Monday, November 30, 2015

Cloud Based Point of Sale Systems: Things to Keep in Mind

2015 has really been the year for cloud and mobile point of sale systems for retail stores, restaurants and museums. About 65% of the businesses and organizations that contact me are only considering point of sale systems that work on mobile devices and are cloud based.  A few things to keep in mind if you are looking at the cloud based point of sale systems like Clover, Vend, Lavu, Shopkeep, Lightspeed, or Silver...

  1. In most cases the cloud based point of sale systems will only cost around 10%-30% less than a point of sale system that you lease to own or purchase outright (eg: Retail Pro, Sapphire, NCR CounterPoint, Retail management Hero, Etc.).  This assumes that you plan on keeping your point of sale system for 5-7 years and that you pay an ongoing monthly fee to use a cloud based point of sale system (which normally also includes support and updates).
  2. You lose some control when using a cloud based point of sale system. Best example is that a traditional point of sale system puts all the hardware, software, and data onsite within your business or organization. If a router fails, you simply replace it.  With the cloud based point of sale systems you have no control if their router breaks or if their server goes down. Look at the reviews for any cloud based point of sale system and see that users mention outages lasting several hours. The point of sale companies tout off line modes or similar features but the reality is that system wide failures are possible and there is nothing you can do about it when it comes to cloud based point of sale systems.
  3. Ownership: most cloud based systems are rented so you never actually own anything - very easy on your budget but you have to be comfortable with this pricing structure.
  4. Hidden fees and contracts: I've been very disappointing with several of the cloud based point of sale systems who require long term contracts with early termination fees and limitations on who you can use for your credit and debit card processing services. As with any point of sale system, due diligence is required on your part when it comes to reading and signing any agreements or contracts.
Now, this may all sound somewhat negative but I actually do feel that some of the cloud based point of sale systems are great solutions (I've previously used, sold, and supported several).  However, they are only good solutions in one or more of the following situations:

  • Single location or less than 10 locations with annual sales of less than $800,000 per location.
  • OK with never owning the actual software but paying an ongoing fee each month.
  • Low technology needs: OK with canned reports and don't have complex  inventory needs.
  • No internal IT person or "computer geek": cloud based systems are generally very easy to learn and use and do not require internal IT resources.
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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Support and Hand Holding

A few thoughts and comments specific to differences in support options for point of sale systems as well as a trend that I have noticed recently specific to support.

When it comes to choosing between the newer generation of mobile point of sale systems like Clover, Silver, Lavu, Shopkeep, Bindo and Vend, it is not realistic to expect the same level of support that you would get by going with a point of sale system like Dynamics AX, Retail Pro, NCR CounterPoint or Retail Management Hero.  Even if you purchase a mobile point of sale locally, the partner/dealer/VAR can't afford to provide the same level of support on a $79/month POS system as they would on $12,000 POS system - the revenue just isn't there.

Of course many businesses do offer annual paid support options but the point is that you need to be a bit more self sufficient with the mobile POS systems (or have someone on standby) than the more expensive POS systems which normally include more personalized training and on-going support.

That being said, I have noticed a trend across all types of POS systems to outsource initial support to a help desk in an unknown location.  It pays to call the support line for any POS solutions that you might be considering to see what the response time is and how well the support works (thanks to Linda in Indiana for passing along that idea!),

Information on how to reach me for more information can be found on my contact page.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bindo Point of Sale Reviews

Update 6/12/2016: I've been called or emailed by three businesses currently using Bindo POS concerned about the future of Bindo as a company. These businesses cite employee turnover and customer attrition at Bindo as being cause for concern.

I will post more updates as they become available.

Update 11/18/2015: I've seen some recent valid positive reviews of Bindo Point of Sale so hopefully the issues have been corrected and are just part of some growing pains.

Original Post:

I've been made aware of multiple recent negative reviews specific to the Bindo point of sale software. While Bindo POS has proven to be very popular and I know of over 25 stores happily using Bindo POS, the recent complaints (of which 3 are businesses that I have personally spoken with) have me somewhat concerned.

