5 Things That Make a Good Promotion

Successfully selling products is the ultimate goal for a small business. However, in order to sell those products, whatever they may be, the business must entice customers to make a purchase. Promotions are the backbone of creating a sense of urgency to take initiative and purchase a product.

But, what makes a good promotion? How do you create the perfect promotion that encourages buyers? Here are five ways to successfully promote to your customers!

  1. Run a Targeted Promotion

Promotions are used in a multitude of ways, whether it is to gain new customers, sell products, or steer them away from competition. However, one promotion cannot reach every point in your promotional plan. Therefore, it is crucial to determine your promotion’s target efforts:

  • Do you want to entice more purchases either through greater frequency or volume?
  • Advertise to new customers?
  • Repair your relationships with previous customers?
  • Advertise your business during slow months?
  1. Know Your Incentives

Once you have determined the purpose of your promotion, you have to create an incentive for your promotion to draw your customers in. Here are some examples:

  • Discounts/Coupons
  • Samples/Trial Offers
  • Events
  1. Set a Goal

Although this may seem obvious, always have a goal for your promotions in mind. Know what you want to achieve. For instance:

  • What is your sales target?
  • How many new customers do you want to gain?
  • How much revenue do you want to bring in for the quarter?

Having a determined goal for your promotions will help to keep your business on track an aid in your its success.

  1. Choose a Promotional Strategy

Once your goal is determined, you will need a strategy for your promotion. That is, how will you best reach your customers? There are many effective ways to successfully advertise to your customers.

  • Social Media
  • Contests
  • Mail Order Marketing
  • Giveaways
  • Customer Surveys
  • Charity
  • Customer Appreciation Gifts
  1. Know Your Promotional Techniques

It is important to have an understanding of the many promotional techniques that can be offered. Like incentives, these techniques can be used to draw in your customers and lead to an increase in sales and loyalty:

  • Free samples, trials, and gifts
  • Special Pricing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Digital Marketing

To Discover Star Micronics Newest Value-Added Service PromoPRNT

Why Shoppers Prefer Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Oro — Singapore.

Written by Michael K. Spencer

 

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Not Just About Convenience

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

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

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

We Are a Species of Touchers and Feelers

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

Small Businesses Are Learning to “Hack” The Experience Economy

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

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

Men and Women Shop Differently — Why it Matters

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

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

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

How we Do Customer Experience is Changing

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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.

 

The Future of Blockchain in Retail

Written by: Michael K. Spencer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bakkt’s CEO describes it as the following:

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

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

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

 

 

RetailNOW 2018 Recap

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

RSPA speakers had warm receptions that looked like this:

                          Image credit: RSPA Twitter.

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

 

Tips for Value Added Resellers (VARs)

POS VARs are evolving how they see the emerging ecosystem:

                       Image credit: Jim Roddy on Twitter

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

                  Image credit: Jim Roddy on Twitter

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

 

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.

 

Disruptive Technology and Its Influence on the Receipt

disruptive technology blog

It wasn’t that long ago that shopping was a single-channel experience. If a customer needed something, they purchased the item at the store, checked out at the register and took their receipt at the end of the transaction. However, disruptive technology like mobile commerce has opened new channels that have transformed the entire retail experience.

Mobility and the Modern Shopper

Mobile commerce is expected to hit an all-time high in 2017, according to the retail analysts at eMarketer.com. The website estimates that this year, more than 95 million Americans will make at least one purchase on a smartphone and an even higher number – 165 million people – will use their smartphones to research and compare products. Retailers have been working to adapt to shopper’s new preferences by optimizing their websites for mobile, introducing new store apps, and offering cross-channel purchasing options.

Although the competition from online-only retailers is fierce, big data has helped brick-and-mortar retailers learn more about their customers’ habits and preferences. Online shopping is highly personalized, so physical retail stores are working to provide a similar experience by gathering information about their customers via social media, traffic counts, and loyalty engagement, but big data has helped them to better predict trends, develop targeted marketing campaigns, engage customers across channels and generate a higher level of customer loyalty.

Mobile Commerce’s Impact on the Receipt

Disruptive technology like mobile payment platforms will continue to emerge and gain popularity and the number of purchases made using smartphones will soar. These innovations have transformed the way we shop and pay for purchases, but it’s also had an enormous impact on another staple of a payment transaction: the receipt.

