10. EPOS SYSTEM COMPONENTS

With packaged retail and restaurant EPoS system, you can buy popular hardware components which are suited to most requirements. However, you may wish to consider changing some of the individual EPoS hardware components in the package based on the considerations detailed below.

Touch Screen

The difference in footprint (how much space a screen uses on your counter top or desktop) is not that significant between the different screen sizes, but it will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer based on the design. To ensure you can accommodate a screen in the available space you have remember to:
-check the dimensions of the touch screen
-base unit and other components

The size of touch screen you choose will depend on your personal preference as well as how much information appears on each screen. If you have many products, and your EPoS software displays or collects more information, you should opt for a 15" or 17" touch screen. If you are operating a small cafe with a handful of drinks and a small selection of sandwiches, then a 12" screen will be sufficient.

Alternatively, our hybrid solutions (e. Sharp UP800 series, Sam4s SRP-500 series) feature smaller 6-7" touch screens combined with a normal keypad.
If your retail environment is polluted (eg. dust) or there is excessive dirt (food, drink) on the operators fingers, make sure your chosen touch screen uses the correct technology to minimise damage and facilitate accurate operation.If you intend to flush-mount your touch screen into the counter horizontally, then obviously checking the dimensions of the touch screen and the angles through which it can be adjusted and viewed becomes very important.

 

Receipt Printers

Receipt printers are generally available as mini thermal printers or mini impact (dot-matrix printers) with a print width between 57mm and 80mm.

Thermal printers print onto thermal paper using a heated print head and do not require any ink ribbons/cartridges. They are also very fast, silent and are capable of printing text and graphics at high speed. Alternatively, impact printers require an ink ribbon or ink cartridge, make a noise while printing, and may have limited character/graphics capability.

Impact printers are more useful for kitchen printing, where thermal paper may not be suitable due to heat and moisture. They are also suited where a higher quality permanent print is required or where you wish to print onto slips, vouchers, coupons, 2-ply or 3-ply stationery.

Also consider, if your EPoS software supports it, receipt printers that provide an auto-cutter facility so the receipt is automatically cut when printed so it can be simply lifted off the printer. The alternative tear-bar versions require you to tear-off the receipt manually which can slow you down in a busy retail environment.

For the EPoS packages you should ensure the chosen receipt printer has the correct interface for the connection to the PC. If you have your own PC equipment, you should check the interface ports available on your hardware before choosing USB, RS232 Serial, Parallel or Ethernet interfaces. If you will be using your own EPoS software, you should also check which interfaces it can support.

There are many brands of receipt printer on the market. However as receipt printing is such a critical operation which could stop your store from trading if it fails, it is generally recommended the main brands Epson, Citizen, Bixolon and SAM4S.

The Epson TMT88IV and TMT88V are very widely used thermal receipt printers throughout the retail industry. The SAM4S Ellix-30, Ellix-40, Giant 100, Bixolon SRP350 and SRP350plus are also very popular and proven choices. The Orient BTP range are a lower cost alternative.

If you will be printing graphics on your receipt such as your logo, or using it also for kitchen printing (eg. chinese characters), then make sure your chosen EPoS printer supports these features.

 

Cash Drawers

Drawers vary in build quality, overall size and cash holding capacity. Most cash drawers designed for UK currency have 4 note compartments:
- £5 - £10- £20- £50
And 8 coin compartments:
- 1p - 2p - 5p - 10p - 20p - 50p - £1- £2

    Some drawers have extra compartments for slips/cheques. Check these parameters are suitable for your business requirements.

    Cash drawers are also available in mini or micro sizes where space is confined, as well as smaller flip-top formats where the cash is accessed from above and the lid folds out. Casing colours vary between beige/white, grey and black. Some flip-top cash drawers are available in a silver coloured lid.

The cash drawers supplied with EPoS packages should be automatically opened by the Epos software, with a cable connection to the PC or via the receipt printer. Some cash drawers can also feature a sensor so the software can detect when the drawer is opened or closed. Cash drawers with an RS232 interface are designed to connect directly to the PC. Cash drawers with an RJ interface connect via receipt printer.

Manual operation cash drawers (with push button) are also available. Although most cash drawers are provided with a key, it isnot recommended to use the key for constant operation as it will eventually twist and break. The key is designed to lock the drawer at the end of a shift.

 

Barcode Scanners

Barcode scanners for EPoS can either be hand-held units that can be used by hand and with desktop stand, or they can be fixed-mount units that can be integrated into a counter. Laser scanners such as the Orbit with wider read heads will scan more items faster and accurately. CCD scanners will require careful close alignment with the barcode and may sometimes require several scan attempts. If your EPoS software supports it, you may also wish to consider using a mobile PDA with barcode scanner for stock taking.

 

Weighing Scale

Some of EPoS systems, such as the SAM4S SPS-2000, are approved for connection to trade-approved POS scales that allows you to automatically weigh and price items such as fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, cheese and so on. You can also purchase stand-alone label printing scales if you will be preparing, packing and labelling your own food items. These label printing scales will also print the barcode that will allow compatible EPoS systems to identify the item and the price.

 

Credit Card Processing

Some EPoS software packages provide a software module to authorise and process credit/debit card payments, in which case you can connect a Chip and Pin Terminal or Pin Pad directly to your EPoS system. You will need to subscribe with an approved payment provider and purchase the card payment terminal and processing software. It can connect to the bank either by a dial-up modem, phone line, via an internet connection or through GPRS. Alternatively, you can operate an independent Chip and Pin Terminal alongside your EPoS system or cash register. You will use the card payment terminal to authorise card payments and then record the payment method on your EPoS software or cash register. The summary report from your terminal and the payments reports from your EPoS software or till should be matched at the end of each shift.

