25 year in the biz

Tri-City Retail Systems Celebrates 25 Years in Business

25 years ago, we started Tri-City Retail Systems by selling and installing cash register systems in our own local area.

After two and a half decades, we’ve deployed Point of Sale system solutions for over 1,000 retail companies across North America.

So we’d like to take this opportunity to say thank-you! Thank-you, to our amazing team of POS technology experts who have relentlessly worked to help our customers succeed. Thank-you, to our suppliers and our many technology partners who have enabled us to continually evolve in an ever-evolving industry. But most of all, we’d like to say thank-you to our loyal customers, both large and small, without whom we would not exist. You have pushed us to be better. Your suggestions and feedback over the years have helped us to develop what the retail industry views as one of the best retail point of sale product and service offerings available. Thank-you, from the bottom of our hearts; and here’s to another 25 years of success for us all!

 

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a POS System

If you’re thinking of purchasing a new POS solution, ensuring you avoid these 7 mistakes will save you time and money.

  1. Waiting too long to buy a POS system.

The number one mistake made by a lot of first-time retailers is buying a POS system just a week or two before opening their store. They spend all of their time buying merchandise, managing tradespeople and hiring employees. But the important task of purchasing a POS system is often left until the last few weeks, or days, before opening. This is a huge mistake because the process of evaluating POS systems, choosing the right one for your business, and then deploying it can take weeks or even months. It’s not a trivial task; it’s a big job and it’s a complicated one. So start your evaluation as soon as possible; why not right after you sign the lease agreement for your store? You can use the next few months to evaluate systems and find the one that best suits your business and budget. Oh, and make sure you learn how long it will take to order all your hardware components and perform the specific tasks necessary to deploy your system. You don’t want to go through a long evaluation process to find the right system, then find out that you don’t have enough time to deploy it before you open your store. Your vendor should be able to provide a basic overview of the deployment process, including approximate delivery times of any hardware components, and a list of tasks you will have to complete on your own before you can start using the system. Work with your vendor to create a realistic installation and training schedule that will ensure your POS system and your employees will be ready to go when your store opening day arrives.

  1. Buying the hardware before the software.

Don’t buy your POS hardware before you choose your POS software. It’s like putting the cart before the horse and it’s one of the biggest mistakes that new retailers make when investing in a new POS system. It is always better to evaluate software solutions first. Choose the software that fits your business environment and budget, then buy the hardware that works best with the software. Plus, your software vendor will be able to recommend the best hardware products for their software. Proving that it’s a bad idea, here are some examples of common predicaments in which retailers find themselves when buying hardware first:

  • They buy an iPad or Mac because it looks great but then they take all Windows-based apps out of their evaluation. Since the majority of business programs run on Windows, they can’t find software that is flexible enough for their needs or expandable enough for their growth plans.
  • They buy a computer system with a regular monitor, and then they buy a software program that relies heavily on using a touch-screen monitor. Now they have to buy a touch-screen monitor and they have a regular monitor that collects dust and takes up space.
  • They buy equipment online such as POS peripherals (receipt printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners, etc.) to find out that they don’t match the ports on their computer.
  1. Not evaluating the hardware vendor.

Many retailers purchase hardware on the internet with no regard for the company supplying the products. Unless you have prior experience with their products and services, evaluating the vendor is a must. What retail-specific experience do they have? What are their warranty programs and how do they handle repairs and replacements? If they are an online vendor, where is their repair depot? Who bears the cost of shipping warranty repairs to and from the repair depot? How easy is it to access support after hours and on weekends? Talk to each vendor and learn what support services they offer to complement the products they sell. It usually makes sense to pay a bit more for hardware if the vendor can provide value-added services, like Next-Business-Day swap-outs, or technical assistance with device drivers and operating system upgrades. A knowledgeable vendor will also assist you in comparing different products and ultimately choosing the specific models that will work best in your environment and with your software application.

  1. Not evaluating the software vendor.

The software vendor you choose is as important as the software itself. Many retailers buy their POS solutions solely based on functionality and price, without any regard for who is selling them the software. Ask yourself, does the vendor have a lot of experience selling to retailers in my market? An experienced vendor who has deployed systems for a lot of similar retailers can help you learn the software faster and provide a lot of tips and tricks that will save you time and money. In addition, most software vendors are familiar with their competitors’ products and can speak to key differences in their offerings. This will help you compare apples to apples more easily. What about the professional services offered by the vendor? Can you sign up for one-on-one training programs or do you have to teach yourself how to use their software, relying on online tutorials or user manuals? These are great tools as occasional reference materials, but they don’t compare to the benefits you’ll get when you’re trained by an experienced software expert who can personalize your training program and offer guidance and knowledge throughout the deployment process. What about after your system is deployed and you are actually using the software in your business; do you have access to end-user support when you need it? Many POS solution vendors provide support during business hours, but then you can’t reach them after 5:00 PM. You’re a retailer, make sure your software vendor can provide emergency support during retail hours.

  1. Not evaluating enough POS software programs.

Don’t just purchase the first POS software program you evaluate; or the cheapest program on the market. Not all POS software is created equal. There are many POS systems that only provide very basic features and functions; and many that have hidden costs that you won’t know about until after you fork over your credit card info. By evaluating multiple POS systems, you can compare the features and costs of each and come to a more informed decision. You don’t need to evaluate every POS software program on the market but you should see demonstrations of at least two or three before choosing one for your business.

  1. Evaluating too many software programs.

After Mistake # 5, it might seem counter-productive to say this but sometimes you can evaluate too many solutions. After a while, you experience “information overload’ and start mixing up which solutions provide which features. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for people to start their evaluation over from scratch – or just choose the first (or last) or cheapest solution and hope for the best. It’s okay to reach out to a lot of vendors and POS solution providers for your initial introductory calls or discussions, but distill your list down to two or three vendors that can give you detailed demonstrations of their solutions. You’ll be able to compare better and you won’t waste your time (and other people’s time) running around in circles trying to remember which products provided which features.

