Gone are the antiquated cash register systems of the past.
Today, there are enterprise software solutions that can do it all - streamline operations, increase productivity, achieve significant cost savings and expand in new and creative ways as your business does.
And they can offer up a few surprises, too.
It didn't seem so long ago that the only thing your business needed for processing payment was a simple cash register. Customers paid for purchases by either cash or check, and all accounting was done manually. The system worked well enough for most businesses, even if it was inefficient, tedious, and often inaccurate. For those who operated large and multi-venued operations, however, life wasn't always so easy and simple. Due to logistics and a host of other obstacles, businesses such as these were forced to be creative in how they coordinated the collection of cash and data.
Flash forward to the new millennium, and technology has changed everything. Gone for the most part are clunky, antiquated cash register systems. Businesses today deal in state of the art enterprise software solutions for data management and payment processing. Technology is now an ever shifting thing, where innovations and advances seem to happen at a furious pace, fueled by ever increasing demands from clients for bigger, better, smarter. Smart technology is also smart for the bottom line. It's a fact that businesses realize a significant return on investment by utilizing technology that not only streamlines operations, but is also reliable, flexible, and increases productivity and the customer experience as well.
Achieving all this with an enterprise pos software system is not an easy goal for any company. Larger and multi unit venues such as theme parks, ski resorts, or casinos, for example, require an even more complex enterprise point of sale solution. Businesses such as these are looking for systems that offer features such as client recognition capabilities, hospitality and retail sales, gift card processing, quick and easy debit and credit options, and more. They also require a system that can get around cabling and network issues, and can preserve precious data in case of a system failure.
Confederation Park is one such business. An 83-hectare fun & adventure park located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Hamilton, Ontario, Confederation Park offers lots of choices for visitors. From mini golf, batting cages, and a climbing wall, to bumper cars and six-story body slides at Wild Waterworks, there's plenty to do for both families and corporate groups. Lakeland Centre features a hall for weddings and meetings that can hold up to 130 people. Guests can enjoy a meal in restaurants like Hutch's and Baranga's on the Beach, or order lighter fare at Ollie's Landing. For such a large and multi faceted place, Confederation Park has not only embraced technology, but they've also adapted it to their operation in a new and creative way.
New Enterprise Software Solutions
Shane Omerod, General Manager, was initially looking for a solution to ongoing networking concerns when he first set out to purchase an enterprise POS system. The time had also come for a much needed upgrade to their existing technology.
"Our existing system was old, and really needed replacing." Says Omerod. "We had a lot of problems with our networking, and of course the registers couldn't operate without networking. We needed to find a system that was reliable, and eliminated our networking problems. We needed something that could stand alone."
Also at the top of the wish list was something very different, and Omerod hoped to find a system that could put the idea into action. While traveling, he had been at a Water Park that used bracelets as a payment tool.
Once visitors had pre purchased admission, their currency was exchanged with the bar-coded bracelets, and they were good for the entire day - including in and out privileges. Omerod loved the idea and wanted to implement it at Confederation Park.
"I originally saw the bracelet idea in Mexico, and wanted to find a system that could offer this feature." He elaborates. "We needed accurate numbers of who was coming into the park. The hand stamps we were using were too easy to forge." The bracelets were not only simple, but practical, too. "They're also waterproof." He adds.
Looking to the future, Omerod also hoped to find an enterprise system that would grow along with Confederation Park without incurring any additional costs. In the end, the solution he went with was Toronto based Volanté Systems, which could accommodate all of Confederation Park's current and future needs.
Founded in 1993, Volanté Systems provides a leading edge enterprise POS solution. The system is developed entirely in Java, and addressed Omerod's networking concerns through its use of peer-to-peer technology.
Volanté is not based on the traditional Server/Client model. Volanté's peer-to-peer system is designed to allow all terminals to work independently, ensuring continuous operations even in the event of a network or host computer failure. Peer-to-peer decentralizes the responsibilities customarily given to the server and distributes the task among the peers.
All clients have the ability to publish services and instead of requesting a server to perform work, clients can request the work to be done by any of its peers. A server is not even required for normal client operations. Volanté's advanced data synchronization capability and transactional consistency is maintained on all terminals at all times. The result is maximum system availability and reliability.
Stepping Up to the Challenge
Although the system is still relatively new, Omerod is enthusiastic about its performance.
"Volanté has worked well for us." He comments. "We've had some busy weekends, and Volanté has been reliable, day by day. The system hasn't gone down at all."
The technology also allows for on demand, real time data reporting through its data synchronization feature. Such accurate data reporting allows for more efficient ordering procedures, the result being decreased shrinkage and waste. Although it's still too early to comment on any significant cost savings, Omerod does mention that
"Volanté has been really helpful with tracking food sales, actually it's been really helpful in that way. And very flexible too."
Cost savings are also realized because the system is developed in Java. Java is cross platform compatible, meaning it will run on Windows, Linux, or Windows and Linux. This gives Confederation Park the opportunity to save on incidental proprietary costs, such as Windows licensing fees, for example. The system also offers a wireless hand held option, allowing for even more flexibility when implementing technology in an operation as large and dispersed as Confederation Park.
The Advantages of a Flexible Enterprise POS Software Solution
With Volanté, the bracelet idea was easily implemented, allowing for much tighter cost control. Volanté is the first point of sale company in Canada to utilize bracelets in this way. Confederation Park has since implemented the system in all its food and beverage and retail outlets. Omerod has future plans for the technology, which includes using the bracelets in a completely different way.
"We've talked a lot about monetizing the bracelets for groups, which would also be really helpful for tracking purposes." He says. "Another thing we're looking at for next year is using Volanté for hard gift card and loyalty programs. We'd like our season passes to be used as a loadable and re-loadable shopping card and photo ID."
Since Volanté is an evolutionary system, and not static, it can grow as Confederation Park does, without incurring any additional costs.
"I really liked the bracelet idea. It's really helped us a lot. I'd also like to get going with bracelets for lockers, life jackets, tubing rentals, etc, more or less for theft prevention. Right now there's a deposit on these items, I'd like to match them in the future with the bracelets."
Using a state of the art enterprise system doesn't necessarily have to be difficult or complicated, either. In regards to front line employees, Omerod found that the staff adapted to the new system quickly and easily.
"The staff really like the new system - they rave about it. I've had lots of positive comments about the touch screens, and how easy it is to use. They also like the fact that making corrections is really easy" He adds, "The staff picked up on the system quickly, which was great as training had to be done in a tight time frame." The new system has also made the lives of his supervisors somewhat easier too. "Supervisors can add & remove menu items really easily, they can also move menus from concession stands easily too."
Enterprise POS solutions have finally entered the modern age. Operators such as Confederation Park now have a myriad of options, in spite of their operational diversity or geographical liabilities. Technology now exists that can do it all, streamline operations, increase productivity, achieve significant cost savings and expand in new and creative ways as your business does. Stepping into the new millennium, there are indeed some enterprising solutions at the point of sale.