The Five Ways Retail is Changing Forever

By Michael K. Spencer

Retail will never be the same. Consumer preferences are constantly shifting, technology is advancing, and commerce is dynamic. The marketplace is on the front-lines of new experiences, and there’s nothing shoppers crave more than new retail experiences. Is a retail renaissance occurring for small businesses?

On the front lines, independent retail stores must constantly reinvent themselves. Small business owners as entrepreneurs are essentially creators now, in an age where the marketplace is converging with a new reality.

1. It’s the Age of the Consumer

Retail experiences and customer journeys are now frictionless and customer-focused. Advertising, commerce, and smartphone trends now have to keep up with the quickly changing consumer, whose values and new habits are creating the new paradigm of retail.

Customer experiences must be the focus to appeal to audiences and personalize experiences for them that are radically in sync with culture, community, education and entertainment. In other words, the age of the consumer means stores must impact these — and not simply sell “stuff”.

2. Always Easy Path to Purchase

In an era of multi-channel and always online commerce, stores must make it easy, because for the new consumer, convenience wins. What’s easy and convenient is different for a diverse group of your shoppers.

However being mobile friendly, having great return policies, smooth customer service, a store design that’s easy on the eyes, and having a great loyalty program—that’s facilitating an easy path to purchase.

3. Educate and Entertain Customers

A retail brand isn’t what it used to be. The new consumer demands a fully immersive and interactive brand and product experience. Shoppers don’t just want great products with unbelievable discounts, you have to offer them the full experience.

In 2018, the full experience means does your commerce stand for something — does it bring your local community together? Does it entertain and educate you seamlessly about the product and the people who bring those products to life? Influencers, community, and sustainable causes can really help a retail brand reach the next level of customer interaction.

4. The Power of Digital Influence

For a small business it’s great to have your physical store, but your work is never done. For in 2018, digital influence takes many forms. From AR to digital signage in the store, to good-old email marketing, and being quick to answer customer inquiries online, the impact of digital influence on commerce is undeniable.

Is your website and store optimized for search and local search; have you covered your bases on social media; have you implemented the very best POS and software integrations that’s right for your store? Everything counts, from the printer you use, to the kind of marketing you do.

5. Be An Authentic Entrepreneur — Live your Commerce

Independent retailers are families, stories, and sometimes even inter-generational. Retail stores with rich stories and who portray themselves as real entrepreneurs appeal to the human side of shoppers.

Being authentic in physical retail also means you care about your customer at every point of their journey. You sweat the details and create holistic and exquisite experiences. You inspire with the positive impact you have on the community, not just as an outlet of merchandise, but a small businesses that’s approachable, experts in their domain, and people that sync with the values of your best customers.

Retail might never be the same. As big apparel and retail chains go bankrupt (think Sears & Toys R Us), independent retailers recognize they have a huge advantage, they are pillars of the community and excel at putting people first. Retail might be changing forever, but there’s never been a more exciting time to be a small business owner, or a shopper.

 

4 Ways to Streamline Restaurant Kitchen Operations

Well-run kitchen operations mean perfectly timed food prep, faster table turns, and few mistakes. However, no restaurant is perfect and in these high-pressure, non-stop work environments, sometimes mistakes are unavoidable. Errors that aren’t quickly contained can trickle down and cause kitchen backups, longer wait times and fewer table turns, which means less profit and lower tips for staff.

If your kitchen operations could use a refresh, or if you want to integrate new technology for greater efficiency, choose a system that will help you achieve your current goals as well as keep your restaurant humming in the future.

  1. Assess your hardware

Evaluate your technology components from top to bottom, including point of sale (POS) hardware and front- and back-of -house printers. Overuse, heat, spills, food particles, and steam can harm point of sale hardware and printers, causing expensive work slowdowns and inviting mistakes. Even the cleanest, most organized kitchen operations can lead to electronics damage, especially the moving parts and printhead of a printer. Choosing a model protected from splashes and designed for use in your kitchen environment will ensure your investment will last.

