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Retail Tips: Weathering the Covid-19 Economic Storm

Retail Tips: Weathering the Covid-19 Economic Storm

Clothing & Apparel, E-commerce, News, Retail, Web Tips

Retail Tips: Weathering the Covid-19 Economic Storm

By Mark Nelms

Coronavirus cell Covid-19Before we get started, I want you to know that none of this article is written lightly. What we are discussing today could potentially impact the future of your businesses for many years to come, not just now in this time of crisis, but for the remainder of the 4th industrial revolution. I’d also like to remind our readers, I am not a physician or an economist, but I am an expert in retail. With almost 25 years of working for, consulting with, and in retail; I have a unique advantage in predicting the behavior of retail buyers.

Many of you have already spoken to me about the sharp drop in foot traffic, and unfortunately, until this virus is contained, I expect these trends to continue. BUT, there are things you can do in order to cauterize this wound, and that’s the topic of our conversation today.

  • How is social distancing effecting retail?
  • How can you use technology to assist your customers with Social Distancing?
  • What are some long-term impacts of Social Distancing?
  • Ways to be productive with your time during the storm?

How Proper Social Distancing Adherence is Affecting Retail

There are quite a few immediate ramifications of Social Distancing in the retail world. Today we are only going to discuss a few that I have been able to corroborate. As this virus continues to spread, more may become apparent, so please know it is impossible for me to foresee them all.

  1. Your products may no longer be available
    1. If you are like many of my clients, you import your goods from areas that have had some, if not all their factories shut down. This would most likely be the case with factories in China, Italy, Northern California, etc.
    2. Start looking at options for new suppliers now. It doesn’t hurt to already have done your research just in case.
  2. Limited Staff
    1. Your Staff is afraid to come into work. Allow non-essential personnel to work from home if possible.
    2. As Covid-19 cases in your areas rise, you will be more pressed to have the Covid-19 conversation. By addressing the situation in advance, you can alleviate many of their concerns.
    3. Make sure your staff knows to not come in if sick. Don’t just hope they know, make sure they do.
  3. No Traffic
    1. This is the most critical one in my opinion.
    2. By utilizing Buy Online Pickup in Store, Delivery, and Ecommerce, you can allow your customers to still shop with you, even though they cannot spend time in your store. But this requires you to notify them that you have it available.
    3. This may not end with the current epidemic, depending on the results of the Economic Stimulus Plan, the ramifications can potentially have a longer effect. By spending local you can reduce this by ensuring $0.67 of every dollar stays in your community.

Technologies that can help with Social Distancing.

Empty conference room

  1. Web Conferencing: If you institute web conferencing software, you can virtually eliminate the need to pack all your employees into a small space. According to Trust Radius, “web conferencing software allows participants to conduct or attend meetings via the internet. This is also known as online meeting software. It enables remote meetings based on VoIP, video conferencing, instant messaging, file and screen sharing.” Some of these include GoTo Meeting, WebEx, Adobe Connect, Vonage, and Zoom.
  2. Integrated Ecommerce: As American shoppers begin to stay home and avoid crowded places, your store needs to adapt to their new way of shopping. While many of you already have ecommerce, many of you have yet to integrate it into your POS. By not integrating your POS, you run the risk of not following through on your promise to your customers.
  3. BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup in Store): In New Orleans, restaurants are being required to close unless they are offering delivery or To Go orders. Just imagine BOPIS as ordering your retail goods “To Go.” This article can explain a lot more about your options for BOPIS. By implementing Buy Online Pickup Curbside, you are allowing your customers and employees to limit interactions to just one on one. If you have already integrated your POS to your Website this can be a simple “flipping a switch.” If you have not this can take between 6-12 months to properly implement.
  4. Delivery: If there is one article I implore you to read and take heed of TODAY, it is the one we wrote several weeks ago titled “Pet Industry: Should You Offer Home Delivery and What Technologies should you use?” Going forward delivery will be a must-add as more and more Americans will be staying in their homes and avoiding shopping. Don’t just add this for your business but add it for your customers and your employees.
  5. Contactless Payments: While this technology has been available for some time, many retailers are not endorsing it. When we are living in a time in which just touching an unclean surface can help spread Covid-19, it may be more important than ever to ask people to utilize Apple Pay or Google Wallet. This is typically available with the Ingenico ISC250 or similar payment terminals.

