Sales Events in Lightspeed Onsite 2015

Lightspeed Onsite 2015 added a long awaited feature that allows us to put items on sale. While you might be excited to use this feature, it may seem confusing at first and there are a few things you should know before you try to use it for your store.

Since it was introduced in 2005, users of Lightspeed Onsite have been disappointed to learn that there was no facility within the popular Mac-only, inventory management and point-of-sale software that allowed you to put products on sale. There is a ‘Selling Price’ in the Product profile but no ‘Sale Price’ that automatically rings up as a discount when scanning the item at the checkout counter.

For years, the work around for this was to use the ‘Set Selling Prices’ tool to change the selling price for a group of products all at once but even that didn’t show the new price as a discount on the bill of sale. Additionally, what if it is a time limited sale event that ends after a certain date? If you over-write the prices, how do you change them back? The answer was a complex workflow using pricing levels and multiple mass modifications which, if even a single mis-step occurred, might require a restoration of your database to undo the mistake.

Lightspeed Onsite 2015 adds a new feature to the side menu called, 'Events'.

Lightspeed Onsite 2015 adds a new feature to the side menu called, ‘Events’.

Ten years later, and multiple product re-namings and company re-brandings, as of Lightspeed Onsite 2015, with very little in the way of explanation or instruction, we now have a new item in the side menu called, ‘Events’. Most users may have missed this sudden and unexplained appearance of a new menu item but those of us who caught it, did a little dance of joy. Not only could we now put products on sale, but we can specify a limited time frame for the sale and the system will automatically apply our sale prices during that time!

Still, the new feature isn’t perfect and it may seem confusing at first so some explanation and a bit of a tutorial might help.

Sales Events

The way that Lightspeed Onsite allows you to put things on sale is though a new feature called, ‘Sales Events’. Understanding the concept behind this is important because you can not simply open an individual product and “put it on sale”. You must first create an ‘Event’ by specifying the date range within which the sale prices will be applied.

To do so, simply select ‘Events’ from the sidebar and click the + symbol at the bottom of the window. This presents a sheet that drops down and asks you to name the event and supply beginning and end dates. By doing this, Lightspeed seems to assume that having things on sale is an exception to the norm. Meaning that you would not put something on sale and leave it on sale until it sells… as would be the case of a mark down. Instead, they assume that if you’re going to put something on sale, it will be a limited time offer.

Right or wrong, this explains a lot about how they’ve implemented this feature.Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 10.16.27 AM

Sales Offers

Once you’ve created an event, you can create multiple ‘offers’ within that event. Each offer represents a product or group of products that will be discounted either by a dollar amount or a percentage during the period defined by the event. The Event window has a list of offers on the bottom left. To create an offer within the event, simply click on the + button at the bottom of the list and give it a name, and a discount.

Customer Categories?

This was most likely a feature born of convenience since I’m guessing that the same script that now applies sale discounts is also the script that is responsible for applying customer discounts since both happen at the instant a product is added to an invoice. Regardless, the ability to limit offers to specific customer groups is an unexpected bonus.

A new way to pick products!

A new way to pick products!

Adding Products to an Offer

Ok, you’ve created an Event… and then an Offer within that event… now, you can specify the products to which said Offer will apply. Clicking on an Offer in the list on the left, reveals the list of products to which it applies on the right. This list should be empty at first but you can add products to it by clicking yet another + sign at the bottom.

A New Way to Pick Products!

Unlike everywhere else in Lightspeed in which you are asked to choose one product at a time to be added to a list, this will be a completely different method. Instead of typing into a search field and then double-clicking on a product that appears from a shortened list, you can search by many different things such as Family or Class, and then select multiple products and click the button to add them… or simply add all. This is a brilliant new interface, in my opinion, and I would like to see it replace the convention used for picking products elsewhere in the program as well.

Once you’ve created an event, and then offers, and then added products to your offers in your event, those products will have the offer’s discount automatically applied if/when they are added to an invoice during the date range specified. Simple, right?

The only thing left is to inform your customers that an item is on sale. Good thing we can print sale labels…

Click the 'Print Sale Labels' checkbox in the 'Print Product Labels' window and, if the products you've chosen are on sale, the sale price will be printed instead.

Click the ‘Print Sale Labels’ checkbox in the ‘Print Product Labels’ window and, if the products you’ve chosen are on sale, the sale price will be printed instead.

Sale Labels

Lightspeed Onsite even gives you the ability to print new labels for your products that show the fact that they are on sale… but not by how much. Take a look below to see how they appear.

