How Resellers Can Cash in on Cannabis Point of Sale

It’s like a dream come true for point of sale (POS) VARs. There’s a new consumer market with a product that people are clamoring for to the tune of $10 billion per year and anticipated growth of 28% over the next three years: Cannabis.

If you haven’t considered expanding into the cannabis point of sale market, you could be missing out on one of the biggest opportunities your business will ever encounter.

A Snapshot of a Rising Industry

The legal cannabis industry is growing fast. Currently, cannabis is legal for recreational use in nine states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in 30 states. A report from cannabis industry analysts at Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics estimated 2017 legal sales to reach $9.7 billion, a whopping 33% increase over 2016. Moreover, their report estimates the market will reach $24.5 billion by 2021.

The product line is more diverse than you may think. Dispensaries sell oil, hash, shatter, and rosin that can be smoked or vaped. They may also offer bakes goods and candy, as well as the traditional flower. Medical dispensaries sell products including CBD (cannabidiol) usually in the form of oil or candy, which is used to treat epilepsy or pain.

There are 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses in the U.S.—and all of them need a POS system to help manage their business.

What’s Different About Cannabis POS?

There are some aspects of selling cannabis retail or through a dispensary that make it different from other business operations and that require different features than other retail POS systems. Here are five examples:

1. It’s a cash business.

At least for now, cannabis businesses primarily deal in cash. There are still federal laws that define it as illegal, and banks, caught in the middle in states that have made it legal, are reluctant to open accounts for these businesses. Politics and legal battles aside, this presents unique challenges to cannabis businesses—which could really use trusted advisors well versed in retail and POS technology as well as strict cannabis regulations to help them solve business challenges such as this.

2. Scales need to be sensitive.

You may have sold scales for deli, grocery, or bulk items. But cannabis scales have to be more accurate than a hundredth of a pound. The sensitivity of a cannabis sale must be accurate to a fraction of a gram—both to comply with regulations and to ensure maximum profits.

3. Labels are strictly regulated.

Cannabis customers are limited to a specific quantity they can purchase per day. That may seem straightforward, but considering a customer may be purchasing baked goods, candies, or oil, the quantity of controlled substance won’t be immediately obvious without a label. Some states also require labels to include information about testing that has been done on the products and traceability information back to the source of the cannabis flower.

4. Receipts are more than proof of purchase.

The information that needs to be included on a receipt provided by cannabis businesses are different depending on the regulations in each state. In Oregon, for example, receipts need to include store name and address, product category, something that identifies the products that are taxed, a breakdown of state and local tax, and a disclaimer that receipts are required for tax disputes. In California, for example, it’s important to instruct your customers to save all copies of receipts from each day’s sales for a minimum of three years in the event that the cannabis store is subject to an audit. Advice your customers to check on their individual state’s regulations regarding cannabis receipts.

5. Stores need heightened security.

With an all-cash business, a desirable product, and tough regulatory scrutiny, cannabis stores and dispensaries will need a robust security solution. Today’s state-of-the-art solutions enable business owners to track inventory with GPS, monitor facilities inside and out with high-resolution IP camera systems, guard blind spots in the store with hidden cameras, and protect their businesses with sensitive alarm systems that send alerts in the event of a break-in or fire. Integrating security with the POS system can provide information that helps business owners identify people responsible if theft occurs and give law enforcements the details it needs to act.

The cannabis industry is in its earliest stages, so it will be important for you to establish partnerships that will help you develop this part of your business as you expand your VAR into a new market, stay on top of regulatory developments, and search the market for solutions that will provide your customers with the greatest value.

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3 Reasons Why You Must Have an NTEP Certified Scale

Whether a business is dishing out candy, measuring pharmaceuticals, or weighing produce and bulk bin ingredients, it’s imperative that they weight goods on an NTEP certified scale. If you’re new to the scale market, it’s important to know that NTEP certification is non-negotiable, but buyer beware: every scale on the market doesn’t have this important designation.

What is NTEP certification?

NTEP certification is granted by the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) Committee of the National Conference on Weights and Measures. The standards they use for certification, with guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cover every aspect of a scale’s use, including capacity, accuracy, and the effects of temperature fluctuations on its operations.

If you’re investing in a scale for your business, here are three reasons why an NTEP certified scale is the only type of device you should consider:

1) When a product is sold by weight, it is a legal requirement that weighing equipment must be ‘legal for trade’.

