Our thanks to Mark Alston of 'The Beer Nut'; Salt Lake City, Utah for these questions presented at the HWBTA Trade Show in Montreal, PQ, Canada, June 4, 2004.

What is a Point Of Sale (POS) System?

A point of sales system is simply a computer hooked up to peripherals such as a printer running software designed to process customer sales.

  • WMS is easily installed on any Windows operating system and utilizes your default printers.

What can a POS system do?

Its primary purpose is to process customer purchases and accepting payments as quickly and as simply as possible. Shortcuts, such as using the PCs function keys aids in finding customers, finding sales information are key to ensuring there are no double entries for any transaction.

  • WMS has 15 Function Key actions to provide the fastest method for easy navigation throughout the system... no matter what you are doing.

Why do you NEED a POS system?

Reduce Operation Costs: One of the fastest growing expenses in retail is payroll. By giving your employees the tools required to spend as little time ringing up a sale and the most time helping customers, you can reduce your staffing needs significantly. Where it once took 3 or 4 employees to staff a store on a busy weekend, you can often do it with 2 or 3 without any reduction in quality of service.

  • As a tool that ensures efficiency in the workplace, WMS has shown this to be a fact.

Reduce Inventory Shrinkage: By knowing exactly what was sold, and when, you can discover inventory shrinkage and form strategies on how to deal with it. While a POS system cannot tell you who is stealing, it can tell you if theft is happening. Since theft is cited as a major reason for business failure, you cannot afford to wait for a problem to develop before acting.

More importantly, a POS system can alert you to potential human errors, which are costing your company profits. Using a POS system nearly eliminates the potential for mis-pricing items, selling at a loss, etc. At the very least, you will be informed of these problems quick enough to respond effectively.

  • WMS has security features installed to stop employees from back dating Invoices. Current stock levels for any product are available to view during the POS purchase, and 'Inventory' reports are available in multiple configurations whether as a Snapshot or for specific date periods required. Inventory is updated at run-time!

Increase Sales: The most important reason for purchasing a POS system is to increase sales and profitability . By utilizing the data that is stored in your POS system, you can discover large untapped sources of revenue, individually tailor marketing programs, recover lost customers, increase customer loyalty, discover dangerous financial trends and more.

  • WMS has all of these features installed and more!

Want to find which products are selling the most? Use the 'Product Usage' screen to tell which products (or product categories) are the best sellers... and who bought them... and create a mailing list (or individual envelopes) for just these customers.

Want to recover lost customers? Use the 'Customer Information' screen to determine who hasn't purchased anything in the last 6 months... or any period you want. WMS allows you to target these people for mailers, labels for flyers or create a list for calling these customers individually.

Want to find your best customers? Use the 'Top Customers' screen to find who has spent the most in your business... and again, you can use multiple methods to reward these customers.

How much can I expect to pay?

One terminal POS systems including hardware and software can run anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000. Most require an annual service contract for updates and service support. While bargains can be found, they are usually false bargains offering little flexibility.
However, even the most expensive systems are quite affordable when looked at over a five-year period. A $5,000 system over five years is only $1,000 per year. As a percentage of sales it is minuscule, yet has the potential for bringing great growth to your business.

My Sales are only $250,000, can I really afford a POS system: If you are happy with your stores sales and profitability, then probably not, continue using what you have.
However, if you are interested in growth and increased profitability, then you definitely need a POS system. When you look at the per annum costs of a POS system as a percentage of sales, you will find them quite affordable.

  • WMS is a bargain at $2,000 CDN. A Software POS that was designed specifically for the On-Premise or Retail-Only businesses, and with a yearly update fees of only $50 CDN, WMS is an affordable and an effective investment! Except for On-Site training expenses and specific Enhancement requests, there are no other charges once the initial investment for your business.

What is available and how do I choose?

At this point, there are around 1,000 different POS offerings on the market. Some are customized for specific industries while others are fairly generically designed. The number of available POS systems is growing daily.

