What is an EPOS System?

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 19:00
What is an EPOS System?

Simply put, an EPOS is an Electronic Point of Sale.

A technology designed to record the sale of goods and services for a business.

That is its simplest definition, but there is a great deal more to what defines EPOS systems in an age where electronic sales are practically the norm.

The Main Kinds of EPOS System

There are many varieties of EPOS system available but here we break them down into two main categories.

Integrated EPOS Systems

These EPOS systems are developed as part of a complete system. The terminal and software are built together as well as (in some cases) with the scanner and printer.

These often more rigid options give businesses precisely what they need to get started straight away with a simple EPOS setup.

Pros:

+ Completely self-contained

+ Simple installation

Cons:

- Restricted to one format

- Not compatible with many optional features

- More difficult to update and modify

Standalone EPOS Systems

These systems offer a more robust set of configuration options. Focused on the software, these systems often use third party hardware to provide their solution to businesses.Some of the most popular standalone EPOS options use Microsoft and Apple hardware, often as a result offering a very attractive design with a plethora of additional options.

Pros:

+ Available on a diverse range of setups

+ Can utilise a range of additional hardware

+ Software focus allows for faster development of new features

+ Simple to update and modify

Cons:

- Dependant on other technology

- More difficult initial setup of all hardware 

What You Will Need to Get Started

In each case above (despite the various differences) there are a variety of features that are generally consistent in each case. Despite the ability to process payments digitally, there will always remain the need for a cash drawer for instance. If you are interested in an EPOS setup then see our hardware packages for a more cost effective solution. There are many other features that are generally required if you are opting into an EPOS setup for your business:

Monitor/Screen

Whichever type of point of sale you are using you will always need some kind of visual output. Whether that is a monitor built into the system, an iPad tablet or even a mobile phone, the visual display is vital for taking you through the payment process. Not to mention touch screen systems where the screen is the sole point of access to the system.

Cash Drawers

Despite more and more people using digital card payments, there is still the need to be able to take payments in cold hard cash. This cash needs to be protected, meaning a secure access cash drawer is a must for almost any business.

Furthermore, the necessity to store any customer receipts and printouts ensures the need for a cash drawer for the foreseeable future.

Printers

Printers come in a variety of different forms from the simple till receipt printer to more dynamic thermal printers. In business these printers are used both at the client facing end (to provide an order receipt) and as a part of the business process (as in kitchen or warehouse printers where the product or service is made or found).

Terminal Mounts & Stands

Whether you are working off of an integrated EPOS or something more dynamic, you’ll still need a stand for the EPOS terminal. Some all-inclusive systems alleviate the need for a custom stand with the terminal and till built together. Other more customisable systems however, provide a host of stand options from the standard till setup to other more unique varieties.

Barcode Scanners

While some integrated EPOS systems come with a built-in scanner, the more robust options can be utilised alongside independent and even portable barcode scanners. Some systems that utilise mobile phone or iPad software can also use these devices built in cameras to perform barcode scans.

Chip & Pin Readers

Hand-in-hand with modern EPOS solutions, chip and pin readers provide the fastest way to take or make a payment. With the recent introduction of contactless payments in the UK it has never been quicker or easier to make card payments.

Internet Access

For any modern EPOS setup, internet access is a vital component. Integrating multiple tills, accessing reports, updating software and cloud hosting are just a fraction of the features that make internet access a necessity. WiFi access in particular allows the use of wireless EPOS setups from the tills to the kitchen printers and scanners.

How Does an EPOS System Work?

Comprised of the computer hardware components and peripherals above, as well as custom made software, EPOS systems provide the user the ability to process a wide variety of transactions types. But how are these transactions performed?

Effectively it comes down to three main stages; Input, Processing and Output

Input

Whether using a keyboard, touchscreen pad or other form of data entry, the EPOS system offers a pre-set selection of products, services and variables that account for everything on offer to customers from the business. Data is input by the employee which is then passed to the processing stage.

Processing

Processing comes in two forms. Processing of input data and processing of payments.

Input data is cross-referenced against the EPOS system’s data such as product stock volumes, table availability and total costs. These calculate information far more effectively than a human and are much less likely to return a miscalculation. The required information is then passed back to the visual display.

Payment processing utilises additional peripheral devices such as chip & pin terminals to complete transactions. Using an internet connection, the payments are processed via the payment service provider integrated with the system. These payments are then passed to the businesses nominated account. The system records all of these transactions which are available for analysis via custom reports as well as within the end of day totals. Cash payments are input directly from the terminal screen.

Output

Once the order has been confirmed the system will output the transaction details including the change and receipt as well as passing the order to a printer to complete the process (such as in a restaurant kitchen).

Benefits of Adding an EPOS to Your Business

The use of an electronic point of sale in business has grown exponentially over recent years and it is not hard to see why. Changes to how we as a society want to pay have dictated a fairly rapid transition. This is not to say that EPOS isn’t to the benefit of businesses as well.

Speed

Electronic sales are fast and if that was the only advantage they had over traditional payments it would probably still be enough. More often than not people want to get in and out of stores quickly and the ability to take card payments rapidly through electronic means has made the process all the more easy for both customers and businesses.

Convenience

The processes involved in electronic payment processing are significantly easier than a standard transaction. EPOS systems can now be readily customised for your businesses needs meaning that you have a setup that is genuinely working for you.

Being able to take payments in a variety of ways also means that the system has something to fit every kind of customer.

Security

While serving a payment system over WiFi might not sound like the most secure option, the extensive safeguards put in place ensure that the payments and orders being put through are relatively safe from malicious access or tampering. The EPOS system providers dedicate a great deal of time to system security due to the range of businesses using their systems.

In addition, extensive digital backups offer a level of security over your invoices and orders that makes old fashioned receipts seem relatively unsecure and effectively only as valuable as the paper they are printed on.

Administration

There are many facets to running your own business and overseeing the tallying of daily orders, staff performance and stock takes are but a small yet time-consuming part of it. With the competition prevalent in the EPOS provider industry, the need to offer convenient time saving solutions is critical.

EPOS providers offer a digital solution for these daily chores that can take literally seconds to compile. With individual employee logins, stock tracking features and individual till and full daily takings print outs, these inconvenient jobs have become far more manageable.

Accuracy

Machines don’t have the scope for human error, so you will rarely find yourself in the situation where a till is inaccurate unless someone has made an obvious mistake. With intuitive controls and completely custom programmed pricing and payment features, the possibility of error is becoming increasingly less likely.

Additional Features

Beyond the standard payment processing and kitchen receipts there are an abundance of additional useful features available to many of these EPOS systems. Integration with online stores, customer loyalty options and even social media integration allow businesses to interact with and attract customers in new ways.

If you are interested in taking advantage of an iPad EPOS system then please get in touch with our team on 0800 404 5805 or take out a free 14 day trial in minutes with no commitment or credit card sign-up.

Brian Ramsay