Here’s How Old POS Systems Get Retailers Screwed

Here’s How Old POS Systems Get Retailers Screwed

News, Restaurant, Retail

Here’s How Old POS Systems Get Retailers Screwed

Understanding the potential implications of the Sonic breach to your business.

Hold the onions … and my personal banking info!

Double burgerTwo years ago, Sonic Drive-In experienced a massive Point of Sale system breach. In September 2017, financial institutions noticed fraudulent charges on numerous cards that had previously been used at the fast food chain. Days later, Krebs on Security reported that a batch of five million credit and debit cards had suddenly shown up for sale online. Krebs’ banking insiders bought some of the cards to investigate, confirming that they had indeed been recently used at Sonic.

Fast forward a year and a half to last May for the real day of reckoning. American Airlines Federal Credit Union—the financial institution that incurred most of the cost stemming from this breach—sued Sonic last spring to recoup millions in expenses.

“The credit union said that because of the breach, it had to cancel or reissue cards, close accounts, block transactions, refund affected customers and increase fraud monitoring efforts,” reported The Oklahoman. (Sonic is headquartered in Oklahoma City.)

Lawyers representing AAFCU claimed that “nearly a quarter of Sonic’s restaurants used POS systems that were nearly thirty years old.” More to the point, that ageing software wasn’t receiving security updates, making it vulnerable to malware that was used to hack it and collect credit card information.

The basic mechanics of a POS security breach

Krebs explained, in the article cited above, how hackers use credit card info.

“Malicious hackers typically steal credit card data from organizations that accept cards by hacking into point-of-sale systems remotely and seeding those systems with malicious software that can copy account data stored on a card’s magnetic stripe. Thieves can use that data to clone the cards and then use the counterfeits to buy high-priced merchandise from electronics stores and big box retailers.”

And you thought your mother-in-law was annoying.

Who gets stuck with the tab when a security breach occurs?

Person counting moneyBreaches such as the Sonic incident and the prior Wendy’s breach are especially costly when the breached locations are independently-owned franchises rather than corporate-owned chains. In such cases, banks and credit unions that issue cards bear the up-front burden because cards tend to be breached, re-issued and breached again. The Wendy’s breach went on for nine months and was far costlier than the notorious Target and Home Depot breaches.

On Oct 1, 2015, much of the liability for credit card counterfeit schemes shifted from financial institutions to merchants. Those who had failed to adopt chip technology for processing credit cards were officially on the hook for damages stemming from in-store security breaches. In the last 3 ½ years the shift has been impossible not to notice in day-to-day consumer transactions.

Visa’s concise explanation of the EMV liability shift

The change of law has also pertained to several 7- and 8-digit legal settlements. For instance:

  • Home Depot settled a similar suit brought against it by financial institutions, in the amount of $25 million in March of 2017.
  • Wendy’s lost even bigger, settling for $50 million for its 2018 security breach.
  • In addition to the AAFCU suit, Sonic settled a $4.3 million class action lawsuit on behalf of numerous customers. The settlement entitled individual customers to payments ranging from $10 to $40. It concerned all 325 locations that were hacked, listed here.

Writing 172,000 checks (that’s $4.3 million divided by the average of $10 and $40) sounds like an unpleasant way to spend the weekend.

The good news is that, even in the event of a security breach, you won’t be held liable if you’re compliant with PCI (Payment Card Industry) Data Security Standards.

Stay Safe!

Not only do modern POS and CRM solutions keep you and your customers secure—they actually take a lot off your plate, including manual data entry, running promotions and other tasks.

What’s the solution?

Even if your POS system doesn’t predate household internet, you don’t want to leave security up to “common sense.” Whoever you’ve partnered with for your CRM and point of sale needs should be experienced, responsive, and able to discuss issues like PCI compliance in plain English. You don’t just want a vendor—you want a partner who can act as needed as an advisor.

Whoever you’ve partnered with for your CRM and point of sale needs should be experienced, responsive, and able to discuss issues like PCI compliance in plain English.

If you have less than complete confidence in your software, or you’re using antiquated hardware, hopefully this will encourage you to deal with it proactively. Making big changes may sound like a pain, but it’s also an opportunity: Modern POS and CRM solutions actually take a lot off your plate, including manual data entry, to running promotions and other marketing and administrative stuff.

Today, our POS solutions feature dozens of industry-specific customizations, allowing you to operate more effectively online and in-store. We’ll help you manage and track inventory, promote special events, maintain healthy margins, and so much more.

