RetailEXPO: What’s the in-store POS of the future?

Retailers are on a mission to streamline the POS process.  From kiosks and self-checkout to tablets and mobile POS; from mobile wallets and apps to removing the cashier altogether – there’s a wealth of new payment technology coming to the fore.

A RetailEXPO panel discussion on Thursday 2 May examined the challenges, options and opportunities. A major issue all participants said they face is the uncertainty of which technology and processes will be most widely adopted in the future.

Predictions of what’s to come in POS

Central to the discussion was retail and hospitality’s ambition to improve the customer journey and drive customer engagement – while cutting operational and labour costs.

Jeremy Dunderdale, Head of Business Solution at TGI Fridays UK noted the impact Apple Pay has had on POS in the last few years, introducing the concept of mobile wallets. “You think you know the direction you’re all going in, but with Apple Pay everything changed. It’s very hard to predict the future of payments.”

Richard E Price, EPOS Systems Manager at Pret A Manger said the future of POS in food service was all about convenience, and that personalisation was of growing importance. This means that an individual’s food allergies could be incorporated into a payment app so that issues are flagged when products are scanned in a branch. Pre-ordering and paying via an app – to offer a frictionless experience for hurried customers – is also high on the agenda of fast food outlets, he said.

Price said the company is unsure whether smartphone payments will compliment fixed POS terminals in outlets, or completely replace them.

Cliff Austen, Senior Technical Manager, Retail IT, at the Co-op said he felt smartphone payment would certainly work well to compliment traditional checkouts, but that “not all of our customers will be confident to use mobile phone to pay”. However he said mobile wallets “do make sense as the core platform to be using in the immediate future”.

Transitioning legacy systems to advanced checkout technology

Austen at Co-op stressed the need for retailers to invest in payment systems that are open enough to be flexible and scalable. “We simply don’t know what customers will want to be using in two years’ time,” he said. “Things are changing pretty fast. We need tech that can adapt in line with evolving needs.”

All agreed that supplier partners will be critical in this respect. “We need vendor partners and tech support companies that can be faster with ideas and innovations, and with implementation,” said Austen. “Internally it’s important to have the right people, but we need great external partners who can deal with complex elements of evolving POS.”

Nick Popovici, CEO and Co-founder of Vita Mojo also shared his view on the future direction of payments. He said that with big data and machine learning, enriched POS data will become increasingly important in commercial planning, and strategic decision making. “Micro services will become the foundations for much strategic planning. All retailers should be looking at what AI can do to shape their business, making smarter use of a wealth of data.”

Biometrics on the horizon

The panel acknowledged how Asia is leading the way with biometrics in payment verification. For instance, tens of thousands of merchants across 300 cities in China offer Alipay’s facial recognition payment. POS terminals have biometric readers so shoppers can ‘smile to pay’, and this technology is being improved and made more cost-effective, making it very likely to appear in Europe soon.


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