Down Your High Street

EPOS Systems and How They Can Benefit Independent Retailers

For independent retailers looking to merge with the online world and align their businesses with the digital age, the introduction of an EPOS system is a great place to start.

EPOS till systems have proven to be extremely valuable for small retail businesses, collecting data that was once not available and providing insights into things like stock levels and customer analytics.

But what is an EPOS system, how do you use one and what are the advantages of investing in one? There are lots of questions surrounding EPOS systems, how they work and why they are so beneficial to retailers especially. Featuring advice from EPOS experts, this helpful guide to EPOS systems will provide answers and solutions for your independent retail business.

What is an EPOS system?

An EPOS or Electronic Point of Sale system is essentially a digital till system that can be used by all kinds of businesses. In fact, any business that deals with customer transactions can benefit from an EPOS system, but the equipment is especially useful for retailers.

EPOS systems include both hardware (till interface, barcode scanner, card reader etc.) and software (cloud-based digital programs), but the components of each system will differ depending on the type of business and the working environment.

What are the advantages an EPOS system?

The advantages of EPOS systems greatly outweigh the disadvantages, and the introduction of one can greatly impact the smooth running of a business. Extremely versatile, EPOS systems can be adapted to suit the individual needs of each business.

Increase in profit

Purchasing an EPOS system may feel like a risky investment to begin with, but the introduction of such systems has seen a rise in revenue for many businesses. Matt Crockett of Intelligent Retail has found that most businesses see a gross profit increase of at least 2% after installing EPOS software: “Connect has built-in retail intelligence for smarter decisions that help reduce costs, save time and improve profitability so that your whole business runs more efficiently. The typical saving is a 2% increase in gross profit. Many of our retailers say the system pays for itself in the first year, some within six months. For those that evolve into multichannel they can expect to see an increase in business revenue of up to 20% and increases in retail footfall by around 8%.”

Save time

While ordinary Point Of Sale systems like cash registers are great for managing shop purchases, typing each item’s price into the till can become a tedious process. Installing an Electronic Point of Sale system that knows the prices of products and has the option of a barcode scanner can considerably speed up the checkout process. This means staff are able to complete transactions in a smoother, faster manner, resulting in high customer satisfaction.

Get online

Getting your independent retail business online is much easier if you already have an EPOS system installed in your high street store. With an EPOS system, you will be able to keep track of the data from both online and offline transactions, manage stock levels and ensure all data is kept in one place.

Record sales and analyse data

If you already have a non-digital POS system, you may be able to see how many transactions your cash register made in a day, but you will not be able to identify customer shopping habits and manage stock turnover as easily. With an EPOS system, analysing data, comparing year on year sales and identifying sales trends is made simpler.

Stock control

EPOS systems provide an updated stock list - as soon as you sell an item, it will update its quantity on the database. This allows you to manage stock better and understand what is selling and, often more importantly, what isn’t. You can even set alerts when you are running low on certain items of stock. For retailers, this feature is extremely helpful; no more searching through boxes in the stock room - as long as new stock is added to the system when it is delivered, you will be able to keep track of it.

How safe and secure is EPOS data?

As with any form of technology, things can go wrong. Although this is a rare occurrence, its good practice to keep data backed up in a number of places. Luckily, the majority of EPOS providers store and back-up data on managed servers or on the Cloud, so you can rest assured that your data will be kept safe.

What the experts say:

Matt Crockett, Intelligent Retail: “Anyone who has ever lost data knows how painful it can be. It is important to back-up data, and with our Connect EPOS system your records are backed up and stored on servers which are situated inside a data centre (which is a large temperature controlled, secure room full of servers).”

Ian Tomlinson, Cybertill: “With Cybertill, each retailer has a unique URL and licence key to access their Cybertill system. User permissions for retail staff is role-based and easily managed by an administrator. All data is stored in the Cloud, hosted on Amazon Web Services and managed directly by Cybertill, so Cybertill customers can leave the IT headaches to us. The platform processes data in compliance with European laws, such as GDPR and gives retailers tools to ensure compliance as well.”

EPOS Systems for Retail

EPOS systems are perfect for all kinds of retailers from small independent boutiques to larger retail stores. With the option to select various different accessories and interfaces as well as the option of bespoke, intelligent software, businesses can make their retail EPOS system their own.

How can independent retailers benefit from an EPOS system?

With an increasing amount of independent retailers merging their bricks and mortar stores with the online world, the question of stock control is a pressing one for many. This is something EPOS systems are made to manage. Regardless of whether a product is sold in-store or online, your EPOS system will combine the sales from both to give you an overall stock level. On top of this, most EPOS systems have the ability to seamlessly process returns, offer in-store promotions and customer gift cards.

What the experts say:

Michael Bloom, Top to Toe: “It all comes down to the fact that knowing your stock, sales and customer information is a vital part of running any successful or evolving business. But only as long as the system is clear and intuitive. With precise, easily accessible data at hand you can buy better, manage staff better, retain customers, price better, spot and stop theft, automatically create a product on multiple web sites and also automatically feed the correct stock levels to all your sites. So we make multi-channel ecommerce near effortless.”

Ian Tomlinson, Cybertill: “The benefits of a digital system are almost endless. You will be able to sell more on more channels and with less effort. A digital EPOS and retail management system can help you stay competitive as consumers become more tech savvy.”

Can EPOS systems be adapted to suit the needs of different retailers?

