Macs have, traditionally anyway, not really found a true home in the business world owing to their lack of support and the limited range of compatible programs available for them. But now, that’s all changing. More and more developers are either releasing dual-versions of their programs (compatible with Windows or Mac) or releasing Mac-only business programs, making Macs much more attractive for use in the workplace.
Checkout is a great example of this. It is a POS (Point-Of-Sale) software package designed exclusively for OS X and allows you to run your retail store quickly and more efficiently. The ease-of-use of the program along with its wealth of features make Checkout a very viable solution to anyone who runs a retail store, whether in the flesh or online. Let’s take a look!
Checkout is a fully fledged point-of-sale system and can be run on OS X 10.5.8 and above. You can download a free 30-day no obligation trial to test out its features before you get started from their website and pricing plans start from $499 for a single-user license (up to 20 computers can be used on one network). If your retail store is just getting off the ground, then you can buy a hardware bundle which includes a single-user license for Checkout, a barcode scanner, receipt printer and cash drawer for $1,199.
Once you’ve got Checkout up and installed, you are greeted by the splash screen, which gives you the option to start creating your new store or use an example store which has existing customers and products. I’ll take a quick look at how to create a store in Checkout, but to demonstrate the features of the program, I will use the example store for simplicity’s sake.
Creating Your First Store
To create your first store in Checkout, click on Create New Store. A new screen will pop up asking you to state the name of your store, its currency (as my computer has British regional settings on, the default currency is GBP however this can be changed in OS X’s system preferences) and its tax system.
Once the database for your new store has been created (this can take a long time depending on the speed of your computer) you will be prompted to log-in to your store using the username and password you just created. The main screen for Checkout then pops up, where you can configure your store further and start adding some products.
So we can have a look at Checkout’s features in a bit more detail, let’s switch to the example store with some in-built customers, products and suppliers.
Checkout features a handy database manager called (no points for originality here) Manager which allows you to administer your ledger, products, suppliers, shipping options, employees and so on. When adding a product, you can define its retail price and its default cost (i.e., what you buy the product for – this can help when it comes to calculating margins).
You can also define more precise options such as what tax rate the product is liable to (useful if, for example, you sell a range of products which are taxed differently) and its weight. To help with your inventory, you can also add tags to the product and assign a picture to it.
Your First Transaction
Now that your store is up and running, you’ll (hopefully, anyway) want to start making some sales! To start your first sale, click on New Sale. Checkout automatically assigns the sale an order number based on the year plus a running counter which helps you keep track of yearly sales.
To add products to the sale, simply click on them or, if you have a barcode scanner set up, scan them in. The products are listed on the screen along with the total and tax rate.
Once the transaction is completed, you simply have to hit the Checkout button which gives you a choice of payment options. You can accept payment by cash, debit card, cheque, bank transfer or credit card. The system then marks the sale as completed and gives you the option to print off the invoice or start a new transaction.
If you send out a lot of invoices which need tracking (i.e. whether you get paid for them or not) then Checkout can help you keep control of these easily. If you click on the drawer icon above Invoices then the app produces a list of all the invoices you have created using the system and the remaining balance on each one. Any invoices which are unpaid are marked with a little hazard symbol.
You can reissue any invoice (with the remaining balance) by simply clicking on the invoice and printing it out again (or issuing it as a PDF). You can also record any payment (or part-payment) towards it as well.
Checkout also features a simple inventory management system and allows you to check what you physically have in stock as well as order new products via purchase orders. Clicking on the Stock Room icon brings up a list of your purchase orders (both open ones and completed ones) and a list of the products you stock.
To create a new purchase order, simply click on the icon. A new purchase order comes up which, like a sales transaction, is assigned a number based on the current business year as well as a running number. You can select the products you require from the products view on the right and Checkout automatically inserts them into the purchase order along with the price and any tax due.
Once the goods have been received, you simply click on Receive and record the amount of products delivered. Checkout automatically books these products into the stock, ensuring that they are ready for sale. Unfortunately, Checkout does not (yet) have any way of managing invoices you receive from suppliers.
One of the most important features of a POS system is the ability to report on sales figures in order to help with fiscal and inventory planning. Checkout will help you do this, and features a wide range of built-in reports which allow to see exactly how your retail business is performing. You can call up inventory reports, end of day sales reports, pending invoices lists, tax and turnover reports and a whole lot more.
Reports can be customized by their timeframe and exported into Excel or Numbers format or they can be printed for future reference.
Checkout is a fantastic POS solution for anyone with a small retail business and can really help with inventory, transactions and invoices. Its simple and easy-to-use interface is perfectly suited to the Mac platform and it doesn’t baffle users with a steep learning curve or an information overload.
Although it is certainly not the cheapest offering on the market, you’ll soon find that after using Checkout how indispensable it actually is and how it can do wonders for your retail business. The developers generously offer a 30-day no obligation free trial so go ahead and try it out. You surely won’t be disappointed.