EPOS: The Benefits
If you’re great at sourcing products, obsessed with customer experience and generally doing well, then computerised till systems, or EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale), may seem unnecessary. However, EPOS has come a long way in recent years, and offers a lot more than just a PC with a bar code reader. For that reason it’s probably worth asking whether the time has come to take the plunge. The trouble is, sales people will claim a list of benefits as long as your arm, and it can be hard to know which are genuinely useful. Here are some pointers to help you sort through the mess and see if EPOS actually does make sense for your business.
Better stock control is the most often-cited benefit of EPOS. If your products are suitable, it helps you reduce stock levels by maintaining up to date stock information and automatically generating purchase orders. This is good, but even better is the way you can use the resulting information to increase profitability.
By identifying slow and fast moving items and pricing them accordingly, you can adjust your prices to make the best of prevailing trading conditions. If an item is flying off the shelves, then adding a few pence to the price may be a shrewd move. At the same time, slower-moving items may be over-priced, and you can trim them accordingly. The key is to base your decisions on facts rather than guesswork.
In a store with a limited number of lines, stock control may be irrelevant, especially to people retailing one-off items like antique furniture. For others, however, the value of the stock released could pay for an EPOS installation on its own, while also increasing sales.
If you are an employer, of non-family members in particular, then being able to monitor staff performance (and honesty) can pay dividends. Added to that, you can measure the results of changing opening hours; find out when you are busiest; and measure the impact of moving products around the store. If you fancy yourself as a top merchandiser, then EPOS will either confirm your suspicion, or explain why your team groans every time you walk through the door.
Saving time is another frequently touted EPOS benefit, although the impact depends on a number of factors. If your goods are bar-coded, you don’t need to price each item individually. You also save time at checkout, because bar code scanning is faster and less error prone than pressing buttons.
Without knowing a lot more about your business, I can’t really say whether EPOS is right for you. Hopefully, there’s enough information here to make an informed decision on whether to take things further.
One final thought. All big retailers use EPOS systems. If there was any doubt about the business case, at least some of them would have rejected it. They may be big and you may be smaller, but with EPOS systems now costing from £1,500, small can also be beautiful.
Chris Barling is CEO of EPOS supplier Actinic Software, who specialise in retailing systems for smaller businesses. Call them on 0845 129 4800