5. What is the difference between the File Based and Native Interfaces?

Aloha eCard FAQ 1. What is Aloha eCard? Aloha eCard is the next generation of web-based electronic card applications, focused on providing Aloha users...
Author: Joshua Ray
8 downloads 0 Views 97KB Size
Aloha eCard FAQ 1. What is Aloha eCard? Aloha eCard is the next generation of web-based electronic card applications, focused on providing Aloha users all of the benefit of Internet-based applications, with an extremely seamless integration to the Aloha POS. The first component of the Aloha eServices product suite is eCard. Future releases will include other electronic card components such as frequent buyer, accounts receivables, etc.

2. Why would my company find eCards beneficial? eCards can increase business, increase customer loyalty, and make fast and easy profit for restaurants. Industry surveys show that 20% to 30% of eCard value is never redeemed. Also, like the name implies, eCards are often given as gifts, which often bring in customers that have never visited the restaurant before. With benefits like these, you can’t go without eCards!

3. Why use Aloha eCard? The Aloha eCard feature set uses existing hardware, offers real-time reporting, seamless integration to Aloha POS, built-in data warehousing and backup. Simply stated, no other eCard application can match the flexibility of Aloha eCard, or come anywhere close to the seamless integration you’ll see between the Aloha POS and our new eCards!

4. What are the requirements? The store site will need an Internet connection to the back office workstation (dial-up or high speed connection is fine), the latest released version of Aloha POS, and virus protection is strongly recommended. •

5.0xx File Based



5.2xx File Based



5.2.5.xx File Based



5.2.7.xx File Based or Native Interface



5.2.8.xx File Based or Native Interface



5.3.xx File Based or Native Interface

Note: Aloha eCards is not supported with 5.1 releases.

5. What is the difference between the File Based and Native Interfaces? An “interface” is the communications link or interaction between two independent systems. The File Based interface is between the Aloha eCard system that runs on the Back Office file server and the Aloha POS software. The Native interface is between the Aloha eCard system that runs on the POS, and the Aloha POS software (Iber.exe). The Native interface is available with Aloha version 5.2.7 and is built into the Aloha POS architecture. This means that the Aloha POS user screens, receipts and reports, have an inherent awareness of the eCard activity that occurs on the store system. Please refer to the Aloha eCard Native Interface FAQ document for more information. Some differences between the file based and native interface include: •

System Requirements



POS item and tender screens for selling and redeeming eCards



Support for Comps and Promos of eCards



Support for masking the eCard number

6. What is “VBO”? The acronym VBO stands for “Virtual Back Office”, which is the in-house term for the transaction-based real time architecture on which Aloha eCard was created.

7. How are eCards authorized? With Aloha eCard stores can run in real time mode, which eCard refers to as “virtual”. With the eCard virtual environment, cards are authorized from the eCard database via the Internet and no eCard data is stored in the store sites – Much like credit cards are handled today, except now with the Internet, much, much faster! Customers can also choose to keep all or some of the eCard data at the store site, on the back office only. With an in-store eCard database, the data is synchronized with cards that have been sold in other stores and updated balance information at intervals throughout the day.

8. How fast is the response time for eCard authorizations? Aloha eCard is designed with the latest technology that allows for one to two second response times whenever eCard authorizations are performed locally (without connection). Because of eCard’s unique caching capabilities where users can opt to cache some or all of their eCard data on the store POS system, Aloha eCard can achieve authorizations in about the same time it takes to close cash transactions! The authorization response time for Aloha eCard transactions that require connection to the central site will vary based on the type of connection the store uses. High-speed connections can render response times as low as four seconds. Generally ISP users will cache as much eCard data as possibly locally, so most authorizations would be in the one to two second timeframes. Card authorizations that require connection to the central site will take about the same time it takes the site to authorize a credit card.

9. What happens if a store’s Internet connection is down? The eCard software always checks the POS/back office to determine if the eCard data is available locally, before connecting to the Enterprise.com Data Center eCard database. Should it not find the eCard in the local database, the eCard software will connect to the Enterprise.com Data Center to authorize the eCard (much like credit card authorization works). Aloha eCard users can optionally define “auto approve” limits that the eCard system will use whenever the eCard is not found in the local database, or upon a connection failure to the Enterprise.com Data Center. One thing to note is connection failures with eCards are extremely rare, if the customer is using a “back up connection method”. We’ve built redundancy into the connection itself! Aloha eCard users can optionally specify a back-up connection method that is used when the primary connection method is not available. For example, you may have stores that generally connect via WAN or DSL. You can setup a backup ISP account that is only used should the WAN or DSL connection is unavailable. The in-store staff never is aware of connections, or which connection is utilized – All of this sophistication is very much behind the scenes to the store user. All they see is super quick response time and reliability of the eCard transactions!

