4 dimensions of the best movie theater PoS

From integrations to data imports, employee retraining and change management, replacing your cinema PoS is a big decision. The best movie theater PoS systems are built to last for well over 15 years. So it’s vital to do the research in advance to make sure that you choose right first time. This involves asking some tough questions.

In my experience, four dimensions that set the best movie theater PoS systems apart from the rest:

  1. Number of features
  2. Depth of features
  3. Ease of use
  4. Total cost

1: Number of features

Feature quantity is easy to understand: It’s the feature list on a website, a “yes we can do that” response during a demo, or a feature comparison table in a brochure. And, while the number of features only tells a fraction of the full story (see ‘depth of feature’ below), it’s still an important consideration when evaluating a solution. The best movie theater PoS systems will have a clear and thorough feature list to help inform your discovery process.

That said, it’s relatively easy for a provider to add a feature to their list, which brings us to the next point…

2: Depth of feature

It’s easy to choose the wrong solution simply by misunderstanding the depth of a feature. A common mistake is to assume that a listed feature is fit for purpose, only to find that it doesn’t work how you need it to. Sometimes it’s too basic to be useful, other times, it’s just ‘vaporware’, a promise that this is yet to be delivered.

The best movie theater PoS demos should involve multiple stakeholders from across your organisation. It’s important that colleagues with day-to-day experience have the opportunity to ask the difficult, detailed questions that will uncover how fit-for-purpose a feature really is.

Example: Film booking

Adding ‘Film Booking’ to a cinema PoS feature list sounds straightforward. You just need to add a new field to store a percentage for each film and multiply this by the film’s gross to calculate the film rental. Easy, right? Senior management puts a check mark against this item, and moves on. Sadly not.

Even a basic cinema would run into problems with this solution. For example, the percentage needs to vary from one week to the next and most cinemas also need to track which payments have been made.

So, the development team adds the option for different film rental terms for each week and creates a separate table for storing details of payments. They also add some additional reporting to reflect all this.

Are we there yet? Not by a long shot.

There are still significant problems that would render this solution useless to most filmbookers and cinema accounts teams. For example, it can’t handle films with a flat booking fee (like many older films), or minimum payments.

The result? Your accounting team is stuck, can’t use the feature, and has to resort to spreadsheets once again. But that’s not the only missing piece. For example, what about:

  • Is the flat fee for the entire film run, for the week, or per show?
  • Handling non-Friday-Thursday film weeks
  • Adjusting for countries that are not on Friday-Thursday film weeks
  • Processing advance performances
  • Tracking payment information like dates, bank transfer numbers, and producing remittance advice for film studios
  • Reconciling against Comscore figures
  • Allowing for films where the rent changes based on the ‘National Gross’ part way through the run
  • Responding when studios introduce film percentages that split midweek

It’s vital to ‘kick the tyres’ (hard!) on a PoS when looking at it. For example, at Tapos, we like to address the difficult questions up front, not wait until rollout. Even the most mature features need adjustments sometimes and we welcome the opportunity to make our solution better.

“Management knows that the more they can diversify their offerings based on the varying needs of their clients, the better the product is. The team is always interested in taking things further. They’ll ask questions like: Where else can we go with this? What else can we add?” Logan Crow, Founder and Executive Director, The Frida CinemaRead full story >

3: Ease of use

One of the main PoS failures we hear about when cinemas come to us is when a feature is either so complicated that cinemas struggle to use them reliably or so counterintuitive that only a small number of features end up being implemented.

The best movie theater PoS systems ensure their features are intuitive so people can actually use them. When a feature is workable, it will increase your revenue; people get to go home earlier and spend more time with their families; it makes everyone’s lives easier.

The majority of Tapos’ features can be learnt in less than 10 minutes. Even a complicated module might have just a 15 minute training video. We have a comprehensive training manual, including short videos, to help your team learn key features (such as implementing cross-selling or upselling) in just two-to-three minutes.

4: Total Cost

This can have a massive impact on your bottom line. Instead of calculating the cost of a new cinema PoS at face value, it’s important to ook at the total cost. Otherwise the project will snowball into other costs such as:

  • An email marketing tool
  • A custom website
  • Digital signage
  • Software or database licenses
  • Extra headcount needed to manage the system (Reports, Operations, IT)
  • Even lamp costs because projectors aren’t shutting off projectors in empty auditoriums

Beware the hidden costs

Cinema PoS systems that require additional licensing (like SQL, or Windows server), or integrate with third party solutions, such as a client relationship management system (CRM), emailing tool, online ticketing or film booking platform, offer a quick fix. But each time you add a new system, you’re adding complexity and additional costs. You’re also stuck with a bunch of siloed systems, each with its own data, none of which talk to each other. This leads to lack of data transparency, which can become a real problem. It creates a lot of manual work such as collecting and migrating reporting data into accounting systems.

The best movie theater PoS providers have a wealth of additional features built in and available at no extra cost. This not only saves on the number of vendors, it also streamlines your operations by consolidating everything into one backoffice. Reporting and reconciliation are easier and you’ll have access to important customer insights.

Choose the best movie theater PoS for you

The process of choosing your next cinema PoS system will be much easier if you bear these four dimensions in mind. Don’t be dazzled by lengthy feature lists or tempted to build out a piecemeal system made up of multiple third-parties. The best movie theater PoS providers can bring so much more to the table with mature features, simple interfaces, and multiple add-ons available at no extra cost and managed from the same backoffice.

If you’re shopping around for a new cinema PoS and would like to learn how Tapos measures up, get in touch below.