Changed-RetailRetail has grown significantly, and kept pace with ecommerce, largely thanks to cutting edge point of sale technology. New cash registers aren’t just a shiny fixture to place at the front of the store, they are important points of access for customers and service staff. The POS unit, in essence, has become the POS system.

Then and Now

When IBM first introduced the 3653 series of registers, the applications for the technology were relatively limited in scope. These early terminals utilized a simplified peer-to-peer system to communicate, and registers were really only able to ring someone up and keep track of sales.

Today’s POS terminal is part of a system that is integrated at all levels of the store. Everything from inventory planning to special promotions can be handled in the store, and all automated. Retail systems also handle customer returns, gift cards and wedding registries too.

Systems that are integrated with an online ordering form often record customer information as well, which helps the customer through future transactions with ease.

Another major change has been the usage of the mobile device. With new hardware attachments, and the proper mobile applications, smartphones and tablets can become cash registers. That keeps the workforce mobile, and reduces the amount of money a retail store needs to spend on hardware to sell. Plus, people are generally happier when they can purchase something wherever they are in a store instead of waiting in line.

POS systems even provide better accessibility to the disabled. The blind community has successfully lobbied to equip these systems with tactile keypads and voice commands.

Bio: As the former CEO of AlertPay Inc., Firoz Patel offers a unique blend of marketing and technology experience. Firoz Patel currently resides in Montreal, where he oversees development of the Payza platform.