When Perrine Prieur was trying to get her new wine shop in Atlanta open last year, she ran into trouble setting up a point-of-sale (POS) system.
‘I started working with a company with a point-of-sale system for wine retailers and it was the worst experience ever,’ she said.
Twenty boxes of POS equipment and software arrived, without instructions. ‘And there was no one to help me install it,’ she said. ‘A friend helped me. We couldn’t get it to work, and when I called the company, they told me I’d have to pay $150 per hour for help. That wasn’t in the contract. And I had already paid $5,000.’
With two weeks to go before Perrine’s Wine Shop was due to open, Prieur started working with a computer consultant named Meredith Anton. And Anton introduced her to a Mac-based product called Lightspeed from Xsilva Systems.
‘When I asked ‘Can I do this, and this, and this?, the answer was always ‘Yes, yes, yes ‘¦ and you can also do this,’’ Prieur said, adding that the system was no more expensive than the one she had originally tried.
And one of the coolest things she could do, which she added later, was what is called ‘mobile POS.’ Prieur and her staff can ring up sales anywhere in the store, using handheld devices, such as an iPhone or an iPod Touch, that run the Apple operating system iOS . These devices are fitted with a ‘sled’ or ‘jacket’ containing a credit-card swipe and a scanner.
‘This is super-important when I am building cases with a customer,’ explained Prieur. ‘Rather than have to bring the customer ‘ and all the bottles ‘ to a cash register to scan them, we do everything right there.’
What if the customer wants to pay with cash or a check? ‘Then the mobile device can send the transaction to one of the store’s other registers, where it pops up on the screen in a bubble, ready to be completed,’ said Dax Dasilva, CEO and vice president of development for Xsilva Systems.
And when a retailer is using an iPhone, which uses its telephone reception to connect to the system rather than a wireless network, which is what the iPods use, then the retailer can even leave the store and ring sales, on the store’s POS system, using his or her cell phone.
Todd Klaus, owner of Off The Vine, a wine and home-decor shop in Overland Park, KS, does that, with his Cashier Live POS system. The actual brick-and-mortar store is only open three days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Klaus, who teaches wine-tasting classes, runs wine clubs and attends wine festivals, has his POS system in his pocket wherever he goes.
Cashier Live, a web-based system for small retailers, has recently introduced a free application that works with iPads and iPhones, called Retail Inventory, which allows a retailer to use those devices, rather than much more expensive dedicated wireless scanners, to take inventories in their stores. ‘The devices use their cameras to ‘scan’ the barcodes and then the app syncs up with the store’s inventory,’ said Cashier Live’s Tom Greenhaw. ‘Though it works best with the Cashier Live system, it works with others as well.’
More Mobile POS
Radiant Systems has also recently entered the mobile POS arena. Jack O’Malley, product marketing manager at Radiant, pointed out that the earliest mobile solutions allowed retailers to process a credit-card transaction ‘ that then had to be re-entered into the store’s actual POS system. ‘But more retailers are migrating to a system of integrated POS, where they can access everything, can manage inventory, can do secure credit-card processing, and have it in their POS system in real time, can access customer files, can do all their POS work on their mobile device,’ he said.
The Radiant POS system, called Counterpoint, launched its mobile-POS add-on this month. CP Mobile can run on iPod Touches (Generation 4) and the iPhone 4. As with the other companies, the devices are fitted with a case that includes a scanner and a credit-card swipe, which costs about $600. They can also be fitted with a tiny printer, worn on a belt, for receipts, which is priced at about $300. As is also the case with the other companies, when an iPod is used as the mobile device, it depends on a wireless-internet connection to access the store’s POS system, while an iPhone can be used where there is no wi-fi because it is accessing the system via its cell-phone reception.
A CounterPoint user pays a monthly fee of $75-$125 per device per month to use the mobile devices. The difference in price depends on the length of the contract. The higher price represents what retailers pay to use the mobile devices if they only sign on for a season. ‘Often, for retailers, business spikes at certain times, like the holiday season,’ said O’Malley. ‘Some retailers want to use the mobile devices as ‘line busters’ during those times but not for the whole year.’
But mobile devices do have certain advantages when used for POS. ‘CP Mobile can make cashiers more than cashiers,’ said O’Malley. ‘It gets them out from behind the counter, so they can be sales associates, out on the floor, with customers as they make their decisions.’
