The Purr-fect EPOS for Pet Shops
This page helps you find the right EPOS system for your pet shop. EPOS systems offer a variety of features designed to give you more time away from admin & more time serving your pet-owners. The right POS will help keep your business running as smoothly as your hamsters are on their wheel.
Keep reading to find out what StoreKit’s top picks for pet shops are. We await your ap-paws!
What kind of POS do you need?
Your EPOS will depend on the size of your pet shop, how many sites you have and whether you provide services (for example, grooming services or a dog nutrition consultation).
Otherwise, we’ve listed below POS functions that are relevant to all retailers – so whether you’re selling pets, or just supplies, you’ll need to think about which of these functions are most important to you when picking an EPOS system. Check out our generic retail page for a full list of all the softwares you might want to choose.
If you sell livestock, there are added considerations which your EPOS can help you navigate:
EPOS features which are more important for pet shops
1. ID prompts
In the UK, there are laws around who is allowed to keep animals. You may need to get a licence from your local council in order to keep certain types of exotic wild animals and domestic-wild hybrid animals.
To buy an animal, you must be over 16 years old. You could configure your EPOS to prompt your staff to ask these questions to customers. If you sell pet insurance, you need to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) even if insurance is only a small part of your business.
2. Inventory Mapping
Some animals thrive on social interaction (like guinea pigs and rabbits) so you’ll need to keep these animals in groups or pairs. It’s difficult to enforce this through an EPOS – but one thing you can do is plan which animals are meant to be where via what’s called an “inventory map”.
3. Pet services
Your ‘EPOS for retail’ may be perfect for your initial setup but, if you’re hoping to expand and offer services in your pet shop, there are some things that it won’t be able to do. If you offer pet grooming or pet sitting services, for example, you can integrate with scheduling software. This could include service scheduling; employee time-booking; and customer appointment booking – which you may even want a customer to be able to manage through your online store. Check whether you have an EPOS which can integrate with this sort of thing.
4. Reorder Prompts
You’ll need to buy food and supplies to care for the live animals you sell (your inventory). It’s a good idea if your EPOS sends low stock notifications so you’re never at risk of running out of pet food. Automatic reordering might also be appropriate here; since, if you’re keeping several pups, you’re likely to be consistently losing food.
5. Staff Training
As a pet shop, you may occasionally be inspected by local authorities and vets – you can use your EPOS to make sure your staff is trained to uphold high hygiene and care standards across your store. You could have a training module set up on your EPOS so that your employees know how to process sales and answer customer queries on caring for certain animals.
Tricky pet shop requirements
Reporting and tracking unit costs
One important difference with pet shops is the way that the “cost of goods” analysis (COGS) works. You’re likely to find that most retail EPOS systems include “cost of goods” analysis – which is designed to analyse the cost of buying new pets versus the return of selling them on.
Trickier is the fact that pets cost a lot more in maintenance terms than equivalent “goods” – you’ll probably need to provide heating and certain other powered equipment (such as lighting and fish tank filtration and oxygenators) for their enclosures. Only EPOS systems at the very top end will be set up to help you analyse whether you’re still turning a healthy profit per pet and incorporate their maintenance costs into your accounts.
Other features relevant to pet shops
The above features are unusually or specifically useful in a pet shop environment – but there’s lots of EPOS features which are common to all types of retail, including pets.
These are less “rare” than some of the features described above – but as you’d expect, you’re going to dig deeper into your pockets if you want a more complex EPOS system.
At a basic level, your EPOS should be quick and easy to use so that you can dedicate as much time as possible on excelling at customer service.
Most EPOS will let you access a product library, carry out stock checks (individual/multi-site) and easily do a product search by SKU (SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit, a unique code for each product).
You might want to apply discounts – by percentage, multibuy or by attachment (e.g buying a hamster cage likely leads to sales of pet bedding or furniture so it’s a great opportunity to upsell). At the very simplest, your EPOS will let you issue refunds or partial refunds, but other EPOS will allow you to take store credit and deal with multiple tenders.
More sophisticated EPOS will let you sell items by weight or sell composite products. At the higher end, Lightspeed Retail systems for example, will let you generate your own barcodes, meaning you can speedily label items and scan them yourself.
Read our guide to front-of-house for retail here.
This is a fundamental part of any business – but the level of analysis is down to you. Not only do you want to see which product sells best and worst, but you may want to see where in the shop (shop geography) products are flying fastest, or by custom category (brand). This is key for a pet shop, where you may be selling essentially the same thing but in different brands. You can set up rigid or flexible timeframes too.
Especially advanced EPOS systems can offer smart suggestions, like auto-suggesting purchase orders, based on the business data collected. A big consideration here is whether your EPOS can integrate: mid-level systems will let you take advantage of accounting software, warehouse management software and marketing/loyalty software which will help run your business efficiently.
Read more about reporting features here.
There will be some inventory needs specific to your pet shop. Set up tags to characterise your products to help customers find the right fit for their pet’s needs. It’s likely that you’ll have lots of fast-moving low-value items, such as pet food or cat litter, so it’s a good idea to configure your EPOS to automatically reorder to par stock levels. This saves you time and stops you buying things you don’t need. If you’re a bigger pet shop, you’ll want to easily take stock counts across your different stores and transfer between sites if any stock discrepancies pop up on your reports.
