Five Considerations for Point of Sale Hardware and Software

Whether you own an apparel boutique, gift shop, sporting goods store, or any other consumer merchandise outlet, deciding upon a point of sale (POS) system implementation can become a crucial factor that affects whether you store succeeds or fails. Here are five elements to consider before you buy:

1. Getting the Right Implementation Team

Out-of-the-box solutions may work for some enterprises, but most will benefit from a professional analysis and implementation. Companies that are experienced in, for example, Microsoft point of sale implementations can help guide you toward selecting the right hardware, as well as installing the underlying network and customizing the software.

2. Choosing the Software that Fits Your Needs

If you own a boutique, your software needs are different from those of a restaurant owner. Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (also known as Microsoft RMS or Microsoft Dynamics-RMS), for example, is tailored to small- to medium-sized retailers. It can automate inventory, automate purchasing management, and streamline transaction processing, while being scalable to meet your needs as your business grows.

3. Minimizing Disruptions

Implementing new hardware and software necessitates a certain level of disruption, but you should choose a solution that is specifically designed for easy implementation and adoption. In other words, your store should stay open for business and your employees should be able to quickly learn the system. Microsoft POS solutions, for example, utilize build-in wizards and intuitive user interfaces to make learning the system quick and painless.

4. Integrating with Other Software Solutions

Even if the software you select streamlines POS transactions, unless it’s integrated with your other systems you won’t get the most out of your investment. Ideally, your point of sale software should connect to your business information and processes and be able to communicate with, for example, Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel.

5. Enhancing Marketing Efforts

The best point of sale software can become an important component of your marketing toolkit. Thanks to tracking features, POS software can enable you to launch highly targeted marketing to select customers, such as those who have purchased certain items in the past or those who have indicated a preference for certain merchandise. In addition, it should allow you to set up promotions and discounts, as well as suggest up-sells at the register so your employees can talk about the products to your customers.

Keep in mind that, when you select a point of sale software solution, you should be able to get all of the features you need. For example, you may want to quickly add new items to your database, or enable a matrix that allows you to differentiate between similar items (such as the same dress style) by attribute (such as size and color). Likewise, you may wish to print out customized labels for your price tags. Perhaps you need software that will work for multiple stores, or maybe customized reporting and metrics are critical to your business. The bottom line is that, with the right implementation team, point of sale software and hardware can catapult your retail business to the heights of growth and success.

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Track Your Strategic Land Investment Growth

Land investment growth can and should be tracked with professional guidance.

Alternative investments such as land can yield better-than-the-market returns. Investors can also track the investment’s progress over time.

Investing during the worldwide recession has been a difficult road for individuals most accustomed to trading in stocks and bonds. Returns have been disappointing since 2008, and the Eurozone crisis portends very little good news for traditional investments in the near term.

Investors instead have turned to alternative assets, the growth from which has been considerably better in recent years. These assets include hedge funds, exchange funds, private equity and rarities (coins, art, jewelry, antiques and antique autos). One alternative asset that is particularly attractive is raw land. Unlike developed property – where market value is well established, value growth may be minimal and buildings need to be maintained over several years – undeveloped land can grow in value under well-managed circumstances and in a relatively short period of time. Those circumstances currently include the housing shortage and growing UK populations, where market forces suggest millions of homes need to be built over the next decade.

Professional land management companies often pool investors into a single property fund that buys land, after which a zoning change is sought with the local land planning authorities. With that change, some infrastructure may be put into place – roads, water and other utilities, for example – and then sold to builders.

A substantial investment is necessary, typically beginning at 10,000 and often several multiples of that amount. Of course, at that level the investor could and should engage themselves throughout the time the land is owned, tracking progress according to a pre-established set of milestones. Not everyone gets rich on land, but following a few crucial tips can help the investor improve his or her odds: -Hire the best consultants.Buying land that needs to be rezoned is not a hobby for amateurs. Professionals who understand potential future value, as well as the local landscape for land planning authorities and area housing needs, are necessary to make the investment successful. -Select a land investment that is consistent with yours in timing and returns.Some land will mature to a profitable position in 18 months. Other tracks may take five years and perhaps longer – which may or may not fit your own financial management goals and needs. A professionally managed land investment will be able to project this with some accuracy. You can also expect to be given updates on progress, such as when planning has approved new zoning, whether infrastructure investment is necessary and how well it is progressing. Land is an exciting, tangible investment that shows progress you can sometimes see and touch, if you are so inclined. -Acquire land with the most promising properties. When you work with professionals, they should select tracts with certain, important characteristics: proximity to high growth, where housing stock is in greatest demand, where the land can be rezoned and where significant improvements (cleanup of contaminants or expensive infrastructure such as bridges) will not be necessary.

Because land is a significant investment, it is smart to first talk to an independent financial advisor in advance. You need to examine where a land investment would factor into your investment portfolio, and how the timing of the investment could affect your tax structure and living or estate needs.

Professional land management companies often pool investors into a single property fund that buys land. A professionally managed land investment will be able to project this with some accuracy.

Debt Management Friend or Foe?

When the option of debt management is brought up as a means of debt relief the more in the know will immediately highlight the major flaw of going on such a program.

Yes of course getting a management company to negotiate with your creditors, lower your monthly payments and reduce the overall amount you owe will put a few noses out of joint. And in turn the creditors will report that back to the scoring companies who will put negative marks on your credit score.

So why do people do it? And more to the point why are there so many debt management companies out there making such good living out of it?

Obviously if your debt problems are not verging on declaring bankruptcy and youre not having trouble making payments every month then knowingly harming your credit score just to lower your payments and overall amount isnt the cleverest of moves.

But what if youre missing payments every month, juggling who to pay in an attempt to stay afloat and keep the wolf from the door? If youre missing and making late payments regularly then your credit score is taking a hammering anyway and you obviously cant keep up with all the obligations each month.

Faced with this unfortunate reality many people will throw in the towel and declare bankruptcy- what happens to their credit score then?

Cue the debt management company, champions of the oppressed debt-ridden consumers and nemesis of the attack-dog debt collectors. Theyll take on all the communication between you and your creditors, theyll negotiate realistic payments you can afford and will lower the overall amount you end up paying back (largely interest).

They enjoy dealing with lenders and negotiating lower payments, they do it all day long, they live and breathe nasty phone calls and red bills, it gets them out of bed in the morning.

In this day and age of ever increasing credit casualties who find themselves in between a rock and a hard place there is definitely a need for a service to cater for those who have reached the end of the line and have nowhere else to turn except for the dreaded big B.

Faced with debt problems many peoples first instinct is to consolidate. When you think about it consolidating is just borrowing the amount you owe plus whatever interest the consolidation loan incurs. Adding to you debt or borrowing your way out of debt is just increasing the amount of your debt and the amount of time you will be in debt.

If you are not at rock bottom and looking for a smart way to become debt free quicker then no, debt management is not for you, however it definitely has its place and many a consumer is sleeping better, worrying less and enjoying a better quality of life right now for it.

Thats not to say that there arent abusers of the system to be wary of, just like the rest of the credit and debt industry. You should look for the usual red flags when prospecting any credit or debt related service:

How much do they stand to make out of you?

How much information will they give you about their program before you join?

What are they prepared to do for free?

Are they affiliated with any financial institutions or lenders?

Like with anything in this field the more educated a consumer you are the better choices you can make for your own unique situation.

Debt management is all about immediate relief, and to many it is a welcome relief to become free from harassment and be able to financially breathe again. So is the credit score damage worth it? If it’s taking damage from missed and late payments anyway and/or bankruptcy is staring you in the face there’s really no other option.