The Top 7 Ways Retail Stores Can Grow Repeat Customers

Why Customer Retention Matters

For brick and mortar stores and small businesses, driving repeat business means everything. With increased competition for less traffic and reduced consumer attention, small businesses too need to learn how to stand out and be memorable. Increasing customer lifetime value is part art and all science—data and marketing.

The right customer retention tactics for your independent business could mean success or failure in the critical window; here you need to grow and increase ROI and focus in on your most valuable customers to drive sales.

1. Serve the authenticity motive.

Consumers need to feel a connection to your staff, your store, and your products to keep coming back. This requires great customer service, competitive prices, exquisite products, and building trust with authenticity. At the end of the day, your best customers will want to support you and see your establishment do well if they feel a connection. By being genuine, transparent, generous, and focused on giving to the community, your local business can do great things and drive people to care, and shop more!

2. Adopt a loyalty program.

The surest way to re-target customers and drive repeat sales is to choose and implement the best loyalty program that works for you, and generates higher sales on the top 20% of your customers that are the most profitable. With a solution like thirdshelf, small businesses and boutiques can quickly develop a loyalty program and easily on-board their customers to enjoy the benefits.

3. Drive visual and mobile attention.

Adopting tech at your small business does not have to be expensive, and it can help increase repeat sales and pair products most commonly bought together. This is fairly intuitive with the implementation of digital signage via Sophatar. The impact of digital influence on customer engagement is increasing; contextually based dynamic content that’s highly visual can increase basket size and augment the customer experience.

4. Have the very best customer service.

The key to having great customer service is in well trained and motivated sales associates and store clerks. Investing in employee engagement tools and staff training programs such as those offered by Myagi can help keep employees on top of their game. Customer fulfillment in physical retail really is very based on the human experience with staff, and if their training was skill-based, they will have all the tools to deliver truly memorable service.

5. Acquire and utilize customer data for personalization.

Even the smallest retailers should be obsessed with their customers and this also means gathering customer data. This is the genius of loyalty programs in that they benefit the entire business by understanding customer and product analytics at a deeper level. To increase customer retention, engagement, and repeat business, it’s therefore essential to gather customer information. Re-targeting with email marketing and personalized offers is the bread and butter of any customer retention program.

6. Elevate the customer experience that matters to your key customer segment.

Every business will have a sweet-spot of what the ideal customer journey looks like and the most common points of friction. By providing more of the best and minimizing the usual rough spots, independent stores can constantly improve the experiences they provide. Offering educational opportunities, events, and even appointments with an expert can provide added incentives for loyalty customers to convert. A tool like Booxi can drive traffic via online appointment booking while simplifying the journey.

7. Optimize and quantify your physical retail success.

For loyalty marketing that’s data-based, you will be able to create marketing campaigns that are customer-centric. This means having the right data your fingertips, both in terms of customer segments and actual foot-traffic, and for this, we recommend getting Dor. Dor can help you measure marketing outcomes as it’s an actual foot traffic solution that’s affordable and easy to install at your retail location.

One of the key takeaways is that growing repeat customers takes data, it takes hard work, and it takes a lot of testing via loyalty and marketing campaigns. The savvy retail entrepreneurs, who understand their customer the best, can implement the right solution to drive additional revenue and increase sales. Setting these priorities firmly in mind can enable you to grow your business with proactive growth mentality that is constantly in tune with your customers that are always in search of adding more value to their experience.

  • Do more with less; try new tools and software.
  • Eliminate pain points and friction.
  • Zero in on providing add-on value for your best customers.
  • Create fresh campaigns that truly differentiates your retail brand as an experience provider.
  • Incentivize repeat business will well-crafted and personalized offers.

4 Ways PromoPRNT is More Than Just a Coupon Creator

Customers love to feel like they got a great deal or a deep discount on their purchases. Mailing lists and email promotions are common ways to distribute coupons, but not the most direct and cost-effective way to hand the coupon right to the patron.

