As a retail shop owner or manager, you know that a shop till system is the central point of any store. It’s the place to take payments, but nowadays it’s much more than that. It’s a hub for the most important information you need to manage and plan your business activities.
Electronic point-of-sale systems or EPOS (also known as point-of-sale systems or POS) are the most up-to-date versions of a till system. They let you accept contactless card payments, manage inventory (online and off), enable click and collect, create customer profiles, set staff permissions, and more—all from one till system.
Let’s look at what a shop till is, how to use one in your store, how much a till system costs, and how to choose the best till for your retail store.
What is a shop till?
Ping! Younger readers will see that word and think about the way they send a quick update using a messaging service. There was a time, however, when that sound meant you were about to open the cash register of the shop till.
Traditional cash registers were a simple way to receive payment for goods. Store staff would calculate sales manually, no matter how much cash was involved, and complete transactions in tills that were wholly mechanical.
But shop till systems have evolved considerably in recent years, adapting to the rise of credit cards and other payment types.
Traditional cash registers are a thing of the past; they’ve been replaced by sophisticated systems like an EPOS system or POS (point-of-sale) system that can handle your most important day-to-day business operations.
Good retail till systems include software and hardware so you can easily accept Chip and PIN payments (and other options), provide a faster checkout experience, and securely take payments in your store.
How to use a till in your shop
Modern till systems are capable of much more than traditional till systems. They’re also easier to use once you understand the process.
Here’s how you can use a retail till system like Shopify POS:
Configure your shop till
Before you start using your shop till, make sure it’s set up to match your needs. If you’re running a pop-up store at a market, you might not need as many features as you would in your retail store.
With that decided, think about how you want your staff to use your POS. For example, do you want your app to lock automatically after every order is processed or after a predetermined duration of inactivity? As you’re setting up the till system, you’ll be guided through some other preferences, such as language and display mode.
💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can use the smart grid feature to make your most frequently used resources the easiest to access.
Manage staff roles and permissions
If you have a plan that allows you to set permissions, you can make sure your store staff are only using the features that are relevant to them. You might want to limit access to certain functions or reports, for example.
💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can assign different roles and permissions and set boundaries on what store staff can do in your POS system without manager approval—like changing a product’s price or applying a custom discount to a sale.
Set up payment methods
You can accept credit cards, cash, gift cards, and alternative payment methods with a modern till system.
Configure permissions to accept different payment types, depending on your situation. For example, you may choose not to accept cash, and toggle that option off. Once you’ve set everything up, do a test transaction. Process a payment and check every step to make sure your POS is working exactly the way it should.
📌 GET STARTED: With Shopify Payments, you can accept all popular payment methods and local currencies for a convenient, high-converting checkout experience at your stores and online.
Connect to your shop till hardware
Your POS software can work without the need for anything other than a card reader or Chip and PIN machine. However, you can also make use of POS hardware like cash drawers, barcode scanners, Bluetooth receipt and label printers, self-service kiosks, and more.
Whatever hardware you decide to use, make sure every piece is working and connected.
You can manage everything from a central admin point and see the devices that are currently operating on your network.
Train your staff
Now that you’ve set everything up, you want to make sure your store staff can use the POS till system as efficiently as they use their smartphones. Train them to manage inventory in multiple locations, set up customer profiles, and send email carts.
💡 PRO TIP: Use Shopify POS email carts to recover abandoned store sales and ensure showroomers buy from you rather than competitors. Add items to customers’ virtual cart, send their wish list by email, and credit your store for making the sale—even if it happens online.
Your staff also needs to be proficient at processing sales, applying discounts, accepting different payment types, setting up fulfillment options, dealing with returns, and making sure the hardware is running properly.
These retail skills are essential for your managers too. You can give them extra permissions, but it may require additional training. Make sure they know how to access reports, create pricing overrides, and assign staff permissions, for example, if you’re trusting them with these responsibilities.
How much does a shop till system cost?
