It didn’t seem so long ago that the only thing your business needed for processing payment was a simple cash register. Customers paid for purchases by either cash or check, and all accounting was done manually. The system worked well enough for most businesses, even if it was inefficient, tedious, and often inaccurate. For those who operated large and multi-venue operations, however, life wasn’t always so easy and simple. Due to logistics and a host of other obstacles, businesses such as these were forced to be creative in how they coordinated the collection of cash and data.
Flash forward to the new millennium, and technology has changed everything. Gone for the most part are clunky, antiquated cash register systems. Businesses today deal in smart, state of the art software solutions for data management and payment processing. Smart technology is also smart for the bottom line. It’s a fact that businesses realize a significant return on investment by utilizing technology that not only streamlines operations, but is also reliable, flexible, and increases productivity and the customer experience as well.
Achieving all this with an enterprise POS system is not an easy goal for any company. Larger and multi unit venues such as theme parks, ski resorts, or casinos, for example, require an even more complex enterprise point of sale solution.
Confederation Park is one such business. An 83-hectare fun & adventure park located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Hamilton, Ontario, Confederation Park offers lots of choices for visitors. From mini golf, batting cages, and a climbing wall, to bumper cars and six-storey body slides at Wild Waterworks, there’s plenty to do for both families and corporate groups. Confederation Park has not only embraced technology, but they’ve also adapted it to their operation in a new and creative way.
Shane Omerod, General Manager, was initially looking for a solution to ongoing networking concerns when he first set out to purchase an enterprise POS system. The time had also come for a much needed upgrade to their existing technology. “Our existing system was old, and really needed replacing.” Says Omerod. “We had a lot of problems with our networking, and of course the registers couldn’t operate without networking. We needed to find a system that was reliable, and eliminated our networking problems. We needed something that could stand alone.”
Also at the top of the wish list was something very different, and Omerod hoped to find a system that could put the idea into action. While traveling, he had been at a Water Park that used bracelets as a payment tool. Once visitors had pre purchased admission, their currency was exchanged with the bar-coded bracelets, and they were good for the entire day – including in and out privileges. Omerod loved the idea and wanted to implement it at Confederation Park.
“I originally saw the bracelet idea in Mexico, and wanted to find a system that could offer this feature.” He elaborates. “We needed accurate numbers of who was coming into the park. The hand stamps we were using were too easy to forge.” The bracelets were not only simple, but practical, too. “They’re also waterproof.” He adds. In the end, the solution he went with was Toronto based Volante Systems, which could accommodate all of Confederation Park’s current and future needs.
Founded in 1993, Volante Systems provides a cutting edge enterprise POS solution. The system is developed entirely in Java, and addressed Omerod’s networking concerns through its use of peer-to-peer technology.
Volante is not based on the traditional Server/Client model. Volante’s peer-to-peer system is designed to allow all terminals to work independently, ensuring continuous operations even in the event of a network or host computer failure. Peer-to-peer decentralizes the responsibilities customarily given to the server and distributes the task among the peers. All clients have the ability to publish services and instead of requesting a server to perform work, clients can request the work to be done by any of its peers. A server is not even required for normal client operations. Volante’s advanced data synchronization capability and transactional consistency is maintained on all terminals at all times. The result is maximum system availability and reliability.
Although the system is still relatively new, Omerod is enthusiastic about its performance. “Volante has worked well for us.” He comments. “We’ve had some busy weekends, and Volante has been reliable, day by day. The system hasn’t gone down at all.”
Cost savings are also realized because the system is developed in Java. Java is cross platform compatible, meaning it will run on Windows, Linux, or Windows and Linux. This gives Confederation Park the opportunity to save on incidental proprietary costs, such as Windows licensing fees, for example.
With Volante, the bracelet idea was easily implemented, allowing for much tighter cost control. Volante is the first point of sale company in Canada to utilize bracelets in this way. Confederation Park has since implemented the system in all its food and beverage and retail outlets. Omerod has future plans for the technology, which includes using the bracelets in a completely different way.
“We’ve talked a lot about monetizing the bracelets for groups, which would also be really helpful for tracking purposes.” He says. “Another thing we’re looking at for next year is using Volante for hard gift card and loyalty programs. We’d like our season passes to be used as a loadable and re-loadable shopping card and photo ID.” Since Volante is an evolutionary system, and not static, it can grow as Confederation Park does, without incurring any additional costs.
“I really liked the bracelet idea. It’s really helped us a lot. I’d also like to get going with bracelets for lockers, life jackets, tubing rentals, etc, more or less for theft prevention. Right now there’s a deposit on these items, I’d like to match them in the future with the bracelets.”
Enterprise POS solutions have finally entered the modern age. Operators such as Confederation Park now have a myriad of options, in spite of their operational diversity or geographical liabilities. Technology now exists that can do it all, streamline operations, increase productivity, achieve significant cost savings and expand in new and creative ways as your business does. Stepping into the new millennium, there are indeed some enterprising solutions at the point of sale.