  1. Consider tableside ordering and payment processing

Mobile POS is a must for restaurants that want to increase throughput and boost profits. These systems allow servers to take orders tableside and transmit them directly to the kitchen, so the kitchen staff can prepare them without delay. It eliminates the time spent writing down the orders, walking back to the POS terminal and waiting if someone else is using it to input an order.  Taking orders with a mobile device also eliminates costly mistakes that can occur when trying to remember an order or deciphering handwriting on the way to the POS terminal. In addition, using mobile POS, staff can process credit card payments tableside, which eliminates the need to bring the check to the table, take the credit card to the terminal and swipe it, and then bring the receipt back for the customer to sign.

  1. Floorplan mapping

An entire restaurant can be monitored from the tablet POS or stationary terminal with just a few clicks. If one section becomes too busy, the floor plan can be shifted around to incorporate more staff. And if a backup slows down the pace or a server becomes overwhelmed, it’ll be easy to identify and adapt kitchen operations before it becomes a larger issue.

  1. Real-time cloud-based reporting

Cloud-based point of sale systems enable you to review sales and inventory information in real time, so you can monitor your business throughout the day. These systems also include a variety of reporting options that give you an in-depth look in to every shift, hour, day, week, month or year. Running sales reports help restaurant owners and managers identify which menu items are most popular and which result in ingredients taking up shelf space in the kitchen. Identifying best-selling menu items also ensures the right stock is available to make them, maximizing profitability and increasing customer satisfaction.

Kitchen operations can make or break a restaurant, but the right technology can help keep them on track. The most successful eateries have the tools they need to succeed—mobile POS, kitchen technology, real-time reporting and the ability to monitor the restaurant floor right from the POS. How do your kitchen operations stack up?

This is How Big the Cannabis Retail Sector is Going to Be

By Sarah Jane Callendar

Within the next 10 years, the legal cannabis industry is likely to boom around the globe, according to Arcview Market Research and its research partner BDS Analytics.

Spending on legal cannabis is expected to reach $57 billion by 2027. The adult recreational market is predicted to reach 67% of the spending and the remaining 33% will be taken up by medical marijuana.

More states are recognising cannabis

Take the U.S. for example, where it looks like more states are likely to legalize cannabis. Thirty states plus the District of Columbia now allow the legal use of medical marijuana. Nine of these states plus D.C. have also legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Two more states, Michigan and New Jersey, seem to be on the path to legalization in 2018. In April, The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved an initiative to put recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot paper later this year. They needed to gather 250,000 signatures and ended up with more than 365,000 signatures of support.

Meanwhile, Democrat Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, voiced his support for the legalization of recreational cannabis and is promoting a bill that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in his state.

Cannabis Sales Could Even Eclipse Beer

The cannabis market is even putting pressure on alcohol sales and could out-sell beer.

Binge-drinking rates have fallen 9% below the national average in states that have legalized marijuana, and 11% in states that allow the recreational use of the drug, according to Bloomberg reports. Adults in states which have legalized marijuana binge drink on average 13% fewer times per month than those in states which have legalized recreational usage.

Other estimates show that the market for cannabis could even eclipse the sales of soda.

According to investment bank Cowen, if marijuana is legalized nationwide in the US by 2030, the legal weed industry could generate $75 billion in sales by that year. Soda consumption, on the other hand, is declining. Per capita, soda consumption fell to a 31-year low in the US in 2016, Bloomberg reports, with $76.4 billion in sales in 2017.

Having said this, even though the US decriminalization of cannabis is likely over time, there are still legal challenges for the booming market. Marijuana is still considered illegal and a Schedule I substance by the federal government and therefore cannabis-based businesses don’t have access to traditional banks and so cannot open lines of credit. And around the globe, the adult recreational cannabis market remains hampered by the United Nations and its 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

A Canadian Perspective

Meanwhile in Canada the cannabis industry is expected to soar as the recreational use of marijuana will be legalized on October 17, 2018. The market is due to increase drastically as Justin Trudeau announced the long-awaited date after months of speculation in Ottawa, confirming that Canadians will be able to purchase and consume the drug.

Of course, no one can know for sure what the retail environment will look like once marijuana stores are legal. But according to Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Market, if businesses are allowed cannabis shops and to compete in the same way other retailers do, then Canadians could be buying as much as $10 billion worth of marijuana products per year.

