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One of my clients is a successful retail outlet for hardware who are strictly phone/internet based. They have no showroom or cash registers, and all their orders come either from calls or their web site, which is currently just a few hundred html pages and a little bit of php. Currently all the filing and orders are done by hand, and it's time to install a system to do the grunt work. At the same time we're looking to upgrade the web store to something data driven, like OSCommerce.
I've done quite a bit of research on traditional point of sale software for other clients, and have found that most software seems to fall into 3 categories:
1. Web store software that handles orders just fine, but doesn't offer things like stock reorder points or manual orders real well.
2. Traditional POS software that is designed for cash registers, vendor/inventory tracking, etc but doesn't have a way to integrate with a web store.
3. POS packages that have a small/cheesy/tacked-on e-commerce module that is designed for people who are brick and mortar and want to sell a few items online.
What we'd really like to find is some package that combines both functions without having to get 2 distinct systems and then grafting them together. I'm pretty familiar with php and OSCommerce, but I'm not married to it. We'd be willing to spend a good chunk of cash for a system that's really worth it.
I'm sure there are lots of people here who run online-only businesses... what do you use?
I coded the web application in Java, so there's a bit of work to get it on the desktop (with the advantage though that it is cross-platform). Some of the recent GUI librairies use native system widgets, so look nice too.
Having spent some time thinking about it, I much prefer different applications synchronizing with a back-office inventory database, whether POS, mail-order or web. One monolithic application will be far too unwieldy, and like you I haven't seen anyone so far pull-off integrated software that didn't seem cheesy.
If you go with a monolithic solution, trying to extricate yourself will also be very difficult.
A storefront (makes sales via web page. reports orders to database. reports changes in inventory to database.)
A Database (holds all data. duh.)
A managment tool (views changes to database by storefront, sets up promotions, checks inventory levels, prints invoices, etc.)
Expect the managment tool to be far larger in complexity than the store front cataloge, shopping cart, etc.
might not be the best explanation, but try to think of them as three seperate items. the core being the database. once you have a well designed database, you can do anything with it.
Maybe in a few years the big POS developers will catch up.