10. Can the EDC phone line be used for Aloha eCard? Aloha eCard transactions are done over IP, meaning that the system uses an Internet connection. While high-speed connections will definitely render a faster response time when connecting for authorizations, a

dial up connection via ISP is sufficient for Aloha eCard - especially when the eCard database is cached at the store. We recommend that you do not use your EDC line for your ISP connection.

11. My stores use Internet protocol (IP) for EDC. Can I use the same ISP provider and phone line that I use for EDC for Aloha eCard? Because such a large percentage of checks are closed out to credit cards, we strongly suggest a separate phone line for eCard and EDC. However, you can use the same ISP, as long the ISP allows simultaneous logins for a single account. This will allow you to authorize credit cards at the same time you are authorizing eCards or performing eCard synchronizations. There is no problem in sharing a single high-speed connection between EDC and eCard.

12. Can Aloha eCard use the same line as PC Anywhere? Yes. Many stores use their PC Anywhere phone line to authorize eCard transactions. The PC Anywhere (i.e., “support line”) can be used for Aloha eCard as long as PC Anywhere is running as always armed or active. When PC Anywhere is setup to answer any incoming call, it ceases the modem resource, so that eCard, or any other software application, cannot access the modem device.

13. Does Aloha eCard replace the existing Back Office modules like Back Office Gift Certificate Manager? Aloha eCard will not replace existing modules. The Back Office Gift Certificate Manager module is still a viable option to those Aloha users with single-store or very small chain needs. The Back Office Gift Certificate Manager is also the only module that features in-store printing of gift certificates. While eCard eCards does support the paper certificate environment, the product is geared more towards the card user, rather than paper stock.

14. Can you use paper gift certificates rather than electronic cards? Paper Gift Certificates are definitely supported with Aloha eCards. A magnetic card is not required for use. Paper certificates would work identically to cards, except that the certificate number would always be manually input by the POS user (rather than swiped in).

15. Will Non-Enterprise.com users be able to benefit from this new product? Definitely. Enterprise and Non-Enterprise.com users alike can utilize Aloha eCard. All that’s required is an Internet connection to the store back office and the most current version of Aloha. Non-Enterprise users will receive their own private eCard domain that will look and feel much like Enterprise.com. However, they will only see eCard related reports and wizards. The eCard domain is setup by our expert support staff when companies first go live with Aloha eCard. Once the eCard site is established, standalone eCard users will manage their eCard programs via the Internet, at their own private domain!

16. Can you authorize eCards using a non-Aloha device? Aloha eCard Terminal Edition (or “TE” for short) is another product offering under the Aloha eCard product suite. Aloha eCard TE performs all of the in-store eCard transactions featured in the Aloha POS version of Aloha eCard, yet it runs on a card swipe terminal, completely independent of the POS. Just like with Aloha eCard, eCard TE comes complete with an “eCard website”, which provides the same powerful Internet-based tools and reports featured in Aloha eCard. Please refer to the Aloha eCard Terminal Edition FAQ document for more information.

17. What is the Enterprise.com Data Center? The Aloha eCard software is designed to function using a centralized data model, similar to the way credit card authorizations are achieved, where balance standing of the card is available from a central site; the Enterprise.com Data Center.

Aloha eCard is unique in that it allows you to cache some or all of your eCard balance information on the POS. Anytime that a card is not found on the POS, the eCard system simply connects to the Data Center for card authorization – all behind the scenes to the POS user. eCard stores connect to the Data Center at intervals throughout the day to update their local cache. If the store is running in virtual mode, there is no local cache, and all card authorizations are done through the Data Center – much like credit cards, except much faster since virtual is running over IP and generally has a high-speed connection. The Enterprise.com Data Center utilizes only the latest equipment and software, designed for 100% uptime. A team of dedicated technical engineers supervises the data center operations 24/7. The data center is located off site to Ibertech, at a collocation facility, called Level3. Level3 provides world-class data center locations globally. Their facilities use state of the art security and are extremely fault tolerant.

18. How is Aloha eCard sold? Like Enterprise.com, Aloha eCard is sold as a service, meaning that the software license is purchased by store, and billed by month.

19. What about a software key? The only key that is needed is the license to run Aloha POS. The other licensing checks are performed by the Enterprise.com Data Center, whenever eCard transactions are sent from the store site. Thus, we are able to insure that the monthly license is kept current with each store – all without a software key change!

