Controlling the flow: control state agencies are looking at the newest point-of-sale technologies for their stores.
That was the concern, back in 1999, that if computer software was not adjusted, systems would crash and have other problems when the millennium turned over. Software written to keep track of the year using the last two digits would not be able to cope with the year 2000. Though the extent of the problem turned out to be far less than the worst doomsday predictions, many IT experts, including those working at control state agencies, replaced and updated their systems before the deadline.
A similar deadline is once again driving a wave of updating in retail operations of all types, including the liquor stores run by control state agencies.
Retailers are rushing to make sure their credit and debit card processing systems are compliant with a set of security rules developed by the major credit card companies: the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard. Failure to become PCI-compliant can result in fines from the credit card companies in the event of a security breach.
For many control state agencies that run their own liquor stores, this necessity to upgrade has had a silver include some taxes. "This is not the way retailers usually determine their retail prices. It is not a very common model," Deming explained.
The new POS system in Alabama, like Washington State's, runs Triversity software from SAP. The Alabama ABC Board is also using NCR hardware and Microsoft Dynamics Navision. The whole system was assembled by the integration company, Dalcom. (See Buyers' Guide.)
"A big difference with this system is that everything is automated," said Latham. He pointed out that incoming deliveries of product are now entered into the stores, systems using wireless scanners. Because of all the automation, "the numbers coming out of this system are much more accurate," Latham explained. "Our inventory is more correct now than it's ever been."
Emerging POS Trends
What emerging POS trends are control state IT experts watching for the future?
Many are considering integrated age-verification technology. Basically, this capability would allow a cashier to swipe a customer's driver's license at the point-of-sale to verify that they are of-age. Right now, in Washington State's stores, the Triversity POS system is set up with an "ID Challenge" feature, where the cashier must enter the customer's date-of-birth. "We've talked about and looked at systems that scan driver's licenses," said Deming, "but always, we are looking at our business needs and processes to determine what changes to make. We don't want to put in a feature if we're not sure we're going to use it."
"We've also talked about age verification but we haven't gone there yet," said New Hampshire's Roundy. There is some concern within that state's government about privacy issues. "What would be really nice is if we could pull up the picture that is supposed to be on the license on our screen, to see if it had been replaced to make a fake ID," said Roundy.
The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission is looking for cost-effective opportunities to improve its inventory control. Currently, it is looking at better fraud detection in the area of returns. "Basically, our shrinkage is down to such a point, our system tracks our inventory so well, that we are looking for other areas where improvement can be made," said Roundy. He pointed out that any improvement found should not cost more than it will save. "We're not going to spend $2 million to resolve a $100,000 problem," he said.
The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission is also looking at integrating its security cameras with its POS system. With such a system, the video of a cashier ringing a sale is matched up automatically with what is being rung on the register. In most cases, that information scrolls along the bottom of the video, allowing a manager to easily see if a cashier is ringing up all the products a customer brings to the cash register and is ringing them correctly. This can prevent "sweet-hearting," when a cashier gives away products to friends and family, as well as other kinds of employee theft.
The New Hampshire commission is also looking at a capability called "paperless receipt." As the name implies, the customer isn't given a slip of paper detailing their transaction. Rather, if they find they need a receipt later on, they can go online and print it out from a website run by the commission.
Meanwhile, the Washington State LCB is contemplating larger display screens for customers at the point of sale. "That's a general trend in retail," observed Deming.
The Alabama ABC Board is considering adding the ability to offer gift cards.
The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is looking at adding more customer loyalty abilities in the future.
Technology companies point to other emerging POS abilities. "We see a lot of interest in biometric technology," said Michele DuBreuil, hardware marketing programs manager for Fujitsu Transaction Solutions. A fingerprint or palm reader could be used as a security device on equipment or to enter a secure area, such as where cash is handled.
On the software side, Fujitsu recently relaunched the grocery store version of its GlobalSTORE product in North America. GlobalSTORE is designed to allow retailers to add other capabilities, even products from other suppliers, more easily. "Historically, that kind of customization had to be done on a point by point basis, which could be very expensive," explained David Oldenbuttel, Fujitsu Transaction Solutions, software marketing programs manager. In addition to being a POS system, "GlobalSTORE is also meant to be an integration platform, to give users the choice of what they use, whether it's from us or another vendor or whether it's something they already have," Oldenbuttel explained.
And as hardware continues to develop, more capabilities are possible. "Technology improves constantly and its performance continues to increase," said Mary Lynne Campbell, product marketing manager for NCR's RealPOS Marketing Solutions.
