Software Development, Inc. SUMMARIZING THE ADVANTAGES OF A TOUCH SCREEN POS SOLUTION Touch screen technology has been around for a number of years. In the past POS applications built around Touch screen technology have been limited to hospitality terminals and as the preferred interface on retail kiosk terminals. Use of touch screen technology on point of sale terminals has proven to be a valuable and cost effective tool in the hospitality industry reducing transaction times, operator errors and training time in an industry with a very high employee turnover rate. Until now the cost of touch screen monitors has prevented this technology from being adopted for use by chain retailers in non- hospitality retail segments. This technology is no longer cost prohibitive allowing Retailers in segments to take advantage of the benefits of Touch screen technology. Justifying the Cost of Touch Screen Technology The cost of touch screen monitors has dropped dramatically. These cost reductions have now made it possible for retail chains to take advantage of touch screen technology in conventional retail point of sale applications. Hardware Cost A touch screen monitor replaces the VGA monitor and eliminates the need for a costly proprietary big-ticket POS keyboard. Today most retailers incorporate debit card support into their POS applications. Pin terminals with magnetic stripe readers have eliminated the need for a MSR included in the POS keyboard or as standalone device. Many POS touch screen applications; including SDI’s new IRIS Touch/POS application incorporate a large customer price display area on the touch screen eliminating the need for a separate customer display. The elimination of these costly proprietary POS peripherals and their related maintenance costs typically will offset the extra cost of a touch screen monitor. Touch screen monitors are here to stay. POS applications designed around MS Windows that support this touch screen and new modern OPOS peripheral interfaces will operate on any industry standard PC hardware and can be ported from one platform to another with change to application software. Older applications built to operate in conjunction with DOS or OS/2 that include proprietary peripheral interfaces and keyboards cannot easily be ported from one platform to another without costly changes to the application. Software Development, Inc. It is also clear that the cost of touch screen monitors will continue to decline as more and more applications adopt touch screen technology. On the other hand the cost of purchasing and maintaining proprietary keyboards and customer displays and other peripherals will continue to increase as their use declines. Eliminating these costly peripherals should ultimately result in a maintenance cost savings over a period of time. Soft Benefits of Touch Screen Technology Retail chains are experiencing ever increasing employee turnover rates. The cost of training cashiers and other retail employees continues to escalate and is a major concern to retailers. This is especially true in retail environments that must cater to complex transactions or interact with frequent shopper or other customer database information. As has been demonstrated in the hospitality industry touch screen technology along with more intuitive operator entry and help and lookup facilities significantly reduces new employee training time and efficiency. The intuitive nature of a touch screen application makes it easier for cashiers to learn and increases the overall productivity of both inexperienced and experienced cashiers. A higher level of employee competence means reduced errors, higher throughput and better customer service. These benefits translate into lower training costs, increased employee productivity and an increase in customer shopping satisfaction. Application Flexibility Eliminating the inherent limitations related to development of POS applications that are dependant of function keys on a keyboard or custom device interfaces allows the POS application to be more flexible and more intuitive. The use of dynamic touch buttons eliminates the problem of developing around limited function keys and increases the POS developer’s flexibility. This translates into reduced development time and applications that are easier for cashiers to understand. Touch screen monitors are considered standard PC technology and are here to stay. Applications designed around this technology will operate on any industry standard PC platform and can be ported from one PC platform to another without change. Applications built around proprietary peripherals like expanded POS keyboards cannot be changed or ported from one platform to another without change unless that platform supports the same proprietary peripherals. Supporting proprietary peripherals increases the application maintenance costs and as technology changes many proprietary peripherals become obsolete or unavailable. These costs are minimized with the use of touch screen technology. Software Development, Inc. New application features and functions can be added to a Touch Screen POS application without the inherent restrictions and limitations imposed by non-touch screen applications. Application development using touch buttons allows for expanded operator messages and eliminates the problem of developing around limited function keys and dealing with cryptic key top definitions. This added development flexibility reduces development time, development costs and improves application use-ability. Summary Touch screen technology is now an affordable alternative to older VGA character based point of sale applications. The cost of touch screen technology is offset by elimination of proprietary peripherals and reductions in ongoing maintenance costs. Those retail segments that have adopted touch screen have experienced reductions in training time and costs, reduced operational errors and increases in employee productivity. These advantages and others as defined above make a strong argument to consider touch screen as the user interface for retailers who are looking to upgrade their POS application and POS platform technology.
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