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Computer

Customer displays

POS SOFTWARE

Today, a customer display is something that anyone with a Point-of-Sale should consider. 

Here are some advantages and some points to consider if you are thinking of getting one.

The advantages are:

- That your customers like to see what you are charging them and appreciate you being transparent as they can see that they are being charged fairly as they can see what is happening now. This inspires confidence among your customer and in practice, can boost customer loyalty. 

- It also gives them something to do, so making them feel less than they are waiting. Instead, your customer feeling like a spectator, they think they are a participant.  

- It reduces the problems of queries after the transaction is done. Time is saved as most queries can be done when they happen. 

- Finally, a customer display in our system can be used to convey important messages to customers to consider as they are waiting their turn, like here. If you are interested in *Discount Vouchers*, this is a better way to go then receipts which very few customers get in real-time in modern retail.

 

 

If you are looking at such a unit!

Here are some points to consider.

-Workout what the screen size should be for you, maybe look at a few that other shops have before deciding. The screen size, once selected, can not be changed. As a general rule, a bit bigger is better.

-You need something hardy. Retail is a harsh environment for computer equipment. It will be knocked, if it is flimsy, it will smash. It will be in the open, so it gets dirty, and dust will get into it. Make sure it can handle this.

-Over the lifetime of this screen, it will be moved and adjusted, so make sure that the screen can be lifted up and down, and the angle of the screen can be changed. Ideally, you should be able to change it from vertical to horizontal and anywhere angle in between.

 

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Cost of running a modern point of sale computer system.

POS SOFTWARE

In business the running costs will vary, depending on many factors, in computers I tend to notice the better computer literate and more mechanical minded the owner is on average the bigger the problems they get. For example, they are the ones that experiment with the lastest speed boosters etc 

What many people do not seem to realise is the initial cost is not that important as I show here. It is the running costs that need to be considered even more.

Here are some assumptions that I am using to calculate the running costs for computer hardware assuming we start with a cost of $6,000.  

I would look at a three (3) year period, anything over that I would consider a bonus. Many SMB businesses will use, however, five (5) years. I am dubious of that as after three years to get the effective use of your system it needs an update. At the very least, a new main computer (server) needs to be replaced otherwise the system is running to slow. This is particularly true if you are paying for time with staff.

Capital

 

The cost of capital, if the system hardware on a lease, it would be about $200 month over a 3 years lease, over 5 years about $124/month. 

So in three (3) years, we are looking at $2,400/ year

In five (5) years, we are looking at $1,500/ year

Maintenance costs,

As a rule, the best advice in a business environment is if it ain't broken do not play with it. This is particularly true the better you are in computers. We frequently get big support calls after the clever nephew who knows this computer stuff helped out. This is partly because unfortunately, the rule of not doing anything does not work as computers now do need monitoring and maintenance. Under the hood, the operating system, the antivirus system, in fact, every bit of software today is all automatically updated. Seriously when the last time, you actually manually updated some software?

The other point is it is a difficult one to estimate as general rule maintenance often tends to be big or zero. For example, a client split a cup of coke over the laptop. The laptop shorted out and it was a total loss. I have seen computers after a fire.



Still, computers are a mechanical device, that does get old. All will fail eventually. It's just a matter of time. In the first year, this is not an issue as we provide a complete hardware solution. Still, people that budget tends to use about 15% of the purchase price on repairs and maintenance on year one, which generally is covered by a warranty, so year 1 is worn by the seller with us, this may not be true always as many suppliers only offer three (3) months warranty. In any case, there is about a 20% increase a year after that.

Year 1... $0

Year 2....$1,080

Year 3....$1,300

Year 4....$1,550

Year 5....$1,900

So over three (3) years, we are looking at an average of $800/year

Over five (5) years, we are looking at an average of $1,200/year


Extras such as electricity.

These charges do add up. Say your computer uses 350-400 watts, in a business environment. I would say you would be looking during the day between 250W and 310W/hour at say 28 cents a KW for a city person in Victoria (which by the way is way up compared to even two years ago when it was 20 cents a KW). For 12 hours a day, seven days a week or 365.25 days per annum, is (.250+.310)/2 x 0.28 x 12 x 365.25 = $350 a year of electricity. 

Total


So if I was looking at computer hardware of $6,000.

Over three (3) years we are looking at an average yearly cost of $3,500

Over five (5) years we are looking at an average yearly cost of $3,000

On the three (3) years I expect some value left in the computer, I doubt there would be very little value on the five (5) year option.

This of course as noted earlier does not take into account the time you are paying employees. Often what we find is that the costs of operating and maintaining the legacy system exceed the cost of modernization.

I hope all of this helps.

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Scales by weight

POS SOFTWARE

If you would like to weigh items to make a bundle or package to trade in your shop like cheeses, spices, fruit, dips, potatoes and much more, then you are in luck as we have some top-quality scales on offer that integrate directly with your Posbrowser. You can now program these scales and keep pricing up to date from directly inside your PosBrowser. 

 

Image
Integrated scales to produce labels

 

Label printing scales

 

 

and produce a professional label for your shop.

 

It is extremely fast in operation. What you do is grab some items, put them in a container, then on the scale and our POS system produces a label that can be used at the cash register.

It is also advantageous if you have a deli in the back of your shop and your cash registers are in the front.

To anyone that seriously sells spices, I would say its a must.

 

 

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Why Touch Screen is better?

POS SOFTWARE

Touch-screen technology is everywhere in point of sale software now as today touchscreens are pretty comparable in price.  

Here are three significant advantages to using touch.

1) They are easier to use; it is more natural to press buttons highlighted on the computer. Plus it is also much easier to use as your eyes do not have to keep looking away from the screen to the keyboard. 

2) It is faster according to some studies I have seen. They report it is 20% faster. That is why most corporate and large clients of ours always use touch as most people today are not a touch typist.

3) You do not need such a big desk. Non-touch screens to work need a mini desk as a keyboard and mouse need to be handy to work. 

Our POS system is built for touch, so you may want to give it a try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest microsoft update

POS SOFTWARE

Ever since last month when Microsoft began pushing out its latest upgrade, things aren’t going so well. Our clients reported a variety of significant and obscure errors.

As always everyone is often afraid to fix the problem as who knows what other problems you can make when fixing it. Quite a few users of ours got the blue screen when someone attempted to fix it. 

I tell you what was annoying about this to us. Although Microsoft confirmed the problem was in the upgrade, Microsoft was getting people to upgrade even though it continued to cause problems. 

We would have pulled the plug on these updates until it was bedded it down.

Some problems remain, for example, some users are reporting a sudden freeze that lasts a couple of seconds, and then the computer restarts automatically. On a server, that it is pretty bad.

There also appears that once someone fixes up the immediate problem, other problems arise. We have had people after Microsoft fix it, report that they cannot use many of the functions they require.

As such, after this bad experience, we will soon be putting together an information sheet once Microsoft bed down their new feature specially designed to mitigate faulty updates like this. What it will allow is a user to postpone Windows updates so that other users can test them first. Then if it does go wrong, to enable a user to roll back faulty updates. This will help with this problem not totally but reduce it by about 80%.

This update has been a real mess, and Microsoft has done here little to inspire confidence with them.

If you want to know where we are at click here.

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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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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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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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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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