To put this in perspective, Canadians bought around $9 billion worth of beer in 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

Further promises of the booming market come after the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) announced that it has partnered with 26 licensed producers for its online retail platform, which is the province’s only retailer for recreational marijuana this fall.

The store says that supply agreements with these Health Canada-authorized producers were extremely competitive and will allow for a variety of products to be sold when pot becomes legal on October 17th.

The Picture of Legalization

The online store plans to sell various products including dried flowers, cannabis oil and cannabis seeds to customers 19 or older and plans to expand the selection over time.

Ontario has also announced it will allow recreational pot to be sold in retail stores while the province will handle online sales.

With this plan, the OCS will not operate any storefronts, but will provide an online channel that will include an age-verification system to ensure safe home delivery of cannabis products. This means the OCS will act as a wholesale supplier for private retailers.

Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli says that the government will propose an official Ontario Cannabis Retail seal which will help consumers identify retailers that sell federally qualified products. “Consumers can look to this seal to confirm they are buying from a legal channel,” said Fedeli. “This is an assurance that the illegal market simply cannot match.”

The full regulatory framework for the private sector will be designed in consultation with stakeholders, including municipal governments, indigenous communities, law enforcement, public health advocates, business and consumer groups. Fedeli assures sceptics that the government’s priorities are ensuring public safety and eliminating the black market. “The Government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores,” said Fedeli. “Instead we will work with private-sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market.”

So what does this mean for the future of cannabis retail? Although the exact outcome is unknown, the $57 billion spending on legal cannabis predicted by Arcview Research is extremely promising. We are already seeing positive steps in the US and Canada, where legalization is becoming increasingly common and is arguably filtering into mainstream law. This is fantastic news for the marijuana retail sector.

The cannabis retail store definitely shows huge potential and only time will tell just how big the market will really be.

Everything Grocery Retailers Need to Know About Scale Integration

Grocery retailers sell a variety of items by weight, including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cold cuts, bulk bin dry goods, and more. Whether people are buying a bag of sweet treats or a pound of sliced cheese, you rely on grocery scales to measure the weight of items and calculate the prices. Although it seems easy to lay products on the scale and print the tags, there’s a battery of scientific tests and several government agencies dedicated to calculating weights and prices correctly.

Proper scale integration for your point of sale (POS) system can take some research. First, grocery retailers should check to see if the scale is NTEP certified for legal use.

What is NTEP? How does it work?

The National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) is facilitated by the National Conference on Weights and Measures. NTEP standards cover every aspect of a scale’s use, including:

  • Capacity
  • Accuracy
  • Appearance
  • Effects of temperature and humidity changes

The standards are developed by a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce called the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST. Every device is tested in a lab setting to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations.

An NTEP Certificate of Conformance (CoC) means the scale is legal for trade and can be used in a commercial setting to sell products by weight. Every NTEP-approved scale will have a CoC number that an inspector can use to verify that the scale meets the agency’s rigorous testing standards and is legal for use.

Why is NTEP important?

Grocery retailers that buy, sell, or determine prices by weight are required by law to use a NTEP certified scale. NTEP scale certification isn’t optional — never purchase a scale that doesn’t have a CoC. Only NTEP-certified devices, when properly inspected and calibrated, can legally determine the weight of products. A grocery retailer with a non-NTEP-certified scale integration may be subject to civil penalties, seizure of the illegal device, or stop-work orders.

Does it matter if my scale is off by a little?

Simply put — yes, it matters. Every state has its own agencies and departments that monitor scales and inspect them for accuracy. Customers trust that their grocery retailer is charging them accurately for the products they buy, so imagine the public relations nightmare if it was reported that your store was caught overcharging customers for items sold by weight. The bad publicity alone isn’t worth the risk to your business, even if it was unintentional. Don’t be cavalier about following the calibration and compliance laws, which help prevent fraud at the scale.

In addition, choose a scale that’s the correct accuracy class. A grocery retailer needs a scale that’s accurate, but doesn’t need the same type of scale used for medicinal or pharmaceutical purposes.

