Amazon Expands AmazonGo Stores and Hits New Milestone

Written by Michael K. Spencer

It was a big month for Amazon in September, 2018. Amazon has become the 2nd company to hit the $1 Trillion dollar market cap. This is significant since Amazon, according MKM Partners, could reach a whopping $2.4 Trillion valuation by 2024.

AmazonGo is billed as the cashierless stores of the future and Amazon is ready to expand them to new locations. The latest location is its third overall and third in Seattle, where it’s headquartered. The 2,100 square foot store sits on the corner of Boren Ave. and Thomas St. and is its largest yet.

While expansion to San Francisco and Chicago remains imminent, Cate Trotter of Insider Trends recently did an article on these new, more automated kinds of stores. The AmazonGo concept has been embraced by many retailers across the world with various initiatives from smart kiosks, to what appear to be more like vending machines that operate on AI, to mobile stores ;  the idea of more seamless retail and customer experiences is growing.

A report on Kiosk and Retail by USA Technologies and PYMNTS.com predicts that the interactive kiosk sector in the US will be worth more than $1 billion by 2020. AmazonGo isn’t at Alibaba’s level in China for retail experiences, but it certainly does re-conceive how the physical stores work for convenience. While E-commerce is growing faster in China, in the U.S. even the likes of JD.crew have started selling on Amazon.

Amazon is Fueling Retail Innovation

The Amazon Prime value is incredible and is beginning to scale into entertainment (Prime Video), AI (Alexa), Grocery (WholeFoods) and many other segments. There’s been talk about Alexa Smart Glasses and an Amazon home robot, both likely to appear before 2021. However for physical retail experiences, AmazonGo may be the most tested and innovative feature in the evolution of retail we’ve seen for quite some time.

Amazon’s profitability of AWS, Alexa, and future advertising revenue means it will be able to perfect in-store technology. Walmart is testing a new feature called Spark delivery, that uses crowdsourcing to find drivers to make grocery deliveries and will include a partnership with Delivery Drivers, which manages such workers, because the race to automated grocery delivery is also fairly lucrative. JD.com, Kroger, and many others are all looking at this service very carefully.

AmazonGo has been slow to expand its cashierless grab-and-go experience. However, the concept is clear—this is using LiDAR and other technologies to create a faster experience that is uniquely made for urban shoppers. The point of sale is, for all intents and purposes, virtual. Checkout is completely eliminated, there’s only a kind of mobile check-in with QR codes.

In the evolution of what physical stores might become, there are lessons for brick-and-mortar retailers to look into:

  • AmazonGo
  • BingoBox
  • Auchan Minute
  • JD.com’s “X” chain
  • Alibaba’s TaoCafe
  • The robotic CafeX
  • Stockwell (Bodega)
  • Moby Mart

The Future Store is Late, but is Arriving in the 2020s

For the future of commerce, the marketplace, and the local store, these are not isolated incidents. These represent a trend towards increased retail automation, logistics, and consumer fulfillment that will change how GenZ interacts with stores, restaurants, and the future of mobile in-store as well. 5G mobile, the IoT and blockchain will all power the smart store in new creative ways.

Just as point of sale is evolving, our entire concept of what a “store” is, could change considerably in the next decade. According to Nielson and many retail analysts, we’ll be doing 70% of our grocery shopping online by 2024. In China, Meituan is about to go IPO in Hong Kong, it’s one of the leaders in “O2O”—online to offline—and represents the ultimate in convenience for consumers, though it’s burning cash.

As impressive as Amazon is to the future of convenience and giving consumers various “upgrades” in customer experience and fulfillment, a lot of the interesting stuff in retail is happening in China, where mobile penetration and eCommerce are both higher and where there are more total consumers and digital natives.

  • 7-Eleven Signature
  • Suning Biu
  • Alibaba’s “smile to pay”
  • Bianlifeng
  • Alibaba’s Hema supermarket

It turns out having a cashless society with QR codes and an app-of-everything (WeChat) is a huge advantage for China in terms of retail innovation. China’s integration of facial recognition is also very advanced in retail, financial and services generally.

AmazonGo might be just the tip of the iceberg in how physical retail innovation occurs globally. The future of automation in retail is occurring not just in eCommerce, but in restaurants, grocery, cafes, local stores, convenience stores, and syncing with the values of the new consumer.

