The point-of-sale (POS) and back-office infrastructure at convenience stores continues to evolve with a shift to cloud computing on the backend and a move toward software upgrades at the POS.
Mike Wilson, chief operating officer at Cubby’s Inc., which operates 41 c-stores in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, continues to see “a push toward cloud computing, which allows us to access data through internet on demand and helps us reduce our dependency on IT infrastructure.”
Perry Kramer, managing partner at Retail Consulting Partners, noted that migrating the entire POS system to the cloud in a c-store environment poses a range of challenges, so there’s a trend toward moving specific components to the cloud.
Retail Consulting Partners’ “2022 POS & Customer Engagement Report,” which collected responses in Q3 of 2022, found 21% of retailers have moved their pricing data to the cloud, and 28% of retailers are moving some of their central POS components to the cloud.
Kramer sees a wide customer experience gap when it comes to POS systems between the 56% of retailers using POS software over five years old and those that invested in upgrades in the last two to three years.
For 60% of retailers software upgrade or replacement is a top POS priority, according to the “2022 POS & Customer Engagement Report.”
“However, what we see for those that have set POS as a priority is that approximately 25% are able to get the funding or buy-in to get the project approved,” Kramer said.
Cubby’s, which didn’t have much technology two years ago, has upgraded its POS and back office, which allows the chain to see real-time data that helps it make better decisions.
Wilson pointed out that technology continues to evolve rapidly, making it challenging for smaller chains to keep up with rate of change without the IT resources of larger chains. What’s more, as technology better communicates with the POS and back office, an increasing number of fees become associated with them.
“Making sure that you allocate your financial resources to the right product is crucial,” Wilson said.
Cubby’s uses Verifone Commander at the POS and is rolling out Verifone self-checkouts to several of its busier locations.
“We tested them for six months and found that once our rural customers get past the initial hesitation about 40% of customers prefer them,” Wilson said.
Self-checkout and self-service functions are major trends to watch at the POS in 2023.
“Almost every major and many mid-tier POS software vendors have a commercially available self-service product or one scheduled for release in 2023,” Kramer said. “Some 36% of retailers expect to have some type of self-checkout or self-service in place by the end of 2023. This is also a major area for focus in that two-thirds of the retailers who have implemented self-checkout indicate it needs notable improvement.”