Millennials’ Eating Habits: How They’re Changing the Food Industry

If there’s one generation that makes headlines, it’s millennials. According to the 2015 U.S. Census, there are 75.4 million millennials living in the country, officially making them the largest generation in the States. If you operate a restaurant, it’s worth paying attention to what millennials do and want – especially when you consider that they spend more dining out than they save for retirement. Here are the top four things millennials are seeking when it comes to dining out – and how these changes are affecting the food industry.

They Want Convenience

The first meal kit service started in 2007 – and now, 12 years later, it’s a booming industry estimated to hit $10 billion in revenue by 2020. Who’s to thank for that? Millennials, of course – they’re considerably more likely to subscribe to these services than non-millennials.

That’s just one example of the importance convenience has to millennials. Other popular (and booming) examples are grocery delivery services, food trucks, heat-and-eat options available at grocery stores, and online ordering (millennials are the most likely to get home delivery from restaurants). In fact, according to the 2017 Food and Health Survey by the International Food Information Council, 55% of millennials say convenience is a top driver when buying food.

They Want Transparency (And Responsibility)

Don’t be mistaken: just because millennials value convenience doesn’t mean they don’t also take healthiness and sustainability seriously. The trend is just the opposite, actually.

First and foremost, millennials are redefining what it means for a food to be considered “healthy” – instead of low-fat being a top priority, they now put natural, organic, locally sourced, and sustainable foods at the top of their list. Did you know that millennials eat 52% more vegetables than baby boomers and 52% of organic consumers are millennials?

This generation also wants to know where their food is made – a whopping 80% of them want to know more about where their food is grown – and they value how it’s made (you may have noticed the terms “locally sourced” and “farm-to-table” popping up on menus in recent years).

Avocado toast, a trendy meal popular among millennials. Source: pexels.com

They Want Trendiness

Gone are the days of steak and potatoes – instead, unique, customizable items are making a splash with millennials. “Build-your-own” quick service restaurants (like Chipotle) are growing steadily, and for a good reason: 72% of consumers expect customization! Some examples of recent unique trends are food bowls, food mashups/hybrids (hello, cronuts), and avocado toast.

So, are unique meals actually popular with millennials, or do they just make headlines? The former is true: 40% of millennials report they like to order different things every time they eat in the same restaurant, and they don’t shy away from vegan and cultural cuisines. They’re also described as open-minded and curious. Besides adopting a creative menu, it’s a good idea to also create a unique, modern vibe in your restaurant – from your light fixtures to your point of sale.

They Want an Experience

If you have a social media account, you know that photos from users experiencing a satisfying meal are popular. In fact, 75% of millennials report they value the experience of eating food more than the nourishment. And social media is a huge part of the dining experience: 41% of millennials log in to Facebook every day, 29% use Instagram regularly, and 25% use Snapchat on a daily basis. To top it off, 20% of millennials say that they receive food news from peers on Facebook.

To help make your restaurant “Instagram-worthy,” consider adopting a modern and aesthetically pleasing menu design, ambiance, and décor – and don’t forget to create social media accounts for your restaurant if you haven’t already!

Looking to modernize your restaurant for today’s largest demographic? Discover how Star Micronics helped a restaurant operate efficiently, provide excellent service, and incorporate online ordering.

The Cannabis Industry: What Lies Ahead in 2019

As more states and countries continue to legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis use, one thing is clear: the cannabis industry is here to stay – and it’s rapidly growing. This new industry doesn’t just affect cannabis users – it affects countless markets. So, what’s to come in 2019, in terms of cannabis? Here are four key predictions for this year:

Cannabis-Infused Products Will Thrive

If you only think of dry leaf marijuana when you imagine cannabis, you are missing out on a ton of the market’s hottest products. Non-leaf CBD-infused items have a very high profit margin. Derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, but without any psychoactive properties, hemp products infused with CBD are a great way to introduce cannabis to a larger crowd. Cannabis-infused beverages, in particular, are slated to be a huge hit in 2019, but other infused products include oils, beauty and skin care products, pain relief ointments, chocolates, nuts, gummies – and even dog treats. These alternative forms of cannabis are expected to spread across North America, thanks to the recently passed U.S. Farm Bill which legalized industrial hemp. Many of these products (minus the dog treats) also come in psychoactive THC-infused forms, and are experiencing widespread popularity, thanks to medical and recreational marijuana bills being passed in several states, as well as Canada’s recent legalization of recreational usage.

