How Get the Most Out of Your POS System

hand working point of sale system at a store

Many small businesses that provide goods or services have a Point of Sale, or POS, as the primary workstation. As such, many of the business’ core processes run through it. These systems have a plethora of great features that are built right into them, and if you fail to take advantage of them, you could be wasting valuable time and resources.

The truth is that a POS system is not just a cash register; it is a central hub for the management of your business. Some of their more advanced options can fly under the average user’s radar, so let’s make sure you don’t miss out on taking advantage of them!

Choose the Right Terminal Structure

POS systems require terminals to work, and there are several different ways that these terminals can appear. You should choose the right one to fit your organization’s needs. Here are four ways you can implement a POS system:

In-store

Traditional on-premise POS systems are your typical systems. Basically, the business hosts the server at the location, and the POS system runs on local hardware. In-store POS systems are great for small businesses that don’t require anything too technical in the backend computing system. This type of POS system is common in retail and hospitality, and they have some higher costs in terms of hardware maintenance and management, but they are overall quite easy to use and secure.

Cloud-hosted

If you host your POS system in the cloud, you can reap the benefits of saving on capital costs. You also don’t have to worry about maintaining hardware, as the provider will likely be the one handling that responsibility. Cloud-hosted POS systems are generally quite affordable and reliable, as long as your Internet connection is stable. With most cloud systems, however, security can often be a sticking point, and you are out of luck if the Internet goes down for any number of reasons.

Mobile

Mobile POS systems use some type of external hardware connected to a tablet or smartphone. These can save businesses plenty of money, but there are downsides when it comes to maintaining the technology, as tablets and smartphones are prone to damage every so often compared to a register that just sits on the counter all day.

Kiosks

Self-service kiosks have really taken off in popularity as of late, as they reduce the need for customer interaction, saving time and money by freeing employees to perform other tasks. This has the downside of alienating customers who are not particularly tech-savvy, though, and customers might complain when they inevitably experience problems with the system.

Before you can choose the correct POS system for your business, you must first understand what the consumer needs. From a retail perspective, something with a barcode scanner integrated into it would be ideal, as well as a reliable printer. A restaurant, on the other hand, might need a scheduling program that can handle reservations. The same can be said for a hotel or salon, which might need booking systems. Therefore, we urge you to carefully consider what the best fit for your business’ customers is.

Understand POS features

While there might be many different POS systems to choose from, there are even more decisions to be made in terms of specific hardware and software. Other features you should consider include:

  • Inventory control
  • Payment processing
  • Return pricing
  • Labor management
  • Integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) capabilities including supply chain management
  • Reports and analysis

These features are some of the most common ones that provide high-efficiency gain for businesses when used with a POS system. With integrated ERP capabilities, companies can more effectively control the supply chain right from the POS system, taking inventory management to the next level. Out of all of the above, we think this has the possibility to make the biggest difference for businesses.

Let’s use a restaurant owner as an example. With a label maker, you can easily manage inventory by adding barcodes to products on your shelves. This helps staff know when it is time to order more products, and it is only possible in any easy capacity thanks to a POS system utilizing the above system.

POS systems can even handle the time management aspect of your business, including scheduling, reservations, employee time cards, and other needs. Thanks to cloud-hosted solutions, scheduling, and other employee information can easily be shared online so that businesses can ensure they are always staffed accordingly.

If you correctly utilize all of the features of your POS system, you might be surprised by how much control this gives you over aspects of your business that you might not have foreseen. You can even customize reports and analyze operational information, giving you the knowledge it needs to make informed decisions.

AE Technology Group can help your business implement the correct POS system for its needs. To learn more, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

How to Get Control of Your Email Inbox

Photo of computer screen up close showing email inbox with 179 unread emails

As you read this sentence, think about the current state of your email inbox. Is it clean and crisp with only a handful of new emails on a daily basis, or is it an entangled mess filled with hundreds (or even thousands) of unread and often unimportant emails? If it’s the latter, you’re in luck; we’ve got some tips to help you finally get a grip on your email inbox.

