When it comes to turning inventory, more than just the quality of product can affect sales. Making sure your employees are trained and up-to-snuff about your products is incredibly important to your success. But how do you make sure they are following through with training and feel comfortable on the sales floor? Check out how you can use your data to help your employees knock it out of the park. Training It’s important that you offer continuing education and training to your employees. The better they know your products, the better they’ll be able to sell them. Even outside of products, training your staff on the best ways to talk to customers can help them collect more information and give your customers a personalized experience. Data-driven tip: Use your reporting to pull a salesperson analysis monthly for training purposes. Pinpoint what areas they made need additional training in and set aside time to work with them each month. Maybe they’re great at selling the products you have in-store, but aren’t getting additional sales from add-on items. Have a training meeting focusing on the best ways to sell add-on items to your customers.   Rewards Rewarding good work is a great way to show appreciation, boost employee morale, and keep good employees around. Whether you set monthly quotas or host selling contests every month, have some form of reward for your top salespeople. People who feel recognized in their job are more likely to continue going above and beyond to sell your products. Data-driven tip: Run a report to find what inventory may not be selling as quickly as you thought it would. Have your employees engage in a little friendly competition to see who can sell the most over the next month. At the end of the month, run a report to see who wins and reward them with money, a paid day off, or free lunch. A little appreciation, goes a long way. Scheduling Creating a schedule for your employees should be done more purposefully than just scheduling two salespeople every 4 hours. When planning a schedule, you want to make sure you are maximizing your employee’s time and experience. Unsure of how to effectively schedule your employees? Data-driven tip: Pull reports on your sales by time. When you’re able to see what your busiest and slowest hours are, you can schedule employees better. If mornings are slower than midafternoon, schedule just one salesperson rather than two. Aligning at least one of your top salespeople with your peak hours will also ensure you have a more experienced person on the floor to help customers and coach other employees. When it comes to keeping your staff up-to-speed, it’s best to focus on training in areas where they need improvement but also reward them in the areas where they excel. Focusing on training, reward systems, and effective scheduling will help your employees not only sell more, but also feel more valued in their job. As a retailer today, you’re no longer just competing with your competitors’ products and prices, but also with their customer loyalty programs. Shoppers are becoming more and more inclined to shop with a retailer who rewards them for their purchases. So how do you create a loyalty program that rewards your customers and creates a higher demand for your products? Check out the best ways to create an effective data-driven loyalty program that will actually help you sell more.

Get to know your customers

This may seem like a given, but it’s impossible to deliver a genuine, personalized experience when you assume all of your customers are the same. The truth is, they’re not and they’ll be less likely to continue shopping with you if they fell they are just being treated as a number. Data-driven tip: Use your POS to collect information on your customers as they check out. Collect basic information like name, email, and birthdate. Consider adding in notes about the customer’s purchasing habits. The more information you have about them, the better you can serve them in the future, and the more likely they’ll be to return to your store.

Implement a ‘buy to earn’ strategy

The concept is simple; reward purchases with points that can be used on later purchases. Smart retailers choose a threshold that customers must hit in order to get a reward amount (i.e. each dollar spent equals one point, but points can’t be redeemed until you have 250). Once customers earn the appropriate amount of points, reward them with a percentage or dollar amount off of their next purchase. Data-driven tip: Use reporting in your POS and inventory management system to find customers who are nearing in on a reward. Send out emails to those customers reminding them of the incentive. When customers know they are close to a reward, they’re more likely to pull the trigger on a purchase they’ve been considering.