The Key Players Will Emerge

Until now, it’s been tricky figuring out who the top players will be in the cannabis industry. However, with consumer spending expected to jump 40% this year, those who are executing successful cannabis business plans should get a big boost this year as sales continue to grow. Strategy in this rapidly-expanding market will be key, and by the end of the year (or before), we should have a good idea of who the top dogs are. However, because interstate commerce is denied and it is currently difficult to create any sort of national brand, we will likely not see any nationwide dominators – yet. In the meantime, it will be of utmost importance for cannabis retailers to successfully promote themselves and maintain a tight business plan.

Legalization Will Continue

2018 was a big year for legalization – in fact, it was arguably the biggest one yet – and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. At least six more countries are slated to legalize medicinal marijuana usage, and at least one is expected to legalize recreational use. In terms of the U.S., at least three states have plans to legalize medicinal or recreational usage, with Illinois, New Jersey, and New York being the biggest possibilities. Even more traditionally-conservative states like Texas could change their current marijuana regulations.

(More) Research Will Be Conducted

Cannabis research has already been taking place, but it will pick up speed even more this year. Because of the more open regulatory environment, more research will be conducted, which is expected to spark even more innovation within the cannabis industry. The Farm Bill has opened the CBD market this year, and will support overall marijuana consumption, meaning more knowledge will soon be uncovered on each specific cannabinoid’s (the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers) powers. For example, therapeutic uses include treating and managing obesity, anorexia, emesis, pain, multiple sclerosis, neuroprotection, inflammation, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, asthma, cardiovascular disorders, glaucoma, cancer, and more.

The cannabis industry is booming. Are you looking to cash in on cannabis point of sale? Download our e-book now!

Star’s Top 5 Blog Posts of 2018

Happy New Year! To celebrate the beginning of 2019, we’re taking a look back at our top five blog posts that were published in 2018. But don’t be confused: just because these were our top blog posts last year, they certainly still have value today and beyond.

Read on to discover everything from how to implement an iOS POS system and how blockchain can optimize retail stores, to the benefits of digital signage and the importance of properly managing cannabis receipts. Happy reading!

1. 3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Apple POS System with AirPrint Receipt Printers

 

 

Apple POS systems are extremely popular in many industries including retail, restaurant, hospitality and more – and that’s sure to remain the same in 2019. But how can you get the most out of your iOS POS setup? This blog post dives into three ways to do just that with AirPrint, from printing receipts directly from your device to controlling your cash drawer remotely.

2. 5 Benefits of Digital Signage Solutions

Digital signage displays do more than just look good – they’re a great way to boost your business’ marketing strategy! Discover the many benefits digital signage can offer you, including grabbing customers’ attention, providing dynamic updates, being cost-effective, boosting impulse purchases, and increasing in-store digital and social media presence.

3. The Ultimate Guide to Building Your iOS POS System

 

Another iOS POS post reached the top of our ranks this year – can you tell the systems are popular? In this blog post, we walk you through how exactly to set up the ideal iOS POS system, from choosing the right device to creating an aesthetic appeal … and everything in between!

4. 3 Things Cannabis Retailers Need to Know About Cannabis Receipt Regulations

 

Not surprisingly, one of our top posts in 2018 was about cannabis. Also not surprising is the fact that cannabis retailers need to pay close attention to cannabis receipt regulations, which is what this post is all about. There are three main things you need to stay on top of if you’re a marijuana retailer: adhering to your state’s requirements, managing your cannabis receipts, and including all of the required information on the receipts. Read on!

5. The Future of Blockchain in Retail

Blockchain, or an incorruptible digital ledger, is here to stay. It might sound a little intimidating, but in this post we explore how retailers small and large can use blockchain technology to improve the consumer experience, streamline the supply chain, and optimize payments and contracts.

Thanks for reading! Happy New Year!

6 Top Retail Trends Coming in 2019

It’s December, which means a new year is right around the corner. Along with the big ball drop and lots of confetti, the New Year is also bringing a slew of retail trends. From multi-channel nurturing to the continuing growth of artificial intelligence, let’s take a deeper dive into the top 5 retail trends coming in 2019.

