Percy Ingle Bakeries began migrating from cash registers to electronic point of sale (EPoS) three years ago. But the 50-shop group did not get the required returns and its project to roll it out across the London and Essex estate stalled two years later.

Following this, EPOS Group installed bakery shop-specific Quantum EPoS in an initial eight of Percy Ingle’s sites and the chain prepared a tender for software and hardware across the rest of the estate. EPOS Group won the contract to supply Quantum running on PC-based touch-screen terminals from J2 Retail Systems. And Quantum, tightly integrated with RedBlack Software’s CyBake Touch (see below), has enabled Percy Ingle’s bakers to manage production volumes based on historical sales performance. The new configuration has been rolled out and a rapid return on investment is anticipated.

Affordable and easy to use

Nowadays, anyone should be able to use EPoS, because modern solutions are "affordable, scaleable and easy to use", says Trevor Claybrough, director of UK-based EPoS software company AlfaRichi. The total cost should not be more than £500, including a receipt printer and cash draw, along with tablet computer and monthly software plan, he says.

Claybrough explains that modern systems have a web-based back office, so there is no need for a dedicated back office computer or server, no expensive information technology maintenance costs and no worries about backing up data because the company that provides the EPoS does that. "The back office is accessed from any computer using a web browser, and sales data from all shops is available in real time," he says.

EPOS Group points out that technological developments have meant that smaller retailers can benefit from the sort of advantages larger multiples have traditionally enjoyed. Steve Boyes, managing director, says: "The key is that customer-built and expensive grand technical solutions have been replaced by specialist companies working closely together, with each delivering part of the puzzle that make an off-the-shelf solution."

Richard Heitmann, head of UK sales at J2 Retail Systems, says low total cost of ownership is critical, noting that retailers increasingly take into account life-cycle costs, including reliability and serviceability when investing in new EPoS. This can amount to three to five times the initial investment, Heitmann estimates. That is why, says the company, it has introduced innovations that significantly drive down life-cycle costs. J2 has launched the J2 680, which Heitmann describes as "the most powerful touchscreen EPoS ever made". He redefines what retail bakers can expect from EPoS by processing massive product databases quickly and with an ability to run the most demanding point-of-sale applications.

AlfaRichi says its Android PoS solution includes AlfaPoint front end and AlfaLine web-based back end. These come with, for example, data storage and online access to data using a web browser, scaleability and compatibility, real-time control over any part of the business from a single shop to more than 100, staff management, sales and profits report, price management, discounts and promotions, ordering, deliveries and invoicing.

Linked by Touch

RedBlack Software’s CyBake Touch stand-alone solution, runs on EPoS tills to provide a link between head office and bakers’ retail outlets via the internet. It is designed to reduce waste and increase shop profits by improving ordering quality and reducing time spent on daily ordering routines. Martin Coyle, sales manager, explains that the automatic ordering system replaces the need for dedicated office staff to take phone orders from multiple branches. "It’s a leap of faith to take that away from a manual job and let a computer do it all for them." But when people try it, they say they reduce waste, save time and increase profits, he says.