First, we need to start by controlling the level of emails that flow into your email inbox. Let’s discuss some of these methods.

Send Fewer Emails

This is a pretty simple rule; if you cut down on the number of emails you send, you should, in theory, cut down on the number of emails you receive. Generally speaking, email is meant to be used (and is most effective) for tasks that are not immediately pressing. While we understand that this isn’t always possible, even a little action on your part could make a world of difference. If you send one fewer email a day, you can potentially cut out at least one email in your inbox per day.

Depending on the topic, you might be able to use an instant messaging application or a phone in place of the email. These are generally more reserved for immediately pressing tasks rather than the passive nature of an email, but you do cut down on the chance that your email will be lost in the ether.

Unsubscribe from Email Lists

A business owner needs to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in their chosen industry, and doing so might entail subscribing to email lists. These are automated lists that send you emails on a regular basis, and if you don’t keep up with them, it is easy to lose track of how many you have subscribed to. These quickly add up and can often drown out emails that actually are important.

A good rule to follow is that, if you have not opened an email newsletter from a particular organization or website in the past month, it’s safe to say that you are no longer interested in reading their content. Granted, some email newsletters are monthly, but if they are, they shouldn’t be clogging up your inbox. We’re talking about the real offenders that might send you several messages a week (or even a day). Many email newsletters have an Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the message, but you should be careful with these; the last thing you want is to walk into a phishing attack.

Archive Whenever Possible

The idea of deleting an important email can paralyze you with inaction. While you could organize your inbox into folders and other segments for management, even this can sometimes create situations where you start to accrue too many messages. The fact that you don’t know what will be important in the next couple of months or years is also a challenge, as you cannot possibly expect to predict the future.

An email archiving system that is backed up and maintained by your organization can resolve these issues. If you have important messages that you need to keep around, you can simply archive them in a system where they can be searched for and pulled out at a later date. Most cloud-based platforms like Office 365’s Outlook or Google Workspace’s Gmail give you this capability.

Schedule Time Every Day

If you are having trouble making a dent in your inbox, you just do whatever you would normally do for a large and daunting task: break it down into more manageable chunks and chip away at it over time. If you delete or archive more emails a day than you receive, you should theoretically be able to clean it up in a respectable amount of time. Devote a short amount of time each morning or afternoon to checking and managing your inbox. You might be surprised by how much this helps in the long run.

Implement Spam Protection and Technology Solutions

AE Technology Group can help your business manage its email and implement great new technology solutions that keep threatening or time-wasting messages out of your inbox. To learn more about how we can help you with spam and email management solutions, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

6 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers

cyber security tips

As we transition into the #WorkFromHome life, staying safe remains our top priority. Don’t forget to consider data security and cyber threats while working remote. Viruses of a different kind can throw a wrench in productivity and compromise core systems and information. Stay safe at home with these 6 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers.

Best Practices for The Best Remote Office Experience

Transitions are the perfect opportunity to review best practices and ensure your company is operating at maximum efficiency. Preventing cyber attacks begins with a thorough review of your organization’s security and compliance. 

Review employee password requirements and ensure your company is following the recommended security protocol to keep your sensitive information from slipping into the wrong hands. Protect your clients and your team by requiring two-factor authentication and passwords that consistent of a phrase or sentence with capitals, numbers, and special characters.

Ensure employees have logged out of all devices aside from their designated work computer. Be clear with your team that personal devices should not be used for work purposes. These devices are unsecured and may compromise integral security. This includes transferring files with confidential information between work and personal devices.

Support your crew with sufficient resources such as tablets, work phones, and laptops for on-the-go business instead. For easy data transfer, opt for convenient and secured Cloud storage solutions.

Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Portals, email, and CRM’s aren’t the only platforms that require strong security. Remote work should always be conducted via a secured Wi-Fi network. This ensures that sensitive information is not transmitted through compromised channels. For staff that are currently working from home, offer a DIY IT workshop to get them started. 

Change the router password to meet best practice standards and consider installing firmware updates and cracking down on encryption levels. 

Protect Privacy

Cyberspace is a dangerous realm. You never know who may be viewing your information and tracking your supposedly private IP address. From advertisers to phishing scams, accessing sensitive information and demographics is surprisingly easy.

Get your team outfitted with the protection of a virtual private network or VPN. A company wide VPN supports secured browsing by masking the IP address (or digital footprint) of each user. These helpful tools encrypt internet traffic, keeping company data protected and private information secured.

Check for Updates

Good anti-virus software is only as good as its last update. Think twice before hitting the “later” button on daily or weekly updates. Although keeping software and applications in top shape can seem like an extra annoyance in your busy day, these updates contain essential information and patches for vulnerabilities.

Firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software are the most critical components to prioritize. These programs are constantly adapting to capture and quarantine new, evolving threats. Ensure an automatic update schedule has been enabled. Taking a few minutes to streamline applications will save you a lot of grief in the event of a cyber attack.

Don’t Be a Victim of Cyber Crooks

There’s no better time for a company refresher on the importance of cyber safety. Phishing scams are on the rise since the increase in remote workers. These devious cyber crooks typically operate by sending scam emails, calls, or texts in order to gain personal and financial information on their target. Make your team aware of recent scams and threats while keeping each member up to speed on what they can do to prevent a data breach.

A few SOP’s for remote work might include a cheatsheet of information you should never give out via phone, text, or email, as well as helpful tips on how to spot a phishing scheme.

Be Prepared

One positive element to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is that the current situation underscores the value of preparedness. Data loss can happen to anyone, whether by human error or cyber breach. Be sure your company is prepared with a backup plan in case the unexpected happens.

Investing in a robust Cloud storage system provides a sufficient backup in case of disaster. This simple solution is typically the most convenient and cost effective for small to mid-sized businesses. If all else fails, AETechnology Group has your back(up) with disaster recovery options for our Long Island and New York business clients.

Contact our experts today for all your remote work needs as we continue to empower businesses to prioritize safety alongside productivity.

Should I Hire An IT Guy Or An MSP?

should i hire an it guy or an msp

Keeping your tech operational is key to helping your business stay on track, and it’s likely you’ve considered a traditional IT team to handle your computer problems. However, sometimes a managed service provider (MSP) can have a lot of benefits over traditional IT. Read on to see if you should hire an IT guy or an MSP.

MSP And IT: What’s The Difference?

Businesses who use traditional IT rely on a person or department within the business to handle any tech problems. Some of their main functions include installing new hardware or software, configuring networks, troubleshooting problems, solving connectivity issues, making sure computer networks are secure, and many other things that happen behind the scenes of your business. IT people are paid members of the staff. One of the main drawbacks of an IT person or team is that their knowledge and time can be limited. 

On the other hand, an MSP puts an entire team of knowledgeable experts at your fingertips. They are always there, whenever you need their services. Unlike an IT team that works on-site at your business, an MSP works remotely. While many businesses may see this as a drawback when it comes to hiring an IT guy or an MSP, but an MSP is usually only a quick phone call away. 

Benefits Of An MSP

There are plenty of benefits of hiring an MSP to handle your information technology systems. For example, they’re always there when you need them. Unlike a traditional IT team, they don’t call out sick or take vacations, which means that no matter when something goes wrong, you’ll be able to get it fixed quickly. And tech problems don’t always happen during normal working hours.  An MSP is often on call 24/7.

One of the biggest benefits of using an MSP, though, is the depth of experience and knowledge they can offer you. An MSP is comprised of professionals who all have different levels of expertise and useful skill sets. They have diverse qualifications and can collaborate whenever it’s required. A traditional IT team just doesn’t have the same level of knowledge that an MSP has. This means they can help you spot problems in your systems before they even arise. They can offer preventative measures, while an IT team may only fix problems after they happen. 

