About Shawn Thompson

Why Does Free Cost So Much?

The old adage “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” is a reminder that while something on the surface may sound free it may actually be very costly. This is especially true with Point of Sale (POS) systems. Some of the most recent marketing ploys I have heard have been where one company “gives away” a POS but then requires you to process your credit cards exclusively through them at an excessively high rate.

freeI have also heard of another company that would “give you the POS software  for free”, only if you purchased the equipment from them along with a support agreement. Make certain your new POS does everything you need it to do and don’t purchase features which are not needed.

A good Point of Sale should pay for itself by increasing product turn and helping to increase margins.

For more information on POS and Business Solutions contact Shawn Thompson at Merchant Solutions Authority:

sthompson@merchantsolutionsauthority.com

www.merchantsolutionsauthority.com

p.s. Be sure to look for Shawn and the Merchant Solutions Authority table at the summer markets!

Lessons From the Past….Simple Vision for the Future

Listen to the Past…

I recently had the pleasure of having a conversation with a retailer who had 70 years’ experience. I am telling him about how retail has changed and how hard it is now for retailers and he informs me of the changes he saw. His name is Jess and he should be charging for his sage advice.

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Jess and I both proudly live in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. When Jess returned home after serving during World War II he started selling shoes door to door. As he told me “back then people didn’t come to town that often, you had to go to them” After the roads got built in the 50’s and 60’s and people could easily drive to town Jess opened a retail store. After a number of years of running a successful retail store in the 70’s Jess had to change once again. This time he had competition from the mass retailers. This time Jess offered better quality and better customer support. Up to the time Jess finally retired and closed his store at the age of 75 he could still remember your size and what kind of shoes you like.

Jess’s advice to me and I am proudly passing it along to you.

“Business will change. You can either stay ahead of the changes or get run over by it.”

Which lessons learned from your past business experience would you pass along?

What one key change is your business focusing on right now?

For more information on POS and Business Solutions contact Shawn at:

Shawn Thompson

sthompson@merchantsolutionsauthority.com

www.merchantsolutionsauthority.com

The Simple Key to a Successful Retail Business

The old adage for retail business success was location, location, and location. In addition to a great location, most experts will tell you that good customer service is now essential for success in 2012, with all of the competition from mass retailers.

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I recently came in contact with a hotel that has a great location, great customer service and a beautiful facility, but their business is declining and on the path to failure. The problem they have, and the same issues many businesses have today, is they are not embracing the technology of the day. They don’t have a website or relevant online social media or marketing presence. They don’t participate in the online hotel booking sites.

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What made your business successful in the past isn’t going to be enough to keep it successful in the future.

The new adage for retail success is change is going to happen! For your business to grow you must change with it.

 

For more information on POS and Business Solutions contact Shawn Thompson at:

 

sthompson@merchantsolutionsauthority.com

 

www.merchantsolutionsauthority.com


 

When it Comes to Point of Sale Technology-Who should I listen to?

The quick answer to this is everyone, but the correct answer is no one but yourself!

As soon as you ask what you should do, someone will stand up and tell you they know exactly what you need.

Don’t believe me? Try this. Comment on your Facebook page that you want to buy a new car and you’re not sure what you should buy. If you have 500 friends on Facebook, 50 will tell you what you need to buy. Or, go to a chat room full of strangers and ask what kind of computer you should buy. Again, everyone will tell you, without any knowledge of your needs, what is best for you.

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So how do you make the best buying decisions for your business? Ask yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t think you know enough about whatever you were considering to purchase. The truth is, neither do most of your friends on Facebook or the strangers in the chat room.

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If you are wondering if a Point of Sale or other business solution would be of benefit to you, make a list.

  • First, what are you currently doing that you would love to no longer be doing (working on payroll, paying bills, scheduling, placing reorders, working on taxes, etc.).

 

  • Second, make a wish list of what you wish a POS system could do. Let your mind run wild and you might be surprised what solutions are out there.

 

Maybe you would like a POS that could tell you when you are going to run out of a certain product, the time of day when the most sales occur or the employee who seems to be taking the most returns and the reasons for those returns. Or maybe you would like a POS that will email all your customers when a product they like arrives. Whatever is of the most value to you, put it on the list!

