Retail Tips: Weathering the Covid-19 Economic Storm

Retail Tips: Weathering the Covid-19 Economic Storm

Clothing & Apparel, E-commerce, News, Retail, Web Tips

Retail Tips: Weathering the Covid-19 Economic Storm

By Mark Nelms

Coronavirus cell Covid-19Before we get started, I want you to know that none of this article is written lightly. What we are discussing today could potentially impact the future of your businesses for many years to come, not just now in this time of crisis, but for the remainder of the 4th industrial revolution. I’d also like to remind our readers, I am not a physician or an economist, but I am an expert in retail. With almost 25 years of working for, consulting with, and in retail; I have a unique advantage in predicting the behavior of retail buyers.

Many of you have already spoken to me about the sharp drop in foot traffic, and unfortunately, until this virus is contained, I expect these trends to continue. BUT, there are things you can do in order to cauterize this wound, and that’s the topic of our conversation today.

  • How is social distancing effecting retail?
  • How can you use technology to assist your customers with Social Distancing?
  • What are some long-term impacts of Social Distancing?
  • Ways to be productive with your time during the storm?

How Proper Social Distancing Adherence is Affecting Retail

There are quite a few immediate ramifications of Social Distancing in the retail world. Today we are only going to discuss a few that I have been able to corroborate. As this virus continues to spread, more may become apparent, so please know it is impossible for me to foresee them all.

  1. Your products may no longer be available
    1. If you are like many of my clients, you import your goods from areas that have had some, if not all their factories shut down. This would most likely be the case with factories in China, Italy, Northern California, etc.
    2. Start looking at options for new suppliers now. It doesn’t hurt to already have done your research just in case.
  2. Limited Staff
    1. Your Staff is afraid to come into work. Allow non-essential personnel to work from home if possible.
    2. As Covid-19 cases in your areas rise, you will be more pressed to have the Covid-19 conversation. By addressing the situation in advance, you can alleviate many of their concerns.
    3. Make sure your staff knows to not come in if sick. Don’t just hope they know, make sure they do.
  3. No Traffic
    1. This is the most critical one in my opinion.
    2. By utilizing Buy Online Pickup in Store, Delivery, and Ecommerce, you can allow your customers to still shop with you, even though they cannot spend time in your store. But this requires you to notify them that you have it available.
    3. This may not end with the current epidemic, depending on the results of the Economic Stimulus Plan, the ramifications can potentially have a longer effect. By spending local you can reduce this by ensuring $0.67 of every dollar stays in your community.

Technologies that can help with Social Distancing.

Empty conference room

  1. Web Conferencing: If you institute web conferencing software, you can virtually eliminate the need to pack all your employees into a small space. According to Trust Radius, “web conferencing software allows participants to conduct or attend meetings via the internet. This is also known as online meeting software. It enables remote meetings based on VoIP, video conferencing, instant messaging, file and screen sharing.” Some of these include GoTo Meeting, WebEx, Adobe Connect, Vonage, and Zoom.
  2. Integrated Ecommerce: As American shoppers begin to stay home and avoid crowded places, your store needs to adapt to their new way of shopping. While many of you already have ecommerce, many of you have yet to integrate it into your POS. By not integrating your POS, you run the risk of not following through on your promise to your customers.
  3. BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup in Store): In New Orleans, restaurants are being required to close unless they are offering delivery or To Go orders. Just imagine BOPIS as ordering your retail goods “To Go.” This article can explain a lot more about your options for BOPIS. By implementing Buy Online Pickup Curbside, you are allowing your customers and employees to limit interactions to just one on one. If you have already integrated your POS to your Website this can be a simple “flipping a switch.” If you have not this can take between 6-12 months to properly implement.
  4. Delivery: If there is one article I implore you to read and take heed of TODAY, it is the one we wrote several weeks ago titled “Pet Industry: Should You Offer Home Delivery and What Technologies should you use?” Going forward delivery will be a must-add as more and more Americans will be staying in their homes and avoiding shopping. Don’t just add this for your business but add it for your customers and your employees.
  5. Contactless Payments: While this technology has been available for some time, many retailers are not endorsing it. When we are living in a time in which just touching an unclean surface can help spread Covid-19, it may be more important than ever to ask people to utilize Apple Pay or Google Wallet. This is typically available with the Ingenico ISC250 or similar payment terminals.

What Are Some Long-term Effects?

Man with credit card shopping onlineI was speaking to a group of millennials this past weekend and 2 out of 9 of them had just signed up for an Amazon Prime Account. That equates to 22%, and it scares the heck out of me. That potentially means that more Americans right now will sign up during this crisis, than have since it first gained popularity. If you combine that with the idea that Amazon is hiring an additional 100,000 employees during the crisis, it’s easy to see the writing on the wall. Amazon knows that this trend will not end with the Coronavirus epidemic. People will get used to shopping online and have their items delivered to them. This means that we can no longer delay adding these services to our portfolio. That is, not if we want to be relevant during the remainder of the 4th industrial revolution.

Ways to be productive with your time during the storm?

  1. Improve Your Supply Chain: This is a great article on three strategies for improving your supply chain.
  2. Conduct Physical Counts: Don’t wait until your foot traffic starts back up to get this done.
  3. Make Changes to your Software: Thanks to the recent Economic Stimulus Package you have quite a few low interest opportunities to make capital investments.
  4. Do Your Software updates and upgrades: Call or email RCS today to see if an upgrade to your current software can give you the required functionality.
  5. Re-merchandise the store so that it’s fresh when the crisis recedes.
  6. Use Marketing to Promote Your Store: If you have been collecting email addresses, then that is the easiest and most cost-effective method. If not consider social media marketing, local news reporting, zip code-based marketing, etc. Anything to let your prospects know that you have added BOPIS, Ecommerce, and Delivery.