The name of the game, according to Campbell, is speed. Hardware "can do more faster," she explained. "It's like you've added more lanes to a highway." The newest hardware can easily run multiple applications at the same time. Campbell described an NCR POS terminal doing five different things: downloading information, while displaying a PowerPoint presentation, while handling a POS transaction, while showing streaming video from a security camera and showing the customer a full-motion video advertisement on the customer display. "New terminals can easily do all of this at once," said Campbell. "It's a whole paradigm shift and it's exciting to figure out ways to leverage these abilities to help the retailer."
As New Hampshire's Roundy pointed out with a laugh, "You don't get into this industry [information technology] if you don't like change.
POS/COMPUTER SYSTEMS BUYER'S GUIDE
AccuPOS provides point-of-sale (POS), inventory-management and time-clock software for the retail and hospitality industries. The AccuPOS family of products is designed to be faster and easier than a cash register and to streamline the sales process. AccuPOS products, based on open standards, expand the capabilities of an existing accounting program and allow users to grow and change, without being locked into proprietary vendor products. AccuPOS products are integrated with the most widely used accounting packages, including QuickBooks, Peachtree Simply Accounting Line 50, and MAS 90/200. Founded in 1997, AccuPOS is headquartered in Los Angeles with regional offices throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe. For more information, visit www.accupos.com
ATLANTIC SYSTEMS, INC. (ASI)
Atlantic Systems, Inc. has offered POS computer systems for beverage alcohol retailers since 1980. The company provides complete systems including hardware, software, installation, training and long term support. Spirits 2000 is a Windows-based software package that provides inventory and financial control for one store or a multi store chain. High speed integrated credit/debit card processing is done via the Internet. The system can identify a customer at the register using a bar-coded card or by entering the customer's name or account number. Its Frequent Shopper Program can collect information on customer purchases and provide the retailer assistance in rewarding the best customers with incentives. Automated age verification and storage of results is available in most states. Targeted marketing can be done automatically by selectively filtering customer sales history and then contacting them via a mass email. Gift card processing can be done through the retailer's credit card processor or internally in the system, which eliminates processing fees. A web interface is available for e-commerce along with an interface to an information kiosk for use by customers. Prices for the Spirits 2000 system start at about $10,000. For more information, call 732-2806616, extension 127 or visit www.asi-nj.com.
This company provides a product called EnoFile, which runs with many popular POS systems. With EnoFile, customers can access their own purchase history, add their personal tasting notes and "wish lists," create food pairings, as well as browse product information from the store, either from the in-store EnoFile kiosk or from their own home computers, via the store's website. If the store has no website, EnoFile becomes the website. EnoFile is priced at $5,995 with $495 a subscription fee (first year included free) which covers offsite data backup, support and software updates for the latest EnoFile features and functions. For more information, call 866-240-5294 or visit www.axiomrti.com.
CAP Software's store-management system, SellWise, is currently being used by more than 100 wine and spirit retailers. The system provides POS, free integrated credit-card processing, inventory control, customer tracking, order/receive, tag and barcode printing and back office reporting. Newer features include optional video monitoring, for security purposes, touchscreen support, hot keys and customized reports. Prices for the software start at $995. For a demo, visit the company's website, www.capretail.com, or call 800-826-5009.
The system from this company, called Spirits, was designed specifically for New York State wine and beverage alcohol retailers. It was first installed in a store in Buffalo, NY in 1987. The latest release, Spirits 4.4, includes optional gift-card, loyalty-card and credit-card processing. New York State driver's licenses can be scanned and their information stored for age verification. Cetech now offers browser-based application development of e-commerce websites and e-mail marketing programs. For more information, call 716-884-8780, visit www.cetech.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ChoiceMaster can simplify staff training, build good will with customers and increase sales. With ChoiceMaster running on a touchscreen kiosk in the store, customers can find food pairings, recipes, party planning advice and more. ChoiceMaster can be linked to many POS systems, allowing price and inventory information to be updated automatically, and can be used in multi-store operations. For more information, visit www.ChoiceMaster.com, call 410-745-8137 or email email@example.com.
This technology-integration company specializes in providing turnkey systems, including installation and ongoing service, for mid-sized to large organizations in the retail industry with a focus on control state ABC Boards. Dalcom can provide point-of-sale (POS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, using products from IBM, NCR, HP, Microsoft and SAP. For more information, call 336-851-1802 or visit www.dalcom.com.
FUJITSU TRANSACTION SOLUTIONS INC.
Fujitsu,s offerings include solutions software, such as its globalSTORE POS product for grocery stores, point-of-sale hardware, U-Scan self-checkout systems, self-ordering systems and multi-vendor lifecycle services. For more information, visit us.fujitsu.com/retailing.
