computerizing a small retail store

I work in a small retail store with lots of products which must be reordered as they are sold and orders of many types types which must be tracked. We are currently not computerized at all.

My first inclination was to use ms to design a db application to suit our needs. Problem. We don’t have access. Also, even if we did, I might prefer a ready made solution if one was available for free or at a reasonable price.

Can anyone reccommend such a product?

Alternatively, can anyone share their experiences with openOffice suite? Is the db program as easy to use as ms access for most average-advanced pc users?

Been a long time since I had to deal with a retail system but I’ll say that unless you have a point of sale system that automatically removes items from inventory as they are sold you won’t be gaining much by it. IMO you should look for a suitable POS system and see if the software is appropriate rather than start from the database and possibly try to integrate POS into it yourself.

A small business POS system, with inventory, and ordering systems, along with all the other backoffice stuff is now off the shelf technology.

In the long run, an “off the shelf” POS computer system is the way to go. If you build it yourself, your simply reinventing the wheel.

I’ve been out of that world for a while, so I can’t give you any links, but I am still in the computer industry, and see “home grown” applications all the time, in places that an off the shelf application would have been easier, cheaper, faster, and more durable on a daily basis.

Good luck, I’d start with a nice simple google search like this one…

small business POS system in google


I migrated POS software for a store my parents own, with three POS stations, barcode printers receipt printers, cash drawers, etc. Definately go with an off-the-shelf system - I have seen so many failures with half-baked attempts for POS systems. I can personally recommend Keystroke POS, after using it for several years. We used to use Microbiz, but we changed POS systems (not an easy task with 20,000+ items in inventory) because we disliked it so much due to stability problems. Keystroke has probably the best phone support I have ever called, at good yearly rates. That was what sold us in the end. Most of the features we needed could be handeled by most of the software packages, but I wanted a company who wouldn’t outsource their support to India, and who had phone techs who knew the product. And when we call, we don’t wait on hold or go through annoying voice menu trees.

Quicken/Intuit also has a new POS system, but I shyed away from it to go with something that has been around a long time, and had modest hardware requirements. I had also been previously dissapointed with their tech support for Quicken.

If I were you, make a list of features you need/want, then go looking and try out some demos. Some examples of common features are as follows:

[li]Cash drawer support (which models)[/li][li]Pole Display support[/li][li]Receipt printer support[/li][li]Inkjet/Laserjet support for report printing[/li][li]Purchase Orders[/li][li]Auto Inventory tracking (most all do this)[/li][li]Layaways[/li][li]Discounting[/li][li]Receiving Inventory[/li][li]Barcode Scanner Support[/li][li]Good Phone Support?[/li][/ul]

I see what you all are saying. A retail store needs to keep track of money coming and merchandise going out and comming in. So you need to register the data at point of sale.

But in this business, the issues of inventory and cash flow accounting are being handled reasonably well manually. Of course greater efficiency and accuracy in these areas would be nice. But its hard to say how much additional business this would generate.

This is why for me the order tracking, which takes place away from the cash register and involves information being shared between customer, store and suppliers regarding items that may or may not become inventory and clients who may or may not become customers, might be even more valuable than pos data processing. A good system can enable better service which is likely to increase business.

We are talking about a book store, by the way.