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Unhappy With Your POS System? Take A Peek At Your Last POS RFP. Don’t You Feel Bad Now?

Written by Todd L. Michaud
April 18th, 2012

Todd Michaud runs Power Thinking Media, which helps retailers and restaurants tackle the convergence of social, mobile and retail technologies. He spent nine years delivering technology solutions to more than 10,000 retail locations as VP of IT for Focus and Director of Retail Technology for Dunkin’ Brands.

As retailers—over the years—have asked for POS improvements, vendors have responded by baking changes into the core products. The problem is that the results are now over-burdened with so many options they are a nightmare to use, tragically difficult to support and wallet-emptying to purchase. As a result, I don’t know of a single retailer or restaurant company that is currently happy with its POS system. It may be the cost, the support, the features or the complexity of the system, but every retailer I have talked to—for as long as I can remember—wishes that it had something different. What a crazy reality that is.

The problem stems from retailers not knowing what they really want or need, so they ask for everything they can think of. Just for giggles, go pull out the last POS RFP you put together and see what percentage of requirements that were in the RFP are actually in use today. I bet you’d be surprised, especially if it was a long time ago.

Why does it always seem the features that help vendors win the RFP process are the ones that help it get kicked out months or years later? Companies tend to buy based on “bang for their buck,” when in reality they should do the opposite: Look for systems with the least amount of things that aren’t high priority, because they shouldn’t have to pay for what they don’t want or need.

(Related Stories: The Sign Of POS Hardware End Times: IBM Sells All Of Its Point Of Sales To Toshiba and With IBM’s POS Sale, History Really Does Make A Difference)

No POS salesperson wants to tell a customer that his or her offering doesn’t meet a specific requirement. The answer, historically, is always “Yes” or “It can do that if you sign on the line.”

“We have 1,000 different reports out-of-the-box” should not be on the marketing slick. It should be hidden with the other dirty secrets like, “Even though we tout this feature, it doesn’t really work.”

For every item on your RFP that the vendor doesn’t provide today, ask yourself if your business really needs functionality that hundreds or even thousands of other companies haven’t asked for or that the vendor has decided it is not worth its capital investment to build. Take a long hard look at that requirement and really determine if it is a must-have or a want-to-have. Want-to-haves are the number-one killer of POS implementations.

If your requirement is about a functionality that you hope to have in the future but doesn’t exist today, try to gauge the likelihood that the project will actually happen in the next three to five years. Try to take a real, honest assessment of what you actually need for three to five years. How much will your core business really change?


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