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.

The Future of Retail isn’t Digital, it’s Omnichannel

The Future of Retail isn’t Digital, it’s Omnichannel

E-commerce, Just for Fun, News, Retail, Web Tips

The Future of Retail isn’t Digital, it’s Omnichannel

Play to Win.

By John Garvey

It’s funny how in business a single headline, data point or catchphrase can overshadow the big picture. We’re talking about the Retail Apocalypse, but we’re talking more specifically about the impact of e-commerce on brick and mortar retail.

Contrary to the impression news headlines can create, many sectors of traditional retail are thriving. The number of store closings in recent years, however, may be costing you sleep regardless of how your business is faring. For all the turmoil, this is actually a time of great opportunity for traditional retailers. In fact, Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur and others have maintained the perspective that:

  1. The impact of e-commerce on brick and mortar retail is overstated and misunderstood, and
  2. The long-term outlook for retail is great.

The Best of Both Worlds

Woman online with dog in bedRetail chains that have continued to prosper through the so-called “Retail Apocalypse” are those that “understand the biggest advantage e-commerce retailers have is their ability to collect and leverage insights into consumer behaviors gained by technological innovations like big data,” according to Forbes Technology Council Lucas Roh. “They are adopting technology and processes to achieve the same advantage and adapt to today’s retail landscape.”

Roh boldly and bluntly states that “The Retail Apocalypse Is Not Happening,” and he’s not alone in that belief. But nobody’s saying we’re not in the midst of a seismic shift.

“The real impact e-commerce has on the retail industry is in consumer expectations,” Roh continues. “Consumers now expect a more convenient, tailored omnichannel shopping experience, whether they are online or in-store.”

This all points to at least one key lesson:

Four people gathered around looking at a guys cell phoneBig Data, customer analytics and online marketing are no longer competitive advantages.

Yesterday’s advantages are today’s necessities. That may sound stressful at first, but we’re excited about how these can benefit retailers and consumers.

That’s because today’s solutions address issues that have plagued retail for generations. They can make your life easier and your business more profitable. Even mom and pop retailers can now use business intelligence tools to reduce spoilage, pilfering, and stock-outs; enjoy higher margins; and optimize staff scheduling.

NCR Counterpoint—which RCS has used for decades— can now integrate data across multiple departments and generate over 40 reports. Among other things, these help forecast inventory, flag suspicious transactions and optimize pricing.

Instead of thinking of this as a David vs. Goliath thing, think of e-commerce style capabilities as ways brick and mortar retailers can solve problems that were around long before Amazon.

Omnichannel, not digital, is the face of the future

Companies that provide customers flexible purchasing options understand that decades from now there will still be thriving brick and mortar stores with e-commerce integrations. We’re not moving to an e-commerce model; we’re moving to a hybrid model. Why else would the kingpin of e-commerce be opening brick and mortar grocery and book stores? Why would Amazon have acquired Whole Foods if brick and mortar were tanking?

“Brick and mortar retailers no longer have to feel that they’re staring up helplessly at the giants of e-commerce,” writes Jia Wert, CEO of the fashion brand Studio 15 in Forbes.

E-commerce firms, it turns out, need a physical presence to build brand recognition and achieve their long-term business objectives. More to the point, traditional retailers who make use of the digital economy’s capabilities can not only survive but prosper with the help of modern inventory, marketing, and point of sale platforms.

Contact Retail Control Systems

Learn how we can optimize your ominichannel marketing, inventory management and sales.

Reduce spoilage, pilfering and stock-outs | Increase margins | Optimize staff scheduling

10 Ways FoyerLive Digital Displays Improve Life for Retail Associates, Managers and Customers

10 Ways FoyerLive Digital Displays Improve Life for Retail Associates, Managers and Customers

E-commerce, Gift Stores, Museums Attractions, Retail, Specialty Retail, Sporting Goods

by John Garvey

Saving time, ease of locating products, greater product variety and selection, and avoiding checkout lines are among the reasons people turn to ecommerce rather than shopping in-store. FoyerLive offers solutions to each of those issues, providing a better customer experience and addressing major causes of lost sales.

