November 21, 2001, 12:00 AM

POS systems crucial to multi-channel strategy, says new report

POS systems will give way to web-enabled cross-channel “points of service” systems that do more than just process transactions.

Retailers spent some $3.5 billion last year on point of sale systems, according to a new report by Forrester Research, but may have missed the mark if they bought those designed for a single purpose – processing a transaction. Looking ahead, stand-alone point of sale systems will have to make way for “points of service” systems that connect devices through the enterprise and across channels with CRM and inventory management, says Forrester analyst James Crawford.

“Retail today requires more than current POS systems can deliver,” says Crawford, pointing out that stand-alones are expensive to maintain and not easy to upgrade for the increasingly sophisticated need of multi-channel retailers. For example, says Crawford, more customers today channel-hop and expect a seamless experience across channels – but only 8% of retailers have systems that enable in-store pick-up of items purchased on the web.

“A points of service system will connect every device with back-office applications that will infuse every activity with real-time data,” says Crawford, providing valuable information for business activities throughout the company. To get ready for points of service systems, he adds, retailers should upgrade their network infrastructure, while software developers must comply with emerging retail standards. Finally, as retailers move store systems to a more open architecture, service organizations that support e-commerce must expand to support all commerce, including brick and mortar store applications, he says.


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