Guest Column | July 26, 2019

4 Technological Advances I'm Excited About (And 4 I'm Not)

By Daniel Steyskal, Trapezoid Business Services

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My general rule with new tech is unless a customer needs — that is cannot run their business without it — a new piece of tech, I wait a year so other people's clients can do the beta testing as nothing seems to be released as a final product anymore. With this, I keep an eye on new products and this is a list of POS tech I am excited to bring to my clients in 2019-20, and some I’m telling them to avoid.

 Excited For Tap To Pay (In Limited Circumstances)

Years ago, I read an article summarizing this tech as, “After three tries I pulled out my card, so I made everyone behind wait an extra five minutes for my little experiment.”  Things seem to have improved considerably with a major vote of confidence from the NYC MTA. While I’m still looking forward to seeing the person who struggles between ending their call and paying for the subway, very high-volume establishments will do quite well with tap to pay, though I expect some stringent rules about closing down your games or texts and being ready for your turn. Right now, I love tap to pay in fitness clubs where one doesn't want to bring their wallet, and sometimes their keys, but will not part with their mp3 player. With tap to pay that mp3 player pays for their delicious post workout beverage, or hamburger, or whatever.

Not Excited For Payment Trinkets

Anyone remember COIN? It was a card that stored all of your cards, sometimes, and it would remember all your cards allowing you to select the one you wanted, sometimes, and it worked, sometimes. The main value add is you could leave your wallet at home, but you had to bring your phone. Coming are payment rings, glasses, implants, and various other items that seem to work the same way as COIN. Some may have gotten around the requiring a phone issue, but many shoppers will still need their ID and club cards, which could be loaded on your phone, so what problem are these trinkets solving? That is a question I ask when I see possibly unreasonable tech.

 Excited For BYOD Ordering

A major advantage with online ordering platforms is you can describe exactly how you want your meal prepared and an overworked employee in a loud restaurant won't struggle to hear and write down or remember that onions will kill you and the quesadilla must be cut into trapezoids. Smartphones are nearly universal and allowing customers to order from their own device brings more leisure to the process as the transaction proceeds at a customer's pace and no one is annoyed that they want more time to contemplate whether to get a promo item or an upsell. The disadvantage of this is there is generally no way to get questions answered, but chatbot programs and other automated customer service systems will solve that issue.

Not Excited For Ordering Kiosks

Ever see someone getting lunch for an office on one of these? It's like something out of Dickens novel showing the plight of the downtrodden as they struggle to find out if the item they are looking for is under specials or sandwiches. Add in the fact that human cashiers are much quicker at taking orders creating the situation where one is struggling with the giant touch screen while a cashier stands before an empty line. One may say this is just a blown-up version of a BYOD ordering system and they would be right, but one inept user won't delay others and customers can sit, stand, or stay in the car while ordering. These units are expensive, confusing, and ultimately drive people toward the drive through or a competitor. I would be excited to see a sanitizing gel station next to one, as these kiosks tend to be filthy.

Excited For Handheld Checkout

MPOS is nothing new, but it is more affordable than ever. The downside is nearly every system is cloud based and cash management becomes a bit of an issue, but specific businesses really benefit from the upside. Handheld checkout is not a fit for QRSs and small ticket retail, but smaller table service restaurants and retail using salespeople use this technology very well. The right software loaded onto iPhone 5/6's from eBay creates an excellent system allowing a customer to pay at the table/salesperson and the cheap hardware eliminates one of the major barriers to MPOS, even POS generally. I'd love to see a software that allows employees to bring their own device (I'd imagine the app creates a “virtual machine” when it loads that erases after closing or X time elapses), but the scam-fearing public will need more confidence to run a card on their server's phone.

Not Excited For Cash Discounting

I don't care what anyone says, this program is just surcharging people for using cards. The places where this is relevant — average ticket under $15, small retail, and QSRs — have clients who aren't changing their purchasing habits to save a few percent. The person paying with a card likely doesn't carry cash, whereas the person paying with cash probably always did. Let’s assume someone does get excited for this discount, now they're holding up the line while they search out pennies (because the discount always pushes the price to a non-round number) if the cashier doesn't have to ring in the sale all over again. Smart operators already built processing costs into their prices and the extra few cents gained on cash just pays toward cash management costs. Foolish operators get focused on a few pennies versus maximizing the quality of their products.

Excited For Direct SMS To Order Programs

It seems like every brand has an app, but I don't want to sacrifice valuable space pictures of my dog occupies for every online ordering app. The ordering platforms solved this for smaller businesses, allowing me to order from whatever place I want in one place. SMS ordering eliminates the step where I have to search out the venue I want and reduces the guilt that a huge chunk of revenue will be taken from the restaurant by the platform. A larger entity can afford the cost and reap the benefits of a branded app, but smaller venues cannot afford the development costs nor the hit to revenue the platforms create. SMS ordering will be a lower-cost solution and work very well with small businesses with a streamlined menu.

Not Excited For Another Meal Delivery Platform

Until I stop hearing about methods of meal delivery that are just aping each other I will remain convinced angel investing is just money laundering. Why else is the business model about building a user base and hoping to be bought rather than generating consistent revenue. Each new entrant has me asking “what value does this add” and, despite their best efforts, the entrant platform's response is generally “nothing”. It's akin to building a strip mall — there are too many of them, people put up with using them, and increasingly merchants flee those locations. While I always suggest using them as part of marketing a new venue opening, there is no need for another delivery platform.

About The Author

Trapezoid Business Services is solely owned and operated by Daniel Steyskal. Daniel has been a POS provider and business solutions consultant since 2008 working with small to midsized businesses and national franchises. When he's not making the impossible possible for his clients, Daniel enjoys cooking, gaming, and volunteering in his community. Find out more at