In 2008, Diamond introduced ComicSuite, an add-on application for Microsoft Dynamics’ Retail Management System (RMS) software. Together, ComicSuite & RMS give specialty storeowners a point-of-sale (POS) system specifically geared towards your unique business model, offering a host of exclusive features that grant you direct communication with Diamond databases, making it easier than ever before to place orders, track inventory and maintain “pull-and-hold” subscriptions for your customers.
We’ve told you about ComicSuite’s numerous benefits in the past, and many of you have attended Diamond Customer Service Manager – Technical Support Cheryl Sleboda’s presentations on and demonstrations of ComicSuite and RMS at conventions and the Diamond/Alliance Retailer Summits. But we thought you might like to hear what your peers – Diamond customers already utilizing ComicSuite in their stores – have to say.
In 2009, we interviewed three retailers – Rob Josephson from Ames/Des Moines, IA’s Mayhem Collectibles; Craig Lopacinski of Waukesha, WI’s Neptune Comics; and John Munn from Tacoma, WA’s Comic Book Ink – about their experiences using ComicSuite. Though each man had different perspectives on how ComicSuite had impacted their business, all
three were enthusiastic about recommending
it to others.
“First and foremost, you’ve got to get a POS system to get your store out of the ‘dark ages,’” said Josephson. “[Using ComicSuite] is like turning the light switch on; the world changes.”
He went on to add that ComicSuite, by putting inventory control and subscription maintenance tools at hand, can make the small business better at customer service than the “big box retailers.”
While Josephson equated a store’s use of ComicSuite to “coming out of the stone age,” Munn sees it as the retail equivalent of fine-tuning a racecar.
“You want to be able to see ‘under the hood’ of your business to see if it’s running right,” said Munn, “Why wouldn’t you want something that can give you a ‘snapshot’ of your operation at the press of a button, at any time of any day?”
Clearly, ComicSuite has made an impression on these retailers. But, has it made a difference in how they run their stores? More importantly, has it made things easier?
“I have literally reduced the workload of subscriptions by 60 hours a month,” Munn reported. “My monthly PREVIEWS Order once took three days – now I do it in six hours.”
Neptune Comics’ Lopacinski concurred, pointing out that ComicSuite was more “intuitive” than his previous POS system, and, thanks to direct communication channels with Diamond databases available to him now, his reorders and monthly orders are much faster. In fact, the biggest selling point for Lopacinski was the “ease of reordering.”
More convenient, quicker-to-process reorders; faster turnaround; and fewer errors make storeowners shine to their customers, encouraging more special orders for those stores armed with ComicSuite, potentially boosting sales and profits. Additionally, Microsoft RMS provides users with a time clock feature and cashier security controls. It also includes credit and debit card processing, as well as integration with major accounting software.
Combined with increased access to Diamond data, instant report generation and complete inventory control, including subscription maintenance and shipment receiving, all this makes ComicSuite an invaluable asset to specialty market stores.
But is it all that easy? Integrating a new POS system into your existing operation, especially for a small business still using cash registers, cycle sheets and paper PREVIEWS Retailer Order Forms, can be a daunting task. For these three retailers, the biggest hurdle was bar coding existing inventory that did not already have a code – back issues, certain collectibles, original art, etc. The initial process was time-consuming and mundane, but necessary to take full advantage of ComicSuite’s inventory control features.
As for the rest of it – installation, set-up, training and going “live” with ComicSuite – each man felt that the need was so urgent to get up and running, they buckled down and completed the task within 30 days. All three stated that the install took between 10 days and two weeks, while intensive training (again, at a self-directed pace) with Diamond’s POS Specialists over the phone took another two to three weeks. Lopacinski, who had been using a different POS system, felt comfortable within a few weeks, and Josephson called it “easy to learn,” getting the basics down after “one day of playing with it.”
Many retailers look at the price tag associated with setting up RMS and ComicSuite and question whether they’ll get their money’s worth. According to these retailers, the time savings and efficiency will more than pay for it. Munn said that the hours he’s saving each month are being made up in payroll, while Josephson feels that the tighter inventory control afforded by automated cycle sheets will ultimately repay his investment in ComicSuite. Of course, Diamond’s Extended Payment Plan – the most popular option with ComicSuite purchasers thus far – helps buffer the expense, often spreading payments out over 18 months.
Whether you’ve been a specialty market retailer for two decades, two years, two months or two weeks, ComicSuite is clearly the best solution for tracking inventory, performing subscription maintenance, ringing-up sales, placing orders with Diamond and mapping your store’s performance. But don’t take our word for it. Listen to the guys who are already utilizing ComicSuite to improve their own operations.
“ComicSuite has made running my business all that more informed,” said Munn. “It’s like going from an abacus to a state-of-the-art PC.”
Rob Josephson agrees. “There’s no limit to what we can do with it.”
Now, what are you waiting for? Call Diamond’s POS Specialists at 1-800-45-COMIC or email POSsupport@diamondcomics.com today to start the process of accelerating your specialty market store into the future.