What Are Some Long-term Effects?

Man with credit card shopping onlineI was speaking to a group of millennials this past weekend and 2 out of 9 of them had just signed up for an Amazon Prime Account. That equates to 22%, and it scares the heck out of me. That potentially means that more Americans right now will sign up during this crisis, than have since it first gained popularity. If you combine that with the idea that Amazon is hiring an additional 100,000 employees during the crisis, it’s easy to see the writing on the wall. Amazon knows that this trend will not end with the Coronavirus epidemic. People will get used to shopping online and have their items delivered to them. This means that we can no longer delay adding these services to our portfolio. That is, not if we want to be relevant during the remainder of the 4th industrial revolution.

Ways to be productive with your time during the storm?

  1. Improve Your Supply Chain: This is a great article on three strategies for improving your supply chain.
  2. Conduct Physical Counts: Don’t wait until your foot traffic starts back up to get this done.
  3. Make Changes to your Software: Thanks to the recent Economic Stimulus Package you have quite a few low interest opportunities to make capital investments.
  4. Do Your Software updates and upgrades: Call or email RCS today to see if an upgrade to your current software can give you the required functionality.
  5. Re-merchandise the store so that it’s fresh when the crisis recedes.
  6. Use Marketing to Promote Your Store: If you have been collecting email addresses, then that is the easiest and most cost-effective method. If not consider social media marketing, local news reporting, zip code-based marketing, etc. Anything to let your prospects know that you have added BOPIS, Ecommerce, and Delivery.

Closing Thoughts

So whether or not you are worried about the bottom line cost of the Coronavirus to your business or your desire to prepare for “Retail Armageddon” it is easy to see why it’s important for you to add these technologies sooner rather than later. You have tons of reasons to try it and limited reasons not to. For the next article, we are going to discuss; Buying Local, Marketing Mailers, Custom Apps, and a couple of other things you can do to weather the economic storm that is likely to follow this epidemic.

Mark Nelms headshotAbout the author

Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS. He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size. In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR.

How To Utilize Your Off-season

How To Utilize Your Off-season

Clothing & Apparel, E-commerce, Gift Stores, Retail, Specialty Retail

How to Utilize Your Off-season

By Corey Gilbert

After the holiday hype has settled down, how do you take advantage of the typically slower winter season? If you find yourself in a seasonal slump this time of year, have no fear there are plenty of options to help stir up buzz and business.

Inside of a garden centerYou’ve got a great location, why not share it with the masses?!

Can your space be used in other ways? In winter, that greenhouse at the garden isn’t as abundant as in the spring, invite the local farmers market to use your space as a winter shelter. Their business will drive more revenue for your business as higher numbers are drawn in and circulate your shelves.

Do you have an extra room that you could spruce up and use as a meeting space? Say you’ve got a quaint cafe or catering business, is there space you could free up and rent out to business people? Offer catering services as well as a reasonably priced spot to smooth out the details of the next big deal.

Giveaway sign with blue sky backgroundDo you have an offer they can’t refuse?

Hold a contest or giveaway that highlights top aspects of your business. Give the people what they want while creating hype about some of the best you have to offer. Giveaways are a great way to drive an audience to your social pages as well as keep your store in their minds.

Giveaways are also a great way to say thank you to your loyal customers and to have some fun while you’re at it!

