Page 10 - Evolve Magazine Winter 2020
P. 10

   Merlin Retail
The original company was formed in 1982 to provide retail management solutions to middle tier multiple retailers to match the systems in use by the major retailers. Early development took place on the IBM
PC XT, but this proved to be inadequate in terms of performance, so it wasn’t until the release of the IBM PC AT in 1984 that full development could take place. In 1985 the first retail management system was released under the brand name ‘Retail Manager’. Development continued but it was clear that the IBM PC was far too big and cumbersome to be used in a small retail operation. It was determined that a smaller, fully integrated unit was required and as there was nothing currently available, we designed and built the first fully integrated EPOS terminal, which was launched in 1991 under the brand name ‘Super-Serve’.
Software development continued using this terminal until we encountered a challenge in Saudi Arabia at
a chain of Drive-Through Restaurants. The use of
a keyboard operated unit wasn’t appropriate, as product selection was an issue due to severe language difficulties. In order to solve this problem we developed a touch screen unit where product selection could be made by selecting the appropriate picture on screen. We took this unit into production and launched it at the Retail Solutions Exhibition in 1995 under the brand name ‘Super-Touch’. The terminal won National Innovation Awards but it was clear that the retail industry in the UK wasn’t ready for such innovation and the project was finally shelved, after the demise of Olivetti, who initially made an
offer to buy the design and manufacturing rights. Their collapse and the lack of other interest made it financially impossible to continue with this product development so it was written off.
EPOS systems for retail
1995 also saw the change of brand name to Merlin® as we wanted something that was generic and not specific, as the previous branding had been. This change coincided with the launch of WindowsTM ’95 when we were already developing special software for this new operating system. We felt that a new name would fit better with the new software development. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that
we finally obtained full brand name approval and the necessary Registered Trade Mark.
We continued to develop specific software applications for all areas of retail with modules
for the sale of apparel, weighed goods, length, area, etc. However, in 2007 the then Chancellor agreed that charity shops could claim gift aid on the value of donated goods, from a UK taxpayer, when the goods were sold. With our retail knowledge and previous involvement with gift aid, we decided we would provide a module which met the required criteria.
It was in 2008 that we launched the first fully integrated EPOS solution that identified donated goods with a unique bar-code and then collected the sales value information for submission to HMRC. This particular development actually won an innovation award. Towards the end of 2012 it was suggested that we should put all our retail experiences down in the form of a book so that others could learn from them. This was completed in early 2013 and has become
a workbook used by the National Retail Academy
in Sheffield.
When we set out to design Merlin 8, we started with the concept of an easy to use point-of-sale system which could be used by employees intuitively. To achieve this, we created a user interface which is easy to navigate and fully customisable, which offers powerful features at the touch of a button.
 Unlimited customisable menu space using Hot Pages
 Sell items of any size, weight or type
 Membership discounts & sales reporting
 Integrated card payments
 Easily scan & setup temporary products  Advanced sales reporting
 Create up-selling prompts at point of sale
 Auto-generated purchase orders at pre-set stock levels

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