To best figure out what functionality your EPOS system needs you need to start by determining the business priorities at your attraction.
Try asking yourself: what is paramount from an EPOS system, what else would you like from it and what is a luxury that you might be able to do without?
All too often, businesses are put off adopting an EPOS system, which could do so much for their company’s operations because they either look at a high-end solution which offers far too much or a low-cost system with limited functionality. By determining what is a priority and ruling out those things which are not, it becomes much simpler to see where the cost-benefits are.
Put another way, by focusing on the essential business needs, you are more likely to find a system which matches your requirements at a cost that is affordable. When talking to a potential supplier about their EPOS system, it is essential to work out whether they are offering a fully scalable solution. Although you may want to cut down the functionality to what your visitor or tourist attraction needs at the moment – thus keeping installation costs at a minimum – it is important to know which functions can be rolled out should something from your wish list become a genuine business need in the future or you wish to expand your attraction.
Essentially, your paramount requirements will shape the initial proposal and form the first phase of any implementation. Nevertheless, you may not want to stop there and it is a business risk not to check whether the proposed EPOS system possesses the ability to be extended in phases down the line. This factor can have a huge influence on deciding which system is chosen.
Deciding what your attraction needs now and what you might want available to you in the future comes down to the sort of attraction you run. There are certain key functions which many sorts of visitor attractions ought to be considering as potential add-ons from the start.
For example, table booking management modules might not be needed at the moment, if you are only engaged in retail or ticket sales at the moment. However, if you choose to add a restaurant to your site that does table service and needs a table booking system, then managing these services through an EPOS system is perfectly possible, so you want might this sort of module included. Equally, if you offer a customer loyalty scheme at the moment – a common enough way of promoting repeat business, this could be done through a friends of type scheme, or rewards for annual pass holders – then issuing customer loyalty cards which can be swiped or loaded with credit that function with your chosen EPOS system might be a priority.
For the retail stock management side of your attraction may not resonate as too significant initially. However if you plan to grow your attraction open up new retail outlet managing stock will become a priority. Having an EPOS solution which can plug into the stock and inventory system can be invaluable, especially as a point of sale function frequently reflects downward trends in stock. An EPOS system can be used to trigger buying instructions, for example, so that you don’t run out of stock at key times.
Other areas which are important to look out for when considering what functionality you require from an EPOS system include how one might interact with your other software solutions. Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) package which you might want to integrate with your point of sale functions one day? As well as CRM, you may want an EPOS system to feed your marketing functions, perhaps generating data for an email campaign, for instance? In addition, many specialist areas of industry rely on third party software solutions which are specific to their sector. It is certainly worth working out how any EPOS system you choose might integrate with third party software.
Some EPOS systems are suited for ‘one size’ of customer, but what about if your visitor attraction falls outside of that model?
Check that an EPOS system has the specialist functions your business might need. For example, heritage sites, museums, country houses etc are subject to Gift Aid schemes and not all EPOS systems can deal with this. Likewise, some EPOS systems are perfectly good at handling transactions for multiple stock items at the point of sale, but cannot account for different sizes, colours or styles of similar products – something which can have a negative impact on re-stocking and even returns procedures.
Other specialist functions that you might like to consider are being able to use weights and measures in more than one unit, for example Imperial and metric. Being able to process multiple currencies may be a requirement for any business which conducts its commerce in overseas territories. There again, you might need an EPOS system which can integrate with your ticketing solution or print in kitchen environments.
With all of your specialist functions, basic requirements and wish list now fully worked out, it is highly desirable to see an EPOS system in place which is performing in the way you would like yours to. This may mean observing one in operation within a similar organisation. However, it is preferable to have a solution provider offer you an industry specific demonstration using data that is relevant to your sector. Ask your proposed solution provider to use your own data, if possible, which is an even better way of assessing how the system will ultimately function.
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