Monday, November 28, 2016

New Merchant Services Options for QuickBooks Point of Sale

As you know, I used to sell and support QuickBooks point of sale - I even still have a demo copy of the software on one of my laptops. QuickBooks point of sale is a simple and easy to install and use point of sale software program for lower volume retail stores and museums. My main complaint about QuickBooks POS was that you had to use Intuit for merchant services (or a separate credit card terminal).

That is no longer the case as there are now third party gateways that work with QuickBooks POS for merchant services (credit and debit card processing). This only applies to the non-cloud version of QuickBooks POS and is being offered by a reputable merchant services company.

Call (208-340-5632) or email (kevinantosh@gmail.com) me for more information and I can connect you with the correct person who has more details on costs and equipment options.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Microsoft Dynamics RMS Software Training Tutorials

With 38,000+ stores still using the Microsoft Dynamics RMS point of sale software in the US, some of the more frequent requests that I receive fall under the "how to" or "how do I" category. Many RMS users have upgraded to the most recent version of Microsoft RMS in order to be supported through July of 2021 and want to make sure that they are using RMS to its fullest.

While the tutorials found on the website below are not a substitute for formal training from a Microsoft Dynamics RMS Partner, they are helpful overviews and self study materials.

You can find the tutorials here: http://www.rite.us/Support/MicrosoftRMSSupport/RMSTutorials.aspx

Do contact me at 208-340-5632 or kevinantosh@gmail.com with any questions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Public Sector RFP Problems

Update 01/18/2017:
I've actually had a few government entities utilize the information below to prepare better requests - one has even signed on for a 17 location/30 concurrent user Cloud Retailer point of sale system - nice!

Wow - it always amazes me to review any sort of point of sale related RFQ/RFI/RFP from a government entity as they are normally well over 50 pages long but manage to miss critical details.  The one that I am reviewing right now provides some conflicting requirements, fails to include detailed information on existing equipment, and requests accounting functions from a point of sale system (without noting if accounting software is already in place or if accounting software is needed).

Thankfully, they have included a clarification period in the bid response period which is great!  If you are a government entity, or even a larger organization searching for a new point of sale system, please considering the following:

  • Have a team comprised from one person from each department develop the point of sale RFP
  • No one member of the team has higher say than other members. For example, IT does not have veto rights over someone representing the cashier staff. 
  • You do need to have a project leader to keep the group focused and on task
  • Have a replacement process in place should one member of the group need to be replaced or removed.
  • Do remove members of the group who are only focused on their own departments needs or agenda and are not capable of seeing the big picture (I'm always amazed that organizations keep employees who can't see past their own agenda - regardless of what position they hold. Offer them retraining or show them the door as they are hurting more than they are helping. Interestingly enough, I've seen this equally among women and men, and yes, I have told them to pack it up and move on).
  • Seek out multiple experts as needed that are unbiased or speak with other agencies who may have gone through the process recently - you can learn so much from them and they may even be able to provide you with some documentation that can be used.
  • Keep in mind that you are asking a potential vendor to spend 20-40 hours preparing documentation so provide them with plenty of time to complete the documentation.
  • Be realistic on expectations. For example, I had one member of a POS RFP team insist that the vendor compensate the organization for system outages. That is completely unrealistic. Does the power company compensate you when the power is out? Does Dell, IBM, or HP compensate you when a computer is down and needs to be replaced?  Keep the requirements realistic or you may find it tough to find anyone to respond.
  • Make sure that the RFP/RFQ/RFI is announced through proper channels. It would reflect poorly on your organization if the bid was awarded and a local company was missed and filed a freedom of information request exposing that your organization failed to include local companies in the process. 
  • Same goes for transparency. It is really easy to tell when a RFQ/RFP is being sent out even though a vendor has already been selected and the bid weighted in that vendors favor. Do this and expect a freedom of information request and a lot of media coverage that reflects poorly on your organization. I'm aware of one government entity that selected a vendor and bypassed the correct process. After spending well over $150 Million (!) in tax payers money, the vendor could not deliver a finished product and the entity had to almost start from scratch.
OK - enough for now. I realize that point of sale systems are a somewhat niche area of knowledge which one reason why this blog exists and why I pass along free advice.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Support Hours Double Standard?

Having worked in retail and restaurant management, one thing that has bugged me over the years is why companies who support point of sale systems charge extra for support outside of "normal" business hours? After all, a product sold in a retail store sells for the same price whether it is 10am on a Monday or 7pm on a Saturday (sales/promotions aside). So why does support for a point of sale system cost more when that support is needed on weekends or after 5pm on weekdays?