Making It Your Own
Like Prieur at Perrine’s Wine Shop, Jason Scalise, partner at Broadway Wines & Spirits, in Colchester, CT, also had a bad experience with his first retail computer system. ‘A lot of POS systems don’t include accounts payable and accounts receivable, so you have to use a third-party accounting system,’ he explained. ‘But when we had that, there were always a lot of errors when exporting the data. I spent hours, a day every week, sitting with coffee at my desk, fixing errors and hitting OK. It would take two hours every week to get a balance sheet. It was the biggest waste of time I ever had.’
When he decided to replace the system, he shopped by googling ‘POS and ‘accounts payable,’’ and came across Windward Software, whose system includes both. He liked that it also included fully integrated credit-card processing. ‘Before, we were using a third-party credit-card processor, which would often double-charge,’ he said. ‘We looked terrible but it was not our fault.’
But while those things were handled automatically, what Scalise found he really liked about his Windward system was his ability to set up a system for inventory control that made sense for his business.
‘I think there is too much product in this industry,’ he said. ‘There are all these big suppliers and everybody’s trying to influence what you carry in your store. I used to get 15 to 20 sales calls a week at the store, which can be very annoying.’
Yet, Scalise knew how important it is to have the right inventory. ‘People walk out, without buying,’ he said. ‘It’s not a good feeling.’
What he needed, he decided, was a system that allowed him to know what his customers were buying and what they preferred. ‘A $50 riesling might be selling great in Manhattan, but it’s not going to sell in Colchester,’ he said.
Windward’s inventory system has a feature called ‘look-up words.’ These words or tags can be linked to any product. ‘I love it,’ Scalise said. ‘I use terms like ‘laydown’ and ‘red’ and ‘dry,’ any words I want that I can look up later and run reports. I can also exclude some look-up words while searching for others.’
By using these look-up words to analyze his sales, he feels he has a solid grasp for what his customers are buying and what they are looking for. ‘Now, instead of salespeople walking in here, trying to sell me on something,’ he said, ‘we go to them. We say, ‘We need a $10 dry chardonnay.’
Scalise admits that entering ‘look-up words’ for all his products has been a lot of work ‘ ‘an insane amount,’ he says, ‘but it is totally worth it.’ He has done all his wines and plans to tackle beer and spirits next.
‘It has literally changed my work,’ he said, including the number of hours he puts in. He used to work 70 to 80 hours a week, including late nights, after the store closed at 9 pm, running his financials. ‘I see the day coming where I am spending a day or a day and a half doing all my financials, all my purchasing, all my inventory analysis, then spending the rest of my time on the sales floor, where I should be,’ he said.
The Future is Bright
And computer companies continue to add new capabilities, large and small, that can make a retailer’s day run more smoothly. At Chip’s Wine & Beer, a two-store operation in North Carolina, for instance, Phil and Laura Wayland, owners, have begun using the tips feature of their LiquorPOS system from Merchant Software. This allows customers to add in a tip when purchasing wine and beer flights at the tasting lounge the Waylands have just added to one of the stores.
They have also begun using the feature which prints a barcode at the bottom of every receipt. ‘You just need to scan the receipt to bring the whole sale back up,’ said Laura Wayland, ‘which is great if something was rung in wrong or if someone is returning a broken corkscrew or something. You can put the item back into inventory too.’
The company InfoTouch has just added the capability to scan driver’s licenses, with the system’s product scanner rather than a separate device, to verify age. The system can also use the information contained in a driver’s license barcode ‘ name, address ‘ to auto-populate its customer-management system.
For the future, InfoTouch, which first introduced the use of touchscreens at the point of sale back in 1986, is looking at biometrics (an employee clocks into the system’s time clock using a fingerprint, preventing buddies from clocking each other in) and at having a multi-language capability (allowing cashiers to easily switch between languages when using the POS system).
Broadway’s Scalise will be attending a conference of Windward Software system users next month, to give a presentation on how he uses his system for inventory management. ‘The point I want to make,’ he said, ‘is that nothing is impossible.’
A Profit Center
You try to catch the customer’s attention, with displays as flashy as you can make them.
You also try to educate the customer, with wine tastings and product information.
Above all, you try to make some money.
Now, ChoiceMaster, a long-time maker of customer kiosks for liquor, wine and beer retailers, has developed a machine that can do all three things.
Its newest customer-kiosk, the ChoiceMaster Digital Signage (CMDS), is still a touchscreen kiosk, equipped with a scanner and a printer, which customers and staff can use to look up information, such as tasting notes, on products. (And it is still linked to the store’s POS system so that all the products that it gives information on are in that store.)
