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In Memoriam: Steve Cuntz
As some of you may have heard, Steve Cuntz, Founder and CEO of BlueStar (Hebron, KY), passed away suddenly on Saturday, November 4. An illustrious 30+ year career in our industry has too many accomplishments to list here. In addition to driving the success and dedication to the "Channel" of BlueStar, it includes the Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" Award, Board Member of the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM), and Executive Committee for the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA).
Some personal thoughts. The first time I talked with Steve, he called about criticism I'd written about two-tier distribution. I picked up the phone and heard, without introduction, "What did I ever do to you?" Me: "Who is this?" Steve: "What did I ever do to you?" By the end of the call, we were both laughing and our good relationship followed.
Years later, when I envisioned this e-newsletter, I visited BlueStar to seek Steve's opinion, and he immediately saw the potential, encouraged me to get started, and pledged BlueStar's participation. It's true to say my e-newsletter--now concluding its 18th year--wouldn't have existed without Steve's initial support. A giant in our industry, and in his community, who will be sorely missed. Thanks, Steve.
Steve Cuntz, Founder and CEO of BlueStar, Passes Away
A Shoe Drops - Retail Pro
An historic consolidation in our industry with Retail Pro (Folsom, CA), one of the highest visibility POS ISVs, sold to payments/loyalty provider Nayax (Herzliya, Israel). An agreement, valued at $36.5M, will be paid in cash and equity, subject to certain earn-out targets. For FY 2022, Retail Pro had approximately $14M in adjusted revenue, and $4M in Adjusted EBITDA with 9,000 customers and 150,000 POS lanes in 100 countries. On its part, Nayax logged $60.3M in revenue in its Q3 2023.
"Throughout their 30+ year brand history, Retail Pro has built a full-featured, flexible product, capable of handling the complex, global retail environment," proclaimed Yair Nechmad, CEO of Nayax. "Our combined businesses, together with Retail Pro's 80 distributors, will triple our access to the global attended market and create a powerful and complete solution with Nayax's payment and loyalty program. We believe this combined offering will result in an unrivaled value of innovative retail solutions."
"Over the years, customers have come to trust our robust technology platform to optimize their complex retail operations," declared Kerry Lemos, CEO of Retail Pro. "As part of a larger, multinational organization, we can continue to deliver on that mission on a much larger scale. We look forward to working closely together with Nayax's team, as this coalition represents an ideal fit and strong win for our customers, partners, and employees globally."
ISV Retail Pro Sold to Israel's Nayax
Worth Your While
ALL IN THE FAMILY
A validated integrator status for cannabis regulatory software by Metrc (Lakeland, FL) has been achieved for Teklynx Americas (Milwaukee, WI). It brings the enterprise label design and management technology of Teklynx for commercial cannabis sales in California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, and West Virginia. (With more to come.) As such, it represents the first major labeling software provider to achieve such designation.
A database by Metrc holds unique identifiers of plant/batch tags, strain names, test results, and additional product information mandatory for seed-to-sale cannabis labeling. As validated integrator, Teklynx, including its popular platform CodeSoft, pulls data directly via its RESTful API (Application Programming Interface). It ensures accuracy.
"Integration of Teklynx with Metrc allows cannabis companies to more easily exchange data between the two systems," affirmed Scott Fabian, Product Integration Developer at Teklynx Americas. "This validation is a major step forward for labeling in the cannabis industry, and only the beginning of how we're innovating to support streamlined cannabis label printing." In addition, Teklynx partners with other software and hardware companies serving the cannabis industry, including purveyors of HSS (Harvesting Scale Systems), LIMS (Laboratory Information Management Systems), and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).
Validated Integrator Status for Teklynx Americas With Cannabis Regulatory Software From Metrc
An Offset in Omaha
A budding surcharge certification on the processing Fiserv Omaha Platform has been completed for the iPOSpays Gateway by iPOS Systems. As readers will recognize, surcharging allows merchants to add "% fee" to the credit-card transaction that is paid by the buyer or consumer to help offset the merchant's charges. (FYI: iPOS is affiliated with hardware terminal vendor, Dejavoo Systems, both in Mineola, NY.)
