Starting a new business is an exciting time, full of promise and possibility. However, the choices facing business owners can feel overwhelming. Once you have your business name and location established, the next item on the “to-do” list is hardware. Choosing what (and where) to buy can have a considerable impact on your financial success, as well as your day-to-day employee and customer interactions. Consider all your options; learn about the essential hardware purchases for any new business, and how that hardware can help you reach your goals as a business owner.
Whether your work environment is fast-paced or low-key, the right equipment makes all the difference. This is doubly true if a business is being designed from the ground up since hardware placement can affect the look and feel of your workspace.
First off, let’s consider three critical hardware systems that no business can do without — computers, sales hardware, and security systems.
Regardless of the nature of your business activities, the right computer is an obvious must-have. Remember that what suits your lifestyle at home may not necessarily be the best fit for your workplace. Before purchasing, you should establish a budget and then consult with experts. Factors you will need to consider are if you need portability or can use a desktop computer, what software your business will require, and if you need it to network with your Point Of Sale (POS) devices.
2. Sales Hardware
Do you need a cash register or POS device? Your choice will depend on both the daily needs and projected growth of your business. This is a significant decision for anyone working in a sales environment or within the hospitality and restaurant industries.
A POS system will include a printer, touchscreen and cash drawer, and possibly a barcode scanner or QR-code reader. It can also handle a more comprehensive array of tasks than a simple register. While budgeting concerns may come first and foremost when starting a business, a solid grasp of each machine’s long-term efficiency, ease of use, and reliability will help you make an informed choice.
Remember that any future hardware upgrades will require retraining your staff, so if you see a need for an updatein the first six months, you might consider starting with the newer system.
3. Security hardware
It’s wise to research safety strategies right off the bat since the most effective systems are ones that are fully integrated into the design of your space. A complete system could include CCTV surveillance, a live video feed, motion sensors, alarm systems, and cabling, all managed by an access control system. This hardware will allow you to monitor all areas of your business, day and night.
Access solutions should also be kept in mind; how will employees enter the workplace? Modern technologies offer a variety of alternatives to traditional lock-and-key methods.
The array of security-related choices can seem daunting at first, since – for many of us – advanced security systems may fall outside our personal experience. Experts can ease the learning curve, and most innovative products are now designed to be user-friendly.
Key Considerations Before Purchasing
Your specific needs will vary, depending on the nature of your business. When selecting hardware, evaluate your requirements based on the following factors.
- Speed – If you’re operating a retail business or restaurant, time is money. Studies show that efficient transactions dramatically increase customer satisfaction. Maintaining a comfortable, relaxed environment while quickly getting people in and out is a challenge, but it must be a top priority.
Seemingly small choices can affect efficiency: how easy is it to replace a used ribbon in your POS printer device, or to override the scanner if it malfunctions? The faster-paced your work environment is, the more reliable your hardware needs to be. When evaluating the anticipated pace of daily operations, consider how repairs or breakdowns will be handled. While buying top-notch equipment will prevent the most common issues, a solid warranty and a trusted tech support team are essential when problems arise.
- Ergonomics – If equipment is used continuously, day after day, even a small extra effort can result in physical strain. A counter that’s too high – or a touchscreen placed on a low table – can result in repetitive stress injuries. Ease-of-use is not just affected by your choice of equipment, but where and how it’s positioned within the work environment.
When purchasing, look for a company that offers staging and configuration services, to ensure the hardware is positioned and installed with health and safety as a priority. An expert will help you optimize positioning in high-traffic areas (such as a restaurant kitchen), thereby decreasing the risks of both injury and equipment damage. When evaluating risk factors, keep in mind the experience level of your employees, as well as their average age and fitness level.
- Servicing – Accidents happen in a busy workplace, and even the most reliable equipment is susceptible to damage if misused. Owners require access to a trusted support centre and a source for readily-available part replacements.
When buying, look for a company that is also a service provider to simplify the communication process. Ask whether repairs will need to be completed on-site, or if the equipment must be shipped out. Find out what turn-around times are typical for these devices. Consider as well the start-up process; if these are new technologies to you, it’s best to go with a company that can confidently guide you through initialization and answer questions while you learn the ropes.
- Environmental Impact – When deciding whether to buy new or used hardware, consider the ecological effect of your choice. Traditional recycling procedures require energy and water, and incorrectly recycled items increase overall waste. Hardware refurbishment prevents toxic chemicals from leaking into our soil and water, which happens when electronics are disposed of improperly.
Thinking ahead, owners should consider their forthcoming choices, once equipment reaches the end of its life. Buying from a company that recycles used equipment means that same company may re-purchase your old devices for either repair or exchange (with another recycled item). Used equipment is cost-effective and dependable; items are disassembled, carefully cleaned, and thoroughly tested after reassembly. Buying used hardware keeps them out of landfills since any parts that can no longer be used will be carefully deconstructed for responsible recycling.
- Safety – Where is your business located? Are your hours 9-5? How valuable is your stock, and how confident and experienced are your employees? Do you have cash on site? All of these are vital considerations when selecting a security system.
In the cannabis industry, for instance, security is a vital concern. Before entering the business, be sure that you’re protected. A reliable system helps your employees feel safe since it will deter theft or break-ins, and record any unlawful activity (thereby serving as a deterrent for potential offenders). You’re not just protecting property; you’re protecting your people as well. In the cannabis industry, ID scanning is an essential step in each transaction; a POS system will provide this service, complimenting other security measures.
When planning for your business, time is an invaluable commodity; by buying all your hardware from one supplier, you’re guaranteed an efficient purchasing process and expert advice, all in one place. At www.posrg.org, we’ll guide you through the selection and installation process, and we’ll help with any questions down the road. Call (905) 332-8809 for environmentally responsible hardware solutions, throughout Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton.