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

8 Proven Tips to Keep your Customers Coming Back

8 Proven Tips to Keep your Customers Coming Back

Just for Fun, News, Retail, Technical Tip

By John Garvey

There are several reasons you should prioritize retention over new customer acquisition. Harvard Business Review reports that “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one,” citing research from Bain & Company. The same, oft-cited research suggests that improving customer retention by five percent results in a 25 to 95 percent increase in profits.

Focusing first on your existing customers, assuming they’re profitable, is less work and often makes customer acquisition easier to boot. If you retain customers and create exceptional experiences for them, they’ll also become your best advocates.

Male customer talking to paint specialist woman in a store
  1. Time-limited offers. Harvard professor, best-selling author and persuasion expert Robert Cialdini named scarcity as one of his 6 Principles of Influence. In a business setting, one way of harnessing this is time-limited offers. Prospects are more likely to act on an email marketing offer, for instance, when it’s time-limited.

“When our freedom to have something is limited, the item becomes less available, and we experience an increased desire for it,” states Cialdini in the modern classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. “However, we rarely recognize that psychological reactance has caused us to want the item more; all we know is that we want it. Still, we need to make sense of our desire for the item, so we begin to assign it positive qualities to justify the desire.”

  1. Customer surveys. As we’ve noted before, for every customer who complains directly, there are about two dozen customers who are quietly dissatisfied with some aspect of your service. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, surveys can generate testimonials and keep customers engaged.

Customer surveys are often focused on identifying problem areas. While that’s important if you value repeat business, a Harvard Business Review article, The Power of Positive Surveying, suggests that a more positive slant can improve customer satisfaction and retention.

“Beginning a survey with what the researchers call ‘open-ended positive solicitations’ seems to be an easy, low-cost way to increase satisfaction and spending.”

By getting customers to recall and relate positive experiences, you increase their sense of well-being and make them more likely to return. While customers should have an outlet to vent (ideally not Yelp!), surveys that focus too much on uncovering problem areas can backfire.

“Companies should look at the customer feedback process not only as a chance to listen but also as an opportunity to subtly influence customer perceptions.”

  1. Ambience. Every introvert has walked out of a cafe, restaurant or store because of excessively loud or grating music, too much ambient noise or overcaffeinated staff. A lot of retail settings are geared toward extroverts because of the perception of the giddy shopaholic, but a third to a half of us are introverts. The reverse can also be true, of course. Lighting and music geared towards one kind of customer risks driving off another, potentially larger group of customers.

Music should also be attuned to your customers. This may seem like common sense, but individual employees may enjoy country music or electronica, which people tend to either love or hate. It may seem like micromanaging to dictate which genres or stations employees can choose, but in many cases it’s good business sense.

Ambience was one of the keys to Starbucks’ success. When Howard Schultz took over the company, he was inspired by the Italian cafe scene. Much like the English pub, these were uplifting social spaces conducive to exchanging news and sharing ideas. Coffee stopped being a commodity and became more of an experience.

Two women talking in a coffee shop
  1. Be ultra-responsive to online reviews … the good and the bad. We discussed this in our March blog, Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Customer Reviews. Responding to a positive shout out–even a trivial one–reaffirms that you value your customers. Not responding to a negative review–even if it’s petty–validates the complaint.
  2. Personalization. This begins with understanding your customer personas: their aspirations, their pains, preferred methods of communication and social media habits. Focus on the channels that matter most. If you have someone in charge of social media or email marketing, it may even be good to have that person sign off on messages using his or her first name (under the company label, of course). This can make you stand out regardless of what size your business is.

Telling customer stories is another great way to do this. While beyond the scope of this blog, there are a variety of great ways to do this including social media, case studies and video blogs.

One emotional and vivid customer story is far more persuasive than a data dump in 85 PowerPoint slides. – Carmine Gallo, The Storyteller’s Secret

  1. Email marketing (Yes, it still pays). Hubspot and Search Engine Journal state that email marketing has an average ROI of 4300% – but that’s obviously quality dependent. Email marketing keeps you top of mind and can help personalize your brand. A point of sale (POS) system with email marketing integrated can segment customers by purchasing history and preferences, allowing you to deliver relevant, individualized offers. Organized customer data is a prerequisite to effective marketing and systems like NCR Counterpoint, which we offer, make it easy.

