BLOGS AND ARTICLES FROM THE POS SOLUTIONS TEAM

Point of Sale Software

Microsoft to fix current update problems

POS SOFTWARE

UPDATE!  

The latest Microsoft update has been a nightmare. I estimate that over a thousand of our client's point of sale computers were affected.

Now finally, we have been advised that Microsoft Support are able to assist you if you have any problems with the update.

Microsoft can be contacted on 13 20 58

The options to get through to technical support are as follows:  

  • Press Option 1 Consumer
  • Press Option 1 Technical
  • Press Option 2 Windows

You will need to confirm first that your Windows is activated and that your license is valid to proceed with Microsoft support. Then the Microsoft operator will then be able to take you through the fixes.

 

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Loyalty programs

POS SOFTWARE

The overwhelming majority of our clients would have some point of sale loyalty program in place in their shops. 

As a rule loyalty scheme, to do it properly should cost about 1% of sales. So if your shop is doing $500,000 a year, your budget for a loyalty program is about $5,000.

Years ago Garth Brennan from our company wrote an article here about it, that was published by National Newsagency magazine.

What I found surprising reading this article is how relevant it still is 15 years later.

Discount Vouchers is the most straightforward system to implement. You can set it up in moments with our system. If you want to test it out, I would suggest using a holiday season and running it for the length of the holiday season and see how it goes. It does work, but we only recommend you do it for a limited time, say a week maximum. Otherwise what will happen is over a long period this program will result in you discounting every product in the shop and so producing customers who demand these discounts.

Moving forward 15 years, I found a useful review of successful loyalty programs in the US today here.

These programs are all very successful. What they have in common is they work with customers by engaging with them. They all work on a VIP points system, which gives the customer benefits and perks for being a member. 

 

This is what some of our clients do. Some have in their loyalty program about 8,000 members with those numbers its worthwhile doing some serious marketing.

 

If you want to see what some SMB retailers have done check out one of our clients with over 12,000 likes on their facebook page here.

 

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Franchise expo yesterday

POS SOFTWARE

Franchise expo Melbourne 2017

I go every year to the franchise expo

I find it useful as I meet people, get ideas and see what is out there. This year I saw it was bigger than ever. Looking around, you always see something that seems interesting; you also often get a good idea of where the market thinks it is going. 

If there was any theme at the show, it is about having a theme product. A product that it has that stands out.Once you have that you can build on it.

I have always been dubious on franchises. What you are doing is introducing a new level. The problem here is that few SMB businesses have the margins to afford an extra level. Also if you want to be your own boss, why give yourself another level? Still, I have seen many do well in a franchise. Again, I had a chuckle when I saw at the show many stalls of lawyers, far too often franchisees need their services. The small business minister at the expo spoke a lot about this in her talk. You may want to check out this facebook group that I am a member of there are some excellent write-ups there.

Still franchises are growing, just about everything now is being offered on a franchise model, and this expo showed that they are growing bigger every year. 

Franchise expo Melbourne 2017

 

One point I have made in the past, and I make it again. Many of these people going to the show are the sort of people that would be interested in buying many businesses in our market space. Many there have the money, ambition, will and are looking. So many in our market space missed here a golden opportunity to sell their industry.

 

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Staff Security levels

POS SOFTWARE

The mere presence of you having a correct security procedures system often deters theft. If a staff member sees cameras, if they see proper procedures in the POS software, then there is less likely to be trouble. It is essential that you do take retail loss prevention seriously.

I have, over the years, become very cynical about this issue. Too many retailers have told me stories which starts "He was in school with me... his family and my family....he was very good, my best employee ... and ends that he had been skimming my cash register for years.

Face it if an employee sees that you won’t care about a discrepancy of a few dollars in the cash drawer, some will note this and take advantage of this. If they see a third-party your POS Software monitoring this, it will give them something to think.

One of the clients to pick up almost $13,000 a year in extra revenue when a computer system was upgraded by simply running separate tills for every staff member and introducing a policy of counting each cash drawers after each shift.

