Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review of Retail Pro Point of Sale Software

Since there are many new point of sale software programs coming on the market, I thought it would be helpful to compile some information on the Retail Pro solution which has been around for as long as I can remember.  It has been several years since I have worked directly with the Retail Pro point of sale software solution (I'm working on getting up to speed on the software), below are thoughts compiled from multiple user reviews of the software.
  • Retail pro makes our business more efficient
  • Easy to train staff on
  • Be sure to buy from a company that can provide a complete solution including support and training
  • Retail Pro is a great solution for any medium sized retailers ($1.0M plus in annual gross sales per location)
  • Easy to use
  • Multi-location polling does not work correctly
  • Difficult system to use
  • Good but not great
All of these reviews are from the last 18 months. Overall, most folks appear happy with the solution. It does appear that trying to install Retail Pro yourself and not getting a Retail Pro Partner to help you can create problems.

Overall, Retail Pro is a great solution for specialty retail stores generating more than $1,000,000 in annual gross sales per location.  I believe there are also some specials being offered - even if you already use a different software solution.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review of Spark Solutions Group/Cowans Restaurant Soluitions

Update June 2016: RITE Solutions has officially expanded to offer retail point of sale systems in the markets formally served by DirectPOS/RVP Business Systems. The includes the states of Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington with a special focus on the Boise, ID, Salt Lake City, UT and Spokane, WA markets.

Back in September of 2013, the point of sale company that I used to work for, DirectPOS, sold their customer lists to One Step Retail Solutions and Spark Solutions Group/Cowans Restaurant Solutions. I wanted to pass along some feedback from former DirectPOS customers specific to Spark Solutions Group/Cowans Restaurant Solutions. Unfortunately the feedback has been mostly negative.
  • Local techs have all quit
  • No local support like we used to have
  • No commitment to helping customers
  • No local presence
  • I've already switched to Khamu Solutions as they can offer me local support and training
  • Keep pushing me off to a call center for support even though my business is near their office
  • Expensive
I wish that I had better reviews/comments to pass along - especially since there are hundreds of businesses using the Micro's solution from DirectPOS.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Update 24.April.2013:  Since Jason C. posted his comment and offered to to speak with unhappy customers I have not heard any additional complaints related to Cowans/Sparks.  The same can not be said about One Step Retail Solutions.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review of Aldelo Point of Sale Software

I've worked with the Aldelo point of sale software back to when it was branded as NextPOS and QuickPOS so I thought that I should share some of my experiences with the program.

The Good:
  • Windows-based so no unique hardware requirements like Micro's has
  • Simple to learn and use
  • Flexible for different types of bars and food service related businesses
  • Very affordable
The OK:
  • Reasonable reporting and menu changing functions with proper training
  • Basic functions for pizza and delivery businesses
  • Does a good job of handling special functions like split checks, loyalty and discounting
  • Confusing support options
The Less than OK:
  • Can go too in depth when it comes to food cost
  • Limited ability to handle physical items (ie. gum and mints)
  • Unclear future

I really enjoyed working with the Aldelo solution and customers have had positive results using the software. However, times are changing and it appears that the software is slowly being phased out in favor of the XERA POS solution which incorporates mobiles devices and similar newer technology.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Monday, February 17, 2014

Customer Feedback on One Step Retail Solutions

Back in late summer of 2013, the company that I used to work for, DirectPOS, sold their customer lists to One Step Retail solutions and Cowans Restaurant Solutions. I'll create a separate post about Cowans but I have received some feedback from former DirectPOS customers contacting One Step Retail Solutions for assistance.

The response has been very negative overall in relation to One Step Retail Solutions. Here is what former DirectPOS customers have told via the phone or email:

  • Never received any contact from them
  • One Step didn't even know who I was
  • No local presence in Idaho, Utah, Montana, or Washington State
  • Wanted me to pay $500 for a service that only takes 20-30 minutes to complete
  • Constantly contacting me via phone and email
  • Showed no interest in helping me 
  • Inconsistant
Obviously I do not recommend One Step Retail Solutions.  They appear to have a "turn and burn" mentality versus establishing long term relationships with specialty retail stores of all sizes.

