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Our friends at MerchantOS developed this list of Top 10 Point of Sale Blogs, and we wanted to share it with our readers as another helpful resource.
Tracking down the latest news on point of sale software and hardware can be a headache in terms of information overload. To help the harried business owner, here's a list of the top 10 point of sale blogs out there.
What went into picking this list?
That answer's easy: the blog had to have more than just company press releases -- the blog had to offer the reader insight into the technology or industry. The blog also had to have been updated within the last three months. Google "POS blogs" and you will find interesting sounding titles that place high in the search -- too bad most of them are from 2008 or older.
The rundown of the top POS blogs, in no particular order:
Bar Code Blog: Part of The Bar Code News site, this blog posts industry news and tips on how to best use bar code and QR codes in point of sale automation. The site itself is owned by Ebiz Corp., which touts itself as an independent voice with no affiliation or ties to companies in the industry.
Radiant Systems Blog: Even though this blog is run by the Radiant Systems company, it provides posts on a wide range of topics in the point of sale industry and on business issues in general. Users of the site also can post their own items to the blog.
Point of Sale Blog: The Point of Sale News site is the kissing cousin of The Bar Code News and is owned by the same company.
Retail Pro's Community Blog: Run by the point of sale software maker, this blog is more than public relations for the company. It offers industry news, features and information on issues impacting business of all kinds.
Point of Sale and Transaction Supplies Blog: Put together by the company POS Supply Solutions, this blog looks at issues affecting the retail industry, including counterfeit receipts. The blog doesn't push a particular brand over another and takes critical looks at products.
The Source Blogs: This site is a conglomeration of blogs on the different aspects of business, including point of sale. The posts can be submitted by industry insiders, but don't let that deter you from gleaning good information.
Retail. Easy: Yes, this is the exact same blog this post is published on, which is run by MerchantOS. However if the criteria for picking the best POS blogs is used, an objective analysis shows that Retail. Easy. clearly meets the criteria.
OnTrak Software: This company blog does offer tips like how to save money with POS systems. Be ready, though, for the product plugs at the bottom of the posts.
Retail Tech blog: Run by Retail Tech POS Equipment, this blog offers industry analysis and also looks at business as a whole.
J.D. Associates Retail POS Solutions Blog: This blog offers advice for the business owners including how to pick a POS system, how to shop the competition and how to improve retail sales. Since this is a company blog, expect to see plugs for its products.
About Linda Doell
Linda brings to the table more than 20 years experience as a reporter, editor and personal finance blogger in the news industry. Linda blogs via Contently.com.
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The Bar Code News YouTube Channel, learn how to make your own bar codes, QR codes and more.
See our collection of Point of Sale (POS) Resources.
Part one - Building your "brand" with POS receipts:
Since most businesses are handing out POS receipts (about 250 billion of them a year, according to Receipt.com), why not make the most of it? There are ways to communicate on a receipt that are better than others - some receipts can amuse, some receipts can engage, some receipts can stimulate more purchases. For example, we could design a receipt that simply prints the name and address of the store, or we could print the logo and make the receipt infinitely more attractive at the same time we reinforce our brand.
Below are several receipts with logos that I've come across recently: (please note that they are not perfectly straight, and that is my fault - they didn't lay well in the scanner)
I love these receipts! All of them have a certain flair. They are NOT boring. That old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words certainly seems to apply here.
Notice how the POS receipt instantly communicates who the vendor was. The company is easily identifiable, even for someone who needs reading glasses. You could not do that with a receipt that only had the address in text format. So, now that you realize the value, how hard is it to add a logo to the top of a receipt? Methods for adding a logo vary by printer and manufacturer.
Part Two - Making Money with POS Receipts
Now that you're thinking about what you can do to improve your receipts - why not take it a step further - and engage the customer with your receipt? A company called SmartReceipt is doing just that! This company has a product that will let your printer dynamically create receipts with specialized coupons and other offers. Here are some sample receipts:
This pizza receipt (showing only the bottom here) has a dated coupon inviting the customer to a discount if they order online, or another discount on a topping. This gives the customer two good reasons to save a receipt that would otherwise be discarded in moments.
The company claims that the technology-enabled solution can reside on any POS system and is centrally managed online.
This second receipt (on the right) also has compelling information and is likely to be valued by the consumer! Notice both the use of the QR code, and the free offer of a cookie, to get the customer to the website.
In summary, a well used printer receipt can help make money and promote your business! It is easy to implement and doesn't cost much.
Readers - do you have an example of an engaging or interesting POS receipt? Send it in using the Contact link at the very bottom of the page.
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Written by Craig Aberle
POS Resources - one of our most popular articles - has dozens of useful tools, tips and techniques for getting the most out of your POS system.
Today, independent retailers have access to point of sale systems with features comparable to large competitors. The costs of these systems are often hundreds of times less than the investment made by the large retail chains.
