Blog

Blog
Retail Control Systems and The Cupboard: A Recipe for Success!

Retail Control Systems and The Cupboard: A Recipe for Success!

Gift Stores

(ENFIELD, NH | FORT COLLINS, CO) – Retail Control Systems (RCS) is pleased to announce our customer spotlight for the month of September, The Cupboard.

The Cupboard is a family run kitchen supply store, located in downtown Fort Collins. The store has been open for 45 years and resides in a 10,000 square foot retail space– just imagine the kitchen supplies you can find in their store! “The heart of every home is where family and friends share great food and cherished moments. At The Cupboard you will find not just a store, but a special place to help you to make the most of any kitchen — unique, top-quality appliances and tools, beautiful wares, specialty food, and expert advice.”

RCS has had the pleasure of working with The Cupboard for the past 3 years, after joining the RCS family in 2014. Jim Hewitt, Owner, at The Cupboard states, “RCS has helped us implement and customize Counterpoint so it is most beneficial for our specific store needs.”

The Cupboard downtown Fort Collins Colorado

Working with The Cupboard is a joy for RCS.​ They are a very well known and respected business in Northern Colorado. It’s impossible to walk through Old Town, Fort Collins without seeing at least one of the signature white shopping bags bearing The Cupboard’s logo. A trip to the cupboard is also required pilgrimage for RCS employees visiting from the east coast. RCS has also seen significant improvements in the stores learning and use of the system since it was implemented 3 years ago. The number of support calls has gone down significantly and they are more efficiently and effectively using Counterpoint.

The Cupboard converted to NCR Counterpoint from an all manual system, including cash registers and taking inventory on yellow legal pads of paper. Since implementing Counterpoint,  purchasing, receiving, and inventory management have become streamlined processes for the store’s buyers. Counterpoint provides significantly more visibility into what products are selling and when, resulting in an on hand inventory tailored to customer demand and reduced holding costs.

I would recommend Counterpoint and RCS. They were extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their products.
– Jim Hewitt, The Cupboard

The RCS Colorado office is also in convenient walking distance to The Cupboard in case we need some emergency coffee (or chocolate), hot sauce or dinner plates, they have all of our kitchen needs covered!

About Retail Control Systems

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

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

For more information about The Cupboard, their products, and services, visit thecupboard.net.

Why Workplace Dogs are a Good Thing!

Why Workplace Dogs are a Good Thing!

Just for Fun

Have you ever worked in a dog-friendly office? We are certainly that. A couple of office pets who come nearly every day are Fozzie—in the New Hampshire office—and Burt and Noxie in Fort Collins. Burt has been part of the team for well over three years, so if it weren’t working out we probably would have figured it out by now. Jake, the original office dog, has been coming to the office his whole life, close to 14 years now. He is the unofficial RCS mascot and even has a cartoon drawn of him.

Jake the Dog cartoon
Dave Albert's Dog Jake

There are tons of studies linking pet ownership to health benefits like lower cardiovascular stress. More and more companies are allowing dogs at work with the idea that they can they can strengthen the three-legged stool of Health, Happiness and Productivity.

NPR recently reported that “Studies show pets lower stress hormones, and some show that workplaces that allow pets see higher morale and productivity.” Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University published a study showing that stress levels actually taper off over the day for pet owners who take their dogs to work. As importantly, office pets may improve work satisfaction for non-pet owners.

Responsible policies allowing office pets can benefit companies in all sorts of ways. Attracting and retaining talented younger employees is one of those perks. Forbes reports that “Millennials have been known to choose dog friendly companies over their competition when most other considerations are equal.” Fortune also wrote that many human resource managers use pet-friendly workplace policies as recruitment tools.

White dogFor practical guidelines about office pets, the Society for Human Resource Management just published a helpful guide on “How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer.” There are many options suited to all types of companies, from fairly permissive office policies to online employee resource groups for pet owners.

Breed can be a poor predictor of a pet’s suitability to office settings, experts at the American Veterinary Medical Association say. Instead, screen office pets for things like temperament, obedience training and neuter status. RCS also has employees sign a pet policy before they can bring their dogs into work.

The idea of allowing dogs at work is not without controversy, but a good workplace pet policy can result in more engaged, loyal and happy employees. It’s a perfect culture match at Retail Control Systems—so what if we’re biased? They’re some of our best friends!

