Posts tagged ‘electronic point of sale’
Electronic point of sale is not just about the cash register, but also the software behind it and how this integrates with your existing business processes. Here we look at the steps you will need to go through in order to make the best decision for your business.
Your business objectives
Why are you thinking about EPoS and what do you need to get out of it?
Will it be a stand alone system, with little integration required, but simply used to improve service? Or are you looking for help with sales information, stock control, accounting or customer relationship management?
Are you looking to integrate with CCTV, website sales or online bookings?
And what are your marketing objectives behind these requirements? Are you looking to increase turnover, profit, reduce staff or other costs, slow churn rates or increase customer base?
What hardware do you need? A cash register presumably, but you might need scanners, mobile PDA’s, wireless router, printers, scales, CCTV equipment, chip and pin.
Do you need customer display, to take payment at table, keyboard or touchscreen?
What software are you looking for? You can integrate with accounting packages like Sage, stock control systems, including supply chain links. You can integrate with customer database software and your website so that online and offline sales are co-ordinated.
There may be industry specific software you can use or you may require something simpler and more generic or more bespoke.
Are you looking for an on-site system or a cloud-based system? This is still fairly new, but it is possible and will not take too long to enter the mainstream.
What support will you get and how much extra will it cost you. If you are operating outside of normal office hours, you will want to be sure you can fix problems as and when they occur.
This can be particularly agonising if you have hardware and software from two different suppliers, each blaming the other over a specific problem.
Also, what training will you get beforehand, so that you and your staff can hit the ground running? No customer likes to see a member of staff agonising over a new till when all they want is their food, item of clothing, hotel room, etc.
This leads on to the supplier themselves. Are they reputable, credible and listening to you? In any event you should talk to more than one potential supplier.
Can they supply references? Look at testimonials on their website. Have they a couple of current customers you can ring and chat with? What is their install, warranty and refund policy?
Make sure you have a proper demonstration, all your questions are answered satisfactorily and that you feel comfortable with not just the person you are dealing with but the company as a whole.
Any system is going to represent a significant investment for your business and you will want to ensure you get the best price possible. It is easy to say that price should not be the most important consideration, but when you have pressures on all costs, as most businesses do these days, every penny counts.
Nevertheless, the most important aspect is the suitability for your business. Get that right and the system should pay for itself within two-three years. Make sure it does what you need; it works with your existing set-up; is right for your customers and staff and choose the best supplier for the job.
Often the cheapest supplier may not be the best. Will they give you the equipment and support you need for the money? Will they still be around in two years time? Don’t make savings now that could cost more later.
You probably know the basics, at least, of what EPoS can achieve for your business, but do you know everything?
Did you know, for example, that there is software that will link to your suppliers, enabling you to track orders door to door and see where problems occur? Or that your customers could book a table in your restaurant directly from your website?
Improve Stock Control
It is the obvious place to start, but that’s because it is a crucial part of your business – too much stock and you are tying up cash, not enough and you lose not only that sale, but possibly all future sales with that customer as well.
The software available with electronic point of sale can help you maintain the correct stock holding, warn of low stock, allow for automatic re-ordering and give you immediate, real-time stock reports.
Your inventory management is enhanced: you can monitor trends through the day, week or season and identify slow and fast moving and most profitable lines; see if price or product changes affect sales of stock; and let customers know in advance if stock is low or out, via your staff or your website.
Integrate Sales Information
Save time with your accounting requirements. Link your tills directly into your accounting package and have constant, up-to-date information.
You will cut down on errors, save paperwork and improve your records for the accountant and the tax man.
EPoS also enables you to aggregate site specific sales with online sales. This means there is no confusion or delay between sales in different areas of your business causing problems for your staff and customers.
Work closely with your supply chain
Not only can you automate orders, you can link directly with your suppliers via hand-held devices that can track goods, monitor timings and any delays, report stock levels at the warehouse which might affect your purchasing decisions and keep track of delivery in real time.
Giving suppliers important information about your customer purchasing trends and marketing activity also helps them ensure they have the right products at the right time – they don’t want to lose a sale either.
Improve speed and accuracy
Because you are not entering the same information several times, there are great time savings to be made. Multiple user facilities, accurate pricing and integrated electronic payment processing help to reduce user error and speed up service at point of sale.
If necessary, price changes can be made quickly and easily and are immediately programmed across all your systems and at point of sale. With all this automated information at their fingertips, staff have more time to manage the customer experience and up-selling.
Reports are easy to print and give you valuable information which you can feed back into your business. These could be for accounting or cash-flow purposes or to check the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
You get reduced human error and greater data integrity. Your customers also get improved information, instantly knowing stock levels, prices and offers.
Know your customer
The data you are capturing provides excellent marketing information: sales trends, performance of promotions, buying habits, average spends and timing of purchases and customer history for more personalised engagement.
It provides a great platform for testing new products, prices, offers and adds to your knowledge of your customers.
