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

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

Clothing & Apparel

By John Garvey

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

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

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

RCS and Cegid logos

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

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

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

– Arnaud Coste, Director of Channel Partnerships at Cegid Group

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

Q&A:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman swiping a credit card

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

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

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

Request a Cegid Demo Today!

About Cegid:

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

About RCS:

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

Indigo Contemporary Women’s Apparel

Indigo Contemporary Women’s Apparel

Clothing & Apparel, Gift Stores, RCS Payments, Retail

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

By John Garvey

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

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

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

Evolving her business without being at the mercy of guesswork

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you most enjoy about retail?

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

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

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

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

Follow Indigo online:  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest 

Business in balance: Data, intuition and plenty of personality

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

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

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

“So I only have myself to blame.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have an overarching philosophy about the fashion business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customer Spotlight: Your Healthy Pet

Customer Spotlight: Your Healthy Pet

RCS Payments, Retail

Customer Spotlight: Your Healthy Pet

by John Garvey

A family-owned pet food and supply store in Newtown, Connecticut with a focus on high-quality food and treats, Your Healthy Pet has had a clear sense of purpose from day 1.
Dog food at Your Healthy Pet

“We’ve always had pets, always loved them and we always wanted our own business,” states founder Tom Novak. “I had been in I.T. for 20-plus years and it was the Great Recession about nine years ago and my company closed down. And I didn’t want to relocate so we decided to try our dream and see what happened.”

Prior to opening Your Healthy Pet, Tom lost a beloved cat at the young age of six or seven (all their pets are rescues, so their birthdays are rarely known). Based on his research he believes the cat’s diet was likely a major contributing factor. It’s one reason quality pet nutrition is such a call to arms for him.

“When we first opened, 70 percent of the people walking in the door were asking for food we would not sell,” Tom recalls, “We’re called Your Healthy Pet and we mean it. We won’t sell food unless we’re convinced it’s a healthy food. We don’t sell any of these horrible flea and tick control products with ingredients that are known to cause cancer.”

“There’s not a food in here that has corn, wheat, byproducts or dyes in it. They’re all four- and five-star rated foods.”

Partnering with RCS

After Your Healthy Pet had been in business for about eight years, Tom knew he needed a point of sale system with better support and credit card processing, as well as more up-to-date purchasing, sales and inventory management features.

“Our old system was getting obsolete and was sort of a small company with one or two support people,” Tom recalls. “It didn’t integrate well with a lot of the new credit card processing machines or anything like that.”

It quickly became apparent that Your Healthy Pet and Retail Control Systems were a good match, but some unexpected challenges cropped up.

Per Tom’s interpretation of the contract with his credit card processing company it was near expiration, and we recognized that switching vendors could save his business money on processing fees.

He had a rude awakening, however, when they tried to stick his business with a 12-thousand dollar fee to exit the contract. Tom strikes me as an easygoing guy but you can hear the tension in his voice as he describes the event:

“I’m stuck with a contract that’s going to cost me a lot of money to pull out of and it doesn’t work if I stay with it. … Believe me, this was eating me up. I mean, we’re a small business. A 12-thousand dollar fee is a lot of money.”

Going to bat

Pet leashes and collars at Your Healthy PetIt might have made sense to fold and keep the same vendor, but the problem wasn’t just fees. Having the wrong credit card processing company can be a long-term drag on your business when it doesn’t integrate well with your other systems or provide good customer support. We went to bat with Stu Kehler, our Merchant Services Advisors at RCS Payments.

Stu spent many innings going back and forth between different parties in the ensuing weeks. He was ultimately instrumental in getting the credit card processing company to drop those charges.

“Stu was a bulldog,” Tom states. “He just didn’t give up. If there was a setback he’d keep going and finally, [the vendor] dropped the charges. So I’m just a happy camper.”

“I was just really happy with the way Retail Control Systems really kept at this and got this all worked out. I’m really happy with the system itself, too.”

Front of House

“Once we teamed up with Retail Control Systems, the up-front part—scanning of items, ringing customers out, the printing of receipts—became a whole lot faster,” Tom says. “The front end of the system is really easy to learn, easy to use.”