Personalize rewards

Customers today expect a personalized experience when shopping. Go above and beyond your competitors by using your data to target rewards and incentives by past purchases. Use the information you have on your clients to dictate what offers you send them and when. Data-driven tip: Pull a report on your customers who are closing in on their loyalty reward. Using that list, cross-reference past purchases with new products to send personalized offer emails to your customers. The more genuine and personalized experience a customer receives, the more likely they will be to purchase again. When it comes to customer loyalty, focusing on collecting and using your data in your marketing and sales tactics is the best bet to keep your customers coming back again and again. Stay tuned for more posts on becoming a data-driven retailer using data to run a more successful business. RICS Software is excited to announce that RICS and Locally have recently partnered to offer clients an integrated solution for displaying local inventory online. Displaying local inventory online allows for a wider audience, increased visibility, and a higher likelihood of new customers! RICS has recognized the growing importance of an online presence for all retailers and believe that this partnership will be valuable in an effort by retailers to stay ahead of recent retail and ecommerce trends. Locally has several offerings that retailers can take advantage of such as, displaying inventory availability on Locally.com, integrating with an existing e-commerce site, and even displaying inventory availability on a brand’s website. RICS automatically sends up-to-date, on-hand inventory quantities to Locally for distribution to the online marketing and selling channels you want to participate in (e.g., a brand website or your own Facebook page). To learn more about Locally’s offerings, contact Locally at retailers@locally.com. To enable the integration between RICS and Locally, contact accounts@ricssoftware.com. As an ecommerce retailer, it is essential that you are actively using social media to promote your store. In this day and age, people are constantly on social media, whether they are using it for communicating, shopping, to find information, etc. Because Millennials have such a strong influence over retail businesses by holding the spending power, they dictate how they want to shop. For most Millennials, the best way to reach them is through social media. Did you know that “Nearly three quarters of Millennials age 19-32 say they are more influenced in their buying decisions by social media recommendations than TV ads?” (Marketing Profs). You want to make sure you can be in front of them where they might notice you. If your retail store, ecommerce or not, doesn’t have a social media presence, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to sell. Social media is most likely a huge driver of traffic to your ecommerce site, so take advantage of being able to market your store. Some other important benefits of using social media include: There are many advantages to using social media that will make your ecommerce store more successful. If you are interested in tips for using Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, check out this blog post.   Did you know that you can add an alert to a customer’s profile in RICS? You can create the alert to remind you of something which will pop up when you open the customer’s profile. Alerts can be helpful because you can use it as a way to remember unique things about your customer. For example, if the last time your customer came in your store and she told you she was training for a marathon, you could create an alert to remind you of that so you can ask her about the training and how it is going. It helps you build great relationships with your customers! Here is how you can add an alert to a customer using RICS:

In the Back Office:

  1. Navigate to the Customer:: Customer:: Manage Customer page
  2. Using the Lookup tool, lookup the customer you want to add an alert to
  3. Enter the alert you want to appear on the customer into the Alert text box
  4. Save the customer by clicking ‘Save’ or ‘Save and Clear’

At the POS:

  1. Navigate to the POS Ticket Header screen
  2. Using the Customer Lookup, search for and select the customer
  3. Click on ‘Customer Management’
  4. Enter the alert you want to add to the customer into the Alert text box
  For other RICS tips, check out our Help Center!    

Our point of sale and inventory management system has the capability for the user to enter a Birth Date for customers in the system. This information can be used for reporting purposes (for example, to create a mailing list for a birthday coupon promotion). Recognizing your customers’ birthdays is a great way to show your customers that you are thinking of them while encouraging them to shop in your store! 

Here are the steps you need to take to get your customers’ birthdays into your system:

Entering Dates

At the point of sale, the Birth Date can be entered on the Manage Customer screen. 

In the Back Office, the process is very similar, except that the Manage Customer screen will pop up a calendar widget when the user clicks the icon next to the field. It’s important to note that if the user chooses a customer’s birthday using the calendar widget, the year is ignored

Using Dates

The Customer reports have an option to filter by birthdays. This is mainly useful for running promotions based on customer birthdays. To use this feature, go to the Additional Customer Criteria tab on the report, and fill in the section titled Limit to customers with birthday/birthdate.

RICS will look for an exact match on the information provided, and ignore all the others. Note that you cannot enter a range in these fields; only an exact year, month, or day can be entered.

The user can also enter a Birthday Period. Note that doing so will look at the entire birth date, including the year. This means that if the year was not stored correctly, the customer will not be found.

Custom Entries

There are a number of clients who choose to use Customer Custom Entries rather than the built-in Customer Birth Date field. RICS does not recommend doing this, because our built in filtering and reporting capabilities will not pick up these birthdays.

For other RICS tips, check out our Help Center or click here to find out some other customer data you should be collecting.

