A modern Point-of-Sale (POS) solution is critical to deliver the enhanced digital experience customers expect in stores. Given the current expectations from customers, many retailers face the challenge of determining if, when and how they may want to upgrade their current POS system. Not only do Point-of-Sale upgrades require money, time and resources, but other factors have to be considered – from additional functionality to the potential disruption to current operations.
How to decide whether to upgrade to Xstore POS
In a typical engagement we are often asked the question “Do I upgrade or not”? So, we run through the following structured assessment methodology to help clients:
The important steps taken during the process include:
- Functional Design documentation review
- Technical Design documentation review
- Product code (if available) review
- Validating how many past customizations are now supported by base Xstore POS capabilities
- Facilitate several work sessions with business and IT teams to understand current and future requirements. These include:
- In-store demos of current functionality
- Pain points review
- High-level architecture documentation review
- Review alternative cloud options
- Q & A sessions as needed
- Demonstration of new functionality
Once these activities are completed, we provide a report which includes the pros, cons, and costs (typically driven by the number of resources and timeline) of upgrading. This methodology works across POS solutions, but this article focuses on the benefits of Oracle Xstore POS upgrades.
Oracle Retail Xstore POS Upgrade
Recently SkillNet, which is #1 in Oracle Xstore POS implementation & upgrade was engaged by a Tier 1 global retailer to assess whether they needed to upgrade from the previous version of Xstore to the latest available version. Based on the hundreds of implementations and upgrades we have done over the past years, we put together a list of factors for the client to consider when determining an upgrade strategy.
While the Oracle retail POS software team has made several improvements to Xstore POS over various versions, here is the list of 7 features which we consider are the most important:
Feature 1: Self-Checkout and Kiosk
In most recent versions Oracle Retail has added an alternate user experience (same application, same business logic) that will allow customers to scan their own items and pay with different non-cash tender types. In addition, functionality exists which allows for retailer intervention when required (i.e. authorization for age-restricted items). This new functionality can be used with existing register hardware or with a kiosk. In light of the labor shortages across the globe, this will continue to be a popular feature with additional enhancements to come in the future.
Feature 2: Tax-Free Shopping Experience
For Global retailers, Xstore can now provide tax-free invoices that make it easier for customers to claim a tax or VAT refund. It integrates with leading tax-free solution providers such as Fintrax (a.k.a Premier Tax Free), Global Blue and Planet Payment.
Feature 3: Configuration Accelerators
One of the larger efforts when implementing Xstore POS is setting configurations to align with evolving fiscal requirements. To help accelerate this process, Oracle has created bundles of pre-set country configurations related to formats (date, time, address, phone, etc), legal limits, tender types, and invoicing. These bundles already existed for certain countries such as France, Germany, and Brazil, etc. but with new releases retailers will see additional countries such as India, Singapore, and Chile.
Feature 4: Enhancements to mobile stores
New features now allow a retailer to operate Xstore without a fixed register and supports multiple mobile servers. When necessary, new features also allow for shared peripherals such as printers, tender drawers, and payment devices.
Feature 5: Temporary Stores
Retailers seem to be quite excited about supporting temporary stores for events. Strategically, this allows stores to bring the shopping experience to the customer. As shopping center traffic continues to recover, retailers can use this functionality to offer products and services in not only temporary spaces in traditional shopping areas (think of a mass erchant opening a special Halloween shop in dead space at a mall from August through October) but at music festivals and other outdoor venues. Inventory can either be unique for a one-time pop-up store, or shared with a physical location for an event. Oracle has also developed remote servers that can support transacting via wireless communications. Obviously, ecommerce and curb side pick-up features helped many clients survive last year, but customers now expect a wider variety of ways for brands to build relationship with them. Temporary store functionality in the POS solutions helps Retailers meet these new expectations.
Feature 6: Customer Not Present Payments
With evolution of various digital payment methods and trends, Xstore POS now supports various customer/ card not present methods allowing customers to make payments over the phone or by their preferred method as supported by payment service provider. This could be useful while accepting payment for telephone orders.
Feature 7: Oracle Retail Applications Cloud Services
- Cloud service offerings from Oracle takes care of all infrastructure related tasks.
- All future upgrade and hot fixes are applied by Oracle and backward compatibility is also maintained.
- Better security (including OAuth), faster actions on restorations, backups, and maintenance, etc.
Besides the features outlined, there are several additional benefits from a POS system upgrade:
- New updated features to meet country specific regulations, by using country accelerators
- Reduction in maintenance for customizations that may be redundant with new functionality
- Improved security and updated 3rd party solutions (i.e. more recent version of Java)
- Adoption of new best practices that come with new features
The cost for upgrading is heavily dependent on how much you customized your solution. Oracle Retail does have a streamlined upgrade process available if you have implemented Xstore POS just out of the box functionality. The reality is that most clients have some sort of customization which will require testing before deploying a POS solution.
Risks in not upgrading
Every retailer needs to weigh increased functionality against the risk of losing Premier Oracle support and the costs of upgrading and not upgrading. Many of our clients have procurement departments that develop this Cost-Benefit Analysis, but for those that do not, SkillNet is able to provide these additional financial analysis services.
Below is the current Oracle Xstore support sunsetting schedule [source Oracle retail documentation]. Some clients believe this may not be a critical issue, especially if they use SkillNet Support services. However, there is an inherent danger in losing Oracle’s premier support in case of a catastrophic event that most Retailers do not want to risk.
|Version||GA Date||Premier Support Ending|
|Xstore Office and Point of Service 16.0||December 2016||December 2021|
|Xstore Office and Point of Service 17.0||January 2018||January 2023|
|Xstore Office and Point of Service 18.0||December 2018||December 2023|
|Xstore Office and Point of Service 19.0||December 2019||December 2024|
Table: Oracle Xstore Version release and end of support
We have been able to upgrade Xstore in as quickly as 4 months, but for some retailers with heavily customized systems, the timeline will probably be longer. One of the major activities that may drive the timeline for a heavily modified system would be system integration testing and user acceptance testing. Both of these activities will require participation from your organization, so it may not be the case that you can throw extra bodies (from a third party) to accelerate these timelines.
SkillNet is an Oracle Retail Solutions and integration partner. We have also supported clients in their on-prem to cloud journeys. Apart from Xstore expertise, Skillnet also supports other Oracle Retail Products such as Omnichannel, Merchandising, Planning & Optimization, Supply Chain, Brand Compliance, Insights & Science.