Many retailers require receipts for returns and exchanges, but disruptive technology has changed the way we think about receipts – how they are printed and issues and what information they include. A customer who opts for the mobile checkout to avoid waiting in line still expects to be given a receipt, and Star Micronics’ printing and receipt apps along with wireless printers make this possible.

The SM-T300i, for example, is a popular wireless printer with an ultra-rugged design, perfect for busy restaurants or retailers and other harsh work environments. Printing is possible via practically every mobile device using Star’s newest app PassPRNT, which enables printing from an iPad®, iPhone®, iPod touch®, or Android™ device. Star’s cloudPRNT, is an innovative technology enabling users to print to Star printers directly through a cloud service.

Although it’s easy to lose track of paper receipts – whether they are crumpled on the floor of the car or shoved into a pocket, electronic receipts are easy to organize and access later. Star Micronics’ AllReceipts™ is a free, cloud-based digital receipt application that allows users to store and manage receipts on their mobile device. Customers just have to scan the QR code at the bottom of the receipt using the app.

Disruptive technology like mobile payments and big data have changed the way people shop as brick-and-mortar retailers work to compete with the highly-customized experience that online-only retailers can provide. Receipts are still expected with every purchase, so this technology has been forced to evolve as shoppers prefer mobile checkout and paying with their smartphones. Star Micronics offers an arsenal of options for retailers seeking wireless solutions for receipt printing, so customers can receive their receipts and organize them the way they are most comfortable.

Technology Shifts & Consumer Trends in Front of 2017

retail startups

Amazon Go and the Post Checkout Era Begins

New broke out detailing Amazon’s latest innovate in retail, Amazon Go beta, which opens to the public in 2017. Amazon has built a grocery store equipped with machine learning technology, similar to that in self-driving cars, and is testing out a post checkout, post line waiting era in retail. Here’s the cool Amazon Go video for your enjoyment. Companies like ShelfX and a Swedish entrepreneur have also attempted unmanned grocery stops (before it was cool).

Why is there so much hype surrounding it? Consumers are in and out of the store thanks to Amazon’s “Just Walk Out Shopping” experience. Families and individuals can go into the store, see something on the shelf, and walk out with it while never speaking to an employee (it’s called technology, not shoplifting?).

This means POS users need to start thinking ahead of the curve and preparing themselves for yet another technological advancement. Granted, since the program is in beta, that doesn’t mean things are going to change overnight, but now is a good time to start brainstorming changes so the impact of a new status quo is less severe.

Amazon-Go-TA

This new shopping experience requires customers to have an Amazon account, a supported smartphone, and the Amazon Go app installed to shop freely. The outside orange square logo display Amazon and Go in large letters, and on the inside there are four bottom menus that users can press “key”, “receipts”, “about”, and “more”.

I speculate they might release for both Android and iOS. Users can enter the store by tapping on “key” and scanning the QR code that appears on screen to pass through a subway-like terminal. That process than activates the shopper’s virtual cart and customers can begin taking goods. Amazon Go automatically updates the user’s inventory in the app when products are detected taken from our returned to the shelves. Customers don’t need to scan out and when they pass back through the terminal, the app sens a mobile notification alerting that a payment was processed, and a digital receipt is then sent to their device.

NFC Contactless Payments lead the change into the Post Checkout Era

Snapchat Spectacles and the Engaging Brick and Mortar Space

Snapchat, known as Snap, Inc., released a camera equipped pair of sunglasses called Spectacles that might seem familiar to those who bought Google Glass. TechCrunch reports Spectacles allow users to record video tidbits in a socially accepted style. On November 21st 2016, a pop up shop appeared overnight in New York City where app users and curios consumers initially waited as long as three hours in wintery weather to get their hands on a pair. Inside the brick and mortar store was a single vending machine (SnapBot), where customers choose up to two out of three sunglasses, selling for $129.99 each. I was in the city visiting some friends and decided to snag a pair for myself. While I anxiously waited in line, there were a few thing that I noticed about the store. Snap Inc engaged their users and holiday customers by providing exclusive content. Unique snap codes were placed throughout the queue and shoppers in line were able to entertain themselves by scanning them. The staff was equally as engaging by educating their new product users in-store with personalized customer service.

