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

Winning Holiday Strategies for Retailers and Brands

Winning Strategies for Holiday Planning 2013To help retailers prepare for the busy upcoming holiday season, Retail Touch Points has compiled the 2013 Holiday Outlook Guide, featuring insights from a number of leading industry experts, case studies, including a variety of tips and tactics that will help deliver a joyous holiday season to retailers, brands and consumers.

This year the guide focuses on 11 different topic areas, including:

  1. Omnichannel
  2. Mobile Commerce
  3. Mobile Apps & Sites
  4. Pricing
  5. Inventory
  6. Personalization
  7. Outbound Marketing
  8. Showrooming
  9. Workforce Management
  10. Payment

Download a complimentary copy of the Retail TouchPoints_Holiday_Outlook_Guide_2013.

Use the guide to plan a successful holiday sales strategy.  Make plans to engage with your customers early and consistently throughout the season.

Let us hear about your own insights and successes.

For an abundant selection of wholesale gift and home products for your retail operation, connect with Ivystone and Simblist sales teams.

 

Retail Touch Points delivers cutting edge content directed towards acquiring, serving and retaining customers in the new world of multi-touch retailing.

Brick & Mortar Retailers – Still the Desired Destination for Shoppers

Great news from a recent study by Synqera, where results show that more than two-thirds of Americans prefer to shop in traditional, brick and mortar stores than online commerce sites. The survey found that shoppers gravitate towards retail locations that offer more customized shopping experiences, but the dreaded “checkout” remains the number one pain point for 73% of U.S. consumers.

Personal service is a big factor that drives customers to brick-and-mortar retail stores, Synqera found 80% of shoppers say they’re more likely to shop in a store that provides a customized experience for them.  Custom coupons at checkout was a requested by over 76% of respondents.

Two-thirds of consumers are more likely to shop in a store where they receive personal suggestions while shopping.  While 75% make more purchases if they are in a good mood while shopping.

Take heed and make certain your salespeople actively engage with customers, greeting them when they enter, suggesting add-on products to go with what they’re purchasing, or offering advice and insights. (This is a great way to combat showrooming – if customers know they can get the info they need from your sales staff, they won’t have to turn to their phones to look it up and possibly find the product somewhere else for less).

Showrooming is very real and very damaging for retailers that can’t easily compete with e-retailers.  In an effort to combat it, insights like those that Synqera found can help to pinpoint where retailers should focus their time, money and innovation, even in the most unlikely or obvious places, like the checkout line.

There are also ways to make suggestions without salespeople. For instance, you can display groups of products that complement each other together, such as a camera with accessory battery packs, straps and cases. You can use signage to suggest “Buy two, get a third free,” “Check out our sales items in the back of the store” or “Sign up for our email newsletter and save $5 off your next purchase.” You get the idea; suggestive signage both inside and outside the store becomes crucial to sales success.

Suggestions help engage the customer with your store.   The more actively engaged the customer is inside your store, the better they feel about shopping there.

Synqera_Brick&Mortar_customer_experience_infographic

Brick & Mortar Customer Experience Infographic

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!

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!

 

 

 

Stand Out From the Crowd With These Sales and Productivity Motivators

SALES

I often have the discussion with my husband (who is not a sales person)  that sales is an absolute essential skill everyone should learn and feel comfortable with.  Each of us has to sell something throughout our lives, even if it’s just an idea.  As sale people and business owners we certainly know this-we live and breath it daily.

               

                 Here’s a proven 3,500-year-old technique for helping to make the sale.

 

 

 

PRODUCTIVITY

Have you noticed that some people just seem to accomplish tons and still appear happy and relaxed?  

 

 

Here are six tips for standing out and becoming more productive

 

 

 

What are some of your sales and productivity tips?

Are Consumers Willing to Drive Past a Competitor to Return to Your Business?

Great question.  Really think about this…..what does your business offer that would have customers passing by competitors and heading directly to your door?  The question led me down many paths but one answer was the concept of using “Mystery Shoppers” to garner an unbiased, honest perspective of how your business appears to an “outsider”.   Appealing, but must be set up properly to provide value and actionable results.   Because I am continually looking for solid  info that will provide me an honest view of what businesses need to function at a higher level and consider myself a fairly fine tuned observationist/listener, I have been extremely curious about a company’s willingness to listen to and act on the results of this type of  process.

So setting up a “Mystery Shopper” process-is it worth it?

This post makes a compelling case and if done correctly and could lead you to making positive changes necessary for your business to move forward.

  • Included are 11 benefits of using Mystery Shoppers
  • What has helped make Five Guys wildly successful

http://www.retaildoc.com/blog/mystery/

We are interested in your experiences and results from a Mystery Shopping process and will share here and on social media for others to benefit.

Independent Retailers Across the USA Show Off Their Patriotic Pride!

Patriotic merchandising techniques and messages appeal to the “pride in our country” emotion buried somewhere in all of us.  The eloquent words of Abraham Lincoln summarize it well “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

Abe’s message did not directly refer to displaying, buying and consuming patriotic merchandise, however in the present day, our ability to demonstrate our love of country through patriotic products is both traditional and satisfying and appeals to each of us on an emotional level.

Most folks have many fond memories from childhood celebrating patriotic pride throughout the summer. Traditional family gatherings, flag waving, parades, fireworks and a visual picnic of stars & stripes are a staple of the festivities well before we even realized what patriotism meant.

Now that we have grown in our own individual understanding of patriotism, we take the time to enjoy the holiday that allows us to embrace our own adaptation of patriotism for our country and particularly show our gratitude for the people who have served to protect our freedoms.

Some of America’s most creative independent retailers have joined our Pinterest Display Contest by sending in unique photos of their Patriotic Displays.

We Want You to show us yours……snap a photo of your favorite patriotic promotional display that conveys your sense of national pride and join the ranks of fascinating folks and stores across the country who have shown us theirs.

You could win $1000 of wholesales products for your retail store by sending a photo to Patriotic Display Contest before July 4th!   You will be featured on our Pinterest page with the winner being featured on Pinterest and all of our social media channels.

Sunburn I this have a morning. Some wearing I the http://megaviagraonline.com/ about the, this, my nail sticking in they.

Hurry….contest ends on the 4th of July!!!!