20. Who supports Aloha eCard? Much like Enterprise.com, support is included in the low monthly service fee. The same reliable and knowledgeable support team that supports the Enterprise.com system also supports Aloha eCard.

21. How will Aloha eCard upgrades happen? Upgrades to Aloha eCard will be handled through a built-in feature called “remote file update”. The store software will automatically update itself with new software when new software is available. Software updates are completely automatic and behind the scenes to the store personnel.

22. What kind of mag cards work with Aloha eCards? National Business Products (NBP) is the exclusive card vendor for Aloha eCards. All eCards must be purchased from NBP. Aloha eCard customers who are serviced by an Aloha Reseller should contact their reseller for pricing and to place the order for cards. Aloha Enterprise.com customers can send an email to [email protected] for information regarding purchasing cards through NBP.

23. What does semi-connected mean? The store connects at intervals. With the semi-connected environment, some or all of the company’s eCard data is maintained at the store.

24. What does virtual mean? The store is fully connected via DSL or other high-speed Internet connection. The data is not stored at the local store. It is stored at the Enterprise data center.

25. What are the requirements for setting up a store as "virtual"? A virtual store requires a high-speed continuous connection to the Internet, such as a digital subscriber line (DSL). A virtual store connects and verifies each transaction using the central database. With the eCard virtual mode, your can view your store sales and transactions in real-time!

26. Can the eCard’s value be decreased based on a pre-determined service charge? Yes! Some companies use service charges to decrease the remaining balance of an eCard after a certain period of inactivity. Support for service charges was released with the 5.2 Enterprise release. Service charges are not legal in all states. Please check your local laws before enabling this feature.

27. Do I need to set up multiple items and tenders for different eCards they offer? For the file-based interface, you only need to create a single item and a single tender. If multiple eCards are sold at the store, the POS displays a list of offered eCard types. With the native interface, users must create multiple items for open value versus fixed value card types. Please refer to the Aloha eCard Native Interface FAQ document for more information. With both interfaces, the powerful historical reporting included with Aloha eCards gives you a complete account of which cards were sold, along with the date and store in which the transaction occurred.

28. Are tips supported with Aloha eCard? Yes! Aloha eCards can support tips using a new utility called AddGCTip.exe with the Aloha POS version 5.2.7 and the eCard Native interface. The new utility can be placed on the Close screen in TableService using the TSButton.cfg or on any panel in QuickService. Once an eCard tender is applied to the check, the eCard tip can be applied using the new button. Please refer to the Aloha eCard Native Interface FAQ document for more information.

29. Can you re-issue an eCard once it has been voided? Yes, an eCard item that has been voided is available for sale again immediately. Please note that there is no wait time between void and sale like with the current Back Office Gift Certificate program.

30. Can you check an eCard balance from the POS? Whenever the card is used on a check, the updated card balance is printed on the guest check for the cardholder. However, in the Aloha POS version 5.2.7 and higher with the native interface, the card balance can be printed on a voucher. Please refer to the Aloha eCard Native Interface FAQ document for more information.

31. Can you comp and promo an eCard? Yes! The ability to apply a comp or promo an eCard is available in the file based interface using Aloha POS version 5.2xx and higher.

32. Can you create an eCard that is redeemable in a particular store? Yes, you can create an eCard that can be sold and redeemed in one store or a specific group of stores. This is setup in the eCard Setup Wizard, by defining a Replication Group that will honor the eCard type.

33. If I choose to keep some or all eCard data at the store site, how large will their store database be? The size of the local database (or “cache”) is determined based on the number of eCards in the database. Each card type offered at the store requires about 450 bytes each. Often stores will only offer one or two eCard types, so the card type cache is generally extremely small. Each eCard is about 500 bytes per record. Thus, the cache size of an eCard database containing 10,000 cards would be about 4.5 MB.

34. What is an eCard type? An eCard type is the unique name you assign the eCard in the eCard Setup wizard. The settings you assign the eCard type control how the eCard interacts with the Aloha POS system.

35. When changing the eCard type settings, does the change affect all cards (cards that have been sold already and cards that have not been sold)? Any changes made to eCard types will only affect cards sold after the change was made. Please note that some eCard type settings are unable to be changed after one or more eCards have been sold and are disabled on the tab.

36. What risks are associated with the Auto Approval or No Connect Auto Approval thresholds settings in the eCard Store Configuration wizard? When setting the auto approval threshold there are definitely some risks that should be considered. •

The guest will not receive cash back for the card.



