In the past decade, POS systems have evolved from a terminal near the exit tended by an employee to a collection of valuable touchpoints. In fact, today’s POS may be an experience wherever the customer wants it, thanks to the expansion in types of POS systems.
The most intriguing twist on POS systems, the autonomous store, features no lines and no checkout. Customers simply walk in, take what they want, and leave. To make the magic happen, customers first download a smartphone app. That allows a combination of cameras and sensors powered by deep learning algorithms to identify and track them, recognize the objects they interact with, and know to charge them when they’ve taken a product off the shelf and left the store.
Many retailers, restaurants, and hospitality businesses are moving toward these technology-enabled experiences. But merging physical and digital commerce demands an inventive approach to POS systems. Customers expect businesses to know what they want and to provide seamless experiences as they move between channels and devices.
No matter who they are, a customer’s ultimate desire is to easily find, buy, receive, and return goods anytime, anywhere. For many businesses, that could mean multidevice POS systems, with fixed POS terminals throughout the store and mobile POS (mPOS) when customer traffic demands it.
New transaction types include “click and collect,” in which shoppers buy products online and pick them up at a physical location, and “endless aisle,” in which those who can’t find the just-right product in store can ask a sales associate to ship the product to them fast and free. POS systems must connect online orders with in-store pickups smoothly, and savvy retailers will offer convenient returns both online and in the store.
But there’s more. POS systems from desktop to mPOS to tablet POS to thin client will also need to integrate new ways of enabling a seamless experience. As the autonomous store example illustrates, stores can use computer vision and machine learning, along with cues from normal barcodes, to accurately identify the products a customer is buying. For example, age recognition can guide cross-sell and up-sell suggestions while still respecting customer privacy. And opt-in facial detection can help loyalty programs run without the need for separate cards or phone numbers.
The key to delivering the shopping experiences your customers want and growing your market share is a multifaceted POS strategy that addresses current expectations and adapts to future possibilities. Intel and our partners deliver the infrastructure that powers new POS transaction types and capabilities that help with greater manageability and security at a lower price.
Customers expect seamless experiences as they move between channels and devices. The latest POS systems are merging the best of physical and digital environments.
Future of Cloud POS
As your business increasingly blends online and in-store transactions, you may rely on cloud services to support faster, more agile POS services. A growing number of POS systems use integrated cloud solutions, as server-based on-premises software gives way to progressive web applications that operate like those on your smartphone.
Depending on your devices and requirements, computing may take place either in the cloud or on the device itself. If your in-store devices are thin clients, for instance, then you may choose to use cloud services or an in-house server. But for advanced technologies, like computer vision and artificial intelligence, sending large amounts of data to the cloud can be costly. Instead, you may look to edge devices to collect and analyze critical data to run your business in real time.
Data Collection from POS
Data from point of sales systems lets businesses improve customer experiences and communications, enhance sales reporting and inventory management products, and identify new revenue possibilities. To share the same data across devices and locations and unify customer experiences, POS systems must run on the same operating system. But the first priority is to help keep customer data secure.
Security and POS
Providing encryption at the POS and transmitting data via secure network devices and protocols can help retail stores, financial institutions, and hospitality businesses support a cybersecurity strategy and comply with regulations like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The Intel vPro® platform builds on that by delivering hardware-enhanced security features that help protect all layers in the computing stack. In addition, with processors on the Intel vPro® platform, your IT team can enable Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) to remotely manage devices. This helps minimize downtime, improving the customer experience and reducing costs.
Software and POS
Retailers increasingly want to consolidate their application development from mobile to in-store POS. This requires the flexibility to use multiple operating systems in a physical environment. Advances in virtual machines and containers now allow retailers to run multiple operating systems on the same premises without requiring additional hardware or integration.
Improved Customer Experiences
Autonomous stores show what is possible in terms of transforming the POS with innovative technology. Most businesses will likely integrate new technologies one at a time to improve customer experiences and business efficiency. Software tools such as the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit will make it much easier to implement computer vision and deep learning across multiple applications and platforms.
For example, one of Intel’s ecosystem partners recently released an AI-powered automated cash register that was developed using the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit. The register can automatically identify goods in a bakery at checkout and supports a variety of payment methods, including mobile and facial recognition–based payment. The solution helps reduce the customer’s time in line while improving the in-store experience.
Businesses can also benefit from new technologies built upon a common open framework. This enables an ecosystem in which components can be interchanged with ease and speed. The Open Retail Initiative (ORI) is a collaborative effort by Intel and other top technology firms to support open solutions that deliver value and exciting service models that enhance customer loyalty.
Common, open source middleware can simplify the integration of individual solutions by letting vendors publish and subscribe to data from other vendors while also supporting all operating systems, hardware, and communications protocols. This open approach to data-sharing facilitates data fusion and provides a more accurate picture of analytics to help solve real retail problems. In this way, the Open Retail Initiative will ultimately benefit businesses as future technologies transform every step of the customer journey.