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Collaborating with another business, whether an unlikely pairing or a match made in heaven, the right partnership can help grow your business and theirs. While you grow your network, you offer your customers a new and unique experience. Along the way, you will learn a lot about your business and maybe think of some new ideas too! Great examples are when coffee shops use a local florist to adorn their tables and entryways with stunning bouquets and displays. Of course lets not forget the hilarious example Ryan Reynolds has set for us all.

Cafe sign above a menu at a cafeDrop it like it’s hot (or cold depending on where you live)

A great way to show some love for your local patrons is to say thank you with a promotion just for them. This could be yearly, monthly or weekly. Pick what suits you and give them a discount on something they will appreciate. A downtown deli can create a special sandwich named after a local place or pun and offer it at a discount at lunchtime. Another great example is a hardware store that offers 10% off to all local customers in the spring for their spring projects. Showing appreciation can go a long way with your most loyal patrons.

Grow with the times

Engage with your email and social media audience more, come up with fun tips and ideas to keep them engaged and keep your business on their minds. The average american spends 3 hours a day one their phone. Pick your target audience and get them engaged! With social media, consistency is key. So, on top of your regular posting, you should take this slower season to focus on campaigns that catch the attention of your audience and drive new business to your store or site. You can try marketing to a niche audience to create new traffic, like a bakery selling new products to a vegan market or a brewery selling to the gluten free consumer.

Tariffs – The Never Ending Story

Tariffs – The Never Ending Story

Retail, Specialty Retail

By Corey Gilbert

Yeah, what about them?

In case you missed it, the President has been implementing tariffs on imported goods such as steel, aluminum, apparel and even washing machines beginning around Jan. 2018. Since then it’s been like a can of Pringles and he hasn’t stopped, leading to concerns over an imminent trade war.

So what does this mean?

Busy mall with people walkingFor consumers it would mean price jumps in apparel imports and some big-ticket items (like cars). If you have a business that relies on imports, you could see some new purchasing strategies coming your way. Many wholesalers have been stockpiling inventory to keep your prices low, but as they run out of that inventory prices are set to jump. That bubble tea that you love so much, where do you think those boba and tea leaves come from? HINT:  it’s not the US!

What Do I Do Now?

For now, we wait, but it won’t be long until 2020 knocks on the door. The effects from the tariffs won’t be seen until next year because most companies have already purchased their inventory for the 2019 season. As time goes on retailers will try to absorb as much of the tariffs as they can and then eventually adjust their pricing to the consumers as they see fit.

How Can RCS Help?

100 dollar billsContact your account rep to learn about features that can help save money in these tumultuous times. Make sure that you use the automated pricing features inside of your POS to change large swaths of inventory pricing quickly. You’ll want to stay on top of things as your suppliers pricing changes. You can also switch your pricing model to be margin based, allowing you to make a predefined margin as your cost fluctuates.

Some retailers are also showing tariffs on signage or a receipt so that consumers understand why they are seeing price increases. Whatever you do, rest assured that pricing will be volatile over the coming months, and you should have the systems in place to quickly and easily change your pricing accordingly.

November Anniversaries

November Anniversaries

Awards & Recognition, Just for Fun, Spotlight

November Anniversaries at RCS

Jack Oxton, 3yrs

Jack Oxton and his significant other

“I’ve worked in a sales role or sales leadership role for the last 10 years of my professional life, and never before had I found an organization that truly puts customers and people before profits. I love working with customers to identify their pain points, then working with that customer to find the best solution and help them understand how it can make their lives easier or save them money. It’s an awesome role because every call and conversation is different and I get to learn so much about so many different topics. From understanding how integrations work and are built, to learning more about network security and hosting solutions, every day is unique and every solution is custom tailored to help a specific customer.”

Stu Kehler, 2yrs

Stu Kehler and his wife Stacey

“What started out with an unorthodox “first interview” meeting Dave at Equinox Brewing (in FoCo), has grown to be a wonderful “second family” for me in just 2 short years. I’ve cherished the opportunity and support in growing the RCS Payments channel within the company along with being fortunate enough to work with an incredible group of individuals.”