Are you and your customers at risk? Don’t wait to find out. We’ll work with you to determine what’s lacking in your current system, and how to improve upon it.

Retailers: Don’t get blindsided by the Windows 7 apocalypse

Retailers: Don’t get blindsided by the Windows 7 apocalypse

News, Restaurant, Retail, Specialty Retail, Sporting Goods, Technical Tip

Retailers: Don’t get blindsided by Windows 7 End of Life

By John Garvey

It’s finally happening: Microsoft is ending all Windows 7 support on January 14, 2020. That means no more bug fixes, and no more preventative upgrades to fend off malware. So what’s the effect on your retail business?

The problem

If your retail system is running on Windows 7, it may coast along for a while, but it will ultimately be more vulnerable than ever to hacks. The bad guys of the world will likely be out to get anyone still running Windows 7, and they’ll do their best to breach systems.

Some retailers may assume that a simple software upgrade to Windows 10 will take care of everything. This is tempting, given all that retailers have to deal with day to day. But for many, that assumption is wrong. And the result could be costly for retailers come January, when POS systems at their store locations could start to fail.

Why? Because of two potential compatibility issues:

  • Your existing POS software might not work with Windows 10.
  • Hardware upgrades will be necessary in many cases in order to utilize your new software.

That makes this “simple upgrade” look a lot more complex in some situations. But if your current POS system isn’t giving you the most bang for your buck these days, this seeming headache could actually be a big opportunity.

Windows 7 End of Life Webinar

Join us for a 1-hour webinar about the end of Windows 7, this Wednesday, June 26 at 2 PM EST. You’ll learn more about the concerns that are on the horizon for many retailers — and come away seeing this as a great opportunity for your business to make a leap forward in the modern retail era.

Why change POS systems now? Here are few key reasons:

  1. Security. The thing that matters most to you and your customers will be most easily achieved through modern technology. With Windows 7 support coming to an end, there’s a chance to retool in a way that could help your margins and improve your business in a way you might not otherwise be able to achieve.
  2. Compatibility. Newer POS technologies can roll with the punches, and still come out ahead. Where allowed, open source technology keeps them moving forward as the retail industry’s needs change, and as new functionality is developed. (This is one way our Revel system is able to stay at the forefront of the industry, with nimble solutions for all sizes of business.)
  3. Enhanced features. A modern POS goes much further than handling everyday transactions. It can help you:
    • Improve inventory management, fraud prevention and customer service with smart alerts
    • Build out a loyalty program
    • Run email marketing programs
    • Monitor your store’s operations remotely with cloud-based tools that track sales figures and alert you to unusual events like excessive no-sales transactions
    • Eliminate manual data entry
    • Seamlessly transfer inventory between multiple locations
    • Add new items with multiple units, SKUs and barcodes on the go
    • Facilitate creating/scanning price tags and labels on the shelf and at the point of sale
    • Make better business decisions thanks to detailed reports

I like manual data entry. – Nobody, ever

In short, the end of life for Windows 7 may be more of an opportunity than a chore.

The security you need. The tools that make businesses better.

RCS has several retail systems for you to consider — and all are ready to implement before support for Windows 7 officially ends:

All these solutions offer modern capabilities. In many cases, they offer options and customizations specific to your industry. Revel, Cegid, Counterpoint and Foyer all include automatic, seamless updates and enable you to use touch-screen devices for easy checkout.

The best solution for you will depend on your industry and niche.

Need help deciding on the best one for you? Our capable team is ready, and we’re up on all the latest developments. Hit us up with your questions.

We’ll help you navigate the Windows 7 end of life, and focus on the opportunities that lie ahead for you and your business. As soon as you’re ready, we can set you up with the right hardware and software, help you improve processes — and enjoy healthy margins.

Windows 7 End of Life Webinar

Join us for a 1-hour webinar about the end of Windows 7, this Wednesday, June 26 at 2 PM EST. You’ll learn more about the concerns that are on the horizon for many retailers — and come away seeing this as a great opportunity for your business to make a leap forward in the modern retail era.

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.

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.

How to Convince Your Manager They Need a New POS system

How to Convince Your Manager They Need a New POS system

Restaurant, Retail, Technical Tip

Whether you’re a store rep, server, bookkeeper or buyer – not having an up-to-date point of sale (POS) system means you have to grapple with issues you’d just as soon avoid. These may include inventory shortages, customers irked by transaction delays, lost receipts and excessive paper documentation (complete with coffee stains). Unfortunately, a lot of retail and restaurant managers are resistant to change because of the perceived expense and difficulty of switching to a modern POS system.

