POS and Culture Clubs – Create Your Own, Using Your Brand!

A lot of folks believe that retailers have it easy. All they have to do is buy the inventory, present it to potential buyers, sell it for a reasonably higher price than they paid for it, and boom, they make money, and the customer departs satisfied. While this may have been a somewhat accurate description of yesterday’s commerce, today’s consumers have evolved to be quite picky about every element of the process of shopping and buying. They have moved from simply needing to be “sold,” to needing to “experience” the process. We are living in a time where everything and every detail of all that we experience during anything we do is interconnected. This can, for the merchant, be highly pressure-producing from the many demands. Traditional brick and mortar stores and online stores are incorporating new methods for showing their products, and using a variety of methods. This includes mobile, TV, radio, away-from-home and all the different social media formats.

The Lines are Becoming Blurred

We are beginning to see that a growing number of consumers first shop in brick and mortar stores before then returning home where they make their actual purchase online. Then, on the other hand, there is a camp that goes about shopping conversely, by first looking online before heading out to buy from a real time physical store. As each format plays a part in influencing the other across the board, there is a proliferation of need for retailers to engage digital touch points, as they influence the purchases made by consumers. The bottom line? We now live in a new, non-linear, cross-channel world.

A New Direction That is a Requirement Needed to Stay Afloat

There is much effort and attention being directed to making significant investments of time and money by a substantial number of retailers to support this new reality. Included in these cross-channel presences are a strong online personality that stays well-traveled and current, and that links to every possible form of mobile and social media available. It takes such implementation to constructively build your own specialized branding and to generate new sources of revenue.

How This Can Best be Accomplished?

Multi-channeling is basically a combining of touch points that work together to enable a seamless customer experience. There is no way around the requirement of accommodating this critical change in thinking by any merchant who hopes to survive in such a highly charged market. This applies to online purchases that are for store pickup, customers returning their online purchases in the brick and mortar store, using their smartphone to get comparative pricing while they are in your store and using mobile coupons to shop in your store. There should not be any gaps or breaks in any of these areas for the seamless customer experience.

POS Interchange Fees – Who Pays?

Practically every time you use your debit card for your purchase that is being transacted by POS technology, the banks charge POS fees. It’s not a commonly known fact, however it is important to understand that such charges typically apply during transactions where you are required to enter a PIN number, or when you choose the “debit” option on the payment machine where you are shopping. No such fees are added for purchases for which you sign your name, or when you choose the “credit” option on the payment machine. Now, not every bank charges POS fees, however you should check with your bank to find out if they do or don’t. If your bank does charge POS fees, consider signing for purchases instead of using your PIN. Somebody must pay a fee for these transactions, and even though you may not see it, it is most likely you who pays.

Online vs Offline Sales Transactions

Also affected by your choice between “debit” and “credit” are matters like the time it will take to process payment and your rights as a consumer. Payments where you enter your PIN are referred to as online transactions, and those for which you sign (or process as credit) are considered to be offline transactions. When you perform an offline transaction (by choosing credit or signing,) the retailer must pay a percentage of your total purchase, somewhere around 2%. This is paid to the bank that issued your debit or credit card, and it is an interchange fee. In contrast, online sales transactions are much less expensive for retailers, with their associated fees being only around 10 cents per transaction. While banks are thrilled when you choose credit, your choice hurts the merchant more, although there are some states in which merchants are allowed to pass along credit surcharges back to customers.

Banks Want You to Choose Credit

While it is not always obvious or even evident, banks give cardholders an incentive to use credit. These incentives are in different forms, such as airline miles or cash back options for every instance in which you pay by credit. On the flip side, they apply a penalty when you choose debit. This may be in the form of a fee charged for online transactions that might be in the range of a couple of dollars. It’s important to find out if your bank is charging you these fees and exactly what they are. chances are, you will subsequently want to always select “credit” for your purchases. Someone has to pay that 2% fee, and while it’s not always passed on directly to consumers, it often is added back into the price of the products and services you are buying.

Make Inventory a Breeze With POS Technology

At the heart of POS technology lies the impeccable management of every detail regarding your inventory, as well as your customers and employees. When you convert from the use of an antiquated (and soon to be obsolete) cash register system of processing sales over to a POS system, it is a bit of an investment for you – not only in terms of money, but also time setting up the new system. You may wonder if all the trouble is going to be worth it. The answer is resoundingly “yes,” as what you get with POS technology outshines, outperforms and out measures all previous forms of sales processing.

What do You Get With POS Technology?