Showrooming Pains and Frustrations

Retailers will continue to struggle against online sales due to a developing showroom trend that is likely to move forward into the new year. Consumers visiting in-store locations are purchasing goods online later at their own convenience after studying the product in-store. I’ve seen people walk into a store, snapping a quick photo and leaving without a purchase. This can be increasingly difficult for retailers and small business owners to keep a healthy relationship with customers while fighting for their attention. At first glance it might seem as though showrooming is becoming a nuisance, but some retailers are using this as an opportunity to innovate. Small businesses can utilize new technology available to study their target market, improve the ecommerce experience, as well as integrating a seamless purchasing system between online and physical

Personalization and Exclusivity

In a retail world where department stores once ruled the market, small unique ships are are able to provide value, unique in-store experiences, and cultivate relationships with their customers, are embracing the momentum shift. Therefore, offering a unique and personalized shopping experience is vital for customer retention, on-site sales, and business growth. The goal is to add a hint of intimacy and customer care, rather than entertaining customers (depending on your objective and brand).

Rob Hom

Marketing Intern

 

The Rise of Experiential, Discount, and Specialty Retail

FashionBanner

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.

Star Cloud Services Introduces the Micro Receipt

Micro Receipt - Website 2

Star Cloud Services (SCS) is proud to introduce the Micro Receipt service, available to use with the AllReceipts™ or Itemize app.

What is the Micro Receipt?

The Micro Receipt is a printed 2D barcode (QR code) paper receipt. This QR code can be scanned by any smart phone using the AllReceipts or Itemize app to claim a digital copy of the full length, itemized receipt. The Micro Receipt allows retailers to create a reduced paper receipt, printing only the store name, time stamp, and the AllReceipts QR code.

Who can use the Micro Receipt?

The Micro Receipt is an additional service offered by Star Cloud Services. Star Cloud Services is free to install for any retailer using a Star Micronics thermal receSCS certifiedipt printer. SCS can either be easily downloaded with the Star futurePRNT Windows driver or integrated with the StarPRNT SDK for iOS and Android. In addition to the Micro Receipt, Star Cloud Services offers a full suite of digital receipting and customer engagement tools.

Star has made it easy for retailers to know which point of sale software has certified Star Cloud Services. Simply look for the “Star Cloud Services Certified” logo on any POS software page or on the Star Micronics Software Partners page.

Benefits for the retailer

Retailers are now looking for an eco-friendly and simple alternative to offering lengthy paper receipts. The Micro Receipt allows retailers to reduce the paper size of the receipt up to 80% from its original length. With the Micro Receipt, retailers can actually include more information on the receipt while saving on paper! In addition to the transaction information, SCS allows retailers to utilize the back of the digital receipt with its Receipt Flip service. Receipt Flip enables users to include coupons, promotions, terms and conditions, and more on the back side of the digital receipt. Once the receipt is scanned in the AllReceipts app, the shopper can use the Flip feature to access these promotions or conditions.

Retailers can now include store information, coupons, promotions, terms and conditions, bar codes, and more, all while saving on paper!

Benefits for the shopper

People are beginning to be less accepting of lengthy paper receipts. It’s no secret that long paper receipts can be obnoxious and inconvenient for the shoppers. Often times, shoppers are opting to received email receipts as opposed to the standard paper receipt. The only problem with email receipts is that they are not anonymous. Once a retailer has your email address to send a paper receipt, they can then access more of your personal information, or spam your inbox with unwanted emails.

Star Cloud Services digital receipts are 100% anonymous for the shopper, and the AllReceipts digital receipt app doesn’t require users to give any personal information upon download. With the customer engagement tools such as Receipt Flip and Engage Now, customers can choose when they want to engage with the retailer, rather than being bombarded with emails.

In addition, users only need to scan their receipt once in the AllReceipts app, and the receipt is kept as a digital copy forever. You never have to worry about misplacing or accidentally throwing away a receipt! On the flip side, if the shopper does need to hold on to the paper receipt, the Micro Receipt takes up significantly less space in they shopper’s purse or wallet due to its vastly reduced paper size.

Learn more about the benefits of the Micro Receipt at www.starmicronics.com/star-micronics-cloud/micro_receipt or www.starcloudservices.com.