Magazine Article | December 16, 2008

Oust Disparate Systems To Grow Revenue

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

An all-in-one business management solution enabled this specialty retailer to experience 10% revenue growth.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, January 2009

Some SMB specialty retailers have strict budgets, thereby making the decision to implement new technology to run their entire operation a difficult one. Therefore, it may be wise to skip disparate POS and shipping systems in favor of one total business management solution. Jarrett McAlicher, director of marketing and IT services at Atlantic Tactical, knows this pain point to be true. Headquartered in New Cumberland, PA, Atlantic Tactical provides equipment and uniforms to public safety professionals, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and the U.S. Postal Service. The multichannel retailer operates three brick-and- mortar stores, as well as catalog, outside sales, and e-commerce sales.

Remote Access To POS = Stalled Transaction Time
For years, the retailer used disparate POS and accounting systems, which made business management extremely complicated. To make matters worse, the brick- and-mortar stores used dial-up modems and landlines to transfer POS information from headquarters to the other two locations. "Operating a small company on a small budget eliminated the possibility of implementing high-speed access because it was so expensive," says McAlicher. "To communicate with headquarters, our cashiers used the DOS version of PC Anywhere, which is remote communication software." PC Anywhere remotely accessed the POS system at the headquarters office. Each time a cashier dialed into headquarters, they paid expensive, per-minute, long-distance charges. Due to the costly long-distance charges, employees only dialed into headquarters when a customer walked into the store. Employees disconnected the modem when the customer left and repeated the process when a new customer came in. This was a timely process. Therefore, customers frequently became upset with the amount of time required to write a sales order, convert it to an invoice, and finally enter credit card information into the system to complete one sale. "A customer would walk in to buy a 59-cent handcuff key, and it would take 3 to 4 minutes to check them out," explains McAlicher.

In 2005, McAlicher realized that in order to achieve seamless operations, the retailer would have to purchase an all-in-one business management solution. Everest Software representatives were in the New Cumberland, PA, area giving a demonstration to another company, when they stopped at Atlantic Tactical to talk to McAlicher. The vendor did a tailored demo on the spot that explained how its business management solution could alleviate their POS and accounting problems. "I chose Everest Software's business management software package because it was an integrated solution that included accounting, POS, sales, purchasing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, contact manager, e-commerce, credit card processing, inventory managment, and even email," says McAlicher.

Conduct Multistep Install For Best Results
The vendor conducted the installation at the headquarters location. The implementation process was thorough, as the vendor's representatives were on-site at headquarters three times. During the first visit, an Everest representative conducted a business process review and developed an 80-page system document. During the business process review, the vendor's representative sat down with Atlantic Tactical employees to ask them specific questions about their respective job functions (e.g. Do you accept cash on delivery? How long does it take you to embroider a name on a uniform?). The answers to these questions, along with existing accounting and POS information, are what the vendor used to customize the retailer's software package.

Before the vendor's representative returned a second time, he advised McAlicher to perform data cleansing on the existing system. This way, when the vendor's rep returned, he could run test transactions using the retailer's actual data. McAlicher completed the task, and the vendor's rep completed test transactions successfully. The vendor implemented the software solution during his third visit. On that day, the retailer closed its business so the vendor could conduct employee training. The retailer reopened the store the following day as normal, but the vendor stayed on-site for three additional days to answer questions and work with employees one-on-one to learn the software.

McAlicher deems the implementation a success because of the many benefits the retailer has reaped. The retailer has experienced a 10% gross revenue increase since implementing the new system. "With the new system, one person can ship 90 packages in two hours, whereas it used to take two people an entire business day to ship that number," says McAlicher. Finally, the stores have also shaved minutes from all POS transactions. 

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