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EPoS: The Convenience King

Much more than simply a way of accepting payments, Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) systems have evolved significantly in the last few years, to provide not only financial accuracy and speed and efficiency but also analytical reports of consumer spending and stock management. These advantages will positively affect your bottom line in numerous ways, including but not limited to, boosting sales and your brand reputation.

Once only accessible to larger businesses an increasing number of smaller businesses are realising the benefits of advanced EPoS systems.  With mobile ordering set to become the ‘next big thing’, half of the battle has been won for smaller operators, as customers come ‘ready equipped’ with most of the tech necessary to take mobile payments already installed on their phones. 

So, what should operators expect from the latest in EPoS technology?  It is little surprise that fast-paced food service establishments require an equally speedy till and payment system in order to meet consumers’ demands.  The latest in EPoS technology offers speed and convenience.  Customers don’t like to queue up when waiting for their food and QSR’s are increasingly signing up to solutions that cater to this.  Table service and kiosks for example provide for scenarios where a customer wishes to take control of the service they receive.  Not only does this please the customer but it also is beneficial to the operator as their staff can concentrate on other equally important things, such as cleanliness and food.

Consumers adapt well to new technologies and expect to have access to the latest methods of payment all of the time.  From advances in mobile payments to the surge in popularity of contactless, consumers demand the latest tech whether they are dining out at their favourite restaurant or picking up a coffee and a bagel in their local delicatessen. 

In fact, buyer expectation is driving innovation both online and offline, therefore businesses need to ‘move with the times or risk losing customer loyalty’.  According to Sage Pay, 90% of consumers say it’s important for businesses to offer a diverse range of payment methods. What’s more, 58% claim they would be ‘more likely to shop somewhere that offered them multiple ways to pay.’  Therefore accepting both cash and card payments from your customer is vital and if bills can also be reconciled with a quick ‘tap’ of a contactless card, then all the better for the consumer. 

Drivers of Change: The rise of the cashless payment

Sage Pay also say that cash is becoming an ‘increasing headache’ for merchants, as dealing with it carries many hidden costs including storing it securely and having to transport and then bank it.  They found that a quarter of organisations say they ‘have been the target of cash theft by a member of staff’, while 34% admit to losing cash due to human error and 56% say they spend up to an hour or more counting and transporting cash to the bank each week. 

According to payments processor Worldpay, which handles 40% of all card transactions in the UK, ‘spending on all forms of contactless systems now accounts for 28% of all non-cash transactions in the UK, with total spend exceeding £10bn for the year in 2016.’ In December alone, Worldpay processed over £1.5bn in contactless payments with shoppers spending an average of £10.39 per transaction.

According to James Frost, CMO, Worldpay UK, who commented in a recent payments report, the fast paced nature of QSRs and food-to-go outlets mean that for a consumer, payment methods on offer can be a ‘deciding factor in where consumers spend their money’.

Frost elaborates; “UK consumer card spending overtook cash for the first time last year, and our own research has found a quarter of UK consumers avoid shops that don’t take cards, while 30% say they only use cash if absolutely necessary.”

“Contactless cards have paved the way for rapid adoption of mobile payment systems, driving investment in infrastructure and familiarity among consumers. Today one in five of us will use the technology at least once a day, rising to a third of people in London.  But as people get more used to paying for goods on their smartphone, mobile’s ability to bridge more effectively across online and offline retail channels will increasingly threaten the future of the traditional payment card.”

“Already more than half of UK shoppers say they’d happily leave their wallet at home and pay for everything on their smartphone instead.”

In fact, Sage Pay research also found that 85% of consumers think that a diverse range of payment methods makes a company appear modern and progressive, ‘with contactless payments, online wallets and mobile payment technology like Apple Pay most likely to make the right impression.’ 

Frost commented; “For today’s digitally driven shoppers, cash has become a relic. It’s easy to see why that’s the case, as innovations like contactless and mobile payments continue to raise the bar in terms of speed, simplicity and convenience. For consumers, being able to pay by which ever method they choose is a minimum requirement of what it means to be a modern retailer.”

