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"Top 5 Future POS Software Technologies"

- By Bob Twain


With technology changing the face of retail everyday, its fun to explore what future POS software will look like for retailers of all types.

Just imagine...

You enter the store and a biometric scanner will scan your eyes in order to display digital signs and promotions based on your gender, past purchases, age and more.

Then when you select your purchase, a biometric scanner will scan your eyes or take your fingerprint to automatically charge your credit card. You may even walk out of the store without actually scanning your purchases because all the products you've selected have RFID tags, so the retailer's inventory is deducted and tracked by those tags. Once you get home and fire up your email, you'll discover an email message thanking you for your purchase.

It all sounds very futuristic, but these possibilities aren't that far off!

In fact, many of these technologies are already available and can help you get ahead of your competition!

We can see into the future just be looking at the technologies being used by very large tier one and two retailers. The technologies employed by the big players like Wal-Mart and Target slowly trickle down into POS systems designed for tier three, four and five retailers. Eventually, the technology becomes more cost effective and can be made available for smaller retailers. This article will delve into some of the new and future POS developments to give you an understanding as to what might be coming your way!


Top 5 New and Future POS Software Technologies:

1) Biometrics

This technology is already being used in a few select retailers for logging into POS software and for customer's using self checkouts. Biometrics refers to a method of identification by measuring unique human characteristics as a way to confirm identity.

In retail, biometrics is used when a cashier presses his or her finger on the finger print scanner, which automatically logs them into the POS system based on their fingerprint. This future POS technology reduces theft as others are not able to use a particular cash register until they've scanned their fingerprint. Errors are also tracked to the specific cashier so that training needs can be identified.

Real Life Examples

On the consumer end, biometrics is used in conjunction with self checkouts. For example, a consumer would scan their fingerprint and their purchase would then automatically be charged to their store account or credit card on file. In fact, this method is already being employed in the UK, where a supermarket in Oxford gives its customers the option of conveniently and securely paying for groceries using a finger scan linked to their financial accounts.

According to Bill Laird, chief operating officer of the store using this future POS technology, customers are embracing the new system because it helps them get through the checkout faster without having to hunt for cards, checks, wallets or purses.

Another company successfully utilizing biometric technology is Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD), which is experiencing reduced errors with a biometric time and attendance system.

Finger scan technology has eliminated the need for time clocks, employee cards or pin numbers. The new system has eliminated the possibility of falsification since the employee's fingerprint needs to be there to clock in or out and nobody else can do it for them. The company reported that once they installed the new system, their error rates declined substantially.

2) RFID

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, which is the future POS technology that uses devices attached to objects that transmit data to an RFID receiver. An alternative to bar coding, RFID's advantages include high data capacity, read/write capability and no line of sight requirements.

Another advantage of RFID tags is that they can be embedded within packages. Depending on the type of tag and application, they can also be read at a varying range of distances.

RFID is already used in many applications from livestock tracking to library book maintenance. For future POS applications, RFID tags are envisioned as the replacement for UPC barcodes since they have a number of important advantages over the older barcode technology.

In the meantime, many larger retailers are using the technology at the pallet level to identify goods on the pallet, expiration dates and other important information. Once the product reaches the retail shelf, in most instances it is still being tracked by UPC.

Others predict that RFIDs will be used for POS store checkouts to replace the cashier with an automated system that needs no barcode scanning. This future POS development will not be possible on a widespread basis without a substantial reduction in the cost of current tags and changes in conventional POS systems.

3) Self Checkouts

This future POS idea is already used in many different retailers. The self scanning checkout essentially has the customer doing the work of the conventional cashier. Customer's scan their own items, swipe their own credit cards and bag their items, usually under the watchful eye of a store employee.

The shopper begins the checkout process by touching the computer's welcome screen or by beginning to scan the items. Once the checkout is initiated by the shopper, the computer's 'voice' provides the shopper with detailed instructions as to how to scan their items and where to place them once they've been scanned. Sophisticated self checkouts do not enable people to put additional items into the bag as the computer knows how much the bag should weigh based on the items being scanned. If you tried to fool the system by scanning a cheap item like a package of gum and then try to put in a steak, the system would tell you to remove the item and scan again!

If the store uses security tags, the system can also deactivate the tags during the scanning process. Most self scanning systems are set up to accept credit cards, debit cards and cash.

4) Digital Signage

You've probably already noticed loads of retailers and other services using digital signage to attract attention, convey a promotion, or advertise a particular brand. This future POS technology is already is being adopted by retailers of all sizes and types. Digital signage is a great promotional tool as it allows the retailer to easily change signs to identify a current promotion or a discount on an item that needs clearing out. The digital signage can be programmed based on the time of the year and allows the retailer complete flexibility in what message they would like to convey.

Digital signage is even being used at POS (where you swipe your credit card). It's also used at the shelf edge to reach consumers as they are evaluating their product decisions. This future POS technology can inform consumers about products and affect their shopping patterns in real time while they are shopping in the store.

Digital signage isn't only being used to entice customers to buy while in store. This future POS technology is even being used as a tool to help inform, communicate and train retail staff on the latest products, upcoming promotions and some retailers are even using it to help employees hone their selling skills.

While digital signage can be expensive, some smaller retailers are getting beyond the initial expense by having supplier sponsored messages that ultimately drives sales for both the supplier and retailer. With many uses and as a tool to drive sales, digital signage is an excellent technology opportunity to explore.

5) Advanced CRM

Customer relationship marketing is so important to keep those customers you have happy and to keep them coming back. It's widely known that it is five times more costly to sell to a new customer than to capture the sale of an existing one. Using the CRM tools that are widely becoming available on many POS systems, can help you keep in touch with your very important customers.

CRM is going beyond the typical 'thanks for coming in the store - we appreciate it' slant. With advanced CRM your POS could include a predefined email autoreponder. For example, when someone comes into your store and purchases a particular product, the system would automatically send them an email thank you on day one. Then on day seven, that same customer would get an email asking how the product is working and would offer helpful suggestions as to other products that would compliment it.

This is just one of many, many ways that CRM technologies can boost retail profits.

Advanced CRM is an excellent, cost effective way to stay in touch with customers and to keep them returning again and again.

Put All The Technologies Together!

Now that you've read about all the technologies, let's go back to our story, so you can see how they all work together and get a sense of future retail...

You'll enter the store and a biometric scanner will scan your eyes in order to display digital signs and promotions based on your gender, past purchases, age and more. Then when you select your purchase, a biometric scanner will scan your eyes or take your fingerprint to automatically charge your credit card. Or, you may even walk out of the store without actually scanning your purchases because all the products you've selected have RFID tags, so the retailer's inventory is deducted and tracked by those tags. Once you get home and fire up your email, you'll discover an email message thanking your for your purchase.

Pretty cool, huh?

If any of this sounds of interest to you, drop me a message and let me know what technology you'd like to learn about.

Also, be sure to sign up for our free newsletter to read other great articles like this and learn how to get the most from retail technology: http://www.possoftwareguide.com/newsletter.asp

To Your Success!

Bob Twain



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