Blue Tongue Technology is a Sydney-based software developer that has spent the last couple of years designing and testing a new, Windows 95-based POS software package, Digi~Till. ARN's Durelle Fry spoke to national sales and marketing director Tom Quealy about the product and the POS market in generalARN: What is Digi~Till, and why is it better than the other products on the market?
Quealy: Digi~Till is a dedicated, Australian-written point-of-sale system. It's not a converted accounting program. This means all features within Digi~Till are completely retail-orientated. Most of the existing POS systems are still old DOS-based systems written back in the eighties and, until now, there have been no Windows 95-based systems to demonstrate how primitive the DOS systems are.
ARN: What are the opportunities for value-added resellers, such as cash drawers, printers and training? What sort of margins are there in these products?
Quealy: VARs will finally get away from the sub-10 per cent gross that many are used to. Cash drawers, docket printers and barcode scanners are not heavily discounted products. Assuming a basic single-user system was being sold the dealer could expect to make the margins in this table:
Product Est cost inc tax Sell Margin %
Pentium clone PC $1800 $1995 9.75
Docket printer $396 $599 33.8
Barcode scanner $439 $599 26.7
Cash drawer $185 $299 38.1
Digi~Till $697 $995 30.0
Report printer $339 $399 15.0
Totals $3856 $4886 21.1
Blue Tongue Technology can provide end-user training (with a dealer margin), but the concept of Digi~Till is that no formal training is required. It's just that easy to use.
ARN: So how much is Digi~Till?
Quealy: Dealer cost, $697.50; RRP $995.00; dealer margin, 30 per cent; dealer mark-up, 42 per cent.
ARN: Will there be any territory protection for resellers?
Quealy: If a reseller is prepared to give me a commitment by carrying, demonstrating and selling Digi~Till, then that reseller will be given both territory protection and leads from our marketing.
ARN: How does the after-sales support work?
Quealy: Blue Tongue Technology will provide all after-sales support. We will fax out to registered users a support requisition form, where they can choose either Bronze, Silver or Gold support. Gold support entitles the user to dial-up support via pcanywhere.
ARN: What will be available on the World Wide Web?
Quealy: Our Web page, currently under construction, will include a FAQs section, demo-downloads and software upgrades. As the manual for Digi~Till changes, the new pages will also be available on the Net. The address will be www.digitill.com.au when it's up.
ARN: Is there any question that Digi~Till isn't up to scratch?
Quealy: If your name is not Microsoft there's always a danger (from a marketing perspective) in getting the product to the end users. Many software development projects have come and gone without a product ever being sold. More often than not, this is because of insufficient knowledge of the marketplace. Until now POS programs have been the domain of direct sales teams. Digi~Till was conceived and designed to be a reseller's package. To be the MYOB of POS systems.
Being an Australian software package is something we are very proud of. I would hope that, all things being equal, resellers would support an Australian package over a foreign one. We've a major advantage over off-shore software - we can upgrade the product almost instantly when things like tax laws change. End users can get support directly from the people who created the software, not just a distributor. Due to the relatively small market within Australia and the high costs of developing software, we need to look at foreign markets for volume sales. We expect to be releasing Digi~Till with GST to the UK market within six months.
ARN: How will it work with other software, including accounting packages?
Quealy: Digi~Till links very comfortably with MYOB. Digi~Till looks after all the stock control and debtors, and MYOB looks after the creditors through to the balance sheet and profit and loss. Digi~Till will export all supplier purchases in MYOB format. This is then imported and all the paperwork is done. This entire process takes around two minutes. We're currently looking at other accounting packages like Attaché, Sage, Sybiz, and even Quicken.
The database Digi~Till uses is Microsoft Access compatible. This means data created with Digi~Till can be easily fed into most Microsoft packages for mailing lists, retail price lists, even Web pages.
ARN: Isn't it unusual being a shrink-wrap product?
Quealy: Digi~Till was created to be a shrink-wrapped package. Apart from its obvious retail packaging, the software is very simple to install and set up. This method of marketing is designed to encourage end users to look at the package as they would a word processor.
We are trying to instil confidence into the end user that they can do it themselves, that they don't need to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a team of consultants to set up and configure their system. We want to make the purchase as painless as possible.
ARN: What is the suggested machine to run it on?
Quealy: As with any Windows 95 program, you need a Pentium PC with 16 or 32Mb of RAM. The program only requires 7Mb of hard disk space. A docket and an A4 printer (A4 for reports and invoices) are recommended.
Off course, there are a huge range of peripheral and software products to be sold, including scanners, zip drives, modems, Word, Access etc.
ARN: How does it work in a multi-user mode? Does it cost more?
Quealy: Digi~Till gives you the facility of linking up PCs via Windows 95 networking. The server with the database must share its drive. Using a simple connect tool within Digi~Till each client PC can connect to the server. Each client licence costs 50 per cent of the full version (RRP $499).