SMBs can use PromoPRNT, a new service added to the Star Micronics Cloud Service platform to generate coupons right at the point of sale.  PromoPRNT allows retail stores and small businesses to advertise their promotions in the most simple and effective way—printing coupons and promotional materials right onto the receipt. Delivering discounts directly to shoppers’ hands means engaging them at checkout and driving repeat business.

But did you know that PromoPRNT is so much more than just a coupon creator? Here are three additional benefits of using PromoPRNT.

1. Promotion Planning and Scheduling Tool

PromoPRNT is provided through two services on the Star Micronics Cloud Services dashboard: Promotion Builder and Promotion Scheduler.

Promotion Builder is a seamless, simple tool that designs promotions for receipts. Forget trying to manage design software or outsourcing receipt customization to a third-party vendor–the Promotion Builder library includes templates that make it easy to add logos, text, and icons to your receipts.

Promotion Scheduler is used to schedule the duration of a coupon campaign by selecting a time, date, and printer for each coupon/promotion, even from a remote site. Campaigns can be scheduled based on the day or time, and each promotion is given a priority, which determines in what order they are printed on the receipt. With Promotion Scheduler, retailers have access to analytics that provide insight into promotional campaigns, so you can track which ones are resonating.

2. Customer Engagement and Retention Tool

SMBs have already started using PromoPRNT to make each customer visit unique by delivering promotions using nothing but their Star Micronics cloud-connected thermal printers. Printing coupons on customer receipts allows you to reach a higher percentage of shoppers for a fraction of the cost of a print or digital campaign, and compliments the marketing campaign you already have in place. But PromoPRNT can also be a part of your overall customer engagement and retention strategy. Encourage employees to engage customers by talking about the coupon/promotion while they are processing the transaction. Boosting customer retention and encouraging a repeat purchase can be as easy as circling or highlighting a promotional offer on the receipt so the customer doesn’t forget.

3. A Cost-Effective Service

Issuing coupons and promotional materials can be costly and even heavy investments in digital coupon campaigns can’t guarantee coupons will ever reach your audience. Instead, merchants can use the PromoPRNT coupon creator and scheduler to generate offers and deliver them for no additional charge.

The checkout is the last touchpoint before your customers leave the store. Make it a good experience by thanking them for their purchases with coupons for a future shopping trips, delivered by sales associates who can emphasize how much you value their business. This strategy is more effective than just sending a coupon in the mail or via email — it’s an in-person invitation to return and it can help differentiate you in a competitive market place.

Is it time for you to upgrade your checkout process to include coupons and promotions?   For more information about the benefits coupons can provide for your business, download our e-book, “Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate Coupons as a Promotional Tool.”

The Latest POS Technology to Modernize Retail Tech

If you’re looking for a good reason to upgrade to the latest POS technology, consider this: it’s designed to be more effective at customer engagement.  Forget the middleman — traditional engagement strategies are going out the window as retailers opt for technologies that do two things: reach shoppers at critical touch points, and give them the opportunity to collect customers’ contact information for future use.

Here are six examples of the Are you using the latest POS technology and how they can benefit your business and create great shopping experiences for your customers:

1. Digital signage

Digital signage takes the guesswork out of advertising. Will people see your messaging? With digital signage, the answer is YES. Digital signage is a virtual guarantee that customers will see important messages about new products or promotions while they are in-store browsing or deciding whether to make a purchase. This foolproof method of communicating with customers translates into higher sales numbers almost immediately, because it encourages upselling, cross-selling, and impulse buys.

2. Mobile payments

Your customers will appreciate the ability to use their preferred payment methods — including giving them the option to use mobile payments.  The latest POS technology allows your customers to pay in a variety of ways:

  • Mobile at the POS: Paying via smartphone or mobile device at the register using near-field communication (NFC) technology
  • Mobile as the POS: Accepting a payment card on a retailer’s mobile device
  • Mobile Payment Platforms: Sending money to a merchant using a mobile device, such as using a mobile wallets

3. mPOS and tablet POS + high speed, ergonomic thermal receipt printers

No one wants to finish a shopping trip, only to be faced with a long line that’s not moving. mPOS or tablet POS and thermal printers allow employees to process transactions, complete with a receipt, anywhere in the store. The latest POS technology, used on a mobile device and coupled with quiet and reliable thermal receipt printers, provides an engaging shopping experience that gets shoppers out the door faster and gives you the flexibility to add more checkouts when needed.

