There goes another year. Within our market what happened from a technical perspective? What new revolutionary ideas came forward? Still thinking? Yes, not a lot.

Advances in technology are largely driven by market forces. The need for a new widget, new function and new systems have been largely overtaken by the need to survive.

Last year did not see too many innovations or new products. Epos vendors continued the trend of adding new software functions, usually some bug fixing too.

Those new to the market were demonstrating new functions and systems that will greatly assist the modern retailer to operate the business efficiently.

If you stood still last year on turnover then you did well. Margin however was another matter. This is a good time to remind you that efficient epos and back-office systems can identify some of the problem issues. A system used efficiently will identify and, in some cases, correct wrong pricing, wrong costs, and wrong or extended promotions.

I saw a presentation in my files last week that was delivered in 2004. The presenter stated that the market was changing, boy, was he correct. He said: "Majors will continue to consolidate. Dealer market will strengthen. Dealer groups will grow as major oil companies divest sites. Rural sites will struggle and, most relevantly, shop offerings will continue to dominate." If this is true then the need for systems should be strong.

So, what can a system do when correctly operated? It will offer you the ability to control your price file. If not correctly managed you will have incorrect retail prices on display. It will control your cost prices, the system will have any number of reports that clearly show what is happening and allow you to make changes to put you in control. One system from CBE also allows you to drill down into the data from reports saving you time and effort. Remember the main reason you invested in the system is to save you time and money.

Reconciliation is hugely important in your business. If you are a Paypoint user, the new Paypod is a boon to this type of offering. It interfaces to your pos and the sale is made there and finalised there. This removes the need for staff to ring in to the till and is a complete reconciliation between system and Paypoint. This could save hours and cost.