Custom Development? What Does That Mean?

I often tell folks that EduCyber does custom web development. They nod their heads but I can tell they walk away wondering what exactly that means.

So let me give you an example of a project we just finished:

Denver Tux, a local tuxedo rental company had a software package that managed all its rentals and sales but the vendor was looking to get out the business and the software was no longer meeting their needs or being updated regularly.

Working very closely with the owner, we created a web-based system that lets Denver Tux manage all the complexities of tuxedo rentals. While the system is essentially a Point of Sale (POS) system dealing with rentals is far more complex. Once an order leaves the system – and remember an order can be very complex with pants, shoes, shirt, jacket, tie, cuffs, vest and more – that same order has to be able to be checked back into the system. Larger items like pants, vests and coats, are all tagged so it is important to know not that “a black vest” was returned but that the same vest that was rented to Groomsman A has just been returned.

We created the processes to manage all that and to also create all the reports desired. From a financial perspective, you can view daily sales, monthly sales and other customizable reports. You can also pull up and see who in wedding party hasn’t come in to be measured yet, or which tuxes haven’t been returned afterward.

I could go on, explaining how we’ve created solutions to handle tax, rentals and retail sales, employee clock in and clock out and much more. But suffice to say that if you need custom web development – or even custom development that might not be on the web – we can get you the solution that meets your specific needs.

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Can’t do Business the Same Old Way

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During a meeting with a potential client this week I made a casual inquiry, asking which payment processor they currently used for the ecommerce web site.

“Oh, we do it manually” they said. It turns out they use an antiquated system that sends them the customer’s credit card information via email. They then take that information and run it through their Point of Sale software to charge the account.

Oops. That is a dangerous if not illegal procedure.

Emails, by their very nature, travel from computer to computer across the internet. There are ample opportunities for one of these relaying computers to cache a copy of the email, with the customer credit card information. This then creates an opportunity for the information to not be secure. If this data is encrypted, it is reasonably secure. If not, it is a ticking time bomb. I don’t want to be there when the ticking stops.

Once the email has arrived, a host of other security issues arise:

  • Is the network secure?
  • Is the computer secure?
  • What happens with the email after the transaction has been processed?
  • Was it printed out?
  • If it was printed out, what is done with the print out after the transaction has processed?

In Colorado it is, to my understanding, illegal to store a hard copy of the complete credit card number of a customer.

If you are a merchant and aren’t sure if your system is compliant, a good place to get started is https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/merchants/.

Another valuable source is EduCyber Endorsed SGP Services. Give Sean a call at 303-697-7799.
 

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Making Money in Tough Times: Five Tips to Stay Ahead

Is your business growing? Why not? If historical trends hold true, we should be coming out of the recession soon. Wouldn’t you rather come out poised to grow instead of scrambling to keep up?

There are lots of things you can do to make money and grow, even when a recession might tempt you to shrink or think small:

  1. Look at your web site through the eyes of your customers. Does it make sense? Do you have a clear call to action on each page / section?
  2. Look through your existing customers keeping in mind what you offer and what they have purchased. Offer an upsell based on what you find. Perhaps if they’ve bought one item or service from you, there is a natural progression (or you can create a “natural” progression) for the next level.
  3. Leverage relationships. I recently found myself short-staffed. I was able to leverage a relationship with a key partner to have him service some of my existing customers. He made money and my customers didn’t experience a lag in service.
  4. One of my favorite new money-makers is turning things I’ve already created into information products that I can resell. For example, you can purchase one of our ebooks online or, if you’ve missed a seminar that EduCyber offers and really wanted to get it, you can purchase the audio online. If I can do it, so can you.
  5. The old adage that you have to spend money to make money still holds true. We are investing in new technology and investing the time to stay on top of trends in the Internet so that we can make even more money moving forward. What can you invest in (either time or money) that will pay dividends moving ahead?
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9. Does your site need a shopping cart?

For the most part this seems like a simple question. If you sell stuff, you should have a site. If you sell any kind of product it makes sense. This includes video and audio that can be downloaded. We recently finished a suite of sites that includes http://www.mythicyoga.com. From this site you can purchase real books but you can also purchase ebooks or audio downloads.

So anything that can be downloaded can also be sold.

  • Pictures? Yes, you should have a site.
  • Maps? Yes.

What if you’re a non-profit? Absolutely. Why wouldn’t you want to make it easy for donors or potential donors to contribute to your cause? In this case the beauty of the Internet is that it makes it easy for people from anywhere to help support you. If you build wells in Aftrica, you want to be able to accept donations from Texas or Tanzania or Tasmania. If you’re saving whales in Alaska, you want donors from Mississippi or Mauritania or the Maldives.

What about if you offer a service instead of stuff? There are still several reasons you should consider taking payment online through a shopping cart on your site. If you offer packages with set prices then it is a no-brainer. Yes you should. Even if you charge by the project or by the hour you can still set up your shopping cart so that you can accept payment. Depending on the cart you use and how you configure it, you can have invoices available online that the customer pays or you can have the customer enter the order total.

Virtually any kind of business, even a non-profit corporation, can benefit from a shopping cart. With the growth in very affordable merchant accounts and gateways, it doesn’t take too many payments or donations before it really begins to make sense to use a cart and accept credit cards.

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