What to look for in an EPoS system

What to look for in an EPoS system

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Posted by Gwyn Russell

Choosing and EPOS partner

We know that every business is different and so are their demands for an EPoS system. It is vital that the system is on the leading edge of technology without being “bleeding edge”. It is crucial that a system as complex as an EPoS system is well set up and programmed so that you can maximize the features of your system to provide you with the most benefits. It is important that you make sure you have a an EPoS partner that understands the software inside out, while knowing your business and has experience in programming, installation and training. Gone are the days of the Arkwright till where all the cash register was, was somewhere to hold the money and some sort of balancing device. The modern EPoS system is a powerful business tool that is vital to running a successful hospitality or retail business.

Stock control

Not only will your EPoS system have to provide a place to put the money but it needs to control your stock holding and provide you with intelligent reporting to make sure your money works for you and you don’t end up with dead stock and random ordering. It should be not just a compass in your business showing you the way but a GPS to highlight potential pitfalls before they impact your business and opportunities that you can take advantage of.

Controlling your cash

If there is any movement of either stock or cash or any other payment it should be recorded in your EPoS system. Accurate, timely information is vital to running a successful business. Just as important, is that it must be easy to use and easy to obtain that information. If it is a long hard grind to get a report will take you or a staff member days to compile, most people will not do it. If the information is easily to hand and quick to obtain, it is a valuable and accessible resource that will help you run your business and allow you to make informed decisions while pointing the way forward to profit and success.

Monitoring Staff

We all know that staff are the most important and usually the most expensive resource in a business. Your EPoS system should help you to schedule your staff shifts, then control them and keep records of the staff hours and jobs. Reports that show you how busy you are and when are an important tool in planning staffing and opening hours, if you aren’t getting this nugget of information regularly in an easy to read format without hours of compilation, you are missing a vital part of the puzzle you need to operate an efficient profitable business. It is extremely valuable if you can get the sales by time range during the day and if that is broken down by department it provides a wealth of great business information.

Making sure that you can monitor the staff that you have so that you can see who is doing what and how well, will highlight who your best staff members are and who might need some additional support or further training. You EPoS system should be showing you as much detailed information regarding each staff member as you need but priority would be highlighting things like voids and returns. You should also be able to see which staff member does the most turnover for a specific date or time so that you can schedule your best staff at the busiest times to make sure you provide great service to your customers. Your best salesperson is the staff member who is dealing directly with your customer so monitoring those staff and making sure you are training and supporting those staff who need it is vital.

Simple features like being able to open tables or accounts on any terminal whether or not the Internet is working should be a minimum. Allowing staff to log onto one till and continue that same sale on another till by just logging into it should also be available and also not be dependent on the Internet connection. Similarly if you use remote printers as kitchen printers etc. they should be accessible from all tills and again not reliant on an Internet connection.

Maximizing profits profits

In our competitive world it is often necessary to provide offers to encourage customers and maximize profits. Not only should your EPoS provide the simple BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) type offers but also more complex offerings like meal deals. It should not be the responsibility of the staff serving the customer to be aware of all the offers but should happen automatically when the correct selection of items has been rung up. It should also have the option of prompting the operator that a potential offer is starting to encourage your customer to take advantage of the offer provided. Often you will run these specials to increase business at specific times. Your EPoS system should switch these specials or offers on depending on time of day and day of week. Some specials are only available for a limited time period so the system should be able to start and stop those offers automatically without you having to remember to start or stop them.

Cloud based systems

Cloud based systems are here to stay and are a great use of new technology but the actual ringing up of items and the customer facing operation should not be dependent in any way on the Internet connection as this would cause issues if you had any sort of Internet connection issues. Your EPoS system should have the back office on the Cloud so that it can be accessed from anywhere and by the people who you have authorized to access it. The system should also allow very detailed restrictions and authorisations on any people who have access to your back office system. There will probably be some people who have access to all your information and are allowed to change anything and some people who are only allowed to see certain reporting information that is necessary for them to do their jobs.

Cloud based back office systems should provide you with the ability to show you some key information about your business at a glance with the ability to “drill down” to see more detailed information. For example if you could see that there were a large amount of voids for a particular day then you may need to drill down to see what staff member was performing those voids and so you could address the issue with further training or investigate why.

Back office systems should give you access to a lot of information about your business for any time period that you would like to see. You may want to see what turnover you did over the last week, last month or year this far. But also you may want to see what items were sold the last August Bank holiday so you can prepare for this August Bank holiday.

Reporting and information

A well setup EPoS system will provide your business with all the necessary information in a sensible easy to read format as a matter of course while not being unnecessarily onerous or boring for you or your employees.

The reports should also be available for long periods so vat periods or quarterly or annual reporting should be as easy as a touch of a button and the report for that period should be available. Stock control is a massive advantage that a back office should be able to give you. In the ideal world every order should be entered in the system, then deliveries recorded and purchases confirmed when invoices are made. Once all these are done you will be able to see at any time what you stock levels are, not only that any discrepancies will be highlighted and can be acted on. You will also be able to see the profitability of each item which will help you make informed decisions about what stock to keep and at what price to sell that stock. The system should also be able to provide you with a suggested order for a particular supplier or item to make your life easier when placing orders.

A good back office system will give you the chance to program the system. Not only that but you should be able to program a big price or product change at your leisure ahead of time and have the system implement it on a predetermined date so it will be done without a massive amount of work under time pressure, which would normally have to happen outside or your normal trading hours.

Loyalty / membership systems

Loyalty systems are a wonderful way of not only rewarding your customers and encouraging them to patronize you but also a way of finding out who is buying what and when. If a points type system is implemented then it is a great incentive for your clients but also the rewards given are a lower cost to you than a straight discount.

Gwyn Russell
Gwyn Russell