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The ultimate beginner’s guide to understanding an ePOS system

EPOS systems are straightforward to use and can make a dramatic impact on your store’s growth.

epos system
Image: Mobile Transaction

You’ve probably heard it said before: if you are a small business owner, then you need an electronic point of sale system. 

A traditional cash till might have served you well, but it can only take you so far. Outdated technology makes it challenging to scale upward as your business grows. You need technology that not only enables growth but can also help you facilitate it. 

Are you nervous about implementing an ePOS system, though? They still might be a bit of a mystery to you. Not to worry—using ePOS software is simpler than you may think, and it will make a remarkable difference to your business

What is an ePOS system, and how does it work?

Your first question is likely: what is an ePOS? Electronic point of sale systems are a combination of hardware and software that are able to perform the functions of a standard cash register and much, much more. You can accept payments, create receipts, accept returns, and everything else you’re familiar with. 

EPOS systems expand on these capabilities, though. Instead of only accepting cash and credit or debit card payments, ePOS software allows you to accept other forms of electronic and contactless payment. You can also send customers email and text message receipts to avoid using paper. 

The best systems include built-in inventory management software that updates your inventory in real-time, and they generate insightful and customized reports so you can get a broader look at your business’s overall performance. 

So, how does an ePOS system work? As far as hardware goes, you will need a device to run the software, such as a tablet, a cash drawer, and a PDQ terminal (a credit card swiper). Depending on your business, you may also need a barcode scanner or a physical receipt printer. 

You can opt for local network access-based software, in which case the main servers belong to you, or a cloud-based system from a third-party provider. Either way, you will scan items, the system totals and displays the cost to the customer, and then you or your staff can accept payment. It’s easy. 

Why use an ePOS system?

credit card being swiped at a point of sale
Image: Unsplash

There are numerous advantages of using an electronic point of sale system. Some perks that your customers will notice include an expedited checkout process and improved customer service. If your internet service is fast, then making purchases will go smoothly—ePOS systems work quickly and make it easy for your employees to apply discounts and promotions. 

Likewise, you and your employees will have ready access to information that can answer customers’ questions. Does a customer want to know if you have another pair of shoes in a different size? Instead of needing to check the back room while the customer waits, your employees can look at their tablets and learn exactly what inventory you have on hand. 

The system will also subtract that particular pair of shoes from your overall inventory once the purchase is made so that you do not oversell. 

One of the ePOS system’s most significant benefits is its ability to create reports. You probably create your own reports already, but you do so on a monthly or quarterly basis because doing so manually takes time. ePOS software, however, can generate reports on a weekly or even daily basis. If you want to grow your business and optimize its efficiency, it helps to have valuable insight into your sales history and customers’ preferences to make data-driven decisions. 

Deciding which system is right for you

If you’re convinced that you need an ePOS system, how do you know which one is right for you? As mentioned previously, you can go with a local access network-based or standalone system, or a cloud-based one that you pay a monthly fee for (this option will require less upfront configuration on your part). 

If you decide to go with cloud-based, then each provider will offer different features that you may or may not need. Every option will have elements in common, but some systems are designed for specific industries, such as hospitality, restaurants, service, or even different niches of the retail market. The right ePOS system for you should be customizable and include the necessary features you actually see a purpose for. 

Putting your ePOS system to work

Once your ePOS system is in action, you can use it to manage your business more effectively. Do you have multiple stores? That’s not a problem; you can connect every store to the same account so you can see what inventory you have in each location.

Do you want to know what your busiest times of day are? Your ePOS can tell you that, and maybe you can offer special discounts at this time. Is there a product you thought was more popular than it actually is? Then it’s time to order less of it and buy more of your top-sellers instead. 

EPOS systems are straightforward to use and can make a dramatic impact on your store’s growth. What questions about ePOS systems do you still have? 

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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