Thirdshelf is a loyalty marketing software for independent retailers that helps to drive sales with customized loyalty programs and automated customer communications. They help these independent merchants grow the value of every customer relationship through analytics and converting transactional data from the point of sale. The Thirdshelf loyalty software is 100% branded to the retailer and is completely digital with no cards, dongles, or extra hardware required.
How is Thirdshelf working with Star Cloud Services?
Thirdshelf and Star Cloud Services have worked together to develop an offering where they can take transactional data from a Star Micronics receipt printer, regardless of the point of sale system that the printer is tied to, and convert data into powerful analytics and automated marketing to bring shoppers back into the store. Through this offering, retailers can create and send personalized email and SMS offers to their shoppers and learn how to accurately measure their customer relationships.
How will Thirdshelf and Star Cloud Services impact the future of retail?
“There’s a big shift happening in retail today,” says Rami Karam, Co-Founder and CEO of Thirdshelf. “Retail is beginning to move away from a transactional-oriented view and more toward a relationship-oriented view.”
Online customer data is very prevalent in today’s retail market, which has previously been less important for in-store shoppers. With more online merchants opening traditional brick and mortar stores, they’re bringing more of this customer data to the forefront of traditional retail. Thirdshelf, teaming up with Star Cloud Services, allows brick and mortar retailers to manage these loyalty programs and marketing through transactional data, just as they would in a digital store.
Shag Spa and Salons offers hair, nail, massage, and skin care services in The Woodlands, north of Houston, Texas. Shag Spa and Salons strives to provide the best experience possible for all clients, every day. With over 60 service providers and a diverse and growing clientele, it’s essential that all operations run smoothly at every level. Appointments need to be simple to book; client information must be easy to access and checkout must happen seamlessly, so that the customer experience is smooth all the way through their visit.
Shag was in search of a robust cloud-based software solution that would allow them to run all aspects of the salon, even when working remotely. The system needed to have easy access to client information with the option for clients to book online. It also needed to integrate with multiple merchant accounts and offer completely branded receipts for all products and services.
Shag Spa and Salons uses Rosy Salon Software, a cloud-based application to schedule and confirm appointments, track client information and transaction history, make product recommendations based on current or past services, and allow easy checkout with integrated POS. Various merchant accounts and processing machines are used along with Star Micronics thermal printers to complete the transaction with customer messaging on a completely branded receipt.
The reception desk at Shag Spa and Salons can easily look up customer information, book an appointment, and check clients in or out with just a few clicks, which offers a more efficient and personalized customer experience. Clients can also book online, reserve products, and purchase gift cards or memberships from any device, any time their schedule permits. This offers convenience for the client and saves the salon precious staff time. Also, automated appointment confirmations and text alerts help reduce no-shows, keep clients on time, and notify service providers of a change in their schedule. In addition, the integrated POS handles multiple merchant accounts and the Star TSP100 printers offer a customizable receipt complete with salon branding and return policy
“We own fine of the Star TSP100 printers between our two salons. They are rock-solid, are a great value, and last a long time, even in the high demand of our always-busy salon. If i could measure the amount of thermal paper that has gone through these printers, it would be hundreds of miles of receipts. These printers just go, and go, and go!”
The rise of mobile technology and its benefits include shorter wait times, more streamlined processes, and less double work for employees. This has caused technology preferences in the hospitality industry to shift away from stationary legacy systems and move towards mobile tablet and iPad point of sale (POS) solutions. Mobile solutions have also become an option for restaurant operators that need to upgrade their POS technology but don’t want to add more traditional terminals.
Restaurants are turning to ISVs to enable them to use state-of-the-art mobile POS solutions to give them the receipt printing functionality they need at the table, at the checkout counter, car side, in outdoor dining areas, and anywhere else transactions can take place. However, upgrading a clients’ POS system with mobile capabilities is more than just integrating new hardware, it also means the addition of new elements that will keep printers connected and operational.
Star Micronics’ TSP100IIIU may be the answer you are looking for.
The Problem with Bluetooth and WLAN Connections
The main connectivity options restaurant clients usually consider for their receipt printer to device connections are Bluetooth and WLAN. Unfortunately, neither are a perfect fit for “always on” connectivity.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth technology uses short wavelength UHF radio waves to connect to a mobile device or computer. Although Bluetooth is synonymous with hands-free connectivity or headsets, this technology uses the same 2.4 GHz frequency as Wi-Fi. Before a connection can be established, the devices need to “pair” and then a network made up of piconets (devices using Bluetooth) is established. The network is fluid as devices enter and leave the field.
