12 Aug 2011

From Manual Tills to EPoS - The Easi Way - By Managing Director of Easitill.com

INTRODUCTION.

In preparing this document, Easitill have tried to offer the prospective customer who is still using manual tills the benefit of more than twenty years experience in supplying, developing and supporting Epos systems. We are specialists in replacing many manual tills, throughout the U.K, using a well-proven product, designed especially for the job, with staged low risk methods of implementation and full support. 

Banks and other financial institutions nowadays often insist on Epos being installed for many reasons, before initial or increasing lending, but mainly that management information can be reported at the detailed level instantly and accurately at the touch of a button, anywhere within the month, at a much lower cost than with manual methods. The unique Easitill summary to detailed drill down system facilitates this feature. Most manual management systems with manual tills rely on monthly data collection and expensive and often error ridden, manual processing, which yields results often a week or two after the month end, which is precisely what concerns the finance institutions.

However there is little point in us trying to persuade businesses to replace manual tills with Epos simply by re-listing or even demonstrating, the full range of features and even benefits of Epos as the benefits of Epos, both tangible and intangible, over manual tills, are in broad terms well understood and well publicised. In spite of this the use of manual tills continues in appreciable numbers for other reasons..

Hence we first highlight and emphasise the fundamental concept and benefit of Epos over manual tills, that of barcode scanning of individual products lines and then mention the other four parts of Epos, being reporting, stock control, purchasing and customer management. We then focus on some of the concerns that in the past have often prevented users of manual tills proceeding to Epos and finally we highlight in detail the differences in the Easitill low risk approach in converting from manual tills through various stages to full Epos.  

The fundamental concept and benefit that needs to be understood here is that the replacing of manual tills quickly extends the business control from simply entering sales data into a few open till departments down to the individual product line level. Providing a database of prices against bar codes exists, then the till operators simply scan the barcodes on the products and this allows till pricing errors to eliminated, optimum pricing and special offers (including bundles), to be applied automatically, avoids the need for individual product pricing by price marking guns and allows individual product line sales data to be automatically recorded at no extra cost.

Apart from reporting, Easitill contend that apart from the pricing process just described, the other three parts of the Epos process relate to stock control, purchasing and customer management and these three require much more effort to learn and apply than the first and also require a fundamental change over manual methods.

Thus the Easitill concept is to first obtain the benefits of bar code scanning with much less effort and organisational change and then to allow stock control, purchasing and customer management to be phased in later.

In fact Easitill have ain interim approach to stock control where the stock is simply scanned in via the tills in a reverse process to selling but using the till operators without increasing staff costs or requiring staff to be trained in purchasing systems.

There are however two features that can be usefully added to the basic barcode scanning system, Cost price update and Integrated Web/Internet.

Easitill Cost Price update function - saves time and increases profits.

Having set up the selling prices so described the cost prices need to be monitored. Easitill have developed a function which does this very effectively. Many suppliers give their prices in files which Easitill can pick up and automatically compare with stock to determine which prices have changed. It saves significant time since firstly it only picks up those products which the retailer actually stocks and then those for which a price change has occurred. It then suggests the relevant retail price change depending upon whether the target or existing margin is to be maintained. The amended prices can then produce matching labels. If you saw a demonstration of this in action you would appreciate exactly how powerful this function is in terms of saving a lot of time, eliminating missed price changes and errors and increasing profits.

Easitill Integrated Web from basic level 1 site to level 3 full e-commerce

The basic till product database can be used to be passed automatically to a web site just as we do for a till and any pictures for the web site can also be displayed on the till. In this way it is possible to start with a basic web site and just display new products, special offers or product availability etc. The content and images etc can be setup by the end user without any specialist knowledge. In this way it can complement or even replace the newspaper, radio or even A boards of the past with modern Internet advertising.

It can do this basic on line advertising from simple site to full e-commerce, by entering the relevant information and images on the basic product database at the time that the original product is entered. It thus avoids having to maintain two separate product databases. The web product pricing can be simply set to be different to the retail pricing and it is easy to compare the two relevant margins when setting the prices. To do this on two separate systems is not as easy as it might sound.
2. TYPICAL CONCERNS OF STORES WITH MANUAL TILLS.

As stated earlier some retailers, for their own good reasons still use manual tills and their reasons and objections to converting to EPOS include:

The financial -         
Our turnover is too small to justify it.
We do not believe the financial benefits justify it for us.
We will have to employ someone paid £15-20k to operate it.
The financial risk in purchasing an EPOS system is too great,

The operational
Epos is too complex for our staff to learn and operate.
The step change in operational procedures is too great.
The perceived risk of failure is too great to risk the investment.

