Starting out with your bike shop? This page is designed to take you through some of the features available in bike shop EPOS software – and show you what we’d recommend you look for in software. We’ll spell out where EPOS has bike-specific features, and the kind of generic EPOS features which are still relevant in bike shops.
We’ll mention a couple of specific softwares here – but software changes all the time, and there’s a large number of different brands out there. Before deciding, we strongly recommend you give us a ring! We have a team of dedicated people able to explain in preciser detail how a set-up could work with specific reference to your set up. Even if you don’t buy your hardware from us, give us a call just to hear which software we’d recommend for you and why.
Generic EPOS features in bike shops
Many of the things which we’d associate with a bike shop is standard across lots of different EPOS systems – created for all kinds of businesses.
Basic Bike Shop EPOS features
That includes the most basic features – like the interface which allows cashiers to select products to sell and to cue prices on the card reader. Returns, discounts, and simple item categorisation on the cashier screen through a folder system, can be expected nearly all EPOS systems – but watch out if you’re looking to ring through specific types of discount, like “buy-one-get-one-free”, which might be missing. The most basic systems will only permit you to give “whole” refunds rather than partial refunds or store credit – and given that bikes are complex products with lots of things to go wrong, you may prefer the additional flexibility of something like store credit.
There’s some stuff around taking payments. Would you like to manage cash from till to till? We can talk about payment processing in a moment – but the most important first decision you’ll make is whether you’d like your EPOS software and your payment processing to be integrated.
Sometimes, you just want an EPOS to be able to do the basic stuff well with front-of-house – to get through customers quickly, and be able to teach your staff
(Read about front-of-house for retail.)
Bike Shop EPOS features for Permissions & Multisite
The way you view any system is generally split between a cashier view and a back-office. But at the top end, you can set permissions in a more complicated way, and build different views for junior staff, ops managers, site managers, and you. This could include managing access for things like staff performance data which comes with top-end systems.
“Reporting” is a set of features which are not unique to bike shops which generally gets better as you pay more. Simple reports are sales logs for items X, Y, Z, compared in fixed time slots to other items and previous months. Complex reports might allow you to analyse by custom tags to custom timeslots – and with reference to attributes it’s not possible to tag, such as attachment rates of product A to product B. (Read about general reporting).
Bike shop EPOS features
With bikes, in particular, there’s an added emphasis on inventory beyond what normal inventory management requires of businesses. You might have hundreds of items in your store – from tyre sealant to water cages; freehubs to panniers. Being able to manage how those items are distributed across your store(s) and keep track of all of them should define your choice of EPOS – you’re going to want something that does this well.
Generally, attributes above the level of the product are described as categories (e.g. brand) and attributes below the level of the product are described as variants (e.g. colour). One mid-range software available through us – Vend – has an attributional depth of twenty tags. That could describe, for example, brand, series, width, fitting type, colour – what level of information do you want to collect on your most complex bike part? How many tags is that? This can be important when you need to know if you have a specific item in stock, or to analyse trends in what you’re selling.
Mapping is another important inventory feature not supported by lots of softwares. If you’d like a comprehensive view of where every bolt is that you own, that seems like something which could come in handy. Software which has this can support specificity and can tell staff members where the screw they require is in a pinch. It’s also very useful to be able to look up whether a second store in a chain has an item – you’ll often find someone looking for a specific part quickly and being able to direct them to your next store is useful.
The fact that some parts might get bought as separate parts and get sold as a bike might be mind-bending for some systems. The architecture of how your EPOS tracks items is vital here.
Alternatively, you might want something for your inventory better than an EPOS on its own can provide. That would be warehouse or inventory software which you can integrate with your EPOS – that will begin to incorporate logistics elements, too.
Also unique to bike shops, we’re looking at mixing service and retail elements. Lots of pure retail software isn’t really designed for services – so these are the places to watch out when you’re choosing between “retail” EPOS systems.
Our tip is that EPOS providers who make unique software for hospitality as well as retail are likely to have decent service modules they can add to their software.
What do we mean by service modules? Well, there’s service booking – which essentially binds a calendar with employee time-slots to your checkout. You’re billing for the time as well as the bike part – that can be confusing for some systems.
Bike shops also require some element of CRM which can come with an EPOS. A CRM is a kind of database of customers (CRM stands for “customer relationship management’) including their details and marketing preferences – and whether or not they’ve just left a bike in your shop for you to service, and which bike that was. Not all EPOS systems are designed to store customer data like this – instead requiring that you buy a CRM separately.
