Retailers: The Point of Sale Industry is Rapidly Changing – Are You Onboard?

To move forward into 2014 as a successful retailer you can’t just assume the key will be in stocking products in demand.

What do the consumers of 2014 want from their retail experience?

Customers want their needs to be served in the most efficient and intuitive way possible and Point-of-Sale (POS) systems are absolutely proving to be excellent channels to achieve this primary need.

The most widespread trend that will be taking over in 2014 will be the integration of mobile options. The days of waiting in long lines during peak retail seasons are numbered. Recognizing the need to adapt to the changing landscape of the eligible client-base – a younger and ‘always-on’ customer – mobile point-of-purchase systems are proving to be a win-win. Not only do tablet or smartphone POS systems streamline services and enhance guest satiMobile POSsfaction, this consumer-driven trend offers enormous cost-savings when compared to traditional cash register POS systems.

Additionally, the touch screen aspects offered by most mobile POS devices are more intuitive than traditional systems. Mobile POS systems do not require complex configurations or the need for a back-up server. Most employees are efficient with smartphones and tablets, which not only saves time from a staff training perspective, but also offers self-service for customers, yet another example of increased efficiency and differentiating value in the storefront.

Another trend we expect to see hit the POS space in full force next year is the integration of more loyalty programs and customized advertising and marketing promotions to engage with customers at each stage of the purchase process; from driving impulse consideration, all the way to the final purchase. Loyalty programs have been picking up momentum for the past couple of years and are now becoming fully integrated into on-site POS systems, both mobile and traditional. With customer loyalty software programs launching in every type of retail venue imaginable, cashiers are able to sign customers up within one to two minutes, meeting the easy and quick transaction consumers’ today demand while also reminding them of the added-value offered by the vendor.

Excerpts of the above were taken from Jay Graham’s article in Retail Info Systems.

If I can help you in your purchase and understanding of how a POS can make your business more efficient, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Shawn Thompson

5 Mistakes Retailers Can’t Afford to Make

With so much to do each day to run your business it could be easy to overlook critical details that make all the difference to your bottom line.  Below are 5 hot points to avoid along with solutions to help you resolve these frequent challenges.  

Mistake #1:

Stock too much of one item and your money is tied up.

This is the challenge you face every day. With so much money invested in your inventory, it’s essential that you stay on top of it. That means that your inventory figures need to be constantly updated. Relying on a cash register or paper-based transactions does not automatically update your inventory. Retailing requires that inventory tracking occurs in real-time and is effortless and automatic.

 Mistake #2:

Run out of stock and you’ve missed an opportunity to make a sale.

Few things hurt sales, or frustrate customers, more than failing to stock an item consumer’s want. A good inventory management system should enable you to always know what inventory you have on hand, without conducting a physical count. It should use a bar code scanner to scan items when ringing up sales or entering new inventory – automatically adjusting inventory totals as you sell items and automatically notifying you when items are out of stock.

 Mistake #3:

Making inventory decisions by the seat of your pants.

Imagine being able to spot trends in sales, profits, liquidity and assets as well as optimal operating hours and profit margins. Oh, and of course track inventory with easy-to-access data so you can act quickly on new products or eliminate poorly performing products.

Mistake #4:

Ignoring shrinkage and failing to secure against theft.

Shrinkage is all merchandise that is taken out of stock without being paid for. Studies consistently show more people will steal if they think they can get away with it. You might not even realize that theft, by employee or customer, is actually going on in your store.

 Mistake #5:

Not making lemonade when you have lemons!

Pricing items correctly and knowing when to offer discounts is key to successfully managing and growing your business. You should be able to identify the most “saleable” items, which are typically your most price sensitive (generally the 20% of your inventory that moves the fastest), and price them competitively.

You can then recognize the “slow movers” from the remaining bulk of your inventory, which are typically your most non-price sensitive items, and raise the margins. By selling the “slow movers” early in the season, when items are more saleable at higher prices, you will minimize clearance markdowns at the end-of season.

Reporting is critical to understanding and managing your inventory. QuickBooks Point of Sale allows retailers to keep track of critical information and avoid costly mistakes and Merchant Solutions  Authority is focused on these types of business solutions for retailers.

Merchant Solutions Authority is a proven and trusted advisor to retailers across the country.  MSA specializes in business tools and methodologies for independent retailers – single store operations; small to medium sized chains.

Why they are different: Merchant Solutions Authority has over 50+ years of experience in independent and specialty retail – they know your passion and understand your business. MSA uniquely combines their retail and product experience with business expertise to simplify your operations and enhance your profitability.

Let them help you avoid costly mistakes.

For more information on Merchant Solutions Authority please visit their website:


Lessons From the Past….Simple Vision for the Future

Listen to the Past…

I recently had the pleasure of having a conversation with a retailer who had 70 years’ experience. I am telling him about how retail has changed and how hard it is now for retailers and he informs me of the changes he saw. His name is Jess and he should be charging for his sage advice.

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Jess and I both proudly live in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. When Jess returned home after serving during World War II he started selling shoes door to door. As he told me “back then people didn’t come to town that often, you had to go to them” After the roads got built in the 50’s and 60’s and people could easily drive to town Jess opened a retail store. After a number of years of running a successful retail store in the 70’s Jess had to change once again. This time he had competition from the mass retailers. This time Jess offered better quality and better customer support. Up to the time Jess finally retired and closed his store at the age of 75 he could still remember your size and what kind of shoes you like.

Jess’s advice to me and I am proudly passing it along to you.

“Business will change. You can either stay ahead of the changes or get run over by it.”

Which lessons learned from your past business experience would you pass along?

What one key change is your business focusing on right now?

