Inside our POS software company part 8

This latest video behind the scenes at our Point of Sale software company introduces another long-term Tower veteran Mike Kite. Mike manages our installations process, helping transition people through installing our system – including managing and testing all hardware we supply.

This video provides another excellent natural and unscripted insight into Tower Systems.

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Poor hardware quality frustrates retailers using POS software

We switched another retailer over to our Point of Sale software recently and at the same time replaced their computer hardware.

Poor quality hardware had been a problem for this retailer, cheap hardware not suited to high volume retail transactions.

With the sales counter the core of the business it is essential that POS hardware operates without fail.

This is why we sell Hewlett Packard retail specific computers as well as the HP all in one Point of Sale unit (pictured). The HP All-in-One POS unit is easy to setup, a breeze to support and offers clean access at the retail sales register. The durable steel chassis will withstand the prolonged wear and tear typical in retail. The touchscreen display is liquid- and dust-resistant. Use fingertips, fingernails, a stylus or credit card edge – anything at all and it works a treat.

While we are primarily a software company, we are often asked for recommendations and do often supply hardware with our software.  We happily recommend the HP All-inOne POS unit for its elegance, simplicity and ideal service of many retail requirements.  It hits technology at the counter beautifully.

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3 year on-site warranty peace of mind for POS software retailers

The three year on site warranty provided with the HP computers we supply as part of our retail management software solution is loved by our customers. Just knowing that they have three years of on site warranty coverage from a respected hardware manufacture offers tremendous peace of mind.

By partnering with HP, we have been able to focus our attention on software, our specialisation, and leave hardware experts to focus on hardware and after sales service.

The three year on-site warranty coverage for HP hardware is a tremendous point of difference for us, something customers talk about and love in the marketplace.

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Acknowledging HP partner status

HP has recently acknowledged our business partner status by providing this plaque for placement in the office.  As a partner of HP we have access to additional benefits with which we are able to better serve our customers.

Since switching to HP computers the feedback from customers has been wonderful. Besides the excellent speed and quality of the hardware, the peace of mind from the three year on site HP warranty included in the price is appreciated and respected.

We work with HP on a range of levels, beyond mere supply of hardware. Their insights into global trends, especially their retail insights, help broaden our perspective.  This is why it’s called a partnership – it goes beyond traditional hardware supply and we like that.

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HP POS hardware upgrade offer from Tower Systems

We are thrilled to be in a position to offer retailers a special deal on HP POS hardware including their terrific all in one unit and retail specific computers. The deal is a discount of 10%, three years on site warranty coverage and free time for installation assistance.

We could not have made this offer without the partnership of our friends at Hewlett Packard … we are a recognised Business Partner.

Partnerships are important in the POS retail space as they deliver better support relationships. Support is vital to retailers who can afford little downtime. HP recognises this and has put together a package of support standing behind ruggedised hardware designed just for the retail environment.

The quality of HP gear and this latest price offer makes upgrading now compelling for our 2,500 small business retailer customers.

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Taking the iPad on the road

One the benefits of our recent retail study tours overseas is the enhanced connections with a broad range of suppliers of products which add value to what we do here. One such relationship is with a business which provides in-car frame which hold the iPad and similar tablet devices.  This is useful for distribution businesses as well as business situations where managers or owners are on the road wan need to remain in regular data contact with the retail store.

At the CES trade show in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago we saw several iPad frames for vehicles. Most were designed to work in almost any type of vehicle and to provide easy and safe access to the iPad.

With our newspaper deliver run lists, sales reports and other facilities available on the iPad, and have been since the launch of the device, kist like this for placing the iPad in the car are a boon.

It is insights like this which help us show off the value of our investment in making ourselves aware of overseas innovation.

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Hardware upgrade offer for Tower Systems customers

Tower Systems last week published details of a hardware upgrade offer to its customers.  The special offer is for a limited time and is available on HP hardware. The additional bonus is that all HP hardware comes with a three year on site warranty. So, we’re offering leading brand name high-quality hardware at very competitive prices and with a three year on site warranty backed by HP.

Hardware deals don;t get much better than this for small business retailers.

