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10 Tips for Choosing a Good POS System

May 14th, 2015 No comments

When you are a retailer, the one thing at the top of your mind is streamlining the checkout process and giving your customers efficient service. Having a good point of sale (POS) system can go a long way in ensuring that you not only send out, but also bring back happy customers to your store.

While the competition is high when it comes to choosing the right POS providers, the following pointers could help you narrow down the best one that suits your business needs – please also refer to our infographic for the quick checklist.

  1. Single screen interface: To ensure that your sales executive at the checkout terminal can process items faster, it is important to have a single screen interface that lets you input the item details, review the order details and process the payment. Navigating between multiple screens/windows for these primary functions can be confusing and cause the POS operator to waste precious time.
  2. Ease of use: A single screen interface also lends itself to ease of use that requires minimum training for the POS operator. This should be an important factor in deciding upon your POS system to factor in the various skill levels of POS operators (interns, students, freshers, part-time workers, etc.) at your checkout terminals. Irrespective of whether your POS operator has previous experience using a POS system, he should be able to manage your checkout process efficiently with the POS system in your store.
  3. Ability to function online and offline: The POS system should be able to function seamlessly irrespective of whether you are connected to the internet or not. It is not advisable to have only an offline or online system, as internet downtime for a web-only system can have serious repercussions on your sales. The system should be able to operate offline and then sync your records/transactions with your database once you are online again. 
  4. Flawless payment processing with multiple payment methods: The system should support all types of payment methods such as credit cards, cash, checks, and gift cards etc. as per your business policies. The method of payment should not impact the efficiency of the checkout process, nor should you be required to turn away a customer simply because your system does not accept the customer’s preferred mode of payment.
  5. Customer data encryption/security: One of the most important functions of the POS system that accepts credit cards and stores any form of customer information is to ensure that the information is transmitted and stored securely and in an encrypted format. Assuring the customers that their information is secure will help your gain their trust and repeat business.
  6. Ability to apply promotions/discounts: The various promotions/discounts that you offer your customers should be reflected and applicable via your POS system. Having to tell a shopper that a particular discount is not available to them can lead to a disgruntled customer and cause you to lose his business.
  7. Real-time inventory updates: All sales and modifications to your inventory should be reflected and available real-time to all your sales executives and/or online customers irrespective of the number of stores you operate. This can help avoid backorders for online customers. Inventory management and stock-keeping can be made easier as well.
  8. Connect brick and mortar stores to the web store: Your POS system should be connected to your inventory database and ecommerce web store, while keeping all three in sync at all times. Having two different systems for your physical stores and web store can lead to inventory and accounting management problems. 
  9. Integrated with backend ERP system: If you are already using an ERP system to manage your catalog, inventory, customers and accounts, it is advisable that the POS system integrates with it real-time for most of the basic functions such as sales order placement, inventory updates, etc. Being able to keep your systems in sync at all times helps improve overall business efficiency.
  10. Customizability: There is usually no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing your retail stores through POS systems. Based upon your unique business and customer requirements, the POS system provider should be able to provide you a customized solution that helps you maximize your sales and bring efficiency to the checkout process. 

point of sale

ax for retail webinar

For more information on how to choose the right POS solution for your business needs, please email us at retail@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Carl’s Jr. Uses Microsoft Industry Solutions for Self-Service Kiosks in Stores

January 12th, 2015 No comments

I’m at the NRF Big Show 2015, and I’m pleased to report the Carl’s Jr. Self-Service In-Store Kiosk solution is running on Microsoft technology. The screenshots below show examples of self-service with the ability to customize items, place the order, complete payment, and get a receipt without any staff assistance.

self-service with the ability to customize items, place the order, complete payment, and get a receipt without any staff assistance

Self-service capability is a big deal for Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), who are under pressure to reduce labor costs in restaurants due to the cost impact of the Affordable Care Act and increasing minimum wages. The solution is running entirely on the Microsoft-based Dell hardware, which provides an integrated card swipe and attached printer (approximately $750 in cost for the hardware), and Microsoft Retail industry solutions for the self-service application.

The self-service application allows for upsell, including the ability to round up by adding more items or making a sandwich to a combo.

self-service application allows for upsell, including the ability to round up by adding more items or making a sandwich to a combo

Also provided is the ability to customize a sandwich (or any item for that matter) by adding as shown in the example below – extra cheese, another sausage or lettuce, or removing items, e.g. no sausage.

ability to customize a sandwich

What makes this compelling is the in-built automation that can lead to significant cost reductions in stores at a reasonable price point. For more information on retail solutions, email us at retail@ignify.com

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail Implementation Best Practices

July 8th, 2014 No comments

I recently presented on this topic at the AX Users Group (AXUG) and have summarized best practices to focus on when doing the implementation. The key areas this blog article will focus on are

  • Scope of Implementation
  • Rollout
  • Change Management

Scope of ImplementationMicrosoft Dynamics AX for Retail is one of the few solutions providing an end-to-end retail solution which includes Financials, Inventory, Warehousing, Procurement, Store Management and Point of Sale. Because of the breadth of the functionality as well as an architecture that allows for integration with other solutions, customers have a series of implementation options as shown below.

