How Retail Stores Can Create Customer Centric Experiences

By Sarah Jane Callender

 

The retail sector is facing huge changes. It is no longer enough for retailers to simply sell their products. With big, online and retail giants like Amazon, Apple, and Zappos, your retail store has to offer something which these corporations cannot; this is tangible, physical, and emotional experiences.
So, here are some tips on the best ways to do it:

1. Excellent Customer Service is Priority

Customers are number one. Making your customer feel welcome and happy in your store is essential. Any choices you make for your business should include the consumer at the heart of the discussion. It all starts with your employees. There is a linear relationship between in-person interaction and customer experience. When hiring new members of staff, consider focusing on their attitude as well as their skills and experience. Although work experience is important, stores generally perform better when their associates have a natural service-based character than when an experienced associate has the right skills but the wrong attitude.

2. Create a Company Culture

Retailers must balance operational efficiencies with customer experience. This can be achieved by creating a strong and clear company culture. The problem when a retail store focuses solely on operational efficiency is that the business starts to function like an assembly line, where worth is determined by a worker’s productivity. This means there is little room for incentives to go beyond the task and focus on the customer.

A great way to counter this is by creating and investing in your company’s culture, focusing on talent, capital, and training. The businesses that are best at this spend time and energy motivating, inspiring, and rewarding their team. This provides incentives where employees want to work smarter in your store, both for the reward, and because they are invested in your company’s culture.

3. Display Reviews and Consumer Feedback

The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.
Displaying little reviews and phrases from consumers next to your products, or having a review or consumer feedback box in-store, as well as on your website, can really boost sales and enhance the customer experience. Not only does this make your retail store seem more trustworthy, it also shows how good and reliable your products and company are. It shows that you value the consumer.  Why not include social media as part of this marketing strategy as well? Social media is a fantastic way to reach out to wider audiences, and to advertise and market to your existing and potential customers.

4. Improve the In-Store Experience

Late last year, one study found 44% of retail executives in Germany, Japan, the U.K, and the U.S. claiming that improving in-store experiences was a strategic priority for the year.
As brick and mortar stores struggle to stay afloat, we must consider what differentiates the physical store from what is online and capitalize on this.

Retailers should provide their employees with the technologies, tools, and information so that they can add value to the in-store shopper. The brick and mortar store can offer physical in-store experiences and demonstrations. For example, Dyson’s London store allows customers to try their vacuums; Apple allows consumers to try their latest gadgets and holds regular demonstrations; Lush lets their consumers try their hand creams, body lotions, and face masks. Whatever your retail store, there is always a way to connect with your clients and make an emotional impact.

5. Connect Physical and Digital Experiences

Retailers must now realize that the customer journey is no longer linear, but involves a series of backward and forward decisions.

For example, it is important to consider your online content and how it inspires and informs store shopping. Brands should aim to create a seamless experience that connects their online and social media content with their brick and mortar shopping experience.

How can you achieve this? You could start by analyzing your customer journey, working out how customers interact with your web content compared with their in-store experience. Data drives this. By analyzing your consumer buying decisions and what channels are involved, you can create a tailored service perfect for each customer to promote in-store foot traffic.

6. Make it Personal

Personalising your communications and marketing material can go a long way with your customer. It makes them feel valued and a part of your brand.

You can maximize this approach in store by explaining or including signage of why your products are ideal for a particular customer. For example, if you’re retail store targets young women, use signage, feedback from customers, or create events specifically targeted at your consumers, and personally advise your shopper exactly why your products are perfect for them.

7. Build a Community

Everyone wants to be a part of something and this goes for shoppers as well.
One way to do this is by rewarding your customers. Include discounts for loyal consumers or have a customer loyalty program, such as ‘buy 10 drinks and get the eleventh for free’. This will strengthen the relationship between your retail store and your shoppers.

Social media can help with this too. Twitter campaigning or creating hashtags are fantastic ways to advertise and build excitement for a product or an event in your store.

Other ways include sending a bi-weekly newsletter to subscribers and loyal customers, or giving shoppers a gift card, or exclusive discounts for your store.

