EPoS is growing in garden retail

shutterstock_150339797The dawn of multi-channel retailing has seen retailers from grocery to fashion, DIY to convenience pealed for an asset that will keep them top of the shops. Investing in digital technology such as screens, mobile and wifi, is high on the agenda, with a particular focus on electronic-point-of-sale (EPoS).

Many stores were quick off the mark to invest while others like the garden centre were slow to adopt the technology, and it’s these stores that set the pace for industry-wide acceptance. Today however, we’re seeing signs of mass usage which suggests that it won’t be long before all retailers are tech-savvy when it comes to EPoS, for it has already received favour from a large number of the initially reluctant garden retail businesses.  According to the Horticultural Trades Association, 47% of garden retail businesses reported that they were using an EPoS system as of August 2013 to support their growing business’ needs.

So why the turn around?
Garden centers are becoming destinations for a day out with the offer of garden plants as well as gifts, farm food, cafes and healthy lifestyle products within an attractive retail environment. For such a retail space, at its most basic the EPoS system can provide garden retailers with an in depth product inventory detailing every saleable item’s description, price, categorary, stock level and supplier, as well as providing barcoded labels so that an item can be scanned at the till point or looked up by staff. At its most advanced an EPoS system is recognised for saving businesses time and money by increasing productivity through intuitive management tools that support payments, stock take, ordering, promotions and reporting.

Typical features include the management of:

For customers

  • Cash, card, cashless or gift voucher payments
  • Customer loyalty cards, discounts or vouchers
  • Promotions – bogofs, 2 for 1s or mix ‘n’ match

For staff

  • Full product inventory with labels and barcodes
  • Stock information search and view tool

For management

  • Automatic stock count and ordering
  • Stock, supplier, sales, delivery and ordering data
  • Real time results and custom reports

What do the garden retailers say about EPoS?

For Adam Wigglesworth at Aylett Nurseries the value of an EPoS system lies in the ability to: know stock levels at all times and advise customers of availability. He says an EPoS system provides essential insight and enables swift reactions to market changes, “At peak periods it is not possible to know all product lines and their stock levels without an Epos system. So often a person’s feelings on a product’s sales are not backed up by facts. True sales figures can often reveal lost opportunities”.

In support of the opportunity to extract reliable data from EPoS, Golden Acres Nursery invested to improve systems compliance across its business. Simon Edwards explains how “prior to its introduction we relied on individual staff members to make decisions on product ranging and pricing…we also had a cumbersome paper based purchasing and sales control system”. Since installing an EPoS system the accuracy and detail of sales data has vastly improved and can backup buying decisions. Next on the list is a trial of full purchasing and stock control.

Simon Fraser from Ben Reid Garden Centre, would not be without his EPoS system, and tips its key offerings as: stock control, monitoring and control of gross margin, understanding what products lines are crucial to business, as well as customer service. “The ability to process customers quickly and securely through till points is of great benefit to the business and expected by the customer. Being able to call up what stock is available at the press of the button has major customer care benefits and will become even more important in the future as multi-channel retailing becomes the norm,” says Simon.

According to Neville Stein, business consultant from Ovation, EPoS is one of the best forms of measuring financial performance. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” he says. While they can be relatively costly to install, Neville argues that the benefits certainly outweigh this as retailers could achieve an additional four percentage points on their overall percentage gross margin through a reduction in shrinkage (theft, waste and human error) and price increases. “EPOS enables retailers to identify those items that are good sellers and then using experience and judgement, retailers can then decide whether to increase prices or not. Margin can also be increased by identifying those product lines that are ‘under performing’ and replacing them with products that sell better. Likewise knowing the exact quantity sold of each product line enables retailers to make informed decisions on how much product to buy – armed with this knowledge they can often negotiate better deals from suppliers, thereby improving their margin,” he says.

A summary of the benefits of EPoS:

  • Heighten customer satisfaction with a faster, more informative service
  • Reallocate staff to make better use of their time and skills
  • Save time and money through automated processes and accurate figures
  • Reduce wastage of stock, space and time by reviewing operations
  • Make informed decisions on necessary changes or identifying needs
  • Plan better for the seasons using past reports to make predictions

Those looking to invest in an EPoS system are advised:

  • Correct set up is key – deciding what information you will need and working out how you are going to manage information flow through the system. It is worth asking any potential supplier what level of support they can give you in these areas.
  • You need to run it – not it run you – an Epos system does not replace good management and staff knowing their products, but it does give them accurate information to make decisions .
  • Use EPoS incorrectly and it becomes an expensive till – use it well, and stock turn will be improved, shrinkage will be reduced and gross profit will be increased.

Further expert help on EPoS is available. Contact us for advice on the right EPoS system for your retail space and receive a free quote.