New York retailer lets customers surf inventory via Apple iPad

Saturdays Surf makes the most of limited retail space by using LightSpeed software, helping it show off more surfboards and get lines moving more quickly.

The Apple iPad extension for LightSpeed's point-of-sale software allows Saturdays Surf to show off inventory kept safe in its storage area, minimizing damage and maximizing space.

The Apple iPad extension for LightSpeed's point-of-sale software allows Saturdays Surf to show off more inventory without having to lug it out of storage.

If your small retail operation has a hard time showing off all its inventory options because of limited space, it might want to take a cue from a New York City retailer of surfboard and surf lifestyle equipment.

That store, Saturdays Surf, is using a mobile application from point of sale technology developer LightSpeed to help customers gain access to a wider array of its inventory -- showcasing dozens more surfboards without requiring staff to lug them out of storage. What's more, the application allow Saturdays Surf staff members to complete transactions while walking the showroom floor, in effect adding another point-of-sale location that links directly into its LightSpeed POS application.

"It really fits our aesthetics," said Angus McIntosh, founder and CEO of Saturdays Surf. "It saves us from having to have another cash register. It is sort of like having another staff member and helps keep us on top of inventory."

LightSpeed bills itself as the POS system for the "iGeneration." The application, which of course runs on the Macintosh application, was developed by several long-time Macintosh software developer who translated their expertise in designing POS software for massive retail organizations into an application that is equally suitable for smaller operations.

Dax Dasilva, founder of the Canadian company (which makes its base in both Montreal and Ottawa), said that LightSpeed customers range from single-store proprietors to chain operations running up to 20 different locations. "People can grow with the system," he said.

The company designed the new iPad application when it recognized that a growing number of store owners were exploring mobile commerce software, especially tools that help them interact with customers. "This is about improving the retail experience," Dasilva said. "We think we are giving sales representatives the tools to create personal loyalties and interactions."

Saturdays Surf's McIntosh said the Apple iPad extension to his LightSpeed platform has helped his team move customers through transactions more quickly and has helped it keep better tabs on its inventory. "It is nice to be seen as one of the businesses that is tech-savvy," he said.

LightSpeed considers the iPad application as just another software client within its LightSpeed installation. A deployment typically includes a locally hottest LightSpeed server running on a Macintosh server. The server comes with five client licenses, which can be mixed and matched between iPads and other Macintosh systems depending on the needs of the moment. The pricing for five users is $2,949, according to Dasilva; a one-user POS license on top of that is $749. If your organization needs help figuring out how to deploy the system, LightSpeed works with a network of more than 100 technology consulting and deployment firms in 26 different countries.

If you need an e-commerce component for your POS systems -- and what retailer doesn't these days? -- you'll need to pay extra (about $1,500) for the LightSpeed e-commerce connector and hosting contract. LightSpeed was developed to integrate with the popular Magento e-commerce platform, Dasilva said, so that retailers can extend their existing investments in that system.