Retail enterprises preparing for the GST will stimulate local demand for touch screen technology, according to hardware vendor MicroTouch, but only once retail industry integrators start developing software for the hardware, says rival Javelin.
As thousands of small, medium and large Australian retail enterprises throw out their old non-GST compliant POS hardware and software, there is no doubting there are opportunities for those that play in the retail integration space.
`There is a natural lag of between 12 and 24 months from the introduction of new technology in the US and its uptake in Australia,' Issam Soubjaki, marketing manager for MicroTouch Australia, said last week. `But in retail we're now seeing the GST hurrying up that rate of adoption.'
Soubjaki claimed many retailers have underestimated the effect of the GST and will be looking for a solution quickly next year if unprepared.
As a result, he is predicting that system integrators and resellers focusing on POS solutions for retailers could well be flooded in June next year, so much so that they may even `have to turn business away'.
The Australian distributor of rival Javelin touch screens, hardware distributor PC-POS, agrees with the GST-driven boom theory. However, it believes it has been the reluctance by local players to develop customised software applications for touch-based POS technology that has held back its adoption in Australia.
David Kroser, managing director of PC-POS, said there has been `good take-up' of touch screen technology in hospitality markets but there needs to be more commitment by retail solutions providers.
`I would definitely say that we are lagging behind in developing touch applications,' Kroser said. `From a retail point of view, all the integrators are saying that touch will not work in retail. They will miss the boat if they maintain that thinking.
`There is a big role in retail for touch screens in the US and elsewhere wherever there is not a lot of data keystrokes required at the point of sale,' Kroser added.
Soubjaki said the global market for touch screen technology - including its application in palm tops, information kiosks and gaming - generated $US500 million in 1998. He estimated it will grow to $US2.5 billion by 2004.
He would not reveal MicroTouch's local revenues but he indicated it would surpass $25 million for the year. With the increasing popularity of mobile technology and businesses undertaking GST-related upgrades, Soubjaki is confident MicroTouch's sales will rise.