Monday, December 24, 2018

Final Thoughts on 2018 and Looking Ahead to 2019

Baring any major news, this will be my final post for 2018.  Some reflections on 2018 and thoughts looking at 2019:
  • No shortage of POS software programs on the market presently with over 200 to choose from
  • 40% of you are looking for on premise solutions and 60% of you are searching for cloud based solutions. You both have options to match what works best for you.
  • You have options to choose from that fit your budget and style of payment preferences. Plus, in 90% of the examples that I have run, the costs are nearly the same over a 5 to 7 year period whether you choose subscription style pricing or "buy it and own it" style pricing.
  • Don't believe the hype that you need all sorts of apps and tools to predict customer purchase habits, send out texts as customers enter the store, and other related analytical data tools. While these are great tools for the right type of retailer, I've been onsite with the owners of over 400 specialty retail stores in 2018 and having a successful retail business is based on the core fundamentals that we all learned ages ago:
    • Know your products
    • Know your top customers
    • Know your financials
    • Know how to use technology but don't let technology use you
    • Don't jump on the latest technology trends but do experiment and measure the results at a low investment point
    • Scale your business to what makes you happy and comfortable (and what you can handle financially and time-wise). 
  • Microsoft Dynamics RMS (and HQ) Users: You only a have another 2-3 years to figure out what to do - whether you invest in upgraded payment processing technology, upgrade to RMH/Cloud Retailer/D365, start from scratch with a new POS system, put in Card Defender, or even do nothing - the clock is ticking. Start making plans now and then have a backup plan in case the original plan falls apart.
  • Be prepared for support to end on Windows 7 and whether you can migrate to Windows 10
  • Be prepared for more changed in the payment processing industry and what hardware can be used (especially for anyone using those USB mag stripe readers)
  • Be prepared for recession in late 2019 or early 2020. All economic indicators are headed that way. Be ready to keep your business right-sized to survive a potential economic downturn. How this effects your investments in retail technology like POS systems, will have to be evaluated on a case by case basis. I've been through many recessions and they have been very busy times for me as retailers make very calculated decisions during economic downturns.  
  • Let me know if I can help in person or via phone - I travel all across the US and can also make dedicated trips when all or part of my travel expenses are covered (which 7 retail chains did in 2018).
  • And most importantly:
The Birth of Jesus Christ
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Updates on Retail Management Hero Central

Fresh off of a webinar regarding the status of the Retail Management Hero (RMH) Central software designed for retailers with more than one location, here are some updates to pass along:

  • 50 partners have been trained world wide to sell and support RMH Central
  • Uses background services to sync data between store and central HQ (no worksheet required, looks for changes and syncs automatically)
  • Near real time data sync
  • Can have store specific customers (customer record doesn't have be stored at all the stores)
  • Can return products at a store that is not the same store as the original purchase
  • Global customer loyalty program included
  • Global voucher (gift card/gift certificate) included
  • Very simple and straightforward inventory transfer abilities in near real time 
  • Regional suppliers
At this time, no release date information on RMH Central was shared. My best guess is that we are looking at very late 2019 or early 2020 before RMH Central will be stable and deploy-able.

Please let me know if you have any questions on RMH Central by contacting me at kevinantosh@gmail.com or 208-340-5632.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sound Payments Review and Experience

I've been involved with the deployment of Sound Payments software and payment terminals at a 3 location retail chain that uses the Microsoft Dynamics RMS/HQ point of sale software. Some observations and feedback on Sounds Payments:
  • The costs are very low. There are no software costs and the monthly rental for the payment terminal is reasonable when compared to paying outright for a payment terminal (breakeven is around 24-36 months depending on the model of payment terminal used).
  • Upfront labor costs are high. To be honest, the only way for a reseller/VAR/dealer to make any money on a Sound Payments deal is via the upfront labor for installation. Plan on around $250 to $375 for installation labor per device and POS station.
  • Initial install for just one payment terminal took 14 business days due to errors being encountered and then having to figure out who to contact for support (RITE? Sound Payments? Retail Realm?).
  • Functionality appears to be what was promised: a semi integrated solution for Microsoft RMS.
  • There is a limitation on what receipt templates can be used - at this time, only the "stock" RMS receipt templates work with Sound Payments. This has caused some issues specific to any custom receipt information and custom receipt templates. We are investigating this as of 1/23/2019.
  • Long term use will have to be evaluated over the next 1-2 years
  • Sound Payments team was very helpful but did make some promises that took 3-4 weeks to be completely fulfilled.
  • Sound Payments was very communicative throughout the process which was much appreciated by all parties involved.
Would I work with Sound Payments again? Maybe as there has to be a source of revenue via upfront labor charges and/or the sale of something else to the retailer (or a long term opportunity). Another reason that my answer is "maybe" is that this is only one very recent install so there isn't much to go on when looking for long term results across multiple customers.

Have questions? You can reach me at 208-340-5632 or kevinantosh@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Point of Sale Systems for Bowling Pro Shop Retailers

I've had multiple retailers contact me who are opening bowling pro shops. Note that these are either stand alone stores or stores within a bowling alley. They do not handle rentals, concessions, or interfacing with any scoring system.

Overall, the needs are fairly simple and stick with the core POS functions like tracking inventory, purchasing, receiving, customer information, and gift cards.

Because the needs are fairly straightforward, you would likely want to stay away from the higher end systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365/AX, NetSuite, LightSpeed, and NCR CounterPoint as you would likely never use all the features and functions that these retail point of sale software programs offer.

Square Store and NCR Silver would be good simple starter POS systems. If you want a bit more on the feature/function side of things, then look at Shopkeep, Bindo, Lavu, and Cloud Retailer for those of you wanting subscription based software. If you prefer "buy it and own it" software, then Retail Management Hero is a good option.

You may also find that your association has some preferred vendors. One pro shop owner was kind enough to let me know that they went with Clover POS (which is part of First Data who offers discounted rates to Pro Shop's via the BPAA). Another let me know that they use Square and a third pro shop owner called to let me know that they use QuickBooks POS.

Have more than one store? Have general questions? Please contact me for more in depth advice at 208-340-5632 or kevinantosh@gmail.com.

The bowling pro shops that I am in contact with should be deciding on a POS system shortly (1 has signed on with Square and 1 has signed on with Cloud Retailer) so I'll update this post as I receive updated information from these retailers.