PromoPRNT is a fantastic way to do just this. PromoPRNT allows retailers to automatically create printed promotions to print after the paper receipt. These incentives and bonuses will be delivered directly to shoppers’ hands, boosting customer retention and notifying customers of new deals and promotions. Check it out here.


Overall, it is becoming increasingly important that retailers know how to embrace change. Retail brands should be open to embracing new technologies to meet their consumer expectations and challenge their online competitors. As the brick and mortar store becomes increasingly threatened, the retailers that survive will be those that find ways to improve shopper experiences and provide customers with the most satisfying post-purchase and loyalty-building relationships.

The lesson here is clear: differentiate yourself based on the experiences you deliver to customers, not on the products you sell.

10 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic for Small Businesses

Written By Michael K. Spencer

 

Getting customers in the door is a challenge for most brick and mortar retailers. Customers aren’t going to leave their homes to visit a physical store unless the company is offering them something they can’t get online. And that something needs to be relevant to the customer’s lifestyle and shopping patterns. In fact, relevance is the most overlooked component to success in retailer efforts to increase foot traffic. The following 10 tips will help your store increase foot traffic by catering offerings to customer demand

1. Add a personal touch

Why do you think fine dining chefs walk around and introduce themselves to everyone at the restaurant? People want to connect with the person behind the scenes. Connecting to your customers will humanize your brand, but it needn’t always be done in person. Respond to Instagram photos and customer posts on social media to connect with your customers in a time efficient way. Also, regularly post photos of your offerings that portray the lifestyle marketed by your brand, and offer prizes for the best customer photos of your product.

2. Get that local flavor

Make products relevant to customer locales is pivotal to boosting foot traffic in your store. Make a calendar of major music, culture, and sporting events near your store and narrow the list down by which local events cater to your customer base. In other words, a sporting goods store probably shouldn’t throw an event based on a ballet production, but could definitely increase visibility by sponsoring the local 5k. From there, pick a few events to use as focal points for your store’s philanthropy, store events, or promotions.

3. Seasonal Marketing

Seasonal marketing is an easy way to personalize your offerings for your customer base. Whether your store is exposed to all four seasons or the temperature only drops 10 degrees during the cold months, there’s opportunity to connect with your customers through shared experience via signage and promotions. Offer fun seasonal discounts, such as, “10 percent off if you come wearing earmuffs,” or “free coffee to anyone who shows us their umbrella!”

 Photo: Thirdshelf

4. Keep ’em coming back

Customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty. No matter the size of your store, some sort of loyalty reward program is imperative to show your customers that you value their business. Customer relationship management software (CRM), similar to the loyalty program builder and communications automation technology offered by Thirdshelf, can help to track and identify the results of your loyalty programs to maximize the traction of your marketing spend. This shows you areas that are working and areas where you can to improve.

5. Throw in freebies

If you feed them they will come and if you give them something for free they will spend. Time Magazine lists 5 reasons why customers spend more when you give stuff away. The list includes when customers get something for free they’ll pay more for it later, and that people talk about freebies more than anything else. Whether you’re offering samples of your newest hand lotion or free appetizers at a store event, giveaways immediately increase foot traffic and make a lasting impact on your customers.

6. Create an experience

Since millennials value experiences over things, it follows that to sell things to millennials, retailers need to tap into experience. In 2015, more than 3 out of 4 millennials said they would rather spend money on an experience than accruing more things. With that said, even the most frugal shopper will make a purchase as a reminder of a one-of-a-kind in-store experience.

7. Be Disruptive

You can only create foot traffic in a market of breakneck retail evolution by adopting a business model that’s as disruptive as the market itself. Fashion trucks and pop-up shops generate enthusiasm due to their transient nature. The “get it before it’s gone” mentality generates the excitement that most customers find lacking in traditional department stores. Social media marketing is huge for mobile retail, so customers know where to find you and a bit about your offerings. And if you think big companies can’t pull off a disruptive retail model, check out what Zappos is doing with their “Friends With Benefits” roadshow.

8. Build a community

Most retailers cater to consumers with a shared interest, whether you are a home goods store with customers who love to cook, or you sell apparel to Instagram-obsessed teens, there’s an opportunity to bring your customers together over a shared interest. By offering your customers relaxing social spaces and online forums to voice share their experiences, you can create a community in which a love for your brand is the unifying thread.

