Any technology investment is a balancing act. Roll out a new technology and run the risk that something better (more affordable, durable, simplified, etc.) will soon be developed. Or wait for “something better” to come along at the risk of being a bit too far behind the competitive curve. For restaurants, the de facto approach has been less technology investment, more customer service, until recently. Technology capabilities — and particularly those that can positively impact the customer experience — are driving new investments. The point of sale (POS) is a central focus for restaurant innovation and investment, and Hospitality Technology’s annual “POS Software Trends” report shows that operators are looking to add a variety of new capabilities in 2013.
HT recently surveyed restaurant executives on two topics: POS platform innovations most in-demand for their next upgrade; and their overall purchasing plans. In addition, we queried the POS technology supplier community to find out what rollouts they’ve recently completed, and what new capabilities they plan on releasing in the year ahead.
On the supplier side, many vendors have already rolled out or will release some form of mobile-ready solution in 2013. Mobile advancements cover both consumer-facing and employee facing. Vendors’ R&D in cloud-based POS should start to come to market in 2013. Some vendors are responding to operator interest in tablet hardware (such as the release planned by Micros), while others are focusing on the desire for social media integration into the POS (such as the project Posera’s working on). The full details from across the vendor community — including what they’ve done in 2012 and their predictions and plans for 2013 — are outlined in our “Vendor Innovations and Predictions” section. But first, let’s find out just what restaurant operators are shopping for in the year ahead.
POS Features in Demand
In HT’s survey, restaurant operators were asked to tell us which POS platform innovations they’re most interested in for their next purchase. Overall, the survey results reflect that restaurants have a strong desire for POS technology advancement, with 5 out of the 7 capabilities we measured growing in interest over prior years. Online ordering is the number-one choice for the second year running, and in fact slightly more than half (51.2%) of all restaurant operators in our survey named it the POS feature they’d most like to invest in for 2013. Interest in mobile phones for ordering and payment is spiking, too, with 48.4% of restaurant operators adding it to POS shopping lists. Cloud computing saw the biggest jump, and is desired by 36.2% of restaurants in our survey (a jump of 17 percentage points over 2012).
POS Purchasing Plans
With top priorities in hand, the vast majority of restaurants plan to make some changes to their POS systems in 2013. In fact, just 18.9% report that they have no changes planned for 2013. The most likely change will be to add new functionality, features and/or modules to current POS software (planned by 45.7% of restaurants). For 18.1% of restaurants, the move will be to a new POS vendor. Another 25.8% plan to expand the POS installation base of a vendor they currently work with. Looking ahead, investment in POS technology does not show signs of slowing, with a third of all restaurants in a “testing and research” phase for POS upgrades after 2013. The “testing and research” camp has steadily increased over the past several years, reflecting an overall desire among restaurants for new POS technologies.
2012 Advancements: Agilysys improved its InfoGenesis POS system with support for enhanced kitchen video systems (replacing kitchen order printing), prix fixe packaged offerings, inclusive gratuities, extended check-splitting options, credit and gift card processing, and improved PCI-related security. The InfoGenesis Mobile POS application features support for: multiple check types; required and optional modifiers and free-form special instructions; one-click item reordering; and summary check item view. Also introduced in 2012, Agilysys Elevate, for the managed foodservice market, is a single-pass cloud-based system that uses open architecture for maximum flexibility and scalability.
2013 Predictions & Plans: Agilysys is integrating mobile applications into a number of solutions. More centralized functionality in the enterprise environment will also become more prominent. As hospitality providers embrace cloud strategy, POS products will mirror the demand for centralized administration. Agilysys plans to expand the feature set of Elevate, to make it available to other selected segments.
Aldelo Systems (www.aldelo.com)
2012 Advancements: Aldelo has added a “Workforce Management” module to its XERA software that brings advanced workforce control to software users and updated the software to use .NET 4.0. Aldelo POS software has a new look plus 100+ feature enhancements. Aldelo Enterprise Cloud continues to grow and expand. The Aldelo EDC has an updated look, and offers enhancements to gift card processing and security.