Some Tips for Choosing: Talk to other shopkeepers who are running the software. Find out what they like and dislike about their system. If the Software Company won't give you names of other users of the POS, you should be worried.
Gather a good list of needs/desires for your POS system. Some examples could be special order tracking, multiple terminals, off-site management, integrated accounting, wine on-premise capabilities and the ability to take the database or entire POS on the road for mining, exploration or simply working at home.

  • Developed in 1994 and customized by our user's feedback, WMS answers all of these questions with a definitive 'Yes'!
  • Our users have made us better, so talk to them.
  • To track Limited Edition wines, there is a specific screen to assist you in not only tracking your orders, but also for notifying your customers quickly and efficiently when the product arrives to be made.
  • WMS is made for networking... as many as you want! Installation of this POS allows you to easily set the location of your data source... all via Windows prompts, do it once, mark it and forget about it.
  • As for Integrated Accounting, your Days-End routine of cashing out is simple as 1-2-3. Create the General Journal Entry report, print it, and export it to a file that can be imported into Simply Accounting, MYOB or Quickbooks.
  • For the Wine On-Premise capabilities, WMS was designed specifically to make these tasks quick and easy to use. Flexibility is the key in telling you how to find your wine, either by Name, by Bin (your current location system) or by Location (auto-generated location used in the system). Tasks are summarized to indicate what should be done, where it is located and whom it belongs to. No time wasted trying to find a wine,WMS tells you where to find it!
  • Off-Site Management is a breeze; take your data home on a floppy diskette and do your updates at your leisure, WMS is portable! Simply answer the prompt when you close the system at the end of the day, backup your data, save it to diskette (or CD, if you choose) and then unzip it, at home or on the road. At work the next day, simply unzip your updated data file onto any PC, it's just that easy!

Important Tips

Ensure that you have access to the database from outside the software using data reporting tools. You never know what information you might want to extract from your database and you shouldn't have to rely on the vendor to provide all of the reports. Ideally the POS system will utilize a Relational database system like Access or MySQL or Postgres. By using an external database system, you ensure constant access to your data and generally greater data integrity.

  • WMS was designed around MS Access 97 and as a Relational Database provides features for easy data extraction. Not only can users create customer files in 'XLS, TXT, CSV or RTF' format that can be imported into any emailing program (Outlook, Outlook Express etc), but also it is possible to filter customer information based on multiple customer criteria for mailers to generate files, labels, envelopes and lists, specific to your needs. The power to export your files is in your hands!

Ensure that the system is upgrade-able to multiple terminals and find out the costs of adding additional terminals. While one terminal might seem fine to you now, hopefully you will be adding multiple terminals down the road. Being stuck with a single terminal system when you are growing can be very frustrating.

  • WMS comes with a piece of hardware called a 'Dongle'. This small palm-sized device connects to the parallel port, LPT1, on your PC and contains a mini-processor that works with the POS system. Each installation includes one of these 'Dongles'. For each additional workstation or terminal, an additional 'Dongle' is required. See our Pricing page for these charges. There are no other changes for multiple workstations or terminals.

Ensure that the system has adequate security safeguards allowing you high levels of control over who is allowed to access various functions.

  • Much of the strength of this POS system comes from the flexibility it allows the users to create Invoices, process the products in production (if On-Premise) and cash out at the end of the day. Security in this POS is invoked from day 1 with administrators deciding who has the rights to change/delete items on day-to-day events. These are all password driven and are passed to the owners/administrators in confidence.

Specific Needs for our Industry

What exactly is specific to our business, does the POS system satisfy these requirements?

Building of Kits - By allowing you to build up packages of items and selling them as one sku, you can increase revenue greatly. Offering beer kits, fermenter/hydrometer packages and selling them as one item can increase sales of lagging products and increase average tickets.

  • Currently, WMS does not allow for this component packaging. However, requests by our users in the past few months have placed this enhancement on the development queue to accommodate this type of packaging/selling. This feature will be in the next major release of WMS.

Special Order Tracking - from the point of sale (including the ability to pay deposits) to Purchase Order creation, the POS must provide receipts/tracking for these transactions. This is perfect for Limited Edition programs or bulk grape/juice purchases.