What is WLAN?
A wireless local area network (WLAN) allows a mobile device to connect to a LAN through radio transmissions. WLANs usually follow IEEE 802.11 standards and are therefore compatible with almost every mobile device or computer.
The Benefits of a USB Connection from POS Device to Receipt Printer
A USB connection from device to printer may be, if not the best, then one of the best connectivity options for your restaurant clients. By nature, a USB connection reduces the time required to transmit data from the POS device to the receipt printer. This allows for lightning fast printing of order tickets and customer receipts in a restaurant environment. Because of this, your restaurant clients will experience a boost in customer satisfaction. Restaurants will also experience an increase in table turns due to staff’s ability to submit an order ticket and print the customer’s bill more quickly, ultimately boosting sales. Additionally, a USB connection is one of the most reliable, ensuring order tickets aren’t dropped or lost and causing an undue roadblock for your client when trying to deliver exceptional customer service.
The Star Micronics Solution
The issues your hospitality clients face with connectivity have occurred as shifts in the industry and technology innovations have forces receipt technology to evolve quickly over the last several years. Most recently, the popularity of iPad® and iPhone® solutions has increasingly demanded mobile and connected receipt printer solutions, but until now, there hasn’t been a solution that offers simple and reliable connection for iOS devices to a receipt printer. In light of these challenges, Star Micronics has developed solutions for clients who need to print receipts from Web-based applications and help hospitality customers overcome connectivity issues.
Why choose the TSP100IIIU?
The TSP100IIIU builds on the success of Star’s TSP100ECO printer. The new model offers faster print speed, increased reliability and connectivity, power switch and serial number for asset management, and more, such as:
Low operating cost
High-speed printing, 43 receipts per minute
Revolutionary futurePRNT receipt design software
Compatible with Star Cloud Services and AllReceipts™
Connectivity issues can derail any POS system, wreaking havoc on a client’s hospitality operation. A mobile solution and printer is only as reliable as its network, and Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections all have vulnerabilities that can cost clients time and money. Star Micronics’ new TSP100IIIU offers an answer to printer connectivity issues, by allowing iOS devices to tether directly to the receipt printer.
The point of sale is evolving quickly to accommodate new demands on retailers and to better integrate smarter software for independent merchants. There are many POS trends that point to an augmentation of how data can be democratized for “mom and pop” retail stores. When choosing a POS solution, small businesses have to do their research more carefully than ever. For retail entrepreneurs, POS systems and POS solutions are some of the most researched software that relates directly to their business.
POS solutions are evolving in ways that are leading POS systems into the 21st century. Retail entrepreneurs now have easy access to powerful software that is becoming cheaper than ever, more mobile, and are able to do more to grow their business. This is allowing physical merchants to keep up with their sophisticated data-centric e-retailer cousins. From payments, to automation, and from hardware to analytics and insights, the POS is becoming the real deal.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the major trends and a few surprising innovations. We’ll also uncover some of the bigger POS trends.
1. Shopify Starts to Build Hardware
The Canadian e-Commerce solution is having a stellar start to the year, as can be seen in its Unite 2017 event. With new partners such as Amazon and Buzzfeed, Shopify can scale this year like never before. In April, Shopify announced their first hardware product, a chip-and-swipe card reader. Shopify is banking on the trend of online sellers to sell in physical retail with its simple card reader.
Key takeaway: Payments and new hardware are still a hot topic for new retail businesses.
2. The Tablet and Mobile POS Market Grows
Whether its iPad POS solutions or other kinds of tablets, the mobile POS boom is on. U.S. and global growth of more convenient mobile POS solutions is quickly showing to be the new normal in some retail verticals.
Mobile POS is growing at 9.2% a year according to Capterra via Quickbooks. As Cloud-based solutions became mainstream, so too now are mobile POS solutions. This occurs often in hospitality, convenience, retail, and services stations where tablets are more useful for data access and of course, checkout.
