Consignment Computer System
Consignment 'systems' can include many things: computers1, hardware, software, POS sales and credit-card processing. Systems can be local (installed on computers at the shop) or they can be online (web-based, cloud).
The cost of a system for a consignment (resale, secondhand, thrift) operation varies from 'free' (with restrictive limitations in number of records allowed, usage time allowed, features) to very expensive. Initial 'price' quotes are often far less than future payments so look for a program like No-Fee Consignment Software with a one-time payment.
A 'computer' of course is any electronic device used by store owners and employees to record and manage information and process tasks (like printing price labels, agreements, receipts, checks and report; viewing information, processing sales and settlements).
The device may be a desktop or laptop computer, a Mac, a tablet or a hand-held. Not all programs will work on smaller devices but know that ones that do are incredibly expensive over time. They are offered for monthly payment to entice sales but multiply the number of months the shop will be in business by the monthly stipend to determine 'cost'.
Consignment-software programs that install on the shop computers generally cost the least by far and are quite sufficient in keeping consignors, consignments, sales and records organized and useful. It's the automation of the business that produces time savings and accurate results - not which program is used - primarily because they all pretty much get the job done, so, 'cost' is a major if notmajor determining factor in software choice.
Consignment Hardware Systems
'Hardware' refers to the pieces of equipment (often called 'peripherals') connected to the computer (by cables or wirelessly) that perform tasks for which each is specifically designed.
Printers of course print 'documents'2. Ink printers (LaserJet, inkjet, bubblejet) print on 8.5 x 11 or legal stock, including adhesive price labels and non-adhesive hang tags. receipt printers print receipts (not labels) and label printers print labels (not receipts). Receipt and label printers are often 'thermal' in that they use heat to burn letters and numbers onto paper, not ink.
One-dimensional (1D) Barcode scanners are most often used at the point of sale for scanning barcodes on labels and tags. Scanning populates the sales invoice with information about the item including Item ID, Description, Price and Owner. Scanning barcodes of course is the fastest checkout procedure.
Newer two-dimensional (2D) scanners read a 2-D barcode typically found on the backs of drivers licenses which can be scanned to populate a new-client record in some programs.
Cash drawers have a lockable drawer used for storing valuables during and after store hours. Drawers commonly connect to receipt printers and open when a receipt is printed. A cash drawer is not the same as a cash register.
Peripherals do not communicate directly with software. The shop clerk uses a consignment software program to communicate with the operating system (Windows, e.g.) which relays commands to hardware pieces and controls them. This is important to realize because when something 'isn't working' the hardware piece and the operating system should be suspected before contacting the software provider.
Consignment Online Systems
Seriously? Lifetime payments? Some years ago a wildfire started in the software-developer community which has caught on - lifetime never-ending doling out of dollars to use a software program.
'"Software as a Service" (Saas) is a term invented by developers as though giving it a descriptive name would make the abolition of one-payment software more palatable. The warm and fuzzy did not transfer to the software-user community. There's still plenty of rightful resent for now having to pay annually for Microsoft Office, Outlook and many others.
The consignment industry has not escaped the burn. Search results for 'consignment software' are packed with pay-forever program offers, each salivating over the high profit margins of literally reselling the same software again and again with each payment collected.
If this rubs you the wrong way -and it should because it's 'opportunistic' to say the least, then grab a copy of No-Fee Consignment Software and avoid the extortion.
Web-based or 'cloud' software requires placing your clients' personal information on a computer that you know nothing about: Who owns it? Where is it located? How secure is it really? How reliable is it? Some store owners do this without letting their clients know much less ask permission. Most don't understand the risks (that are not relieved by unfounded assurances from the software provider who quite naturally stands nothing to lose when you become legally liable for something someone else does, like allow your clients' information to be hacked).
This risk cannot be made more clear than extreme differences between the assurances software vendors make in their sales efforts, and the disclaimers and denials of responsibility in their user agreements. Thinking of web-based? Ask for a copy of the 'EULA" (End-User License Agreement) and observe the multiple paragraphs in all-caps denouncing liability. If it oh so safe, then do they refuse to bear responsibility?
Having the precarious situation on your shoulders every day (including weekends and while you're asleep) should be enough to deter the desire for the most alluring of web-base programs but if not, add to your concern the dependence upon your Internet connect, the connection to the mysterious server, the server itself and the software provider remaining in business and available when needed.
The coup de gras: Read the EULA for what happens if you want to quit. Can you get your data? If it's not in your hands but in the hands of the person who's intent upon getting payment after payment from you, will all be lost?
