One of the most important pieces of equipment in your business is your point of sale (POS) system. Not only does it allow you to complete transactions; it provides you with a way to serve your customers more efficiently and effectively. Many POS options and providers are available, and it’s important to find the right system and partner.
To help with the selection process, we sat down with four of Epson’s POS experts—Jason Campo, manager technical sales support; Neil D’Cruz, senior product manager; Tim Latta, retail sales leader; and Aileen Maldonado, product manager. Below are their insider tips for finding the best system for your needs.
What are some trends in POS?
Automation is changing the retail industry, reducing costs and streamlining processes, says D’Cruz.
“The greatest area of growth has been with the implementation of self-checkout inside of grocery stores, but we’re also seeing kiosks proliferating the restaurant space,” he says. “You enter the restaurant, see a lineup of kiosks, input your order, get a receipt and wait for your order.”
A leading fast food restaurant chain has been rolling out kiosks that contain Epson POS printers, allowing customers to easily place orders when entering the store. “When placing orders, customers don’t feel like they’re under pressure, they’re more in control of placing the order, which in many cases have resulted in higher order sizes than those placed at the counter with a staff member,” says D’Cruz. “This can increase revenues in a very subtle manner.”
Kiosks and mobile POS (mPOS) systems serve two unique purposes, says D’Cruz. “Kiosks are separate and built specifically for self-ordering and self-checkout,” he says. “An mPOS provides the flexible option of either having a portable printer or stationary at the counter, with applications running through the tablet or mobile device.”
Mobility continues to be an important trend, says Campo: “Everyone is trying to reduce their carbon footprint, and this has played into the paper-saving features of POS systems,” he says. “Without having to adjust the POS app in any way, you can adjust the output on the printer to effectively use less paper. It’s a very helpful feature for the majority of customers because it doesn’t involve a coding change.”
Are you seeing any novel uses of POS devices?
Customers don’t like to wait in line, and POS devices can ensure they don’t walk out the door if a checkout line is crowded or slow, says Maldonado. “We’re seeing cool changes at a multi-national chain of beauty stores, for example,” she says. “If a customer is in a long line with so many people that they want to abandon their purchase and just go home, some locations are equipping staff members with tablets and portable printers that clip to their belt. The customer can go to a store representative, order everything, and have it shipped to their home. It also works with loyalty management programs, which is a very cool integration.”
Another interesting use of a POS device is customizing the printing by location, says Campo. “One novel use is impact printing—those old printers you can hear that literally impact the print onto the page,” he says. “They’re loud and slow, but they’re popular in kitchen settings because they’re not thermal based and heat lamps won’t destroy the print.” Epson also offers a kitchen display system to circumvent this issue.
Loud printers are helpful tools in certain situations where staff members need to be alerted that an order is coming in. “For example, at the deli-ordering kiosk at a supermarket chain, orders were getting missed because the printers were so quiet,” says Campo. “So we built a device that looks like the easy button from Staples that’s red and flashing so you know when an order comes in a loud atmosphere.”
What advice would you give for a business owner about to buy a POS system?
Solving your immediate needs is top of mind, but business owners should also be looking to the future, says Campo. “POS is not a sexy product and most folks are just looking for something that works,” he says. “It’s important to look for interfaces that are swappable. For POS printing, this means today you may connect via USB, but in the future you may want to switch to a network / wi-fi based solution. Being able to do this without losing the investment you’ve already made in the printer is something you should expect. We call it future-proofing, and it’s at the center of our design philosophy.”
Also look for the ability to pair mPOS with traditional POS, suggests Maldonado. “For example, poolside dining at a hotel used to require that the server take the order by paper, put it into a standard POS, monitor the kitchen for food and then run it out to the customer,” she says. “With the introduction of tablets and mobile devices the order can be taken as it’s being received—as the customer is lounging—then instantaneously transmitted to the bar and kitchen. It helps increase the bottom line because it’s more efficient.”
Finally, choose a POS system that addresses changing customer expectations, says Maldonado. “They expect a free-flowing system,” she says. “If a customer orders something online, they expect it to show up on the POS system in store. They have a predetermined set of expectations based on the way they interact with the world. It creates an omni-channel experience, which means your apps, hardware and systems all flow in a central ecosystem.”
What should we know about Epson’s approach to POS?
Epson has been a leader in POS for over 2 decades, says Latta. “At this point, we stand in a category by ourselves. Reliability is at the core of what we design, build and maintain. It’s one of the primary reasons we’ve been able to sustain our leadership position for so long. We also offer customization services unlike anyone else out there,” he says. “Most people ship a box. Epson is more of a solution provider, with the ability to design and deploy unique customizations for our customers through an in-house group of engineers and designers. We’ve earned our stripes by successfully partnering with many of the top retailers in the world…most of which are considered household names. Our approach to customization is to deliver a solution that is flexible, adaptive and meets the unique requirements of our customers. And Epson devices are versatile, working on any platform. If a customer decides to shift vendors for their overall POS platform, much of the time they can shift the existing Epson POS printers over to the new system, often with little or no change.”