I’ve chosen a NTEP-certified scale, now what?

NTEP-certification doesn’t mean you can plug in the scale and start using it 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. You’ll likely have to register the device for inspection prior to scale integration and participate in regular inspections.  A local weights and measures official will use NIST standards when inspecting your scale and certifying it for use.

Grocery retailers who charge for items by weight need a scale to conduct business legally. Look for a scale that is NTEP certified, and legal for use or trade, and be sure to consult your local laws and regulatory agency regarding its set up and use. Always maintain properly calibrated devices, to avoid overcharging customers or shorting your business.

Back-of-the-House vs. Front-of-the-House Receipt Printers for Restaurants

Restaurants are busy work environments where mistakes can quickly snowball into kitchen backups and long wait times for tables. A restaurant POS system with both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house printers reduces the need for staff to decipher someone’s handwriting —which can mean fewer mistakes, quicker service, shorter lines, and more table turns.

However, restaurant printers are only effective if you choose the right ones. Receipt printers for restaurants aren’t usually “one size fits all.” The best printer for your kitchen might be different than the printer that sits on the counter in the dining room.

Back-of-the-House Printers: Impact Printers

The back-of-the-house is where heat, spills, particles, and steam can damage a printer to the point where it stops working—causing work to slow down or, even worse, forcing staff to handwrite tickets.

Choose an impact printer that uses bond paper that can withstand the hazards of a busy kitchen. Impact printers are designed so a printhead makes impact with an ink ribbon, transferring the message onto the receipt paper. The advantage of the ribbon is that two colors can be used, black for orders and red for modifiers. Bond paper will withstand humidity and the extreme temperatures found in hot kitchens and freezing cold storage. In addition, impact printers are loud and help to notify cooks when orders are coming in a rowdy kitchen environment.

In modern kitchens where heat and oil are well-controlled, direct thermal printers can also be used. However, they also need some very specific features, such as splash resistance, warning buzzers, and an insect-proof design, as well as some other, more optional features.

Star Micronics’ impact printer recommended for all your back-of-the-house needs includes:

  • SP700: This fast, two-color printer is built to withstand heat and humidity while offering clear and crisp type, clamshell design for easy paper loading and an embedded power supply for space efficiency. The SP700 BTi supports iPad®, iPhone®, and iPod touch® devices in addition to Android™ and Windows devices.

 

 

 

 

Front-of-the-House Printers: Thermal Printers

In the front-of-the-house, aesthetics are important and the hazards are fewer.  Thermal printers are sleekly designed and have a compact footprint, so they don’t look like electronic clutter sitting out in the open. A thermal printer is quiet and uses a printhead to apply heat that transfers characters and images to receipt paper and labels.

These receipt printers for restaurants are perfectly suited for front-of-house printing needs like customer receipts, because they have a higher resolution than impact printers, so they print crisp, clear images. For restaurants that want a nicer looking receipt, or want to print coupons and marketing information, thermal printers are the right choice.

For the front-of-the-house, Star Micronics recommends:

  • TSP100III printer line: High-speed printing of 250 mm/second and a guillotine auto cutter helps your staff do their jobs as quickly as possible. The printers are easy to set up, are Cloud Ready, and compatible with AllReceipts, and they includes the futurePRNT Receipt Enhancement Tool.

 

 

 

 

  • TSP654II and TSP654IIResto: Easy to set-up and extremely fast, the TSP654II is extremely reliable, offers drop-in-and-print paper loading, and prints 300 mm/second. The TSP654II-Resto version is certified by “Revenu Quebec” to comply with the tax laws in the Canadian province. The TSP654II is available with WebPRNT for printing from web-based  applications and, it comes equipped for online ordering applications with cloudPRNT.

 

 

 

Front-of-the-House and Back-of-the-House

Star Micronics has created a state-of-the-art thermal printer recommended for all your front- and back-of-the-house needs.

  • mC-Print3: This fast, front-loading and front-exiting printer is one of the smallest printers in its class. It is the perfect solution for any restaurant. It comes with multiple connectivity options such as USB, Lightning USB, Bluetooth, and Ethernet, allowing it to connect to any PC, tablet or cloud-based software application.

