Today Microsoft launches Microsoft Point of Sale (MSPOS), geared directly at the millions of small businesses that operate cash register retail operations. Out of the 8.6 million register lanes, 3.8 million (about 45%) are single lanes.
It is into this market that Mike Dickstein, director, Microsoft Business Solutions Point of Sale Solutions is focusing on.
Three years ago Microsoft purchased a company and acquired the rights of its product, Retail Management System – this purchase gave Microsoft a ramp onto the SMB point of sale market. Microsoft is not going after large companies like Sears and Wal-Mart who have NEC, NCR, IBM and other vendors to turn to for their solutions. Microsoft is targeting the small, often mom and pop stores.
Other than Intuit’s Quickbooks Point of Sale solution, the POS market is a huge, littered landscape of POS consultants and independent software vendors (ISV) selling a wide range of incompatible solutions.
Many small businesses use Microsoft Excel (don’t we all) and simply paper and a calculator. Many use the basic, plastic cash registers – one of the cash registers you might see at your local deli with a few buttons and a tiny, faded receipt you get – if you’re lucky.
Inventory management is a HUGE problem for small retailers. Mike explained to me that a local Seattle retailer, The Landing, used to spend hours trying to figure out what records were in stock and which ones were not. In fact the cashiers had to write by hand each record that was sold as some sort of inventory control system.
This manual system left The Landing’s managers with overstocks and stock outs and hardly any way to tell what records were stolen vs being sold.
Using Microsoft’s new POS solution, The Landing is now much more efficient.
Moving from paper or “digital calculator” to a full featured, built for small business point of sale solution gives time back to the small business owner and revenue/profit increasing intelligence about their business. Microsoft’s POS also has a feature to let the SMB owner view what’s happening in the store remotely and in real time. Instead of spending Christmas in the store – spend it with your family and monitor store sales and inventory levels at the same time.
There’s another neat feature about MSPOS – Amazon.com like recommendations. Let’s say each time a customer orders blue shoes, you want your cashiers to prompt her to purchase a blue purse. Well you can program scripts/prompts into MSPOS to alert your cashiers what to say to customers at the time of purchase.
Microsoft Point of Sale also lets you track employees, serving as a time clock. Who’s out to lunch? How long? When was the cash drawer open?
Mike said that Microsoft spent a lot of time ensuring that MSPOS’ user interface was second to none. I’ve not seen the user interface, but that’s a high bar to reach and I applaud Microsoft, if the interface is that good.
Instead of being burned from buying cash register solutions from unknown and possibly unreliable ISVs, small businesses can now by a point of sale solution from a trusted source – Microsoft. The same vendor of their basic office productivity applications.
Don’t expect Microsoft to be doing a huge advertising campaign for this, but you will find Microsoft advertising at relevant trade shows, via direct mail and online. All the leads will be funneled to Microsoft’s Point of Sales Specialists.
Mike points out that Microsoft’s strength is that it can provide a local resources to help the small business with POS solutions. Intuit’s solution, is meant to be sold directly to the retail owner for them to install on their own.
Another benefit of Microsoft’s POS solution is that it has deep integration with Microsoft Office.
Retailers can buy Microsoft’s POS solution as a hardware/software bundle (with hardware supplied by partners) or software only. Cost $799 for a single lane.
Get more information here http://www.microsoft.com/pos
Soon I’ll have feedback from Intuit…
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