Electronic receipts delivered by email, another feature built into our POS systems, also allow businesses to send customer feedback surveys and additional offers with ease.

Male and female customers paying a merchants with a credit card
  1. Rewards programs and exclusive offers. Again, the better your customer data is, the more you can tailor offers to entice customers. It’s a truism that loyalty programs make people feel valued, but also consider throwing out the occasional surprise reward. These can coincide with birthdays or be completely random.

Incidentally, this is another example of Cialdini’s scarcity principle at work. An offer available to few people will be perceived as having greater value than one available to the masses.

  1. Understand your mission and communicate it across channels. Know your “Why” and weave it into every aspect of your business. Use it to galvanize employees and communicate the value of what you do. This can be a social mission or it can simply be exceptional commitment to satisfying a market need. One of our partners in Fort Collins, Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, has a close affiliation with Sustainable Schools International, a nonprofit supporting education in Cambodia. A portion of every sale goes to SSI and customers have the option to “round up” their payment to the nearest dollar. This provides further financial support as well as generating awareness for their cause.

Have anything to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you!

Google Runs the World, Not Your Business

Google Runs the World, Not Your Business

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

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 8pm and the last tour left at 7pm. 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 7pm. But… we contested, the website says 8pm, 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 friends 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…

9 Sustainability Tips to Reduce Waste, Save Money and Enhance Your Business’s Public Image

9 Sustainability Tips to Reduce Waste, Save Money and Enhance Your Business’s Public Image

Just for Fun, Restaurant, Retail

By John Garvey

We’re going to be real candid here. Most things marketed as “sustainability” efforts are more accurately “waste reduction” initiatives.

What’s wrong with waste reduction, you ask? Nothing whatsoever—it’s great! What follows are some proven insights on how to reduce waste, adopt more sustainable business practices, boost your bottom line and win customers. While progress towards sustainability and cost savings may seem at odds, there are plenty of win-wins. Some of the following tips apply mainly to retailers, others to restaurant managers, but many are flex options that apply to various industries.

1) Adopt a paperless documentation system

M&E painting in Fort Collins recently rolled out a paperless documentation system. While this saves hundreds of pounds of paper, the more impressive benefit is saved time.

Off the cuff, M&E Founder Matt Shoup estimates that M&E’s new paperless documentation system saves each team member a couple hours a week. While the new system was challenging to implement, he expects it to pay for itself many times over.

“It’s been received really well,” notes Shoup.

“The other thing that it did was it freed up a lot of physical space in our office where we were storing paper and filing cabinets,” he adds.

Stack of paper cups in a coffee shop2) Default to waste reduction options with day-to-day customer service

When was the last time you ordered a drink at a coffee shop, fully intending to enjoy it there, and were given a to-go cup complete with a plastic lid and sleeve? Yesterday? Last week? Conversely, when was the last time you came home with carry-out and said, “Great! I don’t have to borrow silverware from my neighbor because they put plastic utensils in my to-go bag!”

You get the picture. Giving out single-use, throw away items usually isn’t the best practice to default to from a business perspective. Changing that default is a quick win, saving money and reducing waste without compromising your customers’ experience.

Additionally, compostable utensils, cups, napkins and to-go boxes are now affordable for most businesses, thanks to industry leader Eco-Products and other companies.

3) Identify low-hanging fruits for energy savings

LED lighting and other commercially-available, affordable technologies cut utilities bills substantially. LED bulbs cost more than conventional bulbs, but they pay for themselves several times over in the form of lower utilities bills and much longer life cycles. If your frame of reference on pricing or quality isn’t current, take a fresh look: The Department of Energy reports that the price of LED bulbs fell 85 percent from 2008 to 2013, and is still dropping. Their light quality and longevity have improved over the same period. Yay LEDs!
Various light bulbs hanging
Still not sure? Check out this resource: Philips LED savings calculator to help make informed decisions on building upgrades.

