There Are 2 Basic Choices:
- 1. Install software on your computer where you can safeguard your livelihood and your customers' data.
- 2. Place your business and your clients' information on a web-based computer under the control and supervision of complete strangers at an extreme cost.
Install Software on Your Computer
Installing software on your computer puts your business and your clients' personal information under your control.
Software that installs on your computer is available for a one-time payment so there are no ongoing expenses for simply using software to organize and automate your affairs.
Place Your Business Under Another's Control
Web-based software hands control of your business and the safeguarding of your data over to someone you don't know on a computer that you know nothing about. (In fairness, your clients have a right to know when shop owners make this choice.)
There are no meaningful guarantees about data safety, and data security risk is so high that reporting agencies will not allow some businesses to use web-based software.
Any unbiased knowledgable source knows that any computer (connected to the Internet) can be hacked. Know that you will be held responsible for placing your customers' names, business names, physical and email addresses, and phone numbers 'out there' on a computer that you know nothing about rented from a complete stranger who in turn knows very little about the 'company' that he's renting the computer (space) from.
Oh yes, you'll get the sales nonsense that your data is totally secure when in fact the only security is that available to any low-level commercial enterprise engaged in the business of placing computers (servers) online and applying the best-available security measures (which are totally inadequate protection from the bad guys).
One con man even gives his personal guarantee that your data will be safe, while he operates behind his own safeguard as an 'LLC' (Limited Liability Company) protecting HIS PERSONAL assets from any statements he makes as an LLC about 'guarantees'.
- Web-based software is not controlled by the end user. It is installed on a computer whose location and owner are basically unknown.
- Cloud software adds dependencies upon your Internet connection, the Internet itself and the web host's Internet connection.
- Connections to the WWW invite viral infections. If the computer is not connected to the Internet, there is no risk.
- Clients' data is placed 'out there' on the web and vulnerable despite any guarantees to the contrary.
- There are plans in place to increase the amount of money flowing from stores to software companies based upon usage: the number of users, the amount of activity, the extent of features and the number of locations. The strategy should not be ignored.
- Web software users have reported that those in control of their data have refused to release their data when requested, regardless of the fact that the data belongs to the store owner.
The Ongoing Cost
How long do you hope to remain in business? Let's say 10 years, so is there any significant benefit of web-based software that is worth ($1800 x 10 =) $18,000??!! That is the minimum (with 150 consignors) not including price increases once you're locked in. Compare that to spending $600 once for BCSS Diamond to do pretty much the same thing - manage your consignment business.
The significant risks and unnecessary cost can be avoided by using software that is installed on your computer. That's the only way to assure that outsiders cannot access your customers' information.
Free Remote-PC Software
Some shop owners just want to 'check in', or retrieve information, or add inventory, but they can also do much more 'remotely': process sales, make/change software settings, send messages (like chat and email) and run reports.
To perform all of those functions (and a few more) it is entirely unnecessary to pay month after month for a 'web-based consignment software app'.
There are several free programs for accessing your store's computer from literally, anywhere in the world. Just search Google for 'remote PC software' and look for free software like Team Viewer, AMMYY and GoToMyPC.
With those programs, it's possible to leave the shop computer running with one of those programs open, go to any computer connected to the Internet (even wireless) and use the same program to log into (access) the shop computer. (The shop computer can also be turned off when work is finished, or it can be programmed to shut down automatically in case you didn't log in as planned.)
Need to work from home, an auction, an estate sale or flea market? Buy a one-time off program like BCSS, install it on a laptop and work at the shop or from anywhere without an Internet connection, without the risk of losing your data or being down because some link in the web-based dependency chain is broken. Have complete control over your data, knowing it's safe and secure. Achieve mobility at a very reasonable cost.
- If necessary, a mouse, keyboard and/or a second monitor can be attached to a laptop for greater convenience.
- Taking the laptop home each night disconnects it from the Internet where it can't be hacked or infected with a virus.
- Taking the laptop home prevents theft from break in at the store (which happens surprisingly often).
- Using a laptop avoids the expense of having to purchase a second copy of the software to install on another computer - which also involves the cumbersome task of switching the data back and forth between laptop and computer.
- A laptop can be connected to other computers at the shop allowing use of the shop-based program simultaneously.
World-Wide Data Access
Here's a very simple and free method of working away from the shop:
- On any computer with an Internet connection, download the BCSS free demo. (It's fully functional and can be used for 2 weeks.)
- Access your shop's computer or have someone at the shop make a backup of the BCSS data and email it to you (or place it online where it can be downloaded like One Drive, Dropbox, Gmail, etc.).
- Restore the data on the temporary computer.
- Run BCSS just as you would at the shop.
- If changes are made, make a backup of the data and place the new database online where it can be downloaded at the shop.
Of course the shop computer and the temporary computer can't be making data changes at the same time because changes in one or the other would be lost. This method works for temporary situations and keeps cost to zero.
The Long-Term Solution
- Purchase an inexpensive program like Best Consignment Shop Software for a one-time payment (and no trailing fees).