4. Digital receipts

Keeping track of receipts can be frustrating for customers, because these elusive slips of paper seem to get lost so easily. Offering digital receipts allows customers to keep, sort and locate their proof of purchase easily — even days or weeks later. The ability to make hassle-free returns with digital receipts moves customer service lines faster and may increase the chance that people will shop at your store again.

5. Printed promotions

Don’t overlook the value of printed promotions within the increasingly digital world.  The “2K17 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report” revealed that 84% of shoppers surveyed said that coupons influence what products they buy, while 86% of people said that they were persuaded to purchase a new product because they had a coupon for it.

6. Customer satisfaction survey

A customer satisfaction survey is a direct line of communication with customers to get their feedback on how your business and products are performing. These surveys, which are typically offered at checkout, help you understand your customers’ needs, evaluate employees, and remedy issues in a timely manner.

The latest POS technology will give you the ability to engage with your customers like never before and provide them with the types of shopping experiences that they want and expect. Consider incorporating the latest POS technology into your business to generate more sales, more repeat customers, and better in-store experiences.

For more information about how a solution like mPOS can increase sales and boost customer satisfaction, download our e-book.

How Resellers Can Cash in on Cannabis Point of Sale

It’s like a dream come true for point of sale (POS) VARs. There’s a new consumer market with a product that people are clamoring for to the tune of $10 billion per year and anticipated growth of 28% over the next three years: Cannabis.

If you haven’t considered expanding into the cannabis point of sale market, you could be missing out on one of the biggest opportunities your business will ever encounter.

A Snapshot of a Rising Industry

The legal cannabis industry is growing fast. Currently, cannabis is legal for recreational use in nine states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in 30 states. A report from cannabis industry analysts at Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics estimated 2017 legal sales to reach $9.7 billion, a whopping 33% increase over 2016. Moreover, their report estimates the market will reach $24.5 billion by 2021.

The product line is more diverse than you may think. Dispensaries sell oil, hash, shatter, and rosin that can be smoked or vaped. They may also offer bakes goods and candy, as well as the traditional flower. Medical dispensaries sell products including CBD (cannabidiol) usually in the form of oil or candy, which is used to treat epilepsy or pain.

There are 9,397 active licenses for marijuana businesses in the U.S.—and all of them need a POS system to help manage their business.

What’s Different About Cannabis POS?

There are some aspects of selling cannabis retail or through a dispensary that make it different from other business operations and that require different features than other retail POS systems. Here are five examples:

1. It’s a cash business.

At least for now, cannabis businesses primarily deal in cash. There are still federal laws that define it as illegal, and banks, caught in the middle in states that have made it legal, are reluctant to open accounts for these businesses. Politics and legal battles aside, this presents unique challenges to cannabis businesses—which could really use trusted advisors well versed in retail and POS technology as well as strict cannabis regulations to help them solve business challenges such as this.

2. Scales need to be sensitive.

You may have sold scales for deli, grocery, or bulk items. But cannabis scales have to be more accurate than a hundredth of a pound. The sensitivity of a cannabis sale must be accurate to a fraction of a gram—both to comply with regulations and to ensure maximum profits.

3. Labels are strictly regulated.

Cannabis customers are limited to a specific quantity they can purchase per day. That may seem straightforward, but considering a customer may be purchasing baked goods, candies, or oil, the quantity of controlled substance won’t be immediately obvious without a label. Some states also require labels to include information about testing that has been done on the products and traceability information back to the source of the cannabis flower.

