Florist POS Systems & The Cloud

May 23, 2012 at 11:29 AM

 

The "cloud" has hit the mainstream and florists are starting to ask questions. The real question is "what serious applications are really in the cloud?"

 

A lot of applications that use the word "cloud" in their names really aren't cloud applications. One great example is Adobe Creative Cloud. The name strongly suggests that it is a cloud-based application that runs in a browser but it is anything but. The applications in the Creative Cloud suite are traditional applications that are downloaded and installed on your computer. Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. – powerful applications like this are the kind of real software that needs to be installed on your computer. You can't run a program like Photoshop in a browser.

Other companies like Microsoft have flirted with the cloud. Usually they have used the cloud more for storing and sharing documents created by traditional software applications like Word, Excel, etc., but the programs themselves are installed on the local hardware. Again you can't run serious applications like this from a browser. Sometimes they offer, or plan to offer, stripped down versions of those powerful applications that will run in a browser.

This is the best case tradeoff with cloud applications – give up some features, some convenience, some power – for the convenience of being able to run the application from any browser.

This convenience does make the cloud absolutely great for some applications, but more often "apps" than full "applications". A great example is a product like Basecamp – a kind of collaborative to-do list that is ideally suited to work in a browser, and where the convenience of being accessible from any browser make it much more valuable.

But what an app like this can do is fairly limited. It is an outstanding collaborative to-do list app, but it does not offer anywhere near the breadth of features that a serious florist would expect from their floral POS system.

Likewise most Basecamp users don't "live" in the app – they refer to it. Again this is very different from the POS system in a flower shop, where multiple users are in that system all day long performing countless different tasks all day long.

This kind of situation – the feature rich, mission-critical application that needs to deliver the best possible performance is still best handled by an installed application, and that is the route FloristWare takes.

The cloud does have strengths, and there are ways that a POS system for florists cane take advantage of these and provide real benefits for real flower shops. Adobe Creative Cloud for example is not a cloud application, but it does take advantage of the cloud to make delivering product updates fast and convenient. FloristWare has long followed the same approach.

The cloud is also ideal for storing backups. Backups are vital to ensure the continuity of a business, but backups that are kept in the flower shop are vulnerable. Storing these backups on a secure cloud server is a much better option, and one that FloristWare has offered for almost a decade.

Why the push for the cloud? It is a much cheaper way for a software developer to deploy their product. The vendor of a cloud-based POS system simply has to point their users at a website.

With FloristWare we have to install the software for the client on each machine. It is an expensive undertaking, one that consumes a lot of valuable support resources, but it also helps ensure the best possible experience for our florist clients and we are happy to do it.

A florist would never ask a customer to pay orchid prices for carnations just so that they could be more profitable. Likewise we would never ask our clients to give up features and performance to lower our costs.



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