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The National Retail Federation Big Show in New York

I just returned from New York at the end of last week and was it great to get home. New York is always enjoyable, but the travel was almost impossible. Everything was backed up in Dallas because of the ice and getting there was nearly a miracle. This show is the biggest show for retail technology and provides a good gauge for what will be important to retailers in the near future.

There wasn’t anything that was earth shattering or so innovative that it took the show by storm. Most everything was last year’s model with a different ribbon and a new name. After doing the NRF Show this year, I felt good about where ProphetLine is and where we are going. ProphetLine POS Software is so fully integrated and feature inclusive, you can run a specialty retail store and never need another product. I can now outline our development schedule this year with the confidence of knowing ProphetLine is going in the correct direction and staying on the leading edge.

Vista: The Devil is in the Drivers

I run Vista for my operating system at work and have had my share of ‘growing pains’. Here is a quick article from the folks at the MSD2D (MSD2D is the premier resource for the Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, .NET and server security communities.) .NET Newsletter that sums it up pretty good.

Derek Hatchard and I have had similar experiences with Windows Vista: It’s pretty and pretty cool, but some of your peripherals just might not function. Derek mentions his Samsung ML-4500 printer and TASCAM microphone don’t work. For me, my HP Photosmart 3300 printer doesn’t work. I just have to guess that a lot of hardware vendors simply aren’t going to port “old” drivers over to Vista, ever [weeping noises]. This is just another nail in the coffin of the Vista upgrade scenario, if you ask me.

Just a word of caution. Make sure your POS Software and Hardware will work with Vista before you make the move. At ProphetLine, we have tested our software with Vista. It works well, however, we too are still waiting on drivers for some of the things typically used in a retail business such as printers, customer displays, etc.

Greeting Customers Take Two

In a prior blog, Greetings – Honest or Duty, I mention how it can easily seem employees can say ‘hello’ to customers and only seem to be doing so because the manager or store owner told them to do so. Well, I recently had another experience with the reverse effect of this.

I went to pick my truck up from the local Ford dealership. They always greet me when I come in (and when we meet out in public) so it is normal to hear the honest ‘hello Randy’ from them. The service manager I typically deal with was helping another customer and so I waited. After a while another manager asked if I was being helped (nice move on his part and showed he was aware of what was going on). I stated I was and thanked him.

Another customer walked in and I greeted her and told her the desk managers would be right back (why make her wonder). Shortly thereafter, a lady employee walk within three feet of both of us standing at a counter with no one behind it. Her response. She turned without saying a word and disappeared into the nether regions.

Remember, customers are people too and even if you aren’t the person that can help them, you could be the person to get them assistance. If you see customers standing or looking like they need assistance, ask them. You might be the difference in a one time shopper and a repeat customer.

Emergency Preparedness & Response

With all the ice, power outages and flooding happening around the country, people are thinking about Emergency Preparedness & Response. We all know the drill – you should have non-perishable food, fresh water, battery operated radio, fresh batteries, light, but how often do we think about these before the emergency happens? What about in business? Do you have guidelines in place stating clearly – If this happens, do this?

Emergency Preparedness & Response is more than just a life saver, it can be a business saver as well. At ProphetLine POS Software, we understand how important you business is. ProphetLine POS has built in backup software. Can be re-installed and functional on a new computer in a very short amount of time. We understand because we have been there. The other side of the emergency is what if it is only a small problem? Does your business have clear procedures for"¦

Power Outages
Do you write hand tickets or close down
Do you have power backup so computers can shut down gracefully
Do you have power backups to run critical systems
Computer Crashes
What problems are critical
Do employees know how to tell if it is a hardware or a POS software problem
Do employees know who to call for hardware and/or POS software problems (they could be different companies)
Do you have backup/extra terminals that could be used
Customer problems
What can the clerk/sales person offer if anything to resolve issues
What management personnel handles what type of complaints/issues


Having clearly outlined procedures in place will enable your business to run more smoothly even in times when things are not going as planned. Procedures should be reviewed and changed on an annual basis. Employees should be notified of the changes and new employees trained to efficiently know when and what to do in the event of an issue.

At ProphetLine we understand and can help. We’ve been there!

When Should You Buy a POS System?

The answer is really simple. You should buy POS Software when you consider it an investment and not an expense. It is an investment in the future health of your business. The initial cost of the software and hardware is a good start, but there are continuing expenses that include ongoing training, support and software upgrades. You may never even come close to using all the features in a good quality POS Software product, but if you target just 15% of the features you feel that can improve your business, your retail improvement will not be far behind.

In 1996, ProphetLine was doing a technology tour with the winners of various categories of software that won Microsoft Retail Application Developer Awards. Jim Dion, president of Dionco, was the speaker for the shows and I must have heard his program twenty times, but I never tired of listening to it. He always stressed training and support and a portion of your revenues reinvested back into your store technologies. It was never considered an expense, but an investment that must be maintained. If two percent of your store revenues is your technology budget and you get a return of seven percent or better, it’s a no-brainer.

Would You Rather Buy From Small or Large Software Company?

There used to be a saying, "No one ever got fired for buying IBM. That referred to large companies where the IT staff was covering their rear and buying from a large software company with a pricey product. Small retailers have a better option, because their purchase is usually made by the manager or owner. This decision is dictated by the functionality of the software, responsiveness of the support staff and a personal relationship developed with the sales and project management staff.

ProphetLine POS Software/Retail Systems prides itself on a more one to one personal relationship that gives comfort to the retailer that someone really cares about their business. Your calls are usually answered in a short period of time and if not, you are put into the system for a quick return call. You have a choice, call and talk to someone you don’t know and have never talked to before, or call and talk to someone you have developed a relationship with. I think you’ll like the way you feel.

Creating Reports with Crystal Reports

Crystal Reports is a full featured report creation and development application, although it not always the most user friendly tool. Crystal Reports and ProphetLine POS Software work well together as ProphetLine data is available via ODBC to report writers and/or applications such as Microsoft Work, Excel, Access, etc. As with most reporting, there are typically two major hurdles to overcome when creating reports.

The first is understanding the report creation software. In the case of Crystal Reports, there are many books available as well as some free resources such as Crystal Reports The author, Brian Bischof, is currently working on a book for Crystal Reports XI and has made chapters available online for free at Crystal Reports Free Book.

The second is understanding the data and how it is stored. This can be a major set back with many applications as the companies will do most anything but tell you the data structures. With ProphetLine, we are here to help you. We will typically ask what type of report you are wanting and the data to be displayed just in case we already have the report in our 200+ built in ones and you just haven’t found it. If we don’t have the report, it may be we will add it as a standard/built-in report in a future release or we can tell you where and how the data is stored and you can write your custom report.

With ProphetLine POS software, we are here to assist you in growing your business and providing you the information you need to better manage your assets.

POS Software is not the Holy Grail!

Point of Sale/Retail Systems are great tools for good business people, but only work well within an organization that is committed to great customer service. Providing good customer service can be as simple as a nice smile and a warm hello or as complex as notifying them of a sale of a certain brand that they like. All of your employees have to buy into this philosophy of service excellence.

A manager’s most important job is hiring, training and maintaining good employees. I’ve heard a million times that a potential client must have extremely simple software, because the employees are not smart enough to learn anything else. They obviously don’t have the right employees. Hiring the right people and empowering them to do the job that is expected will get you to the next level. Remember, it’s not the ones you fire that hurt you; it’s the ones you keep that hurt you.