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Electronic point of sale systems are getting cheaper and more intelligent – meaning that almost any enterprise can take advantage. Elly Earls looks at the future of payments.

Advanced Epos and payment systems might once have been out of reach for small businesses, but today there’s no reason that even the most modest of operations can’t get access to the technology – and business benefits – larger enterprises have been enjoying for years.

The best systems can not only significantly improve the customer experience, thanks to a choice of convenient, easy-to-use payment mechanisms, they’re also offering big behind-the-scenes boosts for businesses, thanks to the unprecedented amounts of information on sales trends and customer preferences they can provide.

“It’s a very exciting time with the range of payment mechanisms coming to the market that are open to all businesses, regardless of shape or size,” says Seamus Smith, chief executive of payment solution provider Sage Pay. “Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, everyone can get access to enterprise-standard technology now.”

Worldpay UK’s chief marketing and commercial officer James Frost agrees: “In the past, these solutions existed, but they might have been a few thousand pounds. Today, you might only have to pay £250 up front and then £50 a month, which brings these systems into reach for even the smaller companies that previously might not have thought that the technology was for them.”

So what can operators expect from the best systems on the market today? First off: convenience. “Customers don’t appreciate having to queue up for a bill; they want to be able to pay at the table and do so in a fairly convenient way,” Smith says, adding that the systems he’s most excited about at Sage Pay are the company’s pay at table and pay at counter offers, which provide operators with the capability to take payments in different currencies and customers the option to split payments.

“This creates a virtuous circle of customer satisfaction, which is eminently realisable with the technologies and applications that are out there.”

Worldpay’s all-in-one tablet-based point-of-sale solution My Business Hub is another example. At quick-service restaurants, orders can be placed on tablets in the queue, which reduces waiting time, while at full-service restaurants staff can carry the tablet with them anywhere on the premises and orders can be taken instantly and processed quickly.

Plus, the system is proving useful in prompting servers to ask customers if they need anything more, the net effect being that staff members are empowered and able to engage on a personal level with customers and equipped with the means to drive additional sales and encourage customers to return.

Adds Frost: “We’ve also done some research recently that looks at the knock-on effect for a business of having the right technology. If you’re equipped with professional-looking technology, around three-quarters of the people we surveyed said that was something that enhanced their impression of the business. It’s not only a very efficient thing for the business owner to do, it also creates a professional image for their customers.”

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