FoyerLive isn’t just a solution for brick and mortar retailers. It also makes it easy to integrate ecommerce and brick and mortar operations. Their endless aisle digital kiosks bring many of the conveniences of ecommerce to brick and mortar shopping, empowering retailers to create a nearly seamless shopping experience as well as a more personalized one.

Here are a few examples of FoyerLive applications that solve everyday problems for retail associates, managers and customers.

1. Ease of exploring product features and reviews.

For technically complex products, the information on the box or print display isn’t enough to go by. If you’ve ever browsed product information on your phone from a store you’ve probably sensed that there’s a better way of doing things. Now there is.

FoyerLive’s interactive kiosks allow customers to view product descriptions, comparisons, demos and reviews on attractive touchscreen displays. If they’re just getting started they can search by category and add items to a cart.

One perceived advantage of ecommerce for shoppers is access to customer reviews. People can be hesitant to buy products without seeing how they’ve measured up to other consumers’ expectations. If your customers aren’t looking at these reviews in store, odds are they have in advance. Facilitating that can increase sales and reduce product returns.

FoyerLive displays at Hurley surf event.
Click to enlarge

2. Eliminate stress and guesswork.

With FoyerLive’s capabilities, retail associates don’t have to memorize as much product information as they otherwise would. If they can’t answer a question off hand they can easily access product information using digital kiosks. The employee and customer are viewing the same information on the same screen and the employee can fill in where he or she has specialized knowledge. This is especially valuable if your store has complex products or a large number of SKUs.

And it builds trust.

3. Reduce lost sales from out of stock items.

If you don’t have the right color or size in store, no problem! FoyerLive gives you ominchannel fulfilment options, allowing customers to order out-of-stock items for home delivery. Customers don’t have to make inconvenient return trips to get what they want. For retailers, that amounts to fewer sales lost to online competitors.

4. No more yelling over the changing room door.

Even if delegated to a retail associate, going back and forth between a dressing room and clothing racks is time-consuming. Some people dread this aspect of clothes shopping. Digital displays in changing rooms allow the customer to order additional sizes and colors without leaving the changing room or verbally communicating detailed information to a frazzled associate.

5. Queue Management: Reduce or eliminate lines.

With FoyerLive you can give customers a self-checkout option if that’s appropriate to your business. That means your associates are available to help customers with needs other than sales transactions. Ergo you can provide a more personalized experience as well as greater convenience.

Alternatively or additionally, customers can order products from anywhere in the store so they’ll be waiting when it’s time to go up front and pay.

6. No more scrounging for products on crowded shelves.

FoyerLive’s touchscreen navigators free customers from meandering through aisles in a long and potentially fruitless search. Guests can now request products or find them with digital item locators. Since they can order physical products from the back of the store with touch screens there’s less need to keep them all up front. The additional space creates a more pleasant all around experience.

Nike, for instance, uses FoyerLive digital displays to allow customers to pick shoe and clothing styles, colors and sizes. Employees collect the requested products and bring them to customers to try on at pop-up stores and in store.

FoyerLive Nike display.
Click to enlarge

7. Choose the right vintage.

Most dinner hosts don’t harbor sky-high expectations as far as their guests’ beer or wine contributions go, but it’s nice to make a good impression. What goes well with tri-tip steak? How about scallops, quesadillas, BBQ chicken, or samosas? I have no idea and there’s a good chance even a well-trained clerk at a liquor store doesn’t either.

Digital kiosks provide educational tools for both staff and customers for just this kind of situation. This functionality makes up-selling easier as well as educational. People are happy to pay more when they’re confident that they’ve chosen the right product.

8. Effectively multiply your sales associates.

Many of the above applications allow associates to get more done, better manage peak hours and provide more individualized service. Whether you’re a garden center, liquor store, boutique clothing retailer, a fireworks seller or the storefront for a major brand, these solutions free employees from busy work. They’ll be happier and so will your customers.

9. Make products tangible to customers.

Digital displays, by allowing customers to view how products actually work, make them more engaged and confident selecting products that suit their needs. Fireworks stores, for instance, use digital displays which allow customers to see what artillery shells, roman candles and other goodies look like in action.

This list of applications is by no means exhaustive. The sky’s the limit.

