Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Blessings and Happy New Year!

I wanted to take moment and thank everyone that contacted me in 2014. It has been a true blessing that I am able to continue to offer free advice and direction for those of you searching for point of sale systems for retail stores, museums, restaurants, bars, concession stands, venues and food trucks.

I sincerely hope that you take some time to reflect on 2014 and are keeping Christ in Christmas!

There is a still a lot on my plate as 2015 brings new point of sale solutions from Microsoft and EMV compliance becomes important to anyone and everyone who accepts credit and debit cards as payment for products and services.

As time allows, I will continue to keep tabs on the more popular solutions like Bindo POS, Retail Pro, NCR Silver, Lightspeed, MICROS, and Sapphire as well as the many other POS of sale systems on the market.

Christmas Blessings!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Best Point of Sale System for Music Artists & Music Groups

I've noticed that a lot of music artists and music groups sell products before/during/after a performance.  While they could easily use Square or a similar product, some of the tablet or mobile solutions also work quite well. If your product sales exceed $60,000 annually then you may want to take a look at Bindo POS or NCR Silver since these programs have payment plans available that can be turned off and on as your performance schedule dictates.

Plus, you would have the option to pick and choose whose handles your credit and debit card processing (commonly called "merchant services").  The mobile solutions also very portable making for easy setup and teardown.

At the very least, make sure that you are equipped to accept debit and credit cards as payment for your merchandise as your fans tend to spend more when not using cash as payment.

More reviews on Bindo POS can be found here:

Please visit my contact page for information on how to reach me.

PS - no promises but I might be able to connect you with a company that will provide you with a free point of sale system in exchange for free advertising. I'm sure that your fan base includes people who own or manage retail stores and food service related businesses. The sort of arrangement also makes for a unique press release that would provide additional exposure to your music.

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 (I am on Mountain Time) or via email at There is also a contact form to the right that can be used to reach me.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Which Locales Can I Help

Just a quick note that I am only able to help folks whose business or organization are located in the United States or Canada. Due to differences in currency, tax structures, areas that software is sold and supported, and grammar/languages, I'm not familiar with the various point of sale systems sold outside of the US and Canada.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Undercover Boss - Again with Point of Sale Issues

I believe that this is my third post related to an episode of the CBS TV series "Undercover Boss" where segments of the episode includes problems and issues related to a point of sale system. In the most recent episode, True Value CEO Jon Hartman goes undercover posing as an employee. Whether you believe the show is part reality/part acting or all staged, here are some issues related to the point of sale system mentioned in the episode (note that I have worked with businesses similar to True Value in the past - including some Coast to Coast hardware stores and independent locally owned hardware stores):

  1. Unable to look up stock/special orders while working with a customer on the sales floor
  2. Point of sale system 'crashing'
  3. Learning curve
  4. Ability to count back change
So, what should the folks at the various stores do about this? Here is my (free and unbiased) advice to them:
  1. The ability to look up stock and/or place special orders varies from system to system. At the very least, the point of sale systems that I have provided to hardware stores allow for a 'station' to be setup on the sales floor so employees can look up stock information and place special orders without the customer having to go to a checkout lane.  More advanced point of sale systems also the use of mobile devices and hand held computers to check stock, place special orders, and accept payment right from the device itself (sell anywhere - this also works great in garden centers and nurseries as well).
  2. If the point of sale system is crashing, then get your IT staff and point of sale provider together to locate the source of the problem. Make sure all your hardware and software is up to date as well. Don't forget that 'dirty' power can cause problems as well. A simple line conditioner can work wonders if 'dirty' power is an issue.
  3. It should never take more than 15 minutes to train a cashier on how to use a point of sale system unless the point of sale system is poorly designed.
  4. If the change back display is not showing then there is a design flaw in the point of sale system (plus - everyone should known how to count back change and not rely on a display).
There is plenty more advice to share but it tends to require more details related to the various issues and problems.

Please visit my contact page for information on how to reach me.

Review of The Retailer POS Software

I want to thank a user of The Retailer point of sale software for sending me a nice review to share.

