Written by: Benjamin Smith | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
Do you remember the days when you still carried cash to make purchases? The truth is, credit cards have been on the market now for almost 70 years causing a change in the point of sale industry to facilitate credit card transactions. Currently, about 50 percent of the population doesn’t carry cash with them while the other 50 percent carry between $10 to $15, mostly for the purpose of tipping.
In large part, this shift is due to the major changes that have taken place in the technology industry. Simple, easy-to-use point of sale (POS) systems are now easily accessible to businesses of all size and type. In this article we will discuss a bit of the history of point of sale, some new incredible features, and possibilities of what POS may provide in the future.
As a first job in high school, Baron Christopher Hanson, current lead consultant and owner of RedBaron Consulting and Baron Christopher Creative, was installing point of sale software and computers. According to Hanson, the CPU’s that were used were slow, causing static lines of people waiting for each transaction to be completed. In addition, though salespeople were able to be out on the floor helping customers, they had to know the status of their inventory, otherwise they would take a significant amount of time checking the back for a product that they didn’t even know if they had in stock.
While the introduction of POS systems was an improvement, its implementation was a painful process.
Perhaps no industry has been impacted more by the technological revolution than merchant services. Over the last 10–15 years, you have seen major players in the POS space — Square, Stripe, ShopKeep, Clover, TouchBistro, Toast, etc. — emerge with tech-forward solutions aimed to help a merchant run transactions and manage their business more efficiently.
— Matthew Speiser, Merchant Services Expert at Fundera
Since the time that Hansen was installing point of sale software in the 80’s, a number of things have changed. Technology has exploded over the past couple decades, allowing for a number of new features that have changed the way a number of businesses are run.
When is the last time that you went to Chick-Fil-A during busy hours? At some highly frequented locations, employees are now helping in the drive-thru lanes, taking orders and payments on hand-held POS devices. Who would have thought when McDonalds started the first “fast” food chain that processes could become even faster and more efficient?
Another incredible feature that has increased customer satisfaction and employee efficiency significantly is inventory management. Software now tracks each item that enters the store. This could be clothing, shoes and accessories, ingredients, etc. When an item is sold, it is taken out of the inventory allowing the retailer to see exactly what they have left in stock. Business owners can also set up automatic product refills from their providers to be sent when product reaches a set level in the inventory.
As a business owner, have you ever had the desire to check on the status of your inventory, see a couple of quick statistical reports, adjust employee schedules, make clock-in or clock-out corrections for employees, or anything else that your POS system helps you to do when you are not in the office? Ryerson Schlitt, Director of Product Management for TableSafe, feels that one of the greatest achievements made by the POS industry in recent years is the development of remote management capabilities.
This recent change now allows business owners the option to work on the go. The need to be on the floor at all times to ensure efficiency is diminishing and time is being spent improving the company in other ways.
Chris Ligan, Vice-President of Acquisition for Auric (a merchant services company), agrees that remote monitoring has had an impressive effect in the running of businesses. POS systems provided by Auric have been calculated to save business owners up to eight hours each week. That is approximately 32 hours per month that business owners can spend with their families or participating in other activities. This is not just an update in technology, this is an update in quality of life.
Looking at how far POS has come in the past 65+ years is truly incredible. What will come next for POS. Our panel of point of sale experts hopes to see the followng features incorporated into the industry in the near future:
Chris Ligan — VP of Acquisitions for Auric (A Merchant Services Company)
Ligan would like to see more time, effort, and money invested into improving user experience to ensure that POS systems though made by engineers don’t look like the product of engineers. With a background in and passion for design, Ligan feels that improvements can be made to make these systems much easier to use on a daily basis. One other area that has bothered Ligan is the inconsistency that exists in interface compatibility with a wide variety of terminals. When you swipe a card, your terminal should be “talking” to the software. Accomplishing this will dramatically improve POS on an industry level.
Keith Smith — CEO of Payouts Network
Smith works to help restaurants better their engagement with employees. Currently, Payouts Network is providing features that can securely deposit tips onto whatever Visa, MasterCard, or American Express that employees are carrying in their wallet in real-time. This avoids taking the time to separate out cash tips for each employee. Smith hopes to integrate this with a number of POS providers with whom he is currently working.
Stacy Straub — Manager of Merchant Services for PrimePay
Straub has over 20 years of experience in credit card processing and POS systems. She would like more POS systems to incorporate Near-Field Communication/Contactless Technology (NFC). This tech allows for a digital connection between the card and the reader/terminal through a single tap. This will speed up the checkout process and simplify POS systems for a faster and more productive future.
Mohammed Ali — CEO of PrimaSeller
Ali hopes that POS will soon provide seamless processor integrations with any cloud-based software without the dependence of archaic intermediary systems that are not completely online. This will help the setup process and improve overall functionality.
Ryerson Schlitt — Director of Product Management for TableSafe
Schlitt agrees with Ali that many of the systems are outdated in regard to integration materials and functions. He would like to see updated and streamlined API/interface documentation and functions.
Matthew Speiser — Merchant Services Expert with Fundera
Speiser says, “My hope for the future of the POS industry is more transparency. Today there are lots of merchant services providers who offer contracts loaded with hidden fees. On review websites, you see small business owners paying $1,000’s out of pocket for expenses they didn’t anticipate when they signed up for their POS system. Fortunately, businesses like Square are doing away with this business model by offering upfront pricing, month-to-month contracts, and no hidden fees. My hope is that more businesses follow Square’s example so that business owners get the fairest deal possible."