Archive for March 2014

How Bar Code Scanning Helps Your Retail Business

Most retailers today use UPC bar code merchandise scanning at the point of sale, and for receiving merchandise into inventory. Everyone from the large well known retail chain, to the small independent retailer uses the UPC bar codes as an essential part of their retail business operation.

Although UPC Bar Code usage is widespread, most retailers should be taking greater advantage of this technology as part of their inventory control solution. In POS management, bar code usage can greatly help the retailer increase sales, profitability, and operational efficiencies while improving customer service. Here are a few examples:

Faster customer check out time

Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than waiting in line while a cashier fumbles at the register looking up a price or department, or checks with their manager to see if an item is on sale. When scanning bar coded merchandise at the point of sale, merchandise information is controlled through software, making check out time much faster and accurate than manual entry or typing a SKU number. This provides better and faster customer service, while ensuring that merchandise is sold at the correct price.

When used with a good POS Inventory Control system, UPC bar code scanning can facilitate the handling of quantity price breaks automatically, or enable preferred pricing for customers who are part of store loyalty programs.

Pricing Control

Protecting your profit margins and selling your merchandise at the appropriate price point is vital for the success of any retail operation. Nothing erodes margins faster than ringing up merchandise at an incorrect price due to cashier error or price tag switching. Price changes and discounts can be implemented immediately, saving valuable time and handling costs.

Inventory Control

In a point of sale system when a bar code Scanner used with inventory control software, scanning bar coded merchandise as items are sold, returned and received ensures that on hand inventory levels are accurately adjusted. Scanners are extremely accurate compared to key entry, which helps maintain more accurate inventory levels.

By monitoring and tracking inventory levels, the retailer can make better informed decisions. Knowing which items are selling fast and need to be re-ordered prevents revenue loss due to out-of-stocks, or perhaps losing a valuable customer altogether because the competitor down the street always has their favorite item in stock. Valuable inventory capital can be released for more open-to-buy when the retailer can quickly identify their slower selling items, and reduce them for clearance.

Get more information about Point of sale System and read more about Bar Code Scanner


Gain Tighter Cost Control in Your Food Service Operation When Receiving Food and Beverage Items

In non-commercial Food Services operations, most Food Services Directors and Managers are responsible for an operating budget. Even if the purpose of the on-site employee cafe or coffee bar is to serve as a benefit or perk to employees, profitability of the operation is still measured, and the finance department wants to know if the operation is in the red, at break even, or in the black.

There are two ways to improve profitability: increase revenue or reduce operating costs. This article explores the reduction of food service operating costs through the use of tighter cost control in Food Services’ purchasing and receiving activities.

As part of inventory management, food and beverage items should be tracked in an inventory file or database, making it possible to monitor purchasing expenditures and to make informed purchasing decisions. Whether ordering inventory by purchase order or non-purchase order, it is vital to enter the received items into inventory accurately to maintain the integrity of on hand inventory count and cost. To ensure that items arrived exactly how they were ordered, verify the quantity and cost of all items being received against the invoice.

Most cafeterias and coffee bars have many inventory items, such as canned soda, bags of chips, and bottled water, which are always in stock and are then re-ordered when inventory levels reach a defined level. When receiving these items that already exist in inventory, compare the current cost to the previous cost. If the actual cost of the item is different that the cost at which you ordered or previously received it, then enter the new cost into the inventory system.

If the cost has increased, you have an informed decision to make; either absorb the price increase by continuing to sell the item at the current price, and thus accept a reduced profit margin on the item, or maintain your current profit margin, and offset the cost increase with a price increase. For example, if bottled water has been received in the past at a unit cost of $1.00 and is sold at a price of $1.35, then the profit margin is 25.93%. Should the unit cost increase to $1.10, you may decide to continue selling each bottle of water at the $1.35 price at a lower margin of 18.52%, or increase the price to $1.48 offset the cost increase. Either way, you have made an informed decision weighing profitability against what you believe customers are willing to pay for a particulate item.

Daily, monthly, and year to date receiving reports will show you all the items you have received on a selected day or month or during a date range. Use additional reports, such as end of day, stock status, inventory analysis, and sales history reports, to view sales and profitability performance by item, meal service, vendor, department, or user sort. These views give you the ability to manage profitability by department and thus offset low margin items with other higher margin items within the same department or category.

