Why Retail & Hospitality is switching to Android EPOS Registers

· Whitepapers
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Mark O’Flynn - Sales Director, PAX EMEA

Polo Zheng - General Manager, ZOLON

Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) retailer and hospitality providers are looking to next generation Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) registers powered by Android to help them grow their businesses, improve operational management, and provide a higher level of customer service. Android-based EPOS systems, such as Elys by ZOLON, a division of leading payment terminal solutions provider PAX Technology, do far more than simply ‘ringing up a sale’, they help manage inventory levels, employee activity, payments acceptance, provide data reporting, customer record keeping, and integrate with eCommerce platforms, accounting, and ERP systems

A store’s main liability is a less than optimal quality EPOS

Today, an EPOS performs a mission critical role within a store, and must therefore be designed and built to extremely high quality to deliver high systems reliability. If the EPOS fails, the store often has no option other than to close. Therefore, high quality engineering and the use of quality components is required, as well as assembly in a quality assured manufacturing facility that has been certified to the highest international standards. The incorporation of aluminium product casings is a clear physical indicator of premium quality.

The EPOS must be aesthetically pleasing

The register must align with the store design and brand image, and so its look and feel is important. It should take up minimal valuable counter space, offer screen rotation options to improve usability, and provide in-store mobility to deliver operational flexibility and excellent customer service. Sleek tablet style units, with integral printers, are required in contrast to the ugly, ‘brick-like’ look of previous till generations.

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Comprehensive device family

An EPOS Station acts as the heart of a family of in-store systems, all of which need to work seamlessly together to deliver efficiency and maximum value. These will include a payments acceptance device, printer, scanner, customer display, cash drawer and hospitality specific components like a kitchen display and bump bar. Within a store environment, SMEs expect employees to be able to hop between multiple Stations, and for peripherals and data to be shared.

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Powered by Android

Next generation EPOS registers are powered by the Android operating system thanks to lower licensing costs, extensive library of software applications available from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), the powerful Android feature set available ‘out of the box’ and simplified integration capabilities. Android has over 3 billion active users and powers three quarters of all smartphones globally. This has created high user familiarisation minimising the amount of staff training required,

But retailers need a customised and hardened version to strengthen security protection levels and to meet sector specific needs like dual screens, notification centre, exclusivity mode, privacy indicator, control centre and a shortcut menu. This is delivered by a new software layer (for example, ZOLON's UNIPHIZ) which sits on top of Android and provides User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) optimisation.

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Simplified administration

Recognising that SME store staff are busy running the store and serving customers, and that they are not IT specialists, it is important that systems administration is simplified and provided through central systems. Therefore, EPOS hardware needs to be supplied with advanced device management, app management and a suite of enriched services that provide remote assistance, a messaging service, business intelligence, exception reporting, customise launcher and handles back-ups and updates.

Support for latest technologies

Next generation EPOS registers must be Cloud enabled to bring efficiency and flexibility. This delivers the benefits of high availability, scalability, and access to real-time data. Popular register apps support a hybrid mode to allow trading to continue offline for a short period in the event of a communications failure.

To deliver high performance, the EPOS requires a fast quad-core processor at its heart, and a large memory bank, to enable rapid multi-tasking and transaction processing.

Large, touchscreen, tablet-style displays are incorporated to make the EPOS highly intuitive to operate and quick to learn. These displays support multi-media formats and include speakers and a microphone to enable innovative use cases to be implemented. A second customer facing display updates the buyer during a transaction and can be used to show promotional videos during idle times.

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Security has to be designed into the product upfront and this will include the use of strong encryption and biometric user authentication. Payments acceptance capability will require compliance with the appropriate PCI security standards.

Ease of integration is a high priority for SMEs and this calls for APIs to be published, smart peripheral connectivity through an auto discovery mode, and multi Station configuration and data sharing.

Integrated payments processing

A key requirement of a next generation EPOS register is to have payments acceptance fully integrated. This speeds up transaction processing times by avoiding the need to enter the sale amount twice and reducing the opportunity for errors or fraud. It also allows fast communication links to be used and avoids the duplication of peripherals.

Recognising the wide range of payment methods, options and acceptance devices now available, SMEs don't want to be forced to work with a particular provider or model. They want to have maximum choice and flexibility. That is why the EPOS must be able to support a range of payment terminals, from multiple manufacturers, and be acquirer agnostic. The importance of device portability is growing as this allows an improved UX to be provided. The Station may be supplied with a detachable second tablet for payments acceptance or use a regular payments device. Whichever approach is chosen, easy connectivity of the selected payment tablet/terminal to the EPOS station, either physically, perhaps using Pogo pins (such as the PAX A3700), or virtually using software, is required.

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The PAX perspective

PAX Technology understands the need for a single device to perform more than one function. Many customers have implemented innovative solutions that supplement payments acceptance with a Cash Register Lite application running on our best-selling A920 PRO / A920 MAX models, and since 2017 we have been supplying SMEs with the E-Series E500/E700/E800 Smart ECR models, followed by the E600 Mini and E700 Mini.

But we recognised the growing market need for next generation EPOS store systems with enhanced capabilities, and so created ZOLON, a separate operating company within the PAX Group, to focus on addressing the needs of SME retailers and hospitality providers for these types of devices. Our first product, the Elys Station 14 L1400 was released in 2022. This now forms part of a comprehensive family of products which are marketed under the Elys brand, including two other workstation models, Elys Tower and Elys Litchi), mobile PDAs and tablets (A3700 / M8 / M9200) and a diverse range of retail printing, scanning and connectivity accessories (Printer / Lens / Eye / Hub). These products address the needs of SMEs and are available as Entry level, Standard or Premium products.

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The strong aesthetic design of our Elys Stations has been recognised by the winning of RedDot and IF design awards. We understand the importance of efficient cable management to reduce clutter on the counter and are incorporating folding display stands to simplify shipping and storage, helping to reduce costs.

We created a powerful software layer called UNIPHIZ to optimise the UI and UX experience, deliver seamless integration and enable innovative services to be delivered. This sits above Android in the software stack, providing an improved UI and unified experience across different devices.

Linkup Smart Connect provides device-to-device connectivity through a powerful software middleware layer. This includes features like a ‘Find & Connect’ for rapid peripheral connectivity, ‘Mirror & Sharing’ of content to any connected display or device, ‘Synching Media Content’ for photo images and videos, ‘Scan & Read’ QR and bar codes with display on the Elys Station, ‘Easy Printing’ of receipts, labels and photos to nearby printers, ‘Walkie Talkie’ communications by voice using the Elys Eye between the Elys Station and other in-store devices with speakers.

We provide a Software Development Kit (SDK) to ISVs, enabling access to APIs which improve communication and interactions among devices, and for the capture of device information. This delivers seamless transaction flows, multi-screen management, advertisements, and digital price tags.

The Elys range of EPOS registers are remotely managed by our market leading MAXSTORE. This delivers powerful Mobile Device Management and App management capabilities, currently to over 12 million devices worldwide, and growing fast. New MAXSTORE features have been released to address specific EPOS needs. All Elys devices and software are managed through this Software as a Service (SaaS) business management tool. MAXSTORE provides powerful support services, security controls and management reporting. Additionally, a growing range of enriched services are being launched with the aim of improving the value delivered to SMEs at the same time as reducing complexity and speeding up implementation timescales.

The PAX channel partner community welcomes the opportunity to discuss the Elys next generation EPOS range with you.

Please do get in touch to schedule a meeting.