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Transparency on computer hardware prices

As with all of our pricing, we are transparent on hardware prices.  This provides our current and future customers with certainty and transparency around our pricing.  With the Australian dollar at a near eight week high at the moment, our pricing approach means that our customers can be certain that what we quote today will hold for the agreed period of the quote.

The other factor which feed stable pricing from us is that we deal with brand name hardware: HP, Kyocera, Epson.  These international brand companies take appropriate steps to enable them to deliver consistent pricing through periods of currency fluctuation.

While we are a software company first and foremost, we understand that retailers who prefer to purchase hardware from us will want to do so with transparency and consistency.

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HP All-inOne POS unit offers retailers a fast, elegant and clean sales counter solution

We are loving working with HP All-in-One POS unit.  It’s easy to setup, a breeze to support and offers clean access at the retail sales register.

After looking around at POS hardware for years and trying many devices, our experience in recent months with the HP All-in-One POS unit has been wonderful.  All of our help desk team has been POS support certified, meaning we can offer a deeper level of assistance to our customers and there y access the long term on site warranty coverage.

This unit is excellent for just about any retail situation we are finding.  It has a 15-inch diagonal resistive touchscreen display, magnetic stripe reader, and two-line customer facing display.

The durable steel chassis will withstand the prolonged wear and tear typical in retail. The touchscreen display is liquid- and dust-resistant. Use fingertips, fingernails, a stylus or credit card edge – anything at all and it works a treat.

While we are primarily a software company, we are often asked for recommendations and do often supply hardware with our software.  We happily recommend the HP All-inOne POS unit for its elegance, simplicity and ideal service of many retail requirements.  It hits technology at the counter beautifully.

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Hewlett Packard move demonstrates commitment to quality

Our move to Hewlett Packard computers designed for the rugged needs of retail businesses demonstrates a commitment by Tower Systems to quality.

That we have achieved this move with very little change to our prices indicates the support we are providing to retailers using our Point of Sale software.

Locking in a three year on-site warranty backed by Hewett Packard is proof of our commitment to service.

We are thrilled with the point of difference which these moves demonstrate, especially when we see competitors head down the road of even cheaper no-name brand hardware.

A retail business without a computer because of hardware failure faces significant costs.  This needs to be taken into account when purchasing hardware.  The cheap deal of today is most likely not the best value deal for the business for tomorrow and beyond.

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New Point of Sale Terminal From Hewlett Packard

hppos.JPGAfter considerable research and thorough in-house testing, Tower Systems is pleased to announce the availability of the HP Touch Terminal POS hardware unit for use with our Point of Sale software.

This compact, all-in-one POS terminal offers flexibility and style with the reliability and performance you expect to receive from a product with the HP brand.

Ruggedised for tough retail conditions, yet stylish enough for the most high-end of retail settings, this HP all-in-one point of sale is an ideal sales counter tool.  We will be showing the HP device at trade shows starting later this month.

While we remain a software company first and foremost, we ensure that we are up with the latest hardware opportunities and make them available to customers who which to purchase a hardware and software package through us.

Don’t be put off by the photo – we wanted to show off the touchscreen and customer display in the one shot.  The computer is just below the touch screen.

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Smartbox range popular with retailers

smartbox.jpgThe Smartbox range of gift experiences which we released to our customers last week has generated considerable interest. Supported by good merchandising options and excellent marketing, we feel that the Smartbox range will generate good business.  Tower retailers can access the Smartbox range for no cost.

These gift experiences are a nice add-on to any sale, a diverse range of products without financial risk.

Smartbox is a well respected international company in this valuable space,

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Testing new Point of Sale hardware

touchscreen_pc.JPGWe regularly assess new hardware as to suitability for our needs.  While suppliers often come to us with hardware to consider, we also go out and buy hardware for more comprehensive testing.  This is what we did with the touch screen computer in the photo.

We’d heard good reports about this unit and wanted to test it ourselves.  Indeed, we were excited about what looked like a sexy unit.  Borrowing was not an option for the testing we wanted to do so we bought one.

After exhaustive testing, we found the unit not up to scratch for the needs of our retailers.  It’s too slow and physically cumbersome, especially for high volume retail.

While it’s a risk to spend the money on hardware like this, the investment pays off by knowing what hardware to avoid and what hardware we recommend.