30252_reg_price

30252_sale_price

Maybe I’m missing something here but isn’t the point of a sale price label to indicate to the customer that the product is ON SALE! That they are getting a deal! Shouldn’t this label show that somehow instead of simply changing the price and showing the name of the event?

Depending on the type of retail store you run, the shear number of items that would have to be re-labeled for the sale… and then re-labeled again after the sale ends… might make this feature only slightly ridiculous.

MSRP vs Permanent Sale Price

Many businesses list their products with the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and then mark them down to indicate that the customer is getting a deal. This constant state of being ‘On Sale’ demonstrates to the customer that this merchant regularly offers great pricing and possibly even creates a sense of urgency for customers that may feel as if the sale is temporary and that they should act quickly to take advantage of it.

Sadly, Lightspeed Onsite still has no MSRP price for it’s products and in doing so misses out on an opportunity to provide an even better solution to offering sale prices. (Read more about this idea in my conclusion below)

No Web Sale Price

Lightspeed Onsite has always allowed us to specify a different price for a product when it is displayed online. It was always beyond me why a retailer would want to have different pricing on their website than in their retail store but there it was. Since I’ve never had a client actually use this for it’s intended purpose, we began hi-jacking this feature a long time ago to show this ‘Web Price’ as a sale price when displayed on Web Store.

The idea was that if the Web Price was lower than the Sell Price, products would show as ‘On Sale’ and the Web Price would be in larger, bold, red numbers while the ‘Reg Price’ was in smaller text. My clients really liked this modification to their Web Stores and eventually, someone at Lightspeed must have seen either me or someone else do this and, thinking it was a pretty good idea, decided to make it an official feature of Web Store to treat Web Prices as Sale Prices.

Sadly, the Sales Event feature does not extend to Web Store in any way that I can figure. Since pricing is only affected at the point that the product is added to an Invoice, and product data is not altered by sales events, no special pricing is uploaded to Web Store to reflect the sales event in your retail store.

It is because of this that I do NOT recommend using Lightspeed Onsite’s Sales Events feature for retail stores that use Lightspeed Web Store unless they have a small number of products on sale and they are willing to put in the time to alter each product individually.

Invoices Only

It’s also important to note that this feature only works when putting an item on an Invoice and not a Quote or an Order. I’m not sure if this was an intentional omission or an unfortunate oversight.

To implement this properly on a Quote, the system would likely need to add some sort of qualifying text to the line item that indicated an expiry date for the discount given. Currently, Lightspeed Onsite copies all attributes of an item when transferring it from a Quote to an Order or an Invoice. This includes discounts or special pricing. In this case, it would need to consider whether or not a discount should be applied based on the current date and the end date of the sale event. Perhaps a dialog could be presented to ask if the sale prices should be honoured beyond the event date range?

Implementing this properly on an Order, would have required some additional thought on the part of the developers. Should sale prices be reflected on an Order? If so, should those prices be honoured beyond the end date of the event? The answer to this would likely be ‘yes’ since most sales people consider the date that they take payment (even if it’s partial payment such as a deposit on a special order) as the date that they ‘closed the sale’. Likewise, customers would also expect that if they committed to the purchase within the sale period that they should receive the special pricing regardless of whether or not the store was able to ship the product before the sale event expired. This would mean that whatever price appears on the Order should be transferred to the Invoice regardless of any sales events. Actually, this is what happens… for better or worse.

Sales Events Ignored

It should be noted that sale pricing is NOT applied to items on an Invoice if they were brought over from a Quote or an Order… even if it is done within the event period. Staff should be made aware of this limitation since customers might be upset to discover that they did not receive the lower price on something upon which they were previously quoted.

Conclusion

While I’m eternally grateful for a sales feature of any kind (and encouraged by the news of any new features in a product that was once considered their flagship but isn’t even featured on their website anymore), I’m left unsatisfied by the new Sales Events feature. Once again, Lightspeed seems to have cooked up something without really consulting with their customers and as a result, they’ve only solved part of the problem some of the time.

Adding an MSRP feature to both Lightspeed Onsite and Web Store that automatically applies a discount to any product that has a difference between MSRP and Sell Price, along with a way to save and schedule ‘Set Selling Prices’, would have accomplished much more. With these features in place, we could have actually changed the Sell Price of products for a period of time before changing them back again. This would have worked with Quotes and Orders… as well as Web Store.