To attract a nationwide network of more than 1,000 sales agents requires more than premium products. According to Electronic Payments Inc., managing a sales force this size requires agility, from developing new products, programs, software, price structures and multichannel training to delivering high level customer service and support.
EPI founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Nardy started the company in 2000, working as a sales agent while still in college. In 2005, the executive team expanded and by 2015, EPI was processing $8 billion annually. Today the company employs about 100 people in its New York headquarters, Florida and Washington, where it houses product development, distribution, call center, processing and support teams.
For EPI, 2014 was a pivotal year. While many in the industry were adopting integrative models to expand capabilities, EPI shifted to a POS product approach. As a longtime client of First Data Corp., EPI worked collaboratively to launch the Clover Placement Program, reportedly purchasing more Clover product in the initial rollout than any other company.
"It took a leap of faith to do that, but I felt that it was the right avenue to go, and our agents were clamoring for a solution," Nardy said. "We really invented that model with First Data. They had to create the structure for us to deploy our own Clover systems, whereas before you would buy them from First Data and they would ship them programmed and ready to go."
At the same time, EPI was making progress toward developing its own POS system internally to better manage product lifecycles. "If you don't control the development cycle, you have to plead your case to the company that does," Nardy stated. To accelerate product rollout, EPI made another pivot and acquired Exatouch in 2015.
"With Exatouch, I knew we could make the product even better," Nardy said. "Exatouch had many features in the Retail and Restaurant version that were key for our channel – a full salon/spa program with scheduling and multi-merchant accounts; liquor store features; pool/bowling time clock so you can rent by the minute, hour, etc.; and also it supported full EMV integration and did tip adjust on EMV. Finally, the payment engine was PA-DSS validated which isn't common in many systems, certainly not in tablet systems."
Now EPI's flagship product, Exatouch has an in-house development team giving it undivided attention. The team regularly codes new features in two-week sprints, pushing cloud-based updates automatically to users along with product release notes explaining each update. Simultaneously, longer-term developer projects are overlaid in 3- to 4-month intervals.
As a Windows-based POS system, Exatouch has fewer limitations than Android or iOS based systems, improving development cycles, he added. It also allows room for deeper vertical enhancements. For example, liquor stores using Exatouch can manage 100,000 product SKUs (stock keeping units); and grocers can age PLU (price look-up) codes for meat and other perishable products, as well as manage 13-digit barcodes for deli items. In 2008, EPI launched the eGiftSolutions gift card platform ‒ free of charge except for card costs ‒ as a value-added service. EPI's suite also includes other business-centric products. "Vault and ProCharge are unique products because they are very much what you'd consider an 'integrated play' but the integrations are in accounting software by Intuit (QuickBooks) and Sage (Sage 100, 300 and 500)," Nardy said, noting that ProCharge is a billing platform with e-invoicing and other features, while Vault delivers ERP (enterprise resource planning) tools integration.
Among the partner perks EPI offers are an online boarding app, an agent portal to track agreements and residuals, a real-time interactive forum and extensive training. Its agent program features online training Tuesdays, webinar Wednesdays and a road show encompassing multiple U.S. locations to support the success of EPI sales partners.
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