The Positives:
  • Low cost
  • Local support (the user is in the greater Denver, CO area)
  • Multiple price levels for items
  • Very good customer service and support
The Negatives:
  • Issues with not calculating a correct gross margin or inventory cost
  • No ability to export custom reports
Summary (from the user):

" I'd recommend for a non-demanding customer who doesn't care about margins and who wants to save $$$"

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 (I am on Mountain Time) or via email at There is also a contact form to the right that can be used to reach me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New User Feedback on Clover Point of Sale

Some helpful feedback from a convenience/liquor store in Georgia that was using Microsoft Dynamics POS 2009 and attempted to switch to using Clover point of sale:

Here are my comments on Clover.  This physical POS design and look are beautiful.  The swivel feature is handy.  Overall transaction and payment procedure is simple and easy for customers and cashiers.

The problem I have with it is there is no Cash Payout option for purchase of delivery from vendors.  Also no vendor setup menu.

The main reason I am returning it is there is no mix and match pricing on special.  For example if I wanted to mix 3 different wines and sell them a discount, my cashiers would have to do it manually.  I can not take risk of possibly selling an expense wine at a discount because the cashier includes it in the special.  This needs to be done at the item level.

Please visit my contact page for information on how to reach me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Retail Essentials Point of Sale Software from Retail Realm & Microsoft

***Note that Retail Ream Essentials POS Software is no longer available. Please contact me for other options***

Update January 13th, 2015: a video highlighting what we do and do not know about Retail Essentials can be found here: or below:

Update January 2nd, 2015: The correct name of the software is Retail Realm Essentials - powered by Microsoft Dynamics.

A note of thanks to the folks at Retail Realm for taking some time earlier today to share some information on the new Retail Essentials point of sale software. While we are all waiting on a few more details, it is great that I am able to pass along any information - especially to the many stores that I have worked with in the past who are presently using the Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management Systems Store Operations (RMS) point of sale software as well as the multiple other RMS and HQ users who have contacted me since we all received the end of life announcement from Microsoft related to RMS and HQ.

While no licensing cost or license swap information is available, I can share that Retail Essentials is a good match in features and functions for large single location stores using RMS as well as multi-location stores using RMS HQ.

Like most Dynamics products, Retail Essentials will be deployed through trained partners to ensure that end users receive top level training, installation, and on-going support services. Retail Realm is also working to ensure that third party solutions are ready to go for mobile sales devices, e-commerce integration, and accounting software integration.

As we get closer to the expected release date for Retail Essentials (Late February 2015), I'm hoping that I can share more about Retail Essentials related to license cost, hardware requirements, hardware compatibility, specific features and functions, transfer of data from RMS and HQ, and places in the United States that will be authorized Retail Essentials Partners.

My gut instinct would advise you to make sure that you are staying current on your annual maintenance agreement if you plan on continuing to use RMS/HQ whether or not you might be considering switching to Retail Essentials.

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 (I am on Mountain Time) or via email at There is also a contact form to the right that can be used to reach me.

EMV Options for Microsoft Dynamics RMS Users

Update July 2016: Since many Microsoft RMS point of sale software would like to keep using RMS for another couple of years but still need to deal with the EMV Liability Shift Date, visit this post for more information on the Card Defender EMV add-on for Microsoft RMS versions 1.3 and higher (and HQ as well):

Update July 2016, Retail Management Hero (RMS version 3.X) demo and overview:

Updated information on Retail Management Hero as a direct replacement for RMS as of December 3rd, 2015:

New video discussing options for Dynamics RMS and HQ users as of December 5th, 2015:

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

I want to thank the folks at Retail Realm for spending some time with me discussing the future of RMS as well as the new Retail Essentials point of sale solution. As I have personally sold many copies of RMS and HQ and continue to receive calls & emails on a weekly basis from RMS and HQ users of all sizes, I am pleased to pass along the following information related to the EMV Liability Shift and Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management Systems Store Operations and Headquarters point of sale software programs.

While Microsoft has not made a formal statement related to EMV and RMS/HQ, Retail Realm has worked with multiple companies to introduce payment gateways that are "EMV ready".  As everyone should now be compliant with the latest PCI standards (if you are not compliant then don't be surprised to receive information about potential penalties and fines for processing debit and credit card payments through a non-PCI compliant system), the focus has shifted to the EMV Liability shift that is scheduled to take place in October 2015 for businesses and organizations in the United States.

Shift4 offers one of these EMV ready payment gateways that works with RMS and HQ to ensure that your payment processing is done utilizing the latest in encryption and tokanization methods. In fact, no actual card information resides on the point of sale system as encryption takes place as the card is swiped.

