Every year, Hospitality Technology produces its annual POS Software Trends Report to find out what’s trending in the year ahead. We query restaurant technology executives about the features they’re most looking for in their next POS software upgrade, and the business goals that are driving those investments. We also check in with the POS supplier community to report on their 2015 releases and any rollout plans for the year ahead. The overall sentiment in 2016 is a readiness to embrace change: new consumer expectations for payment, mobility, security and engagement are driving restaurant POS investments.
To find out about specific buying activity, HT queried restaurant readership at the close of 2015 on their POS purchasing plans. In an open-ended survey reply, one restaurant executive pointedly called out the potential end-game for POS mobility: “With all of the SaaS models, the biggest trend will be to get rid of the POS altogether and have our customers actually order on their own devices. Our goal is to one day have half of our sales tied to a digital device.”
Technology suppliers are working through how to address mobile’s massive disruption. In a prediction for POS in 2016, Custom Business Solutions told HT that “guests want to use their own smartphone with the restaurant’s system.” Heartland, now a key player in restaurant POS since the acquisitions of Xpeint, pcAmerica and Digital Dining, agreed: “The continued pressure of rising labor costs, combined with the Affordable Care Act, will mean restaurant owners are increasingly looking for customers to use their own devices when ordering, whether in or out of a brick-and-mortar restaurant,” the firm said. Indeed, nearly every vendor in our report says that mobile remains a major focus in 2016 and restaurants rated mobile features high on their list of must-haves.
Overall, HT’s survey found that there will be substantive buying activity in 2016 (Fig 1). The majority of restaurants we queried (59%) are looking to add new functionality or features to their existing POS software. In addition, 46% plan to expand the installation base of the POS vendor they’re currently working with. About a third (35%) will test and research new POS solutions for possible implementation some time beyond 2016. Only a few plan to install a POS from a new vendor entirely (18%). Two business goals will drive most POS spending in 2016: payment security, and mobility. When asked to evaluate a list of potential business goals, all those related to mobility and payment rose to the top of the list. The number one goal for restaurant POS software upgrades in 2016 is preparing for EMV (58% of restaurants selected this option). Half (50%) said they’re seeking to enable new mobile payment options, and nearly as many (46%) said they’re looking to add mobile POS in general. Figure 2 offers the complete list of business goals for POS software spending in 2016, plus a comparison to how those goals ranked one year prior.
Survey takers were also asked to identify specific functionalities that have the greatest appeal for their next POS upgrade. Mobile wallet topped the list, with 58% of restaurants seeking this capability. POS integration with other systems is in-demand by 52% of restaurants. Restaurant executives have anecdotally told HT that one-off integrations are no longer enough – open source is the way ahead. Tablet-based POS software and loyalty tools closely followed on our list of top features, each with 49%. Figure 3 shows the complete list of top features in 2016, with comparative data from last year’s report.
Finally, for insight from the supplier community, HT contacted a wide range of POS software companies to find out about technology releases in 2015, and what’s on tap for 2016. Given the focus on upgrading technology in accordance with EMV liability, we’ve called special attention to how suppliers are addressing payment security. We also asked suppliers to detail the most innovative feature(s) of their solutions, and in a special sidebar share some of their most interesting predictions for POS in 2016. What follows is a roundup of those efforts.
POS Software Supplier Report: What Happened in 2015 & 2016 Plans
AGILYSYS (www.agilysys.com) released the InfoGenesis v4.4.7 with Bluetooth connectivity to Ingenico payment devices. Integration with rGuest Seat provides servers with knowledge about guests’ seating and server preferences, plus historical dining information. Enhanced integration with Agilysys rGuest Analyze allows managers to leverage InfoGenesis POS data to identify KPIs. Other 2015 enhancements include multiple gift card support and improved integration with Konami Gaming. Most innovative feature: P2PE solutions that address offline scenarios; integration with Agilysys rGuest Seat, so that information regarding guests is available to the POS server via the terminal or tablet. In 2016, Agilysys will focus on mobility with solutions that enable terminal functionality in the palm of servers’ hands, support for EMV, and self-service with the rGuest Buy kiosk.