Here are a few selling points for upgrading to a touch screen, cloud-based POS system. If you’re an employee, you know they’ll make your life easier. Now to convince the boss.

Make inventory management one of your biggest strengths.

NCR Counterpoint has the ability to generate over 160 reports, provide real-time stocking levels, create barcodes and automate purchasing. For businesses with multiple locations, it allows managers to easily transfer inventory between branches. All that amounts to reduced stock outs, spoilage and other snafus.

Say you miss out on $400 a month in revenues due to stock outs. If improved inventory management can reduce stock outs by 80%, you’re looking at $320/month in additional revenues. That’s $3,840 a year in additional sales—using conservative assumptions—from just one dimension of inventory management! Inventory reports that NCR Counterpoint runs can also help reduce surplus inventory, which will further improve cash flows. As a manager or business owner, you can select which inventory reports are most relevant to your business, which ones you wish to view personally and which ones to assign to other managers.

Quality point of sale systems like Counterpoint and, NCR Silver Pro (for restaurants) can generate reports to help guide all sorts of managerial decisions including inventory replenishment, pricing and merchandising.

Prevent theft.

It’s tempting to gloss over the topic of employee theft, but it’s all too common. This is especially true when taking into account non-malicious theft like “discretionary” discounts and freebies to friends and family. How much does it add up to in your business? You can’t manage what you don’t measure, but with modern point of sale systems, the task is much easier.

Say stolen inventory amounts to 3% of Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). If COGS is $50K a month, that means theft amounts to $1,500 a month or $18,000 annually!

With POS systems, Counterpoint or NCR Silver Pro, a business can help flag things like large discounts, excessive “no sale” transactions, voided tickets and other concerning things. Even at more conservative figures than those discussed above, it will pay for itself many times over.

Staff sitting around a table with notebooks and a laptop

Optimize staffing.

Avoid over- or understaffing with point of sale analytics that identify peak hours. If you can eliminate a single eight-hour shift (or two four-hour shifts) at $12/hour, that’s a savings of $96 a week – nearly $5000 a year! Furthermore, ensuring that you have adequate staff during peak hours keeps lines moving, reduces cart abandonment and helps retain customers.

Similarly, employees can clock in and out with Counterpoint, which improves time tracking for payroll. Even honest employees are unlikely to round their hours down, yet many businesses still use manual timecards and rounding. Those minutes at the beginning and end of each shift add up.

Marketing and customer engagement.

According to Hubspot as well as Search Engine Journal, email marketing has an average ROI of 4300% – but only if it’s done right. A good POS system allows customers an easy opt-in and keeps lists up-to-date. You’ll never import another email spreadsheet! A POS system with email marketing integrated can also help segment customers by purchasing history and preferences to deliver relevant, individualized offers. Organized, accessible customer data is integral to effective marketing and systems like Counterpoint make it easy.

Electronic receipts delivered by email also allow businesses to send customer feedback surveys and additional offers with ease. Further, it’s just one additional POS feature that eliminates unnecessary equipment and supplies.

New message about your POS system

Discount and loyalty programs.

Point of sale analytics can inform your company’s discount strategy and manage loyalty programs so they not only make people feel good, but make financial sense. Are there low-margin items you should avoid discounting? Are loyalty programs difficult to manage because you’re tracking them on paper or using spreadsheets? Eliminate guesswork, save time and ensure that loyalty programs actually drive customer retention by upgrading.

If you’re a retailer, data provided by point of sale systems can also identify customers who abuse return policies. You aren’t an equipment rental company, so don’t get taken advantage of.

Stay relevant.

Convenience is everything in an era where it’s “sooo cool” to be busy. Make it more convenient for customers to order from you than an online competitor. Or just add ecommerce to your operations. It’s not as much work as you may think, and we’re here to make it as streamlined as possible! You can place an order from a tablet for a product you may not ordinarily stock, based on a customer’s preferences, and spare her both time and shipping costs.

But as with the above examples, that can only happen if you have a smart POS system.

Modern, cloud-based point of sale systems offer a few other perks. These include the user-friendly touch screen interface, increasing counter space (by eliminating clunky old monitors), reduced human error, shorter lines and other intangibles that make customers and employees just a little happier day to day.

