As businesses are becoming more and more reliant on technology, the need to understand which technology is best for your operation has increased in urgency. For those in the retail or hospitality industries, the technology solutions that are top-of-mind are retail and restaurant point of sale systems.
What is point of sale? The main focus of the point of sale system is to take transactions at the “point of sale.” However, as technology has evolved and innovation has become a driving force, retail and restaurant point of sale systems have expanded to handle a variety of functions.
Nowadays, point of sale systems are used as valuable resources to review actionable data, manage inventory, control costs, optimize workflow, automate tasks, and manage customer information. It’s essentially the “hub” of your business.
Retail and Restaurant Point of Sale System Hardware
There are many different hardware components that make up retail and restaurant point of sale systems, and each are integral to their overall efficacy:
- Cash drawers
- Receipt printers
- Barcode scanners
- MSR readers/EMV readers
The terminal is the “house” of the system, and it is where data is accessed. It is through the terminal that all other hardware components are connected. There are two main forms of terminals – mobile and fixed. Fixed terminals are usually located at the checkout counter, while mobile terminals are used on tablets, and other compatible mobile devices. Often, terminals and other hardware essentials are sold separately from the POS software, so it’s critical to ensure the software and hardware are compatible.
Embedded Point of Sale System
Embedded point of sale systems are the exception to the previous rule. With the embedded model, retail and restaurant point of sale software is developed for the hardware it runs on, and comes pre-installed when the hardware is purchased.
These systems are designed to carry out the specific task of running your point of sale. Instead of purchasing hardware and software separately and going through multiple vendors, embedded point of sale systems are sold in one convenient package. When hardware is purchased, it will already be equipped with the embedded OS, either pre-loaded on a solid state drive, or on flash memory chips inside the device. This ensures 100% compatibility, and saves business owners considerable time researching different products.
Since the software is tailored to the hardware, many find that embedded point of sale systems are much more intuitive, and easier to learn, and train employees on. Since they offer the “plug and play” model, and don’t require any software to be downloaded and installed first, the time to go live is reduced. Often times they offer a lower total cost of ownership as well. For retail and restaurant point of sale systems specifically, this can be critical to staying competitive within your industry.
Advantages of an Embedded POS
Besides offering the convenience of being easier to purchase and implement in the first place, embedded POS offers many advantages to retail and restaurant businesses.
While some retail and restaurant point of sale systems operate on standard computers or tablets, the embedded point of sale system operates on unique hardware, which is built for the sole purpose of running the software. The lack of file managers make it virtually impossible for unauthorized files to be uploaded or downloaded onto the POS system, either inadvertently by employees, or intentionally by hackers.
Increased productivity is also commonly associated with an embedded point of sale system. Since the user cannot access non-work functions on the system like they would on a tablet or PC, they aren’t able to waste time by logging onto social media, playing games, or checking email.
Because embedded point of sale systems are solid-state devices, they also eliminate costly software or hardware upgrades that other forms may require. They lack an internal hard drive, so they eliminate a common failure point, which reduces the cost of internal IT support. These systems are also faster to operate.
Identify if an Embedded POS System would be Right for Your Business
Not all point of sale systems are ideal for every industry. Retail and restaurant point of sale systems come in a variety of models and some may be better suited for certain industries than others. As for an embedded POS system, there are a few questions to ask yourself before making the decision to utilize one.
Have you had bad experiences with computer viruses or cyberattacks?
If so, then your business is vulnerable. Even if you haven’t fallen victim to attacks before, if cyber security is a major concern for you, an embedded system will likely be your best bet.
Do you pay big dollars for antivirus and antimalware software?
If so, this could be eating into your profits. It may be more cost-effective for you to upgrade to an embedded point of sale system, which by design doesn’t require any antivirus or antimalware software.
Are you paying for software upgrades and support whenever you want or need to upgrade your system?
This is an expense often associated with traditional retail and restaurant point of sale systems. Embedded point of sale systems don’t require commercial operating systems to run, so you can skip these fees.
Do transactions take longer than necessary?