The Future of AmazonGo

The further expansion in Seattle makes sense as the newest store reportedly is the largest Amazon Go location yet, at about 2,100 square feet, according to the Seattle Times story.

AmazonGo tech, perfected in Seattle, does not stay in Seattle. An AmazonGo store is heading to New York. Here’s how it works:

  1. When entering the grocery stores, shoppers scan their phone using the Amazon Go app. (The virtual POS is essentially sign-in only)
  2. As you shop, cameras, LiDAR, and motion sensors track what you pick up from (and put back on) shelves.
  3. You can “grab and go” with just-walk-out technology. There are no lines, checkout, or cashiers to worry about.
  4. There’s less staff and typically no grocery carts or baskets. Shoppers are encouraged to use their own bags.

AmazonGo is rumored to launch in places such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago first, before spreading to more cities. So if Seattle was phase one, this is phase two.

Considering how long AmazonGo’s concept was in R&D and testing, this is a pretty huge deal. Amazon’s footprint in brick-and-mortar stores is still pretty small even with the Whole Foods acquisition. Nothing compared to its rival in China, Alibaba, or even JD.com.

However, AmazonGo is the torch bearer for being a prototype of the “smart store”. As such, many physical retailers are watching closely to see what Amazon accomplishes with AmazonGo and how consumers will respond. Surely it’s an upgrade in what we might term convenience and customer experience in-store. With 7-Eleven integrating Apple Pay recently, it’s only a matter of time before Amazon becomes more aggressive in its brick-and-mortar strategy.

As for AmazonGo in NYC, Amazon is seeking members for its staff and roles such as:

  • Store Manager
  • Assistant Manager
  • Trading Lead Associate
  • Prep Ingredients Associate
  • Shelves Stocking Associate
  • Customer Success and Help Associate
  • Food Prep Associate
  • Security Associate

It’s important to note, these stores won’t need as many regular staff due to their unique technology.

Seattle, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago seem to be the early birds to enjoy semi-automated AmazonGo shopping experiences in 2018 and early 2019. While Amazon is expected to choose Washington D.C. as its next HQ site, it appears to be in no hurry to launch AmazonGo too quickly.

Later in September it was rumored Amazon will open 3,000 AmazonGo stores by 2021. Amazon also opened an Amazon 4-Star store in New York.

Sophatar Launches Sales Receipt Viewer in Partnership with Star Micronics

Download sales receipt images and obtain sales insights, with a brand new service from Sophatar for retailers using Star printers!

  • Are you a retailer looking for an easy web-based sales receipt re-print solution?
  • Or find out at which time of day, or day of the week you consistently generate more sales so you can plan employee shifts effectively?
  • Or find out when your first and last sales of the day happen?
  • And be able to do this from anywhere, not just while at your store, without extra software to install or change your POS?

Then we have THE solution for you!

Sophatar is improving the sales IQ of retail locations with a Sales Receipt Viewer and Analytics dashboard that is targeted to customers of Star Micronics.

No software to install. No need to change your point-of-sale software.

It is a web-based service with downloadable images of your sales receipts showing in a browser and downloadable for re-print or email.

The service also includes extracting the data from your sales receipt images and turning that into actionable information via an interactive graphical sales analytics tool so you can explore sales trends.

It only costs $20 USD per month after an initial free 3-month period. No credit card is required during the trial period. This extended-time trial period is only offered for a limited time, during the introduction of this brand new service.

 

What do I need for this to work?

Most Star Micronics printer installations have the unique capability that they can upload receipt images from your printer to the Star Micronics Cloud Dashboard each time a receipt prints. Check with your Star sales rep to find out if your install can. Once your image is uploaded and you sign up for this service, your receipt images will automatically be parsed in the cloud, and both the receipt images and parsed data is made available to you via a web dashboard and an interactive sales exploration graphics tool.

Multi-Dimensional Sales Analytics in the Cloud

Explore your sales receipts to uncover trends and actionable insights in a variety of ways. Simply click on the interactive graph in the browser and select one or more dimensions to turn your sales data into insights. Graphs update automatically to filter and analyze your data:

  • by calendar date range
  • by day of week
  • by time of day
  • by payment method
  • by employee
  • by sales receipt total $
  • etc.

