Elizabeth Brown who runs CH Brown and Son in Stechford, Birmingham, sends this advice: "Think small. As an independent with 25 hours of work to pack into 24, you need something that is good enough, but no more than that. The more complicated it is, the more there is to go wrong or simply confuse you.
"Most important of all, when it does cause problems and rest assured it will you need to be certain that someone will come to your assistance immediately."
She had previously spent "a vast sum of money on a YP system for a local news-based shop", signing up for a maintenance package costing nearly £100 a month. "On one memorable occasion I was kept waiting for a month before a technician got back to me after my increasingly desperate appeals to the helpdesk."
She consequently would not recommend any large supplier. "One size does not fit all. Look for a small, local company that will treat you as an individual, will spend time with you and make you feel that your satisfaction is important to their business in other words, all the attributes you expect to offer your customers as an independent trader."
For anyone in the Midlands, Elizabeth swears by Langley Business Systems (0121 525 5566).
Several retailers recommended John Middleton's ShopEase system (firstname.lastname@example.org) which I have often featured (although in the case of the retailer seeking decent affordable epos featured in the April 16 issue, this matching-up did not work out).
And, inevitably, I got complaints, especially about the bigger suppliers such as YP Electronics and Point Four. Chris Purkiss sent me his tale of woe concerning Point Four and the lack of promised on-screen, in-store advertising revenue. He is halfway through his five-year contract and can't wait to get back to News Slave.
On that subject, Wayne Graves, director of Derbyshire's Norcon Computers (08456 432 431), says: "We have Response, which is our fully integrated epos software; PosiTill for the smaller retailer; and News Slave for Windows for those selling and/or delivering newspapers.
"All our systems have hardcopy manuals and click-on-the-screen manuals. Our software connects into all the main suppliers with electronic links, Bookerlink, Spar, P&H etc. Those with news can also download supplies from Smiths News through their Connect2U website."
And Richard Holder of Reposs Ltd (0845 0945 200) writes: "Our system is endorsed by the NFRN, Menzies Distribution and Smiths News and can deal with the specific needs of an independent convenience store or newsagent."
He adds that he would be happy to provide references from retailers who use the system always a nice touch.