AIREUS (www.aireus.com) added 15 new interfaces in 2015 and advanced its offline capabilities, plus made enhancements including the ability to use a wired Ethernet connection for an iPad in a fixed environment and EMV P2P integration. Most innovative feature: Mobility via Apple iOS; fully-featured enterprise and customizable POS core; advanced add-on modules such as KDS; cloud services with redundant offline capabilities, including storage of P2P tokenized credit card transactions. Aireus offers more than 50 interfaces to third party popular applications, plus advanced features for tableside and online ordering. To address EMV, Aireus has integrated P2P encryption methods and services and expanded gateway provider services so that customers can choose from a range of secure gateways that include Elements, Mercury, Bridge-Pay and Merchantlink. In 2016, Aireus is focusing on kiosk and online ordering as well as more mobile device-centric analytic features and deep-rooted interfaces to third party products.
ALDELO (www.aldelo.com) integrated to several processors to accommodate EMV requirements before the liability shift. Aldelo introduced Aldelo Pro Mobile which gives customers two choices of full-featured software that is approved by Apple and compatible with iPads. Aldelo released Enterprise 4 for multi-unit and above-store reporting and launched a new SaaS model that allows customers to pay a monthly subscription for use of the Aldelo Pro or XERA Traditional POS Solutions. Most innovative feature: Supports offline credit card processing for most providers, and tokenized encrypted card swipe for select processors as well as EMV. To address EMV, Aldelo is currently rolling out EMV compatible software from multiple processors as they become available. The intention is to provide merchants with flexibility to choose when and with which processor they desire to partner for converting to EMV. In 2016, Aldelo will offer cloud functionality with a web-based back-office and reporting solution.
APRIVA (www.apriva.com) has opened multiple integration channels to its payment gateway for all types of integrators to securely integrate payment acceptance. Most innovative feature: Mobile SDK can process a credit sale transaction with integrated card reader support. It directly connects to the Apriva gateway via an iOS or Android handset or tablet along with web services integration options via XML and JSON, and the flexibility to utilize 30+ processing platforms. To address EMV, Apriva will update processor interfaces and undertake numerous EMV certification efforts across a wide range of devices and processors. With the Mobile SDK solution, Apriva is assembling a semi-integrated SDK solution to significantly eliminate many of the EMV certification requirements that an integrator would otherwise have to undertake as part of certifying their EMV-enabled integrated solution. In 2016, Apriva will expand transaction processing support, EMV and contactless capture capabilities for the Mobile SDK, plus enhance support for recurring payment functionality, and add support for additional payment capture devices and processing platforms.
ASI (www.rmpos.com) provided enhancements to its traditional client/server-based POS with online ordering and remote management monitoring features. The company also developed an iOS tablet/cloud-based product for the restaurant market. In 2016, ASI plans to introduce mobile applications for in-store (tableside payments) and outside customer engagement via social media or product/merchant specific apps that will be introduced in the following year along with easy-to-use customer facing in-store mobile-based ordering or kiosk applications.
CUSTOM BUSINESS SOLUTIONS (www.cbsnorthstar.com) added the Community Table element to NorthStar Order Entry that allows customers to order from multiple restaurants from one tabletop device. CBS launched connectivity for Apple Pay and Google Wallet with NorthStar Order Entry. CBS also developed a dashboard capability called WorldView that allows the help desk and operators to get a top view of active systems and take preventative measures — a key feature is the ability to see what software versions are running at which store in a customer’s system. Most innovative feature: A longpress capability that brings up details about the menu item or the order. This gives instant accessibility to such detail without leaving the page or swiping the screen. In 2016, CBS will add responsive website capabilities to include options like apps.
FUTURE POS (www.futurepos.com) continues to move its entire back-office to a modern HTML5 user interface, so that customers can perform back-office functions and run reports from any Internet capable device with a web browser. Most innovative feature: The ability to run on all three of the most popular operating systems currently in production, greatly lowering the barrier of entry for new restaurateurs. The inclusion of advanced features like digital signage, kitchen VDUs, labor scheduling, integrated surveillance cameras, customer loyalty, text alerts, and interfaces to all major accounting and payroll companies. In 2016, FuturePOS will continue to enhance its cross platform iOS/Android Mobile POS app.
