Touch screens - popular in hospitality applications — are becoming widely adopted in other markets, including retail, convenience store, and grocery. High employee turnover in these markets is one reason touch screens are gaining popularity, says Scott Johnston, director of sales for POSIFLEX (Union City, CA). POSIFLEX manufactures point of sale (POS) touch screen terminals and peripheral devices, including cash drawers and receipt printers. The company had sales of more than $150 million in 1999 and employs 200 people worldwide. "Touch screens guide new store employees through the checkout process with on-screen prompts," Johnston explains. Complex POS transactions are another reason retailers are adopting touch screens. "More non-POS-related functions, such as inventory control and end-of-day reporting, are done using the POS terminal." Johnston advises VARs to sell their customers on touch screens' cost of ownership. "What does it cost to buy a keyboard-based system compared to a touch screen system?" asks Johnston. "Your customers should consider how touch screens process transactions more quickly and reduce employee training time."
Lower-Cost LCD Monitors Are Making An Impact
Lower-cost LCD monitors are also boosting touch screen monitor adoption, according to H.J. Kim, president of Sammi Information Systems (Seoul, Korea). The company manufactures touch screen panels for the industrial and hospitality markets. Sammi Information Systems has more than 100 employees. In 1999, the company reported sales of $10 million.
"LCDs, however, have rather limited viewing angles, compared to conventional POS monitors," notes Kim. "Therefore, the viewing angle of the screen must adjust for a variety of end user needs." In addition to their lower cost, LCD monitors are becoming more sleek. "Flat LCDs take up less counter space," notes Kim. He adds that larger screens, those with a 15-inch viewable area and larger, are becoming more widely accepted. "End users want more information on the screen, and they want to have room on-screen to move from window to window," adds Kim. XGA (extended graphics array) LCD monitors are also becoming more popular, according to Kim. He advises VARs to choose application software for use with XGA monitors and for the more commonly used VGA (video graphics array) and SVGA (super VGA) monitors.
In addition to monitor size, mounting options are a consideration. "Flexibility is key," notes Johnston. "Monitors should have wall- or counter-mount options and should adjust from flat to a 90-degree viewing angle."
New Sales Opportunities In Point Of Information Applications
"Touch screen applications are also changing," says Johnston. "Touch screens are being used for point of information applications," he says. "In an office building, for example, you can access a touch screen monitor in the lobby to locate your doctor's office. Or, you could find out information about your health services." POS VARs can easily expand their markets with these types of applications, notes Johnston. The key is to use touch-enabled software with end user appeal.
Johnston also predicts an increase in wireless POS applications featuring touch screens. "In hospitality, for example, you can move a bar setup outside or into a ballroom," he explains. "Unlike handheld devices, the POS terminal isn't going to ‘walk off' or disappear."
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