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Now take your list and  write down what your time is worth, then look at the list and determine how many hours a POS system that can do all the things you want it to do saves you each month. I know you already know what I am going to ask you to do next: Multiply those numbers together.

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Lastly, look over your  list and place a value on a POS that could do everything on your wish list.

Now,you know how much you are willing to pay and what you want a new POS to do for you.

You can ask around to as many people as you would like, but know that you and ONLY YOU know what is best for you and your business.

I would love to hear from you to see if our business solution exceeds your wish list.

For more information on POS and training, contact Merchant Solutions Authority or Shawn Thompson.

“You can’t handle the truth” a view into Point of Sale systems in the Gift and Home industry

At a recent trade show, I was demonstrating to a retailer how a good Point of Sale could show you how often products turn or how often they sell out in a given period of time. With this information, a retailer can then put  their money into product types that offer the best turn, and move out of the products not turning. The retailer I was speaking with said to me, “I’m not sure if I want to have that much information about my store.” When I asked why, she said, “That would take the fun out of buying for my store”.  

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This retailer made me think of the movie A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholson, in which he said, “You can’t handle the truth”.

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Truth is, if you are running a business today and one of the reasons is to turn a profit, you have to know what products will produce the best return on your investment. Retail is hard enough without sticking your head in the sand.

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You can handle the truth and retail can be even more fun when you’re turning a profit!

 

 

For more information on POS and Business Solutions, contact Shawn at:

Shawn Thompson

sthompson@merchantsolutionsauthority.com

 

www.merchantsolutionsauthority.com

Why we are Different: We have over 50+ years of experience in independent and specialty retail – we know your passion and we understand your business. We uniquely combine our retail and product experience with business expertise to simplify your operations and enhance your profitability.

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Naming a Business is No Simple Task

What’s in a name…?

I heard somewhere that a rose is a rose, and a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Over the past 20 years in the gift industry I have enjoyed hearing how retailers picked the name for their business. Having just gone through the process of finding a name for Ivystone’s business solutions division, I feel for anyone who has tried to name a business. I named all three of my kids in less time.

You want a name that is easily remembered.

You want a unique name (good luck with that one).

You want a name that will grow with you and not limit you to what you could become.

Most importantly, you want a name that says who you are and what you can do.
I wanted our name to tell retailers that we know the gift and home business, and we know the business solutions industry. I wanted the name to express that while we are a business wanting to keep the doors open, our primary goal with every retailer is to find the best solution for them and in some instances it might be they don’t need a certain product. I really wanted the name to say we want to be a partner with you and help your business be everything it can be.

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 We are Merchant Solutions Authority, and if given the chance, I personally will make it a priority to find the best solution for your business. That does everything you need it to, today and tomorrow.

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For more information on POS and training contact Merchant Solutions Authority or Shawn Thompson.

Point of Purchase Systems- Your Friend or Frustrating Foe?

After performing Point of Sale (POS) presentations at numerous gift and home industry trade shows,  I had a large number of smart retailers confess to me they have POS in place but don’t really know how to use it! I have found many businesses are really only using this tool as a glorified cash register, which is truly frustrating.

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This is typically due to 2 reasons:
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• We think we can never figure it out

I understand the demands on a business owner’s time but most important, I fully comprehend how much time and return they could get for their business if they had someone train them on their POS. Training is your friend.

Earlier this year, when Homestyle Ivystone opted to partner with Intuit QuickBooks POS (along with other tools for retailers) we also decided to offer training as an important part of our service to businesses. The training component of  a POS service package is accurately the best investment of the business owner’s time for losing frustration and gaining much more insight into all functions of your business, increasing your ROI.

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My recommendation is to contact a professional soon about a few hours of training on your POS. It will be the best money you spend on your business this year!

After you start to use your POS to its fullest capabilities, this tool can quickly become your best business friend.  Next you can tackle changing that pesky clock on your DVD!

Tell us about your POS set up or training experience. Your story will help others like yourself quickly see the intended benefits and return. For more information on POS and training contact Merchant Solutions Authority or Shawn Thompson.