Why is having an effective EPoS system essential for food-to-go/quick service restaurant businesses?

“The latest industry statistics show that QSRs are the fastest growing sector in the hospitality industry,” begins Steven Rolfe, Managing Director of pointOne EPoS.  “For restaurants owners who want to stay ahead of the game, an effective EPoS solution is paramount to gaining not just a competitive edge, but also maintaining and growing profit margins.”

“Today, EPoS solutions are not just focused around cash and payment processing.  Many QSRs recognise this fact and are now building their entire operation around their EPoS solution.”

Peter Moore, Chief Executive Officer of Lolly EPoS agrees that the food to go environment is all about speed.  He explains “People want to be served as quickly and efficiently as possible, and having the right system that can support speed will help to attract customers and keep them coming back.” 

Tejal concurs; “We believe that anything that helps a business to bring together a smooth and speedy transaction process is the key to providing your customers with a great experience and improves employee productivity,”

“With speed and efficiency in EPoS, your employees can spend time doing things that will benefit the business and spend time on looking after your customers rather than on the payment process i.e. integrating credit and debit card payments.”

Ben Elliott, Head of Sales, Nobly Point of Sale agrees “For this to be made possible, an effective EPoS system like Nobly POS is necessary. Nobly can help you burn through queues in rush hour quickly but efficiently. It helps you gain the insight you need to increase the average spend per head while allowing you to reward your loyal customers to ensure that they keep buying their daily dose of caffeine from you.”

Operational effectiveness is absolutely mission critical for all and any business operating in the food to go industry, according to Victoria Hatch, Managing Director, mmmLUNCH.  She explains “Effective systems minimise waiting time which (in turn) increases customer satisfaction. It also makes a difference to a business’s bottom line.  Making sure you’re serving as many as people as possible, without compromising your quality of service, means you can serve more people. It’s simple maths.”

She continues “Advances in technology and software are an obvious way to do this. For the food to go industry and quick service restaurants, speed and convenience can be critical driving considerations when it comes to where consumers choose to speed their money.”

“It is essential to provide customers with quick and integrated payment experiences. Apps and mobile phones are offering us new and exciting ways we can pay quickly and conveniently. In 2015 card spending overtook cash for the first time and the industry is seeing a stark increase in customers avoiding retail outlets that don’t offer card payments.”

Tony Franklin, Sales Director at Orbis Tech adds, “There is little margin for error, and therefore an EPoS system that can provide the necessary speed, whilst ensuring the accuracy of taking and fulfilling orders is maintained, is significantly beneficial to quick service and food-to-go operators, as well as their staff.”

He concludes, “Of course, keeping costs under control is also imperative for operators, and within the fast-paced environment of a quick service or food-to-go outlet it is all too easy to accrue unnecessary wastage or other unwanted expenditures. With advanced stock managing and reporting tools often built in, an effective EPoS solution can help to keep these costs under control, whilst providing operators with the needed tools to track and eliminate wastage wherever possible.”

What are the advantages of using EPoS technology?

Replace with: EPoS is known for its ability to speed up all the areas of the business, and streamlining a number of processes.” Begins Ben.

“So using EPoS technology allows the users to focus on other offline areas that may require their attention.”

Remaining at the forefront of advances in technology is vital for any business competing in the saturated food service market, as Steven elaborates. “A modern EPoS system designed to meet the specific needs of your business is now an essential component for improving footfall, reducing queues, tightening stock control, managing staff and maximising profit margins.”

“QSRs who do not implement this technology will struggle to compete as new innovations such as self-service, and advancements in order management applications are set to dominate the industry in the years to come.”

“An effective system should also offer further cloud based back-office support that can be accessed from anywhere,” adds Peter.  “This will help the food to go specialist to reconcile, as well as understand trends such as wastage - anything that directly impacts their bottom line.”

