Thin Client POS The Next Wave
It is almost impossible to fully review the current POS systems before the next wave hits the retail and hospitality sectors; enter the thin client POS. It wasn't long ago that retailers took for granted the large cash registers. They were a burden that retailers endured. Few industry professionals gave the POS system a second thought.
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This changed as the PC evolved and retailers started demanding more real-time data. Development continued, introducing LCD touchscreen monitors, thermal printers, and tighter security measures. Retailers started to focus on the importance of the POS workstations.
Profits and loss can balance on the few minutes a customer spends at the checkout. Customers must be comfortable, relaxed, and not feel like they are being up-sold. A sense of personal relationship with the clerk improves the value of impulse buy displays. The computer based POS system was born from retailers increasing demand for customer relations, balanced with the need for business intelligence. Retailers wanted smart systems that could reduce the number of people needed to compile data into reports. They wanted a system that would produce reports and let managers access the information from any terminal in the network.
High end boutiques pushed the envelope farther. Now that the cost of PC based systems have plummeted, developers and manufacturers are taking retailer demands seriously. The only problem is that many systems are already running on a multi-layered legacy software system. This increases the chances of data corruption, bugs, and down time.
The main benefit of the thin, thermal based systems is that they run on a central server. There is no reason to place a PC based workstation at every terminal. This creates a hassle free environment and solves a multitude of problems. If a new clerk double scans an item, they pick up the phone and call their supervisor who fixes the problem from their station. Within seconds the checkout process continues.
This central network can also include self-service kiosks and other innovative customer management products. All the new systems are designed to use standard retail peripherals. They can give employees access to inventory databases. Many retailers are still worried about deploying Thin Client POS systems. They worry that one system will become sluggish at peak times, or the server going down and taking every client with it. This may have been a valid concern five years ago, but software technology has outperformed hardware needs.
They can be placed throughout the departments, increasing accessibility. Thin clients are closed systems. The public cannot get into them and are protected if a sales associate walks away without logging off, thanks to java technology and smart cards. Sales associates simply plug their card into the terminal and the system recognizes them. This reduces password inherent problems.
The thin clients POS terminals are being built for the future. Today's hardware includes expandable hardware. They include fiber optic port, dual-head capabilities, 17" flat panel monitor and VESA video mounting options for increased security. Few advances in sales hardware broke through the barriers as dramatically as the Thin Client POS systems.