceries into their cart, and walk out—a truly frictionless, contactless shopping experience.
Frictionless self-checkout POS technology can also be used in airports, cafeterias, or food service businesses for plated and nonbarcoded items. These solutions give customers more control and streamline their checkout experience while helping to augment staff resources for businesses facing rising labor shortages and costs.
Intel® Products and Technologies for POS
Intel® technologies enable exciting and emerging POS use cases that can keep up with dynamic customer behavior:
- Grab-and-go systems that use computer vision and deep learning instead of barcodes to quickly and accurately identify what’s on a customer’s food tray for seamless self-checkout.
- Walk-out checkout in autonomous stores that allows customers to walk in, load their groceries, and walk out, being charged for only the things they took.
- Smart, touchless self-checkout systems that recognize gestures, detect speech, or allow mobile phone scanning to complete transactions.
We work with our vast ecosystem of retail partners to deliver integrated, AI-powered solutions that can help you gain clearer insights into your customers, minimize shrinkage, and provide frictionless shopping experiences.
Explore the Intel® Solutions Marketplace to access thousands of market-ready, prevalidated retail solutions, or discover available developer toolkits, libraries, and reference designs to optimize workloads for your applications and to help you get to market and value faster.