More than simple POS software:
A breakthrough in stock control and CRM

As South Africa’s fastest-growing retailer in our market segment, we are continuously looking for ways to stay at the cutting edge of developments in retail. Earlier this year, we decided that the time had come to install a POS system that would offer us the enhanced features we needed. This article describes the process that culminated in us approving the Trade Link Retail Management suite.

Preliminary considerations

It was clear to us that changing to a new system would have a major impact on operations, so the system would have to be just right and reasonably future-proof. With input from franchisees and members of our operations team, we drew up a wish list of features we expected the new system to offer.

We then talked to several companies before honing in on Trade Link. We liked the fact that this company specialises in retail management systems and currently supports over 40,000 POS lanes located in 17 different countries throughout Africa. Their track record dating back to 1995 and their national representation were additional plus factors.

Most importantly, their software, Retail Manager, ticked all the boxes on our wish list and then some. The table that follows summarises the features Retail Manager offers and contrasts them with the features available on the old system.

 Comparison of features offered by Retail Manager versus the old system
 Retail Manager  Old system
Stock control
Retail Manager comes with the Retail Mobile Android App. You can walk the floor, scan an item, check SOH selling price and print shelf talkers.  This feature was not available.
The same scanner can be used to scan stock as it is offloaded from a truck. This ensures that stock is captured with the correct code.  Severely limited functionality.

Preparing a GRV has become easier. You enter supplier details only once. For subsequent deliveries, entering the supplier code brings up all the information.

  • Using the hand-held scanner, expenses are captured under the correct tab, GRV balancing with the supplier invoice is automatic.
  • Item and global discounts can be entered and the system memorises them for future deliveries.

For items bought from several suppliers, price charged for the previous delivery can be viewed.

 Tracking supplier discounts was unstable at best, none of the other features worked.
Retail Manager keeps a stock valuation per day per product. It can be accessed at any time, even months later.  This feature was not available.
Stocktake is a breeze. Using the scanner, stock is counted and stock levels are updated automatically.  Severely limited functionality.
Comparison of features offered by Retail Manager versus the old system
 Retail Manager  Old System
Pricing and reporting features
Price changes can be entered from a search screen.  Each item had to be accessed individually.
Recommended selling prices can be loaded into the system by Head Office. At store level, they show up in a field next to the current selling price.  This feature was not available.
Prices for national specials can be loaded into the system by Head Office. Price changes take effect automatically at the beginning and end of the promotion.  This feature was not available.
Head office can create and download various combos ranging from ‘item free’ to predetermined rand discounts.  This feature was not available.
Stores can create in-house combos or give-aways.  To make up a combo special the store had to create a bag.
 Clicking on a linked product brings up the product it is linked to.  It was necessary to go into the product.
The software includes Crystal Reporting. This makes it easy to change parameters and get the exact reports required for effective decision-making.  This feature was not available.
 Enhanced data processing capabilities

Retail Manager has an integrated EFT, debit and credit card processing function. Used with the VX820 device (see picture)

  • It processes credit/debit card payments.
  • It enables our stores to offer customers the convenience of drawing cash using debit or credit cards.
  • Stores can reduce the amount of cash they hold at the POS / the store and reduce the amount of cash deposit fees otherwise payable.

Stores earn a transaction fee.

 This feature was not available.
Retail Manager offers an enhanced airtime/data processing function.  This feature was not available.
Accounting function

Retail Manager offers an optional accounting module at a reasonable cost. If installed, it:

  • Offers full integration with Retail Manager.
  • Can be linked to the bank account.
  • Produces comprehensive financial statements.

Should the accounting module not be installed, Retail Manager can export files to any one of the major accounting packages. Not only does this save time and money, it also eliminates input errors at secondary processing level.

 This feature was not available.



The picture on the left shows the Verifone VX820 device. With its large full-colour screen and large keypad, this device is extremely user-friendly and easy to operate.







Buy-in by franchisees

As a next step, Retail Manager was introduced to franchisees who unanimously agreed that implementing it throughout the OBC group was the way to go. We installed the software at company-owned stores first and tested it extensively. Only then was it released to franchisees and will become the prescribed retail management system throughout the OBC Group early next year.

What the future holds

We expect to introduce the following additional features in the near future:

At front of store level:

  • Connection to a scale

When the cashier processes a weighted item, for example from the deli section, the system will request the item to be placed on a linked scale. Should there be a discrepancy between the weight reflected on the label and the actual weight, a supervisor must decide whether to authorise the discrepancy or have the item re-priced.

This feature can be applied to all transactions or to selected ones only and an audit trail will be created. This will go a long way towards controlling what is euphemistically called “shrinkage” in the butchery department.

  • Loyalty card module

This module will soon be released.

At the OBC DC level

As soon as the Warehouse Module is operational, interaction with the DC will be significantly simpler than it has been up to now.

  • Placing of orders
  • Purchase orders will be generated on Retail Management. The system transmits the order automatically to the DC where it will be processed and delivered.
  • Invoicing is automatic, the store merely needs to verify that the pricing is correct.
  • Recommended selling prices will be automatically transmitted. This provides the store with guidelines for setting selling prices.
  • Goods returns

This, too, becomes a fully automated process.

  • At store level, details are entered into Retail Manager. The system transmits them to the Warehouse Module.
  • The warehouse manager is alerted that goods have been returned and need to be credited to your account.
  • As soon as the transaction has been approved, your account will be credited.
  • The stock levels reflected on Retail Manager will be adjusted.
  • Buy-in specials

Details are loaded onto the Warehouse Module. Stores will be able to access relevant information, for example the purchase date and the cost price.

At Trade Link, software development is an ongoing process. OBC stores stand to benefit from development work done for other large franchised networks which will become available to us at no extra cost. Head Office will test any such developments at company-owned stores. Only if found truly beneficial will they be rolled out to franchised stores.

Our thanks are due to Ricky Ferrao and Jose De Jesus who have embraced this project and made seamless installation possible.