9. Teach your customers

Shared interest can also be utilized to create foot traffic by offering your customers classes or seminars on topics related to your products. For instance, outdoor retailer REI is famous for the hiking and camping events they facilitate for their customers. Once you realize what lifestyle you’re selling with your inventory, you’ll have a better understanding of what type of education you can offer customers to get them in the door.

10. It comes down to people

Of course, the most thoughtful marketing initiatives don’t count for anything if your customers are greeted by a rude or poorly-trained staff. Know your employees’ strengths and weakness. If you aren’t able to spend much time at your store’s physical locations, invest in a staff augmentation platform like the insights you can get from Dor for hour by hour data that will help you make informed staffing decisions.

The US Census Bureau reported that e-commerce counted for only 8.3% of total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Since most purchases still take place in brick and mortar stores, it’s imperative that retailers cater promotions and marketing to individual customers to boost foot traffic and maximize marketing spend.

 

How Back to School is Bigger than Ever for Retail

Back to School Marketing Tips for SMBs

By Michael Spencer

 

This year it seems like Amazon’s Prime Day sent parents and kids back to school with early special back-to-school deals. According to Deloitte, parents are set to spend $510 per household during back-to-school shopping and most will be in stores, reports CNBC.

How big is the retail season now? Bigger than you might think. The back-to-school season now runs between July and September, during which time American households are projected to spend $27.6 billion. This means it ranks second only to holiday shopping.

According to Daphne Howland of Retail Dive, it turns out most parents and kids dread this kind of shopping. Most American parents (75%) and teens (73%) say back-to-school shopping causes tension, including which brands to buy. Predictably, fully half of parents find shopping for clothing and shoes a particular problem, while 30% of teens most dread shopping for school supplies.

Here is where brick-and-mortar shopping really shines, where over 50% of the money will be spent at malls and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, more than double the amount parents expect to spend online. In on the fun are many local SMB retailers as well.

Back to School Marketing Tips for SMBs

As for marketing tips for small businesses, the likes of POS leader Vend and Shopify have some great suggestions. The bulk of this will be spent on clothing, electronics, shoes and school supplies in that order.

The National Retail Federation was bull in their analysis of this seasonal sale, where total back-to-school spending has grown 55% over the past 10 years. For GenZ college students, the amount spent moves up to an average of $942.17 each.

So what can SMBs do to compete in this incredible opportunity to increase retail sales? Clothing and apparel, as well as footwear, are good verticals that could show growth here.

Weirdly, the fastest growing retail chain in America is actually an Irish discount retailer you’ve never heard of, called Primemark. The low-cost European apparel chain is making its mark on American soil and plans to quickly expand. It took first overall as the fastest-growing retailer in the United States, according to a report from the National Retail Federation’s Stores magazine, which used sales data from Kantar Consulting.

According to Francesca Nicasio, Vend’s content marketing lead writer, here are some ways retailers can keep up:

1. Make Marketing Promotion Sync with the Hottest Trends

  • Hone in on GenZ trends to build opt-in and increase demand.
  • Start with the right products that are most likely to sell during this season.
  • Showcase merchandise in school scenarios to increase the first impression

2. Make Campaigns More Kids & College Student Friendly

  • Base promotions on surveys of kids and teens in your local area.
  • Get kids and GenZ to be as involved as possible with UGC campaigns and contests.
  • Create promotions that are made by GenZ for GenZ. Target even got kids to write and produce promos and it turned out well for them.

Shopify also identifies apparel as the key vertical SMBs can get in on. According to the NRF survey, back-to-school shoppers heading to elementary and high school plan to spend the most on clothing ($236.90). That’s a good range of clothing items.

