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Bluefish Retail Blog

  • Minor Update 1.7.5

    A new maintenance update is being applied to our production systems this morning Fri Aug 12th 2011 9am GMT+1.

    There could be intermittent downtime on console servers for around half an hour.

    Your POS front end will continue to run normally.
    The update can be applied to your POS front end whenever convenient.

    The update contains the following fixes:

    1. UAC problem in Windows 7 causing installer to be downloaded twice
    2. Problem downloading windows installer in Internet Explorer 8
    3. Intermittent problem with indexes on the store db
    4. Improved speed on store to hub communications
    5. Bug causing rounding problem in sales under certain conditions
    6. Dashboard 24 hr sales chart, speed up data fetch
    7. Product data import issues with boolean values not being interpreted correctly
  • First live version 1.7.4 released

    First Full Version of Bluestore Live Released

    The latest Bluestore Live release 1.7.4 was applied across the production servers this morning. This is the first live version and marks the end of our beta test phase.

    Big thanks to all the retailers who helped us with testing through beta. The main thing we learned was that it was way too difficult to get started with an evaluation because of the complexity of downloading and installing the POS front end. We hope you see big improvements in this area.

    Main changes in this release:

    1. New console theme and more intuitive menu structure
    2. New download and install wizard to make it much easier to get up and running
    3. New POS installer/updater that is better integrated with the OS.
    4. Getting started tips for each page and links to user help
    5. Data import improvements. Better import speed and merging of data so you can now import products, prices, descriptions, barcodes etc without having to split them across multiple files
    6. Easier connection of hardware devices. As well as supporting JavaPOS drivers we can now output receipts to any locally connected printer. Barcode scannners configured as keyboard wedge input (most USB scanners are set up like this out of the box) can just be plugged in and they will work, no need to install drivers.
    7. Additional security features in the API
    8. Several bug fixes

    We will shortly be publishing pricing and sign up details. We are also currently updating the support site to reflect the new features - should be complete in a few days. Look out also for more blog entries explaining some of the features of Bluestore Live in more detail.

    Throughout the beta phase your feedback has helped us to improve the product. This is really important to us so please keep it coming!

  • New Release 0.6.4

    Final Beta Version of Bluestore Live

    The latest Bluestore Live release 0.6.4.2300 was applied across the production servers this morning. This is the last beta release before our official launch!
    This release continues to improve reliability and we've fixed a number of bugs that have become visible during beta testing. In addition we have added a number of new features:

    1. A front page dashboard for the console. Shows sales for the last 12 months, sales last 24 hours, POS summary for today, daily receipt analysis for the last 14 days and the status of connected POS terminals. We will be adding to the dashboard in future and eventually would like to allow users to create their own front page widgets for their business.
    2. New monthly sales report. Displays sales values month on month in matrix form with annual totals.
    3. 'Request Price' feature. Allows a product to be set as 'request price'. This will ask the POS operator to enter a price whenever the product is scanned/selected at the till. Very useful for variable price, 'miscellaneous' or grouped products.
    4. Export of daily POS summary data to excel, csv or xml. Provides a summarised output to file of sales, payments received, drawer discrepancies and drawer miscellaneous payments. This can be used as base data for importing to an accounting application or for external reporting.
    5.  New Bluestore API. Allows customers to set up an external application to use data in their Bluestore Live account. OAuth is used for authenticating remote requests against secure keys that can be generated inside the Bluestore back office console. This first release of the API allows interrogation of product and inventory data and will be extended in future to cover all Bluestore objects.We are also working on full supporting documentation which will be available in the coming days.
    6.  Improvements to the POS reconciliation process. We've cleaned up the POS terminal drawer reconciliation process to make it easier to understand with better operator prompts.
    7. Improvements in the reporting parameters. We've added new parameters to some of the reports to make them more flexible, e.g. full date and time selection for the main sales report.

    Throughout the beta phase your feedback has helped us to improve the product. This is really important to us so please keep it coming! The next release will be the first live version. We are very excited about the launch and more details about pricing and sign up will be published in due course.

  • Using Bluestore Live POS on a Tablet

    We recently evaluated the possibility of running Bluestore Live on a device that could be used in pop-up stores, trade shows or for queue busting. We used a Partner Tech EM-200 which is a semi-rugged tablet coming in at a reasonable cost, well suited to retail environments.

    The EM-200 tablet feels physically robust and is dust/spill proof. It has a 10.1" touch screen so there is enough screen space to work with while being small and light enough to carry around. It can be used completely mobile or while fixed in a purpose-built 'POS Base' docking station which gives additional connectivity options.

    Our tablet was running Windows XP Pro, although it would be much better suited to Windows 7 with its tablet support. The device can also run Windows POSReady (a cut down version of XP designed for POS systems) or Ubuntu Linux which would reduce the cost of the tablet.

    Incidentally we recently tested Bluestore Live with Ubuntu 10.04 with very good results. Ubuntu would be a great option for retailers wanting to save on the cost of Windows licenses; it is very easy to install and use and has a familiar 'desktop' style layout.

    We started by setting up a clean new enterprise on the Bluestore Live back office, filled with sample data for the test. The EM-200 was connected to our local LAN through wi-fi and we checked we were able to successfully browse the internet before starting the install process.

    We started up the tablet and launched internet explorer, entering the URL of our Bluestore Live back office console. After log in, we started the process of installing the terminal software on the tablet. We clicked on the terminal record in the console and were prompted to check if we had Java installed on the tablet.

    Windows XP doesn't come with Java pre-installed so we followed the instructions to install it first.

    The terminal download and install wizard then started automatically. Just a few screens to click through and the POS terminal was installed.

    When first starting up the terminal, Bluestore Live contacts the central server to download the enterprise data (products, prices, user accounts etc). This took a few minutes before the login pop-up was displayed, we then logged into the POS application and started a terminal session.

    To test that the everything was working ok, we created a few sales then checked the Transaction Journal Report on the back office console to ensure they were all updated.

    Despite the modest Atom processor, the POS doesn't feel sluggish on the EM-200. Entering sales using the product selection buttons was quick and responsive and the 1GB of on-board memory definitely helps. The unit has a 160GB hard drive so there is plenty of disk space for storing data.

    The smaller screen area at 1024 x 600 resolution also did not seem to be an issue. We tweaked the screen layout slightly to make best use of the space, giving more room to the transaction buttons on the wider aspect ratio.

    The LED backlit screen is bright and can be seen from any angle, you don't have to have the screen directly facing you; the display has a matt finish which feels responsive to the touch. The battery life was also perfectly usable in store, with the wi-fi on it lasted for around 2 hours before we had to charge it up again.

    We tested it with a USB receipt printer and it worked fine, although a mobile solution would be better for operators on the move. A printer connected by bluetooth and worn across the shoulder would make the user truly mobile.

    All in all we thought that the Bluestore Live POS terminal worked really well on the EM-200 tablet and can see it being used in a variety of situations. Do get in touch if you'd like to discuss using Bluestore Live and the EM-200 in your business.

  • Change to data import templates

    A minor change has been made to the structure of data descriptions simplifying the way that 'Messages' are imported.

    This affects import templates for Products and Product Categories so the new templates should now be used. Please download them from our downloads section at:

    www.bluefishretail.com/file-downloads

    For more information on importing your business data into Bluestore Live from a spreadsheet see the tutorial at:
    support.bluefishretail.com/entries/213290-importing-data-from-a-spreadsheet

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