RMSA Retail Solutions is one of our partners that offers retailers a unique solution combining easy-to-use cloud software and access to a retail expert to help interpret what’s going on inside your business. With RICS you have access to your business’s data and can run reports that enable you to make the best decisions for your business. When partnered with RMSA, you can take your business to the next level. RMSA collects your sales, buying, and inventory data from RICS and combines it with other industry trends to determine your store’s sales patterns, seasonality, turnover potential, optimal flow of receipts, and the best timing for inventory deliveries. RMSA also offers informative videos that will quickly take you through ways to be a smart retailer and improve your business. You can click here to check them out! With RMSA you get monthly updated merchandise action plans for every store and an opportunity to schedule analytical discussions with your RMSA retail analyst. They will offer guidance on specific steps to take and a solution that is tailored to your store’s unique traits and point of sale data. By analyzing RICS data and other industry data, RMSA can improve your profitability and recommend the right open-to-buy strategy. Our clients Deborah and Lisa Schuemann from Village Bootery say, “Our association with RMSA has been extremely educational. Our RMSA specialist has been very attentive to our questions and remained determined to help us understand the basic principles of retail: importance of turns, ROI, markups, and perhaps most important, inventory control! Bottom line, RMSA has enabled us to increase profitability.” With mobile marketing on the rise, reaching your target audience on the go has become more important than ever. If you’re using your POS to collect customer data but not using it to send out marketing messages, it could be costing you sales. Read on to learn about how you can start launching email campaigns to your clients!

Identify Email Marketing Software

It’s important to have a tool that will help not only help you send out the emails, but that can also give you metrics on how your emails performing. Many email marketing tools offer a free version that allows a certain amount of emails and a certain amount of users each month. Do a little research to figure out what tool will work best for you. A few popular platforms include:

Plan Your Segmentation for Targeted Campaigns

Once you have a platform to send out emails for you, it’s time to figure out how your going to segment your audience for targeted campaigns. Targeted marketing allows you to give your users a more personalized experience, making them feel more appreciated and building customer loyalty. Segments can include:

Plan and Create Content

Once you know what (and how many) campaigns you’re going to run, it’s important to plan out your content before creating it. Take the time to create personalized messaging that will engage your targeted group. The more engaging your subject line and content, the more likely your reader will be to open and click through to your website.

Test the Campaign

Before shooting your email campaign off to your customers, make sure you take the time to do the proper testing to ensure the campaign will perform. If your email isn’t reaching the customers, or is formatted incorrectly, it could hurt the campaign’s success. Testing is a crucial step in any email campaign!

Pull Your Customers’ Information

Once you have the email campaigns and have properly tested them, you can start pulling your customer data from your POS and Inventory Management System. Pull your customer lists by filtering your reports by chosen segments. Once you have your customers’ information out of the POS, load it into your email marketing system to start sending emails.

