When I was in Sweden, I was stuck when I saw a shop with no staff. However, Amazon Go takes it so much further. Here are some pictures of an Amazon convenience store, which sells a range of drinks, snacks and meals. All a customer has to do is walk into the store, take what they want, and they are automatically charged. No checkout, no cashier.
Some pictures are here.
A video explaining it is here
I am sure soon there will be many retail shops without cashiers.
It is nice to have a fast hard drive but the ultimate and most important question is how reliable is that hard drive going to be over the next few years. If the hard drive goes down its a major problem. Its one many of us have experienced. You switch on the computer in the morning, and it does not work. You talk to whoever is responsible for your hardware and you are told, I am sorry, but we need to replace your hard drive. If you are lucky, they can copy what is on there and set it up, if not then everything has to be replaced. If people do not have backups, it can be a disaster. We have had to fly a broken hard drive to Perth to a company that fixes damaged hard drive in an attempt to get the information off it because they had no backups.
Now how likely is this to occur? This may help you as it is a study here by an organisation which runs about 90,000 hard drives.
The first point is noticeable is that not all hard drives are the same. The failure rates depend much on the manufacture. The next point is that as a rule, you can see the bigger the hard drive the more reliable it is, this is probably because it is a better drive and so almost certainly more expensive.
The best quarter they ever had for hard drive failures was the last, and it was 1.84% failures per quarter. Now the first point to consider is that these people are running their hard drives in a controlled enviroment where the temperature, humidity and electricity are strictly controlled. Few of us do that! So our figures will be much worse but let us run with their values.
So a typical user of ours has on their point of sale system a server and two workstations.
If the workstation goes down, its typically a pain and a problem. If a server goes down, with a regular hard drive the system just stops.
So how often can we expect a problem because of this? Well as there is three computer altogether. The failure rate of at least one hard drive out of three going down a quarter at 1.84% is 5.4% a quarter. This is what the graph shows.
That point circled is in the 12.5 quarter so about once every three to four years one can expect such a problem conservatively. We would class about a third of these failures, as its a server as very serious.
If you want to check out my spreadsheet for this graph, it's available here.
You are the move, roaming and want to connect to your store to see what is happening there. Well, you can, as our software links into the net. It can be used anywhere there is an internet connection. Although it will work on a mobile, I suggest if you intend to do this to use something with a bigger screen either a tablet or a laptop.
Depending on where you are there are many options for the internet if you are out and about. Many fast food restaurants, cafes, shopping centres and shops provide free internet. Many coffee shops also offer Wi-Fi, although they are not entirely free as you are expected to buy a drink.
Another possibility is the hotels, ironically in my experience, the cheaper hotels are more generous when it comes to providing Wi-Fi services often for free, while the classier hotels often charge.
I do not recommend dongles, as I find that the data signal is often weak. A better solution is to use the smartphone. So I use my smartphone which I can link into my laptop which is what this woman above is doing. As most mobile plans have included a decent data allowance, generally starting at about 10 GB a month today, it cost nothing to link in. Before you do this make sure you do have a reasonable data allowance on your phone. I got a $1,000 bill when my daughter got on my laptop on holidays and without my knowing about it spent many hours on youtube so making me go over my decent data allowance. If this happens to you, I suggest you complain. My bill was reduced by 50% after I complained.
So you will be able to stay in contact with your business where ever you are with us.
The last video library left near me.
One point that confused people with my previous post is that unlike many other point of sale software packages our software can take advantage of larger screens. With us, you can add another strip of buttons, both horizontally along the bottom, and vertically along the right-hand side. Here is an image to demonstrate.
As you can see the extra space is used: With a good touchscreen, our clients can have a beautiful screen, easy which is easy to set up the way they like it and is very responsive.
Everything is now moving into touch. It has many advantages, it is much easier to use, faster and more intuitive to use.
If you are looking at a touch screen here are a few points to consider.
That the screen size is right.
