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 the Windows 7 apocalypse

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.

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.

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.

How to Ride Out Seasonal Revenue Fluctuations

How to Ride Out Seasonal Revenue Fluctuations

Specialty Retail

by John Garvey

Open sign on shop windowRetailers face unique challenges and opportunities each holiday shopping season. Ditto for other peak buying times, as well as cyclical retail sales slumps. Both challenges and opportunities are enhanced by digital marketing, social media and e-commerce. We’ve got to take our hats off to brick and mortar retailers who are putting in extra hours this time of year. For many, key decisions related to hiring, expansion, downsizing, and adapting online sales channels hang in the balance.

Fortunately, there are new resources available to brick and mortar retail managers. These include new point-of-sale (POS) software features, digital advertising platforms (such as AdWords) with transparent practices, and better inventory tracking systems.

We’ll point you to some of those resources and offer some valuable ideas in the following post.

Omni-Channel Fulfillment and Marketing

Order fulfillment

Retailers need to “consider more flexible fulfillment options such as buy online, pickup in store,” states the National Retail Federation (NRF). Purchases finalized in a store are increasingly being reserved online as well, as are after hours buying and delivery features. Consumers are also doing their product research on mobile devices. The ability to get reliable product insights and place items on hold for pickup is a convenience factor that gets more people in the door. Once there, they may make unrelated purchases.

NCR Counterpoint assists with all these things and more. We’d love to talk with you about the software’s many helpful features anytime.

Generous return policies

“The tradition of giving and receiving unwanted gifts is a reliable part of the holiday season; thus, return policies play a critical role in holiday purchases,” states the NRF in its 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook. The humor of that statement may not have been deliberate, but it’s true.

Face it: You’re likely to give or receive an unwanted gift this year. “Generous and transparent” return policies that de-risk purchases also make sales more likely.

Promotions

Sign on sidewalk, awesome to the right and less awesome to the leftGet your marketing ducks in a row well before the holidays. Make sure there’s a convenient, online catalog on your site for pre-shoppers and advertise promotions well in advance. According to NRF, more than half of all customers begin researching holiday purchases in October or earlier. Including links to review sites with your product descriptions will help guide the customer to a decision and make sales more likely.

Time-limited promos are an especially effective way to entice sales. Promote them through multiple channels including social media, segmented email marketing lists and even, in some cases, print marketing. Direct mail still works if it’s targeted. Segmented email marketing lists result in a double-digit increase in open rates compared to non-segmented lists.

Stay top-of-mind using the social media platforms most popular with your customers. That varies by demographic, so know whether your customers’ platform of choice is Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. Then focus your efforts proportionately.

Wish lists

The majority of holiday shoppers now report wanting wish lists, modeled after wedding and baby registries, to help with holiday gift buying. More and more retailers are following suit. As with other marketing practices like transparent return policies and conveniently linking products to consumer review sites, this makes people more confident in their purchases.

These practices collectively make sales more likely by reducing demands on the customer’s time and attention.

Modern, Cloud-based Point-of-Sale Systems will Soon be Indispensable—if they aren’t already

Customer patience is relatively low when seasonal shopping peaks. It follows that anything that makes the purchasing process seamless becomes super important at those times. A reliable POS system with short credit card processing times, streamlined receipt tracking and good inventory planning to avoid stock outs will make your life better if you’re in retail management.

Tracking sales data to guide future decisions can be tedious, even exhausting when you add it to the laundry list of other responsibilities: ensuring solid customer service, retail marketing, maintaining storefront displays, payroll, etc. Fortunately, POS and inventory tracking software such as NCR Counterpoint helps you do all that and more.

Inventory is cash. Having too much cash tied up as excess inventory can cripple a retailer’s profitability. Cash flow issues aside, poor planning due to incomplete data may force you to offer excessive markdowns to offload soft-selling items. While proactive markdowns allow you to clear shelf space for hot items, reactive markdowns hurt margins.

How do markdowns tie into the discussion of POS software?

Smart alert on a cell phoneNCR Counterpoint offers dozens of Smart Alerts, such as low inventory warnings, cash on hand, and real-time sales data for each product line. Because it’s cloud-based, you can choose which ones are most relevant to your business and keep an eye on things remotely.