 

Now it is straightforward to set up in our system. 

Firstly in the section "Staff maintenance", there is a section "Security Level."

 

Now the defaults are there which we have set up designed to work for 90% of the shops. However, like everything, each shop is different and what works in 90% of cases often does not work with your shop so you can fine-tune it for your situation.

There are heaps as you can see options here.

Set them up for you. Now enforce them.

Now make sure you have cameras facing the tills.

Security in retail is often treated as a joke, but it does not have to be and should not be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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AfterpayTouch

POS SOFTWARE

They have released fresh information on how to fix the problems caused by this month’s Microsoft security update.

The information on how to do it will be found here and a PDF version is available here. Please, I recommend that if you do this that you make sure the person doing it is very knowledgable on all computers that run the AfterpayTouch software. It is much better to do these things on site. It has to be done on all machines running their software.  

If you have any queries, Afterpaytouch have a hotline service here 

Afterpay Touch Group who can be contacted here

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Market researching products to sell

POS SOFTWARE

Your POS System can tell you what has sold well in a department and it will tell you what has sold well with another product. This is all good stuff for upselling. The problem is that you are looking at is what was in your store, which is only a tiny subset of the products available plus it is only telling you what *WAS*. What you need to know is what is *NOW* and what will *BE*!

Here is a tip to help you to do this which you can do.

In Amazon Australia, you will find the best seller's list here

Now pick a department say "Pet Supplies" and out will pop all the top sellers here 

These are the top-selling items updated hourly, so it is current information.  

Now go through the items and see which ones appeal to you. You will see the sales ranking. If you click on the items, you will see a lot of details, including what people think about these items.

I am sure it will give you a lot to think about them.

The best part about it is these are local products.

Now if you wanted to see what people in the US were buying, after all, they are not that different to Australian consumers, you can check the US website here

Be careful as although many think, that the US market is more advanced than ours. I am no so sure of this in my experience. It is an odd combination of being more advanced and more behind us plus its a different market with different cost, benefit and requirements so be cautious about using it. Still because of its Winter/Summer being reversed there many of you will get many goods ideas of where the market is moving.

 

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Computer and body posture

POS SOFTWARE

The ergonomic problems with POS computer systems are not where people are serving. These people are only for a computer for a short time, and they move around a lot but in the back-office when people can be for extended times just be staring at a computer. Now, as far as I know, there are no specific requirements for ergonomics and computers but as an employer, you do have a duty to provide a safe and healthy place of work plus of course people are more productive if they are comfortable.

Generally, I see that most places work on at least 5–minute every hour, a person should be doing something else than looking at a computer screen. Toilet breaks, a smoko or coffee break helps as does filing documents, answering the phone, collecting printouts from the printer, etc. as all are classed as an intervention. So its something that provides different movements to the body so giving the muscles that have been active while on the computer a rest. Its anything that gets people moving.  

As no one likes to sit on an uncomfortable chair, so give them a decent chair. If possible one that rocks a bit back and forwards has back support and is adjustable. All this is fairly standard now with office chairs. This helps a lot. What I do is have a few different chairs, and then I let my staff pick their chairs. Generally what that means is that I end out with the worst chair in the place.

As far as the desk, this is how they want people to sit, everything straight up and down, something like this.

See the requirement for the monitor. It should be at eye height. The only use I had for the yellow pages for many years was to raise my monitor so that it would be at this height. Today if your monitor does not have an adjustable stand, you may need to buy one. That is why most monitors we sell today have an adjustable stand. 

For women and short people you may need to supply a footrest too.

Hope this helps.

 

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Wi-Fi vs. Cable which is better

POS SOFTWARE

You have a computer in the back or in an awkward position in the shop that you want to connect to your POS system. You have two choices now Wi-Fi or cable. 

As for Wifi today it is fantastic particularly if you have it meshed. Plus you do not need to pay for cable installation, which can be a bit if you need an electrician and/or a shopfitter to do it.

