Point of Sale Solutions

Point of Sale Solutions: Assuring Proper Integration

Today these problems are compounded by multiple computer-based systems that are being integrated with point of sale solutions.Retailers are now interfacing–via token-ring–all of their in-store systems such as Direct Store Delivery, Time & Attendance and Security. Local and remote communications networks eliminate numerous phone lines and modems, but add to the complexity of today’s wiring networks. Various cable types, ranging from twisted shielded pair to fiber optic cable, are now additional parts of in-store systems.

The integration of multi-vendor, multi-generational networks and point of sale solution support products requires that your staff’s technical expertise be dramatically increased. Once trivial tasks such as adding a register, printer or point of sale terminal are now subject to complex wiring schemes. Local maintenance crews may lack the expertise necessary for trouble-shooting and repairing complex point of sale solution networks–there’s no room for error where system uptime is concerned. Your vendor must not only maintain your point of sale solution system, but understand its relationship with other computerized in-store devices and networks, and provide the products and services to maintain your in-store point of sale solution system to perfection.

One major retailer was recently faced with these concerns. An aggressive roll-out of new store openings and 100 existing stores were slated for a complex token-ring configuration which included several state-of-the-art data networks in each store. Obtaining reliable and sophisticated point of sale solution systems support was a challenge.

The retailer first employed several wiring contractors in a variety of cities to install the data networks, but because the local contractors had limited experience with retail networks, multiple data communications problems arose.

The retailer then chose a vendor which specialized in retail point of sale solution systems implementation and could accommodate the point of sale solution’s sophistication, complexity and specialized support products. They chose a single-source value-added products and services company which could schedule wiring and hardware installations from one location, interact with makers of various token-ring devices to insure a smooth and consistent installation and which ultimately provided the effective, successful implementation of their point of sale solution.

A key component of this retailer’s success was a low-cost intelligent Multi-station Access Unit installed in each location to interface, monitor and control computers and other point of sale solution devices on the token ring. They maximize point of sale system reliability by eliminating the guess-work from trouble-shooting token ring networks: they provide both visual and audible alarms when problems arise, allowing employees to identify problem locations immediately and reduce network downtime. Intelligent MAUs are easier to use and more effective for retail applications than conventional MAUs, which merely isolate a malfunctioning pc without specifying the problem location or sounding an alarm.

This retailer chose an intelligent MAU with user-programmable alarms and indicator lights, a feature designed specifically for the retail environment. Personal computers which serve as controllers or file servers can be programmed for an urgent mode of problem identification (both audible and visual alarms) when they malfunction or are powered down unintentionally. Personal computers which are normally turned on and off throughout the day can be programmed for a less urgent mode of problem identification. The MAU this retailer chose can also be connected to a remote, user-programmable alarm box which alerts managers in remote locations to network malfunctions. And, an auxiliary jack allows the MAU to trigger optional switching devices that can merge the loop of a failed controller with an operating loop and controller.

By carefully choosing among the many MAUs available, potential problems posed by the integration of various, sophisticated token-ring devices were avoided by this retailer.

Point of Sale Solutions: Some Advice

Free advice is of value if it can eliminate point of sale solution system downtime, service call and increase employee and customer service. Here’s some free advice about the integration of your in-store token-ring network:

* You’ve already spent the time and money to automate your stores. Now spend the appropriate time to insure your networks are installed and maintained correctly. * Plan your point of sale solution networks carefully. Many vendors utilize the same cable for each of the networks, which could result in cost savings if bought in bulk. * Find a specialist who is familiar with most vendors and networks. That vendor will give you the ability of one-stop shopping and provide a uniform network installation. * There are universal connectors available that provide network consistency, security and reliability. * Put your networks on a maintenance plan. The money spent now will help eliminate network failures and system crashes in the future. * Install a MAU that offers the most flexibility and automated trouble-shooting functions.

The discounter described above followed these general guidelines and now enjoys the versatility, flexibility and power of a chain-wide token ring network with reliable and sophisticated point of sale solution systems support. If you, too, follow these guidelines, your token ring should be the useful and dependable network you desire.

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