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Winter 2013
Ringing Up Profits

LivePOS

Headquarters: LaJolla, CA

Number of retailers: 15,000+

Number of employees: 109

Mission: Provide Powerful Simplicity

Strength of concept: Real Time, Anytime, Anywhere

Headquarters: La Jolla, CA.

Overseas: Middle East, Asia, Latin America

LivePOS, headquartered in La Jolla, CA, offers a cloud point-of-sale solution that is uniquely designed to accommodate the needs of the growing specialty retail industry. With over 15,000 customers to date, LivePOS is a true industry success story.

Ten years ago, Liad Biton, co-founder and designer of LivePOS, was a specialty retailer himself, managing a growing number of locations without an adequate POS solution.

At that point, Biton’s business had grown to 70-plus locations and the need for a live, real-time system was obvious. “No serious retailer can run a successful business with faxes and excel sheets; it’s a recipe for disaster,” Biton says.

Biton knew he had to find a solution, and fast. “We looked everywhere for a solution. It was either too expensive, too limited in features, or just plain-old complicated, and not to mention slow. Sales would take a full 24 hours to show up on the screen. In “specialty retail time” 24 hours is like eternity. At that point we realized that we had to build it on our own.”

So while he continued his day job as busy retailer, at night, he developed a point of sale solution that would give him what he needed. While the software was initially developed exclusively for Biton’s business, soon word began to spread and other specialty retailers wanted in on the action. “This was pre-iCloud, so it was revolutionary. We started getting phone calls. And I thought, let’s move this into a business,” says Biton.

Two years later, Biton officially launched LivePOS as the first cloud POS solution in the world, with the revolutionary idea of taking a POS computer—just one—and delivering everything a retailer would need, for a monthly subscription. The original software was replaced by a new one written by LivePOS programmers. In the company’s first year, 1,000 customers came on board. “It caught on like brush fire,” says Biton. Today, that fire burns 15,000-plus retailers strong.

Heading into 2013, with an even larger technological menu catering to multi-location entrepreneurs, tablet users and time-crunched retailers, the LivePOS point-of-sale system points the way to even greater opportunities.

Cloud control

An Apple iPhone most easily explains the cloud concept. “All of your contacts, photos and documents—everything on your phone—is saved on a hard drive somewhere in Apple’s data center.” Biton says. Should you lose the phone, the data is still there. This is the same idea, on a much grander scale, as the LivePOS system. Sales and inventory data are sent to “the cloud” and can be accessed through almost any device with Internet capability, including the new Microsoft Surface and the iPad Mini.

If a retailer should lose Internet connection, no worries. He can continue to ring up customers and collect sales information. When the connection is restored, all information will automatically synchronize with the LivePOS cloud servers.

Now add in real time. Retailers can see what’s happening as it’s happening. “In specialty retail, this is critical. You don’t have a stock room. You can only hold so much product,” says Biton. If retailers see inventory is low in real time, they have the ability to fix the situation by delivering product from one location to another that very day.

Or perhaps a retailer notices nothing has been sold at one of his locations during the first two hours of a Saturday. “Is the employee selling? Or reading a book? By getting live, up to the minute’s data you can fix the problem right there and then. Time in our business is truly money,” says Biton.

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The LivePOS Dashboard

What the LivePOS system does, is it compiles vast amounts of your store’s sales data and spit it back out in a clear, concise format called the Dashboard. “Imagine the complexity of a company that has 100 stores, 10,000 items, each item with a different price in each store, each employee with a different commission level, different goals, different refund and exchange policies, the list goes on. It’s a very powerful system. Our biggest strength is that we make it simple to operate, and easy to read and understand,” Biton explains.

The Dashboard is the first thing retailers see when they log in to LivePOS’ back-end website. Data, shown in numbers and colored pie charts, provides a quick recap of all aspects of the business, enabling a company to control multiple locations simultaneously. “The system can segregates access so [for example] regional managers can only see their sales, while corporate managers can see higher-level data,” says Biton.

The system also allows you to turn any feature on or off at a specific location. For example, Store A may be required to collect shopper information while Store B does not. Retailers can also set fixed or non-fixed prices in the system, giving sales associates wiggle room when making deals with customers. For example, a product might show a retail price of $39.95, but at the same time, lets the associate know that $20 is the minimum that can be accepted. “This is a good example of a feature that is very specific to our industry.”

On-the-road retailers not able to access the Dashboard, can have customized text messages sent to them for situations that demand immediate attention: who clocked in, who took a longer break, “a gazillion and one options,” Biton points out.