Until Bindo can correct the situation and produce more positive reviews, I've archived all my Bindo related blog posts and videos. I will give Bindo credit for responding to the reviews and hopefully this is part of some growing pains.  If you are curious, here is a link to the reviews and the response from Bindo:

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.

Tied up with a Special Project

Just a quick note that I am going to be tied up with a special project and other obligations through the end of this month. You are still welcomed to contact me but it may take me longer than usual to respond back.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Holiday Shoppers Start Early Online, Spend to Increase 3.5 percent - Brand Keys

Virtually all consumers interviewed (98%) indicated they would buy holiday gifts online again this year, which has become the default venue for browsing for gift options, price-checking, and buying.

Brand Keys 2015 Holiday Shopping Survey
Finds Smarter Consumers, Earlier Shopping
and Sales Up 3½ Percent

NEW YORK, NY October 26, 2015 – “A combination of increasing positive consumer sentiment, accelerating consumer learning curves, and increased mobile outreach via mobile apps have resulted in an anticipated 3½% increase for the 2015 holiday spend,” noted Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, Inc., the New York City-based brand loyalty and customer engagement research consultancy.

Welcome to a Re-defined Holiday Consumer Shopping StageInsights from 15,850 consumers participating in Brand Keys’ 21st annual national holiday shopping survey (conducted September 25th through October 10th 2015) reflect a re-defined stage consumers have reached when it comes to holiday shopping.

“A combination of positive consumer sentiment, cheaper gas, but mostly consumers having learned that holiday shopping definitively does notbegin on Black Friday,” said Passikoff, “has resulted in much earlier consumer shopping with a projected individual 2015 holiday spend of $885.00, nearly 4% higher than last year.”

The shift in the holiday shopping paradigm has been a long time coming. “We saw dramatic shifts to when consumers were starting to holiday shop half a decade ago,” said Passikoff. “Some of that was due to retailers, fearing the loss of any sale to a competitor, running ads, deals, and price promotions earlier and earlier. But savvy consumers, more market-adept and armed with more mobile devices have shifted spending patterns for the holidays.”

Nearly 84% of Consumers Are Shopping Before Black FridayWhen it comes to when consumers started shopping for the holidays, shoppers reported the following:

Before September: 11%
September: 10%
October: 22%
(Before Black Friday): 41%
December: 16%

“The trend for holiday shopping starting earlier and earlier was something we commented upon in 2010, and is conclusively proving itself out,” added Passikoff. Part of the trend is rational; consumers have realized that low-lower-lowest prices are always to be found. Other parts of the trend are driven by emotional values: gratification in finding the perfect gift, no matter what time of year it is, and a reduction in the stress of having to deal with all other elements of the year-end holidays.

Only 16% of consumers – 9% fewer than 2014, and 19% fewer than 2013 – indicated they were going to wait until Black Friday to start holiday shopping, although some consumers (4%) did indicate that they would make an effort to support local businesses on Small BusinessSaturday.

But ultimately it comes down to the fact that 84% of consumers are planning to shop before the traditional Black Friday, Small BusinessSaturday, Sofa Sunday, and Cyber, all of which confirms that the reality of retail life is timing,” noted Passikoff, “And consumer timing is also critical when it comes to research. When you interview a consumer is an enormous determinant of the accuracy and reliability of the findings. Consumer mind-set matters. As does method.”

More Exacting Measures, More Precise Holiday FindingsBrand Keys, a leader in the field of emotional engagement, utilizes a combination of traditional interviewing techniques and validated, psychological measures that correlate very highly with consumer behavior in the real marketplace. That ensures the results are an accurate accounting of, what Passikoff calls, ”what people think, and not just what they say they think.”

Where They’ll Shop Virtually all consumers interviewed (98%) indicated they would buy holiday gifts online again this year, which has become the default venue for browsing for gift options, price-checking, and buying. Even in light of the mobile shopping movement, which has grown into a $100+ billion industry, brick-and-mortar retailers still rank high on consumers’ list of places they intend to shop:

Store Type 2015 % change from 2014
Discount Department Stores 90% - 6
Traditional Department Stores 85% +7
Specialty & Apparel Stores 45% +5
Price Clubs 22% +2
Sporting Goods Stores 20% +5
Outlet Stores 10% NA

Catalogues (19%), are down again from last year by 6%. “It appears that if a consumer can pull up the same content on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone they regard hard-copy as redundant and unnecessary,” noted Passikoff.

