The Convenience Technology Vision Group (CTVG) has released a Special Edition Vision Report covering a special October breakout session addressing challenges surrounding point-of-sale (POS) systems in convenience retail.
The first-ever breakout session was requested by CTVG members during their regularly scheduled September 2023 meeting to address questions raised about POS systems in the convenience retail industry. This unique virtual breakout session gave five invited POS solution providers the opportunity to hear while all together and respond first-hand to CTVG members’ frustrations with, and suggestions for, POS systems in general.
The full report includes a summary of the discussion (“CTVG Views”) and the full transcript of the meeting (“In The Room With CTVG”). Main topics covered in the report include POS systems challenges such as decoupling, foodservice systems, integrations and unique circumstances for independent operators and issues with major oil companies.
Key takeaways identified in the report include:
Participants emphasized the need to decouple POS systems, separating different functions and components to provide more flexibility.
Nick Peters, Vice President IT, Campbell Oil Company expressed frustration with the slow evolution of POS technology and supported the idea of cautiously decoupling technology elements saying, “I do believe in the separation of those technologies between forecourt, inside the store payment, things like that. But it does need to be a very sure-footed step forward, not so far forward that we’re leaning forward and we trip and we fall, and we get too far out there.”
Major Oil Companies:
The necessary involvement of major oil companies (MOCs) in technology decisions and mandates was also cited as an obstacle. Participants voiced concerns about delayed releases and upgrades hindering the interoperability of POS systems with other applications.
Robert Hampton, VP Technology Services and Innovation at Jacksons Food Stores, Jacksons Food Stores referenced the cumbersome process involved at the enterprise level with major oil involvement. “If I want to change something at every one of my point-of-sales, I don’t want to have to connect to every one of them.” He continues, “I want to be able to change it at a global level and just push the change down.”
Foodservice as the Future:
Foodservice emerged as a critical aspect, with discussions focusing on the complexity of integrating kiosks, kitchen management systems, payment, and POS systems. The report emphasizes the need for decoupling and modernizing, drawing parallels with Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs).
Steve Morris, owner/president, Retail Management Inc. says “The fact that convenience is in our name and we are anything but. Our inability to do mobile ordering and to do a lot of what consumers are expecting from a food service standpoint as we’re trying to continue to grow that element is just handcuffed by the point-of-sale.”
The Unique Needs of Independent Operators:
The unique needs of independent operators were highlighted, acknowledging the financial constraints and lack of in-house technology expertise for smaller retailers. Thinking broadly, Steve Morris, owner/president for Retail Management Inc. says, “As we talk through all the things that are hurdles and problems for us who are medium, or slightly small, or even large
retailers, over half of the industry is still single-store retailers that don’t have ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning).” He continues, “So what are we doing, starting with point-of-sale and going to all of the different things that we’ve tried to talk through today, to add the question: how does this impact the bigger half of the industry that doesn’t have these solutions, or aren’t able to have folks in their company, like everybody on this call, to implement, operate, and maintain these programs? How are we supporting the single-store guys?”
Concerns about promotions, marketing efforts, mobile apps, and the need for seamless integration with POS systems was also addressed. Vision Group Network Co-Founder Roy Strasburger summed up the diverse needs of a retailer to make all the things work together by saying, “Our POS systems are becoming a competitive disadvantage in attracting the customers who don’t have to come to us for gasoline.”
Additionally, members praised the work of industry technology organization Conexxus in developing and maintaining standards and APIs to facilitate seamless integration between diverse software and hardware solutions.
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Convenience Technology Vision Group brings together invited retailer and supplier tech leaders for quarterly virtual meetings to discuss technology issues impacting the convenience channel. The group is committed to sharing its views and perspectives in order to advance the convenience retailing and energy industry. CTVG is part of the Vision Group Network, which gathers the collective knowledge and ideas of its members to create a legacy of sharing within the retail community. For more information about CTVG visit tvgsolutions.com/CTVG or contact us.