This helps you to make their experience better, protects you from the competition and helps profile potential new customers that you want to attract.
You can link to database software to keep in touch with your customers and update them on offers, news, events and why they should keep coming back to you.
Enhance the customer experience
Your customers want instant understanding of their needs, fast and accurate service at point of sale and to feel afterwards that they have made the right decision.
The more you know about your customer, the better you are able to serve them. It makes them feel special and speeds up the interaction as well as keeping them coming back. It is also good for referrals as they will tell their network about you.
We all want to receive good service by competent people who value our custom. Happy staff, accurate systems and customer knowledge help create that great customer experience that we all look for.
Imagine this – you run a restaurant; a customer goes to your website, books a table and pays a deposit direct from the site; they get a confirmation email and you have ensured you have stock of items they have ordered before.
They arrive a few minutes early on the night; you have the table ready for them and may even have a bottle of a wine you know they like on the table; you allot them the waiter they had last time; make recommendations throughout the night based on their history; offer some kind of promotion based on their repeat business.
Every new bit of info from this visit is now in the system; the check is sorted quickly and easily at the table; you invite them to events that might be relevant to them on the way out; they go home relaxed, happy and feeling loved; they have also spent a little bit more than last time, but have not even noticed it.
Whatever your business, this scenario is possible. It might be slightly idealised, and a good maitre’ d would ensure some of this happened anyway, but with the level of software currently available, integrated in to your EPoS system, you need leave nothing to chance.
So, if you want to save time and money, take some of the hassle out of your operation and improve your profit, make sure you are doing enough with your EPoS software – your business could depend on it.
How do your customers want to engage with you?
We all have a wide range of customers and they all expect different things from us. Some want to engage with us and ask for our time. Some want minimum interference – they want and appreciate great service, but want little contact. Some are nervous and want reassurance that they have made the right decision.
And, of course, they are all right because that is who they are. It is our job to know what they want and respond accordingly. Naturally, this is not always easy and it can take a little extra time – a precious resource few of us have.
Wouldn’t it be good if we could ease that process? Filter customers in accordance with their behaviour and needs, so that we spend most time with the ones that need our time most?
EPoS Online customer booking technology
Well, there is a new service from ICR Touch that might just help. TouchPoint 2012 is an online automated reservation system and it gives customers an element of control they are not used to when booking a table for dinner.
Of course, as we can see from the above, this service will not suit all your customers and prospects, but the ones it does suit will be amazed.
From your website they can book a dinner table, pay a deposit and receive an email confirmation that assures them that everything is OK, without even leaving their armchair.
The TouchPoint 2012 integrates with your website and table plan. Your system will allocate a table based on the numbers and availability. All information is recorded and sent to the till. Confirmation is sent by email.
Increasing sales through customer interaction
From the customers’ point of view, this is impressive, convenient and time saving (it can be hard getting a phone answered in a busy restaurant).
From your point of view, it saves time, instantly captures information about customers (name, email and preferences) and could help to convert website traffic into bookings.
And what about those customers who don’t like the technology and want to stay analogue? Well, now you’ll have more time to spend with them and they’ll feel special because they have your attention and are not being processed by some machine.
Secure test run
If you would like to test this, we have set up a dummy reservation system on our website – simply enter your details and make a booking and the system will do the rest.
Do not worry. This test site is entirely confidential and your details will not be passed on to any third party for any reason whatsoever.
If you have a retail, food or hotel business and have, or are thinking about, electronic point of sale systems, you might be interested in using the software to improve your customer loyalty.
You know your EPoS system can tell you how often your customers visit, how long they stay, what they buy and how much they spend.
And you probably already have tactics in place to get them to spend more while they are with you or to try different products from their norm, so how good would it be to get them to come back more often?
We come across loyalty promotions all the time, and the essence of these promotions is to keep you spending with that same company. Well, its’ very simple to create your own version.
- free item after so many qualifying purchases, like tenth latte free
- discount on next spend, like free wine against next meal
- extra value, like reminder and offer on birthday, valentine’s, etc
You can target new customers (to entice them to return) and existing customers (to get them coming back more often). The key to success is being clear about your objectives and gathering as much information about your customers as possible.
The transactional analysis your EPoS system gives you is important, but all your communications should build on this knowledge, asking your clientele for more information all the time enabling you to better understand them and what motivates them and giving them good reason to keep coming back to you..
When you marry your objectives with what your customers want, you have the makings of a very successful promotion. And your EPoS software can help you do this.
So, how loyal are your customers? The answer is, they are as loyal as you want them to be. For more information, visit our website.
Well it is an electronic machine, so it can process information faster than we can. However, we cannot hard-wire to our brains, so our hands are still required to manipulate the interface. That said, an automatic system will enable you to input far more information, more accurately than you could by hand and delivery it to other departments far quicker than, say, a waiter delivering an order from his three part pad. Read More [...]