The Prada of EPOS – the best EPOS for clothes shops
If you’re the proprietor of a fashion boutique or department store, we’re going to give you the low-down on what EPOS is likely to suit you. Like a suit! Geddit?!
Basics: what is an EPOS system?
On a basic level, an EPOS system is a till – but it’s also the software that comes with your till, and everything that you need to sell Gap, Levis, and Gucci. (Look, we don’t know anything about clothes – but we know a hell of a lot about software.)
With an EPOS, you can understand what’s happening in your shop or shops; including where your inventory actually is – down to the portion of each shelf. You can use it to accept card payment for your business; because generally we’d include a payment processing contract as part of an EPOS system. An EPOS is comprised of hardware, software, and payments.
Software – lets you manage your business.
Payments – a contract with a bank.
Hardware – the till itself.
You can read more about what an EPOS system is for beginners here. Otherwise, read on to understand our favourite EPOS for clothes shops!
Quick: Our Top 5 EPOS Software Picks for Clothes Stores
1. Lightspeed Retail – The Big Store
This is the top-of-the-marketplace; the biggest and most complex software build for clothes shops before we begin to get into enterprise systems.
Lightspeed can handle more complex inventories than any other software. Their vast array of features captures (nearly) everything you could want; it has some of the most flexible reporting, and great front-of-house; in addition to a superior level of inventory coverage.
Lots of stores will find Lightspeed Retail too big. If you’re a small, one-location affair, we’d probably recommend something a bit smaller and cheaper. It will take a little longer for your staff to learn than some other software. Find out more about Lightspeed including its features below.
2. Vend – the small chain
Vend has nearly the same level of capability as Lightspeed, but it’s for slightly smaller shops. It’s a bit easier to learn and use; and there’s a great resource library with Vend, so you can become an expert very quickly.
They have cheaper beginner packages, and Vend has great inventory management combined with a user-friendly front-end. It’s a great choice for a merchant of any size, but they are slightly more expensive than what we’d consider a “budget” EPOS.
3. Shopify – the Next ASOS
If you’re contemplating that e-commerce is going to be a big part of your store, you may already have Shopify. They produce a basic EPOS software along with their more substantial online offering, but it could be that that does everything you need!
Remember, as EPOS systems go, Shopify is expensive for what it is. They penalise you for not using their preferred payment partners, so they’re more expensive than they appear; and their front-of-house functions suite is fairly basic. But people love their e-commerce platform. If that includes you, you could choose to “integrate” your e-commerce platform with another EPOS provider, but you might find it simpler to get Shopify POS. That way, everything would be unified in one glorious platform – bliss!
4. AirPOS – the value-for-money
£19 per month is not very much compared to the other softwares here – but it sounds like an absolute steal when you realise it includes an e-commerce platform. All the other softwares – including iZettle – require that you pay extra for their native e-commerce software; but not airpos. That means that this rivals iZettle on price and has a little more functionality – if you’re on a budget, a great choice.
Airpos is a little bit smaller than Vend or Lightspeed Retail.
5. iZettle – the Starter-outer
iZettle is a bit different to the others – it comes with payment processing included in their package. By choosing iZettle for EPOS software, you’re choosing iZettle for payment processing. You get your EPOS software for free, and iZettle’s payment processing is totally flexible – you can start and stop whenever you like.
For the average transaction size we’d expect from clothes shops, iZettle is unlikely to be cheaper than a traditional processor. You can understand more about this in our payments guide.
You can learn a bit about freepos here.
What do you want your EPOS to do?
Here’s how we’d recommend going about choosing software: go to the list of features below, and print them out. Highlight the ones you think are relevant to your business and your set-up. Then, talk to us and we’ll share our opinion on the best option. When we refer you to our recommended software’s representative, ask specifically about those features.
If you’re unsure about the specific features you need, talk to us in general terms about the kind of thing you want! The list below is designed to give you a sense of what an EPOS till designed for clothes shops is capable of in different areas. Here are the six big categories of EPOS functions – use them to understand what you’d want.
Alternatively, check out our generic retail page for a full list of everything you should consider.
Important EPOS functions for clothes shops
1. Taking Card Payment in Clothes Shops
An EPOS is made of hardware, software, and payments. Your payments are a discrete decision from your software; but certain software only works with certain payment providers. We’d recommend coming to it after you’ve chosen your software.
That said, there’s a broader decision you can make right now.
In order to accept cards, you have a choice between a pay-as-you-go processor such as iZettle or a contract with a traditional processor such as Worldpay.
Either decision is a good one for different reasons. Unless you’re very small, a traditional processor is likely to be cheaper. This isn’t true for all merchants; but it probably is for clothes shops, because the average transaction size is likely to be higher than other merchants. To understand this, check out our payments guide.
You may still choose to go for a pay-as-you-go processor, however, because they are more convenient. If you’re starting out, they’re great:
|Normal Processor||FreePOS Processing|
|Contract||1-2 years||No contract|
|Rate style||Different rates for different cards||Flat percentage|
|Billed||Monthly||Before the money enters your account|
|Card Reader||£15 per month for the duration of the contract||Bought outright at the start for around £30|
|Get started||Around 2 weeks||Start/stop whenever|
If you do choose a pay-as-you-go processor, you need to check whether they’re integrated with the EPOS software you choose. Integrated just means that when someone taps their card against your reader, the EPOS system updates – which in turn, will update things like your accounting software. If you don’t integrate, you’d have to input everything twice – into the card reader, and then into the EPOS.
