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Get Most out of Your Card Machines & ePOS

Published 10/03/2020

ePOS is a Powerful Tool, but are we Using it to its' Maximum potential?

Smart. Fast. Connected. ePOS sytems are a powerful – and vital – tool for any modern business, but are we using it in the best way possible? 

It’s easy to spot the businesses that are benefitting from ePOS – walk in to your favourite high street retailer, restaurant, cinema or supermarket and you’ll see it in action. You might tap your card on a now-familiar payment terminal, or watch the sales assistant enter order details on a touchscreen monitor. Even behind the scenes – beyond the obvious hardware – ePOS software is enabling you to place your order, top up your loyalty card and see the store’s latest promotions. 

However, it’s a lot harder to know how many businesses are actually realising the full potential of this brilliantly versatile payment technology. And from the other side of the counter, how do you know if you’re making the most of your business’s current setup? 

Here, we’ll look at the benefits of ePOS and how it works; we’ll explore how to optimise it; suggest how to upgrade it; and discuss the differences between integrated and unintegrated systems. 


Understanding How Your ePOS System Works

ePOS stands for Electronic Point of Sale and put simply, it enables businesses to accept a variety of card and digital payments; process sales; and record the activity. 

Every ePOS system comprises various hardware and software components, which can be configured in any number of ways. The beauty, therefore, is that these some – or many – of these components can be combined to suit the exact needs of your business. 

The most common items of hardware include payment terminals, cash drawers, receipt printers, keyboards and touchscreen monitors. And popular ePOS software includes things like stock control, promotions management and CRM system integration. ePOS is also connected to a business’s eCommerce site using software that syncs stock information with the shopping experience.

At the most basic level, any business with ePOS software and a card reader can carry out simple sales functions. However, when you start adding components and optimising the system, there’s a world of possibility to discover.  


Optimising Your ePOS System

To improve the way your business performs, you need to know how to use ePOS to its full potential. And the good news is, optimising your existing system can be done without spending more money on hardware and software. Here are five ways to start making more of your current setup:

1. Fully understand your system’s capabilities

Many businesses are unaware of the full potential of their ePOS setup – so get to know what you’ve got. Does your system have shortcuts that allow you to access popular items on the sell screen to speed up transactions? Is your loyalty programme integrated for a smoother customer experience? Does your system accept alternative payments such as PayPal or buy-now-pay-later schemes? Understand all the options available to you. If you’re ever in any doubt, your ePOS hardware provider will be able to supply you with any information you need.

2. Analyse your data

ePOS is able to capture a vast amount of data, but are you making the most of it? By analysing your data you’ll be able to spot trends such as the busiest times of day and seasonal sales. You’ll see which products are most popular and you’ll be able to target poor-selling products with price promotions. Armed with this information, you can then refine what you order from your suppliers and adjust your staffing needs. 

3. Consider the customer experience

The average UK customer will only queue for an average of 6 minutes and 46 seconds before walking away1, so take full advantage of your portable payment terminal instead of waiting for customers to come to you – or if you have a static system, use quick keys to speed up each transaction. Many ePOS systems can also record individual customers’ purchases, so use the data to send targeted emails containing items they might be interested in (just be sure to check that you’re adhering to the latest GDPR requirements, and that customers have opted in to receive email marketing). This level of personalisation will aid the overall customer experience and help to build lasting relationships.

4. Get your staff up to speed

To ensure you get the most out of your ePOS system, your staff need to understand how it works. So, show them how it can improve the customer experience. Invest time in giving employees demonstrations and allow them to get hands-on with the technology as opposed to just reading a manual – do what it takes for them to feel at ease with the process. 

5. Speak to your service provider

If you use a trusted service provider, such as Opayo, then be sure to make the most of their expertise. For instance, Opayo is able to leverage its wealth of experience to answer questions and provide valuable guidance – so develop a relationship with your service provider and use their insight wisely. 

Upgrading Your ePOS System

In addition to optimising your existing ePOS system, there are a number of upgrades that can be made for a small investment. In fact, the ever-increasing accessibility of affordable technology now allows small business owners to leverage the same technology as larger enterprises. 

Here are just a few examples of the most impactful items you could add to your setup:

- Receipt printer

Typically used to print credit card slips and customer receipts – but also used behind the scenes by businesses such as restaurants to print off orders in the kitchen – receipt printers are an important part of any ePOS system. Thermal printers are the most common choice due to their high print quality, fast speed and quiet functioning. 

- Tablet device

Tablets can provide customers with a vastly improved experience. For example, in a restaurant setting, you can take orders at the table and send them directly to the kitchen. And in a retail environment, you can process customer payments on the shop floor to reduce queuing. 

- Barcode scanner

Not only does a barcode scanner eliminate the need to key in a product’s details, it also automatically updates your stock count. What’s more, if you have products that are too large or awkwardly shaped for your counter area – or you’re looking for a scanner to aid with stock taking – then you can use a wireless barcode scanner to make life easier.

- Portable card machine

Unlike countertop card machines, portable card machines enable you to take payments anywhere on your premises – making them especially useful within restaurants, cafés, and pubs. The terminal can be connected through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and will accept contactless payments from a wide range of financial providers.

- Cash drawer

While cards are now the most popular payment method in the UK, cash still accounts for 28% of all sales made2. Therefore, a lockable metal drawer used to store cash remains a wise investment to make. Cash drawers come in many sizes and configurations, so make sure the one you choose is reliable and secure. 

- Touchscreen

Touchscreen monitors facilitate user-friendly processes that help to create a more efficient service. They not only enable staff to process payments faster than with older payment interfaces, but they free up counter space too. Instead of using an inefficient mouse and keyboard, you can simply touch the screen to command your actions.

Integrated or Unintegrated

While many businesses now use card terminals, there’s a divide between those who use integrated and unintegrated card payment systems. More and more modern setups are fully integrated, however earlier adopters of the technology may have installed a card payment solution separately from the rest of their system. 

These unintegrated card machines with ePOS are less complicated to install and are isolated from other components, so malicious access from third parties is eliminated and there’s less chance of data being lost. However, because of this lack of communication, the sale is prolonged – with the cashier needing to total the transaction on the register and then again on the card machine. Consequently, errors can easily be made, which can be costly to put right. 

Often found in smaller businesses such as small retailers and restaurants, these unintegrated card machines are certainly a step in the right direction to improving business processes and the customer experience – but it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks. 

Integrated card machines with ePOS, on the other hand, combine the cash register and card payment elements in a single process. You don’t need to re-enter the amount, because it is automatically sent to the card reader. And all payments are presented in the ePOS system’s end-of-day reports, which makes accounting easier. What’s more, expensive mistakes are eliminated because there’s less room for human error. 

Larger businesses can benefit significantly from integrated systems, but because the potential for data loss is present, it’s crucial for them to partner with a secure and reliable service provider in order to maintain reputation and avoid service disruption.


Conclusion on ePOS Systems

ePOS has the capability to be a truly powerful tool with multiple business benefits: it can improve the customer experience, and it can transform daily operations. However, as with most forms of technology, ePOS can only be truly impactful when used to its full potential. 

By actioning the advice outlined above, we are confident that you can start making the most of the ePOS technology you already have – and add to its effectiveness with the inclusion of affordable additional components. The return you could get from doing so is immeasurable. 

Whether your business is big or small, the benefits of ePOS are worth pursuing. But if you’re still unsure about where to start, then get in touch with the team at Opayo, who can put you on the path to ePOS optimisation.