A retailer that is caught using a non-NTEP certified scale may be subject to heavy fines, seizure of the illegal scale, or work shutdown. Only consider purchasing a scale with an NTEP Certificate of Conformance (CoC), which means the scale is legal for trade and can be used in a commercial setting to sell products by weight. Every NTEP certified scale will have a CoC number that an inspector uses to verify that the scale meets the agency’s testing standards. Only a NTEP certified scale, when properly inspected and calibrated, is “legal for trade”.

2) Accurate and consistent measurements are important.

When purchasing items by weight, the scale tells the customer they are receiving the exact amount of produce they’re paying for an ensures the retailer is receiving the correct payment. Always choose a scale that’s the correct accuracy class, because a candy store doesn’t need the same level of accuracy required for a pharmacy.

Maintaining properly calibrated devices helps you avoid overcharging customers or shorting your business. It could cause irreparable harm to your brand if you’re caught overcharging customers due to an improperly calibrated scale, even if it’s only off by a cent or two. Although this error would be unintentional, the negative backlash will cause you to lose customers and once this happens, it’s hard to regain the public’s trust.

3) It will be inspected annually by the Bureau of Weights and Measures.

Just because you’ve purchased a NTEP certified scale, it doesn’t mean you can unpack it and start processing transactions right away. Before using the scale, contact your local regulatory authority  to find out what you need to do before processing any sales by weight.

Every state has its own agencies and departments that monitor scales and inspect them for accuracy. A local weights and measures official will use NIST standards when inspecting your scale, certifying it for use and in most localities, the scale will be sealed (with a sticker showing the date) to prove it’s legal for trade. Scale inspection isn’t a “one and done” process, you’ll have to register your equipment for regular inspections.

There’s plenty that can go wrong for a business, but an issue with weight and measures doesn’t have to be one—calibration and compliance laws are there to protect you and your customers. And NTEP certification can make sure you are protected.

4 Elements of a Valuable ISV-Hardware Integration Partnership

You design software to provide the best possible user experience. It’s impossible, however, to reach that goal without the proper hardware for your system. In the point of sale (POS) space, that can include POS terminals, mobile devices, and rugged tablets as well as receipt printers, cash drawers, kiosks, scales, barcode scanners, and other POS peripherals. Integrating with the right hardware is critical to the user experience your customers will have and ultimately, it will impact your brand image.

Your partnership with a hardware vendor can also have a direct impact on the success of your business. Whether you are a startup or a legacy ISV, selecting a hardware solution integration partner is a critical business decision for positioning your software solution in the POS industry.

With so many hardware vendors to choose from—and many vying for you as an integration partner—it may not be clear which direction to take. Forming a successful partnership with a hardware vendor follows the same principles as any other type of beneficial business partnership. It depends on agreement in four areas:

  1. Goal Alignment
  2. Growth Potential for Both Parties
  3. Shared Resources
  4. Unified Marketing Strategy

Business Goal Alignment

The first thing you need to determine about a potential hardware integration partner is whether your business goals and theirs align. That makes it necessary for you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. That makes it necessary for you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Once you have established the direction you want to take, you can evaluate hardware vendors as potential partners to help you reach your goals.

Potential for Growth

Do you clearly see the hardware vendor’s value proposition or are you concerned that the benefits of the partnership may be one-sided? Will your solution simply be added to a list the hardware vendor can use to their advantage with little return for your ISV? A more attractive option is a hardware partner with the experience, innovative solutions, and resources to help your business grow. If you can’t see how the partnership would help you advance your business, keep looking until you find a partner that will.

Hardware Partner Integration Resources

The breadth and quality of resources the hardware partner has dedicated to developing software integration relationships is a good indicator of how committed they will be to your partnership. For example, find out if they make software development kits (SDKs) and APIs available to ISVs. Thoroughly vet the hardware vendor’s integration process to learn whether or not the hardware vendor has developers on staff that can assist with integration and help you troubleshoot. If possible, speak to other ISVs who partner with the vendor to gauge their impression of how committed the vendor is to assisting with integrations and how easy their team is to work with.

Unified Marketing Strategy

Make sure you and your potential partner agree on a go-to-market strategy, including distributor and reseller support. Also agree on marketing down to the methods and frequency of marketing activities to adequately promote your partnership and the integration. Some examples include:

  • Issuing a joint press release to announce your partnership and include it in each company’s newsletter
  • Creating a campaign around your joint solution and promoting it on social media
  • Building a microsite or webpages devoted to the hardware-software solution
  • Taking advantage of success stories to produce case studies
  • Producing videos to demonstrate the solution
  • Participating in tradeshows to demonstrate the hardware-software solution

How marketing will be managed and funded is also an important decision. The division of labor and investment should be equitable and acceptable to both partners.

