Use Software to Manage Mall Expenses
There's not much that software can do to help with fixed expenses like utilities, property taxes, insurance, employee wages and the like, but software can help save money on things like credit-card charges and time spent on the phone answering repetitive questions like "What has sold?" and "What do you owe me?"
Pass Credit-Card Costs on to Vendors
At first blush it might seem unreasonable if not detrimental to attempt to ask booth renters to share in the cost of processing credit-card transactions but when presented logically the concept should come through as fair and impartial. As the mall operator, you've borne the cost and done the leg work of establishing the equipment and software for accepting plastic payment and you continue to bear the risk of such transactions like charge backs, annual and monthly fees and the like, yet vendors benefit perpetually because accepting this form of remittance increases their sales. It's only fair that they should participate in the costs of taking payments in this form.
In BCSS Diamond and Virtual editions a percentage can be set to be deducted from settling sale by credit card. (Where permitted, a % can also be added to credit-card sales, to be paid by those who make such purchases, but let's stick with vendors for now.) The deduction would not be made for other forms of payment like check and cash and it is 'taken' as a deduction against settlements of sales.
Any single vendor can be excluded from the charge permanently by flagging his or her account as exempt. Likewise, a surcharge added to sales can be removed at POS. These are valuable options to accommodate individuals who object to participating.
With our Virtual software, vendor data is upload to our server automatically and daily where vendors can log in (with usernames and passwords assigned by you) to view their account activity and balances. (The data is stored on a secured server for added security.) To view the format of the website, go to resell4.me and use 1, 1, and consign for the user ID, Store ID and Password.
On resell4.me, to view a sample of data, click on 'YTD'. Note the link on the left named 'Enter Item'. Vendors can add their inventory online allowing you to download the inventory into Best Consignment Shop Software. They could also enter their items in spreadsheets and email those to you for import into the program. Some mall operators print price labels/tags for vendors (for free or for a fee).
Unsold vendor inventory can be entered into the program. Inventory belonging to you can be entered, including Cost of Goods, and the program will compute profit/loss for each item sold. Reports can be generated for any period of time (including daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and year end).
If unsold inventory is entered, the program will assign barcodes which can be printed on price labels/tags and scanned at checkout. Otherwise, items being purchased can be entered on the new-sale screen and the owner of each item would be selected from a dropdown menu. (The program will auto assign an item ID number to each sold item designating the seller and the item # of the sold item.)
A free live tutorial is also available. With your permission the program can be demonstrated on your computer while speaking with you. This might be preferable prior to purchase to assure your satisfaction before purchasing.
Software Boon or Boondoggle
The 'problem' with most software programs today is that software developers attempt to create a stream of income from their software users be claiming that software is a 'service' (SaaS: Software as a Service) which to them (but perhaps not to us) justifies continuing to pay for a software program which not long ago was available for a one-off cost. This sort of rationale is a boon for software providers and a boondoggle for software users.
Poor management decisions arise from the allure of a 'low start-up cost' - a low monthly rental payment to get started as compared to a (much) higher one-time cost to own the software. Rental? Yes: Monthly pay-as-you-go payments go on forever (and be sure to read the next paragraph about the hidden price trapping). If a low monthly payment is preferrable to an one-time payment, ask the software vendor for financing options. Chances are the software is available in terms that meet your budget. Don't fall prey to the allure of "Only $99 to start!!!". Once you and your employees have paid the price in time and effort to learn one software program, you and they will be very reluctant to go through another learning curve after the exorbitant costs of monthly software becomes as annoying as mosquitos are to reindeer.
Clearly a software provider could and would raise the monthly charge over time for using his or her software if the software subscriber wouldn't know to ask if the provider reserves the right to pump up the price later on. With no discussion prior to purchase this barn door remains wide open and there's not a cow alive that can resist an open barn door. Frankly, any software vendor offering a program for a monthly installment is downright crooked if he or she doesn't have this conversation before luring people in with the low-price enticement. Ask the question, "Can you jack up the price once I'm in and the bar door gets locked?"
Antique Mall Software Reviews
Do you live and buy by online reviews? Not so fast. Whether reviews are good or bad, they are mostly 'contrived' (deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously - created or arranged in a way that seems artificial and unrealistic). People selling antiques software have various ways of influencing, controlling and abusing 'software reviews'.
Long before the majority of Internet users appeared, software businesses were already well practiced in the art of making sales by disparaging competitors (with fake negative 'reviews'). As well businesses learned early on how to get positive online reviews. Here's some of the common practices still in use today:
- Pay software customers to write reviews either through direct compensation or by granting discounts, reward points, gifts, etc.
- Create fake user accounts (even at Facebook) for the sole purpose of writing good reviews for self and bad reviews for the competition.
- Instead of relying upon reviews, demo the software and during the demo period, test the software vendor's ability to respond by communicating by your preferred methods (text, phone, email).