The downside is that we find ourselves left with odd bits of hardware which we either give away or sell for far less than we paid.

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Preparing computer hardware for extreme weather

Here are some tips to help computer hardware in retail businesses cope with the extreme weather this summer:

  • Remove excess dust.  Do this with care when the computer is turned off.  better still, get it done by an expert.  If you want to do it yourself, disconnect the power and call cables, take the computer outside and clear with compressed air from a can.
  • Ensure there is excellent ventilation around all the equipment.  Remove all unnecessary clutter, papers etc.
  • Ensure you have a UPS, uninterruptible power supply, for each computer.
  • Keep your aircon or evaporative cooler unit away from the computer.
  • Keep water away from the computer – water bottles on hot days get spilt.
  • Don’t have too many devices on a power board.

The main computer box generates considerable heat.  Take the above precautions and you are less likely to experience heat related outage this summer.

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Upgrading the hardware list

Thanks to recent development and testing we are in a position to extend the list of hardware which is approved to operate with our software.  The new list will be published later this week and will include additional printers and other devices.  This increases options for our users.

We have a structured process for adding hardware to this list – it needs to pass considerable tests and be backed by good manufacturer support.

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Comparing the price of receipt printer

t88iv.jpgThe Epson TM-T88IV is a good workhorse receipt printer, ideal for our high volume customers.  We use it in our own retail businesses and recommend it as do many other POS software companies.  Our price for the Epson TM-T88IV is $525 including GST.  This has been our price for a year despite the fall in the Australian dollar.  I mention it today because our price excellent.  It is evidence of our commitment to keep hardware prices low and help our customers save money when upgrading hardware.

It would be reasonable to ask what this has to do with software.  Our relationship with our customers is more than just for our software.  We are often a hardware supplier, general IT consultant and business advisor.  The commitment we make on price is important to us, even for a receipt printer.

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Heatwave hurts retail hardware

The heatwave in Victoria and South Australia this week is taking its toll on computer hardware running in retail businesses. In some areas, rolling blackouts have been a challenge for retailers without appropriate battery backup and power filtering precautions. In other cases, heat inside the shop of 45 degrees Celsius and more is too much for the computers to remain stable.  Here is advice we have published to our user community to help:

  1. Ensure there is good ventilation. Clear out unnecessary papers and other junk crammed around the hardware.
  2. If the computer is in a very hot place and is acting in an unstable way, consider training a small fan to circulate air. Do not remove the cover because most boxes are designed for optimum airflow over important components with the cover on.
  3. Place something under the case to lift it off the ground or shelf (but keep it stable) to improve airflow.
  4. Reduce internal dust. Turn everything off, unplug the computer box, remove the cover, blow out dust, place the cover back on.
  5. You will have more water around for drinking – be careful. Computers do not like to drink.
  6. Don’t have too many devices running off the one socket.
  7. Use a battery backup to deliver clean power in the event of a blackout or power spike. We sell these.

The heat problem is compounded in some situations by a considerable build up of dust in the computers.  Some preventative measures would have stopped this in most cases.

In our offices it is not too bad since we have airconditioning.  However, late today it was struggling – mainly because we have so many (warm) people in the office.

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Holding hardware prices

We have made a decision to delay passing on increased hardware prices for another two weeks. This provides prospects and existing customers considering upgrades to purchase at pre falling Australian dollar prices. In some cases, our decision will save up to 30% of some key items.

We have taken this decision as to prove our commitment to help our small business customers as much as we are able.

Our decision has been communicates with our users and sales prospects through our weekly newsletter and sales team contact.

We are yet to make a decision about hardware/software package pricing.

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Hardware prices starting to move

We are seeing computer hardware prices increasing as a result of the weak Australian dollar. Increases are ranging from between 10% and 20%. To protect our customers we have agreed to absorb the price increase for any orders placed up to the end of this month. This allows people talking with our sales team to complete negotiations before new prices apply.

We are accepting orders for up to two months in advance for people who want to lock in the current hardware prices.

Small business owners looking at buying computer hardware ought to be wary of any sales person saying there will not be a price rise. While there may be a few suppliers legitimately able to absorb this, others would have been selling with an excellent margin or they have a creative way of saving the cost of the Aussie dollar driven price rise which they cannot avoid.

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