Closing Thoughts

So whether or not you are worried about the bottom line cost of the Coronavirus to your business or your desire to prepare for “Retail Armageddon” it is easy to see why it’s important for you to add these technologies sooner rather than later. You have tons of reasons to try it and limited reasons not to. For the next article, we are going to discuss; Buying Local, Marketing Mailers, Custom Apps, and a couple of other things you can do to weather the economic storm that is likely to follow this epidemic.

Mark Nelms headshotAbout the author

Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS. He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size. In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR.

How To Utilize Your Off-season

How To Utilize Your Off-season

Clothing & Apparel, E-commerce, Gift Stores, Retail, Specialty Retail

How to Utilize Your Off-season

By Corey Gilbert

After the holiday hype has settled down, how do you take advantage of the typically slower winter season? If you find yourself in a seasonal slump this time of year, have no fear there are plenty of options to help stir up buzz and business.

Inside of a garden centerYou’ve got a great location, why not share it with the masses?!

Can your space be used in other ways? In winter, that greenhouse at the garden isn’t as abundant as in the spring, invite the local farmers market to use your space as a winter shelter. Their business will drive more revenue for your business as higher numbers are drawn in and circulate your shelves.

Do you have an extra room that you could spruce up and use as a meeting space? Say you’ve got a quaint cafe or catering business, is there space you could free up and rent out to business people? Offer catering services as well as a reasonably priced spot to smooth out the details of the next big deal.

Giveaway sign with blue sky backgroundDo you have an offer they can’t refuse?

Hold a contest or giveaway that highlights top aspects of your business. Give the people what they want while creating hype about some of the best you have to offer. Giveaways are a great way to drive an audience to your social pages as well as keep your store in their minds.

Giveaways are also a great way to say thank you to your loyal customers and to have some fun while you’re at it!

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Collaborating with another business, whether an unlikely pairing or a match made in heaven, the right partnership can help grow your business and theirs. While you grow your network, you offer your customers a new and unique experience. Along the way, you will learn a lot about your business and maybe think of some new ideas too! Great examples are when coffee shops use a local florist to adorn their tables and entryways with stunning bouquets and displays. Of course lets not forget the hilarious example Ryan Reynolds has set for us all.

Cafe sign above a menu at a cafeDrop it like it’s hot (or cold depending on where you live)

A great way to show some love for your local patrons is to say thank you with a promotion just for them. This could be yearly, monthly or weekly. Pick what suits you and give them a discount on something they will appreciate. A downtown deli can create a special sandwich named after a local place or pun and offer it at a discount at lunchtime. Another great example is a hardware store that offers 10% off to all local customers in the spring for their spring projects. Showing appreciation can go a long way with your most loyal patrons.

Grow with the times

Engage with your email and social media audience more, come up with fun tips and ideas to keep them engaged and keep your business on their minds. The average american spends 3 hours a day one their phone. Pick your target audience and get them engaged! With social media, consistency is key. So, on top of your regular posting, you should take this slower season to focus on campaigns that catch the attention of your audience and drive new business to your store or site. You can try marketing to a niche audience to create new traffic, like a bakery selling new products to a vegan market or a brewery selling to the gluten free consumer.

Why retailers should be thinking about Locavores and the experience economy (1 of 2)

Why retailers should be thinking about Locavores and the experience economy (1 of 2)

Clothing & Apparel, E-commerce, Just for Fun, Retail, Specialty Retail, Web Tips

Why retailers should be thinking about Locavores and the experience economy (1 of 2)

Part I: The line is blurring between e-commerce and brick & mortar retail. Locavores and virtually every other subset of shoppers want options.

By John Garvey

While it’s in some ways laudable, the stereotype of young consumers who want to know “the story behind the product” is an easy target for comedy.

ChickensLocavores were hilariously satirized in the oddball sketch comedy show Portlandia, in a skit where a couple at a restaurant asks a barrage of questions about the chicken. Is it organic? What kind of diet is it raised on? How much room do the chickens have to run around? Do you have a good relationship with the farmer?

“They do a lot to make sure that their chickens are very happy,” assures the server. She goes so far as to provide a file containing photos and in-depth biographical information on the chicken they’re about to eat. Still not quite satisfied, the couple asks the server to hold their table and goes out to visit the farm.

(And then things get weird.)

Although it’s often satirized, there are lessons from the locavore movement that relate to consumer retail as well as food service.

From warring opposites to mutually dependent: Ecommerce vs. brick & mortar

For many retailers, there must have been a certain irony to the ecommerce behemoth Amazon acquiring Whole Foods. After all, WFM arguably did more than anyone to popularize the term “Locavore.”

It’s odd how farmers markets and more experiential brick-and-mortar retail concepts have blossomed in the last decade, even as ecommerce has gained so much market share. Weirder still, the same kind of consumers who preferentially buy local goods of one sort are likely to shop exclusively online for other needs.

At Retail Control Systems, we provide customized ecommerce and omnichannel retail solutions for a dozen industries. But we’ll always love our brick and mortar retail heritage. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you navigate the changing retail landscape and thrive through the 2020s and beyond.

As paradoxes go, it’s hard to beat all the pure play online retailers like Warby Parker, Amazon and Birchbox opening physical storefronts. This is reflective of consumer demand for a blended experience—a combination of convenience and personalization. Ecommerce companies have seen pure online sales spike in places where they have physical storefronts.