The Easitill products, the company and their implementation methods have been structured to overcome all these objections and have successfully done so for many customers including the user examples given later.

The successful conversion from manual tills requires a supplier with a proven approach to the problems involved and an Epos system, which is capable of both initially simple and then later more sophisticated operation, including a plant database. Easitill is one of the few Epos systems capable of this initial simple mode of operation, as most others make themselves much more complex from the outset to meet the needs of the replacement Epos market which they perceive to be more sophisticated than the conversion from manual tills.. However within the same system, Easitill is future proof, as it also have some of the most advanced features in the Epos market including auto cost price update, auto Stock take error detection, various Loyalty schemes and integrated Internet (web) systems.

The financial concerns
           
We do not believe the financial benefits justify it for us.
Our turnover is too small to justify EPOS.
We will have to employ someone paid £15-20k to operate it.
The financial risk in purchasing an EPOS system is too great,

We do not believe the financial benefits justify it for us.

Epos is about fine-tuning the business, which is impossible with manual tills and methods. The industry standard is between 2.5 to 10% benefit expressed as a net increase in bottom line profit as a percentage of turnover.

The cost / benefits analysis for the Garden Centre with 2 Manual tills.

Taking a likely benefit value of 8% of a sales volume of £500k

8% of a 500k sales volume is £40k net benefit per annum and the cost is £3k over the first 3 years and £2k after that until the hardware needs to be updated again. Thus over 5 years the benefit is a total of 5 x 40k – 3 x 3k – 2 x 2k = £200k – 13k = £187k - money manual tills will not see.
Our turnover is too small to justify EPOS.

Even for a sales volume of 250k, apart from intangible benefits there is still significant financial benefit especially if the Integrated master / till is placed in the till area to minimise additional labour costs (See later for fuller description of this aspect)..

8% of a sales volume of 250k is £20k net benefit per annum and the cost is £3k per annum over the first 3 years and £2k after that until the hardware needs to be updated again. Thus over 5 years the benefit is a total of 5 x 20k – 3 x 3k – 2 x 2k = £100k – 13k = £87k - money manual tills will not see.

EVEN THOUGH THE FINE TUNING FINANCIAL BENEFITS MAY LOOK SMALL THEY ARE EVEN MORE SIGNIFICANT IN HARD ECONOMIC TIMES AND NEED TO BE EXPRESSED AS ADDITIONS TO EXISTING PROFITS WITH MANUAL TILLS TO GIVE THEM FULL SIGNIFICANCE.

AS WELL AS THE PURELY FINANCIAL BENEFITS DESCRIBED, THERE MAY BE OTHER FINANCIAL BENEFITS, WHICH A DETAILED STUDY WOULD REVEAL, AS WELL AS INTANGIBLE BENEFITS.

THE TAX OFFSETS.

By treating the till hardware equipment as capital but the first year software and support as an expense it is possible to offset a considerable portion of the start up costs against profits and tax. The annual support licences also become an expense, which is 100% tax deductible against profits in that year.

You should consult your accountant to determine the current capital allowances and the other tax considerations.

THE STAGED APPROACH.

If the decision is made to continue with Easitill, we have a whole variety of ways of financing purchase including phased out of cash flow to various ways of splitting the hardware, software and installation costs. These can be explained in detail by Easitill staff.

Easitill have a unique approach to conversion from manual tills to Epos. in financial and operational terms.

We will have to employ someone paid £15-20k to operate it.

A very real and significant concern which prevents manual till upgrades to Epos is the cost of the initial data entry and the cost of having an additional wage to do the data entry in a back office.

This is a legitimate concern which may have blocked the conversion from manual tills to Epos in the past especially in the smaller retail operation, but there are several aspects which can be used to overcome it.

Setting up the initial product barcode pricing database is admittedly a labour intensive business which is often done in quiet times. Easitill have many methods of importing data which make this easier.

Once the product line database is set up, the effort to maintain it is much less especially if initially the existing manual purchasing methods are maintained.

By positioning the EPOS database system at point of sale rather than in a back office, existing labour resources can be used. In the smaller retail operation this labour can be found from at least two sources without increasing labour costs one is the till operators and the other is the saving in not having to price mark all incoming goods.

