Managing an independent company in an effective and controlled way is essential when you consider that, on average, one in three new businesses fail within the first three years of trading. Small business owners need to take steps in the early stages of business to ensure that all processes are monitored. EPoS (Electronic Point of Sale) systems offer many benefits to all kinds of businesses, from small bed and breakfasts to multi-branch retailers. Not only do they help make the checkout process smoother, they allow you to track and collate valuable information from all areas of your organization, helping you to easily manage your company. Even with market research, competitor analysis and business planning you still cannot be sure of how your business will perform until it’s launched. By tracking product performance, profit margins and trends right from the start you are giving your business the best chance to succeed, as you can easily identify any problem areas. An EPoS system can be set up to track all of this information, sending it to you in daily, weekly or monthly reports.
Businesses that sell perishable goods such as food and drink will benefit hugely from EPoS functionality. Being able to forecast quiet times during the year means that fewer products can be ordered, reducing waste. EPoS software allows company inventory to be updated instantly. This data can be shared between multiple till points and stores and safely stored and reported in one place. A retailer using this information will be able to re-order stock before it runs out. Effective stock control management can be as vital as cash flow management for a small company. In another instance, you may find that while your beauty salon is making a profit, several of your treatments are running at a loss because of staff costs and equipment. A company without EPoS software might miss this loss leader because they are only monitoring overall performance. Increased stock control is another advantage offered by EPoS. Many smaller companies ‘get by’ using spread sheets or basic databases, which is fine in the first instance, but for business owners serious about growth it is not an efficient use of time.
One of the biggest strengths that EPoS offers is the ability to monitor and understand customer behaviour. By offering your customers loyalty schemes or by having a free reward card, in return you will be presented with valuable transaction information. For example, you might find that women are more likely to purchase toiletries than men. To incentivize a larger purchase at the checkout you might offer a free gift, such as a woman’s wash bag or nail varnish with every sale on toiletries over a certain amount. In another example, you could create a mailing list of customers from your hotel that in the past have booked summer weekend breaks. Sending out an e-shot to these customers with a special offer is likely to incentivize them to return to you before looking elsewhere. In a time when sites such as Groupon and Voucher Cloud allow consumers to check for discounted offers before making a purchase, it is vital that independent retailers be proactive.
Finally, EPoS software allows you to monitor staff performance. By giving each member of staff their own login, you can monitor who is processing the most transactions, who is successfully up-selling and who needs more training. You can use this tool to incentivize staff by setting up commission or reward schemes for the most sales or the most up-sells at the checkout, for example. Having this concrete data available to you will make staff reviews and training plans far more quantifiable.
Smaller businesses often shy away from technologies such as EPoS as they present an initial cost, however the returns from customer satisfaction, increased sales, and better business management soon surpass the initial outlay. Understanding the ins and outs of a company is vital to its success. The more information you have available, the better the decisions you will be able to make and the faster your business will grow.
Jacyn Heavens is the managing director of EPOSNOW, a market-leading national company based in the UK. With over 10 years’ experience in the EPoS industry, EPOSNOW works with hundreds of independent retailers every month helping them to implement an effective EPoS system to benefit their business however large or small. Jacyn is on the board of directors of a number of other businesses offering both general direction and advice on increasing sales by implementing best practice and the latest technology.