If you own the building you conduct business out of, or if you’re responsible for utilities on a long-term lease, consider an energy audit and retrofit. With a deep energy retrofit, a company such as Efficiency Matters, here in Fort Collins, first takes a thorough look at your building to identify the most cost-effective ways to improve its efficiency. They then retrofit the building, strategically insulating key portions of it, sealing leaky areas, changing out incandescent light bulbs and, in some cases, replacing windows.

These deep energy retrofits may have a long financial payment period in terms of utilities savings, but they have an immediate payback in terms of comfort. Perhaps more enticing to a landlord or property manager, studies show that energy-efficient buildings have lower vacancy rates and less frequent turnover than conventional buildings.

If you have an open-minded landlord, he may be willing to assume the cost of these upgrades. The building owner is really the long-term beneficiary here because buildings that have low operating costs, good indoor air quality, minimal ambient noise and minimal temperature fluctuations attract better tenants. That’s property management 101.

Red bike parked in front of an office4) Incentivize alternative transportation

If you’re in a multi-tenant building you may be able to renegotiate your lease to unbundle on-site parking. Encouraging employees to bike, carpool or use public transportation is easy in places like Colorado’s Front Range, but admittedly not everywhere. That said, if you can save a couple hundred dollars a month by freeing up a couple parking spaces, why not try?

You wouldn’t be the first to do this. Every lease at Boulder Commons, a Net Zero Energy office building in Boulder, has parking and office space unbundled. The fewer parking spots your employees take up, the more your business saves.

Installing bike racks in front of your store is another way to encourage biking to work that can also attract clients. This is both because of the signal it sends and because of the convenience.

Orange tire hung on brick wall as planter5) Use drought-resistant landscaping

Next time you’re giving your landscaping a face lift, using indigenous plants can cut back on water bills. If your business has minimal or incomplete landscaping this is also a good investment. Why? Views of nature increase productivity and reduce sick days, studies show. Potted plants or, if you’re really ambitious, a living wall may also improve indoor air quality, which improves mental focus, self-reported happiness and employee health.

6) Purchase renewable energy credits to offset energy use

Many businesses that don’t have the wherewithal to generate all their own energy with renewables opt to buy renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset their energy use. The Rio, New Belgium, Odell Brewing and dozens of businesses in Northern Colorado do this. Buying wind energy or supporting a solar energy cooperative costs somewhat more than conventionally-sourced electricity, but whether an end in itself or a means of attracting eco-conscious customers it can be an affordable and sound decision.

7) “Gamify” your waste reduction efforts

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Challenging your team to reduce waste by measuring and charting how much you’re hauling makes waste reduction efforts tangible. This can also be done with energy consumed, total commuting miles by car and anything else that will galvanize employees without seeming overbearing. With a little flair, tracking waste reduction can be fun and morale-boosting.

8) Restaurateurs: Compost when feasible

Hands holding dirtCase in point: Happy Lucky’s Teahouse

Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, one of our partners in Fort Collins, quickly became a downtown staple after opening in 2009. In fact, my first visit to Happy Lucky’s completely changed my conception of what tea is supposed to taste like. I’ve been back many times.

“Our biggest waste reduction, started when Happy Lucky’s Teahouse opened in 2009, is composting our used tea leaves,” notes owner and “Chief Leafster” George Grossman. “Through the years different customers have brought in five gallon buckets which we fill with our spent tea leaves.

“Composting tea leaves happens fairly quickly even in our relatively dry Colorado climate. My worms in the basement love them too. Composted tea leaves smell great and can help any garden.”

Depending on they kind of organic waste your business disposes of, different composting methods (basic composting or commercial/industrial composting) may be used. Industrial composting “is financially advantageous over landfill-bound waste hauling in areas where a compost facility is within 50 miles,” notes CBRE Sustainability Manager Emily Willson, writing for GreenBiz.com.