Send Emails & Track Success

After you’ve properly uploaded your customers (and further segmented if necessary), it’s time to launch your first email campaign! Schedule a time for emails to go out and let the software do the rest of the work. Once your campaign is live, make sure to check the results of the campaign. Are people opening the emails? If so, are they using the coupon codes you provided? It’s important to not only engage with your customers via email, but also to review the effectiveness of it. Reviewing the success will show you what campaigns worked and which could use a little refining. Email marketing can be an extremely successful marketing tactic when done correctly. Take the time to plan your campaigns effectively, track the success, and adjust campaigns in the future. Putting the time into email marketing will not only promote your business, but it will also build customer loyalty through coupons and sales. Did you know that RICS Software can help you collect, manage, and assess customer information? Click here to learn more. Collecting your customers’ information and other details is instrumental in understanding your clients. If you ask the right questions, you have a chance to get all the information (and more) you need to have a solid understanding of each customer. But how do you get information without being too pushy? Don’t get too personal It’s okay to collect basic information from your customers like name and email, but don’t be pushy about what information you’re collecting. Customers may not want to give you their information up front. Respect your customer’s boundaries and understand that you may find yourself with customers who will never share their personal information. You can still use non-identified data like gender, store location, and purchase history to better forecast purchases. Be transparent When helping a customer or checking them out, tell them why you’d like to collect their information. A little transparency can go a long way with your client base. Telling them why will help them understand how you are going to use their information, and gives them more of a reason to opt in. Try lines like: Remember information they do share After you’ve collected the basics (name, gender, and email) and start building a relationship with a customer, you can collect other, more detailed information that can help you classify your audience base. Not only does this show you care about that customer’s needs, but it also gives you insight into the type of general audience you have coming into your store. Start adding notes to your customer profile of things like: Collecting customer information can be a great tool for both marketing and forecasting sales. Understanding your customers’ wants, needs, and annual purchases gives you an added edge and can help you build customer loyalty and sell more inventory! Now that the holidays are a month out and foot traffic may have slowed down a bit, it’s time to reflect on your holiday sales. Have you had a chance to compare them to last year? If so, were they better or worse? If you haven’t, it’s time to gut check all of the efforts you put into prepping for the holiday season and see what worked and what could use a little refining. Review the numbers First things first, make sure you pull sales numbers for this year and last year’s sales. Take the time to sift through the numbers and make sure your sales were as good, if not better than last year. If they aren’t, you need to sit down and consider what changed over the course of the year. Total Sales Of course it’s important to see what your total sales are for the holiday season. These numbers are easy to pull and give you a quick starting point for comparison. You can break this number down by the whole sales period, month, or day. Then you can start to target what days and months were your most successful. Top Products Sold Chances are you already have a pretty good idea on what products are probably selling the best in your store. But with higher sales during holiday months, it’s always worth looking into which products are making you the most money. After you’ve identified your top sellers, reflect on a few things. Are these products you already have in your buying rotation? If they’re not in your buying rotation (and not seasonal items), it may be worth considering adding them due to the high demand. Review your marketing Did you run any marketing campaigns leading up to the holidays? If so, did you see more customers in your store as a result? It’s important to take the time to review your marketing campaigns and pinpoint programs that worked and programs that gave you little return. Coupons Did you find most purchases were made with coupons? Coupons are a great way to get customers into your store, but if you give too much of a discount or give them out too often, you risk losing money. If customers expect a coupon to come out every 30 days, they may wait to visit your store until they know they can get a discount. Consider using coupons as a ‘thank you’ gift to loyal customers or reward programs that give customers a percentage off after they’ve spent a certain amount in your store. Email Campaigns Make sure you’re tracking the success of your email campaigns. If you’re using a company to send out your emails, you should be able to review certain statistics. Check open rate, click-through rate, and subscriptions. If your numbers are low, you might want to consider reviewing your audience and content to ensure you’re sending messaging that will increase your engagement so your offers reach more of your customers. As a retailer, it’s important to reflect on your year-over-year sales to ensure that you’re meeting the expectations you forecasted. But reflecting on a usually larger-than-normal sales period can help you identify areas where you’re excelling and areas that could use improvement. If you spend the time reviewing your sales, you have a better chance at turning your insights into profit sooner rather than later! Many retailers across the country (and the globe) are offering subscription-based models to cater to their customers’ wants and needs. Brands like Birchbox, Carnivore Club, Dollar Shave Club, and Stitch Fix do this and are wildly successful at it. Subscription models create customer loyalty while making it more convenient for consumers to shop at your store. One reason subscription-based models are successful is because it allows your customers to test out or sample a product before going all-in for the complete purchase. Customers are always eager to try new things without giving a full commitment, which makes the subscription-based model a perfect fit for them. Often times, customers will return to buy the full-size version of the samples. This is a nice way to give customers a little taste of your products to keep them coming back for more. Another way to use subscription-based models to your advantage is to replenish your customers’ wants and needs on a regular, scheduled basis. For example, if you operate a running store and you notice that your customers come back every 4-6 months to buy a new pair of running shoes, you can sign them up to have