GRANBURY SOLUTIONS (www.granburyrs.com) worked on features that help manage the delivery process, making it easier for restaurant owners to track actual driver mileage with integration to Google maps, and added functionality to better manage tip credit driver wages in response to stricter enforcement by the Department of Labor. Granbury also released a mobile driver app that delivery drivers can use to track assigned orders, “check-in” with actual delivery times, and capture electronic signatures and tips from customers. Managers can track all the drivers on a map to see exactly where they are at any time. Most innovative feature: All menu and pricing changes on Thr!ve POS are automatically synced and the online system uses all the same business logic of the POS, ensuring that workflows and business rules are the same no matter where the order originates from. In 2016, Granbury Solutions will continue to push the trend toward digital ordering and customer self-service with new tools and solutions.
HARBORTOUCH (www.harbortouch.com) launched Echo POS, a system designed from the ground up by Harbortouch, including both built-for-purpose hardware and custom-developed software. Feature and performance improvements were made to the software running on the flagship Elite POS systems. Additionally, advancements were made on the back-end Lighthouse platform which enables customers to run reports or manage their POS system remotely. Most innovative feature: Echo POS is module-based so that business owners can activate or deactivate specific features to make their system custom-tailored to their business. The software can be trimmed down to a bare-bones “calculator mode” for beginners, or scaled up to a POS interface with countless features. To enable mobility, Tableside, an iPad based solution, allows restaurant servers to input orders directly from the table. A dedicated iPad app mirrors the interface of the actual POS software for easy entry, and orders are relayed directly to the kitchen or bar. This tool lets host/hostesses place drink orders for customers waiting in line. Harbortouch’s Perkwave app allows customers to pay checks from the table using Apple Pay. In 2016, Harbortouch intends to support mobile payments, working on solutions that will future-proof customers’ businesses while adding convenience and value for patrons.
HEARTLAND (www.heartlandpaymentsystems.com) continued migration to the cloud for all of its solutions, enabling them to take advantage of multi-store configuration management, reporting and mobile dashboards, time and attendance, labor scheduling, customer engagement and loyalty, as well as mobile ordering. Most Innovative feature: Conversational ordering improves order accuracy and speed of service; pay-at-the-table; and hand-held ordering. In 2016, Heartland will continue its move to the cloud for POS solutions and plans to offer fully-redundant, cloud-based POS software by Q32016.
LIGHTSPEED POS (www.lightspeedhq.com) added a partnership with iZettle’s card reader & payment technology for European and Latin American customers to reduce billing errors and speed the check-out experience. The card reader connects via an iPad or iPhone and can complete transactions tableside via credit, debit or Apple Pay. The capability to input and bill by specific seat helps track and navigate food allergies and ensure the right customer receives the right meal. Most innovative feature: The system’s live table status shows servers when food is ready, when a check is needed and lets staff communicate special requests seamlessly with the kitchen. A seat-by-seat ordering feature lets guests split the bill any number of ways. To address EMV, Lightspeed is fully EMV capable and prioritized email marketing campaigns and educational white papers that helped customers make smarter decisions and get prepared for the October 1st deadline. Lightspeed integrates with Cayan’s Genius terminal which is EMV capable. In 2016, Lightspeed will continue to expand its offering to include more features for front-of-house, kitchen staff, and diners themselves.
NCR (www.ncrcorp.com) introduced a commercial mobile POS system (Aloha Mobile), ensuring the solution is scalable to a restaurant’s needs. A cloud-based integration platform was also released plus distinct POS software platforms targeted to each industry segment: Silver, Silver Pro, Aloha-centric POS platforms. Most innovative feature: Consumer self-service and consumer ordering integrated on a single platform.
