Fitted with check-out software from the cloud, laptops, smartphones and tablets can be turned into a check-out system without major effort. For a number of years it was FinTechs, in particular, that offered flexible leasing solutions for retail and food service but now also well-established POS and check-out software providers have included cloud-compatible solutions in their portfolios.
Manipulation-proof check-out management pursuant to GoDB (the German Ordinance on Principles for the Proper Management and Storage of Books, Records and Documents in Electronic Form), mandatory receipt issuance, certified Technical Security Equipment (TSE) – these stringent rules governing check-out systems have already triggered investment and consultancy needs in retail for some time now. And there are a number of reasons for this: after several extensions to the deadline all convertible electronic check-out systems will now have to be equipped with TSE to protect against subsequent manipulation by no later than 31 March 2021. Electronic check-out systems that cannot be converted for design reasons are to be replaced by the end of 2022. However, the classic “cash-drawer till” as predominantly used by smaller stores and mobile points of sale will also become obsolete: On the one hand, cash tills will become an audit risk in view of the strict, new legal provisions. On the other, companies have to respond to their shoppers’ growing demand for up-to-date cash and contactless payment modes with digital check-out solutions.
Straightforward Entry-Level Solution
Plug & Play solutions from the cloud promise companies a straightforward, low-cost entry into the world of electronic check-out systems. A number of start-ups including German’s FinTechs, Everstore and Tillhub have already presented cloud-based check-out software for smartphones or tablets at previous EuroCIS editions. Dubbed Software-as-a-Service (Saas) the check-out Apps are simply downloaded from the App Store and installed on conventional mobile devices. Once the product data and prices have been saved in the operator’s cloud the new electronic check-out functionality is ready for use on a smartphone or tablet: without any installation effort, costly hardware and software investment or long-term contract with a specific manufacturer – but for a manageable monthly fee and based on contracts that can be terminated at short notice.
Always Up to Date
New and further developments, such as a function for issuing paperless sales receipts by QR Code, are constantly incorporated in the SaaS operation and therefore immediately available at the POS without cumbersome release changes. Even if the legal requirements for the check-out software change, SaaS users do not have to take action themselves but can leave this up to the software provider. Cloud solutions even have advantages when it comes to hardware changes. Since data backup is done permanently in the cloud, malfunctioning or obsolete devices can be replaced quickly if need be.
In addition to the simple availability of a constantly updated check-out solution in line with the law Gernot Mötschlmayer of Everstore regards the simplified real-time connection with other systems as a key argument favouring cloud-based check-out systems. Up-to-date customer service today, he says, requires a real-time overview of outlet stocks and inventories as well as a consistent customer view across all channels: from the physical store to the webshop. This is the only way, he adds, to enable modern services such as Click & Collect, Click & Reserve, online orders placed at the store or returns accepted at outlets. In addition to the check-out App Everstore offers not only proprietary cloud-based outlet merchandise management but also the seamless connection to shop systems, MIS or CRM software via API interfaces. Thanks to the cloud even small and medium-sized enterprises can automate omni-channel processes and therefore keep better pace with big competitors, believes the Everstore founder.
Retailers’ Scepticism is Diminishing
With their leased solutions such small providers as Everstore, Bitbakers, Inventorum, Tillhub or Tap & Till (a spin-off of the Zucchetti Group) target small and medium-sized companies operating a maximum of 100 to 200 outlets; but the major players also have cloud-compatible solutions in their portfolios. A case in point being GK-Software: with cloud4retail they also allow major international organisations to run its enterprise solutions in a cloud-based manner. It is true that retail rated the changeover to cloud-based check-out systems as very critical until recently. For fear of data glitches and slow, overloaded connections the outlet landscape continues to be dominated by fully equipped Fat Clients, according to the EHI Study on POS Systems 2020. But the mood is changing: in future the polled IT decision-makers increasingly wish to switch to Thin-Client, cloud and web-based solutions. What’s more, in physical terms the majority of back-office servers are to move to headquarters where cloud and hybrid architecture can be imagined in future. “In comparison with earlier POS studies there is a remarkable trend towards cloud-based approaches in 2020,” summarises the author of the Study, Cetin Acar.