Point-of-sale technology is developing at lightning speed, with the latest releases offering more flexibility than ever. Tracey Porter investigates some of the products vying for your attention.
We’ve come a long way since the days when the only tools required for a business owner to track sales were a notebook and pen. Today, demand for fully customisable point-of-sale systems together with constantly evolving software and hardware innovation, means Australia’s point-of-sale [POS] providers are under the pump like never before.
Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia [CBA] stepped it up when it partnered with German banking technology giant Wincor Nixdorf to create a new platform for merchant-customer interaction. The result, which the clever marketing clogs dubbed Albert [after Albert Einstein], is a part-tablet, part-EFTPOS machine that incorporates customer-specific applications, email, barcode scanner and a mobile receipt printer. Capable of not only facilitating customer-centric payments (including multiple bill-splitting that has made it a hit among end-users in restaurants and cafes), Albert can also integrate with a client’s enterprise resource planning systems to assist with stock management and customer insights. It can also power bespoke apps, allowing users to reward customers with in-store offers in real time and to scan barcoded wristbands at an event and take payments while customers wait in the queue.
Idealpos, which has been producing stock control POS software for nearly 20 years and is a provider of choice to Aria, Restaurant II, Nantucket, The Morrison, Riley St Garage and Dede’s, among others, is another leading the charge when it comes to helping simplify the way restaurants and catering businesses handle sales. Idealpos’ latest software update, currently undergoing the final stages of testing, sees the product directly integrated with booking systems ResDiary and Dimmi to allow online reservations. But the feature generating the most buzz among those trialling the system is its new stock item manufacturing function that helps to build items that the user is going to sell from multiple ingredients, placing an accurate figure on what the items will cost to make.
Idealpos documentation and online content administrator Adam Schell says the Idealpos 7 update links reservations into the entire sales process until the moment the customer departs the premises. This enables restaurants to build rich profiling of their customers, including favoured foods and allergies, through the reservations interface and provide for more optimal budgeting of staff and food.
Schell, whose software systems sell for around $50 per month, says the manufacturing component is completely new and helps to build menu items from multiple ingredients. “Take for example a Caesar salad. This is a manufactured item with a manufactured item contained in it, the sauce. Our manufacturing feature allows you to combine all the ingredients for a bulk mix of the sauce, which is then used as an ingredient itself in the salad. When configured, the POS system can give you a very accurate figure of what that Caesar salad cost you to make.” The manufacturing feature enables stock control on perishable items that have been made previously and stored for later use, he says.“Once they have been produced, if they need to be thrown away due to being out of date, they can simple be written off and accounted for, keeping the operator on top of their margins. This in turn saves money through ordering, budgeting for future purchases and staff hours manufacturing items that are not required.”
Fully integrated POS and business management solution provider Redcat, whose software can be found in venues including Quay, A’Tavola, Besser Italian, The Press Club and Maha, claims to be among the first in the Australian market to introduce self-branded customer facing apps incorporating loyalty, site location, direct marketing, ordering and gift card programs. It selected September’s Fine Foods event to launch its latest software solution, Polygon, that utilises cloud computing to ensure that all user information is held in a single integrated structure as opposed to multiple different software interfaces being required for a range of different solutions from different companies in order to talk to each other.
Redcat national sales manager Spiro Vournazos says having your data stored in the cloud ensures it is backed up and protected in a secure and safe location. “Being able to access your data again quickly allows you to conduct business as usual, minimising any downtime and loss of productivity. If internet connectivity is unavailable at one location, there is a fallback option to use a different device, or to take the device to a different location where internet is available.
He says the main benefit of Polygon is that it allows users to have a complete, fully-integrated double-entry accounting platform, where finances, stock, payroll, income and POS data is all in the one place, removing double-handling and providing real-time data transfer and reporting. “By integrating all their software requirements into a single system, a busy restaurateur can save a significant amount of time by not having to re-enter data into multiple systems. All sales data from the POS is automatically recorded in the accounting and inventory components as well as the staff time and attendance to make financial reporting such as payroll management a simple process with immediate and ongoing cost savings through productivity gains, loss minimisation and key performance measurement.”
While installation pricing varies depending on the complexity of the business, Vournazos says its costs around $2000 to install the Redcat Polygon system, with entry level solutions with core POS requirements costing around $7 per week to maintain. A system incorporating cloud hosting, accounting, payroll and inventory costs approximately $35 per week to support and maintain after installation.
Another company to incorporate a cloud-based backend operating system is iPad POS provider Revel Systems. Servicing clients from Qantas to Croissant Express and Archie Rose, its systems are a hybrid between cloud-based back-end and local front-end that can be used without the internet.
Designed specifically with full service restaurants in mind, its POS Table Serve app boasts a multi-room table layout, tableside ordering, seat tracking, split bill and merge checks, house accounts and CRM, delivery driver management as well as purchase order and inventory console integration.
Revel Systems marketing director Navin Shanmugarajan says the key benefits of its system are its useability and flexibility with very little staff training required.
Costing users around $49 per month to run, Revel carries out software updates every couple of weeks ensuring users are always kept abreast of the latest technological advancements while the software can also be integrated with third party employee tracking software provider Deputy to manage employee timesheets and integrated with Xero to manage accounts.