Charity shops are all about revenue-generation for the charity, and part of that is keeping costs as low as possible. Clearly you don’t want to be spending money on buying expensive computers and till systems as this would eat into the valuable revenue that the goods sold will generate. However, can you afford not to have good systems in place? Would running a charity shop using a pad and a pen not be a false economy?
With Cloud Computing you don’t need to compromise. All you need is an internet connection in your shop (and broadband is now near-universal, cheap and reliable), and a thin client (a cut-down PC), and that’s it. You can now log on to your Cloud Desktop and access everything, just as you would from a normal PC. You could even move your till system to the Cloud by subscribing to a Cloud-based ePOS system (Electronic Point of Sale). Link this to a touchscreen thin client and you have a fully-featured retail environment, with full control of your stock and centrally controlled pricing, without having to invest large sums of capital in equipment or software.
You can also make use of Cloud VoIP within your charity shop. All you need is handset and a subscription to The Charity Cloud’s VoIP service and you can become part of your organisation’s telephone network. This means that, as the phone will essentially act as an extension, all phone calls between you and your organisation’s offices (and potentially other shops) will be free.
Broadband internet is key to these Cloud solutions and is generally reliable, but there will always be times when the service isn’t as reliable as it should be. If your charity shop is in an area where broadband isn’t very fast or reliable there is the option of using an internet router which has a 3G dongle as a backup. This means that, if the broadband service fails over the telephone line, the router can intelligently switch across to using the 3G service, thus maintaining the connection to the internet.