Facebook Tests New Mobile Payments System

Facebook is in the early stages of testing a new payment system that would store users’ credit card information for use in mobile transactions, but would not complete any transactions directly. Instead, the system would complete payments through third parties such as PayPal.

Why does Facebook want to store a user’s credit card information if it is not conducting any actual transactions? According to a statement from the company, this process “gives people the option to use their payment information already stored on Facebook in a mobile app.” Their goal is “to make it easier and faster for people to make a purchase…by simply pre-populating your payment information.”

This payment system is in the very early testing stages, but remains a significant move because it takes Facebook yet another step closer to being an all inclusive site, one that hordes an individual’s every data point and effectively connects all people to everything all the time. Have you noticed how you can often choose to “log in through Facebook” when logging into a third party site? Even if you don’t want to have your Facebook account linked to the other site, it’s tempting because to select that option is so much easier than creating yet another online account. This mobile payment thing is just like that—but with credit card data.

Facebook frames the move as a way to “help apps provide a simpler commerce experience.” But it’s obviously about more than just alleviating the annoyance of having to enter one’s payment data on a mobile device. It’s also about collecting user data and about attracting advertisers. The more Facebook knows about each user, the more the company can tailor individual experience, including—and especially—advertisements.

What does this mean for business owners? If the payment system expands and becomes a regular Facebook feature, it could mean that your customers will have a simpler path to completing mobile payments—because have you ever met anyone with a smartphone who isn’t constantly logged into Facebook?

Currently, Facebook is testing this new payment system with a single flash-sale shopping site called JackThreads. Will the test be a success? That obviously depends on many factors, including users’ willingness to trust Facebook with their credit card information. Personally, the thought makes me uneasy—but as addicted as I am to Facebook, I’m still something of a holdout when it comes to the social network; I don’t even list my hometown or the kind of music I like in my profile. But that’s beside the point. The point is that Facebook is making a push into mobile payments, leaving the rest of us to wait and see how this test goes and what move the company decides to make next.

How to put barcodes on your products

Putting a bar code on your product involves several steps:

1. Having a bar code or creating one

2. Choosing the right place to put the bar code

3. Choosing the method to affix or print the bar code

4. Having a perfect image of the bar code itself

Let’s take these one at a time.

1. If you are producing items that will be sold in retail stores and you need bar codes for those products, you will have to buy them somewhere. You cannot just make up your own bar codes (Example – your company is going to produce various types of funny t-shirts that tourists will buy, in different colors and sizes and sell them through local stores in your town).

If you intend to use the bar codes for purposes only internal to your business, then you may be able to print your own bar codes. An example of this would be a serial number that goes on a product you are using. Each serial number bar code will be different and you want to print them out yourself.

2. Where to put the bar code – Are you going to the bar code on the product itself? This can be complicated. If the product is say a circuit board that will go inside a computer, then the bar code will need to be very small and resistant to heat – it will probably be necessary to have these bar codes printed by a company that specializes in such a thing. On the other hand, if the bar code is going to go on the outside of a box, you may be able to print these yourself, perhaps using a dedicated bar code printer and/or bar code software. If the boxes are going to be exposed to long periods of sunlight, or extreme temperatures, be sure you get labels that can withstand such factors. Labels for jewelry tags may sit in display cases where temperatures can easily get into the high 90s or even over 100 degrees.

3. As mentioned in part 2 above, bar code labels may require special adhesives. If the bar code is to be used for tracking fixed assets – like desks, chairs, file cabinets, computers, or construction machinery – you will want bar code labels that will not come off and will not be easily destroyed. There are many companies that can provided bar code labels made out of metal, with permanent adhesives that can withstand extreme temperatures.

It is often worthwhile to purchase a dedicated bar code printer to produce quantities of labels cheaply and without trouble. There are many types of label printers and some can be found in the Products/Barcode printer section of our website. Generally these are easy to use and fit right on your desktop.

For large quantities of labels, or for printing bar codes on tags, wristbands and other interesting places – a specialized bar code printer is the best method.

4. Have a perfect bar code image – there are very precise specifications for the creation of bar codes. What you can create on your own computer and printer may not meet those specifications. If you are putting your products into the retail environment, they will have to be able to be scanned by hundreds of different types of bar code readers. Therefore the actual printing of the code should be done by a specialist who will test the bar code with a special device to ensure it is 100% accurate.

If the bar codes are simply to be used in your own company, you can easily print some yourself and then test them. It is highly recommended to test the bar codes before you print thousands of them. Plenty of people have gone and printed codes without ever testing them, only to find that eventually, for some reason, the code was not readable. Always test your codes before you put them on things.

How to Increase Sales With a Point-of-Sale System

As a business owner, the goal of any business is to increase its net income. There are two ways to address this: (1) Reduce operating costs, and/or (2) Increase sales. Traditionally, point of sale systems have concentrated on the first method by reducing operating costs.

By automating mundane tasks, POS systems have helped retailers reduce their overhead. Today, the next generation of point of sale software can further help retailers increase their net income by helping them increase sales too.

Next generation point of sale software offers additional features to aid retailers in increasing their sales volume and geographical reach. While retailers can still enjoy lower overhead costs, they can now take advantage of these new features to increase their sales through better customer service and new channels offered by the Internet. Increasing sales offers a dramatically higher return on investment to the retailer as the potential is virtually limitless.