10. A final note: Cost, functionality and integration.

The cost and functionality of digital displays have improved a lot over the last five years. Historically setting up a video wall was exorbitantly expensive. Now you can get a decent-sized, touchscreen, commercial device and targeted, customizable digital display for less than a thousand dollars.

In-store digital displays used to be stand-alone products. They’re now integrated with websites, and because FoyerLive is in the cloud, managers can control kiosks and display screens from anywhere. Displays can also be automated by time of day and special promos offered in real time.

Integration.

FoyerLive is designed to integrate seamlessly with other enterprise-level retail solutions such as NCR Counterpiont, so if you like what you’re using there’s no need for a complete overhaul. Many of our clients use multiple systems which compliment one another.

In sum, FoyerLive is a diverse, customizable tool that different businesses can use in the ways that most benefit them. It brings many of the advantages of ecommerce to brick and mortar retail, while also facilitating ecommerce for those who do both. It provides convenience and assurance to customers who want to make the right choice and don’t have all day to do it.

Contact Retail Control Systems for more product information or a free FoyerLive demo. We’ll help you find the best solutions for your store.

Google Runs the World, Not Your Business

Google Runs the World, Not Your Business

E-commerce, Just for Fun, Retail, Technical Tip, Web Tips

Google Runs the World, Not Your Business

By Ryan Parks

Everyone on Facebook does a good job of updating me about enjoying a vanilla latte at their favorite coffee shop (at least my friends do). However, people don’t always remember to update their business profile on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other platforms if there is a special event or something out of the ordinary happening.

Google search screen on a computer on a tableOn a recent trip to Seattle I was reminded how important it is to keep your business profile up to date. While visiting we went to one of the main attractions in the city. Now, we only had a few days and this particular attraction was only open the first day we were there due to construction, so we knew it was going to be a time crunch. According to their website, they would be open till 8 pm and the last tour left at 7 pm. We arrived at 6:45 with what we thought was plenty of time, only to have the security guard tell us that they close at 7 pm. But… we contested, the website says 8 pm, he then proceeded to tell us, “well, that’s google’s listing, we don’t control that.” As someone who traveled from out of town and wasn’t sure when he’d be back, this was disappointing, to say the least.

Google Business

Yes, you do control your business listing on Google, or at least you should… If you haven’t already, go add or claim your business listing on Google. Seriously, go do it now, stop reading this. Okay, you are now in control. You can now edit your post, add pictures, change the hours, add special hours for holidays, events, or construction. The Google business listing is often one of the first things people see when they google your business if you don’t see one for your business you should create one. Keeping this listing up to date will greatly benefit your business, but it isn’t the only listing to keep in mind.

Facebook

Phone with Facebook next to computerIf your business isn’t using social media, you are missing out. Even if you feel like your company doesn’t have anything exciting to share on social media, it is an area you need to have a presence. With over 70% percent of Americans on Facebook, your business page has the potential to reach millions. Facebook now has a feature that allows people to ask for recommendations. For example, if I was traveling to Austin, Texas, I can now ask my friends who live there or who have traveled there if they have recommendations for a restaurant or a record store. Facebook will then add details about your friend’s recommendations. A Facebook business page is a great way to get more online traffic, but don’t forget to keep that information up to date as well. Learn more about creating a Facebook business page.

Website

Lastly, but certainly not least, your website. You want to make sure your website’s information is always accurate. Companies list their address and store hours in all sorts of places, the about section, the contact page, an information page. It’s okay to have this information in more than one area and certainly don’t remove it if you’ve always had the information in a certain location. However, the easiest and most convenient section is at the bottom of your site in the footer. The footer is on every page and is an obvious place for your location, phone number and/or store hours. Even if you only do online orders it is a good idea to have a physical location listed on your website. Sometimes people want to know how far away an item may ship from, if you’re local or what timezone you are in if they want to call. Also, it helps let people know that you have a physical location and aren’t just a vague concept floating around the internet.

These three areas are not the only places where your information can be listed, but they’re a good place to start. Keep in mind that people traveling from out of state or even out of the country may be relying on this information and you don’t want to damper their experience or cause them to write a bad review. Remember, Google knows a scary amount of information about your business, but you still control most of that information, for now…

Having a standard e-​commerce store is so 1995

Having a standard e-​commerce store is so 1995

E-commerce

When the d​ot-com era started back in 1995, having an online store was an expensive venture. It was reserved for dreamers, visionaries and business owners that wanted to be a part of the next big thing. Many people tried cutting corners to gain ground, ​but only those who understood the true vision of the e-commerce flourished. Those who pushed through back in ‘95 created what we now know as e​-commerce.