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and online retailers are finally using multiple touchpoints to leverage, rather than cannibalize each other. The line between different channels is blurring. Consumers who initially encounter a brand in one channel are increasingly apt to purchase through another, weeks later.

Consumers still see shopping, in part, as a social experience. Talking in-person with a store rep with first-hand product experience provides greater assurance than aggregated online reviews. Savvy consumers know that many vendors game the system, making in-person conversations all the more valuable.

The Experience Economy

Jia Wertz, writing for Forbes, recently wrote that “consumers have slowly but surely been moving away from strictly shopping for products, instead seeking a more engaging experience. The trend has been driven largely by millennials and their preference for experiences over things.”

Two women in the back of a car

In recent years, the increase in household spending on “experience-related services” has quadrupled the growth of spending on goods. That’s according to a report by Worldwide management consultancy McKinsey & Company.

Although the “Experience Economy” has only recently become part of the popular vernacular in the last couple of years, a 1998 Harvard Business Review article discussed the then emerging phenomenon. Those insights remain relevant.

For instance, thinking through what you’d have to do to theoretically justify charging admission to your store may help you identify opportunities to differentiate your shop and capture new, high-value customers. While most in-store events aren’t admission-based, “demonstrations, showcases, contests, and other attractions” could be.

Some of these ideas remain radical 21 years after publication. For instance, the authors state that “In the full-fledged experience economy, retail stores and even entire shopping malls will charge admission before they let a consumer even set foot in them.” We’ll see. For now, the most visible examples remain things like educational workshops, fitness classes and store-sponsored running clubs to promote athletic brands.

What’s a theme you can leverage to make your customers’ or guests’ retail experience totally unique to your store?

Bonding over experiences and “stuff”

Retail has always been an experience in some sense, and will be for generations to come.

Meeting a second-generation shop owner, clothing designer, coffee roaster or even a geeky electronics expert who can help you with your home entertainment system are all experiences unique to shopping in physical stores. It’s a pleasure to talk and listen to people who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do. That’s one of the reasons brick and mortar stores will still be thriving for decades to come.

Next month, we’ll discuss how to use simple, memorable experiences to make your customers your greatest advertising asset.

We Make Data Your Friend, Not Your Boss

Shorter Buying Cycles. Fewer Stockouts. Less Surplus Inventory.

Our retail point of sale support services can help you optimize day-to-day and strategic decisions.

Retailers and Restaurateurs Using Revel Can Actually Run Their Businesses Instead of Putting Out Fires

Retailers and Restaurateurs Using Revel Can Actually Run Their Businesses Instead of Putting Out Fires

Clothing & Apparel, E-commerce, Garden Centers, Gift Stores, Museums Attractions, Restaurant, Retail, Specialty Retail, Sporting Goods, Wine & Liquor

… But that’s only part of why Retail Control Systems has partnered with them. Here’s why you should care.

By John Garvey

Summary

Revel is an iPad point-of-sale (POS) solution that provides the simplicity of Square with the power of a much larger system. It includes mobile POS and e-commerce capabilities, employee scheduling, customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory management solutions. It takes minimal time to onboard.

It’s powerful. Revel provides you with business intelligence, operations and management tools that you didn’t previously have access to at a reasonable price.

It’s easy. Revel is user-friendly enough to allow you to devote your time to actually running your business.Business planning

Revel was founded in 2010 by Chris Ciabarra and Lisa Falzone—two people who were too stubborn to believe the pizza shops and restaurants they frequented couldn’t have POS systems with third-party integrations, mobile payment capabilities and business intelligence tools big players could afford. Convinced that it was technically possible to help small retailers and restaurateurs get more money in the door with less hassle, they developed what is now Revel.

Today, Revel’s technology has surpassed the abilities and reliability of many competitors. It’s novel but proven.

Is Revel right for you?

It depends.

One reason we at RCS have partnered with Revel is that they have a very similar culture to ours. We know a lot of their executive team from having done business in the retail space. When we first met to begin exploring a partnership, we already knew half the faces in the room.

We’re excited to be able to offer a comparatively inexpensive retail and restaurant support platform with great functionality. That’s hard to pull off.

If you’re contemplating using Revel, here are some questions you may be asking:

1.What kinds of businesses are most likely to benefit from using Revel?

  • Revel is perfect for both smaller retailers and restaurants. They’re restaurant experts. They have inventory management tools , built-in tip functionality and other features. These make onboarding easier and eliminate the need for customization.
  • Multi-location retailers can manage all their operations from a single account, transferring inventory between stores, scheduling employees, running reports and attending to other needs.
  • For those just getting started, Revel cuts back on hardware costs, allowing you to conduct all operations, from an iPad. You get the ease of use of the iPad with true Retail hardware including cash drawers, credit card readers, receipt printers and barcode scanners. Revel even has a scale integration if you sell items by weight. It also saves hours of time on employee onboarding because it’s so easy to use.
  • For retailers with an older version of Counterpoint or another POS system, Revel may provide a cost-effective solution that will get you the latest technology at a reasonable rate.

Interested in Revel?  Schedule a personalized demo in minutes. We’ll collaboratively determine whether it’s a good match for you.

2. What are the top three or so concerns people might have when exploring Revel as an option?

Growth. Some retailers may be concerned that they’ll outgrow Revel. When deliberating between, say, Revel and NCR Counterpoint, this is worthy of consideration. If you are projecting rapid growth in the near future, Revel may not be the right choice for you.

