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Liberty Requires Additional Software In Order To Send Emails

FacepalmLiberty’s new Send Mail “feature” does not work unless you install and/or configure additional software.  This means when you click the new Send Mail button, you will not be able to send email until you configure additional software – e.g. Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird, Window Live Mail, etc.

For years, Liberty has had the ability to send emails on its own, utilizing its own built-in code and libraries.  In fact, many of you will remember the paid upgrade from Liberty 2002 to Liberty4 Consignment, which introduced email functionality.  So why has the email functionality that has been in Liberty for years, been left out of this new “feature”?

In Liberty’s recent 4.0 update, there is a new button that is supposed to let you email a consignor:

Liberty's Send Mail Button
Liberty’s Send Mail Button | Click to Enlarge

The only problem is, it doesn’t work unless you install and/or configure 3rd party software – e.g. Outlook Express…

Liberty & Outlook Express
Liberty & Outlook Express | | Click to Enlarge

When a program such as Liberty goes to send email, it can do so in one of a few ways.  It can take the “easy” way out (which makes it easy for the software, but difficult for the user) and not add any email functionality at all.  This is done by asking Windows to send email through whichever 3rd party software is currently installed and configured as the Default Email Program.  The other option, is to put in a little more work ahead of time so that your users don’t have to run into issues come time to use said feature.  The latter is what Liberty4 Consignment 4.0b utilizes.  They’ve simply given you a shortcut to launch email software, which you may or may not have on your computer.

Why though?  Liberty already has built-in code which allows it to send emails.  Your SMTP Settings are entered under Tools > eCommerce Options > Email Settings:

Ecommerce Settings > Email Settings
Liberty’s Email Settings | Click to Enlarge

These settings tie-in to other portions of Liberty which can send emails – e.g. the Event Manager, the Word Processor (wordmail), etc.

So why isn’t that functionality being used here?  Why does Liberty now require its users to install + configure 3rd party software just to send an email?  This just makes it difficult on you vs. having the software do the work for you.

Do you know what default email client is on your computer?  Do you even have a default email client on your computer?  Liberty requires you to know the answers to those questions.  Many people do NOT have default email clients on their computer, because they check their email in their web browser – e.g. Gmail, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, etc.

We actually recommend not using an email client on your computer, because it creates a dependency and a support issue for you, which translates into a cost.  Programs such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc. have to be installed and/or configured.  Ok, which settings go where?  What if you move to a different computer?  Are you going to download and install software on that computer now?  What happens when that system crashes?  Are you telling me you can’t use email until you get your computer setup and then get your email software reinstalled?  What about backups?  Have you been backing-up your email files?  See where this is going?

Liberty already has multiple areas where it can send emails and it’s been able to do so since 2004.  Why in this new paid upgrade, does it not utilize the features it already has?  Why put the workload on the person attempting to use the feature?  That’s exactly what this is doing – it’s making the user do the work, not the software.

In ConsignPro, when you click the Send Email Note button in a consignor’s account…

ConsignPro Email Consignor
ConsignPro Email Consignor | Click to Enlarge

It launches its own email screen, so you can send the email right from within ConsignPro, without having to use 3rd party email software on your computer…

ConsignPro Email Form
ConsignPro Email Form | Click to Enlarge

The reason I point this out is because it creates a support issue for Liberty users.  When Anita Johnson @ Upscale Fashions, Inc. asked me to configure Outlook Express so that Liberty could send emails, I was quite surprised.  The button there now is the “quick way” to get that feature in there, but it puts all the work on you, the user.  What do stores do if they want to use this feature?  Do they have to call their tech?  Why can’t Liberty just send the email on its own?

For the benefit of the end users, I really think Liberty should handle sending emails without relying on the Windows default email client.

Feel free to add your comments below!

 

Google Drive Released Today

Google Drive

Today, Google officially released Google Drive.  Google drive is a file-sync/online backup solution from Google.  It’s completely free and includes 5 GB of storage right out of the box.  Additional storage can be purchased, if needed.

Thus far, Google Drive installed and synced very quickly.  Google Drive functions much like Dropbox, in that only a specific folder on your computer will be synced by Google Drive.  This means, you have to put your important files or files you want to have access to from multiple computers, within one specific folder.  While this keeps Google Drive simple and straight-forward, we like the ability of programs such as SugarSync and Mozy, which let you select specific folders on your computer to include in your backup + file-sync.

Google Drive does however add Google Docs synchronization + offline functionality.  This means you can work on documents and spread sheets while you’re offline (e.g. while traveling) and your documents will sync with Google Docs as soon as your Internet connection is restored.

