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2010 Review of Point-of-Sale Systems for Retail Clients

From the September 2010 Issue

The cash register, a staple in the retail industry for years, has increasingly
disappeared from the counters of stores nationwide. In its place, you’ll
frequently find a variety of tools that resemble a cash register but offer a
much wider array of features, such as a touch-screen terminal, product scanners
for quick product processing, and a card reader to swipe debit and credit cards.
For many of these systems, the most identifiable remaining item is the cash
drawer. Unlike the mechanical calculators of previous generations, modern point-of-sale
systems provide store associates with quick access to a comprehensive list of
products in inventory.

Retail Point-of-Sale Systems:
2010 Review Sections

  • Basic System Functions
    • General Navigation/Ease-of-Use
    • Scalability/Module Selection
    • User roles
    • Security
    • Customization/dashboards
    • Lookup fields
    • Multi-Store Support
    • Multiple Transaction Entries
    • Multiple Pricing Levels
    • Advanced Retail Mgmt functionality (warehouse mgmt., distribution
      center, allocation, ecommerce, mail order/ catalog, web orders
      for sales, etc.)
  • Specialized Features/Services
    • Touch-screen Support
    • e-Commerce Support
    • Multiple options/forms of payment
    • Customer mgmt/historical data
    • Layaways/on-holds/sales orders
    • Niche markets/services (gift cards, coupons, promos, registeries,
      food stamps, etc.)
    • Marketing Tools/Data Mining
    • Loyalty/Rewards Programs
  • Tracking/Reporting
    • Reporting Options
    • Realt-time Reporting/Updating
    • Tracking of Inventory Movement
    • Tracking of best/worst-selling products
    • Tracking of demographics
    • Management Analysis Options
    • Audit System
  • Integration/Import/Export
    • Integration with vendor’ssuite
    • Integration with other programs
      (GL export, MS Office, etc.)
    • Integrated Shipping Options
    • Import/Export Options
    • Support for Hardware Peripherals
    • Timeclock Support
  • Help/Support
    • Built-in Support Features
    • System Updates
    • Support Website/Documentation
    • Live Support/Phone Support)
  • Summary & Pricing
  • Overall Rating

With a simple touch or click, they can now access detailed customer information
and retain that information for future targeted marketing efforts. Gift certificates
are rapidly being replaced with gift cards, changing in the last 10 years from
simple paper certificates to something resembling a private credit card loaded
with money and processed electronically. We also see more retailers offering
loyalty and/or member rewards cards, where customers presenting the cards earn
points towards future purchases or are given targeted special pricing on sale
items, permitting special deals for those best customers.

Where exactly does your client’s retail business fit? Are they a small
gift shop or a high-transaction retail shop? Do they maintain a web store or
offer customers a mail order option? Do they have multiple locations throughout
a city, or even the country?

These are a few of the things you’ll need to determine prior to advising
a client on the purchase of a point-of-sale system. The good news is that even
the smaller retailer or single-store owner can now have access to many of the
features previously found only in more expensive programs.

In this review, we’ve looked at the following categories, keying in
on specific features within each:

Basic System Functions – This section is perhaps the
most important area to evaluate prior to the purchase of a POS system. If it’s
not easy to use …, if users have to spend valuable time training employees
…, if it’s inflexible and does not contain simple customization
capabilities, a business will soon be looking for another system. In this category,
we also considered areas such as scalability, reporting capabilities and options
for those who do business in multiple locations.

Specialized Features/Services – Going one step above
basic system functions, this category looks at touch-screen capability, e-commerce
support, customer management capabilities, and loyalty and reward program support.
Keep in mind that some retailers may have no need for these specialized functions,
so the rating for this section may be of no consequence in such instances.

Tracking/Reporting – Reporting options can often be
overlooked in POS systems in deference to other features, but reporting capabilities
are essential for retail business owners. Everyone needs to know how their business
is operating. To that end, in this section, we looked at available reporting
options, real-time reporting, inventory tracking and customer demographics,
and if an audit system is available.

Integration/Import/Export – This category evaluates
full system integration with a vendor’s own suite of product as well as
with third-party systems, the availability of integrated shipping options, hardware
integration, and time clock support.

Help/Support – Another area that is sometimes given
lesser consideration, support options can be particularly important to the retail
business owner who often works outside normal business hours. Will support be
readily available if there’s a problem? This section also evaluates support
plan options, system updates, and what support or documentation is available
on the product’s website.

