EPOS, MPOS, and SoftPOS What’s the difference?

EPOS used to be the preserve of only retailers with a fixed point of sale but with recent advances in technology, EPOS solutions are available for all types of businesses from plumbers to hotels and everything in between.

The emergence of new technology means that they bring with them a series of acronyms that might not always be helpful in understanding what is available and in this article we are going to look at three of them; EPOS, MPOS, and SoftPOS..

Our aim is to let you know what they are, how they are used and show you how to choose the right one for your business.

In this piece;

  • EPOS – Electronic Point Of Sale
  • MPOS – Mobile Point Of Sale
  • SoftPOS – Software Point Of Sale
  • How to choose the best POS solution for you

EPOS – Electronic Point Of Sale

EPOS stands for Electronic Point Of Sale, which is typically used in fixed retail settings.

An EPOS system is a standalone device that keeps track of inventory and records sales transactions. It has a display screen and a keyboard, so staff can input data directly into the system by typing numbers or scanning barcodes.

EPOS is the oldest form of point of sale technology and has been around since the early 1980s. It was originally designed as an electronic cash register system, but now it’s also used for inventory management, customer relationship management, and other functions.

EPOS was a major breakthrough for retailers as it mean that not only could they use a cash register for ringing up sales, but they could also adjust pricing, automatically order stock and generally manage their business in a much more automated and efficient way.

In many ways, EPOS can be seen as old-fashioned technology as many more shiny new technologies have appeared since, but EPOS has evolved and now it is possible to integrate what was a fairly dumb cash register system with websites, warehouse software and all sorts of add-on apps.

MPOS – Mobile Point Of Sale

MPOS stands for mobile point of sale, and it refers to any type of device that allows customers to pay for items using a credit card or debit card but in a more mobile setting.

These devices range from handheld devices to tablets to smartphones and the most likely place that you will have seen these will be in a restaurant where your waiter is able to take your payment at the table.

These are often combined with EPOS-style management systems. So in our example of a restaurant, it would also include an order and stock management system so that orders can be taken at the table and instantly relayed to the kitchen.

These types of devices have made a massive difference to cafes and restaurant settings where bookings, ordering and payment processing can now form a single unified system.

There is a point of difference here between MPOS and EPOS. Generally speaking, EPOS refers to a fixed system that is accessed using a larger device such as a register or computer. An MPOS device is usually hand-held and is often supplied by the vendor, either in a bespoke device or using a commercially available phone or tablet.

SoftPOS – Software Point Of Sale

A SoftPOS system is software that runs on a computer and connects to an existing POS system. It provides a user interface (UI) that looks and acts just like the original hardware.

But the key difference here is that there is no hardware. Instead, the user installs the software on their own devices or alongside their own systems.

This means that the customer will not need to learn how to use a new piece of equipment.

Now the distinction here may not seem massive, especially when you compare things like SmartPhone apps using either MPOS or SoftPOS solutions.

But actually, SoftPOS can be incredibly helpful for companies that already have systems but just want to upgrade their payment processing.

Let’s take the example of a call centre. They may have a perfectly good call handling and response system but which lacks the ability to take payments or doesn’t comply with the latest PCI standards.

The company has two choices; it either ditches the system in its entirety and goes to the expense and disruption of a new, compliant solution or it brings in a separate payment processing system, meaning that its people need to learn a new system and switch between the two when they are taking payments.

Obviously, neither of these is ideal and that’s where SoftPOS comes in.

The company can install the SoftPOS solution alongside its existing system and link the two. This gives its operators the ability to take payments within a system that they already know, without having to switch between environments.

SoftPOS systems are usually delivered using a cloud-based application which means in practice that they are suitable for the vast majority of devices.

Now although we used the example of SoftPOS being used in a fixed location with a call centre, the reality is that SoftPOS systems are so versatile that they can be used in a shop, as an app on a mobile device at the table or out in the field where payments might need to be taken using contactless NFC technology.

It is this versatility that is so attractive to businesses. SoftPOS works for all types of businesses in all types of settings.

Because there is no device supplied, SoftPOS tends to be quicker to set up and cost a lot less than traditional card-processing systems.

How to choose the best POS solution for you

It can be incredibly difficult to tell people what the best POS solution is going to be simply because all businesses are different. Even in the same industry, companies may have different policies, procedures and operating models.

But there are some general pointers when it comes to POS systems.

The first question to ask yourself is what problem is it that you are trying to solve?

If you are simply looking for a payment processing solution then it isn’t worth investing a lot of money in a full EPOS system that is designed to do stock management and ordering.

But if you are in a fixed retail setting and stock management and ordering are taking a lot of time out of your day then a proper retailer-specific EPOS is a good bet.

If you have a POS system at the moment and you are having problems with payment processing, then adding on a SoftPOS solution alongside your current system is likely to be helpful.

And if you need mobile processing either in-house or out in the field then a good cloud-based MPOS or SoftPOS is worth looking at.

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