POS for Retail?

the business of coffee houses

POS for Retail?

Postby onocoffee on Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:28 pm

Thought I would throw this out there. Interested in a POS for the shop and wanted to know what everyone's experiences were and any thoughts regarding.

Looking for an app that will meet the needs of the coffeehouse.
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Re: POS for Retail?

Postby Brent on Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:29 pm

onocoffee wrote:Looking for an app that will meet the needs of the coffeehouse.


Jay,

keep it as simple as possible - start with pen and paper, and work up from there.

I say that in all seriousness - it's what I used and there were some stunned looks given my technology background.

But in essence that piece of paper tracked everything - we put the order down on the note paper, proceeded to fill the order (food and drink) and filed the paper after the account was settled and everything was served.

Think about the process, and get a system that automates it. Do not get a system that takes what appeared to be about 100 keystrokes, and two minutes to enter an order such as "double shot espresso thanks" which is only about 26 characters in itself. I actually had this happen - the order took about 2- 3 minutes to process BEFORE we got to the payment bit.

A system that requires more keystrokes to enter an order than characters in the order itself is not a good one, in my opinion.

So, not knowing whats available, insist on seeing a working demo, insist that you are allowed to enter some of your own products and variations in the system, and then run through some dummy transactions. Do not settle for an assurance that it works until you have seen it yourself. That is the only way I can think of to minimise the chances of getting the wrong system - in my day job, working with larger financial applications, we still like to see a prospective site run through an entire transactions scenario to check that it will work for them.

If you can minimise the errors at the selection stage, you have a greater chance of putting something in that will work, and allow you to analyse the data at the end of the day. Buy the first one you find, and you run the risk of having a very expensive cash drawer opener.

Not cynical, just seen to many companies get it wrong...
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Postby Robert Goble on Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:56 pm

Jay -- you might also consider how a given POS integrates and communicates with your accounting program.
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Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Mon Jul 31, 2006 5:42 pm

I like the cigar box. Jay, I'd bet you can score a nice one, too.
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Postby Ryan Mason on Tue Aug 01, 2006 6:11 am

I have a CRS 3000. Real nice machine, easily programable, and it prints out a number of different reports that I use for decision making.
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Postby nick on Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:50 am

More and more, I'm starting to think that a full-fledged POS system like Coffee Shop Manager is worth it after all.

There's way too much that's shrouded in the "fog of retail," meaning the "fog of war"-like area of your knowledge of your business that would be really informative and helpful... but is, with our current systems, too much trouble to cull from our daily sales logs. "How have sales of 12 oz. cappuccinos changed since we started offering 6 oz. 'classic cappuccinos' last year?" We could dig up this info, but it would take a couple of hours... and that would give us the answer to that one question alone. If we had a full-fledged POS from the beginning, that info would be right at our fingertips.
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Postby Alistair Durie on Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:47 pm

totally agree with you there nick. as someone who has been running a glorified cigar box for a couple years, it gets really tiring not knowing the answers to your own critical questions.

yet through countless demo's i have not found a pos package that i feel is of good value. many bad designs at high prices.

suggestions eagerly anticipated.
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Postby onocoffee on Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:15 am

I've worked with a couple of POS systems before, one of which I absolutely hated because of it's instability and other problems, but I thought the level of detail was fantastic. That was when I was in the cigar business working for a friend.

During that time, we demo'd several POS systems and the one that really struck me was Radiant's Aloha Technologies POS. Designed for the restaurant business, it's quite a powerful tool, but three terminals easily cost $17K and the owners decided to go with the other system - which sucked.

What's important to me is developing a customer database that helps me understands patterns of my customers. What they're buying, when their birthday, mailing lists and account cards.

I'm also interested in drilling down into more sales detail. I've got my current register designed so that I can track sales down to the individual flavor but I'd like to see trend data.

And while Coffeeshop Manager has been in the forefront of what I've seen for the coffeehouse environment and many people I've talked to have been very enthusiastic about it, a friend recently brought up some questions that stick in my mind and reminds me to exercise caution and audition some other systems.