Read more about inventory management here.
Staff Management and Multisite
At a basic level, this means being able to implement different staff views and permissions. With unique logins, you’ll be able to track their performance. Mid-level EPOS will let your staff clock-in and out. It may be that you need staff to be trained to perform certain tasks in your pet shop – an EPOS can help you keep on top of staff training. If you’re a chain with a complex set-up, it’s likely that you’ll need to integrate with HR software like Deputy – check that your EPOS is flexible for your needs. Deputy integrates with these Point of Sale systems, including Square, Vend and Revel Systems.
Read more about staff management features and multisite.
Marketing, Loyalty, E-commerce
Establishing a clear brand for your pet shop is vital for your business. You’ll want to share your love for reptiles, fish and all things furry with people in-store – after all, enthusiasm is infectious. Being a memorable and recognisable brand will help maintain and expand your customer base.
Your EPOS can be equipped with customer facing display (a branded iPad screen), which will not only enable your shoppers to visually confirm their purchases, but you can add images and fonts that reinforce your brand identity. Customise your email receipts with images or logos that speak to your customers. If you’ve got an e-commerce side to the business, you will want integrated web sales so that all of your sales come from the same stock tree. Offering advanced multichannel features like ‘click & collect’ will make it convenient for customers to buy their pet supplies from you.
Read about marketing and e-commerce features in EPOS systems.
Portable payments may be important for your pet shop. This means you can take customers’ payments anywhere in your shop, which will be useful if you’re selling pets on the loose and the animals may not be easily ferried to the till.
For payment processing, you have a choice between pay-as-you-go or contract payment providers. Read about the differences here.
Our Top Picks
If you’re a cat parent, and you want to rehome the litter, you might find yourself selling kittens to your local community on a very small scale. The government website tells us that “A pet shop is any building where animals are sold as pets, including your own home.” Or maybe you’re a boutique selling designer accessories for poodles. Or perhaps you manufacture your own pet feed (there’s a lot of legislation around the sale of pet feed so make sure you’re sticking to the law!) and want to open a small business. In this case, you’d only really need a payment processor which has some POS functions.
‘FreePOS’ systems are designed for small merchants with a basic inventory. They include payment processing and EPOS software in one go. You’ll buy a card reader separately, rather than hiring a card machine. Though you can get their EPOS software for ‘free’, there will still be charges for using their payment processing.
FreePOS have two benefits – their software is free, and their payment processing doesn’t come with a long-term contract. But they have no inventory management and will often have expensive payment processing rates. If you think that tracking all the stock going in and out of your pet shop will leave you in a ‘hoof’, then maybe look to the more complex POS systems listed below.
Middle-sized stores and small chains
For middle-sized stores, there’s a few software options to choose from.
AirPOS is designed for mid-range stores, where your inventory value and stock ranges widely. They’re affordable, they’re available 9am-midnight 7 days a week if you have any issues, and they’re a good next step up from free software. It’s a great budget choice – here’s our profile for airpos and you can ask us if you have any questions about them. Ask us about airpos features.
Vend is slightly more expensive than AirPOS. They have a larger operation, with bigger software and support teams and software which is capable of handling a larger store. Ask us about Vend features.
Shopify POS is another good choice. They’re best known for being an e-commerce platform. On the side, they do POS and if you have a Shopify store already, you may want to choose them. However, they may push you towards their preferred payment processors so could be more expensive than they seem. Ask us about Shopify features.
At this stage, you’re likely to have accounting software such as Xero or Quickbooks, so you should check what accounting integrations are available with your POS – and whether they cost. Integration is important so that your spreadsheets update automatically.
For payment processing, you can continue using a pay-as-you-go provider like iZettle if you like; but it might become cheaper to enter into a longer term contract with a traditional payments provider such as worldpay or AIB. Ask us about payment processing.
If you see your business amongst the likes of Pets at Home, and Pet Planet, your EPOS requirements will be complex. These are bigger chains which have multiple sites to manage. At this level, you’re going to want greater depth to your inventory management.
“Multi-site” or “multi-store” management is your login screen as the general manager across stores; which will enable you to compare performance across all your different stores. You may only want certain staff members to have access to your business data.
For inventory management, there’s a limit to what a POS can provide. At some point, it may be worth investing in warehouse management software or logistics management software (like Indigo) – specific tools that will strengthen the weaker areas of your POS.
Thinking long term, you’d want to find a well-integrated POS software so that you have lots of options when you look for another software to execute the preciser task. Lightspeed Retail is among the best-integrated software systems on the market. Ask us about Lightspeed Retail.
Not sure where to go from here? We’re happy to sit down and talk you through your options – book a call with a StoreKit expert today.
Check out our beginner’s guide to EPOS systems, where we’ve answered your most-asked questions on how to choose and set up a POS. After that, you’ll need to get your head round payment processing, for which we’ve created a step-by-step bumper guide to help you understand everything involved.