Download our full eBook here.

The Ultimate Guide to Payment Data Security

Point of sale systems make every merchants’ day-to-day activities run more smoothly, so keeping technology up to date and secure is important. It’s not just your business that relies on your system; your customers put their trust in it to keep their data secure as well. Every time shoppers complete a transaction at the terminal, their personal information is sent across public networks. If your business is not PCI compliant for maximum payment data security,  you are putting customers and your business at risk.

Breaches are like a perfect storm: they can happen when the system is vulnerable and cybercriminals are looking for ways to steal your data. However, you have some control to stop the storm. It’s a given that hackers and thieves want your data, but you can control whether your POS system is vulnerable. A good place to start is making sure your POS and payment technology meets PCI-DSS standards.

What is PCI Compliance?

PCI compliance refers to meeting Payment Card Industry DataSecurity Standards (PCI-DSS), which outline how credit card data should be secured and stored. The credit card industry’s big four, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, founded the PCI Security Standards Council which regulates the standards. To ensure a high level of payment data security across the industry, PCI security standards include requirements about firewalls, passwords, encryption, employee ID numbers, system access, and data storage and transmission.

Does this matter for my business?

If your business accepts credit cards in-store or online, then PCI compliance pertains to you. There are no varying degrees of compliance, you either are or you’re not. Non-compliance puts you at risk for financial attacks and breaches. Aside from bad publicity and loss of business, these events can hurt your wallet and end your relationship with your financial institution. Fines for non-PCI compliance can run upwards of $100,000 a month from the PCI council.

What do I need for maximum payment data security?

There are three technologies that work together to optimize a payment data security environment:

EMV: EMV technology makes card-present transactions more secure. The changeover to EMV not only changed how people pay with a credit card (inserting chip cards into the terminal, rather than swiping), it also shifted responsibility for fraudulent transactions from the banks to the merchants if the merchants aren’t using EMV-ready technology. That means businesses no longer have the credit card companies’ protection if someone makes a fraudulent transaction; they’re on the hook for those losses. The result of non-compliance can be an expensive lesson.

Tokenization: This technology helps merchants keep payment card data out of PCI scope. Tokenization refers to swapping sensitive data like credit card numbers or personal information with a “token” that is used to complete a specific transaction. Since the data has been converted to a token before being sent over the networks and it isn’t an actual account number, tokenized information doesn’t have any value to hackers and data thieves.

Encryption: Whenever cardholder information is saved or sent over open networks, this data must be encrypted. Encryption is when sensitive information is converted into a code that can only be deciphered with a cryptographic key — which hackers don’t have. Full credit and debit card numbers and other personal information should never be stored or sent over open networks.

Payment data security technologies and PCI compliance help protect your business from security breaches. These events are front-page news that have long-lasting consequences for businesses, including negative publicity, loss of revenue, and liability associated with the breach. Don’t allow your POS system to be a victim, stay informed and keep your technology up to date.

 

 

Restaurant Opening is Rescued with Mobilebytes iPad POS and Star Printer

If you ask local diners why they should go to Charlton’s Grill & Tap in Johns Creek, Georgia, they’ll tell you it’s for the wings. The eatery is known for jumbo, crisp wings prepared with a variety of homemade sauces and rubs—and Charlton’s encourages diners to mix flavors  to come up with creative combinations they love. The family-owned and operated restaurant, which opened its doors in 2016, also provides great customer service, supported by state-of-the-art technology—but management didn’t find it that way when they prepared for the restaurant opening.

THE CHALLENGE

When owner Bob Charlton purchased the restaurant, he discovered the point of sale (POS) system hasn’t been properly maintained. Charlton, the former executive VP of sales and marketing for a systems integrator, was familiar with POS systems, and quickly discovered that he has a problem. The POS system has never been upgraded—in fact, it was running four versions behind the current software—and the POS hardware and printers were outdated. The restaurant couldn’t alter the system at all to make it usable.

Charlton knew he needed a cloud-based POS system that he’d be able to access from a laptop or smartphone. He also needed a solution that allowed him to focus on his new restaurant, not on IT, but still easily manage changes and updates. Charlton’s Grill and Tap didn’t anticipate the issues it discovered with the existing POS system and printers. They wanted to easily enable online ordering, offer a loyalty program and printers that required zero IT support to print receipts and takeout orders. They has to work fast as they only has 3 days to implement a new POS system and thermal printers for the restaurant.

