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Move Past Hype to Focus on Value with AI Implementations in the POS Space

Tom-stock.Adobe.com

Businesses and organizations across virtually all markets and niches are exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) could benefit their operations. Although the technology has been steadily advancing for decades, recent availability of large language models (LLMs) that make AI platforms easy to use have convinced business leaders that AI insights for their employees can just be a question-and-answer interaction away.

The challenge, however, is dealing with too much of a good thing. AI fuels imagination, leading to a flood of ideas of how to enhance customer experiences, automate tasks and gain an edge in the market. But as an emerging technology, few off-the-shelf AI products are available for specific use cases, which means businesses need to decide where they’ll focus their resources and their budgets to develop solutions to meet their needs and produce value.

In the point of sale (POS) space, three AI applications show particular promise:

Headcount and Heat Mapping in Brick-and-Mortar Retail

Insights from shopper behavior data are valuable – and financially impactful – to retailers. Cameras, sensors, and other data collection devices can capture information on where people congregate in stores and the displays that capture their attention. AI can analyze that data, even in real time, and provide retailers with information that helps them maximize revenues. Considering that endcap displays generate 70% of grocery and department store spend, the ROI of a solution that provides intelligent insights can be fast and decisive.

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Keep in mind that where a retailer displays profitable and in-demand products is about more than increasing sales. It’s also about identifying prime retail “real estate.” AI can generate data that retailers can use to negotiate the terms when third parties want to display products or advertise in the store. AI can help retailers boost their bottom line by providing data for vendor partners to justify paying a premium for hot spaces on their heat maps.

Loyalty and Personalization in QSR

AI can sort through and analyze massive amounts of data to deliver on-the-spot insights to personalize customer interactions. For quick service restaurants (QSRs), that’s the ability to immediately access the customer’s favorite menu items, upsell and cross-sell intelligently, and make loyalty rewards offers that effectively incentivize future visits.

Allowing workers at the counter, drive-thru or self-service kiosks to access this information can increase average sales and customer satisfaction, helping to guide guests toward the menu items that will make them happiest with their orders.

Tailoring Hospitality Guest Experiences

Hotels, resorts and bed-and-breakfasts can increase revenues by successfully selling additional services during a guest’s stay. AI can help managers monitor and evaluate guest activity, including how many stay onsite for lunch or dinner, explore spa services and walk past gift shops or minimarkets. If metrics show underutilization of those services, AI can alert managers and provide insights for informed decision-making.

Imperatives with Any AI Solution

Although leaders need to focus their AI enthusiasm on the applications that will result in wins for their companies, they need to follow some basic principles, regardless of how they’ll use the technology:

  • Opt-in: Using AI effectively in these applications requires customer data, and therefore their consent to participate. Businesses must work with software providers that help them manage data consent, privacy, and compliance.
  • Data management: Merchants can find data everywhere – but it’s not necessarily information that will add value to analyses. Businesses need to limit data collection and analysis to what’s important to decrease complexity and data storage costs. They also can benefit from working with a solutions provider offering cloud hosting along with other services.
  • Technological and industry expertise: Companies need to align with solution developers with expertise in AI and their specific verticals to create total systems that work seamlessly.
  • Hardware and user interface: It’s important not to overlook the importance of the hardware implemented to give sales associates, managers and even customers access to the insights they need to optimize processes and enhance experiences. Businesses can choose from a range of screens, from large format touchscreens and interactive digital signage to a variety of kiosk and terminal form factors. Finding the right hardware provider can also connect businesses with other providers in their networks, helping them build a strong support system.

Make the Next Move

The path to success with AI will be different within each vertical or niche and even for each business. The possibilities may seem endless, but practical applications are much fewer in number. The key is to set realistic goals for AI, stay focused and stay committed to realizing value.


John Dittig joined MicroTouch in January 2024 as the Global VP with a focus on business development and partnerships. Prior to joining MicroTouch, Dittig held senior roles at Samsung, Elo Touch Solutions, Tyco Electronics (TE Connectivity), ViewSonic Corporation and Tech Data. He has over 30 years of experience managing and creating sales, marketing, and product strategies for multibillion- dollar organizations.

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