Next generation POS systems offer some or all of the following features to help retailers increase their sales:

  1. Integrated eCommerce – a new storefront not limited by geography or time
  2. Auctions – new sales channel and marketing channel
  3. Sales Order & Telephone Order modules
  4. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – improved customer service
  5. Integrated mass email – low cost promotions
  6. Club pricing – improves customer loyalty
  7. Revolving A/R (Accounts Receivable) – improves customer loyalty through credit
  8. Customer loyalty points reward programs
  9. Gift card sales and redemption built into the software
  10. Suggestive selling prompts for cashiers
  11. Receipt printers produce marketing messages
  12. New Signature Capture devices display marketing messages at the checkout line

At the end of the day, next generation point of sale systems allow retailers to increase their geographical reach and become more efficient marketers. A well implemented POS system results in reduced marketing expenditures and increased sales volume.

How To Choose Receipt Paper

Choosing the type of receipt roll paper for your company requires more thought than you probably realize. You can make this decision easier by considering three main characteristics of receipt roll paper. Choosing the right kind of receipt paper can make an impact on your business, and it is very important to take the time to consider these options.

Thermal or Non-Thermal?

Receipt roll paper is either thermal or non-thermal. The difference between the two is that thermal paper uses heat to imprint images whereas non-thermal paper uses ink. While non-thermal printing methods are more familiar, the vast majority of businesses are starting to use thermal printing. This is often because thermal printing is more economical and convenient.

Thermal printing does not require cartridges or ink, and companies can save a lot of money by eliminating the cost to replace ink and cartridges. With thermal printing, you only have to continuously pay for the receipt paper itself. Since you’re not constantly changing ink cartridges, your day isn’t spent fiddling with the printer. Thermal printing is fast and silent so it won’t distract you from your daily duties when somebody else is using the printer. The quality of thermal printing can also be much higher so you reduce the need to print receipts over again due to smudges or illegibility. Once again, thermal receipt printing does not disrupt your work with unnecessary and distracting noise. If you’re working with customers, a receipt that prints silently and quickly will help to keep the customers happy at the point of sale.

Thermal receipt paper is also weather resistant so during the course of a stormy day, your receipt is more likely to survive. Of course, you need to purchase the appropriate receipt roll paper for your printer.

How Many Ply?

Another factor to take into consideration when buying receipt roll paper is whether you need one, two, or three ply paper. Depending on the nature of your business, your company may require one or two copies of a receipt. One-ply receipt paper will print just one receipt for the customer. Two-ply receipt paper will provide a receipt for the customer and one for the business. Three-ply paper will print one receipt for the customer and two copies for the business. Depending on the amount of receipts your company requires, you will need a certain amount of layers to your receipt paper.

How Customizable?

The level of customization you want your receipt paper to have is the final consideration to take into account when purchasing your receipt paper rolls. Some receipt paper allows you to print business information and logos on the back of the paper. Providing your company details on the back of your receipt paper will supply the customer with contact information, should he or she have any questions for you after transactions have been completed.

The receipt your company prints will affect how your business runs. The type of paper you use can also impact how smoothly your day-to-day operations will run. Taking time to consider these three main factors when choosing your paper will result in a more fluid and successful workday.

Cutting Edge POS in Japan

When I think of Japan, two of the first things to come to my mind are sushi and cutting edge technology. Guess which one this article is about.

That’s right, sushi—I mean technology. Point of sale software to be more precise. Last November, Japanese company Science Works released a POS system called RealtimeManager, which was developed specifically for restaurant chains. Like many POS systems, RealtimeManager collects data in—you guessed it—real time. But there is one important difference between this system and the majority of others: RealtimeManager is able to analyze this real-time data in order to show customers using the company’s smartphone app which restaurants currently have seating available. This means that hungry would-be diners can peruse dining options not only by rating and menu before stepping foot into a restaurant, but also by whether or not they’ll be able to be seated right away.

This is fantastic. I am not currently aware of any apps that provide a similar service here in the United States (if you know of one, please let me know in the comments section below), but I feel confident that a similar app would be welcomed with open arms. I can’t even count how many times my husband and I have bounced restaurant to restaurant in search of immediate seating on a Friday or Saturday night—and I’m talking about chain restaurants, just like this app serves, the kinds of places where you expect to be able to walk in and get a table without waiting.

From a business perspective, RealtimeManager has some great attributes beyond its obvious appeal to consumers. For one thing, the POS software automatically analyzes incoming data to determine availability, so it doesn’t require any extra work by restaurant staff. Additionally, the smartphone app encourages customers to come when seating is available and not to further crowd the restaurant when it is already filled to capacity; a feature that as a former member of the service industry I’m sure is greatly appreciated by staff.

As I mentioned, Science Works is a Japanese company and RealtimeManager is only available in Japan. Currently, the service is available at about 400 restaurants, but according to Akihabara News the company intends to expand significantly over the next year.

Will they expand to the United States? I’ve found no indication of such a thing, but as someone who on numerous occasions has driven twenty minutes to an Applebees only to find an inhumanly long line trickling out the door, my fingers are crossed.