IPOS on small space and mobile EPoS

ipos_brand (1)As a key hardware provider, IPOS has the opportunity to work with all manner of businesses – the end client, the solution reseller or the software provider, at any one time. In doing so, it takes a partnership approach that can be relied upon to deliver the right and often custom solution for any environment. This means that one month it might be developing an EPoS system for a retailer with a fashion or convenience store, and the next it may be providing a solution for a hospitality business like a stadium.

Using partners to create accurate, custom solutions

Frank Whittle, managing director at IPOS who set the company up in 1990, in Lancaster, Lancashire, explains: “We don’t specialise in one niche, we have a partnership approach with our resellers, software partners and with the client; we come together to produce the best solution on offer”. In fact IPOS often acts as a consultant to help its clients build the right EPoS solution. “For instance, we have a partner that specialises in combining retail and hospitality solutions and also has in-house software development expertise. So by working with this partner we can tailor a solution and consult on behalf of the retailer to ensure it will fit with their requirement,” said Frank.

Image courtesy of IPOS

Image courtesy of IPOS

IPOS offers various hardware based on the concept of an all-in-one touch screen terminal that the retailer for example can use at the point-of-sale check out, whether that be sitting behind the bar or supermarket checkout. Its core hardware products are touch screen terminals, scanners, cash drawers, printers – basically all the components from a hardware point of view that a retailer or hospitality company would require. The company ensures that it carries a broad range of equipment to enable it to provide solutions that will fit lots of different environments; this way IPOS can find the best fit for any company looking for a solution. With this in mind IPOS ensures that all of its hardware meets with the demands of the retail and hospitality industries. Frank explains further: “The nature of the hardware is to design for both hospitality and retail markets, so our range of equipment is both attractive and colourful, offers flat spill-proof screens, compact terminals with built-in printers and touch screens that are ideal for convenience stores that need small, space saving solutions that don’t take up a lot valuable counter space”.

Understanding the requirement – The devil is in the detail

Typically when working with a client IPOS’s first step is to identify the specific feature they are looking for from the solution, such as online selling. This initial discussion is key to IPOS in order to fully understanding the specific customer requirement. “We are very careful in selecting the right solution and probably spend more time discussing the requirement before we decide which solution is the best one. We evaluate it in detail, because we are aware that “the devil is in the detail,” said Frank.

Once the client’s need is fully outlined IPOS will look to its partners to establish which is the best choice to provide the solution in question. Ensuring the software can achieve the required function is the first port of call, followed by the hardware. “We had a enquiry the other day from a new retailer that had two businesses, one health and the other gifts, they required different solutions for each business, but importantly both needed to link to the internet to sell products. In this case the hardware became a secondary consideration, with the first consideration being to ensure that the software we offer will in fact provide that solution” Frank explained. Providing the right level of service is particularly important to IPOS and there are times that a customer won’t need a whole new solution. With this in mind IPOS also provides a development facility for smaller upgrades. “Some of our customers just need a few changes to their existing solution and we are happy to help in these cases too; it makes the process better for them if we can do that,” said Frank.

As with most companies IPOS’ end-customers are generally in business to make a profit. Frank comments: “The fundamental requirement for most businesses is to make a profit. Some businesses understand that EPoS is a good decision, but they are not sure how to make that system pay for itself and help them run their business. The key is to ensure that whatever they invest in gives them a return on investment. Any retailer investing money in stock needs to ensure it is going to be the profitable product taking up valuable shelf space, which of course EPoS can tell them”.

Image courtesy of IPOS

Image courtesy of IPOS

We asked IPOS what recent requirement has proved to be most challenging and how it went about resolving it. For IPOS it was a pharmacy solution for ‘Norchem Healthcare’ that has 18 stores across the northeast UK, around Durham and Newcastle. The pharmacy market is changing and becoming more community based so rather than just providing medicines over the counter it is now providing services to stop smoking, etc. Frank explained. New management came to IPOS with a request for EPoS systems that offered discrete customer facing screens for sensitive information. IPOS designed a small touch screen terminal with rear customer facing screens that were easy for customers to see and watch, as well as software that could manage the system for a multi-branch scenario that the pharmacy chain could put together at head office and distribute throughout the estate. Franks tells us more: “Norchem Healthcare wanted an EPoS system to sell and do stock control, but it also wanted to advertise the services it offers, so that its customers would see them as another resource for help alongside the NHS. This required a bit of innovation. The finished solution interacted with customers at the checkout, so that people waiting for a prescription could watch on screen a selection of advertisements much like a story of how the pharmacy can help them. Some were embarrassing subjects that people might not want to have conversations about in store, but the customer could see the service is available and make a discrete enquiry later”.

The future of EPoS

Image courtesy of IPOS

Image courtesy of IPOS

With industry requirements changing at speed we asked IPOS what technology scenario it is seeing come up more frequently. For the EPoS provider, solutions are tending to be all-in-one, designed to take up a small amount of counter space while still integrating much of the hardware like the printer. In addition, unsurprisingly mobile devices are on the agenda, particularly with reference to special offers from brands that require a voucher or barcode to be displayed and scanned at the till point. Frank explained that not all stores have the capability yet to scan the barcode: “Not all scanners will scan a barcode on a mobile phone; you need a specific image scanner to do this”.

In addition, in this changing market more people are looking for mobile solutions that can be used as EPoS.  A great example of this from Frank was the renowned Battersea Dogs & Cats Home that has recently seen a lot of changes in its organisation. Made up of three centres – the central London site at Battersea, at Old Windsor in Berkshire and at Brands Hatch in Kent, the company needed a more current solution that could work across all three locations and at events like Crufts. Like many retailers Battersea were in a dilemma of having already invested in an EPoS system, but the existing EPOS software supplier had gone out of business. Now the company was stuck with old, proprietary EPoS systems.

IPOS came up with an innovative, cost effective solution by upgrading the existing terminals while also recommending the latest all-in-one touch screen terminals and a mobile system. The solutions were all configured with software to operate at events, at head office and in the retail shop. Frank tells us more about the mobile solution: “The staff at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home need to be able to liaise with customers while also selling products for the dog or cat they are visiting. Using mobile technology staff can be with the customer physically looking at different dogs and cats while also looking at different ones online at the other sites. They can also discuss what products they require and then send the order to the retail store to be ready for collection when they leave. So here Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is very much using technology to aid the whole process.”

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