That being said, the cable can give Wi-FI a run for its money as it is faster and has fewer problems.

Speed in practice Wi-Fi can vary greatly, what you will notice in use that if suddenly slows down and then goes back up again. This is because it depends on many factors. Having too many Wi-Fi units can cause problems. Interference from environmental factors such as weather. Other electrical devices such as a shop next door that has its Wi-Fi network which often interferes with yours or a lunchroom with a microwave.  

One of our clients complained that their Wi-Fi suddenly was now running slow. What we found was that the router had been moved behind some items which blocked the signal.

These Wi-Fi antennas are shown here in green

These should ideally be high up on the wall where everyone can see it, see them. That is why walls are often a problem. It is also why today, many routers and mesh units are advertised that they look nice because they are often in a spot that people will see them. 

The cable is just faster than Wi-Fi, probably about ten (10) times. Your Point of Sale software often requires to pull in a lot of information mainly if you are doing a search or a report and, unlike with Wi-Fi, its speed is consistent. It is not going to suddenly slow down because some electrical machine is now generating large amounts of static.

If security is an issue to you, then it is much easier to break into a Wi-Fi network, then a cable network. Given access, in less than a minute, a hacker can often break into your computer Wi-Fi network even if its password protected. We have had a few cases of this with employees using the owner's internet to download torrents. A cable network requires some serious equipment and work. You would need to cut the cable, put a plug on that cable, then install a switch on that cable and then run a cable from that switch to their computer. In all my years in retail, I have never seen anyone do it. 

So overall unless you have a temporary need for some computer or printer that is pretty far or inconvenient place from the rest of your POS network, I suggest that you run a cable.

 

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Afterpaytouch patch error update

POS SOFTWARE

They have released information on how to fix the problems caused by this month’s Microsoft security update.

I recommend that if you do this that you make sure the person doing it is very knowledgable on all computers that run the afterpaytouch software. It is much better to do these things on site. It has to be done on all machines running their software.  

The information on how to do it will be found here and a PDF version is available here.

If you have any queries, Afterpaytouch have a hotline service here 

Afterpay Touch Group

Phone: 1800 286 824

 

 

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Integrating video surveillance and the POS system

POS SOFTWARE

The best and most important area in the shop to install security cameras is at the point of sale as that is where the cash is located, so that is where most fraud takes place.

Integrating your video surveillance with the POS system makes a lot of sense. This example shows a skimmer being installed by some shop thieves. Your staff may not be involved in the fraud at the point of sale. This fraud took three (3) seconds. Nothing would show here on the computer if the cameras had never been installed on the tills, it would never have been found.

 

This is a bit exceptional; as most of the fraud involves actual transactions. Typically a brother of a staff member buys a $30 book, and it gets rung up as a $5 remainder book. 

With a camera, you have a video record of each transaction, the customer and the operator. So you can provide evidence that can be used to confirm the point of sale software. This is always a problem if the matter requires verification. For this, you need video e.g. you often hear this remark in court "The computer said that I did it, but many could have done it.." or "I gave you a $50 and you gave me a $20, okay the computer said $20, but I gave you a $50."   

The computer can and does give you alerts e.g. high dollar amount and other dubious transactions which can alert you to possible fraud. At the very least, it can enable you to identify common mistakes or misunderstandings that can be corrected with additional training.

Also just the fact it is there has been shown to reduce theft.

If your system is not integrated then the archived video needs to be searched by date and time, which is slower and a pain.

PS if you want to extend what the cameras can do e.g. facial recognition analytics to identify known individuals; counting analytics to ensure that occupancy limitations are not exceeded or demographic analysis we could do that too.

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Afterpay Touch network support update

POS SOFTWARE

If you are using the Afterpay/Touch system for your Telco products and are having some problems with it, please contact Afterpay/touch now as they have a fix.

For those that want to know what happened exactly, the problem was Microsoft. Please click here for details.