The good news is that there are other options besides One Step Retail Solutions.

Visit my contact page for information on how to reach me. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review of Clover Point of Sale for Android Devices

Update January 14th, 2016: same ole horror story with numerous complaints specific to Clover and businesses selling Clover. Specifics include excessive and unusual fees hidden in the contract, rates being raised even when specific rates had be promised (read the fine print in the contract - they can raise your rate), sales reps making promises to keep the rates low and competitive but then raising the rates anyway, salespeople saying that Clover has features/functions that don't exist, etc. etc.

I'm aware of at least two proposed class action lawsuits related to Clover so that should be a huge warning sign not to invest in Clover.

Update September 4th, 2015: to summarize all the information below - 3 years ago Clover looked promising but todays advice is to avoid Clover like the plague - I've stopped tracking the number of complaints specific to Clover as its clear that choosing Clover is a bad decision. 

Update July 6, 2015: no shortage of complaints against Clover specific to expensive long term contracts, costly buyout clauses, unable to transfer licensing if the business is sold, and sales reps making promises for features/functions that Clover just can't do.  I believe the overall tally is over 400 verified complaints against Clover.

Update 1.January.2015:

Based on user feedback and the fact that First Data locks you into a costly merchant services contract when purchasing Clover, I do not recommend that anyone considers Clover as a possible point of sale system for your business or organization. There are much better systems on the market like NCR Silver and Bindo Point of Sale that perform at a same or better level and do not lock you in to costly merchant services contracts.

One of the newer tablet and cloud based retail point of sale solutions to come on the marker is Clover. The folks at Clover sent the company that I worked for a complete demo system with a tablet, cash drawer, customer price display, credit card swipe, and high speed thermal receipt printer.  I used this equipment at nearly all of the point of sale workshops that I conducted in 2012 and parts of 2013.

In the end, Clover has been acquired by First Data and is not currently available for sale (per the Clover website).  Still, in case the program becomes available again, here are my thoughts in working with clover as a retail or food service point of sale system.

The Good:
  • Very easy to learn and use
  • Simple touch screen user interface
  • Easy to navigate back office functions via a web browser
  • Set monthly price
The OK:
  • Appeared to handle both basic retail and basic food service sales well 
  • Has some modifiers for food and beverage items
  • Decent amount of reporting
  • Doesn't try to be a true point of sale system (ie: no inventory tracking or purchasing/receiving)
  • At the time, there appeared to be various options to pick and choose who would handle your merchant services

The Needs Improvement:
  • Lack of basic item cost/margin tracking
  • Limited hardware compatability
  • Unclear future - if First Data requires the customer to use First Data for merchant services than merchants could be locked in to paying excessive merchant service fees

While I really liked Clover as a viable solution for very small retail stores and food service businesses, the unclear future of Clover makes it tough to even consider Clover as a point of sale option - especially since it has not been available for several months now.

*Updates 7/24/2014*  *Feedback Received in July 2014*
  • Returned it (Clover) the next day"
  • "(sales rep) couldn't even demo the system"
  • "they will raise my (merchant services) rates"
  • "don't want to be locked in to a credit card contract"
  • "good step up from a cash register"
  • "missing features"
  • "went with Bindo which does more and doesn't require me to use a specific company for credit and debit card processing services"
The Bindo solution was mentioned a couple of times.  Folks noted that Bindo does more than Clover and is even offering some various incentives like free hardware currently. If you are curious about Bindo Point of Sale, check them out at

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review of Samsung Cash Registers

In addition to having worked with multiple tablet, computer, and smartphone point of sale systems over the years, I've also worked with traditional cash registers. While cash registers might be considered a dying breed, there are still valid reasons why some businesses can only consider cash registers as a viable option.

