When Toronto children’s clothing store Whistle Kids set up shop a year ago it was considering a point of sales (POS) system that its much larger competitors use, figuring it would need that to keep pace even as a smaller shop. What it ended up doing was going with a solution that allowed them to run their POS from an iPad.

Whistle Kids accountant Tony Peridis says Quetzal is not only easy to run, its also tailor made for small clothing retailers like his store. “It was just as easy as setting up an iPad for your house,” he says. “It looks a lot like the other applications for Apple.”

Whistle Kids is just one of a handful of retailers scattered across North America that have installed Quetzal, which was conducting a trial of its new POS software in the market for the past year. From trendy boutiques in New York City to independent shoe stores in Vancouver, Kingston, Ont.-based Quetzal has been working with small retailers in North America that strictly sell shoes and clothes. Its angle is to give that market segment the same advantages enjoyed by the big players that have access to advanced POS software, without the added complexity.

“It’s an enterprise class solution at a much more affordable rate,” says John Perring, director of business development at Quetzal. “We like to think its the Aldos of the world that are predominant, but it’s the smaller retailers that still dominate the marketplace.”

Quetzal is the latest vendor to bring an iPad-based POS solution to market. While it’s not the first to latch on to Apple’s tablet as a mobile POS that can work with peripherals, its current claim to fame is a perfect five-star review from Merchant Maverick, a website that is dedicated to reviewing POS systems. Other iPad-based systems like ShopKeep, Vend, LightSpeed, or Shopify are rated at either 4.5 stars or four stars.

Also key is its laser focus on clothing and shoe retailers with between one and 10 locations. It promises not to bog down its software with extra features that a merchant of that type would have no use for, while adding features that will help their specific situation.

“These retailers aren’t getting the functionality they need” from current solutions, says Doug Stewart, president and co-founder at Quetzal. “Or they get a heap of functionality that they don’t need, which makes for confusing and ugly software.”

For example, Quetzal offers a style and size matrix to allow retailers to track items in terms of inventory. A merchant can know that not only are rain jackets selling well in September, but that yellow rain jackets, size medium are selling well, and order inventory accordingly.

“That’s what kills these guys is they end up overstocking on a particular SKU,” Stewart says. “They are stocking based on guesswork and the experience of managers, but when they’re wrong, they end up losing money.”

Quetzal not only keeps your inventory categorized by size and style, but will remember what your customers have bought on previous visits to the store.
Quetzal not only keeps your inventory categorized by size and style, but will remember what your customers have bought on previous visits to the store.

At Whistle Kids, Peridis says he relies on Quetzal to inform him what sizes of clothes are most popular. The store was able to review Quetzal’s reports to learn that sizes four to six were the most popular sellers, so it stocked up on those. It also tipped them off to the style tastes of customers.

“It helped show us that customers are more into the trendy items, rather than the more casual styles,” he says.

Ease of use is another selling feature. Perring says smaller retailers often have higher turnover, and training new staff to be productive on a POS system is important as a result. Most younger people that pick up these jobs are already familiar with Apple’s iOS and are comfortable with the tool.

Peredis agrees the system is very easy to use and that the store staff get better with the software each day they use it. But he says in the early weeks of using the software, they were disrupted a couple of times when updates were pushed out and the staff didn’t install them right away. Now they’ve learned to check regularly for updates and install them right away to avoid that problem.

Quetzal plans to move to a sales strategy that relies on a pure channel play now that its concluded the pilot phase of its solution. It is working with Apple distributor Bluestar to create a turn-key solution that includes hardware (iPad and peripherals) and the Quetzal software for resellers. Resellers also have the option of selling support, and even consulting on the metrics that can be reported with the software.

Quetzal allows store owners to own just one licence and use multiple iPads to access the software, so costs don’t rise with the new of users simultaneously accessing the system. It’s currently advertising a package for $1,999 on its website that includes a cash drawer, receipt printer, an iPod touch that serves as the customer-facing display, and bar code scanner.

Peridis says Whistle Kids is going to stick with Quetzal. He appreciates how he can log-in to the system remotely on his laptop to investigate when errors are made by sales staff. Because he can dig into what items were sold via a calendar, it’s easy to track down the mistakes that don’t line up on paper.

He’d recommend it for other smaller retailers too.

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