Cleaning Out An Antiquated POS System
Salt Lake City POS (point of sale) VAR shows dry cleaners how to speed up payment processing and save customers time.
We've all been there. You're on your way to the airport to catch a flight out of town for an important business meeting. You're running late. It's raining. But before the airport, you have one more stop to make - the dry cleaners for the suit you'll wear at the important meeting. So you run in, give them the pickup slip, yank out your credit card, and ... wait. The clerk swipes the card, and you hear the familiar beeps associated with the system dialing in to verify your credit. The whole process takes a mere 18 seconds, but those may be seconds you don't have.
Cut Credit Card Processing To 3 Seconds
Now, a Salt Lake City-based VAR has found a way to speed up the credit card payment process for dry cleaners. Westgate Software Inc. has removed the dial-up service from its software package and switched to Internet-based credit card processing. Dave Sitze, software project development engineer for Westgate, says most dry cleaning transactions with a dial-up system take between 15 and 18 seconds. But with the new PC Charge software package sold by GO Software (Savannah, GA) and implemented through Payment Processing, Inc. (Newark, CA), the company has cut that time to 2 or 3 seconds.
Sitze says Westgate offers its customers a choice of either a local system database run in the stores, in which all data is handled on-site, or an application in which the data is co-located on Westgate's server. With the latter, Westgate found itself with several hundred workstations running on its server. It entailed a separate phone line for each customer, a situation that Sitze said quickly got out of hand.
Saving $1,000 A Month On Phone Costs
The PC Charge system allowed Westgate to eliminate phone lines and computers and to run multiple accounts from one system. In particular, the company was able to remove 30 phone lines and 30 corresponding computers with the new system. Mike Wilde, president of Westgate, estimates he now saves $1,000 a month on reduced phone costs. Westgate now hosts about 400 connections.
But few changes come without headaches, and Sitze says Westgate's switch was no exception. "The biggest obstacle was learning the new system," comments Sitze. The company had to develop its software to integrate with the new system to avoid problems like double billing and to make sure all information was logged accurately. "After that, we had to test, test, and test some more," he says.
Wilde says in the company's hosting environment, each dry cleaner has two credit card terminals that scan a card's magnetic stripe. Under the old analog system, the stores also needed a modem to connect to the Westgate server, a PC, and a phone line. For the customers, the new system does not require as much labor. And it improves customer service by reducing the amount of time customers spend waiting. "If you're running a little late, 15 seconds can seem like a long time," Sitze says.
The PC Charge software also keeps merchants from having to gamble on whether or not some of their customers have good credit. With the analog lines, many of Wilde's customers were set up only to accept credit card payments under a certain dollar amount (to speed up processing) and then settle the accounts at the end of the day. A bad credit card would mean the store would have to take a hit financially because the processing companies cannot be held liable at that point. But now, there's no need to gamble because the processing happens so quickly. "Now, it's virtually instantaneous," Wilde says. "So they never have to take the risk."