The “POS is Dead” concept has been trending recently. This topic is not new, and well, it made me curious what people really think – so I conducted a poll on LinkedIn (It received 66 votes). The results speak for themselves:
So, the Fact is … POS is NOT Dead.… but it IS vastly:
- Different / Changed
- Misunderstood (it’s not about Hardware)
- Under-served (from a Technology & Innovation standpoint)
At Qu we’ve been all about going “Beyond POS” since we rebranded using that tagline in 2018. We do not believe that POS is dead – rather that POS is Not the Center of the Restaurant Ordering & Commerce Universe anymore.
To say that we at Qu are responsible for “the death of POS” would be a gross overstatement, but to say that we were the first to envision a restaurant commerce world that did not revolve around the old-school POS is very true.
When There Was Only One…
Restaurant ordering used to revolve around the POS. The POS term was formed when there was just one main point of sale – the register in the restaurant. But ever-growing numbers of order channels, urged by the ever-evolving guest, forever changed that paradigm.
The shift to digital ordering de-emphasized the value of “traditional” POS from an ordering perspective. And the pandemic only served to accelerate that trend toward omni-channel everywhere ordering.
The 80’s gave birth to the first electronic cash register with computerized systems to manage payments and orders. Then came the cloud, APIs, and the virtual or cloud-enabled POS. Along with it: Massive fragmentation and disruption. And ever since traditional POS companies (and the term) has struggled to remain relevant.
Guests don’t care one iota about the POS and never really did, they just want a transparent and smooth experience.
But restaurant operators care a whole lot about the POS because it’s constantly in the way of their digital transformation, making data collection and business optimization nearly impossible. When was the last time you heard about POS helping to better manage labor costs and help drive sales?
With the right restaurant tech architecture, the POS isn’t dead, it’s simply one order channel of many – and ideally not the lynchpin or stuck point at the center of your restaurant commerce universe. It’s moved over and is a side dish to the main course.
What Did Die?
POS as the central hub of your restaurant ordering universe died. When POS is at the center, it forces everything else to serve it and orbit around it. That concept IS dead for multi-unit restaurants. Because with all the ordering channels, menus, aggregators and integrations, the system quickly becomes untenable. Unmanageable. A big ol’ mess.
Trying to connect everything to in/around the POS causes bloated, over-engineered POS systems aiming to “be all things to all people.” There’s too much data from different sources and in different formats to make it a streamlined system. (pre-cloud POS systems did this to retain market share and avoid rebuilding their entire architecture)
This doesn’t mean we should throw out the POS altogether – but rather, let’s talk about a platform for the future, one that supports the POS as just one of many important pieces. In-store purchases still account for 50% of orders, on average, according to the 2022 State of Digital survey.
What IS at the Center of the Restaurant Tech Universe?
Depends on the size and style of your business, but for fast casual and quick serve restaurants with more than 20 locations I suggest a unified commerce platform with a data-driven engine in the middle. That data-driven engine should be built on “modern architecture” which means it’s: Micro-services, cloud native, and API-first (REST APIs, ideally).
There’s been a big shift to CDPs, CRMs, and Data Warehouses to fill this void, but that requires purchasing yet another tech system to hook into a (usually) traditional POS … it’s going to be a long road!
This is Not a Sales & Marketing Pitch, it’s a Responsibility
When I joined Qu in 2019 I was new to restaurant tech and POS. I researched the landscape and top tech products, interviewed experts from multiple perspectives, and wrote my first white paper “The Rise, Fall & Rebirth of Modern POS” based on what I learned and Qu’s mission & vision. That paper was published in fall 0f 2019. And yes my dear marketing friends, it still gets plenty of downloads 🙂
If you’re truly interested in learning about how to build a modern, scalable tech stack that serves, versus inhibits, your business performance – We recommend a quick read of our more recent white paper “Going Beyond POS to a Unified Commerce Platform.”
At Qu, we believe in putting the industry and its people first, and doing what’s best for your very unique restaurant. So please know that this is not a sales pitch. This is a responsibility and a suggestion for all those people who care about the future of our restaurant industry. It’s a responsibility to bring others along on the journey, and do better service to the “POS is Dead” rhetoric.
It’s about constantly growing and learning what’s available and possible through modern technology; and how the industry can evolve and thrive TOGETHER.
Your friend in tasty food and fab experiences,
Jen Kern CMO at Qu