As we face new challenges in the coming year, Star Micronics is ready to provide support to its channel partners with upcoming technology and solutions. Star’s Christophe Naasz, Director of Global Business Development, shares his insights on anticipated industry changes and top trends for 2023 and beyond in this Q&A piece.
What Changes Do You Anticipate the Payments Industry Will Bring to Channel Partners?
The buying and absorption of companies will slow down. When the interest rate was very low, we saw a frenzy in acquisition, but now that the market has gone down and the interest rate has gone up, many companies are now focused on their profit margin and reducing their debt level.
In addition, blockchain and decentralization in the payments industry need to be watched closely. Blockchain, mainly, as it could reduce the number of managed databases and multi-players of applications into one. Information related to billings, taxes, customer ratings, orders placed per day, and inventory can be stored and distributed across the blocks in the chain.
However, a Crypto wallet as a way of payment is still a long way. Software development and deployment will change dramatically in the short term, but Crypto payment will be much slower. Point-of-sale (POS) hardware will not be affected in the short term. People still pay by check, cash, debit, and credit card. A few will slowly move to Crypto.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has recently become a massive player in the POS market. A key benefit of AI POS systems is the ability to handle all kinds of payment methods instantly and efficiently, like online, mobile, chat or social media, and even facial recognition payments. However, when we think about AI in POS, we think about how AI can detect trends in products and sales, offer promotions, upsell, and adjust pricing suggestions as appropriate. AI POS systems are up to 20% more effective than traditional, AI-free marketing campaigns.
What Technology will Companies Need to Accommodate?
AI involves a lot of processing power that can only be done in the cloud. This means that all future POS software solutions must be hybrid or fully cloud-based. All hardware will need to be cloud-based compatible.
Will We Finally Go Back to Pre-Pandemic Business in 2023?
We are not there yet. We are in an adjustment phase. Low interest rates, excess savings, work from home, and pent-up demand for services and goods are all things of 2022. High interest rates, overstock, and requests to come back to the office are what we need to deal with in 2023.
Attendance at trade shows is still lower than in 2019, but decision-makers are back on the floor. However, vendors are reviewing the number of shows out there and are pickier about the ones they attend.
Star’s strategy has always been to offer the best hardware products in POS for SMBs. Our product reliability, customer support, and innovative product development have pushed our customers to request more and more products from us. We are now offering our customers all the accessories needed for the POS industry (except payment terminals). Star has become the one-stop shop for all: one vendor, one consistent support team, and one integration.
Star will continue investing in its people, partners, and new technologies. In 2021, we invested in a new partner program to allow our partners to stay competitive when selling our product line on any market. We want everyone to succeed.
Pre-pandemic, Star had begun to deploy new collaboration tools like Zoom and Teams, which allow us to communicate internally and externally through video conferencing. This new technology has worked wonderfully for us, and we decided to offer a hybrid work model.
Most of us work from home 2 to 3 days a week, but we request everyone to come to the office twice a week. We need to support and train our new employees, which can only be done in the office. We also need to keep the Star family environment that made us successful. We believe the social aspect of the office is vital to a company’s success.
What Challenges Are Star and Its Channel Partners Experiencing That They Expect Will Continue into the Next Year?
The main challenges we expect to continue to see are shipping Issues, staffing shortages, and costs. However, for Star, shipping issues are 95% solved. Even container pricing is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.
As for our staffing needs, we are fully staffed. The pandemic did not affect our employee retention rate. However, with a strong gross, we needed to hire. It took a few months to find the right people.
With shipping costs going down, product pricing should also come down. We believe inflation is a thing of the past, and pricing should stabilize or come down in the coming months — no need to hoard products anymore. Distributors have plenty of inventory. However, planning and forecast habits should be kept. A large inventory now does not mean it will stay that way in the future.
What Trends and Technologies Do You Predict Will Become Popular in 2023?
Ergonomics in POS is huge since retail space is at a premium. Most counter space should be used to promote and display products for sale. You do not want the POS to take over the counter. That is why Star offers stands designed to take up the smallest amount of space and integrate our peripherals. All-in-one is popular for its small footprint, but one of the caveats of that is that if anything breaks, everything needs to be changed.
Sustainability is also becoming more popular. Star is designing all new products to minimize their environmental impacts. We are reducing product consumption in power and media, eliminating liners from the back of labels, using standard plugs and power supplies, and continually developing built-to-last products.
Please take some time to learn what Star is doing to help combat climate change and promote diversity in our Environmental Impact Report.
There is also a shift to a hyper-connected, smart world with the growing popularity of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). Star is now the leader in providing cloud-connected peripherals to current POS solutions, allowing our customers to be confident that our products are future-proof.
Invested in Innovation
Star values our partnerships and is investing to help channel partners succeed. We are expanding our product lines and technology in the next year to keep up with changes. The world will shift, but we will be ready and continue to be your #1 go-to.