Daily or weekly sales reports will help you adjust future receipts up or down as new sales data roles in. So you can avoid the twin menace of inventory overstock and stock outs. Counterpoint’s inventory management capabilities also allow retailers to easily transfer merchandise between stocking locations and roll out flexible pricing. Counterpoint offers over 40 inventory reports, allowing managers to opt in to the most important ones.

A good point-of-sale software system will make purchasing and pricing decisions easier with sales analytics and inventory reports. That, in turn, keeps margins healthy.

Attract Customers with Targeted, Enticing Digital Marketing

Digital marketing, including mobile marketing, allows retailers to take a more highly-targeted approach than ever before, and to accurately measure ROI of different ad campaigns. Smartphone commerce is indispensable as consumers increasingly use smartphones to price compare, browse products and place orders.

If you don’t have a mobile-optimized site, you’re losing business. Guaranteed.

“65% of consumers have a mobile shopping app on their smartphone and have made a purchase using it.”
Forbes, 28 Nov 2017

“Geofencing is helping retailers compete more effectively with online shopping experiences while customers receive a highly targeted, more relevant shopping experience.”
Inc., 7  Dec 2017

The first thing to do is make sure your site is mobile-friendly, fast, and easy to navigate with appropriately-sized font and images. Similarly, geofencing, or location-based marketing using resources like Google AdWords, will get people’s attention when they’re most likely to follow through on a purchase.

As we’ve stated in previous posts, email marketing is also very much alive and very effective when done right. Don’t neglect it, and remember to segment email lists for different types of customers. Segmentation results in a double-digit increase in open and click through rates.

Finally, marketers report that video content is increasingly important during ultra-competitive season. Again, according to Forbes,

51.9% of marketers report that video delivers the best ROI and that their customers have a preference for video over other types of content. And at least half of shoppers will search for a product video before visiting an online store.

Finally, Remember What You’ve Always Done Well

“While the shopping process is becoming more complex, the best competitive advantage remains in old-fashioned retail principles of serving the customer what they want, where they want it, at the price they desire — and with exceptional customer service. Technology may be changing the surface of the retail game, but the underlying strategies to win remain the same.”
National Retail Federation

Is there anything else you would add? We’d love to hear from you!

Give your Business a Shot in the Arm

Request a demo of NCR Counterpoint or, for restauranteurs, NCR Silver Pro.

Pros & Cons of Cloud POS System

Pros & Cons of Cloud POS System

Specialty Retail, Technical Tip

Are you in the midst of researching a new POS system? Are you confused by the difference of a cloud system and an on premise server? RCS can help. We have broken down the pros and cons of having a cloud based POS system to help you decide.

Cloud vs. Ground

For years, the only option for implementing a POS system was purchasing and maintaining your own server. These days, you have a choice when it comes to your POS system: cloud or on-premise server. The following lays out some of the most important considerations to make when considering a new server environment.  

 

Pros:

  • Save Money – on IT staffing, infrastructure and required computer hardware.
  • Real-time – Reporting, Data, and Inventory Management functionality across all locations.
  • Data-redundancy and Back-ups – Your store won’t lose important data if it lives in the cloud.
  • More power when you need it – Scale up computing power during busy months– all without purchasing new hardware!
  • Mobility (mPOS) – The ability to take your POS System on the go! Think sidewalk sales, trade shows, and pop up stores!
  • Monthly payments – Upfront costs for configuration, some hardware, training may be required – but the monthly payments for software provide greater financial flexibility as opposed to paying for licensing upfront.
  • Instant Upgrades – No need to manage database maintenance – Patches, bugs, updates, and offsite backups managed by the Cloud Host.  Future-proof your technology!

Cons:

  • Connectivity – Ensure your cloud POS has a functional stand-alone mode to keep your company running– even when the internet isn’t.
  • Limited Configurability – make sure your cloud based POS system won’t limit your customization. Cegid, allows for custom reporting, UI changes and many other features.
  • Bandwidth – Some systems charge a premium if you go over the allotted bandwidth. Make sure your POS system has unlimited bandwidth capabilities.

