Biometrics, BLE help modernize POS systems

Point-of-sale systems are shaping up to be the new frontier of in-store technology, or the new frontline in the war against cyber thieves as several new systems purport to modernize payments.

U.K. fashion retailer New Look has been testing a system enabled with fingerprint technology from DigitalPersona. After a successful trial at six of the retailer's stores in February 2014, New Look will expand the use of biometrics to 16 locations by the end of 2014. There are longer-range plans to equip 100 stores by 2017.

New Look found biometrics a compelling alternative to passwords and an improvement on time and attendance accuracy, but found the system also helped with loss prevention and customer service.

Each New Look store has two to four POS terminals depending on store size. Biometrics did away with employees' tendency to clock in for each other and minimized payroll fraud, according to the company. Replacing six-digit passwords reduced the burden on IT for lost or forgotten passwords.

Store managers and deputy managers must use their fingerprints to approve returns, discounts and overrides.

"We have seen customer service levels improve because employees are more efficient since they no longer have to remember complex passwords," said Sky Shen, senior IT consultant at New Look. "Biometrics has helped us stay below our one percent loss prevention standard since fingerprints are also now used for management authorization of overrides."
Meanwhile, Chicago-based Groupon, a company perhaps best known for inventing the daily deal, has now created Gnome, an iPad-based POS platform.

Gnome is targeted toward small businesses, and when it's complete the company hopes it will serve as an operating system for merchants to run an entire operation by building promotions and driving traffic at preferred times. It's similar to how Groupon deals are used as levers for merchants to pull to push out promotions at off-peak times.

"Gnome is an important step towards our long-term mission of creating a world where merchants are constantly connected to the Groupon local commerce platform," said Eric Lefkofsky, Groupon CEO.

There is some interesting stuff under the hood of Gnome from a tech perspective, according to a Groupon spokeswoman, including Bluetooth low energy to better target shoppers and deliver deals. Gnome will detect an iBeacon and then send its identifier to the API so Groupon can determine exactly where a user is. Gnome will know when the user enters a merchant location, even when the Groupon app is not running. Shoppers will also be able to automatically redeem Groupons using Bluetooth.  

Gnome is also a cash register and CRM, and integrates with accounting software.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is upgrading its POS offerings, introducing a new technology into its EasyPay POS system which will replace the current iPod touch and its card reader used in Apple retail stores.

The new system will run on the iPhone 5s and include an updated credit card reader attached to the devices with RFID functionality and the ability to read chip-and-PIN cards.

For more:
-See this Groupon press release
-See this Digital Persona press release

Related stories:
Apple is getting serious about mobile payments
Mobile payments, in-store tracking among key trends to watch
POS attacks on the rise as RAM scraping makes a comeback
Shoppers blame retailers for data breaches, Congress blames Target
Target: Timeline of a data breach