Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Question number 10 of 10 things to ask yourself when buying a cash register

Number ten in our series of the top ten questions to ask yourself before buying a new cash register is "Do I want to track inventory or just sales?"

This is a simple yet complex question for several different reasons. Many people get confused and think sales reports are the same as inventory control reports. Many people also confuse a cash registers stock keeping feature as being the same as true inventory control.

Let's look at true inventory control based on how we would define that from a point of sale system (POS) perspective. A POS system would within a matter of a few minutes be able to tell you item by item , what you have in stock, how many you have sold, how many you need to re-order and some systems even more. A true POS system will be able to tell you based on sales you need to order a case of blue widgets from ACME at a cost of $30.00 per case because last week you started with 10 blue widgets and sold 5 and have a threshold stock of 10 and must buy by the case. The system would then print a PO and when the items came in you could quickly receive into the system which would add the new ones to inventory, update your cost if it had changed and of course your cost of goods sold and profit per blue widget.

Now lets look at what a cash register is REALLY GOOD AT which is sales reporting. Lets for arguments sake say you have a 1000 UPC items programmed into your cash register. Each of those UPC's is programmed to a department for reporting. The cash register will allow you to take a UPC or PLU report based on a range of UPC/PLU numbers, UPC/PLU linked to a department, and a few other ways (different cash registers allow more or less reports) A cash register report will tell you that you have sold X amount of Blue Widgets from the last time you "Z'd" the report. The cash register does not know month to date, year to date, months, weeks, days etc. It knows from the last time you took the report until right now! Even if the register has monthly reports also known as "Z2" reports the Z2 reports are still based on from last taken to right now and the register has no idea what a month is or what month it is regardless of the fact it prints the date. A cash register counts sales and reports very well. It is your job to manage the dates to take the reports to get the most benefit of the reports. Most cash registers have many different daily and monthly reports.

So now you want to keep inventory on a cash register. You want your cash register to tell you that you started with 100 Blue Widgets and sold 75 and have 25 in stock and need to order more. Cash Registers with stock keeping can do most of that, however it would not tell you how many to buy, just how many you have left. The system seems to fall apart however when the store owner buys more blue widgets the end-user must go into programming and tell the cash register now instead of 25 widgets you have 125 although a few registers allow you to program plus 100 instead of entering the new number. Now envision you have 1000 UPC's and do you still want to do this? I would sell to you with a disclaimer that you should buy a software based POS system not cash register or a cash register and a inventory program to interface into.

My boss and I have about 65 years combined experience with cash registers and we know for a fact that people keeping inventory with a cash register seldom ever turns out well. We also know that there are salespeople across the country that tell people what they want to hear "YES it can do it" and than they end up calling us and we have to give them the bad news. The good news is if you have under 100 items and you are dedicated to 2 to 4 hours per week managing the stock control a cash register will make a pretty good limited inventory system.

A computer based POS has built in many time saving features that allow you to manage thousands of items with more detail in the same time a register can track limited info for 50 items. If someone tells you otherwise make them show you how to add inventory to stock. How long did it take? Was it easy? Was it one item at a time? I could go on and on on this topic. We feel passionate enough about it we wish cash register manufactures would remove the stock control features so people are not even tempted!

Not convinced? Call us or go somewhere and take a demo of managing inventory in both a computer POS system and a cash register!

SAM4s and Sharp both make cash registers with stock control features. The SPS-500 series is the first one on the market that have streamlined a little of the process to make it more manageable.

Please take away from this if nothing else that yes many cash registers can run a limited inventory control/stock keeping system however look hard at it and make sure it is for you!

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