The Evolution of POS Systems: TouchBistro's Alex Barrotti Talks Big Data, Security, and Driving Better Sales

[Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post.]

Mobile-forward POS systems provide many advantages for operators & staff | Photo courtesy of TouchBistro

Mobile-forward POS systems provide many advantages for operators & staffPhoto courtesy of TouchBistro

Point-of-sale systems have drastically evolved over the past few years alone. Thanks to the advancement of technology, lighter, more flexible options like iPad-based POS systems are now more widely available, and these upstart companies are invading the marketplace in waves.

The rise in POS competition has led to many benefits for today’s operator, including less overhead and lower costs, and more data-based features, insights and analytics. While these perks may seem dry in list-form, consider each as a deeper dimension of long-term growth. Less overhead means a myriad of things, such as lower costs, larger margins, and room for growth, including those inevitable improvements down the road. Data-based features, insights and analytics, depending on the capabilities of specific technologies, allow operators to glean customer habits and provide opportunities not only to upsell but also to build loyal relationships.

In Foodable’s recently released Restaurant Technology Guide, the first annual technology guide for foodservice by the Foodable Network, we dive deeper into six different technology categories, including POS.

Below, we sit down with Alex Barrotti, CEO at TouchBistro, a sponsor of the Restaurant Technology Guide, to discuss the evolution of cybersecurity; how modern-day, mobile-forward POS companies will impact marketing and communications to drive business sales and new business; and what two (non-POS) trends he thinks every operator needs to be aware of for 2016. Check out the full Q&A in the 2015 Restaurant Technology Guide, and read through our favorite insights here:

Foodable: How will mobile POS impact restaurants?

Alex Barrotti: A mobile POS system enables restaurants to operate at a higher level of efficiency and provide a superior customer experience not possible before this technology was available. Current customers using mobile POS are turning tables faster and therefore driving more revenue for their business. They are gaining deep insights about their business through detailed reports, and making more informed business decisions about inventory, menu management, and staffing based on these actionable findings. Precious minutes are reduced in food preparation and delivery time, bills are easily and consistently calculated correctly, and even tips are higher as the waitstaff are able to provide faster, smoother service. 

Foodable: Eighty-two percent of millennials are choosing fast casual. How will Millennial habits and behavior affect the future of the POS experience in restaurants?

AB: Between developing careers and first dates or firstborns, Millennials are busy and constantly on the go, requiring hyper-efficient use of their time. It’s no surprise when they’re in search for a spot to eat, they demand a venue be convenient and as quick and as efficient as they are. According to a Business Insider article, Millennials make up the largest portion of today’s population and dine out more often than their Gen-X and Baby Boomer counterparts. Therefore, the future of POS experience means adapting to Millennial must-haves like online ordering, advanced ordering, loyalty, strong social presence, custom orders, and flexible payment options. It puts a new meaning to “the customer is always right,” the new experience is whatever the Millennial demands. It’s critical that the future POS not only adapts to these dining trends as quickly as their patrons do, but that each feature is integrated for a seamless customer experience. 

Foodable: As tech becomes more mobile, how will security evolve?

AB: The mobile POS has become the hub of the restaurant ecosystem and as this ecosystem grows, so does the amount of data that passes through the system. Credit card data, customer CRMs, loyalty programs, accounting software, and general business data is sensitive and it’s paramount that it’s handled securely. Leading POS providers have evolved to ensure they are certified and comply with all security standards. What’s next? Though the notion of big data on the cloud is new to the restaurant industry, it isn’t to enterprise companies. The POS industry will follow the data security protocols that have been laid out by enterprise-level organizations and evolve in a similar way to these companies. This may mean that IT roles become a larger part of restaurant management, with IT consultants and technical employees being sought out by restaurant businesses. 

Foodable: With operator adoption of cloud-based big data, what challenges do POS providers face in the next 18-24 months?

AB: With data properly secured, the next challenge for POS providers is effectively controlling and presenting the information in a way that is easy for business owners to understand and use. This means providing a service that not only allows restaurant owners easy access to data such as customer trends, behaviors/preferences, and actionable business insights, but also taking action like custom reporting and one-to-one customer communication.  

Foodable: How can more mobile, modern POS companies positively impact operator B2C marketing and communications to drive sales and new business trial?

AB: If a POS company can present this cloud-based big data effectively, operators can generate more targeted and relevant interaction with their customers on the channels they spend their time on. Through leveraging social media, email and loyalty, operators can promote their business, drive positive reviews, and get quality feedback from their customers. This type of B2C interaction increases return business, word-of-mouth recommendations and social shares, each being critical to healthy growth of any business. 

Foodable: What two trends do you see driving sales for operators in the next 24 months?

AB: Restaurant marketing. Gone are the days of dropping off flyers at local businesses near the restaurant or sticking a sign out front with the latest promos or specials. There is a significant trend toward restaurant owners and operators becoming savvy modern marketers and using everything in the marketing toolbox from event sponsorship to SEO to Facebook ads to Instagram hashtags. 

Providing a niche experience. Differentiation will be a key trend for driving sales in the restaurant sector. With the intense competition to stand out, particularly in dense cities where customers are presented with hundreds, if not thousands of different dining options, it’s key to provide a unique experience. Restaurants will turn to food quality, food uniqueness, customer service, experiential dining, and atmosphere/vibe to help give them the “it” factor.