The remaining balance of the card will not print on the guest receipt.



The restaurant could accept an eCard for more value than what actually exists on the card, causing the balance on the eCard to be a negative amount.



The restaurant could accept an eCard that has expired.

37. What happens when an eCard is purged from a local database? Purging eCards that are old, or below a specified amount can free up valuable hard drive space at store sites. The purged card is never deleted from the central database and the data will still be reported. When a customer redeems a purged card, Aloha eCard either uses the auto-approve settings to approve the eCard, or connects with the central database for authorization.

38. Can Aloha eCard authorize eCards not in the local database? You control whether the eCard system will connect to the central database if an eCard cannot be authorized using the local store database. You can optionally enter an auto-approve amount to approve an eCard if it is not found in the local database. This reduces connections to the central database.

39. What happens if the cardholder does not spend the entire amount of the eCard? eCards are flexible in that you determine if the cardholder receives cash back, remaining balance credited on the eCard, or if the customer forfeits the balance on the eCard. The eCard corporate user selects the option for the eCard through the eCard Setup web wizard. Aloha eCards also supports an option where the cardholder gets no cash back and the card balance is not adjusted. This is ideal for cardholders that received the card due to a bad experience or special promotion offering, where the card can only be used once. In this case, the remaining balance of the card that is not used or given back in change is reported on POS reports as "not redeemed".

40. My restaurants have different hardware and connection types to the Internet. Can I use Aloha eCard? Definitely! You can easily specify the default environment through another easy to use web feature called Company Setup. They would then specify overrides for stores that do not match the default, in Store Setup. Both applications are web-based and are generally available to only the corporate user that is responsible for store setup and activation.

41. How do I control who makes changes to the store configuration and other eCard applications and reports? Aloha eCard uses the same powerful security features used in Aloha Enterprise.com. You define which user(s) has access to the Security Class module, which is web-based. This wizard configures security classes, controlling the users that have access to which features and reports, as well as which stores they can include in reports.

42. How can my managers view their eCard transactions in real-time? With the flexibility of our web-based Aloha eCard reporting, you can print or view eCard activity in real-time for all stores, or stores within a specific store group, area or region. Note that real-time data is only available to those sites that are configured for the “virtual environment”, but the same great reporting is also available for stores that synchronize throughout the day, and will be as current as your synchronization schedule, which could be as frequent as every 15 minutes. Reports are provided via the web, so they are available to you no matter where you are or the time day. As long as you have an Internet connection and security access to the data, you’re ready to go with real-time eCard reports for your Enterprise at large!

43. Why would a redemption transaction show on the eCard Reports or in the View GC History application after the expiration date? eCard reports and the View GC History application report the expiration date based on the Expiration Date settings defined in the eCard Setup wizard. When using the "Redeem Expired Card after x number of days" option the redemption transaction that occurred during this time are reported after the eCard was set to expire.

44. If an eCard is sold in one location and redeemed in another, how can customers track the funds that need to be distributed between stores? Aloha eCard customers can use reports that are available on their Enterprise.com website to track funds that need to be distributed between stores. Currently, there are two styles of reports that will meet this need, the eCard Fund Distribution and the eCard Reconciliation Reports. Please refer to the Aloha eCard Reporting FACTS document for more information. Aloha eCard customers can also use an Automatic Clearing House Network (ACH) to transmit payments and collections between stores. When using an ACH system, you will want to build a report using the Reports Builder application. The report can be created to display the net amount owed/due for each store. The Net Amount owed/due is calculated by taking the Total Sales less Redemptions for each store. The Reports Builder report can be exported into a format that meets the ACH systems specification. This report is then imported to the ACH system and used to determine the payment or collection amount for each store. The Aloha eCard application does not act as an ACH system, thus it does not handle the transfer of funds between stores.

45. Does Aloha eCard allow cardholders to add value to their eCard? With Aloha eCard, you control which of your eCard types allow customers to add value to their cards. Adding value to existing cards is simple – When the card is low on a cash balance, the cardholder simply asks the server or cashier to add more dollars to their card. The POS handles the add value much like a card purchase transaction in that the server or cash drawer has cash accountability for the added value. Both add value and new card sales are reported as “revenue sales” meaning that there is cash accountability, but the eCard sales/add value transactions are never reported in net sales. Add value is enabled through the eCard Setup web wizard.

46. Who do I call for more answers? Your sales representative is fully versed on Aloha eCard pricing and feature set. Also, please feel free to contact us any time at [email protected].

Suggest Documents