Google Drive would also be a great solution for consignment store owners who wish to have a redundant + off-site backup.  Just point your consignment software’s backup setting to your Google Drive folder – e.g. C:\Users\Dean\Documents\Google Drive – and your daily backups will be safely and securely backed-up to your Google account.

Liberty Version Numbers

When helping our clients that run Liberty4 Consignment in their consignment/resale business, something we’re commonly asked is, “Why are Liberty’s version numbers different?”  Let’s take a look at what they’re referring to.  When you launch Liberty4 Consignment, you’re actually launching a very specific program – i.e. Liberty Inventory Module (RWD.exe):

Liberty4 Consignment Inventory Module
Inventory Module | Click to Enlarge

This is the core program in a suite of programs that comprise Liberty4 Consignment.  There are other programs that are part of this suite – e.g. Liberty POS (RWPOS.exe), Liberty Report Writer (RWReport4.exe), etc.  Each of these portions of Liberty are separate programs.

As new updates are released, each and every module won’t necessarily receive an update.  Typically Liberty Inventory and Liberty POS will receive updates and you’ll see their version numbers are commonly the same.  The Report Writer tends to not receive updates as often as the other modules though.

For example, you’ll see in the latest version of Liberty (as of 9/14/2011 v3.8c), its Report Writer actually shows v3.7e:

Liberty4 Consignment Report Writer
Report Writer | Click to Enlarge

Just because the module numbers are different, doesn’t mean the program hasn’t been properly updated.  Make sure not to confuse this with different program versions when running Liberty in a network environment.  A separate issue altogether is running a different version of Liberty on the database server as compared to any/all of the network workstations.

If you’re uncertain as to which version of Liberty you’re running or if you think there are any issues with the version numbers on your system, you can contact The Computer Peeps for a free checkup.  You can contact Resaleworld Support directly via [email protected] if you have any questions as to which version of Liberty is currently available to you.

[Consignment Success] How to export email addresses

Emailing clients is a great way to keep in touch, alert them of upcoming sales or drive in new consignments.  Even if your consignment software supports sending emails directly from within itself, once you try to send multiple, identical or similar emails, you’re at risk of being blocked as SPAM.

A client recently inquired as to how to send emails to clients in her Consignment Success database.  If you’re sending more than 100 emails, The Computer Peeps recommend a bulk email service such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.

Starting at the Consignor list, you have a list of all of your consignor accounts…

Consignment Success - Consignors
Consignment Success – Consignors (Click to Enlarge)

If we click the Consignor Reports button, we’re presented with a way to select all or specific accounts, as well as a way to export to a format acceptable for Constant Contact…

Consignment Success - Consignor Reports
Consignment Success – Consignor Reports (Click to Enlarge)

We’re then given a file that contains the accounts we’ve exported…

Export Dialog
Export Dialog
Consignment Success - .CSV Export
Consignment Success – .CSV Export (Click to Enlarge)

This file can be utilized with email services such as Constant Contact and MailChimp.  In our example above, we exported a file of all accounts.  Emailing ‘all’ accounts might be good in the event of a big sale or event.  You could export just consignors that haven’t consigned since last year (encouraging them to bring in new items).

[Liberty] How To Sell An Item At a Discount, Without Impacting the Consignor

From time to time, you might need to discount an item – e.g. a friend that helped you out with your new store opening – but you don’t want the discount to impact the consignor.  This isn’t a general sale or something that’s part of your consignor agreement.  It’s a friendly discount, so you want the store to eat the loss, so to speak.

First, here’s the quick version:

  1. Click Sale (F4)
  2. Enter the discount percent – e.g. 50%
  3. Check the box next to Calculate Net on Original Price
  4. Click OK
  5. Ring up your items as usual

The result is, no matter what you discount the price by, the consignor’s net will be based on the original price.

Here’s a more detailed walk-through with screen shots…

  1. In Point of Sale, click the Sale (F4) button…
    Liberty Sale Post
    Liberty Sale Post

     

  2. You will be prompted to enter a Discount PercentThis is where you need to select Calculate Net on Original Price

    Posting Options
    Posting Options
  3. Once you click OK, it will put POS into the Sale Posting Mode (at the defined Discount Percent)…

    Discount Percent
    Discount Percent
  4. Scan or enter your items as usual.  You’ll notice the Selling Price vs. the Orig. Price reflects our 50% discount

    Selling Price vs. Orig. Price
    Selling Price vs. Orig. Price

Our consignment split was 50/50, so in this example, the store ate the entire thing.  Our consignor is still owed their $25 for each item…

Price Sold vs. Cons. Net
Price Sold vs. Cons. Net

 

Use the Calculate Net on Original Price option carefully.  The majority of the time, you do not want to do this.  Normal sales are typically part of the consignor agreement, so as the item’s price is discounted, the consignor’s net due is as well.

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