For the SMB space, mPOS makes a lot of sense. This is where cost-effective hardware is meeting the mobile-first era. This means it’s easier than ever to become a retail entrepreneur with smarter and less costly hardware and software. You can do more with a mPOS for your small business than you may realize.
Key takeaway: As Cloud POS became the new standard years ago, it’s looking like mPOS might do the same.
3. Star Micronics Launches New Printer: TSP100IIIU
The TSP100IIIU is being called a game-changer for tablet and mobile POS.
It connects directly to an iPad or iPhone using the Apple Lightning cable for reliable USB communication and simultaneous charging.
It includes a USB Serial number feature to detect the device when disconnected and reconnected to a different USB port
Ultra-fast print speeds and special receipt de-curl function
Key takeaway: Printers are getting smarter and connecting merchants with the future.
4. POS Systems Acheive New API Integrations
The age of value add-ons is influencing how POS solution ecosystems evolve. This means software providers are becoming better connected with their partners. You don’t have to look far in the POS world to see how this occurs.
Typically, this consolidation of software with the POS solution as node now in the cloud can be characterized into a few major branches:
Analytics, Reporting, and Artificial Intelligence
Employee Scheduling and Management
Inventory and Warehouse Management
Niche Specialty Solutions (such as for Hospitality, Restaurant, e-Commerce, etc.)
Key takeaway: POS solutions have native strengths and weaknesses, but will also have third-party integration strengths and weaknesses
5. Mobile Payments and Cashless Solutions
While major smart phone companies are developing next-gen biometric and other post NFC solutions, the mobile wallet has not caught on with consumers as fast as some anticipated. Mobile wallet users have so many choices, and are aware that mobile payments can lead to more impulse purchases. While mobile payments are increasing with PayPal, and there’s buzz around Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet, offering multiple payment options is still a good idea for the merchant.
Key takeaway: Mobile wallet adoption is slow but is a benefit for retailers to offer.
6. Rise of Cloud Computing and Cloud Point of Sale
The legacy point of sale system is dying as POS systems and peripherals in the cloud continue to gain impressive traction. This is leading to not only more accessible and flexible solutions, like having your POS on an iPad, it’s leading to a decrease in total spend that independent merchants must make for even more robust and connected solutions.
For value-added resellers (VARs), this means a proliferation of new potential products that integrate software and hardware in new ways. Cloud POS systems are also aggressively connecting to niche and specialty stores and increasingly to omnichannel solutions.
This means restaurant POS, e-Commerce, and an emphasis on data and analytics for brick-and-mortar retailers is on the swift incline. Leading POS solutions are also battling it out in important new global territories expanding their reach and acquiring companies to improve their value propositions
Cloud POS has come a long way in the last decade, and with the integration of technology, IoT, and machine learning, it is going to reach even higher in the decade ahead.
Key takeaway: The Cloud POS is leading to a very dynamic ecosystem of innovation around software customized to each industry.
There’s no right or wrong POS system, but finding the right point of sale solution and add-on apps for your business can help your business grow. Read the full article from Star Cloud Services here.
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.
Numerous media outlets have written about hilariously misspelled names scribbled on coffee orders. Although it may be amusing to read about someone telling a barista their name is “Gunner” and being handed a cup that says “Goner,” handwritten labels can cause major headaches for restaurant employees.
Order online/pickup is a growing segment of the restaurant industry – so it’s important for businesses with these capabilities to make sure they do it well. Mobile label printing helps eliminate confusion while orders are prepared and picked up, and it helps speed up customer service by cutting down the time it takes an employee to locate an order.
Here are four advantages to using mobile label printing:
1. Order Accuracy. A mobile printer easily creates clear, easy-to-read order labels for takeout packages. This eliminates the need to write on each container or tape receipts to boxes so employees know which customer’s order they belong to. Printed labels will also cut down the amount of errors made while preparing each order and time spent deciphering handwritten names when a customer comes in to pick up their food.
2. Customer Service. Mobile label printing helps ensure that customers receive fast and efficient service. Take out and online orders can be prepared quickly and efficiently, and food is ready in a timely manner. When customers arrive to pick up their order, food and beverages can be located quickly so people can get home to enjoy their meals. Clearly printed labels eliminate the possibility that a customer will receive the wrong order or have missing items.