Probably, the most significant advantage to be found from POS conversion is the abillity to have immediate, up to the minute status of your inventory. Accuracy is maintained, and there’s no lingering extra work to complete later on, as every element of the POS-processed sale is all recorded at the time of the sale. Each purchase results in the immediate reduction of your inventory of that particular item, and it is maintained on the system’s hard drive. Whether yours is a specialty kind of boutique, typically known to store significantly larger numbers of a somewhat limited number of items it sells, a department store with huge numbers of many different products or a smaller enterprise with a smaller volume of inventory, every item must be assigned an SKU number by which it is tracked. Some stores may have in excess of ten thousand pieces of one particular item, meaning just as many SKU numbers. Keeping track of all these items is known to be one of the more difficult aspects of small business management. With POS technology, store owners can consistently keep hard to find items in their store inventory, which will surely add up, in terms of sales and a competitive advantage.

Gain Immediate and Helpful Insights

With the right software, you can use your POS system to set a reorder point whereby you will receive an alert telling you that it’s time to reorder. Some systems will even tell you the most recent price you paid, as well as showing you the average price you have paid previously. This should give you a little edge with your suppliers. Then, during off hours, you can get a report giving you the inventory activity for that day, that week or even that month. Some systems will allow you to go back even further, to compare from year to year. This can be instrumental in determining your direction for the next year.

What to Look for

A good POS system should allow you to easily assess your inventory, and do a thorough job of it. It should provide the means by which you can set “running-low” alerts, easily and instantly add new items as they arrive, account for backorders and make POs to submit to vendors.

How POS Technology Brings Big Benefits to the Natural Foods Industry

Software developers are beginning to recognize the special needs of the health food and natural foods industry, as they are rapidly becoming more sophisticated. Even though, at the primitive “heart” of this highly specialized industry lies a genuine desire to return to basics and less, rather than more tech, any natural foods merchants who hope to hold their position in the rapidly changing food industry are finding that they must make some adjustments in their philosophy, if they hope to sustain their viability beyond a couple of years. And, as a result, we are witnessing the health food industry becoming a new kind of “sophisticated,” as the operators of these stores are looking for and implementing new high tech solutions that offer much more than a “back to the Earth” cash register – no matter how quaint they may have been at one time.

Two Excellent POS Programs for Streamlined Operations

POS systems have been upgraded to include software features with features of great benefit, especially to the natural foods industry – and especially the retail area of natural foods products. There are two that seem to be, right off the top, created specifically with the natural foods retailer in mind. One of these is the capability of allowing stores to create fully customizable labels for their shelves and bulk bins, and the other is an automatic tool for precise expiration date tracking and reporting. And the good news is that these types of upgrades are becoming affordable enough for even smaller natural retailers to introduce to their operations.

Or, Pay As You Go

While the buy-in price may still seem a bit high for many, the alternative method of utilizing such services is by a “pay as you go” type of arrangement, which is available over the Internet, and provides the software as a service. This means minimal upfront expense as well as much less overhead expense for the benefit of ongoing information technology.

Buy What You Need

With many of the unique details that are found within the business of natural foods merchants, there may be certain functions of POS technology that are unnecessary, so it is important to scrutinize just what you are getting, being careful not to become swept up with enthusiasm for all of it, up front. Many health foods stores benefit from consumers staying in their stores longer, rather than quickly checking out and departing. Even more than the conventional grocery stores, the natural foods stores rely on providing their customers with the luxury of extended stays and personal interactions.

How Exclusive Brands Can Draw More Sales for Any Business

In today’s market highly charged with a constant stream of seemingly overnight competitive moves to obliterate the competition, holding one’s own can especially pose to be highly problematic for smaller to mid-sized companies. And while the fight to survive among the sharks is of critical issue to the minnows, there is actually no swimming creature that is impervious to the ongoing threat of annihilation by competitors. So, what is any owner of any size business to do, in order to find a small ledge along the cliff that will support market gains long enough for an occasional exhale, during the perilous climb to the top?

A Fish Story

As the retail market continues to change from paradigm shifts (that ultimately make more sense in the long run, regardless of the fact that they also inherently pump up the pressure for often, rather severe alterations in objectives,) it becomes ever-pressing for all players to jump on the bandwagon, go with the flow, get onboard and be happy about it. While it may seem that in such a climate, most retailers are set to go belly up, any time now, that’s not the case. As with all problems in life, there’s nothing that a little savvy thinking won’t resolve. So, with the sharks all hungry and heavily populating the waters, if, say, only one minnow were to distinguish itself from the others – it’s longevity would stand a chance at being sustained. For instance, Orcas, or Killer Whales typically use their tails in a multitude of ways, so a smart minnow might come up with a way to assist Killer Whales’ tail functionality. The distinction would best be impervious to being copied or duplicated, and so, when the Killer Whales come (and they always eventually do,) the identifying distinction of the minnow that appeals to the Killer Whales will surely save the minnow.