"Being one of the first tech players to complete surcharge certification on Fiserv Omaha is a testament to our dedication to technological excellence and unwavering commitment to providing our partners with payment options that maximize merchants' benefits with cutting-edge solutions," commented Mony Zenou, Founder and CEO of iPOS Systems. "This ability has been long-awaited, and now that it is achieved, we believe our partners will truly benefit from this accomplishment." It furnishes greater flexibility as well as configurable surcharge rates, according to the two parties.
Also, iPOS Systems has unwrapped its Tap-to-Pay-on-iPhone. "As a point-of-sale technology company, we consider it a privilege and an opportunity to utilize Apple's technology," remarked Zenou. "Tap-to-Pay-on-iPhone is not just a solution for home businesses with low-cost and low-volume needs, it's a versatile tool that enables merchants of all types and sizes to expand their payment acceptance abilities throughout their entire business." It supports iPhone or Apple Watch.
iPOS Systems Certified for Surcharges Via Fiserv Omaha Platform
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NCC Mines Platinum
A new merchant services partner for National Computer Corporation (Greenville, SC) in the form of Platinum Relations (Colorado Springs, CO). A longtime player in the channel for POS, established in 1986, and now with 50,000 systems installed in 35 countries, NCC focuses on restaurants and specialty retail (e.g., liquor stores, vape shops, garden centers). It won the 2023 Gold Vendor Award of Excellence from the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA).
"We consider ourselves fortunate to become part of the NCC family," relayed Dave Beneteau, President at Platinum Relations. "We're looking forward to demonstrating our unwavering dedication to providing value to our partners on a daily basis. Regardless of your decision to do business with us, our goal is to be a trusted resource and supportive friend to all."
"We understand each reseller will have different factors they find important in a payments partner, and NCC wants to make sure we are offering relationships that hit those different values," related Chuck Prince, President at NCC. "We believe Platinum Relations will resonate with many of our resellers." As hardware for POS, on its website, NCC lists CRS, HP, and Touch Dynamic.
National Computer Corporation Partners With Platinum Relations for Merchant Services
An "Enlightened" Qu
A bright new investor for restaurant technology ISV, Qu (Bethesda, MD): Enlightened Hospitality Investments, the fund run by legendary Union Square and Shake Shack Founder, Danny Meyer. It joins two dozen investments so far for EHI (New York, NY), which focuses on restaurants and restaurant technology suppliers. No terms were disclosed.
In January, EHI closed its Fund II with $332M in capital commitments, above its $300M target. Earlier, in October 2017, it raised $220M in Fund I. It provides minority growth equity investments of $10M to $30M. In addition to Qu, it has invested in companies such as 7Shifts, Banza, BentoBox, Chip City, Clear, Dig, Goldbelly, Joe Coffee, Madison Reed, NotCo, Resy, Salt & Straw, Tacombi, Tripleseat, and Withco.
"In addition to our role as a strategic growth partner with operational experience and unparalleled resources, we are especially proud of the unique ecosystem we have created among our community of companies and our strategic investor base," indicated Mark Leavitt, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of EHI. In his remarks, Danny Meyer, who also serves as Co-Founder and Managing Partner of EHI, cited the unified commerce platform for ordering offered by Qu.
Danny Meyer, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Enlightened Hospitality Investments (and Famous Restaurateur)
An omnichannel fulfillment platform, appropriately named XY Omni, has been rolled out by XY Retail (New York, NY). Integrating Order Management System, Inventory Management, and POS, and with live status updates, it enables retailers to simplify their tech stacks and unlock cost savings, reduce lead times, and cut training expenses, according to the ISV. It facilitates both Buy Online/Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) and Reserve Online/Pickup In-Store (ROPIS). "XY Omni provides a single platform for cross-functional teams, including Store Operations, Sales, and E-Commerce, ensuring a single source of truth," proposed Susan Jeffers, CEO and Founder of XY Retail. "Our uniquely integrated approach sets XY Omni apart, streamlining operations and enhancing the customer experience to set retailers up for success."
An Omnichannel Platform at XY Retail
An app for hospitality, supporting Apple and Android O/S, and addressing, in particular, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), has been posted by On The Fly POS (Doral, FL). A clever title, Ground Control, has been assigned. Integrated with the ISV's POS, it furnishes Order Placement and Table Management. It appears on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. "[Next] we hope to add additional payment methods to the app, including contactless payments, invoicing, and QR Codes," shared Alfredo Cubillos, CTO of On The Fly POS.