One man’s waste is another (cow’s) treasure

If you’re in, or near, an agrarian community, livestock can take a lot of food waste off your hands, saving you hauling fees and eliminating a major source of atmospheric pollution. To touch on that second point: food breaking down in landfills it produces methane, which has over 25 times the greenhouse effect as CO2. You may even get a modest additional source of revenue if you’re a brewery or cidery because leftover apple pomace mash and spent brewers grains are nutrient-rich (and livestock love them). Here in Fort Collins, Summit Hard Cider, New Belgium, Horse and Dragon Brewery and several other beverage makers do this. It’s a win-win.

That said, food waste is a bear. Different composting processes are required for different types of food waste. If not contained and hauled promptly it can also become an odor hazard. Companies like A-1 Organics that specialize in industrial food waste composting may be able to serve you affordably if your business isn’t far away. The U.S. Composting Council website is a great resource for restauranteurs interested in implementing a composting program.

Case in point: Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

“With compost in particular, there’ve been issues with finding people to haul it,” discloses Erich Whisenhunt, the Director of Food and Beverage for Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant (“The Rio”).

Whisenhunt lives on a small farm and gives food waste from the kitchen prep line (vegetable trimmings and the like) to his pigs.

“For restaurants on a small scale, that’s a pretty good solution,” he states.

During Whisenhunt’s tenure as Kitchen Manager, he oversaw various waste diversion efforts including glass-to-glass recycling, food waste composting and vegetable oil recycling for biofuels.

9) Finally, make sure you take rebates into account if you’re looking into ROI

Rebates vary by state and locality, but they can often nudge a waste reduction effort from a “no-go” to a “go” by shortening the payback period of certain sustainability initiatives. If you’re on the fence about a lighting retrofit or food waste composting plan, double-check with the relevant local, state and federal offices. Yes, some rebates distort incentives, steering people to the less beneficial of two initiatives, but we’re here to help you run a business, not critique policy.

While some sustainability investments are a values call, many have a decent bottom-line justification. In other words, environmental stewardship and sound business judgement are often one and the same.

Going back to the point we opened with, however, make sure you’re walking the talk. You don’t have to obsess over sustainability to run a good, admirable business, but if your behavior is out of sync with your public voice it’s likely to be labeled as “greenwashing.”

We’d love to hear from you if you choose to implement any of these ideas, wish to add to the discussion or even disagree with anything.

Libations to keep you warm through the winter!

Libations to keep you warm through the winter!

Just for Fun, Wine & Liquor

Around the time of the first snowfall, do you notice that certain drinks take on a new appeal? Just as kids associate cold weather with hot chocolate, adults associate certain drinks with a feeling of warmth. Think about how a glass of red wine or Scotch warms the stomach and spreads out to your fingertips. It’s pretty great, isn’t it? We like to call these drinks winter warmers. Across almost all categories of adult beverage there’s a shift in preferences when the thermometer takes a dive. Here are a few winter warmers:

Beer

Food and Beer with dark backgroundWith winter starting here on Colorado’s Front Range, “the Napa Valley of Beer,” pilsners and hefeweizens are giving way to heavier ales like porters and winter warmers.

“Every year Odell Brewing comes out with Isolation Ale, which does really well over the winter,” says Joe Musa, owner of Campus West Liquors. “New Belgium comes out with Accumulation, which is another heartier beer that they bring out for the season.”

We thought Joe would be a good person to go to for tips and insights on how people keep warm this time of year. We were right. There’s a significant reshuffling of inventory with every change of the season. Here in Colorado, we’re lucky to have four beer seasons (poor California). We’re also keen to talk about our favorite cold weather beverages, and you notice it in our taprooms.

For instance, stouts and porters come into higher demand when the ugly sweaters come out. Many, such as Goose Island’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout (not for the faint of heart) are only produced seasonally.

Wine

“Wine preferences also shift from white to red”, Joe states. That’s because cold drinks that hit the spot after a day in the sun hold less appeal if you just changed spent a day skiing in a snowstorm. Cabernets and other red wines are best drunk a few degrees below room temperature, while white wines express themselves best when they’re chilled.

Woman drinking tea outside
“Pinot noirs go well with Thanksgiving dinner, in general,” Joe advises. “If you’re going to go with a red, that’s what I recommend. If you’re going to go with white, I like to recommend a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer, which are a little on the sweeter side. Gewürztraminer—they call it a spiced wine—has more of a pear taste to it so it goes well with stuffing, turkey, cranberry and so forth.”