4. Receipts are more than proof of purchase.

The information that needs to be included on a receipt provided by cannabis businesses are different depending on the regulations in each state. In Oregon, for example, receipts need to include store name and address, product category, something that identifies the products that are taxed, a breakdown of state and local tax, and a disclaimer that receipts are required for tax disputes. In California, for example, it’s important to instruct your customers to save all copies of receipts from each day’s sales for a minimum of three years in the event that the cannabis store is subject to an audit. Advice your customers to check on their individual state’s regulations regarding cannabis receipts.

5. Stores need heightened security.

With an all-cash business, a desirable product, and tough regulatory scrutiny, cannabis stores and dispensaries will need a robust security solution. Today’s state-of-the-art solutions enable business owners to track inventory with GPS, monitor facilities inside and out with high-resolution IP camera systems, guard blind spots in the store with hidden cameras, and protect their businesses with sensitive alarm systems that send alerts in the event of a break-in or fire. Integrating security with the POS system can provide information that helps business owners identify people responsible if theft occurs and give law enforcements the details it needs to act.

The cannabis industry is in its earliest stages, so it will be important for you to establish partnerships that will help you develop this part of your business as you expand your VAR into a new market, stay on top of regulatory developments, and search the market for solutions that will provide your customers with the greatest value.

Click here to download our full eBook.

3 Reasons Why You Must Have an NTEP Certified Scale

Whether a business is dishing out candy, measuring pharmaceuticals, or weighing produce and bulk bin ingredients, it’s imperative that they weight goods on an NTEP certified scale. If you’re new to the scale market, it’s important to know that NTEP certification is non-negotiable, but buyer beware: every scale on the market doesn’t have this important designation.

What is NTEP certification?

NTEP certification is granted by the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) Committee of the National Conference on Weights and Measures. The standards they use for certification, with guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cover every aspect of a scale’s use, including capacity, accuracy, and the effects of temperature fluctuations on its operations.

If you’re investing in a scale for your business, here are three reasons why an NTEP certified scale is the only type of device you should consider:

1) When a product is sold by weight, it is a legal requirement that weighing equipment must be ‘legal for trade’.

A retailer that is caught using a non-NTEP certified scale may be subject to heavy fines, seizure of the illegal scale, or work shutdown. Only consider purchasing a scale with an NTEP Certificate of Conformance (CoC), which means the scale is legal for trade and can be used in a commercial setting to sell products by weight. Every NTEP certified scale will have a CoC number that an inspector uses to verify that the scale meets the agency’s testing standards. Only a NTEP certified scale, when properly inspected and calibrated, is “legal for trade”.

2) Accurate and consistent measurements are important.

When purchasing items by weight, the scale tells the customer they are receiving the exact amount of produce they’re paying for an ensures the retailer is receiving the correct payment. Always choose a scale that’s the correct accuracy class, because a candy store doesn’t need the same level of accuracy required for a pharmacy.

Maintaining properly calibrated devices helps you avoid overcharging customers or shorting your business. It could cause irreparable harm to your brand if you’re caught overcharging customers due to an improperly calibrated scale, even if it’s only off by a cent or two. Although this error would be unintentional, the negative backlash will cause you to lose customers and once this happens, it’s hard to regain the public’s trust.

3) It will be inspected annually by the Bureau of Weights and Measures.

Just because you’ve purchased a NTEP certified scale, it doesn’t mean you can unpack it and start processing transactions right away. Before using the scale, contact your local regulatory authority  to find out what you need to do before processing any sales by weight.

Every state has its own agencies and departments that monitor scales and inspect them for accuracy. A local weights and measures official will use NIST standards when inspecting your scale, certifying it for use and in most localities, the scale will be sealed (with a sticker showing the date) to prove it’s legal for trade. Scale inspection isn’t a “one and done” process, you’ll have to register your equipment for regular inspections.

There’s plenty that can go wrong for a business, but an issue with weight and measures doesn’t have to be one—calibration and compliance laws are there to protect you and your customers. And NTEP certification can make sure you are protected.