“We have a treat bar, for instance, and there’s no UPC codes on the treats. So we used to have a piece of paper with the UPC code and you’d have to find a piece of paper and scan it. With NCR Counterpoint, you could create buttons. The button could say ‘Treat Bar’ and you click on the button and see, ‘Bully sticks, 6 inches,’ ‘Bully sticks, 12 inches,’ ‘pigs ears,’ ‘tendons,’ whatever you want.”

Much like other features in our POS system, NCR Counterpoint, the ability to add buttons to front-of-house touchscreen devices saves a lot of time and hassle.

We’ve discussed the advantages of Counterpoint’s POS features in greater detail here.

Inventory and Purchasing Tracking

Dog treats and toys at Your Healthy PetTom estimates that his business saves three to four hours a week on manual data entry thanks to our inventory management system, which helps track purchases and deliveries as well as preventing stock-outs and spoilage.

“We get deliveries every week—a lot of deliveries. How easy is it to get into the system? You certainly don’t want to have to scan each individual item and type in the amounts. You want to get the invoice into a format that we can just format into retail Control Systems.”

“So instead of taking an hour and a half or two hours to scan everything we can do it in five minutes. That’s a big benefit.”

Margins

If you have a lot of SKUs to manage and don’t have the means to closely monitor price changes on individual items, your business can be severely harmed.

“This system makes it easy to see what’s underpriced,” Tom explains. “It looks at what it costs us, what our margin is and what that equals for our sales price.”

With NCR Counterpoint, you can set your desired margins and the system will take the guesswork out of pricing based on cost of goods. So to hell with manually updating everything in Excel.

“We got into this business to try to keep pets healthy.”

“There’s a whole lot of natural products out there that you can use but you have to look for them,” Tom states.

“We have a great customer base and we spend a lot of time educating them about the value of nutrition. If a new customer comes in we could spend 15, 20, 25 minutes talking to them about why we don’t sell the food they came in to buy and why we won’t sell it.

“We got into this business to try to keep pets healthy. What you see on TV, the advertisements you see are usually the worst foods made. And all you have to do is look at the back and read the ingredients to find that out.”

What else lights you up?

Tom’s household includes two dogs and a cat—all of them rescues.

“We work with a lot of rescue groups. There’s a lot of puppy mills out there that people don’t know about and there’s plenty of dogs and cats that need a home without buying them and supporting puppy mills.”

Shorter Buying Cycles. Fewer Stockouts. Less Surplus Inventory.

Our services can help you with security, digital marketing, inventory management and other needs.

Vantiv and Worldpay Merger

Vantiv and Worldpay Merger

RCS Payments

By Stuart Kehler & Leland Bolleter

In August of 2017 the US company Vantiv agreed to acquire Worldpay for $10.4 billion. The combined company will be valued at $30 billion. The new company will keep the Worldpay name with global and corporate headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. Worldpay’s London offices will become their international headquarters. The acquisition was completed on January 16th, 2018.

Person using a calculator with a pad and penPayments processors value add, is that they bring to the market correct information on approvals in a matter of seconds. Worldpay is considered a financial-technical (fin-tech) company. If one word can describe how many fintech innovations have affected traditional markets, it’s ‘disruption,’ as financial products move toward mobile devices or simply away from large, entrenched institutions. Worldpay routes transactions from retailers to banks to allow sales via credit and debit cards.

Worldpay will extend services to 146 countries and will be the world’s-largest-payment processor that handles over $1.5 trillion in transactions per year. Worldpay’s future goals include, understanding consumer behavior to drive competitive advantage for customers/retailers and help obtain maximum transaction acceptance rates. Lastly, Worldpay is working to optimize transaction costs through efficient routing to be able to offer the best rates to customers.

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.

Bennington Museum Draws Visitors from Around the World to a Small Town in Vermont

Bennington Museum Draws Visitors from Around the World to a Small Town in Vermont

Museums Attractions

by John Garvey

Jasen Frederickson has been working at Bennington Museum for five of its 165 years, but you can tell by talking with him that he feels deeply connected to it. I hadn’t heard of the museum until a couple weeks ago, but reviewing the exhibits online and talking with Jasen—whose voice rings with enthusiasm when he talks about it—left me itching to visit the place.

