Cloud POS - Why The Time Might Be Right
It wasn't all that long ago that when someone mentioned “the cloud” as an option for Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, those in the know would scoff and say, “It's just not possible.” And quite frankly, the initial deployments of cloud POS systems were not very good. Yet with new iterations of systems and a rapidly changing retail landscape that requires the same data wherever the consumer wishes to shop, many retailers are beginning to consider a Cloud-based POS application as a viable solution. Make no mistake, it is not for every retailer size and shape, but new hybrid deployments, along with the participation of larger retailers in the discussion, are making the potential use of the cloud for POS as worthy of the discussion, something most retailers would not even consider even 2 years ago.
This research is a combination of numerous IHL research studies throughout the last 12 months as well as retail and vendor discussions. It takes into consideration recent retailer and vendor mergers and the fact that more and more vendors are building POS products from the inside out. Meaning they are starting with the Order Management System and adding a front-end POS application that can run across mobile, ecommerce and traditional POS platforms.
We review the best practices, where it makes sense and where it doesn't. In the process, we discuss how the goals of retailers and an integrated system are being challenged with the rapid evolvement of payment technologies like EMV and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. It is just the beginning of the discussion, one that traditional vendors should take note of and retailers of all sizes should at least review.
Is it the cloud or is it in the fog? As retailers look more and more to a single transaction engine, driven off of a single Order Management System, the concept of cloud-based POS applications begins to make more sense. But vendors and retailers alike must take into consideration things like offline mode, merchandise pickup at the store for online purchases and ship from store. What is right for one type of retailer might not be OK for another. This research helps vendors think through their architecture and for retailers to plan how if cloud or a hybrid of a cloud POS might best meet their needs. We call it foggy because the best solution might be a combination of the traditional POS approach and the cloud components.
Figure 2 - Desire for a Singular Transaction Engine
Note: Data from Stores Reinvented - 11th Annual RIS News IHL Group Store Systems Study 7/14