Trends in the Point of Sale Industry

The first thing that came to mind when I read this week’s topic was “where do I start?”

First off, maybe a little background is necessary as Point of Sale (POS) may not be intuitive for some. A Point of Sale is basically a computer for retail or restaurants. While it does many things and often interacts with other technologies, at it’s basic it’s the thing employees in restaurant or retail enter in what you want to buy and tracks or processes the payment.

As it is a technical field, changes are frequent. Computer models change, operating systems get released or retired–there’s a constant stream of technological changes.

But this post cannot go on for day, so I will focus on two major developing areas: Mobile Technology and Payment Industry Security Standards.

Mobile Technologies

I’m sure you’ve been to a restaurant and been pleasantly surprised when you do not have to escort the server to some debit terminal connected to the wall by an old school phone cable. Or maybe you’re experience is opposite! Either way, there is a shift going on in the POS industry where businesses are demanding more mobile technology.

The above is just one example. Some businesses are moving away from standalone terminal solutions to tablets where servers can enter orders without going back to a station. These solutions often utilize wifi or 3g technology to communicate orders to the kitchen and process payment.

Another example of mobile technologies is mobile ordering. This type of technology allows customers to enter in orders, set a pick up time, pay for the item and beat the line when they go to pick it up. Here’s a video demonstrating this technology (the video is a few years old, but the technology is still alive and well!).

Similar to mobile ordering is the newest trend Kiosk ordering. While this technology is not exactly mobile, it allow customers to remotely order items from a different location and either pick it up or have it delivered to a particular table. Many business are looking to this technology to reduce labour costs, as the kiosk can do most of what a cashier does. Here’s another video demonstrating this technology:


Payment Card Industry Security Standards

One of the most pressing trends in the POS industry is Payment Card Industry Security Standards. Remember a few years ago when everyone needed to start using debit and credit cards that have a chip? That is the result of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCIDSS). These standards determine what practices–from encryption of data to who has access to it–are needed to prevent fraud and data breaches.

The standards are constantly changing. When I first started in this industry 10 years ago, it was barely discussed. Since then, there have been several liability shifts, changes in encryption levels, and the of course the physical card technology. It’s not a short process either. Only recently, have the majority of local businesses adopted chip technology. Currently, this shift is in motion in the US:

Chip Credit Cards Are Coming to the USA: Here’s What You Need to Know

This article discusses the “liability shift” that occurred in the US last October. This means that any merchant that does not use chip enabled technology, can continue to accept payment, but they will be responsible for fraudulent purchase. The road to full compliance will take several years.

These PCIDSS standards often create a need for new technology. Going back to my example earlier of following a server to a debit machine earlier, chip transactions require a pin, which means the technology either needs to be mobile or the customer has to be physically present.

Talk about trends driving each other!




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