To learn more about what inventory control software can do for your cafe or coffee bar visit ARBA Retail Systems at or

Author:   Kathy de la Torre, ARBA Retail Systems


How to Make Global Changes to Your Inventory Items

In this article, we focus on making global changes to the items in your inventory. Global Changes is a feature that affects a group of inventory items, and allows changes to be made to a defined group of items rather than making changes to just to one inventory item at a time. This makes it easy to make changes or put a large block of items on sale, and simplifies an otherwise time-consuming task.

The ability to make changes to the price and cost of multiple items at one time can be especially useful and efficient when managing your inventory files. For example, let’s say one of your vendors increases cost across the board by a percentage or by a dollar amount. This is a perfect time to use Global Changes to make the cost increase to your defined group of inventory items, which in this case would be defined by a specific vendor. There are other scenarios where the use of global changes will save you time, such as when you need to make a change to the price, cost or margin of all the items meeting a set of selected criteria that you define.

Before you begin to utilize Global Changes, your inventory items should be set up by departments then broken down by User Sort for Global Changes to work effectively. The use of User Sort is strongly recommended when a department consists of several types of items. Take for example your jewelry department where you have necklaces, bracelets, watches, rings and earrings. Let’s say you want to put all bracelets on sale at 30% to clear out all bracelets in inventory, and make way for the new season styles arriving. Placing this group of inventory items on sale is fast and easy to do with Global Changes, if bracelets are set up as a User Sort under the Jewelry department. Another example is your holiday merchandise. You should have a user sort for every holiday you get merchandise in for. This way, it doesn’t matter which department the merchandise is in, because the criteria for Global Changes may be defined by the user sort. On November 1st, you’ll be able to easily put all Halloween merchandise on sale, even if that merchandise is in several different departments.

Accessories is another department that lends itself well to user sort with purses, scarves and wallets each set up as their own User Sort under the accessories department. Even your candy department can be broken down by bar candy, fancy candy, bagged candy and individual candy.

Let us know how you’re using Global Changes and User Sort in your shop or store, and how this feature has saved you time.

Author:  Kathy de la Torre, ARBA Retail Systems


Top Three Cafe Menu Trends

As we work with our corporate and hospital food service customers, we see menu trends in their Cafés and snack bars mirroring what’s trending in restaurants today. Many of the Cafés have added grills, pizza stations, grab ‘n go areas and in some cases even a sushi bar as part of their remodeling projects to provide a better dining experience for their employees and guests and attract a high guest count. To appeal to an even larger group of patrons and cater to savvy consumers, many Cafés are also offering menus with healthy and organic food, more diversity and local sourcing of raw ingredients.

Healthy and organic has become an important menu trend as Americans now have a higher awareness for healthy eating, and are more educated about their food choices. Consumers want to see menus that offer fresh produce, leaner protein options, and smaller desert portions. With a growing number of Americans diagnosed with type-two diabetes or heart disease, it has become greatly important to offer a menu balanced with food options which help manage these conditions. Flagging menu items as heart healthy or offering a discount on healthy menu items is a great way to promote healthy eating, while informing guests that you offer these options to them. Healthful food choices can range from leaner breakfast proteins like turkey bacon and turkey sausage to smaller desert portions offered at lunch and dinner. Catering to health conscious consumers doesn’t mean a hugely popular chicken fried steak or rich macaroni and cheese entre must be removed from the menu rotation completely. It’s just about offering a range of choices that caters to many needs.

Consumers are also looking for diversity in their dining experience, so a second trend emerging in Cafés is the availability of authentic dishes from various parts of the world. Taking another cue from commercial restaurants and fast serves, the Cafés menu often showcases cultural dishes from countries like Mexico, Argentina or Vietnam. The spices, herbs and raw ingredients for these dishes have become much more widely available than in past years, making it possible for chefs to create their own authentic versions or fusions in their food service operations.

The educated café patron is now aware of what’s in season, and which raw ingredients can be locally sourced. These consumers want to be informed of where their food came from, and may even expect to see nutritional and sourcing data. Not only does sourcing locally satisfy a growing culinary preference, but it’s often less costly and certainly a greener alternative.

Let us know what exciting new items you have added to your menus, and they performed in your Café.

Author:  Kathy de la Torre, ARBA Retail Systems


Payroll Deduction Policies for Your Employee Cafe or Coffee Bar

Payroll deductions are a highly popular cashless payment method which gives great convenience to employees. This program is particularly well suited for the busy health care worker with limited break time, who is running around the hospital without their wallet or purse, or the office worker who wants to get their lunch and return to their desk as quickly as possible. The ability to scan the badge carried to buy breakfast, lunch or snacks is viewed by staff members and workers as a convenient benefit. Payroll deductions are all about saving time, and moving employees through checkout faster so they spend less time in line and may return to work faster.

