There is only so much you can learn about EPoS from a website. The best way is to talk to the experts. The experts have been around in the EPoS world for years, they’ve seen and experienced the mistakes that other people have made and they have prevented.
Nisyst employ a team of Retail Technology Consultants who can visit you, discuss your business processes in detail and then help identify what you require from and EPoS Solution. The best part of this is that it is absolutely free! That’s right, 100% Free.
EPoS will become the heart of your business so do not take buying the solution lightly. With the right system you can increase your bottom line by streamlining your product range to products that actually sell and decrease wastage.
We would like you to read answers to some of the questions asked by business regarding EPoS systems below.
A: EPoS stands for Electronic Point of Sale.
There are many reasons why people will have gone into business. They have an ambition to build a multinational company. They are passionate about knowledge in their particular chosen field, and feel that they can help others, EG art specialists, model collectors.
Whatever the reason may be, there are a number of things that are crucial to the survival of a business, like Stock, Cash, Employees and the most important – Customers
Good EPoS software should allow you to control, very efficiently, at least all of the above, in a very simple manner. Let’s take each of these important points, and discuss how EPoS software should help you control each of these and at the same time your business.
Products v’s Stock – A lot of people will say, “…. What’s the difference?” well, it’s very simple, a product is the details of an item, IE the description, the cost price, the selling price, it’s size, it’s colour etc. The stock is the physical quantity of that product. So, you could have a product setup in your EPoS software, but not necessarily stock it. When you buy some from your supplier and you receive delivery of it, the product becomes a stock item.
A: Work on the business; let the EPoS system and your employees work in the business, so you keep full control.
You need to know what to buy, when to buy it, and how much to buy. You also need to know where to buy it from, possibly the cheapest supplier, but not necessarily based on minimum order levels and therefore delivery charges.
Essentially, good EPoS software will help you maintain the right levels of stock. This is not only based on minimum and maximum stock levels, but also based on sales and the number of days worth of stock you should hold. But, surely you have not got the time to calculate this for every stock item that you have, it could be 1000’s. So your EPoS software should do it for you. Basically, it needs to advise you based on criteria you have set. Since you know your business, you should be able to set that criterion. Naturally, the EPoS software should assist you in doing it, and it should be simple.
If you sell fresh fruit and vegetables, you will know that your prices for these can change on a daily basis, so make sure that you can keep the prices and the stock upto date simultaneously. Saving you and your staff time and at the same time making sure your margins are being maintained.
Entering the stock into the system should be fast and easy. Think of how you process your orders right now, think of how you check your stock off against the suppliers delivery note right now, and the things that slow you down. The EPoS software should be able to speed things up. You should be able to do jobs simultaneously, and with a lot less effort.
Hand held terminals can be a great help when entering goods into stock, but remember, this is only great, if the majority of your products have barcodes on them when you receive them.
Some people say that cash control is more important than stock, some vice versa. Whatever you think, everyone always agrees that cash is a very important aspect of a business. Epos software should be able to control your cash to such a fine degree that it keeps all your staff on their toes.
Sit back and think about all the different areas that cash is handled in your store, EG:
- Bank to store safe
- Safe to cash drawer
- Cash drawer to
a. customer as change
b. customer as cashback
c. supplier as petty cash
d. staff as wages
e. safe at the end of a shift or day
- Safe to bank
So, just think of the amount of times that mistakes could potentially happen in counting. Everytime someone makes a mistake in counting, it affects your bottom line! Quite often, these mistakes are not deliberate, they are just human error, so, what have you done in your business to minimise these type of errors? Or do you seriously think you do not make mistakes? We are all human!
Epos systems should allow you to take care of your cash from the majority of the above areas. Make sure that you can link to cash counters, change dispensers; this will reduce the counting errors. But these are external pieces of hardware that will help. There are ways in which the epos software itself should be able to help minimise errors.
Controlling cash is a difficult area, epos software should be able to record all the different types of transactions that happen through your till as above.
A very important area that the pos software should cover is the stringent ability to control cashing up procedures. What is the point of your shop trading all day and at the end of it, the pos software tells the cashiers, this is the amount of cash you are expecting in your cash drawer, tell me if you have it! A little pointless don’t you think. True cash control is carried out as a blind declaration, your pos software should not tell everyone what you have, you should tell your pos software what you have counted, and let it balance it.
