EPOS system: What it is and how it works

Remay Villaester (May)
26.07.21
3 minute read

If you run a retail business, you’re going to need to know about Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS). In an increasingly digital and cashless world, technology like EPOS can help retailers meet the expectations of the modern consumer and offer a smooth, seamless checkout process.

In this guide, we’ll shine a spotlight on EPOS - to help you understand what it is and how it works. So, let’s get started.

What is EPOS?

Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) is essentially a modern, technology-backed update of the traditional till system. It uses a combination of hardware and software to offer a wide range of different functions to retail businesses. Depending on the system, this could include the following:

  • Taking payments - including cash, credit/debit card, electronic and contactless payments
  • Creating receipts - including issuing email and text receipts
  • Recording sales
  • Accepting returns
  • Storing and processing information
  • Generating insightful, customised reports and insights
  • Inventory management tools - which can update your inventory in real-time.

EPOS can offer lots of benefits to small business owners, and their customers too. You should find it easier and quicker to accept payments of all kinds, and do things like applying discounts and promotions instantly. This can help make your business seem more professional and modern to the customer.

You can also link your EPOS system to other devices, depending on how you run your business. For example, a tablet, barcode scanner or receipt printer.

Best of all, EPOS systems keep your payments organised. Everything is stored automatically and electronically, and you can generate custom reports to analyse how your sales are going.

How does EPOS work?

A typical EPOS system is made up of hardware and software, which we’ll look at in more detail in just a moment.

There are lots of types of EPOS systems available. But in most cases, you’ll sign up for a package with an EPOS provider like Square, Zettle, Stripe, Lightspeed, EposNow or Shopify POS. There’s usually a monthly fee to pay for the software, along with transaction fees.

Some packages come with EPOS hardware included, while other providers offer equipment such as compatible card readers and tablets as extras available to purchase.

The most popular EPOS software is usually cloud-based, but you can also go for a system where your data is held on servers on your premises. However, this option often requires much more in the way of setup, and can be more expensive, difficult to update and less flexible than using a cloud-based service - where you can simply switch to a different provider (provided you don’t have a fixed-term contract).

EPOS hardware

EPOS hardware consists of things like touch screen monitors, tablets, card payment terminals, cash drawers, barcode and QR code scanners. These are the things your customers and staff will use to interact with the EPOS system. You can usually add on extra equipment provided it’s compatible for connection with the system.

EPOS software

The software is what puts EPOS several steps ahead of the traditional till. The software package runs on the hardware and is what stores, processes and organises all of your payment data, along with offering other functions for retailers such as reporting.

You can do all sorts of things with EPOS software, including linking together multiple tills and terminals, connecting your website’s e-commerce store and integrating a wide range of third party applications (for example, your accounting software).

What are EPOS tills?

EPOS systems may be a more technologically advanced way for retailers to sell products and take payments, but they still come with something you’d recognise as a till or cash register.

A touchscreen monitor, terminal or tablet is essential to help your staff process purchases and payments. It’s where all the critical checkout functions happen, from creating receipts to accepting returns.

The key difference though is that unlike a traditional till, your EPOS terminal will be linked to powerful software.

How about international payments?

wise-multi-currency-account

To start accepting payments in person or online, you’ll need a payment processing provider¹ if it's not included in the EPOS package that you have and finding the right payment solution can be quite tricky especially if you accept payments from overseas.

Most payment processors like PayPal and Stripe support global payments but make sure to pay attention to the fees and exchange rates as International transactions are often more expensive.

You could benefit from opening a Wise multi-currency account to reduce the fees when receiving payments in EUR, USD, GBP, AUD, NZD, HUF, SGD, RON, CAD and TRY. You can withdraw your sales proceeds to your Wise multi-currency account in the currency that you receive instead of letting the payment providers do the conversion for you. This way you can take advantage of currency conversions at the mid-market rate and low fees.

You can also use Wise to make international payment to suppliers and save over 4% on fees compared to traditional banks - also up to 19x cheaper than PayPal.


Summary

And that’s EPOS systems in a nutshell. We’ve covered how EPOS works, the ins and outs of hardware and software and a few of the benefits of EPOS for retailers.

You should be all set to start comparing providers and shopping for hardware, in the next exciting step for your business. Good luck!


Sources used for this article:

  1. storekit blog post

Sources checked on 26-Jul-2021.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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