EPOS Systems

By Aimee Bradshaw | Writer and researcher

What is an EPOS System?

EPOS stands for Electronic Point of Sale, and it is a system used by retailers of all sizes to process their customer transactions and ensure accurate stock control.The term is used to describe various software and hardware components that are involved in making a transaction technically possible and tying information about the sale into the back office and stock inventory process.

An EPOS system includes both the till used to take payment and any software that runs on it.

Due to different requirements in different merchant environments, the components of an EPOS system can vary. Typically, hardware elements comprise a cash till, some form of card reader and a screen with a keyboard or a touchscreen. Retail environments will often have a barcode scanner while hospitality environments might have handheld units.

While the term EPOS stands for electronic point of sale, modern EPOS systems can provide support for a large amount of front office and back office processes. A small business might be able to find an EPOS system which enables all necessary business functions and so won’t need any other software.

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Benefits of Modern EPOS Systems

EPOS systems can perform many functions and bring lots of benefits to a business, as outlined in this short video case study.

Take Payments

The main and most basic function of an EPOS system is allowing the merchant to take payment for a product or service. To this end, most EPOS systems include a cash till and some form of card reader.

This could be a PDQ machine, a Chip & PIN device or a magnetic swipe slit integrated into a keyboard. The type of payment processing depends on the industry of the business.

To process card payments, a merchant needs to have a merchant account.

Most EPOS systems support multiple checkout lanes or payment points and will keep track of the takings at each point in a central dashboard. Using EPOS software and modern equipment make it easy to keep track of daily, weekly and monthly sales and your customers’ preferred payment methods.

Inventory Management

An EPOS system designed for a retail environment will typically feature some kind of inventory management, whereby a sale registered in the till will automatically update the quantity of the sold item in the stock dashboard.

This makes it much easier for merchants to keep track of their stock and make sure they don’t run out. It also enables tracking of which items aren’t selling well and product trends. Some EPOS systems feature customisable alerts for certain events such as stock falling below a defined level.

Staff Management

Staff management is made possible by dedicated accounts for sale points. Any staff member manning an electronic till will sign in to their account, ensuring all transactions are accounted for.

The resulting data can usually be analysed within the EPOS software itself, giving insights into which staff members are pushing the most sales, which products are being sold the most and at what times. Some EPOS systems will also integrate with more complex staff management tools such as payroll software, allowing bonuses to be calculated directly from sales performances.

Customer Engagement and Satisfaction

Many EPOS systems either directly support customer loyalty and discount schemes, or will integrate with other customer loyalty software programs.

Additionally, an EPOS system provides many ways to increase customer engagement. For example: a thermal printer integrated into an EPOS system can print the company logo onto the customer receipt. Using an electronic, integrated till rather than an old-fashioned cash register will speed up transaction processes and minimise human error, creating a more positive experience not only for the customer but also for the sales clerk.

eCommerce

Many EPOS systems, especially cloud-based and hybrid software packages, will support the eCommerce side of your business. Sales in local brick-and-mortar stores and online sales from an e-shop can be tracked in the same system, making it easy to track business development and gain insights.

Accounting Integration

Most EPOS system will integrate seamlessly with accounting software such as Sage, Peachtree or QuickBooks, exporting your numbers and minimising the hassle of keeping your books balanced. If you prefer a certain accounting software you will need to check the integration capabilities of your chosen EPOS system or software bundle. Some are very flexible and will integrate with all of the most popular accounting programs.

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There is a wide range of EPOS system suppliers on the market, with some supplying hardware or software only and others providing EPOS-in-a-box packages or bespoke integrated systems. The type and number of components you need depends on your business requirements.

Factors that can affect the components you need are:

  • The size of your business
  • The industry you are in
  • What back office functionalities you demand of your software bundle

Pre-packaged systems are usually quite basic, although some suppliers offer systems tailored to a certain industry, in which case industry-specific components like handhelds, barcode scanners or weighing scales might be included.

Typical EPOS system components are:

Other components, depending on the system setup and the industry, could include:

  • Handheld terminal
  • Barcode printer
  • Barcode scanner
  • Weighing scales
  • EPOS keyboard

An EPOS software bundle will need to be installed to ensure all components are running correctly, all data is captured and integrated correctly into the central dashboard, and to enable back office functionalities and data analysis.

Aimee Bradshaw Writer and researcher

Aimee is Expert Market’s resident telephone systems, point of sale, and field service software go-to. If she’s not writing about business products, you’ll find her daydreaming about Dorset beaches.

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