Enhancing the Point of SaleBy Wylie Wong | Posted 2009-08-03 Print
Retailers and distributors use technology to improve customer service, optimize inventory and maximize profits.
Enhancing the Point of Sale
Other retailers must deal with “in line” challenges, as in waiting in line. That’s the case at MainGate, an Indianapolis company that sells merchandise at racing and other sporting events. For this retailer, speed matters.
MainGate sells T-shirts, caps and other merchandise at 150 events a year, including IndyCar and National Hot Rod Association races, where attendance numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Shoppers buying souvenirs despise long lines, so to keep them happy, the company must keep the checkout lines moving fast. To do that, MainGate standardized on all-in-one POS devices and software.
The Pioneer StealthTouch-M5 POS units are computers with built-in touch-screen monitors and magnetic stripe readers for debit and credit cards. They are more user-friendly than regular PCs, resulting in faster transactions and better customer service, says David Schultz, MainGate’s POS administrator. “The touch-screens improve efficiency and increase the transactions per minute,” he says, adding that with touch-screens, cashiers don’t have to fumble with keyboards and mice.
The POS software also helps speed up transactions. Six years ago, MainGate used software that required cashiers to go through five or six screens per transaction. Now, the company uses Microsoft’s Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) 2.0 software, which allows cashiers to ring up customers on one screen.
The POS devices have three peripherals attached to them: a Metrologic Voyager USB handheld bar-code scanner, an APG USB cash drawer and a Star receipt printer, which attaches via a serial cable. Schultz says he buys all his POS equipment from technology reseller CDW.
MainGate uses wireless cards from a cell phone company to connect the POS units to the Internet and to process debit and credit card payments. Each merchandise tent is connected to a trailer with a network jack and switch that allows six POS units to connect to the Internet. For security, MainGate deploys SonicWall’s Network Security Appliance (NSA) 240, which offers a firewall, anti-virus software, and spam and packet-filtering capabilities. Each trailer houses a server that runs Microsoft Dynamics RMS 2.0 to manage transactions.
Schultz, whose company also manages retail stores as well as e-commerce sites for clients—including several NFL teams—says Dynamics RMS 2.0 allows MainGate to produce detailed sales reports for clients. It also tracks inventory and provides real-time sales information, which can alert managers at events to restock items that are about to sell out.
“During slow times, we can take inventory, see that there’s a run on ear plugs or certain T-shirts and hats, and get more from reserve,” he says.
As for the future, Schultz is considering implementing kiosks at retail stores, where people can go up to a computer and shop. “We strive to maximize sales and provide excellent customer service,” he says, “and the more avenues we have for customers to purchase products, the better.”
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