Clearly, this review cannot cover all areas that may be important to retail
business owners. A visit to the various product websites is always vital, as
additional information, downloads and system demos are frequently available.
Reading these reviews, visiting the respective websites, spending some time
talking to the vendors and asking for references for those on your short list
can help make the final decision to purchase a new POS system just a little

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AddSum Business Software Inc.
– Advanced Accounting
Advanced Accounting offers a complete accounting
suite along with an inclusive POS module. Built to be scalable, Advanced
Accounting is suitable for single-user boutiques as well as stores with
hundreds of users.
CAM Commerce – Retail STAR
Retail STAR from CAM Commerce is a solid all-in-one
POS product designed for single- or multi-location retail businesses with
a strong web presence. Modular in design, the system allows retailers
to choose the modules they need now and add the rest when necessary.
Celerant Technology Corp. – Command
Celerant Command Retail from Celerant Technology
is a fully integrated retail management system. Designed for small to
mid-size retailers with multiple locations, this system offers a series
of integrated modules designed to help retail stores run more efficiently.
Cougar Mountain Software – CMS
Cougar Mountain Software (CMS) continues to be a
staple for the small business owner. The Point-of-Sale module inside of
CMS Professional 2011 POS software package is designed to not only work
in tandem with the core accounting suite, but can function as a standalone
POS software package (including Inventory).
ECR Software Corp. – Catapult
Catapult from ECR Software Corp. is a customized
point-of-sale product that offers a series of specialized solutions geared
toward specific retail business entities. Several add-on options are also
available, the system is a good fit for high-volume transaction processing
businesses such as convenience stores, gas stations and grocery stores.
InfoTouch Corp. – Sote Keeper
Store Keeper POS from InfoTouch Corporation is a
POS system designed for single-store retailers. For retailers with more
than one location, InfoTouch offers Store Manager ES, a more robust version
that easily handles multiple locations. Both versions offer pre-defined
templates for specialty retail markets.

Intuit, Inc. – QuickBooks Point
of Sale
Like all QuickBooks products, QuickBooks POS provides
small business owners a solid product for a reasonable price. QuickBooks
POS offers many of the features found in more sophisticated programs,
along with solid reporting.
POSitive Software Co. – POSitive
Retail Manager
POSitive Retail Manager from POSitive Software Company
is a sophisticated POS product designed for larger retailers that manage
multiple sites.
Radiant Systems – CounterPoint
Retail Management Software
CounterPoint SQL from Radiant Systems is a comprehensive
retail management system designed for businesses of all sizes. Best suited
for the small to mid-sized , multi-location retailer, this system is built
on SQL technology..
Sage – DAC Easy by Sage 2011
DacEasy by Sage is a completely integrated accounting
product with a solid POS module. Designed to be used either as a stand-alone
product or as a completely integrated front/back office solution, the
system is best suited for small to mid-sized retailers.
SmartWerks Inc. – SmartwerksUSA
SmartwerksUSA is POS/accounting product designed
for retailers with single or multiple users and locations. Hosted on the
Web, Smartwerks offers retailers a flexible product that can work in a
multitude of environments.
Specialized Business Solutions
– Keystroke Advanced POS
Keystroke Advanced POS is an advanced version of
the popular Keystroke POS product used in stores nationwide. Designed
for businesses with specific automation needs, Keystroke Advanced POS
works well with retail/wholesale distributors and multi-location chain
Wasp Barcode Technologies – Wasp
QuickStore POS Software
Wasp QuickStore POS is a scalable point-of-sale
product available in three versions: Standard, Pro and Enterprise. Each
product builds on the features contained in the others, making it easy
to scale up to the next level.

Related Articles
AccuPOS Point of Sale Provides
POS Options
AccuPOS Point of Sale is a stand-alone product designed
to integrate with a variety of accounting programs including QuickBooks
Pro, Premier and Enterprise; Sage Peachtree Complete, Premium and Quantum;
Sage Simply Accounting; Sage BusinessWorks; and Sage MAS 90 and MAS 200.
NetSuite OnSite Gives Solution for Multi-Location Retailers
OnSite POS for NetSuite, from OnSite Software, offers a comprehensive retail solution for current NetSuite users. Designed specifically for NetSuite, OnSite POS offers real-time integration with other NetSuite modules, eliminating time-consuming
duplicate transaction entry and reporting lags.
PDG Software Offers eShopping Cart Integration for QuickBooks
Users of QuickBooks who are in the market for a robust e-commerce shopping cart interface may want to take a look at PDG Software, the makers of shopping cart and e-commerce software designed to integrate with QuickBooks products.

2010 Review of Point-of-Sale Systems — Comparison Chart

See inside September 2010

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Column: Tricks and Tips


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Column: From the Trenches