The Dogs of RCS

Pros & Cons of Cloud POS System

Pros & Cons of Cloud POS System

Specialty Retail, Technical Tip

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

Cloud vs. Ground

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

 

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Other Items to consider:

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

RCS and Lighthouse Marine Supply, Motoring Along for 7 Years

Specialty Retail

by Casey Albert

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

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

Lighthouse Marine Supply Store

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

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

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

Lighthouse Marine Supply Office

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

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

Go Further…By Staying Local!

Go Further…By Staying Local!

Retail, Technical Tip

Introducing CPLocal, a secure way to process transactions on your NCR Counterpoint System without being tethered to a server. By running NCR Counterpoint in ‘local’ mode, users have the ability to keep servicing their customers in any environment. Having a sidewalk sale or event? Great! Get in all the action, by taking your unit outside to process sales. Has the internet gone down, or your server needs maintenance? No problem! Login with CPLocal to be up and running within minutes. Don’t worry, you’ll still have access to your customers, inventory, and general Counterpoint functionality to continue operations as usual.

Take some advice from the pros- Literally! Longtime RCS customer, The Red Sox Team Stores, knows that even if there is an outage, they can keep on chuggin’. While all the other stores and vast assortment of vendors were shut down because of an internet failure, The Red Sox Team Stores continued busting lines of 30+ fans at a time, eagerly waiting to purchase their fan apparel. For a store with an average ticket being sometimes in access of two to three hundred dollars, even a few minutes is worth thousands for their bottom line.  CPLocal is their trusted source of fast and stable processing power for even the busiest (especially the busiest) of game days.

How does it work? Connect to CPLocal easily by clicking the icon on your POS unit (it will need to have been purchased and installed by an RCS technician). After logging in, users will have the ability to utilize a native version of Counterpoint, using each computer as it’s’ server. If the user is accessing CPLocal for outage purposes, a sync to the server will be attempted automatically every fifteen minutes. Once the connection is stable, users will be notified. If the user is accessing CPLocal for an event, or sidewalk sale (also see NCR CPMobile Options), most regular NCR Counterpoint functions will be available. Features that require updates from main database (server), such as posting tickets and transactions, gift registry, editing items or vendors, and the CP Message Center, may not be accessed until the POS unit is reconnected to server. After a new connection is established, any new data from each individual POS unit, will be communicated back up to the server, or main database.

 

Want to know more detail about how CPLocal can benefit your business? Contact us!

Written by: Molly Michalenoick, Retail Solutions Advisor, RCS

How to Convince Your Manager They Need a New POS system

How to Convince Your Manager They Need a New POS system

Restaurant, Retail, Technical Tip

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

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

Make inventory management one of your biggest strengths.

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

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

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

Prevent theft.

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

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

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

Staff sitting around a table with notebooks and a laptop

Optimize staffing.

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

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

Marketing and customer engagement.

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

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

New message about your POS system

Discount and loyalty programs.

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

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

Stay relevant.

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

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

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

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

Why Your Liquor POS Gets Better With Age

Why Your Liquor POS Gets Better With Age

Wine & Liquor

Congratulations! You have just finished shopping for the best point of sale system (POS) for your liquor store. You’ve done your due diligence and have made sure that you are purchasing a system that meets all of your business’ needs. You’ve spent hours researching the perfect provider to implement your system, consulted with them about how to best use it and provide ongoing support.

So now what? Well, the good news is that you have just made one of the best business decisions since you decided to build your website. But the work is just starting, one of the hardest parts of the whole process is getting your new system set up, building your inventory and making sure that all of the settings are properly configured. You also need to make sure that your staff is trained to use the system, new labels are printed, hardware is installed and more! All of this also needs to happen while you continue to run your business.

shaking hands

This is where having the right partner comes into play. A great partner will walk you through all of the steps, and make sure that the transition to  your new system goes off without a hitch. A poor partner will try to hurry you through the sale of the system, without ensuring that it is a good fit for you. They will then ship you the system and wish you the best of luck.

Once you go live, it’s time to dive in and learn about all of the power that your new system provides. As you and your new liquor POS system get to spend more time together you will both become more proficient. Your inventory will be more accurate, promotions will go off without a hitch, and you’ll start to unleash the real power that a liquor POS system provides.

Many people are under the assumption that a point of sale system is just a way to cash out customers at the register. Once you realize that a liquor POS system can do much, much more you will be able to use it in almost every part of your day to day operations. A point of sale system is like the brain of your business, it stores and analyzes information about your sales, inventory, staff, and customers. By tracking trends, it can assist you in making better purchasing decisions to ensure you never run out of product when you most need it.

