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'Less is more' is the future of point of sale tech

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Major changes in customer behavior and preferences, along with surging demand for better and more services, have reached into every corner of the restaurant industry.

As a result, a mindset toward POS (point of sale) solutions has taken hold that says we need to add more functionality, more data, support for more devices, and more integrations.

However, this approach may actually create even more problems for restaurant owners grappling with this avalanche of new capabilities. The right approach for the future success of POS technology requires a “less-is-more” perspective.

As restaurants look to go head-to-head with digital natives, they are shifting resources to meet the competitive challenge. Dine-in, take-out, and delivery, management and integration of inventory, third-party delivery aggregators, mobile and kiosk services are all critical amenities and value chains are being disrupted as never before. Consequently, the POS has made believers out of those who use it, putting innovation into the hands of not only large chains, but also those that have traditionally lacked the scale necessary to make big investments.

The thinking has been that additional POS complexity is the only way to give customers what they want and streamline business operations. Yet a typical merchant uses less than 20% of the capability of their POS solution—and not often very well. Similarly, consumers expect technology to be as easy to use as a smartphone or tablet.

Competing in this new digital game means we need to make the POS itself, including the user interface (UI) and in-store operations, smarter and easier.

Menu updates offer an easy example of how restaurateurs can benefit from less configuration. Consider the time savings for a restaurant manager if he or she can take a photo of the latest menu to load it into the system, or use voice commands to change prices. In the back of the house, this means preloaded ingredients can be used to compile recipes and build menu items on the fly.

From an operational perspective, management needs less data and consolidated reports—many of which don’t help them run their business. There should instead be a focus on the data designed to improve operational efficiency and profits. For example, automated, real-time inventory and staffing recommendations make running a business more effortless. Additionally, regular action summaries with pricing suggestions to improve profitability based on changes in customer preferences or in response to CRM and loyalty program promotions offer operators real, actionable insights.

Another key is the adoption of industry-wide standards. These help mitigate for common integrations where a large number of third-party solutions and vendors are involved, and ensure less integrations overall as industry consolidation pushes retailers toward single-solution aggregation.

As we shift toward a less-is-more mindset, the good news is that some POS solutions are successfully tapping advances in business analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the digital challenge faced by restaurants and retailers, a new “less-is-more” POS roadmap offers the flexibility and efficiency needed to achieve competitive advantage, stay relevant, and grow business.

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