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Do you have ‘Analysis Paralysis’

Everyday retailers ask “Does the software do ‘such-and-such’?” In the case of ProphetLine, our software is a very rich and proven software package that has been on the market for many years. It is designed for retailers of hard- and soft-goods, such as apparel, sporting goods, and other types of specialty retail. These retailers typically have certain features that are required, such as size-color matrix, serial number tracking, customer tracking, accounts receivable, and multi-store support. Any worthwhile point of sale system in the market will have these features and others considered mission-critical for the specialty retail market. If your business is mostly accounts receivable, then it is imperative that the software properly manage accounts receivable, such as invoicing, statement generation, and reporting. ProphetLine also has many features not found in other systems, especially for many micro-verticals within specialty retail, so it is literally designed for hundreds of different types of retailers and is rarely a bad fit for most of them.

However, sometimes retailers get caught up in the minutiae of the function points of the software, thinking that every single thing about their business must be automated, and forget that there are enormous gains in automating just the larger parts of their business. Often, and regrettably, some get so consumed with finding this perfect software package (that often does not exist or is cost-prohibitive) they spend months or years searching without success to find a pos application that performs this function exactly how they think it (so obviously!) should work. I have known some to search for years, and every year I ask them “Bob, have you found what you are looking for yet?” Invariably, the reply is “Not so far, but there is this new pos software company that looks like they have it right.” Next year, same story, and Bob never buys. His clerks fill out invoices by hand, he has no idea of what is in stock and merchandise and cash walks out the store everyday.

If you’ve been searching for months or years, spoken with over 5 or 10 companies, and have yet to find the perfect software, you may be over-analyzing function points – RELAX.

As you evaluate software, when a feature is missing, ask yourself how important that feature is. Weigh this feature against the big picture. In fact, you should make a list of features that are mission-critical, needed but not critical, and nice-to-have. Assign a weight value to each so that you can score pos software packages as you evaluate them. Features, while certainly important, are not the only things you should evaluate, either. Ask the vendor what platform the software runs on; what database; how long has it been on the market (for the current architecture), programming language, support hours and costs, upgrade policies, and most importantly, a list of references from other retailers in your market. Try to obtain you own references as well. Manufacturer sales reps are a great start – they can turn you on to retailers just like you that have pos software systems.

Choosing and buying a point of sale system is an important task – just don’t be overcome with analysis paralysis.

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