Mobile and e-commerce. For those concerned with mobile and online ordering capabilities, Revel will delight. It is excellent in both regards. Customers can complete orders anywhere as long as an associate is there to assist them. This keeps things personable while cutting back on lines. Associates can also process credit cards from pop up shops, trade shows, food trucks and the like.

Flexibility. Finally, Revel has a flexible, customizable e-commerce platform for omnichannel retailers. You can keep your credit card processing system if that suits you. You don’t need to create a new account each time you open a new location. Etc. Revel won’t rope you into anything that doesn’t make sense for your business.

That said, Revel has less customization than Counterpoint. Do you need to build a custom integration that’s out of the ordinary for a retail system? If so, Counterpoint is probably a better solution.

3. How will Revel and RCS leverage one another’s unique capabilities to benefit retailers?

Revel has superb, proven technology, and ease of use is one of their main focuses. We at RCS have tons of experiences working with retailers through practically every challenge imaginable.

In spite of Revel’s focus on user-friendliness, nothing is 100 percent intuitive. This is the value of our overall approach to business partnerships, including our partnership with Revel. We’re here to provide you the training and ongoing assistance to make the best use of it.

Focus on managing your business, not your POS system

Retailers increasingly need to become experts in a wide range of topics. These include digital marketing, supply chain management and managing a workforce with different expectations that the retail workforce of decades prior. The right POS provider will ease those challenges, not just by providing you the right tools but by partnering with you.

With regard to employee management, Revel’s user-friendly platform and easy onboarding process provide small businesses a dual advantage: minimal training time and a less frustrating work environment. All things equal, that has a real potential to reduce turnover. When turnover does occur, it reduces the cost associated with training new employees.

  • CRM
  • Loyalty programs
  • Intelligent business reporting
  • Low inventory alerts
  • Employee scheduling

About Revel:

Revel was founded in 2010 by  —two people who were too stubborn to believe the pizza shops and restaurants they frequented couldn’t have POS systems with third-party integrations, mobile payment capabilities and business intelligence tools big players could afford. Convinced that it was technically possible to help small retailers and restauranteurs get more money in the door with less hassle, they developed what is now Revel.

Will your retail operation benefit from the RCS/Cegid partnership?

Will your retail operation benefit from the RCS/Cegid partnership?

Clothing & Apparel, News, Retail, Sporting Goods

By John Garvey

The retail industry is experiencing a massive change, making it uniquely challenging, but also presenting great opportunities to those who effectively leverage partnerships and technology. The primacy of omnichannel retail, as well as new retail POS, digital marketing, inventory management and CRM technologies, means that we have a lot to keep an eye on at RCS.

To that end, we recently hosted a VAR program launch in downtown Fort Collins, CO, featuring retail technology consultant Dick Calio of R.J. Calio Consulting, and our newest partner Cegid, among several other presenters and partners.

“When I look at retail, it’s very much where distribution and manufacturing were ten years ago,” Calio notes, pointing to past trends such as offshore manufacturing, increased reliance on 3rd party logistics (3PL) providers and the phasing out of partnerships.

RCS and Cegid logos

“The reason a lot of those [manufacturing and distribution] partnerships went away is because the customers didn’t just need help selling something. They needed someone to help them make strategic business decisions,” states Calio.

Retail Control Systems and Cegid are partnering to leverage each other’s strengths, bringing high-end retailers an option ideally suited to many of their needs. What are some of the solutions this new partnership brings to the table?

Business partners are not anonymous resellers but a key component of the successful global team.

– Arnaud Coste, Director of Channel Partnerships at Cegid Group

Successful partnerships are almost by definition relational, not transactional, which is why RCS and Cegid are carrying out an enablement program and building a community to ensure smooth adoption of Cegid’s services as it expands its presence in North America. We’re combining not just financial resources and intellectual property, but people and ideas. Because local compliance issues can be dizzying for retailers that do business in multiple jurisdictions, having that local knowledge is key.

Q&A:

  1. What advantages does having RCS host Cegid confer to retailers?

RCS has been in the retail business for over 30 years, so we know which of our customers are starting to outgrow their current point of sale system. We know what potential customers would likely be a good fit for Cegid. As an industry expert we’re also comfortable telling customers if Cegid (or any other system, for that matter) isn’t right for their needs.

An occasional challenge with cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) and retail intelligence solutions, regardless of the provider, is that they tend to have organizational restrictions. By having RCS host and giving us a large degree of self-direction, Cegid expects to be able to rise above many of those challenges. The result will be a more responsive, agile unified commerce platform for retailers.

  1. What are some key characteristics of retailers who would most benefit from using Cegid?

Clothing storeCegid is a high-end business solution for multi-location businesses. High-end clothing retailers and other retailers with 15 – 100 stores stand to benefit most from using it.

A unified commerce platform, Cegid is very sophisticated with a lot of 3rd party integrations and omnichannel capabilities. We offer virtually every omnichannel purchasing, customer service, tracking and delivery option out there, so you’ll never miss a sale. The shopping experience is consistent across channels with a pleasant user experience (UX).

  1. What are the top three or so concerns retailers might have when exploring Cegid as an option?
    1. Although the cost is not exorbitant, Cegid is most likely not in the budget for single location stores.
    2. Cegid is very robust and can do a lot, which can be daunting. For that reason, RCS is creating hardware and software bundles with everything you need and nothing you don’t. We also offer individualized, ongoing assistance to all our clients, especially when they’re bringing new solutions on board.

RCS Payments is also part of these packages and this will save people money with credit card processing.

Want to see if RCS can lower your credit card processing rate? Get started in seconds!