When you’re planning your budget for a shop till system, you can split your costs into software, hardware, and payments. Most POS till systems have monthly or annual fees that increase, depending on the features you need. For example, you might pay a smaller fee to manage in-store functionality and higher fees to include detailed reporting and analytics, or greater control over staff permissions.
You can buy, lease, or rent your shop till hardware, which can be useful if you’re opening a pop-up shop, or if you need to manage cash flow over time.
Think about the hardware you need now and what you’ll need in the future.
Most stores need a Chip and PIN machine, for example, but not every store requires a barcode scanner.
Payment processing is integrated with some POS till system software; it’s also possible to manage separate contracts, fees, and payments with a third-party provider, but it can be a hassle, and cost more. You’ll need to budget for card-processing fees, transaction costs, and any additional monthly subscription costs.
💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, you can run your online and retail stores from the same platform without using third-party APIs. Shopify is your system of record–product, inventory, sales, and customer data updates automatically whenever you make a sale online or in-person, and you pay just one straight-forward monthly subscription.
Depending on your needs and your till system provider, a subscription can cost from £0 per month to £259 per month and beyond. You need to take into consideration the number of store locations you have, the features that help your store flourish, the hardware you need, transaction fees, and more.
Start taking in-person payments instantly
Every Shopify plan includes built-in payments processing with quick payouts and low rates, starting from 1.5% + 0p GBP. Skip lengthy third-party activations, accept all popular payment methods, and start taking payments online and in-person faster.
How to choose the best retail till system
In order to find the best retail till system for your shop, consider how each feature supports your needs. Here are some guidelines to help you make the right decision:
When you’re thinking about how to manage your store, you’re thinking about today, but you’re also thinking about tomorrow. You might discover a till system that meets your current needs, but a question you always need to ask is “how easy is it to scale up as my business grows?”
The best option is a till system that allows you to upgrade without having to start over every time you open a new store or bring your products online.
Streamline your operation with a system that connects everything together.
Modern till systems have changed the way we do business. Instead of the customer coming to the cash register, the cash register can now go to the customer. A good POS till system will give you the option of operating its software from a mobile device, tablet, or portable Chip and PIN machine, so your customers can buy your products with as few barriers as possible.
📌 GET STARTED: With Shopify’s Chip and PIN reader, you can accept contactless card and digital wallet payments anywhere in your store or on the go for a convenient, high-converting in-person payment experience.
How easy is it to use your shop till? You’ll have more time to spend on managing your business if you’re not wasting time working out how to use the latest feature on your till system. You’ll succeed with something that fulfills your needs and that works as a tool to support you, not a gadget that needs your support.
Consider the software, hardware, and payment systems that will make the till system work for you. Are the costs for all of this easy to understand? Are there any hidden extras? Of course, you need something that fits your budget, but you also need costs that are transparent.
There’s a lot to manage in your store, so finding a till system that offers reports on daily sales, inventory, cash flow, discounts, and anything else you’re focussing on will make the process a lot easier.
💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify POS, it’s straightforward to track sales per store location without manual calculations or building custom spreadsheets. To get started, view Retail sales reports in Shopify admin.
If you have staff working in different areas of the business, you’ll want to control how they use your till system and what they can see. A POS system that makes it easy to assign staff permissions will help.
The reason traditional till systems were invented was to take payments. Modern POS systems still have that as their primary feature. Look for a shop till that allows you to take as many payment types as possible with easy-to-understand fees. If you’re thinking about adding an external payment gateway, think about how that will affect your costs.
Find your small business till system
As you’ve seen, modern shop till systems are one of the most important factors in a thriving retail store. Now it’s time to find your small business till system; you know what a shop till is, how to use it, and how to work out costs, so you’re ready to choose the best shop till for your retail business.
Streamline your checkout with Shopify POS
Shopify’s fully customizable checkout helps keep your most used apps, discounts, and products at your fingertips so you can fly through checkout. Add products, apply discounts, create customer profiles, and accept payments faster than ever before.