A good electronic point of sale system (EPOS) is at the heart of your business and is central to achieving your business aims. Monitoring sales, spotting trends and opportunities as well as managing staff resources and controlling stock are all components of any successful hospitality or retail business.
Although technology has progressed in many ways over recent years, the fundamental requirements and functionality of hardware and EPOS Software have not. Some core requirements key to all types of business operations are;
- Fast and efficient Payment Processing
- Opportunity to upsell and increase Spend per Head
- Accurate stock control and inventory management
- Data capture, reporting and management information
An old-school cash register doesn’t really cut it in today’s hospitality universe. But upgrading to the modern point of sale hardware with powerful but easy-to-use software costs money and so businesses fall victim to the “free” EPOS solutions offered by some companies.
Free EPOS software sounds like a myth, and that’s because it really is… free software is more of a loan, which typically costs you far more in the long run. Economically, it makes sense to avoid free software and instead invest in a good point of sale system from a reputable supplier like us here at Haven Systems, where you’d be able to ensure the system, software and support provided meet your business needs. The pro’s and cons of free EPOS software are really cons.
To better understand, let’s quickly look at the components of a ‘free’ EPOS system:
- Hardware – This could include the POS touch screen, all-in-one touch pc or separate processor (computer), customer display, barcode scanners, cash register drawer, kitchen display, and thermal printers.
- Software: It is defined as a specific program that runs on point of sale operations and does have a variety of features.
- Credit Card Processing– you must use their services, no negotiating on rates or terms
- Training– all remote, no local, qualified trainer with any experience
- Service & Warranty– at their mercy, no qualified support for on-site, nor any night and weekend support
It’s easy to understand that all these components cost money, and whilst you may be led to believe that credit card processing will cover the costs, it is actually far too low and so you’ll usually be charged a monthly fee for each system, any additional software, and any maintenance, on top of those processing fees, of which you have no option. This may not sound too bad, but when you add in the long contracts and the fact that in most cases the devices must be returned in pristine condition at the end of them, your business just ends up out of pocket with nothing to show for it.
The old saying, ‘cash is king’ is not as relevant today as it once was, with most transactions being either online or by Chip & PIN and mobile payments. The contactless card spending limit has increased from £15 in 2010 to the current limit of £100, the demand for digital payments becomes greater day by day.
Infrastructure has progressed with a move away from on-premise systems to cloud-hosted platforms. Dependence on a stable internet connection is critical, not only for the processing of payments and analysis of real-time sales data but also for the live verification of cloud tickets or bookings at is the point of entry, reception or Maître d’.
With the strides forward in technology, the reliance on systems and, therefore, the need for exceptional backup and technical support has become greater than ever before to ensure your system meets the needs of your business.
As you consider an investment in technology for your business, some thorough research into the level of support that you will receive will undoubtedly benefit you and may literally pay dividends further down the line.
What are the most important points to think about when considering the level of support that you require from your EPOS provider?
- A company that provides the complete solution, hardware, software and payments will make your life easier and will provide the highest level of support. A one-stop shop!
- Developing software in-house means that your EPOS provider has ultimate and instant control over the solution. There are distinct advantages to working with a company that is widely experienced in developing software and avoids the risks that often become apparent when software is sourced on a ‘reseller’ basis or downloaded via an app store.
- Consider the pre-sales process. Where a company is prepared to visit your premises and meet with you to discuss your specific requirements, then this demonstrates a partnership approach and a company that is likely to deliver the highest level of customer commitment.
Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to choose a reliable and trustworthy company. Always think long and hard before locking your business into a long-term contract where you have very little say over the terms and conditions. Especially since there are adaptable, service-oriented paid EPOS providers out there waiting to help you convert those sales.