The two most common reasons are lack of internet connectivity and lack of sales volume.  A small business generating under $100,000 in annual gross sales is likely not able to afford even a $75/month tablet-based point of sale system.  Depending on the location of the business, I've found that reliable and secure high speed internet access is still not available in all areas.

My thoughts on the Samsung Sam4S line of cash registers:

The Good:
  • Durable
  • Wide range of models and prices to match any budget
  • More advanced options like touch screens are easily available
  • Use current technology like USB and SD cards
  • Wide variety of options for more advanced functions
The OK:
  • Still not a true point of sale system
  • Can take some time to learn how to program depending on the model
  • Can lose their programming if left unplugged for too long
  • Future of cash registers
  • Connecting the registers together can be somewhat complicated unless you have been trained by Samsung.
 The Not so Good:
  • Can't really think of anything other than how EMV standards might effect those who use the cash registers with credit and debit card processing equipment attached to the cash register.

I actually visited the US distribution center in Minneapolis a few months ago and was impressed with the solutions from Samsung.  Over the years I've been able to see  how the registers are programmed and installed.  Even as a tablet and smartphone systems become more popular, there still appears to be a small niche of businesses were only a cash register makes sense.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review of NCR Silver

I've had the opportunity to work with the NCR Silver point of sale app and thought that I should pass along my thoughts on NCR Silver.

The Good:
  • Very easy to use
  • Set or flexible monthly pricing
  • Seasonal pricing for seasonal businesses
  • Designed for both retail and food service
  • Great for mobile businesses that sell products and/or services
  • Backed by NCR
  • Monthly price includes updates and technical support
  • Manager/Owner part of the app can be accessed through a web browser
The OK:
  • Average interface for food service businesses
  • Offers more than what a cash register can do
  • Basic customer email marketing functions
  • Fairly limited hardware compatibility
  • Unclear how secure all the data is
 The Not So Good:
  • Only very basic customer and inventory tracking
  • No purchasing and receiving
  • Limited reporting
  • Somewhat confusing merchant service options

NCR Silver is a great solution for businesses looking for more than what a cash register can offer but do not have the volume to justify investing in a full blown point of sale system.  NCR Silver has also found a niche with seasonal or mobile businesses like concession related businesses, firework stands and Christmas tree sales.

NCR Silver is also a tough product to sell as there is little to no revenue for the dealer/partner to sell it. Most folks end up dealing with NCR Directly unless their local dealer/partner can offer some sort of incentive.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Friday, February 7, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics RMS Store Operations Review (including HQ)

A quick reminder that sales of Microsoft Dynamics RMS and HQ to new users as well as mainstream support ends next year (2016) so please keep that in mind if you are thinking of purchasing RMS or HQ as point of sale software for your business or organization (not a wise investment at this point).

Update August 8th, 2015: Blog post and video covering all the options available for RMS users related to EMV:

Update June 28th, 2015 - special discount and incentive from a national NCR CounterPoint Partner for RMS and HQ users:

Update June 13th, 2015: A quick note that I have been receiving multiple calls and emails from Microsoft Dynamics RMS users looking to replace RMS due to the upcoming October 1st, 2015 EMV liability shift deadline as well as the "end of life" status for Dynamics RMS and HQ. I have personal experience with RMS users upgrading to NCR CounterPoint and would be happy to share - just visit my contact page for information on how to reach me. I can also put you in touch with a trusted NCR CounterPoint SQL partner.

Update January 1st, 2015:

At this point RMS and HQ users will need to pay to use a third party software applications in order to use EMV hardware and comply with the US EMV liability shift date of October 2015. Please also keep in mind that Microsoft RMS and HQ are end of life so now might be a good time to look at alternative point of sale systems like Retail Essentials or similar. 

Confused? Contact me for more information.

Update 9/23/2014:  In case you missed my other RMS related posts, Microsoft announced that mainstream support and sales of RMS to new users will end in July 2016.  The other issue of bigger concern is that Microsoft has made no announcement related to whether RMS will be updated to work with EMV hardware and the date for EMV compliance in the US is Oct. 2015.  As much as I have enjoyed working with RMS over the years, it is time for everyone to start making plans for RMS alternatives.

