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epos till system UK

EPOS Systems: The Ultimate Guide February 2024

It seems in the modern world that there’s always new technology coming out that will supposedly improve the lives of businesses and customers one way or another. Everyone’s always trying to sell a new gadget or gimmick that will revolutionise the game.

Every now and then, though, there is something that comes along and guarantees that nothing is ever the same again.

Since the introduction of EPOS Systems in 1992, commerce has become breathtakingly efficient and made commerce more accessible and pleasant.

Here we’re going to look at the technology that has completely changed how we shop for goods and services over the last thirty years, and how you can make the most of it in the years to come.

epos systems for restaurants

What are EPOS Systems?

EPOS System is an acronym for electronic point of sale. Sometimes it’s referred to as just a POS. They are essentially modern tools, that require a screen or some other type of electronic input to be set apart from traditional tools retail before the digital age.

In this age of not just digital technology but also the Internet and seemingly endless information and collection of data, every business must make use of the technology available to keep up with its competitors.

Initially, EPOS Systems were clunky machines that struggled to barely register their input, but now they are sophisticated units that can make a huge difference to a company’s efficiency. By closely tracking data, storing information, operating systems, and contributing to accounting, they can help to severely cut down on a company’s costs in both time and resources.

Now that we have EPOS Systems, it seems crazy that businesses ever went without them. They offer endless benefits in terms of flexibility and secure storage of money and data.

That’s why most companies always keep a close ear to the ground on what the newest EPOS Systems are and what updates are on the way so that they can always keep their efficiency at the highest level, or risk falling behind the competition.

They still of course have the crucial function of an old school, non-electronic cash register. Cold hard cash hasn’t quite gone out of date yet, and most businesses are kidding themselves if they think they can go by without a secure way to keep hold of change, especially if they are a brick-and-mortar store.

However, once people realised what they could attach to the unit, the high street never looked back. As the computers of our homes and offices have grown more sophisticated, the same only naturally happens for EPOS Systems too.

Initially, the technology was used for fairly basic needs, such as providing an integrated calculator, logging employee hours and letting customers know that the business was modern and up-to-date.

But now numerous EPOS Systems companies are trying to outdo one another on who can provide the most sophisticated software and hardware so that the businesses they sell to can thrive.

And in the 21st century, this evolution has expanded far past the physical till itself. EPOS Systems are a crucial aspect of how many companies connect to the wider web, such as their own website from which they further sell products. There are other further benefits which will look at later.

But let’s not forget about the humble hardware that holds everything together. These physical pieces are at the forefront of every EPOS System and likely will be for years further to come.

    But what exactly is included in an EPOS System’s hardware?

  • First of all is the cash drawer, which must be lockable and made of a secure material. There’s no point looking at the more sophisticated aspects of EPOS Systems if you’re still storing your change in a fanny pack. While some stores such as Amazon’s flagship grocery shops are attempting to phase these out, we’re still a long way away from that possible transition ever becoming the norm.
  • The card machine is also an important part of the EPOS System. It processes payments and facilitates the electronic transfer of funds through either chip and pin, contactless cards or Apple/Android pay. These are currently going through a time of change, with many smaller businesses in particular using more portable card machines that pair with the owner’s or an employee’s phone.
  • Barcode scanners are now taken for granted but have actually contributed hugely to modern commerce and how stores can quickly adjust the pricing and storage of their products and services. These can be integrated straight into the system calculator to streamline things and also helps to record other pieces of data at the point of sale such as units sold, or total weight of goods sold in a day et cetera.
  • The receipt printer is the last key piece of hardware, although like the card machine it is also evolving. As people increasingly expressed concern about the environment and have access to their expenditure data digitally, old-school style receipts are slowly going out of fashion. However, some new innovation may be just around the corner that once again makes them an essential part of everyday commerce.

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What are the benefits of EPOS Systems?

So, what’s all the hype about with EPOS Systems? How come we didn’t just stick with the 1970s style of cash register that let you store some change and a pocket calculator to go alongside it?

The truth is that EPOS Systems have absolutely revolutionised modern commerce. The seemingly basic hardware that we covered alone has completely transformed businesses’ and customers’ behaviour and the new software that is always being updated is constantly refining and updating the system for commerce’s wider benefit.

Electronic cash drawers play the absolutely essential role of protecting your business’ currency from thieves and robbers. Knowing that such events are deterred brings a whole lot of comfort to your employees and your customers, making doing business in your store a much more relaxed way to spend time. Many modern systems also help to count change and even sometimes detect fake currency, which helps to speed up your rate of business and protect you from fraud.

