The latest in POS

You have a close personal relationship with your point of sale system. It gets along well with your employees and helps you keep orders moving and costs under control. But sometimes even the most stable relationship needs a little spicing up. These new features may entice you to take a fresh look at what you can do with your POS system.

Third party applications
Third-party application development is a big trend in technology right now. Facebook opened itself up to outside applications. The iPhone has a whole store dedicated to the work of external developers. POS systems are getting in on the action as well. The biggest draw is the ability to have your POS work with third-party programs and hardware like financial software, kitchen displays, gift cards and online ordering.

Dinerware is one of the latest POS makers to get on board with third-party development. They recently certified a touch-screen-kiosk ordering system from DishCloud and integration with kitchen display systems that replace kitchen printers.

Video surveillance
In an industry known for its rapid employee turnover, keeping an eye on order accuracy, customer service levels and internal theft is a constant battle. Some restaurants and chains have turned to video surveillance as a way to control the problem. Integrating a video system with a POS system is one way to step up your efforts. With more information to work with, managers are able to keep a closer eye on transactions and ferret out problem employees.

Aldelo Systems paired up its POS with Odyssey Technologies' Remote Eyes digital video management system. Real time transaction information from the POS system is sent to the video recorder and appears as text over the video images. It's clear whether orders are matching food delivery. This is an especially good fit for quick service restaurants that take orders and deliver food at the counter.

Online ordering
Restaurants are looking for creative ways to put their Web sites to work. Customers are increasingly comfortable with conducting all sorts of business over the Internet—including ordering meals. Online ordering is gaining momentum for restaurants and chains of all sizes, especially as more integrated POS options become available. When your POS works with your online efforts, menu changes in the restaurant are updated online and payment information can go directly to the POS.

Dinerware, Aldelo and SoftTouch have all introduced online ordering. SoftTouch Online was developed in-house and results in no additional transaction fees for restaurants. Dinerware and Aldelo's solutions have come by way of third-party developers.

Guest management
Table management used to be done the old fashioned way—with pen and paper. Now guest management and table tracking technology takes a lot of the fudge factor out of the equation. Throw in POS integration and you get a solution for table service restaurants that can leverage information like guest requests and food preferences.

Aloha Guest Manager is a new add-on for Radiant System's Aloha POS. The module provides wait time quotes, tracks guest preferences for repeat customers and keeps tabs on real-time table status.

Going mobile
POS manufacturers are still coming up with creative ways to put mobile devices to work. Server-operated wireless handhelds for order taking have been out for awhile, but the concept is evolving again. New POS developments are looking to place ordering power directly into customers' hands by way of their Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and laptops.

DineBlast Mobile from SoftTouch can be adapted for table service, quick service, takeout or curbside ordering. Customers can order and pay through an interactive interface on their wire-less device without having to line up or wait for an order taker to arrive. Their preferences and payment information are remembered for their next visit.

Digital menu
A digital menu board is more than just a menu—it's an attention-getter for customers. When tied in with POS, this sort of system can display promotions, show pictures or graphics and reflect price changes. Plus, menu changes made in the POS system show up in real time.

The latest MICROS RES solution has digital menu board support built into the software. Restaurants that want to use the feature can just invest in the digital menu board hardware and not incur any extra software costs.

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