July 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

One Big Store

(Page 3 of 3)

Clerks also ask each customer to provide a name, e-mail address and ZIP code, and about half of customers do so because many are repeat buyers who want to know about Loser Kids’ latest offer, Crayton says. That information goes into the retailer’s database from CoreSense, which maintains a single view of inventory and customer history for the web site and store.

Price is right

The system is versatile, yet inexpensive. Crayton says the Internet connectivity comes from a standard DSL line and the CoreSense software that runs the POS system costs $99 per month for a single-user license as he has only one register in his store.

Besides providing access to a retailer’s own inventory, a web-based system also makes it possible for retailers to quickly check with suppliers about product availability, says Andee Williamson, senior marketing manager at Radiant Systems. The POS software can be programmed with a button for each supplier so that when, for instance, a customer comes into a bicycle shop looking for a spare part for a Schwinn bike the clerk can hit the button for Schwinn to see if the item is in stock, she says.

Installing such a web-based POS system was easy for Crayton, since the Loser Kids store he opened last fall was his first. But most retailers with stores have an installed base of POS equipment that they replace only about once a decade, according to Brown of Kurt Salmon.

Even with the benefits such a system offers, he says it may be hard for retailers to justify the investment in bringing Internet connectivity to the point of sale while store sales are weak. “Once there’s a promise of ROI from these investments,” Brown adds, “you’ll see more retailers moving to it.”

don@verticalwebmedia.com

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