Woman swiping a credit card

  1. How will Cegid and RCS leverage one another’s unique capabilities to benefit retailers?

Cegid is a well-respected award-winning point of sale solution in Europe, but doesn’t have a large presence in the U.S. RCS knows the U.S. market and has been the top reseller for NCR Counterpoint for over 20 years.

In sum, RCS brings local knowledge, experience and relationships to the table; Cegid brings a ton of new, scalable technology and know-how. This can help businesses promote an innovative brand image, improve the customer experience and scale more effectively than they would otherwise be capable of doing.

Request a Cegid Demo Today!

About Cegid:

Cegid has been around for 63 years and currently operates in 30 countries on five continents. It has been highly-ranked by research and advisory companies including Gartner, Forrester and IDC. Cegid’s customizable, advanced omnichannel retail and  inventory management solutions are ideally suited to high-end retailers and those with more than 15 locations.

About RCS:

Retail Control Systems was founded in 1987 by Dave Albert, a native of Madawaska, Maine, the most Northeastern town in the United States. After more than three decades serving retailers, RCS remains a family-owned company. We’ve helped hundreds of retailers find and implement point of sale, inventory, CRM, ecommerce, digital marketing and other solutions.

Indigo Contemporary Women’s Apparel

Indigo Contemporary Women’s Apparel

Clothing & Apparel, Gift Stores, RCS Payments, Retail

Indigo Contemporary Women’s Apparel: Relying on point of sale data, honoring relationships and intuition

By John Garvey

Can you make your clothing store an expression of your personality and still have a profitable business? As a retail buyer you rely a lot on data, but sometimes we forget that emotion, in its place, is a valuable decision-making tool as well as your point of sale (POS) system. Mia Vogt, owner of Indigo, a women’s contemporary clothing and shoe store based in Hanover, seems to have a pretty good sense of this.

“Even though I love turtlenecks and wear them every day, they don’t sell well,” Mia admits. Yet she acknowledges that not all her choices make sense from a hard-nosed business standpoint.

A retail business can be an expression of your personality and also be profitable. Sometimes it just requires balancing objectives.

Evolving her business without being at the mercy of guesswork

We’ve been partners with Mia since 1998, when she founded Bella, a casual women’s clothing store which preceded Indigo. Mia opened Indigo as a second store in 2007. Indigo was somewhat experimental in nature, offering higher price-point items. It obviously succeeded or we wouldn’t be writing about it 11 years later.

Inside of Indigo - Shoppers and employeesIndigo moved to a larger location in 2012 and Mia chose to combine both stores. When Bella and Indigo merged, it naturally meant consolidating their offerings as well. One of the things we admire about retailers is that they have to make a dizzying number of inventory management decisions under normal circumstances, so this must have been quite a challenge.

“We didn’t bring every single line over from Bella and from Indigo,” Mia says, “but we were able to figure out what was performing the best from both stores and bring it all into Indigo to make it the best of the best. Often you think you know what your best lines are, but it’s not always the case.”

This is where NCR Counterpoint, a POS platform we offer as a Premiere Solution Provider, really helped. Among other things, Counterpoint provides comprehensive POS information and inventory management, e-commerce capabilities, and dozens of reports so retailers can always make informed choices. For instance, Mia can look up her most profitable items and vendors for any given time period with virtually no hassle.

Coats hanging in Indigo store“The numbers on those reports really don’t lie,” Mia states. “It was very valuable to have that. We had so much history by then and that was really helpful.”

Indigo has roughly 10 thousand SKUs and 250 vendors. Those numbers make my head spin. A good point of sale system and a disciplined manager make it manageable, though.

“You think you know just from working in the store what you’re selling,” says Mia. “But sometimes there are sneaky little things. I’ll look up our bestseller for a certain time period and I’m often just shocked because it’s not a flashy thing that we think about a lot—it’s something that’s really basic. But we’re making a good profit on it.”

What do you most enjoy about retail?

“What I like about retail is it changes all the time,” Mia tells us. “Every day, you’re opening a new box. You know, we don’t sell the same sweater for five years.

Fashion is always changing. It’s not repetitive as far as what we’re opening and selling every day. The merchandising end of it and the buying end of it are a little bit creative.

“I like running a successful business. Trying to keep it going and making money is fun for me, and I get to work with a great bunch of women of all ages.”

“It’s also fun to be independent,” Mia continues. “We can have some fun and shake it up a little if we want to.”

Follow Indigo online:  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest 

Business in balance: Data, intuition and plenty of personality

Mia - owner of Indigo and employeesFor all the advantages data provides, Mia’s choices aren’t all based on point of sale analytics.

“A lot of it is emotional too,” Mia says. “Counterpoint gives me the information. Then I can decide whether to use it, but it gives me a platform to make decisions off of. I can decide I’m going to get turtlenecks anyway.

“I can get a little optimistic and think I can sell anything. But having that data that says a vendor isn’t working for us even though I really, really like them, I have that data there informing my choices. So if I do make decisions that don’t make sense from a purely business standpoint I know I’m doing it just for myself or because I can’t say no to that vendor.

“So I only have myself to blame.”

Mia’s experience shows that information from Counterpoint POS reports is instrumental in choosing which product lines and vendors to maintain. But data isn’t your boss. As Mia’s favorite brand Patagonia demonstrates, values-based choices that don’t make short-term business sense can become one of the cornerstones of a successful clothing business.

Sometimes it’s just about reading the tea leaves and believing your inner voice.

“I don’t always follow everything. It’s nice to have a little leeway and be able to not have a division looking over your shoulders and saying, ‘You don’t have the money to buy that,’ or whatever. It’s nice to be your own boss and say, ‘I know I’m going to sell that even though I might be a little overbought.’”

