America’s Retailers – Pencil, Spreadsheets, Cash Registers, PC based Point of Sale Systems

Steven Aldrich, Product Manager of QuickBooks Point of Sale has a problem. There are 4 million small retailers with fewer than 10 stores and the majority of them still use plain, basic cash registers. I was just in the store today, a beauty supply store, getting a brush and some other things and the proprietor, like many had a simple cash register that he probably purchased from Staples, Costco or Best Buy.What’s the problem?
Cash registers do not help retailers know what products sell best, who their most profitable customers are, what their current inventory is and other intelligence. Sure, many retailers have an “idea” of their financial/product operations but not hard numbers to make more profitable changes.
Today HP, Sage, Intuit (and I’m sure others) launched new and/or updated point of sales solutions for retailers.
Quickbooks POS 5.0 has 50,000 customers (with many customers having more than one QB POS system). Intuit finds that new retailers are eager to make the switch from simple cash registers to PC based POS solutions, but the challenge of Intuit and I would assume other vendors is how to change the mature retailers. Imagine the retailer who has been in business for 20 years and is used to a certain system (pencil, spreadsheet, cardboard box…) change can be fearful.
Intuit has about 1,000 Pro Advisors who are certified to work with QB POS to compliment Intuit’s 30 days of support and learning center and practice modes in the program itself. Two other neat things about QB POS latest offering is that it has opened up its programming to thousands of programmers in the Intuit Developer Network who can create custom programs for QB POS. The second new feature that I thought interesting is that retailers can issue their own gift cards to customers. This is not only additional cash flow but makes the retailer look even more professional.
Intuit’s Quickbooks Point of Sale is $1,500 not including the PC (you can get one for $500 or more).
The HP-branded offering includes a receipt printer, scanner, cash drawer, magnetic stripe reader, keyboard and touch screen display – all seamlessly integrated into the rp5000 system. The HP peripherals, which offer improved compatibility and ease of use, can be purchased separately or as part of a complete solution. The complete package costs about $2,070 which includes a PC. The package is bundled with Microsoft Point of Sale software. (Small Business Computing writes that depending on the peripherals you choose, the new HP point-of-sale solution ranges in price from $3,600 to $4,200. I’m not sure what your final price will be but this at least gives you an idea).
Sage Software and M-S Cash Drawer LLC (one of the oldest cash register / drawer companies) announced today at the Retail Systems 2006 Conference and Exposition an agreement to co-market the Sage Accpac ePOS 5.3 point-of-sale (POS) application with M-S Cash Drawer POS hardware peripherals, offering small and mid-sized retailers a POS solution that can be deployed on a retailer’s existing PC’s, eliminating the need for and additional expense of obtaining and deploying POS-specific terminal hardware.
A typical M-S Cash Drawer POS hardware bundle includes a cash drawer, receipt printer, bar code scanner, keyboard with magnetic stripe reader (MSR) and a customer display ¬? all for an SRP of $661 (USD). Sage Accpac ePOS is available for an SRP of $2,000 (USD), for the server component, which includes one POS register license, and $1,000 (USD), for the POS register component.
If your business is already using software from Sage or Intuit for example, it makes sense to use the POS solution from them as well. If you are a retailer with no POS system and are starting from scratch, talk to your consultant about which POS system has the features you need, is easiest to use and will best integrate with your existing accounting solution.
In any case, DO use a PC based POS solution and start GROWING your business. Steven explained to me that he has a local small business person who called him (Yes, Intuit executives receive phone calls from customers too!) and at first didn’t want to go through the initial setup to input her inventory into the POS solution. You might be feeling the same way. However, once you set your POS system up – the data and intelligence you can find about customers, sales and products is going to be amazing and you’ll wonder why didn’tidnt’ start earlier.
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