Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chasing Versions

The new point-of-sale system is up and running. The hardware worked out fine, which was a relief. Our big issues came with software versions. I was unwilling to jump to the current release of RMS Retail Dynamics 2.0, because my customer loyalty software wasn't compatible with it and we hadn't finalized our decision for its replacement. For the customers out there, that's the software for the Paladin Club program.

We found today that Windows Vista isn't compatible with our old 1.2 version of RMS, so we had to make a minor jump to RMS 1.3. No big deal, I figured. Unfortunately, the customer loyalty software would ONLY install on 1.2, so it's not working with our 1.3 installation. We're now looking at another upgrade, this time to 2.0 along with a new loyalty package. This was all a big unknown, as the loyalty software company (ADI) refused to answer my upgrade questions after a long run around. The most likely outcome is that club points won't port over to the new software and we'll issue a 10% off coupon to every paladin club member to make up for it.


  1. Weak.

    Have you started shopping around for new loyalty software?

  2. I have, or I should say, my POS consultants have. I've been busy so I figure since they're getting paid to do some of this work, they should do the research. What they've found so far, I don't like, so we'll be talking more seriously about my requirements tomorrow. I suppose I should just do it myself....

  3. Beware! Down that path lies madness... madness I say!

  4. I found one I like called Retail Hero: http://tinyurl.com/49yjpf

    We'll see....

  5. If you don't mind me asking, how much does 'good' loyalty software go for these days?

    Is it as simple as I imagine?

    1. Database new and existing 'loyalty member' purchases and rewards. (Associate customer info with a loyalty member key.)

    2. Integrate with loyalty card scanner.

    3. Integrate with loyalty card printer?

    4. Integrate with printing of coupons/rewards?

  6. Packages go from $600-900.

    The deal with packages is:

    1. They're all custom made by small companies, often by one guy at that small company.

    2. They're not made for the general public, more for IT consultants so they install manually for the most part, rather than some cool CD based install package. For example, with our recent install of RMS, we had to manually register DLL files at the command line, something you would never do with consumer software.

    3. They all interact with RMS differently, but all use the RMS customer database to store data. My current package adds a piece on top of RMS, uses a custom made receipt template (made just for me through trial and error) to print reward coupons, and scans loyalty cards using an interface sitting on top of RMS, but again utilizing the RMS database to store data.

    Using RMS to store data is good, especially when the system goes wonky and requires a new install. It also means that with a little elbow grease, someone fluent in databases could retrieve customer points stored by one loyalty package and port them to the new one. Provided you want to pay for that time.

    So the new package I'm looking at:

    * Doesn't do percentage coupons, only dollar amounts.
    * Won't print coupons or any custom printing (none out there will do that now). But this is good because dollar amount gift certificates don't float around out there (we used to do it this way).
    * Prompts the cashier to ask the customer if they want their cash discount applied to a transaction.

  7. Just thinking out loud here since you do presentations to other game store owners, and you're looking for some software that meets your needs.

    If a programmer had some spare time to develop software to your specifications for free, would you work with him?

    After it was developed, would you consider marketing/selling it? (And then pay the programmer based on actual sales of the product?)

    Just a thought.

  8. I'm reluctant to implement a custom solution due to the kinds of problems I'm having now. The programmer has moved on to other projects, the company won't return my calls, etc. This time I'm trying to use the closest thing to an off-the-shelf solution.

    That said, I think there's room in the game industry for someone to put their programming and database skills to good use and create a game store specific RMS add-on.

  9. Yeah, I can understand that.

    I'm imagining myself having some free time in my off hours in the next few months. I'm no database guru, but MSVS2005 + C# seems to make everything pretty easy for me, and with RMS being Microsoft too...

    I don't even dream that I would have a great solution for you in the short term. But I imagine that you could buy whatever solution you would buy anyhow, and then you would mention what you liked and didn't like about it (like you might normally do in your blog) and then somebody might listen to your helpful advice and try to develop a tool that works with RMS to overcome the shortfalls of currently available retail software. (Users are ignored way too often in the SW world.)

    Or, he might watch more reruns of Firefly.