THE SOLUTION

Charlton originally contacted Matt Shaw from Postec, Inc. because he thought the TOast restaurant POS and management system would best suit the business’ needs. But after Shaw listened to what Charlton was looking for, he recommended a Mobilebytes system and Star printers. Mobilebytes iPad POS provided Charlton’s with the anytime, anywhere cloud access it was looking for, and it made communicating and engaging with customers through the POS system easier. Charlton’s also chose Star SP700 and TSP650II printers, two for the front of the house and one in the back.

The new POS solution was also easy to roll out and simple to set up. The Mobilebytes and Star system took less than two days to install and go live, setup took less than eight hours with the assistance of Postec, Inc. and staff training, including placing sample orders, took less than one hour, helping Charlton’s open its doors in less time than other POS systems could have.

When an order comes in, the order double prints—once for the kitchen to intitiate food prep and once for the front of the house to prepare the take out order. The Skip-the-Line feature is provided through the Mobilbytes app. When guests are within 90 feet of the restaurant, their phone will connect to the restaurant’s iBeacon and they will receive a notification through the app asking if they would like to “skip the line” and order ahead through the mobile app. Anyone dining in can order online with orders printing for the front and back of the house so they’ll be ready when guests arrive. Guests that want to have alcoholic beverages with their meals, however, have two separate checks, since alcohol can’t be ordered online. To compensate, the restaurant offers a free drink promotion to encourage online orders. Charlton’s also launched a loyalty program, supported by the Mobilebytes app.

Download the full success story here: Star_MobileBytes-Charltons_Case-Study

How Small Businesses Can Stand Out on Social Media

Owning a small business can make it difficult to compete with the big brand names that everyone already knows. The advantage that SMB retailers have compared to “big-box” retailers is their opportunity to create an authentic and unique experience for each of their customers.

While you may feel like even on social media you’re being overshadowed by the big guys, here are a few ways to stand out, and how to do it.

Start a Vlog

Benefits:

Video is taking over the way people consume information. A fun way for small businesses to showcase their products and expertise about their business is to start a vlog, a.k.a, a video blog. Video blogs can cover topics from a new clothing line you’ve just started carrying, to fashion tips, to a personal entry about the success of our small business.

Vlogs are also great for promoting events and one-time sales. Aside from that fact that online videos now account for more than 80% of Internet traffic, a vlog creates a better sense of authenticity than your standard blog. This gives you a better opportunity, not just to increase the foot traffic in your store, it allows you to create a community with your frequent shoppers.

How to do it:

The great thing about vlogging is that it doesn’t need to be filmed in a fancy production studio. All you really need to start a vlog is a smart phone and an idea of the type of content you want to share with your viewers.

A great starting point for a vlog is to film an overview of your business, what inspired you to start it, and a tour. This introduction is a perfect way to create loyal viewers and customers who are interested in learning more from your vlog. And if you’re camera shy, try asking a friend, employee, or business partner to take the lead with your creative input!

Run Seasonal Campaigns

Benefits:

For retailers, you may find yourself needing to update your store for every season. This is especially true for clothing stores. By creating seasonal campaigns, you are not only letting your audience know that you are all set for the upcoming season, but showing them that you know what will be trendy for the upcoming season.

Seasonal campaigns are beneficial because they allow you to get very visual in your social media posting – which is great since Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images, and as of June 2016, there are more than 500 million Instagram users.

How to do it:

In order to announce your brand new stock of inventory for the upcoming season, you’ll need to create a visually appealing seasonal campaign. There are a few ways to do this.

In addition to the aforementioned vlog, try creating some promotional videos to help promote the new inventory coming in. Capturing visuals of outdoor seasonal scenes will trigger your audience to visit your store for a new winter coat. In addition to video content, Instagram and Pinterest are the perfect platforms to look to when promoting a seasonal campaign.

According to Shopify, 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan their next purchase. Hootsuite found that 75% of Instagram users are taking action, such as visiting a website, after viewing an Instagram post. By visually promoting products that are appropriate to the season on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, you’re much more likely to turn those “likes” into sales.

Leverage User Generated Content

Benefits:

User generated content is a great way for small businesses to stand out on social media because it means that people are paying attention to and care about your business! By definition, user generated content includes any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that were created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.

