by philwonski  • May 16, 2021

Small Business POS System with Order Tracking + CRM

When you’re a small business, point-of-sale systems like Square and Stripe are great for the payment part — but what about small business POS systems that need order tracking capabilities after the sale?

At some point it will probably occur to you that you need a “database,” but you won’t be entirely sure what that means. You need an app, but just for you. Or you and your team. To save time. To make everybody’s life easier.

You need software.

When we think of workflows like point-of-sale, order tracking, and deal management, there’s plenty of SaaS options out there. But most SaaS solutions are very “one size fits all,” and they can be difficult to glue together into user-friendly dashboards and workflows.

So what’s a small business to do when they need something truly custom for the way they work?

TiddlyWiki, the most flexible low-code tool out there

Enter Tiddlywiki, the revolutionary javascript application/framework/IDE created by Jeremy Ruston. Tiddlywiki is unique because it combines the approachability of no-code and low-code tools with the flexibility of full-fledged JS frameworks.

At Digital Mark, we run dozens of Tiddlywiki instances to power both internal workflows and actual production apps for our customers. A great example which solves a common SMB workflow issue is our small business POS system with order tracking and CRM we call Smithy (because it was originally developed for a locksmith!).

POS order tracking software

For many businesses with an immediate exchange of goods, simply signing up with Square or Stripe and getting one of their propriety terminals will do the job just fine. But what about the whole class of businesses out there that doesn’t actually complete the order at the point of sale?

A solid small business POS system is often highly specific to each business and individual operator, and these folks tend to get just the minimal value from cookie-cutter tools. Many don’t even bother with software as a result.

Take a locksmith, for example.

Let’s say I want to replace a door knob in my house. It’s the front door, so I visit my local locksmith to see what she’s got on display for cool options. Once I select something I like and I’m ready to go, the locksmith will need to keep track of the following information:

  • My name, address and phone number
  • The detailed list of items, since most showroom items need to be ordered from vendors, sometimes with customizations
  • Delivery/Install instructions
  • Total cost
  • Deposit amount and method
List of typical item information collected in a POS order tracking system, here including Qty, Vendor, Item #, Description, Color, Function, Price Each and Ext Price.
Sample excerpt of an Order Form for a locksmith, who needs 8 columns of data per item, often more once the vendor is engaged

Importantly, the point of sale is only the beginning of this order’s journey for the small team in the shop.

Once the deposit is received at the front register, the order needs to head to the back office, where the office manager can begin contacting the vendors who supply the items in the order. After that, everyone who works in the store and answers the phone will need to be able to:

  • Log when the vendors are contacted
  • Log when the vendors confirm supply
  • Track the deal through receipt at the store and install at the customer location
  • Edit everything as needed along the way
  • Record a final payment and close out

Typically, small businesses will revert back to paper and filing cabinets in this situation. The clerk will write everything into an Order Form the way we’ve done things for centuries. Maybe if they’re a busy shop the manager will pull data off of these paper forms and track them in a spreadsheet.

It’s 2021 now. Surely there has to be a better way. What if we could make custom small business POS systems with order tracking capability using just low-code tools?

CRM alternative with order tracking and custom invoice

Anytime we can help a customer ditch the spreadsheet and work with an actual database, we know we are adding real value back to their business in the form of time savings, data integrity, and streamlined operations.

Smithy adds value by taking the collection of POS data a step further, by helping the business operator track and manage its orders through all stages of the fulfillment lifecycle. The universal search bar for customer and order details gives it full-fledged stage tracking and CRM capabilities.

Showing order tracker capability with a list of order stages and a search bar, which allows for CRM functionality to browse and advance orders.
Smithy allows you to view and manage orders throughout your fulfillment lifecycle, taking notes along the way.

The flexibility provided by Tiddlywiki means you get a low-code POS and CRM in which the user can design and extend the workflow any way she wants.

So far we are layering a Quote-to-Cash system on top of traditional “pipeline” workflows for each transaction — want to generate emails from the app next? Tiddlywiki can do that. Want to use AJAX and interact with APIs in the app? Tiddlywiki can do that, too.

Smithy is designed as a capable starter pack POS system that exports a custom printable/pdf invoice, and allows the internal team to track and interact with the order. This leaves the business free to collect payment however they collect it today, without disruption.

All the deal stage names can be customized in the settings (the gear icon in the top right). Use the power of Tiddlywiki to create unique views and other functionality for your use case.

The POS system generates a pdf-ready order form invoice.
By generating pdf orders, Smithy becomes the ultimate free quote-to-cash software for SMBs

Small Business POS system demo and install

For a peek at Smithy and its functionality, check out the demo here.

Smithy runs on the node js version of Tiddlywiki. You can freely use the code on github to host your own version of the app. Look out for more guides (and subscribe to our nifty periodical below) for cool ways to host your order tracker app. A couple examples include:

  1. Smithy runs great at your business location on a Raspberry Pi running pm2, meaning you can have a full-fledged POS system with order tracking and Contact Management on a $50-$100 device, without using any cloud resources.
  2. You can also easily secure it on a VPS and access it from anywhere using Cloudflare Argo Tunnels.

Obviously, if you’d like us to install and customize a Smithy for your business, or build something that’s unique to you, feel free to contact us.