Guest Column | November 13, 2012

Is Your Retail IT Hardware Restricting Your Software Performance?

By Nicholas Ciarlante, CEO, Custom America Inc.

Technology has to evolve to meet the demanding needs of changing markets and to provide VARs with solutions to generate opportunities.

Business owners are continuously looking to redesign their shop environments to be ahead of the curve and offer customers a non-intrusive, elegant, integrated sales experience. Technology plays a large role in the overall experience, and many IT and store operations managers have turned to kiosks, point of sale, and digital signage to achieve their goals. This trend is not localized to a single market and has become a global demand. In the European market, Custom Engineering, the parent company of Custom America Inc., has been meeting such market needs for 20 years with its full range of kiosk printers, point of sale hardware and solutions, gaming systems, and ticketing printers.

Custom has been meeting the needs of retailers, including top fashion brands and hospitality markets, in Italy for point of sale solutions with over a 90% market share and has branched out throughout Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia, and is now focused in North and South America. It globally supplies self-service kiosk applications with top of the line printing solutions designed with the customer experience in mind to ensure maximum uptime and unsurpassed reliability. We take the approach with all our product lines to design the right product for the application instead of providing the market with a common product strategy.

Custom’s point of sale hardware and solutions have gained market acceptance due to their revolutionary design, aesthetics, and unmatched functionality. You will find that our point of sale hardware and solutions provide resellers and VARs with a wide range of products from highly functional ECRs, including hybrids, to fully equipped all-in-one systems. Our ECRs deliver value to the users and opportunity to VARs by providing profitable lower cost solutions to customers that cannot afford all-in-one systems. We accomplish this by equipping our ECRs with features such as SQL database, storage of up to 50,000 PLUs, statistical analysis, network connectivity and reporting, barcode scanner connectivity, remote management tools, and the ability for VARs to sell after sale services to help users with programming and database management.

The goal of many retail and hospitality environments is to effectively use available real estate by reducing the physical footprint of technology, yet increasing marketing capabilities and functionality of that very technology. The challenge is finding hardware manufacturers willing to take the risk and offer nontraditional hardware and solutions to perform standard functions such as print, scan, and receive payment — but make them smarter. Kiosks, compact all-in-ones, smart phones, and tablets continue to grow in popularity among these very retailers, and Custom America offers very unique products to support this growing trend. This is the very reason why Custom has decided to enter the America’s market with its focus on creativity and engineering expertise.

Kiosks, once used to automate a human process and perhaps provide 24-hour service, have transitioned into marketing engines and revenue streams for software developers and integrators. They have evolved from a process driven machine to marketing engines with overwhelming intelligence capable of altering messages based on the audience or time of day. But, to capitalize on the kiosk boom, integrators need to ensure they are selecting peripherals that maximize uptime and overall reliability. Even the most advanced kiosk software cannot overcome the integration of inferior products, which have taken great solutions and turned them into boat anchors. This topic also strengthens the reason for Custom to enter the America’s market with over 25 different kiosk printing solutions to ensure that the market has the right products to deliver a successful solution.

Hardware does not need to be intrusive or complacent; it must enhance the user experience and bring value to those who embrace it.