3. Leverage Social Media Differently to Target GenZ as Compared to Millennials

Retail brands and marketers must understand GenZ are more video native and have a lower attention span as compared to Millennials. Shopify, therefore, recommends the following strategies:

  • Generate buzz through giveaways
  • Partner with GenZ influencers
  • Retailers need to leverage mobile to better reach GenZ
  • Focus on trending verticals of apparel such as Athletic Wear & footwear

4. Leverage Niche Items to Can’t-Miss Products

With consumer sentiment high, SMBs can also leverage niche items that GenZ might not need but instead want. Shopify suggests for college-age GenZ, these could be:

  • Multifunctional pieces for dorm rooms
  • Personal care and grooming items
  • The “Marble Theme” on dorm furnishings like pillows and throw blankets.
  • Fancy water bottles and pencil case supplies

Whatever your strategy has been since June, you have just a few days left to make sure 2018 is your best back-to-school season ever. It’s a big year for retail sales in this segment.

With the economy doing well, this year back to school means back to shopping and that “old school” trend coincides with the reputation of GenZ as loving physical shopping. There are more GenZ than there are Millennials and their impact on family spending is considerable. As more of them enter their 20s, the apparel sector is a good opportunity in good hands.

 

How to Use Receipt Printers for In-store Communications

At Star Micronics, we’re always pushing the limit of our POS-tech designs. We’ve been a leading global manufacturer of mobile, point of sale (POS), and customer engagement technologies and this year we wanted to offer an add-on that has usefulness for a wide range of small businesses and local retailers.

PromoPRNT is the easiest way to reach your customers offline and in-store. It can be used for any kind of messages a retailer or small business needs to share with their customers.

An In-Store Customer Engagement Suite

  • Hiring notices
  • Event reminders
  • Discount promotions
  • Driving traffic online
  • Customer feedback surveys
  • Seasonal campaign sale (e.g. Back to School deals)
  • A funny message for brand awareness
  • Mention of a charity or community initiative
  • A point of purchase message designed for customer retention
  • Thank you and seasons greetings messages

With Promotion Builder and Promotion Scheduler, small businesses can easily customize and schedule their messages on receipts of Star printers.

A receipt printer is, therefore, more than just a printer, but one part of the Star Micronics Cloud suite of retailer tools. PromoPRNT also comes with inbuilt templates to get you started on the right foot.

Reaching customers offline has many distinct advantages over digital communications, such as:

  • Higher read rates than email (“open rate” is also considerably higher)
  • Much less costly, resulting in higher overall ROI
  • Easy to create original memories for local repeat customers
  • Simple implementation of an offline to online strategy
  • More intimate communications that go “straight to customer’s wallet”

PromoPRNT is creating an IoT Approach to Retail

Since PromoPRNT is managed on the Cloud and has an O2O (offline to online) aspect, this represents an evolution of Star’s ability to contribute an IoT aspect to all of the different kinds of businesses who use our products including retail stores, restaurants, gift shops, hospitality locations, seasonal kiosks, and retail chains.

Essentially:

  • Promotion Builder is a simple way to create and design receipt promotions.
  • Promotion Scheduler is a detailed way retailers can schedule their on-receipt POS ad campaigns.
  • Promotion Builder has an inbuilt library of templates to help SMBs get started.
  • Reaching your customers was never this easy! Since access to PromoPRNT tools is free in 2018, retailers are trying it out to deliver incentives directly to their shoppers’ hands.

 

To sign-up, simply register your business here with the Star Micronics Cloud. To understand more about how PromoPRNT works, watch this short video:

 

 

 

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.

5 Ways to Motivate Retail Store Staff and Keep Morale High

Motivation

Picture this:

It’s just a normal Tuesday and you arrive at your shop. Your spirits are high and you are looking forward to your day. You step through the door and your cashier is on her phone. Another employee is lounging to the side. There is no sense of enthusiasm or motivation. There are no positive interactions with your customers. Your mood immediately changes and, suddenly, you realize that this is affecting your store’s sales.

Motivation, the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something. In 2017, it was reported that 51% of employees in the United States are not motivated. With the lack of motivation, about 70% of Americans do not feel engaged at their job. Why? There is a science to motivation that needs to be understood in order to keep employees engaged in their daily work.

Let’s first understand why it is so hard to stay motivated. As said by Forbes, there are three main mental reasons as to why it is so hard to remain motivated:

  1. “I have to”
  2. “I don’t feel right about this”
  3. “I can’t do this”

Basically, motivation is determined by how your employees view a situation. So, how can you keep your staff motivated besides their paycheck? Take a look at these five tactics!

