Trends & Features

The benefits of EPOS

Chris Barling, CEO of EPOS supplier Actinic, offers a way through the EPOS maze

EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) systems have been around for a number of years, but cost factors have mostly restricted their use to the larger retailers. More recently, the advent of low-cost Windows PCs and imported peripherals has brought them within the price range of much smaller stores. 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 an EPOS system would make sense for your business.

Better stock control is the most often cited benefit of EPOS. It helps you reduce stock levels by maintaining up-to-date stock information and automatically generating purchase orders. In many cases, the value of the stock released can repay the cost of the EPOS installation, while also increasing sales. You can also monitor changes over time, which helps to adjust your ordering in line with seasonal trends. For example, it can help you decide how many tennis racquets you need to reorder if you run short and it’s late in the summer.

Improved stock control 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.

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 suspicions 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. Time-savings also extend to the checkout, because bar code scanning is faster and less error prone than pressing buttons. So you can improve the service you offer your customers as well.

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 complete EPOS systems now costing from as little as £1,500, small can also be beautiful.

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