3. Branding. Your restaurant’s logo, address, phone number and website can be added to the label template, so each label is a consistent representation of your brand. Online orders and other to-go items that leave the restaurant with a customized label are an advertising opportunity that can help drive new and repeat business to your eatery. If takeout or delivery is a new part of your business, it’s a great way to get the word out that you offer this service.
4. Professional Appearance. Messy, handwritten labels don’t make a great impression. Take-out packaging that is printed with your restaurant’s logo, marketing messages, and contact info give orders a professional appearance. The online order/pick-up in store process will appear polished and smooth and your customers’ positive experience will encourage them to return.
To maximize the impact printed labels can have on your business, you need to use the right technology. Star Micronics’ SM-L300 portable receipt printer, for example, supports thermal receipt paper and lined or linerless MAXStick label paper, making it the perfect mobile label printing solution for restaurants. The SM-L300 also doubles as a fully integrated label printer for retail stores, restaurants, delivery, and warehouse applications.
Mobile label printing can help restaurant owners increase efficiency and accuracy, enhance customer service, and ensure that orders are prepared quickly and correctly. Printed labels eliminate errors made during preparation or pick-up due to misplaced receipts or an employee’s bad handwriting. Customers will appreciate professional service and a fast, high-quality experience, which will keep them coming back for more.
Receipt technology has advanced dramatically in the last several years. Previously, in every transaction, a customer would pay for their purchases at the POS terminal and accept a printed sales receipt as a proof of purchase in case they needed to make a return or exchange. Mobility, however, has revolutionized POS and changed the process of providing a customer with a receipt.
Star Micronics has developed a variety of printing solutions for mPOS, including two that facilitate receipt printing from Web-based applications via HTTP(s) and from a project on an Android™ device or Apple hardware such as an iPad®, iPhone®, or iPod touch®. These solutions, WebPRNT and PassPRNT, solve common problems merchant often encounter with mobile printing.
Print from a Web Browser-Based Application with PassPRNT
PassPRNT is the newest printing application for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Android devices. The app resolves issues associated with printing from POS solutions supported by native iOS, Android, or Web applications by sending the receipt data using a URL scheme. The PassPRNT native application accepts the data, formats the receipt for the printer, and sends it to any Star Bluetooth, Ethernet,or USB (Android only) printer connected to the iOS, Android, and Windows devices.
How it works:
For the first time, PassPRNT links with Star’s POS and portable printers to enable printing using the company’s unique URL scheme-based printing method and the PassPRNT companion app.
Its easy-to-use integration allows users to print from any Web application in any Web browser including Safari/Chrome using a URL scheme to print on a Star Bluetooth printer. The operating system is capable of automatically switching from a host application to the PassPRNT application and back, with a simple and user friendly “one tap” request to print from any iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to a Star Bluetooth printer.
Nitehawk Cinema is a three-screen independent movie theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY that is currently renovating a historic theater from the 1920s for their upcoming second location. Nitehawk is unique in that they are not only a movie theater, but they operate as a full-service restaurant as well, including pairing specialty dining and cocktails with different screenings.
Nitehawk Cinema was working with a very outdated ticketing and point of sale system, and needed something that fit their operation of being a full-service dine-in theater. Their goal was to create a more seamless experience for movie-goers and find a solution to keep the aesthetic of the theater consistent. That’s when Nitehawk partnered with Filmbot who worked to build a brand new, customized ticketing system from the group up that fit all the needs of Nitehawk Cinema.
Filmbot is a software development company that specializes in building systems to help modernize the movie-going experience. Through their new ticketing system and website, Nitehawk Cinema could allow customers to order their movie tickets either online or at the theater, and pick up those tickets from one of their two self-service kiosks or from the bar point of sale. Filmbot and Nitehawk Cinema decided that Star Micronics’ TUP500 kiosk printer and TSP700II WebPRNT receipt printer were the best hardware solutions for the new system. Nitehawk needed a solution that would allow them to print tickets and receipts from a Web-based application in real-time. “Without Star Micronics’ WebPRNT technology, they wouldn’t have been able to install the new system,” says Jessica Yazbek, Senior Engineer at Filmbot.
The new kiosk and point of sale system provides an overall more efficient way for customers to get their movie tickets. Nitehawk Cinema customers have had great feedback on the ticketing systems and the process of ordering and picking up movie tickets.
