Science went snooping around the National Restaurant Association show at Chicago’s McCormick Place last weekend. In addition to loading up on samples of everything from gyros poutine, spreadable bacon jam, and space gelato, we were hoping to find some of the latest and greatest technology solutions for specialty coffee purveyors.
With the exception of internet connectivity and brewing equipment, there is probably no technology more central to the operation of a modern specialty coffee retailer than a point of sale (POS) system. There are essentially two varieties: Premise-based solutions that require not only POS terminals but a central computer or server (Micros, Aloha, and Restaurant Manager are three examples) and software running on an established operating system such as Windows. The newer, and far more exciting, type of POS system is cloud based. Cloud-based POS systems represented at NRA 2015 included Revel Systems, Lavu, Shopkeep, and Breadcrumb, in addition to a few others.
Look for premise-based solutions to disappear in the specialty coffee over the next five years. They have evolved to become mostly software and hardware vendors, as opposed to their counterparts in the tablet-centric, cloud-based realm, who are more like service providers. Owning hardware and software doesn’t add value for a coffee bar ”using the right service does.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Andy Freivogel is founder of the retail-technology consulting firm Science (www.scienceretail.com), which he started after 20 years of work in retail coffee and technology consulting. In addition to guiding specialty and boutique retail customers through the landscape of POS systems, guest Wi-Fi solutions, and PCI compliance, he also enjoys free-jazz, black metal, skateboarding, street art, and cooking West African dishes. Andy and his wife live in Oak Park, Ill., with their two children, a chihuahua, a pitbull, two cats, and a frog.