Guide to purchasing EPoS tills

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Hospitality Tills - helping you to get value from your puchase that lasts for years to come

When it comes to purchasing EPoS solutions, there is a huge marketplace to decide from, and it pays to bare in mind that you often get what you pay for. The first thing to look for would be a terminal that fits your needs - do you have a stock range that regularly changes. Do you need to be able to use bar codes. Do you need a kitchen printer, or a spare port for wireless terminals for your staff?

If you are in a trade where you don't stock a huge variety of products and they don't vary that much as time goes on, you may well be better off deciding to purchase an advanced cash register, similar in specifaction to the Sam4s SER 7000; this more than capable device is about as high end as you can get with cash registers, and has several EPoS functions, along with being back office linked to the same stock management software that runs our higher end terminals. The down side of this kind of machine is that you are limited by the size of the keyboard and the screen as to what it can do.

The next step up from an ECR machine will be what we class as a low end touch screen - these are normally pre-loaded with their software stored on a  memory chip, but have much of the functionality of the higher end PC based equipment. Screen sizes are normally slightly smaller than the PC based equivalents and processing times can be a little slower. These are ideal if you want all the features of an EPoS touch screen on a budget. Models such as the SPS-2000 or the Eurotouch TS-6000 are both very capable machines; and if you ever see anything second hand from Zonal on eBay, they were streets ahead of the competition, and their machines are still very good today - snap it up

The rolls-royce configuration is the fully fledged PC based touch screen EPoS - these systems are designed to be upgraded, often running a Windows XP interface and extremely quick and graphical software. With these systems you have the advantage of being able to integrate custom functionality to the software and even brand them much more than would normally be possible with a normal system. The down side, of course, is the price of the hardware - unfortunatley, the old adage of "you get what you pay for" is true to form, and these devices normally have a price tag over £1000. Devices such as the Tatung Vibrant and Sam4s Sps 3000 will fare well in any environment.

Things to watch out for:

  • Speed - If you are going for a PC based system, the higher the speed, the better - anything below a 500mhz processor will struggle in real time.
  • Setup Cost - Many suppliers, including ourselves charge a setup cost for the hardware - be cautious of what this includes, and expect to pay upwards of £300 for a complete service. Using our fixed cost as an example, £400 covers all the setup, data entry, on site installation, and training. With PC based systems we also throw in a couple of weeks remote support and system management for free.
  • Splash Proofing - In the hospitality trade, we have seen in the past a number of customers who buy "cheap and cheerful" tills that are simply not designed for their market - the first sign of a corrosive spirit or even splash of ale, and the system buckles.
  • Additional Costs - If you are buying an EPoS terminal, make sure you know if you are bidding for a system with printer, cash drawer and pole display, or if you would need to buy these extra.
Finally, we need to go against human nature - I would urge customers not to shop on price - We could easily use eBay as a platform to sell sub-standard equipment, or sell equipmnet with a sub-standard support mechanisim to customers - instead, we choose to use transparent pricing to ensure a customer knows what they are getting - shop on reputation as opposed to price - if you would like to check a company for references, please don't be afraid to ask. You are investing in £1000+ of equipment - make sure you're 100% happy before you buy.

Trade Jargon

As with any computerey trade, there is a jargon - a number of abbreviations we use or measurements that mean something to myself and my colleagues, but do nothing but scare the hell out of our customers. Some of the jargon is listed below:

PLU - Product Lookup (or stock code)
SKU - Standard Kilometric Unit - The unit that the item is sold in
DEPT - Department codes are used to group PLUs by department - for example, we normally use beers, spirits, soft drinks, sundries, and then all the foods. This makes reporting and configuration easier.
GROUPS - Grouping is usually a level above department. On our EPoS solutions, we group in to wet and dry areas - all the bar products under wet, and all the kitchen under dry.
PRICE SHIFTS - Price shifts are differences in price. You can toggle a button to move to a price shift, or on the more advanced systems it can be done automatically. We normally use four price shifts on a lager product. Price 0 would be the price for a pint, price 1 for a half. Price 2 would be a pint at happy hour, and price 3 would be a half at happy hour. This uses a combination of buttons and timed shifts to allow us to have one PLU for many products.
DALLAS KEY -  A dallas key is the common name for the small magnetic transponder keys used to access the till
MSR - Magnetic Strip Reader - the msr on most of our terminals is used for system functions and loyalty cards rather than PDQ functionality.

If there are any you would like to add, drop us a message.

Our very final comment on this guide is to extend our hand. If there is anything that Hospitality Tills can help you with, please visit our store at eBay Stores.

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