Can EPoS save me money?
Q A retailer I know is trying to
convince me to install an EPoS
system and claims that his system has actually saved him money. Can this
really be true?
A "EPoS will increase your bottom line by enabling you to have better control of the stock and your profit margins," according to the Association of Convenience Stores. "The process of scanning the product through the system cuts out the massive 3 to 3.5 per cent average annual loss suffered by retailers through inaccurate till operation."
Not only that , once you're used to the system, you'll save time on individually pricing everything in the shop and if you're using EPoS to its full potential you can also run your business more efficiently. That's because you will be able to monitor the performance of your lines and generate management reports. This will, in turn, ensure accurate re-orders.
"Every time you sell something, it adjusts your stock and can be used to raise orders to replace actual sold stock," the ACS explains. "This helps reduce out-of-stocks and stock holding at the same time.
"Reduced stock holding helps the cash flow in your business. Once you have told your system what the cost and selling prices are, it can work out your profit margin and it can also control your VAT and your ledgers."
So yes, in theory an EPoS system could save you money and, over time, even pay for itself. But as with all technology, it's really only as good as the people who operate it and if you don't make the effort to get to grips with all its functions, it won't do the job for which it was made.
Q Has global warming yet made commercial viticulture viable in Sweden? If so, can I source Swedish wine for my shop?
A There are up to 100 vineyards in southern Sweden, producing wine for the producers' own dinner tables and perhaps saunas. But in mild Gotland there are four commercial vineyards selling wine on to the open market.
The problem is that Sweden's wine market isn't particularly open. The state monopoly, Systembolaget, is the only retailer, and producers complain that their products, even if sourced, tend to be very hard for consumers to track down. Some producers are selling their wines through their own restaurant businesses.
Sweden is too far north to make wine the critics are likely to take seriously and its produce receives a poor press at home. Varieties
such as Madeleine Angevine hardly set the pulse racing.
We haven't yet heard of an importer for Swedish wine in the UK but you could always try contacting a producer directly if you're determined to experiment. Try Lauri Pappinen, the founder and owner of Gutevin on the island of Gotland
(www.gutevin.se), which has been harvesting grapes and producing wines since 2002.
Sweden also produces a limited amount of eiswein, under the Blaxsta label. From what we hear, it's very good but very expensive.
Bureaucrats will sour sweet street music plans
Q There's a very good busker in our neighbourhood and I've asked him to play his guitar on a food and wine night we're planning in our shop in a month's time. Is it true that I need a special licence for this?
A Potentially you need two. Technically this performance represents a variation of your premises licence - we're assuming you made no mention of live music on your original application - so you'd need to submit a Temporary Event Notice to your licensing authority. You must give 10 days' notice and pay a fee of £21. Then there's the question of the Performing Rights Society, which collects royalties on behalf of composers.
If you're regularly playing music in your shop you should already possess a PRS licence; if you don't, you can apply for a one-off permit at www.mcps-prs-alliance.co.uk. The fee will depend on the size of your shop - for example, a shop with a floor area of up to 100sq m would have to fork out £12.39.
You might look at this bureaucracy and decide it's not worth the bother. Frankly, we wouldn't blame you.
To respond to the unanswered questions below, or to ask a reader's advice, simply e-mail:
Q How come you can't make fizzy ice?
A I've no idea but I do know a good party trick that turns lemonade into slush before your eyes. Place a plastic lemonade bottle in a bowl of ice and water with plenty of salt. Wait for about 20 minutes or so and then remove the bottle from the cold water. As you open the cap and release the carbon dioxide, the lemonade instantly turns to slush. For a scientific explanation of why this happens go to www.thenakedscientists.com.
Trevor, Hounslow, Middx
A A friend of mine makes Guinness ice cubes that he adds to his drinks when he can't get hold of chilled cans. I don't think they're fizzy but it's better than adding water in the form of ice. I could at least understand the whole Magners phenomenon if people were using ice cubes made of cider.
Q There are more and more Fairtrade wines on the market. Does that mean the other wines are unfair? If so, to whom?
A It doesn't mean that other wines necessarily exploit people, just that Fairtrade wines are making a point of giving something back to the communities from which they're sourced . Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea if the Treasury came up with a similar idea for drinks duty. I wouldn't find it such a burden if I thought the funds raised went towards helping the victims of drunken drivers or into education programmes promoting alcohol awareness among teenagers.
Gail, north London
A Margins are so tight at the moment that I'd say most wines are pretty unfair to us poor retailers. Still, at least we get to drink them at cost price .
Q Has anyone ever dealt with a complaint from a customer over light-struck beer? Am I right that consumers just don't notice?
QWhy don't you see so much wire on Rioja bottles these days?