Retail Realm is also working with other payment processing and processing gateway companies to allow for RMS/HQ integration.

While these companies do have various fees related to their payment processing and processing gateway services, it is nice to know that RMS and HQ users do have processing options aside from using an independent credit and debit card terminal.  Note that there are still costs associated with EMV compatible credit and debit card terminals which everyone will need to purchase anyway.

While it would be great if Microsoft announced an update and compatible EMV hardware list, at least Retail Realm has some options available now.

You can always contact me, Retail Realm, Shift4 or your RMS Dynamics Partner for more information.

Updated information on the upcoming Retail Management Hero Software (or what I am coining "RMS 3.0 for 2015 and beyond") can be found here:

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 (I am on Mountain Time) or via email at There is also a contact form to the right that can be used to reach me.

Looking for a Discount or Tax Break?

Just a quick reminder that I can't sell you anything but I do keep tabs on which companies are offering specials on the following:

  • Merchant Services (credit and debit card processing)
  • Paper and Label Supplies
  • Cash Registers
  • Point of Sale Hardware
  • Point of Sale Software & Apps
  • Cash Drawers
  • Receipt Printers
  • Kitchen, Prep and Bar Printers
  • Touch Screens
  • Barcode Label Scanners
  • Barcode Label Printers
  • Data Collection Devices
  • Card Swipes
  • Customer Price/Pole Display
  • Tablets
  • And More
If you are in the United States, simply contact me for more information.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Video Review of Bindo POS in a Marijuana Dispensary/Retail Store

I've mentioned before that I have received calls and emails from folks who have opened, or are planning on opening retail stores dealing with the sale of Marijuana. With more and more states legalizing the retail sale of Marijuana, I thought that a quick video overview of how some Marijuana stores are using Bindo Point of Sale to track sales and customer information would be helpful.

Obviously requirements vary from state to state but something that tracks sales and taxes collected is much better than tracking everything by hand.

You can always contact me for more nformation on anything point of sale related - if I can't help you then I am usually able to point you in the right direction.

For a full demo and more information on Bindo Point of Sale, please visit or call 800-MY-BINDO.

Here is the video:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Insights on Point of Sale and E-Commerce

A well written article from Soumen Das at UniteU offering some insights and advice related to point of sale systems and e-commerce:

Retailers Missing Out on the Promise of the ‘Endless Aisle’
For years retailers have focused on the wrong technologies —in-store TV networks, augmented reality, RFID, magic interactive dressing room mirrors—instead of mobile point of sale
Soumen Das
Founder and CEO

The retail industry is going through a painful period of digital disruption. Walk any mall or department store and you will encounter RFID tags, interactive video displays, even iBeacon technology, etc., designed to, hopefully, enrich the shopping experience.

But perhaps retailers have focused on the wrong technologies? Mobile point of sale (mPOS) is one digital innovation that retailers have been slow to adopt, yet the impact on revenue can be substantial. According to a Forrester Research Inc., report (June 2014), “The State of The Digital Store 2014,] “Perry Ellis...experienced a 14% lift in average order volume once it implemented ‘endless aisle’ capabilities in-store.”

How can a single technology make such a difference? The answer is to be found in the idea that the entire shopping experience can be transformed when sales associates have access to off-site inventory tracking and recommendation engines. This coming transformation is often referred to as ‘clienteling,’ in which sales associates are empowered to help shoppers find out-of-stock items and make suggestions for associated products.

In a clienteling situation, shoppers are introduced to an “endless aisle” with virtually unlimited inventory and choices. Can’t find that blouse in your color or size? Not to worry! The color of your choice can be shipped to your home today. Recommendations engines can also provide sales associates with smart suggestions to complement that blouse. This intelligence provides real potential for sales floor employees to increase average order value.

Roadblock: IntegrationHowever, the advent of the endless aisle has been roadblocked by a lack of payment system integration. To avoid operational nightmares, mPOS devices must be tightly integrated with existing enterprise systems and operational processes. This can seem a daunting task as integration needs may extend from existing retail systems (POS, ERP, accounting systems) to digital inventory, which may live in an external e-commerce platform.