  • WMS allows payments from multiple customers (John Doe, Sam Spade, Mike Smith, etc), paying by multiple methods (Cash, Interac, Visa etc)... all on the same Invoice! As for Limited Editions products, this POS system tracks each entry separately, links it to an Invoice for future payments, when initiated, and allows users to generate a list of specific Limited Editions purchasers for tracking whom to call and when! Purchase Orders, or how to restock you inventory is covered in the next question, see below.

Using the POS to Assist in Purchasing

Aside from using the POS system for quickly ringing up sales, the #2 most common reason to own a POS system is to help with the ordering of product .

All POS systems allow for at least the basic levels of inventory control. The most basic system is call order point/order quantity. In this system, you manually set order points and quantities for all your items. When generating an order, the system looks for items whose stock level has fallen below the reorder point and orders the order quantity. This system is in use in 95% of all the POS system available today.

More sophisticated systems utilize all the data collected in your database to calculate averages sales, sales variability, seasonally and sale importance to determine your order points and order quantities dynamically with very little intervention. Utilizing these systems, you can reduce the quantity of inventory held in reserve thus freeing up badly needed cash for marketing or other growth opportunities.

  • WMS goes a step further. All of the above criteria are built into this POS. As well, Purchase Orders can be created as the usual printed report to fax to your suppliers, but you can also create a small file (in XML format) to email this specific PO to your supplier. It is easy, you create an email to your supplier and attach the PO.XML file that the supplier can view on their Web Browser.

Advanced POS System Usage

To truly utilize your POS system to its fullest, you should learn how to use external tools to explore your database and discover the hidden gems contained within. Some simple tools for use are Crsytal Reports for Windows and OpenOffice for Linux. Customer Growth and Retention: Using the data contained in your POS system, you can easily design customer-marketing campaigns in minutes.

Acknowledge Customer Birthdays: By collecting customer birthdays you can send specialized birthday offers.

  • The 'Customer Information' screen collects this information and the Filtering tool allows you to zero in to accomplish this type of marketing.

Reward Profitable Customers: You can accurately determine whom your most profitable customer are and reward their loyalty.

  • The 'Top Customers' screen allows you to find your top 10, top 25 or any number you choose, for any specific date period. Flexible reporting allows you generate self-addressed envelopes, mailing labels or lists to follow-up with these customers.

Lure Back Lost Customers: You can send special offers to customers who have not been in within a certain time-frame to try to win them back.

  • WMS has the 'Customer Orders with No Orders' screen to display any customers who have not purchased anything in the last 2, 4, 6 months or any time you choose. The reporting tool on this screen within this POS allows for multiple methods to contact these customers (as above).

Thank New Customers: You can send thank-you notes to new customers easily and build customer loyalty.

  • The 'Customer Information' screen contains 2 fields specific to this need. The Status Date saves the day that a customer was added to the POS and the Status field tracks whether this customer was 'Added', 'Changed' or 'Deleted'. The Report Selector contains the 'Status Listing' report to summarize these status categories for you to target. WMS tells you easily and quickly, how you have grown (or not), all within this POS system.

Find out who bought a specific product with a certain time frame: You can send all new equipment kit purchasers a special offer for a book, a glass or simply follow-up on their experience.

  • The 'Single Product - Customer Usage' screen allows you to find just those customers for not only specific products customer have purchased, but also for groups, such as Sales Categories (glassware, red wines etc) that specific customers have purchased. Flexible filtering allows for this type of searching always within WMS and the standard reporting structure built into this POS makes it easy for you to contact these customers.

Find out who hasn't bought a product type: Which of your brewers are not making wine or which of your winemakers are not brewing beer? Send them a tailored message/offer encouraging them to try it.

  • The 'Customer (Single) - Product Orders' screen allows you to review customers likes and dislikes for all products. WMS provides the information for you to contact these customers.