Brick and mortar retail is about experiences, not just great products

“You can get pretty much anything in my store online,” Mia acknowledges. “Maybe not all in one place, but you can find it. So to offer an experience when people come in, I think that’s the only way you’re going to survive. You can always offer something that they can’t get online. And that is often just having a personality and offering a nice experience.

“I think the other thing we do really well with is the mother-daughter shopping experience. It’s fun, it’s something you do with your mom and that’s still a huge part of your business and you can’t do it online.”

Do you have an overarching philosophy about the fashion business?

A lot of Mia’s business ethos boils down to being nice to people and not taking yourself too seriously.

“I try not to take myself too seriously in the fashion sense,” she says. “We love clothing, we want people to buy it, but I’m not going to push people into buying things. I’ll be honest if I think we could get something that looks better on them. You can sort of talk yourself into thinking a fashion trend is a big deal, but at the end of the day it’s just something that should be fun.”

Where would you like to be in five years with Indigo?

“I would like to have more time to do some of the creative things and less of the day-to-day things. Because there’s so much fun stuff that could be done.”

Mia would like to roll out Indigo branded apparel, have more fun with weekly display windows and use tools like social media to express her business’s personality and share offers. We bet all these things will come to fruition. Counterpoint can’t vacuum or respond to emails, but it can save a lot of time elsewhere.

Also, please put my wife down for an Indigo branded turtleneck.

As data-driven as business choices often are, emotion and intuition will always be important in retail management. Relationships matter, and many independent retailers want their businesses to be an expression of their personalities. We honor that and also provide point of sale support to keep businesses profitable.

We Make Data Your Friend, Not Your Boss
Shorter Buying Cycles.
Fewer Stockouts.
Less Surplus Inventory.

Our retail point of sale support services can help you optimize day-to-day and strategic decisions.

Feeling Uninspired? Take a Glimpse of Goodwill Industries’ Social Impact

Feeling Uninspired? Take a Glimpse of Goodwill Industries’ Social Impact

Awards & Recognition, Clothing & Apparel, Events, Retail

by John Garvey

Edward on a computer at GoodwillAt a glance, Edward Smith’s past didn’t bode well for his future. A felony conviction and prison sentence tend to limit a person’s career options.

“When I was incarcerated I realized all the barriers that I had against me,” Edward recalls. “And I said to myself that I have to be willing to do three times the work as the average person in order to be on an equal playing field.” So that’s what he did at Goodwill Denver.

“And in doing that, it’s propelling me towards my greatest potential. And to me it means the world. Goodwill gave me an opportunity based off of the mission of the company and also me putting my effort and my intellect towards that. On one hand, they give you a platform but on another hand you have to be willing to step up and utilize that platform to build upon it.”

Edward began working at Goodwill as a Donation Attendant, an important but unglamorous role. His strong work ethic, poise and kindness were immediately evident to his supervisors. And he wasn’t working for an ordinary company. Goodwill was more interested in his character than his past, which allowed him to assume greater leadership and responsibility over a relatively short time.

Now a Certification and Compliance Specialist, Edward leads a team with extensive responsibilities in the electronics department at Goodwill Denver. He’s also pursuing a masters degree and recently received the prestigious Goodwill Opportunity Award.

Goodwill Industries isn’t exactly a retailer. It’s a nonprofit organization whose call to arms is helping disadvantaged people find meaningful, long-term employment. See what they have accomplished in their hundred year history.

Goodwill’s programs assist people with diverse needs, including at-risk students, people with disabilities, individuals like Edward striving to overcome their past, farmers and ranchers, and anyone who wants the dignity of work. Each program is unique, but shares a common denominator: The Power of Work.

Goodwill Industries Impact Summary
(Click Image for Larger View)

“Our programs are all workforce-oriented, so all of our mission programs are geared toward getting people back to work, making sure that they have the training and the skills that they need to succeed in the workforce,” explains Jessica Hudgins Smith, PR & Digital Media Manager at Goodwill Denver. “Our mission is to spread the Power of Work and help these individuals reach dignity and self-sufficiency. That’s what Goodwill is all about really”.

“We have these retail stores that exist so that we can provide these workforce development programs.”

Goodwill Denver’s largest program is currently the Youth Career Development Program, which serves close to 16 thousand students a year.

“Those programs are geared toward making sure those students have the tools they need to graduate, but also to either enter the workforce right after high school or to succeed in college and beyond,” Jessica states.

“And that programming can be anything from one-on-one mentoring to job shadows. It can be apprenticeships. We do mock scholarship interviews and a variety of different mentoring groups for those students.”

Edward’s role is to ensure that electronics are recycled responsibly. This requires thorough due diligence over multiple parties and an astute understanding of environmental and workplace safety regulations.

Edward holding a Goodwill sign“You have to perform your due diligence so that you can remain a good steward for the environment,” he explains.

“It’s way bigger than your business. You have to consider your global impact. … And that’s my job to go through my downstream vendors. Their ratings, their environmental permits, the individuals that they’re doing business with, making sure that they’re following EPA regulations and OSHA regulations, making sure that they have safety programs in place for their employees as well and making sure that they have an environmental health and safety policy that’s beneficial for the company.”

Retail Control Systems has partnered with Goodwill Industries of Denver since 2014, as well as several other Goodwill chapters. Without reliable point-of-sale and business support systems, Goodwill wouldn’t be empowering people like Edward.

“I personally have worked with Retail Control Systems for the last three years,” states Cherie Bardsley, Goodwill Denver’s Retail Operations Business Analyst. “They’re a great company to work with; they do a really good job of supporting us on the point of sale system side and we’re happy with them.”