  1. Employee Training

We get it, this sounds boring. Nobody actually wants to sit through training, right? Wrong. Employee training sessions may have a bad rap for being boring, however, when done correctly, can be fun and engaging. For starters, Myagi suggests utilizing quizzes and follow-up questions to bring about friendly competition to your employees and increase participation and memory retention. Additionally, get your employees to present their ideas to one another.  You never know what tricks they may have up their sleeves.

  1. Listen

Such a simple concept, yet so effective. Think about your personal experiences. Don’t you feel more valued when your boss listens to what you are saying? Listening to your employees’ thoughts, concerns and ideas is crucial in allowing staff to feel involved. Showing employees that their insights are valued and appreciated guarantee a high morale and motivated work environment.

  1. Advancement Opportunities

Knowing that you are working to achieve a goal is motivating. The goal is especially motivating if it leads to more opportunities to advance within the business. By offering these opportunities, you give your staff the encouragement to work to the best of their abilities.

  1. Incentives

Incentives are a fun, simple, solution to keep staff members motivated. Don’t worry, your incentives do not need to be expensive. They can be as simple a gift card to Starbucks. Let’s be honest, most people love prizes, so why not give your employees a reward for a job well done?   

  1. Be an Effective Leader

Show that you’re passionate about your role. Be excited about your business’s goals. Nothing is more motivating than a leader who wants to succeed with their staff. However, passion is not solely what makes an effective leader. Take a look Peter Economy’s 10 powerful habits that leaders should practice:

  1. Confidence
  2. Persuasive communication
  3. The ability to be sensitive and responsive
  4. Determined
  5. Supportive
  6. Distinguished
  7. Responsible
  8. Optimistic
  9. Honesty
  10. Organized

Takeaway

Motivation is mental and the mind is strong. With the mind being such a powerful tool, one must learn how to interact with their staff in order to encourage a positive and productive workday. Motivated retail associates directly translate into better customer service and thus increased in-store sales.

Retail Stores are Boosting In-Store Customer Experiences with Receipts

 

At Star Micronics, we’ve been innovating POS Tech customer engagement solutions for years as an innovation hub for POS.

Recently we have solved how retail stores can achieve digital receipts and micro receipts that engage customers, and this year we’re rolling out PromoPRNT, a seamless feature that allows stores to easily reach their customers with POS Ads in-store on receipts.

 

A Star printer at Souvlaki George, 2017.

PromoPRNT as an Innovative Location Marketing Tool

  • PromoPRNT is a new service available to Star Micronics Cloud (formerly called Star Cloud Services) registered members that empowers retailers to create printed promotions in addition to receipts.
  • PromoPRNT is a suite of tools that allow small businesses to easily reach their customers with the creation, design, and execution of location marketing campaigns on receipts.
  • Ultimately, with these PromoPRNT tools, retailers will be able to deliver incentives directly to shopper’s hands at a fraction of the cost of other marketing tools.

Mobile In-Store is Catching On

According to a survey by iVend Retail’s 2018 Global Path to Purchase, 60.1% of shoppers said they used their smartphones in brick-and-mortar stores. This means mobile is an important touch-point for physical retailers and stores to elevate the customer experience. In 2017, Star created a seamless way for customers to upload their receipts to their smartphones called AllReceipts.

Customer-centric apps allow retailers to boost their sales. A good example of this is how Starbucks has created a seamless way to do mobile ordering.

 

Photo Credit: Kate Taylor, Business Insider.

 

Deployment 2.0 of Starbucks reworks the workflow of employees to better optimize their time that caters to the new mobile ordering feature at Starbucks locations, with a dedicated place for customers to pick up their orders.

Starbucks insists that digital sales are a key for its future and displays one of the top in-app experiences of any global retailer. Dedicated employees for mobile ordering tasks means Starbucks have sped up their customer-experience to enable mobile ordering to become an ever-increasing portion of their sales.

In-Store Mobile Experience Trends

Shoppers who receive special offers via mobile while they are inside physical stores show higher conversion rates than in other customer journeys, according to Retail Dive. Mobile is also increasingly the starting place for research into products and retail locations that are local. At Star, we recognize the importance of both digital and physical cues for shoppers and thus have dedicated digital receipts and location marketing suite of services that is an omnichannel solution to better engage the modern shopper.

