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An Introduction to EPoS Systems

EPoS Systems, provide a fast and efficient way of dealing with customers. They handle the calculations involved in sales (totals and change), issue receipts – these have historically been the main function of normal tills. EPoS systems, do this and a lot more. They can integrate directly with credit card payment systems, keep track of stock levels and of course keep track of customer information. The ability to manage stock and CRM (customer relationship management) allows EPoS systems to make a measurable difference to the bottom line. Both in terms of time saved and of in highlighting opportunities and also weaknesses in a business.

For example, an EPoS system in retail store, will assist in stock management – helping to highlight stock levels of top performing products so you can ensure you have adequate supplies. At the same time, it might also show product lines that are not doing so well. Your EPoS system records a tremendous amount of information about your business – allowing you to make decisions with the benefit of the latest sales and stock information.

EPoS

How Does EPoS Work?

An EPoS system comprises of computer hardware, peripherals and EPoS software ideally suited to the point of sales environment. An EPoS system can support data entry through many different devices such as computer keyboards, touchscreen monitors and barcode scanners. EPoS systems allow a tremendous amount of flexibility to choose hardware and peripherals suited to the environment. For example, in environments with very high demands like in a supermarket – EPoS can be configured to work with multi line barcode scanners, ensuring pricing accuracy and allowing cashiers to provide fast, efficient service for customers. In other environments such as restaurants the use of touchscreen monitors provides the best solution.

The other facet of EPoS systems is the EPoS software that they use. This can also be heavily customised to a variety of different environments. This allows businesses to buy EPoS systems that are suited to their business. This software can constantly be recording sales, updating stock levels, providing accurate pricing information while also helping to provide a fast and efficient service to customers. The ability to keep track of sales, taxes, stock and CRM automatically, ensures that cashiers can concentrate on providing the best possible customer experience.

Why Use EPoS?

EPoS software helps to ensure accurate pricing, faster transactions, reduces human error and improves data integrity. In larger retail environments, it's difficult to imagine keeping track of stock for thousand of items, not to mention the prices of all these items. In a retail environment, if management want to change the price of an item or run a special offer this can be done very easily using EPoS and getting data on how these changes impact sales can also be easily obtained. While it easy to dwell on the front line advantages at the point of sale, the data being recorded by the systems is of great value to management. Accurate sales reporting is vital for management, similarly the ability to have constantly updated inventory and customer data is useful for both accounting, marketing and sales purposes. For more Advantages of EPoS see our guide.

Found in almost all major retail stores, restaurants and other businesses,

Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) systems give businesses a fast and convenient way of transacting sales, while at the same time recording vital business information.

EPoS Hardware

EPoS systems comprise of a PC and some sort of visual display unit (VDU), such as a touchscreen monitor. Additional peripherals such as barcode scanners and printers can then be chosen based on your requirements. The main units are either integrated, where the display and pc form part of the same unit. These sorts of integrated units may also have integrated peripherals such as customer displays and printers. Otherwise the systems are modular, where you have a standalone PC to which you connect a display and peripherals. This type of EPoS system offers far more flexibility and choice.

  • There are many EPoS hardware peripherals, the most common include:
  • Cash Draws
  • Chip and Pin
  • Customer Displays
  • Keyboards
  • Mobile PDA's (for mobile EPoS integration)
  • Printers
  • Tablets
  • Weighing Scales

Which type of system is best

It depends very much on your requirements, you can find more information in our EPoS Hardware guide.

EPoS

EPoS Software

The EPoS software is designed to be powerful, yet simple for staff to learn and use. There is a large selection of EPoS software on the market, which all vary by price and business need. It's vital that you buy software that suits your needs. This is the 'brain' of your EPoS system and what your EpoS system can deliver for your business will be determined by the capabilities of the software.

As this will a vital component of your business it's vital that you evaluate a number of different EPoS software packages. The cost and additional complication of changing software later can be very disruptive. This is a good time to speak to other users of the EPoS software who are in the same line of business as you. They can offer an honest appraisal of the EPoS software and tell you how it works within a real working environment

Please note, if you are buying hardware and software from different suppliers, it's vital that you check the compatibility of your EPoS hardware and EPoS software.

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EPoS Systems

An EPoS system is simply a combination of EPoS hardware and EPoS software which when used together provide an effective business solution. Many EPoS system suppliers, will be in a position to supply both the software and the hardware. This is useful as it gives you a single point of contact for any issues and challenges you face. It's particularly valuable at the beginning when you may need to rely a lot on your EPoS system suppliers technical support. If this is your first system, then it may be worth paying a little more in order to deal with a single, reputable supplier.

EPoS

Maintenance and Backups

As with any regular computer system, keeping your EPoS software and hardware up-to-date and well maintained is essential. There will be periodic updates, so you should have a The importance of having backups cannot be overstated, once you begin to rely on your EPoS system to record data, ensuring the survival of that data is vital. How you plan on protecting your data is something that you should think about from the start. Data should be backed up off site, using a 3rd party service or by using a pen drive which you take offsite everyday. A good backup strategy will include regular backups of incremental data (that is data that has been updated since the last backup). Additionally, you should always have a set of historical backups, so you can go back to an older back if your incremental backups become corrupted.

Value for Money

There is no doubt that purchasing an EPoS system can represent a large capital investment. Rather than focus on the day one cost, it's better to consider how using the system will benefit your business and how long it might take to pay for itself. EPoS can provide tangible savings on employee time and accounting. At the same time it can provide an uplift in sales through accurate pricing and by improving efficiency of your stock control. For some businesses, installing an EPoS system can be first time that begin to create a database of their customers and their behaviour. Using this data, in effective ways can pay for the EPoS system many times over. It can also provide benefits that while clearly benefiting your business are a little more intangible like improving the customer experience. Ultimately, what you get out of your EPoS system will be dependent on the choices you make in terms of hardware and software, so invest sufficient time to make an informed decision.