Consignment POS Systems
POS is point of sale - the point at which the sale takes place. Merchandise is delivered to the buyer who remits payment to the shop.
Equipment used at the point of sale are cash drawers and registers, receipt printers, barcode scanners, credit-card readers and pole displays (for customers to view information about the items being purchased).
There is at least one exception: Businesses reselling used merchandise often don't allow things to be returned. Customers are mostly in agreement with that policy because they realize they are buying used stuff, have the right to inspect it prior to taking delivery and are in essence getting a bargain by purchasing at lower prices. In exchange for the good value and opportunities to 'shop' they also assume the risk once out the door, sooo, most shops reselling merchandise don't need to print up receipts (that have no useful purpose). Aside, customers might be satisfied with a credit-card transaction receipt when available. With new receipt printers costing around $300 and rolls and rolls of thermal receipt paper added, the savings add up.
An advantage of 'cash drawers' is that each employee could have his or her own 'till' or drawer from which he or she processes sales. A program like No-Fee Consignment Software Diamond Edition allows for real-time auditing of the employee's drawer to help prevent theft. (The program also can lock any employee out of any part of the program and prevent discounting at POS as well as voiding sales - common theft risks.
Barcode scanners can make POS checkout a breeze and they can help prevent loss by producing accurate price entry. Scanners are plug-n-play input devices just like keyboards and mice, saving the time it takes to populate a 'line item' with Item ID, Description, Price and Owner information. Without scanners the clerk must enter an Item ID, select from a list of items or key in an unlisted item (an item not in the software' inventory database).
Consignment Software Systems
Ah the nerve center of your business automation.
Consignment software installs on top of Windows (as all software programs do). The reliability of the software program is dependent upon the health of Windows (the operating system) and the computer so expect virtually no problems with current versions of Windows and a commercial-grade computer built for the job. Bring in dad's old XP and anticipate spending lots on support technicians trying to keep it juggled. A brand new Intel i5 with good 'clock speed' (processing power) and plenty of RAM memory (8GB and up) for $500 will cost less that a $200 used computer plus support fees and there will be far less wait time and frustration.
Now, which program? There are so many, and the cut throat tactics. How can anyone possibly know the right questions to ask AND what the truthful answers are?
That is to say that several of these smaller vendors pushing their home-made software will lie, defame their competition and do whatever it takes to get your money. That's a fact. Chief among them is lone wolf at c-o-n-s-i-g-n-p-r-o who offers an 'optional support plan' without placing equal emphasis on the consequences of NOT enrolling in the 'optional' plan which are withholding of software updates (essential) and support in any form. Want to open a second location? Full price. Ask too many questions? Pay full price again. Do yourself a favor and cross this option off your list first.
Consignment Credit-Card-Processing Systems
Credit-card processing refers to accepting buyers' credit-card account information as payment for purchases. The ease of doing so has been enhanced over time, graduating from magnetic-strip cards to chip cards. Soon we'll have chips embedded under our skin for scanning. (Don't do it!)
For purposes of this document the point to know is that if a software vendor insists on your using the credit-card processor he recommends, he's doing so to get a kickback on every one of your sales, which explains why his preferred vendor's rates might be higher than available elsewhere. In essence you pay him for his software and you continue to pay him part of your sales proceeds. For what?
A truly flexible program like No-Fee Consignment Software allows any credit card service to be used so if/when down the road you want to switch because you've found a better rate, you're not locked in.
Consignment Systems Cost
If you've been software shopping you've noticed the tremendous efforts made to grab your attention and because there is no enforcement of 'fairness in advertising' in this arena, know that what meets your eye on the home pages of websites, in email and phone communications is often purposely devised to distract you from the true potential cost of every program that is not offered for a one-off payment.
Trying to nail down real answers to serious questions about how much money each software vendor intends to reap from your daily sales can be harder than catching the proverbial greased pig at the county fair.
Remember the day when every software program was available for lifetime use with one payment? Those days aren't entirely gone but there's a silent conspiracy amongst software providers to stop making their programs available for one off and forcing users to pay 'forever'. Great for them. Bad for consignment shops - leaving No-Fee Consignment Software as one of the last opportunities to automate your business still for one outlay. To date there is no plan to stop offering BCSS for a single cost. Download the demo and call 888-427-5779 for a live demo - a presentation - not a sales-hype conversation. The agent will ask of the needs of the business and together you'll determine that all needed features are available in the software way before purchase.