their new shoes delivered right to their door on a regular basis! By learning and understanding your shoppers’ wants, needs, and habits, you can create a model that works best for them. You can also create a “Surprise Subscription” or a “of-the-month” box and send your customers a box of the latest and greatest on a regular basis. You could incentivize customers to sign up for your subscriptions by offering them special deals and discounts on the items in their box. Some benefits that you could see with subscription-based models include: predictable monthly sales, building longer relationships with customers, automating purchase orders and inventory fulfillment, creating upselling opportunities, and more! It is definitely worth considering if a subscription-based model is worth implementing in your store. The key to successful subscription-based models is to use compelling products, combined with excellent customer service. Pair that with personalization and convenience, and you’ll be sure to find success! If you liked reading this post, check out our blog for some other business tips! Interest in creating an ecommerce platform to sell inventory online is a popular topic, and more and more retailers are using ecommerce to propel sales. From single store locations to multi-store franchises, the appeal to have another “storefront” to sell merchandise is apparent. After all, with low overhead and the ability to have anyone, anywhere, at any time be able to find and buy your inventory, who wouldn’t want to capitalize on this? At RICS, we fully support our retailers integrating an ecommerce solution in order to sell more inventory. We have published a guide to help you get started, with the things you should consider before starting down the ecommerce path. After all, this is not a quick or inexpensive process, and every dollar counts. As a RICS client, the first thing you should do when considering integrating your ecommerce platform with your RICS inventory, is talk to a RICS Account Manager. There are many integration solutions for ecommerce with a variety of price tags and complexity levels and we can help you evaluate which is the right solution for you. Often times, RICS is brought in after an ecommerce solution has been chosen and there is frustration over additional costs that could have been reduced or avoided, had the conversation happened before. RICS is here as your resource – not just during onboarding and for the occasional support issue – but to help you determine what tools are in place and what is needed to help you grow and succeed in your business Here are the things we will explore when evaluating an ecommerce solution for you: What are you trying to accomplish with your ecommerce site? How robust of a solution do you need? Who will build the connector between your RICS inventory and your ecommerce website? Can one of our existing partners fulfill your needs? (this is often the quicker and more cost effective solution) Do you need to use someone outside of our partner network? What do the timeframe and costs associated with that look like? We want to find the right solution for you that is going to be most cost efficient and will increase sales and profitability. In order to do that, a quick conversation upfront as you entertain ideas like ecommerce or other major decisions that can impact your business will help make sure RICS is completely aligned with your business and help lead you to the right solution. Check out our guide to learn more about getting started with ecommerce. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an Account Manager at any time to discuss initiatives like these. You can contact us at: accounts@ricssoftware.com to start the conversation. Understanding and analyzing data is an essential part of making your business successful. That is why we are here to tell you the data points you need to be tracking on a regular basis. This knowledge facilitates effective goal-setting tactics and provides you with the proper benchmarks upon which to base future progress. Collecting and measuring data, and assembling it into an easily accessible, digestible format, will help guide your decision-making strategy to become a profitable retailer. Without the data, you don’t have the insight necessary to know how your business is really doing. Best and Worst Sellers Best and worst sellers refer to the quantity sold of a product. Using data to track which items are your best sellers is a way to measure success of certain products. Knowing which items are your top selling products will help you know what you need to order more of. Tracking your worst sellers will indicate the merchandise you might want to consider liquidating. This allows you to manage inventory as accurately as possible, ensuring that you do not have an improper amount of assets tied up in inventory, as well as making sure that you do not miss opportunities for sales by being poorly stocked. Salesperson Analysis and Peak Sales Times Salesperson analysis provides key information about your employees, indicating who has the most and fewest sales, both overall and per hour. Tracking your peak sales times will help you staff your employees accordingly. Take advantage of your salesperson analysis and schedule your top employees during the peak sales hours. Conversely, make sure you are not wasting money on employees by overstaffing during slower periods. Use this information to your advantage and be a smarter retailer. Customer Data Being able to collect customer data at the point of sale is crucial for your business. By collecting purchase history, demographics, customer birthdays, etc. you can create segmented marketing campaigns, target specific customers, and personalize your customer experience. By building relationships with your customers, they will be more likely to come into your store. You can also take advantage of your data to identify your most reliable customers. Offer incentives and loyalty programs to motivate them to come back in. These data points will give you an idea of how different aspects of your business are performing. Without the data, it is difficult to accurately know your success. The more insight you have, the better equipped you are to make informed decisions so that you can be a profitable retailer. Check out our slideshare or guide to learn more about using your data. Understanding the data that impacts your bottom line is crucial to keeping your business profitable. But how do you know which data points are the most important to keep your eye on? Check out our breakdown of the top 5 data points you should be checking on a regular basis! Data is a key component in the success of your business. But, data doesn’t mean anything until you analyze it and understand what it’s telling you. Data analysis allows business owners to react to trends and capitalize on growth opportunities without requiring significant time or resources. Data offers insight into aspects of your business that you maybe never knew about or thought of before. It allows you to establish procedures for your inventory, salespeople, and customers that will help you run a better business. Knowing specific