The bottom line is that point of sale software systems improve margins and customer retention, identify low-hanging fruits and eliminate guesswork with managerial decisions. Select one suited to your business—it will pay off in spades.

Top 10 Restaurant Trends for Restaurateurs to Keep in Mind

Top 10 Restaurant Trends for Restaurateurs to Keep in Mind

Restaurant

The dizzying number of restaurant industry trends can be exciting, inspiring, anxiety-provoking or just confusing,depending on your perspective.  Tech and economic trends, changing consumer preferences, new regulations and supply chain challenges all influence how restaurants will fare in the months ahead.  Here are ten of the most relevant restaurant trends of 2017.

Pile of peppers
  • Hot menu items. A recent National Restaurant Association survey of over 13,000 chefs provides helpful insights about shifting demands for ingredients and menu items.  A few new hot commodities include new cuts of meat, heirloom vegetables and fruits, and ancient grains like spelt, amaranth and kamut.  African spices like harissa are also becoming more popular.
  • “Yesterday’s news.” The same survey flagged a few menu items that are waning in popularity.  These include quinoa, flatbread pizza and sweet potato fries (Say it ain’t so!).  The survey is a great source for market info and new ideas.
  • Social restaurant platforms and apps. Consumers are increasingly relying on mobile apps to decide where to dine.  These apps feature reviews, location-based restaurant searches, and menus.  Some apps, like Hooked, provide flash discounts and a great way to discover local restaurants,others allow you to book reservations, view menus or place carry out orders most allow people to post reviews.  If you’re a restaurateur, you’ll definitely want to have a presence on Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor and at least one additional social platform.  Yelp Check-in Offers are a proven way to bring more people in the door, while OrderUp provides homebodies extra delivery options.
  • Street-food inspired dishes. Chefs and diners somehow figured out that street tacos, arepas, dumplings and kabobs taste just as good when you’re sitting down in a restaurant.  No complaints here!
  • Better restaurant software platforms. Business-facing software has changed dramatically in the last few years.  To succeed in today’s market, a restaurant needs more than a reliable point-of-sale system.  Although reliable and well-known, Square is best suited for smaller cafes and quick service restaurants.  Platforms like Toast, can track inventory and customer data, manage loyalty programs, and allow quick menu modification and tableside ordering. It even generates in-depth reports to help guide managerial decisions.  Different systems have different relative advantages depending on whether you’re running a full-service restaurant, bakery, or restaurant with multiple locations. Using the right consumer- and business-facing applications is essential for driving referrals, improving rankings, attracting Millennials and preventing snafus.
Wontons with dipping sauce on wooden table
  • Healthful kids meals. Today’s chefs are finding it important to offer more healthy kids meals.  All those 30-somethings that grew up on burgers, fries and chicken fingers are pickier than their parents were about their children’s diets.  It sounds kind of cruel until you realize they have more and tastier options.
  • Doing more in-house. More and more restaurants are making condiments, pickles, artisan cheese and artisan meats in-house.  They’re also growing more herbs and produce on-site, and restaurant patrons love it!
  • Local sourcing. Consumer preferences for locally-sourced ingredients are still on the rise.  Many restaurants have capitalized on this by highlighting local farms and artisans on their menus.  Farm-to-table restaurants epitomize this, also catering to consumer sensitivities about sustainability.
  • Chef-driven fast casual. According to the National Restaurant Association, this is the number 1 restaurant concept trend.  In the last decade this category has vastly outpaced traditional fast-food growth.  Chipotle, Panera and a couple others led the charge, but every city has their own small chains or stand-alone restaurants.  Wing Shack in Fort Collins is a great example.
Food truck with woman and child ordering at night
  • And finally, The Food Truck Thing. In case you just escaped captivity after a decade on a remote island, the food truck industry has been growing dramatically.  Yet as the Economist recently reported, “counties that have experienced higher growth in mobile-food services have also had quicker growth in their restaurant and catering businesses.”  The industry has grown faster than the rules and etiquette addressing it, so there will still be some head butting.  Even so, food truck openings will continue to outpace restaurant openings. Interestingly, food trucks are increasingly opening brick and mortar restaurants.  If you’re able to piggyback off the success of a food truck and open a sit down restaurant, you’re probably going to fare well.  Time will tell.

What are some food service trends you’ve noticed as a consumer, chef or restaurant manager?  We’d love to hear from you whether you’ve had success with any of these trends or other insights to share!