Contactless payments, growing rapidly across the UK, are ideal for independent retailers. Andrew Williams looks at the advantages they bring as well as the latest EPoS systems on offer
– Published: 03 June, 2011

EPoS-sibilities

Of course, EPoS is about so much more than customer transactions. It can enable a business to better control stock, speed up tills and tighten fraud controls.
“Every night it’s important that you get the information that you need to reassess your business going forward, so you can take decisions on tomorrow’s trading. It’s all about the immediacy of decisions. In bakery it’s about getting the right balance between availability and waste,” says Roy McDougal, head of IT at Greggs.

Is the cloth cut to fit?
The difference between a good and a bad EPoS system is whether it’s designed for your needs. For example, options are available for retail such as clothing and others for restaurants. Aim for one that is designed for tracking bakery goods, controlling stock and waste. “Some bakeries use hospitality software with additional pieces of software stuck on,” says Trevor Claybrough of AlfaRichi, which has developed EPoS solutions specifically for bakers. “It can be complex and can go wrong. We advise that bakeries take a package that has everything they need the EPoS part and the ordering part.”

Meal deals and promotions
Are promotions increasing overall sales and profits? It’s important to have a report that shows whether you’re losing or gaining money, compared to if you were running no promotion.
“The AlfaRichi system we use has a lot to offer the retail baker, particularly in the way of sales and promotion evaluation, improved ordering, stock control, cash management and theft prevention,” says Robert McIlroy, retail estates director at 89-shop Cooplands of Doncaster.
Also, if you’re promoting heavily, make sure your processor speeds can cope. “We’ve moved to the J2 615 model the big change we’ve gone for is processor speed, because we’re doing more and more at the till point such as meal deals,” says Greggs’ McDougal.

If you can’t stand the heat…
“Bakeries are relatively harsh environments to host technology, especially if baking takes place on site. A fanless EPoS terminal is essential in a hot and humid bakery where moving parts would attract and circulate machine-clogging flour and grease.”
Another easy win in the shop is having bigger screens, says McDougal at Greggs, which traded up from 15-inch to 17-inch screens in recent years. “The shop staff love that because it’s easier to use. Having enough space on your screen to get all of the products in is the most efficient and effective way to serve the customer.”
Space is also at a premium in a shop. J2 came up with a space-saving solution for 52-shop Birds of Derby: a new bracket which could be pushed back 45 degrees, to allow the J2 615 tills to be recessed into a more

EPoS checklist

When choosing EPoS for a bakery or coffee shop, a system that only gives takings and sales information is not enough. Ask your supplier if it:

  • allows orders, waste declaration, overs/shorts and stock to be entered on the tills and then immediately available at head office
  • has reports that will highlight any loss by automatically reconciling everything that goes into the shop (products, ingredients) and everything that goes out (sales, ingredients used for sales, damage, waste, samples)
  • shows you at any time what is the current stock in all shops
  • has pertinent management reports including promotions, gross margins and comparative sales.

New in EPoS

l AlfaRichi now offers functions for mobile sales, such as sandwich vans, using touch tablets with mobile broadband. The firm also just added solutions for processing wholesale orders and deliveries; customers place orders directly online, which can be seen and adjusted at head office before being integrated into the overall production figures.

l J2 Retail Systems’ new J2 630 is tipped to dramatically extend till life beyond the normal 5-7 years. A new motherboard can be slotted into the tens of thousands of J2 580s in use worldwide, to maximise end-user investment.