Easitill have a combined till and master (or Back office) on a single computer at the point of sale which allows the normal till operators to do the data entry in between serving customers, thus making the use of their time more efficient and not increasing labour costs. Even if two or more tills are involved one till can be used solely as a till but the master can switch in seconds between doing data entry and being a till depending upon customer flow rates. Later if the benefits justify it, the master can be switched to the back office or a multi-user system can still allow the till operators to do data-entry work when the master is in a back office. Alternatively the master can still be in the back office but the till staff can access it to do the same work.

The financial risk in purchasing an EPOS system is too great,

The Easitill stage 1 - a unique low risk and commitment concept.

Easitill do not require an initial order for the whole EPOS system.
Instead we supply a single initial Master and Till system for training / data entry / system proving, which typically costs 20% of the final system and is offset against the final cost. This unit comes with basic training and enables you to see if EPOS is really for you. In this way you get practical hands on training which reveals far more to you than many supplier demonstrations.

Easitill Technology.

Easitill have been developing and installing Epos systems since 1988 and during that time have continually developed and updated the system to meet the changing needs of retailers, all within the licence fee concept. Many customers have been with Easitill since the start, thus avoiding the data discontinuity and cost of full system replacement every few years.

We suggest you contact some of the references given later to see how this approach has worked for them.

3. The Operational Concerns

Epos is too complex for our staff to learn and operate.
The step change in operational procedures is too great.
The perceived risk of failure is too great to risk the investment.

Epos is too complex for our staff to learn and operate.

THE EASITILL UNIQUE WELL PROVEN START UP APPROACH.

Using examples, set up, with our help, your own product classification.

Next set up the classified product records, using a variety of methods.

GO LIVE WITH THE EPOS TILLS TO GET STAFF USED TO BASIC EPOS OPERATIONS, STILL USING YOUR EXISTING MANUAL PURCHASING SYSTEMS, WITHOUT THE COMPLEXITIES OF EPOS PURCHASING AND STOCK CONTROL OPERATIONS, WHICH ARE ADDED LATER.

Start using the tills as a super manual scanning till to record sales.
Set up special offers and start using bed and shelf labels to avoid the labour of individual product price marking.

USE THE DETAILED TILL PRODUCT SALES DATA IN A VARIETY OF WAYS TO OPTIMISE PRICING AND OFFERS, CLEAR DEAD STOCK, TUNE MANUAL PURCHASING ETC.

START INTO MANUAL STOCK CONTROL

In fact Easitill have ain interim approach to stock control where the stock is simply scanned in via the tills in a reverse process to selling but using the till operators without increasing staff costs or requiring staff to be trained in purchasing systems..

The step change in operational procedures is too great.

Easitill operates at the basic level by creating an overall record on a master computer and then uses this record to simply scan stock in using the till and then scanning it out as it is sold as normal. This is the simplest and most cost effective Epos system it is possible to operate and has been successfully operated in this mode on many sites for many years. It requires the minimum possible training, skills and knowledge on the part of store staff as they are simply using the same till operating skills in forward and reverse modes for sales and stock.

Start up by setting up the product barcode pricing database.

Use the tills to sell and receive stock by barcode scanning at the tills.


CONTINUE TO USE YOUR EXISTING MANUAL PURCHASING METHODS.
i.e. Leave purchasing and customer management until later.

The perceived risk of failure is too great to risk the investment.

The Easitill stage 1 - a unique low risk and commitment concept.

Easitill do not require an initial order for the whole EPOS system.
Instead we supply a single initial Master and Till system for training / data entry / system proving, which typically costs 20% of the final system and is offset against the final cost. This unit comes with basic training and enables you to see if EPOS is really for you.

Consult the references given later to see how they went from manual tills to EASITILL EPOS.




Easitill support.

Field Service – Easitill HQ in geographic centre of stores minimises response time and costs

We offer same day or next day minimum response

Easitill offer three tier support from local, to HQ with its second level and third level technology specialists with direct access to the computer software.

The licence fee includes at no extra charge, regular service calls which can be answered within seven days. Emergency call outs are charged at a reduced daily rate, compared with the normal daily labour rate.

EXISTING EASITILL USERS WITH MASTER / TILL AT POINT OF SALE.

Current users.

Greenfingers Garden Centre Mr Graham Pickles 01745 815279

Mr Pickles has been an Easitill user for many years having converted from another Epos system..

Consult the references given next to see how they went from manual tills to EASITILL Epos.

The Barn Plant Centre            Julie – Manager     01206   213380
Dore Moor Garden Centre      Mr Mark Collins    07766    284640
                                                               
Installation in progress converting from manual tills to Epos
Horticentre      Mr Martin Bowley     01924 280306