Finally I am ready to open a candy & chocolate shop in San Mateo County, California. This is my first retail business, I would really appreciate any of your suggestions about choosing an inventory software and POS system. If you have suppliers that you like to recommend, that would be great.
Some of you might be a very experienced shop owner. I am wondering if you would be willing to share your experiences about how you do things, so I could use some expert advice.
Thank you very much for your feedbacks.
I started down that path just over two years ago here in New Zealand and it has been a lot of fun! We use a POS system that was customized for us, and is made for New Zealand, so would not work over there. Just make sure you get a good, reliable system that makes it easy to track which flavors you are selling - if you just lump all your loose chocolates into one 'code' you will make forecasting and planning that much harder.
Thank you for your reply, and your encouragement.
I want to arrange things effectively, in order to make management easier. Thinking about how many items I will have, and how to decorate the store in a way it would be more fun and inviting, it is exciting, but can be frustrating as well.
I will do whatever it takes to get my shop ready.
We decided to go the non-traditional route and disliked all registers--too expensive for too little. We went with Vend (http://www.vendhq.com/). All you need is a laptop and you can hook it up to a receipt printer and cash drawer.
You can also look into a similar solution ShopKeep.(http://shopkeep.com/)
There are a lot of web oriented solutions coming. They excel in my opinion, I can check in on all things anywhere. A lot nicer than being tied to something archaic and from a decade or more ago--or a PC solution that locks you into some high fees.
Experiment and go with what feels good to you and your business. I spent 3 months evaluating with great disappointment until we came to web solutions.
Thanks Andy for sharing your experience.
I will have over hundred of items in store. Good inventory management software & POS system definitely will make things lot of easier for me. I will check vendhq & shopkeep's website for more information.
I agree that 'registers' are outdated and don't really deliver on functionality. We use a customised software solution and run it on a good looking touch screen PC (with mini keyboard of course), and have integrated Eftpos/Credit card + printers (barcode label printer & receipt printer), which is transitioning to the cloud as we now run multiple sites. The most important factors for me in my system are:
* business intelligence - ability to see as much data as possible to track and analyze products (individual, category, or by attribute, over any period I want)
* simple, intuitive Point of Sale interface for FAST and simple processing of sales (we have put through over 700 sales in a day before). Our barcode system allows fast sanning of retail shelf products and our short number codes for our loose assorted cabinet chocolates are fast and easy to type in (we have over 120 individual flavors etc). All up we have over 600 SKUS on our system, although only 400 or so are active.
* CRM (Customer Relationship Management) we have included a bar coded loyalty card system which gives points on all purchases to customers and allows us to market to customers who buy particular items etc
There are plenty of other nice to have functionality, but if I could only have three, they would be it.
There are most certainly great opportunities in the cloud now, and I am very excited about our upcoming transition as our software moves off our PCs and into the cloud, giving me more control from our head office while still allowing stores a decent level of autonomy for daily things.
I also spent a long time looking, and there were so many bad systems, I feel lucky to have found the one I did. Thanks for your comments, made me realize I had not really elaborated on my system.
I use a system called Paygo. Its a cloud solution and inexpensive.
sorry its www.christianjames.net PAYGO SAAS (software as a service) We've been using it in our retail for 2 years. It has the loyalty program, gift cards, customer management wholesale and retail with photos and gobs of reports like what hrs of the day sold the most and which salesperson etc.
Our only challenge was inventory because things arrive as bulk chocolates but leave as boxed. We have our stock #'s as the boxes. So while we can't track the specific route of an individual flavor or chocolate ( we have around 40) we have a clear grasp on the box configurations that sell. All other items like bars can be tracked easily.
Thank you Melanie.
Your feedback is very helpful. I will check the website for more details. Would you mind to telling me the cost since you have to pay loyalty?