If you have a golf pro shop and need an EPOS system, then this article is for you. We take a quick look at the top 4 golf EPOS systems in the UK, so you can choose what's right for you.
We’re not going to waste your time with tortured golf puns (we’re sure you’ve heard some clunkers in your time), so let’s get right to it. This article is about your golf pro shop and the unique challenges your type of retail outlet faces every day.
One of the most important decisions you can make in setting up your shop (or in trying to improve its performance) is your choice of an EPOS system.
But why now? The sport itself is booming, with private and municipal courses in the UK reporting huge growth and many operators earmarking 2021 as a year for investment.
As one of the first sports to re-open, golf shops with an online sales channel have been able to bounce back more successfully post-lockdown by capitalising on their club loyalty online. This, coupled with the surge in interest in the sport, has meant lots of golf pro shops without that ecommerce channel are looking again at their tech stack.
What are the most important features of an EPOS system for a Golf Pro Shop?
We canvassed opinions from several golf pro shop owners to better understand the challenges they face in their business.
Of course, every business is unique and there were some important differences between independent golf shops and club or resort-owned shops.
But on the whole, the challenges facing the core retail business were the same for whoever we asked.
1. Inventory management
Not only are most golf pro shops packed to the rafters with product, but the variety of product types is also incredible - which makes managing your stock uniquely challenging and time-consuming. You need an EPOS system that makes managing your stock fast, uncomplicated and reliable.
2. Customer Accounts & Loyalty Programmes
Especially important for shops based at a club. Your club members’ information needs to be held securely and easily retrieved at the point of sale to allow the application and tracking of discounts.
3. Account Credit (or positive balance)
One of the most frequently requested functions we’ve had from retailers (especially golf pro shops) is the ability to add store credit to a customer account. This feature is very popular for golf pro shops who want to reward competition players but is not a common feature in most EPOS systems.
4. Integration to accounting software
Tracking VAT, handling online and offline sales, invoicing and bank transactions - accounting can be a complicated business. Golf pro shops need an EPOS system that smoothly integrates with their accounting software (especially as the requirement to use compliant software becomes mandatory next year through the UK government’s Making Tax Digital campaign - see our article on the best accounting software for small retailers for more info) [[internal link]]
5. Ecommerce Integration
The importance of a multichannel (or omnichannel) sales platform has never been more apparent. If partial, multi-sector or regional lockdowns are going to be a part of our world for the foreseeable future, making your bricks and mortar store available online and ensuring that both channels work together seamlessly is vitally important.
6. Retail Specificity
Many software systems that are custom designed for the golf market are more focused on club or course management including tee sheets and bar and restaurant offerings. On-site shops owned and run by the club are typical in the US whereas many Golf pro shops are typically run as an independent business in the UK and Ireland. Therefore, most of the retailers we spoke to specifically wanted wider club management functions to remain separate from their retail business.
7. EPOS Hardware
Software is great but if you’re a bricks-and-mortar golf shop you need modern, high-quality hardware too. Most Golf pro shops will need at least one scanning device, a point of sale display, a receipt printer, a card reader and a cash drawer. Most EPOS providers offer hardware bundles but the quality and cost vary greatly.
8. Easy Reporting & Analytics
With such a variety of product, pricing rules and size scales, the ability to analyse your sales is of particular importance to golf pro shops. Valuable insights on staffing, sales training and marketing can be gained from a good reporting system.
9. Affordable Pricing
Like any independent retail business, profitability is paramount. There is a huge variety of pricing available in the market, especially so in this sector.
What are the best EPOS systems for Golf Pro Shops in 2021?
We look at and reviewed 4 of the best EPOS systems for golf pro shops in the UK:
EPOS systems for golf pro shops fall largely into two categories - golf-specific EPOS platforms and general retail EPOS systems.
The golf-specific systems will have a host of functionality relating to wider club management such as tee sheets, bar and restaurant offerings and membership subscriptions etc.
General retail systems are more specifically based on the retail business and online selling. As you might expect, there is a large differential in their costs.
ForeUp is a large American software brand specialising in golf course and club management. Altogether, ForeUp is a suite of tools that can deal with everything from point of sale software, tee sheets, invoicing and simple website creation. They even offer a golf simulator!
The retailers we spoke with rated the EPOS system (which can be subscribed to separately) as slick and easy to use but most did not go with the hardware offered by ForeUp as the packages to rent the equipment were not seen as good value for money.
A few Pro Shops who were fully integrated into their club appreciated some of the wider suite of tools such as the tee sheets or advanced functions such as email marketing. However, for shops that are separate from their clubs, the high cost of the subscription was enough to put them off.
A few also mentioned that reporting was a little difficult to use and some obvious sales reports were not easily accessed.
Most also mentioned that support outside of North America was not good (a common refrain when working with US-based companies) - this included the availability of live support and the times at which patches and software updates needed to be applied.
Lightspeed started life as a general retail point of sale software company that has added on new technologies for different sectors or outright acquired existing specialist platforms to broaden its appeal. And this is how it became a golf specialist - by acquiring the existing platform, Chronogolf.
The strategy seems to be working, as most of the shop managers we talked to were fans of the system and praised it for the high level of functionality and its intuitive design.
The only negative in design were some fiddly areas of user experience such as the number of clicks it sometimes takes to complete a transaction.
However, users and non-users alike both shared how expensive they felt the system was and while it was well-liked and reliable, many felt the pricing was not aligned with the features on offer, especially for those not wishing to pay for the club membership functions.
