Point of Service: January 2007
When Regal Entertainment Group began replacing concession POS systems in its 562 theaters, it was moving from electronic cash registers to cutting-edge Fujitsu TeamPoS POS terminals run remotely from a central server over a wide-area network and using the Linux operating system. Reliability, flexibility, fast processing and real-time access to POS data were among the company's priorities, says J.E. Henry, senior VP and CIO.
All that is manifesting itself in technology choices, including...Smaller platform footprints. While full operating systems still have their fans, a shift is underway particularly for larger operations to Microsoft Windows CE and embedded operating systems and devices that lack moving parts such as fans or hard drives, but often with some limited local processing. With no fan or hard drive "you've removed the two biggest reliability problems," notes Kyle Kurdle, director of hardware solutions for Micros, and gained flexible, easily swappable, low maintenance devices. A solid state also ensures a steady stream of consistent replacement parts, whereas PC processors evolve constantly, notes Clyde Dishman, director of hospitality industry marketing for NCR.
In a related trend, vendors such as Wincor Nixdorf are more often locking in POS hardware configuration for the duration of the product and guaranteeing availability of spare parts past its end-of-life. Open system proponents caution against proprietary processors or too-restrictive embedded profiles in these smaller systems, limiting modification; one possible new mandate is nutritional disclosure at POS, says Jerry Leeman, worldwide foodservice segment manager at IBM.
While an array of modular terminals persists, the all-in-one form factor remains a favorite, says Tim Becerra, marketing director at Posiflex Business Machines, because it's "bulletproof, rugged, easier to service and aesthetically pleasing."
A jump in displays, both in size and number. The laptop market is making 15-inch screens ubiquitous, enabling more functions on one POS screen. But some QSRs are pushing back, preferring less obtrusive 12-inch screens, according to Squirrel. Dual displays are increasingly popular for customers to view or even input their own orders and watch promotions — all increasing accuracy, productivity and service speed. "There aren't many tools that will allow you to increase sales," says Jay Usyk, VP sales for Sharp. "Promotions and special menu boards help get the message out there." Self-serve kiosks are growing in interest, though some operators say they cause kitchen bottlenecks, says Joseph Cortese, VP restaurant development for Squirrel. IBM predicts a swing back to infrared touch displays for easier maintenance. Speakers on POS systems become essential for dual use as training or customer terminals.