Electronic payments are an exciting technology for consumers, but they’re imposing a new pressure on businesses. The term ‘cashless society’ may have the air of a buzzword, but look into the consumer sphere and you’ll see that the signs of an increasingly digital economy are there aplenty. Consequently the demands on businesses to support these types of transaction are growing.

Using this type of new technology isn’t just about ‘appearing to be modern’ however. Giving your customers an experience they’ll find appealing is an important part of retaining and attracting new business. But remember this - attracting a new customer can be up to 15 times more expensive than keeping an existing one. Indeed, research shows that the more familiar a person is with a business, the greater the amount of money they are likely to spend.

So thinking about keeping your regular happy is more than just common sense, it’s good business that boosts your bottom line.

Electronic opportunities

The old fashioned till hasn’t entirely died out for small businesses, but an electronic point of sale (EPOS) system has established itself as a critical step for SME owners aiming to expand and grow. For the cost-conscious business owner, there’s good news. The investment required to implement such a system are not intimidating; in fact they have been dramatically reduced by the introduction of cloud-based iPad EPOS solutions.

The best thing for SMEs about this new, technology-driven approach is that they’re no longer a helpless small fish competing against the big-box retailers. In fact, in terms of the ability to deliver a customer experience that consumers will remember, SMEs are now able to offer a level of service large retailers can’t compete with.The smoothness of experience, the options for payment - they’re all on the table.

A CRM experience

Many small businesses owners have realised that CRM software can help them become a more successful business by collecting and managing a wealth of information from which you can identify your most valuable customers. Imagine being able to track their spending habits and monitor sales of a specific product. With full control of this information, you will be able to export data and use it to create targeted email marketing campaigns via platforms such as MailChimp, Constant Contact and MadMimi. This CRM-based approach can make your job a lot easier when it comes to keeping customers happy.

The key when selecting your EPOS investment is to remember that the customer data you obtain is yours - they’re your customers! And yet some EPOS providers will withhold that data or even charge you to access it! So before you sign up to any sort of service, be sure to check the terms and conditions of your contract.

Help your employees to perform

Some schools of thought say your employees are a higher priority than your customers. Irrespective of buying into this, motivated and well-trained staff play a key role in providing an excellent customer experience. So are you giving your people the best opportunity to win over your customers?

An unexpected benefit of a good EPOS system is its ability to help you monitor, aid and remunerate your employees properly. By tracking transactions and the way they’re managed by your employees, you get a level of visibility just not possible with a cash register. The capability to track transactions via ‘sales by employee’ reports reveals your top performers and incentivises them to keep up the good work. On the flipside, the reports can also highlight areas of underperformance, so you can provide struggling staff with further training.

Finally, for those who like to stay connected to the business at all times, you can check your staff are reporting in for their shifts - giving you peace of mind that your store is fully staffed.

Maximise your profits

A final piece in the puzzle of using technology to expand and grow your business is controlling costs and driving revenue. A quality EPOS system should help you to do both through intelligent inventory management. Identifying the items that are costing or generating cash within your business is an essential part of good management, and if you can do this easily, you will find it far simpler to maximise profitability.

In every business there will be issues with supply, overheads, the cost of products and your ability to price goods accordingly. But if you fail to recognise the impact of this context on your selling price, you stand to miss an important trick. Consider, for example, if a wholesaler increases the cost to you of their product, so you’re paying £7 rather than £5. If you’re still selling that item for £6.99 then you’re making a loss, when previously it was adding to your margin.

Most business owners don’t have huge amounts of spare time to analyse and improve their business, so finding tools that help them to do this can make the difference between growing and folding. The right EPOS systems can provide key decision-making, support better employee management and improve your customer experience. And that has to be good for your business.

By Christophe Delacroix, General Manager UK, ShopKeep