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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 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.

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

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

Clothing & Apparel, News, Retail, Sporting Goods

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.