Put in more simple terms – user generated content is content posted by your customers about your business. This can include anything from an Instagram user posting a photo of them wearing an item from your latest clothing line, to a shopper writing a blog article about your business. Not only does user generated content often result in free advertising, but it helps you reach a wider audience through your customers’ network.

How to do it:

I know what you’re thinking – how do I encourage my customers to create content about my product? There are a number of ways to push that content out of your shoppers. The easiest way to do this is simply to use social media to interact with their audiences. If someone tags you in a post, make sure to leave a comment! There are also a number of social media monitoring tools that will help you scan for posts that mention your business but don’t tag your page. Surprising one of your frequent shoppers with a comment on their Instagram photo is almost guaranteed to increase customer loyalty and stand out to all of their followers.

If you’re looking to boost your user generated content, try hosting a contest. Photo contests are probably the most popular way to get see more user content. For example, if you are the owner of a fashion boutique, try holding a photo contest on Instagram asking people to pose with their latest store purchases. You can create a hashtag for users to post along with their photos; that way, you can easily track who is participating in your contest, and choose a winner! People will notice the hashtag and it will help you stand out to a wider audience than you initially started with.

Competing with large retailers doesn’t have to be a ton of work. Social media has allowed retailers to connect with their customers on a more personal level, and will continue to advance in favor of business owners. Sometimes all it takes to stand out is the initial interaction.

Seatninja and Star Micronics Empower Full Service Restaurants to Deliver VIP Diner Experience

PHOTO CREDIT: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With the increase in popularity of fast casual and fast-fine dining establishments, full service restaurants are under increasing pressure to provide top-notch dining experiences. Each diner’s experience begins the moment they step through restaurant doors and approach the host stand.

Seatninja Host is a low-cost solution that allows full-service restaurants to connect with guests and consistently provide a VIP Diner Experience. The digital seating system was created to emulate the paper tools that 90% of restaurants still use for managing walk-ins, waitlist parties, and reservations. Seatninja Host is a complete front-of-house system that will enable your staff to interact with guests via SMS or mobile application, gain visibility into where all seated guests are in the dining cycle, identify tables with VIPs and special occasions, quote accurate wait times by party size, manage and follow server rotations, quickly look up guest’s dining history, and more.

THE SITUATION

As a result of the growth in fast casual and fast-fine dining establishments, guests are becoming more and more intolerant of mistakes in lost reservations, long wait lists, and misquoted wait times. Guests are also starting to expect automated and seamless reservation and waitlist procedures at the front-of-house within a modern and up-to-date full-service restaurant. To appease unhappy and impatient customers, restaurants lose hundreds of dollars in revenue each month to guest comps or freebies to avoid bad press and poor Yelp reviews.

THE SOLUTION

Seatninja Host organizes and automates most of the host stand functions, such as taking and managing reservations and waitlists, managing seating, wait time estimates, and server rotation. The solution automatically suggests tables for guests, accurately estimates wait times, and organizes the guests into a seating line. The solution uses a two-way texting system to communicate with guests to let them know their table is ready and allows guests to disperse to other nearby areas and thus removing the pressure from small, over-crowded lobbies. In this way, it never loses a reservation or waitlist party, maximizing restaurant seating, without overbooking.

For easy server reference, the integrated Star Micronics TSP100III printer prints out a reservation or waitlist “chit” that includes each guest’s visit details including, name, number in party, visit history, permanent guest notes, current visit reservations notes, table number and any party flags assigned, i.e. birthday, anniversary, high chair required, etc. For additional server management, each server’s schedule can be printed from the system as well. The schedule includes the name of the server, the tables assigned to each server and his or her’s scheduled time in. This further ensures that each guest receives a VIP customer experience delivered not only from the front-of-the-house stand, but also their server as well.

THE RESULTS

The Seatninja and Star Micronics solution deliver an immediate ROI on the monthly subscription. Setup takes, on average, less than an hour. The solution is paired with an iPad tablet upon deployment. Training is quick and easy, completed in an hour or less and staff typically and staff typically reaches proficiency with the solution within two shifts or less.