Another great thing about an MSP is that they are an extremely affordable option for many businesses. Hiring IT onto your staff means you have to pay them, even when they have downtime. In the long run, an MSP can save your business money, and they often offer a range of service options, so you can find something that fits into your budget. And as your businesses grow, you can scale up their services to meet your needs. 

MSP – The Right Choice For Your Business?

No matter what size your business is, when it comes to hiring an IT guy or an MSP, an MSP is a great choice. They offer a range of options at the right price and the reassurance that you will always have tech support on hand if something goes wrong.

An MSP can handle all your tech needs so you can worry about making sure your business keeps running smoothly. Before hiring an MSP, make sure they have the right training and certification for their team members. Read reviews online and talk with their team so that you know they’ll be a good fit.

If you’re looking to hire an MSP with the skills and expertise your business needs to be successful, contact us for more information. 

Keep The Spirit of Teamwork Alive With These Tips

cyber security tips

If the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced you and your employees to work from home, you may be wondering how you can keep team spirit alive in the weeks to come. If you work in an industry where teamwork is a vital part of your business, you may be concerned that your bonds as a team, and your ability to collaborate, may begin to deteriorate as a result of a prolonged period of remote work; however, this does not have to be the case. There are many simple and cost-effective strategies that you can employ to maintain a sense of community amongst your staff even while going an extended period of time apart. Here are just a few of the ways that you can keep the spirit of teamwork alive while working from home.   

Encourage Water Cooler Talk

Water cooler talk and socializing on breaks is essential in creating a sense of community in the workplace. Coworkers build bonds that allow them to work better together, and many people even develop friendships that transfer outside of the workplace during their trips to the water cooler. However, there is often a misconception that time spent socializing at work means lost productivity while the opposite may be true. In fact, there is some evidence that small water cooler breaks can boost productivity by helping relieve stress and improve concentration, and it doesn’t hurt that these breaks help employees to bond.

To maintain this sense of community while your company is working remotely, you should create a designated place for casual conversation where people can go throughout the day, such as in a group-chat application like Slack. Make sure to get the conversation going every day with fun ice breakers and conversation starters such as asking people to share their opinion about the latest episode of The Voice or This is Us, or by asking the highly debated question of whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich.

Schedule Time to Play Games

Another fun way to bond and stay connected while working remotely would be to schedule a few times a week where you and your team play games as a group. Platforms like Kahoot and Steam make it easy for groups to play games together remotely using their interactive platforms. You may even be surprised to learn that these platforms not only keep team spirit up, but they may also help certain team members to come out of their shell, causing your team to actually grows closer. Some games like Codenames are even designed specifically for group-chat platforms, making them easy for you and your team to play remotely.    

Create Competition With Team Fitness Goals

Friendly competition can also be an exciting way to build and maintain relationships amongst your staff during a period of telecommuting. For instance, you could consider splitting your staff into teams and giving the teams fitness goals that they have to collaborate on to achieve. Investing in team Fitbits or similar technology can allow everyone to track their goals, share progress updates, and encourage each other. This is a great way to not only keep team morale up, but it will also encourage physical activity during a time where people may be less active.  

Share Your Hobbies

Considering people are more likely to spend time at home while social distancing protocols are in effect, it is likely that everyone will be spending more time on hobbies or catching up on the latest Netflix series. A great way to promote team spirit would be to encourage people to talk about what they are doing, watching, or reading to pass the time, and create a chat channel that encourages staff to participate in the same activity remotely. For instance, get everyone to agree to read the same book, or watch the same TV show, and set a time to talk about it in a few days. A remote book club can allow staff to bond over shared interests. 

Even if you and your staff work from home, this does not mean that you can’t have team spirit. Contact us to learn more about steps that you can take to keep team morale high while working from home during the coronavirus.