Changing the Face of Retail

Retailers looking for additional insight on streamlining store operations got that information and more last Friday morning at AmericasMart. Co-hosts Lenise Willis, GDA’s editor in chief, and Warren Shoulberg, GDA’s editorial director, opened with remarks about the retail industry and welcomed Alison Anderson Dodson, owner of retail store A. Dodson’s, for a discussion on a point-of-sale system that could change the face of retail as we know it.
Dodson explained her background in the retail industry, sharing that retail has always played a leading role in her life, recalling her time as a child playing in the aisles of her grandfather’s general store. She has now been a store owner for 14 years, with three A. Dodson’s stores located in Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. “I know some of the struggles I’ve experienced are the same struggles other small retailers face,” she said. One of the biggest challenges for retailers is in how product and information flows to them, and between them and their vendors, she explained. The audience nodded their heads in agreement.

“So, how do we change the face of retail?” Dodson asked. “We work together to build a solution that helps everyone.” She followed by asking the retailers in the audience how many of them still do handwritten receipts, then she asked about other point-of-sale systems such as QuickBooks and Retail Pro. The overall consensus of the room was that they use one of the many POS systems available, but still experience technical difficulties that take them away from other store responsibilities. This is such a common issue because there is no common or consistent point of sale solution that caters to retailers’ specific needs, Dodson explained.

After surveying 50 of the top small retailers, Dodson was able to collect enough information to confirm that there is a need for a collaborative effort towards a better POS system. She sat down with Evergreen, Mud Pie, Creative Co-op and Whereoware to discuss how to ease vending transactions between manufacturers and retailers.

“I asked the executives how long they thought it takes us to enter a product into our POS,” Dodson said. “I quickly learned everyone at the table thinks small retailers are miracle workers and it only takes five to 30 seconds to enter a new product.

“In reality, it takes us somewhere between five minutes and 15 minutes per item to input a single SKU by pulling a picture, putting in weights and measurements, putting in titles and descriptions, putting in web keywords, etc.”

Retailers need a POS system that allows product from participating vendors to be uploaded in “one stroke,” as Dodson put it. She used a thorough presentation (provided at the bottom of this article) to walk the audience through the process, exemplifying how the solution would streamline what has always been a time-consuming and tedious task. The solution allows for ease of image and product data downloads, and it can be tailored to each retailer’s needs.

As she concluded her presentation, Dodson said, “I really do want to change the face of retail, but that begins with us all having the proper tools to work together.” Dodson and the GDA team thanked the audience for attending and opened the floor for questions and concerns. Multiple retailers raised their hands to express their interest in the product and ask how they could get it in their stores.

Dodson smiled as she explained how to download the system, and that it would be free of charge to all retailers. The manufacturers participating in the solution will handle any costs associated with the software, and it is open to all retailers who want to streamline their inventory processes.

To learn more about this solution and how it can be obtained, contact Alison Dodson at Alison@adodsons.com. The system is already in place and available for some manufacturers, like Evergreen. Retailers should ask the manufacturers they purchase from if they are participating. 

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