First up, what does EPoS actually mean?
Well, the term EPoS stands for Electronic Point of Sale, and was originally coined in the 1970s. Many would describe EPoS as the new version of traditional cash registers; but these days, that’s not quite doing the term justice. Machines once known as cash registers (those big clunky mechanical things that had a load of buttons and a noisy cash drawer) are thankfully, a thing of the past for most businesses.
So, does that mean EPoS is all about the hardware?
Not really! As well as providing a more contemporary electronic equivalent to cash registers, in the 21st century, the term EPoS covers so much more. EPoS, more often than not, refers to both the physical hardware of tills, touchscreens, cash drawers, scanners etc; but also the software programmes that run on those machines. In its most basic form, EPoS is the equipment (hardware) and programmes (software) that allow a business to make a sale.
As part of your EPoS setup, you may have any of the following pieces of hardware:
Terminal screen: A touch screen monitor where you input orders and process payments.
Cash drawer: A lockable drawer to store cash, controlled by the EPoS software.
Receipt printer: A printing device that creates a physical record of the customers’ transaction.
Barcode/QR code scanner: An electronic scanner that can read barcodes or QR codes to identify products, tickets etc.
PDQ terminal: A device that allows you to accept card and contactless payments.
Customer display: A customer-facing screen that can be used to display the transaction details alongside advertising messages.
Tablet/mobile device: Portable EPoS hardware is a great addition for businesses who handle high footfall, require mobility across various locations, or those with limited space.
But that’s not all EPoS can do!
A fully fledged EPoS system these days is an essential part of any business; capable of not only handling and recording sales but also controlling stock, managing tables, organising teams, processing payments, accounting, reporting, tracking customer loyalty, kitchen order management and a whole host more.
So why do I need an EPoS system?
Over the past few decades we’ve seen a huge shift in the way that consumer devices integrate with one another, and the world around us. EPoS has historically always been a closed system, only connecting to key components such as tills, printers and scanners. However, times have now well and truly changed. Generations are growing up with an instinctive understanding of technology and these days, consumers expect to be able to access and communicate with businesses via their own devices. Whether it’s placing food and drink orders directly from a table via their mobile phones, viewing a full catalogue of products via an app, or booking a table at a restaurant within a few simple clicks from a website; businesses need to stay ahead of the curve if they want to meet consumer demand.
A well-functioning, intelligent EPoS system could arguably be one of the most important purchases a business can make, particularly within the retail and hospitality industries. Capable of handling so many core functions, it’s important to consider the implications of any new EPoS system. Find out more about the things you should be considering when looking for a new EPoS provider in our handy blog post.
One of those considerations should be how the system integrates with any existing operational systems you have in place. For example, a hotel’s property management system such as Guestline, existing food sales platforms such as Deliveroo or Just Eat, or even team management systems like Workforce and Rotaready. At ICRTouch we invest heavily into building software products that allow third party developers to integrate their own solutions.
Colin Ringer, ICRTouch CEO, says “I remember the days when designing EPoS systems meant that you only had to worry about compatibility with your own products; things have moved on so fast and so much that for every feature we add, our developers spend twice that time again ensuring that it can also be used by all the new innovative third party products!”
So, what are ICRTouch’s EPoS products?
Our flagship software product is TouchPoint. This intelligent till software allows businesses to complete sales at a till terminal and is jam-packed with features and functionality that’s been developed over the past 20 years. It’s been installed over 150,000 times across the world and forms the basis of the full ICRTouch software ecosystem. Find out more about the additional software developed by ICRTouch and how it can benefit your business on our products page.
Frequently Asked Questions
To help you further understand the broad definition of EPoS (Electric Point of Sale), we’ve pulled together some answers to our most frequently asked questions below.
Why does it matter that the software I’m using is compatible with the hardware; surely they’re just normal computers, right?
Yes and no. It is true that almost all modern touch screen terminals are PC based, but they’re all bespoke units built by various manufacturers. Incorporating devices and features that each manufacturer feels will make them stand out from the crowd is brilliant, but if the software you’ve purchased isn’t fully compatible with these features, then you’re not going to be able to make best use of them!
What sort of things should I be looking out for then?
There’s a few core things you should be considering when choosing a new EPoS system. These include customisation, support, usability and mobility and you can find out more in our blog post. However, some of the less obvious considerations include:
The method of firing the cash drawer – It may not seem like an important issue, but cash drawers can be fired from multiple processes. The traditional, outdated process sees the cash drawer fired from the receipt printer, and a lot of software employs that method. However, almost all touch screen EPoS terminals have built-in cash drawer ports that can be utilised. Firing directly from the terminal is beneficial because it makes for a much more reliable system. Printers have moving parts and therefore can fail which can be an inconvenience that rapidly becomes a major panic if your cash drawer stops opening too!
Hardware accessories – EPoS hardware can come with a whole array of accessories including; ibutton readers for clerk logging on, card readers, fingerprint readers, various customer displays and more. It is important to check that the software you are using is not only compatible with the hardware equipment installed, but also compatible with some of the devices you may like to add in the future!
Display resolution – The resolution of the display is possibly something you may not consider to be important, but, because of the way that you will interact with your touch screen till – i.e. pressing on screen buttons with your fingers – then it is quite common that they have fixed areas where things can be used and appear. Touch screen tills come with all sorts of size and shape screens so it is important to choose software that not only works correctly on your size screen, but also that might be flexible enough to still work correctly if you chose to change hardware a few years down the line.
Will TouchPoint be compatible with my chosen hardware?
With so much choice when it comes to touch screen terminals, it comes as no surprise that very few installers supply till systems of exactly the same hardware configuration. Thankfully though, ICRTouch software products are sold by more dealerships than any other EPoS software available. Because we are the most popular choice of EPoS, specifically within the UK, we are fortunate enough to have a great relationship with all the core hardware manufacturers. They all send us their latest products, often before they’re available for purchase, which allows us to configure our software to be fully compatible.
Because we’re one of the longest standing suppliers of touch screen EPoS software, we have compatibility with more touch screen terminals than any other EPoS software supplier. For example, TouchPoint is every bit as compatible with the Casio QT7000 released all the way back in 1998 as it is with the latest hardware offerings.
Each new piece of hardware that is sent to us is subjected to a 10 point integration and testing program to ensure that TouchPoint is 100% compatible. This may involve us making software changes to create that support and the process results in a comprehensive setup guide that is shared with our Partner Network of resellers; meaning the product that reaches you is of the highest quality.