“Having the relevant information in real-time means they can see what is really going on in their business, and therefore adapt accordingly.”

mmmLUNCH recognise the advantages of Mobile Point of Sale (MPoS) and therefore consider all of the latest introductions of payment technologies when developing their software.  Victoria explains “For example, we just started looking at software that allows users of mmmLUNCH to pay for their food using just their mobile phone contract or available phone credit without the need for a debit card or even a bank account,”

“At the busy lunchtime period, speed is of the essence. The quicker a transaction is completed, the more customers you’re able to serve.”

What should food-to-go/quick service restaurant owners look out for when buying new EPoS or till equipment?

According to Sage Pay, a common challenge facing those in this industry is how not to make the payment process an obstacle to good service.  Simplicity in payments is key, so the process becomes seamless and staff can focus instead on food and ambience.  So with simplicity in mind what are the most important things operators should consider when choosing an EPoS system? 

Tejal explains “There are many things owners of food-to-go and quick service restaurants should look out for to help improve their business efficiently and help boost profits including stable hardware, round the clock support services and Cloud back-up systems.”

“A system that is simple and intuitive,” adds Peter. “Given the high staff turnover rates within the hospitality environment, it is vital to have technology in place that can be up and running quickly and effectively. Equally, there shouldn’t be any hidden costs, for example when it comes to an upgrade.”

“Food to go specialists should treat their EPoS provider as a partner, who will work hard to support the business and its potential growth.  Look out for a solution that is hosted in the cloud. They give access to vital performance statistics in real-time and automate some other time consuming activities like stock control.” 

He concludes “Even support tasks, like swapping out equipment, is more efficient as it removes the need and the cost of an on-site engineer.  Paying a premium for the service will undoubtedly reap return - the cheapest option is likely to result in a basic system with limited functionality.”

Victoria agrees “As Director of mmmLUNCH, it is my duty to this industry to recommend, support and encourage business owners to consider the benefits of MPoS. The benefits of how much the technological advances of recent years can be advantageous to the businesses operating within this industry are endless.”

“MPoS reduces queues, increases sales, maximises customer experience and improves customer satisfaction by offering them the freedom to order and pay for their lunch anywhere at any time.  This is beneficial to both the retailer and their customers as technology and software, like mmmLUNCH, is easy to use and simple to integrate as it is a low cost, hassle free solution that requires no additional technology.”

“When making a choice you should recognise that not all EPoS solutions are the same,” advises Steven.  “Investing in the right solution that matches businesses requirements and grows with you will deliver maximum benefits.”

“These include faster processing of customers, therefore shorter queues and more footfall, more control in the business with sophisticated real-time management reporting and remote access.  Also robust staff management scheduling and increased margins as well as better management of costs with intelligent stock control.  Some EPoS solutions also give you the ability to introduce new innovations such as online ordering, kitchen screens and smart phone applications.”

Ben concludes “Purchase a system that is built for QSR. Too many EPoS systems try and do everything and this causes slow, clunky, unfit systems.”

What support is available to businesses who use EPoS & till technology?

“Nobly POS provides its customers with all the support, right from assisting with their switchover and setting everything up for the business, to guiding and helping them any issues they face throughout their journey with us via live chat and phone support,” explains Ben.

He continues; “If your printer stops printing or your cash doesn’t open, when you have a queue out the door, you want somebody on the other end of the phone who can resolve it instantly - you don’t have time to wait”

Like all services the support you receive depends on the level of system you choose and a good EPoS provider will recognise your changing needs, as Peter maintains. “If we see a client not using the system as effectively as they could, then we intervene and offer to provide further support and training, if they need it.”

“At mmmLUNCH, we personally onboard all of our clients to the Vendor Management Platform,” Victoria clarifies.  “We provide a full knowledge base of FAQs and video tutorials and there is always a member of the team available. All good technology and software companies will be the same.”

What are the latest trends in terms of EPoS and till technology?

The biggest trend is integration according to Peter.  He elaborates, “Technology companies are creating seamless offerings at the PoS, which includes reporting, customer relationship management (CRM), loyalty, supplier management and finance.”

“It’s about managing multiple applications on one platform in order to help hospitality providers offer the best service in a competitive marketplace.”

