4 Reasons Why Integrated Online Ordering is a Must-Have for Restaurants

If you haven’t integrated online ordering with your point of sale system yet, it’s time to add this valuable feature and start operating more efficiently.

Every take-out or delivery meal starts with an order. Although phone orders are universally accepted at restaurants, integrated online ordering is a must-have alternative to phone calls. If you haven’t integrated online ordering with your point of sale system yet, it’s time to add this valuable feature and start operating more efficiently.

 

What is integrated online ordering?

Integrated online ordering allows diners to enter their orders online through the restaurant’s website or app, designate whether it’s pickup or dine-in, pay with a credit card and send the orders automatically to the kitchen. This functionality is a crowd-pleaser that, depending on the integration, updates the customer on their order’s progress and gives an ETA for delivery or pick-up.  In turn, restaurant owners and managers can increase revenues by accurately processing more orders with less staff.

 

Here are four ways online ordering will positively impact your restaurant:

 

  1. Restaurants gain a new revenue stream with online ordering. For smaller restaurants with only a few tables, it can be difficult to increase profits without adding capacity, turning tables faster, or extending the hours your eatery is open. All these options add overhead in the form of higher rent, more employees and additional costs related to a longer work day. Adding online ordering and delivery generates an additional revenue stream without impacting the on-premises operations.

People are looking for eateries with the technology that allows them to order in the way they feel most comfortable in the least amount of time. On average, restaurants that implemented online ordering increased their takeout revenue by 30%.

 

  1. Order accuracy will improve and customer satisfaction will increase. More people are logging on to place their orders for everything from doughnuts to Thanksgiving dinners. Customers want to be able to place their orders online —in fact, a National Restaurant Association survey shows that 63% of respondents said that they would use online ordering if it were offered.

Without online ordering, an employee must reenter orders received via phone or non-integrated application into the restaurant POS, which creates double work and opens the door for mistakes to be made keying orders into the workstation. ­Removing these steps means more confident staff at the POS, less errors and a reduction in the amount of time and resources wasted on remaking orders prepared incorrectly.

 

  1. Integrated online ordering is more cost effective.

If you currently offer menu items for delivery or take out, but do not have online ordering, your staff needs to spend time answering the phone. This means they are interrupted from another task, need to stop and place the order, and then return to their original task. This translates to a decrease in productivity — and an increase in labor costs. Paring with a POS system that uses Star’s cloudPRNT solution offers the option to have orders print automatically when received. Online orders that are directly transmitted to the kitchen save time and money.

  1. It helps you compete — your competition has already implemented it.

Patrons expect your restaurant to have the technology that allows them to order online or with a mobile app. Online ordering is booming — it’s projected to be a $38 billion industry in the U.S. by 2020.  The restaurant industry is extremely competitive and has a high failure rate, so restaurateurs simply cannot afford a “wait-and-see” attitude.

 

Online ordering delivers hot, fresh food quickly and correctly, so it’s time to integrate if haven’t already. Integrated online ordering will allow people to order their meals the way they want and when they want. This functionality will help you reduce human error while inputting orders and cut down on payroll cost and wasted resources. The restaurant business is fierce, so you can’t afford not to offer this cutting edge technology.

Why Retailers Should Select a Receipt Printer that Doubles as a Label Printer

If you’ve been using a printer only for receipts, it’s time to consider using a receipt printer that also doubles as a label printer.If you’ve been using a printer only for receipts, it’s time to consider using a receipt printer that also doubles as a label printer. Label printers give SMB retailers the ability to print price tags, labels for online orders, shelf tags and even labels with your logo that help brand your business.

If you’re in the market for a new printer, choose one that can work double duty for labels and receipts. Not convinced? Here are three reasons why you should be:

Improved customer service

The holiday shopping season is upon us, and according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, people will spend an average of $967.13 this year. Buy online pickup in store is hugely popular, with more than 49% of the people surveyed saying they would take advantage of this option. The pickup counter is going to be busy, so using printed labels instead of a receipt taped onto a bag or box helps speed up customer service by cutting down the time it takes an employee to locate an order.

Stores using a label/receipt printer combination can produce proof-of-purchase labels for bag-free shopping as well as labels for returns that help store associates return products to inventory more easily and accurately — something they’ll especially appreciate after the holidays.

Better Branding

Labels and receipts take the guesswork out of determining where your customers purchased something. These small take-aways should be a consistent extension of your brand.