 

 

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Notifying us of a change in business ownership

POS SOFTWARE

A person rings us and asks for support. We do not know him although we know the shop. He then asks us for information on how to get a customer listing. Okay, do you see the problem we have?

Here are several more reasons

- We have a policy of free training for new owners, not letting us know means the new owners miss out of a service they could use. 

- The new owner does not own the point of sale licence until we are notified. As such, the former owner of the shop may be responsible for the cost of services that the new owner has incurred.

I am sure you can add a few more.

So there are many sound reasons for making sure that we are notified on a change of business ownership, preferably before the actual transfer takes place. 

All it takes is a few minutes to let us know, then allow us a few days for your request to be completed.

If a valid email address is on the form, both the Releasor and Acceptor will receive an email confirmation once the change of ownership has been completed from us.
 

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Tattslotto app

POS SOFTWARE

the lotto

We have been talking for a while with Tabcorp about our concerns with their app and a POS system.  In particular that we feel the Lotto app needs to differentiate between lotto card paid tickets and non-lotto paid tickets. The only way to do this is, we think is to have a different product id in the barcode for the item. 

Each lotto product that can be used with the lotto card will require two product ids, one when paid by lotto card, and one when going to be paid as usual.

In both cases, we want the full price of the item included in the barcode. 

We also feel that having a zero prices barcode is stupid and does not help in any way.

As far as we are concerned but not all software suppliers in this market space, we can handle the lotto-paid product ids internally in the register with minimal changes to your systems. If so, then we can keep the existing functionality as well as new functionality to our users. 

As our system already has a "rebate" feature to store the difference between the price an item is sold at, and its real price which we can use this to store $0.00 as the price sold, and the item price in the rebate column.

This way the receipts will be correct, the total of the sale will be accurate, the till will balance, payments by lotto card can be reported, reconciliations will be correct, and Gross Profit reportings will work correctly - taking into account the item price of the goods as they do now.

Assuming this method is made available, the proposed changes to our system will need to be done

1. A new pay-type needs to be added

2. A new system entry will need to be added to signify that pay-type as Lotto pay payment

3. Database change needs to be done to the stock table as it now needs to store secondary product ids

4. Register change to differentiate lotto paid item and non-lotto paid item

Then everything will seamlessly fit into place.

If you are a lotto agent and happen to be talking to one of their agents, please tell them about this problem and our proposed solution. Maybe if more mention it, we can get something done as this has been going on as I stated for quite awhile.

Update: We have just finished a conference with lotto. They do see the problem. The solution depends now on whether the powers that be there, are interested in doing something about it. If they do give the go-ahead the earliest lotto can move is about a month.

 

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Problems with Afterpay Touch Group

POS SOFTWARE

Many of you are having problems now processing Afterpay Touch software.

We are aware of the problem.

We are talking to them.

They and us are treating it as a priority.

We have been told that this afternoon there should be a solution.  

We are not sure what the error is, but we do know a Microsoft Windows Update sparked it. It seems to be affecting all versions of windows. The problem today is that  Microsoft is offering significantly less information about updates then it used too, so as a result, we all do not know what the actual problem could be with the update.

There were some misleading reports that it had something to do with Visual Basic. This is wrong. The only problem seems to be in the Afterpay/touch software.

We will let you know as soon as we can if the status changes. 

 

 

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AI for selling more

POS SOFTWARE

I was invited today to go to the AI FOR BUSINESS SUMMIT  

We have been into AI for many years.

A while ago, I worked out that almost half the out of stock problem in a typical client of ours can be avoided by the use of our AI ordering system in your POS Software.

This can avoid much of the harmful problem in a business such as people coming and walking out because you do not have the product they wanted. What is even worse is if they get frustrated with you not having the stock they want and going elsewhere.

It does not look good either. What do you think of this shop shelf?

What does it say about the business to its clients?