  • Everything or Big Bang: If there are multiple systems that need to be replaced that are either not integrated today or loosely integrated this can be a good choice. The main downside to this is the amount of energy and horsepower required by the retailer and the implementation partner to pull this off successfully. This option is not for the faint of heart and requires a well thought out plan, sufficient resources and top management commitment.
  • Phase Implementation via packages: A list of packages are
    • Store Operations, Assisted Selling, Point of Sale
    • eCommerce, mobile-Commerce or mCommerce, Social Commerce
    • Customer Care and Marketing
    • Order Management, Inventory, Warehousing and Distribution
    • Financial Management, Management Reporting

If taking a phased approach, my preference is to do the financial implementation first as you can set out our base fundamentals right. That would include the chart of accounts, financial dimensions, reporting and ensuring our have a solid foundation for the rest of the implementation. The second preference would be to do the Front-end implementations first which is either the Store Operations and POS or the eCommerce and mobility. If you have to pick order management, warehousing, procurement I would typically recommend bundling in financials in that implementation as well. The up side of a phased implementation is that the scope is manageable and can ensure the organization is focused on getting it right without burdening the whole organization with the implementation. Th down side of a phased implementation is the need for intermediate interfaces as well as a longer duration which typically results in higher costs over a Big Bang approach.

implementation packages

The last piece of best practice advice around the scope is the most obvious one – to keep it manageable. If the internal implementation team is not scaled up to doing the whole implementation then it makes most sense to implement it in a phased manner. An example phasing is shown below

phasing of implementation

Rollout: A lot of retailers don’t think about rollout. But if you are doing a POS and Store operations implementation then you want to decide whether you rollout to all stores together or do a certain number of stores as pilot and then do staged rollouts after that. The upside of doing it all together is that you get it done with in one shot but it can be much harder to manage the change for all the in-store personnel at one go. The advantage of a staged rollout is manageability but you will need to interface to the older store system while rolling out even if you just to the GL to bring in the transactions for the stores that are not covered in the first rollout. Below is a list of parameters to think about while deciding one way or the other with the metrics usually found. I say usually because even though I would typically say anything more than 50 stores it is better to stage a rollout, in one instance we implemented to 400 stores in one shot since the cost of integrating with the system we were replacing was too high due to its legacy architecture.

 

Staged Rollout

All Stores in one Rollout

Number of Stores

50 stores or higher

Less than 50 stores

Number of users

More than 100 users

Less than 100 users

Internal change management capability

Low to Medium

High

Cost of Integrating with store system being replaced

Low to Medium

High

Change Management: I referenced change management in the rollout section and my experience is that retailers often significantly underestimate the amount of change management required to make a new implementation successful. Often the focus of Change management is the training for the in-store personnel. However a new retail business system like Microsoft Dynamics AX can transform an organization in a very positive fashion. However, without good change management you could end up with a very poor implementation as users may try to get the new system to be like the old system as opposed to adopting best practice business processes that come with Microsoft Dynamics AX.  Similarly poor change management can lead to lack of preparedness for data migration, under-trained staff and high resistance to a new system irrespective of the quality of the system. While everyone typically things of adding in a project manager, I would also recommend adding in a Change Manager in the organization that helps with all of the following

  • Expectation Management
  • Training
  • Project Communication
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Openness to a new system

A new implementation while challenging can be a lot of fun and an opportunity to not just modernize your business systems but also significantly revamp you processes to allow the organization to operate in a much more optimal fashion than before. I wish you the best on your implementation journey. For more information on implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, please email us at retail@ignify.com.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Faster Checkouts, Faster Revenues: 5 Ways Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS Improves Checkout Speed

June 2nd, 2014 No comments

In-store sales representatives are the first, and often only, point of contact between your business and your highly-valued shoppers. They must be well-trained and dedicated to your brand, but also require the most up-to-date technology to ensure an efficient buying process.

The last thing we want to do as shoppers is spend time waiting in a long line because the cashier is struggling with a faulty or outdated system.

We’ve all been there: the customer at the front of the line has a shopping cart full of items, tries to claim each one has a discounted price, and then stacks several coupons toward the order. Additionally, the customer in front of you has a baby that won’t stop crying and the one to the rear keeps nudging you with a shopping cart.