Finally, bike rental would require a specific EPOS module which is sometimes missing from retail EPOS systems. (Usually the plug-in software around bike rental is inexpensive – but it needs to be integrated with your EPOS).
What kind of set-up would be best for me?
How much you’ll want from your EPOS system depends on what kind of size you are as a merchant. Here’s some examples of set-ups you could go for.
The very cheapest option
Perhaps you’re a travelling mechanic without a premises. It suits you to work by mobile, and the key thing you’re looking for is to take card.
For you, we’d recommend a “freePOS” system. They combine EPOS software and payment processing in one go; meaning that once you’ve bought their card reader, you pay no monthly fees – just a flat 1.75% on transactions.
Their EPOS software functions are basic. But if you’re happy to forgo fancier EPOS functions such as inventory management (important in a bike shop!) this could be the one for you. Learn about the level of functionality you can expect from FreePOS on our FreePOS page. Remember, with FreePOS systems, you may be able to get a discounted card reader if you download the app through our special link!
As you get larger, you’re going to find that you need other functions. Some systems, such as Brightpearl, are really focused on inventory management first and other EPOS features second – we’d describe them as inventory software with an EPOS module, whereas most systems are the other way around. Which is why their picture here just has a laptop.
But they could be the centrepiece of a software ecosystem designed to manage your business successfully! There’s a few questions we’d need to ask you to determine whether Brightpearl would be the best set-up for you specifically – give us a quick call and we can tell you whether we think Brightpearl would suit your business.
Other systems, light Lightspeed Retail, do service attributes well and have integrated with a wide number of bike shop service providers. Give us a quick call and we can talk about which of these might be better for your specific needs – both systems have their strengths and weaknesses.
Lightspeed Retail (don’t accidentally get their restaurant software 😉 ) is a market leader and is absolutely one of the best choices. In particular, their superior number of integrations with other software plugins designed for bike rental market puts them in pole position – and they tell us they’re popular with the bike shop vertical specifically.
Is Kounta right for you? They’re an extremely well-reviewed software which is a little cheaper and a little more mid-market than Lightspeed. The software itself is Australian (so, unfortunately, is their support) – but because they’re totally open source it’s easy to build custom modules unique to the way your business works.
Kounta is totally customisable and our customers have lauded it on how easy it is to use. (Read reviews).
If none of those sound like the answer for you, we have over 50 softwares to choose from in our comparison tool – have a go and see what comes out as recommended for you! There’s a lot of EPOS for retail we didn’t mention in this article – including Vend, Airpos, Square, and many more.
This is also the point where you need to begin asking what systems you’d like integrated with your bike shop EPOS.
Here’s some examples: there are booking systems for bike rental slots which are best handled outside of an EPOS – check out bike rental manager, or BikeBookings.
If you have a warehouse, you’re likely to want warehouse management software to replace the inventory management which comes native EPOS – because it can do things like track deliveries and logistics and you move complex loads of items about. Warehousing and logistics software is designed for the movement of complex goods between multiple locations.
You should look at what you can integrate with your preferred software. That might include – software which books time slots, which manages your inventory, which manages your staff, which does your accounting – and much more.
We normally think about payments as having three decision points. They are: do I want my payments to integrate with my software? Do I want contract or pay as you go? And then finally, of the providers who fit my answer to both questions, which is cheapest?
“Integrated payments” means that when you select an item via your EPOS till, the price cues automatically on a card reader, ready for the customer to pay – like in Tesco’s. Non-integrated payments is when you manually reenter the purchase amount into the card reader in addition to your software – like splitting a bill at a restaurant. With integrated payments you can still usually split up tenders at the checkout or manually override the price which is cued; so unless it spikes the cost, we’d usually recommend integrated in the case of bike shops.
The second decision is between pay-as-you-go and contract payment processing. The pay-as-you-go card readers are the ones on the right – they’re bought outright from a FreePOS provider like Square, iZettle, and Sum Up.
The contract reader is on the left. That’s a Verifone card reader, but the manufacturer is different from the contract provider. It could be with a processor like Worldpay, or Allied Irish Bank, which we often partner with for payment processor. Alternatively it could be an ISO like Bluebird or PaymentSense. (What’s an ISO?)
It depends a little on your processing figures which is cheaper. (Discover which is cheaper for me). But if we were gamblers, we’d say that for the average turnover and transaction size of bike shops, contract payments is likely to work out cheaper. That said, there’s still some advantages to pay-as-you-go – such as that there’s no contract. You might even decide to start out with a PAYG provider and shift to a contract once you’re properly set up in your store.
What kind of set-up would be best for me?
There’s only one way to find out!