1. Not Understanding Your Needs
If a retailer isn’t automated or is operating an out-of-date point of sale system, they may have developed inefficient procedures. Every process in the business (e.g. purchasing, receiving, transfers, etc.) should be noted and worked through in the point of sale software during the demonstration phase. The provider of the software can then demonstrate the automation of each process within the proposed solution. The provider should also have extensive industry knowledge and be able to make recommendations on how related retailers have automated similar processes.
2. Not Obtaining Product References
Do not move forward with a purchase until you have obtained a minimum of three references and contacted those references. Requesting local references also gives you the ability to visit the retail store and see the point of sale product in action. When talking with references also make sure that they are using the version of the software you are evaluating. Ask them if they like the product, how the implementation went, and how they rate the on-going support. These references can also be used to create your own support group if you move forward with the purchase.
3. Neglecting Due Diligence
What do you know about the company providing your new POS system? There are many companies that will sell you a system but very few that are exclusively in the point of sale business. Companies that are “in” the business have been dedicated to the market for decades and have vast amounts of knowledge and expertise. Once you make a decision on a system purchase, you are married to the company providing you with the system. Do your due diligence homework and find out the following:
- How long has the company been in business?
You want to insure that the company will be around as long as you have their POS system. Most businesses fail within the first five years.
- How large is the company measured by employee count and revenue?
A financially strong company will have sufficient revenue and resources to support you for the life of the POS system. Larger companies with more employees often offer superior support services, training, installation, and faster feature development.
- How strong is the company and is it publicly traded?
Public companies offer the safety of full disclosure and access to the capital markets. Audited financial statements will provide you with information regarding the company’s strength. Records for public companies can be obtained through any financial website such as Yahoo Finance, eTrade, Fidelity and so on.
Software development and support is labor and capital intensive. By choosing a strong company, you are insuring that the software you choose will be updated with new features for many years.
4. Insufficient Training
Maybe it is human nature, but all retailers try to save money in this area. But, just like a college degree, you will earn many times more than the training costs with better use of the system. Many retailers have purchased great point of sale systems only to use them as glorified cash registers because of a lack of training. Your training plan should resemble the following:
- Pre-installation – 1 day of classroom training as an overview of the system
- Installation – 1-5 days depending upon the size of the store and number of employees. This training normally takes place at the store location. Point of sale training for employees normally only requires an hour or two. Back office management functions such as purchasing, receiving, barcodes, inventory management, reporting, ecommerce, etc. will take up the remaining time. Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself at this point with too much information. Learn what you need to run your business day to day. More training should be available in the future.
- 1 Month Post-Installation – The retailer has had some time with the POS system and will need to generate month end reports. This is also a good time to train on questions that have come up since the initial training. Post-Installation training is often accomplished through a phone call and remote access to the retailers system.
- 3-6 Month Post-Installation – The retailer knows their way around the POS software, has established procedures, and the retail store is fully automated. At this time the retailer may want to learn the advanced features of the software to give them a strategic advantage. This could include advanced reporting, open-to-buy planning, eCommerce integration, customer marketing and so on.
5. Buying on Price
We are bombarded everyday with offers for low priced hardware and POS software. Advertisements from major computer manufacturers display unbelievable prices. Resist the temptation of trying to save yourself a few dollars with cheap hardware. It will end up costing you more when it doesn’t work. The low priced computers and printers advertised are cheap for a reason. They are consumer level products that aren’t manufactured to take the daily twelve hour beating most retail environments will impose on them. You can verify this by checking the duty cycles on consumer level hardware versus business class machines.
Low priced hardware is difficult for anyone to support because the internal components of the computer changes on a frequent basis. What is inside a cheap computer is based upon the lowest bidder at the time of bid. As an example, you may order a model M30 computer today and your point of sale software and peripherals run fine on it. You then order ten of the model M30 and find that the software only runs on some of them. The others have different components inside that conflict with the software. You’ve just saved yourself a few dollars on hardware but now get to pay an unlimited hourly rate for the point-of-sale company to figure out the problem.
Point-of-sale companies know what they know, but they don’t know what they don’t know. With cheap hardware, they can never possibly know so you will only cost yourself more money in the long run by not following their recommendation.
6. Purchasing One Size Fits All System
There is not a single point-of-sale system that is a perfect fit for every type of retailer. The retail industry has several different vertical markets that all have unique needs. As an example, pharmacies require a pos system that integrates with their prescription dispensing software and support IRS IIAS legislation for FSA (flexible spending account) credit cards. A bike shop requires serial number tracking and work order management for mechanics. A clothing store needs size and color matrixes to support the large number of SKUs for a single pair of jeans. The list goes on and on.