Just as you’re about to abandon your items and leave, the register next door opens. You breathe a sigh of relief and rush over to pay for your items and leave.

Powerful, scalable POS systems, like Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, can help combat long lines at checkout

Powerful, scalable POS systems, like Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, can help combat long lines at checkout. 

Experiences like this are far too common in today’s retail stores. Your customers deserve more than this; they are spending their hard-earned cash at your business. Keep them coming to you instead of your competitors with a reliable, efficient Point of Sale system.

Why Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS

From clocking in to completing a variety of customer transactions, the Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS system is simple enough for each employee to quickly respond to customer needs and powerful enough to connect to headquarters processes alongside enterprise resource planning and financials.

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS makes each step of the day easy for customer service representatives, in-store management, and corporate-level employees. The single, end-to-end solution can accelerate business success and empower employees to improve customer satisfaction. Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail is equipped to handle a variety of transactions, from the most basic sale to mix and match deals.

Please see the five ways below that Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS allows salespeople to move the checkout lines quickly and efficiently – and keep the cash flowing in. 

  1. Apply Discounts with Ease

    With this system, sales reps can easily apply discounts to orders without having to fumble for codes or overrides. For example, the system can be configured to recognize sales of different types, like bundled discounts.

    If the system is set to discount items after the customer purchases three or more of the same item, the system will automatically deduct the savings without any additional keystrokes from the sales associate. Please see the screenshots below for an example of how this particular discount would look on the POS. 

    Apply Discounts with Ease

    When a customer purchases two of the same T-shirts, the POS system charges each at the full retail price of $5.99.

    Apply Discounts with Ease

    As soon as the third shirt is scanned, the cost of each shirt is lowered to $4.79, showing that a 20 percent discount has been applied.

    Alternatively, the system can also be configured to give mix and match discounts, like buy two pairs of jeans and get a T-shirt for free.

  2. Prevent Checkout Line Hold-ups by Suspending and Recalling Transactions

    In the case that a customer wants to purchase additional items, or mistakenly grabbed the wrong size, there is no need to hold up the line while the issue is being resolved. The POS system can easily suspend and recall transactions as needed to keep the line moving steadily.

    Prevent Checkout Line Hold-ups by Suspending and Recalling Transactions

    This recall transaction screen shows the cashier which transactions are on hold. A description of the items in each transaction appears in the box to the right when the cashier clicks on each check on hold.

  3. Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS provides additional advanced sales capabilities to ensure each cashier has a wealth of information at their fingertips.

    Cashiers can look up inventory in real time throughout the chain, add new customers to the customer database, and create customer orders with a few clicks on the screen.

    With the ability to look up inventory and customer information quickly and in different ways, cashiers are able to find answers in minimal time.  

    Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    Items can be looked up by simply typing in a keyword, like “jean.”

    Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    Once an item is selected, the system will show which stores in the area carry the product and how much is currently in stock.

    Cashiers also have the ability to look up a customer by a number of criteria such as name, email address, or phone number. This is helpful in processing returns without a receipt or to verify important loyalty information per individual customers.

    Find Items/Customers Instantly with Inventory Lookups

    This search screen narrowed down store information to show customers who have the numbers “1234” in their listed phone number.

  4. Provide Customers Convenience with Different Item Pickup Options

    The fact that an item isn’t available in-store doesn’t mean a transaction can’t still take place – cashiers are able to create custom orders in the case that an item is not available in store. Options such as in-store pickup, pick up at another location, shipping directly to the customer, or shipping to another residence can all be easily configured within the system.

    You can also configure the POS system to apply fees to specific custom orders. For example, if a customer wants an item that is available at a different store, a 10 percent payment fee (or whichever fee amount you wish) can be applied.

    Provide Customers Convenience with Different Item Pickup Options

    The POS system can be configured to charge a 10 percent fee toward the price of the item for customers who wish to order an item that is not available in store.

  5. Customizable Point of Sale Interface – Helping Cashiers Help Themselves Be Most Efficient

    The POS system is highly configurable and can be designed to have as many or few buttons on the home screen as desired for specific functionality. Retail stores can allow sales representatives to configure their own point of sale interfaces according to their preferences. For example, if an associate has certain high-use buttons, those can be preset on the screen. Additionally, the screen can be configured for left or right hand use.

    Customizable Point of Sale Interface

    This screen has key buttons on the left and a number pad on the right for item search or quantity input. There are also quick-access buttons on the bottom for dealing with different types of tender or gift cards.

    Customizable Point of Sale Interface

    This screen features less buttons, and also has an interface more intuitive to left-handed users, since the key pad and quick-access buttons are located on the left of the screen.

