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Believe it or not...

Colour/size stock management:
Believe it or not… Buyers of ‘mass merchandised’, ‘plastic wrapped’ retail systems have purchased systems with the belief that the system will provide elegant and useful colour/size matrix reporting and displays, along the lines illustrated in the following links:

Some plastic-wrapped retail systems cannot provide reporting in this form. Even worse, if you want colour/size level control, you will probably find yourself having to create and maintain 42 different masterfile records for a Style you carry in 7 colours and 6 sizes. If you happen to have two hundred Styles with a range of colours and sizes, you have a real ‘challenge’ on your hands.

MINDER has been designed to cope with colour/size matrices; you create one master file record, nominate the relevant colours, and link to a standard size-grid. Elegantly and usefully presented colour/size reports and displays are a standard feature of MINDER.

Date effective pricing:
Believe it or not… There are still some retail systems around that seem to expect you to work on Saturday or Sunday to enter new prices to take effect from Monday morning !

MINDER allows you to enter your new prices days, or even weeks ahead of the cut-in date to ensure you have the time to ‘get it right’, and get it to the stores in plenty of time.

Seamless end-of-week/month/etc.:
Believe it or not… some systems still insist that you fully complete the processing of one period, before you can ‘trade’ in the next !  Too bad if you happen to have had a glitch on the weekend, and you haven’t been able to post the transactions.

MINDER uses a merchandising calendar that allows you to seamlessly move from one period to the next. MINDER moves you straight into the processing of the new period, and you can take your time in coping with the unprocessed data.

Stocktaking traps:
Believe it or not… some systems expect you to ‘freeze’ your business operations for the duration of your stocktaking. That is, they expect you to finalise all your trading, process all your sales and other transactions, physically count all your stock and input it to the system, investigate all the apparent shrinkage, do the associated investigations, input the necessary corrections, finalise the stocktake, and then you can start serving customers again!

MINDER saves your ‘Book-stock’ at the time of stocktake, and you continue normal business operations while you input your stock count, investigate variances, and process your corrections. With MINDER, full or partial stocktakes can be done at virtually any time without interfering with normal trading procedures.

Also, watch for the trap where some systems demand that you only input one entry for a line of merchandise. Sometimes the stock-count quantity you input to the system ‘replaces’ the figure on  file and if you have the same stock item in separate locations, these systems will work with the last count record input.

MINDER provides for the fact that the same item of stock might be located in different parts of the store, and accumulates the individual count records that it is given to process.

4/4/5 Merchandising calendar:
Believe it or not… some retail systems are limited to working with calendar months. That is, you are not given the option of working to a 4-week-month, 4-week-month, 5-week-month cycle that gives you the ability to meaningfully compare trading months against one another, and this month this year against this month last year.

MINDER provides the 4/4/5 merchandising calendar concept to maximise the significance of the data collected and input into the system.

Barcode printing:
Believe it or not… some retail systems provide ‘non by-product’ barcode ticket printing facilities. That is, you do your stock receivals as one process, and then print the barcodes as a separate process. The inefficiency of this approach is not its worst feature; its worst feature is its inaccuracy. It is far too easy for a wrong code to be entered during the ticket printing process, and the consequences are serious.

MINDER provides for barcode tickets to printed as a by-product of the goods receival process, thereby making it virtually impossible for incorrect tickets to be produced.

The Retail Method:
Believe it or not… The majority of ‘plastic wrapped’ retail systems do not even acknowledge the existence of the ‘Retail Method’!  ‘What is it’?  you may well be asking.

For many retailers it is impractical and/or uneconomic to allocate individual stock codes, and physically mark every item of stock. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that these retailers have to ‘fly by the seat of their pants’.

MINDER offers the ‘Retail Method’ to those retailers that require it. This enables them to operate what is termed Classification-level control, and by that means it is possible to achieve highly effective merchandising management.

Please link to The Retail Method for more detailed information.