 

 

Digital Signage that combines Mobile Loyalty with Digital Displays

With more consumers using mobile at physical retail locations, Star also has another new program that leverages POS Digital Signage, with digital signage partner, Sophatar.

Sophatar® POS Signage is another new service available to retailers who are registered Star Micronics Cloud users, for a low monthly subscription cost. Combining POS Data, with digital signage screens, the solution is able to increase the basket size of the most popular selling items at hospitality, grocery, retail, and apparel boutique locations.

In this article, we have covered how retailers and brick-and-mortar small businesses can easily combine mobile, location-marketing receipt tech and POS digital signage to create a better in-store customer experience that increases retail sales.

 

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.

Customer Experience Trends for the Future of Retail

VR

Technology in retail has reached an all time high and is continuing to grow in 2017. The Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) have all began to make their breakthrough into retail technology. It’s needless to say that this technology is changing the customer experience.

IoT in Retail

The Internet of Things simply defined is the “internet working of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as ‘connected devices’ and ‘smart devices’), buildings, and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these object to collect and exchange data.”

IoT is everywhere! If you own a smart phone, then you are using IoT on a daily basis. With the new trend of mobile wallets and near field communication (NFC) payments, retailers are beginning to use IoT in their stores to enhance the customer experience. With wearable technology and NFC payments, retailers can provide more payment options for the customer and a smoother transaction process by allowing the customer to pay via smartphone or wearable device such as an Apple Watch.

Moving toward an age of paperless transactions, it’s crucial for retailers to accept mobile payments and offer digital interaction with their shoppers via IoT. Virtual and digital communication and transactions are something that shoppers are going to be looking for in 2017, and it will have a huge impact on the overall customer experience.

VR and AR in Retail

2016 has proved to us that virtual reality and augmented reality will change the way people shop and in turn, transform the customer experience in retail. Shoppers will no longer need to physically travel to a store to experience the way something looks and feels. While VR and AR are definitely related, the two are used very differently in retail technology.

If you are active on Facebook or another social media platform, you may have notices that many people have received a pair of virtual reality goggles during the holiday season (seriously… a lot of people). Overall, these goggles are used to play video games or experience virtual realities like riding a virtual roller coaster or exploring a virtual jungle. In terms of retail technology, virtual reality could possibly be the new way people do their shopping.

How will this change the customer experience? How will this change omnichannel retail?

Think about when you are shopping online, but hesitant to make the purchase because you’re not sure if the pants you are purchasing will fit you, or because you don’t know if the lamp you’re looking at will go well in the living room. With the rise of VR, ecommerce retailers will be able to create a virtual store and connect the shopper with the physical product, without the shopping ever needing to leave their home. Sounds crazy, right?

Now let’s talk about AR. In 2016, Pokémon Go! took the world by storm by introducing one of the first successful augmented reality games for smartphones. We quickly learned how the game could affect retailers, and retailers quickly learned how to take advantage of the game by offering discounts and special promotions to their customers who were playing.

As technology continues to advance and VR and AR becomes ‘the norm’, shoppers will expect a more technologically advanced customer experience. We can already see this trend with the growing adoption of online retailers and mobile payments. Now the question is: what can SMB retailers do to keep up with this advance in technology? How can they continue to keep the customer satisfied?

SMB Retail Technology

While the rise in retail technology will have a huge impact on the overall customer experience, there are ways SMB retailers will be able to better the customer experience for their shoppers in 2017 that won’t require a virtual reality store.

One very simple way SMB retailers can use technology already available to them to ehance the customer experience, is to create an omnichannel shopping experience for their customers. Engaging customers beyond the transaction is key when creating the ultimate shopping experience. This can be done through the retailer’s website, mobile app, etc. According to nChannel, two-thirds of shoppers will check prices on their phone before making a purchase in a brick and mortar retail store. For this reason, SMB retailers need to make sure that they are engaging customers both in-store and online in order to keep their shoppers satisfied.