You need one that is responsive, I have seen far too many screens that require several attempts to get them to work. If you have to press your fingers a button a lot, it gets quite aggravating
The resolution, you need good resolution, this is particularly true with many other software packages other than ours. Some have tiny buttons, and it can be a pain to press the right button. This is particularly a problem with small screens.
You will be staring at the screen, much closer than with an ordinary display so make sure that it does not hurt your eyes. I have seen some that are particularly bright, and some have poor contrast. Also, check that you cannot see scan lines. Check if you can change the video settings easily too.
Make sure it has instructions, several cheap ones I have seen come with little or no documentation.
Some cheap touch screens have what we call ghost touches. If so the touchscreen will go crazy and start doing things that you did not want. We had a client that a screen left on its own would initiate a transaction sometimes. If you did not realise what was happening, you would think that the register was in use by someone else.
Check that it has drivers for your version of windows and I do strongly suggest that you check it has drivers for windows 10 as that is where windows is now at and you may be there soon if you are not there already now.
It is interesting to compare this results we found in 2016.
As you can see MYOB remained the market leader, it went up by about 10% mainly at the expense of Quickbooks.
Although we did not ask it does appear that the overwhelming majority used the software on their computer but a growing number can use the cloud as all these systems can be cloud based which is undoubtedly the way the industry is going. The significant advantage of the cloud is you can use it anywhere.
Although with us most of our clients can run integrated, most are running non-integrated with a few commenting that they prefer running it non-integrated something I can understand.
My thought on accountancy programs is I like Quickbooks or Reckon, mainly because the flexibility in reporting but MYOB with its more structured approach for many retail businesses might for many be better. Overall these are all excellent solutions. All can do the job. It depends on what you like and what works for you.
The new version of posbrowser that has just been released allows more modification of an existing transaction and also records staff, dates and times when transactions were modified. This will make it easier for you to audit.
A few people asked me after I wrote my article discussing among other things booster bags (often called magic bags or faraday bag) often used in shoplifting with particular emphasis on bypassing the security tags.
The quickest and I think the best way to test them is to do what shoplifters do, grab a few of your tags and see whether your security poles will pick them up. Try looking for weak spots that the labels close to the poles, put the labels very low or straight etc. What an experienced shoplifter often does is take a few labels from inside your shop. As no-one is looking for those labels, they are not hard to take and as no-one is going to do anything to him/her coming into the shop so they can test your security all they like. Be worried if someone comes into your store and the security alarm goes off, its quite possibly not a malfunction but a test run.
As far as testing for booster bags, make one yourself and try it out with a few items. One of my clients found a person with a booster bag with over $240 worth of books of their books in it. A useful app that can help you test the bag and will give you a pretty good idea of how effective they are is available here.
This app can also be used to check whether you have label security on an item. As a test, I went into a large shop, walked around with this app, tested many items and no-one said anything.
Sometimes computers are somewhat noisy things. If you are in a shop with a point of sale system running all day, the continuous noise can drive you batty. I know I have sensitive ears and after long periods of time, it starts to hurt my ears with that sound.
Well here are some solutions in order of cost
1) Move the computer; often just a small angular move can have a dramatic effect on the noise level.
2) Put some foam rubber as above around the sides of the shelf that it is stored in. Make sure you do not stop the air flow. Also, every now and then replace the foam as it does start to deteriorate over time. What I did was move the computer behind my desk, put some foam on the sides facing me and most of the problem went away.
3) Most of the noise comes from the power supply, replacing the power supply can help.
4) This also works for me, headphones. It also means that others are not disturbed by my loud music.
5) Get a new computer case, we do sell computer cases that are extremely quiet, what we can do is put your computer into one of these, and this should solve all the problems.
6) I have seen people build special computer cabinets. Just remember that you have to keep the airflow going, but a decent handyman can overcome this problem. Do not worry if the computer runs a just little hotter as a result, as it is not going to be a problem as long as it is only a little bit hotter. Make sure that whoever does it knows that you do need occasional access to the computer to replace cables.
7) New computers tend to be much quieter
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