 

Custom labels: Your store’s logo, address, phone number and website can be added to the label template, so each label is easily identifiable. A customized label is an advertising opportunity that helps drive new and repeat business to your store. Using Star Cloud Services you can easily customize your receipts and get the most out of your printer.

 

Receipts: Label printers also have templates for customized receipt printing, so your store’s branding is cohesive. Every receipt should be customized with your store’s logo, brand messaging, website and tag line so people can easily see where it came from.

 

Increased operational efficiency

Mobile label printers can be used anywhere on the sales floor to print product labels, shelf tags and price tags for new products or markdowns. A mobile printer eliminates added back and forth to the point of sale terminal to print labels, so restocking and display changes can be done quickly.

An example is the Star Micronics’ SM-L300 portable receipt printer, which doubles as a fully integrated label printer for retail store, restaurant, delivery and warehouse applications. The SM-L300 supports thermal receipt paper and lined or linerless MAXstick label paper, making it the perfect mobile label printing solution for any business setting.

Protect your profit margin and inventory by labeling your items properly and displaying the prices. Proper labeling helps maintain accurate inventory counts in the POS system and protects you from pricing errors that can eat away at the bottom line. Many stores are subject to laws pertaining to pricing conflicts. For example, if a full-priced item is accidentally marked 50% off, the retailer to sell the item at the lowest marked price, even if it’s a mistake.

Get the most out of your printer investment with a model that can provide both labels and receipts to increase efficiency and accuracy, enhance customer service and ensure that online orders can be picked up easily.

 

3 Cloud-based Applications Every Pizza POS Should Integrate With

Integrating these 3 cloud-based applications with your pizza POS will boost profits and keep customers coming back.

A POS system can help raise sales at your pizzeria by streamlining the entire operation from order to delivery. It’s no secret that pizza margins are razor slim, so anything pizzeria owners can do to encourage repeat business like online ordering and faster service will help boost sales, and keep people coming back for hot, fresh pizza. There are 3 cloud-based applications that will boost your profits.

You can enhance your POS system with several cloud-based applications for ordering, receipts and technology-monitoring apps that alert you immediately if there’s a problem. If you already own a POS system and want to upgrade some of the technology but aren’t ready to lay out the cash for a technology overhaul, there is a solution. Here are the applications you should integrate with for faster customer service, higher profit margins, and an edge over the competition.

 

  • Online Ordering – You don’t need to upgrade your hardware to get online ordering. Your Star printer should integrate with Star CloudPRNT, which acts as a bridge between the ordering module and the store’s printer.

On average, orders placed online are 25% higher than orders placed over the phone. Diners prefer to order online, because they can place their order without anyone waiting on them, which takes off the pressure of deciding quickly.

A cloud-based application also helps reduce the number of errors an employee makes while taking an order over the phone and then inputting it into the POS system. By transmitting orders directly to the system, you eliminate the extra step and the possibility for mistakes. ­

Online ordering also means that restaurant staff can see sales reports and ingredient tracking information in real time, which helps avoid disappointment when a diner finds out the selections they ordered are unavailable.

 

  • Digital Receipts – The sales receipt is your last chance to make a great impression, so don’t waste it. These paper proofs of purchase are an important tool to help your pizzeria stand out from the competition, build brand awareness, disseminate information about promotions, issue coupons and solicit feedback. Receipts can be customized to include website information and social media pages, so customers can stay in touch about new menu items, or send in a review.

Digital receipts and online ordering applications can help you gather data about your customers, which can be used to distribute marketing materials and information about new menu offerings and specials.

Star Micronics’ AllReceipts technology is a cloud-based application that pizzeria owners can download to print receipts directly from their online ordering module. AllReceipts communicates directly with the printer (no additional hardware necessary), for a seamless integration into your online ordering system.

 

  • Device Management for in-house and delivery – A cloud-based application for device management can alert you to a hardware problem before it snowballs into a bigger issue. Star Micronics’ Device Management tool gives you insight into your installed base of printers, even those with different locations, on an online dashboard. This is ideal for monitoring, maintaining and updating your receipt printing hardware, because time diverted away from the kitchen or front end to troubleshoot your printers means a delay in customer service.