The Goodwill locations we partner with use NCR Counterpoint, one of the specialty retail point-of-sale systems we provide. “We work together really well and our combined goal—both mine and theirs—is to make sure that when we implement something that it’s flawless,” notes Cherie, “And I think we do a pretty good job at doing that.”

Needless to say, it makes us feel good to be working with Goodwill. Several of our team members attended the recent Power of Work Luncheon in Denver, which Edward was recognized at. We’re also enthusiastically looking forward to the upcoming Goodwill Industries Summer Conference.

Edward’s optimism about his own future comes across loud and clear through his language and demeanor.

“Because the fact is I have a felony on my record, and there’s no escaping that,” he acknowledges, “but people are trusting me enough based off of the role that I’m modeling to put me in charge of different things. So it means a lot to be able to demonstrate that as an employee. And as a dad, to have my son watching me and having a positive role model in his life—a role model that I didn’t have in my life.”

Make a Financial Donation to Goodwill Denver

Find a Goodwill Near You

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Fewer Stockouts.
Less Surplus Inventory.

Our services can help you with security, digital marketing, point of sales and other needs.

Retail Control Systems and Hickory & Tweed are Long Time Friends

Retail Control Systems and Hickory & Tweed are Long Time Friends

Clothing & Apparel, Sporting Goods

(ENFIELD, NH | FORT COLLINS, CO) – Retail Control Systems (RCS) is pleased to announce our customer spotlight for the month of April, Hickory & Tweed. Hickory & Tweed has been an RCS customer since 1987, the year RCS was founded.

1961 Hickory & Tweed SignHickory & Tweed began as a ski shop, founded in 1961 by Jim Ross, in Armonk, NY. The stores current owner, Skip Beitzel, purchased the store from Jim in 1985 after working there throughout high school and while he attended school at the University of Vermont. After which, a bicycle shop was added to the well-established ski business.

The store’s name pays homage to the origins of the sport itself, with hickory being the wood of choice for first generation skis and tweed wool being the most common layering insulation at the time – hence the name, Hickory & Tweed. From its early beginnings, Hickory & Tweed has established itself, not only as one of the premier ski and bike shops in the country, but an iconic brand in the ski business. The store has won numerous industry awards over the years, including “Ski Shop of the Year” from Ski Magazine and “Top 150 Bike Shops” from the National Bicycle Dealers Association. Their hallmark offering is a family ski and snowboard leasing program, which serves nearly 2,500 families.

Hickory & Tweed is a family business, just like RCS. Skip’s son, Mac Beitzel, manages their recently introduced ecommerce site. Mac created the store’s ecommerce site utilizing NCR’s retail online (NRO) application. Mac also manages the store’s social media and private label branding business.

Hickory & Tweed is also staffed by many long-time sales and management associates who are passionate about winter sports and cycling. The staff can often be found on the slopes or out riding the local trails. Based on the knowledge of their passionate staff, Hickory & Tweed’s service and atmosphere has always provided a unique shopping experience for their customers.

Almost 30 years ago, Hickory & Tweed was frustrated with several attempts to implement a point of sale system that not only worked for their business, but was easy for staff to understand and use. In early 1987, Dave Albert was preparing to start a new venture in the point of sale industry after working for many years in the bicycle industry. Skip had a chance encounter with Dave at a bicycle tradeshow. Skip and Dave kept in touch and once Retail Control Systems opened its doors, Hickory & Tweed was the very first customer! Hickory & Tweed also ended up hiring Dave to consult for them when they were first opening the bike shop portion of the store.

Since then, RCS has become intimately involved in all of Hickory & Tweed’s operations. RCS has successfully upgraded the store’s entire Counterpoint Point of Sale system several times and it’s always been a relatively easy process for Hickory & Tweed. Skip and Mac regularly attend RCS’ Envision Conferences, in order to stay up to date with RCS’ latest offerings.

In the end, I tell all who’ll listen, that when you buy-in to RCS, it’s not so much really about the hardware and software, but rather it’s about Dave, his staff and their support. I’ve always experienced them being there for us through thick and thin. And these days in retail, there’s a lot of thick and thin. – Skip Beitzel

RCS is so proud to have Hickory & Tweed as such a loyal part of the RCS family for so many years. We can’t wait to see where they go in the future and how RCS can help them reach their goals!

3 Common Holiday Retail Challenges & How to Solve Them

3 Common Holiday Retail Challenges & How to Solve Them

Clothing & Apparel, E-commerce, Gift Stores, Retail, Specialty Retail

The 2016 holiday season is officially upon us! As a retailer, you know that the holidays can promise a steady stream of revenue, and put a high demand on your retail operations.

So what can you do to ensure your holiday challenges don’t become New Year’s losses? Be prepared and leverage your point-of-sale system to track sales and inventory, manage promotions and staff, and gain critical insight into your customers’ behaviors to stay ahead of the holiday-rush and realize huge profits.

Here’s a list of 3 common holiday challenges and how you can solve them with an integrated point-of-sale system.

Challenge #1: Managing Crowds & Unpredictable Demand

Making the holidays “the most wonderful time of the year,” requires retailers to pay close attention to the details in order to successfully meet demand in this busy season. As the holidays inch closer, malls and stores will begin to get more and more crowded. Retailers across industries must be prepared to deal with the holiday rush, but how do you plan for something that is often seemingly unpredictable?

