Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Welcome to Some New Customers!

It has been a very busy summer for all of us and fall is looking busy as well as I am headed to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington State, Utah, Idaho and Texas over the coming weeks.

For now, a quick shout out to some retailers who recently joined the family:

  • Harvest Moon Health Foods - Utah - Card Defender
  • May Janes House of Glass - Washington State - POS Consulting
  • Global Wine and Spirits - Kansas - Card Defender
  • Mac Spirits - Arkansas - New Hardware and Card Defender

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Advice on POS Systems for Health Food and Vitamin Stores

Wow - so I have been contacted by quite a few health food or vitamin retail stores over the last couple of weeks. I appreciate all of you letting me stop by your stores to learn more about your business and what you want in a retail point of sale system!

It is clear that you have some very loyal customers and provide product knowledge that goes beyond what a typical retail store can offer. As for POS systems, your wish list included the following (aside from the normal core POS functions):
  • Loyalty or preferred customer program 
  • Bundling items together and selling as a package
  • Gift cards
  • E-commerce integration
  • Detailed product information at POS screen
  • Ability to search for product based on need (eg: natural sleep aids)
  • Re-order points for commonly sold items
  • Signed waivers from customers who purchase raw products
  • Expiration dates
So far, we've narrowed down some solutions based on your business size as well as your existing POS system. Retail Management Hero and Cloud Retailer are both contenders in addition to LightSpeed and NCR CounterPoint so we will continue the process of looking at demos and costs for each of these programs.

Do you have a health food or vitamin retail store? Have something to add to the above list? Want some advice on possible solutions? Please contact me at 208-340-5632 or for more information.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Seasonal Pricing for Cloud Retailer/Ability to Change Number of Active Licenses

Note that I use the term "seasonal pricing" in reference to the ability to add or reduce the number of licenses that you are paying for based on business demand. For example, a nursery/garden center may have one POS license all year (at $50/month) but may add 2 more licenses from March - September (at an additional $100/month just for that time period).

Another example might be a retail business that sells at trade shows, expos, or similar off site events and just needs an extra license or two for 1-2 months out of each year.

Do you have a business that is somewhat seasonal? If so, Cloud Retailer now offers seasonal pricing for adding additional lanes during your business season!

As long as you keep one license active year round, you can add additional Cloud Retailer POS licenses as needed for the busy season with just a one month commitment. Fees will vary (but will be provided in writing ahead of time so you know what to expect).

This is great for any retailer who has a busy season or maybe an annual/semi annual event that requires additional POS systems.

Now you can have those extra POS stations without the on-going expense during slower periods (or add additional POS stations just for special events)! This could save a typical retailer $500 to $1000 annually.

For more information, please visit , email or call 888-267-7483.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

When Free is not Really Free

We've been down this road so many times but I keep running in to retailers who have offers for free POS systems or free upgrades from Microsoft Dynamics RMS to Retail Management Hero.  When I say "free", it means that the retailer has been quoted no software, hardware, installation, training or similar costs.

Aside from official license swap promotions, the costs for a new POS system or upgrading an existing POS system are there. These costs are likely either associated with a maintenance agreement or within merchant services rates. I've also see cancellation clauses or contract termination fees of up to $2500 associated with these types of sales.

What should you do when reviewing a quote for a free upgrade or free point of sale system:

  1. Look for hidden costs like a maintenance or service agreement
  2. Look for cancellation, change or termination clauses that have costs
  3. Look for additional monthly or annual charges 
  4. Look for additional per transaction or gateway fee's
  5. Compare the merchant services rates against other merchant services companies to see if you are being charged higher than average rates
  6. Make sure that you are not being locked in to any sort of long term contract (more than 1 year)
  7. Add up any of the above and compare against other POS system costs to calculate an overall total cost (I would strongly recommend calculating all costs over 5 to 7 years to see the "big picture")

If you are working with someone that promises free but hides costs in the paperwork, is that someone that you want to be doing business with? Look for a vendor that clearly defines all costs - whether they be up front or on-going.