 

Finding an Online Ordering system that integrates with your POS software is not always the best solution. In reality they come with many challenges that could be detrimental to your business and potentially damage customer relationships. Many restaurateurs have abandoned their POS-integrated solutions and moved to standalone systems. However, by using a standard POS receipt printer like the TSP654IICLOUDPRNT from Star Micronics, you now have the possibility to use the same printer for both your POS and Online ordering system while limiting your hardware cost!

The pizza business can be tough—but the right technology can make it easier to stay ahead of the competition. Pizzeria owners looking to add new technology shouldn’t scrap their current POS system—there’s a host of cloud-based applications you can integrate to introduce online ordering, device management and receipt printing. These apps are easily downloaded and integrated for immediate results—higher profits, faster customer service and satisfied diners.

Small Business Tips: How Retailers Can Leverage User Generate Content

If you’ve looked into marketing options and best practices for your retail business, you may have seen the term “user generated content” being tossed around quite a bit. For retailers and small businesses, leveraging user generated content is a great way to grow your marketing and sales for little to no cost.

What is User Generated Content?

User generated content (UGC) is defined as any type of content including videos, photos, blogs, tweets, etc. that has been created and published by unpaid contributors. In the case of retail, this would be content created by your customers. This can range from Instagram photos featuring your new line of summer wear, to a Facebook Live video of your bath bomb dissolving to create the most relaxing bath time.

Now the question to ask is: Do user generated marketing campaigns actually work? The short answer is yes!

Organic vs. Driven UGC

Now that you know what user generated content is and have seen some statistics to back up the benefit of UGC campaigns, let’s talk about what it can do for your brand. Leveraging UGC on social media portrays that your brand is so likable, that people want to promote it themselves. Sometimes UGC comes from different motives. Many brands will hold a photo contest in order to leverage user generated content, whereas others generate is more naturally.

For example, if you follow any millennial females on Instagram, you may have seen the famous red bathing suit post that “broke the Internet”. Sunny Clothing Co. saw the opportunity to make their Instagram post go viral by posting a photo of a woman in a red bathing suit with the caption telling their followers that they can get that same bathing suit for free by reposting the photo and tags Sunny Clothing Co. For an SMB retailer, this is a genius way to organically boost your social media following and take advantage some free user-generated marketing. It was in fact so genius, that the company underestimated the success of the post. They ended up with so many respondents that they had to put a limit on the number of red bathing suits they could give away.

Personalization and Contests

Coca-Cola, on the other hand, found a more subtle way to run their UGC campaign. Within the past year or so, you may have noticed that Coke began putting people’s names on their bottles. You may have even found yourself searching through to find a Coke bottle with your own name on it. So how is this campaign helping to create user generated content? We live in a digital age where everything and anything we do gets posted to Facebook, sent in a Snapchat, posted to Instagram, or even sent to a group chat on iMessage. And for some funny reason, people love finding their name on things! With the combination of that and our obsessions with sharing our day-to-day tasks on social, Coke created a wildly successful UGC campaign.

How to Leverage UGC

Before you go off and launch your very own UGC campaign, there are first a few questions you will need to ask yourself. Do you want to drive the UGC? Do you have the budget to give away prizes for top posts? Will the content generated by your customers be consistent with your brand?

Creating Campaigns that Live On

It’s important to remember that leveraging user generated content can be as simple as using a social media monitoring tool to see when your customers are talking about your brand, or it can be as complex as starting an entire UGC campaign like Sunny Clothing Co. or Coca-Cola. While Sunny Clothing Co.’s UGC campaign was very successful, it was also very short lived, as it was only a one-day contest. Coke, on the other hand, is going on their second summer of their “Share a Coke” campaign.

It is important look at your goals and why you want to leverage UGC, and how your business can benefit from it.

 

Small Business Tips: How to Create Engaging Video Content

Video content is quickly becoming a favorite among marketers everywhere. For small businesses, creating video content is a great way to stand out from the competition and offer a fun and easily consumable way to market your products or services to your customers. Creating and promoting video content is also becoming easier and more feasible for small businesses with tight budgets through social media.

Let’s first take a look at the impact that video content is having on social media marketing (compliments of Buffer).