The examples listed above provide a snapshot into the daily functions a cashier would use in a POS system. For more information, please email dynamics@ignify.com.

Stay tuned to the Retail Blog for more articles about store manager functionality, retail headquarters functionality, and loyalty management in Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce, ERP, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

My Experience at Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp

June 11th, 2013 No comments

As a Web App / GUI designer, it’s important to keep learning new design tips and techniques, so on June 7th, I attended the all-day Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp in Pune, India.

Not only did I learn valuable design information, but I was thrilled to be declared a Winner for the camp’s design contest!

Please read on to find out more about the Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp, the key Microsoft Windows 8 design concepts and practices I learned, and the exciting design contest that I participated in. 

What was the Microsoft Design Camp all about?

This non-technical, no-fluff workshop for visual designers and UX designers, by designers, was about developing world-class apps from experts such as Brandy Porter and Brian Harper from Big Nerd Ranch. They had also developed some bonus content around responsive web design. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with other designers, cook up my own designs, and showcase those designs for the contest.

The time was split between discussing key principles of Windows Store app design and applying what was learned in design exercises. There I was introduced to the new Windows 8 operating system, and the design and UX patterns that exist in Windows Store apps. The day started with an overview of Windows 8, the Modern UI, and the Microsoft Design Language. It led into a series of discussions followed by lab time, where we were asked to draw up wireframes for our application, at each stage implementing the theory we had heard. The camp was a mix of presentation, discussion, and hand-on design exercises.

What was the agenda?

In this design camp, they covered:

  • Principles of Microsoft Design
  • Navigation
  • Layout
  • UI Elements
  • Charms, Contracts, and Extensions
  • Snapping and Scaling
  • Windows Store
  • Bonus Content: Responsive Web Design
  • "Cook up a design" Contest (which I won!)

We had Windows 8 sketch pads, pencils and Sharpies to use. I had my Windows 8 laptop to drive through some of the theory.

What I learned?

I learned how to approach application design for Windows 8, the unique experiences that a Windows 8 user expects from an application, and how I should approach some of the unique features of Windows 8 and bring them to life within my app.

At the Windows 8 Design Camp, the learning was all about Microsoft design language and how to apply it to designing a Windows Store app; understanding the principles of great Windows Store app design; learning the UX guidelines and applying them in my own design.

About the "Cook up a design" contest

The goal of the Windows 8 Design Camps was to guide us through the design of our first Windows Store app, and so for the contest, I designed an app. In each session of the camp, I learned a different aspect of Windows Store app design via a combination of presentation and discussion. After each presentation, we were asked to go through the applied aspect of the theory learned by designing our own app in a design lab on the topic. All the labs were done with paper and pencil. When we were ready for feedback, the Design Camp’s instructors were available to discuss our design.

Me (in front, wearing a black shirt) discussing my design concept with contest judge Brandy Porter (right) while sketching

Me (in front, wearing a black shirt) discussing my design concept with contest judge Brandy Porter (right) while sketching

The criteria for the contest was that contestants had to consider Windows 8 guidelines and come up with a clean, catchy, and innovative app design with a creative app logo, in a 90-minute time limit. The panel of four judges took some time to ponder and determine the five finalists.

I was so excited to hear my name declared first out of the five winners in Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp as “Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store”, out of 19 designs and 40 designers from TCS, Cybage, Nvidia, Wipro, Fiserv, Congenzent, and the list goes on.

Showcased below are wireframes (sketches) and actual designs (sketches converted into real design) that I made during the competition. Three levels of mock content pages were created – hub, section, and detail pages.

This is the sketch and actual design of the hub page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the hub page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the section page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the section page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the detail page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the detail page that I created for my app

Please see below for more pictures of that memorable event:

Shaking hands with Mark (left) as he calls my name as winner of the 'Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store' contest

Shaking hands with Mark (left) as he calls my name as winner of the “Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store” contest

Me on the dais receiving prize from Microsoft experts and the panel of judges. My design is showcased on the  screen to the left. From left to right: Brian Harper, Mark, Sandeep Alur, me,  and Brandy Porter

Me on the dais receiving prize from Microsoft experts and the panel of judges. My design is showcased on the screen to the left. From left to right: Brian Harper, Mark, Sandeep Alur, me, and Brandy Porter

Me with Microsoft experts and contest judges – Brian Harper and Brandy Porter

Me with Microsoft experts and contest judges – Brian Harper and Brandy Porter

Winners’ designs will be showcased on the Microsoft website after minor changes suggested by judges.

The Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp provided an excellent opportunity to learn new Microsoft Windows 8 design concepts and put them into practice. I look forward to applying this knowledge to new design areas!

Kumar Shah is a Creative Expert at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.