Find a point-of-sale system specific to your market. The unique features they offer will automate the distinct needs of your market. The industry specific automation will provide you with a better ROI (return on investment) compared with choosing generic point-of-sale software.
7. Customizing For Planned Obsolescence
Point-of-sale systems for independent retailers have been around for almost three decades now. The feature lists are extensive because millions of retailers have helped software developers create features specific to the industry. 95% or more of the features you will require will be offered in a single package. If not, avoid the temptation to customize the software. Customizing any software freezes you into the version you purchase and precludes you from moving forward with future releases. There are still many stores today that operate DOS based point-of-sale systems because of this oversight. Don’t be one of them.
8. Following the Garbage In, Garbage Out Cliché
A great point-of-sale system can be turned into a mediocre system if data input and standards aren’t maintained. Today’s software has the capability to turn raw data into meaningful information. The best example of this is the department/class/subclass structure. Every retail store has departments, larger ones also have related classes, and even larger ones have related subclasses. Categorizing your inventory this way allows you to quickly spot sales and inventory trends on the reports produced by the system.
Use the 10/10 rule. You should have no more than 10 departments and each of those departments should have no more than 10 classes. If you think about it, even the largest department stores merchandise within the rule.
9. Neglecting Disaster Recovery
The most neglected rule of all. But when it happens, people tend to become diligent about it. With the technology today, there is no reason to ignore this any longer. Backing up a system no longer requires slow tape drives, archaic software, and confusing rotation procedures. Today, backups can be performed with the use of portable hard drives or internet based online backup services.
Most retailers think of disaster recovery only in the case of a computer crash. But over the years I’ve seen retailers rely on them for fires, floods, and computer theft. As long as you have a good backup and insurance policy, a disaster does not have to be catastrophic.
10. Choosing the Wrong Partner
The point of sale space has always been very competitive but only a few key players have sustained in the marketplace. Every year many companies enter the market and leave just as quickly. Retailers are then stuck without support and eventually have to choose a new system from a reputable company. To guard yourself against this, make sure to partner with a strong company dedicated to the retail industry. You can accomplish this by asking a few of the following questions:
- Is point-of-sale the company’s primary business?
When software companies choose to expand their target market, they will often times view the retail space very favorably due to the large number of retailers. Many times they underestimate the complexity of the market and the vertical requirements of each retail segment. This will cause them to enter the market with an offering and leave once they suffer unsustainable losses. Accounting software companies have been notorious for this behavior throughout the years. To protect yourself, make sure the focus of the company is primarily point-of-sale systems.
- Is the provider THE company or just a reseller of a product?
Several of the prominent point-of-sale companies use a direct sales channel. Smaller point-of-sale companies use a reseller or distributor model to sell their systems. The difference is staggering. The direct channel establishes a relationship between the retailer and the software vendor. Better support, quality, and expertise are the result. Resellers of a product cannot begin to match support or quality a direct relationship provides. It is far too common for retailers to be left without support once a reseller moves on to other products.
- What type on on-going support do they provide?
Support departments for POS systems are very different than consumer software products. Point of sale applications are mission critical. If a POS system is down, it literally costs the retailer money. Insist that the point-of-sale provider you select offers a “real time” support model. Real time support insures that a technician will pick up the phone and assist you when you call. Older support models implement a “call back” method that requires you to leave a message of the problem and a technician calls you back at an undetermined length of time. The difference between the two support models can literally cost a retailer thousands of dollars in lost sales.
- Do they offer onsite technical assistance?
Your job is retail, not technology. You should be able to rely upon your point-of-sale provider to supply you with onsite technicians. These technicians can install a new system correctly and troubleshoot any technical problems you may experience.
- Do they offer training classes?
Training, training, training, we all know we get better with more of it. You can insure you get the most out of your investment with on-going training. The provider you select should offer classes to help you gain efficiencies as your expertise on the point-of-sale system grows.
- Do they have user groups and regular meetings?
User group meetings are one of the best places to learn new ideas, see the newest features in the software, and network with your peers. Many times a peer will have a solution or offer a new way to accomplish a task using the software.
An independent retailer can insure their success by avoiding these ten common mistakes. Although this article is written with a point-of-sale purchase in mind, the same checklist can be applied to many other business purchases. Often times, the strength and ethics of the company providing the product is just as important as the product itself.
Measured by dollars, the technology investment made by an independent retailer is considerably less than their larger counterparts. But if you measure the investment against annual revenues (i.e. percent of revenue), the comparison becomes similar. Once understood, independent retailers should approach their technology investment like the large retail chains. Unlike other purchases a retailer will make, the technology decision is one the retailer will live with for many years. The amount of time required to implement a system and become productive in its use will be the largest costs associated with any system. Economists refer to these types of costs as “sunk costs”. Sunk costs are those costs that are incurred and cannot be recovered to any significant degree.
Independent retailers have traditionally been technology laggards. This slow adoption of new technology has provided hidden benefits though. Economies of scale are achieved at larger retail stores and the new technologies become available to independent retailers at much lower costs.
CAM Commerce is a leading provider of point of sale, ecommerce, and payment processing solutions located in California. Please visit http://www.camcommerce.com/ for more information.
For information on barcodes and how they can be used in point of sale, click on this link
Point of Sale (or POS in its abbreviated form) is the phrase used to refer to the point—or location—where a sales transaction takes place, such as a checkout line or retail counter.
A Point of Sale System is the term used for the combination of computer hardware and software that actually manages the sales transaction. There are many benefits of using a point of sale system over a traditional cash register, since a computer is able to capture, store, share, and report data (such as sales, payment, or customer information). A POS system saves time and duplication of work, and increases efficiency and accuracy in inventory, reporting, ordering, and providing excellent customer service.
The main industries where you would find POS systems being used are retail, service and hospitality (restaurants, hotels, hair & beauty).
There are many ways to evaluate a point of sale system. Speed, cost, functionality, and ease of use are a few. We consider the key requirement to be reliability, as a single lost transaction is unacceptable.
It is helpful to distinguish the forms that POS has gone through over the decades, from traditional point of sale developed in the 20th century, to the introduction of web-based and mobile point of sale in the 21st century.
Traditional computerized point of sale, which began in the 1970’s and came of age in the 90’s, uses a stationary computer with POS software installed, and peripherals such a bar code scanner and receipt printer. Networking makes it possible for traditional POS to be used with multiple stations and multiple stores, syncing information across various locations making it easier to keep track of sales and inventory. Components of a traditional POS system include:
A computer (the main component of a traditional POS system).
Peripherals. This term refers to hardware devices that you add to the computer system.
Some peripherals help you use the computer itself (such as a mouse or keyboard).
Some peripherals are more specific to POS, they enable you to perform a sales transaction (cash drawers, bar code readers, receipt printers, credit card readers, pin pads, touch screens, etc.)
General computer software, primarily, an Operating System (OS), such as Windows, Mac, or Linux, which makes it possible for people to use and interact with the computer.
POS software, helps you to manage your business and perform sales transactions. It automatically collects and stores data about customers, sales, and inventory, and can use that data to create reports for taxes, sales analysis, etc. The software is the most critical part of the POS system.
(Image provided by POS Prophet Systems)
*It is important to know that when putting together a Point of Sale system, the various hardware and software components must be compatible, or able to communicate with each other.
The first decade of the 21st century saw advancements in web-based POS software. Web-based POS software can be accessed through the Internet from any computer with a connection and a browser. You do not need to install it since it is hosted on secure servers that provide real-time backup. One of the advantages of browser based point of sale is that it is operating system independent. You can use it on an Apple Mac at one part of the store, and a Windows PC at another. If you want to access your retail data from home at night, it can be done through your home computer or laptop. Other advantages usually include automatic backups done by the company who hosts the system, and software updates automatically provided the same way.
The last few years have brought significant progress in mobile technology, such as smart phones, tablets, and other handheld devices that basically act as mobile computers. Mobile technology, along with web-based software, has allowed for an evolution of Mobile POS, and is having a huge impact on the POS industry, even to the point of changing our understanding of what the “Point of Sale” is.
Craig Aberle, President of The Point of Sale News, comments,
“The definition of POS is certainly evolving – new tools are being developed that actually change the ‘point’ of sale. Apple’s POS system allows a clerk to ring you out wherever you are in the store. That’s a great feature. No need to wait in line at the checkout counter. In restaurants, the point of sale is moving to the table you are served at. With service companies everywhere, (like car rental agencies) the point of sale is right where you drop off the vehicle, and they inspect it and print a receipt from a portable device. The places that transactions are processed will continue to evolve as long as it is easier for the customer, drives revenue, and manageable. The little credit card readers that get plugged into an Apple or Android phone are taking point of sale way out of the mall, and out of the store. It’s now in the parking lot, in the field at a country fair, or right on the sidewalk. Merchants are no longer tethered to something that has to remain plugged into a wall.”
He concludes, “Today, I would define the ‘point of sale’ as anywhere that any transaction takes place.”
If you came here asking “What is Point of Sale?” or “What is POS?” then hopefully this article has given you a proper introduction. Please explore our website to find out more. Be sure to check out the Learn section, as well our POS Software & Hardware sections. Stay on top of news and case studies regarding POS for various industries. We also provide an international list of POS resellers.
How to Computerize Your Small Business. New Yord: John Wiley & Sons Publishers, Inc. Aberle. (1995).
eBay: Point of Sale (POS) System Buying Guide http://pages.ebay.com/buy/guides/point-of-sale-pos-system-buying-guide/
Written by Erin Thayer