 

Joe recommends any Gewürztraminer made by Chateau Ste. Michelle, a Washington-based winery. One Riesling he recommends is Kung Fu Girl, also out of Washington State.

Spirits and wine variants

Eggnogs made with brandy or bourbon go down well during the holidays. A couple best sellers include Winter Jack, a blend of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and apple cider liqueur, and Evan Williams Egg Nog. But while holiday guests enjoy tradition, they may also appreciate it if you break convention.

Warm cocktail drink on wood table
“Mead is a honey wine that does pretty well around the holidays. It’s a little heavier than other wines.” Campus West carries honey wine from Palisade-based Meadery of the Rockies made with 100% pure, raw orange blossom honey, as well as Camelot Mead by Oliver Winery.  Honey wines are often chock full of fruits such as blackberry, cherry, raspberry and apricot.

Mulled wines are served warm and mixed with mulling spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and sugar. German-style Glühweins (“mulled wines”) can be found bottled, or you can make them at home.  Mulled wine is generally made by heating a cheap red wine and mulling spices. The smell will give your house a nice holiday aroma and the drink will warm your belly. There are a lot of recipes online or you can try whatever spices tickle your fancy.

Liqueurs

Anything that goes well with coffee or hot chocolate will be a welcome addition to your cupboard this time of year, Joe says. Amaretto, Bailey’s, Frangelico, Peppermint Schnapps clear the shelves a lot faster when snow is flying.

“Bailey’s is a classic winter-time liqueur, many of our customers have been picking up a bottle during the holidays for the past 40 years.”

Naturally, we were interested in hearing about some of Joe’s personal favorites. He keeps things pretty varied, he says, because I suppose it’s the natural thing to do if you own a liquor store.

Having said that, “Every now and then on a snowy night with a fire going, a bottle of port with some walnuts and cheese really hits the spot. It’s comforting.”

Single malt Scotch can also take the chill out of the air like few things can. “McCallen 18-year old is my favorite. … I used to drink it more when it was $85 a bottle.” Prices have recently skyrocketed due to limited quantities and high demand.

If I had been thinking, I may have asked Joe to sell me a bottle of 18-year McCallan for $85, “For old time’s sake.” I don’t know if it would have worked, but dark ales and the occasional single malt will be helping to keep me warm this winter.

What’s your go-to cold weather libation?

 

Want to read more by RCS? Check out Why Your Liquor POS Gets Better With Age.

Why Workplace Dogs are a Good Thing!

Why Workplace Dogs are a Good Thing!

Just for Fun

Have you ever worked in a dog-friendly office? We are certainly that. A couple of office pets who come nearly every day are Fozzie—in the New Hampshire office—and Burt and Noxie in Fort Collins. Burt has been part of the team for well over three years, so if it weren’t working out we probably would have figured it out by now. Jake, the original office dog, has been coming to the office his whole life, close to 14 years now. He is the unofficial RCS mascot and even has a cartoon drawn of him.

Jake the Dog cartoon
Dave Albert's Dog Jake

There are tons of studies linking pet ownership to health benefits like lower cardiovascular stress. More and more companies are allowing dogs at work with the idea that they can they can strengthen the three-legged stool of Health, Happiness and Productivity.

NPR recently reported that “Studies show pets lower stress hormones, and some show that workplaces that allow pets see higher morale and productivity.” Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University published a study showing that stress levels actually taper off over the day for pet owners who take their dogs to work. As importantly, office pets may improve work satisfaction for non-pet owners.

Responsible policies allowing office pets can benefit companies in all sorts of ways. Attracting and retaining talented younger employees is one of those perks. Forbes reports that “Millennials have been known to choose dog friendly companies over their competition when most other considerations are equal.” Fortune also wrote that many human resource managers use pet-friendly workplace policies as recruitment tools.

White dogFor practical guidelines about office pets, the Society for Human Resource Management just published a helpful guide on “How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer.” There are many options suited to all types of companies, from fairly permissive office policies to online employee resource groups for pet owners.