Think about this carefully, if you are looking at opening multiple stores, do you want to continue to have the cash control or just let all your staff have the control? Who is answerable to the bank manager?
How many hours a day does your manager or supervisor spend in a day to count the cash in the back office? If they are in the back counting cash then who is managing the shop in the meantime? Make sure your chosen solution does not require your manager or supervisor in the back office all day.
Incidentally, make sure your pos software allows you, with the right user groups to check your takings!
So why are employees important in your business? Well, these are the people that you have trusted to run your business. You have potentially allocated a store manager, or supervisor, possibly even an area manager.
All these people have different levels of responsibility. You have possibly even given incentives based on their performance, so are you going to sit every evening working the incentives out or have a nice evening meal with some wine, and let your pos software work it all out ready for you.
Make sure that your EPoS software is able to deliver information about what your employees are doing through the day. Goods in? Sales? Refunds? Price overrides? Giving customer’s discounts? Who is give staff discounts, and to whom?
Make sure you are able to give the right levels of system access to the right people. For example, your Saturday staff do not need to know from which supplier and the cost prices of products, unless you really want them to.
You should be able to see the busy times of your shop, like hourly sales, to find out when you require more staff, or indeed when less is OK. Remember, hourly sales is not only important by sales value, but also quantities, this gives you an indication of average sales, typical basket size etc.
Ultimately, you are paying your staff, and therefore this is again affecting your bottom line, so having the ability to control this area, and at the same time, ensuring that the staff are aware that you have a professionally run business, they are more likely to be loyal.
Well, these people are the most important. With out them you don’t have a business, and therefore probably no need for an EPoS solution.
You all know, these are the people that you need to keep happy all the time. So how do we do that, well, here are a few tips:
- talk to your customers, and build a relationship with them
a. find out their interests
b. important dates
c. talk to them about the type of products they would like to see stocked
- stock your popular items
- give them an incentive to come back
- give them an incentive to bring their friends and relatives
- nurture them
- And I suppose the most important – keep smiling.
A pos system can’t help you keep smiling, so let look at all the rest.
Naturally, everyone talks to their customers, but how about remembering their birthday, or wedding anniversary, or their children’s birthday? And sending them a text or email on the special day?
How about being able to greet them by their first name?
How about being able to ask them how their golf game was today, because today is Sunday, and you know that they play golf every Sunday morning?
Make sure your pos software is able to give you the flexibility to be able to all the simple things above plus a lot more. Think about what you think will make your customers loyal to you, and make sure that your chosen solution will allow you to cater for your immediate and future requirements. Remember, business models can change, because times change, that does not mean you need to buy a new pos software again.
EPoS software, nowadays, should give you extreme flexibility on the types of promotions that you should be able to do. Give the customers points on their purchases, give different levels of points based on what they buy, have double point days and text the customers to let them know.
You are a customer also, how do you get treated at the stores that you go to? How would you like to be treated? So how do your think your customers want to be treated?
You need to know
- what your customers buy
- whether you have it in stock
- that you are going to make money on it
- what your best sellers and worst sellers are
a. but your worst sellers are not necessarily your most profit makers, so what are?
b. You may think that some items are best sellers because you keep running out of it, but is that because of pilferage, or because it is under priced, and actually, your margins are suffering?
- on what products are you still making a margin, and is that margin what you are expecting?
- Whether there are products in your stores where the cost prices have gone up but your selling prices have not.
People say that is why we employ managers and supervisors – but without the right tools, they are spending more time on manual work as opposed to ensuring that motivating staff.
A: There are 100’s of epos solution suppliers in UK, so how do you go about choosing the right one?
- Find out how long they have been in business. Generally the longer they have been around selling and supporting epos software, the bigger their customer base, and therefore more likely to have a stable product
- Find out if they have customers in your particular market. This will give you an idea of their experience in your market place.
- Make sure that they wrote the software and they are not selling a third party software. The biggest problem here is that if you ever required anything specific or bespoke development, it would probably take some time to develop and also you would end up paying more. The beauty about buying the epos software from the development company itself, is that it would be supported by the people who have immediate access to developers in the same business.
- What are your hours of business, and what are their hours of support? Make sure that extended hours of support are not charged at premium rate numbers. Ultimately, you are paying for support, so that is what you should get.