- Install the program on the shop computer (with an Internet connection).
- Run one of the free remote-access programs on the shop computer.
- Take the username and password for the remote software to any computer connected to the Internet.
- Log onto the shop computer from the remote computer.
- Operate the shop computer just as though you were at the shop sitting in front of the computer.
- Turn the shop computer off when finished.
Granted, some functions (like printing labels or checks) would require a physical presence. If someone is not in attendance at the shop, these ancillary tasks can be performed when you are at the shop.
An alternative is to use web-based software costing $1,200 every year - $1,800 for more than 150 consignors, and once locked into such a program, you're unlikely to switch to another program and you will be vulnerable to future price increases.
Don't Be Mislead
This is an ad appearing in Google for the $1,800/year program:
"Lowest Startup Costs" is in reference to just the first monthly payment. There's nothing 'lowest' about paying $1,800 every year for just software.
"Free Tech Support" - 'What if' the pricing schedule read, "$900 per year for the software plus $900 per year for tech support"? Same thing so are we to be fooled about true cost by 'Free tech support'?
At $1,800 per year, clearly there's nothing about this software offering that is 'free', yet on the home page there's "No Contracts (so what?), No large up-front fees, Cancel anytime, Free customer support, Free data backups, Free updates'. Don't be taken in by 'free'.
Who is 'the company'? At one time there was disclosure that the program was created by (and supported by) only one person. What happens to support for the software if 'he' is no longer around?
Should you be concerned about data security? After all, data is stored on a computer under the control of someone unknown at an unknown location with unknown security measures. If hackers can get into computers at Neiman-Marcus, Target the U.S. government, then assurances ("We guarantee that your data will be safe.") by someone with far fewer security measures don't mean much. In contrast, no one can hack into your data if you control the data and keep your computer disconnected from the Internet.
Any 'guarantees' are only as good as the company's financial ability to back guarantees. If a company is owned by an individual without substantial assets, then guarantees are meaningless, particularly if the person is operating under an LLC (Limited Liability Company) where his assets are not subject to law suits.
In order to use a web-based program, at least 4 things must occur: Your Internet connection has to be working, the Internet itself has to be 'up', the program and the computer it is running on has to be operational and the Internet connection to the host computer has to be up.
Clearly software running from the local hard drive runs (much) faster than software that has to be accessed over the Internet. It's possible that wireless, dialup, satellite, ADSL and slow DSL connections would make running a shop on web-based software unbearably slow despite the incredibly-high cost.
Not placing your business in the hands of a stranger maintains control and gives security and peace of mind. You're protected from hackers and viruses.
All the hoopla about 'no contracts' and 'low-start up costs', free this and that is nothing more than cover up of a very expensive and risky way to run your business. A vendor pushing this form of software should be required to give equal and appropriate disclosure of the risks involved, including who he is and what his ability is to meet his guarantees.
When you select a consignment software, you are in essence taking on a business partner. Surely all of us feel more comfortable entering into a relationship with a company that is forthright and honest up front about what we can expect in the future.
Web Based Consignment Software
The trap has been laid. It remains to be seen whether you are going to take the bait and step into it. Keep in mind that once you've made a decision, once you (and your employees) have suffered the hours to become proficient in one software program - you're likely to get stuck in the 'prior investment trap' and resist buying another program, getting your data converted (hopefully correctly), and learning another program all over again...
...not to mention that the amount of money you will have spent on 'web-based software' could have paid for a nice annual Puerto Vallarta vacation!
Need to work from home, or while on vacation, or from the other side of the world? You can do that for free without having to pay a huge monthly fee for web-based consignment software. Just leave the shop computer on and access it using any of the free remote-pc programs (Aammy, Gotomypc, Logmein, Team Viewer).
Who Has Your Data?
Who owns your data? Well, you do, but do you have access to it? local daily copies of it? If you've gotten this far and are still considering web-based consignment software, call people who don't have an interest in selling you on web-based software for more opinions. Even if the policy today is that you have access to your data, most likely there's a single person making decisions about data policy - not much security when something so important is controlled by a single individual hiding behind an LLC.
Seriously, $100 per month forever paid to an individual who controls your business? 'What if' that person disappears, gets on the wrong airplane - doesn't show up one day? Are you really going to depend upon something so fragile as blind trust in a situation that is totally foreign to you?
If all else goes well - the server doesn't get hacked and you don't get sued for liability - the individual manages to stick around and doesn't abandon you - all the false promises never get tested - the fact remains that all this risk and alleged wonderment isn't nearly worth an endless monthly payment that will result in a big drain on your shop's income. That's the intended design: Use software as a conduit for passing money from your bank account to 'his'.
The 'hidden cost' is extortion - holding the program hostage to increasing costs.
Sayonara to every penny paid to the individual for 'his' program. You have no equity - no right to resell the software - because you weren't granted ownership. "SaaS" stands for 'Software as a Service' - a concept widely adopted by software developers who were looking for a way to retire on their users' use of their programs - an endless stream of income for nothing more than the use (not ownership) of a web-based program.