Breed can be a poor predictor of a pet’s suitability to office settings, experts at the American Veterinary Medical Association say. Instead, screen office pets for things like temperament, obedience training and neuter status. RCS also has employees sign a pet policy before they can bring their dogs into work.

The idea of allowing dogs at work is not without controversy, but a good workplace pet policy can result in more engaged, loyal and happy employees. It’s a perfect culture match at Retail Control Systems—so what if we’re biased? They’re some of our best friends!

The Dogs of RCS

Ariel’s Adventures – Curtis Liquors

Ariel’s Adventures – Curtis Liquors

Just for Fun, Wine & Liquor

By Ariel Leggett

I love visiting RCS customers for many reasons. Mostly, I love that each trip is an adventure, an opportunity to get face-to-face, belly-to-belly, to learn more about the people and businesses we serve, to discover wants and needs, joys and frustrations. Each visit is an opportunity to strengthen relationships, to share knowledge and to help. Since I stayed back from our Red Sox Team Store trip (read more about that here), I decided to embark on an adventure of my own, to Curtis Liquors!

This month, I paid a long overdue visit to Rick Curtis, President and Founder of Curtis Liquors. As I pulled up to the parking lot of the Weymouth, MA store, I was greeted by a gigantic welcome sign. I entered the store with my RCS bag over my shoulder– one look from the friendly Curtis Liquors team and they knew I was here to see Rick. We looked all over and finally found him up front, connecting with vendors and ensuring the store was in order for the day ahead. We immediately beamed big toothy grins at one another, shook hands and landed in a great big hug.

About Curtis Liquors:

Curtis Liquors was founded in 1976 and has, in its more than 40 years, grown to two locations on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Operating under Rick Curtis’s philosophy of the winning trilogy (selection, service, price), both stores consistently wow customers with their variety and value of wine, spirits, beer and cigars. With his passion for building and nurturing relationships, Rick has been constructing his empire for decades. In fact, he was among the first to take a gamble on Jim Koch’s craft beer in the 1980’s. Maybe you have heard of Sam Adams?

Back to the visit:

I knew from my phone conversations with Rick there was something very special about him – his demeanor is kind, warm, attentive and passionate. As we found a seat in the training room and delved into discussion, it was very clear he listens to understand, not to respond. The way in which he communicates with his team (not his staff or employees – a very important distinction) speaks volumes to the depth and quality of their relationships. You can see it also in the dedication his team has to carrying out his vision. Don Barrows (Weymouth Store Manager) was originally hired at 18 years old and has since been with Curtis Liquors for over 30 years! I also had the pleasure of meeting Kelly Raymond – sharp and hard working (not to mention her gorgeous head of red, curly hair), she often single-handedly saves the day when it comes to e-commerce snafus.

So what’s next for Curtis Liquors? Rick and the gang will be joining us next month at the Julio’s Liquor Store Workshop (you can find out more info here).This summer, Kelly will be exploring new integrated e-commerce solutions. The whole organization will be one step closer to achieving PCI compliance once 2 Factor Authentication is fully implemented. Of course, and this goes without saying, they will all continue to create an awesome experience in store and online for their customers!

The NCR XR7 Water Test

The NCR XR7 Water Test

Just for Fun, Technical Tip

by Casey Albert

Is your hardware showing it’s age or have you been thinking about updating your registers for your store? NCR has just released some sleek new Hardware that will work as hard as you do. Look no further than the new NCR XR7!

Brains and brawn meet beauty to give you one impressive point-of-sale They say beauty is only skin deep, but not true with the NCR RealPOS™ XR7—Sure it has a sleek, modern appearance with its slim profile, zero-bezel design and elegant styling that sets it apart from other point-of-sale solutions, but that’s only part of the story. It’s powered by 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor technology—an energy efficient powerhouse—to deliver amazing performance and future-proof your investment. To top it off, it’s smart too. On-board “odometers” capture vital health and usage statistics so we can keep you up and running and keep your customers coming back for more.
Including:

  • Stylish and compact all-in-one retail solution with a sleek zero-bezel design
  • Extreme performance with 4th generation Intel Core Processor Family
  • Customer facing displays. Make sure that transactions are accurate, show rich graphics and encourage up-sells with these sleek new displays.
  • Secure, powered USB and serial peripheral connectivity

Watch the video below to see its durability and the new sleek design. This video features an environmental test conducted by spraying the NCR XR7 with water from the top down and from all sides to demonstrate its durability in the retail environment.

