Some time ago Point Four launched its innovative epos system supported by advertising that would be screened in stores and would make the system free to retailers - including the maintenance contract, which would be repaid when the advertising revenue began rolling in.
Lesley Jordan, who has three stores in Wiltshire, says she has had the system for two years and is still waiting for the advertising to kick in. The day she rang me she had received three letters - one to each store - suggesting that she distribute leaflets to local businesses to drum up advertising. To Lesley this was proof that Point Four was no further down the line in setting up the screen ads than when she first saw the system at a trade show in 2006.
“The guarantee, on photocopied paper, says money back in five years,” says Lesley. “The advertising was supposed to kick in after six months. It’s a powerful and whizzy system and good for small chains, but I think it’s too powerful for small independents and they’re having trouble selling it.”
Paula Boden, sales director at Point Four, admits that advertising space has not sold as quickly as the company would like but is adamant that the deal still stands. She says the situation is a catch-22.
“Big advertisers want bums on seats and we need 1,000 retailers signed up before they’ll be ready to go for it. So far we have between 650 and 800 signed up. We can’t just trickle it in - there will be a launch. We all expected it to start a lot sooner. This is why we’ve decided to bolt on the local advertising - it’s in addition, not instead of. But obviously we’re not in a position to ring all the local businesses and a lot of retailers have said they’re happy to do it.”
To Lesley’s charge that the system is too powerful for smaller retailers, Boden says: “Just a week ago we launched a software system which loads onto the till with no back office, no cabling. I wish I’d done it sooner - hindsight’s a great thing. This one-lane system costs £99.67 a month for the maintenance and includes training and upgrades.”
This will go live once the advertising deals are in place and offers a money-back guarantee on the maintenance.
Paula Boden maintains that all the signed up retailers are happy with the epos system itself. “We’ve only had one default on a lease and he went out of business,” she said.