Lightspeed POS looks fairly cost-effective with packages starting at $69 per month (approx £49) but this entry-level is an extremely basic product. If you want to add anything else the figure starts adding up quickly. So if you want to integrate to your Shopify website, that’s extra, want it to fully integrate with your accounting software (such as the highly recommended accounting package, Xero) that’s more again.
The range of functions you get in our basic level subscription (a princely £29.99 per month) outweighs what you get in Lightspeed’s top retail bundle at more than five times that cost. Lightspeed Retail Pro includes EPOS, ecommerce integration, accounts integration and loyalty - Lightspeed payments isn’t available outside North America.
And that’s before you even think about the cost of the hardware needed (which we can supply free of charge when you’re on our AirPOS Pro level membership on an annual subscription).
EPOS Now is an affordable retail point of sale solution that comes at a fraction of the cost of specialist golf systems. Most of the benefits to using a golf-specialist system come from the tee sheet and food and beverage sales aspects, otherwise, you’re paying the extra for some golf balls on the screen and the system perhaps referring to a ‘player’ rather than a ‘customer.’
Most of the golf pro shops we spoke to who were not integrated into their club didn’t miss the features a golf-specific EPOS system gave them and EPOS Now scored highly for the range of features it allowed.
The main area EPOS Now falls down is in its multichannel offering which almost doubles the cost of the subscription. While still much more cost-effective than the golf-specific systems, the additional £31.50 per month is a steep price to pay when some competitors offer the same Shopify integration at no extra cost.
While it’s just £31.50 per month, that cost is there FOREVER, so you will end up paying thousands more for something that you don’t have to.
Their hardware bundle, while more cost-effective than many, is still an up-front cost which is another negative point when you’re trying to get to profitability quickly.
And while this bundle looks very cost-effective it doesn’t include some basic items such as a barcode scanner and they don’t mention that you need to pay an additional £39 per month for support to avail of this offer.
Not to mention additional fees for every little thing such as Xero integration, certain payment providers and even what are basic functions in AirPOS Pro such as loyalty and product imports and exports.
Finally, EPOS Now does have a poor reputation for after-sales care including excruciatingly long phone queues for tech support. They offer support by chat and by Whatsapp but the wait times are generally reported to be unacceptably long and there is a great deal of frustration from their existing customers.
We couldn’t leave any review of EPOS systems without throwing our name in the ring.
AirPOS is an EPOS and e-commerce system that has been designed with the independent retailer in mind. Everything from the simplicity of its design to the plain and simple pricing. We put it all out there, for everyone to see (which as we already knew, but which became more apparent when researching this article - not everyone does)!
In our opinion, if you find that a software company hides its pricing or insists on hard sales tactics to just get basic functionality and pricing information, it means they’re not being transparent and there’s usually a reason for that.
We’re the opposite of that. Not only do we have just two subscription levels which you can see on our pricing page (with only £10 per month between them), we also offer a completely free, no-obligation trial.
With AirPOS, we offer free online support also, from 9 am to midnight, 7 days a week.
All of our integrations are also free, so if you’re using Xero or you’re selling online with Shopify you don’t need to pay extra for the privilege.
Finally, we offer a free EPOS hardware bundle. Yes, that’s right - free, and you own it outright too. No secret leases or cancellation clauses here!
AirPOS “It’s easy to use and represents good value with the functions that fit my business. Many businesses are like ours and need a solution that is fit for smaller [golf pro shop] businesses but with the same functionality.”
In general, with golf-sector specific packages such as Lightspeed Golf and Fore-Up, the real selling points are the club management aspects of the software. That functionality is impressive, so if you do want a fuller suite of club membership tools it is worth your time to talk to some of these companies and see if their packages fit with your business.
We found however that the starting price point for the EPOS-only aspects of these platforms was considerably more expensive than it needed to be.
The hardware offered was also fairly expensive and largely an upfront cost (rather than lease to buy or indeed, free like our own offering) and that some fairly basic functions (such as integrations into common accounting software) were a significant added cost.
Additionally, all of these golf-sector solutions had fairly opaque pricing. It’s difficult to get an accurate idea of how much their systems will end up costing without sitting through lengthy product demonstrations and sales appointments.
We understand that with so much functionality, it’s important to be able to pick and choose the services you want to pay for but the non-golf specific platforms have significantly lower starting points than even the most basic golf-specific EPOS-only packages.
Basically, for independently-run golf pro shops, a general retail EPOS system was much more cost-effective and sensible.
It’s up to the individual to decide how valuable the ability to book and accept a payment for a tee-time in one transaction is to them. But many of the golf pro shops we spoke to found that the added cost of sometimes £100s of pounds per month was not a good investment when it was perhaps only one additional step to switch over to their pre-existing booking system.
For non-golf specific EPOS systems, EPOS Now scores well on core functionality but we believe we have the edge on them on multiple fronts such as our lower monthly cost, free retail hardware bundle, free integrations to accounting packages and our free Shopify integration (and that’s before we mention the very positive reviews of our free support).
We’re so confident that we even offer a completely free 14-day trial and no contract thereafter, so you can see if AirPOS is as good as we say it is. You can click here to sign up for the free AirPOS Trial today.
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A “sub parr” or “duff” EPOS system can be more than a “handicap,” it can be “rough,” a real “albatross” around your neck.
If you’re not “green,” you’ll want to “drive” sales with a system that is really “ace.” (Sorry, we held off the golf puns as long as we could!)
Share your thoughts on your Golf pro shop’s biggest challenges (or your favourite/worst golf puns) on our social channels @airpos.