  • Online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020
  • Over 8 billion videos or 100 million hours of videos are watched on Facebook everyday
  • More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube everyday
  • More than 100 million hours of how-to YouTube videos were watched in North America in the first five months of 2015
  • 60% of marketers used videos in their social media marketing in 2016

Now that we’ve seen how video content has rapidly grown over the past few years and is now dominating social media marketing, let’s talk about how you can leverage video content for your business. There are tons of different videos that can be made on many different topics, using many different styles. For now, we’re going to focus on three types on videos that you can leverage for your small business: promotional, “how-to”, and testimonials.

1. Promotional Videos

A promotional video can be used to tell your customer about your products or services. When creating a promotional video, it’s important to focus on your target audience, the overall message, and the benefits that your product or service will provide to your audience. Are you looking to create brand awareness? Will your video educate your customers? Do you want to increase sales on that particular product? A promotional video can be used to help meet all of these goals, but make sure you have a specific goal in mind before you begin your storyboard.

You’ll also want to consider the duration and the tone of the video when planning out your promotional video. Promotional pieces tend to be shorter in length in order to keep the audience engaged throughout the entire video, and will need something to immediately grab the viewer’s attention.

2. “How-to” Videos

Fun fact: YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. Visual learners skip the “how to” Google search and go straight to YouTube so they can complete a task as they watch someone else do it in a video. These “how-to” or “support” videos can be extremely helpful for any business. And the number one rule to creating a killer “how-to” video – keep it simple!

When creating a how-to video, it is acceptable to make the video longer in length so you can explain the full process of the task, set-up, or tips at hand. With this said, you want to make sure that the video explains that task in the simplest way possible. Good how-to videos focus on 4 simple things: the problem, the solution, how it works, and a call to action.

It’s important to also remember that how-to videos are not just limited to businesses that sell electronics or tech-savvy companies. A how-to video can be as simple as “How To Tie a Neck-Tie” or as complex as “How To Play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony” or “How To Build a PC”. Take some time to discover what you can teach your customers, and use your skills and knowledge to create an enlightening how-to video for that process.

3. Customer Testimonial Videos

You know that you run an awesome business offering even more awesome products and services, but convincing other people of that is the difficult part. This is why customer testimonials are extremely important to any small business. Video testimonials are becoming a huge marketing tool for SMB. In fact, customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%.

Again, while customer testimonials can be longer than your average promotional video, you want to be sure to keep it simple. Focus on the solution, the benefits, and the results that the customer got out of using your product or service. Another important thing to consider is that testimonials appeal to customers because of their authenticity. Try ditching the script and having a casual conversation with your customer about the product or solution. This tends to create a more relatable video for the audience, and helps the customer feel comfortable on camera.

Small businesses can leverage video content in many different ways. It’s important to define your video goals and decide which type of video content will bring the best results to your business.

Click here to view Star Micronics’ full YouTube video library.

Top Retail Blogs to Follow this Holiday Season

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With Thanksgiving and Black Friday behind us, retailers are in “holiday season” mode with special promotions, seasonal marketing campaigns, long hours, and hectic customer requests. Now more than ever, retailers need to pay attention to the holiday retail trends, and look for any tips they can find on how to make this season a little bit easier for everyone.

SMB retailers require actionable insights that are retail-centric for the nitty gritty of the daily management of their stores. In our years of working with hundreds of ISVs, VARs, POS providers, and retail stores themselves, we’ve come to also appreciate the retail influencers, insiders, and thought-leaders that inspire us to perfect our craft. Star took a look at some retail blogs and put together this list of the best retail blogs to follow this holiday season.

Here are just a few that we recommend checking out:

1. Vend

Aside from the fact that Vend is one of the best blogs for retailers to follow, they have dedicated an entire series of blog articles to holiday retailers with their “Vend’s 2016 Holiday Retail Boot Camp” series. The twelve-part blog series includes tips on how to improve your store and increase sales during the holiday season, all while answering of the what, how, any why on where to begin!

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2. Retail Geek

For a non-traditional holiday retail blog, be sure to check out the Retail Geek. This site hosts weekly podcasts with hosts Jason “Retailgeek” Goldberg and Scot Wingo. Their last two podcasts have focused on the holidays with a holiday preview and cyber holiday recap. Many of their podcasts also feature reputable guest hosts as well.

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3. Shopify

Shopify is another point of sale company that is killing the holiday retail blog game! Shopify boasts tons of great blog articles for retailers that vary from retail tips, to management strategy, to inspirational posts. This holiday season, they are helping out retailers with articles like: Seasonal Staffing 101: How to Prep Employees For the Holiday Shopping Rush and How to Cater to Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers.

