Geoff Johnson, Bypass’s Chief Innovation Officer, recently returned from Money 2020, the world’s largest payments and financial services innovations conference. This event sharpened his point of view on the future of POS solutions and what this means for the people who use them. The interview below outlines Geoff’s latest thinking.
To get a more detailed, live understanding of Geoff’s perspective please join us for an interactive webinar December 15th, at 1:00PM central time. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the webinar invitation.
J.A.M.: Bypass is heavily focused on POS software, but you came back from Money 2020 talking a lot about the evolution of POS hardware. Why is that?
Geoff: Don’t get me wrong, software is absolutely critical, but I’m really intrigued by what’s happening on the hardware side and how this makes things better for merchants and customers. What I saw at Money 2020, and what I’ve seen elsewhere in the last year, reminds me of the massive benefits we all experienced when the iPhone first came out. It was a pretty cool replacement for a flip phone…but it was so much more than that. Think of all the devices it quickly replaced: cell phone, digital camera, MP3 player, calculator, GPS, watch, kindle, remote control, DVD player, palm pilot, even a flashlight for that matter. It saved us a bunch of money and swept away a bunch of our electronic clutter. POS hardware is evolving the same way.
J.A.M.: How so?
Geoff: Tablet-based POS hardware from companies like Clover, Poynt, and Square can do for cashiers and their customers what the iPhone did for all of us: get rid of a bunch of cobbled together devices and replace them with a single, elegant piece of integrated hardware. If they get this right, we’ll never, ever miss the old POS systems and all their complexity…and we’ll wonder how in the world we put up with it in the first place.
J.A.M.: OK, so POS hardware is getting a lot more integrated, better looking, and less expensive…but the iPhone was much more than just hardware. It was the apps that replaced all those old devices wasn’t it?
Geoff: Well, yes and no. Without the right hardware form factor and aesthetic you don’t have a breakthrough device that compels users and app developers to take that big leap forward. Remember, small tablets and digital personal organizers had been around for a while when the iPhone came out…but none of them ever really nailed it on the form factor or ability to integrate apps. I think POS tablet hardware and the app landscape are getting to the point where all merchants should take the leap.
J.A.M.: So the time is right for merchants to invest in tablet POS systems with no regrets?
Geoff: I think so. Imagine if you’d bought a new palm pilot the day the iPhone launched. Not only would you have wasted money, but it would have delayed you from taking advantage of a whole new world. We’re at that moment with tablet POS solutions.
J.A.M.: Got it, the hardware is getting awesome, but let’s talk to me about the real solutions…the combination of hardware and software that really create the benefits.
Geoff: It’s definitely the combination, and not the hardware or software alone, that delivers true value. For instance, you can accept virtually every form of payment without complex acquiring setup and you can very easily leverage new technologies in loyalty programs, digital coupons, mobile payments, employee scheduling, or inventory management without upgrading hardware. A tablet POS loaded with the right applications can replace card swipers, EMV readers, bar code scanners, NFC readers, and customer-facing displays. Think of the clutter it removes from a service counter, and the experiences it opens up for customers and merchants.
J.A.M.: That’s a good example, and it does remind me of how iPhones and the app universe have helped me get rid of a bunch of devices I thought I couldn’t live without. What else is on the horizon, and why does it matter to merchants?
Geoff: There are a bunch of interesting developments across the POS landscape. Because Bypass is focused on multi-site food service organizations that run lots & lots of POS terminals, I’ll primarily comment on the ones that matter to larger businesses. For big companies POS systems no longer have to be a growth blocker. Modern enterprise POS solutions based on cloud software and tablet hardware are easy to integrate with virtually any marketing program, signage, inventory system, self-service ordering, labor management, or payment type today or in the future. You never know how things will evolve, so this “future proofing” is incredibly valuable.
J.A.M.: Future proofing is good. What about cloud, why does that matter?
Geoff: With cloud-based systems leaders can manage their operations or report on their results from anywhere on any device. It removes expensive, hack-prone servers from your environment, and enables you to receive updates instantly and seamlessly. No more having the IT guy visit every store to deliver upgrades. It’s important to note large organizations need an enterprise grade POS solution to accomplish this. Most of the new tablet/cloud POS solutions are intended for use in a very small operation, often with only one location. For enterprise use you really need a platform like Bypass that’s designed to streamline operations and maximize growth across a large company with many locations.
J.A.M.: That makes sense. Choosing a modern, agile, enterprise grade POS solution like Bypass helps large companies accelerate growth today and remain flexible for what comes in the future…without having to upgrade their POS systems again. What else is on the horizon?
Geoff: We’re seeing a trend emerge where a few hardware platforms will become the industry standard and partners like Bypass will develop industry-specific POS software that can work with any of these devices. This will give merchants powerful, intuitive solutions that are finely tuned to their operating model and easy to deploy, use, and upgrade. It’s getting closer and closer to the very easy “there’s an app for that” model we love on our phones.
J.A.M.: Thanks, Geoff. I really appreciate your insights, and I’d recommend that folks tune in to your upcoming webinar on November 18th to ask questions and hear more of your perspective on this.