2013 Predictions and Plans: Mobility will continue to be an innovative direction for operators who wish to be freed from conventional technology, stationary workstations, systems that do not interact or communicate together, and media that is one-dimensional. Social media, digital menu boards, online ordering, mobile ordering, consumer interactive media, and innovative payment processing will provide greater access, more interactive options, and simpler points of contact
ASI /Restaurant Manager (www.rmpos.com)
2012 Advancements: Updated Restaurant Manager POS software offers: more secure credit card processing using end-to-end (E2E) encryption; a custom export to the U.S. Foods proprietary Menu Profit Builder Pro software; the release of the RM Monitor remote management tool as a native app for Android phones; a SQL reporting feature for multi-store reporting; enhanced card-less, mobile loyalty capabilities that connect with social media; inventory control, reporting, purchase order handling, and inventory maintenance. The new versions of Write-On Handheld for tableside ordering and payment on an iPod touch streamlines settlement and enables E2E credit card processing tableside.
2013 Predictions & Plans: ASI will deploy products with new capabilities including: online ordering for mobile devices; display and marketing capabilities via digital signage and customer-facing displays; integration to the Mercury Mobile Loyalty card-less loyalty and social marketing tool; enhanced customer paging and notification tools; enabling even more mobile management capabilities via RM Monitor; plus more mobile management alerts that help reduce fraud and improve real-time oversight.
Future POS Inc. (www.futurepos.com)
2012 Advancements: Future POS delivered two new apps for Apple and Android. A Mobile Ordering app allows customers to download the app, then order and pay for food. The Remote Control allows a store owner to run flash reports and graphs in real time and also change item prices and send messages to employees. The Online Ordering system has been streamlined to allow the setup and maintenance to be done more efficiently.
2013 Predictions & Plans: Mobility will continue to be a driving force in development. Apps have made the POS accessible from any phone at any time. While digital signage and social media will still be hot, the low cost of apps will make them more attractive and more accessible to the majority of businesses.
Granbury Restaurant Solutions (www.granburyrs.com)
2012 Advancements: Granbury Restaurant Solutions introduced a complementary mobile ordering app and self-serve iPad Kiosk app to further the trend of pushing the ordering process to the customer. Tight integration with the POS system means that operations run seamlessly. The order cycle is completed with posting to the fully integrated customer loyalty system, giving restaurant owners transaction-level segmentation capabilities and automated, targeted communications via e-mail, text or social media.
2013 Predictions & Plans: Increased customer demands for personalization, recognition, rewards and outstanding service — reflected by real-time social feedback — mean restaurant operators of all sizes will find it essential to establish direct customer relationships. The right technology tools, integrated into the POS system, allow cashiers and servers to personalize the customer experience and serve customers better in every interaction. Shifting trends in payment technologies will also have a big impact on the market in 2013.
2012 Advancements: ISISPOS announced enhancements including: a voice ordering app for the iPod touch; added Video Void for reporting; wireless KDS; online ordering; cloud hotel interface; full tableside payment; and integration to third party products such as wallet payment and QR codes.
2013 Predictions & Plans: ISISPOS will continue more social media integration with full abilities to place orders via Facebook and Twitter. Other advancements will focus on PIN credit cards and enabling iPad tableside ordering capabilities.
Menusoft/Digital Dining (www.digitaldining.com)
2012 Advancements: In 2012 Digital Dining moved most of its software to .net to allow more cloud options in its product, completely remodeled the graphic engine to take advantage of mobile and wide screen formats and added digital signage. Digital Dining has written in mobile payment interfaces and encrypted / tokenized interfaces to all the leading players in the field as well as preparing for U.S. EMV with the Canadian version’s implementation of EMV. Other additions included self-service kiosk and many social/loyalty offerings.
