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Cloud POS systems

Discussion in 'Software, Computers, CMC's Techie Stuff' started by framestudio, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. framestudio

    framestudio CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Anyone using these platforms? What do you think of them?
    Is Lifesaver & i-framer the only programs out there?
     
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  2. CrumbGuzzler

    CrumbGuzzler Grumbler

    Those are the only cloud based programs that I could find. I am on a lifesaver trial right now. It is a nice program, but their pricing has no provisions for loyalty. If I buy, it will be the same cost next year.
    Frame Vue is not running yet either, and a rep told me that it will be an extra $20 a month to add that service to lifesaver. The pricing software works great though.
    Iframer looks awesome, but it doesn't look ready to go in the US yet. Also... you cant create an account in the app and take it for a spin. They want you to contact them before you're allowed to sign up. Not a huge deal, but I'll wait until they are ready for US customers before I try too hard at it.
     
    framestudio likes this.
  3. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Yes you can take i-FRAMER for a spin, just sign up to the basic plan and the first 30 days are free.
    We are currently working with a couple of framers to ensure all the imperial issues are resolved.

    I am also happy to Skype and give an online tour and answer any questions you may have.
     
    framestudio likes this.
  4. framestudio

    framestudio CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Does that mean i-Framer is ready for the USA? If so I'm excited!
     
  5. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    It's close, we have a couple of framers just checking the last of the imperial issues.
     
    framestudio likes this.
  6. CrumbGuzzler

    CrumbGuzzler Grumbler

    So... I’m a dummy. I have been looking at the iFramer.club product this whole time. It is purely a visualization program. The iFramer that is referenced here is something completely different. I spoke with Lifesaver today, and the pricing on their website isn’t accurate. It is $35 a month AFTER you pay them a $600 up front fee. The membership fee for cloud software is enough to make me try other products. IFramer is my next product. I can probably handle plugging in product pricing as they get vendors on board. Their YouTube videos make the software look super user friendly.
     
  7. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    The math all comes out fairly similar, IMO.
    Most traditional systems are about $1400-$1500 up front for year one, and then annual maintenance, support, vendor updates cost an additional $370-$440 yearly ($31 - $37/mo) You don't need to pay the initial fee every year, just the ongoing monthly fee. There are also show specials for ALL of them at the upcoming WCAF show, so look for the deals next week :)

    Here is a neutral comparison list, so you can get some idea of how the various companies structure their pricing. I apologize that it doesnt have the cloud products on it at this time. I'll get that fixed up after the show, when I get some accurate/updated figures from the vendors.

    http://www.getthepictureframing.com/gfaq/software.htm

    I'm not trying to promote any specific product, just posting to clear up confusion. I'm a lifesaver customer and will be in their booth as a customer testimonial. (disclaimer)

    Mike, resident geek :)
     
    CrumbGuzzler likes this.
  8. CrumbGuzzler

    CrumbGuzzler Grumbler

    The market is changing right now, and framing software seems to be a little behind. I get the up front pricing for a software program where you buy a hard copy and install it on your machine. This cloud software doesn't require an install of a program, or downloaded updates, or sweeping changes as hardware changes. It is cloud based. It is simpler and easier and more user friendly. Buying an expensive membership and then paying dues seems old fashioned to me.

    Iframer looks like a pure subscription service. I pay the subscription fee and it opens the gate so I have access to their content. That approach hits market standards. I like the Lifesaver program. I want to use it. The up front fee, in my opinion, is obsolete when you move to a cloud based program... I don't have the option to milk the program for an extra month before I buy vendor updates. I don't have a hard copy of the software that I bought. With cloud software, I am renting the program, but they are expecting me to buy the real estate and then pay rent on it.

    Don't get me wrong... I may land on lifesaver in the end. They really do have a killer program. IFramer, however, has communicated incredibly well and is offering a product that looks solid, and seems to fit the economics of subscription based software. I have to give them a shot. I am incredibly impressed at the customer service I have already received from iFramer and I haven't given them a dime yet.

    The Lifesaver guy said he could probably work something out if I go to the trade show. I won't be able to make it this year, however. I plan to reach out and see if they can offer trade show pricing to a non-participant. We'll see what they say. In the meantime, I'm going to check out iFramer. I feel good about those guys.
     
  9. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Thanks for the feedback CrumbGuzzler.

    One of the reasons we never charged an upfront fee is because we are also picture framers.
    I feel it is a way to trap you. Once you pay an upfront fee you are committed wether you like it or not.

    We believe to keep customers you need to not only be offering the best product, but to hold ourselves accountable.
    If we are not offering excellent support, updates and new features then as far as we are concerned we would be failing, and would not expect our customers to continue. After all i know i wouldn't, which is why we abandoned the software we were using and decided to make a product that is more of the times.
     
