Software has played a key role in the evolution of EPOS. Since the first computer programmes were written that could imitate the function of a till, the direction of travel in EPOS solutions has been to add more features and to integrate with a wider range of business operations.
From omnichannel integration to smart stock control and merchandising, CRM and marketing capabilities to advanced data analytics, retailers and hospitality businesses nowadays demand EPOS platforms that offer far more than payment and checkout. Just as important as breadth of capabilities, they are looking for bespoke solutions that fit their precise needs and play a role in improving the overall efficiency of their business.
Software is inherently flexible. Software-based EPOS offers the flexibility you need to deliver customised solutions and the EPOS market now relies on specialist providers who develop niche platforms to meet the needs of different verticals.
A good example of this in action is our channel partner Esperus, which combines both retail and wholesale functionality in its platform for the fashion, footwear and sportswear trades, not to mention mail order, production and ecommerce management. This was key to Esperus winning a contract from luxury shoe manufacturer and retailer Jeffrey-West, because the company had previously never been able to find a single solution that could serve both its retail and wholesale operations.
A stable platform for change
Just as it has driven change in how EPOS is deployed and its role in a broader business context, software has also led to changes in POS hardware over the years. At one time, you could argue that one till was much the same as any other – a till purely used to log sales.
When software EPOS systems first came along, everyone started to use PC units either sat under the sales desk or in the back office, rigged up to the tills. That in turn led to the development of all-in-one EPOS terminals which combined processors, screens and tills in a single unit.
The more you expect from EPOS, the more scope there is for points of difference between terminal models. To run the most sophisticated software, you need the fastest, most powerful processors. Increased system requirements for new software are one of the most common reasons we come across for installing AURES tills.
It is not all about processor speed, either. One of our end users, women’s fashion chain Apricot, wanted to upgrade to the latest FM Retail platform. FM Retail is designed for touchscreens, so they replaced their old Windows XP PCs with AURES Sango terminals.
Software has transformed EPOS, but hardware remains essential – you need a firm foundation to build your software systems on, an interface for staff and customers to use. Touchscreen technology in particular is well suited to supporting a wide and flexible range of functions at point of sale, from instant one-touch stock checking to customer data capture, choosing seats in a cinema to updating order details in a restaurant.
And as point of sale gradually transforms into point of service, we are seeing hardware take a central role in shaping the customer experience. Mobile POS terminals creates the opportunity to take service to the customer, a radical departure from the norm of fixed-position POS and a means of taking flexibility in transactions to the next level. Similarly, customer-facing screens are empowering consumers with information, and driving the introduction of self-service options.
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