What Is POS?

Point-of-sale (POS) systems have evolved from cash registers to modern hubs that manage sales, customer experience, promotional offers, and operational processes.

The Evolution of POS

POS once referred only to the site—typically, a counter with a cash register where customers handed over cash for goods and services. Payment is still at the heart of any POS system, whether it's online, at a self-service kiosk, via an agent's handheld device, or at a traditional register. But since the old-fashioned cash register first paired up with computers in the 1970s, POS has transformed into a powerful hub for financial, sales, promotional, and operational processes.

As technology has advanced, so have POS systems, with the introduction of bar codes in the 1970s, graphical interfaces in the 1980s, and online ordering in the 1990s.

In the 21st century, the rate of change has accelerated further. Mobile technology has untethered the payment process from the traditional register, turning the entire store into a POS via tablets and other devices. And cloud technology has paved the way for truly modern POS, enabling the rapid integration of critical systems to optimize customer experiences while simultaneously driving higher margins.

Modern POS: From Point of Sale to Point of Service

In the current decade, POS solutions have evolved to keep pace with today's increasingly demanding and well-informed consumers. If they are unsatisfied with the choices or service levels you offer, they can, with mobile devices in hand, instantly access a limitless set of alternatives. As a result of such extreme competitive pressures, modern POS has evolved far beyond a payment and accounting system to become not just point of sale, but also point of service, driving highly individualized interactions that consistently gratify customers in the moment.

For example, a point-of-service solution empowers retail associates to save sales—and even increase basket size—with real-time visibility into inventory as well as a customer's purchase and online browsing history. Hospitality associates can elevate the guest experience, from faster delivery of personalized orders to seamless application of loyalty programs and other targeted offers.

Done right, modern POS also drives down costs and improves margins, all without sacrificing service levels. For retailers, that means saving—and even increasing—in-store sales with empowered commerce capabilities that allow customers to buy, pick up, or return items via any channel. For the hospitality industry, modern POS maximizes both inventory and staff productivity. Both retail POS and restaurant POS systems provide advanced analytics that drive leaner operations, more profitable offers, and more effective promotions.

With an integrated, complete POS solution, you gain these capabilities and benefits:

Provide personalized guest experiences
  • Gratify customers in the moment
  • Save retail sales with the power of endless-aisle shopping and the ability to source items from anywhere in the supply chain
  • Personalize restaurant guest experiences to increase sales and encourage loyalty
Gain a 360-degree view of customers
  • Increase sales with targeted offers
  • Grow total customer lifetime value
  • Drive visits by rewarding customers with loyalty programs
Unite front- and back-end systems
  • Save sales by integrating POS systems with retail operational systems, from merchandising to supply chain
  • Speed and automate orchestration of food and beverage orders
  • Maximize inventory value and reduce waste
Perform analysis to create more profitable offerings and boost margins
  • Optimize supply chain logistics for better margins and more targeted customer preferences
  • Leverage data to avoid food waste, overstaffing, and theft
Support mobile POS on all kinds of devices
  • Enable transactions via tablets, mobile devices, and self-service kiosks
  • Speed transaction time
  • Improve service levels and save sales
Prevent losses
  • Quickly identify suspicious trends, transactions, and other anomalies
  • Respond instantly via automated alerts
  • Collect court-admissible evidence
Secure customer data
  • Ensure Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance
  • Quickly identify stolen credit cards and other fraudulent credentials
Empower agents with a modern user experience (UX)
  • Reduce associate ramp-up time and errors
  • Speed transaction time
  • Attract and retain associates with the kind of highly intuitive UX they have come to expect
Leverage the cloud
  • Speed deployment and time to value
  • Quickly and cost-effectively extend the scope and value of your POS system
  • Dramatically simplify implementation, monitoring, patching, and upgrades

Personalize Experiences, Gratify Customers in the Moment

It's harder than ever to gratify today's consumers. Shoppers make purchases anywhere, anytime—and increasingly expect delivery within an ever-shrinking window, whether in-store or on their doorstep. The same principle holds for the hospitality industry. Armed with a growing range of options on their mobile devices, guests expect to order quickly and receive high-quality fare quickly, exactly as they ordered it. If you fail to do so, chances are they won't return. Learn more about the Hotel Restaurants guest journey.

