August 31, 2004, 12:00 AM

Web-based POS an ongoing learning experience, analyst says

Retailers have come to expect web-based POS systems to go beyond the basics of ringing up sales to also interact with inventory management, labor scheduling and loss prevention – presenting a new slate of challenges, says analyst Sunita Gupta.

Retailers have come to expect web-based POS systems to go beyond the basics of ringing up sales and processing returns and layaways to also interact with inventory management, labor scheduling and loss prevention, presenting a new slate of challenges, says Sunita Gupta, vice president of retail consultants LakeWest Group. “It’s almost a misnomer to call it ‘POS.’”

One of the immediate advantages of going with a web-based POS system is that retailers can save on the cost related to hardware and system implementation, Gupta says. By using thin-client POS terminals that use processing power on centrally based web servers, retailers save on in-store hardware costs. And the open standards architecture of web-based POS provides for faster and less costly integration with other applications like inventory management and merchandise management software, while browser-based access enables managers in headquarters to monitor store POS activity to better view real-time traffic trends and better control loss prevention and labor scheduling, she adds.

But retailers are also learning that they often have to customize their web-based POS to suit an organization’s particular needs. In case of a network failure, for instance, retailers may want to keep enough local processing power to maintain non-stop sales transactions. A home improvement retailer, for instance, might realize it needs to keep more processing power at its thin-client store terminals in order to keep in a local database transaction information regarding installation services, which accounts for a strong growth market for home improvement retailers.

Retailers also need to assure that their network connections offer sufficient bandwidth to support the amount of information integrating with their POS systems, and to control browser-based access by different types of employees to sensitive information on inventory, customer records and other data, Gupta says.

 

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