Like all modern conveniences, an ePOS system isn’t something today’s customers give much thought to, but the average adult probably interacts with an ePOS system nearly every day. Picking up a few things at the market? The clerk scanning your items is using an ePOS system. Buying a round at the pub? The barman closes out your tab with an ePOS system. Booking tickets for your next holiday? You guessed it: ePOS system. So what is an ePOS system, and how does it work?
A Point of Sale or Point of Purchase system is a combination of hardware and software that allows a merchant to interact with a customer in order to process payment. Technically, an old-fashioned cash register would be a POS system. However, most such systems today are computer-based; hence the term ePOS. These systems can operate locally or via the cloud.
So how does an ePOS system work? That depends a lot on what the merchant needs it to do. Calculating the cost of a purchase, processing and recording payment, and issuing a receipt is the bare minimum, but an ePOS system can do so much more. An ePOs system is like the control centre for your business. No more manually entering inventory into spreadsheets, keeping ledgers, or losing track of employee schedules. Nearly everything you need in order to run your business, including building a relationship with your customers, can be done through an ePOS system and its software packages.
Setting Up a Database
The ePOS system stores a list of every potential purchase in the merchant’s inventory along with their prices. These could be items on the shelf at a retailer, menu items at a pub, services provided by a technician, or any other product. A good system will handle every variant of a product, like size, colour, or style, and every combination of a product, like for gift baskets or glasses of wine poured from a bottle. The process of setting up an inventory database can initially be cumbersome, but can be sped up with the use of barcode technology. Additionally, some systems make it easy to perform bulk actions so you are not stuck editing items individually.
Making a Purchase
When your customer makes a purchase, items can be scanned into the system with a barcode scanner or entered into the database through a touchscreen. The item is then automatically taken out of your inventory, and any custom discounts and taxes are taken into account. As long as everything is properly set in the system, there is never any worry about the wrong price ringing up or missing inventory.
Some ePOS systems come with hardware like chip readers and numerical keypads as part of the package, but often you have to purchase these things separately. Fortunately, however, they are not as expensive or cumbersome as they used to be. You can get a credit card reader that connects right into your iPad, and most are standardised and simple to use.
The most useful part of a comprehensive ePOS system, is the ability to take almost any kind of payment. Customers expect to be able to pay for their purchase they way they want to pay, and a good system will support that. Many offer contactless pay in addition to the standard swipe or dip, PayPal, cash, and the ability to pay on lay-by or on account.
An ePOS system makes the customer’s experience at the till faster, smoother, and more convenient than ever before. They can pay how they expect to pay, and with advanced inventory integration, they can check a business’s website to see if a certain item is in stock before even venturing out to the shop.
An ePOS system supports the general operation of your business so you can focus on making your customers happy. When they keep coming back, an ePOS system makes maintaining customer loyalty programs a breeze.
Behind the Scenes
The major advantage of ePOS systems over a simple cash register is the added functionality they offer to businesses on the backend. Most ePOS systems offer inventory management, and some offer services so comprehensive you will no longer see it as a full-time job.
The ePOS can even help cover your business when supplies are getting low by sending an alert or automatically reordering products. Prevent revenue loss by never having another stock out. Integrated systems also generate sophisticated reports for managers, breaking down sales by season, time of day, promotion type, or any other imaginable criteria.
An ePOS automatically captures customer data, which can help you develop targeted marketing campaigns. Labor management functionality can be implemented into an ePOS system as well, allowing managers to handle scheduling, communicate with staff, assign tasks, and even replace the time clock and generate payroll.
An investment in an ePOS system is an investment in the growth of your business now and in the future. Make sure you do your research and purchase one that will not only help you expand your business but expand with your business as well.