Just like a human brain, the decisions and recommendations from your liquor POS system rely on accurate and complete data. Accurate data starts when you and your team are first creating SKUs in your system, and continues as inventory is purchased, received, and sold. RCS regularly encounters businesses that chose a less expensive liquor POS system, but were never provided the proper training on how to set it up and properly use it. This causes a wide range of issues and can even negatively impact your whole business. A great example of this is when you spend weeks preparing for a large promotion at your store. After weeks of promoting it, creating signage and creating customer buzz. All to have it create poor customer experiences when items don’t ring out correctly at checkout. This feature should be easy to set up in most POS systems, but if you and your employees are not properly trained it can be a headache which can lead to frustrated customers and employees.

Red WineMuch like a nice bottle of red wine, your system will start to age- and in both cases, age is a good thing! An aging point of sale system is full of actionable data including detailed sales history, inventory information and customer sales history. This information is the lifeblood of your business, it allows you to see, and act on, purchasing trends, customer demographics and buying habits  and then use that information to ensure you have just the right amount of inventory to handle the next holiday rush.

POS systems come in many shapes and sizes and knowing the right one to fit your business is a decision that could change the way that you do business moving forward. Much like you are an expert on running your business, RCS is an expert at the selection, customization and deployment of point of sale systems. We can help you select the right system to fit your needs and make sure that you are trained how to get the most out of all of your retail technology.  

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

Read about a current RCS customer, Curtis Liquors, and how they use their liquor POS!

Top 10 Restaurant Trends for Restaurateurs to Keep in Mind

Top 10 Restaurant Trends for Restaurateurs to Keep in Mind

Restaurant

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

Pile of peppers
  • Hot menu items. A recent National Restaurant Association survey of over 13,000 chefs provides helpful insights about shifting demands for ingredients and menu items.  A few new hot commodities include new cuts of meat, heirloom vegetables and fruits, and ancient grains like spelt, amaranth and kamut.  African spices like harissa are also becoming more popular.
  • “Yesterday’s news.” The same survey flagged a few menu items that are waning in popularity.  These include quinoa, flatbread pizza and sweet potato fries (Say it ain’t so!).  The survey is a great source for market info and new ideas.
  • Social restaurant platforms and apps. Consumers are increasingly relying on mobile apps to decide where to dine.  These apps feature reviews, location-based restaurant searches, and menus.  Some apps, like Hooked, provide flash discounts and a great way to discover local restaurants,others allow you to book reservations, view menus or place carry out orders most allow people to post reviews.  If you’re a restaurateur, you’ll definitely want to have a presence on Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor and at least one additional social platform.  Yelp Check-in Offers are a proven way to bring more people in the door, while OrderUp provides homebodies extra delivery options.
  • Street-food inspired dishes. Chefs and diners somehow figured out that street tacos, arepas, dumplings and kabobs taste just as good when you’re sitting down in a restaurant.  No complaints here!
  • Better restaurant software platforms. Business-facing software has changed dramatically in the last few years.  To succeed in today’s market, a restaurant needs more than a reliable point-of-sale system.  Although reliable and well-known, Square is best suited for smaller cafes and quick service restaurants.  Platforms like Toast, which RCS  offers, can track inventory and customer data, manage loyalty programs, and allow quick menu modification and tableside ordering. It even generates in-depth reports to help guide managerial decisions.  Different systems have different relative advantages depending on whether you’re running a full-service restaurant, bakery, or restaurant with multiple locations. Using the right consumer- and business-facing applications is essential for driving referrals, improving rankings, attracting Millennials and preventing snafus.
Wontons with dipping sauce on wooden table

We think Toast is top-notch, but don’t take our word for it—check out the reviews here, or over here, and even here.

  • Healthful kids meals. Today’s chefs are finding it important to offer more healthy kids meals.  All those 30-somethings that grew up on burgers, fries and chicken fingers are pickier than their parents were about their children’s diets.  It sounds kind of cruel until you realize they have more and tastier options.
  • Doing more in-house. More and more restaurants are making condiments, pickles, artisan cheese and artisan meats in-house.  They’re also growing more herbs and produce on-site, and restaurant patrons love it!
  • Local sourcing. Consumer preferences for locally-sourced ingredients are still on the rise.  Many restaurants have capitalized on this by highlighting local farms and artisans on their menus.  Farm-to-table restaurants epitomize this, also catering to consumer sensitivities about sustainability.
  • Chef-driven fast casual. According to the National Restaurant Association, this is the number 1 restaurant concept trend.  In the last decade this category has vastly outpaced traditional fast-food growth.  Chipotle, Panera and a couple others led the charge, but every city has their own small chains or stand-alone restaurants.  Wing Shack in Fort Collins is a great example.
Food truck with woman and child ordering at night
  • And finally, The Food Truck Thing. In case you just escaped captivity after a decade on a remote island, the food truck industry has been growing dramatically.  Yet as the Economist recently reported, “counties that have experienced higher growth in mobile-food services have also had quicker growth in their restaurant and catering businesses.”  The industry has grown faster than the rules and etiquette addressing it, so there will still be some head butting.  Even so, food truck openings will continue to outpace restaurant openings. Interestingly, food trucks are increasingly opening brick and mortar restaurants.  If you’re able to piggyback off the success of a food truck and open a sit down restaurant, you’re probably going to fare well.  Time will tell.

