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THE Extended Horizon

It’s not every day when I can say that I understand my fiancée, Gaetana.

In fact, it’s not even every week!

Recently, Guy commented about the number of items “personal” items I had on my shelf in the shower. “How many do you need?” may have been what she was thinking. But “You have more than I do!” is what she said that caught my attention!

The anti-dandruff shampoo is for the optimist in me. If my hair ever does grow back, I’ll be ready to keep it flake-free!

Recently, I had an opportunity to advise a board of directors on one of my favorite topics: Altitude!

I shared my view that boards which fly at too low of an altitude, who spend their time in the weeds of day-to-day corporate life, find themselves acting responsively to issues of the day. Rather than doing their jobs, which is to create their vision of tomorrow.

Of course, the altitude you need to do your job is dependent on the job! Soldiers in the fields see their enemies through binoculars. Generals look at satellite images!

The Dilemma

It is nearly universally accepted that dealers need web sites and e-commerce if they are going to continue to be a force in the market. As dealers engage in the process of researching and installing these sites, they are facing a difficult decision regarding databases and integration with the existing point-of-sale systems. Systems designed 30+ years ago on closed database architecture (systems where the database belongs to the application) which have gone relatively unchanged in that 30-years.

But the Database Belongs to You

You would be hard-pressed to find an independent paint dealer who did NOT have a POS system. Ubiquitous among our ranks and omnipresent in all aspects of store life, dealers are so dependent on their POS that, “Will this site integrate with my POS?” is the most frequent question I have gotten from interested dealers, since I started this journey into my own personal digital Revolution.

At their essence, point of sale platforms and web sites do two things: they are repositories of data and they reflect that data back when called upon to make it available to a user.

Dealers use their POS’s database and its interface each day. In fact, every transaction of each day! So, I understand the fear of installing in a web site which does not integrate its transactions with an existing POS system.

But that fear is born in the weeds! The low-altitude view from a store-level perspective!

Remember the earth looks flat until your altitude reaches 35,000 feet!

When first designed 30+ years ago, the user interfaces and databases of the likes of Décor and Eagle were impressive. Their ability to store a bar code and then at the point of sale, use it to instantly recall a product and a 30-character description were once, cutting edge.

Thirty-characters and a bar code per SKU? How quaint!

A short description, a long description, bulleted product features, product numbers, UPC codes, AT LEAST one picture, complete product data including technical data sheets and MSDS, links to additional marketing material AND an embedded video is what a typical SKU looks like in the databases I am building to support my sites.

Data measured by the gig, not the byte. The wheelbarrow, versus the spoon!

Be Your Own Board

From the beach, the horizon is three-miles away. From 30,000 feet, it’s more than 212 miles away!

Climb the ladder from your sales floor to the clouds. With the advantage of the extra 209-miles of visibility, let’s take a 30,000-foot look at the issue.

The altitude changes the question. With the value of the added perspective the question is no longer, “How can I integrate my POS and e-commerce?” but instead, “Which database will be a foundational asset I can use to grow my business in the digital age?” And, “Which is remnant of a by-gone era?”

When we speak of the interface at the actual point-of-sale rather than the database alone, things only get worse for decades-old technology of existing POS systems.

Why We Have Them

The story went that paint stores were so unique as retailers that the point of sale that they needed an application made specifically for them. And that was true! But those days are long gone.

Customization of the user interface to make it “just right” for a paint store is from antiquity.

Companies like QuickBooks POS, Nopmods and others give you every feature you could ever imagine in a browser-based user interface. Not happy with the default settings? Go into your preferences and click a few boxes! Or have your employees do it!

Because on a browser-based POS system, anyone who has ever used a web site is already trained on yours!

So simple that they’re called “plug-ins,” modern web-based POS packages, for most dealers reading this, will cost $0-$1,000. And don’t require large monthly payments.

Or any.

Adding thousands or tens of thousands of dollars each year to the happy-side of your balance sheet!

Some time soon, companies like Décor will add an e-commerce package to their existing POS systems, but that’s like doing CPR on a patient who flatlined a week ago; it won’t change the outcome. You can duct tape an iPhone and a Bluetooth speaker to the hood of a Model-T,

but that doesn’t mean the Model-T came with Apple Carplay!

1 Comment

Always a great read. Its the way of the times and if they ( the old school dealers) don't start now, they will be the old guys sitting on a bench in sunny Florida doing the I shoulda coulda and didn't rap!

If you can't do it, get someone who will teach you how to do it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Sending warm thoughts of your Mom this holiday.


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