Investing in Training is Profitable

The most successful companies have long recognized the value of a well trained staff. Some of the many reasons savvy business owners realize how investing in training will impact the bottom line are: increased job satisfaction and morale among employees; increased employee motivation; increased efficiencies in processes, resulting in financial gain; increased capacity to adopt new technologies and methods; increased innovation in strategies and products; reduced employee turnover; enhanced company image. These are just some of the compelling arguments to make ongoing training an organizational goal.

Staff training can be on the job where more experienced employees are assigned to train new employees. Cross-training existing employees on the various tasks handled by other staff is also important. This ensures operations are not disrupted when employees leave the company either temporarily or permanently. Sometimes a company does not have the knowledge internally to train staff for various reasons: key person left the company, company acquired new technology, or simply wants to learn how to leverage more feature/function from their current technology. Regardless of the reason, a prudent owner will recognize the investment value of developing his human resources to actualize increased efficiencies that will ultimately impact the bottom line.

These same principles hold true for independent grocers in this competitive market. As a solutions provider for independent grocers we understand these needs and have developed training programs to assist our customers in this on going effort. If you want to make the investment to improve your operation, contact your STCR Sales Representative. They can tell you about what options and programs we can customize to fit your specific needs and then see how it can improve your bottom line.

PCI Update

The PCI Security Standards Council announced recently that all 3 standards it controls will follow a three year development lifecycle.

The PIN Transaction Security requirements which specify how pin numbers are handled already used the three-year cycle with Version 3.0 coming out earlier this year.

The PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) used a two-year cycle – the current cycle ends in October 2010. The PCI DSS is a set of requirements for protecting card data by way of procedures, policies, networking, software and other areas.

Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) also used a two-year cycle – the current cycle ends in October 2010. The PA-DSS is a set of best practices called the Payment Application Best Practices (PABP). The purpose of the PA-DSS is to help vendors and others build software that protects card data, including mag stripe data, CVV2 and pin numbers.

The reason for going to a three-year cycle is to allow more time for merchants, banks, processors and vendors to implement the standards and meet the requirements. It also allows more time for the council to receive feedback about the standards and to discuss that feedback at community meetings.

The council also continually evaluates new technology and threats, and if needed, makes changes to the standards or provides guidance. Bob Russo, general manager of the council said, “The PCI Security Standards Council relies heavily on feedback from our participating organizations and the PCI community to create standards that strengthen the security of payment card data, and the input we’ve received has been overwhelmingly in favor of lengthening the lifecycle… Moving the revision cycles to three-year periods for all three existing standards ultimately means organizations have additional time to focus on making sure they have the appropriate processes and controls in place to secure cardholder data.”
PCI Security Standards Council home page:

Are Processing Fees on the Decrease?

An estimated $48 billion in swipe fees were charged by credit and debit card networks in 2008. If assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin has his way these fees will be on the downslide. In May of this year the US Senate passed an amendment to a banking overhaul legislation that will impose price controls on the debit transactions taken at retail establishments.

The Durbin amendment could save billions of dollars for all types of retailers, from family restaurants, dry cleaners and grocery stores that are increasingly realizing that more and more consumers are making their purchases with debit/credit cards. Retailers have tried to get legislation to control these fees but have run into road blocks along the way.

The amendment would direct the Fed to issue rules to ensure that debit interchange fees are reasonable and proportional to the processing costs incurred. Visa and MasterCard currently charge debit interchange fees of around 1-2% of the transaction amount. These fees are far higher than the actual cost of processing debit transactions, and they mean that small businesses and merchants always get shortchanged when they accept a debit card for a sale.

The amendment also prevents card networks like Visa and MasterCard from penalizing merchants for offering discounts to customers. The amendment would allow sellers to offer discounts for customers to use competing card networks and for customers to pay by cash, check or debit card. The amendment would also allow sellers to choose to decline credit cards for small dollar purchases (because interchange fees often exceed profits on such sales).

Visa and MasterCard have reduced debit interchange rates in other countries while increasing them in the U.S. While Visa and MasterCard continue to raise U.S. interchange rates (which are already the world’s highest), researchers have found that “regulators in other countries have worked with Visa and MasterCard to voluntarily reduce their interchange rates.” Just last month, Visa lowered many European debit rates by 60% while increasing many U.S. debit rates by 30%.

The amendment does not affect credit card interchange fees. Some have argued that the Durbin amendment would reduce credit availability by regulating credit card interchange rates. However, the amendment’s reasonable fee requirement only applies to debit cards.
Stay tuned, it is not a done deal yet. The banking overhaul bill still needs to pass the Senate, and then it must be reconciled with a House bill that does not mention debit card interchange fees. Credit card companies and banking institutions promise to fight the bill.

Is Your Backup Working?

In the wise words of Ben Franklin ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. A good backup/recovery solution for mission critical systems is an ounce of prevention crucial to any business owner. The pain of a hard drive failure without a good backup could include irrecoverable data loss, having you system down for an unneeded longer amount of time and could prove to be very expensive. Not only is there the obvious expense of the required emergency services, but even more costly is the lost revenue and customers associated with excessive down times.

STCR Business Systems provides a full backup/recovery solution to all our customers but having a solution in place is only the first step. Ensuring it is completing correctly is the second step and should be a high priority for every store. Some solutions are automated but they too need to be inspected. It would be a mistake to assume a backup will be there when needed only to find out, when it’s too late, it’s not. There is no better way to protect your investment and minimize potential down times, due to a hard drive failure, than consistently confirming your backups are completing correctly. This way you can be proactive and call the Help Desk if there are any issues.
If you don’t know if your system(s) are backing up or even how to check, please call STCR’s Help Desk at (607) 757-0181. One of our friendly, professional Retail Systems Analysts will be happy to assist you. Let us help you prevent the costly mistake of not periodically verifying the backup solution is working successfully.