Barcode scanners also show that your business is up-to-date with the newest tech and are crucial tool that allows you to stay flexible in the day-to-day running of your company. Different systems can allow barcodes to include vast amounts of information about each individual product. Using a barcode, you can easily keep a record of not just what product a customer has bought but also things like its weight, its expiry date, the date of purchase, whether it was on sale or not and other such nuggets of information. The collection of data like this allows you to make better business decisions in the future and always stay on top of the continuous flux of everyday business life.

The card machine also of course makes everything easier for both your employees and your customers. Tapping a card on a machine is a lot quicker than counting out change, and you don’t run the risk of storing large amounts of cash in your store. The evolution of card machines over time has allowed customers to first go from the arduous task of getting their money from the bank to using their bankcard directly to now often just tapping their phone or their watch! The slow process of change has obscured just how far this technology has taken us in terms of ease of business. According to expertmarket.co.uk, in February 2022 the average falling cash withdrawals across the UK was around 40%, so card machines really are a non-negotiable if you want your business to survive in the modern world.

But it’s not just these ever-evolving pieces of hardware that make life easy for businesses.

The constantly ongoing software updates and connectivity benefits are also allowing many businesses to thrive like they never have before.

The web-based system that EPOS Systems provides can allow businesses that use it properly to hugely improve their growth and adaptability. EPOS Systems have now gone from being one of the everyday pieces in a brick-and-mortar store to being the beating heart of many businesses that allows them to plan, organise, keep records, and track many important parts of the ever-churning business machine.

But this beating heart doesn’t just help keep businesses alive, it’s also an essential tool for expanding and exploring new possibilities. It is the bedrock from which many businesses jump from a local one-off store to an area franchise or even from an area franchise to a well-known brand name.

This is made possible by modern EPOS System functions which let businesses connect to websites and apps that facilitate online purchases of goods and services and the possibility of integrating systems between various stores which makes opening more branches a simpler prospect than ever before.

The flexibility that digital systems allow means that it can be perfectly suitable for even a small company, facilitating its growth and adapting along with its expansion to be just as helpful in different ways when that same business begins to operate at a new scale.

As you can see. The possibilities really are endless. Countless modern businesses can attribute much of their growth and efficiency to the impressive progress made with EPOS Systems in recent years. Different stores and companies may have certain preferences for which EPOS System they go for depending on their needs and how they like their company to be run, one way or another the general progress in the EPOS Systems industry has been a crucial part in the modern business machine’s progress.

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What are the cons of Epos Systems?

But is anything in business really that perfect? Surely the use of EPOS Systems has one downside or another, right?

Most businesses will tell you that their use of an EPOS System is nothing short of essential and that they wouldn’t dispense with it for the world. The only area where a significant con might come into play is in between various systems where one might lack a feature that another has.

Considering the speed at which they seem to always be progressing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, there are always going to be a couple of stores that are missing out on the newest features which have just been released that only a few stores have got their hands on.

But that’s a harsh criticism. Is something bad just because everyone hasn’t got their hands on it instantly? Some people may argue that the constant progress helps to exacerbate the division between the top businesses that can get their hands on the newest tech and the smaller companies with less money that are forced to stay behind.

But in the long term, almost everyone ends up with their hands on the technology that once seemed so shiny and brand-new. A few decades ago, smaller stores may have complained that they didn’t have access to the inbuilt calculators that the first EPOS Systems had, but they’re certainly not moaning now that their everyday life has been made so much easier by the technology that initially seemed exclusive.

Others may also complain that the price of EPOS Systems is a downside, providing just another expense for businesses. But with the huge benefits to a company’s efficiency that EPOS Systems provide, it is inevitable that in almost all cases companies will make that money back very quickly. The speed at which the technology is constantly updated also means technology that seemed new and expensive a year ago can rapidly decrease and become accessible for everyone. So even when we try and see the price as a negative, it soon becomes clear that this is a very small price to pay for all the benefits gained.

The only con that really holds up to scrutiny for EPOS Systems is the differences between different providers, which in terms of objective efficiency all tend to dissipate over time. The needs of certain businesses may swing them between one provider and another, but whatever system they end up with, the vast majority of companies are going to end up pleased that they installed such a vital unit into the business.

Price of Epos Systems

But exactly how much are EPOS Systems? Yes, in the medium to long term they’ going to be essential for increasing your company’s efficiency and profits, but if you want to have your EPOS Systems installed today exactly how much is it going to set you back?

