Point-of-sale systems are essential to any retail business, automating manual tasks, ensuring accurate transactions and inventory management, and improving customer service.
Different technology boasts different features, and there are several factors operators should consider when determining which point-of-sale (POS) system to use.
Explore Your Options.
When determining the best point-of-sale system for their business, Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, said truckstop and travel center operators have several options.
“There are several point-of-sale vendors that accept all of the fuel cards—Retalix, Fiscal, SmartDESQ and GasPOS," Schulte said, adding that if locations opt not to accept EFS or Comdata have additional options. "It opens up a whole other range of point-of-sale systems.”
Schulte said some major POS providers are moving closer to accepting EFS and Comdata, giving operators even more choices.
Look at New Players.
Fintech companies have entered the POS space, which can give consumers even more payment options. “Most of them require an additional piece of equipment, like a tablet, so it is another piece of equipment you have to deal with related to space constraints on the transaction counter, and, depending on how you have set up the transaction process, you may not have to run it through your POS system,” Schulte said. “What makes Fintech companies exciting is they traditionally have lower transaction costs than your Comdata, EFS and other fuel cards.”
The new fintech offerings typically offer customers a discount and can attract business. “It opens up your travel center to different types of customers you might not have gotten before,” Schulte said. “In some cases, it is beneficial because it is new gallons for our members.”
Relay Payments, a fintech company, also promotes added security. 300,000 carriers and drivers use Relay, which is now accepted at Pilot, Flying J, and One9 Fuel Network locations. "Digital payment technologies like Relay provide fleets with enhanced anti-fraud capabilities and improve the ease of commercial diesel transactions,” said David Hughes, senior vice president of sales for Pilot Co.
However, Schulte said the options can also be a double-edged sword if operators already had those gallons but now have to discount them.
It is essential for operators to try to accept every payment method available, even if the rates aren't favorable. "Otherwise, you're blocking off one potential type of customer,” Schulte said.
After getting customers in the door, Schulte said operators could try moving them to a different payment program.
"You can always work towards migrating them to something more advantageous,” he said. “This is particularly advantageous with owner-operators where you can create a relationship with them versus the form of payment. For owner-operators, cost is no doubt important, but additionally, so is feeling appreciated.”
Look to the Future.
Traditionally, truckstops and travel centers have had to operate different point-of-sale systems—one for their c-store and another for high-flow diesel—but Peter Rasmussen, CEO and founder of Convenience and Energy Advisors, said that is changing. “We’re seeing a lot of exciting development out there, and we hope that there'll be a path in the future where those point-of-sales can merge," he said.
As operators determine which systems to invest in, asking providers how the systems can be updated and any future capabilities they are working toward can be helpful.
// This article was created for Stop Watch magazine, the magazine of the NATSO Foundation. The NATSO Foundation is the research, education and public outreach subsidiary of NATSO, Inc. The NATSO Foundation provides programs and products to strengthen travel plazas’ ability to meet the traveling public's needs through improved operational performance and business planning. Visit www.natsofoundation.org for more information. (Donate to the NATSO Foundation here.)
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