What are the trends for point-of-sales systems (POS) in 2017? From the customer’s point of view, there’s an increasing preference for mobile payment and ordering; some diners even allowing that to influence their choice of restaurant. How has the industry taken to frictionless POS? How is it preparing for increased mobility and accessibility in POS? And what are the software options? Donald Gasper investigates.

Mobility will be important for restaurants moving into 2017 for both employee- and customer-facing sides of the enterprise. This was the view of restaurant and technology leaders at a recent Restaurant Executive Summit held by Hospitality Technology. Following presentations of data from HT’s 2016 Customer Engagement Technology Study and insights from an Oracle study into consumer loyalty program habits, attendees discussed burning issues as they saw them.

They explained that mobility was a major point for those who are shopping for new POS systems – and being able to integrate with online ordering and mobile strategies was a key component. Several executives also noted that being able to have systems that are capable of doing both ordering and promoting loyalty would be beneficial.

For the POS, operators noted that even if they weren’t enabling mobile payment or mobile ordering strategies at this time, they needed to be poised to enable it in the near future with technology that has the capability. “There has to be an understanding that even if mobile POS is not an immediate need for your business, it will be in the future and you don’t want to lock yourself into a bad place,” says Todd Michaud, founder of Power Thinking.

Being an innovator and the first to market with a technology can have a lot of advantages – especially if the innovator gets it right. One executive pointed out how Starbucks’ mobile app is what many in the industry try to emulate. “If you get out in front of the curve, you can be that much more agile and nimble in developing things and that becomes important in this day and age,” points out Dr. Dan Connolly, professor of Business Administration, Portland University and co-author of HT’s study. “If you miss the bus, sometimes it’s a long wait before the next bus comes. The stakes are greater, and there’s more catchup to do.”

Another sentiment shared around mobile ordering is the importance of testing. There are many advantages to conveniences such as online or mobile ordering, however if a simple glitch in the system ruins the customer’s experience, they might never return.

Keep taking the tablets

Andrew Cox, APAC managing director of Agilysys.

“Tablets are everywhere we look,” says Andrew Cox, APAC managing director of Agilysys. “They’re being used in every conceivable way.” Arguably tablets are having a larger impact on improving daily operations and guest satisfaction than any other recent technological advancement. This is especially true in the world of food service. “When equipped with next-generation platform capabilities and when used as restaurant management and point-of-sale (POS) systems, tablets are having a transformative effect in service efficiency and guest satisfaction.”

With the advent of next-generation POS mobility, no longer do servers need to run back and forth between guests and a stationary POS terminal. They’re freed from waiting in lines to enter guest orders. Today, servers can complete their essential tasks of interacting with guests and the kitchen, and processing credit card transactions quickly and easily, all while remaining at the guest’s side. Service staff can spend the rest of their time being more attentive, catering to the needs of guests. And mobile POS gives them the tools and capacity to provide this highly-personalised service and build enduring relationships with guests on behalf of the brand.

Restaurants are focusing on activities that can seriously improve service quality, and have a far more meaningful and lasting impact on enhancing the overall experience. No longer is the business performance and guest satisfaction constrained by yesterday’s technology and antiquated processes. “Tableside order placement and payment processing removes some of the common barriers to guest satisfaction. The most obvious barrier being lack of server attention. Increased guest satisfaction invariably leads to repeat visits and revenue growth.” In fact, restaurants that have implemented mobile POS tablets have a lot to say:

  • Servers can support 30-50 per cent more guests in the same time than they would without tablets.
  • Guests place orders more frequently as a result of servers being more accessible, increasing guest spending by 25 per cent.
  • Reduced order cycle times and increased attention to guests results in as much as a 76 per cent increase in F&B revenue.

“Using mobile POS tablets, restaurants are empowering servers to become brand ambassadors versus simply order takers, and managers can focus their efforts on high-level reporting and business needs versus responding to dissatisfied guests. Mobile POS technology is the enabler. Undoubtedly a game-changer.”