The POS Tipping Point: When & Why to Upgrade

| April 28, 2014

A Point-of-Sale (POS) workstation is the center point of any restaurant operation as it controls the funds and inventory that flow in and out of the store. With a traditional lifespan of five to seven years, POS workstations are often kept in the field for over a decade. Many restaurant IT directors and store managers struggle to determine when the right time to upgrade POS workstations is. Although there is a significant cost for purchasing new POS systems, what many restaurants do not realize is the associated return on investment (ROI) that comes from upgrading versus keeping old POS technology.
 
In recent years, there have been significant technological advancements in the POS hardware space. Power consumption, modularity and mounting flexibility with new POS workstations all contribute to increases in ROI due to cost savings and increases in sales. Following are some key areas to consider throughout the lifespan of the point-of-sale and how they can either be a drain or boon to ROI.
 
Power Consumption
 
The power consumption of a POS workstation has the potential to offer significant costs savings over the life of the workstation. For franchises with multiple locations, this can add up quickly and drive ROI. POS workstations with LED monitors versus LCD monitors can use up to 30 percent less power, saving energy and money. LED monitors are also more reliable and do not need time to warm up. In addition, Energy Star®-qualified POS systems will use less energy and last longer, making it a serious POS purchase consideration.
 
Processing power is critical for those restaurants looking to run other technology from the workstation, such as back office applications and digital signage, without POS performance suffering. As needs may evolve over the life of a POS, it is advantageous to select a POS workstation that allows the processor and RAM to be upgraded when the system requires more speed and performance.
 
Speed of Service
 
Hardware and software components of POS systems contribute to the speed of service or time it takes to serve each customer. Dual backlight high resolution/high contrast antiglare LED displays allow restaurant employees to improve order taking accuracy and speed. An adjustable screen can reduce glare to allow faster, more accurate order taking in various lighting conditions, including sunlight and overhead light. Displays with 450 nit brightness typically offer exceptional image clarity. The user interface of software applications plays a role in speed of service as well. It is worthwhile to test the desired POS hardware platform with the software to ensure the touch capacity will not delay order input.
 
Modularity
 
A modular POS system has the potential to reduce costs associated with service and downtime. Modular workstations make troubleshooting and self-servicing easy. Panasonic’s Stingray Envo JS-960 workstation’s hard drive is easily serviceable for customers to do tool-less replacements when necessary. Other components, including the touch monitor, can be easily swapped out. For non-modular workstations, repairs can often take up to a week, creating downtime and slower service. In addition, shipping costs are much higher when an entire workstation needs to be shipped versus a singular modular component.
 
Mounting Flexibility
 
POS workstations built with a VESA mount enable restaurants to place them virtually anywhere. Upright configurations are ideal for countertops, but a flexible design allows managers to mount POS systems on a wall, pole or low-profile for table service operations. For large corporations or franchises with multiple store layouts, this flexibility allows IT teams to easily configure each POS based on the restaurant’s specific needs without managing a complex procurement process with multiple product skews. Speed of service can be improved as order taking is designed for the utmost convenience and can be adjusted based on employee workflow. This also reduces support costs as components can be exchanged as needed.
 
Enhanced Customer Experience
 
Upgraded POS systems offer customers a better experience, driving repeat business and customer loyalty. Smaller and thinner POS workstations are more appealing to the eye and save counter space. Interactive point-of-purchase (POP) screens create more impulse buys and a more modern appearance.
 
In the food service sector, it is all about repeat customers. A positive and timely experience at the register is a critical piece of the overall effort to drive customer loyalty. Upgrading older POS systems with newer workstations that feature modular designs and flexible mounting options will allow restaurants to meet specific customer needs, while quickly returning profits and keeping maintenance costs low.
 

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