2013 Predictions & Plans: In 2013 Digital Dining will continue the combination of .net, product features, graphic engine and customization capabilities to re-engineer every key stroke or gesture to maximize the experience of restaurants. Digital Dining is launching its own web development services that can offer mobile payment/recharge and loyalty interaction via web or mobile.
2012 Advancements: MICROS has retained its open systems approach and expanded Simphony POS to include iPads. MICROS also launched Google Wallet and Isis for tap and pay with its POS. MICROS also extended the reach of the POS beyond the four walls of the restaurant to engage the digital consumer with online ordering.
2013 Predictions & Plans: MICROS will continue its open systems strategy and extend its POS to the Windows 8 and Android platforms. The company is releasing a new sleek, yet ruggedized, tablet device for mobile ordering (i.e. pool side, patio, etc.) as well as a mobile product offering that will provide operators with real time, actionable information at a glance.
NCR/Radiant Systems (www.radiantsystems.com)
2012 Advancements: NCR introduced Pulse, a new platform that takes data collected from the POS and other applications and transforms it into real-time, actionable information available via mobile devices. This gives operators key business information, regardless of where they are. It eliminates the need to wait for reports to be generated after end of day and delivers up-to-the-minute measurements, including comps and voids, labor dollars by job code, net sales by multiple categories, and employee performance.
2013 Predictions & Plans: In 2013, customer engaging technologies will: help drive traffic with effective and targeted promotions; ensure accurate and timely order placement, capture real-time feedback to turn positive consumer experiences into referral through the power and “instant gratification world” of social media; continue building loyalty through ongoing, personalized interactions that enable operators to turn a transaction into a relationship.
2012 Advancements: In early 2012, Panasonic introduced the Stingray Envo POS. Envo’s modular design makes trouble shooting and servicing easy, so managers can quickly replace key components such as the power supply or hard drive in minutes. The Envo is Energy Star rated and its power efficient design cuts power consumption by half of earlier Stingray models.
2013 Predictions & Plans: POS and digital signage integrated solutions from Panasonic allow POS analytics software to interact with digital menu boards in order to change menu items and pricing based on inventory levels, time of day or customer traffic patterns. Restaurants are able to promote specific items based on customer data, helping restaurants reduce waste and move food efficiently. With these technologies integrated, restaurants will be able to measure sales based on promotions, time of day and price levels.
ParTech Inc. (PAR, www.partech.com)
2012 Advancements: In 2012 ParTech introduced the new redesigned PAR EverServ 7000 POS terminals. Customers can modify POS software features for improved operations and faster customer service with the availability of APIs licensed to partners and third party software developers with complementary applications. PAR works with partners and customers to add functionality including: the integration of the HotSchedules labor management application into the table service POS software; HyperActive Technologies’ drive thru application into the POS software; and enhanced PixelPoint POS software to customize receipts and reports.
2013 Predictions & Plans: There will be a continued emphasis on the integration of mobile clients into restaurant environments to take advantage of lower cost hardware platforms. More mobile POS software applications will displace older, traditional PC-based POS platforms, especially in smaller, independent chains with less than one hundred locations.
PC America (www.pcamerica.com)
2012 Advancements: PC America introduced Restaurant Pro Express Mobile that enables servers to take orders and securely process payments tableside, reducing wait times and providing a higher level of service, boosting the bottom line. Cash Register Express and Restaurant Pro Express now integrate with Paydiant mobile payments as well as Google Wallet and ISIS Mobile Wallet. A partnership with Digiop adds another level of security and customers can now integrate video and POS data, helping deter theft, improve operations and customer service, and enhance profit margins.
2013 Predictions & Plans: Restaurant Pro Express will build on its online ordering functionality and add more options for Smartphone users, including new ordering and reservation capabilities. In 2013, pcAmerica will look to introduce new loyalty functions for mobile devices. Mobility offerings will be expanded by adding a tablet POS solution and developing and incorporating more innovative tableside payment options.
