The Big POS Reveal: Restaurateurs Vote on Top 2010 Trends & More

By Christina Volpe, Associate Editor | May 20, 2010

Each year, Hospitality Technology's Restaurant Technology Study presents readers with valuable insights into the ever-changing point of sale (POS) system marketplace. This year, HT asked respondents across quick service, family/casual, and fine dining restaurants to rank which POS features and peripherals matter most, their replacement plans for the years ahead, and the status of wireless terminal trends.
 
Top features
Advanced management POS functions can help operators to improve the efficiency of their restaurant operations, a sentiment that was reflected in operators' selections of their top point of sale system features this year. Accounting and financials, a leader for the past four years, was ranked as the most important feature among operators in 2010 at 63%. Labor management followed closely with 62% of operators ranking it as an important feature.
 
This data suggest that although the industry is slowly climbing out of the recession, operators are still closely monitoring their spending to ensure the largest returns possible, a feat that can be achieved through the help of these two features. A high interested in labor management as a top feature is a key indicator of this trend, as this is one of the most expensive costs of doing business.
 
What's more, when broken down by restaurant segment, 88.9% of quick services restaurants (QSRs), 94.7% of casual/family restaurants, and 92.3% of fine dining restaurants ranked accounting and financials as an important feature. When looking at how labor management fared, 94.1% of QSRs, 95% of casual/family restaurants, and 90% of fine dining restaurants identified it as an important feature.
 
POS peripherals
On the peripheral front, touchcreens, kitchen printers, and kitchen display systems topped the list as the important peripherals last year at 89.5%, 61.7%, and 50.3% respectively. However, in 2010 the ranking experienced a slight shift. Credit card swipes and gift card integration claimed the top two spots at 92.6% and 92% respectively, followed by touchscreens at 91.2%, kitchen printers at 86.2%, and kitchen display systems at 80%. Barcode scanners (46.4%) and biometric fingerprint readers (38.2%) continue in their rise of importance among operators over the last four years, most likely as a result of the growth in the areas of biometric and radio frequency identification-based applications.
 
Replacement plans
In addition to top features and peripherals, the Restaurant Technology Study also queries participants about their point of sale replacement plans for the years ahead. In 2010, almost one-third of restaurant operators anticipate replacing their POS system within the next 3-4 years, against 28.2%, 22.6%, and 14% in 2009, 2008, and 2007 respectively. When broken down by restaurant segment, 29.3% of QSRs, 36.4% of casual/family restaurants, and 42.9% of fine dining restaurants plan to replace their POS systems within the same time frame.
 
Although a clear consensus among respondents could not be reached (with the exception of the 3-4 year category), findings from the IHL Group's North American Hospitality POS Terminal Market Study as well as data from Hospitality Technology's POS Software Trends 2010 reader poll may reveal some additional insights into operators' POS replacement plans. According to IHL's study, the North American POS market experienced a drop in POS terminal shipments in 2008 and 2009 as a result of falling restaurant patronage. Particularly hit hard was the restaurant/bar segments which suffered a 19% decline in shipments in 2009, while QSRs saw the slightest decline as a result of shifting customer patronage from full service to quick service restaurants. Overall though, IHL predicts that POS shipments will rebound in 2010 with modest growth in each segment.
 
On the software front, HT's POS Software Trends 2010 reader poll found that 27.1% of restaurant operators plan on testing and researching new POS solutions for possible implementation after 2010; 36.6% of operators plan on adding new functionalities, features or modules to their current POS software; and 28.1% of operators plan on expanding the installation base of POS software from a vendor that they currently work with. Only 12.7% of operators plan on installing POS software from a new vendor, while 23.3% have no planned changes for 2010.
 
Wireless gains ground
In addition to polling readers on their POS software purchasing plans, the POS Software Trends 2010 poll revealed that 46.4% of operators consider tableside POS for ordering and/or payment to be an interesting platform innovation for 2010. These sentiments were again reflected in the Restaurant Technology Study which indicated that there has been a significant increase in the percentage of companies using wireless handheld POS terminals in the period between 2009 (15.3%) and 2010 (27%). Sixty-three percent of respondents indicate that wireless POS terminals increase guest satisfaction, and 56% indicate that they increase guest credit card security. What's more, IHL's North American Hospitality POS Terminal Market Study identified that hospitality establishments are moving more and more toward wireless technologies, flagging this as a trend for the years ahead.
 

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