Furthermore, you can filter to only see those receipts with discounts applied, or detect duplicate receipts. Use this to uncover ‘sweat-hearting’ by employees (discounts given to friends) or print receipt fraud (multiple prints of same receipt given to different customers from a single transaction on the POS, mostly seen in environments with a limited number of SKUs, such as QSR).

As retail stores must compete in today’s world with e-commerce and online shopping, physical retailers are increasingly in need of more data and analytics. Sophatar’s partnership with Star Micronics means receipt data at the POS can deliver new insights for retailers to improve their marketing strategy to boost sales at key times.

Besides this receipt viewer and analytics tool, Sophatar also offers other services based on sales receipt data from Star printers, such as its POS-transaction driven digital signage.

How do I sign up?

The service is offered by Sophatar but fully integrated with Star Micronics. Star customers can login to their account at https://starmicronicscloud.com/ and subscribe to the ‘sales receipt analytics & viewer service’ in the Star Marketplace. We will then reach out to you to complete setup and activate your subscription.

Now any retailer can keep an eye on their business, even from a remote location.

Download the PDF leaflet about this brand-new Sales Receipt/Analytics Service, check out our 2-minute video demo, and signup today to take advantage of this no-risk limited-time no credit-card required introductory offer of $0 for the first 3 months!

How to Choose a POS System for Salons and Boutiques

Retailers that make a living helping clients look and feel gorgeous need to look amazing themselves, so electronic clutter and outdated technology doesn’t fit the bill.  Choosing a point of sale (POS) system for salons requires extra attention to style, whether it’s hardware design or an installation that needs an added level of detail.

However, don’t choose a POS system based on looks alone. Think carefully about the software: do you need inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), reports, or time keeping? It seems like common sense, but don’t paint yourself into a corner by selecting a package that leaves out important features.

Once you’ve made a list of what you need, it’s time to shop around. Choose a POS system for salons that includes these six necessities.

1. Functionality: POS systems for salons should be easy to learn and use and allow employees to complete a transaction in as few clicks as possible. If you cater to repeat clients, select software with an integrated CRM. This allows you to track customers’ buying habits and preferences. You can use this information to make recommendations based on past purchases or send clients coupons and incentives to make a purchase or schedule an appointment.

2. Employee management: Employee management is an important, multifaceted function of a POS system for salons and boutiques. Labor schedulers make it simple to schedule employees for work, swap shifts or duplicate a previous week’s schedule. They also help you make informed decisions about scheduling, so you are not caught under or overstaffed. Depending on the software, employee management functions give you a bird’s eye view of how many employees are working and what jobs they are performing that day.

3. Printed promotions: Very few receipt printers come with cloud software that allows you to create and schedule printed promotions for free. Choosing a Star Micronics printer for your salon POS system will grant you access to a full suite of Star Cloud Services, including PromoPRNT. PromoPRNT will empower salon owners to create custom promotions, manage them remotely, and schedule them to run at a pre-determined time. Increase customer retention with a limited time 20% off brow wax offer. Boost customer retention with a monthly 15% off of a cut and color.

4. Sales and inventory reporting: Many POS systems for salons allow you to see sales and inventory information in real time, so you can keep tabs on business throughout the day. These systems also include a variety of reporting options that give you the opportunity to see sales by the shift, hour, day, week, month, or year. Running sales reports help salon and boutique owners identify which styles and product lines customers can’t get enough of and which ones are ready for markdown. Knowing what the top selling items are helps ensure they’re always in stock and in prime position on the sales floor.

5. Inventory control: Knowing which items are hot helps you manage inventory levels so you aren’t overloaded with unsold products while running out of the ones customers want. POS systems for salons and boutiques can greatly reduce the amount of time you spend searching for items that are in stock, so choose one with the proper inventory control functions. A multilocation business can use its POS system to determine which locations have the items available and arrange for shipping.

6. Aesthetics: When it’s your business to make people look beautiful, you need to keep up appearances. Choose a stylish POS system for salons that fits with your business’ reputation. Appearances matter, so you can’t afford to have wires hanging around or dated hardware. The checkout is a customer’s last stop before they leave, so a fast transaction on beautifully designed hardware leaves a positive, lasting impression as clients depart.

