Retailers Get the Point

By Lauren Simonds | Posted January 17, 2006

Retailers looking for ways to integrate Point of Sale (POS) technology into their business might be interested in two new announcements from Microsoft. The news pertains to small, single-store shop owners and to growing, multiple-store owners.

First up, Microsoft has established relationships with three hardware vendors — Casio, DigiPoS and HP — to provide all-in-one retail terminal systems that come preloaded with Microsoft's Point of Sale software. The software helps retailers track and manage sales, inventory and customer information.

The all-in-one hardware packages include a CPU, a touch screen display, bar code scanner, a cash drawer and a credit card swiper.

Mike Dickstein, the director Microsoft POS, said that this new turnkey solution is extremely important for small businesses. "A turnkey solution makes it much easier for a small retailer to purchase. They don't have research each individual component — it's all right there and ready to go."

He also pointed out that an all-in-one solution is much faster to set up. "The system comes with Microsoft POS preloaded and pre configured. You don't have any software to load or hardware to install. What used to take hours now takes minutes," Dickstein said. He added that another advantage is easier tech support: one call takes care of everything.

The new Casio, DigiPoS and HP hardware systems include:

  • Casio QT-8000CW-MBD; Available today through TechData and Ingram Micro
  • DigiPoS Digi5000L; Available at the end January through BlueStar
  • HP rp5000 POS System; Available Q2 2006 through multiple HP channels

Dickstein estimates that pricing for the hardware solutions will be less than $3,000. On its own, Microsoft POS sells for $799 per checkout lane.

Microsoft Retail Management System
The company also announced version 1.3 of its Retail Management System. This mid-level software offers increased scalability for growing small-to-mid-sized businesses with multiple locations. Dickstein called out the improved integration with the headquarters module within Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains), and said that the program gives retailers with more complex needs the room to grow.

The company claims improved features in the following areas:

  • Tracking and coordinating store and headquarter info
  • Tracking inventory throughout the supply chain
  • Visibility into sales transactions at individual store levels

Microsoft has also changed how the program handles credit card transactions. Dickstein said that the software now offers improved compliance with payment Application Best Practices of the Visa Cardholder Information Security Program.

"The change will help fight identity theft," said Dickstein. "The program masks credit card numbers and no longer prints them on the receipt. And they're deleted from the system once payment has been made."

Microsoft RMS version 1.3 is available now and sells for $1,199 per checkout lane.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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