ORACLE HOSPITALITY (www.oracle.com) launched Oracle MICROS Workstation 6, providing operators with an integrated hardware offering robust enough to survive tough hospitality environments. Oracle also redesigned its back-office management suite adding a modern, clean interface that improves customer productivity. Most innovative feature: The Simphony Engagement Feature brings content into the hands of servers and managers. If a guest asks a question about allergies or ingredients, the server can answer it accurately right then and there. In addition, managers have access to key performance statistics to act on, monitor a guest’s experience life cycle, and conduct required tasks. To enable mobility, ORACLE offers mobile reporting through its InMotion mobile app, allowing customers to access real-time data on how locations are performing via smartphones. Oracle Hospitality eSeries 8” tablets run Simphony POS so servers can carry the tablets to provide menu information and quickly process orders. Oracle also offers convertible mobility through tablets that can fix to a base station, or be used as a mobile device. In 2016, Oracle Hospitality will continue to leverage mobile and build on cloud services for loyalty, inventory, loss prevention, reservations, and reporting.
PARTECH/BRINK POS (www.partech.com) focused on integrations in 2015. Partech increased payment processing options, particularly EMV. Most innovative feature: Brink is designed to shift the IT burden from customers to PAR, making it much easier for the restaurant to concentrate on guests and staff. The platform is tightly integrated with mobile and web ordering, kitchen display systems and loyalty programs, and able to add capabilities that transcend individual functions. To enable mobility: The Tablet Family offers many use cases designed to support a business: Mobile and Table POS; Table Management; Store Management; Line Busting; Customer Loyalty; and more. The PAR Tablet family offers accessories and peripherals that provide options to address the changing restaurant environment including: magnetic stripe credit card readers; wireless printers; and multiple charging cradles. In 2016, Partech will continue adding third-party integrations to the PAR Partner Ecosystem.
REVEL SYSTEMS (www.revelsystems.com) worked with Intuit to introduce QuickBooks Point of Sale for Restaurants, which lets restaurants automatically sync sales, payments, inventory, CRM and payroll data to QuickBooks Online. The launch of Revel Ethernet Connect, a patent-pending cabled solution that provides wired Ethernet connectivity, lets businesses utilize a wired, always-on Ethernet connection (rather than WiFi) to power their Revel iPad POS systems. Revel announced a white-label e-commerce mobile app solution for iOS and Android that gives merchants the ability to expand their brand to reach mobile users and create a new sales channel. Revel launched a new rewards platform that provides multiple options for loyalty programs. This also comes with an interactive customer display screen that allows customers to pick the rewards they qualify for on an iPad Mini. Most innovative feature: PCI/P2PE compliance and new product enhancements like Revel Ethernet Connect, a cabled solution lets customers use a wired connection for their POS system rather than WiFi.
SHOPKEEP (www.shopkeep.com) acquired Payment Revolution, introducing its own customizable payments platform, ShopKeep Payments. The tablet solution provides an integrated NFC reader. In advance of the EMV liability shift deadline, Shopkeep launched its EMV-enabled chip card readers, which come with point-by-point encryption. Most innovative feature: Integration with other elements of the ecosystem of merchants to further simplify business -- from accounting integration to gift cards to loyalty programs to email campaigns. The mobile monitoring of progress through launch of ShopKeep Pocket was a new feature in 2015. Pocket allows the merchants to monitor business in real-time from their smartphone from anywhere. In 2016, Shopkeep will continue advancing reporting tools and stay on top of mobile payment trends.
SILVERWARE POS (www.silverwarepos.com) made advancements to its cloud-based technologies. Real-time cloud reporting, real-time push alerts & analytics, mobile/tableside ordering, and online ordering were pushed to the marketplace. Most innovative feature: Insight allows management and owners to receive push-notifications based on customizable widgets and alerts. The product provides snippets of information based on filtered criteria and business intelligence. In 2016, SilverWare will launch SilverPAY, a mobile payment solution that will marry multiple SilverWare cloud offerings into a customer-facing interface. SilverPAY will allow operators to offer consumers a cloud-based portal for mobile gift card purchases with replenishment options using stored credit cards processing tokenized transactions. All purchase history details, and loyalty rewards will be available in real-time.