Full service restaurants who deploy the solution may see some or all of the following results:

  • fewer table checks ($75 per month in savings)
  • additional table turns ($400 per month in additional revenue)
  • decrease in reservation no shows ($400 per month in savings)
  • decrease in walk outs on waitlists ($400 per month in savings)
  • no lost or damaged paper replacements ($100 per month in savings)
  • reservations can be taken automatically during off hours ($1500 per month in additional revenue)
  • reduced comps for mistakes ($100 per month in savings)
  • automatic table assignments for reservations ($124 per month in savings)

3 Must-Have Restaurant Back-of-House Technologies

A restaurant’s “back-of-house” generally refers to three parts: kitchen (the largest component), offices, and staff break room/rest area. A restaurant with a well-run back-of-house operation increases customer satisfaction, empowers staff to provide a higher level of customer service, and prepares the consistent, quality meals your customers expect at every visit.

Essential restaurant back-of-house technologies like a kitchen display system, durable receipt printers, and an all-in-one point of sale system help your kitchen run more smoothly so the front-of-house doesn’t suffer from long waits for a table, poorly timed service or incorrect orders.

Here are three restaurant back-of-house technologies that your eatery should implement right now:

  1. Kitchen display system (KDS)

A kitchen display system streamlines food preparation. This critical restaurant back-of-house technology helps manage customer expectations by preventing kitchen backups, monitoring prep times and alerting staff when things start to go awry. The KDS also lists out cooking directions/ingredients to ensure that diners have the same delicious experience every time they visit your restaurant.

A kitchen display system connects to the point of sale terminal and consists of software, a monitor that can resist moisture and heat, controller, and a bump bar to scroll through the orders. When the customer is finished ordering, data is sent through the kitchen controller to the appropriate location, either to a single screen or multiple ones at different food prep stations.

Selections are time stamped, labeled with the customer’s name and sent to the appropriate prep area at different times to ensure everything will be finished and served to the proper person simultaneously. This means diners will never have to wait for their friends to be served while their meal gets cold or receive their appetizer with their dinner being served immediately after.

  1. Fast, tough receipt printer for orders

Receipt printers are an integral part of your restaurant back-of-house technologies. However, an immaculately well-run kitchen is full of hazards for electronic components. Overuse, heat, spills, particles and steam can harm a restaurant kitchen printer, causing expensive work slowdowns, bottlenecks, and mistakes.

Restaurant owners looking for a quality printer for their kitchen should consider a durable receipt printer that can withstand this harsh environment. To guarantee a healthy ROI, the receipt printer chosen should be spill-proof and insect-proof. Additionally, consider a compact model that won’t take up much valuable back-of-the-house counter space. Ensure that the printer you choose is flexible and able to connect with future hardware by selecting one with a multi-interface. For example, the mC-Print3 fills all of these requirements, plus grants access to a suite of free value-added Star Cloud Services.

  1. All-in-one point of sale systems

All-in-one point of sale (POS) systems are exactly what the name implies: POS systems that include all the important components in space-saving configurations. The best all-in-one POS systems will give end-users the ability to add peripherals, upgrades, and new options as they come to market.

All-in-ones typically include a touchscreen, printer, cash drawer, and magnetic stripe reader, with the option of adding other peripherals such as a scale, bar code scanner, additional security options, and displays. In addition to the mC printers, Star’s mCollection includes 1D scanners, 2D imagers, customer display, and three NTEP-certified scales.

All-in-one POS systems can save a business money, time, and counter space. These systems have a much smaller footprint then a stationary terminal which frees up space for taking orders and impulse purchases. Purchasing an all in one POS means the components are equally rugged and designed for the environment you’re working in. This will also eliminate any headaches and runaround from different vendors when it’s time to make repairs to the system.

Take a Wholistic View of Your Operation

Restaurant back-of-house technologies can be just as important to profitability and customer service as solutions your restaurant uses in the front of the house. Evaluate your entire operation for areas that can operate more efficiently and find solutions that can address those issues, helping you save time and money.

Amazon Expands AmazonGo Stores and Hits New Milestone

Written by Michael K. Spencer

It was a big month for Amazon in September, 2018. Amazon has become the 2nd company to hit the $1 Trillion dollar market cap. This is significant since Amazon, according MKM Partners, could reach a whopping $2.4 Trillion valuation by 2024.

AmazonGo is billed as the cashierless stores of the future and Amazon is ready to expand them to new locations. The latest location is its third overall and third in Seattle, where it’s headquartered. The 2,100 square foot store sits on the corner of Boren Ave. and Thomas St. and is its largest yet.

While expansion to San Francisco and Chicago remains imminent, Cate Trotter of Insider Trends recently did an article on these new, more automated kinds of stores. The AmazonGo concept has been embraced by many retailers across the world with various initiatives from smart kiosks, to what appear to be more like vending machines that operate on AI, to mobile stores ;  the idea of more seamless retail and customer experiences is growing.

