What to look for in an EPoS system
A strong EPoS system is an essential part of any retailer’s business operations, allowing them to understand what is selling and when, and to then order more stock accordingly.
As a tool for getting to know what your customers want and making sure you’ve got plenty of it, it can be unbeatable, providing a system is chosen that is suited to your business, and the people monitoring it know how best to get the information required out effectively.
What should retailers expect from their EPoS systems? Look for products that are up to date, but also have the capacity to adapt.
“A good EPoS system should add real and measurable benefits to a convenience store. It should simplify regular tasks and provide insights to retailers to assist them in maximising their profits in store,” says James Widdowson, group sales and marketing director at Point Four EPoS. “The basics are barcode scanning, stock control, assisted ordering, supplier information imports and so on. But with many different options or solutions available, it can be hard for retailers to know which solution to choose, but retailers should select an EPoS system that can grow with them as a business.
“Having to change to a different EPoS supplier or system down the line is always difficult, for the business owner and their staff, so always make sure the company behind the EPoS system is progressive, find out what new features have they released in the past 12 months and was there a charge for these?”
New EPoS technology
A technology that is already commonplace in the grocery sector, but is growing all the time, is Scan & Go, or self-service checkouts. These systems reduce the face-to-face interaction between staff members and customers at the till, which can reduce queues and therefore increase sales.
Mainetti, a provider of radio-frequency-identification retail solutions, recently announced a partnership with Scan & Go technology provider MishiPay to create a ‘frictionless’ shopping experience whereby customers can use their smartphone for their shopping journey.
“In-store shoppers, using their own phones, can scan existing barcodes on products to access additional product information and add items to their baskets.
“Price and promotion information is available in real-time, enabling the shopper to keep a track of their spending and savings.
“By enabling shoppers to eliminate time wasted waiting in line, we will help our clients deliver the in-store experiences shoppers want. We’re providing a solution that improves customer service and grows profits,” says Alan Tamny, Mainetti’s global general manager for intelligent solutions.
Before they look at introducing self-service checkouts, however, retailers should ask whether their customers want these new systems or if staff interaction is an important part of their shopping experience.
The world was already moving towards a cashless society before the pandemic, but Covid-19 increased the use of cards over cash enormously.
While cash payments are rising again as people start going about their lives as they did before the pandemic, the decline of cash in favour of card has still taken a considerable step.
“While the data showed that cash payments have increased vastly, only 27% of those we asked said their cash payments have increased post-pandemic, which shows that consumers are still perhaps wary of using cash or not aware that cash is being accepted again,” says James Harris, MD at Volumatic.
“This is perhaps due to cash not being promoted widely by some businesses – while all our attendees told us they still accepted cash, only 38% actively promote cash payments, while 81% promote card payments, which is surprising, considering the rising fees imposed by card issuers.”
James Widdowson, group sales and marketing director, Point Four EPoS
“The best EPoS systems will provide an assisted or suggested ordering function. For example, at Point Four, in just a few seconds, we can provide a suggested order for thousands of products taking into account the basics like past sales, current stock levels and stock on order, but also analysing promotional and seasonal trends, along with the specific days they are ordering for and the lead time of the suppliers. Calculations that would take a retailer a day if they were to do it manually.
“Like with most things in life, you only get out what you put in. So, staff training is key to ensure retailers and their staff know not only how to use the system, but also the benefits and reasons for using the system in a certain way. Sometimes, installing a new system will challenge a particular process or method of working, and when you ask why they are doing it that way, the answer generally is ‘I don’t know, but we have always done it this way’. Ongoing training is also beneficial, so plan regular training sessions to ensure staff keep up to date with the latest functions in the system.”
Ease of use
Having the best system in the world is only helpful if you’re actually able to use it and get the most out of it. Simplicity and ease of use should be key attributes retailers should be looking for in their EPoS systems, whether it’s allowing staff members to deal with shoppers’ purchases smoothly and efficiently, or enabling you to order new stock.
“Now more than ever, your tills have to be as simple as possible, down to the buttons on the till itself,” says Colin Manning, from Cantillon Group in Cork, who currently uses Station Master. “Otherwise the guy on the till will need more training and if the manager isn’t there, then mistakes will happen.
“It’s the same with the reports and ordering systems. It needs to be as easy as possible for everyone. No one wants to spend time looking for a report. If you have a bookmark on your dashboard featuring your top 10 products, that helps with the ordering. Anything we need, we look at the top 10 in the report.”
Ashton Gardner, Londis Westacre Service Station, Salisbury, Wiltshire
“First and foremost, good stock management is the most important thing you want from a back-office system. You won’t be pushing sales or getting the most out of the store otherwise. It’s important to find a system that moves with the times because we are pushing forward so fast.
“We’ve been with TLM Prism for a long time and we’ve just got a new system. They’re constantly adding new features and giving us updates. The new system is fantastic for stock management and feeling like you’re in your shop and maximising everything. You can see all your sales reports, but you don’t have the same powers for the nitty gritty – like finding an old invoice – that you did in the old system.
“You could do your whole accounting through the old Prism system. The new one is a single-shop stock management back office, which it is good at, but we like to dive deeper than that. We want to be able to pull up the report and find out what’s there.
“TLM has tills that are cashier-operated, but you can then switch it to self-scan if the staff are busy. That’s what we’ll be looking at with our next redevelopment.”