This could be due to outdated and difficult-to-use software. Embedded models are more reliable and efficient, since there are no background processes slowing down your system.
Prevent Data Breaches: Embedded Operating Systems and Out-of-Scope Payments
Ever since the liability shift of 2015, and the high-profile data breaches that occurred involving big-name businesses, data security has been top-of-mind to retail and hospitality business owners. The benefits of data security are numerous, and it is worth it to take action to prevent costly data breaches.
Why are embedded POS systems more secure?
While the lack of a file manager is known to keep unauthorized files from being uploaded or downloaded, sensitive data is also inaccessible to cyber criminals. This protects customer and credit card data from being stolen.
Additionally, the point of sale system environment is protected because employees won’t have access to any means through which a computer virus can be transferred. No longer will you have to worry about staff checking email on your system and falling victim to a phishing scam.
What is OOS Payments?
OOS stands for out-of-scope payments solutions and refers to a payment interface where cardholder data never comes into contact with the point of sale system. When a transaction is carried out, the total is sent from the point of sale system to the card-reading device. The reader communicates directly with the card processor, and sends only the authorization information back to the point of sale.
How does OOS protect against data breaches?
When payment information is received or stored on the point of sale system, it can create a target for hackers. For retail and restaurant point of sale systems, that can be a major concern. OOS solutions remove the point of sale from the cardholder data flow, so that criminals can’t access it by hacking into the point of sale system.
Embedded Point of Sale Restaurant POS Features
Retail and restaurant point of sale systems are designed to maximize productivity and minimize waste, but the best system for your business depends on your individual needs. Notable restaurant POS features:
Easy order entry and training – Embedded systems are highly efficient, and are often more intuitive than their counterparts. This allows them to be faster to operate, and easy to learn.
Inventory and ingredient tracking – Besides labor, inventory is often a restaurant’s biggest expense. Managing it effectively through the POS can reduce waste and forecast needs.
Labor optimization – Optimized workflows yield higher profits. Point of sale systems can achieve this by accurately predicting labor needs, helping with payroll, and automating many tasks.
Loyalty and rewards – It’s essential to develop positive relationships with customers that foster loyalty. Point of sale technology can help streamline and improve your loyalty program.
Embedded POS System Features for Retail
Retail and restaurant point of sale systems have some overlap, but retailers often have different needs, and require a different set of features from embedded POS systems.
Inventory tracking – Often the biggest cost associated with retail, managing your inventory effectively is crucial to reducing waste, increasing profits, and preventing theft.
Labor optimization – Retailers need to understand which members of their sales team are top sellers and which need more training. Data from your point of sale can assist with this.
Back office reporting – The best business decisions occur when you are informed. Point of sale systems can provide key insights into operations and enable you to make smarter decisions.
Scale and scanner integration – Integrating necessary hardware into your point of sale can help speed up transactions and streamline the checkout process, allowing you to process more sales.
Choosing an Embedded POS Dealer
It’s important to choose an embedded POS dealer carefully. If you are purchasing an embedded point of sale system, take extra care to ensure they can meet your needs, since you will be using this dealer for both hardware and software.
Look for a service provider with proven industry experience. A provider who understands your industry is already familiar with the challenges you face, and can offer a solution that will help you overcome any hurdles and grow your business.
You will want to look for longevity in the industry as well. Experienced professionals have a history of providing solutions that help businesses like yours succeed, and can be trusted to steer you in the right direction.
Make sure the embedded point of sale system you choose can integrate with the rest of your technology. Integrated systems eliminate data re-entry, and enable communication between your systems. Choose a dealer with a proven track record of successfully integrating solutions.
Retail and restaurant point of sale systems are considerable investments. As such, it’s important that you invest in one that will allow you to maximize the ROI of your IT infrastructure. An embedded point of sale dealer that also offers service and support will keep the total cost of ownership low by cutting the additional costs and fees associated with IT support, integration issues, and higher processing fees. Additionally, spending less time working out technical issues provides more time for focusing on more profitable areas of business, like providing exceptional customer experiences.