Point of sales systems have been around for hundreds of years, and for most of that time they were not much more than a cash drawer and calculator. That was until now – huge leaps in technology have taken the humble till a long way forward in the last few years.
Today, point of sale systems can do so much more. They can feed data on sales straight to your accountant, keep track of stock levels and even find your best sales person.
Not only have all of these features come in with technological advances, but the price of a POS system is also now more affordable, lifting some strain from smaller businesses.
A till has become the cornerstone of a business, and that also means that if it falls short it can also send your business into disarray – so it is important to choose a system that really works for you. Here are some key points to consider when trying to find the right till option for your business.
Consider the cost
When choosing a till you need to look at how much you are willing to spend. A till bought off-the-shelf may set you back a couple of thousand pounds in a lump sum – while some of the new electronic point of sale systems can be run off a small device like an iPad with a subscription to a software-as-a-service plan.
Many of the new EPOS systems also offer free trials, giving a business more breathing room to find the right service and system for them.
Managing customer expectations
One of the biggest challenges new businesses face is dealing with their customers’ expectations for the newest technology.
If people come into pay with a mobile or contactless card as they have been doing happily with supermarkets and retail giants and you aren’t able to process their payments – you may find it harder to hold down regular customers.
As customer loyalty decreases across the world, convenience is key, so as a small business you need to make the customers experience as painless as possible.
It isn’t only in ease of payments where EPOS benefit customers, but in loyalty schemes too.
Small businesses often rely on dedicated customers, so offering loyalty cards to say thank you for using their business regularly can go a long way. These often get lost or discarded, but with EPOS even loyalty cards can be digitised – so your customers will never go unrewarded.
Caring for your staff
A smart EPOS system doesn’t just work as a standard till, it has added features that can be combined into the till to make your staff’s job easier – which will be reflected in the quality of their work.
Some systems integrate stocktaking, tracking orders by table and even staff sale statistics. These features mean that you can manage your business with more ease and automate jobs some to remove human error.
Most importantly, automating simple processes will free up your staff to add an invaluable human connection.
In the increasingly anonymous digital world, genuine human interaction is scarcer than ever before, which only makes it more valuable. So, try to empower your team to do the things computers can’t (yet) do, like offering an emotional connection with customers – it goes a long way!
Your business location
Standard off-the-shelf tills used to be more of a norm among start-ups, particularly in rural areas where WIFI connections aren’t always as reliable.
With new developments in EPOS some companies now offer smart tills that can work offline, with recorded details being updated later when an internet connection can be established.
This provides more security for rural businesses and also gives you more freedom as a business owner to go on the road – perfect for festivals, markets, pop-up shops and any other outdoor sales opportunities.
Equipment tailored to your business
Every business is unique, from their ethos, space, people and how they like to work. No one till will be perfect for every business which is why you need to carefully consider what point of sale system will best suit you and your team.
Businesses with more space can consider larger off-the-shelf payment systems, while others with limited counter space may need to consider smaller options like the new breed of tablet-based till systems.
You should consider the design of the product, your till will be a focal point in your store – so why shouldn’t it reflect your brand and match the style of the rest of your shop?
Most till software can be customised to suit your product range and individual business needs, but if you’re an eco-focused brand right down you might want to look at options that offer emailed receipts – not only do they minimise the need for so many annoying scraps of paper, but also capture customers details for future communications.
Not just a till
The new breed of EPOS system can help manage all aspects of your business. It has the flexibility to allow you to keep track of everything from cash flow to the stock of your items, with data collected and ready to analyse to tell you everything from your best selling products to seasonal trends.
Keep in mind that technology moves quickly, so you should aim for a till system that is future-proof and allows you keep up with the latest developments.
Be sure to examine the monthly subscription options and commitments, and talk to the providers about how they support technical issues and software updates.
Some systems can integrate other applications into your till to help you effectively manage your business. Online accounting packages like Xero and Exact can be used to provide real-time data, ready for your accountant to access, removing headaches and risk of human error, and freeing up your time to concentrate on managing your business.
Choice gives you freedom
With so much flexibility and options to suit every kind of business, in many ways, choosing a till which is right for you has never been trickier.
Therefore, it is vital to take the time to think about what your business needs today, tomorrow and in the day after tomorrow, and select and option that gives you freedom and the tools to focus on the growth of your business.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Oliver Rowbory. Oliver is the co-founder of The Good Till Co., a cloud-based POS system that gives independent retailers, bars and cafes access to powerful data intelligence. For more information see www.thegoodtill.com