A report on Kiosk and Retail by USA Technologies and PYMNTS.com predicts that the interactive kiosk sector in the US will be worth more than $1 billion by 2020. AmazonGo isn’t at Alibaba’s level in China for retail experiences, but it certainly does re-conceive how the physical stores work for convenience. While E-commerce is growing faster in China, in the U.S. even the likes of JD.crew have started selling on Amazon.

Amazon is Fueling Retail Innovation

The Amazon Prime value is incredible and is beginning to scale into entertainment (Prime Video), AI (Alexa), Grocery (WholeFoods) and many other segments. There’s been talk about Alexa Smart Glasses and an Amazon home robot, both likely to appear before 2021. However for physical retail experiences, AmazonGo may be the most tested and innovative feature in the evolution of retail we’ve seen for quite some time.

Amazon’s profitability of AWS, Alexa, and future advertising revenue means it will be able to perfect in-store technology. Walmart is testing a new feature called Spark delivery, that uses crowdsourcing to find drivers to make grocery deliveries and will include a partnership with Delivery Drivers, which manages such workers, because the race to automated grocery delivery is also fairly lucrative. JD.com, Kroger, and many others are all looking at this service very carefully.

AmazonGo has been slow to expand its cashierless grab-and-go experience. However, the concept is clear—this is using LiDAR and other technologies to create a faster experience that is uniquely made for urban shoppers. The point of sale is, for all intents and purposes, virtual. Checkout is completely eliminated, there’s only a kind of mobile check-in with QR codes.

In the evolution of what physical stores might become, there are lessons for brick-and-mortar retailers to look into:

  • AmazonGo
  • BingoBox
  • Auchan Minute
  • JD.com’s “X” chain
  • Alibaba’s TaoCafe
  • The robotic CafeX
  • Stockwell (Bodega)
  • Moby Mart

The Future Store is Late, but is Arriving in the 2020s

For the future of commerce, the marketplace, and the local store, these are not isolated incidents. These represent a trend towards increased retail automation, logistics, and consumer fulfillment that will change how GenZ interacts with stores, restaurants, and the future of mobile in-store as well. 5G mobile, the IoT and blockchain will all power the smart store in new creative ways.

Just as point of sale is evolving, our entire concept of what a “store” is, could change considerably in the next decade. According to Nielson and many retail analysts, we’ll be doing 70% of our grocery shopping online by 2024. In China, Meituan is about to go IPO in Hong Kong, it’s one of the leaders in “O2O”—online to offline—and represents the ultimate in convenience for consumers, though it’s burning cash.

As impressive as Amazon is to the future of convenience and giving consumers various “upgrades” in customer experience and fulfillment, a lot of the interesting stuff in retail is happening in China, where mobile penetration and eCommerce are both higher and where there are more total consumers and digital natives.

  • 7-Eleven Signature
  • Suning Biu
  • Alibaba’s “smile to pay”
  • Bianlifeng
  • Alibaba’s Hema supermarket

It turns out having a cashless society with QR codes and an app-of-everything (WeChat) is a huge advantage for China in terms of retail innovation. China’s integration of facial recognition is also very advanced in retail, financial and services generally.

AmazonGo might be just the tip of the iceberg in how physical retail innovation occurs globally. The future of automation in retail is occurring not just in eCommerce, but in restaurants, grocery, cafes, local stores, convenience stores, and syncing with the values of the new consumer.

The Future of AmazonGo

The further expansion in Seattle makes sense as the newest store reportedly is the largest Amazon Go location yet, at about 2,100 square feet, according to the Seattle Times story.

AmazonGo tech, perfected in Seattle, does not stay in Seattle. An AmazonGo store is heading to New York. Here’s how it works:

  1. When entering the grocery stores, shoppers scan their phone using the Amazon Go app. (The virtual POS is essentially sign-in only)
  2. As you shop, cameras, LiDAR, and motion sensors track what you pick up from (and put back on) shelves.
  3. You can “grab and go” with just-walk-out technology. There are no lines, checkout, or cashiers to worry about.
  4. There’s less staff and typically no grocery carts or baskets. Shoppers are encouraged to use their own bags.

AmazonGo is rumored to launch in places such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago first, before spreading to more cities. So if Seattle was phase one, this is phase two.

Considering how long AmazonGo’s concept was in R&D and testing, this is a pretty huge deal. Amazon’s footprint in brick-and-mortar stores is still pretty small even with the Whole Foods acquisition. Nothing compared to its rival in China, Alibaba, or even JD.com.