The problem is that 

To be successful today, it is essential that retailers keep in tune with their shop's unique preferences and behaviour. However, there are too many stock items and marketing seasons to do it accurately manually. The best way to do it is with AI. These tools are generally too expensive for small to medium-size retailers unless they have our point-of-sale system because we have embedded it into our software and give it out included in. Others I notice charge for AI or do not have it.

I think it's great system (maybe because I designed it), but I assure you we made it so that it is both simple and reasonably intuitive to use. It does not require much training either to handle. It is less work than manual stock ordering.

An example


Let say you have a basket for tape. You cannot order limitless quantities of tapes.

This is how the tape is set up



Now what happens is the computer tracks the stock on hand, estimates the stock level required for these goods in the period, if it thinks that the stock on hand is too low it can send an order to a supplier with the speed and accuracy that no-one can match.

It is easy to set up, and use for details click here.

With our AI software, you can control your stock with relative ease.

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Buy now pay later vs credit cards

POS SOFTWARE

Right now if you go into any shopping centre, you will see almost everyone is offering a buy now pay later(BNPL) option. There is little choice for many shops as Australians are dumping credit cards and going for them. Already more than a million Australians have stopped using credit cards and are using these services. So today BNPL startups are popping up like mushrooms in Australia, and although there are plenty of players in this market already, the interest now is that CBA bank has announced that it is moving in a big way into this market and soon I am sure the other banks will also move into this market.

Although each offering of BNPL is different, I think the following is a fair comment, unlike the credit card most of the fees are paid for by the merchant, not the customer. Most merchants that use these services do so because these services do push their stores thus increasing their sales.

The other issue is that a BNPL customer if you have the right products for them, is a good customer. Here is an analysis of a zip customer 

 

 

They buy more each time, and they buy more often, the operative point being here, do you have the products for these customers? 

So the big problem for many of my clients is that with credit cards whereas the fees are relatively small and can be either absorbed and/or charged to the client, with a  BNPL model, the costs are much higher, about 5% and it can be tough to charge this back to the customer as both the customers and the BNPL do not like it this chargeback. A hairdresser who was my client, charged a woman a surcharge because she used zip, the customer went on social media to complain, within hours zip picked it up the twitter and rang her and asked her to please explain. 

This leaves many of my clients with a problem, either give up a large number of clients and a major market or offer BNPL. The answer will be a decision for each store. 

If you do laybys, I do suggest that you switch at least for this service over to BNPL. If you do your sums, the extra costs and bother to you in laybys are just not worth this 5% fee.

If your layby customers do not have a BNPL account consider this when I did an experiment, I found that it took me about 2 minutes to get a BNPL account.  

Now assuming you do decide to go into this space well the question is which one do you use. Currently, there are two big ones, Afterpay and Zip. You can go for others but these two you need to look at first. Both are I think are reliable. Both run extensive marketing campaigns which do benefit the merchants that do use them. Both have a lot of followers. Generally users of these services, I find have both.

As a comparison, Zip big plus is that it lets you sell higher-priced items, its costs are a bit lower, and it pays faster. Plus it is easier to get, and they bug you less. Afterpay will put conditions on its use and in fact on all payment types that you use which blew my mind, if you have Afterpay in your shop, if you do a cash transaction you must abide by Afterpay conditions even though it has nothing to do with them. I have never seen Zip do anything like that. This is why I suggest if you are thinking of entering this market, try Zip first. Once you have bedded it down then look at others.

If you want to investigate more, click here.

PS Whatever you do, what you need to consider is that BNPL is clearly the future, soon I predict that all shops will need it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hacking By Malicious iPhone Cable On Sale For $200 US

POS SOFTWARE

Here is something to make you think guys.

 

It looks like an Apple lightning cable. It works as an Apple lightning cable. But it gives a hacker a way to tap into your computer remotely.

 

Your computer will not notice a difference. 

These cables sell now on the market. All someone has to do is while you are not looking swap your wire to this cable and then the next time you use these cables they can get into your phone or computer. Since they look the same and act the same, you will not notice the switch.

