Every good retailer should use an EPOS system.
Cash tills used to be great for most small businesses until you have thousands of items for sale. Tracking inventory takes up all the time you need to do other tasks. Cash till and traditional POS are no longer efficient.
That is where EPOS systems come in. Now retailers of all sizes can save their time managing stock with the seamless data synchronization between multiple sales channels, and between inventory storage and point-of-sales.
1. What is an EPOS system?
2. How do EPOS systems work?
3. Advantages and disadvantages of EPOS system
4. 5 different types of EPOS system
5. Common mistakes when buying an EPOS system
6. Popular EPOS software system for Magento retailers
What is an EPOS system
EPOS stands for Electronic Point of Sale system. It is a combination of EPOS Hardware and EPOS software that provides an efficient business operation. With an EPOS system, a store owner can process, track sales and other procedures easier. He also gets a better understanding of his business performance.
EPOS system is also connected to an eCommerce site. The online-to-offline integration provides customers seamless stock information and shopping experience.
EPOS Software is the key to successful retail management. It is essential to have an EPOS software that suits your business needs. After deciding on the best-fit EPOS software, the next step is to choose a compatible EPOS hardware.
Common EPOS till software features include, depending on specific business needs:
- Stock control and tracking
- Purchase and order processing
- Loyalty programs
- Promotions and discounts
- Integration with an e-commerce website
Some types of business may require different or extra functions to fit their specific needs. Many EPOS system suppliers are aware of this and offer a scalable system that suits the business growth. And many provide customization service to ensure a best-fit solution.
|Bonus: Download this ultimate guide to know “How to choose the right EPOS software for your business”.|
Depending on specific needs, each business may wish to have different EPOS hardware components.
The core hardware comprises a terminal screen. This is where you input orders and process payments. In the recent years, the price of touchscreen monitors has fallen and become affordable to many retailers. The touch screen display allows faster data entry at the point of sale and waives the need of a keyboard.
The additional EPOS hardware components are connected via cables or wirelessly. They may or may not include:
- Cash drawer: A lockable metal drawer to store cash. The EPOS system controls by whom and when a cash drawer is opened. Hence, this reduces employee theft.
- Receipt printer: A printing device to create a record of the customer’s transaction.
- Barcode scanner: An electronic scanner that reads barcodes to identify product details on the EPOS system. There are 2 types of barcode scanner: handheld and multiline. Multiline scanners can read barcodes from different angles, which speeds up the process. They are ideal for places with a high volume of transactions. In contrary, handheld barcode scanners are used where there is a smaller volume of transactions.
- PDQ Terminal: A device to accept credit card payment.
- Customer Display/ Pole Display: a standing device to deliver price and advertising information to a customer at the POS.
- Tablet/ iPad EPOS: A portable hardware used in addition to/ instead of the traditional EPOS to assist with business operations. This is suitable for such businesses requiring higher mobility or small stores with limited space. For example, mobile vendors, quick-service restaurants, coffee shops, gift shops, juice bars, sandwich shops, etc.
Buying both EPOS software and hardware from one supplier ensures compatibility. This requires no extra integration and reduces your costs. However, chances are the system does not meet your expectations. Then, you have to throw everything away and start all over again as these hardware/software are mostly compatible with those of the same brand only.
How do EPOS systems work?
An EPOS system is like a cash till/ cash register that is connected to a computer.
Basically, the EPOS system reads the product barcode via a barcode scanner and calculates the amount that the customer has to pay. This provides accurate pricing information while offers a faster service to buyers.
At the same time, the EPOS software records sales, update stock levels and customer data in the backend of the seller. Later, the store owner can extract different types of reports anytime. These reports reflect the real business performance and assist in decision-making.
Advantages and disadvantages of an EPOS system
Compared to the traditional POS, an EPOS system has a variety of benefits, especially in long-term:
- Ensure correct product pricing and information on multiple sales channels;
- Speed up order processing and transactions;
- Allow customers to use promotions and discounts both online and offline;
- Deliver smooth and convenient shopping experience via multiple payments and shipping methods.
For store owners:
- Centralize business operations and manage multiple sales channels from one place;
- Make better, more accurate inventory forecasts;
- Keep track of business performance to provide insightful reports;
- Reduce time and mistakes in manual processes;
- Enable correct, instant and easy data update;
- Set tier staff permission to reduce potential employee theft.