The term “salon quality” has come to mean top of the line. Insist on the same standard for the technology you choose for your business. A purpose-built POS system for salons and boutiques will give you the features that meet your unique business needs, allow you to provide great customer service, and equip your business to operate successfully.

The Five Ways Retail is Changing Forever

By Michael K. Spencer

Retail will never be the same. Consumer preferences are constantly shifting, technology is advancing, and commerce is dynamic. The marketplace is on the front-lines of new experiences, and there’s nothing shoppers crave more than new retail experiences. Is a retail renaissance occurring for small businesses?

On the front lines, independent retail stores must constantly reinvent themselves. Small business owners as entrepreneurs are essentially creators now, in an age where the marketplace is converging with a new reality.

1. It’s the Age of the Consumer

Retail experiences and customer journeys are now frictionless and customer-focused. Advertising, commerce, and smartphone trends now have to keep up with the quickly changing consumer, whose values and new habits are creating the new paradigm of retail.

Customer experiences must be the focus to appeal to audiences and personalize experiences for them that are radically in sync with culture, community, education and entertainment. In other words, the age of the consumer means stores must impact these — and not simply sell “stuff”.

2. Always Easy Path to Purchase

In an era of multi-channel and always online commerce, stores must make it easy, because for the new consumer, convenience wins. What’s easy and convenient is different for a diverse group of your shoppers.

However being mobile friendly, having great return policies, smooth customer service, a store design that’s easy on the eyes, and having a great loyalty program—that’s facilitating an easy path to purchase.

3. Educate and Entertain Customers

A retail brand isn’t what it used to be. The new consumer demands a fully immersive and interactive brand and product experience. Shoppers don’t just want great products with unbelievable discounts, you have to offer them the full experience.

In 2018, the full experience means does your commerce stand for something — does it bring your local community together? Does it entertain and educate you seamlessly about the product and the people who bring those products to life? Influencers, community, and sustainable causes can really help a retail brand reach the next level of customer interaction.

4. The Power of Digital Influence

For a small business it’s great to have your physical store, but your work is never done. For in 2018, digital influence takes many forms. From AR to digital signage in the store, to good-old email marketing, and being quick to answer customer inquiries online, the impact of digital influence on commerce is undeniable.

Is your website and store optimized for search and local search; have you covered your bases on social media; have you implemented the very best POS and software integrations that’s right for your store? Everything counts, from the printer you use, to the kind of marketing you do.

5. Be An Authentic Entrepreneur — Live your Commerce

Independent retailers are families, stories, and sometimes even inter-generational. Retail stores with rich stories and who portray themselves as real entrepreneurs appeal to the human side of shoppers.

Being authentic in physical retail also means you care about your customer at every point of their journey. You sweat the details and create holistic and exquisite experiences. You inspire with the positive impact you have on the community, not just as an outlet of merchandise, but a small businesses that’s approachable, experts in their domain, and people that sync with the values of your best customers.

Retail might never be the same. As big apparel and retail chains go bankrupt (think Sears & Toys R Us), independent retailers recognize they have a huge advantage, they are pillars of the community and excel at putting people first. Retail might be changing forever, but there’s never been a more exciting time to be a small business owner, or a shopper.

 

PromoPRNT is the Easiest Small Business In-Store Marketing Tool

By Michael K. Spencer

What is the cost of receipt paper? It’s $1.25 per 1000 receipts. The true cost of PromoPRNT is just owning a Star Micronics receipt printer and the time to customize receipt messaging to your audience. Any small business or retail store can be doing in-store POS ads with this tool. PromoPRNT has Promo Builder and Promo Scheduler, making it the easiest way for retailers to do in-store ads at the time of purchase. Offline marketing is severely underestimated in 2018, and PromoPRNT works on the valuable real estate where it’s easiest to get eyeballs—the physical paper receipt.

In the first half of 2018, a slew of retailers have been busy trying this brand-new service added to the popular Star Micronics Cloud Service platform.

Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or yield uncertain results such as with Facebook or Instagram ads online. PromoPRNT is immediate, physical, and ends up, literally, in your shoppers’ hands.