But now it also is equipped with a 42-inch LCD screen. That screen can play advertisements, including supplier television commercials. In markets where legal, ChoiceMaster sells these advertising opportunities and, again in markets were legal, it splits this ad revenue with the retailer. Even with these national, system-wide ads, the only ads that will play in a particular store are ones for products that the store carries.
Retailers can also sell their own local ads, keeping all the money, for their ChoiceMaster kiosks and can create their own content, using Power Point. ‘The kiosk (which retailers lease of $89 per month) can pay for itself ‘ and even make money,’ said Jim Greaves, president of ChoiceMaster.
In addition, the new large screens can also show live wine tastings, like a webinar, where the person on the screen can hear and respond to questions from people watching in different stores. (These tastings can also be recorded and reshown.) ‘All the store has to do is have someone there pouring the wine,’ said Greaves.
The machine will do the rest.
2011 POS and Computer Systems Buyers’ Guide
AccuPOS provides award-winning point-of-sale (POS), inventory-management and time-clock software for the retail and restaurant industries. The AccuPOS family of products is designed to be faster and easier than a cash register and to streamline the sales process while significantly simplifying the backend. AccuPOS products, based on open standards, expand the capabilities of an existing accounting program and allow users to grow and change over time, without being locked into proprietary vendor products. Specializing in end-to-end integration, AccuPOS allows a business to view and manage sales and inventory details within the most widely used accounting packages: QuickBooks, Peachtree, Simply Accounting by Sage, BusinessWorks, Line 50 by Sage, Sage MAS 90/200. Bundled POS solutions are available via fully supported hardware partnerships. AccuPOS also offers a wide range of discount Merchant and Gift Card Services through its simple and fast onscreen interface. AccuPOS is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA with regional offices in 13 countries. For more information, visit www.accupos.com.
ATLANTIC SYSTEM INC. (ASI)
Atlantic Systems, Inc. has offered POS computer systems for beverage alcohol retailers since 1980. The company provides complete systems including hardware, software, installation, training and long-term support. Spirits 2000 is a Windows-based software package that provides inventory and financial control for one store or a multi-store chain. High-speed integrated credit/debit card processing is done via the Internet. The system can identify a customer at the register using a bar-coded card or by entering the customer’s name or account number. Its Frequent Shopper Program can collect information on customer purchases and provide the retailer assistance in rewarding customer loyalty. Automated age verification and storage of results is available in most states. Targeted marketing can be done automatically by selectively filtering customer sales history and then contacting them via a mass email. Gift card processing can be done through the retailer’s credit card processor or internally in the system, which eliminates processing fees. A web interface is available for e-commerce. Spirits 2000 can integrate with security camera systems to overlay text that displays the sale information on images at the time the sale is rung up. Spirits 2000 also includes tasting notes for products that the user can input and print out. A handheld wireless scanner with a mobile printer can be used for inventory counting, price changes, price labels, stock checks and line busting. Prices for the Spirits 2000 system start at about $8,500. For more information, call 732-280-6616, extension 127 or visit www.asi-nj.com
BigCommerce, launched in 2009, combines two systems into one: it’s an e-commerce platform and a marketing platform. BigCommerce is an all-in-one offering which includes web hosting, a domain name, an enterprise-grade e-commerce platform and dozens of built-in marketing tools (including the ability to list products on eBay, sell on Facebook and create Google AdWords campaigns for all products in your store. BigCommerce merchants enjoy higher conversion rates and more traffic to their stores. For more information on BigCommerce, visit http://bigcommerce.com or call 888-699-8911.
CAP Software’s store-management system, SellWise, is currently being used by more than 100 wine and spirit retailers. The system provides POS, free integrated credit-card processing, inventory control, customer tracking, order/receive, tag and barcode printing, Fintech integration, and back office reporting. Additional features include optional video monitoring for security purposes, touchscreen support, hot keys and customized reports. Prices for the software start at $1100. For a demo, visit the company’s website, www.capretail.com, or call 800-826-5009.
Cashier Live is a web-based point-of-sale system meant for independent retailers. The company offers a 30-day free trial. Its system remains free if the retailer signs up for a merchant account with one of the credit-card-processing companies Cashier Live partners with. Alternatively, retailers can pay a subscription to use the system. For more information, visit cashierlive.com or call 877-312-1750.
