Ivystone Events at Dallas Market Center-New Showroom Look Book

Ivystone Look Book- Dallas 2014Dallas summer market is here!  Join us in Ivystone Showroom #236, Dallas Market Center June 18-24th for a fantastic showcase of vendors and entertaining events throughout the market.

Your Ivystone sales rep will be on hand to help with products and events.

Preview Ivystone’s Dallas Showroom Look Book  for Every Style, Every Look, Everything You Need.

 

 

 

Retailers: The Point of Sale Industry is Rapidly Changing – Are You Onboard?

To move forward into 2014 as a successful retailer you can’t just assume the key will be in stocking products in demand.

What do the consumers of 2014 want from their retail experience?

Customers want their needs to be served in the most efficient and intuitive way possible and Point-of-Sale (POS) systems are absolutely proving to be excellent channels to achieve this primary need.

The most widespread trend that will be taking over in 2014 will be the integration of mobile options. The days of waiting in long lines during peak retail seasons are numbered. Recognizing the need to adapt to the changing landscape of the eligible client-base – a younger and ‘always-on’ customer – mobile point-of-purchase systems are proving to be a win-win. Not only do tablet or smartphone POS systems streamline services and enhance guest satiMobile POSsfaction, this consumer-driven trend offers enormous cost-savings when compared to traditional cash register POS systems.

Additionally, the touch screen aspects offered by most mobile POS devices are more intuitive than traditional systems. Mobile POS systems do not require complex configurations or the need for a back-up server. Most employees are efficient with smartphones and tablets, which not only saves time from a staff training perspective, but also offers self-service for customers, yet another example of increased efficiency and differentiating value in the storefront.

Another trend we expect to see hit the POS space in full force next year is the integration of more loyalty programs and customized advertising and marketing promotions to engage with customers at each stage of the purchase process; from driving impulse consideration, all the way to the final purchase. Loyalty programs have been picking up momentum for the past couple of years and are now becoming fully integrated into on-site POS systems, both mobile and traditional. With customer loyalty software programs launching in every type of retail venue imaginable, cashiers are able to sign customers up within one to two minutes, meeting the easy and quick transaction consumers’ today demand while also reminding them of the added-value offered by the vendor.

Excerpts of the above were taken from Jay Graham’s article in Retail Info Systems.

If I can help you in your purchase and understanding of how a POS can make your business more efficient, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Shawn Thompson

sthompson@merchantsolutionsauthority.com

www.merchantsolutionsauthority.com

Pop-up Retail Shops Find Fresh Advantages

Not just for holiday seasons any more, retailers of all sizes are leveraging the Pop-up store concept to pique consumer interest, drive brand awareness, launch a new product and test their business in new markets.

The good news and important part of the equations is that landlords are warming up to the Pop-up store concept due the traffic surge some neighborhoods and shopping areas receive when a new store opens and they get a chance to turn a short term lease into a long term opportunity.  “The more traffic a Pop-up store gets, the more people it brings to the space,” said Katherine Hill, Director of Offline  at BaubleBar,  in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.  “Both parties benefit.  The company gets the space and the landlord will get prospective clients who may want to rent out the space for their own purposes.”

Brands and companies that plan, launch and maintain Pop-up stores with the right strategies will find they are valuable tools for branding, experimentation, advertising, storytelling and product demand. A Pop-up shop can give your brand a personality and turn it into an entire experience.

Check out the video on how the Fleur du  Mal brand owner Jennifer Zuccarini successfully launched her latest Pop-up store.

 

 

Have any Pop-up success stories of your own?  Let us hear about them.

Need help with resources for your retail store?  See what the Ivystone and Simblist teams can offer your business.

The Perfect Pinterest Picture, According to Science

 

A team of scientists from the Curalate team, including a computer vision PhD and a dedicated in-house data scientist, recently did some intensive research on Pinterest, sampling 500,000 images and distilling from them half a dozen or so characteristics that distinguish the most popular Pinterest images.

They identified one ideal picture that best combines these characteristics. And here is that image.     Perfect Pinterest Photo

It’s from cooking show host Paula Deen, and it’s called “Aunt Peggy’s Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad.” This “perfect pinterest image”  has been repinned 307,000 times, liked 8,000 times, and commented upon 300 times. “In other words, that image killed it,” says Curalate CEO Apu Gupta.