Other Items to consider:

  • Training – Make it a priority! Don’t skimp on your training budget.  You’ve worked hard picking out a new system, make sure you’re well trained and able to fully utilize the features and functionality that helped you make that decision!
  • Integrations – What can and can’t be integrated?  What are the costs and does it limit functionality of your POS? Integrations to consider: eCommerce, ERP, marketing, accounting, vendor portals, or state mandated reporting, automated taxes, and online ticketing.  
  • Reality of costs – where are you saving and what are these savings enabling your company to do?
  • Expenses – Month-to-month vs. buying out-right, configuration, implementation, training, integrations, eCommerce integrations
  • Time is money – Is this system saving you or your organization time, allowing for other projects to occur?
  • Need to read more? Check out this blog post on 3 common myths about cloud solutions
RCS and Lighthouse Marine Supply, Motoring Along for 7 Years

RCS and Lighthouse Marine Supply, Motoring Along for 7 Years

Specialty Retail

by Casey Albert

Lighthouse Marine Supply is a wholesale and retail distributor of marine engine parts and boating accessories, they have been an RCS adoptee since August of 2010. Like RCS, they are a family owned business, going on 32 years on Eastern Long Island. Their campus is comprised of 2 buildings with a store, offices and warehouse space.

Lighthouse utilizes NCR Counterpoint as well as  most of the NCR Retail Applications. Over the past 7 years they have implemented NRO, Customer Connect, CP Gateway, SecurePay and WorldPay. NCR Counterpoint and the associated services have made it possible for them to effectively manage their brick-and-mortar and e-Commerce sales, while simultaneously increasing the accuracy and efficiency of their inventory and purchasing.

Lighthouse Marine Supply Store

Here are some of the key features that help Lighthouse Marine Supply run smoothly:

  • Reports – The reporting capabilities of NCR Counterpoint are indispensable for Lighthouse Marine. The ability to quickly edit (and save!) filters on reports allows them to drill down to granular detail or widen the scope to see general trends.
  • Customers– With NCR Counterpoint they can quickly and efficiently move customers through the checkout process. New customer information can easily be captured, current customer information can be updated quickly, purchase history can be viewed on the fly and special orders are processed with ease.
  • Sales Kits – The Sales Kit feature is another very strong asset for Lighthouse, both in the brick-and-mortar store and the e-Commerce channel. This feature allows items that are frequently purchased together to be rung-up under one bar-code.
  • Data Interchange – This one was a real game changer. Not only can Lighthouse import pricing updates with ease, but they can create their own custom reports in Excel. Lighthouse can now easily export data to manipulate and re-import it saving countless hours of manual work.
  • Purchasing – Lighthouse Marine’s purchasing process has become a healthy balance between data driven and industry/seasonal knowledge. In 2016, Lighthouse and their new buyer attended the Boston RCS Envision conference. This allowed the buyer to gain a deeper knowledge of Counterpoint and to take a deep dive into the functions, features, and best practices of Counterpoint Purchasing.
  • Order Management – This feature is great for assisting with e-Commerce orders by helping efficiently manage and quickly ship all orders.

Greg Scholand, business manager of Lighthouse Marine, and RCS have become quite close over the years. Greg is a name that everyone at RCS recognizes, he attends all of our Envision Conferences and will often send RCS a witty e-mail after a newsletter is sent out.

Lighthouse Marine Supply Office

We were adopted by RCS less than a year after we became a NCR Counterpoint user. The RCS crew quickly got us straightened out. They have shown us how Counterpoint can automate and enhance many aspects of our business as well as shown us how to modify some of our business practices to harness even more of Counterpoint power.
Greg Scholand

RCS is lucky to have Lighthouse Marine as part of the RCS family.

Streamlined Inventory Management + Awesome Service at The Cupboard

Streamlined Inventory Management + Awesome Service at The Cupboard

Gift Stores, Specialty Retail

By John Garvey

I’m pretty sure the feeling many adults get walking into The Cupboard is like the thrill children feel inside toy stores.  The specialty retail store in downtown Fort Collins, CO offers eleven product categories for everything you could possibly need in a kitchen.  While department stores may be struggling to compete with e-commerce, The Cupboard hasn’t skipped a beat.

