Keith Bateman: The value of EPoS for smaller independents

Keith Bateman discusses?the value of EPoS for the smaller independent garden centres.

For smaller independents, retail management is often done by experience, knowing the business inside-out, with stock control and reordering done by eye. Given that works for many organisations, at what point does EPoS (Electronic Point of Sale) become viable?

There are some misconceptions about EPoS Systems. Firstly, that they?re only practical for businesses with large sites or multiple centres and secondly, that they need a huge team to run them. In our experience, smaller independents and a site with upwards of two tills can benefit from the greater control and the time and cost efficiencies provided.

Expansion can be a catalyst to consider EPoS. Retail management becomes a larger task and having a handle on sales, stock levels and profitability is harder yet ever more crucial. Here, EPoS can truly come into its own, helping to control operations, stock, sales and streamlining your team?s activities. Compared to a cash register, EPoS provides invaluable real-time information about your customers, products, sales and stock.

On the shop floor staff has accurate information readily available to answer customer questions. EPoS touchscreen tills ensure service is quick and efficient, reducing the likelihood of queues. EPoS brings the ability to integrate chip and pin card payments so the need for a separate PDQ machine is removed, saving time and errors.

Data collected at the tills is instantly available to your back office team so they can monitor sales, performance and make informed decisions. Overstocked lines are easily identified and action such as running a promotion to reduce stock levels and release capital can be taken. Powerful reports and KPIs keep you in control to monitor performance and profitability.

With full access to your customers? buying habits, EPoS helps you to increase customer loyalty and repeat visits. You can target consumers with relevant promotions, events and bounce back vouchers such as offering a free drink on their next visit.

EPoS also helps you manage your VAT rates. Each item is set up with the correct VAT rate, taking the guesswork out at the tills and removing the risk of under or over-paying the VAT. Product labelling is transformed through EPoS, saving the cost of the price labels and the considerable time spent applying them. Prices can be changed instantly on the system with a single shelf label reprinted.

Another misconception is that you will need to manually key in all the details for the products you sell. If you don?t have all of this information to hand, your EPoS partner should be able to help you easily gain it from your suppliers.

Advances in technology mean EPoS is now even more accessible. Where EPoS back office retail management is cloud-based, your data is held at a dedicated host provider. These specialists are dedicated to keeping you operational around the clock. You?ll have full access to your data 24/7 while they provide unrivalled security. The time taken to maintain an EPoS system is greatly reduced as your partner takes care of the back-ups and overnight upgrades minimise the disruption in-store.

The cost of EPoS has sometimes been a barrier for smaller independents. This is overcome if your EPoS partner offers low monthly subscriptions to reduce the upfront capex. Investing in EPoS is never a decision taken lightly and it?s helpful if your chosen partner specialises in garden centres. Our team includes ex-garden centre retailers for this very reason.



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