“Growing up in this area, Bennington Museum has always been part of my life,” he tells me. Jasen, a Bennington native notes that he visited the museum on field trips as a kid and you can tell he liked it. His passion and initiative as the Visitor Center Coordinator has helped nearly double the store’s gross income in the last three years.

Quintessential New England Art

“We have 14 galleries in total and it ranges from the first settler all the way through midcentury modern, all connected to Bennington College,” Jasen tells me.

The largest collecting institution in the region, Bennington Museum “connects you with real objects, challenges you with intriguing ideas, and excites your imagination,” states the website. The museum has the largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world as well as galleries devoted to Gilded Age art, pottery, Modernism and special exhibitions to boot.

Museum interior“Our goal is to always tell a story through various forms.”

“Something that’s very distinct about our museum is that we put objects as well as art together,” Jasen explains. “So an object is actually a piece of art. It’s not like things are just two dimensional, which is how a lot of museums are when they’re just focused on art. We have historical objects in the same space—like a car with a Tiffany lamp as well as furniture and portraits and so forth.”

Pairing art with historical items as part of a storytelling focus is part of the secret sauce that makes a visit to Bennington Museum so memorable. The Early Vermont Gallery, for instance, transports you into another era using trunks with furnishings and household items that early settlers would have arrived with.

Visitors from near and far

Asked what lights him up about his work at Bennington Museum, Jasen tells me that every day is different and exciting. A lot of things account for that, but none more than the visitors.

“It’s being able to meet people from across the country as well as globally,” Jasen says. “And everybody in the museum is excited and happy to see us, you know, they’re always happy.”

Summer is especially exciting here. Bennington Museum hosts author talks, two summer camps and other events including a gallery opening just the other day. Here’s something especially impressive Jasen told me:

“Two years ago I got heavy into analyzing our zip code data. We had 15 countries (not including Canada because I consider them our neighbor) and every single state represented in our visitor numbers. In little Bennington, Vermont.”

Vermont trees and hills“I have never worked a single day of retail outside of this job.”

Jasen spent 14 years in hotel management before joining Bennington Museum and eventually taking over most of its retail management.

“RCS has been instrumental in assisting me in understanding how retail management works,” he tells me. “Given that I have an unlimited support contract, I use it a lot for just silly questions and also desperate needs. Having that is a great help.

“Everybody within the RCS team is just so happy to be able to help and guide, you know, in the learning side of it and not just pressing issues.”

Jasen has brought the store online as well since taking over the gift shop three years ago. RCS helped him navigate that challenge.

“I did not want to manage two separate sets of inventory because that’s just craziness. … I have about 1600 SKUs and right now we have about 400 SKUs online. So we’re a good way there.

“Having an option that was a 100 percent integrated was a key factor. And so RCS helped me create that using Modern Retail  as an integrator and Shopify  as a platform. And so basically that’s what our web store runs on.”

Counterpoint also helps Bennington Museum manage its entire operating budget. Every dollar of income, including grant funding, memberships, donations and other revenue, goes through the system. Jasen describes Counterpoint as “a one-stop shop for a museum,” with the minor qualification that it doesn’t include CRM specific to membership and member services. However, RCS does partner with some great companies that can provide these types of services, check out all the awesome partners.

In the last three years, Bennington Museum has seen 45 percent year-over-year growth in visitor numbers. In the same time period the store’s gross income has increased from $68 thousand to $124 thousand. Not bad for someone with no retail experience, right?

“You don’t see those increases in a typical retail environment,” Jasen acknowledges. “So I’ve made all my decisions based upon historical things that worked and didn’t work. If I didn’t have RCS to walk me through that and help me with it, those numbers wouldn’t have been able to increase to what we have now.”

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

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

Awards & Recognition, Clothing & Apparel, Events, Retail

by John Garvey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodwill Industries Impact Summary
(Click Image for Larger View)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make a Financial Donation to Goodwill Denver

Find a Goodwill Near You

Give a Gift to Goodwill Industries

Contact Retail Control Systems for a free NCR Counterpoint Demo

Shorter buying cycles, fewer stockouts, less surplus inventory.

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!