CHOICEMASTER DIGITAL SIGNAGE (CMDS)
CMDS has teamed up with leading digital-signage partners to provide beverage-alcohol retailers with a customer-service system that can also, where legal, be used to show paid advertising from other businesses. CMDS is a complete system that has an all-in-one computer featuring a 15-inch touch screen, a scanner and a printer. It runs a 42 LCD screen that is mounted directly above the touch screen, to catch the attention of shoppers. CMDS ties into the POS system and provides information on the products carried in that store. Where legal, the advertising can be shared with the retailer. There are lease options available that will cost the store less than $100 month before ad revenue. Sources of ad revenue can be national or local. Retailers can display store specials, current events like wine tastings or advertise local businesses. For more information call 410-745-8137 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fintech is an EFT data and payment solution that allows retailers to pay their beer, wine and liquor distributors electronically, rather than by cash, check or money order. Currently processing over 220,000 relationships, Fintech is the only company that has been approved by all 50 states as a cash equivalent for alcohol payments and data exchange. For more information, call 1.800.572.0854 or visit us at www.fintech.net.
First Data, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, serves more than 6.2 million merchant locations. It offers a range of point-of-sale terminals as well as complete point-of-sale systems, including its Payment Essentials’¢ Solution, which bundles comprehensive payment services, state-of-the-art hardware and 24/7 customer service into one easy-to-manage bundle . For more information, visit www.firstdata.com.
mPower Beverage is designed specifically for beverage-alcohol retailers. The Windows-based system is PCI-compliant, can run touchscreens, features customer-management and remote-access capabilities and can keep a store’s website’s inventory information up-to-date. The system automatically alerts the retailer to updates, which then can be downloaded, and features state-specific capabilities, such as minimum-pricing alerts, for states such as Connecticut, and the ability to handle wholesale business, for states where retailers can sell to restaurants, such as Texas and Kansas. The software costs $2,000 plus $1,500 for each additional register after the first. For more information, call 877-396-0141 or visit mpowerbeverage.co
This company offers two retail POS software packages: Store Keeper POS, a very affordable system for single-store retailers, and Store Manager ES, for chain-store customers and retailers whose operations have custom requirements. Both systems use touch-screens, are easy to use, and are certified PCI-compliant by Visa. Both systems support age verification, automatic case discounts, and multiple units of measure (buy beer by the case; sell cases, 6 packs, and singles with a single item). Call (877) 849-6615 or visit http://infotouchliquorstore.com/ to see a video demonstration.
INNOVATIVE COMPUTER SOLUTIONS (ICS)
ICS has provided solutions specifically for beverage alcohol retailers for over 30 years and has systems installed throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. The company’s VISION system, a scalable application for stores ranging from a single register to multiple locations, can run on Windows XP and 7, LINUX and MAC/OS. The POS module within VISION is designed to provide full register capability, including price look-ups, discounts, customer-special pricing (and history), periodic sales and frequent-buyer or award points tracking. Tasting notes and coupons can also be generated from the register. Complete PCI-compliant credit and debit card processing permits the customer to swipe their own card, enter their PIN and sign electronically. The Vision POS can be operated on a standard PC or a touch-screen system. A 2-D scanner can identify under-age purchasers and add customers to a store’s mailing/special pricing list. The back-office module provides inventory control, extensive reporting, sales analysis, purchase history, FIFO inventory level tracking, and physical inventory. Cashier accountability features allow a retailer to track all transactions down to the keystroke, both on the POS and in the back office. VISION is turnkey and includes hardware, installation and training at the store location. Complete systems start at under $6,000, including hardware which can also be purchased separately. Call 732-223-0909 or visit www.winepos.com.
IntelliScanner offers the Wine Collector mini, a tiny, wireless barcode scanner that automatically organizes wine collections. Wine lovers can scan the barcodes of bottles of wine they are interested in, at a tasting, in a restaurant, at a friend’s house, or in a store. When they get home, they download the information onto their PC or Mac by simply plugging in the scanner to download, just like a digital camera, and the included wine management software will automatically provide and record the wine’s information, such as name, winery, varietal, country and region, by accessing IntelliScanner’s database via the internet. Wine Collector mini starts at $279. For more information, visit www.intelliscanner.com or call 800-550-5470.
MERCHANT SOFTWARE CORP.
