Retail Information System

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Chapter 12

Retail Information Systems

Retail Information Systems
WHAT YOU W ILL LEARN
§ What system modules and functions you should look for in purchasing a new retail system. Names, phone numbers and web site addresses for some of the best Canadian distributors of retail system software. What you can expect to pay for a state-of-the-art retail information system. How to perform “reference checks” when evaluating a retail system you are considering. Why leasing computer software and equipment makes sense. How to calculate the “Return on Investment” when considering a system upgrade.

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It has been said that not having a good, reliable retail information

The computer is an invaluable tool in processing the large number of transactions and vast amounts of information involved in managing a retail operation. For example, the amount of data needed for merchandise planning would require hundreds of manhours to produce, as compared to a well-designed

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Chapter 12

Retail Information Systems

system is like flying an airplane with no instrumentatio n.

hours to produce, as compared to a well-designed computer system that can perform the task in seconds. There is no way that management can operate in today's competitive climate without solid information on which to base decisions. With increasing competition from all fronts and operating expenses that are constantly inching upwards, gross margins are shrinking. This, coupled with the advent of the internet, means the business case for technology has never been stronger. Computerized systems are no longer the domain of large stores and chains. You simply should not think of opening a specialty store today without a good retail information system.

SELECTING THE RIGHT S YSTEM
ü Tip
Selecting the right computer system is a complex and time-consuming process. There are at least sixty different software packages available for specialty retailers in Canada today. Each of these packages has its own strengths and weaknesses. The strengths have the ability to vastly improve your business, but the weaknesses could bankrupt it. The more information you have, the better the decision you can make. Retail systems are made up of a series of “modules”. Each module performs a special task or function. Most systems are “integrated”, meaning that each module has the ability to share common data and work in unison with other modules under one larger system umbrella. Depending on your type of retail operation, some modules may be more important to your store than others. Following are some of the more standard modules and functions found in some retail systems. Make a list of the ones you feel are important to your company before you start looking.

Consider hiring a consultant, as it can be a fulltime job to perform a proper search and evaluation of a new retail system.

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Chapter 12

Retail Information Systems

System Setup and Configuration
This is usually a series of settings “under the hood” that allows software companies to customize the system to the way you do business. Here, they will typically prepare your departments and classes, seasons and collections, and size runs, all of which are critical for proper reporting. The setup module also lays out the business rules for such things as store communication, collecting and tracking customer data, tax and exchange rates, networking and security levels.

ü Tip

Touch screen capabilities at the POS can reduce training time and increase transaction speed.

Point of Sale
The point of sale module handles what the industry calls the “transaction set”. This is the group of basic transactions you perform on a daily basis (e.g. sales, returns, voids, layaways, refunds, and end of day reporting). Most systems handle these normal activities relatively well. However, some differences can be noted in the ease with which they handle these basic activities and in their ability to perform...
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