1. Experiential Retail

This first retail trend probably comes as no surprise: today’s consumers want to feel more engaged. Simply remodeling your store isn’t enough – you need to create an experience. Some examples of this include “pop-ups” that feature your best products (even if they aren’t for sale), in-store classes and workshops, incorporating your brand’s apps in brick and mortar stores, and more.

Speaking of apps, there are many types to choose from. Some features of today’s retail apps include:

  • Showing product aisle location, price, current stock, specs, reviews, etc.
  • Shopping list creation and coupon access
  • Augmented reality (AR) functionality, enabling customers to try on clothes virtually, see what products would look like in their home, visit “invisible” pop-up shops, etc.

Using apps will not only make your store (and brand) more fun – it will benefit your customers, too. According to a recent study, over 60% of consumers say AR could improve their daily lives, including how they shop. By implementing AR into your retail marketing strategy, you’ll stay on top of the trend that’s predicted to attract 1 billion users by 2020 – and grow to $90 billion in size.

2. Multi-Channel Selling

Don’t let the changing retail environment scare you – there’s certainly still a place for brick and mortar. But the key to your success involves more than just the physical storefront: you must appeal to customers online, as well.

It’s not just speculation – it’s been shown that consumers embracing multi-channel shopping is a true retail trend. For example, on Black Friday this year, 54% of shoppers reported shopping both online and in physical stores. The time to funnel effort into your e-commerce approach (from your website to your social media strategy) is now.

3. Innovative mPOS Systems

Next year, point of sale (POS) systems will continue expanding further into businesses’ marketing and customer engagement strategies. Mobile point of sale (mPOS) systems are a perfect example of that transition. Because mPOS systems are deployed on mobile devices, they enable employees to bring the transaction to the customer, decreasing wait times and greatly improving the

Star’s mCollection can help you bring the transaction to the customer.

shopping experience. mPOS (and some traditional POS) can also enhance your brand’s marketing by allowing you to communicate and schedule coupons, promotions, job openings, and more via your receipt printers – all from one centralized device.

4. Corporate Social Responsibility

In this day and age, consumers don’t want to shop just anywhere – they want to purchase high-quality products from companies that care. Topics such as food waste and plastic pollution are making headlines left and right, and it’s more important than ever to practice what you preach. From sourcing locally to encouraging volunteerism, there are many ways to embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR) that can better the world – and align with your business objectives. Some examples of the business benefits of implementing CSR initiatives include improved brand reputation, operational cost savings, increased employee productivity, and a greater ability to attract and retain talent.

5. Data Driven Workflows

Data is king. If you build strategic data collection into your business model, you can then leverage it to improve everything from sales and marketing, to operations and customer service.

What does this look like? Big box retailers such as Walmart are using machine learning to optimize home delivery routes, and the technology could also be used for stocking and inventory, marketing and product placement, theft monitoring and more.

6. Artificial Intelligence

While the peak of artificial intelligence (AI) usage may still be a couple of years out, there’s no denying that AI is a growing trend – and a quickly growing trend, at that. Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are being utilized more and more, and it’s predicted that AI will follow a path similar to mobile shopping (starting off slow, then becoming a major channel for purchasing). This year consumers might just ask their virtual assistant for the forecast, but next year they could be asking to buy your product.

Is modernizing and optimizing your retail store on your list of New Year’s Resolutions? Discover how mPOS solutions can help you increase sales and improve customer satisfaction in our e-book!

The Power of Offline Marketing in Retail

GDPR: The Renaissance of SMB Receipt Marketing

Today, because more than half of retail sales are influenced by digital – and GDPR influences data collection – a new trend is emerging: Retailers are turning to offline marketing.

GDPR (or the General Data Protection Regulation) has had implications for foreign small businesses and retailers, and now similar regulations are coming to the United States.

While large retailers may have the funds to dedicate to safeguarding their big data, SMBs tend to have smaller budgets and fewer staff to manage such procedures. How do these stores continue to successfully communicate with customers – and stay protected against regulation?

Receipt Marketing: A Secret Weapon to Boost Customer Engagement

Independent retailers may create email marketing campaigns or implement a basic loyalty program, but there’s another thing they could be doing: receipt marketing.

