This article originally appeared in the online edition of CStore Decisions. CStore Decisions’ online content can be found here.
In 2020, new point-of-sale (POS) solutions, including frictionless solutions, are giving c-store retailers much to consider.
“Retailers continue to be confronted by POS solution providers’ attention to delivering software to support EuroPay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) on the forecourt,” said Ed Collupy*, executive consultant with W. Capra Consulting Group. “This, along with the earlier deployment of EMV for inside the store, has put a long delay in a shift of c-store/petro POS systems from legacy architecture and software features/functions that lag POS systems in competing retail channels.”
POS suppliers, including start-ups and international providers, are gearing up to compete with POS leaders. “Although early for a solid alternative to be delivered, it’s clear that retailers are ready to listen and consider,” Collupy said.
Self-checkout pilots and implementations are expected to continue in 2020, Collupy said, while more innovative retailers are experimenting with ‘scan and go’ and mobile apps with order- and pay- ahead capabilities.
In 2019, High’s introduced the SKIP frictionless checkout app to 40 of its 49 locations in Maryland.
“2019 was the start of our ‘digital reboot,’” said Noah Sanders, senior implementation and analytics manager for Baltimore-based High’s. “SKIP played a key first step in showing not only is High’s catching up with key pieces of retail technology, but a commitment to leading the way.”
The chain wanted to be first in its market to offer frictionless checkout to capture early adopters of the technology, while rolling out additional programs. “We had several pieces we added or upgraded in 2019, including our new-and-improved High’s Rewards Program + Carroll Pay, mobile application, website, in-store foodservice touchscreen ordering,” Sanders said.
High’s plans to add SKIP to all stores. It is upgrading internet bandwidth at some rural locations to accommodate the program. Sanders noted customers seem increasingly comfortable with mobile payment given growing exposure to mobile devices and online shopping, and risk of skimming and data breaches with credit cards.
“Our customers have had the ability to use ‘contactless payments’ such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay for quite some time, and we see more and more usage of this daily,” he said.
Collupy concurred. “Progressive retailers are taking a view that any consumer touchpoint be viewed as a place where traditionally a POS device and/or software was needed to transact,” he said. “Beyond the mobile device consumers walk in the store with, consider kiosks, the fuel dispenser, a connected car or toll device, smart speakers or even the good old website.”
Today, stores feature more hardware and software, and retailers are ensuring sites are secured from potential breaches through any one entry point, Collupy said. “In my mind, no matter what technology is being considered or deployed, consideration around how data will be put to use by a retailer must be paramount.”
Collupy advised that retailers need to be sure the solution and service providers offer includes a clearly defined definition of data ownership, and how data can be shared. “Retailers must be provided tools to access their data on their own.”
*Ed Collupy is an executive consultant at W. Capra Consulting Group. You can reach him at email@example.com. Mr. Collupy has IT leadership and business team experience, providing strategic, operational and project leadership to retailers, emerging businesses and technology companies.