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Business with a retail spin

Hi, for those of you who've started your own business with a retail store front element, here's some questions:

* What's a great way to draw floor plans and spec out how the guy at Home Depot should cut your plywoods? Illustrator? Freehand? AutoCAD? Something cheaper?

* What are some basic worksheets you should work out in Excel if you don't want to write a full blown business plan? What should you plan if you don't want to write a bull blown bank-friendly business plan?

* There are a lot of DIYers here, do you like the off the shelf POS systems (customzing it) or do you prefer to write your own sales software? What would you do yourself? Which would you delegate to a commercial software? Which software works best? Which POS?

Thanks! :-D

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Best CAD software for an occasional user or 'sketcher' who needs precision:
ClarisCAD.

Unfortunately it was discontinued over 10 years ago. A quick google search implies that PowerCADD is either better or almost as good.

You'll need a (68k!) Mac, but ClarisCAD does work on a Mac emulator--if you go this route you'll probably have to go into either the ebay or the pirate route.

mb
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

>>> * There are a lot of DIYers here, do you like the off the shelf POS systems (customzing it) or do you prefer to write your own sales software? What would you do yourself? Which would you delegate to a commercial software? Which software works best? Which POS?

Depends on what sort of retail you're talking about...

When you say "DIY", and "write your own sales software" I assume you're thinking of getting POS systems that are relatively cheap and PC-based: the ones with a small screen and printer, something close to a regular keyboard and a cash drawer.  I'd avoid those unless your customer volume is quite low.

If it's a fairly high customer volume, your checkouts need to be fast, which means "real" cash registers.  The downside is that you have limited software choices, and usually not much documentation to try to write your own.

Ward
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I got a $50 Macintosh Performa 5300, bought QuickBooks for Mac OS 9, and entered bills directly into it. Not ideal by any stretch but it was cheap. Regrettably, the business never took off enough to require anything more.

Bill Brown
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I ran a little retail biz for a short while and wrote my own software. While it was a fun little project I wouldn't do it again -- it just wouldn't make business sense.

1) Opportunity cost -- let's say it would take you 200 hours to write the software. Let's say you could get $30/hr as a contract programmer. Let's say you get a measly $15/hr after tax. That's $3000 you could have spent on POS software. I'd also argue that it would take you much longer than 200 hours to build something like http://www.retailpro.com . And if it only did take you 200 hours then you could get much more than $30/hr and it still wouldn't make sense.

2) Distraction -- if you're running retail business you should be spending time on things core to your business (marketing, customer service, etc.), not on your cash register software.

M
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Hah! I thought "POS" meant "Piece of..." well, you get the idea...

anon-y-mous cow-ard
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

M, true what you say. But if there is the possibility of adding the software you designed to the portfolio of things you sell, or use it as an example of your skills, it can be worth it.

The OP's question is interesting - are there any good and usable POS systems that are used off the shelf? I can't think of any - it seems like its all custom work.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Thanks!! :D

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I bought software by Punch last year.  What a waste.  You couldn't even specify fractions of an inch.  I couldn't believe it.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

That Punch thing is a piece of crap. I got it in the dollar bin at Staples or EB or something becaues my girlfriend is into interior decorating (on a hobby level - i.e. decorating our place).

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

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