There are a gajillion tech companies trying to become “the operating system for local businesses.”
Three big ones off the top of my head: Square, Groupon, and Yelp.
But what do the local business owners think?
Venture capitalist and ex-YouTube executive Hunter Walk decided to find out. He interviewed Emily Day, a local business owner and wrote a blog post about it.
People in the startup industry keep tweeting about it.
Here’s what Walk learned from Day, the owner of a bakery called Flour & Co:
Interoperability between store tech is still a mess: Emily uses ShopKeep as her tablet point-of-sale system because it’s the easiest and most flexible in her opinion. Some of the other systems she tried had fatal flaws, such as an inability to print order tickets into the kitchen. She’s also really sensitive to minimising the number of finger touches it takes to complete transactions. They’re a high volume business and during peak hours need to still provide quick service.
Enter once, re-enter everywhere: Given POS as center of a retail store, you’d imagine that it would link seamlessly with all her other systems. Nope. Across the different providers there’s still a real lack of interop — sometimes because tools are new, sometimes because no API exists. Flour & Co wanted to use LevelUp but it doesn’t integrate with ShopKeep, so nope [edit – it does integrate!]. Similarly there was a preferred vendor with an app which allows users to order ahead before they reach the store but no ShopKeep integration so, again, out of luck. There’s so much other work to do that once Emily’s made a system choice, she doesn’t want to go back and reevaluate so since POS came first, compatibility with ShopKeep drives a whole bunch of other decisions. Emily wants to find a loyalty program but so far none of them work well with her other platforms.
No one ever got fired for buying IBM: The large well-known guys still have lots of customers. She knows about Xero accounting and the wave of online pay systems but uses Quickbooks and Paychex for now. It works for her and that’s good enough.
Startups, your competition is sometimes a spreadsheet: At La Boulange they used shift scheduling software but for now at Flour & Co, Excel working just fine. Thankfully though, customer mailing lists have migrated out of the xls and MailChimp powers her communications.
Wants to do her own research before talking to a salesperson: Technology recommendations come from her own research and other store owners. Easy, simple comparison charts and good clear sales marketing pieces are what Emily wants to see; not a salesperson trying to get on her calendar for a 30m demo. What comes next for Emily? Probably an online store via Shopify for some of her more popular items that can transport well.
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