Once networked, all sales from within the shop will then relate back to the one database.
ARN: What are the after-sales opportunities?
Quealy: From our experience, once you install a Digi~Till system into a retailer, the vendor immediately becomes part of their extended family. Digi~Till, as the information hub of the business, will be the single most important aspect of the shop and the reseller was responsible for providing it.
Providing the client is looked after with the odd courtesy call they should expect to become the retailer's and their associates, exclusive supplier. Every retailer knows another two.
ARN: What will you be doing to generate leads for resellers?
Quealy: Our target market is anyone in retail. That's one big target! Initially we intend on marketing ourselves through trade magazines related to specific types of retailers such as bottle shops, record shops, book shops, sports, shoes . . . the list goes on. From the test marketing we've done this seems to work very well. We'd like to participate with resellers who could target their local shopping centres with a simple mail drop or call out.
ARN: Any last words of wisdom?
Quealy: Digi~Till is a product of retailers. The design of the software came from a multitude of different retailers from different backgrounds. Unlike most POS systems this didn't start its life as an accounting program. It was born a POS system. The program itself will never be finished. We will survey each registered end user to find out what extra features they would like to see, and if we think it is something most retailers would use we will put it in the software.
The updates will then be available via our Web site at no charge.
This is where we really differ from our competition. We are totally end-user driven, and this produces software that becomes a useful tool rather than just another accounting program!
Blue Tongue Technology
Tel (02) 9745 4944ÊFax (02) 9715 1509
ARN asked Quealy to list the features, the key selling points and the reasons why resellers will want to sell it.
Main Features Benefits
Windows 95 platform
Easy-to-use and compatible Networking Multiple tillsUltra-user friendly Training takes only minutesMultiple sales screens Like having multiple docket booksCustomer loyalty system Helps you know and keep your customersMinimal keystrokes required Fast processingMinimal mouse usage Fast processingComplete search facilities Fast processingSimple and accurate stocktakes Fast processingComplete lay-by system Saves paperworkComplete debtors system Saves paperworkDetailed stock/profit reporting Helps manage inventoryDetailed sales/profit reporting Helps manage marketingDetailed staff/sales/profit reporting Helps manage staffDetailed end-of-day cashup reporting Helps day-to-day businessMicrosoft's Access engine database. Compatible with other programsExport Data in standard file formats No need for double keying Integrates with MYOB accounting No need for double keyingProduct audit history Helps prevent internal stock lossesInstant monthly/weekly/daily sales history Helps you to know sales trends Password protected Helps prevent internal security problemsSelf maintains No need for forced expensive supportDigi~Till - it's alive!
The system also has many retail-orientated functions that make the retailer's day just that little bit easier, including:
On-screen costs and profit of a sale, as the sale takes placeA programmable sales promptPrices can be entered as a function, for example =122.4*1.25 would result in $153.00 being enteredProvides customers' purchasing historyInstant daily, weekly or monthly sales history of any stock itemA flag that warns the user that a supplier should not be charging freight if they doA warning message if you attempt to book in the same invoice twiceA warning message if you book in existing goods from a different supplierWhen returning goods to a supplier the user can scroll through invoice numbers for any product and match it to the price paid on that invoice, thus you can return the goods on the invoice that has the highest cost!
Discounts can be entered as a dollar amount, as a per cent, or enter the total and Digi~Till will work out the restA flag can be set to warn you when you are selling out of a product as you sell itQuickly and easily recall any past document (sale, return etc) and reprint it.
Multitasking allows the user to be running a report at the same time as doing a saleIf a long invoice is being booked from a supplier and a sale needs to take place, Digi~Till will allow the user to switch back and forward between screens without having to re-key anything!
Keyboard filtering to prevent the use of illegal keys whilst being typedAbility to zoom down to source documents to find out the root of a problemAll reports can be sent to file in Lotus, Excel, and Word formatsProducts can be entered with either a code or description in the same fields, making look-ups fasterCustomisable docket messages. Put your own message as often as you likeMultiple Shopfronts just like having multiple sets of booksCreate your own payment typesStock audit trail allows you to find out the who, why and when of a problemBuilt-in backup facilityStocktakes can be entered straight into the computer(s)Sales reports produced in order of supplier, ready for their sales rep's arrivalCustomer reports in order of profit generatedBuilt-in stock "Spif" report allows you to offer your salespeople bonuses based on specific products. This allows you to offer incentive bonuses on sales of slow moving or high profit products, without the paperworkEnd-of-day cash-up that reports profit on each sale and salespersonBuilt-in password securityDigi~Till is 100 per cent Australian designed and owned All of Blue Tongue Technology's programmers are university graduates in programmingAll end-user support can be handled by Blue Tongue Technology. This includes facilities for phone, fax, remote access and on-site supportDigi~Till will be Australian GST ready!