How You Solve It

Utilize your omni-channel point-of-sale system to become a data-centric business. By observing current trends as well as your store’s historical holiday sales data, you can more accurately forecast demand and predict inventory needs to maximize profits. Armed with a statistical, comprehensive picture of your business, you can take the guesswork out of inventory management, reducing the possibility of running out of stock or being left with overages.

An omni-channel point-of-sale system, like NCR Counterpoint, will also allow you to expand sales across a variety of platforms – physical, online, and mobile – to reach your customers, according to their preferences, so you never miss an opportunity to sell. Operating under a single, centralized system also allows you to effectively manage inventory across all your locations to transfer stock where it’s needed the most.

Challenge #2: Selling to the Holiday Shopper

Holiday shoppers need a streamlined, intuitive, and direct shopping experience. As a retailer, you need to be able to anticipate their needs and adjust your products and services to solve issues before they arise. So, what can you do to meet their expectations and successfully sell to the holiday shopper?

How You Solve It

Enable ecommerce, mobile pay, and gift cards to increase your speed of service and simplify the buyer experience to optimize sales. The best way to satisfy a shopper is to give them the service they expect and more. Modern consumers want to be able to quickly find, shop, and buy the gifts they need easily and efficiently. By creating or using an online store in addition to your brick-and-mortar location, you can deliver your products to a wider audience and accommodate their individual shopping habits – whether they prefer to shop in-store or online on a laptop, tablet, or mobile device. This allows you to spread demand across multiple places, so no one location is overwhelmed and stock can be strategically sold.

You can also increase your speed of service by investing in mobile POS stations or tablets. Short lines and efficient payment systems keep customers, especially those who are new to your store. Having the ability to sell products anywhere in your store as well as process mobile payments helps keep check-out lines shorter, reduce wait-times, and lessen the likelihood of customers reconsidering a purchase.

During the holidays, gift cards are a retailer’s best friend. In fact, research has consistently shown that people using a gift card to make a purchase spend 20% more than the value on the card. Aside from this profit incentive, gift cards are also a convenient option for customers coming into your store who may be unfamiliar with your product. As gift-givers, holiday shoppers aren’t always your typical clientele, so offering gift cards can be a great way to make your product more approachable, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing sales. You can easily sell and manage gift cards on an advanced point-of-sale retail solutions like NCR Counterpoint.

Challenge #3: Providing Effective Store Promotions

Holiday shopping has become synonymous with the word SALE. With increased demand comes high-competition, which means everybody is slashing prices in hopes of attracting big crowds. However, you can’t just discount everything in your store and expect to meet your bottom line. You need to be able to leverage your promotions strategically so your sales boost profits. Well how, do you ask?

How You Solve It

Use sales reports and customer insights to personalize your promotions and manage inventory effectively. Leverage a POS system that integrates sales data with customer engagement tools to capture crucial opportunities for your business. With a comprehensive POS solution, you can identify your loyal customers, view their purchase history, and send them coupons tailored specifically to their needs. Understanding when, how, and what they purchase gives you the competitive advantage to offer promotions they’ll want when they’ll want them – motivating further interaction, online or in-person. You’ll also be able to identify your best sellers to strategically price products so they fly off your shelves!

Make the holiday season merry and bright – see how RCS can help you choose and implement a complete point-of-sale solution that will increase sales and improve operations. Contact Us or visit, www.retailcontrolsystems.com to learn more about our customizable retail management solutions!

Retail Control Systems Opens New Office in Fort Collins

Retail Control Systems Opens New Office in Fort Collins

Clothing & Apparel, Just for Fun, News

(ENFIELD, NH | FORT COLLINS, CO) – Retail Control Systems (RCS) is pleased to announce that they have recently moved their Fort Collins, Colorado office to a new location. RCS will now be located at 324 E. Oak Street in Old Town, Fort Collins. Restorations as well as some renovations to convert the late-Victorian style home on the property to RCS’ offices were completed earlier this October. A reception was held to celebrate the official opening of the new location on October 13th, 2016. Attendees included the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce as well as RCS staff and clients.

The property, known historically as the Mosman House or Andrews House, was purchased by RCS in February 2016. Built sometime between 1892 and 1893, the house is considered a significant example of Victorian architecture, and was the first residential property to be designated as a Fort Collins City Landmark.

“RCS did a wonderful job of restoring the historic charm of this iconic home, and we are excited to welcome them to the neighborhood,” states Kristy Wygmans of the Red Carpet Ambassadors of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to support local businesses, like RCS, that have shown a dedication to the continued growth and success of our business community.”

Originally based only out of New England, RCS made the decision to expand its operations to the Fort Collins area in early 2013. A need for more space after three years of significant growth, helped motivate RCS’ move to the Old Town district of Fort Collins. The new location also offers a closer proximity to customers and other businesses as well as a larger conference space and additional room for future growth.

“Our priority has always been, first and foremost, our customers and this move will allow us to better serve them,” states Dave Albert, President of Retail Control Systems. “We will not only be more accessible to our clients, but also able to provide larger training sessions and increased support to our Fort Collins customer-base.”

About Retail Control Systems

Founded in 1987 by President and Owner, Dave Albert, Retail Control Systems specializes in retail management software and hardware solutions. Providing superior customer service, exceptional quality, and innovation to the retail community for nearly 30 years, RCS has built a reputation for finding specialized retail management solutions that help businesses gain complete control over their operations and finances. From daily sales management to inventory control, RCS has the experience and expertise across the full-range of retail industries to meet the unique needs of any business. To learn more about RCS, visit www.retailcontrolsystems.com or call 1-800-417-3030.

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fort-collins-ribbon-cutting
Ribbon Cutting with the Red Carpet Ambassadors – Fort Collins Area Chamber