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6 Ways to Use POS as a Competitive Differentiator

Once just a humble cash register, the point of sale has morphed into a strategic tool for hotels and restaurants. Not only do digital POS platforms help create a customer experience that emphasizes convenience and consistency, but the data they gather can help hospitality providers offer the personalized experiences that win consumers’ attention – and wallet share.
This article from Cognizant discusses six advantages that hotels and restaurants gain from using POS as a competitive differentiator:
1.       Reap the benefits of standardization. Consolidating onto a single POS platform lets hospitality companies increase the number of customers it’s able to effectively come in contact with, achieve economy of scale, and provide consistent experiences. Many chains, however, prefer to allow franchisees to select their own POS system, both to ease the individual operators’ workload and to more quickly grow the number of stores. So standardization can feel counter-intuitive. While the POS platform can unlock business value, franchisees often push back due to the costs and implementation time and training, especially if they operate multiple restaurants with multiple brands. Yet the patchwork of POS systems at many large-scale, franchisee-based hotels and restaurants creates spotty customer experiences and diminishes brand value. A centralized POS, on the other hand, is a powerful tool for brand-building consistency.
2.     Create stronger omnichannel strategies. Integrating POS with multiple platforms -- order management, ecommerce, PMS, loyalty and mobility -- enables a seamless cross-channel customer experience. It lets your hospitality provider recognize customers equally across all touchpoints. Customers gain a consistent experience, menu and pricing whether they’re ordering online or at a kiosk or at a drive-up window. The key to POS’s role in a successful omnichannel strategy is choosing a platform that has strong support for APIs and a centralized cloud component that eliminates the need to install expensive technology in every store.
3.      Extend the tailored offers customers want
. Personalization is an important upside of a single digital POS platform. Targeted recommendations drive loyalty among consumers who by now are well accustomed to the digital channel’s ability to learn their likes and dislikes and then to craft offers based on them. Digital POS platforms become part of hospitality providers’ big-data feed, integrating with CRM, loyalty management platforms and social media analytics to track loyalty customers’ habits and preferences. So you know which guests are likely to visit the hotel spa, for example, or which diners prefer a salad to a burger. Moreover, integrating with sensor-driven technologies such as geo-fencing and beacons makes it possible to offer targeted promotions and real-time marketing to on-site guests and diners. In the restaurant sector, single-platform POS can also help with market-basket analysis, enabling you to better understand what people are consuming and what they order together, and to use those insights for upsell. What’s more, by examining POS data points across regions, you can begin to discern trends and create localized strategies.
4.      Spend more time with customers. A digital POS platform is the heart of mobile payments. By easing the long waits and frustration of checkout lines, mobile payments not only make customers happy but they also give your staff the opportunity to connect with customers – and the chance to improve the customer experience and deepen loyalty. Self-serve, cashless kiosks are poised for wider adoption in the fast-food sector, and implementing digital and near-field communication (NFC) payments enables frictionless experience throughout hotel properties. Thin-client solutions that run on tablets and smartphones empower associates to spend more time with customers, whether it’s tableside orders or poolside beverages.
5.      Develop more fluid, seamless operations. Integration is the strength of digital POS platforms. With APIs and plug-and-play connectivity, POS can serve as the center of customer-service ecosystems, for example, connecting with third-party platforms such as ride-sharing provider Uber and online delivery apps such as Uber Eats and GrubHub.  It can also link to sensors in connected kitchens to improve operational efficiency and reduce food waste. In kitchens, digital POS can, say, monitor how many French fries have been sold and determine whether to start the fryer.
6.      Be ready for what’s next. Digital is changing POS rapidly – but the greatest advances are still to come. Adding augmented and virtual reality functionality to the point of sale will let marketers offer information in exciting new ways. Loyalty cards, for example, might integrate with AR/VR headsets, enabling high-value customers to view visual promotional offers. Transactions will soon move beyond POS terminals and mobile devices to payment-enabled wearables, connected cars, and smart home devices. A single-platform POS is the first step to your hospitality provider’s payments future.
Taking these items into consideration, hotels and restaurants have the ability to elevate their customer experience while capturing the hearts, and loyalty, of their customers. 
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