The hard part is that it's difficult to make a decision without actually working with it, so I think I'm going up to visit a friend on Friday and work her register for a morning.
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Postby onocoffee on Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:21 am

Brent-

I like the methodology. In fact, it might actually come down to pen and paper since it looks like we might open next week. I'll report more if it happens.

But, you wouldn't happen to have a copy of that paper you used to share with us, would you?
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Postby Ryan Mason on Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:01 am

I guess it all depends on what you are trying to capture. For me, it was the reporting function and time keeping that I was most interested in. On my system, it doesn't matter if I'm ringing a cappa or a latte because it's tracked as an "espresso" drink. Conversly, I have functions for bakery,coffee, non-coffee, bulk coffee, etc.

You can get super detailed, or it can be basic...it's whatever you decided to set up.
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Postby Brent on Wed Aug 02, 2006 9:07 pm

onocoffee wrote:Brent-

I like the methodology. In fact, it might actually come down to pen and paper since it looks like we might open next week. I'll report more if it happens.

But, you wouldn't happen to have a copy of that paper you used to share with us, would you?


Jay,

The piece of paper was blank!

I kept it that simple. Essentially the paper was filed for analysis later. I did start tracking through excel the info on it - ie what was ordered, total of order versus how much I actually charged etc.

I think the key is to work out what you want to know, what you may want to know, and what you don't care about.

Once you have that, work out the simplest way (in your mind to achieve it) and then look for that solution.

A POS system may be the answer, a simple programmable cash register may be better. A plain old piece of paper may just work.

What complicates things is if you are not going to be there all the time. (which is the case I suspect)

Terefore what you are analysing will include stock on hand versus sales etc.

You will want to know double vs single serve, or may not care.

It's all that information that you need. Could be a preprinted "order" form is the solution - something that has tick boxes, and a box for special instructions - essentially a printed menu.

But, if you work out what you want, and thesimplest way to work that data capture into the order / serve process, that will make finding a system easy.

At the moment you arae walking into a POS shop and saying "I want a POS" without knowing what POS is to you.

If you want to discuss specifcs offline, go for it. Theres a time zone issue, that may actually work for you if you want to skype me during my day - I am typing this at 5pm my time.

In the end the process really is one that you have to think through yourself - but throwing the question out is a good way of double checking...
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Postby barrett on Sat Aug 05, 2006 11:24 pm

A good POS system is an extremely worthwhile. Not only can you track your sales accurately, you can see when you are over scheduled, or under scheduled, regarding your sales vs. labour cost. It will also automatically generate a piece of paper, with the order on it, so there is never a forgotten order or penmanship issue.

Look at the POS systems that the places you eat are using, and ask the staff there what they think of them.

I've used the pen and paper system before, and we had a short hand system. Size was circled and always first. To go was a TG in a circle at the end (nothing meant to stay). M-SKVL= medium skim vanilla latte. It was a good system, but not feasible in a really busy place.

Good luck.
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Postby onocoffee on Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:19 pm

Barrett-

How does Artigiano manage their POS and serving systems?


Thanks.
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Postby barrett on Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:25 pm

What do you mean exactly? :?:
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Postby onocoffee on Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:16 am

Meaning: does Artigiano use a POS or simple cash register? How is an order processed? By hand? By voice? By kitchen register tape or computer terminal?

If POS, how helpful has it been in achieving whatever goals set?
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Postby Robert Goble on Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:55 am

Moderators Note:
As a general caution, not everyone posting on this board is authorised to reveal what might be considered proprietary information by their respected companies. If you find yourself in such a situation, it's OK to just say "I'm unable to respond to that at his time" or some such thing. I don't know if that's the case here, but it made me think that we might in the future encounter such a situation and just to make a note of it here. Sorry to interrupt the discussion.
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Postby Brent on Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:41 pm

onocoffee wrote:Meaning: does Artigiano use a POS or simple cash register? How is an order processed? By hand? By voice? By kitchen register tape or computer terminal?

