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Credit card fraud is rampant and something you definitely want to be on the look out for in your business. There is a new weapon on the market, one that you need to know about. EMV, which stands for EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa, is a new industry standard of embedding credit cards with a smart chip. It was released in the United Kingdom in 2002 and has proven effective at thwarting would-be thieves. It has quickly taken hold in Europe and is gaining ground in the United States. Here is what you need to know to prepare your business for EMV.
How Does EMV Work?
Currently, all credit card information is stored on the magnetic strip on the back of the card. It’s a simple technology and the information is easy to steal with a simple swipe. In fact, there is even technology that allows thieves to steal credit card information just passing you on the street. It’s a faulty system and is quickly being phased out.
With an EMV card, the card information is stored in an embedded microchip. These cards will require new Point of Sale (POS) terminals that can read the chip and verify the cardholder’s identity. In time, Europay, Mastercard and Visa will stop offering merchants benefits and fraud insurance if they have not converted to the EMV system.
Why Switch Now?
At the beginning of 2012, Visa began extending its Technology Innovation Program (TIP) in the United States. The program includes waiving certain audit requirements for merchants that have switched to primarily EMV terminals that support contact and contact-less payments, including mobile payments. A failure to switch to the new EMV standard by 2015 will result in merchants being responsible for charges related to credit card fraud; not the bank who issued the card.
What Do I Need to Do?
The new EMV standard will require you to get new POS terminals that can read the EMV chips. You can contact your credit card processing specialist or an independent merchant services provider to determine what terminals will work for you. Make sure the terminals you purchase support the contact-less and mobile features required for the TIP program benefits. The new terminals can cost 10 – 30% more than the traditional models, so you may choose to roll out implementation sooner rather than later to ensure you are ready for the new 2015 rules.
Is There an Upside to My Business?
Besides reducing fraud, these microchips are mini computers and offer many compelling features. This technology is just beginning to evolve and many features and functionalities are yet to be discovered. Once such feature is the ability to have more information about customer spending habits. This information will be stored directly on the microchip, which will help merchants provide their customers with personalized shopping experiences.
Small businesses are a big part of this transition to EMV standards. It’s important you become educated about the technology and its effect on your business, and take the time to do a full assessment of the cost of transition. The change is coming … Will you be ready?
Today, more than ever, business are looking for ways to cut costs and increase productivity. One way to accomplish both while simultaneously catapulting your business into the digital age is to use a ﬁle sharing website.
A ﬁle sharing service allows a user to upload documents, photos, videos etc. to an offsite, online, virtual server to which access is determined by you.
Here are 10 ways a ﬁle sharing service can help your business by saving both money and time:
1) Eliminate Servers: With costs starting in the low thousands, and ranging to several times that, a basic server is a serious investment for any business. By using an online ﬁle sharing service you can replace a physical server with a virtual one, eliminating the expense of purchasing and maintaining your own.
2) Pay For What You Use: Purchasing physical storage devices is a compromise between capacity, need (both present and future), and cost and once the decision is made it is not easy to change. With an online ﬁle sharing service you have the option of multiple plans with different levels of capacity, ﬁle size, access speed, and customizability. By offering a tiered payment structure, sites such as mediaﬁre.com and rapidshare.com allow businesses to buy what they need and change plans as their needs change.
3) Forget the IT Department: With ʻdrag and dropʼ simplicity for ﬁle management, and several sites providing online tutorials, managing a virtual server is extremely user friendly. Since troubleshooting, maintenance and upgrades are taken care of by the site, your business can do without the considerable overhead of a large IT department.
4) Professional Security: File sharing websites provide both top-notch data security
online through encrypted file transfers and physically guarded servers. Mediaﬁreʼs “state-of-the-art computer services are protected by biometric locks and 24-hour surveillance.” Users are now able to obtain super security without the costs of hiring a small army to protect their data.
5) Never Another Lost File: Ever lose data due to your computer getting an unfortunate coffee bath? What about a power outage, or ﬂood? By utilizing an off-site virtual server your ﬁles are immune to destruction from local accidents and catastrophes, saving you the costs and worry of protecting your data.
6) Quickly Share Files: Instead of tediously selecting contacts from an email address book, an online server allows you to quickly share ﬁles with all other users by simply uploading the data to the site. Donʼt want everyone to see what you are posting? The option to password protect ﬁles grants the ability to select which users have access to which ﬁles. If you want to bring in more users, simply share the password.