An app for that

image4-copyThe LivePOS customization truly stands out through the LivePOS App Center, a newly addition to the LivePOS solution. “Simply put, different companies have different needs. For example, take a store owner who has a few local shops, along with an online store. She is using Outlook for email blasting, and hand-written paper gift cards.” says Biton. Thus, she has to manually merge data from one system to the next, exporting excel sheets, importing sales from the online store—va lot of hours wasted on manual labor”.

“The LivePOS App Center allows this customer to get all these solutions integrated with her LivePOS account in a matter of minutes. “All she needs to do is log into the LivePOS App Center and click the desired apps she wants to use. In her case she will install the constant contact app for email blasts, the Parkville app for loyalty program and the Shopify app for the online store. Boom, done, 10 minutes tops! From this point on all of these different systems will continue to update each other in real time, and she will never need to export anything ever again.”

The LivePOS App Center opens endless possibilities for future apps and integrations. Shopify, Mailchimp, Perkville, Groupon and Facebook are just a few of the apps currently available in the LivePOS App Center. “When a new service comes online, we simply build an app for that and voila, it’s ready for our customers to use,” he says.

“It’s important to remember we grew up in this business, and as such, we understand all the small needs specialty retail merchants have. Upselling, SMS alerts, live chat with locations, minimum-pricing enforcement and even purchase order notifications. We have that, and 600 other features and apps. What we don’t have, we built, and fast. We have a large development team that allows us to push forward faster, way faster, than then anyone in this business,” says Biton.

New for 2013

image6-copyA recent launch is the LivePOS H5 Mobile App. While the Dashboard will run on just about any computer or laptop you can get your hands on, and until recently, you could only ring up customers using a Windows based computer. As of October 1, 2012, retailers can now sell products through use of a tablet, Biton says.

“Being able to use a mobile device allows you to get out behind the counter and walk to your customers. You can check prices on the spot, etc. But most important, you can use it as a line-buster for the busy season,” says Biton. In other words, ring up people waiting in line. The H5 App can run on any 10” tablet such as the Microsoft Surface and the Nexus 10 . It is also compatible with the new iPad mini and the iPad 3.

The Franchise Management System (FMS) is a new module LivePOS is introducing this year. It offers a number of franchise tools, with its own separate Dashboard, catering to the needs of both franchisor and franchisee. “For example, using the FMS, a franchisor can have all of his franchisees place digital purchase orders through their Dashboard or their store’s POS. Everything from sending, receiving and fulfilling orders is digital,” says Biton. “There are no phone calls, faxes or Excel sheets to deal with,” he adds.
The FMS also produces reports on refunds and exchanges, helping identify problematic products. “If a specific product has a higher return-rate than others, that product may be low quality and the franchisor may decide to stop selling it or find another manufacturer,” says Biton.

Free trial

h5-couple-copySpecialty retailers can try LivePOS through a free 14-day trial. Thereafter service starts at $99 per month. Another lane (think: check-out lane/terminal) can be added for an additional $39 a month.

Included in this price is a huge dose of customer service. “Live POS company offers true, human-answering, 24/7 support. No beeper service or voice mail. Most of our calls are answered under 60 seconds.” says “ Biton.

Once retailers sign on with LivePOS, they receive thorough training. “A certain amount of tweaking might be needed, such as different states have different taxes. Refund and exchange policies, we can help with all of that. If you need another hour, we will spend another hour with you. For free. It stays free forever. If you get a new manager in six months, she can also be trained for free,” says Biton.

Retailers come. And they stay.

LivePOS strives to attract a balanced portfolio of specialty retailers: carts, kiosks and inline stores. “As our business continues to grow, we find that our solution is used in just about every type of retail outlet you can think of,” says Biton. “From the one cart guy to the 500 chain store, they all use our solution. We are very proud of that diversity.” The company boasts a 97% customer retention rate, which is a pretty amazing achievement on its own.

Hardware was until recently the biggest investment one would need to make before computerizing their business, but no more. “Good, fast computers these days are very inexpensive. You can have a full blown POS hardware for under $500.” The LivePOS system will work on just about any windows computer you can buy at the store today, making it very inexpensive to get started.

As LivePOS continues to expand, Biton finds himself sharing his success story with others through seminars and keynote speaking events.

“LivePOS has been very successful in the past few years and since we cater to other business, I am frequently asked by other business owners to list the success factors of LivePOS. My answer is simple: “One factor would be people. Two would be people. Three, would be people. Four, would be people, and five, you guessed it, people!, you can never have enough good people. Like diamonds, they are hard to find, and you may need to dig through the mud and the dirt to find them, but once you do, they are priceless and they are forever.”

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