Apart from customer service at physical stores, what’s the one thing shoppers always take away with them? A receipt, which is an intuitive and significantly underutilized marketing channel!

Customer retention, loyalty and engagement are all built upon developing relationships, being memorable, standing out and creating a connection. What if a cute or funny message on a receipt could do that? What if coupons, discounts, QR codes and thoughtful messages on receipts could build rapport with your audience?

It’s Cheap, Easy, Safe and Humanizing

Because digital marketing doesn’t always produce results for brands with a strict budget, offline marketing that reaches all customers could be a more rational place to invest your customer engagement dollars.

Just think of the possibilities! Your messaging can be timely and feature endearing calls-to-action that brighten your customer’s day. And the best part? This type of offline marketing has no privacy infringements – just enticing offers and a personal touch that makes SMBs feel genuine.

Customer Incentives for Return Business

Receipts can be a great place to highlight special offers to boost future store, restaurant and kiosk traffic.

Offline Meets Mobile: QR Codes

QR codes embedded on receipts, cards and in-store posters mean offline marketing can sync up with mobile offers.

Persuasive Discount Offers and Time-Sensitive Offline Messaging

Receipt marketing is a great way to reach a lot of eyeballs at an extremely low cost. Discounts with time-sensitive offers can create some of the best results and are a part of the most persuasive loyalty campaigns.

PromoPRNT: The Free Offline Marketing Tool

Ready to get your offline marketing tactics rolling? Star Micronics has developed PromoPRNT, a complimentary, easy-to-use receipt marketing program for SMBs, local retailers and independent stores. With PromoPRNT, you can:

  • Make and schedule custom receipt offers and promotions
  • Manage receipt promotions from the cloud
  • Increase customer retention and drive loyalty marketing campaigns
  • Make each customer visit unique and make the experience more memorable

For small businesses, offline advertising will never really die because it drives repeat business in the age of e-commerce. With GDPR and look-alike regulations hitting the retail industry, offline marketing is a low stress, low cost and high ROI way of communicating with your customers … with a nearly 100% read rate!

Learn more about PromoPRNT

The Latest POS Technology to Modernize Retail Tech

If you’re looking for a good reason to upgrade to the latest POS technology, consider this: it’s designed to be more effective at customer engagement.  Forget the middleman — traditional engagement strategies are going out the window as retailers opt for technologies that do two things: reach shoppers at critical touch points, and give them the opportunity to collect customers’ contact information for future use.

Here are six examples of the Are you using the latest POS technology and how they can benefit your business and create great shopping experiences for your customers:

1. Digital signage

Digital signage takes the guesswork out of advertising. Will people see your messaging? With digital signage, the answer is YES. Digital signage is a virtual guarantee that customers will see important messages about new products or promotions while they are in-store browsing or deciding whether to make a purchase. This foolproof method of communicating with customers translates into higher sales numbers almost immediately, because it encourages upselling, cross-selling, and impulse buys.

2. Mobile payments

Your customers will appreciate the ability to use their preferred payment methods — including giving them the option to use mobile payments.  The latest POS technology allows your customers to pay in a variety of ways:

  • Mobile at the POS: Paying via smartphone or mobile device at the register using near-field communication (NFC) technology
  • Mobile as the POS: Accepting a payment card on a retailer’s mobile device
  • Mobile Payment Platforms: Sending money to a merchant using a mobile device, such as using a mobile wallets

3. mPOS and tablet POS + high speed, ergonomic thermal receipt printers

No one wants to finish a shopping trip, only to be faced with a long line that’s not moving. mPOS or tablet POS and thermal printers allow employees to process transactions, complete with a receipt, anywhere in the store. The latest POS technology, used on a mobile device and coupled with quiet and reliable thermal receipt printers, provides an engaging shopping experience that gets shoppers out the door faster and gives you the flexibility to add more checkouts when needed.

4. Digital receipts

Keeping track of receipts can be frustrating for customers, because these elusive slips of paper seem to get lost so easily. Offering digital receipts allows customers to keep, sort and locate their proof of purchase easily — even days or weeks later. The ability to make hassle-free returns with digital receipts moves customer service lines faster and may increase the chance that people will shop at your store again.