That was all 22 years ago! Today, there are over 100,000 online stores in the U.​S.​ alone. Internet giants like Amazon, e​bay and the like have changed the way that the world buys products. It is easier than ever for retailers of all shapes and sizes to offer their inventory online. It is no longer a question as to whether or not you should have an e​-commerce store. The question is, what do you need to be doing now to prepare your online store for the future?

Man sitting at apple computer

Today’s customers are highly educated about the product they are looking for. They want a seamless interaction with your brand, no matter what platform they are on. If they pull up your website they want to see what inventory you have, in real time. They want to be able to buy on your website and pick up the item in store. They also want to be able to return their online purchase in store. They even want to be able to ask questions and get quick, accurate information on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The piece to this equation is that according to recent statistics 50% of these customers do all of these things from their mobile phone.

Today, 30 million people use the amazon.com application on their cell phone every month. The interesting take away from that number is not how big Amazon is, but that there is another major shift happening in the way that customers expect to interact with you and your store. You can either plan for your future or be left in the dust wondering why customers are no longer shopping with you. All of this ties back to your brand and how it can manage these interactions.

Did you know that $0.36 of every dollar spent in stores is influenced by a digital interaction that a customer has with your brand? That’s estimated to be 1.1 Trillion dollars per year of retail spending in the U.S. alone.

So what do you need to get started in this digital era?

  • A mobile optimized online store.
  • Regularly updated social media accounts
  • Employees managing customer interactions within your social media accounts.
  • Real time inventory control from your Point of Sale system to your online store.
  • The capability to manage customers in one central location.

Does this sound like a lot for you to manage? If you said yes, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, even large retailers rely on technology partners. They trust them to provide up to date information about trends, new technology and products that make it all happen.

Retail Control Systems (RCS) is an industry leader that helps small to medium sized businesses navigate these challenges. RCS can provide everything from basic store management solutions all the way to completely integrated Omni-channel solutions.

If you are interested in learning more about e​-commerce and how it can unite your online and in store experience you can join us for one (or all!) of our e​-commerce webinars:

  • SESSION 1:  Why E-Commerce – February 7th – 2:00 pm EST
    • Trends taking place and an introduction to getting a store online.
    • Leverage your physical store (pickup in store, ship to/from store, returns, etc.).
    • Leverage your investment in NCR CounterPoint (order/inventory/purchasing).
  • SESSION 2:  E-commerce Strategy – February 13th – 2:00 pm EST  
    • First steps in getting an e-Commerce solution online.
    • Platform choices based on needs (NRO, Commerce5, and others).
    • NCR CounterPoint integration considerations.
  • SESSION 3:  E-commerce Success – February 21st – 2:00 pm EST
    • Traffic Generation / SEO
    • Traffic Conversion
    • Fulfillment / Resource needs (people)
    • Budgeting for success
  • SESSION 4:  Ongoing Expectations – March 7th – 2:00pm EST
    • Future considerations (marketplaces, mobile, and social media).
    • Maintenance and upgrades.
    • Branding / Marketing Strategy.
EMV Myths Debunked

EMV Myths Debunked

E-commerce, Specialty Retail, Technical Tip

Heard about EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa), but you’re not sure what’s real and what’s not? Be aware of these common myths surrounding Europay, Mastercard, Visa and stay in control of when and how you want to implement EMV in your store.

While a shift to EMV – ready POS terminals has been well under way for years, there are still a lot of myths remaining about this secure payment technology. So to help you separate fact from fiction, we have gathered the 10 most common misconceptions told about Europay, Mastercard, Visa and debunked them all just for you. Get the facts, now!

On October 1, 2015, a liability shift occurred relating to who is responsible for paying for charge-backs for counterfeit cards that are used at a retail store. Between the bank that issued the credit card, the retail store and the payment processor, whoever is least prepared to accept EMV-enabled payment cards is now responsible for paying for the charge-backs.

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!