How to Choose the Right Hardware for Your EPOS System
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In a society that is evolving to use less cash, an EPOS system is an essential addition to your business. How often have you had people asking you if you take cards? If you don’t, you run the risk of losing custom — accepting debit and credit card payments is vital for business growth.
Whether you are a one-man band or the proud owner of a restaurant empire, you can leverage technology in your business. EPOS systems level the playing field between David and Goliath by making technology more accessible — it was previously only an option for larger companies.
If you are new to the world of EPOS, you may wonder where to start.
Identify your business’s needs
There are many options available to you, but you must first identify what you need from your EPOS system. An EPOS system isn’t just a place to stash cash, and you should be clear on what one can do for your business — choosing the right EPOS system is just one part of the puzzle. You need to make sure that your EPOS hardware does what you need it to.
This way you’ll be able to choose a system that has the features that you and your business need.
Do you want your EPOS to link to your e-commerce store? Do you want to be able to ring up orders anywhere in the store? Do you need a reliable receipt printer? Or perhaps you need a barcode scanner for speedy service. Perhaps you’re looking for a solution that gives you the functionality of a full EPOS but with a small footprint.
The hardware that you choose will impact on what your EPOS system is capable of, and how you use it.
The system that you choose needs to be easy for employees to use.
iPad EPOS systems are the go-to solution – Apple is so successful because their software is designed to be fast and intuitive. One major benefit of an iPad-based EPOS system is that your staff will need virtually no training — they’re already used to the technology and iPad interface — unlike old proprietary touchscreens or punch tills, which require specialist training.
They’re also far easier to service. If your touchscreen till breaks down then you might have to pay for a repairman to come out and service it, or, worse, pay thousands of pounds to replace the whole system. By contrast, if the iPad that you’re using as an EPOS stops working, you can simply download your EPOS app to another iPad and use that instead.
Unlike proprietary touchscreen and push-button point of sale systems, which utilize specialist (and, all-too-frequently very expensive) technology, iPads are consumer goods priced for the average consumer. You can find iPads for sale in pretty much any town center, or get one delivered to your door with just a few clicks. If cash flow is an issue, then there are a plethora of second-hand models available for significantly less than what they cost new.
What’s more, iPad EPOS systems are far more aesthetically pleasing than the original cashpoint service tills. iPads are easily portable — or, if security is a concern, you can opt for a secure iPad stand like the Heckler WindFall. This stand screws into your countertop making it as close to theft-proof as possible.
You may find that your business’s premises dictate the type of EPOS hardware you go for — and receipt printers, which connect to your iPad in a variety of ways, are no exception.
Receipt printers tend to connect to your iPad using either Wi-Fi, LAN, Bluetooth, or USB, and each type of connection has its own advantages and drawbacks. Wi-Fi printers are flexible and you can connect several to a single iPad, but they’re harder to set up and rely on you having a stable Wi-Fi network.
USB printers, by contrast, connect directly to your iPad using a Lightning cable, so you’ll never lose connectivity. The drawback of this is that you can only connect one printer to your iPad.
You also need to consider the number of transactions that the hardware is likely to have to cope with. A Bluetooth printer is a great option for many businesses, but if you experience a high volume of transactions, your business could be better served by a LAN receipt printer for fast, long distance, reliable communication.
There are two major providers of EPOS printers — Star Micronics and Epson. Their products are largely similar, but some EPOS systems only integrate with one or the other, which is something to bear in mind if you’ve already got EPOS printers set up.
Most receipt printers are thermal printers, but in particularly hot and crowded kitchens then an impact printer like the Star SP700 might be a better option. These are noisier and print at a lower resolution than thermal receipt printers but they are harder-wearing.
Or, if you need to scale down your footprint then one option might be an all-in-one model like the Star mPop, which combines a cash drawer and a receipt printer into one sleek, piano-black unit.
Along with the iPad and the receipt printer, the card reader is another vital piece of the EPOS puzzle. Being able to take advantage of the latest payments technology is a key reason to upgrade from a cash register to an EPOS system.
Payment processors tend to supply their own card terminals — normally on a lease — so the specific terminal you get will depend on the payment processor you choose. But all card terminals do the same thing, more or less: they allow you to take card payments.
Other card terminals have larger screens on which you can display your branding, and some others have inbuilt receipt printers for customer card receipts — these are made by Worldpay, and are leased to merchant providers like Paymentsense and PayZone.
Pretty much every modern card terminal comes with NFC capabilities, meaning they can accept payment using contactless cards and phone-based payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Another thing to keep in mind is whether your card terminal is integrated with your EPOS system. If it is, you can send payment details directly from your iPad to your card reader — if not, you’ll have to type in each transaction manually. Integrated payments are a real boon if you’re in a fast-paced environment with lots of transactions to process.
An EPOS system can’t change your business, but it can certainly add to it.
You want your customers to enjoy the holistic experience and environment of your business, and there is no reason why the design elements need to be compromised by the style of your cash drawer and printer. This is your opportunity to get rid of your cumbersome cash register!
You need to be clear about what you want and be vocal about your needs to your supplier. Once your supplier understands how you need your EPOS system to perform, they’ll be able to direct you to the most relevant hardware and help you to find a system tailored to your requirements.
With USB, Wi-Fi and NFC-enabled EPOS hardware, you can boost efficiency every step of the way. The data that an EPOS system collects will give you increased visibility of your business, unlocking actionable insights. Find out when the busiest times are, what are your most popular products, and what percentage of customers are new or returning — data which can be used to make fact-driven decisions to boost your business’s success.
George is one of Nobly POS’s co-founders. He’s completed a masters in Management and Organisational Analytics and has helped build digital teams and products for companies such as BSkyB and McKinsey & Company. It was at the latter where he met his fellow Nobly co-founders and the rest is history — they’ve been providing EPOS systems for coffee shops, delis, restaurants and bars for five years.