02 April 2024

Moving SA point-of-sale into a smarter future

Submitted by: MyPressportal Team
Moving SA point-of-sale into a smarter future

The digitalisation of the modern world economy is being driven rapidly by a shift from traditional payment methods. Fatima Khota, Business Unit Manager in Rectron’s Point-of-Sale (POS) Division looks at how retailers in the formal and informal sector are adopting smart innovations to better serve customers anywhere in the world, in-store or on the streets. 

According to recent studies, the global point-of-sale (POS) market is projected to almost quadruple between 2023 and 2030, from $25,28billion to $81,15billion.

The Middle East is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16,8% in that time, with South Africa expected to experience a CAGR of 9,9% between 2022 and 2028.

Non-traditional money

The World Economic Forum reports that only 48% of Africa’s population has access to traditional banking services, like bank accounts or credit cards.

This has led to the emergence of creative payment solutions, like mobile money, digital wallets, gift cards and other options that don’t require a bank account, including cryptocurrencies.

No longer do entrepreneurs (many being one-person operations) need expensive traditional POS devices to trade in a cashless way but can use their smart mobile phones or tablets to enjoy the same functionality, at a fraction of the cost.

Even people with traditional accounts are adoption an array of new payment options, like Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and other apps and services.

Credit cards complete with buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services are growing rapidly, with financial service providers allowing consumers to make purchases and pay in instalments, often with no interest.

The power of AI

In-store, retailers are leveraging the power of big data and analytics to create a more personalised experience for customers through their POS capabilities.

For instance, artificial intelligence allows businesses to offer customised recommendations and promotions at checkout, based on customer histories.

Furthermore, over time, tracking tools can offer deeper insights into consumer preferences and seasonal trends, allowing for better stock keeping and wholesale buying.

In the United States, the world’s biggest retailer Walmart has taken POS to the next level, integrating it with other technologies to change and monitor consumer behaviour in-store, and improve the overall customer experience.

For instance, the retailer has adopted the use of infrared technology to track where people have gathered in-store, so that assistants can be dispatched to these areas to offer help.

Automated POS

Clearly, the days of a one-size-fits-all approach to point of sale are gone, as a variety of mobile devices, cloud-based POS, acceptance of cryptocurrencies and even self-service check-out is set to drive efficiencies and substantially lower costs.

With increased automation already making its way into South African retail environments, notably in fast-food restaurants and even in stock rooms (robots), the impact on employment has to be considered and managed carefully. 

Although some of these technologies will reduce the need for certain manual jobs (like tellers and stock counting), it be seen as a mechanism to streamlining activities and get to the areas where people cannot.

These innovations should not be seen as hampering employment, but rather as helping to transform the nature of work and even create new opportunities.

Automation helps free up time for employees to get more face time with customers, enhancing the services they offer through expert consultation and direct engagement.

Automation ought to help build greater efficiencies (and precision) into processes, keep workloads low, productivity (as well as profitability) high. This will in turn increase the demand for newer, more skilled job roles and opportunities.

Opportunities in POS

With better efficiency through automation of tasks, workers get more time to focus on value-added tasks. Quicker data processing and turnaround times serve to offer better and faster customer responses at every touchpoint.

Modern POS systems can store and receive data (for example from the on-premise stock room, as well as the national network of stores in real-time), which can be valuable when planning (using statistics to inform store buying decisions). Inventory control helps maintain stock levels and manages more accurate stock profiles.

Opportunities for upselling and cross-selling can add onto existing POS solutions, while improving security (systems reduce the reliance on cash transactions and protect consumer accounts better).

As South African POS technology evolves, shaped by the country’s unique formal and informal retail landscape, employees, business owners and consumers alike are set to enjoy better value-for-money, as well as a much more fulfilling trade and shopping experience.