Innovators such as Square® have revolutionized the mobile checkout for small merchants and service providers, such as taxis, making it easy to accept payments anywhere an iPhone can connect to a network. However, accepting payments for small, medium and even larger merchants is not enough. Without integration employees often must spend hours after a day selling, manually reconciling their sales with the backend systems that manage inventory, orders, commissions and financial reporting. And, vendors like Square® sell these services bundled with credit card merchant accounts, great for micro merchants but it creates issues for larger merchants with established merchant accounts, typically with better rates.

Another approach is a response from the traditional POS (Point of Sale) vendors, who are busy mobilizing their complex POS systems that over the years have evolved into much more than payments systems. The challenge here being that not all of these capabilities translate for ease-of-use and meeting consumer expectations on mobile devices. Another issue is that the richness of data, in terms of product imagery and descriptions in POS systems, is not sufficient to meet consumer expectations or in assisting sales associates.

Increasing Average Order VolumeSo what is the solution? “Forrester expects that e-commerce platform vendors will continue to invest in and evolve their mPOS capabilities” [Forrester Research Inc., Market Overview: Mobile Point of Service Solutions for Retail – September 2013]. E-commerce solutions already have four winning components; integration with existing store systems, rich product imagery, cross selling data and interface usability.

With minimal customization, merchants can leverage numerous backend connections already developed for their e-commerce and mobile commerce needs to coordinate orders, invoices, inventory levels and gift cards. These systems are constantly updated with new payment method integrations and emerging technologies, generally provided by the vendor via automatic updates. From a usability standpoint, e-commerce solutions are built for conversion and to increase average order size via recommendation engines, so product search, recommendations and checkout are already customer-friendly.

In he year ahead, retailers should seriously consider integrated mPOS solutions that have evolved from e-commerce platforms. Generally they offer the endless aisle and recommendation engine features that result in increased ROI and make back-end integration quick and effective.
Soumen Das | CEO and FounderUniteUSoumen Das has been CEO of UniteU since its inception in January 1999. As founder and CEO, Das has provided the vision and managed the growth of the company from start-up through the completion of its technology and subsequent year over year steady growth.

Prior to founding UniteU, Das applied his MBA and Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics to his work at Xerox, including various capacities ranging from product support and front line management in Europe and Latin America to technology, business strategy and operations at the forefront of Xerox digital and Internet initiatives.

Das continually demonstrates to UniteU, its customers and partners a proven ability to apply information technology to solve real problems for the online retail industry.
Len Stein: 

Is Buying Used Equipment and/or Buying Equipment from Amazon or eBay a Good Idea?

I'm often asked if it is a good idea to save some money by purchasing used point of sale equipment and/or point of sale equipment sold on websites like eBay or Amazon.  The short answer is "yes - but with caution".

Here is what you need to keep in mind and this is all based on real world experience:

  1. Point of sale hardware is not 'universal'. For example, a receipt printer or barcode label printer that works with one point of sale system may not work with a different point of sale system. You need to match all the equipment up against the supported hardware list for the point of sale system that you will be using.  Saving $250 on a piece of hardware sounds awesome until you find out the hardware is not supported or compatible with your point of sale software.
  2. Cable, connections, and drivers vary from system to system. Again, make sure that any hardware matches up to the right cables and connections on your computer or mobile device as well as being on the support hardware list for your point of sale software or app.
  3. Any batteries may be 'toast' in used equipment.  Not a big deal - just plan on needing to buy new batteries.
  4. Make sure that documentation comes with all equipment and/or is available online. You'd be surprised how much manual programming is required with some point of sale hardware. Make sure that you will have access to any manuals, programming guides, etc that are required to correctly use any hardware.
  5. Check the version for compliance and support!!!  This is a big one that has cost some folks a lot of money as they up having to re-purchase all or part of their system.  Here are the 2 most common scenarios that I have come across over the last 15 years:
    1. Someone gets a great deal on a whole point of sale system but doesn't do their homework and receives a computer that is running an outdated operating system like Windows XP (or a tablet that is running an outdated version of iOS). The user goes to upgrade the operating system but then finds that some of the hardware doesn't work with the updated operating system so now some of the hardware has to be upgraded - this quickly turns in to a expensive ugly mess.
    2. Someone gets a great deal on a complete system and all appears to be fine until the user calls for support on the system (or fails a PCI compliance scan) and finds out that their point of sale software is so outdated that it is no longer supported and the user needs to purchase all new point of sale software (which may or may not work with existing hardware, etc).
I'm not saying to avoid used or discounted equipment, just do some homework and by all means, make sure that you will be EMV compliant!  No sense having to buy a whole new point of sale system in September 2015 because you bought something now that will never be EMV compliant.

