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Retail & Hospitality

Retail is termed as the sale of goods and services from individuals or businesses to the end-user. Retailers are part of an integrated system called the supply chain. A retailer purchases goods or products in large quantities from manufacturers directly or through a wholesale, and then sells smaller quantities to the consumer for a profit. Retailing can be done in either fixed locations like stores or markets, door-to-door or by delivery. The term "retailer" is also applied where a service provider services the needs of a large number of individuals, such as for the public. Online retailing, a type of electronic commerce used for business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions and mail order, are forms of non-shop retailing.
The hospitality industry is a broad category of fields within the service industry that includes lodging, event planning, theme parks, transportation, cruise line, and additional fields within the tourism industry. The hospitality industry is a several billion dollar industry that mostly depends on the availability of leisure time and disposable income. A hospitality unit such as a restaurant, hotel, or even an amusement park consists of multiple groups such as facility maintenance, direct operations (servers, housekeepers, porters, kitchen workers, bartenders, management, marketing, and human resources etc).
The business of supplying to retail and hospitality is one that is growing quickly and incorporates a number of different verticals such as Point-of-Sale, Digital Signage, Security, Software, Servers and Networking. All of these verticals are used individually or within a larger solution in both industries to provide sales, advertising and back-end platforms to make the solutions function.
Mainly found in Malls and Shopping Centres, Open-Air Shopping Centres, Retail Stores, Restaurants and Take-Away Food establishments, Hotels, B&B’s, Lodges, Holiday and Amusement Parks and such, the solutions provide everything needed for the promotion, sales and management of physical and virtual goods and services. A truncated list of possible establishments would look like the following:

Point of Sale in Retail and Hospitality

Point of Sale in Retail: The retailing industry is one of the predominant users of POS terminals. A retail point of sale system typically includes a cash register (Recently comprising of a computer, monitor, cash drawer, receipt printer, customer display and a barcode scanner) and the majority of retail POS systems also include a debit/credit card reader otherwise known as a magnetic strip reader. It can also include a conveyor belt, weight scale, integrated credit card processing system, a signature capture device and a customer pin pad device. More and more POS monitors use touch-screen technology for ease of use and a computer is built into the monitor chassis for what is referred to as an all-in-one unit. All-in-one POS units liberate counter space for the retailer. The POS system software can typically handle myriad customer based functions such as sales, returns, exchanges, layaways, gift cards, gift registries, customer loyalty programs, promotions, discounts and much more. POS software can also allow for functions such as pre-planned promotional sales, manufacturer coupon validation, foreign currency handling and multiple payment types.