“From my personal experience, workplace happiness is much more dependent on WHO you work with rather than WHAT you do for work. I’m fortunate enough to truly enjoy the work that I do AND the company of those I work with here at RCS.”

Chris Claxton, 1yr

Chris Claxton and his kids

Kevin Moore, 1yr

September Anniversaries

September Anniversaries

Awards & Recognition, Just for Fun, Spotlight

September Anniversaries at RCS

Jessie Sousa, 13yrs

Jessie Sousa hiking

“Over the past 13 years I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow through a few different roles and can honestly say that I still love being here! I enjoy being able to help our customers and being a part of the RCS Family. I look forward to continuing to grow with this team.”

 

Karen Rechtin, 1yr

Karen Rechtin headshot

“RCS is an amazing collection of people that work as a team to create success for our clients. Each team member is always ready and willing to help each other with anything. Employees are supported in their personal as well as professional lives. I am personally driven and rewarded by the relationships with the people and companies I work with, helping them become more successful with their systems which translates into being more successful with their businesses. Although I have been a consultant for many years, I learn from every client I work with and am able to add that information to my knowledge bank and share it with others. I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I love with this group of people!”

 

Morris Caen, 1yr

Morris Caen

“I like working at RCS because of the great people that I get to work with on a daily basis. I’m thrilled to be part of the top POS VAR in North America and am truly excited about the tremendous opportunities we have to grow RCS to the next level.”

 

Yvette Fontaine, 1yr

Yvette Fontaine

“I am a firm believer that every experience contributes to who you are, I feel blessed to have found a “home” where I can draw on so many of my life experiences, from working retail, customer service, inventory, accounting and IT. It has been such a bonus to reconnect with customers in the ski business. I love the small company culture, and especially how we all look out for each other. This is truly my glass slipper!”

Rob McDonald, 19yrs

Rob McDonald

Also celebrating, Rob McDonald who marks his 19th year at RCS this month!

Here’s How Old POS Systems Get Retailers Screwed

Here’s How Old POS Systems Get Retailers Screwed

News, Restaurant, Retail

Here’s How Old POS Systems Get Retailers Screwed

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

Hold the onions … and my personal banking info!

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

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

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

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

The basic mechanics of a POS security breach

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visa’s concise explanation of the EMV liability shift

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

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

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

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

Stay Safe!

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

What’s the solution?

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

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

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

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

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

August Anniversaries

August Anniversaries

Awards & Recognition, Just for Fun, Spotlight

August Anniversaries at RCS

Patrick Carmody

Patrick Carmody skiing on top of a mountainPatrick began his career with RCS on August 8, 2016, by joining our implementation team and becoming the lead trainer and installer for our restaurant division.  From his time working at his family-run restaurant to his own career in the industry, Patrick understands what it’s like to be in the customer’s shoes and after about a year became an Account Manager serving our Counterpoint clients.  Patrick enjoys being able to work with such a great group of people that is always willing to help him or the customer succeed.

Matt Parker

Matt Parker in a car with his dogMatt found an opportunity at RCS after one of our managers visited his tech class for career day. Shortly after graduating in 2015 Matt joined our team on August 12th. Matt has spent the last 4 years building relationships with coworkers and customers big and small and values all the knowledge he’s gained since he began his career with us, he looks forward to many years to come!

Kellie Mulherin

Kellie Mulherin in a car wearing sunglassesOver the last 22 years Kellie has learned the ins and outs of how RCS operates, as well as our customers. In fact, at any moment you can quiz Kellie about a customer 15 years back and chances are she’ll remember them! Kellie began her career here at 19 years old and has seen RCS grow from 4 employees in a small office on the shore of Mascoma Lake to almost 60, 2 locations with 1/6 of the staff remote – spreading RCS across 6 states!  Kellie’s day is always changing but loves working with her teammates to help answer any questions they have – which is good because she currently works in many departments as well as completes her full time job as the Executive Assistant of Dave Albert – all with a smile!  Kellie has many thank you notes from customers and staff alike that she keeps as a reminder of the impact she makes on a daily basis.

