Microsoft Intros Software For Small Retailers

The Landing is an early user Microsoft Point Of Sale, an application unveiled Wednesday by Microsoft for small businesses looking to bring more automation and analysis to customer and sales transactions. The software runs on a PC and replaces the traditional electronic cash register. Elizabeth Geist, who owns the music store with her husband, Rick, believes it's important, for example, to keep track of those customers who prefer the analog sound found on vinyl records over the digital sound emanating from compact discs. It has also given Geist insight into her best customers. "It's interesting to see the people who buy one or two things every few days spend more [over time] than those who come in and drop several hundred dollars at once," Geist says.

About 45%, or 3.8 million, of all checkout lanes in the United States are located within single-store retailers, according to statistics provided by Microsoft. "Today these retailers are buying, for the most part, electronic cash registers, about 400,000 purchased each year," says Mike Dickstein, director of Microsoft Business Solutions Point of Sale Solutions.

All items at The Landing are now bar coded as they arrive at the store. Once they're logged into the system, at a touch of a button a list of top sellers and inventory status is available--valuable information when it comes to placing new orders. Information gleaned from the application also provides analysis as to why sales slumped on Tuesday between 2 and 3 p.m., even though the register was opened 17 times, for example. And since the application is Web-based, Geist can access the information either from within the store or on her home computer.

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