“Consumers are increasingly communicating using images rather than words,” says Gupta. “We’re trying to decode that language and give you a better vocabulary with which to speak.”

In other words, in the future the picture will do more than speak a thousand words.

Read full article on perfecting Pinterest images here.

3 Ways to Attract and Keep More Customers

New research from Forrester finds that when it comes to attracting customers and keeping them, people respond more to the “experience” they have with the business even more than with their perception of price.

background of the hands with hearts

So it makes sense that one of the best ways to attract customers is to connect with them on more than a transactional level using everything in your arsenal; your personality, your services, social media and events.  Whether providing valuable information about your business or a much needed laugh, inject some personality into your brand and show the human side of your business to make it attractive.

1-Get Back to Your Roots In your need to attract customers don’t EVER assume that everyone knows your business exists, even if you have been in business for 3,5,10 or 15 years in the same location!  I have heard countless stories from business owners that include the statement “after being in business in this location for X years, surely everyone knows about my business and what we do here”…..simply not true!

Act as if you are running a new business each and every day.  This could make a huge difference in attracting and keeping customers and be remarkable to your bottom line.  Make a short list of what you would do today as if you were opening your doors on day one.  Here are a few examples:

  • Be at the top of your game- Greet, welcome and explain your products/services.
  • Tell your business back story- If you business has a great back story (and who’s doesn’t), tell it verbally when possible and show it visually throughout your business and online.  People love a story so provide yours on your business, products and services. Photos and videos are shareable on social media and digestible for busy customers. Aim to visually convey your brand’s story on your website and through social media.
  • Highlight your special talents and services- Does your business customize products, ship anywhere, offer a design service, provide local delivery, take special orders ….you get the picture. Don’t hold back…make it clear verbally and visually in all possible locations.  Signage, websites, social media, local press.

 

2-Stay Connected. Growing a business is about fostering long-term relationships. Capture customer information and communicate consistently via email, phone, social media.  Communication is a two-way street so provide your customers multiple ways to communicate with you.

  • Promotions, events, sharing updates and humor are a consistent reminder of your business brand.  Ditch the fear and stop worrying that you will be bothering your customers, everyone can use an occasional reminder or update on what your business can offer.
  • Make sure customers have a clear path toward a deeper level of engagement with you and your company – and vice versa. It can be as simple as leaving a comment book at the counter, a survey on a receipt or a place to comment online. The more customers interact with your brand, the more they’ll remember you when it’s time to make a purchasing decision. Make it easy for them to communicate with you.
  • Get visual- Some good ideas include filming a video interview with your best customers having fun at your business or using your products, asking customers to submit a picture of themselves using your product, or uploading video product demos and tutorials.

3-Offer Exceptional Customer Service. I am referring to your top of the line service here.  If you believe you can make a customer’s experience better today, don’t hold back….go for it!  This could make the difference in word of mouth advertising (the best kind!) and earn your business social buzz and recommendations.

  • People love to share when they have something great (or truly miserable) happen to them.  Give them something great to share on a consistent basis.
  • “Experience” is the new currency….if you can do remarkable things for your customers, your customers will share because they’re happy.  Make it easy for your customers to help you.

Share with us some of your great customer service stories and we will happily share with others to help everyone attract more customers.

 

5 Mistakes Retailers Can’t Afford to Make

With so much to do each day to run your business it could be easy to overlook critical details that make all the difference to your bottom line.  Below are 5 hot points to avoid along with solutions to help you resolve these frequent challenges.  

Mistake #1:

Stock too much of one item and your money is tied up.

This is the challenge you face every day. With so much money invested in your inventory, it’s essential that you stay on top of it. That means that your inventory figures need to be constantly updated. Relying on a cash register or paper-based transactions does not automatically update your inventory. Retailing requires that inventory tracking occurs in real-time and is effortless and automatic.

 Mistake #2:

Run out of stock and you’ve missed an opportunity to make a sale.

Few things hurt sales, or frustrate customers, more than failing to stock an item consumer’s want. A good inventory management system should enable you to always know what inventory you have on hand, without conducting a physical count. It should use a bar code scanner to scan items when ringing up sales or entering new inventory – automatically adjusting inventory totals as you sell items and automatically notifying you when items are out of stock.

