An integrated EPoS system offers unlimited ways to drive your business to the next level. Regardless of the size of your retail operation, there is an EPoS solution that fits the bill when you want to drive your business forward. Here, Oliver Sheridan – Director of Retail at CBE, highlights some of the most compelling reasons why you should look to integrate EPoS into the very fabric of your business.
Let’s start with a statistic that we’re certain will shock you. Every year, British retailers lose £1.4 billion thanks to busy checkouts. Put simply, customers can’t be bothered to wait, so the sale is lost. But imagine a situation where lengthy checkouts could be solved quickly and simply – and where the customer experience could always be positive with shorter queues and faster service.
This is just one of the benefits on offer from an integrated EPoS system – there are a whole host more that are equally compelling. Think, for example, of how integrating other services onto your EPoS system could yield equally impressive efficiencies. For example, if you integrated BillPay, this would mean that your cashiers wouldn’t have to leave the system to handle the transaction, thus increasing speed and customer satisfaction levels.
2. Happier Customers
Another big plus of an integrated EPoS system is the ability to offer customer choice at the checkout. While not everyone may be comfortable using self-service right now, the trend is very definitely towards self-checkout if it means a shorter queuing experience. And once you have invested initially in showing customers how to use self-service, very few of them revert to waiting in a queue.
Other ways in which an integrated EPoS system can help you blast queues is via a kiosk or mobile POS unit that can literally go where the queues are. If your deli is busy during the lunchtime rush, for example, simply move your mobile EPoS there – and take the pressure off your primary checkout.
4. Price Management
A less obvious benefit of integrated POS is that you can manage price and margin much more smoothly. Think of a 24-hour store attached to a petrol station, for example. It’s a simple manner to up the price at the deli counter when it’s at its busiest between noon and two – then revert to normal pricing immediately afterwards. Alternatively, reduce the price of items during the night to entice taxi drivers to your store.
Or consider a situation where you might want to add a 10p increase to a litre of milk. Physically changing the fixed shelf labels will probably wipe out your 10p extra margin – but doing so electronically via your integrated EPoS retail system is instant, reversible and time-efficient. This facility really comes into its own when you operate multi-site operations.
You can simply profile your margins, then change prices in each individual location based on its ability to bear higher costs. In this fashion, your store in a more affluent area may charge higher prices than for a similar store in a less prosperous area. And all done centrally from Head Office – with minimal cost of manpower.
This facility can also be highly useful when a sudden global price increase needs to be implemented. For example, if the budget puts an extra 20p on the price of cigarettes, this can be applied across the whole tobacco sector in a single, seamless and painless operation.
Another application is to increase impulse purchase with an instant, intelligent promotion that won’t cannibalise another product. For example, if the sun shines during one of our not-so-reliable summers, there can be an instant offer on ice cream, which won’t have any negative impact on confectionery.
7. Real Time Reporting
Your EPoS system is capable of generating real-time reports for high-level KPI’s, giving management the right information at the right time – anywhere in the world. So you can be on business abroad and still making key decisions on issues that are arising back at the ranch.
Also, using your EPoS system for this purpose can generate reports on individual store performance, group store performance, or individual product performance. This means that management can get a 360 degree view of overall performance in an instant – as often as they wish.
8. Stock Management
Another major benefit of an integrated EPoS system is in the area of stock management, which is a critically important contributor to your bottom line. Approximately 70% of all shrinkage is due to either poor stock management practices or direct pilferage. You can’t control how likely your customers are to pilfer, but you can very definitely control your staff through smarter stock control.
Adoption of mobile scanning technology means that a stock control audit can be carried out quickly and painlessly. And based on the results of the audit, automatic replenishment can be built into the equation. You might be surprised to hear that out-of-stock products cost retailers over £4 billion each year, so letting stock lapse is not just inconvenient for your customers – it’s actually costing you money.
Reporting is also hugely important in the area of food wastage in the food-to-go arena. Timely and regular reporting means that you don’t lose money by out-of-stock items, at one end, and by wasteful gluts at the other end. Staff can have accurate information on how much food to prepare – and at what times of day.
9. Ease of Integration
Another key area where integrated EPoS pays dividends is in the area of automation and integration. For example, you can easily integrate a loyalty scheme into a single visit to the teller, so you don’t waste time handling the loyalty element separately.
And as part of a loyalty programme, members can be instantly informed of promotional elements that may be of interest to them. For example, think of a loyalty member getting an in-app message on their mobile phone to say that their favourite brand of wine is on special offer for the next hour.
This level of e-commerce integration also means that people who are not free to actually visit bricks-and-mortar stores can use services such as Click & Collect to guarantee that they don’t lose out on instore bargains or offers.
10. Sales Promotion
And one final benefit that we’d mention in this blog is the fact that an effective digital strategy for your instore screens can also be used for subtle, educational communication that nevertheless play their part in driving your bottom line.
Think of screens in the off-licence section telling you about the provenance of your favourite wine or the way in which your favourite Scotch is distilled. It’s not about constantly bombarding your customers with ‘Buy, buy, buy’ messages, but by rewarding them with the data they need to be happier, more fulfilled customers.
The bottom line is that the number of ways you can improve profitability with an integrated EPoS system is only limited by your imagination.