Websites that identify as 'antique software review sites' are also of questionable value. Most claim that they've conducted some kind of review of the software listed on their sites when in fact not one software program was downloaded, much less reviewed.
'Customer review sites' of antique software programs are bogus. Honestly, busy antique-mall operators don't sit down at their computers seeing 'write a review of my software' at the top of the to-do lists. Presumably 8 out of 10 reviews are written by unhappy people and 8 out of 10 of them blame 'the software' without any proof that 'the software' was the issue. Websites like c-a-p-t-e-r-r-a and s-o-f-t-w-a-r-e-a-d-v-i-c-e and g-e-t-a-p-p are under the same ownership and the reviews are absolutely contrived. Rest assured that the majority of those 5-star reviews are bought and paid for.
Compare Antique Mall Software
The first-year cost of most software is just a fraction of what software cost will add up to over time but that is not true of all programs.
You might have been hoping that with all else there is to do, choosing a software program would take just a few minutes to uncover the best program at the best price, and now you're faced with at least 20 choices.
Read on if you like, but the lowest up front and 10-year costs with no hidden or ongoing fees after purchase is from Best Consignment Shop Software - in business since 2001 with a stellar reputation for fair pricing and honest practices - one payment for lifetime use with no repeating fees. Free software updates. (The highest edition of the software (Virtual) does require a monthly server rental for dealer online viewing.)
Vendors escalate cost after year 1 by charging for:
- Additional users and/or stations
- Exceeding the number of vendors allowed
- A higher software edition to acquire a feature (not included in the lesser edition)
Charges for support are the primary means of increasing the amount of money flowing from your bank account to the vendor's bank account.
A favorite ploy is to charge a relatively small amount for 'one user' or 'one station' and escalate the cost as the number of users/stations increases. Liberty (Resaleworld.com) charges $21/month for 1 user, $51/month for 5 users, yes, $612 per year for support - whether it's used or not. (They actually refer to this as "insurance".)
Anyone getting locked into a software program must certainly be away that the amount of the monthly or annual payment for support will increase. Picking on Liberty again, the monthly fee for one user in 2013 was $17.
Some vendors (like Best Consignment Shop Software) don't have monthly or annual support plans so going that route assures that the software user won't be trapped into support fees that increase every year. Neither need there be a concern that shop owners will be forced into enrolling in the 'support plan'. Using the same vendor as an example, when software clients call for help, they are asked, "Are you enrolled in the support plan?". If not, the client is offered only two options: 1) Pay to enroll or 2) pay more for the service call ($150 vs $100).
Be wary of any vendor claiming that the support plan is 'optional'. It exists for a reason: to get people to pay for it, so when a vendor makes such a claim, pause long enough for him or her to disclose the consequences of not enrolling in the plan and when that information is not forthcoming, know to ask, "What are the consequences if I don't elect to enroll?".
This prank is obvious but still deserves mention: A vendor charging endless monthly payments for the use of his software proclaims "Free support!". The software and support ends when payment ends.
Software 'updates' are changes made in the software code to keep the program current with changes in technology (and make software improvements). When updates are included in the price of the software (as with Best Consignment Shop Software) there are no games being played. Many vendors will espouse, "Free software updates with paid annual support!" which is another way of saying 'No paid annual support, no updates' so when (not if) an update is needed to resolve an issue, the person who opted out of the support plan will be either forced to enroll in the support plan or pay extra for the update.
A cheeky way of blind siding software clients with big increases in cost - charge a nominal amount for one user or station and escalate the cost with each additional user or station.
The ploy here of course is to make it as painless as possible to lure the client into the software at a lower cost and double up when limits are reached. Yes, store owners may not be thinking of additional users/stations when shopping for software, and vendors are very aware of that, which is why this tactic is practiced routinely.
Even if you're in a hurry, find out know what it will cost to open another store. When you're successful beyond your wildest dreams and get to that point, you'll be locked into the software and you will get clobbered with a big price tag for doubling up.
This is one area where it makes sense for a software developer to allow software purchasers to buy a lesser edition of the software (if the lesser edition fulfills current requirements) with the ability to upgrade to a higher edition for needed additional features and functions. The thing to know at the outset is how much upgrades will cost and what the 'catches' are.
Exceeding the Number of Allowed Vendors
This strategy is a twist on the vendor setting some contrived limit to the number of records the program will allow. That 'limit' is set by the vendor, so bypass this by going with a program that doesn't have such limits.
Schemes that exploit you after purchase are indications that your relationship with the software provider will be adversarial. As one vendor put it, "We would rather get $1,300 from one customer that get $130 from 10 customers - nine fewer shops requiring support."
Here's a list of software vendors purporting to offer 'Antique Mall Software':
Anteq (out of business?)
Antique Mall Accounting System
Data Management System
Homestead Mall Sales Manager
Visual Mall Manager