The only disadvantage to an EPOS system over a traditional POS till system is the cost – and in particular the up-front cost, which can be especially off-putting for smaller businesses.
Prices for a basic EPOS system start at around £1,000. An industry-specific system, with extensive back office features, comes in closer to £1,500. For an advanced system, with multiple terminals, it’s not uncommon to pay in excess of £3,000.
5 Different Types of EPOS System
Retail EPOS System
The retail EPOS system is suited for businesses like the supermarket, grocery stores, garden center, pharmacy, hardware store, general store and more.
Hospitality EPOS System
The hospitality EPOS system is best suited for independent hospitality business and multi-international chains and franchises like restaurants, cafe shops, hotels, pubs and bars, nightclubs, fast food centers, and many more.
Fashion EPOS System
The fashion EPOS system is best suited for boutique clothing stores, shoe shops, fabric stores, suit stores and many more.
Beauty Salon EPOS system
The beauty EPOS system is best suited for hair salons, spas, gyms, tanning salons, treatment rooms, a hospice/NHS, massage parlors and all kinds of salons.
Service EPOS System
The service EPOS system is best suited for launderettes, watch repair, shoe repair, key cut, garage jewelers and any other service or repair business.
Common mistakes when buying an EPOS system
Buy hardware first
Many retailers make mistakes when buying an EPOS hardware first, and look for a software to go with it later. Unfortunately, some software only integrates with specific hardware.
Therefore, it will be wiser to do the other way round.
Select an EPOS software that meets your business needs first. Then, get an epos hardware that is most compatible with the software you intend to use.
Overlook the future needs
An EPOS system contains a tremendous amount of your business data. And you do not want a system just to be replaced after a few years.
Thus, look for a long-term EPOS system that fits your potential requirements instead of addressing your current issues only. Start by planning ahead your goals in the next 5 years (at least!), prioritize your needs and match your plan with your budget.
Expect a one-size-fits-all system
Each industry has unique requirements and each business has its own, too.
For example, a clothes shop needs an EPOS system that supports different sizes and colors of an item. The shop may want its EPOS system to take a mix of different payments and offer custom discounts.
It’s hard to find an EPOS system that meets all your requirements in the first place. Hence, you can consider an EPOS system that can address about 95% and get customization for the rest. Most reputed EPOS providers also offer customization service to ensure the solution best fits business needs.
Buy the cheapest EPOS system
You may get tons of offers for low priced hardware and EPOS software. Caution: resist the temptation to save yourself a few dollars before getting yourself into a potential nightmare.
By buying a cheap EPOS system, you may put their business at risk. As a result, you may end up with more costs to fix the damages than your initial investment.
Again, my advice is plan a few years ahead, prioritize the needed functions and check your budget. Then, buy the best technology you can afford. A reliable EPOS system will save you efforts and costs in years to come.
Choose the wrong supplier
A reliable supplier provides a reliable EPOS system. Thus, do a diligent research on potential suppliers before picking one.
Essential questions for the potential EPOS supplier may include:
- For how long has the company been in business?
- How large is the company? How many employees/ developers do they have?
- Does the company provide the EPOS system or are they a reseller?
- What is their support policy and refund policy?
- Do they provide training or product guides?
Popular EPOS software system for Magento retailers
There are several EPOS software providers in the market. Many of them require extra integration before actually work for your business.
If you opt for Magento-native EPOS software, here are the most noteworthy Magento EPOS providers for you to consider:
MicroBiz offers a wide range of features. These include sales by cash, card, PayPal, discounts, printed receipts, barcode reading, etc. but NO offline mode. You can choose between a cloud-based EPOS version and a windows version.
Ebizmarts, like MicroBiz, doesn’t support checkout without the internet. And it only runs on iOS devices. This makes a great mobile EPOS system though. Ebizmarts offers a monthly payment plan.
The biggest difference in Magestore EPOS functions compared to Ebizmarts and MicroBiz is the offline mode. So you can checkout orders without the internet connection. Later, data will be synced to backend once the internet is back. Regarding pricing, Magestore relies on a one-time payment. You may need to invest a higher amount upfront compared to the subscription plan, but save operational costs for your lifetime.
Want to know more about these top EPOS software providers?
Check out our FREE PDF Ebook: Expert Tips for Choosing Right Magento EPOS System. Get the key to your dream EPOS via step-by-step guide and detailed comparison between these most popular EPOS systems.