In addition to its flat top design, it also includes a splash-proof enclosure to protect the printer from hazards such as water, debris, or insects when used in harsh environments or outdoors. Gain all of the benefits of a thermal receipt printer in the back-of-the-house with the mC-Print3.

 

 

 

Selecting a receipt printer for the front- vs. back-of-the-house restaurant environment doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. Typically, for restaurant kitchens and environments with extreme heat or cold, look for an impact printer built to withstand spills, humidity, dust particles and more. Unless, of course, you’re purchasing a Star Micronics mC-Print3, a versatile, sleek, and fast little printer that will handle both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house applications with ease. For more information, please visit www.starmicronics.com.

Why Shoppers Prefer Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Oro — Singapore.

Written by Michael K. Spencer

 

While in parts of Asia e-commerce is really catching on, in North America especially, brick-and-mortar shopping experiences still dominate. However consumers have new expectations regarding convenience, discounts, personalization in retail, and in particular, the interactions at the POS like mobile payments and offers on receipts.

As stores are learning the kinds of experiences their audience enjoys, physical retailers are getting better at adapting and boosting store traffic and engaging with their customers in contemporary and complementary ways. Enabling a better experience is key by marrying the human with the technology.

  1. Cater to experiences.
  2. Create human-interaction that’s educational and fun.
  3. Do seasonal campaigns better, promote community, and leverage unique product, lifestyle and cultural niches.

We live in an era where online sales are booming and a lot of retail growth occurs online, however, the majority of shoppers still prefer visiting stores in person. Why is that?

Local retailers provide a grass-roots way to connect with the community, culture, and vibe of a neighborhood, culture, and social life of a district. Retail and the marketplace is about connecting with our roots.

It’s Not Just About Convenience

While online shopping has never been easier, in a mobile-addicted world, younger consumers are showing a preference to experiences over the acquisition of stuff, goods, and material products.

Many younger consumers live in an era of discount shopping, price-wars, and comparative shopping impacted by the likes of mobile search, causing them to make different kinds of choices that retailers are still discovering in efforts to keep up with.

Smart small businesses and independent and local retailers are leveraging this to create a whole new retail culture around their products, staff, and locations. At Star Micronics, we’re creating products that reflect this. Sleek POS hardware at the cutting-edge of reliability and innovation.

We Are a Species of Touchers and Feelers

The more mobile is starting to impact every aspect of our lives, the more, as consumers, we crave tactile, human, intimate, empowering, and genuine interactions with local retailers. Human beings thrive not just with good customer service, but with customer experiences tailored to them in-person.

Small Businesses Are Learning to “Hack” The Experience Economy

Fostering the “experience economy” that has been related to Millennials (shoppers under 40) means how small business retailers engage with their audience through education, classes, in-person local influencers, events, and creating social relevance of their locations in the community, is a huge deal!

If the modern shopper associates the big-box retailers with price, speed, and fulfillment, what then are the equivalent characteristics of their favorite SMB local retailers? Small business-love and shopping local as trends, it can be argued, are at all-time highs. Consumers want to support family-owned businesses and retailers they consider more like them and in sync with their own values.

Men and Women Shop Differently — Why it Matters

According to Retail Dive, the way men and women approach shopping experiences might be different.

In particular, female shoppers overwhelmingly want to see, touch and feel products before buying them. Males, on the other hand, skew more toward the immediate satisfaction of taking items home with them.

If this is true, in-store enhancements that are design-orientated are catering to Millennials, including digital influence that is good for the planet such as Star’s Micro Receipt that saves paper on receipts. In fact, when stores show they care about sustainability and corporate social responsibility, their female customers gravitate more to them, showing how valuable from a loyalty and marketing perspective CSR and sustainability is for stores to embed in customer journeys.

How we Do Customer Experience is Changing

The way we do customer experience is shifting to the preferences of the new consumer. Retail tech must shift to being customer-centric, giving more choice and augmenting a store’s ability to connect with their customers on the most human basic emotional level.

With more than a third of consumers shopping online at least once a week, physical retailers and small business owners need to find ways to be more personable, unique, and offer better customer service than ever before. For these are the true differentiators that will build a loyalty customer base that generates revenue and improves margins.

Brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to incorporate mobile technology that humanizes their retail brands, such as Instagram stories, mobile coupons, digital receipts, and QR code-based technology. This technology marries the human with the resonating digital influence that is starting to permeate our society that can no longer be seen as separate from the emotional experience of our love of shopping in stores.

Physical stores are going through a wonderful transformation and a retail renaissance, and are still at the core, the center of our urban commercial experiences. This is even more true for small towns and local communities. Shoppers prefer trips to stores since they deliver experiences and not just stuff.

 

 

 

The Future of Blockchain in Retail

Written by: Michael K. Spencer

According to leading retail news publication, Retail Dive, blockchain will drive $164 billion in efficiencies for retail by 2030. The press release by IHS Markit defines business value as the cost savings and efficiencies resulting from incorporating blockchain into business strategies.

According to a Spring 2018 report by Deloitte, blockchain’s adoption in retail will also be at a tipping-point in the next five years. Deloitte sees this occurring especially in three main pillars of adoption:

  • Consumer — Improving and protecting the consumer experience
  • Supply chain — Improving process efficiencies across the supply chain
  • Payments and contracts — Improving transaction processes and ensuring the validity and implementation of contracts

While this provides a nice overview of mainstream adoption, it doesn’t take into consideration all the specialized blockchain startups that are seeking to impact a particular niche.

Recently, a corporate startup called Bakkt was announced where the likes of even Starbucks is a major partner. This has the retail and crypto community buzzing over if we’ll be able to pay for a Starbucks drink with cryptocurrencies such as ETH (Ethereum), XLM (Stellar), XRP (Ripple) or another crypto.

What makes this news noteworthy is since Bakkt is being formed by Intercontinental Exchange — the trading colossus that owns the New York Stock Exchange and other global marketplaces, namely Jeffrey Sprecher and his partner Kelly Loeffler. With the likes of Microsoft and Boston Consulting Group involved, the retail applications here could be enormous.

This could be a “Bakkt to the future” story for crypto in retail, where Starbucks on ICE (Intercontinental Exchange) combine forces. However, for blockchain in retail, the patents are where the real action is occurring, where the likes of Alibaba (the e-commerce giant) is a leader for blockchain patents with long-term implications in retail.

Deloitte’s report suggests that for blockchain’s future in retail, before 2020 many large retailers and businesses are quickly determining what value blockchain might hold for them, and have —or will begin—testing it soon, to benefit greatly while others will surely miss out and fall behind. Major retail chains now need not only to think about e-commerce, but the next layer of the internet, blockchain.

According to the forecast by IHS Markit, in the worst “downside” case scenario for the future of blockchain in retail, still sees this value increasing to $49 billion by 2030. To put this figure in perspective, the business value of blockchain in 2017 for retail and e-commerce was only $38 million.

Bakkt’s CEO describes it as the following:

“Bakkt is designed to serve as a scalable on-ramp for institutional, merchant, and consumer participation in digital assets by promoting greater efficiency, security, and utility.”

Merchant and consumer participation definitely sounds like retail. Many analysts believe Bakkt is an example of—and which the ICE can offer— something the crypto world currently lacks and that many crypto enthusiasts steadfastly reject: a trusted third party. How cryptocurrencies might integrate into retail will require these trusted and centralized businesses to get involved to help spur innovation in the space.

This signals Wall St. and larger investors that are starting to enter the cryptocurrency and blockchain landscape and while retail has been slow to follow; in the 2020s this movement could accelerate considerably as more use cases come into being including IBM’s private blockchain consortium. In 2018 a rapid rise of crypto funds and Wall St.’s more active involvement means it will spur on the retail sector to integrate with blockchain solutions that ultimately won’t just decrease costs and improve efficiencies, but improve customer experiences.

 

 

RetailNOW 2018 Recap

This year, RetailNOW 2018 ran from August 5th to 8th at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention center in Nashville, Tennessee. In this post, we’ll do a short recap of some of the trends and our own experience of it at Star Micronics and our growing ecosystem of partners.