5. Printed promotions

Don’t overlook the value of printed promotions within the increasingly digital world.  The “2K17 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report” revealed that 84% of shoppers surveyed said that coupons influence what products they buy, while 86% of people said that they were persuaded to purchase a new product because they had a coupon for it.

6. Customer satisfaction survey

A customer satisfaction survey is a direct line of communication with customers to get their feedback on how your business and products are performing. These surveys, which are typically offered at checkout, help you understand your customers’ needs, evaluate employees, and remedy issues in a timely manner.

The latest POS technology will give you the ability to engage with your customers like never before and provide them with the types of shopping experiences that they want and expect. Consider incorporating the latest POS technology into your business to generate more sales, more repeat customers, and better in-store experiences.

For more information about how a solution like mPOS can increase sales and boost customer satisfaction, download our e-book.

How Resellers Can Cash in on Cannabis Point of Sale

It’s like a dream come true for point of sale (POS) VARs. There’s a new consumer market with a product that people are clamoring for to the tune of $10 billion per year and anticipated growth of 28% over the next three years: Cannabis.

If you haven’t considered expanding into the cannabis point of sale market, you could be missing out on one of the biggest opportunities your business will ever encounter.

A Snapshot of a Rising Industry

The legal cannabis industry is growing fast. Currently, cannabis is legal for recreational use in nine states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in 30 states. A report from cannabis industry analysts at Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics estimated 2017 legal sales to reach $9.7 billion, a whopping 33% increase over 2016. Moreover, their report estimates the market will reach $24.5 billion by 2021.

The product line is more diverse than you may think. Dispensaries sell oil, hash, shatter, and rosin that can be smoked or vaped. They may also offer bakes goods and candy, as well as the traditional flower. Medical dispensaries sell products including CBD (cannabidiol) usually in the form of oil or candy, which is used to treat epilepsy or pain.

There are 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses in the U.S.—and all of them need a POS system to help manage their business.

What’s Different About Cannabis POS?

There are some aspects of selling cannabis retail or through a dispensary that make it different from other business operations and that require different features than other retail POS systems. Here are five examples:

1. It’s a cash business.

At least for now, cannabis businesses primarily deal in cash. There are still federal laws that define it as illegal, and banks, caught in the middle in states that have made it legal, are reluctant to open accounts for these businesses. Politics and legal battles aside, this presents unique challenges to cannabis businesses—which could really use trusted advisors well versed in retail and POS technology as well as strict cannabis regulations to help them solve business challenges such as this.

2. Scales need to be sensitive.

You may have sold scales for deli, grocery, or bulk items. But cannabis scales have to be more accurate than a hundredth of a pound. The sensitivity of a cannabis sale must be accurate to a fraction of a gram—both to comply with regulations and to ensure maximum profits.

3. Labels are strictly regulated.

Cannabis customers are limited to a specific quantity they can purchase per day. That may seem straightforward, but considering a customer may be purchasing baked goods, candies, or oil, the quantity of controlled substance won’t be immediately obvious without a label. Some states also require labels to include information about testing that has been done on the products and traceability information back to the source of the cannabis flower.

4. Receipts are more than proof of purchase.

The information that needs to be included on a receipt provided by cannabis businesses are different depending on the regulations in each state. In Oregon, for example, receipts need to include store name and address, product category, something that identifies the products that are taxed, a breakdown of state and local tax, and a disclaimer that receipts are required for tax disputes. In California, for example, it’s important to instruct your customers to save all copies of receipts from each day’s sales for a minimum of three years in the event that the cannabis store is subject to an audit. Advice your customers to check on their individual state’s regulations regarding cannabis receipts.

5. Stores need heightened security.

With an all-cash business, a desirable product, and tough regulatory scrutiny, cannabis stores and dispensaries will need a robust security solution. Today’s state-of-the-art solutions enable business owners to track inventory with GPS, monitor facilities inside and out with high-resolution IP camera systems, guard blind spots in the store with hidden cameras, and protect their businesses with sensitive alarm systems that send alerts in the event of a break-in or fire. Integrating security with the POS system can provide information that helps business owners identify people responsible if theft occurs and give law enforcements the details it needs to act.

The cannabis industry is in its earliest stages, so it will be important for you to establish partnerships that will help you develop this part of your business as you expand your VAR into a new market, stay on top of regulatory developments, and search the market for solutions that will provide your customers with the greatest value.

