My journey into the word of Epos began three years ago when I started work in Easygarden in Blackrock. I had previous experience in horticultural retail but not with Epos. II realise that all systems vary and have different interfaces, but I have learnt a number of important lessons in the last two years.
At a recent Garden Association of Ireland meeting a number of people started to discuss issues/difficulties/nightmares of Epos, and amongst the laughter what was striking is that many of us had made the same mistakes, or were able to suggest strategies to help others out.
These will be familiar to those of you who have successfully introduced an Epos system, but I would have been really grateful for a few tips and signposts at the beginning! For those starting out with an Epos system, these are my Golden Rules of Epos!
What you put in is what you get out!
Try to think of the Epos as a paper trail for products from when they arrive at the garden centre gate, are unpacked, entered into the system, priced and sold. The aim is to have a clear route for the product, with both a clear paper and computer trail to follow. This begins at ordering. When a product is ordered a record should be made on the Epos system for it. This is where I made all my early mistakes! There is a temptation to enter in limited information at this stage, as we are all pressed for time. However, it really is a case of less haste more speed.
Now is the time to invest some effort into creating full, complete and accurate product records. Enter as much info as early as possible, cost price, vat rate, preferred supplier, supplier code and whatever else is relevant to your operation. Entries such as colour, pot size, etc may seem unimportant now, but they are very important next year when you are looking back at what you sold and cannot differentiate one Skimmia from another. Some retailers also record whether or not a product is from an Irish supplier at this stage.
However, if you don’t need to differentiate a product then don’t, for example you may only need to know how many 13cm Heathers you sold at €3.99 and can easily combine the bar codes from different suppliers under the one product record. Try to always use the barcode as the first step when deciding if a product needs a new entry into the database, always check if it already exists first. This is a more accurate way of checking rather than going by plant name or size. If you want to delete a product, delete the barcode rather than the record.
Clear but Limited Product Categories
This is also the time to consider your product categories. If you are following a benchmarking programme it is important to ensure that you can allocate all product categories to an assigned benchmarking field. Categories are simply the breakdown of your products – Plants, Hardware, Seeds, Pots. As a general rule of thumb it is good practice to limit the number of categories and sub-categories and avoid using ‘miscellaneous’ or ‘sundries’.
First thing to remember is what you type in the Epos description is what comes out on the receipt! Try to be consistent in the use of capitals and abbreviations etc and always check spellings. Remember that the customer should be able to tell what the product is on their receipt. One area where we have stuck to ‘off the wall descriptions’ is in ceramics e.g. Wu Pot 30x40x20. We found it too difficult to make different descriptions for each product and this way we can easily match our products on the shelves to our stock records.
Barcode is King!
Simply put, when looking up plants or products by their name, you make mistakes! Till operators are under pressure to find the right product and will pick any Skimmia at the right price in order to process the sale quickly. The first port of call should always be the barcode.
Consistency & Upkeep
Try to ensure that as few people as possible create records and input data, this way you can be as consistent and accurate as possible. Set regular times in the week for up keep and data entry such as Tuesdays/Wednesday when you get order confirmations.
Use the Reports!
It can be very easy to ignore the reporting section of an Epos system, but the more you play around with the reports the more you get out of your system. Normally, you can compare sales, check VAT rates are correct, predict ordering levels for next month, check back on deliveries etc.
Source: The Golden Rules of Epos – Kathleen Fahy
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