RetailNOW was buzzing this year on Twitter under the hashtag #RetailNOW2018. It’s held by RSPA, a trade association comprised of resellers, ISVs, manufacturers, payment processors, distributors, and other POS and tech ecosystem participants.

Star Micronics had some exciting new products to showcase such as our mCollection including new printers and scales, which got a fair amount of attention at RSPA.

RetailNOW is an important event for POS tech since it combines resellers with both hardware and software ecosystems. The point of sale industry is being challenged right now with channel sustainability and thus the role RSPA plays is crucial.

Star Micronics’ booth was #803 and our set-up looked like this:

 

We held a contest where those who entered could win an Amazon Echo Spot. Our new mCollection series was well received, especially our scales.

With over 160 exhibitors and a packed agenda, RetailNOW 2018 was the ideal event for us to showcase our mCollection series that has been designed with the latest tech to deliver products that are especially compact in size, sleek, and offer the easiest setup in the industry with a reliable and remarkable user experience. Where our mCollection truly shines is in connectivity–each printer has multiple connectivity options including Bluetooth, CloudPRNT, Ethernet, and of course, lightning USB and traditional USB options.

 

RSPA speakers had warm receptions that looked like this:

                          Image credit: RSPA Twitter.

The inaugural RSPA women of the year in 2018 was Abby Sorensen. On the ISV insights panel, the importance of finding partners who need your software but who also have the same DNA was mentioned. The RetailNOW 2018 event also included golf, free head-shots at the photo booth on the show floor, and many other perks. Many speakers added value around the best practices for ISVs, VARs, and Vendors.

 

Tips for Value Added Resellers (VARs)

POS VARs are evolving how they see the emerging ecosystem:

                       Image credit: Jim Roddy on Twitter

RSPA is really committed to providing year-round education on topics relevant to its community with everything from tech boot camps to regional events and global expansion. VARs are also increasingly relying on automation tools to streamline their business.

                  Image credit: Jim Roddy on Twitter

VARs know what works for them in terms of the top lead generation tools. For many of them, product catalogs, software overview videos and educational content such as buyers guides, e-books, lists, and live chats work really nicely. RetailNOW 2018 was full of educational content for VARs, Vendors, and those in related POS tech industries.

 

Finding the Right Mobile Application and Printer for Your Restaurant

 

Finding the Right Mobile Application and Printer for Your Restaurant

When owning and operating a restaurant or food service business, it’s important that your customers are always left satisfied, whether that be by the food, wait service, or speed. What many restaurateurs do not realize is that this often goes beyond serving a good plate of food and having an attentive staff, but it all connects to your backend operations. Food service and restaurant businesses need to make sure that they have a solid point of sale system that keeps everything running smoothly and efficiently.

Fourleaf and Star Micronics offer restaurant solutions for businesses of all sizes with top performance. Fourleaf is a restaurant point of sale (POS) application that allows management and staff to manage orders from start to finish using an iPad. Restaurant and food service business choose Fourleaf and Star for its mobility, always-on functionality, and outstanding user and customer experience.

Mobility

Smaller restaurants, cafes, and food trucks need mobility options that will allow them to take an order and accept payment from anywhere, at any time. With mobile ordering and payment becoming more popular options when it comes to food service, it is important for business owners to accommodate to the new generation of consumers by offering more mobile options. Fourleaf allows restaurants to seamlessly accept mobile orders and payments. Operating on iPads, Fourleaf’s POS solution enables food service businesses to go completely mobile using one of Star’s mPOS hardware options including the SM-L200 portable printer, mPOP, or mC-Print3.

Always-on Connectivity

With Fourleaf and Star Micronics, restaurateurs never have to worry about devices being disconnected, or losing payment or transaction information. The benefit of Fourleaf’s real-time sales and inventory updates is that business owners and managers are always connected and able to see updates whether they are in the restaurant or relaxing at home. And with Star Micronics’ new mC-Print3, they never have to worry about losing connectivity with the printer’s HUB interface with Bluetooth, USB, lightning USB, and Ethernet options. Not only does the mC-Print3 offer multiple connectivity options, but it also allows restaurants to connect multiple devices to be used all at the same time while boasting both spill- and insect-proof technology, making it ideal for kitchen and restaurant environments. For mid-size and large-scale restaurants, always-on and always-connected functionality is a must.