Generally, EPOS systems can be adapted to suit the individual needs of businesses. However, there are many types of EPOS systems, meaning some will be better suited to your business needs than others. It’s important to be aware of how you will be using the system within your sector, and how it will benefit you as a company. Do your research and discuss your requirements with a selection of different EPOS providers before going ahead. 

What the experts say:

Michael Bloom, Top to Toe: “This all comes down to the system’s flexibility and ease of use. If you are tracking lots of different sizes and colours, then the system will need to have been specially designed for it to do this well. Look carefully and find the EPOS stock system that seems simple, easy to use and well-structured for sizes and colours - that is the one that will work best for you and give you the best results.”

Ian Tomlinson, Cybertill: “We often help small retailers build business processes for new services, acting as much like a development partner as we are a technology. The system is equipped to handle customisation with ease, and our ethos is one of customer-centricity, meaning that our retail customers drive our product forward. The updates that our large retail customers make to the platform benefits our customers of all sizes, and often niche industries as well.”

How do retailers first get their products onto an EPOS system?

Retailers with large and ever changing stock lists may be worried about the time it takes to input products into a new EPOS system. However, this is not something to be put off by. Most EPOS systems offer a range of product input options including manually inputting (approx. 30-60 seconds per product), importing a spreadsheet of products and even through uploading your product catalogue.

What if a retailer’s products do not have barcodes on them? How can an EPOS system help?

No barcode? No worries! Most EPOS systems have an option to print your own custom barcode labels for products that do not have them. There is also usually an option to enter a product price without scanning a barcode, for items that are too tricky to barcode - a completely normal ‘problem’ in the retail sector.

What’s the best package for independent retailers new to EPOS?

As with all investments, you need to be sure it is the right one for you. As mentioned previously, not all EPOS systems are the same, so it’s best to look into your business requirements and see if the EPOS system you’re looking at can fulfil these needs. Always opt for a ‘try before you buy’ or demonstration before purchasing an EPOS system.

What the experts say:

Matt Crockett, Intelligent Retail: “Always see an onsite demonstration of the product and ask for any important requirements to be confirmed in writing. There are many other elements to consider for example, how would you add an integrated website? Can the company offer online marketing services to help you grow? And what happens if you add more stores? Systems can range hugely in price, but the age old saying of you get what you pay for usually rings true once you dig deeper into systems. Expect to pay anything from £1,500 - £5,000 for a one till operation or around £69 per month on a subscription model.”

Michael Bloom, Top to Toe: “Our entry level WOW EPOS package is designed for start-up and smaller retailers and works with a range of till hardware or rental options. Prices including till software are from £19.95, and every package includes one-to-one training along with friendly support staff, all of whom have been working with retailers for many years.”

Ian Tomlinson, Cybertill: “Cybertill is not the cheapest EPOS available, however, it’s also not just an EPOS. Independent retailers with growth plans appreciate the breadth of our RetailStore platform. Also, once you buy the Cybertill RetailStore platform, you own it forever. No hidden costs, and free upgrades every 3 weeks. Cybertill offers a variety of monthly payment plans and the software includes unlimited support, 365 days a year and 24/7 online.”

What are the long term benefits for a retailer who takes on an EPOS package?

As mentioned earlier in the article, there are a whole range of benefits to introducing an EPOS system into a business. These benefits can only increase with time, and the right EPOS system will grow with your business. An investment into the right EPOS system is an investment into the future of your business.

What the experts say:

Michael Bloom, Top to Toe: “There is almost no value a business can place on good decision making and good infrastructure, and a good stock system is at the heart of this. With the right system, a retailer can sell more and increase their overall margin per sale and expand their customer base. When you are using Top to Toe, having multiple e-commerce channels is no longer a time consuming struggle. The long-term benefit is simply a more prosperous, more profitable business!”

Ian Tomlinson, Cybertill: “Cybertill’s RetailStore platform is an end-to-end retail solution perfect for retailers with growth plans. The system can integrate with many external systems and provides the basic functionality to offer omnichannel services, no matter if you have 2 shops or 2,000.”

EPOS System Checklist

To prevent any wasted time or money, experts advise that you do your research before settling on an EPOS system. Here is a checklist of things to look out for and bear in mind when purchasing your first EPOS system:

- Work out your business needs.

How will you use an EPOS system? Just for scanning barcodes? Will you need a handheld device as well as a till? Decide what you need before deciding on a system.

- Shop around. Do your research.

Don’t just go for the first EPOS system you find, make sure it will work for your business. Get an onsite demonstration so you can see how well it will integrate with your business.

- Don’t be fooled by the price.

As touched upon earlier, usually, you get what you pay for. Don’t be sucked in to cheap prices - make sure the system suits your business needs and has versatility you require.

- Determine whether the system will grow with your business.

You may be a small business now, but if you are looking to open more stores in the future or merge online at a later date, make sure your system is scalable. You don’t want to have to invest heavily in an EPOS system more than once.

Now that you have a better understanding of how Electronic Point of Sale systems can benefit independent retailers, it’s time to decide how an EPOS system will fit into your own business. Remember - there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to EPOS systems, but an investment in the right system has the potential to considerably shape the future of your business.

For customers of Down Your High Street looking to purchase an EPOS system for their business, the following discount codes can be used:

Cybertill - Quote ‘Down Your High Street’ for 10% off at Cybertill

Intelligent Retail - Quote ‘DOWNYOURHIGHSTREET’ for 10% off EPOS and integrated websites with Intelligent Retail.

Top to Toe - Quote ‘DYHS0010’ for 10% off first year software fees at Top to Toe (if used by December 1st 2018)