For more information on POS and Business Solutions contact Shawn at:

Shawn Thompson

When it Comes to Point of Sale Technology-Who should I listen to?

The quick answer to this is everyone, but the correct answer is no one but yourself!

As soon as you ask what you should do, someone will stand up and tell you they know exactly what you need.

Don’t believe me? Try this. Comment on your Facebook page that you want to buy a new car and you’re not sure what you should buy. If you have 500 friends on Facebook, 50 will tell you what you need to buy. Or, go to a chat room full of strangers and ask what kind of computer you should buy. Again, everyone will tell you, without any knowledge of your needs, what is best for you.

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So how do you make the best buying decisions for your business? Ask yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t think you know enough about whatever you were considering to purchase. The truth is, neither do most of your friends on Facebook or the strangers in the chat room.

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If you are wondering if a Point of Sale or other business solution would be of benefit to you, make a list.

  • First, what are you currently doing that you would love to no longer be doing (working on payroll, paying bills, scheduling, placing reorders, working on taxes, etc.).


  • Second, make a wish list of what you wish a POS system could do. Let your mind run wild and you might be surprised what solutions are out there.


Maybe you would like a POS that could tell you when you are going to run out of a certain product, the time of day when the most sales occur or the employee who seems to be taking the most returns and the reasons for those returns. Or maybe you would like a POS that will email all your customers when a product they like arrives. Whatever is of the most value to you, put it on the list!

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Now take your list and  write down what your time is worth, then look at the list and determine how many hours a POS system that can do all the things you want it to do saves you each month. I know you already know what I am going to ask you to do next: Multiply those numbers together.

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Lastly, look over your  list and place a value on a POS that could do everything on your wish list.

Now,you know how much you are willing to pay and what you want a new POS to do for you.

You can ask around to as many people as you would like, but know that you and ONLY YOU know what is best for you and your business.

I would love to hear from you to see if our business solution exceeds your wish list.

For more information on POS and training, contact Merchant Solutions Authority or Shawn Thompson.

“You can’t handle the truth” a view into Point of Sale systems in the Gift and Home industry

At a recent trade show, I was demonstrating to a retailer how a good Point of Sale could show you how often products turn or how often they sell out in a given period of time. With this information, a retailer can then put  their money into product types that offer the best turn, and move out of the products not turning. The retailer I was speaking with said to me, “I’m not sure if I want to have that much information about my store.” When I asked why, she said, “That would take the fun out of buying for my store”.  

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Truth is, if you are running a business today and one of the reasons is to turn a profit, you have to know what products will produce the best return on your investment. Retail is hard enough without sticking your head in the sand. \\ generic cialis online \\ buy viagra los angeles \\ cialis philippines \\ joomla canadian pharmacy

You can handle the truth and retail can be even more fun when you’re turning a profit!



For more information on POS and Business Solutions, contact Shawn at:

Shawn Thompson

Why we are Different: We have over 50+ years of experience in independent and specialty retail – we know your passion and we understand your business. We uniquely combine our retail and product experience with business expertise to simplify your operations and enhance your profitability.

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Naming a Business is No Simple Task

What’s in a name…?

I heard somewhere that a rose is a rose, and a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Over the past 20 years in the gift industry I have enjoyed hearing how retailers picked the name for their business. Having just gone through the process of finding a name for Ivystone’s business solutions division, I feel for anyone who has tried to name a business. I named all three of my kids in less time.

You want a name that is easily remembered.

You want a unique name (good luck with that one).

You want a name that will grow with you and not limit you to what you could become.

Most importantly, you want a name that says who you are and what you can do.
I wanted our name to tell retailers that we know the gift and home business, and we know the business solutions industry. I wanted the name to express that while we are a business wanting to keep the doors open, our primary goal with every retailer is to find the best solution for them and in some instances it might be they don’t need a certain product. I really wanted the name to say we want to be a partner with you and help your business be everything it can be.

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 We are Merchant Solutions Authority, and if given the chance, I personally will make it a priority to find the best solution for your business. That does everything you need it to, today and tomorrow.

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For more information on POS and training contact Merchant Solutions Authority or Shawn Thompson.

Point of Purchase Systems- Your Friend or Frustrating Foe?

After performing Point of Sale (POS) presentations at numerous gift and home industry trade shows,  I had a large number of smart retailers confess to me they have POS in place but don’t really know how to use it! I have found many businesses are really only using this tool as a glorified cash register, which is truly frustrating.

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Have you ever purchased a new cell phone that has many functions yet you only use it to make phone calls?  What about that computer you bought last year and all you ever use it for is to surf the web? We all tend to do this with our newest technology, then become annoyed knowing we have spent money on something intended to make our lives easier only to be frustrated by not understanding how to benefit from all of the features and functions.

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This is typically due to 2 reasons:
• We just don’t have the time to try and learn what these tools around us can do
• We think we can never figure it out

I understand the demands on a business owner’s time but most important, I fully comprehend how much time and return they could get for their business if they had someone train them on their POS. Training is your friend.

Earlier this year, when Homestyle Ivystone opted to partner with Intuit QuickBooks POS (along with other tools for retailers) we also decided to offer training as an important part of our service to businesses. The training component of  a POS service package is accurately the best investment of the business owner’s time for losing frustration and gaining much more insight into all functions of your business, increasing your ROI.

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My recommendation is to contact a professional soon about a few hours of training on your POS. It will be the best money you spend on your business this year!

After you start to use your POS to its fullest capabilities, this tool can quickly become your best business friend.  Next you can tackle changing that pesky clock on your DVD!

Tell us about your POS set up or training experience. Your story will help others like yourself quickly see the intended benefits and return. For more information on POS and training contact Merchant Solutions Authority or Shawn Thompson.