Tomorrow's POS Systems Today: What Retailers Need to Know

These days, new technologies arise so quickly that many find it hard to keep up. If you're a retailer, though, staying on top of these changes can be crucial to getting the edge on the competition. When it comes to point-of-sale operations, this can be especially true.

Virtual Merchant Payment Processing

According to Pew Research, 65 percent of technology experts believe that cash could be obsolete by the year 2020. As a result, redit card processing via virtual terminal should become increasingly commonplace.

A virtual merchant account allows the retailer to engage in payment processing from a variety of locations over an Android, BlackBerry, tablet, iPhone or iPad device. These transactions travel over the Internet in secure, encrypted form to a virtual merchant server, resulting in a safer, more flexible and speedier checkout experience.

Today's retailers can benefit from the fact that no two fingerprints are alike. An electronically recognized thumbprint, for example, will allow cashiers to log in to their registers with just a simple scan. Since the cash drawer will open for no one else, the technology impressively reduces theft.

This concept can work as well at self-service checkout lanes. If registered customers would scan their fingerprints at the POS, the system could automatically charge their credit cards or store accounts. In locations where this approach is already in use, customers appreciate the speed with which it helps them through what was once a time-consuming process.

Radio Frequency Identification

This modern alternative to the bar code equips products with special devices that send radio signals to a receiver. The transmitted data can include such information as the product's weight, price and expiration date. While mainly used in the warehouse today, RFI technology could eventually replace the bar code in speeding the checkout process of products selected from a store's shelves.

Digital Signage

You may already be aware of the facility with which digital signage can advertise special promotions and products from strategic locations throughout a store. This technology also makes good sense when used at the checkout counter. When one of these easily updated messages catches the customer's eye, it might encourage an impulse purchase from the POS product display.

Mobile POS

If your checkout counters are stuck in one place, why not set some of them free? Hand-held mobile devices permit store clerks to provide assistance right on the sales floor without ever leaving the customer's side. This mobile capability allows them to:

- Check inventory.
- Look up additional information.
- Perform product comparisons.
- Ring up sales on the spot.

This new technology, already in use in some big-box electronics stores, has saved many a sale that might otherwise have walked right out the door along with the disgruntled consumer who tired of waiting for assistance.

Advanced Customer Relations Management

If you're not already collecting your customers' email addresses at checkout, why not give it a try? Once you've got the information in your system, you can use it to:

- Send same-day emails thanking patrons for their patronage.
- Send follow-up emails to ask how their purchases are working out.
- Send coupons to entice them back into the store.

The personal touch can help turn new customers into loyal repeaters.

For POS Systems, the Future is Now

If you're not already looking into these new POS ideas, don't let your competition beat you to the punch. Any technology that enhances your customers' experience makes them more likely to return, and their repeat patronage will spell dollar signs for your retail business in the end.