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4. Signal

The holiday season is the perfect time to capture customer data because store traffic is generally increased. But, what do you do with data once the sleigh bells stop ringing and the holiday hype is over? Signal offers tons of articles that focus on data capture, sharing, and onboarding for the SMB retailer.

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5. ShopKeep

ShopKeep is the perfect blog to follow if you are an SMB retailer looking to compete with “big-box” retailers this holiday season. ShopKeep offers tons of tips and guidance on how to boost those retail sales. With the holidays underway, this is the best time to check out their blog and see how you can exceed your sales goals and increase traffic to your store.

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6. Square

While the holiday season usually brings in the highest profits of the year for retailers, there is still a ton of work that needs to go into an effective seasonal marketing plan. Square’s blog has tons of articles to help retailers with their holiday marketing plans. From email marketing, to trendy window displays, Square can help you get the most bang for your buck this holiday season.

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7. Lightspeed

Lightspeed takes holiday blogging to a whole new level! Like most retail blogs, Lightspeed’s holiday blogs offer tips and guides for retailers on how to get through the holiday season with the most ease as possible. Including articles for inventory management and Holiday tax treats for small business, Lightspeed has something for any retail business.

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Time is ticking! Visit any of the recommended blogs above to start gathering tips and pointers on how to get the most out of this holiday season for your retail business.

 

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4 Ways Digital Receipts Can Help You through the Holiday Season

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Whether you are an SMB or a “big-box” retailer, the holiday season can present a busy and challenging time for retail store owners, operators, and employees. While challenging, the holiday season usually also brings the highest sales of the year for retailers. It is important to ensure that you are operating your retail store at utmost efficiency and that you are upholding excellent customer service during the chaotic season. Star Cloud Services wants to make your job easier by offering a seamless solution for digital receipts and customer engagement for your retail store. Here are 4 ways digital receipts can help you through this holiday season:

1. Create Omnichannel Opportunities

By offering customers the option of digital receipts through Star’s receipt printers, you are building a connection between their brick and mortar shopping experience and their digital world. When using Star Cloud Services’ digital receipt solutions, you have the ability to offer much more than just a digital receipt by using the Engage Now feature. With Engage Now, you engage with your customers through all channels and give shoppers an easy way to access either your website or social media pages.

2. Promote Seasonal Sales and Discounts

Another great way to connect with shoppers through digital receipts is Star Cloud Services’ Flip feature. Most digital receipt applications only allow the customer to store a digital copy of the front of their receipt. With Flip, retailers can fully utilize the back side of the receipt for store promotions and coupons. This is perfect for holiday promotions! While shoppers are busy trying to find the perfect holiday gifts for their friends and families, digital receipts offer a quick and convenient way to already have discounts and coupons right on their smartphone. No more sifting through email promotions and mailing coupons to find a great deal!

3. More Convenience for Shoppers

While the holiday season is always the busiest for retailers, the post-holiday season tends to bring a different type of chaos – returns. After the holidays are over and everyone has sorted through their gifts, there comes the time for returns and exchanges to be made. Rather than relying on shoppers to save their receipts during the holidays, offer them digital receipts instead. Now, whether it is the gift giver or the gift receiver who misplaced the receipt, there is always a safe and secure copy stored on the buyer’s smartphone in the AllReceipts™ app.

4. Build Post-Holiday Season Loyalty

Let’s not forget about the post-holiday season. While the holidays are great for retailers in terms of increasing sales, it is still important to keep sales up during the remainder of the year. Stay relevant to your customers! Star Cloud Services digital receipt solutions allow retailers to continue to engage with customers for months after the initial transaction has been made.

Make the hectic holiday season a little bit easier this year by using Star Cloud Services to offer an easy digital receipt solution to your shoppers.

Learn more about Star Cloud Services at www.starcloudservices.com.

How Digital Receipts Can Boost Omnichannel Retail

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In the world of small to medium businesses (SMBs) in retail, we hear the word “omnichannel” being used quite often. Retailers are working to improve and grow their omnichannel strategy in order to better satisfy and engage with their customers. Today, there are so many channels for purchasing, it is important for SMB retail stores, especially brick and mortar, to utilize these channels to increase their engagement with customers and customer loyalty.

First, what does omnichannel mean?

Omnichannel is a multi-channel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a brick and mortar store.

