When it comes to point-of-sale (POS) and back-office technology, a number of emerging trends are expected to pick up steam in 2021.
Hybrid POS systems and hardware-agnostic POS software are two areas for convenience stores to watch in the year ahead, noted Patrick Raycroft, the Convenience and Energy vertical lead at W. Capra Consulting Group.
“More POS deployments will involve certain POS functions running in the cloud and critical POS functions running at the store-level,” he said. “Although we are still some time away from pure cloud deployments of POS software due to issues with network reliability, abstracting non-business-critical POS functions to centralized cloud instances provides retailers with efficiencies in deployment, operations and data management.”
Meanwhile, c-stores are one of the final retail spaces where most POS software relies on specified register hardware, he noted. “The ability to select and integrate POS software without being bound to particular POS software provides retailers substantial opportunities to reduce site-level costs and improve reliability of site systems.”
Several POS providers are already offering solutions that remove this 1:1 software-hardware connection, Raycroft pointed out.
SaaS & IoT
“Convenience retail POS and back office is in the early stages of a major architectural shift to Software as a Service (SaaS),” said Jeremie Myhren, chief information officer for Road Ranger. “This change is seismic in terms of what it does and what it will enable for our site-level technology control plane and, in my opinion, it cannot be over-emphasized.”
Myhren compared it to the shift from mechanical cash registers to electronic 30-40 years ago. Road Ranger is using microservices to Internet of Things (IoT)-enable devices and equipment.
“This enables integrations with our digital offerings to our customers, and it powers the next generation of systems we will use to manage and monitor our stores,” Myhren said. “Our industry’s stores need such an IoT platform in order to maintain relevance and to scale. In its simplest form, this means we need to collect more data and use it to drive more automation in our stores.”
A number of retailer needs are expected to drive back-office trends in the year ahead. For example, c-stores need a more robust, (near) real-time transactional and consumer behavioral data, which Raycroft predicted will result in more integrations and adoption to Conexxus standards.
Today, many retailers are looking to convert commerce practices — like delivery and contactless ordering and fulfillment — that they previously outsourced to third-parties as the pandemic began, back in-house, which Raycroft believes will spur delivery and curbside logistics functionality in back-office systems. And, as foodservice continues to expand, Raycroft pointed out that more robust foodservice capabilities in back-office systems (and POS as well) are likely to be implemented.