- Discuss with them what their future plans for the product are. You may think that you only want a PoS software, but if you spend £ 000’s on it, and the provider has no future development plans, you are buying an outdated product – don’t!
- “like them”. Remember you are investing a lot of hard earned money in this new epos system, you need to be able to work with this company. Go and visit them, meet their support staff. This will be a minimum 5 years investment – will you be able to work with them for 5 years or more?
- Take a good look at the system.
a. Involve your staff, make sure they find it easy to use also.
b. It is best to sit with the important people in your business and make a list of what you all want from the system, and WHEN.
c. Think about how many products you have and how you will get them into the system. How long will this take? How will the provider help you?
d. Do the majority of your products have barcodes?
e. Will you need to allocate and print your own barcodes?
f. Where is all your data going to be held? – locally or in some 3rd party server centre?
g. Who is responsible to backup the data? Will the system do automated backups and how often? You may find that when you install an epos system, your insurance company may insist on off site backups.
h. Find out if you are buying the software license, or if the license is an annual fee. Most reputable providers will only have a one off license fee, but would charge for annual support contracts. Find out if these are mandatory, or optional. If an annual support contract is not taken out, make sure the pos software is not going to stop working
These are just some of the software points that need to be addressed. Look at the hardware and ecommerce section also for hits and tips on what to ask also.
If you can, buy the epos hardware and the pos software from the same supplier. The beauty here is that there should only be one phone call for any of your staff or stores to make. They should manage the call from that point regardless of the problem being hardware or software. Naturally, you would need to have a valid support contract.
If you have to purchase the hardware from an alternative supplier, make sure that the software provider confirms 100% the specification, it is best to get it in writing.
Don’t buy the cheapest hardware, it does not always pay. If it’s cheap, there is probably a reason for it.
Think about it this way. if you are going to install double glazing in your home, your number of doors and windows will be the same whether you get a quote from supplier A or supplier B. we all know that there are different type of plastic, some change colour in sunlight, the beading is sometimes not has good, sometimes you get external beading. If you know what you are looking for then you know whether you are getting a good deal or not. In the same way, you can have different manufacturer of touch screens, different manufacturer of receipt printers and cash drawers.
For example, you can buy some cheap receipt printers, but they are slower, therefore takes longer to print off a receipt. This means that your customers are waiting a second or two more. Multiply this by the number of receipts you print and count up the amount of time you are wasting, and irritating customers – not good for business.
Some cheap cash drawers do not have deep drawers, so it means that you are forever going for more change, this takes you back to cash control and errors there. Make sure that you have sufficient compartments that you require. You’ll be amazed that some cheap cash drawers just have flimsy slots and no lock.
Make sure that the scanners are at least single line laser scanners. You can buy cheap scanners, but if you get missed scans, you are giving your products away to your customers FREE! Remember, they need to scan fast so that you can serve the next customer. Read up on the scanners, don’t be scared to ask for the make and model of the scanner they are quoting you for. Get a manufacturer specification sheet on the scanner.
You may have heard the terms “MTBF rate”? This is the Mean Time Before Failure rate. This is normally published by all the major hardware manufacturers – ask for it.
Touch screen – find out what sort it is, IE glass or membrane. Personally, I prefer glass. Don’t be scared to “have a go” on the touch screen. People who come to demonstrate the pos software will have been doing so for years, so they are going to make it look really easy – YOU TRY IT. Don’t be scared. Think of it this way – if the pos software is stable and easy to use, just by you trying to do a sale should not break it. If you press the wrong keys in the wrong order, it should not break it. Your staff might do that once you’ve bought it. So take my advice – “TRY IT!”
Integrated or modula hardware
Generally, integrated hardware is great for people with little counter space. Remember that is your premium selling space, so you don’t really want to clutter it up. If the till is integrated it will probably be a bit more expensive than modula, since modula tills have a number of interconnecting cables, eg touch screen to till, till to receipt printer, receipt printer to cash drawer, and of course a 2 or 3 mains cables and adaptors.
An integrated unit however would normally only have a cash drawer cable and a mains cable. Unless of course you have a number if tills, and then you would have a network cable also.
This is one of the reasons why modula hardware is generally cheaper than integrated hardware.