Now the question is  – what does this mean for SMB retailers?

The answer seems very obvious – expand business by creating buying opportunities for customers through multiple channels. In order to do that and see an actual ROI from creating purchasing options from all channels, retailers will need to also develop a strategy for using these channels to increase customer loyalty and omnichannel marketing opportunities. Luckily, the two go hand-in-hand.

One important thing to consider about omnichannel retail is that you are not only giving your customers the option to choose which channel to purchase from, but you are giving them the flexibility of seamlessly moving between channels during their purchasing. For example, your customer finds the perfect dress for her friend’s wedding, but you do not have her size in stock. You will be receiving another shipment at the end of the week with her size included, but she is afraid that she may not make it back to the store in time. By offering the option to purchase through multiple channels, the customer can simply go online and pre-order the dress right from her smartphone, making it a win-win for both parties involved.

The tricky part here becomes marketing through the different channels in which customers are purchasing. Should you be investing in more digital advertisement to target your online buyers, or do in-store shoppers still make up the bulk of your total customers?

An easy way to bridge the gap between the digital channel and your brick and mortar store is to offer the option of digital receipts to customers. By offering the AllReceipts™ digital receipt application to in-store shoppers, you are automatically gaining access into their digital world, making the customer more likely to make future purchases through an alternative channel such as an online desktop or mobile device.

Since Star Cloud Services offers AllReceipts™ in-app marketing tools like Engage NOW and Flip, retailers can increase their omnichannel marketing strategies without any additional cost, and by targeting customers through all channels.

Star Cloud Services’ digital receipt solutions works to connect the retailer to the customer through IoT technology and uses the smartphone application, AllReceipts™, to help retailers engage with their customers through all purchasing channels, whether in-store or online.

With the growing adoption of mobile payments and mobile wallets, digital receipts are going to continue to grow in the retail space. By offering multi-channel purchasing options and using omnichannel marketing strategies, such as digital receipt applications, to engage with customers, you are opening your retail business to endless possibilities.

To learn more about Star Cloud Services and AllReceipts™, please visit www.starcloudservices.com.

 

10 Ways mPOS Can Benefit Your Business

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As a business owner, the last thing you should need to stress over is your point-of-sale system. POS  systems are designed to make your daily workflow smoother and easier for business owners and employees alike. If you’re considering a mobile POS solution, be sure to look at ergonomic mobile solutions.

These solutions recognize that some businesses need peripherals beyond the basic tablet POS, such as a combination cash drawer/receipt printer. Here’s what ergonomic mobile solutions offer:

1. Convenience. With an ergonomic tablet POS plus cash drawer/receipt printer, you can accept all payments anywhere, anytime. This is a big improvement over common mPOS, which traditionally only handles electronic payments.

2. Space saver. Ergonomic solutions reduce your POS footprint significantly. With their small size and sleek profile, these platforms are attractive and unobtrusive in your retail or restaurant environment, freeing up space in which you can add tables or expand merchandise displays.

3. Assist mPOS solutions. Because these ergonomic mobile solutions rely on Bluetooth technology for connectivity, they’re fully mobile when needed and rid you of tangled wires and a jumble of dongles.

4. Full functionality. Ergonomic mobile solutions offer robust features and functionality for a wide range of applications.

5. Receipt printer. Small and compact, a built-in printer lets you quickly and quietly print a receipt as soon as the transaction closes. Additionally, sometimes single accessories are needed without a full system. In this case, you should check to see if your system can support additional printers for your bar, kitchen, and other areas.

6. Barcode scanner. If your tablet or mobile device lacks a barcode scanner, your ergonomic mobile solution easily accommodates an optional plug-and-play scanner for reading merchandise.

7. Cash Drawer. A secure cash drawer stores currency, checks, receipts and other important items. The size of the cash drawer you choose will depend on the number of cash transactions you process a day.

8. Software application. To get the greatest value of your ergonomic mobile solution, pick a software application that supports the latest payment options such as NFC and EMV. This will help you to avoid another technology upgrade in the near future.

9. Tablet/device. When evaluating tablet and mobile device options on the market, be sure to select hardware that’s designed to process NFC and EMV payments, preferable without requiring add-ons or peripherals to do so. Choose a device that’s compatible with your preferred software application. Most software applications have a preferred operating system, however if you need a software application to be cross compatible, make sure to do your research and find a web-based solution.