The problem is that USBs currently do not have any cryptographically protection. There is a proposal to make USB  more cryptographically secure. It did, however, provoke a backlash as people are saying that this security will be used by manufacturers to force them to buy their expensive spare parts. Maybe people will change their minds because of these cables.

All I can suggest if you are worried about this

Keep your cables in a safe place. Also, put an unusual ink spot, so the potential hacker before he can do the hack has to reproduce that spot. It will make it harder to do the switch.

Know anyone that would pay $200 to hack your computer?



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to start cross-selling

POS SOFTWARE

As a benchmark, the average basket size in an SMB retail business in Australia is about 2.54. If yours is below that, you need to look at cross-selling.

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Cross-selling

In any case, even if you are over that figure, I would say that proper cross-selling techniques will increase revenue for your shop.

Now in retail there are two ways to cross-sell, the one is active ask a customer "is there anything else you want?", the other is passive which is making sure that the appropriate goods to the person buying are brought to their attention.

So how do you identify the goods that you can offer? Well, you go on history, you see the past shopping behaviour of people that purchased items have brought in your shop.

It is very easy to do with our point of sale software.

Firstly get your top ten sellers, you can get more but we will start there.

Go to Register reports.

 

 

Now select "Top N Stock Sales for a Given Period"

 

 

Now put appropriate dates (say last three months) and ask for the top ten, like I said you can put more in but let us start there.

Now go to sales register reports section here

and select the stock companion report

Put in the same dates, put in your top-selling items and now and ask for a full listing.

Now go through the list and there is a fair bit to look at there. Now take notes of those items that sell well with these items. 

Now check in the shelves, where these items are these companion products close by, can the customer for those items quickly see these items? If not, then you have to start rearranging stock because that is what is selling. 

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My latest qualifications

POS SOFTWARE

One point that I am really proud of, is that today anyone can sell you a computer, a website and software but with my company, you get people that know what they are talking about. 

Now each one of these was a solid week of work here.

 




If you are thinking of doing any of these courses, I better warn you what makes them really tough is that the course itself often does not cover the questions you are going to be examined on, what you have to do to get these actually is DO IT to know it.

Note I do not think I will be doing any more for quite a while as they are too exhausting. 

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Touch screens some current problems

POS SOFTWARE

Our POS system is built for touch, and recently touch screens have taken off. I think the reason is a  combination of the new lower prices which make it almost the same price as a regular monitor, that windows 8 and 10 are built for touch, the fact that most people, particularly the young, are used to touch and the faster processing that is driving this.

It is much easier and faster to use touch than a keyboard or mouse, particularly if you are not a touch typists.

However, there are some issues that you need to look at now if you are looking at touch screens.

Firstly check with us, because some of the monitors will have trouble with our screen, we can also tell you which ones not to get.

You need to check that its side view is good what many of them now I notice will look good if you are straight in front of you, but if you are on an angle which often happens in a shop, then they are tough to read.  

Because they are cheap now, many have flimsy stands. In a shop, people are in a hurry, operators accidentally hit the monitor, and it can fall. You need something in a shop that can take punishment.

You need to make sure that you have the right windows version, people have brought touch screens and then discovered that it does not work on the windows version in their shop. Also you are not going to get full functionality on your touch screen with anything before Windows 8.

If you have older people or just people with sensitive eyes using the monitor, check the brightness. Make sure it can be adjusted. 

Some of the cheap touch monitors cannot use mouse and touch together. I would say stay away from those monitors. If you have one, the odds are you are going to drop the touch and just use the mouse.

While I am thinking of the mouse, check that the mouse cursor does not disappear, on some monitors the mouse cursor vanishes for a time, I use this software which helps with this. Its a bit old but works well.

Now check the touch that it works well some units you need to punch them to work

Check that the monitor is plug and play, its a pain to have to find drivers for old equipment. 

I hope this all helps.

 

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