Or read the full brochure on the XR7.

RCS Assists Red Sox Team Store with Opening Day

RCS Assists Red Sox Team Store with Opening Day

Just for Fun, Sporting Goods

by Jason Schuster

The light glared off of the ice as the sun rose over Mascoma Lake on Monday April 3rd- season opener for the 2017 Boston Red Sox. One by one we arrived at the RCS headquarters and prepared ourselves and the van for the 2.5 hour journey south to Boston. While we are far from a professional sports team like the Red Sox, we certainly did feel like it that morning.  Our lineup consisted of:

  • Matthew: The promising rookie playing in the position of hardware support
  • Geff: The proven networking master
  • Molly: The sales/customer service all star
  • Jason (myself): The software/database guru

We arrived at the Team Store thanks to Geff’s expert knowledge of Boston streets and unloaded our van of supplies. The crowd at the store and on the street outside were busy but mostly with stragglers killing time before the game. We met up with Lindsey, the Store Manager, and were quickly split up and put to work. While others went to the satellite stores in the stadium I worked at checking and updating the additional registers that were stored for the offseason and brought back in for the start of this season.
RCS helping at register

Once the checklist at the store was completed, Geff and I accompanied Lindsey into the stadium to support a possible issue at one of the many kiosks. We followed closely as Lindsey masterly navigated through the stadium while pointing out each store location in case we were called there later.

As we made our way back to the main store, we took a quick break to go into the stands to take it all in. I will always remember the quietness of the anticipation in the empty stadium knowing there are thousands of people outside just waiting to get in. We arrived at the store to a much different scene as all customers were moved out from the store and street to get ready for the gates to open. Once opened it felt like nearly all the true fans were heading straight to the store.  Lindsey and her team of seasoned experts were more than prepared, and so were we.

The pregame sales went very smooth with Molly helping at the cash registers and Matt, Geff and I assisting and monitoring for support issues.  The issues we addressed were mostly straightforward and quick to resolve; answering questions, ensuring device functionality and making sure all settings were correct.
As the game started and the store emptied we were left feeling relieved that things were going smoothly. Lindsey took our cell phone numbers and released us to walk the stadium and watch the game during the quiet time but assured us we’d be on call for when it picked up again!  We were able to enjoy several innings of the game, including the incredible home run by Andrew Benintendi, while periodically checking on the satellite stores and the main location to answer any NCR Counterpoint related questions they had.

Red Sox Team Store

We made our way back to the main store to finish watching the game – which ended in a win for the Red Sox!  After the announcement the excitement grew from the store staff as they knew what was coming next.  While close games with wins are great for everyone, it does mean that all the fans leave at once and many want a last minute souvenir from the store.  For most of the RCS lineup this was the first time to assist The Red Sox with a home opener; although it was a bit overwhelming for a split second as the store became full with excited fans, the Team Store staff was unnerved more than prepared to handle the demands with professionalism. We did what we could to help as needed while staying out of the way as the staff did what they do best, serve the Red Sox fans of the Boston area. We stood behind the registers as customers came and went, helping with stocking and bagging and again with any NCR Counterpoint questions that came up.

As we packed up, said our goodbyes and left we all felt like we helped to ensure that our customer, and most importantly to them their customers had a smooth and successful day. While there were many take-aways and experiences the feeling we were left with was this: The only greater feeling than being on a team is being on a winning team!  I would like to thank the RCS team as well as Lindsey and the Team Store staff for the opportunity to work together to guarantee one of many winning days.

Read about our past experiences with the Red Sox Team Store here:

We helped the Red Sox , Boston Red Sox Opening Day – 2013

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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Ribbon Cutting with the Red Carpet Ambassadors – Fort Collins Area Chamber