Computer Configuration for Consignment-Resale Shops
The idea behind 'computerization' is to increase productivity by automating common tasks. It seems ironic then that computers require so much of our time and attention to make them work properly.
After years and years of experience, Microsoft (whose stock has gone nowhere for 15 years) decided to remove the very staple of Windows from the Windows 8 taskbar - the Start Button. While they scramble to get the first service pack out to put it back, right click on the desktop, select Personalize then 'Change desktop icons'. Check the boxes for Computer, Control Panel, Networking, Recycle Bin and User's Files to place icons on the desktop for accessing these important areas. (The next time something is downloaded and you don't know where it went, click on the User's Folder (named after your computer and look in Downloads.)
Turn Off Windows Indexing
Consignment/resale shops seldom need to search the entire C: drive for anything so turn off Windows Indexing (which needlessly takes up computing power): Click on Computer (on the desktop now) then right click on the listing for C:. Select Properties. At the bottom of the screen, uncheck 'Compress this drive to save disk space' and click Apply. When the message appears, leave the selection 'Apply changes to drive C:\, subfolders and files' and click OK. (If a 'nag screen' pops up saying that you need administrative permission, click Continue for now and read the next paragraph.) When the error message appears about applying attributes, select 'Ignore All'. The screen for this process can be minimized while the change to the computer runs in the background.
Turn Off User Account Controls
By adding 'UAC' to Vista and subsequent versions of Windows, Microsoft intended to protect the computer from changes not authorized by the computer administrator. The problem is that even when we log into Windows as administrator, Windows still nags us about every change we want to make (like installing software), and even sometimes prevents entries from being saving in other programs (like Program Setup settings in BCSS). To turn UAC off: Go to the control panel and click on User Accounts. (The 'path' at the top should read 'Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > User Accounts.) Click the last link in the white area named 'Change User Account Control settings'. Pull the slider down to the bottom (Never notify), click OK and close the Control-Panel Window. (In Vista uncheck to box referring to user accounts.) This change will take affect after a reboot.
Despite turning Account Controls off, Windows may still need assurance that a program is authorized to run on the computer. Right click on the desktop icon for running BCSS and select Properties. Click on the Advanced button and check the box to run as admin then click OK. On the same permissions screen click on the Compatibility tab and at the bottom click on 'Change settings for all users'. Check 'Run this program as an administrator' and click OK twice to close the Properties screen. Reboot the computer.
Super Administrator Overkill
To prevent unauthorized personnel (like shoppers in a store selling computers) from downloading and installing programs, Windows includes a 'super administrator' option that very few people know about.
Work Around for Super Admin
Read up on computer maintenance to restore PC performance.
Good Advice for Providing Adequate Computer Resources
The extent of a computer's power should equal or exceed the degree of dependence placed upon computerization to run your consignment business.
Fully 90% of consignment start ups are attempted on shoe-string budgets with inadequate allowance for proper computer equipment or the knowledge and willingness required to protect and properly maintain computers and hardware.
The common misconception seems to be that any old computer should do and if not, well then, the consignment software app just isn't 'robust'!
Computer Requirements for Consignment Shops
The Operating System
Still today most software is Windows-based. The 'operating system' is Windows. Apple says that consignment software written for Windows can be run on a Mac with Windows installed along with their Parallels or Basecamp supplemental programs, but largely, software programmed for Windows should be run on a Windows machine.
The most recent Windows systems in order of age (which are compatible with BCSS) are XP, Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit) and Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit).
Random Access Memory (RAM) plays an important part in computer performance. Still today we see old XP machines in resale stores with .5MB of RAM, or Vista, Win7/8/10 machines with 1GB of RAM - all used up by the Windows OS - and very little left to run other programs. 32-bit computers can have 4GB of RAM. 62-bit machines can have up to 192GB. Consignment stores should have Win7/8/10 computers with at least 4GB and they should throw out those out-dated XP and Vista boxes.
We often hear, "My computer has plenty of RAM memory!!" Yes but... how much of it is available after Win7/8/10 consumes 1GB and how much is being used by other programs running in the background? To find out, click on Start and in the search box type msconfig (for Microsoft configuration) and click on the Startup tab. Amazed? All of those programs are starting at startup, unnecessarily (expect for virus protection, wireless connections, touchpad, etc.). Right click on the taskbar and click on processes. Amazed again? Sort the Memory column to see which programs are using the most (and which ones might be stopped at startup to avoid memory loss). It might be wise to consult with an IT tech before changing any settings on the computer.
Actually called 'clock rate', this is the speed at which a microprocessor executes instructions and synchronizes components. Faster clock rate of course allows the computer to open programs, populate tables and execute commands like printing with greater speed.
Today's processor speeds are approaching 4GHz. See where your computer processor falls in the hierarchy of power on this chart.
Hard Drive Space
Space on the hard drive usually isn't a concern because even the smallest of available drives today are far larger than needed to run a resale store UNLESS tons of music, videos, games and movies have been downloaded/installed. The computer should be dedicated to business use only. Downloads should definitely be avoided unless they are needed for installing software programs, updates and hardware drivers.
What Does My Computer Have?
View the Operating System, RAM memory and clock speed values by right clicking on Computer (on the desktop) and selecting Properties.
Liberal BCSS Support
Flexibility and affordability highlight BCSS support options.
Industry Support Policies
Support plans for most software vendors serve to maintain a steady stream of revenue from consignment shops to software-vendor coffers, and there are some dastardly consequences in place to assure that shops pay up:
- Annual support fees range from $125 to $2,340!
- Specific services (like training, hardware help, etc.) are excluded from the annual fee and additional fees apply.
- Service fees have been raised often and consistently over the past decade.
- Service fees increase with the number of copies of the software deployed.
- "Emergency Rates' are another way service providers charge more than quoted rates. One such example is 'normal rates' from 10-5 EST and higher (undisclosed) rates at all other times, especially over weekends and holidays.
- At least one provider of 'web-based software' claims "No annual service fees!" and 'Free service!" while charging $150 every month and shutting down the software if fees aren't paid.
- Lastly, most vendors have punishments in place if fees aren't paid, ranging from denying support in all forms to withholding (important and necessary) software updates.
BCSS Support Policies
- First and foremost, there are no annual support fees.
- There are no consequences if annual fees aren't paid (because there are no fees).
- Software updates are free and unconditional.
- Phone/remote support are provided by independent contractors with years of IT experience and at very reasonable rates (about half that of local assistance).
- Support personnel are also proficient in Windows, QuickBooks and various makes and models of hardware.