Choosing a Till System for Corner Shops
If you run a corner shop, you will use some kind of EPOS system. The page is designed to explain what EPOS system you should choose as a corner shop owner; how to get the best deal and avoid being ripped off by bad providers.
This page will take you through our tips for choosing all three parts of choosing a corner shop EPOS system. When we sell EPOS systems, we’re talking about three discrete things – EPOS software, EPOS hardware, and payment processing. The “payment processing” refers to your card reader and the contract or arrangement that comes with that reader. Software and hardware refer to all the other bits of your till, and the software comes on your till, which can help with things like organising stock.
The reason we spell this out is because we believe it’s best to separate the questions out – to get the best deal for each.
Corner Shop EPOS Pitfalls to Avoid
At StoreKit, we tend to sell hardware which is usable with any software; where the software is downloaded as an app onto an iPad or an Android tablet.
One of the reasons we like these kinds of systems is that they can be cheaper than traditional tills. If you buy a full till including an iPad, we’d expect your starting costs to be in the ballpark of £600.
However, this also tends to be “software-as-a-service” – that’s software you rent access to on a monthly basis. You’d be subject to a fee of around £20 per month depending on what software you ended up choosing in addition to the £600 for hardware.
Even if you strongly prefer to buy software outright, it’s important you understand our preference for rented software – because it will help you find better software that you buy.
We prefer software which you rent because:
1) You have an ongoing relationship with the software company – that means their support is much better when things go wrong.
2) They are always competing for your business – you can leave at any time, so the software itself tends to be better.
3) If you don’t like your software, you don’t have to buy your hardware again. If you really do want to leave, you can just choose another brand – no extra investment required.
4) It’s “operational expenditure” rather than “capital expenditure”. (What does this mean?) which has benefits in tax and financial planning applications.
5) We think there are fewer business traps. The next list will handle those traps.
If you want to buy and own software watch out for:
1) Forced or preferred payment providers. If you want to “hide” costs, the best place to do it is in payment processing. If you’re buying software, payments, and hardware in one go, make sure you scrutinise all three parts of the fee in full. Read our advice on understanding a complex payments quote.
2) Expensive upgrades. Software you buy comes in versions (1.0, 1.1, 1.2) whereas software you rent is always the “latest and greatest” version. Often, software you buy will require that you buy new versions – and some businesses allow the old version to degrade to encourage customers to buy the new package.
3) Only our guy can fix that. If you’re using software that uses proprietary hardware, watch out for hidden costs around set-up, installation, and fixing issues – which “only their guy can fix” at a serious premium.
With all that out the way, we can get onto EPOS software features which we think are important for convenience stores!
Corner Shop EPOS software features to look out for
Basic Front-of-House – the basic front of house features which come with EPOS software include payment integrations, the ability to ring through discounts in multiple formats, process full or partial returns. If you sell items by weight, and you want that to go through your till properly, watch out: that’s a trickier requirement which many systems don’t handle and it requires specialist hardware,
Read about retail front-of-house EPOS features.
Inventory Management – inventory management could do anything from simply keeping track of how many of item X you have left; through to managing deliveries, mapping your inventory, and sending you nudges when it’s time to reorder. If you want inventory management which “batches” products and will tell you when to throw out products which have reached their sell-by date, that’s a bit tricker – so watch out for that feature.
Read about inventory management EPOS features.
Reporting – reporting should tell you how your business is doing. Whether you use the insights or not is up to you – but you can learn which products do well, how much you sell month on month, and a bunch of other things that tell you how your business is doing. Typically better software lets you understand a little better and the data tools are more flexible.
Read about reporting in EPOS.
Integrations – larger merchants might choose to integrate with accounting software. An integration means that two softwares talk to each other; so your balance sheets will be fed live data from your EPOS system. The most important integration, which all merchants will want, is with your payment processor.
Read about EPOS integrations.
Our Favourite Corner Shop EPOS
This is one really popular brand of “buy and own” software. Now, our recommendation is that you go for rented software – but as bought software goes, eposnow is solid and middle-of-the-road. We know many store owners will have a strong preference for software they buy and own despite what we’ve said; this could be the software for you.