Additionally, the install was very easy and basically provided a plug and play solution. Nitehawk Cinema used one day to prep the new solution, and has it up and running the next morning. By the time the theater opened that day at 4:00 pm, the bartenders were fully trained on the new system and were ready to go.
“We launched about a week ago, and since then, the whole systems has been flawless,” says Matthew Viragh, Owner of Nitehawk Cinema. “It’s actually a Web-based POS system, so the reason we selected Star printers was because of their Web-based capabilities. We’ve been really happy with the performance so far.”
Erply is a point of sale and inventory management software that will track sales and inventory for retailers. Erply POS is a cloud-based solution that allows retail store owners and operators to manage their point of sale, and check-in on sales remotely from their tablet, computer, or smartphone. They offer fully integrated point of sale solutions for iPad®, Windows, and Android™, with dedicated POS hardware. Users can utilize Erply software to ring up sales, track customers, and manage inventory and employees from anywhere, anytime.
How is Erply working with Star Micronics?
Erply has integrated a number of Star Micronics’ printer peripherals including the all-in-one mPOP™, TSP100ECO thermal printer, SM-S230i, SM-T300i, SM-S220i portable printers, and more. Erply chose to work with Star’s mobile solutions that offer Bluetooth connectivity because they found it to be a great pair with Apple iPads. In addition to iOS, Erply has also found that Star Bluetooth printers to offer a simple set-up with Windows tablets. Erply partners with Star Micronics to provide a complete mPOS solution to retailers for any operating system.
What key benefits are Star mobile printers bringing to Erply customers?
One of the biggest benefits of the Star mobile printers is the ability for retail employees to carry their printer and iPad around larger stores to answer customer questions and complete a sale in-aisle. In many cases, Erply sees their retail customer utilizing the belt clip included with all Star portable printers and using MSR readers to process the credit card payment on the spot. This solution helps reduce lines in larger and busier retail environments and creates a better experience for both retail employees and the shopper.
“We found that Star Micronics’ Bluetooth printers offer one of the easiest set-ups that we have. We’re most confident in setting up Star printers with iPads and other mobile devices. Because of Star’s cross-platform availability, Star mobile printers are the easiest solution for us to recommend to customers.”
– Cameron Neelis, Technical Support Specialist, Erply
Star Micronics recently exhibited new mPOS technology at the ETA TRANSACT show in Las Vegas from May 10th through the 12th, and would like to thank all of those who visited our booth. For those who couldn’t make it to the show this year, we want to provide a brief recap of what you missed and where to find more information on Star Micronics’ peripherals.
New mPOP™ peripheral options!
Star Micronics showcased our popular all-in-one mPOP™ peripheral for mobile point of sale that combines a cash drawer and 2-inch receipt printer. This year, Star has decided to make our mPOP even better with more functionality for mobile point of sale. We’ve added optional peripheral support for a customer-facing line display, 2D bar code reader, three scale options, and an extra cash drawer to our mPOP. This allows users to transform their mPOP into a complete point of sale hub, making it a more versatile option for mobile POS.
Faster, Easier, Better!
Throughout 2016, Star Micronics began rolling out our TSP100III series of thermal printers – the faster, easier, and better solution for POS receipt printing. At this year’s TRANSACT show, Star Micronics debuted our TSP100IIIU! The TSP100IIIU is Star’s intuitive “plug and play” USB printer for iOS, Android, and Windows. With faster print speed, easier connectivity, and better features, the TSP100IIIU is guaranteed to make a splash in the point of sale world. Learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y40VyDkFPLc
Star’s new SM-L300 Bluetooth low energy (BLE) portable printer offers ultimate versatility for any mPOS application! The SM-L300 portable printer allows users to connect to any Apple iPad®, iPhone®, or iPod touch® BLE compatible device without having to pair to it, making it the perfect solution for any BYOD (bring your own device) environment. Learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJdLcSYOgGE
Star Micronics is always happy to feature a number of our software partners in our tradeshow booths. At this year’s TRANSACT show, Star hosted Biztracker, who demoed their solution with a Star TSP650II receipt printer. Doublebeam showcased their solution on Elo’s I-Series and Wallaby flip-stand along with a Star TSP700II receipt and label printer. We also provided demos of Star Cloud Services’ free digital receipt and customer engagement solution through Vend’s retail software and a Star TSP100IIIBi receipt printer.