Mobile Devices Streamline Service & Efficiency
Amber Systems Technology makes sure that the cheeseburger you order comes with the right kind of cheese and all the toppings you prefer.
The Hacienda-based company provides point-of-sale technology that not only increases efficiency and accuracy for restaurants and other businesses, but provides loads of data for improving business and tracking customers.
That means a waiter or cashier can use a mobile device to take an order right at the table or from customers waiting in line.
"The last three years have seen an increase in popularity of giving the dynamic, the 'wow' of tableside service," Suzanne Chen, company CFO, said. "It's not something new. It's just that the costs have come down dramatically in the last three years."
Amber Systems Technology Point-of-Sale, or AST-POS, was founded a decade ago in Castro Valley. The growing company moved in January from its downtown Pleasanton location to a new larger space in Hacienda.
"Point-of-sale solutions have been around several years," Chen said. "Basically, it is using computers to track business operations. When you go to a restaurant, somebody takes your order in the front room and that order gets sent to the kitchen. That order gets tracked, like if you're a VIP or repeat customer."
As prices drop, many restaurants are buying mobile devices that waiters use to record orders, increasing both the efficiency and accuracy of orders. Orders no longer have to be taken by hand, then delivered to kitchen staff or entered into a central computer.
"If it's a manual process, it takes more time and there's more human error," she noted. "They can take clients' orders verbatim if they want sauce on the side or extra cheese. That information is keyed in directly on the tablet and sent to the kitchen."
While customer service is improved, the even bigger benefit to the business owner is the immense amount of data that is recorded and stored for later analysis.
"At the end of the night when you go to do your accounting, the computer can do it with a push of a button," Chen said. "The manual process would take you hours and hours to figure that out."
AST-POS is unique in that customers can choose the platform they prefer, including iPad, Android, Linux and Windows.
"Whatever situation the client wants, we have that available for them," Chen explained. "In the old days, you had a cash register. In the 21st century, we have to make it more efficient. It lowers labor costs and tracks what's going on with the business."
In recent years, AST-POS has focused on the restaurant business, which represents roughly 80 percent of their market. The remaining 20 percent comes from a variety of retail businesses.
The latest trend in point-of-sale solutions includes on-the-spot credit card processing using Apple Pay, Google Wallet and the new EMV with secured data.
"They can actually slide your credit card right in front of you and say, 'OK, here's your bill, ' " she said.
AST-POS gets its customized and rugged equipment from other vendors, then uses its own software to tailor a point-of-sale solution for the unique needs of each business.
"There's a point-of-sale solution to track everything," Chen said. "At a restaurant, you may have 200 clients, so you need a point-of-sale to track that because there's so much information. Busy operations need to track client loyalty and really measure the cost of goods sold. That's where the value of point-of-sale will come in."
Businesses buy their AST-POS systems, so there are no hidden fees. Each system can be configured as a hybrid of both an on-site database and cloud operations.
"Even if the Internet is down, you still have the local POS to host your service, and you can run your business, except for credit card processing," Chen said.
The point-of-sale market is highly competitive, but AST-POS believes it has the edge with affordable prices, a multi-platform option and cutting-edge software. It has been in business long enough to iron out the bugs.
"Growth is our objective," Chen said. "There's a lot of competition in this area, but how we make ourselves unique in not just pricing, but technology and services. The strong will survive."
Learn more about Amber Systems Technology at astpos.com .
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