Retailers, whose margins are under more pressure than most other industries, have experienced some tough cost-cutting years. While some have closed their doors, others embraced new technology developments to turn their operations around. Not surprisingly, the point-of-sale system has become the focal point of the retail operation. This is where errors in retail transactions can be controlled, and it's where the customer's last impression is made by checkout time, accuracy and ease of transaction.
Today's point-of-sale systems also have become instrumental in gathering customer data to use in the four major marketing decisions that store managers must make: product, price, place and promotion. These are the variables that can be used to attract and retain customers.ProphetLine software is used to manage both Johnson's retail store and his photofinishing business.
ProphetLine, Inc., based in Fort Smith, AR, one of the first Windows-based POS developers, decided as one of its market niches to develop software that would specifically benefit the photographic equipment and supplier market, from the single storefront to multiple locations.
Bob Brown, president of ProphetLine, recognized long ago the need for businesses to convert their manual operations to a computerized function regardless of outlet size. "It was obvious that handling inventory and markdowns, as well as adjusting for gross profit margins, reorders and specials, was an overwhelming task for the retailer," he says. "With the advent of the personal computer, we wanted to change that by offering an affordable, easy-to-use retail software system that would reduce the retailer's workload at least by half."
Today, ProphetLine's retail software packages can be deployed as either a traditional in-store system or as a hosted solution offering, among other features: gift certificate production, tracking and redemption; credit, debit and gift card software; serial number and warranty tracking; customizable "on-screen" shortcuts; purchasing, receiving by exception; customizable receipt graphics; e-mail and fax service from a PC; a seamless Web shopping cart; electronic signature capture; inventory management; touchscreen support; customer marketing; time clock and payroll support; and integrated accounting or links to other packages.
Three retailers discuss how working with ProphetLine and switching from a manual operation to an automated, computerized POS system revolutionized their businesses. Photo Pro's Dave Johnson discusses how he is changing his business model to better adapt to today's market requirements with ProphetLine; Tony Miresse of Art's Cameras Plus extols the virtues of the software's gift card function to increase repeat sales; and SimJo Photo's Terry Simmons explains how he uses ProphetLine's integrated Web shopping cart to increase sales.Terry Simmons says ProphetLine has enabled his clients to e-mail files to his location for processing.
Dave Johnson began Photo Pro in 1981. Every year, through precise work, his business has grown. However, he always did it the old-fashioned way: manually. This resulted in poor inventory control, and price updating was done only on a sporadic basis. His business was running him, and this led Johnson to consider leaving the industry.
One year, Johnson attended the PMA show and decided to investigate POS systems. After doing some research, he determined that ProphetLine was "clearly the way to go." It has transformed how he does business and allowed him to take control of his store instead of the business running him.
"It is so logical, and the investment paid for itself in less than a year," Johnson says. "I can be excited about running my business for the first time. This only happened because of the software. Bob [Brown] and his staff have been an absolute delight to work with, everyone from the salesperson to the customer support."
ProphetLine software is used to manage both Johnson's retail store and his photofinishing business. When an item's cost rises, the system immediately and automatically transfers the increase. Pricing is then appropriately increased or decreased. The system allows Johnson to look at an item, see if the gross margins are correct, and if not, make an immediate adjustment. It also controls the inventory on the backside, moving and tracking products through their life cycles."We know where our customers come from, how they buy, and when they buy for targeted promotions and advertising efforts," says Johnson.
As for the photofinishing business, when a sales associate goes to complete a transaction, all the information fields must be answered or the sale/order processing cannot occur. This ensures that the sales staff is handling transactions correctly, especially when Johnson is not at the location to oversee operations.
Photo Pro is now also utilizing ProphetLine's marketing component. "We know where our customers come from, how they buy, and when they buy for targeted promotions and advertising efforts," says Johnson.
Another benefit of the system, according to Johnson, is that it allows the retail sales associates to know special pricing that professionals and preferred customers receive.