Over the years, point of sale technology has evolved considerably. Once upon a time, a pharmacy’s POS terminal was little more than a cash register that tracked inventory and added up purchases. Today, POS systems are far more sophisticated. They are capable of accepting payments from mobile wallet applications; they have been overhauled to work with the latest credit card technologies; and they can track not just inventory but also customer profiles, rewards programs, and more. They have become the heart of virtually every retail store.
What will come next? Leaps forward in technology have already changed the idea of what a pharmacy’s POS system can do. How will future technological leaps continue to shape the features and capabilities of a POS system? Here are a few of our predictions.
Security Regulations Will Shape the Future
In the immediate future, it looks like new security regulations will be the number one driving force of change in the POS industry overall. According to the 2016 POS Trends Report from Hospitality Technology, 58% of restaurants that were planning POS upgrades in 2016 were doing so to prepare for new EMV standards.
EMV, which stands for “Europay, Mastercard, and Visa,” is a technical payment card standard with global reach. EMV was born due to the recent rash of data breaches at major companies like Target, Neiman Marcus, eBay, and Home Depot.
EMV cards use sophisticated computer chips to encrypt and authenticate transaction information. Pharmacies need to be able to process payments from EMV cards. In the case of a breach, a business without an EMV-compatible POS would risk being held liable for that breach. It’s not difficult to see why restaurants (and many other types of businesses) are currently viewing EMV upgrades as their top POS-related concern. Only time will tell if EMV technology and widespread adoption helps to solve the data breach problem. If it doesn’t, there will surely be other technical standards and security regulations that change the game.
Mobile Payments Will Play a Significant Role
The concept of mobile payment is going to force a sea of change in pharmacy POS technology. “Mobile wallet” apps have already grown much more commonplace in recent years, with the list of available applications including programs from big names like Google/Android, Apple, PayPal, Samsung, and Walmart. These companies want to eliminate the need to carry a wallet by providing mobile app alternatives you can use to execute transactions.
The only barrier to this concept is that many businesses don’t have POS systems equipped to accept payment from mobile wallet apps. As demand continues to climb for digital wallet integration, more and more POS manufacturers are going to have to answer the call. Can you imagine a world in which no one pays with cash and no one carries credit cards? That vision could feasibly come to fruition in the next decade or so.
Better Industry Customization
There are POS systems out there designed to serve a wide range of industries. However, the best POS systems tend to come from companies who know one or two industries well. These companies focus on specific industries with their POS products because they know exactly what businesses in those spaces need out of a POS. The result of this customization and industry targeting is that businesses can buy a POS system that has already been tailored for their industry, which allows them to avoid difficult and costly programming steps. The United States-based company Retail Management Solutions already carries a POS system designed specifically for pharmacies.
Expect this kind of customization to become more common in coming years. Businesses want POS systems that fit like a glove, not “one size fits all” software they have to program and customize themselves. Slowly, we can expect to see POS products offered for virtually every type of business, even in highly specialized industries.