RCS Volunteers at 38th Annual Prouty in Hanover, NH

RCS Volunteers at 38th Annual Prouty in Hanover, NH

Spotlight

RCS Volunteers at 38th Annual Prouty in Hanover, NH

By Jessie Sousa

Last month Dave and Laurie Albert, Kellie Mulherin, and Rob McDonald joined the more than 1,100 volunteers for the 38th annual Prouty where 4,000+ participants raised a record-breaking $3,300,000 for The Prouty.  The Prouty is the largest charity north of Boston and the money raised provides funds for cancer-related research and projects as well as patient and family support services at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Prouty volunteers under a tent
Laurie Albert and friends cheering on riders and keeping them fueled.

On Friday, July 12th Dave, Laurie and Rob completed pre-race work in anticipation of Saturday’s big event by putting signs along the road to guide the cyclists and walkers.  On Saturday they joined Kellie at 6:00am where they stocked their SAG station with watermelons, blueberries, pickles (which were a HIT!), snacks, Gatorade and water in preparation for the cyclists.  “Our simple but important tasks were making sure plenty of food & drinks were ready at hand, especially peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and to greet all cyclists with a smile.  Anything they needed, we made sure they got it. From a warm welcome to a praise for a job well done, we answered any questions the cyclists may have had like “how many miles am I in?”, “where do I go next?” and paying attention to anyone if they seemed out of sorts.  Rob was the mechanic on duty ready to fix a flat or tighten a chain. Dave and Laurie also lent a helping hand in all of the above and Bodie, I think, was the hit of the station!

Bodie the dog talking to a rider
Bodie encourages a rider at the 2019 Prouty

At the end of the day it’s inspiring to see the accomplishment on the participants faces as they cross that finish line knowing all of their hard efforts have paid off.  The smiles will last forever in my memory of how pleased they were with themselves and for someone close to their heart.  I’m sure each one of them have a story like “my Dad would have been so proud I did this for him.”” says Kellie Mulherin, 2nd year volunteer (and 3rd longest employee at RCS, marking her 23rd year this month – see August anniversaries).

After the event the delicious smells filled the air from sizzling hot barbecue grills inside the Boloco’s food truck (who made over 3,000 burritos!), you could find any food item imaginable and desserts galore.  There were canopy’s providing shade to the folks sharing photo’s in remembrance of a loved one they may have lost to survivor stories. From first timers to repeat participants everyone is out on this day for one purpose in mind and that is to find a cure for cancer.

Alex at the 2019 Prouty bike ride
RCS employee Alex getting ready to ride 77 miles in the Prouty.
RCS employee Alex and his mom Deb
RCS employee Alex and his mom Deb getting ready to ride 77 miles in the Prouty.
Alex and his mom Deb after riding in the Prouty.
Alex and his mom Deb after riding in the Prouty.

RCS is honored to be a part of this epic charity event each year!

Robbie Mac's Bike Shop - The Mechanic is in
Additional information regarding The Prouty:

Why retailers should be thinking about Locavores and the experience economy (2 of 2)

Why retailers should be thinking about Locavores and the experience economy (2 of 2)

Just for Fun, News, Retail

Why retailers should be thinking about Locavores and the experience economy (2 of 2)

By John Garvey

Part II: Making your customers your greatest advertising asset

Inc. contributor Ane Gherani recently wrote about the declining effectiveness of online advertising, and how it can be offset by turning consumers into brand advocates. This isn’t breaking news, but it bears consideration day to day.

With consumers equipped to market on brands’ behalves, brands need to step up their game and invest in experiences that their consumers actually want to share,” Gherani says. “From storefronts and pop-up shops to innovative expo booths and interactive insta worthy subway ads, the experience economy is set to be the most lucrative brand channels to tap into.