Click here to download our full eBook.

3 Reasons Why You Must Have an NTEP Certified Scale

Whether a business is dishing out candy, measuring pharmaceuticals, or weighing produce and bulk bin ingredients, it’s imperative that they weight goods on an NTEP certified scale. If you’re new to the scale market, it’s important to know that NTEP certification is non-negotiable, but buyer beware: every scale on the market doesn’t have this important designation.

What is NTEP certification?

NTEP certification is granted by the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) Committee of the National Conference on Weights and Measures. The standards they use for certification, with guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cover every aspect of a scale’s use, including capacity, accuracy, and the effects of temperature fluctuations on its operations.

If you’re investing in a scale for your business, here are three reasons why an NTEP certified scale is the only type of device you should consider:

1) When a product is sold by weight, it is a legal requirement that weighing equipment must be ‘legal for trade’.

A retailer that is caught using a non-NTEP certified scale may be subject to heavy fines, seizure of the illegal scale, or work shutdown. Only consider purchasing a scale with an NTEP Certificate of Conformance (CoC), which means the scale is legal for trade and can be used in a commercial setting to sell products by weight. Every NTEP certified scale will have a CoC number that an inspector uses to verify that the scale meets the agency’s testing standards. Only a NTEP certified scale, when properly inspected and calibrated, is “legal for trade”.

2) Accurate and consistent measurements are important.

When purchasing items by weight, the scale tells the customer they are receiving the exact amount of produce they’re paying for an ensures the retailer is receiving the correct payment. Always choose a scale that’s the correct accuracy class, because a candy store doesn’t need the same level of accuracy required for a pharmacy.

Maintaining properly calibrated devices helps you avoid overcharging customers or shorting your business. It could cause irreparable harm to your brand if you’re caught overcharging customers due to an improperly calibrated scale, even if it’s only off by a cent or two. Although this error would be unintentional, the negative backlash will cause you to lose customers and once this happens, it’s hard to regain the public’s trust.

3) It will be inspected annually by the Bureau of Weights and Measures.

Just because you’ve purchased a NTEP certified scale, it doesn’t mean you can unpack it and start processing transactions right away. Before using the scale, contact your local regulatory authority  to find out what you need to do before processing any sales by weight.

Every state has its own agencies and departments that monitor scales and inspect them for accuracy. A local weights and measures official will use NIST standards when inspecting your scale, certifying it for use and in most localities, the scale will be sealed (with a sticker showing the date) to prove it’s legal for trade. Scale inspection isn’t a “one and done” process, you’ll have to register your equipment for regular inspections.

There’s plenty that can go wrong for a business, but an issue with weight and measures doesn’t have to be one—calibration and compliance laws are there to protect you and your customers. And NTEP certification can make sure you are protected.

4 Elements of a Valuable ISV-Hardware Integration Partnership

You design software to provide the best possible user experience. It’s impossible, however, to reach that goal without the proper hardware for your system. In the point of sale (POS) space, that can include POS terminals, mobile devices, and rugged tablets as well as receipt printers, cash drawers, kiosks, scales, barcode scanners, and other POS peripherals. Integrating with the right hardware is critical to the user experience your customers will have and ultimately, it will impact your brand image.

Your partnership with a hardware vendor can also have a direct impact on the success of your business. Whether you are a startup or a legacy ISV, selecting a hardware solution integration partner is a critical business decision for positioning your software solution in the POS industry.

With so many hardware vendors to choose from—and many vying for you as an integration partner—it may not be clear which direction to take. Forming a successful partnership with a hardware vendor follows the same principles as any other type of beneficial business partnership. It depends on agreement in four areas:

  1. Goal Alignment
  2. Growth Potential for Both Parties
  3. Shared Resources
  4. Unified Marketing Strategy

Business Goal Alignment

The first thing you need to determine about a potential hardware integration partner is whether your business goals and theirs align. That makes it necessary for you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. That makes it necessary for you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Once you have established the direction you want to take, you can evaluate hardware vendors as potential partners to help you reach your goals.

Potential for Growth

Do you clearly see the hardware vendor’s value proposition or are you concerned that the benefits of the partnership may be one-sided? Will your solution simply be added to a list the hardware vendor can use to their advantage with little return for your ISV? A more attractive option is a hardware partner with the experience, innovative solutions, and resources to help your business grow. If you can’t see how the partnership would help you advance your business, keep looking until you find a partner that will.