User and Customer Experience

The most important aspect of running a successful restaurant business is providing an exceptional customer experience. In order to do this, staff must be knowledgeable of the menu and the back-of-house operations including how food is prepared, wait times in the kitchen, and most importantly, the point of sale. Providing your staff with a user-friendly POS system helps set-up them—and your business—up for success, especially in a large-scale and busy restaurant environment. Fourleaf POS offers an easy-to-use and intuitive system that makes it easy for staff to take orders, print receipts, and track loyalty. This is also great for the customer experience because they receive excellent service and rewards for frequenting your business. Star’s TSP143III printer helps staff to quickly print receipts and credit card slips and offers an aesthetically pleasing printing solution for your business.

The bottom line is that no matter what size or type of restaurant or food service business you run, it is important to have modern and functional technology to help your staff get the job done and provide your customers with a 5-star experience every time. Whether you own a food truck or a steakhouse, Fourleaf and Star Micronics have the solutions to help you succeed.

How PromoPRNT Empowers Retail Stores with Receipt Messaging

The New Consumer has Arrived

In an era of mobile advertising and discount shopping, retailers need to find new ways to reach their customers. New ways to create meaningful customer experiences. With new technologies coming and fading, for many retailers ‘going back to basics’ takes on a whole new meaning. Online advertising is expensive and the ROI has diminished in recent times.

As consumers have fundamentally changed how they shop and how they buy, retailers need to rethink how they use their existing hardware and software to augment their paths to purchase. This can be achieved also at the POS and with existing technologies. For local retailers, it’s not all about customer data, but also about providing memorable experiences that foster a deep human connection.

Nothing quite beats the charm of customer service and little personal touches on purchases and the intimacy of shopping at a local store or a favorite small business. So what then are the high-value potential channels that many retailers are neglecting? It turns out it’s offline and in-store marketing opportunities.

What if there was a simple way to drive customers important messages that they nearly always see? Email marketing open rates are declining, so retailers need to think about an easier way.

Consumers want to be recognized, and they want non-invasive messages that resonate with them. According to the 2017 DMA factbook, consumers with personalized experiences spend more and become repeat customers:

Post-Purchase Messaging

  • Product-specific feedback requests in an appropriate post-purchase timeframe (not too soon, but don’t wait too long either)

 

Event Reminders and Seasonal Campaigns

  • Invitations to special events at nearby locations

 

New Products Launch

  • New product releases in areas of interest

What if there was an offline tool at the POS itself that could deliver salient messages? Now there is.

 

What is PromoPRNT?

PromoPRNT is an in-store advertising tool that allows retailers, small businesses and any business with a physical location to leverage the full power of receipts.

Any POS with a Star Micronics printer can be using PromoPRNT to drive customer experience, build loyalty and engage its shoppers.

While retailers try to implement personalization and drive traffic online, this is a bit expensive for your local retailer or independent retail store. They need tools that humanize their brand, that are low-cost but yield long-term benefits.

 

Benefits of Using PromoPRNT

Customer-centric receipt messaging at the store or physical location can augment a retailer’s business in many ways:

 

Convert Offline to Online Traffic

  • Convert offline eyeballs to online website and social traffic

 

Drive Seasonal Deals and Advertise In-Store Events

  • Seamlessly increase “buzz” about seasonal campaigns and promote in-store discount events

 

Communicate Important Updates to All Customers

  • Communicate general purpose messages that have a wide reach and a nearly 100% “read-rate”

 

Conduct Retailtainment Campaigns that Charm Shoppers

  • Use wit, humor, and charm to create a memorable point-of-purchase experience that has long-term customer loyalty benefits.

 

Improve Authenticity of Brand Impressions that Build Trust

  • Create authentic moments for shoppers that will get them to return to your location.

 

Drive Repeat Sales

  • Drive repeat sales with loyalty program messages, discounts, coupons and time-limited offers.

 


Want to be among the hundreds of retailers and small businesses trying out PromoPRNT?  It’s free and easy to get started.