Eposnow comes with proprietary hardware – you can’t use it on a regular iPad – so be aware that if you’re choosing EPOS now, you’re making an irreversible decision about all three parts of the EPOS system you’re buying.
“Free” Corner Shop EPOS
One way to avoid buying OR renting software is to get it for free! “FreePOS” brands include iZettle, Sum Up, and Square. These are payment processors who throw software in for free when you choose their payment processing. These are also pay-as-you-go providers. There’s no contract, and the reader works out of the box.
You may assume they charge higher processing rates – you would only sometimes be right. In the payment space, what rate you get depends on your size and your transaction size. If you have a low average transaction size (less than about £10) – iZettle could be cheaper than a traditional processor like Worldpay.
Best Rented Corner Shop EPOS
Myda business manager is a different kind of “free” – it’s freemium. That means that the basic software is free, and then if you want to access the reporting functions, you have to pay a little more. Myda is new to our website and we’re excited to see what they can do – but they’re a great convenience shop EPOS system.
Payment Processing for Corner Shop EPOS
We normally think of payment processing as having three decision points. First, do you want your payments to be integrated with your till?
That means that when you press the buttons on your till and press “pay”, the right price cues automatically on the card reader. (The alternative would be typing out the exact price again.) If you do, that means you’ll need to find a provider capable of integrating with the software.
Second, do you want to go for a contract or pay as you go provider?
A contract provider would be with a company like First Data or Worldpay. If you’ve had people come physically to your shop and try to sell you rates, it’s likely to be a contract provider. Contract providers require you rent the card reader from them for around £15 per month. It’s a contract, which lasts 2-4 years. There will be different rates for different cards.
In contrast, a PAYG provider will sell you a card reader outright for between £10-£70, and then you pay a flat 1.75% rate after you get set up. If you process larger volumes, you can negotiate that rate down – they will go as low as 1%. The 1.75% is for every card and you can start and stop processing whenever you like. ((Even if you use a contract provider, it may be worth having a PAYG card reader in the back as insurance)).
PAYG providers are likely to be cheaper for merchants with average transaction sizes of less than £8; otherwise, a traditional contract processor with a good rate could be cheapest.
Then, the final decision point: which is cheapest?
Quick Hardware Tips for Cornershop EPOS
When choosing hardware, we’d advise that you use our kit builder to build your kit. Although this software can be used with any hardware, in practice it’s a little more complicated than that, because you need your printer to be configured correctly to receive the signal from your software of choice.
Your receipt printer is the most important thing you’ll choose in that it has the most complex rules around which one you want.
The printer needs to work with the correct operating system and the correct EPOS software. You can also make a decision about connection type.
An operating system is the brand of tablet you’re using. An “iPad” is the tablet by Apple, which runs by iOS. If you’re using iOS, you need an iOS receipt printer. Other operating systems include Android, Windows, and Linux. If you’re not sure which one you have, call us and we can talk you through how to identify it. Choosing the correct OS is really important and your printer won’t work without it.
The EPOS software is less important than the OS. To generalise, most printers which have been configured for software A will also work for software B without touching them. In some cases you’ll have to fiddle with it a bit and press some buttons. In a minority of cases; you may have to replace the printer when changing EPOS software. We’d recommend you choose your hardware from the correct software page on our website to be safe when buying for the first time. (Or, use the kit builder :)). If you’re changing software and you don’t want to buy a new printer, call us.
The connection type is how the printer connects to your tablet or phone – the device which has the software running on it. Connection types include ethernet, bluetooth, lightning cable, USB cable.
With an iPad or Tablet stand, you need to make sure it’s the right size for the iPad you’re using.
You can read our security advice for cash drawers and iPad tills here. We’d recommend you bolt these things down if you’re worried about theft; which most stands enable you to do.
If you think you could benefit from an EPOS system, or you just want to save money on your payment processing, get in touch today – we can advise on whether you’ll be able to save, and the best set-up for you.