Casey, Jim, and Dave at The CupboardIf the kitchen is the heart of your home, as the expression goes, The Cupboard’s staff is like a team of cardiologists.  Everyone on their team has a unique role and several are responsible for specific product categories—not just store management.  Phoebe buys the store’s Japanese ceramic ware and cast iron accessories.  Cherie’s in charge of coffee & tea accessories, Asian pottery and pepper mills.  And so on.

To me, the mere thought of managing the store’s phenomenally diverse inventory is almost paralyzing.  Not only are there hundreds of products within arm’s reach, but over a half dozen buyers are ordering separate product lines that compete for shelf space.  Even so, store owner, Jim Hewitt, says buying and tracking merchandise has been manageable and even fun since onboarding NCR Counterpoint.

“The buyers love it. It really makes ordering efficient, and counting inventory more efficient.  It’s been a lot easier to track. We can now place orders for a shorter amount of time because it used to take so long to do inventory by hand.”

Asked about his favorite thing about retail, Jim’s response is … pretty much everything:

“I think it’s the variety.  You know, it really is fun to find new products, the right products that hopefully will enhance people’s lives or make them more fun or easy in the kitchen.  Also the relationships with the customers that we have.  We get to see customers come in on a weekly basis, often for coffee or just to walk around.  Training staff as far as customer service and buying and ordering merchandise.  It’s never a dull moment.”

What is fundamental to continue prospering as a brick and mortar retailer?  Jim says it comes down to customer service, expertise and creating an experience.

You know, you can go online, you can research, you can buy a peeler, but you can’t come in and have an experience, sample coffee and learn about the products from  knowledgeable staff.

Jim has been delighted to have had NCR Counterpoint the last couple years. RCS has provided a streamlined inventory management and point of sale platform, training and reliable support.

The Cupboard, first opened in 1972, is one of 70 family run businesses that RCS supports.  That’s a point of pride for RCS, which is itself family-owned.  As I was walking out the other day, the store rep was having an animated, friendly conversation behind the counter with a little boy.  His mom, appraising the chocolate truffles nearby, shot her a smile.  No wonder The Cupboard is practically a centerpiece of Fort Collins commerce.

Specialty brick and mortar retailers offer warmth and familiarity that makes them indispensable.

Read more about the Cupboard in a press release about when they first implemented NCR Counterpoint.

Shorter Buying Cycles.
Fewer Stockouts.
Less Surplus Inventory.

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

Happy Lucky’s Expands Teahouse in Fort Collins, CO with RCS

Happy Lucky’s Expands Teahouse in Fort Collins, CO with RCS

Awards & Recognition, News, Specialty Retail

by Casey Albert

(ENFIELD, NH | FORT COLLINS, CO) – Retail Control Systems (RCS), a leading point-of-sale solutions provider, is pleased to share that longtime client, Happy Lucky’s Teahouse (Happy Lucky’s), has opened a second location in Front Range Village, a popular southeast Fort Collins shopping center. RCS helped equip the store’s point-of-sale system, which included a NCR Counterpoint 1530 terminal and two (2) CP Mobile units – Counterpoint’s mobile POS platform. The second location officially opened in November 2016.

Happy Lucky’s is a unique specialty shop and teahouse, “serving up world change,” alongside a delicious array of baked goods and treats. Owned by Kari and George Grossman, the teahouse was originally established to provide a venue for promoting their charitable organization, Sustainable Schools International (SSI). While SSI still remains a central focus, Happy Lucky’s success has exceeded the Grossmans’ initial vision, offering the largest tea selection in Colorado and a place for people to connect.

Happy Lucky's Teahouse - Fort Collins, CO
George Grossman Owner of Happy Lucky’s Teahouse – Fort Collins, CO

When RCS first expanded its business to Colorado, Happy Lucky’s was the first retailer in Fort Collins to partner with RCS for a retail management solution. RCS customized an NCR Counterpoint POS system for Happy Lucky’s, including a Donation Round-up feature, which gives customers the option of rounding-up their ticket and donating the difference to help SSI establish sustainable education and further economic development in Cambodia.

