POS Systems: Integrating IntelligenceBy David Strom | Posted 2008-11-26 Print
Point of sale systems can cut operating costs, integrate accounting systems, track inventory and improve supply chain efficiency. Well-engineered POS equipment can improve customer transaction times, save hours of accounting drudgery and help verify actual sales data.
Another area in which POS systems can have a significant effect is in business intelligence and supply chain automation. Bernard Chaus, a New York City-based clothing company, is using Skypad Business Intelligence, powered by QlikView. Integrating timely POS data directly with production and distribution data in visual dashboards, Skypad enables the retailer to plan, adapt and move goods through several thousand outlets faster and better than ever before.
“We were dealing with a couple of issues,” recalls Ed Eskew, the CIO for Bernard Chaus. “We wanted visibility at the point of sale to more efficiently track best and worst sellers. Using this timely data, we were able to become more nimble in responding to inventory and replenishment levels, and could quickly add inventory when an item was moving well and reduce, discontinue or re-allocate inventory when items were not selling as anticipated.”
Before the Skypad software, they got only weekly summaries of transactions and “basically functioned in the dark,” Eskew says. “With the implementation of Skypad, we were able to determine what specific colors and sizes within a style were actually selling.
“Today, we are able to better assist and manage our accounts by virtue of our ability to call up a buyer and share our business intelligence data with them, advising them what to buy, and possibly when to relocate a style to another store, based on activity in that store. The most significant benefit is in controlling our inventory levels. We no longer overcut or manufacture goods only to sell them off at a loss at the end of a season.”
Having a better understanding of Bernard Chaus’ sales has also saved money. “Prior to the implementation of Skypad, unsold inventory might not be discovered until the end of a season—far too late to have a positive impact on salvaging our margins,” Eskew says. “Authorizing returns or deeply discounting our goods could potentially cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars, significantly eroding our sell-through in any one season”.
There are other examples of how having the right POS solution can save hours of accounting drudgery, such as in the consolidation and reporting of sales taxes collected, or in doing nightly cash balances to make sure no money has been stolen. At the Golden Spoon yogurt shops, it used to take hours to balance cash deposits against receipts, because the retailer had to do it manually each night. But with the new Microsoft POS software, “it takes just minutes and has increased our accuracy,” Ferraro explains.
Companies that do any retail business at all should investigate POS systems to determine how they can more closely tie together different computing systems and leverage the near-real-time information available from them.
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