Articles & E-books

Why Automate Your Store?

Posted: August 22, 2005 12:55 PM

Mel's Presentation at Diamond's Tenth Annual Retailer Sales Conference. A comprehensive look at the pros and cons of store automation.

A. Introduction

We'd like to thank Diamond Comic Distribution for asking us to develop and present this talk to you for the Diamond Tenth Annual Retailer Sales Conference. Diamond Comic Distributors have a long history of encouraging their retail accounts to automate their stores, and have gone out of their way to provide computer-based tools to assist comics retailers in automating.

1. What we'll cover in this presentation...

2. Why You Should Automate Your Store

3. What's Automation All About?

4. Special Problems Facing Comics Retailers

B. HomeBrew vs. Commercial Software

1. Advantages

2. Disadvantages

C. Do I Really Want to Move to Point-of-Sale (POS) Right Now?

1. What are the main reasons for moving to POS?

2. Merchandise Mix and POS

If 70-90% of your merchandise mix consists of New Comics and Back Issues, we believe that POS doesn't really gain you many advantages and that you should just automate your core comics retail functions (Cycling, Subscriptions, Ordering)

If 50% or less of your merchandise mix consists of New Comics and Back Issues, we believe you should consider installing POS once DC and Marvel have finished barcoding their Direct Market books.  (Most mainstream books are now barcoded - 2004)

No matter what your merchandise mix consists of, you would be well-advised to install POS in your stores AFTER automating one store on a trial basis

3. Capital Costs for POS

4. POS Myths

D. What Features Do I Really Need in a System?

1. New Comics

2. Subscribers

3. Specialty Products

Support standard "perpetual inventory" features, eg:

4. Back Issues

5. Ordering

6. Business Management

7. POS Modules

E. Implementing Automation at Your Store

1. "Avalanche" vs. One-Step automation

2. Staff Training

3. Your Personal Style and Company Resources

4. Data Conversion

F. POS Hardware

1. Cash Drawers

2. Scanners

3. Receipt Printers

4. Micro-computers

G. Special Topics Especially for Comics Retailers

1. Printing Your Own Barcodes

2. Laser Printers/Inkjets/Dot Matrix

3. "New Comics Day" crush

4. Multi-terminal systems vs. Independent PCs

Adding multi-user features to a system adds cost:

5. The multi-store company:

Out-of-stock conditions at individual stores

Sell-through indicators

Sales/S.F. ratios and other performance indicators

Hot sellers/Slow sellers

How do you transfer merchandise? Will you allow managers to initiate transfers which will be entered into your system later, or will all transfers be initiated at your company's office?

Will you order centrally for your entire company, or will you create individual orders for each store?

Will your merchandise go to a central warehouse for redistribution to individual stores or will your merchandise be drop-shipped to each store?

6. When to print barcodes:

Works well when ordering merchandise which is likely to all arrive on the same date (eg: gaming products)

Works best when receiving merchandise which was ordered on widely separated dates

Useful to reprice product, entering used merchandise (such as back issues) into your system, etc.

H. Choosing a Commercial System

1. Vendor Qualifications

2. Vendor Business Policies

3. Usage Considerations


Buddy Saunders of Lone Star Comics in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas; Jim Wanser of Collector's Comics in Wantagh, NY and Bob Gray of Twilight Book and Game in Syracuse have been very generous with their time and information concerning many of the less obvious automation traps peculiar to comics retailing.

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