The connection between POS user interface design and ergonomics is undeniable. POS design principles are applied to deliver POS user interfaces that work in real-life. This apparently obvious conclusion conceals the difficulty reconciling aesthetics and usability.
Usable vs. Pleasant
The battle between the two when designing a POS interface is a tough one. Many POS systems are terrible to look at, but people who got used to them appreciate certain things that work as shortcuts. It is crucial for designers to know and understand everything about these quirks and then to figure out the underlying principles of ergonomics so they can apply them in a way that is both current and facilitates the overall aesthetic of the interface.
Every retailer and his mother are competing for loyal customers. Just like online retailers, brick and mortar ones are trying to convert individuals in their store into buying customers.
What has the biggest influence on decisions to buy? Things like product accessibility and store layout are important, but also how easy it is to purchase at the checkout. A well-designed POS system can be crucial to this end.
What is a good check-out process? A short line where the product scans correctly and the payment terminal is easy to access. In addition, it must be tilted correctly to allow the shopper to make the payment by credit card or mobile wallet without struggling to do so.
Making a purchase shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. This is especially true in fast paced industries. For example, gas stations require gas station POS systems that process fast orders and have special integrations, such as prepay at the pump.
Main Design Types
Currently, there are two main types of POS designs in the US – the older ones with a bulky payment terminal on the counter connected by a power cord, which is sometimes connected to the POS system, and newer ones (iPad POS) based on software, which use an iPad or tablet device.
POS providers like Square and Upserve have revolutionized the POS configuration, limiting the need for a big, bulky set-up. Today, you can control the terminal by an iPad and smaller card reader. This makes the checkout experience much more pleasant. It is faster and the clerk spends less time punching in information.
A poorly designed, large payment terminal doesn’t make the customer leave the site as he would if he were shopping online. It rarely occurs that a shopper waits in line only to have his turn come and leave because the terminal looks bad.
However, if there are two stores next to each other, one with a poor, clunky set-up that leads to long wait times and uncertainty if it’s processing your credit card correctly and the other with a very well designed payment terminal and display unit, the customer will always choose the second option.
An Apple POS system is light, black or white, sleek and user friendly. These POS systems are the best designed in their class. The screen or monitor faces the customer, where he or she can see the transaction in process. Success of the transaction is ensured by a screen or monitor facing the merchant.
Apple POS systems also feature some extra security measures, such as integrations and apps to prevent fraud.
Current POS Systems
VeriFone Terminals are the most often seen in the US. There are many different sizes, shapes, and variations.
- Buttons — The buttons are large and ugly, and because of the lack of the POS System integrations the buttons are needed for the merchant to input the total sale price.
- Shape — that are stand-alone seems to be devices that are crossing large and small merchant’s space.
- Screens — the design of the screens are less than half of the full device, and typically don’t have any connection points where the user can interact with the screen
VeriFone utilizes Google’s approach. The company has made an effort to make a POS device for every type of situation according to what consumers are saying.
A number of companies, such as Poynt, are taking leaps in the process of modernizing the in-store retail checkout process. Their devices not only look different from the standard payment terminal, but also have very cool functionality in the software. The focus is on the screen instead of the pin pad, like with the iPhone. The device has a clean design and is compact enough to be incorporated into many different shop fronts and countertops.
Checkout Quality and Conversion
Is there a connection between the quality of the checkout process and the conversion rate at the checkout? There’s no indication of this being the case. A shopper who is already in the checkout process thinks a bit differently to the one in the online flow. Studies have shown that drop-off rates are under 0.1%. In some cases, a shopper will refuse to wait in line because the line is too long, but the POS design isn’t the reason.
It may be that what is perceived as a poor POS experience will keep the customer from coming back again because it has been too time consuming and ineffective. They might think twice before shopping there again.
Website or mobile app designers can often rely on design patterns to solve usability issues to some extent, but on the level of POS interface design, this isn’t possible, because the same design patterns rarely apply to a POS system. The decision whether to use a design pattern or not requires careful planning and a need to balance the demands of all stakeholders and of the specific challenges one is trying to overcome. In some cases, a design pattern that seems acceptable will have significant adverse effects in the wider scope of the user experience.
Designers need to realize that POS systems are used the same way as a regular tablet app and users might decide to do things completely differently from what the designer intended. The design they choose for the system should reflect this.
We hope this article about POS system design has been helpful and you’ve learned something important from it. Thank you for reading!