It’s been over 50 years since the arrival of the first electronic cash registers—or rudimentary point of sale systems—in the 1960s and 1970s. Those early POS systems allowed retailers to access up-to-date inventory numbers and record sales transactions, but the POS terminals were clunky, expensive, and difficult to use.
The primitive POS systems of yesteryear bear no resemblance to today’s electronic POS (ePOS) systems, which are designed to be mobile, versatile, easy-to-use, and priced so affordably that nearly any business can purchase one. The transition from traditional POS to ePOS has accelerated in 2020 as low-cost, cloud-based POS systems and custom POS apps running on smartphones and tablets continue to transform the industry.
Small businesses have so many new POS options available to them that sorting through them all can be a challenge. Below we discuss the best features and characteristics of an ePOS system for small businesses.
The Features That Distinguish ePOS From Traditional POS Systems
All POS systems handle sales transactions, and capture and store their accompanying data. Two features in particular set ePOS systems apart from conventional POS systems: ePOS stores sales data in the cloud rather than on the premises; and ePOS supports mobility.
- By adopting the SaaS model, ePOS systems make it easy for retailers to access their critical data via a browser or application running on a smartphone or tablet. Not only is the data protected from physical theft, but the amount of money the business has to spend on hardware and software is also reduced.
- Customers increasingly expect the businesses they frequent to offer more payment options, including bringing the POS “terminal” to them, whether via mobile POS apps or customer-facing, self-service kiosks. An ePOS system can improve the shopping experience for customers while also making the business more efficient and employees more productive.
Retailers also benefit from ePOS systems by knowing their sales, inventory, and other data is updated in real-time and easily accessible. By alerting stores to low inventory levels on hot-selling items and automatically placing reorders, ePOS systems help ensure that customers’ preferred items will be in stock when they’re ready to buy. In fact, customers are able to check on the availability of items themselves using the ePOS system’s mobile app or website.
Improvements an ePOS System for Small Businesses Can Provide
The principal advantage of an ePOS system for small businesses is one that many don’t anticipate: ePOS systems integrate all aspects of the business’ operation, boosting the bottom line by making its processes more efficient.
- Sales and other business data can be synced automatically across multiple devices.
- Products can be tracked from initial order to final sale with complete, accurate information about their status at each step of the process.
- Customers’ shopping and purchase histories can be recorded to provide retailers with greater insight into their clients’ preferences and shopping tendencies.
- Employees’ sales performance and productivity can be tracked to identify potential training needs and to make scheduling and staffing more efficient.
- By offering real-time inventory tracking and trend spotting, retailers can avoid overstocking slow-moving items and running low on their best-selling products.
- The mobile apps and custom websites offered by ePOS systems enhance the shopping experience for customers by providing them with a wide range of browsing and payment options.
The lifetime cost of an ePOS system can be much less than that of a traditional POS terminal because it is much less expensive to upgrade ePOS hardware and software. However, it’s important for retailers to work with a POS vendor who offers regular updates to enhance the security and functionality of the systems.
How ePOS Systems’ Flexibility and Adaptability Boost Profitability
The need for businesses to be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice has been hammered home by the restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. No longer are retail and restaurant customers free to shop or dine as they wish. One way businesses can mitigate the limitations imposed on their customers is by providing them with more shopping options. The mobility of ePOS systems puts customers back in charge, which can lead to increased sales.
- ePOS systems empower employees by putting more information in their hands. Not only can they view real-time inventory levels on their phone or tablet, they have access to customers’ purchase histories so they can offer clients personalized discounts and other special offers.
- Stores and restaurants no longer need to be anchored to a single physical space. An ePOS system can be deployed with ease at popup retail locations, such as street fairs and special events. A range of wireless mobile payment types are supported by the systems, which provides convenience for both shoppers and sellers.
- Even when operating at a number of different locations, retailers are able to view up-to-date sales and inventory information for all operations in a single, easy-to-read dashboard. An ePOS system also makes it simpler for retailers to conduct business while maintaining a safe social distance for customers and employees.
If customers aren’t able to come to retailers’ storefronts, the mobility of ePOS systems lets retailers come to the customers. There’s no mystery surrounding why small businesses of all types are adopting ePOS systems as part of their efforts to meet their customers’ needs during a time of tremendous transition.
An ePOS system may not be the best choice for all small businesses, but when you compare them to POS systems and other traditional approaches, it’s easy to see why ePOS is the most suitable option for retailers of all types and sizes. The best way for a small business to determine the optimal POS solution for its needs is by working with a vendor like talech who takes the time to understand its unique needs and budget constraints. When choosing an ePOS system, there’s no substitute for experience.
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