However, AmazonGo is the torch bearer for being a prototype of the “smart store”. As such, many physical retailers are watching closely to see what Amazon accomplishes with AmazonGo and how consumers will respond. Surely it’s an upgrade in what we might term convenience and customer experience in-store. With 7-Eleven integrating Apple Pay recently, it’s only a matter of time before Amazon becomes more aggressive in its brick-and-mortar strategy.

As for AmazonGo in NYC, Amazon is seeking members for its staff and roles such as:

  • Store Manager
  • Assistant Manager
  • Trading Lead Associate
  • Prep Ingredients Associate
  • Shelves Stocking Associate
  • Customer Success and Help Associate
  • Food Prep Associate
  • Security Associate

It’s important to note, these stores won’t need as many regular staff due to their unique technology.

Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago seem to be the early birds to enjoy semi-automated AmazonGo shopping experiences in 2018 and early 2019. While Amazon is expected to choose Washington D.C. as its next HQ site, it appears to be in no hurry to launch AmazonGo too quickly.

Later in September it was rumored Amazon will open 3,000 AmazonGo stores by 2021. Amazon also opened an Amazon 4-Star store in New York.

Sophatar Launches Sales Receipt Viewer in Partnership with Star Micronics

Download sales receipt images and obtain sales insights, with a brand new service from Sophatar for retailers using Star printers!

  • Are you a retailer looking for an easy web-based sales receipt re-print solution?
  • Or find out at which time of day, or day of the week you consistently generate more sales so you can plan employee shifts effectively?
  • Or find out when your first and last sales of the day happen?
  • And be able to do this from anywhere, not just while at your store, without extra software to install or change your POS?

Then we have THE solution for you!

Sophatar is improving the sales IQ of retail locations with a Sales Receipt Viewer and Analytics dashboard that is targeted to customers of Star Micronics.

No software to install. No need to change your point-of-sale software.

It is a web-based service with downloadable images of your sales receipts showing in a browser and downloadable for re-print or email.

The service also includes extracting the data from your sales receipt images and turning that into actionable information via an interactive graphical sales analytics tool so you can explore sales trends.

It only costs $20 USD per month after an initial free 3-month period. No credit card is required during the trial period. This extended-time trial period is only offered for a limited time, during the introduction of this brand new service.

 

What do I need for this to work?

Most Star Micronics printer installations have the unique capability that they can upload receipt images from your printer to the Star Micronics Cloud Dashboard each time a receipt prints. Check with your Star sales rep to find out if your install can. Once your image is uploaded and you sign up for this service, your receipt images will automatically be parsed in the cloud, and both the receipt images and parsed data is made available to you via a web dashboard and an interactive sales exploration graphics tool.

Multi-Dimensional Sales Analytics in the Cloud

Explore your sales receipts to uncover trends and actionable insights in a variety of ways. Simply click on the interactive graph in the browser and select one or more dimensions to turn your sales data into insights. Graphs update automatically to filter and analyze your data:

  • by calendar date range
  • by day of week
  • by time of day
  • by payment method
  • by employee
  • by sales receipt total $
  • etc.

Furthermore, you can filter to only see those receipts with discounts applied, or detect duplicate receipts. Use this to uncover ‘sweat-hearting’ by employees (discounts given to friends) or print receipt fraud (multiple prints of same receipt given to different customers from a single transaction on the POS, mostly seen in environments with a limited number of SKUs, such as QSR).

As retail stores must compete in today’s world with e-commerce and online shopping, physical retailers are increasingly in need of more data and analytics. Sophatar’s partnership with Star Micronics means receipt data at the POS can deliver new insights for retailers to improve their marketing strategy to boost sales at key times.

Besides this receipt viewer and analytics tool, Sophatar also offers other services based on sales receipt data from Star printers, such as its POS-transaction driven digital signage.

How do I sign up?

The service is offered by Sophatar but fully integrated with Star Micronics. Star customers can login to their account at https://starmicronicscloud.com/ and subscribe to the ‘sales receipt analytics & viewer service’ in the Star Marketplace. We will then reach out to you to complete setup and activate your subscription.

Now any retailer can keep an eye on their business, even from a remote location.

Download the PDF leaflet about this brand-new Sales Receipt/Analytics Service, check out our 2-minute video demo, and signup today to take advantage of this no-risk limited-time no credit-card required introductory offer of $0 for the first 3 months!