4 Elements of a Valuable ISV-Hardware Integration Partnership

You design software to provide the best possible user experience. It’s impossible, however, to reach that goal without the proper hardware for your system. In the point of sale (POS) space, that can include POS terminals, mobile devices, and rugged tablets as well as receipt printers, cash drawers, kiosks, scales, barcode scanners, and other POS peripherals. Integrating with the right hardware is critical to the user experience your customers will have and ultimately, it will impact your brand image.

Your partnership with a hardware vendor can also have a direct impact on the success of your business. Whether you are a startup or a legacy ISV, selecting a hardware solution integration partner is a critical business decision for positioning your software solution in the POS industry.

With so many hardware vendors to choose from—and many vying for you as an integration partner—it may not be clear which direction to take. Forming a successful partnership with a hardware vendor follows the same principles as any other type of beneficial business partnership. It depends on agreement in four areas:

  1. Goal Alignment
  2. Growth Potential for Both Parties
  3. Shared Resources
  4. Unified Marketing Strategy

Business Goal Alignment

The first thing you need to determine about a potential hardware integration partner is whether your business goals and theirs align. That makes it necessary for you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. That makes it necessary for you to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Once you have established the direction you want to take, you can evaluate hardware vendors as potential partners to help you reach your goals.

Potential for Growth

Do you clearly see the hardware vendor’s value proposition or are you concerned that the benefits of the partnership may be one-sided? Will your solution simply be added to a list the hardware vendor can use to their advantage with little return for your ISV? A more attractive option is a hardware partner with the experience, innovative solutions, and resources to help your business grow. If you can’t see how the partnership would help you advance your business, keep looking until you find a partner that will.

Hardware Partner Integration Resources

The breadth and quality of resources the hardware partner has dedicated to developing software integration relationships is a good indicator of how committed they will be to your partnership. For example, find out if they make software development kits (SDKs) and APIs available to ISVs. Thoroughly vet the hardware vendor’s integration process to learn whether or not the hardware vendor has developers on staff that can assist with integration and help you troubleshoot. If possible, speak to other ISVs who partner with the vendor to gauge their impression of how committed the vendor is to assisting with integrations and how easy their team is to work with.

Unified Marketing Strategy

Make sure you and your potential partner agree on a go-to-market strategy, including distributor and reseller support. Also agree on marketing down to the methods and frequency of marketing activities to adequately promote your partnership and the integration. Some examples include:

  • Issuing a joint press release to announce your partnership and include it in each company’s newsletter
  • Creating a campaign around your joint solution and promoting it on social media
  • Building a microsite or webpages devoted to the hardware-software solution
  • Taking advantage of success stories to produce case studies
  • Producing videos to demonstrate the solution
  • Participating in tradeshows to demonstrate the hardware-software solution

How marketing will be managed and funded is also an important decision. The division of labor and investment should be equitable and acceptable to both partners.

Download our full eBook here.

The Ultimate Guide to Payment Data Security

Point of sale systems make every merchants’ day-to-day activities run more smoothly, so keeping technology up to date and secure is important. It’s not just your business that relies on your system; your customers put their trust in it to keep their data secure as well. Every time shoppers complete a transaction at the terminal, their personal information is sent across public networks. If your business is not PCI compliant for maximum payment data security,  you are putting customers and your business at risk.

Breaches are like a perfect storm: they can happen when the system is vulnerable and cybercriminals are looking for ways to steal your data. However, you have some control to stop the storm. It’s a given that hackers and thieves want your data, but you can control whether your POS system is vulnerable. A good place to start is making sure your POS and payment technology meets PCI-DSS standards.

What is PCI Compliance?

PCI compliance refers to meeting Payment Card Industry DataSecurity Standards (PCI-DSS), which outline how credit card data should be secured and stored. The credit card industry’s big four, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, founded the PCI Security Standards Council which regulates the standards. To ensure a high level of payment data security across the industry, PCI security standards include requirements about firewalls, passwords, encryption, employee ID numbers, system access, and data storage and transmission.

Does this matter for my business?

