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2008 Review of Point of Sale Systems

POS Systems Key To Capturing Critical Information

From the Oct. 2008 Issue

The latest point-of-sale (POS) products are more flexible than ever. Not just
for retail establishments, these products are also used in places as diverse
as restaurants, coffee shops, automobile repair shops and nightclubs. Even the
small, neighborhood computer repair shop would benefit from a POS system. Luckily,
more diverse products are available today, offering everything from basic POS
functionality to extensive customization capability that includes touchscreens
and integration with vital POS hardware peripherals such as barcode scanners,
pole displays and receipt printers.

Unlike the cash registers of old, today’s POS systems provide managers
plenty of tools for safeguarding their profits, including the ability to require
passwords and register log-ins. Many also feature an extensive audit trail,
where you can see exactly who processed that unauthorized discount.

A 2004 study by the Gartner Group reinforces the positive benefits of these
systems for small retailers, pointing out that among the key reasons these small
businesses use an advanced POS program as opposed to a simple electronic cash
register are improved inventory control, greater customer service options, and
tighter cash management.

The Gartner report concluded that even base-level POS systems can greatly
aid a business: “Business value can be achieved by capturing or calculating
a few critical pieces of information: what is selling, how much is selling,
when to buy additional merchandise, and who is the most likely customer for
that merchandise.”

This review covers a wide range of products focused on the following areas:

Ease of Use — While there are a lot of terrific products
available, the ability to start using them with limited training can be very
important, particularly for busier retail establishments where training time
is limited. This section looks at how simple the program is to set up and
how easy it is to navigate and process a transaction with limited training.

Modules/Scalability — Retailers wanting a complete
accounting solution with both front and back office functionality will want
to know what additional modules are available. Can modules be purchased separately?
Scalability is equally important, particularly for those looking to grow substantially
in the next year and who want to know if the software they purchase will grow
with them.

Features/Functionality — This section explores what
the program does and how easy/difficult it is to perform functions.

Integration — If a business wants a complete front/back
office product, system integration can be very important. In addition to integration
with related products, it’s important to know if the POS product integrates
with third-party applications.

Tracking/Reporting — Tracking is an essential function
for retailer. The ability to track customer buying habits and item selling
history can be a key benefit to retail businesses. Targeted marketing and
analysis of a business’ best customer’s buying habits can enhance
the ability to provide them with the items that they want when they want them.

Relative Value — Relative value is a gray area that
is only relevant to the person purchasing the POS product. A product that
performs the way a business needs it to is more valuable than one that does
most of what is needed, even at a lower price. Obviously, pricing is an important
aspect when choosing a POS product … or any other software product.
Smaller retailers and businesses may have a set spending budget; others may
be able to spend more. But if the product doesn’t perform as needed,
it really isn’t a good value.

As always, visit the vendor websites to check for product demos and educational
videos where you can view program capabilities to help determine if a product
is right for your retail client.

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CAM Commerce Solutions – Retail
Retail ICE from CAM Commerce Solutions is the single-user
version of Retail Star, a more comprehensive version of the product that
is designed for multi-user, multi-location retailers.
Cougar Mountain Software – CMS
Professional POS
CMS Professional POS is an ideal fit for smaller
retailers that desire a complete front/back office integrated system.
Although available to be purchased as a stand-alone product, CMS Professional
POS operates at a higher level of efficiency when used with CMS accounting
Intuit Inc. – QuickBooks Point
of Sale
QuickBooks Point of Sale Retail Management Software
is an easy-to-use entry-level point-of-sale (POS) system that provides
integration with inventory and sales data.
PDG Software Inc. – PDG Shopping
SIDEBAR: Providing shopping cart and web store software
since 1997, PDG currently boasts more than 10,000 installations of their
product in the past 10 years. PDG Software currently offers two editions
of its web store program.

Radiant Systems – CounterPoint
CounterPoint SQL from Radiant Systems is a fully
integrated, customizable point-of-sale system. Available in two versions
— CounterPoint SQL Express for smaller retailers and CounterPoint
SQL Enterprise for larger retailers with multiple locations — the
product provides retailers with the functionality they need.
Sage Software – DacEasy
DacEasy by Sage offers an affordable Point of Sale
module designed for small to mid-sized retailers. The Point of Sale module
can be used as a stand-alone product or integrated with the accounting
module (for an additional cost) for complete front/back office functionality.
Specialized Business Solutions – Keystroke Point of Sale
Keystroke Point of Sale – Version 6.21 from
Specialized Business Solutions offers retailers of all sizes an excellent
point-of-sale product that is fully customizable and able to handle multiple
registers and multiple locations with ease.

2008 Review of Point-of-Sale Systems — Comparison Chart