“RCS has been with us from what seems like the very beginning,” states George Grossman, Co-owner of Happy Lucky’s Teahouse. “We know RCS understands our business, and we trust that their POS solutions will continue to deliver the capabilities we need to grow and succeed.”

“Happy Lucky’s is a part of our Fort Collins family and we are very proud of their success,” states Dave Albert, President of Retail Control Systems. “With NCR Counterpoint, we are able to give them a POS solution that is also capable of simultaneously managing donations – simplifying the process and allowing them to focus on growth opportunities.”

About Retail Control Systems

Founded in 1987, Retail Control Systems specializes in retail and restaurant management software and hardware solutions. RCS has built a reputation for finding specialized business management solutions that help businesses gain complete control over their operations and finances. From inventory control to daily sales management, RCS has the experience and expertise across the full-range of retail and restaurant industries to meet the unique needs of any business. RCS has been providing superior customer service, exceptional quality, and innovation to the retail and restaurant community for nearly 30 years.

To learn more about RCS, visit retailcontrolsystems.com or call 1-800-417-3030.

For more information about Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, or their products and services, visit happyluckys.com.

Retail Control Systems and Westchester Road Runner: Solemates Since 2014

Retail Control Systems and Westchester Road Runner: Solemates Since 2014

Awards & Recognition, Specialty Retail, Sporting Goods

(ENFIELD, NH | FORT COLLINS, CO) – Retail Control Systems (RCS) is pleased to announce our customer spotlight for the Month of March, Westchester Road Runner.

Westchester Road Runner is a specialty running store, located in downtown White Plains, NY since 1980. They cater to the serious runner, people on the go, busy moms, and anyone who enjoys running, walking or jogging. For 37 years they have been new product pioneers in the running community. For example, they carried women’s technical apparel before other stores would even take a chance on these new products. The staff has always been comprised of avid runners, cyclists, triathletes and swimmers who continue to participate in and live for their sport, even as they age. The staff’s firsthand knowledge of product, training and competing is a huge asset to their customers. Westchester Road Runner has the largest selection of running shoes, spikes, apparel and accessories in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area! “Westchester Road Runner, We Fit Your Style.”

RCS has had the pleasure of working with Westchester Road Runner for a couple years now, they joined the RCS family in February of 2014 as an adoptee. Karen Greenfeld, Network Administrator at Westchester Road Runner states, “We needed to find a new Counterpoint partner and RCS was suggested. After moving forward with RCS, they have enhanced our use and understanding of Counterpoint, and how it benefits our store. RCS is always available with knowledgeable and courteous staff to assist us with everything from purchases and minor fixes to major software installations.”

Prior to working at Westchester Road Runner, Karen was a network administrator for 25 years in the non-profit sector. She had never worked in retail. Prior to working with RCS, she was given 2 days of training on Counterpoint, before entering orders in the system in a way that was not an efficient or effective use of time. When RCS partnered with Westchester Road Runner, they consulted with Karen and developed new workflows for entering purchase orders for future buying, saving valuable time and helping to put products on the shelves quickly. With this knowledge, she was able to enter orders months in advance of their arrival. RCS also worked with Karen on how to operate and maintain a Microsoft SQL Server (the database system Counterpoint runs on). This gives Westchester Road Runner a better insight into what’s happening in their system.

“RCS cares about their clients! They make you feel that you are always a priority.” – Karen Greenfeld, Westchester Road Runner

 

About Retail Control Systems

Founded in 1987, Retail Control Systems specializes in retail and restaurant management software and hardware solutions. RCS has built a reputation for finding specialized business management solutions that help businesses gain complete control over their operations and finances. From inventory control to daily sales management, RCS has the experience and expertise across the full-range of retail and restaurant industries to meet the unique needs of any business. RCS has been providing superior customer service, exceptional quality, and innovation to the retail and restaurant community for nearly 30 years.

To learn more about RCS, visit www.retailcontrolsystems.com or call 1-800-417-3030.

For more information about Westchester Road Runner, their products, and services, visit Westchester Road Runner on Facebook.