You can always contact me directly for more information and free advice as needed - I've already spoken with well over 400 businesses and organizations already related to what some possible options are.

I worked with the Microsoft Dynamics RMS Store Operations (RMS) software extensively over the last decade - including multiple installations of RMS HQ.  Here are my thoughts on RMS:

The Good:
  • Very easy to learn and use
  • Very easy to modify or use add-ons for special functions
  • Stable and quick interface
  • Extremely cost effective compared to other point of sale software programs
  • Large user base
  • Low ongoing annual costs to keep the software updated
  • Easy upgrade to multi-location "HQ" interface
The OK:
  • Technology is getting outdated
  • Somewhat flexible hardware options
  • Reporting interface can be confusing
  • Touch screen interface is limited
  • HQ interface technology is getting outdated and does take time to learn and use 
  • Basic update was just released in Dec 2013
The Not So Good:
  • Won't know until April 2014 what the future holds for the 38000+ businesses using this software
  • Better communication from Microsoft
  • Sales and mainstream support for RMS and HQ end in July 2016. Extended support ends on July 2021.
  • Costs related to using RMS with payment gateways in order to accept chip based credit and debit cards in order to meet the October 1st, 2015 EMV Liability Shift Date in the US for card present transaction.

The RMS/HQ has accounted for nearly 70% of all the solutions that I have provided over the last 14 years. I really like the affordability of the program, the feature set, and ease of use. However, until Microsoft provides more guidance on the future of RMS, I can not recommend the software to anyone at this point.
Visit my contact page for information on how to reach me.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Shopping Habits and the Gen-Y or the Millennial Generation

If your business markets products and/or services to the Gen-Y or the Millennial Generation (born in the ~1980's to early 2000's depending on who you reference), then this recent survey from Retail Pro and Merchant Warehouse will be of interest to you.  The idea behind the survey was to gain a better understanding of the shopping habits of this generation.  A better understanding can lead to better marketing as well as gleaning better data from your point of sale system. Here are some of the highlights of the survey along with how you would use a point of sale system to cater to the shopping needs of Millennials):
  • 60 percent of Millennials do pre-purchase online research (does your point of sale system have an integrated online shopping website with detailed product information, images and reviews?)
  • When it comes to actually driving to your store, 50% of the survey respondents said that they would want at least a 20% discount to make an in-store purchase (does your point of sale system offer a loyalty program or an automatic discount function?)
  • 68% of those surveyed primarily purchase products using a debit or credit card and not cash (does your point of sale system include a pin pad and the ability to shop for the best merchant services rates?)
The survey also covers some additional product specific purchasing habits but I just wanted to include only some of the survey results specific to specialty retail stores and point of sale systems for specialty retail stores.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

NCR CounterPoint Review

Continuing on with my reviews of the various point of sale programs that I personally worked with, some thoughts related to NCR CounterPoint.

I have worked with about 30 businesses using the NCR CounterPoint solution as well as spent time in Alpharetta GA meeting with the folks at NCR.  I have a full functioning copy of NCR CounterPoint that I use for custom demo's, workshops, and at trade shows/expos.

The Good:
  • Great touch screen interface for museums and retail businesses that have items that can't be barcoded
  • Very advanced solution when it comes to having integrated email marketing, online shopping cart, and running on a smartphone/tablet
  • Users of the software can submit suggestions for adding new features to the software
  • Software is very customizable
The OK:
  • Not the most responsive software in terms of overall speed if using features like customer tracking, pop-up product images, etc.
  • Limited hardware options
  • Requires a lot of training and patience to learn and use
  • Multi-location capabilities are already built into the software
Needs Improvement:
  • Complicated pricing structure (this may depend on which NCR CounterPoint partner or dealer you are working with)
  • somewhat confusing ongoing monthly and annual costs to keep the software updated and use all the add-ons