metrics, like your top sellers, the top performing salesperson, and your most loyal customers, will help you be the most informed retailer you can be. All of this data talk can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what data points you should be focusing on. There are a handful of metrics that we strongly recommend our clients track on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Key performance indicators (KPIs) allow you to track actual store progress against your goals. Keeping track of these KPIs allow you to better quantify your performance and to forecast expected profits and results. There are numerous KPIs that can be measured in order to assess a business’s success. Some include: • Return on investment (ROI)=profit during sales period/inventory cost over sales period • Best Sellers • Salesperson Analysis • Best Customer We believe that these are data points that you should be constantly tracking so that you have an idea of which products are making or losing your money, how your salespeople are performing, and which customers are your most loyal. Having technology that has the capability to track these data points and report on them is another essential component of your business. Retail technology enables you to be competitive by knowing which metrics to measure, what goals to set, and how to measure whether you’re reaching those objectives. Technology also allows storeowners to ring transactions on the POS, manage inventory, oversee employees, and store customer information and purchase history. With today’s high rate of technological growth, the compilation, storage, analysis, and reporting of data are crucial components of a company’s business strategy. If you want to learn more about how to use your data to its full potential, you can read the full guide here. The quantity and quality of data available to retailers has grown exponentially in recent years, but many leaders are left wondering what to do with it. That’s a great question to ask because data, in and of itself, is useless. The value of data comes from turning the data into information and meaning that inspires decisions, behavior changes, and actions. Data creates impact and value if appropriately used. The only way to create impact (value) from data is to be proactive in its use. A simple and recommend approach is to have a goal or target, set the unit of measure, place a value on the improvement effort, and implement your plans. It’s easier said than done, but it is that simple. We advise our clients to set performance improvement goals that are benchmarked against their current performance. Some easy to measure data is product ROI, turns, and salesperson performance. Once you pull the data together for a given period, you’ve got to do something with it for it to have an impact and create value! For example, you might observe that Mary sells add-on products (e.g., socks or inserts w/ a pair of shoes) 64% of the time and Susan achieves a 36% add-on sales rate. It’s obvious that Mary knows or does something that Susan doesn’t do with her customers. In that scenario, you’d want to learn about Mary’s add-on strategy, encourage Susan to talk with Mary or observer her approach, and set performance improvement goals both individuals (pro tip: set aggressive goals around improving measures that are already good to make them great!). Data can be everything if you practice turning it into information that leads to performance insights and major breakthroughs! Calling all retailers: have you heard about heat-mapping? It is the practice of identifying the hot selling spots in your store. Not only is it a great way to know what areas in your store are drawing your customers’ attention, but it’s also a great tactic for moving low-performing inventory out of your store quickly. It sounds like a good idea in theory, but you might be wondering what the best ways to heat map are. Here are some ideas to help you out! 1. Start by mapping out where you’ve historically kept certain products and brands 2. After you have a good understanding of what walls and racks house certain inventory, identify your best and worst selling items 3. Identify 2-3 ‘hot spots’ that sell inventory best 4. Try switching out inventory every two weeks to see if you can move older inventory out before marking it down Keep an eye on if your hot spots change depending on where you put certain merchandise. Another tip to help you take advantage of heat-mapping is to send your sales people over to the spots in your store that your customers are more likely to congregate. You can also place your more popular items in less traveled areas of your store to increase the traffic to those spots. Heat-mapping can offer insight about customer behavior in your store which you can take advantage of to be a more profitable retailer. Check out other ways to increase your cash flow and download our guide. Retailers need to understand their customers on an emotional level and realize that today’s average consumer expects a highly-personalized and easily accessible shopping experience. Shoppers expect to find their favorite stores online, on an app, on social media, and of course, in a physical location. According to a study from IBM and Econsultancy, there is a large gap between what consumers expect and what brands are delivering. Consumers believe the reason for this discrepancy is because their favorite brands do not understand them as individuals. One of the most important things retailers can do to meet the needs of their consumers is to deliver excellent customer service across all of their channels. Make sure your employees are friendly and greet every customer [learn how to enhance customer experience here], your ecommerce site is easy to use, and you’re posting regularly on social media. Exceptional customer experience is going to be what sets successful brands and stores apart from everyone else. So, the big question is, how are retailers supposed to know what their customers want? The answer is simple: analytics. Data and analytics provide visibility across all engagement channels to better understand customer buying patterns, what products are performing well, when to mark down slow-selling products, and real-time inventory data. Data and analytics allow merchants to make educated decisions about what is working and what is not working, and make adjustments accordingly. According to the IBM Holiday Readiness Report, this upcoming holiday shopping season is expected to be bigger than ever before. Growth in ecommerce sales on US retail websites has grown more than 10% each quarter over the past year. Retailers must use real-time data to keep up with their consumers’ wants and needs in order to be successful this holiday shopping season. (Retailing Today) To learn more about the importance of data, and how to track and analyze your data, check out this ebook. Retailers everywhere are finding the value in taking their successful brick and mortar businesses online. But how do you translate Mainstreet success into getting started with ecommerce? There are a few steps you should take before just throwing up some of your products online to make more money.  

