Traditional cash registers have gotten retail businesses this far, but now is the time for a new kind of technology: electronic point of sale systems. Not only do they make it possible to accept credit cards and other types of electronic payment, but ePOS systems can also provide you with detailed reports, track inventory, and otherwise help you run your entire business.
What are ePOS systems made of, though? What is the technology behind them? Before you decide on the ePOS system that is right for you, here are a few tech facts to keep in mind:
Equipment can vary
The equipment involved in ePOS terminals can vary. All of them include some sort of device, like a laptop or tablet (often the latter, because you can easily connect external card readers to them), a receipt printer, and likely even a cash drawer. The nature of your business influences what other kinds of devices you may need, such as a barcode scanner.
For example, a home decor store will likely have a barcode scanner so that employees can quickly scan an item and register it in the system. An ice cream shop, on the other hand, does not codify its products this way; instead, employees mark what customers order on the screen, and can, therefore, do without the scanner. ePOS systems can even send email receipts, so it’s possible that a business could make do with only a tablet and credit card swiper.
Note: Though cash is falling out of favour in the UK, it is still in your best interest to be able to accept it. Becoming an electronic-payment only business excludes people who need to use cash, such as those living beneath the poverty line, or individuals who prefer it.
There are different kinds
There are a few kinds of electronic point of sale system:
Cloud-based: A cloud-based ePOS system is when a third-party company hosts the POS software. You will likely need to purchase your own devices (though some may also include card readers and related technology in the deal), but now all you need is an internet connection. Many of these services charge monthly, and you do not have to install or configure any software yourself (make sure your internet connection is sufficient, though, or else you will not be able to accept payments).
LAN based: A “local area network” setup entails a centralized database server that works alongside the POS system. This server will be a separate machine, which will help you in the case of internet outages, but you’ll need to configure everything yourself or hire someone to do it.
Standalone: A standalone setup is when the server and POS software are installed in the same machine, which is convenient for small businesses that don’t facilitate a high number of transactions each day.
It records a variety of data
Setting up your ePOS system necessitates uploading UPCs and other relevant codes from your store’s inventory. Do this once (and whenever you decide to sell a new product), and then the cashier only needs to scan an item to record its data.
The system monitors far more than prices, though. It tracks on-site and online stock, the name of the cashier conducting the transaction, discounts, time of day, and other information that can help you trace who comes into your store, what goes out, and at what frequency more efficiently.
The best systems write you reports
What can you do with that data, though? The best ePOS software will create a detailed report that incorporates this information so that you can manage your business better. For instance, what times of day are customers coming in the most? You could offer exclusive deals at this time, or make sure you are better staffed during particular hours to ensure a smooth checkout process.
Another example would be the number of a specific product sold. Maybe a product you think is your most popular is actually not—or perhaps you do not realize just how popular a different item is. You can make decisions according to the numbers and stock more or less of a product depending on how many people purchase it.
They can integrate with other platforms
Some ePOS software options will provide accounting features, but if yours doesn’t, it can hopefully integrate with whatever accounting software you would like to use. It should also be capable of integrating with external retail apps like Shopify—and, of course, your respective bank accounts.
An electronic point of sale system can make a tremendous difference in your business. They can make inventory management and handling payments almost seamlessly while providing you with valuable insight into your customers’ behavior, and maybe even save you money. What features do you want your ePOS system to include?