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Are POS System Upgrades Worth the Investment?

How to Make the Most of This Critical Capability

As a fine wine retailer or restaurateur, you need to keep a lot of balls in the air, from managing inventory to stocking shelves to communicating effectively with customers. At the cash register however, where you effectively “close the deal” and leave your customer with one last impression of your business, is the one place where you cannot drop the ball.

But even there, there is a constant pressure to update your POS system and upgrade features to the latest-and-greatest version or risk losing an edge to competitors who adopt the upgrades faster or more seamlessly.


Not so fast.

There’s something to be said for the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There’s also the quite serious question about whether the latest-and-greatest versions of the POS systems are actually great, and whether they’re worth the time and expense it will take to implement.

We’re exploring options and taking a look at pros and cons, including when and why to upgrade, whether upgrades like chip cards and mobile payments are worth it, and considerations when selecting a vendor.

When and Why Retailers Would Upgrade their POS System

There’s a long list of reasons to upgrade, including new features that run on more current hardware, fixing technical glitches, integrating multiple channels, adding mobile functionality (for markets, festivals, trade shows or pop-up stores) and creating omni-channel experiences for consumers. Also, simply, hardware ages and outdated hardware and software don’t accommodate the latest operating systems that have support for required security patches.

Needing to upgrade to new hardware and software “is often a point for retailers to consider moving to a SaaS (Software as a Service) offering with costs based on use and location rather than fixed ongoing costs,” said Andy Payne, Director, Retail Global Solution Management at NCR.

Chip Cards and Mobile Payments: Worth the Upgrade?

Many chains have switched their POS systems over to chip cards for added security and mobile payments for consumer convenience. In Payne’s opinion, moving to EMV is unavoidable, and it’s largely a question of cost. (EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three companies that originally created chip card technology.)

“Processing fees from banks and authorizers are much higher without EMV,” Payne said, “and all of the chargeback risk falls back onto the retailer if EMV is not used.”

Benefits of Upgrading

Contactless payments, mobile POS and self-checkouts are all options for retailers and restaurateurs. But, at a very essential level, consider this: new systems are more user friendly and intuitive, and employers are increasingly likely to hire younger, digital natives, who may find outdated systems POS systems complex and hard to navigate.

In addition to faster checkout, Payne pointed out that newer POS systems can also be tied to “additional customer benefits, such as more advanced loyalty systems, digital receipts and other features that drive engagement.”

Should You Prioritize Upgrades before the Holiday Rush?

It depends on the size of the store or restaurant, and adaptability of the staff. Smaller, more nimble businesses may find it easier to switch while larger retailers and restaurants with more complex requirements and legacy integration needs may take longer. In any case, if you’re going to make changes, don’t wait until the last minute and get caught mid-stream in the middle of the busiest time of the year.

Considerations When Selecting a Vendor

One independent operator in Massachusetts advises considering the availability of the vendor’s tech support: are they easily reachable and responsive? Is their response time fast or slow? He also considers cost, and how long the new system will run on your current platform.

Additional factors are whether the new system is future proof (that is, it allows for adding other payment options in the future), whether you have the ability to connect with your existing IT systems such as loyalty programs, and whether the vendor has the staying power in the retail POS/EMV market.


1. Tech support
2. System cost
3. System useful life
4. Future proof
5. Interconnectivity with other systems
6. Vendor staying power


Your POS system isn’t just one more thing to think about. It’s a critical part of your business and your customer’s journey, from loyalty and incentives to closing a sale quickly and handling returns or exchanges efficiently. Maintaining it, and upgrading when necessary, is worth careful consideration.


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