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

Leveraging Technology to Enhance the Customer Experience

Leveraging Technology to Enhance the Customer Experience

Retail

By Molly Michalenoick

Let’s talk about retail in today’s world. Large corporations, like Walmart, are using self-checkout, customer kiosks, interactive displays, buy online and pickup in store, and the list goes on! New Google apps will let online shoppers even try on clothing virtually so they never need to leave the couch. Many retailers are now asking themselves where the value of human contact went! Gone are the days where the cashier will not only help you find the garment, but share the knowledge of where it came from, the type of fabric, and how to care for it. Nowadays, just Google it!  But, some may be surprised to learn that 86% of buyers would be willing to pay extra for better customer service (Forbes). How can we use this ever-changing technology to not only offer the convenience that it is meant for, but to also form closer relationships to our customers?

Many consumers will tell you, “It’s the little things”. Why are we driving the extra couple miles go to CVS, instead of a competitor, like Walgreens? Many customers drive the extra mile, because the retailer goes the extra mile. When I shop at CVS, I know I can return any items that I am unsatisfied with, I know that the inventory manager (who has been there for years) is great at matching foundation to my skin tone, and I know that my CVS Extracare card can earn me rewards, and incentivize me to shop there next time I need to stock up on soap. Customer retention is a major contributor to the success of CVS, and any other business looking to grow. This is a great example of technology, and the human factor coming together for an overall improved customer experience.

Now, back to reality. Most small business owners do not have the horsepower to become the robust service/marketing-machine that is CVS, or Walmart. However, there are a number of tools available to you today that can help establish your presence in the marketplace.

The first step to getting your customers to come back is to offer products and/or services that are relevant to them, specifically. If you go into your local coffee shop every morning and order a latte, you’re not going to appreciate a coupon for green tea. Tom Lamb, CMO of Lowe’s writes “good relationship marketing meets the consumer on their terms by getting to the point where a company can anticipate their needs” (Forbes, 2013). Having the ability to segment your customers, and target them based on their buying habits is crucial to successful customer relationship management. This will let your audience know that you care about them, personally, and you want to educate and incentivize them based on their interests.

I recently heard a brilliant example of this practice in action. A small-town garden center used their email marketing program to send out a follow up email for all customers who purchased a rose bush within this season. The email addresses were captured in order to send receipts for a “going green” initiative (no pun intended) that the garden center was having. The follow up email consisted of care instructions, and best practices for the plant; more importantly, a coupon for special soil that had recently arrived in the shop, specifically for rose bushes.  The savvy shoppers, of course, came back to redeem their coupon on the soil.  Surrounding the location of the soil, the new watering hose attachment for gentle plant watering awaits, 15% off with purchase of soil! The consumers are now educated by their trusty local garden experts on how to care for their recently purchased rose bush, and recognize that they are special because they’re getting coupons on just what they want and/or need.  

Now let’s say I’d love to shop at this garden center but can’t find it, what do I do? Get on my smartphone and search for it on the internet, of course!

The next step to engaging your customers, involves making sure they can find you anywhere. This means in store, online, social media, sidewalk sales, and relevant events. Promoting your brand, and making it easy for customers to find you, and buy your products is critical.  Trust me, if you aren’t doing this, your competition will be. Sure, it could just be as easy as a phone call to find your address and store hours, but most millennial these days will skip to the next option if they are not able to find you on the internet (especially if you’re not on the first page).  According to CNB Marketing, ‘half of potential sales are lost due to people not being able to easily find information on a website’. For those of you who may be lingering on the second or third page of Google, or have an outdated website, this fact is for you, “40% of shoppers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site”.  This means it is not enough to simply have an ecommerce site; it must be maintained, updated, optimized for mobile, and integrate with social media. Following these practices will help build your organic ranking on internet searches, improve SEO, and ultimately promote sales.