If you choose a traditional processor, you’re going to need to get something called a payment application to integrate your payments to your EPOS system. That’s a jargon-y sentence, so let me unpack it: a “payment application” is like the sellotape that links your EPOS software, your payment processor, and the card reader (which will be from a manufacturer like Verifone or Ingenico) together. That’s sometimes built by a fourth party; sometimes built by the EPOS software people; sometimes built by the card reader manufacturer. At any rate, it needs all three parties to approve it, so double-check with your software manufacturer when your payment provider says it will work.
2. Front-of-House for Clothes Shops
Front-of-house is the part of your EPOS system your staff will use at the point when they’re accepting payments and interacting with customers.
Simple and intuitive selling screen. Sometimes, less is more – especially when you’re keen to emphasise speed over functionality.
Discounts. Discounts should be easy to ring through a till; and when they refer to a coupon, code, or membership card, the information on that coupon should be easy to put into the EPOS, such that the item automatically discounts, and it gets rung through. If you can minimise discounts which get rung through for unspecified reasons, you can minimise discounts which are wrongly put through, and understand whether your sales are effective.
Returns. Not only should returns be easy to ring through on a good till system, but they’ve grown in relevancy for clothes shops. One behaviour growing more common is the orders of eight or nine garments with the intention of sending half or more of them back. This might be something you want to encourage, or discourage – but it’s certainly something you should want to track, and to understand.
Scheduled pricing. This means you can manually sit and programme all your sales for the year, or season in one go; set when they occur; and then sit back and wait for the price to drop automatically at the correct time.
Combination pricing. Buy X and get Y for free – should happen automatically when you ring it through your till.
Gift aid. This may be important to your shopping experience.
3. Understanding your clothes shop – reporting
Reporting is the way an EPOS system presents its data to you, so that you might understand your business as well as possible.
So ask yourself, how nerdy do you want to get?
You’ll find that freepos can be good to show a simple log of sales. But you might want analytics by product category performance, by brand performance, by the part of the shop or rail an item is on; you might want to analyse your store through the lens of which “sales” have boosted your sale numbers, and perhaps how that’s affected your unit economics. You may wish to understand your store through the lens of throughput or sellthrough rate; or to understand how your marketing campaigns have affected product performance; or attachment rates (e.g. someone buying a tie after they’ve bought a suit). You may even wish to analyse and compare different stores.
4. Inventory Management for Clothes Shops
Inventory Management can be pretty complex.
Basic systems will include the ability to create purchase orders through the system; the easy bulk-import of new items from excel sheets; and the ability to follow a simple log of how many of each item you have left. Even in basic systems, there should be the ability to categorise items by “modifier” and “variant” such as “XL” or “red”. This will be useful in reporting, where you can analyse how the overall product is doing without the noisier data.
Good systems will come with more serious inventory management. That’s not only the ability to order things from suppliers through your interface, but notifications when you have low stock, and notifications when the supplier price is increasing. Not only does it keep count of your stock; but it keeps account of “theoretical versus actual” which allows you to follow stock shrinkage. It makes stock-taking altogether easier as you can just scan barcode labels rather than inputting one-by-one, and has “inventory mapping” – which enables you and staff to determine which store, room, and shelf, an item is on. That, in turn, enables your staff to tell customers that an item is available in your other store, and perhaps request a transfer.
Learn more about inventory management.
5. Permissions & Multisite for Clothes Shops
If you have lots of staff working part-time hours, or if you have multiple sites, multi-site could become a big deal. For obvious reasons, only the higher-end software tends to have multi-site.
Staff management can do things like clock how much time your staff have worked as they sign in and out, which can be a lifesaver when you have lots of staff working complex hours. It also allows you to set permissions around who can do what. Who can ring through discounts? Who can customise specific discounts? Who can view sensitive reporting data? Who just needs to see the till?
Multi-site allows you to see everything across every site you have. This cuts across all the different categories – inventory mapping should include multiple stores and enable you to figure out what item is where. Reporting should enable you to precisely contrast your stores and understand which is doing the best, and why.
6. E-Commerce & Marketing for Clothes Shops
As we know, the world is going online. Generally the most sophisticated e-commerce platforms will outdo EPOS software on its suite of marketing features; so if you have e-commerce, start there.
But do make sure your e-commerce and EPOS platforms are integrated – partly so that your inventory data pulls from the same pool; but also because some EPOS have CRM and loyalty functions which may be useful online. There are loyalty cards, customer accounts, and discounts which thread through a customer buying something several times. But nobody really wants to carry around a coupon card in their wallet – so, to solve this issue, store the data on your side. The customer just has to notify your staff of an email each time.
You may also wish to select EPOS software company which has built a good e-commerce platform themselves – Vend, iZettle, and Lightspeed all produce online e-commerce which can be bought in addition to your POS.
If you’re not sure what software you want, we’d recommend you book a call with one of our experts. We earn a similar amount whomever we refer you to, and we’re partnered with hundreds of different EPOS providers – so we can talk you through the different options in an unbiased way.
Otherwise, try our comparison tool for free!
If you’re ready to crack on, email firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be introduced to your software for a demo.
If you want to build your hardware, try our kit builder to see what hardware you might need.