It allows small businesses to build rapport with customers where it matters most — at the physical location. Having the ability to do campaigns in-store, that are easy to set up and practically automated and very inexpensive, obviously has incredible benefits.

PromoPRNT is also a great way for resellers of retail hardware and software to gain a recurring revenue stream. Meanwhile for retail store managers, this is an easy way to communicate with customers, to implement a customer retention program and gain traction on campaigns, discounts, and seasonal offers. Small businesses are using it to implement the following:

Communicate Easily with Customers

  • A discount offer or time-limited promotion
  • Quotes & branding keywords
  • Hiring notices

Build Rapport with Customers

  • Event reminders
  • A positive thank you message
  • Driving traffic online

Create Customer Experiences

  • Customer feedback surveys
  • Seasonal campaign sale (e.g. Back-to-School deals)
  • A funny message for brand awareness

Build Customer Loyalty

  • Mention of a charity or community initiative
  • A point-of-purchase message designed for customer retention
  • Seasons greetings messages

PromoPRNT Costs Only a Star Printer

PromoPRNT as an automation tool for retail stores only costs the price of a Star Micronics Printer. With a library of templates and the built-in Promo Builder and Scheduler to create and schedule receipt ads, it’s very easy to set-up.

PromoPRNT takes no time at all. To connect your printer, it takes under 3 minutes. To make your first promotion from a template, it takes under 5 minutes. So, in about 10 minutes, you are up and running.

How to Set Up and Use PromoPRNT

All a small business requires to on-board PromoPRNT is to own a Star Micronics receipt printer and to sign-up on Star Micronics Cloud.

In an era of mobile and eCommerce, it’s refreshing for retailers to have such a simple tool that can be so valuable for building customer experiences. Customer experiences and an entire brand’s reputation live in memories made in the brick-and-mortar store. The physical store is the centerpiece of the retail brand. So why not augment it?

PromoPRNT supports any printer that works with windows PC. We support USB connected printers, with the most common printer being the TSP100III series. We also support the TSP650II series, TSP700II, and mPOP and the new mC-Prints under windows.

To get started simply sign up here.

We recently crafted a short how-to video to show just how easy it is for retailers and small businesses to implement. Try PromoPRNT today.

4 Ways to Streamline Restaurant Kitchen Operations

Well-run kitchen operations mean perfectly timed food prep, faster table turns, and few mistakes. However, no restaurant is perfect and in these high-pressure, non-stop work environments, sometimes mistakes are unavoidable. Errors that aren’t quickly contained can trickle down and cause kitchen backups, longer wait times and fewer table turns, which means less profit and lower tips for staff.

If your kitchen operations could use a refresh, or if you want to integrate new technology for greater efficiency, choose a system that will help you achieve your current goals as well as keep your restaurant humming in the future.

  1. Assess your hardware

Evaluate your technology components from top to bottom, including point of sale (POS) hardware and front- and back-of -house printers. Overuse, heat, spills, food particles, and steam can harm point of sale hardware and printers, causing expensive work slowdowns and inviting mistakes. Even the cleanest, most organized kitchen operations can lead to electronics damage, especially the moving parts and printhead of a printer. Choosing a model protected from splashes and designed for use in your kitchen environment will ensure your investment will last.

  1. Consider tableside ordering and payment processing

Mobile POS is a must for restaurants that want to increase throughput and boost profits. These systems allow servers to take orders tableside and transmit them directly to the kitchen, so the kitchen staff can prepare them without delay. It eliminates the time spent writing down the orders, walking back to the POS terminal and waiting if someone else is using it to input an order.  Taking orders with a mobile device also eliminates costly mistakes that can occur when trying to remember an order or deciphering handwriting on the way to the POS terminal. In addition, using mobile POS, staff can process credit card payments tableside, which eliminates the need to bring the check to the table, take the credit card to the terminal and swipe it, and then bring the receipt back for the customer to sign.

  1. Floorplan mapping

An entire restaurant can be monitored from the tablet POS or stationary terminal with just a few clicks. If one section becomes too busy, the floor plan can be shifted around to incorporate more staff. And if a backup slows down the pace or a server becomes overwhelmed, it’ll be easy to identify and adapt kitchen operations before it becomes a larger issue.

