A woman shopping around a store.

What is a self service POS system?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

How your business can benefit from a frictionless experience

As a consumer, you’ve probably been in a long checkout line. Whether at the grocery store or in a bustling place like an airport or train station, waiting to buy things can be cumbersome. This waiting can even lead to many consumers giving up and leaving without purchasing anything. While there are many more benefits to a self checkout system than just customer convenience, it’s why you may find yourself researching more about self-service POS systems for your business. So in this article, we’ll look more closely at self-service POS systems—what they are, how they’re used and the biggest benefits of utilizing them. First, it’s important to understand what a self-service POS system is.

What’s a self-service POS system?

While it may seem obvious, a self-service POS system is usually a cloud-based, contactless touchscreen technology that allows your customers to check out by themselves. Whether it’s ringing their items up for purchase or placing a food self-order, these systems enable customer control with the ability to pay right then and there. You’ve probably seen a version of these as self-service kiosks at stores like Target, Walmart or Home Depot or iPad or Android tablets at restaurant kiosks. These kiosk systems allow customers to scan their items, look up barcode information, place their orders and complete payments. Essentially, they give customers the power to be the cashier, with the functionality to place orders and process payments.

But, there’s still a need for humans, even at self-ordering kiosk solutions. That’s because sometimes there’s an issue to fix or a problem to solve. Thankfully, many businesses have an attendant who can help troubleshoot these issues. Now that you know more about self-service systems let’s see what industries utilize them the most.

What industries use self service POS?

A customer’s experience with your business is paramount. And in industries with long wait times, one way to combat these waits is through the self-service POS system. That’s why they are most commonly used in two types of industries – retail and restaurants. Let’s see how each industry utilizes self-service systems.


In retail, self-service POS systems are replacing cashiers and traditional cash registers. These systems have become more popular at retail stores where a checkout needs to occur. For customers, these self-service POS systems allow customers to skip the small talk at checkout and move more quickly through lines. They’re equipped with barcode scanners and contain the same POS software as a regular register, and can accept debit and credit cards, and even can accept gift cards. This ease of use can also help build brand loyalty for your business.


In restaurants – from quick-service restaurants to fast-casual to traditional dining – a self-service POS system can help ensure order quality. That’s because these POS systems can allow customers to view menu items, add or delete modifiers in their order, see daily specials, place orders and double check that they input everything correctly. From customizations of their order to suggested add-ons, a self-service POS system can increase the efficiency of your business and the sales tickets and other KPIs. While these units are freestanding at some places, others utilize tabletop units to let customers order right from their seats. Once a customer places an order, it goes right to the kitchen display system, seamlessly connecting the front of the house and the kitchen.

What are the benefits of self-service POS systems?

As you’ve seen, these point of sale systems can have a big impact on small businesses in the retail and restaurant industries. Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest advantages of self-service POS.

  • Gives customers control of the shopping experience: because customers are the ones operating the POS system, they can look up specific products, choose custom order options at restaurants, pay with their payment method of choice and experience a streamlined process with less friction. Self-service POS also helps customers feel comfortable maintaining social distancing while they shop or eat.
  • Faster service and reduced customer wait times: because of their footprint, self-service kiosks and POS systems can provide faster service. Companies have adjusted their floor plans to reconfigure their space to help with the flow of customers because self-service is so much quicker. Self-service POS can also help reduce customer wait times – both in line and at the dining table.
  • Upsell prompts can lead to a larger basket size: self-serve POS systems can make recommendations to a customer’s shopping cart or food order, helping to upsell right at the point of purchase. This can lead to a larger customer purchase.
  • Improved order accuracy: since customers input their orders directly, the self-service POS can improve order accuracy as customers double check their orders themselves instead of relying on an associate.
  • Easier data capture and loyalty enrollment: again, since the customer is in charge at the POS, it’s easier for them to type in their data without having to verbalize it to an associate. Since they know it, they can input it faster than an associate would. And with the opportunity to enroll in loyalty programs right at their fingertips, they’re more likely to join versus having to fill out a paper form.
  • Helps you redistribute your staff: another benefit is that if the staff doesn’t have to run checkout or handle order intake, they can be put to work in other areas of your business that need them the most. This helps to optimize your labor costs.

As you can see, self-service kiosks and tablet POS systems can benefit businesses in the retail and restaurant industries, respectively. And while they offer your customers a whole host of benefits, they offer your company an equal number of benefits. From the customer experience to the time it can save you, self-service POS systems can help streamline your business. That’s good for you and your bottom line.

Ready to work with a payment processor who can help you implement self-service POS systems?

Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at heartland.us.