A Brand Will Direct the Customers You Desire to You

While the retail business is certainly about people, consumers and revenue, staying afloat is everyone’s priority. And to date, the one true sure-fire way to distinction is in crafting a company brand. A special or unique brand makes a product unique, and one that will stand out from the others in the market. A brand that is carefully created will create a solid emotional, visual and even cultural bond between consumers and your business – whether it has to do with products or service – and it will greatly influence the type of customers who are attracted, as well. One of the true leaders of the retail market is Disney – where it’s obvious that a great deal of time and effort is always being applied to sustaining the brand. From promotionals, events, vacation spots, TV and Movies – Disney has succeeded in conveying a message to the public of family, fun, stellar service and impeccable cleanliness. Disney is highly scrutinizing when it comes to the employees they hire, and they receive more training than most other companies provide to ensure that the Disney brand will be communicated all the time.

Branding Works for All Sizes of Companies

The thing that brings business back to you is the impression that your customers receive when they shop with you. And if you have a unique brand that is appealing to consumers, when they buy that brand, they thereby increase the value of your business. Customer loyalty to your brand helps you to dominate any size of market and increase or at least maintain market share value.

Keeping Your Stock Current in Every Size and Color Means No More Lost Revenue

When a business of any kind must say to customers something along the lines of, ”Oh, I’m so sorry, but we are out of that item / that size / that color,” and so forth, they might as well proceed to their accounting software to chalk up another form of operating expense called “loss.” It tends to happen all too frequently, and really produces even more than the simple loss of a sale; often it can produce the loss of a customer. Almost half of all intended purchases are lost due to items being out of stock in retail establishments. While it might seem like being able to prevent stock-outs would be simple enough, just by making sure that there are enough of that particular item in stock, there is a precise medium between having enough stock and being overstocked. Either typically represents an inefficient bottom line and lost revenue. So, how does the well-stocked business go about successful management of inventory without dedicating a 24/7 effort toward it?

POS Salvation for Inventory Success

There is a POS system just waiting to take over the effective management of your inventory. With it, you will know exactly when to restock any item from your inventory, from alerts which you have preset according to your particular specifications. You will be alerted when the volume of any stocked item is at a preset low number, also based on the length of time it would take for a new shipment to arrive. You will then also know exactly which products are selling, when more units are scheduled to be arriving at your store and if you are waiting for additional or backlogged items; you’ll know what those are and when you should be expecting them to arrive. Without a suitable POS system, all of this used to be difficult and entirely time exhausting, at best. And don’t even think of the level of inefficiency that manual inventory management produced.

Other Info Your POS System Will Give You

With the right POS software for your inventory, you can keep articulate records that can be contrasted over a period of hours, days, weeks, months and even years. While this might initially sound kind of good for you, the business owner, the real advantage is that you will be apprised of breakdowns in terms of the last price you paid for any given item, and even a general consensus of the average price you paid over the past. Having these numbers can go far, in terms of your having some negotiating power with your vendors.

POS Technology – Helping You to Understand and Take Advantage of Remarketing

Remarketing is any sales and advertising strategies you employ to maintain contact with your potential customers after they visit your business. When consumers are shopping or just browsing the web, they may arrive at your website. They might have even used your mobile app previously. Let’s say on such visits, they left without buying anything. Remarketing refers to your ability to position your ads among relevant ads that are presented to them when they browse the web in future searches, from that point on. Then, dynamic remarketing is all about the inclusion of the specific products and services that shoppers may have looked at on your website while there – within the ads. So, dynamic remarketing does require taking extra steps means extra time and effort on your part, by adding custom parameters to your website’s tag and implementing a feed, what consumers will meet will be highly customized, compelling ads that guarantee click-thrus.

Why You Should Remarket

Remarketing is a proven method of gaining sales activity and promoting your particular brand awareness. It can additionally increase the number of registrations you get. All of this stands to increase your ROI (return on investment,) for all kinds of businesses, whether online or brick and mortar, or both.