IBM RETAIL STORE SOLUTIONS
IBM provides a range of technology solutions for the retail store, including a family of retail-hardened, point-of-sale systems with a variety of capabilities at a range of prices, IBM's POS line includes the affordably priced, retail-hardened IBM SurePOS 300; the SurePOS 500 series, which features a space-saving footprint and sleek look that fits any location; and the SurePOS 700 series, which is the most powerful point-of-sale solution in the IBM portfolio, offering multiple choices for speed, size, color and format. IBM also offers innovative retail kiosk and self-checkout systems, including a new 15 inch entry-level kiosk model that offers reliable performance at an affordable price. More than 1,000 IBM Business Partners provide specialized software applications for retailers of all types and sizes. IBM provides hardware, software and services for many of the world's leading retailers. For more information on IBM Retail Solutions, visit www.ibm.com/retail.
This company offers two retail POS software packages: Store Keeper POS, meant to be an affordable system for single-store retailers, and Store Manager ES, for chain-store customers and retailers whose operations have custom requirements. Both systems use touchscreens. Call 800-678-8682 or visit www.infotouch.com.
INNOVATIVE COMPUTER SOLUTIONS (ICS)
ICS has developed programs specifically for beverage alcohol retailers for over 25 years and has systems installed throughout the U.S. and the Carribean. The company's VISION system is a scalable solution for stores ranging from a single register to multiple locations. The POS module within VISION is designed to provide full register capability, including price look-ups, discounts, customer-special pricing, periodic sales and frequent-buyer or award points tracking. The Vision POS can be operated on a standard PC or a touch screen system. A combination PDF/UPC scanner can identify under-age purchasers and add customers to a store's mailing/emailing list. The back-office module provides inventory control, sales analysis, purchase history, FIFO inventory level tracking, and physical inventory. Cashier accountability features allow a retailer to track all transactions down to the keystroke. VISION is turnkey and includes hardware, installation and training at the store location. Complete systems start at under $6,000, including hardware which can also be purchased separately. Call 732-223-0909 or visit www.ics-nj.com.
This company offers the Wine Collector 250 mini, a wireless barcode scanner the size of a keyfob. Wine lovers can scan the barcodes of bottles of wine they are interested in, at a tasting, in a restaurant, at a friend's house or in a store. When they get home, they download the information onto their PC, much like downloading the images from a digital camera, and the Wine Collector 250 software will automatically provide and record the wine's information, such as name, winery, varietal, country and region, by accessing IntelliScanner's database via the internet. The keyfob-sized version of the Wine Collector 250 costs $299 and a larger version of the scanner, with a cord, costs $199. For more information, visit www.intelliscanner.com or call 800-550-5470.
MERCHANT SOFTWARE CORP.
This company's system for beverage retailers, LiquorPOS, is currently being used in approximately 3,000 liquor stores. The system comes with a database of 12,000 beverage-alcohol products, to speed a store's installation. Its beverage alcohol-specific abilities include the scanning of driver's licenses for age-verification purposes, handling multi-pack products (such as beer sold by the case, bottle or six-pack) and the capability to handle keg deposits. The company also offers Go! POS, a wireless inventory scanner, for use with the system. For more information, call 1-800-565-6675 or visit www.merchantsoft.com.
Founded in 1985, Merchant Technologies specializes in comprehensive retail systems for the specialty retailer. Merchant Technologies designs, develops, markets, consults, trains, installs and services retailers with one to 100-plus stores. For more information, call 1800-395-8324 or visit www.merchanttechnologies.com
Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) is a POS and store management solution for mid-market and chain stores. It offers functionality such as multi-dimensional inventory management, customized reporting, advanced purchasing, and receivables management. As a key driver of Microsoft's retail platform strategy, Microsoft Dynamics RMS integrates with packages such as Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics AX. It can be customized for specific business requirements. Microsoft Dynamics RMS pricing starts at $1,190 for a single store, single lane and is available in English worldwide. Microsoft Dynamics Point of Sale provides single-store retailers with an easy-to-use application that helps them track sales, inventory, and customer information. Designed to replace a cash register, Point of Sale now includes Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 to deliver a true solutions suite that connects POS and financial management processes. Microsoft Dynamics Point of Sale pricing starts at $799 for a single store, single lane, software only, and is available in the U.S. only. Call 888-477-7989 or visit http://www. microsoft.com/dynamics/rms/default.mspx.