Also essential is the ability to integrate new technologies, as Richard Goodall, Vice president of NCR Hospitality, elaborates, “The ability to integrate new technologies is essential. We no longer call it ‘point of sale’ rather a ‘platform of sale’ with the ability to easily integrate and rapidly deploy new technology.”

“Kiosks, online ordering, mobile payments are all increasingly popular within quick service, but what restaurants don’t want is significant capital investment every time its customers embrace a new way of paying, ordering or engaging. Importantly for this sector, such technologies help to further improve speed of service, but being able to integrate with the EPoS system is critical.”

Steven agrees and believes that incorporating these self-service and cash-less technologies into your business is vital.  “These new technologies integrated with new payment methods such as Apple Pay, will enhance the customer experience and change the way in which QSRs manage their business.”

What future developments can we expect in this market?

EPoS is one area that is constantly evolving and some experts predict it will only be a matter of time before traditional systems become redundant in some retail sectors. For example in some situations current systems won’t be much use in situations where customers expect to be able to buy anywhere and want intervention from assistants only when needed.

Operators looking for ways to streamline their service can look to a good EPoS provider to manage and simplify the day to day running of their business, maintaining a positive experience for their customers.  But how do our experts see technology evolving in order to keep up to date with the expectations of consumers in this fast paced industry? 

“Future developments are going to be digital for example, online ordering and mobile payments.  (Not forgetting) the likes of Deliveroo and Uber EATS etc.” explains Richard. 

“At the centre of all this is the POS system, enabling all orders to be captured and processed while giving the customer that consistent experience across whichever channel they choose to use.”

“From how you order a coffee, to the way you pay for a round, consumer habits are changing,” adds Ben.

“It’s probably way past due that you choose to upgrade to a future proof EPoS solution that will enable you to ride the ever evolving technology wave in the hospitality industry.”

“Nobly Point of Sale is the highest rated hospitality EPoS system in the UK with a 5-star score on TrustPilot.”.

According to a 2016 ICM survey, mobile has had a huge impact on how we buy. Throughout the UK, almost a third (29%) of consumers say they have bought products or services on their mobile phone. Unsurprisingly, this is even more pronounced in the younger generations; a half (49%) of under 44 year olds have bought on their mobile.

Victoria explains “With mobile users making more peer-to-peer payments between friends (using services such as PayPal, and with peer-to-peer Apple Pay coming in the upcoming iOS 11 update due in the autumn) users are expecting electronic payments to also be as quick and integrated into the shopping flow as they are between friends,”

“Your customer doesn’t expect to have to provide their payment details for every transaction you make with them. If they can’t complete the transaction with a single tap, they’ll come away frustrated.  Significant increase in customers adopting Mobile Point of Sale means that this is the single biggest growing tech trend to consider over the next 12 months,”

Victoria concludes, “The use of both NFC and digital wallets are both set to carry on increasing. Apple Pay and Android Pay are monumental in this growth, as to be expected. We feel passionately that business owners should adopt new payment technology as a priority so that outdated payment systems or processes are not harming their business.”

“As payment technologies develop, and as we continue to see a rise in customers utilising mobile and contactless payment more and more, we can also expect to see biometric security rise in popularity,” begins Tony.

“Already an established form of identification within schools and universities, biometric security is more accurate and secure than ever before, providing peace of mind along with unrivalled speed and ease.”

“We can also expect to see an increased focus on personalisation at the point of purchase. The use of promotional signage is already popular, for instance, and it is entirely possible to further personalise offers to the specific customer as they pay for goods.”

“With many customers using loyalty cards and with biometrics becoming more popular, outlets would be able to take advantage of custom offers or promotions that trigger as a person swipes their card or registers their fingerprint. The possibilities here are limited only by the imagination of the operator.”

“The sector is evolving constantly,” summarises Peter.  “I firmly believe we’ll see a huge rise in the adoption of mobile wallets. We live in a mobile and cashless society and wallets support this well,”

“Also, I don’t think it will be too long before food to go specialists use holograms to help support service. Times are changing…”

Tuesday, 1st August, 2017
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