If POS, how helpful has it been in achieving whatever goals set?


Jay,

I would expect the best person to ask is not the barista (except for "how do you find it as a user?) rather the management, as they are the ones with the knowledge as to what was required and expected.

Let's throw another angle in -

Jay, what do you want in the way of information, and workflow control?
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Postby onocoffee on Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:02 pm

Well, my needs, I suspect, are rather different than most shops since I've got different lines of business to monitor.

But I did spend Friday at Max Crema's and Michele Granitz who was very nice to host me in my quest for POS. I found the CSM app to be quite interesting and I think it will meet the needs I'm looking for.

Thanks to Michele and Chris Granitz for their hospitality and the crazy sandwich!


.
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Postby barrett on Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:29 pm

There's nothing proprietary at all with the way our system works - works like a restaurant essentially.

Orders are received by the cashier, they punch everything in, fetch muffins and snack-type items, drip coffee, teas and Clover coffees. Espresso drinks print up at the bar. Panini print up at the grill area - or on the kitchen line - depending on location. Table numbers are assigned for food to be brought out, coffees get picked up at the end of the bar - or at the till for the above mentioned items.

There are of course mods for anything the cashier rings in that they don't get themselves - things like 'no cheese' are available on sandiwiches, and not when you ring in a cappuccino. Likewise, we don't make 'decaf' panini.

Although I (personally) don't have use for the features any more, in the past, I have found some of the reports very helpful in scheduling, to know exactly when the sales start to warrant bringing more people on shift, or comparing your order sheets to your items sold - if you've already sold all of one type of muffin by 9am... perhaps you need to order more.

Anything I can add?
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Postby Brent on Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:48 pm

onocoffee wrote:Well, my needs, I suspect, are rather different than most shops since I've got different lines of business to monitor.


Jay,

your needs are both different and the same :)

what you need to work out is what is essential to you, what is good to have, and what is nice but optional.

from there you should be able to work out the "right" system for you.

Remember - if it's off the shelf, your needs are essentially the same as a whole lot of others :)

Also don't be afriad to mix a couple of systems - ie if your financial reporting needs aren't met by a great POS system, make sure you can easily transfer the relevant financial information.

:)
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Postby onocoffee on Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:04 pm

Thought I would chime in again since I'm still on the Road To POS.


Went down to the local office of POS Technologies today for a demonstration of the Aloha POS. I've seen a demo back in late 2001 and it was as impressive, if not more, now as it was then.

The flexibility of the application is seemingly endless. No limitations on drink sizes. No limitations on screen pages. No limitations (except for hard drive space) on the backend database. Buttons and screens can be fully customized with colors, images and varying size buttons.

The company is owned by Radiant Systems who also provides the hardware technology and while I seriously doubt it's anything truly cutting edge, it's a complete package that even can include a 5.5" color LCD screen on the customer side so they can see their itemized order and/or flash animation of whatever promotion you desire to show them.

There are two basic versions of the Aloha POS: Table Service and Quick Service. Quick Service is more suited for the coffeeshop environment.

Overall, I'm impressed. Very impressed. Now that I've told them my interests and my needs they're putting together a quote, so we'll see what they have to offer. I'm only looking for one terminal, but the last time I saw a demo the quote was for three terminals: two front of the house and one back of the house for $17,000.00
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Postby aaronblanco on Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:21 pm

have you looked at selby soft?
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Postby Alistair Durie on Wed Aug 09, 2006 8:23 pm

I've been looking at POS systems ever since my old POS fizzled about 3 years ago. I'm intertested in a windows based system for doing a few more things with the box other than a POS.

recent article: Open source point of sale

this one looks pretty interesting: TinaPOS
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Postby Alistair Durie on Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:42 am

TinaPOS has come a long way. I installed it tonight and it looks extremely promising.
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Postby onocoffee on Thu Aug 10, 2006 6:03 am

TinaPOS does look promising. But since I'm without a Windows machine, I am unable to download and test it out. Please be sure to keep us up-to-date as you try out the application.
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