Cash registers do exactly what they say — register the cash. Electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) and stock-control systems are designed to do so much more: they can process purchases with the minimum delay, reduce customer waiting time and sort out credit- and debit-card transactions. But they should also make administration easy and provide valuable information such as details of buying trends.
How do you get started?
Many retailers begin with simple cash registers and progress to EPoS systems with scanners to speed up the purchase process and record what has been sold. Total retail management solutions are also available to simplify all shop and back-office procedures.
Before choosing a computer system, it is essential to assess all aspects of your business. It is important to think of the future and consider things such as business expansion, possible diversification, adding new departments and whether mergers and acquisitions will give you more sites. Consider how much staff training will be required.
What are the most important considerations?
Support from the supplier is essential and preferably should be for the life of the system — including weekends and bank holidays because they are likely to be among the busiest periods for garden centres. Ask consultants and suppliers for references from other retailers.
Back-up support should involve fault-finding, repairs and maintenance, but needs to include an element of helping the system grow with your business. Consider the software applications and flexibility of the system. You should not have to change aspects of your business in order to fit in with a new EPoS, stock-control or management system.
Staff training should also be a priority. For any system to run smoothly, staff must be confident and happy to use it.
How do you source systems?
Consider the supplier’s track record within the industry — it may have already dealt with problems that could occur in your business. There are advantages to opting for a complete system from one firm, as Greenfield Software sales director Mike Wing explains: “It may appear that savings can be made by sourcing system elements from different suppliers, but this is a false economy. In the long term, it can be difficult to establish who is responsible if a problem arises.”
Hampshire-based G7 Computer Services, supplier of EPoS systems to garden centres, is now offering a one-touch screen till and back office systems for under £5,000. Mini EPoS should be of interest to smaller retailers and is supplied with reciept printer, cash drawer, barcode printer and scanner.
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