When it comes to dynamism, no industry comes close to restaurants. Every year, restaurateurs the world over flex their creative muscles to come up with new restaurant concepts that can drive in-store footfall to record highs. As a result, an industry that could once be neatly segmented into either fine dining or fast food, is now an eclectic mix of fine dining, casual, fast casual, family-style, ghost kitchens and more. But throughout all this, the Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal has remained largely unchanged—a little screen connected to an underpowered computer which we somehow trust will hold itself together, come what may.
And that is the problem with most ‘modern’ POS terminals. Sure, they can be used to swipe a card or print a bill, but that’s about it. Mikke Selander and his team at Ancon in Sweden dreamt of building a POS system that could:
- Be an anchor to an ecosystem of complementary products and software (such as a fully-integrated meal ordering app similar to Uber Eats) which could collectively drive restaurant revenues in addition to bookings
- Help employees take orders easily
- Send orders directly to the kitchen staff
- Let diners know when their order is ready without causing confusion or having to call out names
- Ensure flexibility when accepting payments e.g. accept multiple payments at once or even bring the card terminal to the diner’s table
It’s one thing to dream, but turning that dream into reality is another. Ancon was already an established player in Sweden’s POS market, and really wanted to disrupt itself before someone else with much deeper pockets came along.
Software that makes businesses work
Thanks to an introduction from a mutual acquaintance, Mikke Selander and Ancon’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) chose to visit us at our beautiful campus in Colombo with the intention of roping us in to work on a singular mobile app. However, after spending a few days getting to know our team and understanding what we were capable of, they asked us to work side-by-side with Ancon’s in-house engineering team in Sweden to build elements of the company’s next-gen POS infrastructure. It was a much bigger project with equally tough deadlines.
At the time, Ancon’s existing system—a software suite that had morphed into something complex as a result of incremental improvements over the years, was in dire need of an overhaul if it was to remain relevant in an age where diners and restaurants are being uncoupled from each other. The next-gen POS system had to be light on resource usage, reliable, and needed to function like a platform complete with bells and whistles such as support for third-party plug-ins.
As an established POS vendor, Ancon saw that the proliferation of restaurant aggregators and meal delivery services such as Uber Eats added an extra layer of friction to a restaurant’s sales process. When an order flashes on a meal delivery service’s terminal, a cashier has to manually enter the order into the POS system before it can be processed. Meal delivery platforms are also known to charge hefty commissions that eat into the already slim profit margins of a restaurant. Spotting a chance to neatly wedge itself in between, Ancon asked us to help build a robust meal-delivery app that is seamlessly integrated with the Ancon POS platform. Named Ancon Order, the mobile app quickly became popular with restaurants who had to rely heavily on deliveries after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this way, the app’s existence became a win-win for both Ancon and its customers.
The Ancon Kiosk software is another element of the Ancon POS universe that we worked on. From an engineering perspective, building software for self-service kiosks can be tricky as you need to make allowances for the varying levels of technological competence between users. On the other hand, it is also important to try and maximise upselling opportunities, since add-ons can be a major source of revenue for a restaurant. We paid special attention to make sure that the software was as easy to use as possible, and intelligent enough to suggest popular and profitable add-ons.
Award winning growth
Ancon’s new POS ecosystem is the source of the company’s sustained triple digit growth over the last several years, and we are extremely delighted to be a part of that success. The company also won the ‘Gasellpris – Sweden’s Fastest Growing Company’ award from the prestigious Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri not once, but thrice. Fantastisk, right?