Getting Started with Ecommerce: Research the Solutions.

You’ll need to start by researching solutions that can handle the online section of your business. Work with your POS provider to help you find:
  1. An ecommerce partner that is easy to operate, affordable and compatible with your POS and inventory management technology.
  2. An ecommerce platform that offers full-service backend capabilities.
  3. An online payment provider that offers secure transactions, competitive pricing and compatibility with selected partner and platform.

Plan what products you’ll sell online.

Not every piece of your inventory should make it into your online store. Instead, consider starting off with the products that you know are in high demand. Pull a report for your top selling products year over year from your inventory management system to find the products that are consistently hitting the top of the list.

Write Copy and Populate Your Website

Your platform may have helped you implement your new product pages (and if you’re lucky, any other content you needed). If not, try to get familiar with how the new site works and then start creating content for your home, about us, contact, and product pages. Once you’ve created and uploaded content for these pages, you’re ready to start marketing your site to your customers using social media, email newsletters, and traditional mailers. Offering an ecommerce solution to your customers is a great way to expand your market and increase sales. But it’s important to create an effective and manageable plan for executing your online store. A modern point of sale should be able to do more than just process transactions. It should be part of a retail technology strategy, including inventory management and customer relationship management components. With all of the point of sale solutions on the market, it can be overwhelming to pick the right one for your business. Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you. Here are 5 key things to consider when choosing a new point of sale for your business.
  1. Know that a POS should drive sales, encourage customer visits, and collect accurate data for inventory and reporting needs.
  2. Analyze the current state of your business to determine if you need a POS that will integrate with your current systems, if the new POS will be easy to use, and if you need mobile POS options.
  3. Understand the difference between a monthly subscription POS and an installed POS – and recognize all of the benefits that come along with a subscription-based POS.
  4. Determine your budget for your business goals, and recognize the importance of investing in long-term profits and success.
  5.  Embrace technology as a key part of your business strategy.
If you want to learn more about how to choose the right POS System for your business, you can read the full guide here.   Do you know how your inventory is really doing? Do you have enough stock on hand? What are your top-selling items? If you are unable to answer these questions, it might be time to consider rethinking how you manage your inventory. Inventory management allows you to run your business in the most effective and profitable way. Your data is what offers you insight into how your inventory is performing. These best practices will help you to get the most of your data when it comes to managing your inventory. First of all, you should be tracking your inventory. Your data is what gives you the information about how your products are doing, and therefore will help you make informed buying decisions in the future. Tracking your inventory will give you the data necessary for these insights and help you to always know what you have on hand. Secondly, you need to plan before you buy your inventory and use your data to see what you should be ordering. You shouldn’t simply reorder the same quantities, but instead see which products are the best and worst sellers and order accordingly. You should also use the data to your advantage when pricing merchandise. Look at previous seasons to guide your pricing decisions. Knowing how your merchandise has performed in past years will help you accurately buy and price for the current season. Third, you should be checking data and reports frequently. This will give you a good idea of how your inventory is performing overall. The more often you access these numbers, the quicker you’ll see red flags that need your immediate attention. You also will be more reactive to inventory needs and can make adjustments on the fly. Finally, make sure you focus on demand forecasting and study past sales to predict future patterns for inventory. By looking back at previous seasons from past years, you will be able to more accurately buy inventory for the future. All of these tips will help you use your data to make educated buying decisions that will help you be a more profitable retailer. If you found this helpful, download our best practices guide to learn more.