If your business accepts credit cards in-store or online, then PCI compliance pertains to you. There are no varying degrees of compliance, you either are or you’re not. Non-compliance puts you at risk for financial attacks and breaches. Aside from bad publicity and loss of business, these events can hurt your wallet and end your relationship with your financial institution. Fines for non-PCI compliance can run upwards of $100,000 a month from the PCI council.

What do I need for maximum payment data security?

There are three technologies that work together to optimize a payment data security environment:

EMV: EMV technology makes card-present transactions more secure. The changeover to EMV not only changed how people pay with a credit card (inserting chip cards into the terminal, rather than swiping), it also shifted responsibility for fraudulent transactions from the banks to the merchants if the merchants aren’t using EMV-ready technology. That means businesses no longer have the credit card companies’ protection if someone makes a fraudulent transaction; they’re on the hook for those losses. The result of non-compliance can be an expensive lesson.

Tokenization: This technology helps merchants keep payment card data out of PCI scope. Tokenization refers to swapping sensitive data like credit card numbers or personal information with a “token” that is used to complete a specific transaction. Since the data has been converted to a token before being sent over the networks and it isn’t an actual account number, tokenized information doesn’t have any value to hackers and data thieves.

Encryption: Whenever cardholder information is saved or sent over open networks, this data must be encrypted. Encryption is when sensitive information is converted into a code that can only be deciphered with a cryptographic key — which hackers don’t have. Full credit and debit card numbers and other personal information should never be stored or sent over open networks.

Payment data security technologies and PCI compliance help protect your business from security breaches. These events are front-page news that have long-lasting consequences for businesses, including negative publicity, loss of revenue, and liability associated with the breach. Don’t allow your POS system to be a victim, stay informed and keep your technology up to date.

 

 

Restaurant Opening is Rescued with Mobilebytes iPad POS and Star Printer

If you ask local diners why they should go to Charlton’s Grill & Tap in Johns Creek, Georgia, they’ll tell you it’s for the wings. The eatery is known for jumbo, crisp wings prepared with a variety of homemade sauces and rubs—and Charlton’s encourages diners to mix flavors  to come up with creative combinations they love. The family-owned and operated restaurant, which opened its doors in 2016, also provides great customer service, supported by state-of-the-art technology—but management didn’t find it that way when they prepared for the restaurant opening.

THE CHALLENGE

When owner Bob Charlton purchased the restaurant, he discovered the point of sale (POS) system hasn’t been properly maintained. Charlton, the former executive VP of sales and marketing for a systems integrator, was familiar with POS systems, and quickly discovered that he has a problem. The POS system has never been upgraded—in fact, it was running four versions behind the current software—and the POS hardware and printers were outdated. The restaurant couldn’t alter the system at all to make it usable.

Charlton knew he needed a cloud-based POS system that he’d be able to access from a laptop or smartphone. He also needed a solution that allowed him to focus on his new restaurant, not on IT, but still easily manage changes and updates. Charlton’s Grill and Tap didn’t anticipate the issues it discovered with the existing POS system and printers. They wanted to easily enable online ordering, offer a loyalty program and printers that required zero IT support to print receipts and takeout orders. They has to work fast as they only has 3 days to implement a new POS system and thermal printers for the restaurant.

THE SOLUTION

Charlton originally contacted Matt Shaw from Postec, Inc. because he thought the TOast restaurant POS and management system would best suit the business’ needs. But after Shaw listened to what Charlton was looking for, he recommended a Mobilebytes system and Star printers. Mobilebytes iPad POS provided Charlton’s with the anytime, anywhere cloud access it was looking for, and it made communicating and engaging with customers through the POS system easier. Charlton’s also chose Star SP700 and TSP650II printers, two for the front of the house and one in the back.

The new POS solution was also easy to roll out and simple to set up. The Mobilebytes and Star system took less than two days to install and go live, setup took less than eight hours with the assistance of Postec, Inc. and staff training, including placing sample orders, took less than one hour, helping Charlton’s open its doors in less time than other POS systems could have.

