Survey suggests retailers want integrated software

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Only half the respondents to a recent Australian retailer survey claimed to have point-of-sale systems fully integrated with their other IT systems -- a finding that suggests opportunity for the channel.

A statement by Pronto Software, the sponsor of the Roberts Research Group poll, suggested that many retailers were persevering with poorly-integrated applications that could hamper their business efficiency and profitability.

'Only 50 percent of respondents with a POS system had a level of integration with other systems, including their accounting/finance modules.  The other half still used a manual process to enter POS data into financial systems,' Pronto Software said.

Suzette Fernandes, a retail product manager at Pronto Software, said many retailers lacked the resources to put in an 'end to end' package, instead adding applications piecemeal. 'Many retailers only update sales information from stores on a nightly basis via an error-prone telephone dial-up process. This makes it extremely difficult for them to fully understand what's happening in the business day-to-day, minute-by-minute,' she said.

Pronto Software claimed that the poll showed that a lack of real-time reporting was the biggest issue facing retail businesses.
'Half of the respondents used "batched" communications, but most of those indicated real-time information capabilities would be a priority in their next system upgrade,' Fernandes said.

He said that an integrated, real-time POS or back-end package helped staff process customer transactions and determine product availability across store locations more quickly. With visual POS systems, staff could compare scanned items to an on-screen image.

Pronto Software also said that retailers polled wanted to integrate payroll with accounting and other financial applications if possible, yet many were still operating stand-alone payroll software. 'Overall, the study highlighted that many retailers are limping along using inappropriate systems and trying to patch them together at the expense of their competitive edge,' Fernandes said.

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