RMS POS System and Customer Tracking

Ask anyone in the POS industry what "RMS" is and they will tell you that "RMS" is Microsoft's POS and Inventory Control system.  But back in 1988, when DataWorks started creating inventory control software for the fashion retail industry, we marketed and shipped our own  software called "RMS". RMS stood for Retail Management Solutions. One  year the "S" was changed to mean "Software", and for a month or two the "S" stood for System. As I recall the change may have not even been deliberate. A typesetter or a proof-reader may have made the switch without anyone knowing.

When I get a chance I will insert the DataWorks RMS logo here. It was the last logo I created for the company.

Twenty-three years later (2010) we have integrated  NeXT®,  our enterprise back office inventory software, to Microsoft Dynamics RMS POS software.

Lately there have been a lot of internal conversations between DataWorks staff about the "RMS POS System." As you can imagine, this has caused some confusion among the long-toothed, senior DataWorks staff.

"Are we talking about OUR "RMS" or THEIR "RMS"?  The pronoun THEIR referring to a little software outfit called Microsoft.

As the fickle winds of marketing blew through our corporate doorway, we changed our software's product name again to ARMS around 1992.  ARMS first stood for Apparel Retail Management System. Circa 1994 the acronym was once again changed to mean Advanced Retail Management System. We went Advanced when we started working with Resorts and Casinos.

So DataWorks has this long tradition of keeping the acronym but changing the words. This was in the early days of DataWorks; we were young, unfocused, trying to figure out how to make a buck,  product names were not registered,  and trademarks were a thing of our future.

Our agility (youthfullness?) is  probably why there never was any trademark infringement law suits.

Around the time we started marketing ARMS, DataWorks began integrating with third-party Point of Sale hospitality systems (MICROS® and Par-Springer Miller being our major partners).  What is unique about the Microsoft RMS system is that it  is a SPECIALTY RETAIL system - not a Hospitality System.

What's even more interesting is that the current Microsoft RMS  feature set is very similar to DataWorks' old RMS system from the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Customer relationship and purchase profiles were a key foundation in the DataWorks RMS system. Our marketing brochures from that time featured an equilateral  triangle. The apex angle was labeled "Sales." The left-base angle was tagged as "Inventory," and the right-base was identified as "Customers."  We often said that RMS was built on this foundation. From Sales you could learn "who" bought "what." From Inventory you could drill down to  "when" items sold and "who" bought them. From Customers you could research "what" and "when" they purchased items.

There were some cool drill-down links that would allow an end-user to dig into those relationships. Our end-users really liked that ability and many NeXT users still talk about it today.

Those early 1990's days predated email and "www" marketing.  The DataWorks RMS Customer module had features for generating call lists for trunk shows and printing mailing labels for bulk mail rates. As I often said, if you wanted to know who bought red socks at full retail for Valentines Day, RMS could do it.

The hospitality market has been our focus for the past 15 years, and we have not seen a demand for our customer tracking ability until now.  We are involved in a new rollout of 150 stores using the MicroSoft RMS system as the POS system. We  dusted off our existing customer module's intellectual property and inserted many of the features we had back into NeXT.

NeXT always had a customer database in it, but no one ever used it since the hospitality POS system did not track sales or share customer data that way.  For hospitality it's more about the room # and customer portfolio than the individual customer information - most hospitality systems don't even have a customer database in their POS (Springer Miller being the exception) - all that is back in their reservation or property management system (PMS) - so there was no way for us to extract customer data for any micro-market mining.

All that changes with RMS; it's all about the customers.

Customer profiling, customer import and export features, customer marketing, accounts receivable interfaces and customer loyalty triggers are features needed by specialty retailers.

Guess what we are building into NeXT?

You guessed it: Customer profiling, customer import and export features, customer marketing, accounts receivable interfaces and customer loyalty triggers.

With an enterprise headquarters system like ours, inventory is created in NeXT and  sales are created in the POS system. Inventory goes down to the POS.  Sales come up to NeXT. It's a two-way interface, but each type of data only goes one direction: up or down.

With customers it's a round-trip ticket. Edits at the POS come up to HQ. Edits at HQ go down to POS.

Think through this: Customer X walks into Store A, makes a purchase, and the Cashier updates the customer record with a new phone number.  The same day,  the same customer (this time the husband), drops into Store B and buys his wife a birthday present. He mentions that he has a new phone number and a new vacation address. The cashier at Store B enters all that information too.

What happens to those edits? And how do they get updated into the headquarters system?

And what about sharing customers between stores; how can that be easily managed?  And what about customer duplicates and record merging; how should that be controlled?

We built it all in. It was a huge advantage  that we had a 20-year head start. Doing it the second time, this time with FTPS communication rather than 1200 baud dial-up modems, made the communication layer much  easier.

(Anyone out there remember Blast software?)

If you have two (2) or more retail stores and are using the Microsoft RMS or Microsoft POS 2009 systems, consider using DataWorks as your Headquarters system for Purchasing, Inventory Operations and Customer Management.

Contact us and we will be happy to give you a demo.

Ask for Mark.