10. Digital receipt. More and more retailers want to deliver an in-store experience that provides digital support. There are innovative, downloadable apps on the market today that are supported by many POS systems. These apps allow your customers to receive a digital copy of their receipt on their smatphones. Some of these apps even allow functionality for customer satisfaction surveys, so retailers can always get a gauge on how they are perceived by their customers.

For more information on mPOS solutions, download our eBook: mPOS: How it’s Revolutionizing Payments

3 Ways to Market Your Small Business for Less

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When you’re an independent retailer or a small business owner, marketing funds tend to be limited. Not only are you already competing with the big franchise retailers, but reaching and engaging with your target audience can be especially difficult because you may not have the tools and budget available to develop a massive marketing campaign like your competitors.

All is not lost! Big box or even online retail marketing will not kill your business just yet. We now have the technology right at our finger tips to reach and connect with large audiences for little, to no cost. Here are three easy ways to market your small business and engage with customers without breaking the bank!

1. Social Media

Social Media is crucial for any small business. According to Digital Trends, “people in the U.S. check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts a staggering 17 times a day, meaning at least once every waking hour.” With people spending that much time on social media, it is almost a guaranteed way to gain business exposure.

Since there are now so many different social media platforms available with almost all of them offering a free sign up, social media is an excellent strategy for engaging with customers and building a larger audience for your business. Social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are great for engaging with people because it allows your customers to tag you in Tweets and Instagram photos, or post directly to your wall on your business Facebook page. These social media platforms are also effective at encouraging potential shoppers to visit your website or even better, initiating conversation with customers because it allows you to integrate “call-to-actions” such as clickable links, photos, polls, lead-generation cards, and more right into your posts. This is especially great for retail because you can create social media posts about a special product, and then lead shoppers right to the website to purchase; and it’s free!

If you’re struggling to gain a good social media following, remember to communicate with your customers that you are active on social media. Utilize your social media pages to advertise sales, contests, and special promotions. If people have a reason to follow you, they will!

2. Create Content

When owning a small business, whether that be a clothing store, coffee shop, or salon, it can be tough to compete with big name franchises that already have such a large base of loyal customers. How can you help your customers be confident in the fact that your coffee tastes better than Starbucks, or that you have the scoop on the next big fashion trends that Macy’s has yet to start selling? Create content!

Owning a website or blog for your business is the best way to communicate your knowledge with customers and increase the amount of customers visiting your store. Your website or social media page is usually the first thing a person looks to when taking interest in your new business or product, so why not fill them with your abundance of knowledge for what you do?

Creating content or having a blog is a great way to communicate what’s new and trendy with your customers. For example, if you own a clothing boutique, starting a fashion blog is the perfect way to draw consumers to your website. It shows shoppers that your store not only has the best new clothes and accessories, but that your store knows what fashion trends are going to be the ‘next big thing’.

3. Digital Receipts

It seems so simple, right? Every customer is going to receive a receipt at the point of purchase. Now think about how you can use those receipts as a marketing tool!

We’ve all seen the surveys that big box retailers tell you to fill out at the bottom of the receipt to win a $500 shopping spree, and we’ve all ignored them and thrown those receipts away at one point or another. Today, with your shoppers armed with smart devices, you have a better chance at engaging with customers by going digital. There are a number of digital receipt solutions, but Star Micronics’ AllReceipts® offers a free, convenient digital receipt app that is beneficial for retailers and for shoppers.

While many digital receipt solutions require the customer to give up personal information such as their email address or phone number, AllReceipts allows the retailer to directly connect with the customer without needing any of their personal information. AllReceipts has features and tools such as Customer Survey, Flip, and Engage NOW that allow retailers to receive instant feedback from shoppers, provide their customers with promotions and coupons by utilizing the back side of the receipt, and encourage customers to visit their website or social media page. AllReceipts is a great marketing tool for retailers and allows them to offer their customers a digital receipt option, all while engaging with customers and encouraging them to come back to their store. What’s more, AllReceipts is free for retailers to install with any Star Micronics receipt printer.

Bottom line: Competing with large franchises can be difficult to do when you’re an independent retailer or a small business, but there are tons of free tools out there to market your business. Star Micronics recognizes this and that is why we want to help you be a better retailer!

For more information on AllReceipts®, please visit www.starcloudservices.com.