    CrumbGuzzler likes this.
  10. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You can call me "old fashion" all you want. I prefer to be in control with the program on site on my machines where I am not dependent on the internet. Manually installing updates is no big deal.
    FYI, my first experience with computers was in the late 60's with batch input on punch cards. I appreciate the ease of the latest machines. I was a system analyst with KMart before PCs for a short time setting up communication with corporate and field locations.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
    CrumbGuzzler likes this.
  11. CrumbGuzzler

    CrumbGuzzler Grumbler

    You win. I’ll call you old fashioned.
     
    i-FRAMER likes this.
  12. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    LOL.
    One of the reasons we developed cloud based was because we live in a cyclone area.
    Whenever a cyclone approached, we use to wrap and pack a backup of the computer included the computer as well at the shop, then take another backup home and hope we didn't lose both. Losing both meant we would not even know's whose work was lost, who had or had not paid. Being cloud meant we just closed the shop up, if we lost everything, we could just call up on our phones and know exactly where we were.

    We had several businesses move to us for that very reason, losing their hard drives with no backup and all their history lost.
    Also have saved a couple of subscribers who did have the PC's die, as they could continue within minutes, without having to worry about reinstalling software and backups.

    For our computers now, we use Crashplan as a cloud backup. No more hard drives. So far never had to use it though.
     
    AaronF likes this.
  13. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The cloud is great for backups, but in its current state I'm not ready to use it for live data. I've used several cloud based products and demo'd a few as well. In addition to feeling insecure about not having data on site, the latency and speed of the internet is way too slow for my liking. And we have a pretty good Fiber internet connection.
     
  14. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Yes, I use the cloud to backup as well. I also have a secondary backup drive at home.
    "The cloud" is nothing new. They used to be called "remote servers".

    It is always good to have a backup plan (A>>B>>C). Home/Business backup generators for power is an example as are paper work orders.

    P.S. I do not wear a belt and suspenders at the same time :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
  15. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We do have multiple forms.

    1. We have RAID (to protect against HDD failure)
    2. Local HDD Backup (to protect against malware* and accidentally deleted files, although that never happens...)
    3. Cloud mimics zone 2, with the added benefit of being offsite with 0 effort.

    BTW, ALL of our backup plans are 100% hands-off. We get emailed reports if there are any issues.

    *We keep 7 versions of each changed file, so it's possible that malware could still be a problem, but there's no way really to protect 100% against malware except don't plug your computer into a network and keep it in a secure facility. Which kinda defeats the purpose of most computing needs today...
     
  16. YPF

    YPF Grumbler in Training

    I have been using I-Framer for nearly a year here in UK after a few years with an ‘on-site’ program. My initial concerns over latency have been proved wrong - and we just use basic broadband over our ‘phone line.

    Whilst uploading suppliers’ catalogues was never really difficult on the previous software it did add a little to my non-framing time. Additionally, a little bit of stress has been removed when any hiccups occurred.

    Mark from I-Framer has always sorted out any issues promptly, all in all, great customer service.
     
    CrumbGuzzler and i-FRAMER like this.
  17. AaronF

    AaronF CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I've never use any sort of outside application. I'm definitely not your typical picture framer though either. I was a boat wrench-turner prior and have always had a DIY heart. With some help from a programmer (XLS/spreadsheet) friend, I've come up with this "calculator" to help with quotes. Between that and Quickbooks Online, we've not found a need for any other software for our framing business. All the metrics are able to be adjusted, such as profit ratios on each product/service, labour rates and other input numbers. It's a bit messy, and the backend is hella messy, but it works decent. There's even a metric to imperial converter!

    Where it's currently lacking accuracy is stretching. As you can see a 6"x8" canvas costs $72 to be stretched, which is kinda not fair to the client. Also, with framing a piece that small with a moulding that costs us $1.50, will cost a client $122? That's a bit out as well. Prices for sizes under 12x16-ish get more skewed the smaller the art gets. It's a constant work in progress, however I do not frame full-time, nor am I amazing with spreadsheets, so I can't do all the linking and backend complicated calculations myself.

    Let me know what you guys think! This is the first time I've ever shared even a screenshot to someone outside of my company.
    upload_2018-2-12_17-36-31.png
     
  18. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Have you demo'd any of the mainstream systems (LifeSaver, FrameReady, er al)?
     
  19. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I would leave the design of a "picture framing order system" to the experts. The current batch of POS picture framing software companies take care of much more than pricing an order
    • order pricing (your only concern with the described spreadsheet)
    • customer order documentation
    • customer database
    • inventory
    • vendor orders
    • vendor price updates
    • email to customers
    • input from many other pictures
    • tracking orders through the shop
    • recall of old orders for duplication
    • SERVICE/SUPPORT WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM
    • ETC.
    P.S. If your smaller size pricing is not appropriate you have to reevaluate your price formula (fixed price plus variable price).
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    Mike Labbe likes this.
  20. AaronF

    AaronF CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I agree leaving those things to the professionals of that nature, though I can't justify the cost of it for what you get. I've toured around i-framer and didn't see the value I thought there should be. Or at least the level of finish I would be happy paying for their asking price. Just a personal feeling. It feels very dated.

    Your concerns about the XLS I use are valid, but I don't do much volume to be honest so it hasn't hindered me all THAT much. Yet. My framing business is actually not our main source of income as well, I should note.

