To keep afloat in today’s competitive electronics market, you will need an electronics shop EPOS – so that you can compete with the e-commerce behemoths dominating the scene.
Put simply, this may mean integrating your POS effectively with the e-commerce side of your business. It may mean setting up your EPOS so that you’re maximising your marketing efforts. Make it as convenient as possible for your customers to buy things.
Ask yourself: why would somebody come into an electronics store rather than buy online? Perhaps they want a greater depth of experience with the products before they choose; they want to touch them, feel them, and in the case of speakers, hear them. Perhaps they’d like a store assistant to whom they can ask questions. Perhaps they need a charger immediately – or perhaps they’re interested in services such as repair.
An EPOS system can help with all of these things. For example, it lets you understand why people are going to your store. If you’re attracting convenience customers, how can you double down on that? If you’re an “experience” shop, what’s working, and what isn’t?
What are the important features in an electronics shop EPOS?
E-commerce and marketing
How does an e-commerce integration work? For starters, there’s bread-and-butter stuff. For example, an integration with your e-commerce platform would ensure that your inventory across both your online and physical platforms pulls from the same figures at the same rate. This means that an online customer won’t be disappointed if they go through the checkout process of an item incorrectly displayed as being in stock.
But it gets much cleverer than that. Electronics are expensive items, and a customer is likely to have multiple touchpoints before they decide to buy – if it’s a £300 item, that requires thought for most customers! We might want to understand how a customer has come to buy the item in question; whether they’re checking your online store, eyeing up the item, and then coming into your store? £300 is the kind of price where people procrastinate and delay – and for which we might want to start looking at practices such as remarketing.
This is the essence of something called “omnichannel” – and it requires a sophisticated software set up which we can advise on. To be clear, much of this will be done through your e-commerce and softwares which plug into it, but it’s useful to augment that with some EPOS features if you have a large “physical store” component of your business. Anything which stores customer data tends to get called a “CRM” (“customer relationship management”) and can remember customer details and form the basis of an account. There are ways to incentivise customers to do this in real life – for example, with discounts, or email receipts. This can augment an online account and begin to set up an electronic component of your relationship with your customer.
But the primary way with which you know customers are coming into your store is via your payment processing data. If they have the same card attached to an account as they used in-store – hey presto, you can tell that the same customer has appeared twice in two places. (This takes place through a process called “tokenisation” – which obscures the card details for an identity code so you’re not storing data that sensitive, which wouldn’t be legal.)
Which EPOS can do this stuff? Of the kind of generic EPOS which is suitable for lots of different kinds of merchants, it would be the top end. But there’s a full spectrum –
Most of us will at some point have used the ‘Genius Bar’ in Apple stores – whether it’s for a cracked screen or a broken laptop. If you’re hoping to make your store stand out, it might be worth offering customers IT help with the electronics they buy in-store.
Some retail EPOS solutions are better than others at handling “services”. If you’re looking at scheduling staff time against a booking platform, that can be done through some EPOS softwares, and not others. However, it might be worth looking at software which is purpose-built to book appointments. This can usually integrate with an EPOS software – it’s usually the bigger companies with more customers which are likely to have more available integrations – regardless of the target customer size of the EPOS brand.
While you’re roaming the store, you may wish to set up an appointment with a customer, or even process a more personalised sale. You’ll be able to “Show and Tell” – showing your shoppers the whole range of your offering with the touch of a button. Check stock and the status of incoming deliveries on the go. With an iPad, you can take the cash till (and dashboard) with you. Portable payments will reduce queueing time and potentially make for happier customers. Check that your EPOS software supports iPad or mobile devices. This is one great example of a cloud-based EPOS function.
Electronic shops generally have complex inventories, which constantly need updating as soon as there’s a new model or a new spec on the market. It’s likely you’ll need your EPOS to have high-depth product categorisation where you can tag products with their style and colour or add variants to a single product. Some of your stock may be classified as composite products, and some mid-level systems are equipped with the inventory power to factor this into the system.
There will likely be different product types in your store: so look out for EPOS which lets you categorise items by type like Serialised, Box or Assembly and switch types as you sell them. Some even more complex EPOS systems, such as Lightspeed Retail, will let you order stock directly from your EPOS, create special orders and reserve stock for customers in the system.
