Retail SMB Forecast: Cloudy and Bright

When first approached me to write a post entitled,”Are Cloud-Based Tablet POS Solutions the Future For SMBs?” I responded with an emphatic “Yes!” It seemed like the type of post that would compose itself, which was great since I had a whole lot of laundry to fold. I quickly submitted my initial draft, the entirety of which I’ll share with you today:


That’s it. Short, to the point, totally lacking in any type of obfuscation or big-city rhetoric. But, alas, they wanted more. I had to”really answer the question, definitively.” So I moved back to my lair and immediately hammered out Another draft:




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Yes, Cloud-Based Tablet POS Solutions are definitely the potential for SMBs.

This, also, was inadequate. I suggested that maybe the problem was not my response, but with the query . “Maybe,” I said,”if we requested a more open question, or–better yet–dropped the entire pretense of a query for which we already have a preconceived response, the guide could only be more fleshed out. This back and forth caused the name up above, but also in a sense of deep annoyance with me harbored by anybody else included in this post. But, here is the thing: I was, before I wrote for a living, an IT guy. I did it for more than a decade, and I am infected with the IT-itis bug, which causes an inflamed sense of ego for having figured out something that I expect everybody else should know, also. The disease presents in various ways, but the results are always the same. Everybody–either publicly or covertly –hates the IT man. It’s OK, however, that the IT guy does not much care for you, either. I mean, really: how difficult is it to turn it off then turn it back on again until you call? And this is the most often the unspoken bonus of cloud solutions. The IT people stay on their possessions, the non-IT individuals on theirs–and never the twain shall meet. It is kind of ideal.

Butreally, here is the truth of the matter: that the cloud is not the future for SMBs, it is right now. As a freelancer, I am a small business, writing this post on an internet word-processing app, and I have customers all around the world who will collaborate together in real time, making edits to this doc that is kept in a sheet of a globally-accessible drive carved out especially for me, and this whole thing does not cost me a dime. Back when I was in IT, the cost of placing up an employee with what she had to do her job conducted up to $1,500, when you think about the cost of a computer at the moment, and software licenses for productivity and technical applications. Now, any number of providers can set you up with your own domain, email, shared calendars, office apps, video conferencing, long distance calling, and lots of GB worth of storage for $50 to a $100 annually per user. The tangible/immediate services that you are paying for do not even cover everything, though: small companies are no more having to pay for storage and servers to support each of their users, do not need to upgrade or update and any applications, no longer need to worry about backing up all of the data. And, yes, this means that they no longer need to hire an IT person, but let us not write me angry letters on behalf of the IT people losing their jobs. Small companies are proving grounds for the young tech professional before she moves on to bigger and better paying positions elsewhere; for the small business operator, the IT”department” is a never ending puzzle to be solved, a necessary evil for working in a contemporary world.



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When you see the way the cloud dramatically reduces operating costs, it is kind of a no-brainer to go like that. Wherever people can use software for a service that they are: accounting, client relationship management, enterprise resource planning, time and attendance, and, yes, point of sale. The coming of the digital point of sale a few decades ago was a huge leap forward in how retail stores and restaurants operated. However, it was not all rainbows and chips: hardware fails, software is buggy, and if you have a bar you definitely do NOT wish to be dealing with downed servers in the midst of happy hour. You also don’t want to take care of the cranky IT consultant whose Friday you just ruined with your emergency messages, but it beats shutting down for the night. And all this cost money: plenty of it, and recurringly–regardless of what the term”one-time license fee” sounds like. The prohibitive costs meant the smallest companies were shut out completely while the midsize ones ended up with mid century solutions. Lists were made of”Need to Have” and”Nice to Have” features, then they would begin crossing out items from the latter until they met their funding. But if the cloud were the long run, then this list making tango towards compromise are the present reality. Truth is, it is a thing of the past.

I could tell you all about virtualization for servers and data storage, and also get into the nuts and bolts of how this new hardware-doesn’t-matter paradigm sets the foundation for agile disaster recovery, while the communal sharing of a pool of resources keeps costs low for the end user. Or I could write things that will encourage you to keep reading. So only just trust me that the prediction for tech climate will be Mostly Cloudy for the near future. There has been talk of the equalizing power of the web, but from a commercial possibility that is only starting to happen now. Think about what a small business can get for a $50 per month subscription to a cloud-based Point of Sale:

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● The Point of Sale part, of course. Merchants can ring up things and take money, credit (integrated with the POS), and mobile payments such as bosses. Easy discounts and split payments, automatic tax calculation, fully customizable menus, the entire thing. Many cloud POS apps work even if your connection goes down.
Inventory Management. If you have got to load all of your products to the POS so that you can ring them up, you may also add the quantity in, too, right? It’s simple enough for the POS to subtract the amount purchased from the inventory on hand total. And while you are there, you may too ID some inventory thresholds so you are notified when you are running low. And as you’re already there, it is not a massive deal to add on your suppliers’ contact information and PO generating capabilities, so that you can order and get new stock through your system.
Customer Relationship Management. “Relationship Management” is such an awful term; it is the type of service I envision couples therapists offer. But having some sort of give and take with your clients –especially your faithful ones–is vital. By conserving their information, such as name, address, email, and comprehensive purchase histories that help you get to know them and their customs. This sort of data collection has been solely within the purview large franchises and chains.
● Time Clock Functionality. Why do they call it a clock? I get that it is being used to track your employees time at work, but it is a clock. What’s it going to measure? It should be known as a Time Tracker, or the Shift Enforcer©. Whatever it is called, most POS systems have this.
● Cloud Apps are Available. Cloud is just a cool buzzword that means”net,” a fact which makes it possible to remember your cloud POS app is on the same network as your cloud accounting app, or your cloud loyalty app. They are all within reach of one another, operating on the criteria built around how sites functional and communicate. This makes it much easier to begin linking your POS data with other apps and getting the most out of every sale.
● Every time you register for a cloud app, an angel gets its wings. Conversely, each time you purchase a one-time license fee with an accompanying service contract from a heritage supplier, a CEO eats the spirit of a newborn infant and can live another 10 years off its childhood. The infant then grows up to be a politician on the take from applications lobbyists, perpetuating the cycle of an inequitable playing field for one more generation.

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So, is the cloud the future? Yes. However, it’s the future in precisely the exact same manner that indoor plumbing is your future. We are not going to suddenly realize,”You know what? I liked it much more when I needed to leave the home in the middle of the night and do my business ankle deep in hookworms and disease. Get me an outhouse!

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