What They’ll Buy
Consumers indicated the following categories were where money was going to be spent. Changes from last year appear in parentheses):

Clothing and Accessories 75% (-3%)
Electronics/Phones/Computer 52% (-1%)
Personal Care Products/Spa 40% (+7%)
Kitchen/Cookware 39% (-7%)
Jewelry 24% (+4%)
Food and Wine 20% ( ---- )
Sporting Goods 18% ( ---- )
Toys 15% (- 5%)
Books 11% (+5%)
Home D├ęcor 7% ( ---- )

All other gift categories remain relatively unchanged from 2014. “Apps and downloads have replaced CDs, DVDs,” said Passikoff, “although video games are still a gift-of-choice.

Gift Cards for All
Gift cards have become as universal as greetings cards, with nearly everyone indicating they’ll buy at least one this year (96%). That could turn out to be a $33 billion windfall for the industry.

Value and Convenience RuleValue is paramount for all platforms and consumer expectations regarding outreach and convenience, particularly for mobile, is up again. Shopping experience for bricks-and-mortar retail, are all up again too,” said Passikoff. Free shipping and returns, order online-pick up in store, or ship-to-store options have holiday shoppers’ attentions this year too. “But ultimately retailers that are able to better emotionally engage consumers will see larger shares of what looks to be an upcoming $635 billion-holiday sales period.

Brand Keys ( is the only research consultancy that specializes in customer loyalty and consumer emotional engagement metrics that accurately predict future consumer behavior. These measures enable companies and brands to anticipate shifts in what has become a more digitally driven and rapidly changing marketplace.

Len Stein
cel 914 527 3708

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Blog Site and YouTube Channel Value

I quick note that I am open to offers specific to someone interested in buying my blog site and YouTube Channel. While I'm happy to continue offering free and unbiased point of sale advice, news, reviews and information, someone with more time would likely be able to expand the content and create a more professional look (as well as more professional videos).

To give you a general idea, about 5 - 7 people contact me in a typical week. The folks that I have helped have then gone on to spend about $2M annually in point of sale hardware, software, and related services.

Visit my contact page if you are interested - you and your business must reside in the US or Canada.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Year End Physical Inventory

Amazing how quickly 2015 has gone by and I am sure that many of you are thinking about performing a year end physical inventory count.  Some quick tips:
  1. Be sure to reserve any equipment needed for your physical inventory early - I know that demand can be high to rent equipment for the last half of December.
  2. Take some time to review the correct way to perform a physical inventory count within your specific point of sale system - nothing worse than having to redo a count or having the count overwrite quantities on hand when you are not ready.  Your point of sale partner/dealer/VAR might be able to help as well with some basic refresher training on physical inventory counts.
  3. Depending on your point of sale system and accounting method, you may also way to consider performing physical inventory counts by department or category using a monthly rotation or similar process. This is a great way not to be overwhelmed by trying to count everything at the end of the year.
  4. Don't forget to count stock that is not out on the floor but has been received.
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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

NCR CounterPoint, Ads and RMS/Retail management Hero Updates

A couple of quick updates specific to the NCR CounterPoint SQL, Microsoft Dynamics RMS, and Retail Retail Management Hero point of sale software programs:

  1. I was partially successful in finding a reputable NCR CounterPoint partner to offer the NCR CounterPoint SQL point of sale software in the states of Idaho and Utah (as well as the surrounding areas - basically within 250 miles of Boise, ID or Salt Lake City, Utah).  You can always visit my contact page for information on how to reach me for free and unbiased point of sale advice - depending on my work and travel schedule we may even be able to meet in person!
  2. I am allowing Google to place ads on my blog site below my posts so please don't consider any ads to be an endorsement by me that the ads are for a POS solution that is right for your business or organization.
  3. I have some meetings coming up specific to the Retail Management Hero point of sale software as a direct replacement for the Microsoft Dynamics RMS point of sale software.  As I am now in contact with over 1,100 stores and organizations using RMS, I'll be sure to pass along information quickly via this blog site, email, and social media.
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.