The POS unit handles the sales to the consumer but it is only one part of the entire POS system used in a retail business. "Back-office" computers typically handle other functions of the POS system such as inventory control, purchasing, receiving and transferring of products to and from other locations. Other typical functions of a POS system are to store sales information for enabling customer returns, reporting purposes, sales trends and cost/price/profit analysis. Customer information may be stored for receivables management, marketing purposes and specific buying analysis. Many retail POS systems include an accounting interface that "feeds" sales and cost of goods information to independent accounting applications.
Retail operations such as Hardware stores (Lumber Yards), Electronic stores and so called multifaceted super-stores need specialized additional features compared to other stores. POS software in these cases handle special orders, purchase orders, repair orders, service and rental programs as well as typical point of sale functions. Rugged hardware is required for point-of-sale systems used in outdoor environments. Wireless devices, battery powered devices, all-in-one units, and Internet-ready machines are typical in this industry.
Point of Sale in Hospitality: Hospitality point-of-sales systems are computerized systems incorporating registers, computers and peripheral equipment, usually on a computer network to be used in restaurants or hotels. Like other point-of-sale systems, these systems keep track of sales, labor and payroll, and can generate records used in accounting and book keeping. They may be accessed remotely by corporate offices and other authorized parties.
Point-of-sales systems have revolutionized the hospitality industry, particularly in the fast food and hotel sectors. In hotels POS software allows for transfer of meal charges from dining room to guest room with a button or two. It may also need to be integrated with property management software.
Newer, more sophisticated, systems are getting away from the central database "file server" type system and going to what is called a "cluster database". This eliminates any crashing or system downtime that can be associated with the back office file server. This technology allows 100% of the information to not only be stored, but also pulled from the local terminal, thus eliminating the need to rely on a separate server for the system to operate.
Tablet POS systems popular for retail solutions are now available for the restaurant industry. Initially these systems were not sophisticated and many of the early systems did not support a remote printer in the kitchen. Tablet systems today are being used in all types of restaurants including table service operations. Most tablet systems upload all information to the Internet so managers and owners can view reports from anywhere with a password and Internet connection. Smartphone Internet access has made alerts and reports from the POS very accessible. Tablets have helped create the Mobile POS system and Mobile POS applications also include payments, loyalty, online ordering, table side ordering by staff and table top ordering by customers. Mobile POS, AKA mPOS is growing quickly with new developers entering the market almost on a daily basis. An updated list of developers is maintained and available for downloading at no charge.
POS systems are often designed for a variety of clients, and can be programmed by the end users to suit their needs. Some large clients write their own specifications for vendors to implement. In some cases, POS systems are sold and supported by third-party distributors, while in other cases they are sold and supported directly by the vendor.
The selection of a restaurant POS system is critical to the restaurant's daily operation and is a major investment that the restaurant's management and staff must live with for many years. The restaurant POS system interfaces with all phases of the restaurant operation and with everyone that is involved with the restaurant including guests, suppliers, employees, managers and owners. The selection of a restaurant POS system is a complex process that should be undertaken by the restaurant owner and not delegated to an employee. The purchase process can be summarized into three steps: Design, Compare and Negotiate. The Design step requires research to determine which restaurant POS features are needed for the restaurant operation. With this information the restaurant owner or manager can compare various restaurant POS solutions to determine which POS systems meet their requirements. The final step is to negotiate the price, payment terms, included training, initial warranty and ongoing support costs.

Digital Signage

Digital signs are a sub segment of signage. Digital Signs are used in wayfinding, placemaking, exhibitions, public installations, indoor marketing and outdoor advertising without the requirement of traditional print support and content can be kept up-to-date on the fly.

Digital signs use technologies such as LCD, LED and Projection to display content such as digital images, video, streaming media, and information and can be found in public spaces, transportation systems, museums, stadiums, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and corporate buildings, airports, shopping malls etc.
Digital signage displays use content management systems and digital media distribution systems which can either be run from personal computers and servers or regional/national media hosting providers. These can be localised or can be hosted in a single location with content streamed to panels globally through the Internet with country localisation happening as required for different languages.
Since digital signage content may be frequently and easily updated, and also because of the interactive abilities available through the accompanying employment of real-world interfaces such as embedded touch screens, movement detection and image capture devices which enable these forms of signage to understand who and how users are interacting with them, they are gaining acceptance as an alternative to static signage and it is expected to soon overtake static signage completely.
One specific use of digital signage is for out-of-home advertising in which video content, advertisements, and/or messages are displayed on digital signs with the goal of delivering targeted messages, to specific locations and/or consumers, at specific times. This is often called "digital out of home" or abbreviated as DOOH
Digital signs are used for many different purposes and there is no definitive list. However, below are some of the most common applications of digital sign:

  • Public information: news, weather, traffic and local (location specific) information, such as building directory with map, fire exits and traveler information.
  • Internal information: corporate messages, such as health & safety items, news, and so forth.
  • Menu information: pricing, photos, ingredients, and other information about the food(s) being offered, including nutritional facts.
  • Advertising: usually either related to the location of the sign or using the audience reach of the screens for general advertising.
  • Brand building: in-store digital sign to promote the brand and build a brand identity.
  • Influencing customer behaviour: directing customers to different areas, increasing the "dwell time" on the store premises, and a wide range of other uses in service of such influence.
  • Enhancing customer experience: applications include the reduction of perceived wait time in the waiting areas of restaurants and other retail operations, bank queues, and similar circumstances, as well as demonstrations, such as those of recipes in food stores, among other examples.
  • Enhancing the environment: with interactive screens (in the floor, for example, as with "informational footsteps" found in some tourist attractions, museums, and the like) or with other means of "dynamic wayfinding".
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