Hardware Partner Integration Resources

The breadth and quality of resources the hardware partner has dedicated to developing software integration relationships is a good indicator of how committed they will be to your partnership. For example, find out if they make software development kits (SDKs) and APIs available to ISVs. Thoroughly vet the hardware vendor’s integration process to learn whether or not the hardware vendor has developers on staff that can assist with integration and help you troubleshoot. If possible, speak to other ISVs who partner with the vendor to gauge their impression of how committed the vendor is to assisting with integrations and how easy their team is to work with.

Unified Marketing Strategy

Make sure you and your potential partner agree on a go-to-market strategy, including distributor and reseller support. Also agree on marketing down to the methods and frequency of marketing activities to adequately promote your partnership and the integration. Some examples include:

  • Issuing a joint press release to announce your partnership and include it in each company’s newsletter
  • Creating a campaign around your joint solution and promoting it on social media
  • Building a microsite or webpages devoted to the hardware-software solution
  • Taking advantage of success stories to produce case studies
  • Producing videos to demonstrate the solution
  • Participating in tradeshows to demonstrate the hardware-software solution

How marketing will be managed and funded is also an important decision. The division of labor and investment should be equitable and acceptable to both partners.

Download our full e-book here.

The Ultimate Guide to Payment Data Security

Point of sale systems make every merchants’ day-to-day activities run more smoothly, so keeping technology up to date and secure is important. It’s not just your business that relies on your system; your customers put their trust in it to keep their data secure as well. Every time shoppers complete a transaction at the terminal, their personal information is sent across public networks. If your business is not PCI compliant for maximum payment data security,  you are putting customers and your business at risk.

Breaches are like a perfect storm: they can happen when the system is vulnerable and cybercriminals are looking for ways to steal your data. However, you have some control to stop the storm. It’s a given that hackers and thieves want your data, but you can control whether your POS system is vulnerable. A good place to start is making sure your POS and payment technology meets PCI-DSS standards.

What is PCI Compliance?

PCI compliance refers to meeting Payment Card Industry DataSecurity Standards (PCI-DSS), which outline how credit card data should be secured and stored. The credit card industry’s big four, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, founded the PCI Security Standards Council which regulates the standards. To ensure a high level of payment data security across the industry, PCI security standards include requirements about firewalls, passwords, encryption, employee ID numbers, system access, and data storage and transmission.

Does this matter for my business?

If your business accepts credit cards in-store or online, then PCI compliance pertains to you. There are no varying degrees of compliance, you either are or you’re not. Non-compliance puts you at risk for financial attacks and breaches. Aside from bad publicity and loss of business, these events can hurt your wallet and end your relationship with your financial institution. Fines for non-PCI compliance can run upwards of $100,000 a month from the PCI council.

What do I need for maximum payment data security?

There are three technologies that work together to optimize a payment data security environment:

EMV: EMV technology makes card-present transactions more secure. The changeover to EMV not only changed how people pay with a credit card (inserting chip cards into the terminal, rather than swiping), it also shifted responsibility for fraudulent transactions from the banks to the merchants if the merchants aren’t using EMV-ready technology. That means businesses no longer have the credit card companies’ protection if someone makes a fraudulent transaction; they’re on the hook for those losses. The result of non-compliance can be an expensive lesson.

Tokenization: This technology helps merchants keep payment card data out of PCI scope. Tokenization refers to swapping sensitive data like credit card numbers or personal information with a “token” that is used to complete a specific transaction. Since the data has been converted to a token before being sent over the networks and it isn’t an actual account number, tokenized information doesn’t have any value to hackers and data thieves.

Encryption: Whenever cardholder information is saved or sent over open networks, this data must be encrypted. Encryption is when sensitive information is converted into a code that can only be deciphered with a cryptographic key — which hackers don’t have. Full credit and debit card numbers and other personal information should never be stored or sent over open networks.

Payment data security technologies and PCI compliance help protect your business from security breaches. These events are front-page news that have long-lasting consequences for businesses, including negative publicity, loss of revenue, and liability associated with the breach. Don’t allow your POS system to be a victim, stay informed and keep your technology up to date.