POS moves toward a data-intense, mobile world

By Tyler Lacoma

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Future of POS

Technology has redefined the future of POS for a huge range of businesses ó restaurants, retailers, supermarkets and more. Thanks to the hard work of developers, particularly in the mobile field, companies will soon be able to work with a plethora of point-of-sale solutions. Several of the most exciting future trends and features include:

1. NFC Going Mainstream: Near Field Communication, or NFC, is one of the most
promising fields in POS. Mobile devices equipped with NFC chips, particularly smartphones, can communicate with other devices at short distances.

This allows for a number of efficient point-of-sale tricks, such as automatically paying for products with the tap of a smartphone button, or gathering data on customer purchases and preferred payment methods. NFC is only being used in a few fields right now, but the technology is becoming more usable and it should slip into the mainstream in the next few years, radically changing the way that businesses operate.

2. Enhanced Loyalty Programs: As data grows more integrated, POS purchases will become ever more associated with loyalty programs. Customers shopping, purchasing services, or eating out will be able to immediately add points to their loyalty programs and see the benefits in real time. New loyalty programs will work well with smartphones, too, allowing customers to see their progress at any time and offering them digital coupons as they check out. The growing integration will also yield more analytical information on customer buying patterns and the relationships between product sales.

3. Digital POS Displays: The future of POS will certainly be more digital, and one of the most promising innovations is the digital marketing display, which requires only minimal renovation of existing POS areas. The idea is very simple: screens above checkout stands connected with scanners that tap into what products consumers are buying. The screens then change to advertise products to which customers are likeliest to respond.

4. Alternative POS Offerings: As NFC technologies and mobile apps grow more common, many customers will move further away from the traditional checkout stand model and will not need to interact with a POS system at all. This removes the attraction of many POS display sales, and companies will start to replace them with things such as local produce, special daily promotions, information booths, and other items that invite people to actually stop by the counter on their way out the doors.

5. POS Apps and Social Marketing: Smartphones will grow more important in other ways as mobile POS solutions increase in variety. Companies will begin to offer their own apps for customers that naturally tie into point-of-sale functions. The full integration of mobile coupons and data collection will prove especially useful to marketers. For example, if a restaurant wants to create a new promotion for a menu item, it can advertise that promotion over social media, update its digital coupons, and allow customers to order remotely through its mobile app ó all without the customer setting foot in the restaurant. This moves point-of-sale out into the cloud, into the realm of flexible, digital user experiences.