    Order pricing is all that calculator is for actually. Punch in sizes, choose media for printing, enter framing costs for framing, etc and you will get client prices spit back out in their respective boxes. While your other points raise good questions, I simply don't think that I need to have a client database within the calculator. We currently use Quickbooks Online for our accounting and client database (with the help of Active Campaign for client management). While tracking inventory would be nice, I try not to keep much stock at all as that's money that could be in my pocket. I primarily deal with Omega who delivers twice a week. So far so good on this front. What are some benefits that you all see for holding inventory besides rush jobs?

    As for vendor orders, price updates and tracking orders, we are a very small shop. I do the vendor orders, we have one of our co-op students at the time update the pricing on the frame samples. We don't show a lot of samples due to our gallery space making us more money per wall sq.ft., so updating the prices on the corner samples takes about a day's work.

    I'm all for hearing constructive criticism of my current system, but I don't accept "leave the picture framing ordering system to the professionals". I am working as a picture framer. Am I not a professional? Even if some may say inexperienced or flat out "not a professional", I think that I may have a different approach than most, but does that mean it's wrong?

    I feel like being someone who just kind of fell into this work, I have a lot to learn and try to be as open as I can about soaking in what you all with an abundance more experience than I. I enjoy the work and the industry, so I plan to stick around for a bit and any help to make myself and our community better as a whole, I'm in!

    Have a great weekend everyone! I look forward to reading some of your thoughts.
     
  21. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A day's work, even for a minimum wage worker, when all labor burdens are honestly considered, is not insignificant.

    The "professional POS" systems can automatically update ALL your vendor's pricing on a weekly basis for virtually no effort whatsoever.

    When you "update prices manually" how many times have you sold the item before the price was updated? IOW, how much money did you lose because your system didn't have the current price already entered? Do you update prices every time every single vendor you deal with changes prices? What happens if you miss the mailing? Or the mail never gets to you? Every year, after we send out catalogs (first class, so we can be sure to get any moves/address corrections) we get innumerable "we didn't get that catalog"s.

    A spreadsheet or homegrown database (properly done) is way better than pencil and paper, but to my mind, the far bigger advantage of a professional POS is the automatic pricing updates, and worth every penny.


    Do you also do your own legal work, electrical work, medical work, etc? I believe the point was that, while many of us do have multiple skills, we are usually better off concentrating our time and effort on what we do best, and let others do the rest. Small companies often struggle with this concept of paying someone else to do what they can do "for nothing". The trouble is, if you do everything, who is going to run the business? There are very few one-person operations that couldn't spend more time (not necessarily money) on marketing, one of the very few things that will actually grow the business. But it often seems there isn't time to do that, as all the time is spent on "more important stuff" that could easily by farmed out.

    I will grant that it's not easy, as a small operation especially, to get to the point where you feel like you can justify "spending the big bucks", when it seems like you have only time, and no money. Just don't get into the mindset that "that's the way I run my business" or you may just have built a box around it.
     
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  22. AaronF

    AaronF CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Well put. Your whole reply actually speaks to most entrepreneurs at some point, in some facet on their journey. Because my background is hands on and NOT sales or marketing, my skills are actually best used doing things like this, while my wife who's background is marketing typically handles that front for us. She really just comes to me for input and knee-jerk reactions to her ads before posting them or sending them to print. The closest I've ever been to sales is customer service behind a counter at U-Haul. Definitely not near the same as an art business!

    Anyway, thanks for your reminder of not trying to do everything. Our best investment so far, besides our direct employees, has been an SEO specialist. If you folk out there don't have one yet, or your online presence is low or nil, please consider it. Get quotes and choose someone in the middle. Throw them up here and get some feedback!
     
    David Waldmann likes this.
  23. snafu

    snafu MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Great Job!
    I also use excel spread sheet my wife and I created. Yours is much neater than mine.
    moulding price updates are a hassle, luckily it's only 2 or 3 times a year with LJ and Roma, Decor is more often.

    I don't see where you enter the moulding number
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
  24. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I can understand why framers will try to write their own spreadsheet to save some costs.
    But you are looking at it wrong. You see $400 a year cost. Which most people would spend more on coffee, alcohol, take way etc. I would spend that much in 1 night at the casino.
    Look at the flip side, how much does it save you in costs and time.

    Before we started creating i-framer we were using a commercial based spreadsheet (we were limited in Australia at the time only 2 choose from). It was very limited as far as i was concerned, could not scale and adapt with my business.
    So i asked the questions what is it i want it to do. Save time, save costs and increase profits.

    So thats what we did, and any good software will do the same.

    If you can't send automatic emails and sms quotes and messages, recall customer history, pricing updated automatically when suppliers prices increase, scale your markups, report on most common items used, or most common size and combine markups to maximise profits, job sheets, cutting lists, sync to accounting software, etc., then you are not saving yourself $400 a year, you a costing yourself $1000's.

    No offence. When i see these spreadsheets. It reminds me of customers that say only its only 4 pieces of wood to make a frame. I understand there is satisfaction in doing it yourself, but is this a hobby or a business?
     
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