 Mistake #3:

Making inventory decisions by the seat of your pants.

Imagine being able to spot trends in sales, profits, liquidity and assets as well as optimal operating hours and profit margins. Oh, and of course track inventory with easy-to-access data so you can act quickly on new products or eliminate poorly performing products.

Mistake #4:

Ignoring shrinkage and failing to secure against theft.

Shrinkage is all merchandise that is taken out of stock without being paid for. Studies consistently show more people will steal if they think they can get away with it. You might not even realize that theft, by employee or customer, is actually going on in your store.

 Mistake #5:

Not making lemonade when you have lemons!

Pricing items correctly and knowing when to offer discounts is key to successfully managing and growing your business. You should be able to identify the most “saleable” items, which are typically your most price sensitive (generally the 20% of your inventory that moves the fastest), and price them competitively.

You can then recognize the “slow movers” from the remaining bulk of your inventory, which are typically your most non-price sensitive items, and raise the margins. By selling the “slow movers” early in the season, when items are more saleable at higher prices, you will minimize clearance markdowns at the end-of season.

Reporting is critical to understanding and managing your inventory. QuickBooks Point of Sale allows retailers to keep track of critical information and avoid costly mistakes and Merchant Solutions  Authority is focused on these types of business solutions for retailers.

Merchant Solutions Authority is a proven and trusted advisor to retailers across the country.  MSA specializes in business tools and methodologies for independent retailers – single store operations; small to medium sized chains.

Why they are different: Merchant Solutions Authority has over 50+ years of experience in independent and specialty retail – they know your passion and understand your business. MSA uniquely combines their retail and product experience with business expertise to simplify your operations and enhance your profitability.

Let them help you avoid costly mistakes.

For more information on Merchant Solutions Authority please visit their website:

MerchantSolutionsAuthority.com

 

Spring Cleaning for Small Business-Share Your Ideas @ #SMBSpringClean

Join The Twitter Chat: Follow #SMBSpringClean

#SBSCleaning

Become a part of the conversation to find out what other small business owners just like you are doing this spring to renew their companies. Get more good ideas for spring cleaning by joining us Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 8 p.m. EST for a live Twitter chat presented by FedEx Office.

We hope you’ll take the time to participate and pose any questions you may have about revitalizing your business. If you have any tips to offer other small business owners about spring cleaning or how to bring in new ideas and innovation, we’d love for you to join us.  Be sure to follow @FedExOffice too.

Twitter Chat Details

Be sure to join us for this live Twitter chat event:

TOPIC: Spring clean your SMB: Get organized, bring in fresh ideas, shake things up.

DATE: Thursday, April 11, 2013

TIME: 8 pm EST (New York time)

LOCATION: Twitter.com: Just follow the hashtag #SMBSpringClean to participate.

Have a Wish List for Your Small Business? Intuit is Granting 15 Wishes to Help Your Business Spring Forward!

Intuit’s “Love Our Local Business”  is granting 15 wishes to help small businesses in need…..and what small business isn’t in need of up to $5000 worth of of help?

Between April 2nd and May 12th Intuit will be reviewing small business stories from across the country and begin granting selected business up to $5000 worth of business help starting on May 6th.

It’s easy to enter, simply:

  • State your business wish on the Love our local business website
  • Share your wish to get votes -this will improve your chances of winning and allow you to share your wish with people who love your business

Go to the official “Love Our Local Business” website for additional details and be sure let us help by to sharing your stories on the Ivystone Facebook page to gain more votes.

We can’t to hear your business wishes, sprinkle some good luck fairy dust and help them be granted!

 

 

 

Gift & Home Trade Market-Experience the Excitement and Energy (without actually being there)

The winter markets have just ended but the excitement continues with great product introductions and promotions from gift and home vendors.  Enjoy the feeling of the world’s largest marketplace for gift and home products.   Carry on the excitement by contacting one or more of the Ivystone or Simblist sales reps in your area to get more product details!

 

 

Great Ways to Jumpstart 2013

To help you get back into the daily work routine, here are some inspirational thoughts for the new year that will rouse you into positive action:

12 Great Motivational Quotes for 2013

5 Ways to Prepare for an Amazing 2013

You’re certain to find something here to jumpstart a great year!