So how does your company or health care facility protect itself from employees who may leave the company or facility with an unpaid payroll deduction balance? The most common method is to set a payroll deduction limit, which works very much like a revolving credit account. The difference of course is that deductions are to be taken from future paychecks, rather than making payments on a billing cycle. This limit is usually determined by weighing what is a reasonable amount for an employee to spend per pay period combined with how much the company or hospital could afford to lose if an employee leaves and the remaining balance is not deducted before the final paycheck is issued. Cafés and coffee bars will often arrive at the spending limit by estimating the maximum realistic amount of food and beverage purchases an employee could potentially make during the pay period. Other facilities operate their café or coffee bar purely as a benefit and convenience to their employees with a goal of breaking even on costs, and therefore elect not to enforce a limit. They find that the goodwill and benefit the café provides their employees is of primary importance, and far outweighs any potential risk.

Finally, some human resource departments require their employees to complete an enrollment form to sign up for the program, with language specifying responsibility for any outstanding payroll deduction balances should employment end. Usually, this serves to discourage employees from running up a high balance that their final paycheck cannot cover. Signature lines on register receipts for payroll deduction transactions also helps enforce payment, however keep in mind that this will add time to the transaction.

Has your company or hospital implemented a Payroll Deduction Program? If so, please share your experience with the program.

Author:  Kathy de la Torre, ARBA Retail Systems


How Hospital Cafeterias Use Bar Code Technology

A cashier scanning bar coded merchandise at the check-out point of any retail store is a very familiar and expected occurrence. Weather items are waved in front of a standing devise, scanned by a hand held model, or swept across an in-counter scanner; bar code scanning is a standard part of any retail environment and POS system to help get customers on their way fast. The retailer gains many operational benefits when bar code scanning is used together with a POS Inventory Control system, including the adjustment of inventory levels as items are sold or returned, and tighter control and management of merchandise pricing.

Although highly common in virtually all areas of retail, bar code scanning was not widely used as part of a POS System in hospital cafeterias until fairly recently. After all, most of us don’t think of food as being “inventory,” and therefore don’t see a logical connection between a UPC bar code number and a yogurt parfait. The increasing number of cafeterias offering pre-packaged “Grab n Go” items, however; has changed this traditional view.

“Over the past few years, more and more of our hospital cafeteria customers have added a “Grab n Go” section as a convenient way to offer appealing yet quick food choices to their employees and guests,” said Kathy de la Torre of ARBA Retail Systems. By offering a varied selection of pre-packaged food items which can be purchased quickly, the cafeteria attracts patrons who otherwise would not have enough time to eat. The added traffic definitely helps increase cafeteria revenues, which more and more hospital retail areas are required to attain. Placing a scannable, bar code label on each food item in the Grab n Go section means the purchase can be quickly scanned at the point of sale, getting patrons on their way very quickly to return to work or visitation. After all, if patrons have to wait in long lines to pay for their Grab n Go items, the convenience of pre-packaged food offerings would be completely lost.

A traditional retail store monitors and tracks inventory and sales as merchandise is scanned and sold at the cash register. Similarly, the hospital cafeteria needs to monitor sales as well so that kitchen production can be in synch with the speed and quantity at which food items are being sold. It’s all about getting out the right food, in the right amount, and at the right time. Imagine the hospital healthcare worker who finally has a few free minutes in their busy day to run down to the cafeteria to get a quick sandwich, only to find that the Grab n go cooler is completely out of sandwiches. Or worse; consider the hospital employee who regularly heads to the nearest fast food restaurant to eat because the cooler in the cafeteria is frequently out of their favorite soda flavor. Over the span of a year, that lost business translates to lost revenue. In today’s economy, that’s something no retail area wants to see happen.

Hospital cafeterias are not limiting their use of Bar code scanning to just Grab N Go items. Most POS Software can capture and recognize the manufacturer’s UPC bar code information on everything from canned soda and bottled water, to chips and candy bars. Some hospital cafeterias have taken the next step in retail automation, and have set re-order points within their POS Software for these items which are consistently re-stocked. To learn more about POS software designed for your corporate cafeteria visit Arba POS Cafeteria Page. To learn more about POS software designed for your hospital cafeteria visit Arba POS Hospital Food Services Page.

The best way for a cafeteria to have an accurate picture of what’s selling, in what quantity, and at what time is with the use of bar code scanning technology combined with a good POS system. Visit us at to learn how our POS solutions can help.