When an order comes in, the order double prints—once for the kitchen to intitiate food prep and once for the front of the house to prepare the take out order. The Skip-the-Line feature is provided through the Mobilbytes app. When guests are within 90 feet of the restaurant, their phone will connect to the restaurant’s iBeacon and they will receive a notification through the app asking if they would like to “skip the line” and order ahead through the mobile app. Anyone dining in can order online with orders printing for the front and back of the house so they’ll be ready when guests arrive. Guests that want to have alcoholic beverages with their meals, however, have two separate checks, since alcohol can’t be ordered online. To compensate, the restaurant offers a free drink promotion to encourage online orders. Charlton’s also launched a loyalty program, supported by the Mobilebytes app.

Download the full success story here: Star_MobileBytes-Charltons_Case-Study

How Small Businesses Can Stand Out on Social Media

Owning a small business can make it difficult to compete with the big brand names that everyone already knows. The advantage that SMB retailers have compared to “big-box” retailers is their opportunity to create an authentic and unique experience for each of their customers.

While you may feel like even on social media you’re being overshadowed by the big guys, here are a few ways to stand out, and how to do it.

Start a Vlog

Benefits:

Video is taking over the way people consume information. A fun way for small businesses to showcase their products and expertise about their business is to start a vlog, a.k.a, a video blog. Video blogs can cover topics from a new clothing line you’ve just started carrying, to fashion tips, to a personal entry about the success of our small business.

Vlogs are also great for promoting events and one-time sales. Aside from that fact that online videos now account for more than 80% of Internet traffic, a vlog creates a better sense of authenticity than your standard blog. This gives you a better opportunity, not just to increase the foot traffic in your store, it allows you to create a community with your frequent shoppers.

How to do it:

The great thing about vlogging is that it doesn’t need to be filmed in a fancy production studio. All you really need to start a vlog is a smart phone and an idea of the type of content you want to share with your viewers.

A great starting point for a vlog is to film an overview of your business, what inspired you to start it, and a tour. This introduction is a perfect way to create loyal viewers and customers who are interested in learning more from your vlog. And if you’re camera shy, try asking a friend, employee, or business partner to take the lead with your creative input!

Run Seasonal Campaigns

Benefits:

For retailers, you may find yourself needing to update your store for every season. This is especially true for clothing stores. By creating seasonal campaigns, you are not only letting your audience know that you are all set for the upcoming season, but showing them that you know what will be trendy for the upcoming season.

Seasonal campaigns are beneficial because they allow you to get very visual in your social media posting – which is great since Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without images, and as of June 2016, there are more than 500 million Instagram users.

How to do it:

In order to announce your brand new stock of inventory for the upcoming season, you’ll need to create a visually appealing seasonal campaign. There are a few ways to do this.

In addition to the aforementioned vlog, try creating some promotional videos to help promote the new inventory coming in. Capturing visuals of outdoor seasonal scenes will trigger your audience to visit your store for a new winter coat. In addition to video content, Instagram and Pinterest are the perfect platforms to look to when promoting a seasonal campaign.

According to Shopify, 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan their next purchase. Hootsuite found that 75% of Instagram users are taking action, such as visiting a website, after viewing an Instagram post. By visually promoting products that are appropriate to the season on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, you’re much more likely to turn those “likes” into sales.

Leverage User Generated Content

Benefits:

User generated content is a great way for small businesses to stand out on social media because it means that people are paying attention to and care about your business! By definition, user generated content includes any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that were created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.

Put in more simple terms – user generated content is content posted by your customers about your business. This can include anything from an Instagram user posting a photo of them wearing an item from your latest clothing line, to a shopper writing a blog article about your business. Not only does user generated content often result in free advertising, but it helps you reach a wider audience through your customers’ network.

How to do it:

I know what you’re thinking – how do I encourage my customers to create content about my product? There are a number of ways to push that content out of your shoppers. The easiest way to do this is simply to use social media to interact with their audiences. If someone tags you in a post, make sure to leave a comment! There are also a number of social media monitoring tools that will help you scan for posts that mention your business but don’t tag your page. Surprising one of your frequent shoppers with a comment on their Instagram photo is almost guaranteed to increase customer loyalty and stand out to all of their followers.