  1. Real-time cloud-based reporting

Cloud-based point of sale systems enable you to review sales and inventory information in real time, so you can monitor your business throughout the day. These systems also include a variety of reporting options that give you an in-depth look in to every shift, hour, day, week, month or year. Running sales reports help restaurant owners and managers identify which menu items are most popular and which result in ingredients taking up shelf space in the kitchen. Identifying best-selling menu items also ensures the right stock is available to make them, maximizing profitability and increasing customer satisfaction.

Kitchen operations can make or break a restaurant, but the right technology can help keep them on track. The most successful eateries have the tools they need to succeed—mobile POS, kitchen technology, real-time reporting and the ability to monitor the restaurant floor right from the POS. How do your kitchen operations stack up?

This is How Big the Cannabis Retail Sector is Going to Be

By Sarah Jane Callendar

Within the next 10 years, the legal cannabis industry is likely to boom around the globe, according to Arcview Market Research and its research partner BDS Analytics.

Spending on legal cannabis is expected to reach $57 billion by 2027. The adult recreational market is predicted to reach 67% of the spending and the remaining 33% will be taken up by medical marijuana.

More states are recognising cannabis

Take the U.S. for example, where it looks like more states are likely to legalize cannabis. Thirty states plus the District of Columbia now allow the legal use of medical marijuana. Nine of these states plus D.C. have also legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Two more states, Michigan and New Jersey, seem to be on the path to legalization in 2018. In April, The Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved an initiative to put recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot paper later this year. They needed to gather 250,000 signatures and ended up with more than 365,000 signatures of support.

Meanwhile, Democrat Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, voiced his support for the legalization of recreational cannabis and is promoting a bill that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in his state.

Cannabis sales could even eclipse beer

The cannabis market is even putting pressure on alcohol sales and could out-sell beer.

Binge-drinking rates have fallen 9% below the national average in states that have legalized marijuana, and 11% in states that allow the recreational use of the drug, according to Bloomberg reports. Adults in states which have legalized marijuana binge drink on average 13% fewer times per month than those in states which have legalized recreational usage.

Other estimates show that the market for cannabis could even eclipse the sales of soda.

According to investment bank Cowen, if marijuana is legalized nationwide in the US by 2030, the legal weed industry could generate $75 billion in sales by that year. Soda consumption, on the other hand, is declining. Per capita, soda consumption fell to a 31-year low in the US in 2016, Bloomberg reports, with $76.4 billion in sales in 2017.

Having said this, even though the US decriminalization of cannabis is likely over time, there are still legal challenges for the booming market. Marijuana is still considered illegal and a Schedule I substance by the federal government and therefore cannabis-based businesses don’t have access to traditional banks and so cannot open lines of credit. And around the globe, the adult recreational cannabis market remains hampered by the United Nations and its 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

A Canadian Perspective

Meanwhile in Canada the cannabis industry is expected to soar as the recreational use of marijuana will be legalized on October 17, 2018. The market is due to increase drastically as Justin Trudeau announced the long-awaited date after months of speculation in Ottawa, confirming that Canadians will be able to purchase and consume the drug.

Of course, no one can know for sure what the retail environment will look like once marijuana stores are legal. But according to Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC World Market, if businesses are allowed cannabis shops and to compete in the same way other retailers do, then Canadians could be buying as much as $10 billion worth of marijuana products per year.

To put this in perspective, Canadians bought around $9 billion worth of beer in 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

Further promises of the booming market come after the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) announced that it has partnered with 26 licensed producers for its online retail platform, which is the province’s only retailer for recreational marijuana this fall.

The store says that supply agreements with these Health Canada-authorized producers were extremely competitive and will allow for a variety of products to be sold when pot becomes legal on October 17th.

The Picture of Legalization

The online store plans to sell various products including dried flowers, cannabis oil and cannabis seeds to customers 19 or older and plans to expand the selection over time.

Ontario has also announced it will allow recreational pot to be sold in retail stores while the province will handle online sales.

With this plan, the OCS will not operate any storefronts, but will provide an online channel that will include an age-verification system to ensure safe home delivery of cannabis products. This means the OCS will act as a wholesale supplier for private retailers.

Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli says that the government will propose an official Ontario Cannabis Retail seal which will help consumers identify retailers that sell federally qualified products. “Consumers can look to this seal to confirm they are buying from a legal channel,” said Fedeli. “This is an assurance that the illegal market simply cannot match.”

The full regulatory framework for the private sector will be designed in consultation with stakeholders, including municipal governments, indigenous communities, law enforcement, public health advocates, business and consumer groups. Fedeli assures sceptics that the government’s priorities are ensuring public safety and eliminating the black market. “The Government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores,” said Fedeli. “Instead we will work with private-sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market.”

So what does this mean for the future of cannabis retail? Although the exact outcome is unknown, the $57 billion spending on legal cannabis predicted by Arcview Research is extremely promising. We are already seeing positive steps in the US and Canada, where legalization is becoming increasingly common and is arguably filtering into mainstream law. This is fantastic news for the marijuana retail sector.

The cannabis retail store definitely shows huge potential and only time will tell just how big the market will really be.

4 Indicators That It’s Time to Upgrade Your Salon POS System

Salons and spas require special point of sale (POS) features like walk-in management, appointment schedulers, customer relationship management (CRM), loyalty functions, reminders, online booking, payment processing and more. It doesn’t matter if you own a hair or nail salon, blow-out bar or a full-service spa, salon POS systems aren’t a “one and done” investment—they require upgrades to keep up with your industry and new client demands and expectations.

Do you have a fast salon POS system that engages clients at checkout, tracks clients via CRM, accepts any form of payment, facilitates loyalty programs and accepts appointments online? If they can’t do these things and extra seconds are adding up to longer wait times, then it’s time for an upgrade. Here are four signs it’s time for a refresh:

  1. Hardware is outdated and no longer compatible with new software

New functionalities designed to enhance customer service become available regularly, so your hardware needs to support these platforms. Watch for the signs that a hardware failure is imminent:  crashing, inexplicable component malfunctions, or software running slowly. Don’t wait until the system is offline, which means work slowdowns, data loss and longer wait times. Obviously, if your hardware is so old it can’t run new software, it’s time for a replacement. Set a regular schedule for evaluating salon POS system hardware to make sure all components are running well.

  1. Your existing system is not scalable

If growth and additional locations is your goal, it’s important to have a scalable system that allows you to easily add terminals and locations to your network. Scalability is also important if you need more checkouts temporarily, because once the terminal is added to the network, the device will be running the same solution with the same data accessibility. If your current solution isn’t scalable or you’ve been putting it off because it’s a hassle, it’s time for an upgrade.

  1. Your POS system doesn’t provide actionable data and analytics

A salon POS system should be a workhorse that makes your life easier. A few clicks should give you comprehensive reports that allow you to view sales, customer information, appointments and inventory data in real time. These systems also include a variety of reporting options that give you comprehensive intelligence by the shift, hour, day, week, month or year. Without this information, it’s impossible to optimize employee scheduling, see what products are in stock, what’s selling out and what’s ready for markdown. Without actionable data and analytics, you can’t make changes that will improve your business or maximize efficiency.

  1. Customer service is less than stellar

Constantly apologizing to customers because “the system is slow today” or making them wait to checkout is a poor finish to a relaxing massage, exciting new haircut or a fresh manicure. Your salon POS system should empower you to give each client personalized attention by tracking customer purchases and preferences and offering coupons, based on their buying habits. It should also facilitate loyalty programs, marketing initiatives and engage the customer during their final moments in the salon. However, if a fast (or slow, depending on your hardware) checkout is all you have to offer before your clients leave, then it’s time for an upgrade.

Even though there are other business changes you’d probably prefer to finance, your salon POS system needs regular TLC. In fact, not keeping your POS system current will cost you money and time and customer service will suffer. Don’t get caught off guard—monitor your salon POS system for signs of failure and address them right away.

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

How Retail Stores Can Create Customer Centric Experiences

By Sarah Jane Callender

 

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

1. Excellent Customer Service is Priority

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

2. Create a Company Culture

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

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

3. Display Reviews and Consumer Feedback

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

4. Improve the In-Store Experience

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

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

5. Connect Physical and Digital Experiences

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

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

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

6. Make it Personal

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

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

7. Build a Community

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

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

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

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


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

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