EPoS systems are composed of a range of computer hardware and peripherals, dependent on the exact requirements of a customer.
These are either integrated systems – where a number of components are housed in the same unit, or modular systems which are based on a standard PC to which various peripherals are connected. The integrated systems tend to have a smaller footprint, saving counter space but they don’t allow the same degree of flexibility to pick and choose components. Integrated EPoS systems tend to combine the display, computer unit, customer display, keyboard and customer display. The advantages of an integrated EPoS system are that they are ostensibly smaller without the need to find space for a standard PC and all the other associated peripherals. However, in the event of a breakdown you can’t simply switch out a component and continue to operate.
Modular EPoS systems are run on a standalone PC to which various peripherals are connected. They allow more flexibility in terms of choosing peripherals and are easier to upgrade. While they are bigger, there is often space under a counter to house a PC so while in absolute terms the systems tend to be larger, it doesn’t mean that what is on the counter should take up much more space than an integrated system.
If you decide you want to upgrade or change any part of your EPoS system you can do so. If you are choosing the modular route, then the first step is choosing a PC. Remember that an EPoS system is likely to be running for many hours a day, so buying the cheapest PC you can find is rarely a good idea. While an entry level system aimed at a home user may look to be the cheapest, spending a bit more money on a system designed to operate in a business environment is a good investment. It’s also worth considering the benefits of extended warranties and support on your PC, for a business critical piece of hardware it’s worth considering same day and next day onsite support.
In the last few years the prices of touchscreen monitors have fallen and they are now accessible to most buyers of EPoS systems. Touchscreen displays offer extremely fast, intuitive data entry at the point of sale.
Sitting below the EPoS hardware or even affixed under the counter, cash drawers are controlled by the EPoS system providing total transparency on when they are opened, by who and when.
These fall into 2 groups; handheld and multiline. The handheld barcode scanners are ideal for environments where there is a smaller volume of transactions. They are often held in a cradle with the ability to also remove them for scanning bulkier items. For environments where there is a very high volume of items scanned, for examples in supermarkets – multline scanners are commonly used. Multiline scanners have the ability to read barcodes from a variety of angles, making their operation faster. If you use barcodes to price items, then which type you choose should be dictated by the environment in which you operate.
Some integrated systems will have a customer display built in. Otherwise a pole display is often used. These provide customers an at a glance view of pricing and totals helping to speed up the interaction between the customer and the till operator. They are particularly useful in dealing with customers who have hearing difficulties or indeed language difficulties.
Thermal printers can produce receipts at astonishing speed. Top end printers like Epson have been extensively tested over many years in high volume retail environments and provide the benefits of speed and reliability vital to ensure speed a retail environment.