Now that you’ve gotten customers in the door, it’s up to your staff to convert these visits into sales. Empowering your employees to educate your customers will result in up-selling, more items sold per ticket, and an overall increase in customer satisfaction and engagement. Even a seasonal shop, or other retail store with high inventory turnover can easily educate their employees can easily educate their employees, on-the-fly, by offering product notes (upon item scanning), up-selling questions and product kits, and detailed descriptions. A great example of this is something that I often see in liquor stores. College students coming to work part-time during the summer and holidays to get their boozy discounts, may not know that a Pino Noir is a red wine. However, to help their employees, the liquor store created custom  buttons on their point of sale (POS) screen.  

Wine POS Buttons

Categories or filters can be created as ‘hot buttons’ in order to educate customers per their request. If a customer comes in looking for an Australian wine, this can be quickly suggested by utilizing a simple filter at the POS screen. If a customer wants suggestions based on taste, price, or age- this can also be searched to bring up all inventory matching that search (as long as these characteristics are recorded in the item record).  

Items may also have tag-alongs for upselling, which can be especially important for a low profit margin industry. For example, “would you like to purchase a wine opener with that?” or “are you going to need batteries for this item?” Questions such as these can have a surprising impact on your bottom line if not asked consistently by your staff. Don’t worry, there is technology available that will be there to remind them.

Overall, technology should not be feared, but embraced by the retail market. New opportunities exist around every email address captured, every drink recipe that can convince a customer to buy the orange juice with champagne, and every Facebook post featuring the cocktail of the week. Using technology in new, and creative ways can increase your presence, and influence your customer’s buying habits.

For more information on any features mentioned in this blog, contact the Retail Control Systems Sales team at 800.417.3030 option 1.

Retail Control Systems & Biltmore Estate: Living Comfortably in America’s Largest Home

Retail Control Systems & Biltmore Estate: Living Comfortably in America’s Largest Home

Museums Attractions

(ENFIELD, NH | FORT COLLINS, CO) – Retail Control Systems (RCS) is pleased to announce our customer spotlight for the month of June, Biltmore Company.

Biltmore is the largest, privately owned, home in America. The Estate was built in 1895 in Asheville, North Carolina and sits on an almost 8,000-acre self-sufficient estate, with roughly 1.5 million visitors annually. There are 2 hotels and 6 different restaurants on the property. Biltmore hosts concerts, weddings, clay shooting, river rafting, fly fishing, and many other activities.

RCS has had the pleasure of working with Biltmore for ten years, they joined the RCS family in 2007. Boyd Winchester, Computer Systems Analyst, at Biltmore Estate states, “RCS has helped me with a wide range of problems, they support us with everything from creating custom reports to troubleshooting issues within Counterpoint. I appreciate the fact that no matter the problem, RCS is ready with an answer or they find a solution quickly. And, if the answer isn’t exactly what I’m looking for, they are always able to provide alternatives.”

Working with Boyd at Biltmore is gratifying for RCS.​ As a power-user, Boyd loves to push Counterpoint to new limits and we enjoy the challenges he brings to the table.  From discussions on the best way to slice-and-dice data for reporting, to consulting on the API design for his wine club integration, every day is an adventure and we truly enjoy being Biltmore’s trusted Counterpoint advisor.

With 13 distinct retail stores on the estate, Biltmore certainly keeps RCS on its toes. These retail shops sell a wide range of products including plants, apparel, jewelry, books, home furnishings, wine, and many other products. The Estate also boasts the most visited winery in America, with a wine club that currently ships wine to 37 states within the continental US.

NCR Counterpoint helps Biltmore keep their retail inventory on track. By utilizing Counterpoint’s inventory control tools, they have been able to reduce overall inventory holding costs and their risk of inventory shortages all while accounting for various sources of seasonality. This ensures that their customers are always able to find the perfect purchase to commemorate their visit to America’s largest home. After recently upgrading their Counterpoint Software to the newest version 8.5, they are able to utilize the new user interface. Read more about NCR’s newest Counterpoint Release. Biltmore also uses NCR’s CPMobile devices mostly for their specialty sale events.  Recently, they had a local event off-site event where Biltmore wanted to sell their wine. The store utilized their CPmobile devices at the event to sell the wine.

“RCS doesn’t just provide hardware and software, they also create numerous enhancements and provide the training needed to run a point of sale system.”
– Boyd Winchester, Biltmore Company

 

About Retail Control Systems

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

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

For more information about Biltmore Company, their products, and services, visit biltmore.com.