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"5 Free Tools That Might Help Your Retail Business"

- By Bob Twain


Here are a few great tools I have found that can be very useful for the small retail business.

1) Mozy - A handy internet back up utility that costs you nothing!

As we all know, religiously backing up your POS software data is absolutely critical. And if you have high speed internet, then web-based back ups can be a very easy way to go.

The only problem is that they're usually a little pricey. Well, I recently discovered Mozy, which is a handy little internet back up system that costs you nothing!

It will back up your data over the internet and it's really easy to use. The no-charge version handles 2 GB of data (which isn't bad). And if you want more, you can get more storage at a very reasonable price.

Before you try Mozy you need to know about one important limitation...

Mozy is ONLY useful as a safeguard against anything catastrophic. Since it only does incremental backups (only backs up changed files) and only keeps one copy of the data, it won't allow you to restore back to a couple of days before. You can only go back to the last one. So if you messed up your database yesterday, but didn't catch it until today, you wouldn't be able to go back before the problem.

That's why you should always have an additional back up method that stores data for at least a couple days. In any case, this is a really easy way to add another safeguard to protect your data. You can never have too many back ups!

Here's the link to their website. Mozy really is hard to beat.
http://mozy.com


2) GoodSync - A really easy way sync your data.

GoodSync will automatically back up data between desktop PCs, laptops, USB drives and more.

For example, you could use this program to easily back up your POS software database, Word files, Excel files, and other important data to your network and a USB stick. It's quick and easy.

This is much faster and easier than manually trying to keep track of where the most current version of a file is at.

Other cool things are that GoodSync only copies data that has changed. You can set it to only synchronize files when you request it. Or, you can set it to automatically scan for changed files every minute, hour, day or specific time of the day.

I personally like using GoodSync to make a copy of my database on another network computer and update automatically. So I always have a back-up copy in case something happens to the server.

Did I mention GoodSync doesn't cost a penny?

You can try it out at this website:
http://www.goodsync.com


3) Ad-Aware and Microsoft Defender

If you use the internet and you do not have Anti-Spyware software, you need to start right away!

Spyware slows down your computer and can cause it to crash. Need I say more?

You can scan and clean your computer of the spyware without spending a penny by using Ad-Aware or Microsoft Defender.

I have used both programs and they work great.

The only issue with the no-charge version of Ad-Aware is that you have to manually run the scanner. It won't protect you automatically. You'll need their paid version for that.

In any case, if you can remember to scan religiously, you can get away with the no-charge version.

That's what I do. :)

Microsoft Defender:
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx

Lavasoft's AdAware (the personal edition is no-charge):
http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/


4) AVG Antivirus

This is going to sound kind of repetitive but...

If you use the internet and you do not have Anti-Virus software, you need to start right away!

I personally use AVG because it costs nothing. It works on Windows and Linux.

The only problem is that you're not supposed to use it for commercial use. Not that anyone will know, but you should probably only use it on your home computer. I use it at home and love it.
http://free.grisoft.com


5) MachMailer - An easy, powerful, and free program that allows you to send mass email messages and promotions to your customers and prospects. They even have a version that can connect to your POS software database!

I recently discovered MachMailer several months ago and love it.

It's a great tool for retailers because it makes it easy to stay in contact with customers and prospects. You can send promotions and utilize all kinds of handy features to get more customers in your store.

What I really like about MachMailer is that it packs a bunch of great features into the program (which gives you flexibility) and it's really easy to use. Not to mention, they offer a no-charge version if you only send 200 emails per session.

I personally upgraded to their paid version but it's still the cheapest mass email program I have ever purchased. And it's still one of the best! In fact, this is what I use to sened all my newsletters. :)

The no-charge version is limited to 200 emails per session. But if you're doing small targeted mailings, this is perfect. Otherwise, you can upgrade to their paid edition for $99. This is a pretty good deal compared to most email blasters. Trust me. I've used plenty of them.

There are couple really cool and interesting things about this program that I should point out...

First of all, it can connect to any ODBC compliant database. So in many cases, you can actually connect this to your POS software and read the email addresses stored in your POS.

This allows you to do some really cool things from MachMailer. First, it saves you time because you don't have to maintain and update your email list in two different programs.

Second, you can set up a bunch of rules based on the information in your database. For example, you could easily create a rule like...

IF your customer's City is equal to Cedar Falls you insert the text "Since I noticed you live in Cedar Falls, the city is having a bi- centennial event right next to our store. And we're having a special promotion for the occasion..."

You can also filter emails based on information in the database, so your customers won't receive emails that don't pertain to them. You really have all kinds of flexibility to be creative and improve your conversion ratios.

I personally connect MachMailer to a Microsoft Access database that stores all the information about my customers and newsletter subscribers. This allows me to only manage ONE list! I can also slice and dice the list however I want.

My only criticism is MachMailer doesn't have a feature allowing you to set up auto-response email messages. In other words, you can't set up messages to automatically get triggered and then send on Day 1, Day 5, Day 10, and so on.

I did make this request to the developer and he seemed excited about the idea. So we'll see what happens.

You can download the software on this website. I suggest starting out with the no-charge version that allows you to test it out and send to 200 emails (which might be enough for you).
http://www.mach5.com/products/mailer/?akey=psg

If you decide to purchase the program, be sure to use my affiliate link and the following promo code because you'll get 10% off:
http://www.mach5.com/products/mailer/?akey=psg

The promo code for the 10% discount is: psg


If you have discovered any free or low priced software utilities that work great for your retail business, please send me a message.

On a final note, I should give the PCAmerica Newsletter some credit because I learned about the Mozy back up software and GoodSync in their newsletter. They do a good job of supplying interesting content. http://www.pcamerica.com


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To Your Success!

Bob Twain



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