Point of Sale Systems

But I have cash registers and they work just fine. Why should I put in a more complex and expensive Point of Sale computer system?




Point of Sale


The reason: Information

Like it or not - information has become as important as, or even more important than products. Businesses that don't understand this are at a loss to explain why, when their prices are lower, their products just as good, and their advertising spending higher - their competitor is eating their lunch.

Don't believe us? Listen to someone with whom we almost never agree:

"If the 1980's were about quality, and the 1990's were about reengineering, then the 2000's will be about velocity. About how quickly the nature of business will change. About how quickly business itself will be transacted. About how information access will alter the lifestyle of consumers and their expectations of business. Quality improvements and business process improvements will occur far faster . . . A manufacturer or retailer that responds to changes in sales in hours instead of weeks is no longer at heart a product company, but a service company that has a product offering"
- Bill Gates, Business@the Speed of Thought - Warner Books, 2000.

For a retailer, a Point of Sale information system is critical to gathering and applying information effectively in today's ultra competitive markets. An electronic cash register, even the very sophisticated ones (that cost more than computer based systems) cannot gather or utilize information effectively enough and must now be considered "niche market" devices.

The Objectives: The reasons for deploying a Point of Sale information system are obvious:

  • Reduce Costs
  • Respond to trends faster
  • Improve Customer Service
  • Buy Smarter
  • Improve Marketing
  • Control the money

How to Get There: Point of Sale systems offer a wide selection of features to improve control of your business and save time spent on inventory, purchasing and accounting. The features listed here are all available in the Vigilant POS software packages supported by Automation Access. Other packages may vary in capability.

