As the holidays approach and the retail shopping season ramps up, it's important to take steps now to ensure that your jewelry retail software and hardware systems are ready to handle the increased volume and keep operating smoothly throughout the season. This article provides a simple list of basic things to check to ensure that you are prepared.
Check that your computer operating systems are up to date
Still running Windows XP? Mac OS 10.5? That's probably not a good way to head into the season. Take the time now to upgrade your systems to a more recent release that is still being serviced with security updates and fixes by the OS vendor. This doesn't mean you have to get on the latest bleeding edge release. Just getting updated to a release made within the last 6 months will get you the maintenance and support you might need.
Check that the applications you depend on are up to date
Still using the copy of Microsoft Office that came with your copy of Windows XP ten years ago? Still running BusinessMind version 4? Those may not work so well on Windows 10. Make a list of critical applications that you use to run your business and ensure that they are up to date. Many times, this step will go hand in hand with the previous step as applications and operating systems are inextricably intertwined in many cases.
Check the age and specifications of your workstations and servers
Still running that Dell computer you purchased in 2005 as your main Point of Sale terminal? You could be asking for a hardware failure right in the middle of the season. In addition, chances are that trying to accomplish the previous steps is going to require you to upgrade hardware.
Modern computers generally come packed with 4 or 8 GB of RAM by default. Older equipment probably came with 1 or 2 GB of RAM that was enough during it's day. Trying to squeeze a recent OS and applications into those old memory and CPU constraints is probably going to make everything run terribly.
It's possible and very tempting to just try to update memory on an old machine to solve this. But before you go that route, consider the age of all the other components in the machine. Even if the memory upgrade can be had for a few hundred dollars or less, is it worth it to upgrade the memory around that old Celeron CPU? Probably not. A new computer gives you more than just more RAM. It's an all new motherboard, bus, cpu, video card, etc.
In most cases, it's smarter to invest in new equipment and "shuffle down" older machines to new duties that are non-critical. In many cases, smart purchasing can replace key systems in this way without busting the budget.
Check on your peripheral devices such as tag printers, bar code scanners, payment terminals, etc
Now that you are ready to donate a few of your old workstations to display at a local museum, you may notice that the tag printers, barcode scanners, and etc, that you had plugged into them don't have the same ports to plug into on your shiny new iMac. That means it's time to send off those old dinosaurs as well.
You won't find 9 pin serial or parallel ports on new computers, and for good reason. Those old slow technologies have been left behind for faster and more reliable connection options such as ethernet, USB, bluetooth, and even wifi. Review all your peripherals to ensure they are up to date and check compatibility with the applications that use them before choosing replacements.
Even your old USB credit card swipe needs to be replaced. Any jewelry store should most certainly be running an integrated EMV complaint chip card reader for card payments.
Verify that you have a properly functioning data back with offsite redundancy
Now that everything is shiny, up-to-date, and new, you are ensured against unexpected catastrophes ... well, not quite. You still need backup. Having modern equipment and software ensures that you will be able to get help and get things back on track quickly if the worst should occur, but having a functioning proper back is still, and always, critical to avoiding a worst case scenario.
With all your updated systems in place, verify that your back is running. Perform a fire-drill emergency restore to ensure that all is functioning properly. A good backup should have offsite redundancy so that your data is protected in the event of in physical damage at your store or office such as from theft, flood, or fire.
Now you can focus on making the most of the retail season without infrastructure concerns
With your critical systems tuned up and humming along, its time to focus on the business at hand. The retail peak season is at your door! Use your well honed tools to maximum effect and have a prosperous and worry free holiday season!