We recently found this interesting article on the development and history of the POS- How “Point of Sale” Became much more than a fancy calculator, and thought we would share it with you by recapping the most important and interesting points.
To many a POS has never been more than a fancy calculator; it only ever adds up the cost of all your products and holds money. Yes, over the years it has become sleeker in design and has more flashing lights, but its usage has not changed.
How wrong these people are. The modern day point-of-sale (POS) is a tightly integrated computer that knows all about your buying history; how often you shop online and what you are likely to buy next week. It is also able to communicate this along the entire length of the stores' supply chain right back to the factory if necessary.
It has certainly came a long way since its introduction in the late 1800’s when it was only used to produce a simple receipt, one copy for the merchant and one for the customer. The first POS devices were wooden boxes, made by carpenters out of rosewood, brass or nickel.
It was in the 1900s that the development of POS systems accelerated. A transaction that once started and ended in the stores was a thing of the past. These days your store knows a lot about you long before you have even entered, thanks to the introduction and popularity of loyalty cards. Computers can work out if you are sick, and how often, the number of people you live with, if you have pets and can even make an educated guess as to your pregnancy status. These facts may be daunting to some of the public, as privacy is obviously a concern and issue, however consumers can choose to opt in or opt out or the data collection process.
More and more retailers are aiming to gather and use “big data” to help refine their operations, as this information can prove invaluable when it comes to the supply chain. In an ideal world as soon as a product is taken off the shelves and paid for, a new one is instantly manufactured or shipped to replace it, so now-a-days POS manufacturers have to take into account the supply warehouse and the point of manufacture, rather than designing a machine that only suited the needs of a retailer. Many of the large retailers can dictate that new technology is used by their entire supply chain to help streamline the supply chain and work seamlessly with its own POS system.
One of the biggest developments recently has been to make the POS mobile. Apple stores championed this by allowing its staff to interact with their customers and finish transactions on the spot; others are now replicating this.
Due to the increasing demand for smartphones and tablets, POS companies are integrating the mobile factor into their manufacturing. Sophisticated POS systems are starting to come with some tablet element that can be detached at a moment notice. This can be seen in our earlier post about AX-3000 and Phoenix handheld ordering software.
Essentially POS manufacturers have acknowledge that is is far easier to take the touch-base skills many people are now learning form an early age- pinch, swipe and scroll- and incorporate them into their own device. Why invent new methods when there once that already exist than the masses know how to use.
It is in fact the User Interface (UI) that is the most important factor in the future of the POS system. Already, pictures and symbols have largely replaced words and letters, making each configuration easier to deploy especially in huge global supply chains. The future of POS systems will become more customer friendly and ever present in our everyday lives.