Ground Control by On The Fly POS
Welcome, Says Wynnie
A trio of vendors have come together to enliven digital signage with an avatar called "Wynnie." She embodies GPT-4 Large Language Model (LLM) Artificial Intelligence (AI) by SapientX (Santa Cruz, CA), running on computer workstation by Actineon (Santa Clara, CA) and presented in the form of kiosk by ImageHolders (Coquitlam, BC, Canada). Previewed at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Conference in Orlando, FL, this month, Wynnie will fulfill resort hotel wayfinding, concierge services, and food and drink ordering.
"We're elated to be collaborating with SapientX and Actineon," enthused Pete Thompson, VP of North American Sales for ImageHolders. "The combination of customer-led design, state-of-the-art hardware, and the incredible potential of conversational AI, is a winning formula that is going to revolutionize the way users can interact with technology, creating better user experiences and great opportunities to increase revenue." Added David Colleen, CEO of SapientX, "Increasingly, hotels are facing staff shortages and turning to us to provide conversational characters."
An interesting back-story for SapientX, incorporated in 2016, and deploying technology developed for Pixar's Avatar by Alex Hessler. Its goal: such movie-grade, state-of-the-art avatars for commercial environments. A line-up of its characters for various industry verticals furnishes "natural voice-to-voice conversation with emotion comprehension and response, context awareness, and learning."
A Conversational Avatar, Wynnie, for Resorts
On the Menu: eTipping
An expansion into the restaurant segment for cashless employee tipping platform provider, eTip (San Francisco, CA). Already established in the hotel space, eTip deposits cashless tip payouts directly into employees' existing bank accounts. It's powered by Visa Direct. An API (Application Programming Interface) integrates into the restaurant's POS/Accounting.
Utilizing assigned QR Codes for employees or shift locations, displayed at customer touchpoints, and with web-based system dashboard, cashless tipping such as eTip offers numerous benefits, according to its advocates. By facilitating swift, same-day tip payouts, employee satisfaction and even retention is boosted. According to eTip, 82% of hospitality workers choose instant tip payouts when given the choice. Other advantages include the opportunity for simplified operations, reduced administrative burden, and enhanced security.
"We've closely listened to the market, as well as our existing and prospective customers," shared Nicolas Cassis, CEO and Co-Founder of eTip. "We're pleased to say that our latest Restaurant Tip Payout feature responds to the changing payment landscape and emphasizes our commitment to drive better outcomes for businesses while enhancing employee well-being. Our expansion into the restaurant sector builds upon our successful track record with leading hotel brands and reinforces our vision for a more efficient and employee-friendly future."
A Move Into the Restaurant Industry for Cashless Employee Tip Payout Provider, eTip
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A Toast Raised to Mobility
A new mobile app has been launched by the surging restaurant ISV, Toast (Boston, MA). Designated as Toast Now, it features on-the-go real-time updates with live sales and labor reporting across different time periods and multiple locations. A Manager Log allows restaurant owners, operators, and managers to remotely communicate and coordinate with staff. A Delivery Channel Control helps kitchen flow.
"We've given Toast Now to our whole company, not just operations," reported Jared Galbut, CEO at fast-casual restaurant chain Bodega Taqueria y Tequilla, with locations in seven major cities. "Teams, including human resources and marketing, have found it helpful to analyze sales and labor trends in order to better manage our business, and we all love being able to see how the business is performing." In early implementation, end-users access the Toast Now App three times more frequently than the Toast Web Portal, according to the ISV.
Also, Toast has announced enhancements to its primary platform for POS. As new features, it includes Advanced Table Management, Server Controlled Item Fire, Dark Mode Tablet Screen, and Open View Display of Items and Modifiers. A hyped "new POS experience" is available to all customers. With support for iOS, Toast Now, will soon add Android.
Release of Toast Now Mobile App for Restaurants
Hospital Food That Tastes Good
A deployment of mobile food and beverage ordering by Agilysys (Alpharetta, GA) for hospital workers, patients, providers, and visitors has been completed at the Community Health System. A multi-hospital entity, with over 1,270 licensed beds, more than 10,000 employees, and 2,500 affiliated providers, based in Fresno County, CA, Community Health System first installed Agilysys OnDemand during Covid-19. As its primary platform, it runs Agilysys InfoGenesis POS.
