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.

Don’t Let Data Backup Concerns Hold Your Business Back

IT Engineer Installs New HDD Hard Drive and Other Hardware into Server Rack Equipment. IT Specialist Doing Maintenance, Running Diagnostics and Updating Hardware.

Your business is not unique in the sense that it stores and transmits data during its day-to-day routines. Whether it’s financial information for your clients or employee records, it is more than likely that your business holds some kind of critical data that your operations rely on throughout the workday. Would your operations be able to recover from a sudden loss of data?

While imagining this worst-case scenario might seem intimidating and downright scary, failing to do so is even worse for your business continuity. You owe it to everyone who works so hard to keep your business going to do all you can to protect it as best as possible. To work toward this goal, we recommend a solution that all businesses should utilize: data backup and disaster recovery. Data backup is one of those things that you don’t necessarily realize its true value until you need it most, and failing to have it could put your future on the line.

Data Backup vs Disaster Recovery

Data backups are copies of your business’ data that you can restore in the event of a disaster that destroys the original. These are particularly useful when you suffer a data loss scenario or security breach. Data backup has been done with tape for years, a process that involves setting the tape, running the backup, and storing the tapes in a place off-site in the event they are needed.

Tape is on its way out, however, due to issues that are prevalent in the way that it is fundamentally designed. Modern technology has addressed these issues, such as slow implementation and deployment speed, user error, and storage space. The cloud makes everything involved with the data backup and disaster recovery process so much easier by eliminating the possibility of user error, speeding up the process, freeing up on-site storage, and fully automating the process.

Data backup is only one part of a successful disaster recovery solution. You also need to make sure that you are actually able to deploy these backups when they are needed most. Since disasters can disrupt operations so profoundly, you want to have your backups ready to go in the event of data breaches, natural disasters, or user errors. Failing to have these data backups available puts your operations in jeopardy not just from an operational standpoint, but also from a cost perspective when you factor in downtime and lost productivity.

Your disaster recovery solution should aim to minimize downtime through the use of a cloud-deployed backup to temporary hardware. It’s not meant to be a permanent solution; it just keeps you in business while you work to replace it. A common rule you might hear about is the 3-2-1 rule of data backup. You should have three copies of your data ready to go at a moment’s notice: one on-site or on-network, one located in the cloud for ease of restoration, and one in a secure off-site data center. This redundancy makes for an ideal solution and certainly one that minimizes downtime and data loss.

Implement BDR Today

A data backup and disaster recovery solution like BDR is the best way to approach your business’ continuity concerns. AE Technology Group has the knowledge and expertise to walk you through this process every step of the way, from determining your specific backup needs to the deployment of solutions. To learn more, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

Remedies to Common VoIP Problems

remedies to common voip problems

If your business has switched from traditional telephony to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), you are aware already of some of the pros and cons. Probably you are saving a lot of money, which is great! But you also may be running into some problems that are affecting the satisfaction of your customers, which you definitely don’t want.

So here are some common VoIP problems that people face, and some ways you can potentially avoid those problems.

According to an article by Sabio Information Technologies, the three main concerns with VoIP are these: having bad call quality, unsatisfactory management of your VoIP system, and a negative experience for your customers on-hold.

Fortunately, knowing what you are getting yourself into and working with a trusted VoIP provider can remedy these issues, or at least minimize them. It is important to discuss with a VoIP provider what you will use calls for. A business that is mostly using phone calls for internal communication has very different needs than a business experiencing a high call volume from customers every day.

Your VoIP provider can help you establish the right set-up to meet your needs. They can let you know the limitations of using VoIP so there are no surprises with what to expect.

AE Technology Group is an IT support provider based out of Long Island that can help you set up a VoIP system for your business if you are looking to make the switch. We can save you thousands of dollars leaving your traditional phone plan behind. And our low monthly rate for hardware, support, and service takes away your stress of troubleshooting and having upset customers. We will take care of your system so it works optimally for you.

So to answer any questions you have about VoIP, contact us today at AE Technology Group.

Custom CRM Solutions: 3 Ways to Tell Your Business Needs CRM

custom crm solutions 3 ways to tell your business needs crm

Many companies still rely on obsolete methods of managing their customer information. They use unorganized spreadsheets or even worse, they rely on their contacts they keep stored in their email software. If you and your staff are relying on these methods, it is time to consider a CRM (customer relationship management) solution.

Custom CRM solutions are more than just software.

They allow you to identify your customer’s needs and wants, where they are in the sales process, as well as helping to provide excellent customer support. CRM can also help you and your staff streamline sales, support, and marketing processes. Below are a few signs that your business is in need of a CRM solution.

Multiple Employees Speak with Your Customers

Chances are you have more than one employee who interacts with your customers. A fast way to annoy your customers is by having them explain their issue from the beginning each time they have to speak with a different person. Without a CRM, it is difficult for each employee to know what has already been addressed with the customer. With a CRM, your staff has access to the customer’s history, from their first interaction to their latest one.

There are Multiple Spreadsheets for Storing Customer Information

Spreadsheets are useful for organizing and storing data. However, they can get out of hand quickly when numerous people are editing the same spreadsheet. Not only that, what happens when your employees begin creating new spreadsheets for themselves that contains important client information? A CRM provides one central location for employees to update customer accounts.

Employees are Leaving and Customer’s are Left Hanging

Employee turnover happens for every business and it is devastating to lose sales and/or support representatives. They are often your customer’s primary point of contact. Once an employee leaves the company, it is difficult for their replacement to develop relationships with customers and prospects without important customer information. What happens if these details are in spreadsheets that cannot be located? A CRM keeps customer data in one place and the data is seamlessly transferred from one employee to another.

A custom CRM solution is an ideal choice for any business in order to develop better customer relationships. You and your employees are able to stay organized and focused on generating more sales. Your customers receive improved customer service and will continue to use your services.

Contact us today and learn how a custom CRM solution can benefit your business.

What alternative email solution is better than Microsoft Exchange?

Microsoft Exchange and its associated Outlook client have been the face of enterprise communications for many years and are pretty much synonymous with the idea of work email. That does not mean, however, that there are not open source alternatives. There is a slate of clients/email servers that replicate the functions of Microsoft’s email solutions and not only have transparent code but plug into Linux server backends. One of the most well-known is Zarafa.

Zarafa released its email client/server technology as open source in 2008. Its distinguishing feature is that it is offered as a full-fledged, transparent replacement for Exchange, giving all its benefits as well as some additional features not available on the proprietary system:

Similarities

Zarafa has maintained an almost identical look and feel compared to Outlook, which is good news for any organization that decides to switch over as users can easily adjust. It not only is familiar in layout but carries similar features such as the address book, calendar, and public folders to which Outlook users have become accustomed. It also provides connectivity with Outlook by means of a plugin. Microsoft uses the proprietary Messaging API (MAPI) for communication between Exchange and Outlook. Zafara has implemented its own version (Mapi4Linux) for compatibility. Like Exchange it can also perform authentication through LDAP and Active Directory.

Differences

Linux is the platform of choice for Zafara, as you would expect, and it plugs into a MySQL database for added security. In addition to the difference in OS, the email client for Zafara is an AJAX-based web-app as opposed to being a stand-alone application like Outlook, giving it high accessibility as well as ease of use from mobile devices. As with all open-source solutions, it is cheaper than Exchange to license but not entirely free, as it comes in Standard, Professional, and Enterprise editions at different price points.