Monday, October 17, 2011

High(er) Tech

You can take the girl out of technology but you can't take the technology out of the girl.  Yes, it is still there.  And it is still always thinking about how to use technology to make the retail business and the fashion world a better place.

I've been thinking for a while now about the best way to set up a disaster recovery system for processing credit/debit cards.  As you may recall from reading my blog, I've had two instances (one with my router and one with a Comcast failure) that created problems in this area.  Yet, as is the case in most businesses, it is often something else that helps you come up with the solution.

I had made a commitment to have a Zoe booth at a Fall Festival held at the Alexandria Country Day School.  The genesis for this adventure came from some women from that area of Alexandria who visited Zoe one day and suggested it as a way to get the word out to more people about the store.  Although my focus would be to have smaller, affordable items at a fair like this, I knew that having the ability to accept credit cards (as well as cash and checks) would increase the likelihood of sales.

It was important to find a solution that would work with my current credit card processing company AND with my iPhone 3GS (so, I'm a technology laggard in some areas).  My credit card company had a solution in conjunction with Verifone that they suggested I review as my solution.

One of the things I liked right away was that the Verifone solution creates an end to end encryption.  Meaning no one's credit card number EVER hits my phone at any time but is encrypted at the time of the swipe.  It was also a very sturdy, robust card reader.  And, even better, it came at the right price (30 dollars cheaper when purchased from the Apple Store than from Best Buy!)

The set-up process was also fairly straight-forward.  The technician from my credit card company did all of the set up on their end.  I had already received the sleeve and downloaded the App from the iTunes store and the remaining set up on the iPhone was minimal.  We ran a test transaction through using my credit card and the technician showed me how to set it up to email the receipt to the customer.

The two forms of credit card acceptance are processed in different batches.  Meaning that my store's credit card receipts were processed in one batch that night and the receipts from the iPhone were processed separately.  There is a small ($5) monthly fee to maintain the ability to accept cards on the phone and a separate (slightly higher) swipe fee.  But for the peace of mind that the $5 a month gives me for disaster recovery alone is well worth it.  Plus it makes it easier for those times when I do make sales outside the bricks and mortar store.

Next up:  Adventures at the Country Market

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