Whilst all of them will provide a boost to a company that is currently without an EPOS System, their prices can vary hugely. The price of an EPOS Systems will depend on the hardware you’re hoping to get hands-on, which is paid for upfront and the software with which you will operate the system, which usually requires a monthly payment. These requirements will then of course be affected by the size of your company, what industry you’re in and how exactly you want to navigate your way through day-to-day business life.

First, let’s look at the hardware units individually.

EPOS Terminal £150-£190+
Card Reader £16-£30+
Cash Drawer £50-£100+
Barcode scanner £70-£110+
Thermal Printer £150-£200+

The price range for these products will affect both the quality of the build and the extent of the features that come with it.

The most basic card readers may not be able to facilitate cardless payments or Apple/Google pay. However, if you’re willing to dish out top dollar, your card reader will be able to handle any type of transaction with minimum fuss, letting customers complete their purchase quickly and leave the store with only good things to say.

With something like your cash drawer though, you may be more concerned with the aesthetic. Shops especially concerned with their image may be willing to pay out a little more money for a register that not only provides premium security but also fits into the luxury aesthetic of the store.

These prices are going to multiply if you need more than one unit. If you’re a small start-up store, then you may be able to get your hands on all the hardware for just a few hundred pounds. However, a larger business looking to overhaul its mode of operation may be looking at thousands of pounds of investment to get the fastest hardware.

Once those units have been obtained though, it’s important to get the right software to be able to get the most utility out of them.

The software providers are far more varied than with your average everyday PC. They are not usually involved with the production of hardware but instead develop software that is designed for certain units that you can then subscribe to get the most out of your investments.

Here’s a look at the most reputable software options out today.

Shopify Starts at £19 per month
LightSpeed Starts at £69 per month
Vend Starts at £39 per month
Talech Starts at £29.99 per month
Square Starts at £0 per month

That’s right, if you have suitable hardware, you can even get some starter software for free!

Be warned though, the cheaper options will get you off the ground, but the lack of customisation and features that come with these options means you’ll probably look to upgrade your package or switch provider before too long.

All of these providers have more expensive packages that allow you greater room to adjust the software to your needs and really streamline your EPOS System.

But matching your hardware to the right software isn’t something you should take for granted. Especially if you’re budgeting on your first purchase, then the last thing you want to do is find out the software you had your eye on can no longer be fitted to your new bits of tech.

So do your research beforehand so you can get the perfect match between your software and hardware to make sure you’re getting the most out of your money.

Having to pay every month for software may seem like a frustrating prospect at first, but the money it will make you back is always going to make the investment worth it. And there shouldn’t be much of a time lag with your investment either.

As soon as your EPOS System is set up, you should see an improvement in the efficiency of your company. It may take a short period of teething time to have everything operating perfectly smoothly but once you have the wind in your sails, you’ll be wondering how you ever went without it.

So, find a price point that’s right for you to kick off with, and you’ll never look back!

Who uses EPOS Systems?

Every business that cares about its operation in the developed world really! Don’t be fooled into thinking that these useful pieces of tech are just for the world’s huge conglomerates. Mom and pop stores use them too to great effect, and if you’re thinking of starting a business then you’ll also need to hop on board if you want to stay competitive.

Even sole traders can benefit from implementing a suitable EPOS, meaning that whether your business is big or small, there’s really no excuse to operate a day without one if you want to keep up with the pack.

Conclusion?

EPOS Systems have completely revolutionised modern commerce and the world is never going to look back.

They’ve helped both businesses and customers cut down on costs and save time.

The ability to track vast amounts of data, improve security and facilitate communication and expansion has helped make national and local economies thrive.

A few decades ago, there may have been less of a rush for smaller companies to hop on the bandwagon. But if a customer comes into your store now and sees that you are without a modern cash register or card reader, then they may not only be deterred by the slower transaction you’re expecting them to undertake but also be sceptical of your business’ legitimacy.

So, if you care about efficiency, showing customers that you’re legitimate and boosting profits, then an EPOS System can’t wait a moment longer.

James Ward
( CEO & Founder )

James Ward is CEO & Founder of CompareYourBusinessCosts.co.uk, a website that won ‘Website Of The Year’ on its second year of operations in 2015 and his since grown organically to offer comparisons on all business services such as Insurance, Energy, Telecoms, Card machines and much more.

Other useful links…

Compare EPOS Systems in the UK