Line busting is another way to turn frustration into gratification. Whether at a store or restaurant, faster transactions can save sales and encourage consumers to return frequently. Modern POS speeds transaction times, and mobile POS adds a powerful line-busting tool to your arsenal. In fact, research shows that more than half (52 percent) of retailers are arming store associates with mobile technology—and another 26 percent plan to do the same.

Gain a 360-Degree View of Customers

When you know your customers, you can provide a more personalized—and gratifying—experience. For example, a modern POS system can turn checkout into a clientele opportunity. By empowering in-store associates with a customer's purchase history, online browsing, and cart abandons, POS can increase basket size and same-store sales, even as you drive loyalty by exceeding customer expectations.

Likewise, gift and loyalty programs—whether for retail (PDF), food and beverage, or hospitality customers—can turn payment into a personalized guest experience in which you reward customers, run targeted promotions, and gather key data on preferences and behaviors. That's probably why 65 percent of US consumers are members of at least one food and beverage loyalty program.

Unite Front- and Back-end Systems

Even when POS was more narrowly focused on managing payments, it was an important source of financial and inventory data. But with the advent of modern POS, it has become much more. Today, POS systems are a vital hub that orchestrates the customer-facing front end with the operational back-end. The result? You optimize all kinds of business transactions and processes—providing consumers with what they want when they want it, while driving higher margins at each step of the way.

For hospitality, that means connecting the register (plus mobile devices and kiosks) with staff, facilities, and inventory to:

  • Speed service
  • Enhance food quality
  • Reduce errors
  • Track kitchen performance
  • Page staff, and more

For retail, it means seamlessly connecting the POS system with order-management, order-brokering, and customer-engagement systems. Only in this way can you bridge the gap between online and traditional POS functionality to provide true omnichannel capabilities

Beyond customer fulfillment, modern POS integrates all kinds of business processes—from HCM to financial analytics—to drive higher margins.

Retail and Hospitality POS

Retail and hospitality industries require a modern POS that supports the following critical needs:

  • Speed ordering and financial transactions
  • Support personalized customer interactions
  • Integrate seamlessly with fulfillment systems
  • Support mobile POS and self-service kiosks
  • Provide targeted promotions
  • Support loyalty programs
  • Accept all kinds of payment methods
  • Prevent losses
  • Gather data for reporting and analytics
  • Enhance employee productivity
  • Secure customer data

Choosing the Right POS

Given today's extreme competitive pressures, choosing the right POS system is critical to success in both the retail and hospitality industries. You need a complete, cloud-ready solution that supports every aspect of modern POS that your business requires, from hardware, operating systems, and application servers to database technology and industry-specific software.

A truly modern POS solution requires the integration of many best-in-class elements, including:

Modern POS Hardware
  • Clean, modern, POS device design to extend your brand
  • Devices with a preinstalled and preintegrated platform
  • Durability
  • Legacy I/O support
  • High-definition display screens
  • Support for optional peripherals
Complete, integrated, POS software
  • Engineered for your industry to eliminate base-code modifications and speed implementation
  • Modern, preintegrated, and complete POS processes, from financial transaction systems to inventory visibility
  • Easy integration with operational and ERP systems
  • APIs to connect with mobile payment options, online ordering solutions, and more
  • Fast deployment and time to value
  • Flexibility to implement changes as market conditions require
  • Ability to quickly add new modules
  • Seamless patching, updates, and upgrades
  • Optimized and preintegrated solutions
  • Pre-engineered support for various mobile POS devices, from tablets to self-service kiosks
  • Mobile employee self-service
  • Supports compliance with Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (EMV) and PCI requirements
Modern UX
  • Highly intuitive, consumer-grade user interface (UI)
  • Complete touchscreen capabilities

Learn more about Oracle's point-of-sale offerings