Top Retail Blogs to Follow this Holiday Season

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

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

Here are just a few that we recommend checking out:

1. Vend

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

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2. Retail Geek

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

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3. Shopify

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

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4. Signal

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

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5. ShopKeep

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

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6. Square

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

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7. Lightspeed

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

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

 

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3 Ways to Market Your Small Business for Less

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

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

1. Social Media

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

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

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

2. Create Content

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

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

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

3. Digital Receipts

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

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

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

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

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