We talked to Bodo von Laffert of OktoPOS about the one-stop-solution for retail and restaurant management including cash registers, and shop management software and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Bodo von Laffert: Thank you. We are doing fine and have escaped the virus so far.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded OktoPOS.
Bodo von Laffert: After working as a business consultant for The Boston Consulting Group, I founded the first authentic Japanese sushi restaurant chain in Germany in the late 90s. As we built more stores, it became clear to me that this can only be managed with a sophisticated IT system. Back then, there were old-style cash registers and almost no other software tools for this industry. Thus, we developed a cloud shift plan and online shop. As the technology was new, we had to teach our staff how to use a browser, which many have never done before.
How does OktoPOS innovate?
Bodo von Laffert: We have been using agile methods in software development from the very beginning. We constantly draw our ideas from our customers and from the restaurants that I run myself. We launch most new modules as beta versions and collect feedback. Some modules are developed further on that basis, and some stay beta forever.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Bodo von Laffert: As we develop software for restaurants and retail stores, many of our customers are certainly hit hard. On the other hand, all cash registers in Germany need to upgrade to comply with the new fiscal regime this year, forcing business owners to invest amid the current crisis.
We help our customers by providing software tools free of charge like a restaurant guest registration app, self-checkout terminal, etc. Also, we are helping our customers in financial matters.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Bodo von Laffert: As we have always been running our company in an agile way, we have adapted rather swiftly.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Bodo von Laffert: Already before the pandemic, we have established a fully mobile working infrastructure using our own cloud management systems and cloud communication infrastructure.
We had developed a home office culture already in recent years; thus, the switch was easy. We moved most of our staff to their home offices already in January 2020. Maybe that helped that our entire team stayed safe from the virus.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Bodo von Laffert: There are a few other cash register systems in Germany that use cloud technology and that offer a wide array of modules like OktoPOS does.
However, we still benefit from our first-mover advantage that we set back in the late 90s when we built on cloud technology at a time where others thought this was crazy.
A complex workflow management system that includes a cash register, time and attendance terminals, shift planning, material planning, online shops, etc., needs years to develop.
Still, we are ahead in the game, and we reinvest every cent in pushing our development to new frontiers.
Your final thoughts?
Bodo von Laffert: The pandemic provided extraordinary challenges in terms of flexibility, team spirit, and caring for our customers.
We have worked out individual solutions for each of our customers and could strengthen the bond with them.
Changes in the environment always provide opportunities, and I think that we were lucky enough to have taken some.