Reach the Shopper Right When They’re Ready to Buy

The typical web browsing shopper will spend a certain period of time browsing, or collecting information and data on whatever it is they are looking to buy. They will compare brands, sites, S&H policies, how returns are handled, customer reviews, prices and more. having a mobile app is of great benefit here, and you can provide reward type of incentives for anyone signing up. By using remarketing, the shopper will be provided with touch points that are orchestrated to appear at the best time – right before he or she makes that purchase. The shopper will be driven right to your website, where chances are even greater that they will purchase from you – your brand.

Pricing Guaranteed to Move Merchandise on Auction

By using automated bid strategies like target CPA and ROAS, you are able to generate superior-performance campaigns as a remarketing strategy. Bidding in real time will calculate the best bid you are likely to get from a viewer of your ad, and then show the best possible price. This goes a long way in helping you to win the auction.

How Remarketing Cookies Work

The central principle of remarketing is to hold onto the attention of shoppers who have already expressed an interest in your brand or business, rather than your efforts to just try to raise awareness about your brand or business. You want to ensure that any visitors to your site will continue to see your business’ ads after they have left your actual site. So, for instance, visitors to your site would acquire a “cookie” in their web browser. A remarketing cookie will result in the browsers of your site’s visitors subsequently displaying your business ads more frequently.( A cookie is a small bit of code that enables a web browser to store data and info about websites.)

How POS-Educated Employees Generate More In-Store Purchases

If you are the proud owner of a brick and mortar boutique, department store or even a restaurant, you want to make sure that you are always doing everything possible to ensure maximum traffic flow to and through your establishment – and of course, hopefully with each resulting in a purchase. Word of Mouth and having a great brand, great selection are all wonderful assets to your business and its livelihood, but they are only part of a total package that serves to entice the largest number of customers to drop in. And if you are faced with the need to do more, in terms of laying out revenues to increase store profitability, you certainly want to make sure that any such efforts are going to pay off with increased store traffic and the resulting generation of sales. Not all marketing and promotional incentives are equal, in terms of their effectiveness, and they should certainly not break the bank, either. What follows are a few simple ways to increase the traffic to your store, while generating sales at the same time.

Hold a Promotional Sale Party: Promotional sales are unlike regular sales or markdowns, as they imply a sense of urgency that tends to be highly effective, in terms of quickly luring customers in. Place some of your more difficult items to move on sale. And while sales are typically referring to temporary price reductions, remember that markdowns are designated to never return to their original prices. By adding “promotional,” you thereby have a formula that is bound to draw in shoppers. Take advantage of such an event to introduce new inventory, gather customer information via sales associates on their iPhones or possibly through a drawing for free merchandise.

In-Store Events are Fun!

The public loves being invited to a special gathering, as it helps them to feel like they have special entitlement and inclusion in a VIP club. Using client information and other helpful databases (hopefully stored on your POS system,) mail out special invitations to everyone to your event. You might also include an invitation along with every purchase, in the bag of departing customers. Get the word out. Add news of your store event to the home page of your web site, so it’s the first thing visitors will see. You could even require that guests pre-register for special incentives, while you might also consider leaving the event open to the general public, also.

In-Store Events for Restaurants

Restaurants can host a wine tasting event, or possibly invite the public for a special cooking class by the chef. The item your students would learn to prepare could either be one of your least frequently served menu entrees, or possibly another dish that is similar but not the same as what you serve in your restaurant. There could be a sommelier to present a breakdown on choosing wine and other interesting details. Give attendees a gift card as they leave, which may be presented for food, desert or appetizers on a return visit.

An In-Store Women’s Clothing Boutique Event

Throw a fun trunk show, featuring one of the most prolific and popular fashion designers of the lines you carry to preside over it. You might also include makeup and hair professionals to give talks and demonstrations. Hold a drawing where, at the event, you give the person whose ticket is drawn a complete makeover, redressing them your clothing line. Invite everyone you can, and tell your guest speakers to do the same. Have some kind of small reward to hand to each guest, upon leaving.

Take advantage of the special ways in which your unique business can create a special event, and invite those whose business you know is possible. Tell them to tell others, and blast it on social media, email, special cards and your web site. Increased traffic always means increased sales. Give them a grand time, and they will be back, too!

