The concept of the app is to provide users with the details of retailers close to them who hold stock of an item they are searching for. To do this the system will need a custom database which will hold inventory data and stock levels for each retailers.
The app will also allow retailers to advertise any offer offers, discounts or promotions they may have. This information should also be included in an automated update. The database for this application will need to incorporate this in tables so the data can be displayed by the app for users to see. If this is not possible as some retailers may not hold this information on their EPOS only the discounted price. Then the option for retailers to enter offers, discounts and promotions should be included on the retailer data entry section of the system.
By speaking with local retailers and researching inventory and EPOS systems used by small to medium sized businesses I found they used different systems from a basic excel spreadsheet to systems including Linnworks, Brightpearl and Sage.
My next question was how could I actually extract the stock data from each of these different databases. I found that with a mass of different stock control systems it makes the extraction of stock levels and information more complex. Further research suggested a standard across the majority of these systems and industry is the use of CSV files to import and export data. A CSV file is Comma Separated Values file or Comma Delimited File which allows data to be structured in plain text and is accessible by a text editor, spreadsheet software including Microsoft Excel or bespoke programs which access the data and read or import it into a another application. The actual content of a CSV record is dependant on the fields and information extracted, each record within a CSV file will be of the same structure and field layout separated by the delimiter.
Sage 50 and Sage 200 Stock Control Solutions
Linnworks Order Management Software
Source – Linnworks.com
What is a CSV file and Structure
A CSV file is a file format for data storage which looks like a text file. The CSV file extension has become a legal industry standard.
Example of a simple CSV file below:
Name,Address,Number John Doe,10th Street,555 Jack Smith,9th Road, 888 Tom Dune,10th Avenue, 999
All CSV files follow the same overall format: each column is separated by a delimiter (like a comma), and each new line indicates a new row. Some programs that export data to a CSV file may use a different character to separate the values, like a tab, semicolon, or space (also called a delimiter). Source Lifework.com
When to use a CSV file – Source : CSV
- When data has a strict tabular structure
- To transfer large database between programs
- To import export and export data to other applications
This is an example of a CSV file containing inventory data exported from Sage and opened in a text editor:
This is how the same CSV file looks when opened in Microsoft Excel: