Talk to a Specialist: 020 3376 5888

How does an EPOS system work?


Table of Contents

When considering the addition of an EPOS system to your retail business, remember that your choice of system supplier can make a significant difference. Their experience, availability and willingness to help can yield substantial benefits during the initial system rollout and ongoing enhancements.

Planning your implementation and optimising system usage in the years to come can all be facilitated by a reliable and supportive supplier. It is essential to evaluate the company’s track record, as their assistance can play a crucial role in maximizing the value of your EPOS system for your business.

Step 1: You create/import products

To assess stock levels and sales performance, you must create products within your EPOS system. This involves assigning a name, description, selling and cost price. In essence, relevant categories for reporting purposes (such as identifying it as a jacket). Once these details are entered, the system allows you to input the on-order and/or stock position.

When evaluating your preferred system, carefully examine this process. If you have numerous variants that require separate product entries, it will be time-consuming and prone to errors. This can complicate stock management and undermine its effectiveness.

Step 2: The EPOS system starts to play its part

The EPOS then sends the product info to each till. An effective system then auto-produces all the barcode/pricing labels that you need (or let you use the manufacturers labels). This automatic label production is a very important feature for you to evaluate. If it can only be done manually, producing barcode labels for lots of different variants is very time consuming.

To save still more work, modern EPOS software also allows you to create the products on multiple websites; your own website and even eBay and Amazon as well. The element to assess here is the extent of automation – watch out, because in some systems this may be a complicated 10 to 20 step process.

Smart EPOS software further reduces your workload by completely creating the product for you – automatically, on every website. Fully integrated EPOS software will do all of this in one step – rather than via a different company’s third-party software, which adds extra tedious steps.

Step 3: Sell products

By simply scanning the barcode at the till, you can quickly process a transaction. Comprehensive EPOS systems let you see a matrix grid display of stock availability in all locations, as well as have an integrated web link. That way every shop sale auto-adjusts the stock position on all your websites.

If a sale is made on your website, eBay or Amazon, then your EPOS system will auto-adjust the stock on all the other sites.

It also helps if your EPOS system can centralise all your web traffic in one place. This has the advantage of allowing you to run the sites more efficiently. You can copy products between sites rather than having to re-create them and automatically produce shipping notes. You can also see returns in one place, rather than having to go repeatedly into every site throughout the day.

Bear in mind that you may not currently be on the web but with time, you are likely to have more channels than is now the case. Make sure your selected system can cope so you are future-proofed. Many systems only link to one website channel and it’s often via a third party, rather than direct. Some systems also ‘daisy chain’ your web links – so that data has to be passed from one website to another. This dilutes your control while greatly increasing workload and potential technical issues.

Step 4: Let the reports flow in

Your EPOS system can generate sales reports, so you can see what’s selling, what’s not and where. Similarly, stock reports let you see what’s running low… and what’s not. Where products are not selling, you can shift your focus to increasing sales before slow sellers pull down your profitability. Strategic discounting or using Amazon/eBay to move these are both very effective tactics for increasing your overall margin.

Things to watch for here are that you can compare products overall AND to each other. If your products come in multiple variations, then in addition to assessing performance at the product level (e.g. a particular jacket has currently sold 10 of the 17 I bought) you also need to assess it at the variant level (e.g. red is not selling at all, or I need to order/move an XL). It helps an immense amount if variants are displayed in a matrix/grid format, rather than a long list.

Step 5: The EPOS system can do a lot more

Once you’ve set up your EPOS system for stock management and sales performance analysis, users often like to explore additional EPOS features. A popular addition is customer communications via automated texts and emails. This means that you can explore the possibilities for intelligent auto-ordering or automated stock transfers (if you have more than one shop).

However, the way an EPOS system manages stock/sales, how easy it makes it, how many steps per task, how clear – are all vital questions. Without an efficient, smooth EPOS engine… it’s not a good vehicle for growth and profitability.

Step 6: How to actually decide which system to buy

Every system’s software is vastly different, which is why it’s crucial to invest in one that is specifically built for your retail marketplace, not an ‘adapted system’.

For example, let’s say you sell clothing or footwear. An EPOS system that’s not been adapted for clothing or footwear might be cheaper, but battling with it each day costs hours of your time and, in the end due to its shortfalls, sales.

However, a system built specifically around the needs of your retail marketplace allows you to do the day-to-day EPOS essentials in a fraction of the time. It is because these are done so efficiently, you actually have the time to use the system to its full capacity (like multi-channel website selling).

With an inefficient system, daily tasks can become burdensome and time-consuming, often taking hours instead of minutes to complete. This leads to significant productivity losses and increased frustration among your staff. Simple tasks like processing transactions, managing inventory and generating reports can quickly become overwhelming. Don’t let this hinder the smooth operation of your retail business – invest in a specialist EPOS today.

By Top To Toe