Enhancing the Customer Experience

In this age of new technology, omnichannel retail, and being able to basically purchase anything you need online or on your smartphone at your convenience, there is an increased pressure being put on SMB retailers to keep their customers satisfied in-store. The important thing to note is that shopping is no longer just about making the purchase, but it is about the entire shopping experience, whether that is a virtual reality store, or superior customer service.

In order for SMB retailers to keep their customers satisfied, they must first understand their audience and their needs. If a retailer’s target audience is a middle or older-aged crowd, creating an app for a virtual store may not be appealing. For this same audience, increasing customer service reps in store or sending mailing coupons might be more efficient. With every audience comes a new strategy for providing the best customer experience.

 

The Rise of Experiential, Discount, and Specialty Retail

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In 2016, we have seen major shifts in the retail industry and consumer buying patterns. We’ve seen the largest Internet-based retailer in the world (Amazon) open brick-and-mortar stores, and we have seen “big-box” retailers closing stores. Clark has named just a few:

  • Macy’s plans to close about 15% of its locations amid challenging retail environment.
  • According to the Dallas Morning News, JCPenny CEO Marvin Ellison said the department store chain plans to close some of its roughly 1,000 stores soon.
  • CVS, America’s leading retail pharmacy, plans to close 70 stores early this year.
  • Mall-based retailer, The Limited, closed all of its nearly 250 stores across the country on January 8, but will continue to have an online presence.

Shift in Consumer Buying Patterns

With the closing of many department stores and “big-box” retail stores, we see that discount retailers such as T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross are thriving. Consumers are now realizing that many of the products or goods that they typically shop for in department stores can be found for a cheaper price either online or in discount stores. This shift is being largely influenced by the millennial generation. For retailers who do not fall into the “discount retailer” category, the key to competing is improved store data. This means creating a way to better track customer data in order to provide unique and authentic shopping experiences for each customer.

The Millennial Consumerscan_shop_featured

According to Forbes, there are eighty million millennials in America alone, and they represent about a fourth of the entire population, with $200 billion in annual buying power. This means that the buying patterns of millennials are having a direct impact on the retail industry and brick and mortar stores.

While millennials are commonly targeted as the “self-entitled” and “lazy” generation, it has been found that they are extremely price sensitive. Meaning, millennials will take the time to search for more affordable options (usually online or by using their smartphone) before making a purchase. Based on a survey performed by Accenture, 41% of respondents said they have practiced “showrooming” – the act of examining merchandise at a nearby retail store and then shopping for it online to find the lowest price.

It’s no question that the millennial generation is very unique. Retailers have struggled to understand the buying patterns and the interests of this generation for quite some time now. Unlike the Baby Boomer or Gen X generations, millennials tend to be less influenced by advertising and promotional content, and care more about the authenticity of a brand. Millennials best connect with people over logos. The fact that millennials are less likely to go for the “brand name” over a cheaper option, is largely impacting the way retailers must market themselves and their brand. The recent closing of Macy’s and JCPenny stores speaks volumes when compared to the popularity these stores held with previous generations.

Specialty Retail Steps Up

Specialty retailers are businesses that focus on specific product categories. It isn’t the product they sell that determines if a company is a specialty store, but rather the breadth of their product offering.

As we see more and more large retail stores closing, we see specialty retail continue to thrive. Brick and mortar retail is becoming less about shopping and more about the customer experience. With the rise of retail technology such as IoT, virtual reality and augmented reality in retail, consumers are entering brick and mortar stores with the expectation that they will walk away with more than just their purchase, but with a valuable and unique shopping experience.

With the generation that values experiences over items now holding such high buying power, retailers have to make an adjustment to their previous selling strategy. Retailers are beginning to take advantage of IoT and artificial intelligence to create a more personalized shopping experience. Specialty retail is thriving because it has been much easier for SMB and specialty retailers to create these personalized experiences, because they are more likely to have repeat customers, making it possible to establish a certain level of customer loyalty. “Big-box” retail stores have a more difficult time creating a unique customer experience, simply because their audience is too large, and too diverse to maintain a valuable relationship with the customer.

For retailers to survive in this age of discount and digital shopping, it is essential that retailers do not just sell goods, but that they sell an experience.