Encourage Customer Visits With In-Store Events

If you are the proud owner of a brick and mortar boutique, department store or even a restaurant, you want to make sure that you are always doing everything possible to ensure maximum traffic flow to and through your establishment – and of course, hopefully with each resulting in a purchase. Word of Mouth and having a great brand, great selection are all wonderful assets to your business and its livelihood, but they are only part of a total package that serves to entice the largest number of customers to drop in. And if you are faced with the need to do more, in terms of laying out revenues to increase store profitability, you certainly want to make sure that any such efforts are going to pay off with increased store traffic and the resulting generation of sales. Not all marketing and promotional incentives are equal, in terms of their effectiveness, and they should certainly not break the bank, either. What follows are a few simple ways to increase the traffic to your store, while generating sales at the same time.

Hold a Promotional Sale Party: Promotional sales are unlike regular sales or markdowns, as they imply a sense of urgency that tends to be highly effective, in terms of quickly luring customers in. Place some of your more difficult items to move on sale. And while sales are typically referring to temporary price reductions, remember that markdowns are designated to never return to their original prices. By adding “promotional,” you thereby have a formula that is bound to draw in shoppers. Take advantage of such an event to introduce new inventory, gather customer information via sales associates on their iPhones or possibly through a drawing for free merchandise.

In-Store Events are Fun!

The public loves being invited to a special gathering, as it helps them to feel like they have special entitlement and inclusion in a VIP club. Using client information and other helpful databases (hopefully stored on your POS system,) mail out special invitations to everyone to your event. You might also include an invitation along with every purchase, in the bag of departing customers. Get the word out. Add news of your store event to the home page of your web site, so it’s the first thing visitors will see. You could even require that guests pre-register for special incentives, while you might also consider leaving the event open to the general public, also.

In-Store Events for Restaurants

Restaurants can host a wine tasting event, or possibly invite the public for a special cooking class by the chef. The item your students would learn to prepare could either be one of your least frequently served menu entrees, or possibly another dish that is similar but not the same as what you serve in your restaurant. There could be a sommelier to present a breakdown on choosing wine and other interesting details. Give attendees a gift card as they leave, which may be presented for food, desert or appetizers on a return visit.

An In-Store Women’s Clothing Boutique Event

Throw a fun trunk show, featuring one of the most prolific and popular fashion designers of the lines you carry to preside over it. You might also include makeup and hair professionals to give talks and demonstrations. Hold a drawing where, at the event, you give the person whose ticket is drawn a complete makeover, redressing them your clothing line. Invite everyone you can, and tell your guest speakers to do the same. Have some kind of small reward to hand to each guest, upon leaving.

Take advantage of the special ways in which your unique business can create a special event, and invite those whose business you know is possible. Tell them to tell others, and blast it on social media, email, special cards and your web site. Increased traffic always means increased sales. Give them a grand time, and they will be back, too!

Apple Pay and NFC

There is a new form of payment for iPhone 6 users, as Apple is joining a growing militia of banks and technologically – based companies that are all aiming to eventually wean the world away from all forms of cash payments. Owners of the iPhone 6 have no need to clutter their pockets, wallets and purses with bulky cash, in all its denominations, as their purchases of all kinds can simply be made by connecting their phones by touch with wireless readers. This revolutionary form of shopping is predicted by experts to forever change the way shopping is conducted, in much the same way that the music, mobile and personal computing industries have been forever changed. Apple Pay is the first to succeed along a path to eliminate cash payments that is strewn with remnants of other failed attempts by many of the best known names in banking and technology.

What Was Originally New (And Not so Long Ago) is Quickly Becoming Obsolete

In the realm of shopping, the way payments are processed is a huge business. Every day, in the United States alone, the prevalence of payments conducted by credit and debit is in excess of 12 billion dollars – meaning over 4 trillion dollars each year. The daily total then is around 200 million payment transactions every day, by credit and debit cards, and it’s time to pay attention to the growing antiquity of this process.

What Apple Pay Looks Like

Consumers can easily add a card by scanning it to their iPhone, and they thereby dispense with the need for the conventional pieces of plastic cluttering their wallets. The Find My iPhone app offers a deep level of security for users by immediately suspending all payments whenever a device is lost. Additionally, the amount that is actually spent on any given article will remain unknown to Apple, and during the entire time when the cashier handles the purchase, the user’s security code will remain unknown.

Developing Since 2009, and Now Ready for Use

Apple Pay is the name of this service, and its launch includes Amex, MasterCard and Visa, in addition to banks representing 83% of all credit card payments by volume. The merchants that consumers will find offering this service like Whole Foods Market, McDonald’s and the Disney Theme Parks will all have tills that are specially compatible. With this form of payment technology in place, expect to see the emergence of many apps for Apple pay using an API. In the UK, where Apple Pay has already taken off with great reception, most account holders already own touch to pay cards.