The opportunities to boost customer engagement are limited only by the human imagination. (Which is to say, they’re limitless.)

Catalyze social bonding and social media to turn customers into advocates

DoubleTree by Hilton has saved millions a year on advertising using a simple, memorable “Talk Trigger” (a term coined by author and marketing consultant Jay Baer). By providing each guest with a fresh-baked cookie upon check-in, the upmarket hotel chain has created a powerful word-of-mouth marketing machine. Similar examples abound in B2C (business to consumer) customer service and marketing. cookies

MSC, a full-service real estate brokerage firm specializing in retail, recently wrote that “With the infiltration of social media into everyday norms, millennials have created a craze for a whole new type of retail experience driven by entertainment.” MSC sees this as a paradigm shift for small shop retailers.

Social media might get too much credit for the shift towards experiential retail. Still, encouraging social sharing is a comparatively low-cost way to boost sales for two reasons:

  1. People are becoming numb to digital marketing. Those channels are oversaturated and consumers are more interested in their friends’ activities and recommendations than ads.
  2. For better or worse, fear of missing out (FOMA) is driving many consumer choices. As McKinsey & Company recently explained:

Keeping up with the Joneses used to be about wanting to own the same expensive products your friends or neighbors did. But with more consumers opting for experiences—whether that means seeing the musical Hamilton or visiting Hanoi—and sharing their stories and pictures online, people feel peer pressure to join in or keep up.

Make ‘em laugh.

The excellent bestselling business book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath talks about how businesses can create experiences that have an outsized influence over overall customer satisfaction. It’s surprising how often these experiences come at little to no cost.

For example, Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants are known to deliver funny flight safety announcements. I experienced one that could have passed off as a legitimate stand-up routine. The Heath brothers noted that Southwest collected and analyzed data to see how these script-breaking spiels influence spending. Girl Laughing

The data showed that travelers who heard a funny flight safety announcement bought an extra half flight per year (on average) compared to those who didn’t. The data nerds figured if the frequency of funny announcements doubled, it would boost annual revenue by $140 million!

$140 million return on an investment of $0!

Schedule a Consult

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.

McKenzie report we referenced earlier also talked about the many opportunities this shift in consumer behavior creates.

For instance:

  • Specialty fitness concepts like high-intensity interval training, Pilates and yoga studios are outpacing traditional healthclubs.
  • Similarly, “comedy clubs, piano bars, acrobatic performances, and [themed] dinner shows” are increasingly sought out by consumers.

“Shared experiences with friends and family” are key, the report states. But in several ways, shared experiences are what retail has always been about.

Bonding over experiences and “stuff”

Buying your first suit with dad is a fond memory millions of Americans share. Mothers and daughters aren’t going to suddenly stop going on retail excursions to buy shoes and clothes because we’ve become more efficient shoppers. These are uplifting bonding experiences that have spanned generations.

Although millennials have pioneered this change, brands embracing customer focused, unique, and experiential retail will attract consumers across generations, keeping the world of retail alive and well.

That captures a key point we’ve repeated over the last few months. Retail isn’t going anywhere, but retailers in general need to master multiple touchpoints, providing consumers the combination of convenience and physical experiences that is increasingly in demand.

In many ways, retailers are simply being called to take things they’ve always done well and find creative ways to elevate them. From that standpoint, the experience economy sounds less daunting and more exciting. Consumer subsets like locavores can in fact be your most engaged customers.

Save time, save stress, increase your profits.

Schedule a meeting with one of our retail solutions experts.

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

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

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

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

By John Garvey

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

The problem

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

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

Why? Because of two potential compatibility issues:

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

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

Windows 7 End of Life Webinar

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

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

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

I like manual data entry. – Nobody, ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Windows 7 End of Life Webinar

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