Overnight processing & store polling:
f you operate more than one store you will want to poll the outlying stores at the end of each day to collect their transactions for the day, and to provide them with details of new products, price changes, the current stock levels in the other stock locations, etc. Believe it or not… some software suppliers will want you to manually instigate the polling of the remote locations, the updating of the data collected, and then the transmission of the new data to the remote locations. While sometimes this an interesting novelty for new users, you can rest assured that the novelty of hanging around at the end of the working day to perform these tasks wears off very, very quickly.

MINDER provides a completely automated process. You load a back-up cartridge into the back-up drive, select the icon that nominates when you want the overnight processing to commence (e.g. 10PM tonight, 8PM Sunday evening), activate it, and then leave the computer to do what has to be done.

So what happens when polling does fail:
Modems and telephone lines fail from time to time, and data may not be collected from the store, and/or the data you intended to send to a store, may not have got to the store. How are these incidents coped with ?

MINDER automatically saves un-transmitted data at store level, and forwards it as a ‘discrete’ package as part of the next successful transmission, so that it gets processed as the data for the correct date. Similarly, if the data that Central is trying to send to the store cannot be sent, it keeps track of that data, and sends it as part of the next successful transmission.

Importing supplier product details (instead of laboriously typing them in):
Most systems these days offer facilities to import data into their systems. However, in this matter very often the ‘devil is in the detail’. Sure, the system you are considering probably offers importing facilities, as long as you present the data you want to import in the manner that it can cope with!  So, the answer is simple; just get all your suppliers to provide you with their catalogue of products in the format your system wants it. Easy, right?  No, not so easy.

MINDER offers a Supplier Catalogue Facility that makes it practical for you to accept the data in the form they offer it (as long as it is logical, and is in a common data interchange format), and enables you to ‘map it’ to your format. These facilities make the importation of catalogue data from your major suppliers a practical reality. The advantages do not stop there. MINDER provides for the new pricing to be handled on a ‘date effective’ basis (see above), it enables you to avoid overriding the product descriptions you have established in your retail system, with their descriptions, etc.

Use of EAN barcodes provided by manufacturers:
A majority of manufacturers now mark their goods with a barcode referred to as an EAN (European Article Numbering). Typically it is a 13-digit code but there are ‘short forms’ that contain fewer digits. This approach to bar-coding works brilliantly in the supermarket arena, and in other businesses who can operate on a ‘shelf-pricing’ basis.

First time buyers of retail systems sometimes fall into the trap of believing that the presence of EAN barcodes on their stock solves all their merchandise coding problems. In most cases this is far from the truth for one, or a combination of the following reasons:

  • You still have to create a masterfile item in your system for each of these items.
  • Setting up a system to primarily work with what are typically 13-digit codes is often quite unwise.
  • If you want or need to ‘item-price’ your merchandise, you have to produce a price ticket anyway, and, on the balance of probabilities, you are likely to be better off applying your own barcodes in the process.

MINDER has a variety of options that enables you to bring about the most efficient and economical approach for your business.

Pathological System Tailoring:
What is pathological system tailoring?  It is system tailoring provided by some software houses on the basis of creating a separate version of the software specifically for each client.

While some readers might think that this sounds like a good thing, it usually leads to disaster.

Why is this so?  Well, its primarily because quality software systems are ‘live entities’. ‘Live’ in the sense that they have to be incessantly changed and updated to conform with the ever changing real world in which they exist. One of the glaring recent examples was the trauma surrounding the introduction of GST. Software houses who were unprofessional enough to have tens, or hundreds of different versions of their software (tailored to meet specific needs of individual clients), let their clients down badly. It was virtually impossible for them to rework the many individual systems to incorporate the GST requirements.
 
Syscap has engineered its product so that our clients can enjoy the best of both worlds:

  1. All clients use the same set of software.
  2. The specific system tailoring needs of individual clients are met by incorporating those needs into the one master product, on a parameter-driven basis.