In the 38 years since its inception right here in Medicine Hat, Auto~Star Compusystems (Auto~Star) has evolved from an automotive company that developed inventory management software for mechanics and car dealerships to providing a retail POS technology to the grocery, pharmacy and natural health markets. By providing highly reliable and innovative end-to-end retail software, Auto~Star is able to collect, organize, and automate retailers’ operational information, resulting in meaningful and easy to access data.
Auto~Star operates all across North America and the Caribbean, with the exception of Mexico. The company is active in every state, and every province in Canada with over 96 per cent of their clients being “essential business” including pharmacies and grocery stores. They even operate in Urgent Care Centres and University Hospitals that offer outpatient pharmacies or clinics. Although many of their clients have reduced their hours, it is more crucial than ever to continue to operate not only for their own economic viability, but to support their customers as well. In order to help them achieve this task, Auto~Star introduced three new products that integrate with their pre-existing software, one of which they decided to offer at no charge due to the current pandemic.
With the onset of COVID-19, many retailers needed to quickly make the switch from in-store sales, even if they were able to keep their storefront open. To do this, they turned to e-commerce and created online stores through a variety of platforms. One challenge these businesses faced was how to manage their inventory and track online sales in tandem with their brick and mortar sales.
“That’s been a big problem with stores that want to implement an e-commerce site. They can get on to a Shopify, Big Commerce or other platforms really easily, they could import a list of products with a UPC, a description, and a price point, but they do not have a good way of fulfilling those orders or letting customers know they actually have that inventory.” – Robert Symmonds, CEO of Auto~Star Compusystems
To facilitate this challenge, Auto~Star integrated their Star-Plus Ecomdash system, an online multi-channel inventory management system that allows users to efficiently manage their eCommerce business. The software helps users synchronize inventory and manage orders for multiple connected eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Big Commerce, Amazon, and Ebay. The Star-Plus Ecomdash integration allows Star-Plus users to upload products and synchronize inventory between their physical “bricks and mortar” retail and online stores. This integration helps retail businesses to avoid oversells due to inventory not being accurately reflected online, synchronize pricing and product information to avoid errors and save time by eliminating data entry.
The Star-Plus Ecomdash system is completely scalable and is being used by clients in small storefronts all the way up to 70,000 square foot operations with over 40 terminals.. The integration into the pre-existing Star-Plus software that Auto~Star provides meant that those utilizing the Ecomdash could dramatically shorten the time it takes to become a competitive online retailer, keeping them viable as they navigate the new normal.
Another innovation from Auto~Star is the Auto~Star Self-Checkout Solution. This system offers the flexibility, speed and convenience of a traditional self-checkout at around 1/3 of the cost of competitive systems. Its small footprint and modular design allow retailers to optimize valuable floor space and increase checkout efficiency. Whether using one checkout lane or a dozen, it is easy to manage from the Star-Plus point of sale and back office.
Different than what you would see at a typical self-checkout kiosk, the AutoStar Self-Checkout Solution is for quick and easy transactions, as there is no scale interface management. Already making waves, this sleek machine allows customers to quickly check out simple items with little to no in-person interaction. Additionally, the compact design allows for rapid sanitization between clients, limiting the chances of exposure to infection.
One example of the Self-Checkout Solution’s success is at a retailer at a large shopping centre in Toronto, Ontario. Between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. a retailer was becoming overwhelmed with the volume of people coming down from their offices to grab a sandwich or a cold drink. The retailer put in three of these devices to help get more traffic through the store who are making these simple purchases. With the addition of the Self-Checkout Solution, they no longer had to bring employees in for a half or split shift to cover those two hours. Customers were more satisfied as they no longer had to wait in large lines to make these simple purchases, and the retailer was happy they were able to move a higher volume through the store with less stress and overhead during those peak hours.
The third innovation that Auto~Star is offering to help clients cope with COVID is their Star-Plus Delivery module; an app that seamlessly integrates with the Auto~Star Star-Plus POS system. In an act of incredible generosity, Auto~Star is making this app completely free to their clients until June 30 2020, a value of $995.
“When COVID came out our team thought that there was an opportunity to help make a difference with what’s going on with our customers because we know they are scared, they’re panicking, and they don’t know what’s going on. In some cases they are so overwhelmed, so we thought what can we do to help them be a little less overwhelmed, less panicked, less scared? It was the same thinking on the customer side. In pharmacies a lot of their customers are seniors and want to be in and out and to reduce their exposure to COVID, and so we decided to make it free. Nobody had a second thought.” – Robert Symmonds, CEO AutoStar Compusystems
The Star-Plus Mobile Delivery module allows users to easily track orders from the moment they are taken to the time they are delivered and payment is received. This streamlined tracking system simplifies delivery programs, saving Auto~Star’s clients time and money. Retailers can download the optional Android App to track deliveries on the go, create deliveries at the point of sale, charge to an account or collect payment at the door, view and print customer signatures, and track pending and finalized deliveries. This innovation, and the fact that is offered at no cost, has truly changed the way Auto~Star’s clients can offer their services to keep their clients safe and their businesses on track.
Auto~Star’s generosity is not limited to just this incredible gesture, they are also strong community supporters. Their emphasis on families and children has led them to become very active with many local organizations, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters In-School Mentoring Program, where volunteers visit a child at school for one hour a week. They have implemented a policy that allows every employee, who wants to participate, to leave work early without loss of pay or time.They also implemented a similar program for Junior Achievement Southern Alberta, which brings members of the business community into the classroom to deliver relevant business learning experiences. The company encourages staff to volunteer with the local Food Bank’s Brown Bag Lunch program on company time, they also offer payroll deductions for funds that get donated to the Food bank on a monthly basis. Auto~Star is also a strong financial supporter of many charitable projects, big and small, across the Medicine Hat area.
Auto~Star Compusystems is a true, homegrown success story that Medicine Hat can be proud of. Their innovation and forward thinking vision has allowed them to become an industry leader. Their deep commitment to the community they call home, as well as their clients across the globe, make them a company that not only has success in business but a big heart as well.