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5 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You about Retail ERP Software

October 16th, 2015 No comments

We all know competition is a fact of life. One of the biggest aspects of running a successful business is knowing what your competitors are up to. As a company it is important to try to stay one step ahead. In order to compete with a greater impact businesses should be looking to the best and newest forms of technology. Unfortunately, due to hesitancy, competitors can often times get ahead of the game. Read on to learn 5 things your competitors can teach you about the benefits of Retail ERP Software. (And want proof? Read the successes that retailers have experienced firsthand from Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail here: http://bit.ly/1G7Z4SN).

1. Time Management is Crucial

When it comes to competing with other businesses, the sure fire way to rise to the top of the heap is by saving time. Time and accuracy are the main attributes that contribute to efficient business practices. No company wants to be spending their time manually entering information, often times on multiple different systems. This can lead to frustration and annoyance. Not only does this waste time, it can lead to inconsistencies and inefficiencies in decision making and planning. An ERP software can solve this issue by providing a single, unified view of all business information. With an ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retailers your competitors are avoiding redundant data entry and manual tasks. Reduce manual data entry and other tedious tasks and make a difference in company growth by investing in a Microsoft ERP solution.

Reduce manual tasks by introducing a completely connected ERP system that covers all areas of retail.

Figure 1. Reduce manual tasks by introducing a completely connected ERP system that covers all areas of retail.

2. How to Support Future Growth

Don’t fall so far behind that it becomes impossible to catch up with competitors. Watching other companies in your industry expand as their business easily grows larger and larger can be frustrating. With a Dynamics ERP system, smooth business growth becomes increasingly more efficient and feasible. Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail enables managers to implement predictive analytics, which helps efficiently introduce new products and target new markets. If your company wants to grow globally it cannot operate on out of date or heavily modified systems. Instead, move faster with more confidence and allow your company to grow and expand with no headaches. Whether it’s transitioning from a mom and pop shop to brick and mortar, moving from a production based organization to a sales driven one, or simply expanding locations. Microsoft Dynamics AX can help you easily operate your business across geographies and locations with deployment options that are flexible enough to support new sales channels and keep up with a continually changing industry.

3. Visibility is Essential for Real Time Market Changes

What cannot be seen cannot be improved. Visibility is a key factor in guaranteeing a successful business practice. Only with full visibility into your company’s workings can a business react to real time market changes. Microsoft Dynamics AX allows for full visibility into business events that might not be entirely apparent, such as fulfillment rates and inventory movement. Making sure all aspects of business are completely transparent allows for faster and better decision making. Competitors are reacting to market changes in a timely manner making it important to adapt quickly to changing business requirements with POS add-ins and extensible headquarter software that can be tailored to meet specific retail needs. Achieve greater visibility and access information to ensure your organization is operating in the best way possible with Microsoft Dynamic AX for Retail.

Purpose-built POS components provide inventory visibility and efficient checkout processes.

Figure 2. Purpose-built POS components provide inventory visibility and efficient checkout processes.

4. Everything Starts with Inventory and Warehouse Management

When it comes to any type of retail business, the exterior cannot work without a smoothly functioning internal system. This starts with the warehouse and inventory. Inventory management is a critical component of a smooth operation. If the inventory is off than the whole system is off. ERP solutions help manage existing inventory as well as enables future products to integrate smoothly. The fulfillment and warehouse management systems in Dynamics AX provide a solution that is able to meet complex and unique requirements allowing you to manage the warehouse inventory, improve store replenishment cycle, and satisfy customers need at the fastest rate possible.

5. Create an Omni-Channel System for Optimal Success

There are so many building blocks that make up a successful business. In order to effectively compete in the market place there has to be clear communication and smooth flow between all channels. The more channels a customers has to choose from that better the business opportunity, and the more likely they will choose your business over a competitor’s. Dynamics ERP systems work to easily connect complex multi-channel systems. Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail enhances the customer experience by providing the ability to the mix and match payment providers, leverage support for shopping carts, buy online and make returns to a physical store, and much more.

Microsoft Dynamics AX, built from the ground up, cohesively acts as the core to complex omni-channel retail businesses.

Figure 3. Microsoft Dynamics AX, built from the ground up, cohesively acts as the core to complex omni-channel retail businesses.

If you would like more information on Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail, please email retail@ignify.com.

Chelsea Cole is a Proposal Writer at Ignify. Ignify is Worldwide Microsoft Partner in 2015, 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.

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Is Your POS System Truly Modern?

June 3rd, 2015 No comments

Retail businesses, no matter how big or small, have come a long way from the cash register days to web-based POS systems that give greater control to the POS operator.

With a variety of POS players in the market and rapid advances in technology, it is easy for businesses to be confused or settle for a lesser system that does not give the complete benefits of a POS system. We have discussed how to choose a good POS system in a previous post. This post points out some important consequences of using an outdated POS system.

  1. Delays in the checkout process: A slow moving checkout line can frustrate even the best of us, and thus lead to lost sales. Customers greatly value – and therefore come back to – stores with a fast checkout process that is not riddled with avoidable delays. A POS system that is not easy to operate can cause the POS operator to spend longer on processing/completing a sales order, leading to disgruntled customers and fewer sales, and possibly even bad word-of-mouth. All of this could easily have been avoided, however, with an efficient POS system that is easy to use even for a first-time POS operator.
  2. Limited payment options: These days even in-store retail customers like to have multiple payment options available to them, and having such a variety available increases your chances of completing a sale successfully. An up-to-date POS system would let you accept both online and offline payments such as cash, credit card, and check, along with other options such as gift card, vouchers, credit notes etc. You would not have to turn away a customer just because he does not have enough cash on hand or balance on his card, if your POS system is equipped to process multiple payment methods for a single order.
  3. Inability to provide personalized customer service: Even for a retail customer at the checkout counter, personalized service that offers exclusive discounts or loyalty benefits is important. A good POS system lets you offer special discounts/offers to individual customers that are customized as per their purchasing habits or brand loyalty. Creating such discounts is feasible only if the POS system allows the POS operator to store customer data, and pull up discounts set up at the POS backend based on mobile phone number, or email ID, etc. 
  4. Gaps in data integration: For the POS operator, an up-to-date POS system that integrates sales order and customer information with your backend ERP system can make the difference between good and average customer service. If your frontend and backend systems are not in sync, customer and inventory data cannot be utilized to its fullest potential. Just as your POS operator will be limited to simply processing a standard sales order, your backend team would not be able to utilize information to create targeted marketing strategies that are essential to meet your business goals.
  5. Loss of sales due to internet issues: Outdated POS systems can prevent your POS operators from processing sales orders, or from accepting certain types of orders and payment methods simply because the internet connection is down. Conversely, an efficient POS system lets your sales order processing continue seamlessly irrespective of whether you are online or offline, including processing all types of payments, applying discounts, collecting customer data, etc. Such a system will sync back all the information to the backend ERP and ensure your inventory and accounts databases are updated as soon as you are back online.

Ignify provides a comprehensive retail solution that includes a competitive POS system that caters to the requirements of all types of retail businesses, as well as ecommerce channels. The solution can be used across multiple terminals and store locations, thereby allowing you to maintain a uniform system across stores and not worry about your customer’s checkout experience as your business expands.

To learn more about Ignify’s retail systems, contact us at retail@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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