Seeking Advice: Building A Web Store From Scratch

Jason Hall jayce at
Mon Nov 6 13:26:31 MST 2006

On Monday 06 November 2006 11:53, Kimball Larsen wrote:
> So, we are beginning a redesign of our retail store software, from
> the ground up.  There are plenty of off the shelf products I can use
> for the basis of my store, but I'd rather build it all myself and
> thereby completely understand everything it does.
> A visit to my local Barnes and Noble store along with a pretty good
> question answer period with Dr. Google leads me to believe that
> nobody has written a book on the best practices for building a web-
> based retail POS.  Anyone ever heard of such a thing?

No, there isn't.  Especially nowadays with interesting things such as Sarbox 
coming into play even for smaller groups.  The industry had nothing good out 
before, and it's just getting muddier.

> Specifically, I'm looking for pointers to ensure that the system:
> A)  Accurately tracks customers and their invoices
> B)  Allows for our business model that centers around the concept of
> in-store credit
> C)  Keeps the accountants happy. :-)
> The major failing of our current incarnation of home-grown software
> is in letter C above, but it could stand to improve in A and B as well.

The biggest issue is the accounting.  While good programmers will come up with 
a nice relational model for their data, that expresses itself well for your 
data storage, it often fails concepts such as GAAP, Sarbox, and all sorts of 
other fun.  There is a very small group of people who are good 
progammers/architects/engineers (stress those last two) who really have an 
understanding of true business accounting principles.

It does make for a nice market for us though :) 

Seriously just knowing some double-entry can help, but actually designing from 
an accounting model is very different than what most programmers will do.   
You need people with that experience, or who at least can work with 
accountants who can explain things very well.  This is almost never done 
right, even in large scale billing packages (not just POS, but anything 
billing related).  Just look at crap like Quickbooks, or the plethora of 
horrid billing packages out there (I can think of many offhand).

If you aren't positive you understand accounting, and how your business 
accounting works, get a consultant.  Do it right, it'll make itself up over 


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