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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is your POS system protected from severe weather?

Spring is here! Hopefully your registers are getting a workout. As the days grow warmer, the likelihood of severe weather increases too. As you probably know, power surges from severe weather are a natural enemy to your Point-of-Sale system. This threat isn’t limited to items plugged in to electrical outlets – electrical spikes running through telephone and cable connections can also have damaging effects. Can you imagine the nightmare of losing your POS server to a lightning strike on a Saturday morning in June? Too often there is a tendency to add or replace equipment with the idea that “we’ll add some surge protection later when we get time.” Don’t wait for lightning to strike… NOW is the time to check your equipment and be sure it’s really protected.

The 15 amp breaker in a standard power strip will protect the wiring in your store from being overloaded if you’re drawing too much power, but it won’t protect any of the equipment that is plugged into it from power surges. All components of your POS system should be powered through a surge protector, or better yet through an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). This includes the computers, monitors, network switches, routers, modems, charging cradles, cash drawers, and printers that make up your POS system. You should also check your fax machine, stand-alone credit card terminals, paint computer, color-match equipment, and mobile phone chargers to be sure they are protected as well.

UPS units provide surge protection, but they also provide your equipment with a few minutes of power in the case of a power outage. You won’t be able to run your POS system all day on a UPS, but if the power flickers or shuts off for just a few minutes your system will continue to run on the UPS’s battery power. In the case of a longer power outage, you will have at least enough time to finish some customer transactions and shut down your system properly. A basic UPS unit costs around $90.00, and will provide you with 5-15 minutes of battery life depending on the power that is being drawn from the unit. If you only buy one, use it for your POS Server. If your equipment is protected by a UPS already, make sure the battery is still good. Replacement batteries are available for most units. Most retailers that carry computer equipment will have UPS units available, and you can also find them online.

At bare minimum, you need surge protection. Prime Wire & Cable makes a surge protector that will accommodate phone, data and cable (RG6) lines along with eight three-prong electrical devices (Hank and TW SKU 070-151). Running your phone and/or cable line through this unit along with the electrical connections will provide the best protection. Here’s an added bonus: when you’re done checking and updating the surge protection for your own equipment, talk to your commercial customers about it. Chances are they have similar equipment that needs to be protected, and you can point them to the surge protectors you carry in the store.

Do you have additional tips or comments? Have you lost equipment or data due to power surges? Comment below.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Google changes, even small businesses face consequences

Selling products online has its challenges: catalog maintenance, fulfillment, customer payments, etc. There are many moving parts, and it requires much strategic thought.

You may not sell merchandise online now and perhaps never will, but NPR ran a story about a small New York company that was adversely affected by a Google search tweak.

Even though you it may not affect you directly, it's good to know some other challenges to online retailing, and that while gigantic, Google can affect your business.

- Brian Sonnenberg

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


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