7) Keep Everyone Up to Date: In addition to being able to share ﬁles easily, when using a virtual server any changes made to the ﬁle are also immediately available to all other users. This allows businesses to ensure everyone in the ofﬁce is working with the most up to date ﬁles at all times, instantly.
8) 24/7 Access: No longer do you have to be at work to access your work ﬁles. By hosting your data on a ﬁle sharing site you have access to it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When inspiration strikes outside of the 9-to-5 you can cash in by having all of your work ﬁles on hand no matter where you are.
9) Multi-platform Support: Gone are the days of forgetting presentations and documents at the ofﬁce before big meetings, with most ﬁle sharing sites supporting an array of devices you can download another copy to your laptop, tablet, or even mobile phone while on the go.
10) Simplify Backup: With the majority of your ﬁles stored on a virtual computer there is no need to save ﬁles on individual workstations. Since the ﬁles are saved online, there are fewer chances for mistakes and less time wasted backing up every computer in the ofﬁce.
For business, agility and the ability to adapt quickly are paramount to success. By moving your data storage to an online ﬁle sharing website, you are ensuring that your company is in the best possible position to keep on the cutting edge of technology and efﬁciency.
By Lauri Apple
Lauri Apple is a contributing editor at Gawker, a law school graduate, and a generalist who can write about any subject. Lauri blogs via Contently.com.
Stressed out about the upcoming holiday season? Don’t be. With some preparation, you can maximize your business’s potential to draw in new customers and achieve higher-than-usual sales. Here are some tips to help you plan for what should be the most exciting and profitable time of the year for your business.
Review Customer Service Skills With Your Staff
Some of your employees are probably holiday vets. Others, new to retail, will need extra help resolving issues likely to come up during peak times–especially frustrated or unhappy customers.
A good way to bring everyone up to speed is to hold a special customer service refresher workshop You can review problem-solving procedures, take questions from your staff, and draw upon the wisdom of your more experienced employees. Listen to the newbies as well–they bring a fresh perspective.
Make the workshop informative, but also make it fun. Do both by devising scenarios based on situations that might come up. Divide employees into teams, and have them creatively resolve these problems. Let the group critique the solutions, and offer prizes for the best ideas.
Serve coffee and pastries, or wine and cheese, after the formal workshop. Lots of good ideas will come up then as well.
Scheduling is Key
Measure your staffs’ strengths and weaknesses. Try to avoid staffing all-new employees on a shift; instead, have a combination of experienced and new employees on the floor.
Hire Additional Staff and Stock Up on Supplies
Spending a bit extra to have three cashiers instead of two, will pay off in more satisfied customers. The less time it takes for a shopper to check out, the happier he or she will be. Also, be diligent in stocking up on supplies–especially necessities such as cash register paper and bags.
Generosity Pays Off
Anticipate stressful moments, by providing holiday-themed snacks and beverages to make waiting in line more pleasant. Plan a routing system for long lines that maintains order and minimizes interference with other shoppers. If necessary, place someone at the front door to perform crowd control.
Make your staff happier, and more physically comfortable, by offering mini-massages on their breaks.
Make Gift Buying Easy
Do you sell lots of small items? Put these stocking stuffers near the cash register, where people are most likely to impulse buy. If you sell related items, combine them into packages and offer a special holiday discount. Create special signage that promotes these items.
Collaborate With Area Businesses
Businesses that pool their resources can take advantage of opportunities. Print advertising, for example, can be expensive for one store, but affordable for a group.
So invite fellow businesses owners over for a brainstorming session. Discuss holding one or more special holiday shopping days with discounts, holiday treats, and even entertainment.
Issue a joint holiday newsletter listing all of your stores’ hours, contact information, and refund and exchange policies. Ask your business partners to promote your services and sales on Facebook and Twitter, and do the same for them.
Work Your Email and Social Media
Offer holiday discounts to your Facebook and Twitter followers, newsletter subscribers, and your email list. Let your staff participate in sending out tweets and posting to your wall. They’ll feel more involved in the business, and your followers will appreciate hearing a variety of voices. Keep track of responses so that you’ll be ready for next year.
Use these ideas to create an effective holiday season strategy. Share them with your employees and invite them to provide feedback. With a bit of planning, you can make holiday shopping a gift for customers and employees alike.