Monday, April 25th, 2016
Guest post by Jeffrey Katz, POS/payments visionary and investor.
To say that the POS industry is changing is a true understatement. We’ve come a long way from the National Cash Register Company (NCR) launching the first mechanical cash registers in 1884. The next 100 years that followed marked a slow, steady evolution of POS systems to account for business innovations such as computers, credit cards and barcodes. But this last decade has seen more changes in the POS space than in all years prior.
On the hardware side, we’ve seen the introduction, then proliferation, of new form factors such as mobile devices and tablets, that frankly shook the legacy players out of their slumber. On the software side we’ve seen integrations with back-office systems and front-end consumer applications such that the consumer can now see real-time inventory, order items ahead, pay in the cloud and skip lines all together. With these shifts, merchants are realizing that they can direct a true 1:1 relationship with the consumer and that they don’t have to be prisoner to antiquated systems.
What makes all of these changes even more interesting is that they are occurring simultaneously with other huge shifts in different but related industries – payments, CRM, loyalty, big data to name a few. This is all good for the consumer, who is now empowered with more information, control and convenience.
Its also exciting to me as an investor. This type of environment sets the stage perfectly for new, innovative companies to see things differently, to change old ways and introduce new business models. A few of my portfolio companies are great examples.
CARDFREE is an omni-channel commerce platform that enables successful merchant apps such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell. Consumers using their mobile apps can order and customize items, pay and simply pick up orders without standing in the traditional POS line. With location services, such as Bluedot, merchants can know when consumers are near so they can fire up and order, present a real-time offer or relevant message.
I have no doubt that the consumer retail experience will be completely different very soon. They will get a better, more personalized experience wherever and whenever they engage with merchants whether its on the store floor or via their mobile device. Merchants will have truly integrated systems giving them smart data and they will not be tethered to hardware, lines, or other physical limitations of a “store”.
The POS landscape is definitely changing. The question for any company in the space is will they help drive the change or be lost in it?