Read more about inventory management
Accurate Accounting & Analysis
Reporting is important for any retailer, no matter the size or sector. For example, retail analytics will tell you which of your products are selling the best, your busiest hours and who are your VIP customers (who are spending the most). Cloud-based systems are the best choice in general, so that your data is updated in real-time and can be accessed no matter where you are. Can your EPOS easily export your business data to CSV (spreadsheet) or PDF formats? Mid-level electronics shops will likely already have separate software to better understand accounting data. Check that your EPOS software is flexible enough for you to integrate with accounting software.
Other EPOS features relevant to electronics shops
If you’re a chain, EPOS multi-site management will be a big consideration for you. Is it quick and easy for you to take a stock check or overview of all your sites? Do your business reports centralise data from all your locations? Higher level EPOS will enable you to carry out stock transfers between sites flexibly. Especially if you have composite products or cases where multiple components are needed, it’ll be important for you to see where you’re running low in a product and to keep replenishing all your parts.
There are three decision points when it comes to payments. The first decision is, do you want your payments to be integrated or non-integrated? The second is, do you want your payments to be contract or pay-as-you-go? And the final decision point is, of the payment options remaining once you’ve answered those two questions, which is the cheapest provider?
Integrated Payments essentially mean that when you cue a button using your front-of-house EPOS functions, the price cues automatically on the card reader ready for the customer to pay. It’s a really simple feature which we’d generally recommend in the case of electronics stores. The alternative would be typing in custom amounts to the reader each time a customer comes to pay – like you often find in restaurants.
Pay-as-you-go payments are more convenient than contracted payments. They work out the box, there are no identity checks, and they have a flat rate for every card so you can understand how much money you’re spending really simply. Traditional contract payments, in contrast, take longer to get set up, check your identity, and you’re locked into a 2-4 year contract. That said, we’d generally expect traditional contract payments to be cheaper than pay-as-you-go providers for electronics shops because of the average transaction size we’d associate with traditional electronics stores.
What kind of set-up would StoreKit recommend for an Electronic Shop?
This section should help you understand how complex we’d expect you to go depending on the size of your store.
The Starter-Outer: FreePOS
The cheapest brands on the market for EPOS are free. They make money by charging for “payment processing” – and to get started, they only require that you buy one of their branded card readers. Depending on which free POS software you choose, we might be able to discount your card reader for you. They charge payments at 1.75% – and that’s on everything, no matter whether it’s business, credit, or foreign.
Free POS will provide you with everything you need to get started. We’ve written about which free EPOS software is the best brand – and it depends on two things. The first is how good software you want; and the second is what you want to integrate with.
The mid-sized store: Vend + Integrations
As you get bigger, a few things happen. First, you need a greater level of inventory management than FreePOS can provide; so above a certain size threshold, we’d be unlikely to recommend FreePOS. You might choose to continue to use the payment processing provided by FreePOS – (read about the FreePOS brands as payment processors – known as “payment facilitators” in industry lingo) – but because of the average transaction size we’d associate with an electronics store, the
You can see we’ve added Shopify, which is a popular hosted e-commerce designed to be easy to use. We find Shopify a little pricey on payments, but the tradeoff is that their platform is very easy and best of all, you don’t need to hire a developer – you can set up a Shopify store yourself. Xero is accounting software; essential for any merchant dealing with lots of numbers! Accounting software becomes especially important as you take on staff – it can be connected to your payroll, so that you pay staff the right amount on-time.
The chain of electronics stores
How does a chain of shops differ from a medium shop? You can see we’ve traded two items here – the EPOS brand and the e-commerce platform brand. We’ve traded the e-commerce brand for two reasons. The first is that if you’re processing a lot through your online portal, and the extra processing costs we’d associate with a hosted platform like Shopify are no longer worth the superior convenience of hosted software. Better to hire a developer, and to buy data hosting and content management separately from open source e-commerce software. (What?)
Lightspeed and Vend compete for similar parts of the market, but on balance, Lightspeed is designed for shops that are a little bigger and a little more complex than Vend. Vend is quick and simple to learn; you’ll find you have to spend a little longer getting to grips with Lightspeed, but it has a few extra features in exchange. In addition, it’s designed that you integrate more with it – one thing not listed here is discrete inventory management software such as Market Man or Brightpearl, which you could choose to integrate with your EPOS.
Are you ready to decide? Or perhaps you just have some questions about store software, hardware, or payments? Book in a free ten-minute chat and you can ask us anything you like. Our favourite thing to do is to recommend EPOS set-ups; so if you’re not sure what to decide, or have specific requirements, definitely give us a call.
We’re a market, not a reseller for a single brand – and we make a similar amount whomever we refer you to. So our promise is to talk you through all the software on the market, and give you our honest advice, for free.