Forget POS – think EPOS!
- January 5, 2016
It is only recently that the POS system has entered the public consciousness, mostly as a result of those portable terminals that waiters and shop assistants carry around and used to swipe your card in order to take a payment. Whether via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, these little boxes are connected to what the layman can understand to be the main till or a central system ……and it is at this point the magic happens.
Not only does POS software collect money. It can also calculate trends, provide the merchant with the sales analysis, store customer data, calculate end of year taxes etc. In fact, it is a stock department, a bookkeeper, a statistician, a tax accountant. A full POS system can perform a myriad of accounting and management functions which are all triggered at point of sale.
The original POS system was no more than a box into which a merchant would place money following a transaction between himself and a customer. All the accounting and stock keeping were totally separate transactions for which he would normally have had to pay someone.
Over the years, the humble cash register became more and more sophisticated and gradually began to deliver very simple management data such as a running total of receipts and a sum of transactions at the end of the day. This then carried on for years until we started moving towards cashless transactions.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that we could even think about computerisation at point-of-sale because that is when the technology arrived. Once again the market was static for about 20 years with only minor variations and peripherals such as receipt printers, followed by barcode scanners.
In the 1990s, with the advent of the world wide web and the concept of networking, the development of the POS we know today began to accelerate and evolve into the systems we are familiar with today.
As far back as the 1980s, we had in-store and then pan-store networking. In those far-off days it was all done with cables and telephone wires and eventually modems.
Gradually it was realised that more and more functionality could be built into a POS system. Today we have web-based point-of-sale systems as well as mobile POS which have now culminated in personal POS via the smartphone.
The accelerating development of POS within the last five years suggests that we are not yet at the end game. We are gradually moving from pressing buttons on a keypad to contactless technology with an increasing number of payments being simply based on a cell phone number.
Currently, it would seem that development in the next five years will center around the smartphone with merchants being able to not only do their standard calculations and record-keeping but incredibly precise and detailed demographic calculations and trends which will change our shopping habits and selling methods beyond all recognition.
It is therefore a wonder that there are still some businesses which have not embraced POS.