Need help with the above? You can reach me at 208-340-5632 or for some assistance (no charge for up to 30 minutes for phone or email help).

Monday, August 6, 2018

Discount Program Expanded

The popular 10% discount program that I offer to non-profit and Christian organizations has been expanded to include Goodwill and Salvation Army stores as well as stores who are part of a US based retail association.

The discount applies to consulting services, POS hardware and POS software.

Please contact me at 208-340-5632 or for more information.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Should I Keep Using Microsoft Dynamics RMS Through July 2021? Should I Keep Investing in RMS?

Should I Keep Using Microsoft Dynamics RMS Through July 2021?

The recent slew of payment industry requirements and conflicts with Windows 10, have prompted many of you to contact me regarding whether you will still be able to use Microsoft Dynamics RMS (and HQ) through the final July 2021 end of life date.

This question has been on my mind as I travel to meet with RMS users across the country - especially with those of you on HQ who have 5-40 locations and can't quickly switch to Retail Management Hero (RMH) or Cloud Retailer.

At this time, it appears that the main issues are related to the native payment processing used in RMS as well as outdated payment processing solutions like the 1000 series pin pads and Windows XP. The best short and long term solution here is to put in Card Defender which works with RMS as well as Retail Management Hero and Cloud Retailer. Replacing older Windows XP with Windows 7 Pro or Windows 10 Pro is also required at this point.

We are going to continue to see new industry requirements at least every 3-6 months so eventually the age of RMS will catch up with itself (we are talking about a program that was released in the early 2000's based on a software program from the late 1990's).

Single location retailers can basically make the switch to RMH or Cloud Retailer when time and budget allow or put in Card Defender and deal with RMS come 2020 or 2021.

Chains need a bit more time to plan ahead - any MANY of you have contacted me to discuss via phone or in person. Given that we are seeing issues related to Windows 10, SQL Server, and payment processing hardware, I would highly recommend having a plan "A" and a plan "B". Plan "A" would be to update and replace all hardware as needed now (including adding Card Defender if needed) and plan for the replacement of RMS and HQ come 2019 or 2020 - I would not recommend waiting until 2021 as we don't know what exactly might come around come 2020 and 2021.

Plan "B" would be some sort of contingency plan to switch POS systems sooner that later if some sort of failure occurs. Basically plan "B" would be an expedited version of the second part of plan "A".

So the short answer to my original question is that I am somewhat less confident in RMS being fully functional through July 2021 - especially when it comes to trying to use the native payment processing. Thus, you should have two plans of action - just in case.

Should I Keep Investing in RMS?
This is a tough question. It depends on how much longer you plan on using RMS and what point of sale software program you will be replacing RMS with. An example would be investing in Card Defender for Microsoft RMS. This is a good investment since Card Defender takes some of the security risks out of RMS when it comes to payment industry requirements AND Card Defender works with some of the RMS replacement programs like Cloud Retailer and Retail Management Hero.

If you are looking at 3rd party plugs ins for RMS like age verification or the ability to email receipts, then it depends on how much longer you plan on using RMS. If RMS is being replaced in 1-2 years, then I'd seriously consider the overall cost versus what not having a specific feature/function is costing you in terms of lost revenue or labor for manual processes. However, if you plan on using RMS for another 2+ years, then the investment likely makes sense.

Same for investing in new hardware (computers, cash drawers, receipt printers, etc). If you are incurring a lot of break/fix costs, then investing in new hardware makes sense. Just make sure that you use industry standard hardware that is supported by most POS software programs.

The short answer is basically looking at the investment using the following criteria:

  1. Does the investment solve an issue that costs our organization lost revenue or extra labor costs?
  2. Will this investment carry through to our next POS software program?
  3. When will we be replacing RMS? Will this investment be in use long enough to offer an ROI?

Have I completely confused you? I think that I have confused myself! I have lost count on how many retailers, chains, and franchisee's have contacted me for sales, service and on-site paid consulting.

If I can help related to sales, service or paid on-site consulting specific to RMS and HQ, please let me know by emailing or calling 208-340-5632. I would enjoy the opportunity to learn more about your organization!