For retail stores with 1 to 300 locations, high technology needs, and annual gross sales of at least $800,000/location - NCR CounterPoint is a great solution.  NCR CounterPoint is also a great solution for museums with multiple museum specific functions.  There are also special versions of NCR CounterPoint designed for thrift shops/stores like Goodwill as well as hosted versions of CounterPoint to reduce IT expenses.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Monday, February 3, 2014

QuickBooks Point of Sale Software Review

I have noticed nearly triple the activity on my site recently so it appears that lots of folks are searching for point of sale systems. Some of the most popular posts are the software review posts so I am starting a series of software review posts based on the point of sale software programs that I have actually used.  These reviews will just hit the highlights as an in depth demo would better serve as a more detailed analysis of each point of sale software program.

Today I will hit the positives and negatives of the QuickBook Point of Sale software:

The Positives:
  • Easiest point of sale program to learn and use 
  • Strong interface to QuickBooks Accounting
  • Handles the common functions like inventory and customer tracking
  • Offers some basic loyalty, gift, and barcode label printing options
  • Easy to train on
The Negatives:

  • Limited hardware/peripheral compatibility (and Intuit tends to change what devices work with the software)
  • Slow to open/start
  • Limited add-on options (ie. online shopping cart interface or mobile app)
  • Based on early 2000's database technology
  • Constant advertising from Intuit for other products and services like payroll processing
  • Must use Intuit for merchant services - no options (which means you are locked in to Intuit no matter what happens with your credit and debit card processing rates).

I like the QuickBooks Point of Sale for the programs ease of use but have come across too many users paying much higher merchant services fee's through Intuit to recommend QuickBooks Point of Sale in most situations.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Undercover Boss Hudson Group Episode Point of Sale Problems

The latest episode of Undercover Boss featured Joe DiDomizio, CEO of Hudson Group going undercover at stores and facilities within the Hudson Group organization. I know that I have shopped at their stores in various airports in the US. Since this was another episode that showed possible issues with the point of sale system used within the store, I thought that I should point out some tips and tricks learned from the show.

From what I could see, the point of sale system used in the stores appeared to be slightly older - possibly much older as the inventory transfer software almost looked to be DOS or UNIX (or AS-70/400) based.  Hopefully the company will invest in a new point of sale system which will increase revenues through better efficiencies. My contact information appears at the bottom of each post in case I can help with any further questions related to point of sale solutions for multi-location retail stores.

  • The water bottle not scanning or not being in the point of sale system: tough to know if this was because of a cheap barcode scanner (the barcode scanners looked to be decent quality MetroLogic laser barcode scanners), the water bottle UPC not being in the system, or just a "made for reality TV" moment.
    • Have an open-ended/open price/prompt for price plu/sku in the point of sale system would allow you to still sell the item and then add the item to the point of sale system when there is not a long line of customers (versus writing down the UPC while customers wait).
    • If the issue is because the scanner won't scan a small or curved UPC barcode, then it is very easy to set up the item as a menu item on a touch screen or to print out a more easily scanned version of the UPS barcode and keep it by the register for quick scanning.
  • Tossing away receipts when a customer doesn't need a copy. This is a complete waste of paper and time. Just about every multi-location point of sale system today offers a setting that allows for how many receipts are printed as well as an "print on demand" option for when a customer wants a copy of his/her receipt.
  • Transferring items between locations. In the show they had to move several books between two different locations. A very cumbersome procedure was involved with multiple steps in the software needed for each book to transfer the book from one stores inventory to the inventory for a different store.  This is completely unrealistic with todays multi-location point of sale systems. The systems that I have sold, installed, and supported allow you to create a transfer order using either a handheld computer/table or a barcode scanner. the whole process is much easier that what was shown on the show and, again, means that the Hudson Group is likely using an outdated point of sale solution.

The lesson here is that point of sale systems are investments that do need to be updated or replaced on a regular bases. It also pays to invest in the correct hardware that can handle all the different needs of your business. Finally, annuals reviews of the point of sale system should be done to ensure that the system is updated and not missing any important features or functions.

Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at