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What are ePOS systems and how do they work?

3-minute read

Tues July 24 2018

If you’re looking to take card payments from your customers face-to-face, you probably know that you need some kind of till system. But as with everything these days, the choice of products and solutions can be overwhelming if you’re not sure what to look for.

Here’s a simple run down of what an ePOS system is, some of the differences between systems, and how to pick the best ePOS system for your business.

What is an ePOS system?

ePOS system stands for electronic point of sale system and is the name of the solution or collection of hardware that lets any retail, food and drink or other customer-facing business keep track of payments and stock levels.

It can also help give customers a good buying experience by allowing a business to analyse real-time customer payment and stock data to help minimise queues and ensure the right items are available at the right till points, at the right times.

An ePOS system can be as simple as standalone card readers, or as advanced as semi-integrated and full payment managed services.

How do ePOS systems work?

How an ePOS system works depends on the type you choose for your business.

If you pick a simple set up (standalone card readers), you’ll be able to accept card, contactless and digital wallet payments. If the best ePOS system for you is a semi- or fully integrated one, it will allow you to do all the things mentioned in ‘What can they do? And benefits for your business…’ (scroll down to read).

Common components of an ePOS system include:

  • -          barcode scanners
  • -          chip and PIN card readers
  • -          contactless-enabled card readers
  • -          cash drawers
  • -          customer displays
  • -          receipt printers
  • -          keyboards
  • -          weighing scales (i.e. in the self-checkout areas of shops)

How are they different to standard tills?

Standard tills will only allow you to take cash payments, not card or digital wallet. In other words, a standard cash till will usually allow you to key in the amount owed, put the cash in the cash drawer and issue change and a printed receipt.

An ePOS system allows you to take a range of payment methods. You’ll know you’ve found the best ePOS system for your business when you see some or all of the following benefits:

Lower overheads because faster checkout for customers means you need fewer staff members to run the tills.

Reduce wastage and satisfy your customers by managing your inventory in real time.

Give customers what they want by letting them pay how they want to pay and offering to send them a digital receipt.

Use data to optimise your business, by analysing sales by time of day or week, by employee and more, to give customers the right products at the right price and with the most relevant discounts and deals.

Bring different financial elements of your business together by integrating your payment acceptance system with your eCommerce, accounting and marketing software, for example.

Get going on omnichannel retailing, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a more established business. 

What can they do? And benefits for your business…

As well as the benefits listed in the ‘How are they different to standard tills?' section (scroll down to read), if, for example, you’re running a live sporting event, you could also benefit from the following.

At a live sporting event, the peak retail times (for food, drink and merchandise) will be before the game, during any breaks in play, and immediately after play ends. Stadiums and sports grounds can give customers great experiences in four key ways, with the right ePOS system playing a key part in:

joining up the entry ticket system, with the retail outlets, and food and drink offerings to create a frictionless journey from entry to shopping, and beyond;

going cashless by making it incredibly easy for customers to do things like pre-order food from their seat, to pick up during any breaks in play and avoid long queues, and pay with contactless for quicker transactions;

personalising content based on a single view of the customer, created from data gathered by your ePOS system; and

stocking the right locations with the right items to make sure customers get what they want without having to wait too long or going to another bar/shop/food counter.

Knowing which ePOS system is best for your business

Now you know the basics and what questions to ask, it’s time to shop around for the best ePOS system. What’s right for one business might not be right for yours, so make sure you think about what you want to get from your ePOS system. Two final things to consider are:

Does the ePOS provider you’re considering understand your business, marketplace and customer base? At Barclaycard Business, we have retail payment experts who can work with you to understand how the right ePOS solution can help you optimise payment acceptance.

Can the ePOS system you’re considering grow and scale with your business? Barclaycard Business experts can help you find the best ePOS system based on how your business is now and your plans for future growth.

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