SPEEDLINE SOLUTIONS (www.speedlinesolutions.com) introduced new solutions for EMV, mobile payments, end-to-end encryption and tokenization — and new payment security enhancements required for PCI 3.1 — to equip restaurant clients with the tools to limit their liability and risk. Most innovative feature: Delivery management offers efficient visual dispatch plus delivery time calculations and driver compensation based on best route in current traffic. In 2016, SpeedLine will deliver a superior experience for guests regardless of the order channel they choose, opening a new depth of on-demand insight for multi-unit operators, and removing barriers to personalized service.
SQUIRREL SYSTEMS (www.squirrelsystems.com) focused on enabling revenue opportunities for restaurants in a more efficient way with the enhancement of takeout and delivery functionality within POS software. Most innovative feature: Multi-platform mobile support where the software can operate on iOS, Android, and Windows devices with the same user interface eliminates the need for additional server training. Squirrel POS software is also built on an open architecture that provides operators access to data as well as the ability to integrate numerous third party solutions with their POS. In 2016, Squirrel will launch a digital ordering solution, that will integrate to its POS software and menu items will be easily synced without the need to enter data into an additional database. A reporting solution is also under development.
TOAST (www.toasttab.com) introduced a Restaurant CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System, using credit card processing data to allow restaurant owners to learn individual guests' food preferences, contact information, and visit frequency. An all-in-one POS solution, Toast's cloud-based Android platform combines reporting, restaurant loyalty, online ordering, digital gift cards, and email marketing. Most innovative feature: Toast's handheld Android tablets; customers are able to pay, tip, sign, and even split checks at the table. To address EMV, Toast is offering a mobile and lightweight EMV reader: Ingenico iCMP. The readers are capable of accepting magnetic stripe cards and enabling both chip and signature and chip and pin EMV transactions. In 2016, Toast is expanding the depth of the product, adding an inventory management feature, upgrading its online ordering functionality, and building out integrations and APIs.
TOUCHBISTRO (www.touchbistro.com) expanded its partnerships and integrations with other mobile apps that enable efficiency and conveniences such as: reducing staff scheduling from hours each month down to just minutes; instant recording of loyalty rewards; reservation bookings; and support for current payment methods, including the latest mobile payments. Most innovative feature: TouchBistro has a unique interface that enables easy and efficient ordering at the table and advanced bill splitting to reduce processing time and increase table turns. The interface prompts waitstaff for forced modifiers so they don’t forget to ask diners about special food preparation or the choice of sides. Orders are entered into TouchBistro by seat position. To address EMV, TouchBistro has a training section on its website to help restaurants understand this technology and how to implement it, as well as 24/7 live customer service support for those who would like personal guidance. TouchBistro includes upgrading to EMV as part of its package at no extra charge.
2TOUCHPOS (www.2touchpos.com) introduced DataKey creating opportunities to partner with applications to make management jobs easier. Most innovative feature: Speed of Service Discounting is a cash tax discount feature that allows 2Touch customers to encourage cash transactions by rounding drink prices to whole dollar amounts that include tax, thus speeding service by reducing the necessity for servers to make change or handle card transactions. On the back-end, the system manages tax calculations for end of day balancing and reporting. The system has the ability to make changes on any terminal to update all terminals without the need to go to a back-office or restart the system and without the need for a keyboard or mouse. In 2016, 2TouchPOS will focus on continued payment processing options.
WAND CORP. (www.wandcorp.com) made its POS software EMV-ready, and delivered a suite of products tailored to the needs of customers. Most innovative feature: Multi-unit restaurant features including: consolidated reporting; resource sharing such as labor and food inventory management; more than 120 integrations to accounting, payroll processing, and food service providers; and central and hierarchical management of menu items and pricing. To address EMV, Wand made its POS software EMV-ready, and delivered a suite of product offerings tailored to the needs of customers in this important area of their business. These include: end-to-end encryption, contactless payments, including support for Apple Pay and other popular NFC technologies. In 2016, Wand will continue working on a brand new POS that brings multi-unit restaurant, and QSR/Fast Casual-specific functionality to the cloud and tablet POS. Wand is developing an Advanced Analytics platform for POS, operating on a Big Data platform capable of processing large complex datasets, making the traditional client-server SQL database obsolete.