"Employees can easily order and enjoy their meals, fresh at pick-up, with the flexibility to pay with Payroll Deduct, or with credit-card, all from their mobile device," observed Alison Wells, Senior Business Analyst at Community Health System. "With the ability to order ahead and receive text alerts when their food is ready, Agilysys OnDemand is a game-changer for patient care staff to actually eat and relax on their 30-minute meal breaks. We have not only been able to raise the bar on hospital food but also on overall experience."
With Agilysys OnDemand, which replaced an alternate system, foodservice sales increased by 79% at one hospital location, according to Community Health System. For the Nutrition and Dining Staff, another significant benefit has been the ability to quickly "86" unavailable items. This process took up to a week prior to OnDemand.
Agilysys OnDemand Adopted by Community Health System
Nearly 3 in 4 (74%) of consumers expect retailers to offer mobile apps. This figure is even higher among Gen Z (82%) and Millennials (81%).
60% of consumers are more likely to shop with a retailer that offers a mobile app, with in-app exclusive rewards highlighted as a key factor influencing this consumer preference (83%).
83% of consumers would be more likely to purchase an item from a mobile app that offers personalized recommendations. This is especially critical for Gen Z and Millennials (both, 91%).
55% of consumers are more likely to make in-store purchases if retail employees have access to mobile handheld devices to check inventory, while 45% of respondents said the same about mobile checkout.
76% of consumers ranked discounts and deals as the most valuable feature of mobile apps, followed by loyalty programs (57%) and ease of payment (54%).
Source: "Retail Mobile Apps," Conducted by Dynata for Bryj (Los Altos, CA).
Nearly 3 in 4 of Consumers Expect Retailers to Offer Mobile Apps
A Message From the Editor
As we progress through another year--our 18th!--our mission remains constant: to fill the need for timely, focused, non-biased news in the channel for POS & Auto ID (and now Mobility). If anything, that need grows more pressing in the face of new technologies, go-to-market strategies, business models, and consumer expectations. We look forward to continuing our mission, and welcome your suggestions and thoughts on improvements.
Michael Kachmar, Editor
A Feather in Datacap's Cap
A kudos for Datacap Systems (Chalfont, PA), winner of the PayTech Women Corporate Champion - Small Business Award. As its name illustrates, PayTech Women, formerly Wnet, based in Kent, OH, educates, encourages, and celebrates women in the payments and FinTech industries. Nominees and winners of its award categories were announced at its recent Leadership Summit in Atlanta, GA. A complete listing of the women and their employers appears on its website.
"We are delighted and humbled to receive the PayTech Women Corporate Champion - Small Business Award," celebrated Darcie McNamara, Strategic Partnership Specialist at Datacap Systems. "This recognition drives us to further support, mentor, and uplift women in our organization. I appreciate being part of a team that is willing to invest in PayTech Women values and empowering their employees."
Esther Cuevas, Datacap Tech Support (Left) and Lori Benson, Datacap Integration Support (Right) Accepting the PayTech Women Corporate Champion - Small Business Award
Seagull's Pecking Order
An elevated role, to Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances, for Kendall Hyatt at Seagull Scientific (Bellevue, WA). He joined the labeling software provider as Americas' Business Development Manager of Channel Sales in January 2022. His experience includes Nintex K2, Capgemini, DocuSign, Open Text, AT&T, and Verizon.
"Kendall Hyatt has made significant contributions to the growth of Seagull Scientific's business over the past 18 months," identified Matthew Brine, Chief Revenue Officer of Seagull Scientific. "We are thrilled to welcome Kendall Hyatt to the role of Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances. His skills and competencies across multiple technology sectors make him an excellent fit for this role. We look forward to his continued contributions and leadership."
"I'm excited to work closely with my colleagues and our partners, to deliver value that meets the dynamic needs and business goals of our mutual customers," shared Hyatt. "As we continue to expand our digital transformation offerings, we are dedicating time and resources to positively impact customers along their modernization journey." Along such lines, Seagull Scientific has debuted its BarTender Cloud Designer.
Kendall Hyatt, Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances, Seagull Scientific
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