This company has specialized in point of sale software for liquor and beverage retailers since 1995. The current version of their award winning software, LiquorPOS’¢, is fully PCI/PA-DSS-compliant, conforming to the latest credit-card encryption and security mandates. Other features include full touch-screen capability, enhanced receipts with custom graphics and the ability to receive updates to the software automatically via the internet. LiquorPOS software is currently used in over 3,000 locations across the US, Canada and the Caribbean. The system comes pre-loaded with a database of 15,000 beer, wine, liquor and tobacco products to speed up a store’s installation. Its beverage retail specific abilities include driver’s license scanning for age-verification, inventory tracking of multi-pack products (such as beer sold by the case, bottle or six-pack) and the ability to handle keg and bottle deposits. The company also offers Go!POS’¢, a wireless inventory scanner, for use with the system. For more information, call 1-800-565-6675 or visit www.merchantsoft.com.
Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail R2, the next iteration of Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, is an end-to-end offering designed for midsize specialty retailers. The solution offers retailers a deep level of integration across point of sale, store management, supply chain, merchandising and financials to deliver business productivity and customer service in a single solution. It provides visibility from point-of-sale devices to the supply chain and the business insight needed to enable a real-time response to customer demand and build customer loyalty. Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail R2 is available in more than 50 countries. For more information, call 888-477-7989 Option #1 or visit www.microsoft.com/dynamics/retailsolutions.
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a global technology company leading how the world connects, interacts and transacts with business. NCR’s assisted- and self-service solutions and comprehensive support services address the needs of retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, gaming and public sector organizations in more than 100 countries. NCR (www.ncr.com) is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia. For more information, call 866-431-7879, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.ncr.com.
Prophetline is a POS and retail management system for small- to mid-sized specialty retailers, including beverage retailers. Its systems include IP credit card processing, integrated web shopping and fully integrated accounting. It can handle operations ranging from one store to multiple sites with centralized purchasing, Prophetline is a four-time winner of the Microsoft Retail Application Developer of the Year Award. Call 800-875-6592 or visit www.prophetline.com.
Radiant delivers solutions that enable retailers to drive traffic into their stores, sell more product and reduce their costs. Radiant’s user-friendly technology not only ensures that retailers have the right products at the right price; it also helps strengthen consumer interaction at all points of engagement. Components of the solution include CounterPoint POS and inventory management, email marketing, mobile alerts, integrated ecommerce, built-in gift cards, customer loyalty programs, mobile POS and hardware devices. For more information, visit www.counterpointpos.com or call 800-852-5852.
Retail Anywhere is a developer of POS and retail management systems for wine and liquor store retailers. The company has more than 25 years of experience, helping retailers run their business efficiently and profitably while conforming to liquor laws imposed by the state in which they reside. Call 800-257-2734 or visit www.retailanywhere.com for further information.
Retail Pro International is a global leader in point of sale, store operations, merchandising, planning, business intelligence, and payment processing software applications for the specialty retail industry with over 20 years of experience. Retail Pro is used by more than 52,000 retail stores globally in markets such as fashion, luggage, footwear, collectibles, gifts, home furnishings, sporting goods, and accessories. The solution is delivered through a global network of business partners to over 63 countries, translated in 18 languages. For more information, please visit www.retailpro.com.
RITE (Retail Information Technology Enterprises)
This company is an award-winning provider of Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) and works with some of the largest liquor retailers in the country, with clients in over 40 states. RITE has molded the Microsoft RMS product to meet the special needs of beer/wine/liquor retailers, including the ability to integrate with their suppliers (invoicing and pricing /EDI), integrated age verification via drivers licenses, profit-margin monitoring, advanced purchasing tools and web site integration. For information, visit http://www.rite.us or call 888-267-RITE.
SAGE NORTH AMERICA
Sage North America specializes in business-management software and services for small- and mid-sized businesses. Its latest release, Sage Peachtree 2012, for small businesses, has new features including a customized vendor management center, a new system check, Sage Peachtree Business Intelligence for customizable reporting, and the Sage Advisor, to help retailers maximize their software investment. For more information, call 800-228-0068 or visit www.peachtree2012.com.
Developed by a wine retailer, ShopKeep.com is a web-based point-of-sale system designed for independent retailers. Subscription prices start at $49 per month for a basic system with one register. For more information, visit www.shopkeep.com.
WASP BARCODE TECHNOLOGIES
Wasp Barcode Technologies provides data-capture and tracking solutions designed for small businesses. Products include QuickStore Point-of-Sale, inventory software, asset software, barcode scanners, barcode printers and barcode software. Wasp solutions give small business owners the tools to operate more efficiently and profitably. Learn more at www.waspbarcode.com or call 866-547-WASP (9277).
WINDWARD SOFTWARE, INC.
LiquorStorePOS comes in three versions. The ‘starter’ version, which includes POS, back office accounting and a simple-to-use touchscreen, starts at $985 for a one-regi