Please visit my contact page for information on how to reach me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Best Systems for Marijuana Related Stores

With more states legalizing the retail sale of marijuana, I have received several calls and emails from folks asking for help in choosing the best cash register or point of sale system for their business.

While a cash register would work, many of you are under strict reporting requirements as well as various tax collecting and reporting requirements so I generally recommend looking at the tablet or mobile type of point of sale systems for tracking sales and inventory. An added bonus is that the tablet systems also allow for various security levels to be setup to prevent employees from giving discounts to friends or family.

Some of the tablet or mobile point of sale systems also include customer loyalty programs and the ability to print scanable barcode labels.

When looking at the various solutions, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  1. If you sell by weight then make sure the system will work with a scale or allow for a price calculation based on weight.
  2. Depending on how taxes are collected, make sure that the system can handle multiple taxes as well as provide a break down of various taxes collected.
  3. If your state allows you to accept credit and debit cards for payment from customers, then make sure that the system will work with the place that handles your debit and credit card processing services (commonly referred to as "merchant services"). This is important as not all merchant services companies will provide credit and debit card processing services to business that sell marijuana.
  4. Don't forget to ask about EMV compliance. No sense buying something now only to have to spending more money in 2015 to be EVM compliant.
  5. Ask for references of businesses like your already using the point of sale system that you are considering and contact those businesses or visit in person if possible.
Be sure to contact me if you have any questions.  I can't sell you anything but I am keeping tabs on which systems have proven to be popular with retail stores selling Marijuana of which I know that Bindo POS has proven to be very popular in the state of California. More reviews on Bindo POS can be found here:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Point of Sale Buying Tip: What to Include to Calculate True Cost of Ownership

Whether you define TCO as "True Cost of Ownership" or "Total Cost of Ownership", it is important to factor in all costs over time to ascertain how much a point of sale system will cost you over an average five to seven year period.  A lot of times it is easiest to create a spreadsheet so you can compare costs for various point of sale solutions in a "side by side" layout.

If you are considering a "pay as you use" system or leasing. then you can multiply the payments out. In the case of a "pay as you use" system, I'd recommend multiplying the monthly payment by 72 as 5 - 7 years is how long a typical point of sale system will last.

Here is an actual example - only the names have been changed to protect the innocent:

Store with one point of sale system as a “register” & one point of sale system in the office as a “manger” System A – Windows
Outright Purchase
System B – Tablet
Purchase Hardware but pay monthly fee for software & support
System C – Windows
Lease everything for 5 years (and own outright at the end of 5 years)
Software $2,860.00 $9,288.00

Hardware & Peripherals $2,689.00 $2,350.00

Training $1,200.00 N/C for initial overview

Installation Labor $1,980.00 N/C – self install

Paper and Labels $179.00 $179.00

Accessories (UPS, etc) $200.00 $200.00

Supplies years 2-6 $895.00 ($179/yr) $895.00 ($179/yr) $895.00 ($179/yr)
Equipment failure/yrs 2-6 $2,500.00 ($500/yr) $2,500.00 ($500/yr) $2,500.00 ($500/yr)
Annual Support years 2-6 $2,750.00 ($550/yr) Included $2,750.00 ($550/yr)
Software Upgrades yrs 2-6 $1,160.00 ($232/yr) Included $1,160.00 ($232/yr)

TCO (over 6 years) $16,413.00 $15,412.00 Will depend on interest %

A video explanation of the above chart can be found at the bottom of this post.

Obviously there are many variables but system A and system B represent the most popular windows based and tablet based retail point of sale systems on the market today.

TCO information does not include merchant services fees as these fees vary greatly from merchant to merchant.

You can draw your own conclusions related to how similar the long term costs are between a windows point of sale system that you purchase and a tablet based point of sale system that you pay an ongoing monthly fee to use.

Confused as heck now or in need of some unbiased point of sale advice? Then visit my contact page for various ways to reach me.

Here is the video explaining the chart: