Retail Solution alternatives – Current Landscape (Nov/2011)


I have been doing some research into the various alternatives currently available for retail systems. There are 3 main approaches (which really apply to all ERP, accounting and industry solutions). I have listed the ones that I feel should be on the short list for closer investigation, depending on your preferred approach. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, which I don’t feel is very useful. .

Traditional/Proprietary Solutions

  • Sage Accpac

  • Microsoft Retail Management

  • Multidev Chaindrive

  • GSI

  • Etc.

The main advantage to this approach is maturity, number of installations. There are many good support resources available. Disadvantages are lack of flexibility, high total cost of ownership (licenses and software updates are expensive), batch polling required (as opposed to online/real time transaction updates), dependance on Microsoft technology and infraststructure, lack of support for web clients, tablets, more difficult to integrate with B2C eCommerce, These alternatives are more difficult to evaluate and test since the technology is closed and proprietary (also known as vendor lock-in).


  • VendHQ

  • MerchantOS

  • Etc.

These solutions havn’t been around as long as the traditional in-house systems, so they don’t tend to be as mature. However there are many compelling benefits. For example, they are web based, which has a number of advantages – updates are done automatically and transparently, no server infrastructure is required. There is no big up front investment since you pay monthly – you can stop or change any time you like. The system is easy to evaluate, since there is an online demo available. They tend to be very simple to use and setup. No polling is required for multiple stores. Documentation and videos are available to help with training. The system is accessible from anywhere via the internet (without a requirement for terminal services). The API’s and web based technology make them more open and easier to integrate with eCommerce systems (like Shopify for example). This is a good short term solution for small to medium sized companies. They require less support resources and have a lower TCO.

 Commercial Open Source Retail alternatives

  • Openerp POS

  • Openbravo POS

  • Etc.

These are the most flexible and have the lowest total cost of ownership in the long run. However, they are still evolving, and don’t have as many references yet. In a few months, the situation may be different. They tend to be very powerful, but not as easy to setup and use. They can do everything that the SAAS and traditional systems can do and more, but they are not as mature yet. There are support resources available, but not as many as the traditional systems that have been around longer. The open source community ecosystem becomes important. This would be more of a long term strategy for larger companies.


Their are advantages and disadvantages to each solution alternative. It is important to compare your particular needs to the different solutions, and do a proper evaluation. Then you will be able to make a decision that is best for your situation, and strategy.

 Fred Blauer CA, CA.IT, CISA

About fblauer

Fred Blauer is a senior consultant with more than 20 years of experience providing information systems consulting, ERP implementation, syste
This entry was posted in Accounting/ERP, Business open source, Cloud_SAAS, Deploy_Implement, eCommerce, Industry Specific, Openbravo, Openerp, Retail/POS. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Retail Solution alternatives – Current Landscape (Nov/2011)

  1. Rob Goris says:

    Fred, good overview. Just a little addition to the open source part: Openbravo identified retail as a focus area in the recently published roadmap 2012:

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