If you’re looking to boost your user generated content, try hosting a contest. Photo contests are probably the most popular way to get see more user content. For example, if you are the owner of a fashion boutique, try holding a photo contest on Instagram asking people to pose with their latest store purchases. You can create a hashtag for users to post along with their photos; that way, you can easily track who is participating in your contest, and choose a winner! People will notice the hashtag and it will help you stand out to a wider audience than you initially started with.

Competing with large retailers doesn’t have to be a ton of work. Social media has allowed retailers to connect with their customers on a more personal level, and will continue to advance in favor of business owners. Sometimes all it takes to stand out is the initial interaction.

Seatninja and Star Micronics Empower Full Service Restaurants to Deliver VIP Diner Experience

PHOTO CREDIT: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With the increase in popularity of fast casual and fast-fine dining establishments, full service restaurants are under increasing pressure to provide top-notch dining experiences. Each diner’s experience begins the moment they step through restaurant doors and approach the host stand.

Seatninja Host is a low-cost solution that allows full-service restaurants to connect with guests and consistently provide a VIP Diner Experience. The digital seating system was created to emulate the paper tools that 90% of restaurants still use for managing walk-ins, waitlist parties, and reservations. Seatninja Host is a complete front-of-house system that will enable your staff to interact with guests via SMS or mobile application, gain visibility into where all seated guests are in the dining cycle, identify tables with VIPs and special occasions, quote accurate wait times by party size, manage and follow server rotations, quickly look up guest’s dining history, and more.

THE SITUATION

As a result of the growth in fast casual and fast-fine dining establishments, guests are becoming more and more intolerant of mistakes in lost reservations, long wait lists, and misquoted wait times. Guests are also starting to expect automated and seamless reservation and waitlist procedures at the front-of-house within a modern and up-to-date full-service restaurant. To appease unhappy and impatient customers, restaurants lose hundreds of dollars in revenue each month to guest comps or freebies to avoid bad press and poor Yelp reviews.

THE SOLUTION

Seatninja Host organizes and automates most of the host stand functions, such as taking and managing reservations and waitlists, managing seating, wait time estimates, and server rotation. The solution automatically suggests tables for guests, accurately estimates wait times, and organizes the guests into a seating line. The solution uses a two-way texting system to communicate with guests to let them know their table is ready and allows guests to disperse to other nearby areas and thus removing the pressure from small, over-crowded lobbies. In this way, it never loses a reservation or waitlist party, maximizing restaurant seating, without overbooking.

For easy server reference, the integrated Star Micronics TSP100III printer prints out a reservation or waitlist “chit” that includes each guest’s visit details including, name, number in party, visit history, permanent guest notes, current visit reservations notes, table number and any party flags assigned, i.e. birthday, anniversary, high chair required, etc. For additional server management, each server’s schedule can be printed from the system as well. The schedule includes the name of the server, the tables assigned to each server and his or her’s scheduled time in. This further ensures that each guest receives a VIP customer experience delivered not only from the front-of-the-house stand, but also their server as well.

THE RESULTS

The Seatninja and Star Micronics solution deliver an immediate ROI on the monthly subscription. Setup takes, on average, less than an hour. The solution is paired with an iPad tablet upon deployment. Training is quick and easy, completed in an hour or less and staff typically and staff typically reaches proficiency with the solution within two shifts or less.

Full service restaurants who deploy the solution may see some or all of the following results:

  • fewer table checks ($75 per month in savings)
  • additional table turns ($400 per month in additional revenue)
  • decrease in reservation no shows ($400 per month in savings)
  • decrease in walk outs on waitlists ($400 per month in savings)
  • no lost or damaged paper replacements ($100 per month in savings)
  • reservations can be taken automatically during off hours ($1500 per month in additional revenue)
  • reduced comps for mistakes ($100 per month in savings)
  • automatic table assignments for reservations ($124 per month in savings)