  • Customer Information: The system automatically records customer names, addresses, credit card information, what they bought and when. It can also record birthdays, anniversaries, and any other information that may be significant to your particular business. This information can be searched and selected to make targeted and timed mailings not only practical but easy.
  • Customer Relations: Everything about the customer's purchases can be immediately called up from the system. This makes handling payments, returns and other transactions easy even if the customer has misplaces the paperwork. In multi-store environments it doesn't matter which store the customer goes to, all the information is available at all stores.
  • Rentals can be handled by the same system, including combined rental / sales (rent sander, sell sandpaper, deduct unused sandpaper on return).
  • Layaway: Items can be set aside and deposits tracked by the system.
  • Multiple forms of payment: Any mix of credit card, checks, store credits or what have you can be applied to a purchase.
  • Credit Card Clearing can be integrated with the POS system. No expensive clearing terminals to rent or buy, and magnetic scanners can be integrated with the keyboard. The credit card signature form is printed by the same printer that produces the register receipt.
  • Logos on register receipts improve the image of your business.
  • Full Size Invoices instead of register receipts can be printed for "big ticket" items - from the same screen.
  • Inventory Control: The computer keeps the store's inventory, so the POS terminals attached to it automatically update inventory with every sale or return. In multi-store environments the person at the PoS station can check stock in other stores if this store is out of stock. The central office knows at all times how much stock each store has.
  • Inventory Analysis: The system knows at what rate each item is selling at all times, making it easy to decide what quantity to reorder. Trends can be identified to reduce buying mistakes. In multi-store environments the central office can see the differences in item movement from store to store, making it easy to account for local or regional preferences.
  • Reduce "Out of Stock": Low stock reports and purchase orders are produced automatically with enough lead time to receive goods.
  • Size / Color Matrix: Because a size / color table can be attached to any SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), only one SKU is needed, yet sales tracking by size and color is enabled.
  • Sales by Measure: For example, sales of 2x4 lumber need only have a single SKU, yet be sold in units of 4ft, 8ft, 16ft or other lengths.
  • Price Tags / Shelf Tags can be printed on receiving stock to eliminate pricing and SKU identification errors.
  • Price Tags / Shelf Tags can be printed on receiving stock to eliminate pricing and SKU identification errors.
  • Order Entry: For a business that handles both Point of Sale and Order processing (mail order, wholesale, etc.) only one system is needed and both methods are perfectly integrated.
  • Bar code Integration: Various bar code reading devices can be used in conjunction with shelf stocking, warehousing and at the sales terminal to speed entry and greatly reduce human error.
  • Warranty Tracking: Time and date of purchase are automatically recorded and can be retrieved from the system within seconds. Warranty issues can be easily handled by stores other than the one where the purchase was made.
  • Serial Number Tracking: for major items where tracking the individual unit is essential.
  • Special Pricing: Sales and specials are easy to control. Begin and end dates can be assigned to products or product groups and the system will automatically handle them.
  • Customer Groups: If you offer senior citizen discounts or discounts to club members or other groups, their discounts will be automatically applied. If they don't mention the discount until the transaction is nearly complete, it can still be back applied without voiding the order.
  • Contract Pricing: A particular customer can be assigned special pricing, which will be automatically applied to sales to that customer without intervention by the person doing the sale.
  • Progressive Discounts: Customers can be assigned progressive discount levels that depend on how much their total purchases over a period of months have been. The system automatically calculates and applies the discount.
  • Discount Matrix: Special discount builds by quantity or other factors can be built and attached to individual products or families of products.
  • Loyalty Programs and Coupons: Easily handled, including expiration and renewal.
  • Sales Commissions: Commissions are automatically calculated and reported by the system. Different product lines can carry different commissions and commissions can be automatically reduced if the salesperson discounts an item.
  • Field Sales: At a show or remote location, sales people can query the home office system for up-to-date pricing and availability, and even complete sales from the remote location.
  • Hand Held Terminals often used in warehouses (for inventory) or by roving floor sales people can be integrated with the system.
  • Profit Center / Product Line Control: It is very easy to set up both profit centers and product lines. This makes tracking performance of individual sales managers, and product line profitability easy. Know where the money is coming from!
  • Price Adjustments: Want to bump the price 5% for all (or some of) the SKUs in a product line? Easy. Very easy.
  • Accounting: Since the Point of Sale system is completely integrated with full function accounting (General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory) the books are always up-to-date. No hand entries by bookkeeping staff are required. In multi-store environments the central office always has the accounts for each individual store in real time, and can produce consolidated accounting reports as well.
  • Data Export: Data files and reports can be exported from the POS system for use with other software.
  • Data Import: Part number lists, customer lists, and other bulk information from outside sources can be imported into the POS system without resorting to hand entry.
  • e-Commerce integration: Your store system can be fully integrated with Internet Web (and kiosk) sales to the point a customer with a question can call the office and a sales person can pop up their transaction on the screen in real time and help complete the sale
  • Specialty Equipment: Pole displays, receipt printers, bar code scanners, cash drawers and other specialty hardware items can be added to the system with great flexibility in selection and positioning..
  • Manager Control: The manager has complete access to his store, or chain of stores at any time of day or night, and can even do store transactions locally.
  • Security Levels: Employees are only allowed the access assigned to their password. Manger override can be required to allow price changes or discounts.
  • Loss Prevention: Record keeping is so thorough and reporting so clear that employee theft of either inventory or received cash, even if cleverly disguised, is detectable and traceable.
  • Support: Both accounting and technical support people can call into the system and inspect the records for themselves. This greatly reduces the level of skill needed at the store to resolve accounting problems.

Can your business afford to be without this sort of information and control? Not likely in today's ultra competitive markets.


  • Training: "Won't it be harder to train sales clerks for the POS system than on a cash register?" Actually, it can be easier because the screen is much more visual than most cash registers.
  • End of Day Tape: "I depend on my end of day cash register report tape." The exact same tape is available from the POS system.
  • Purchase Cost: "Isn't a computerized system more expensive?" Well, you've got us there - that is if you're comparing to the electronic cash registers you'd buy down at Office Depot. High end cash registers that provide some features of a POS system can cost more.
  • Support Cost: "We don't need a 'computer guy' for a cash register." Yes, support costs are higher, because the functionality is orders of magnitude greater. There will be offsetting savings in accounting, inventory management, loss prevention and at other points, but the point is to increase sales.
  • Reliability: "Don't computers break down a lot?" If you buy quality equipment, it is amazingly reliable. If a component does fail, it is usually easier and less expensive to replace than a part for some proprietary cash register. Select Linux or DOS based software and it will be highly stable. If you select a Microsoft Windows based system, it will be prettier, but less stable. Your choice.
  • Accounting Packages: "We already use an accounting package and it has a POS module available, why not just use that?" It's kind of like using a paint sprayer attachment to a vacuum cleaner compared to a real compressor and paint sprayer. Yes, they both spray paint, but usability and results are not the same.

©Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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