 

Forms & Reports

If you will be using your EPoS software to print forms and reports, such as A4-size purchase orders or A4-size management reports, you may also require a conventional desktop printer.

 

Barcode Labels & Tags

Many EPoS software packages allow you to generate and print your own barcode labels / tags for your stock. If you intend to use this facility, you will require a barcode label printer and appropriate stationery.

 

Customer Display

Some EPoS systems will have the customer display integrated into the back of the touch screen or base unit. This can be either 1-line or 2-line. For other systems, you may need to purchase and connect a peripheral Pole Display. These are usually 2-line, 20 character displays, available in matching colours and adjustable pole heights. You will need to check the EPoS software specification to determine which make/model and interface of pole display will be compatible. If you EPoS software supports it, larger size rear customer displays (with or without touch functionality) are available if you require customer interaction or wish to display advertisements or presentations.

 

Wireless Waiter Terminals

These can either be handheld PDA's that work using radio signal with a receiver, or a Tablet device using the local WiFi connectivity within your premises. Depending on your epos system, you may be able to use any iOS, Android or Windows-based device if your epos software is web-based. If your epos software is a program application, then you will be restricted on your choice of device, screen size supported and operating system.

 

CCTV Overlay System

With this system the data from your sales transaction is superimposed onto a connected CCTV camera image, so allowing your DVR to capture both the video image of the transaction taking place as well as the text (from the sales receipt) associated with it. If you have a Display Monitor, then you can also watch the video and text as transactions take place.

 

Modular EPoS systems

Hardware and software should be supplied from manufacturers with proven, stable systems, with realistic warranties and accessible service centres for repairs or spare parts.

A basic EPoS system (EPoS software, receipt printer, cash drawer, barcode scanner) for use on your own Windows PC starts from around £800. A complete system with hardware and software starts from around £1200.


You will then just have to choose which services you require - programming, installation, staff training - and what level of support subscription.

Modular EPoS systems typically cost from £1100-1800+ per terminal, they can be networked and most also allow for remote or head-office connectivity. They consist of:
-separate computer
-printer
-cash drawer
-barcode scanner
-software

If you buy EPoS software from a specialist software provider, the cost may be considerably more per terminal to reflect the relatively lower volume sales these companies obtain locally over mainstream POS software packages which are sold worldwide. Such a choice is only necessary when there is specific functionality that you absolutely require (as deemed by yourself, and not that you are made to believe you require by the software seller) that is not available in mainstream software packages.

Most application software used with modular EPoS systems provides comprehensive features, is easier for staff to use and more user-friendly than cash registers. Well-designed EPoS software will present the operator with only the buttons/options relevant to the immediate task they are performing, so it means staff can interact faster with the EPoS system and provide faster service to your customers with greater accuracy and fewer errors. A touch screen provides a further advantage in terms of speed of operation.

As modular EPoS systems usually consist of separate components - touch screen terminal, cash drawer, receipt printer, barcode scanner, customer display pole, magstripe reader etc, this means you can choose the specification of individual EPoS hardware components. For example, you may want a larger-capacity cash drawer or a faster receipt printer, or a different design barcode scanner.

An EPoS system with modular components allows you to make these choices.You can either use a normal PC with a normal VGA or touch screen monitor attached to it, a specialist compact EPoS box computer, or you can use an integrated touch screen system. On the latter, the PC components (motherboard, processor, memory, hard disk) are usually integrated into the touch screen monitor or in a base unit attached to the monitor. This provides for a much neater format as there are fewer cable attachments.

Integrated touch screen systems also give your store a more modern, sophisticated look.


The cost of an integrated touch screen system is usually determined by 5 major factors:-

Brand - which usually reflects the quality of the design, the durability and reliability of materials used internally and externally, and the warranty/Services available

Performance specification - the processor, memory and hard disk configuration.

Size of the touch screen (12", 15", 17" etc)

Additional ports and peripherals attached (eg. magstripe reader, fingerprint sensor, dallas key reader, customer display etc).

Level of service you require from the solutions provider (programming, installation, training, ongoing support)

Obviously the EPoS equipment from established international manufacturers with higher specification and on-site warranty will cost more than lower-specification equipment from elsewhere. Ultimately, the main components - motherboard, hard disk, memory, touch screen technology - is made by the same handful of internationally recognised component manufacturers. The EPoS system manufacturer assembles these components into its own designed shell casing.

Some European 'manufacturers' are really importers who either commission or purchase from factories in Taiwan, Korea and China and have their name badge put on the machine. So in essence, there is very little difference internally between terminals but the shell design and specification of components chosen will vary, as will the availability of local hardware service centres for repair. Most touch-screen EPoS systems are Windows-based, so it means anyone with basic Microsoft Windows knowledge and experience can connect and configure the various components - receipt printer, cash drawer, barcode scanner and so on.

Some EPoS systems (eg. the SAM4S SPS-2200) are flash memory based using the manufacturers proprietary operating system and application software. There is no hard disk or noisy fan, which tend to make these systems more reliable in the long-term.

Some Windows-based touchscreen terminals have now started to use Solid State Drives (SSD) which do not have any moving mechanical parts, unlike conventional spinning hard drives, so they are faster, and much more reliable in the long term, although currently they may not support very large storage capacities that conventional hard drives support.


If you wish to discuss your EPoS system requirements and require additional buying advice, please call us at EposSystems.com on 020 7127 4250.


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