Who uses EPoS?
“Approximately 50% of garden centres have taken up EPoS to date, but that number is increasing, as even the smaller-sized garden centres are seeing the benefit,” says Jo. “In previous years a lot of retailers, including garden centres, felt the system was too complicated and expensive to bother with. As time has gone on they are starting to realise the benefits, in terms of the speed and ease of stock management and information gathering.”
The evolution of EPoS
As technology has evolved, EPoS has advanced significantly. “In the early days, retailers had to have their own server for EPoS, they held their databases and software locally, and every update involved someone physically coming to the site to renew the system,” Jo tells us. Since then, EPoS has become available in a cloud-type system. “The issue with the system being on premise – when the server with all your data is on site – is that there are associated costs and disruptions for the retailer when that system requires updating. This isn’t a problem with the new cloud-type systems.”
Why use EPoS?
“EPoS takes all the information from a garden centre’s sales and organises it so owners can review and control their costs, sales and stock,” Jo says. “Most garden centres can tell you their top lines off the top of their heads, but they may not be able to tell you their slower lines or what they’re sitting on in terms of stock, and won’t know if they’ve just sold the last unit of a certain product until they physically go and check. That’s where EPoS comes in.”
Getting started with EPoS is time consuming initially, but Jo explains that it’s a simple, one-off process: “With an EPoS system, a retailer will upload their products and categories onto the system, along with their minimum stock levels, what the bar code is, a description of the product and the price. That only needs to be done once. After that, whenever a bar code is scanned at the till, it is instantly recorded and marks down stock. At any given time, a retailer can look in the system and see in real time exactly how much stock they have for any product or range. From that, they can tell what’s popular, what they need to reorder, and what isn’t selling – 24 hours a day, and from any location.”
This intelligence can be invaluable to a garden centre, as it gives the owner and their team the information they need to make decisions on what to buy, what to focus on selling, and what items may require a volume-based promotion to shift, Jo tells us. Another benefit is its ability to build on customer loyalty: “EPoS can store information about your customers’ shopping habits, or issue points per sale with a loyalty scheme. EPoS can also be tailored to incorporate promotions, bounce backs and web stores, to ensure everything is in that one system for the retailer.”
How much does it cost?
Costs for EPoS are variable, depending on factors such as garden centre size and knowledge, says Jo: “If you have a garden centre that is on the smaller side and not very IT knowledgeable, you’re going to need quite a bit more hand holding, and a lot more services. If you’re a larger garden centre that has an IT department and an EPoS champion, and is confident using the technology, they’ll need less training. The cost is variable based on the needs of that centre.”
Jo has found that one of the main barriers for people thinking of taking it up is its cost. She advises that this cost shouldn’t be taken at face value, with benefits such as time saving, efficiency and extra sales needing to be factored in: “We find that within the first year of implementing EPoS, the cost of investment is often outweighed by the savings in stock, because it allows a garden centre to buy more accurately. EPoS can also help a garden centre correctly calculate its VAT, which can lead to huge savings year-on-year.”