Your point-of-sale (POS) hardware may be the hub of activity in your grocery store, but it’s also essentially a collection of PC-based processors. That means sooner or later, you’ll need to upgrade the hardware. Maybe you have to replace a broken part, or you have to upgrade for compliance purposes, or the unit has simply worn out. Whatever the reason, eventually you’ll have to replace some equipment.
Usually, though, you don’t need to buy a new system. The best “new” POS system for you might very well be the POS system you already own—and you just need to update or replace a few components. However, different elements wear out at different rates, whether it’s the cash register drawer, touch screen, a PIN pad, or any other component. So, you may have to do this more than once. Although hardware replacement is usually pretty straightforward, sometimes surprises pop up.
Surprise! Some unexpected issues that may arise when replacing hardware
You may think you have a handle on replacing your POS hardware. After all, how hard can it be to change out some touch screens and PC-based POS controllers? But occasionally replacing one item means you’ll need to make even more changes. However, by keeping the following in mind when planning upgrades, you'll reduce the "unexpected" to a checklist of items to verify as part of the plan.
Network: Suppose you have a few decade-old POS controllers and need to upgrade to the current version of Microsoft Windows for PCI compliance. The old hardware can’t handle the new operating system, so you have to replace it. As you replace the underlying hardware for your POS, you could find the latest equipment doesn't work well on your current network, and now your POS systems can't communicate with the server. Now, you're faced with upgrading your network, resulting in delays and additional costs.
Training: New systems are typically installed in the middle of the night, so the work doesn’t close down lanes during operating hours. However, if the new hardware is substantially different, whether it’s touch screens, printers, or PIN pads, your employees may need training the following morning before they can effectively use the new equipment. If you don’t take this into account, it could lead to unexpected delays in opening lanes, leading to customer service issues and impacting business, especially during hectic morning traffic.
Additional components: Then, there are easily overlooked—though not always inconsequential—details. Your new hardware may require making changes to the check stand itself because the new equipment is a different size and needs larger or smaller openings. This could cause a delay during installation. And, when was the last time your battery backup system was checked? The batteries installed years ago may be weak or dead, but you don’t realize it until the backup system is needed and doesn’t work.
Your retail technology partner can and should keep track of these and other potential issues for you, so they don’t turn into surprises. At TRUNO, maintaining this upgrade “checklist” for our customers is a top priority so all parties know what to expect and when. By keeping detailed inventory data for our customers, when it is time for them to upgrade, we are well prepared and able to ensure the process is smooth and optimized.
New hardware, new software?
Changing out hardware may be pretty straightforward, but it becomes a much bigger project when you have to change or update your POS software too. You may find that when you upgrade hardware to remain in compliance, your software is no longer compatible or simply doesn’t play well with the new components. Suddenly, you have no choice but to upgrade it as well. Keeping this in mind can help you avoid additional time and labor costs to your hardware upgrade, especially with a multi-store operation.
Or, maybe you haven’t updated your software for a while because there was nothing in the latest releases that you needed (or wanted). When you do have an update with features you need, you may be faced with not only a multi-step software update but an application that’s substantially different to use. That means more time to install, but also requires on-site training for your staff to be proficient on the new system. Taking these into account in your upgrade plan can help you avoid unexpected impacts to your project schedule and budget, not to mention staff efficiency.
The flip side: The benefits of new hardware benefits can outweigh difficulties
Though it may sound like a lot of little things can go wrong, you shouldn’t put off upgrading your hardware. The potential long-term benefits of keeping your POS hardware up to date are more significant than the difficulties an upgrade may cause.
There's an adage in supermarkets: You can only sell to as many customers as you have parking spots. New hardware lets you process data faster, speed up the checkout process, and serve more shoppers in less time, thereby freeing up those parking spots for more customers. By checking out just one additional customer per hour, you’ll improve the customer experience and see measurable gains in your bottom line over the course of a year.
Changing from old keyboards or touch screens to newer models with the latest technology saves your employees time. Touch screens are more intuitive to use than keyboards, so it takes less time to train employees and speeds up checkout, both of which improve customer service.
Hardware with moving, mechanical parts—like older printers, drawers, and PIN pads—can require service more often. A failure can completely shut down a lane, causing customer service issues. New hardware has an overall higher uptime percentage, resulting in fewer service calls, fewer closed lanes, and a better overall customer experience. Also, although it may seem trivial, newer hardware doesn’t make as much noise. Touch screens are silent, and more modern printers are faster and quiet. Customers notice the difference and appreciate a more pleasant shopping environment.
Speaking of PIN pads, depending on how old yours are, you may need to change them out to meet upcoming compliance requirements. Even if you have a year left before the devices are out of compliance, it’s easier to replace them when installing other hardware because the technician is already on-site. You’ll save time, spare the technician an additional trip, and you’ll be prepared in advance for upcoming compliance changes.
Finally, new hardware uses less electricity. The resulting cost savings can be significant, especially if you have a multi-store operation and many POS systems.
The bright side: Upgraded hardware is always worth the investment
Planning ahead for hardware upgrades and being aware of the details involved lets you anticipate and even eliminate many of the unexpected issues that can trip up your installation. You can expect the process to be much smoother when you partner with the right retail technology service provider. In the end, your upgrade will provide many long-lasting benefits like continued PCI compliance, efficient use of time, faster checkouts, and better customer service.