VAR Completes $87,000 POS Overhaul
VAR Multilink integrates the POS (point of sale) systems for a restaurant/retail customer to provide real-time inventory tracking.
What's the largest single POS (point of sale) solution you've ever installed? Ask VAR Nat Wigginton, CEO of Multilink (Virginia Beach, VA), and he'll direct you down Highway 168 on the way to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. There you'll find his customer Border Station, a 15,000-square-foot facility built directly on the state lines of Virginia and North Carolina. On the Virginia side of Border Station there is a gas station, a 5,000-square-foot convenience store, and a Stuckey's candy and gift item area. A Dairy Queen, a country restaurant, a gift shop, and a tobacco and cigarette shop are all located on the North Carolina side of the store.
Wigginton first began working with Border Station when the facility was constructed in 1997. At that time, he installed cash registers, scanners, a LAN, and polling and inventory software. There were seven registers on the North Carolina side of the store and eight on the Virginia side. "There was no real-time information transfer between the Border Station's office [which was at the same location] and the store," Wigginton explained. "At the end of a day, they had to poll each cash register and wait until the reports were finished running. This was a time-consuming process."
Offer Integrated, Touch Screen POS Terminals
Border Station wanted real-time inventory visibility with one integrated system that was easier to back up (they were storing the cash register tapes) and poll at the end of a day. Furthermore, the company wanted an open POS system that could handle Border Station's nearly 500,000 transactions a year. In December 2001, Wigginton proposed a solution to his client's problems.
First, he suggested replacing the cash registers with CRS (Minneapolis) IT-2000 POS terminals equipped with 15-inch touch screens. The touch screens would be customized with keys for the 50 most common items at each POS location. Second, he proposed installing Focus POS software from Secret POS (Austin, TX) for Border Station's restaurants. He also recommended the Store Operations Package from Microsoft Retail Management Systems (formerly Quicksale Commerce) (Redmond, WA) for the retail sections of Border Station. All of the terminals would be networked and the software integrated. The customer approved Wigginton's plan, and he went to work on the restaurant portion of the project in January 2002.
Three CRS IT-2000s were installed in the Dairy Queen and two at the country restaurant. Each of these POS stations was equipped with Epson (Long Beach, CA) TM-88 thermal receipt printers. A TM-U200 dot matrix printer was sold for the order tickets in the food preparation area of the country restaurant.
Nine IT-2000s were installed for the retail portion of the project. These POS stations included credit card readers and check verifiers using Epson TM-H6000 thermal/impact receipt printers with MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) readers.
Provide Real-Time Inventory Visibility
Multilink also replaced two PCs used for receiving purposes and five more in the Border Station offices. All of the store's transaction data is now stored in a proprietary database housed within a new Intel network server running Windows 2000. The server has two hard drives for mirroring data, and the customer also backs up data to CDs. SmartPower Systems (Houston) line conditioners and UPSs (uninterruptible power supplies) protect against power failures or surges. In addition, Multilink installed a Linksys (Irvine, CA) wireless LAN so three of the POS stations would be mobile in case the owner decided to change the layout of the store.
Wigginton estimated the restaurant portion of the project cost $27,000 and the retail portion cost $60,000. The entire project was completed by June 2002.
"This was a challenging installation because we had to make sure the tax structure for both states was correct in the software," he said. "In the end, however, we achieved the real-time inventory visibility the customer wanted, which also eliminated waiting for daily reports at the end of each workday."