One reasoning is related to labor costs in having a support on stand-by for after hours support. But, some minor scheduling adjustments can keep the labor costs inline.  This also applies to the salespeople who sell point of sale systems - no one should have signed on thinking that they are going to be working an 8-5, Monday-Friday job selling cash registers and point of sale systems. Retailers sometimes only have time to chat before the store opens, once late afternoon/early evening part time help arrives, or after closing. In fact, most of the folks who contact me do so during the 4pm to 7pm hours - which is fine by me (assuming that I'm not traveling or engaged in other activities).

I'm going to be making a push that point of sale companies expand their support hours to at least extend in to the early to mid evening on weekdays but not be charging extra above the normal support rates. It's pretty easy to schedule a tech to work 10am - 7pm one day a week (and no technician supporting point of sale systems should have signed on thinking that they would only be working 8-5, Monday - Friday).

I feel that the companies that offer this added value will see an increase in sales and an increase in customer satisfaction. This should also reduce the need to call-back customers who have support needs but could not be reached (so more effective in reducing voice mail tag and email tag).

Feed back on this concept is welcomed and appreciated - you can comment anonymously below or use the contact form to the right to reach me as well.




Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New Lower Cost Terminal Option from Card Defender and Heartland

I wanted to let folks know that Card Defender now has a lower cost terminal with a larger screen available for the Card Defender EMV/Chip Card solution for the Microsoft RMS point of sale software.

Exclusively available through Heartland for the time being, the PAX PX5 terminal features a larger screen than other Card Defender terminals and a lower cost as Heartland will be providing the terminal instead of Card Defender providing the terminal.  This means that only the Card Defender software and labor chargers for installation and remote training will apply - making for an over cost reduction of around $100 - $200 per terminal depending on what your Heartland rep would like to offer you.  Here is what the terminal looks like (please ignore the sample screen images as these are stock images from PAX):



Card Defender will continue to offer processor agnostic terminals as well for RMS which are slightly more expensive but also allow you to pick, choose and change which company you use for merchant services.

As always, please contact me at 208-340-5632 or kevinantosh@gmail.com with any questions or clarifications.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Card Defender Checklist

Wow - fresh off some new installs in Idaho, Colorado and Utah and I've had multiple people email and call me about the Card Defender EMV/Chip Card add-on for the Microsoft Dynamics RMS point of sale software.

As I've already posted some information about Card Defender and links to videos showing how Card Defender works with RMS, here is a checklist related to some of the Card Defender options and requirements:
  • Cabled Ethernet or Wireless? 
I strongly recommend cabled for security reasons - just make sure that you have a router or switch near where the terminal will be placed.
  • Available electrical outlet near where the terminal will be placed?
Terminal should be plugged in to a good quality surge suppressor, line conditioner, battery back-up or similar device.
  • Do you want to accept NFC/contact-less payments like Apple Pay and Google Wallet?
  • Do you need to accept pin based debit?
  • What company do you use for merchant services/credit card processing services? 
Has to be Heartland, First Data or TSYS - keep in mind that the companies name does not matter as much as who they use for processing.
  • What version of the Microsoft RMS software are you using? 
Has to be RMS version 1.3 or higher.
  • How many check out lanes do you have?
  • Are you using Microsoft RMS HQ? 
Card Defender works with HQ - just some extra setup steps to complete so the data sync's correctly.
  • Are you using any add-ons for RMS like e-commerce or customer loyalty programs? 
This normally does not effect Card Defender but better to check ahead of time.
  • Are you also taking phone or mail orders that require entering the payment information by hand? 
This requires some thoughts as to whether to use a Card Defender terminal  or not for manually entered payments and how this would effect the batch and close out process.


As a reminder, Card Defender is the only EMV/Chip Card solution for Microsoft RMS (that I am aware of) that is processor agnostic, does not have any additional per-transaction fees, and does not have any contracts at all.

Always, contact me at kevinantosh@gmail.com or 208-340-5632 with any questions or comments.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mixed Greens Expands

Wanted to say thanks to the folks at Mixed Greens in Boise, ID for trusting myself, and the team at RITE, to help them upgrade to the most current version of the Microsoft RMS point of sale software and adding additional checkout lanes in a new expanded location.

I've worked with Mixed Greens for 6 plus years and its great to see a retail business needing to add space and check out lanes to accommodate customers.  Mixed Greens has an excellent assortment of products and easy access for both foot and vehicle traffic.

We added 2 RMS check out lanes to accommodate the growth and also upgraded the existing check out lane to the most current version of RMS.

Be sure to check out their store at 9th Street and West Idaho Street or by visiting their website at http://www.ilikemixedgreens.com/ . I'll also try and get some pictures of the larger space that Mixed Greens will be using at least through the 2016 holiday season - I've already found some cool products to use as Christmas gifts.