Use gift cards or certificates tracked by customer

  • WMS includes a built-in rewards program that allows you to reward your customers without having to maintain a paper based system. You set up the parameters of how often the reward should be paid.
  • Gift Certificates are always a big part of the retail business. WMS includes gift certificates as a special tool to assist you in your sales campaign. This POS system tracks all gift certificates and ensures that the $ values issued can be redeemed correctly and efficiently (with respect to Accounts Receivables). These items are easily setup and simple to maintain.

Data Mining

By regularly engaging in exploratory data mining, you can quickly turn around potentially bad situations and find untapped revenue streams. Without a POS system, you can try various sales growth strategies in a shotgun fashion. With a POS system, you can monitor the results of any strategy to determine success or failure.

Find out what products have dipped below a certain profit margin.

Find out what products are showing negative sales growth.

Monitor your wholesalers price increases.

Monitor weekly sales trends.

Determine average ticket (products) and monitor closely for positive and negative trends.

  • WMS has a reporting structure built into this POS that gives you product margins, both specifically and by groupings. Sales reports are easily defined for any period you choose, to help show the trends from one year, month and week to the next.

Discover which employees have the highest and lowest average ticket (products) sales. Learn from the good ones and train the bad.

  • The 'Sales Staff Summary' report provides you with a listing of each staff member's sales for any specific period you choose. WMS shows who is productive and who isn't.

Important Cautions

When you have your entire business running on a computer, you must take very special precautions.

Data Backups
If your computer fails, is stolen or vandalized, or your business has a fire or a flood and you do not have an off-site backup, you will be extremely sorry! Imagine losing your entire customer database, sales history, accounting and more, in one fell swoop. Mind blowing.

Tapes, zip-drives, CD-ROMs or other hard media can make for very good backups, but they must be regularly verified and you must always have a fairly recent backup off-site.

Network backups are the wave of the future with differential backups the peak of technology right now.

  • The installation package for WMS includes a sheet of 3.5" diskette backup labels for each day of the week (2 sets). This POS system prompts the user at the end of the day, to backup all of your data to any location you choose, whether it is to the diskettes, CD or a network location. Upon completion of the backup, the file is verified and the user notified if it was successful or not. Backups are critical and WMS does its part to remind you do yours!

If your computer system is on the Internet through either a DSL, Cable Modem or even a Dialup Line, then you must always remember that your entire business and infrastructure is being exposed to thousands of potential hackers. Never hookup a mission critical computer system to the Internet without using a hardware firewall. Some DSL and Cable modems contain a built in firewall that serves most purposes but you should do your research and make certain that your network is protected from outside attack.

Customer Data
Never, never store customer credit card information on your computer. If you think that you must store the information, first rethink that, and then use high encryption to do so If you don't know how to encrypt the files. Then, once again, NEVER store customer credit card information on your computer. The regulations on storing and maintaining sensitive customer information is growing fast and rightly so. There is no sufficiently impelling reason for businesses to store this information on your computers.


In this modern era, running a retail business without a POS system is like doing math with an abacus. A POS system is an absolutely necessity for running your business.

However, just owning a POS system is not enough. You must learn how to utilize all the data contained within it. Time spent learning how to extract information from your system is time well invested. And with any tool, you need to be cautious of its inherent dangers. Computers have vulnerabilities which must be understood and controlled.

So, if you must do nothing else, get a POS system; learn how to mine the data and backup, backup, backup.

  • WMS is a POS system designed specifically for this industry. It answers almost every question raised in this information section. Not only is WMS a POS system, it also tracks all production items for the On-Premise operation as well as Customer History implicitly.
  • The installation package for WMS includes documentation to teach you how to use this POS. Not only do you receive a 'Startup Guide' (recommendations and navigational information), a 'Reports Manual' (a copy of every report available in this POS), a 'Setup Manual' and related 'Setup Answers' manuals, a 'Sales Manual' and related 'Sales Answers' manuals, but you also receive a dozen videos that allow you to watch how to use specific parts of WMS . As well, each and every screen in WMS has an On-Line Help button (Yellow Question Mark) that can walk you through that specific screen usage.
  • Do you have more questions about WMS ? Please contact us for more information!.