2012 Advancements: The latest release from Posera offers business intelligence tools, including sales forecasts, production schedules, and a KPI dashboard. Other enhancements include perpetual inventory management, allowing tighter controls on food and beverage costs, and the CVM Kitchen Video Monitor System, which is fully integrated with Maitre’D POS. Maitre’D POS also provides online scheduling and integrated online reservations. Posera has developed POS support for iPad, iPhone and Android/Windows mobile tablets.
2013 Predictions & Plans: Plans for 2013 include integration with social media platforms to provide in-depth data on the customer database, allowing restaurateurs to further leverage marketing programs and promotions to increase sales, repeat visits, and customer lifetime value. Posera is also ready to adapt to changes in the payment processing industry, and to follow emerging solution delivery models such as SaaS to better meet market requirements.
SilverWare POS Inc. (www.silverwarepos.com)
2012 Advancements: SilverWare Avrio POS now offers Advanced Table Status notifications. Restaurant management can determine if a potential service issue looms with one glance at the floor plan and proactively attend to the customer, thus avoiding a negative guest experience. For example, restaurant managers and servers can easily identify which tables have yet to order any menu items, or food items, or entrée times, within a pre-defined time, and serve guests quicker than ever before.
2013 Predictions & Plans: SilverWare will offer fully integrated cloud-based solutions. Online Reservations, Frequent Diner programs, and Gift Card processing will be fully integrated with a single customer database to manager all CRM systems from the cloud in one system.
Speedline Solutions (www.speedlinesolutions.com)
2012 Advancements: A new user interface design inspired by modern, user-friendly mobile apps addressed essentials for POS software including: speed of service, ease of use, and training. A new e-commerce integration with eThor offers SpeedLine users a one-stop web, text, and social marketing dashboard and the option of integrated web, mobile, and Facebook ordering for scheduled and instant click-to-order marketing promos. SpeedLine introduced automated end-of-day and a range of enhancements to improve inventory tracking and employee management.
2013 Predictions & Plans: With the influence of mobile and cloud continuing, Speedline is planning new solutions for remote management and enterprise analytics. Integration tool sets will be enhanced and the SpeedLine Technology Network will be expanded with new tech partnerships, providing the user base with flexible technology options. New solutions for delivery mapping and visual analytics will round out a specialized suite of operations and management tools.
Squirrel Systems (www.squirrelsystems.com)
2012 Advancements: Squirrel developed Bullet POS to address the needs of the fast casual segment. The software solution was designed for easy installation and use. Enhancements to Squirrel Mobility allow POS software products to run on iOS, Android, or Windows mobile devices for a faster way to send orders to the kitchen.
2013 Predictions & Plans: Expanding upon mobile and providing restaurant operators with actionable business intelligence will continue to be a strong focus in 2013, with simplified solutions to help make sense of the data so managers can focus on improving operations by identifying both strong performers and gaps to be addressed.
2012 Advancements: In 2012, Vivonet developed a new reporting engine that simplifies large amounts of data and through a Microsoft excel integration, provides an easy to use method for restaurant owner/operators. The new reporting system brings real time analytic tools that deliver better, faster reporting to help restaurateurs make better business decisions.
2013 Predictions & Plans: In 2013 Vivonet will launch the next version of the mobile application to order, pre-pay, select pick-up time and share purchases through social media. The cloud-based POS system will offer expanded reporting features and more opportunities for other cloud based applications to connect through the Vivonet API system.
2012 Advancements: XPIENT enhanced the IRIS conversational ordering model adding: multi-touch quantity capability allowing users to quickly add multiples of the same item; automatic upsizing of a combo based on any single component; allowing an order to begin with a coupon and lead the operator through the requirements to fulfill that coupon; and support of Point-to-Point Encryption. The eKitchen solution was enhanced with configurable backgrounds, fonts, colors and sound. Transactional data can now move in real-time from the stores to the enterprise.
2013 Predictions & Plans: POS will be expected to run on any device — iPads, Android tablets, etc. Loyalty will see continued proliferation along with broad adoption of mobile ordering and payment. Legitimate cloud POS solutions will include complete in-store functionality in the absence of an Internet connection.