December 18, 2008, 12:00 AM

iTunes provides the training for Mac-based software, a retailer finds

Multi-channel retailer embasi uses Mac-based software from Xsilva Systems to manage checkout at its two stores and web site. The software’s look, which mimics that of Apple’s popular iTunes music program, is easy for employees to learn, embasi says.

Retailers are always complaining about training employees to use new technology because of constant turnover. Embasi, a retailer with two stores and a new web site, is finding employees quickly pick up the software it’s using-in part because it looks so much like Apple’s popular iTunes music program.

Where the left column of an iTunes page features playlists and music libraries, the software from Xsilva Systems can display such categories as customers, products, suppliers and invoices, says Chris Acker, part-owner and manager of embasi, which sells skateboards, snowboards, caps and youth-oriented apparel. “It’s a pretty easy way to train employees,” Acker says, “because nowadays pretty much everyone uses iTunes, so they can navigate it without us having to show them too much.”

Embasi uses Xsilva’s Lightspeed software for its store point-of-sale systems and the vendor’s Lightspeed Web Store application for the e-commerce site launched just two months ago. Acker says the current version of Web Store is limited in some ways, such as not being able to display multiple images of a product, but that Xsilva is adding new features in Web Store 2.0 which is scheduled for general release in January.

Meanwhile, he is finding the software and the Mac hardware he runs it on makes for a more stable combination than the previous point-of-sale software he ran on a Windows-based personal computer. The web site,, and the checkout counter application for one of the two New Hampshire stores, both run on a $1,200 iMac laptop, Acker says. As for compatibility problems with Windows-based machines, Acker says there have been a few issues with garbled images. “Other than that, we’ve never had a PC/Mac problem,” he says.

Acker, a long-time user of Apple Macintosh computers, says he searched for Mac-based software because he encountered frequent problems with Windows-based technology, such as his PC crashing. Many customers come to Xsilva Systems for similar reasons, says the company’s founder and CEO, Dax Dasilva.

Dasilva says he got started by building point-of-sale software for an Apple dealership in Canada, then started Xsilva Systems three years ago to build software for a broader variety of retailers. While he would not say how many clients he has, Dasilva says about 15% sell online. The Lightspeed software is priced at $749, Dasilva says.

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