NCR Corporation, founded in 1884, made the world's first cash registers. Today, NCR is a global technology company whose products and support services address the needs of retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality, gaming and public sector organizations in more than 100 countries. For more information, call 866-431-7879, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ncr.com.
Prophetline is a POS and retail management system for small- to mid-sized specialty retailers, including beverage retailers. Its systems include IP credit card processing, integrated web shopping and fully integrated accounting. Handling operations ranging from one store to multiple sites with centralized purchasing, Prophetline is a four-time winner of the Microsoft Retail Application Developer of the Year Award. Call 800-875-6592 or visit www.prophetline.com.
Radiant Systems is a fast growing provider of store technology for small to mid-sized specialty retailers. The Radiant Retail Solution is a complete technology solution and can include CounterPoint software, hardware built for retail, e-commerce and technical services. Radiant recently added four new resellers, who will sell and implement the company's offerings, including One Step Retail Solutions, one of the leading resellers of POS and inventory control systems for retailers in the U.S. For more information, visit www.counterpointpos.com or call 800-852-5852.
Retail Anywhere is a developer of POS and retail management solutions for wine and liquor store retailers, both single store and chain operations. The company has more than 25 years of experience. Call 1-800-257-2734 or visit www.retailanywhere.com for further information.
This company offers POS, store operations, merchandising, planning, business intelligence and payment processing software applications for specialty retailers. For more information, visit www.retailpro.com.
RITE (Retail Information Technology Enterprises)
This company customizes the Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) software for beverage-alcohol retailers and has retailer clients in 24 states. RITE has modified the RMS software with POS interface and back office enhancements that help beverage-alcohol retailers save time and squeeze extra profits out of their businesses. These extensions can either be purchased at the time the RMS software is bought or they can be acquired and added into a system that is already using RMS. For information, visit http://www.rite.us or call toll-free 1-888-267-RITE.
Sage Software specializes in business management software and services for small and mid-sized businesses, with brands such as ACT! by Sage, Peachtree by Sage, Sage FAS, Sage Abra, Sage MAS 90, Sage Accpac ERP, and more. For more information, call 866-996-SAGE (7243) or visit www.sagesoftware.com.
SAP is a leading provider of business software solutions, including Triversity, a point-of-sale system. For more information, visit www.sap.com/retail.
SHARP ELECTRONICS CORPORATION
Sharp recently introduced its UP-3500 and UP-800 POS terminals. Both feature touchscreens. Both terminals use embedded Flash ROM technology and have no moving parts to provide more reliability and a slimmer profile. The UP-3500 is meant for smaller retailers, while the UP-800 can store information on up to 60,000 sales items and can accommodate standard credit-card processing, gift-card processing and optional interfaces to the store,s security cameras and to a VIVOPay contactless payment device. For more information, visit sharpusa.com/pos.
SHOP TO COOK
This company provides customer kiosks for grocery stores and supermarkets. Depending on the software package chosen, its kiosks can provide wine information, meal-planning help, including recipes and shopping lists that can be printed, wine-pairing suggestions and an item locator, which pinpoints where a desired product is in the store. The kiosks can provide the retailer with reports about the items and features customers have been looking up. Subscription fees start at $150 per month. For more information, call 716-362-3168 or visit www.shoptocook.com.
This company provides mobile price and inventory management solutions for the retail industry. Its systems are used by some of the largest retail operations in the country. For more information, call 330-665-1698 or visit www.softechnics.com.
WASP BARCODE TECHNOLOGIES
WASP Barcode Technologies specializes in providing data capture and tracking products, including a POS system called Wasp Quickstore as well as barcode scanners, printers and time and attendance systems for small businesses. For more information, visit www.waspbarcode.com or call 866-547-9277.
WineMiner LLC, an NCR, IBM and Mcosm Partner, offers specialized Enterprise Class customer kiosks, called Wine Market Assistant, in partnership with Ready Touch, an NCR Business Partner. The in-store kiosk allows customers to search for a wine, spirit, or beer in various ways, from a simple "red wine under $10" to more complex information searches for wine collectors. It also offers food pairings, information on over 400 cheeses and thousands of recipes. In addition, Wine Market Assistant offers the retailer options to integrate into their POS for nightly updates to pricing and products, loyalty program, in-store promotions and the store map. WineMiner's content includes independent wine reviews as well as winemaker notes. WineMiner plans to allow retailers to maintain their own social networking sub-site on WinesandRecipes.com which would enable the store's customers to form an interactive online community and provide the retailer with a targeted advertising tool. Lease prices for a kiosk start at $10 per day. For more information, call 888-450-4529 or email Marketing@WineMarketAssistant.com.