Every time I head into an Apollo pharmacy to buy medicines or baby stuff for my daughter, I make it a point to check their billing desktop, trying to see, exactly what is there on the screen as the sales person asks me for my mobile number so that he can credit the points earned by purchasing medicines/items into my account. I have even tried to inquire about the software they use for billing and whether the same system is used across the thousands of Apollo pharmacies in India.
The fascination about knowing the software used on the retail pharmacies grew a bit further and I even asked at Guardian, 98.4 and few other pharmacies in Sector 30-31 and Sector 49 of Gurgaon. There was always a new question to the retailer whenever I saw any pharmacy using a software to manage the sales transactions. They answered as well as they can, in some cases they just told that they know only this much and don’t have any further information. However, my curiosity kept on growing and I started asking about, how many products do they have in their pharmacy, how do they input the medicines names, prices and other details in their system. I came to know that Apollo has a centralized database of the medicines and other utilities and every pharmacy outlet just selects the items available with them and updates about the quantity available. They also extract information about the sales amount across different categories like medicines, utilities and returns on daily or weekly basis.
I could realize the strength of the system when I needed the bills of all the medicines purchased in last one year, so that I can submit all the bills for tax rebate on medical bills of up to Rs. 15, 000 which my company allows. Even though most of the pharmacies do provide a slip of items purchased, I didn't have them all with me. So, I just inquired at the Apollo Pharmacy, if I could get the bills from my Apollo account? The helpful person at the outlet, asked me for my mobile number and told me to come in the evening to collect the bills. I went in the evening and got a big role of paper bundled by a rubber band. I was surprised that I have purchased medicines worth over Rs. 10, 000 in less than a year.
Thanks for the software system on the Apollo pharmacy, I could get all the bills for my office use.
This experience got me interested in all the desktops kept on any sort of merchant outlet, so be it local grocery shop or easyday outlets. I made it a point to see which software/hardware systems are being used at the sales counter. The machine used by our neighbor shop has a tough name – it had “bizerba” written over it. In a rather free afternoon I asked about the price of the machine and if this is connected to the PC which was kept beside it and whether the whole system was connected to internet. The boy on the sales terminal told that the machine is a second hand item and it had cost over a lakh rupees. The machine is not connected to the PC and they manually enter the daily sales, item wise from a slip which the machine prints. I thought - won’t it be nice if the machine is directly connected to the PC?
Next I checked the easyday market sales/billing terminals. They have “wincor-nixdorf” POS system. The name was tough and I could not remember it for many times I saw it. Finally I could remember the name and searched about it. The interest has led me to believe that POS systems have more potential than just billing the items and printing a receipt for a customer. The internet dimension to these POS systems can really change the Customer interaction with the merchants, business owners and the persons at the shop-floor and billing terminal! There will be a day when I’ll not have to go to get my bills from the outlets… I’ll have them in my mobile with a tap on the screen.