How to keep the right merchandise in stock and become a better inventory manager

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Warehouse

I just received a good text about keeping the right items on stock, and I wanted to share this with you. I agree completely with this text, and would only like to add that some POS software even go one step further, and automatically trigger new orders for items that are under their minimum stock level. This makes sure that you can’t over-stock or under-stock.

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Different markets

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My job at the international department of a POS software manufacturer taught me one thing: we find a completely different situation in every country we start working.

We have a broad range of products, and we always suggest our foreign partners to start with only one product. Usually we advise starting with software for restaurants and bars, since these are easier to implement. And once our partner is familiar with that software, they can easily add our retail software to their catalogue, since the basis is the same.

Penetrating a market this way has the easiest learning curve, but sometimes the reality of a specific market prefers another approach. I’ve found some markets in the north of Europe with a restaurant Point of Sale manufacturer in every town. The quality of these products does not always reach ours, but the sheer number of competitors increases the effort we’ll have to do drastically. In those cases we look at the market and pick another business type as our target, such as fashion stores.

New dealers always ask us how to begin, but they know their market better then we, and if they don’t know the market, it is a lot easier for them to get to know it. All we can do is give advise, but we’ll always have to trust on the insight of our local partner. They are our hands, eyes and ears.

DOS software

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MS-DOS

Point of Sale software is the only software I know of that is still produced in MS-DOS versions. And I really can’t understand why this is the case.

Last week I went shopping in several places and as usual I paid attention the POS systems used in the shops I visited. This time I focused on MS-DOS based systems, and the results shocked me. I found character-based software in 45% of the shops I visited. And most of these systems were running on relatively new hardware, meaning that the shop owner recently did invest in his POS system but decided to purchase MS-DOS software.

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RFID gets software standard

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RFID Label

The advising body EPCGlobal has approved the first software standard for RFID labels in the retail sector. This is an important step on the road to replace barcodes on products with a RFID label.

EPCGlobal is a daughter of GS1, a world-wide federation for products and retailers of consumer goods. In December 2004 they agreed on a standard for the information on the RFID label itself and the way this information is communicated between the label and the reader.

The standard software connection makes sure that these data can be processed by many information systems for supporting the merchandise logistics. The hundred companies behind this standard called Application Level Events (ALE) standard, says they successfully finished the first tests in supply-chain software.

Real-time information about your business is critical.

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The title of this post is quoted from an excellent post by Go Daddy founder Bob Parsons. Though he has nothing to do with point of sale systems, he has something to say that matters for any company: old news is of little value for taking decisions. As a business manager, you make decisions each and every day, and on every hour of the day.

If you own a small shop, with only one till, you’ll find yourself checking reports from the POS systems once in a while. And whenever you run this report, the point of sale shows you the sales data and benefits up to that very second. In other words: you base your decisions on real-time information.

As your business grows to lets say five shops, your decisions become more important, and your need for up-to-dat information grows. But most multi-store managers don’t have up-to-dat information. They have to base their decisions on yesterdays Z reports from the POS systems and on last months financial reports.

Of course this is not necessary. Modern POS systems link in real-time to your backoffice software, so you can follow your business on an hourly basis if needed. These POS systems don’t have to be more expensive than the systems without real-time communication, but if they are more expensive you can earn your extra investment back by taking your business decisions on current data.

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