If you have chosen a Windows or Linux based terminal, then you most likely have previously chosen an EPoS software package to run on it.

You should always choose the EPoS software you intend to use first, as the software vendor will determine the specification of the hardware and peripherals on which their software has been designed to operate.

As for installing the EPoS software, this usually depends on the software vendor. The more established, widely-used international EPoS software packages can be readily installed by most users themselves, even on a multi- user network. The less established packages will not have such streamlined installation procedures, and may require attendance by an engineer or remote-access to setup and configure.

Risk is reduced by opting for a mainstream EPoS software package that is sold worldwide. It gives you more choice in terms of ongoing upgrades and access to wider number of dealers who you can go to for support requirements. A small specialist software package with a smaller customer base will leave you and your business in the hands of the software provider or individual developer.

In either case, for a multi-user system, the tasks of network cabling and configuration of workstations to connect to the network will most likely require an experienced professional to perform them.

Most EPoS software packages have a set startup routine, either via on-screen 'Wizard' or following through a User Guide to setup the reference data. This would include items such as:
-staff login names
-security levels
-product manufacturers
-product categories
-product details
-pricing details
-supplier details
-stock information
-currentĀ stock levels
-minimum/maximum stock levels

And may also include defining requirement such as:
-VAT/tax tables
-layouts of forms/reports
-other operational characteristics

Depending on how extensive your product range is, you will need to allow anywhere from a few hours to a few days to perform the setup of the reference information. Some people are put-off EPoS systems by this lengthy initial exercise, but if it is considered as a one-off investment, the ongoing benefits far outweigh the initial cost and time of setup.

Many off-the-shelf EPoS software packages are intuitive and very easy to use. Most users who have basic MS-Windows application software experience can figure their way around the EPoS software, consulting the on-line help where necessary, and work out how to perform the common tasks on first use. Less established software from smaller vendors or more sophisticated systems from larger vendors may be more complicated to setup and operate and a staff training session may be required.

Generally, EPoS software provides a much wider range of management reports related to stock, sales, staff, suppliers, profit and customers. The ability to print to an A4 printer, with either charts and graphs or statistical reports and summaries, as well as the facility to transfer data between sites and to a head office gives it a considerable advantage over cash registers. Combined with the cosmetic advantage it gives your store, the ability to choose and vary individual EPoS hardware components, the easier use for staff, the faster throughput for customers and the upgrade path to grow with your business, you should try to opt for a Windows-based EPoS system unless your requirements are very basic and/or your budget is very restricted.

The basic features of EPoS software common to all available packages:
-selecting products
-registering payments
-making corrections
-printing receipts
-firing open the cash drawer
-printing end of day sales reports

You should look at the other features of the software which are on your requirements list and check how the software supports those.

Some solution providers will position themselves as specialists for a certain market sector or industry (eg. hair salons, dentists, dry cleaners etc) and load a premium onto their pricing to reflect this. You should always find out what specific features distinguish the claimed exclusivity and check whether such features are available in more widely used general purpose off-the-shelf mainstream software packages first at a much lower cost and at reduced risk.

Many software packages from smaller developers or those who specialise in particular vertical markets have a much smaller customer base. As a result, the developer has less companies across which to recover their development cost and to fund ongoing development and maintenance. The prices of these software products therefore tend to be much higher and these companies usually always operate a pricing model which requires you to pay further software license sums periodically.

Some companies attempt to disguise the noticeably high priced software by devising monthly payment schemes or pay-as-you-go (PAYG) type of payment structures linked to transaction volumes put through on the EPoS system. When the longer term total outlay of such systems is calculated, the true cost of the software becomes very apparent. Your total reliance and dependency on the provider for continued use of the system is also a risk factor.

Software Upgrades:
Most software is periodically updated either to fix bugs or to add new features. Software which has frequent and constant upgrades released is an indication of instability, unreliability and/or incompleteness. The software should be long established, tried, tested and proven at thousands of sites - upgrades are only released periodically, once or twice a year, and are available at reasonable prices or provided free/discounted if you have a support subscription. If your business would come to a near standstill without a functioning POS system, then it is recommend to choose an established, proven and stable EPoS software package that is very widely used and that the user licence is a permanent one, not one restricted by expiry dates.

If you wish to discuss your EPoS system requirements and require additional buying advice, please call us at EposSystems.com on 020 7127 4250.


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