As margins get tighter in the food and beverage industry, successful operators need point of sale (POS) systems to do much more. Donald Gasper asks what 2019 will bring to payments and mobility.

Traditionally, the restaurant POS system is where a customer makes a payment in exchange for goods or services. Payment terminals, touch screens and a variety of other hardware and software options are used to enable the transaction.

The system contains details of every transaction, which makes it the most important tool within the business.

Today, however, the restaurant point of sale is often referred to as the restaurant point of service, given that restaurant POS is no longer just about processing sales. Modern restaurant POS systems provide a platform that sits at the heart of any food and beverage operation, large or small, helping to enhance the customer experience and streamline business operations.

“Five years ago, technology was not in the minds of a restaurateur, but now it is at the forefront,” says Tim Brown, senior director for strategic accounts F&B EME at Oracle Hospitality.

At the same time, the focus on technology is shifting away from transactions towards engagements, Brown suggests.

“Everybody I speak to is now talking about consumer engagement, and putting the ordering experience in the hands of the end user.”

A move away from POS?

As a business expands, the front-of-house technology required to keep it running needs to evolve to meet the needs of its business and customers.

POS will remain at the heart of front-of-house operations, but the traditional desktop-style model might no longer be the most suitable: A growing number of restaurant businesses are turning to mobile tablets for the dining room and research from Oracle Hospitality suggests this trend is set to continue.

In its survey of restaurant operators, 89 per cent of respondents said there was a good possibility they would use tablets in the future, and 39 per cent were actively considering at purchasing them.

With so many people now accustomed to using tablets, it makes sense for businesses to embrace them, says Laura Calin, vice president strategy and solutions management at Oracle Hospitality. “When you look at traditional POS systems, they are very industrial. There is a generation of users who now work with smartphone-like interfaces and are more comfortable with it.” Taking this into account, tech companies have looked to mimic smartphone technology on their devices, including POS systems.

“The smartphone generation want plug and play systems they can just turn on and work from. From an operator’s point of view, you can get them up and running very quickly.”

Redefining Hospitality

Tech redefines service in hospitality and mobility is a huge part of this

Calin talks about restaurants looking to streamline their technology footprint, and augmenting larger POS systems with tablets is one way of doing this: Tablets, such as the Oracle MICROS Tablet 700 Series, offer restaurants a number of benefits.

“Mobile technology is redefining the way that service is delivered in food and beverage operations,” Calin says. “From staff-facing tablets to guest-facing smartphone apps, operators need to provide the right services to accommodate changing guest expectations.”

From providing staff with mobile tablets to take orders and speed up service times, to accepting mobile orders direct from guests, to allowing your managers to access mobile reporting on smartphones, your restaurant POS must be mobile, Calin says.

Oracle says that cloud-based, mobile-enabled restaurant POS systems provide the modern solution for food and beverage operators to manage their technology.

Its own Simphony system is also the ideal POS solution for hotels seeking to maximise food and beverage revenues and efficiency, it says.

Flexibility and convenience have become important characteristics of an enjoyable purchasing experience — including the ordering and payment process.

Self-service options

“In 2019, guests will increasingly look for on-demand F&B purchasing options that don’t require them to use a custom app or stand in long lines,” predicts Rob Jacks, vice president, Professional Services for Agilysys Inc. “Guests want to place orders from virtually anywhere across the property and they want more self-service options as many still aren’t savvy smartphone users.”

“Self-service kiosks are another guest engagement tool that will increase in popularity. They can be movable, allowing the business to adjust kiosk locations based on shifting guest traffic. Self-service POS kiosks will feature a completely enclosed order placement and payment terminal, making these systems cost-effective to deploy and easy to maintain. Network improvements in the coming 12-18 months will allow for easy mobile connectivity, helping operators maintain the necessary security requirements and consistent integration to their POS.”

On-demand ordering, regardless of technology, will continue to become decentralised, allowing managers to capture guest spend with increasing flexibility.

“It all amounts to guest convenience. Hospitality operators want to give guests more options to accelerate mobile purchasing, and it all will be based at the core of Agilysys’ InfoGenesis POS.”