  1. Choosing a Merchant Services Provider before buying your POS system.

Another mistake retailers make when purchasing their first POS system is choosing the company that will process credit cards and debit cards for them before they buy their POS system. Since banks offer a wide variety of merchant services, including credit/debit card processing services, they will always try to sign you up for their merchant services offerings when you set up your bank account. But it’s premature to do it before you buy your POS system because if you want your system to integrate into your Merchant Services Provider’s host processor, you will need to choose a POS system that has already been certified by your Merchant Services Provider. Most POS systems are integrated to multiple Merchant Services Providers, but not necessarily to the one your bank promotes. So if you want the benefits of having an integrated card payment solution, make sure you choose your POS system first; then ask your POS vendor which Merchant Services providers they support; and negotiate a contract with one of them.

Maximize the Success of Your Email Campaigns Part 2

Our recent article on maximizing your email campaigns provided some tips and tricks for creating email lists. Once you’ve built a top-notch list of email addresses, you’re ready to start creating email campaigns. To help give you a few ideas, we’ve compiled a list of tips for creating successful email campaigns.

1. Use responsive design

Campaign Monitor notes that 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices. This means that if your emails don’t look good on a mobile device, you’re starting at a disadvantage. Responsive design is the best way to ensure that your emails adjust to the device’s screen size on which it is opened. If you’re looking for a simple way to create responsive campaigns, email marketing platforms like SendInBlue and Constant Contact offer this functionality right out of the box.

2. Keep your subject lines short

SendGrid’s Study analyzing the engagement rates of email subject lines revealed a definitive answer: keep your subject line short. Three-word subject lines have been shown to be ideal, increasing engagement by 25% when compared to the most common subject line length (seven words). Once you’ve hit fifteen characters, each additional character decreases your engagement rate by an average of 0.03%.

3. Keep your emails concise

Your readers are often checking their emails in the middle of a busy day. If you don’t get your point across quickly, you may lose their attention to another task. Lyfe Marketing helps businesses increase the success of their email marketing by keeping email content to a few sentences. If more information needs to be conveyed, they encourage the use of bullet points.

4. Create a clear Call-To-Action

Determine exactly what you want your customers to do after reading your email, and make it easy for customers to do it. Campaign Monitor suggests using a prominent button for the job. Increased size, a unique colour (different from the background and other text colours), and whitespace around the button all lead to increased click-through. Also consider personalizing your Call-To-Action, as it is linked with dramatically increased click-through rates. In a study of 330,000 Calls to Action, Jerry Vocell of Hubspot found that personalized Calls To Action got more than double the click-through rate of CTAs that were generalized.

5. Personalize your Emails

Remember how we talked about segmenting your email list in part 1 of this series? Now you can start to reap the benefits of that extra effort by enjoying higher read and click-through rates for your email campaigns.

Rather than sending the same email to every customer, personalize your email content by promoting information to specific categories of customers. For example, if you sell men’s and lady’s wear, you might send an email about a new dress line to your female customers; whereas an email campaign introducing a new line of men’s jeans will have more impact if they are sent only to your male customers.

In a world saturated with email marketing, personalized emails will help your business capture your reader’s attention. Experian, a global provider of consumer insights and targeting data, found that personalized promotional emails have a 29 percent higher open rate and 41 percent higher click-through rate.  It may seem like more work to segment your contact list, but there’s a lot of proof that it’s worth the effort.

Another note on personalizing emails: most email marketing platforms charge based on the total number of emails sent during a period of time (usually a month). If you have a large list of email addresses, then it makes good financial sense to personalize emails. Why pay for emails being sent to people who will never read them?

6. Stay out of the spam filter

There’s nothing worse than investing your resources into building a contact list and creating stunning email campaigns only to have them sent straight to the junk folder. Ensure that you are sending emails from a recognizable email address, emailing only people who have given you their permission, and you stay away from spam trigger words. If you’re still unsure whether or not your emails seem spammy, try out an email testing tool to test campaigns for spam triggers before you hit send.

 

Creating impactful email campaigns is not an exact science. But if you keep working at it, after a while, you’ll get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully, some of these tips will help you come up with powerful email campaigns, and Calls to Action, that engage your customers and keep them coming back again and again.

Maximize the Success of Your Email Campaigns

It’s the end of February and by now you’re probably feeling the impact of all those shortened days and colder temperatures. The holiday rush is behind you, your inventory is counted and replenished, but now you need to increase foot traffic to get you through the rest of Winter. It’s the perfect time to focus your efforts on marketing; and by marketing, we mean email marketing. According to the 2019 Adobe Email Usage Study, 60% of consumers prefer to receive offers through email, proving that email marketing is a great way to drive traffic into your store.

However, before you spend a lot of time creating content for your email campaigns, you need to make sure you have a good list of email addresses. When it comes to email marketing, having a good email list is Job One. In the first of this two-part series on managing email campaigns, we share some of our favourite tips to help you grow your email contact list.

1. Ask for customer information at the till:

Whenever a customer makes a purchase, take a minute to create a customer record. Ask for names, email addresses, and any other information you may want. Not only will you learn more about your customer, but you’ll also quickly rack up a hefty email list. If your POS system offers an option to create customer records, learn how to use it to add customer records quickly. If your POS systems offer the feature, set up a prompt that reminds you to link a customer to each sale.

2. Leverage your customer rewards program:

If you have a customer loyalty program in place, make sure that your customers have to provide a valid email address to join. If you don’t have a customer rewards program but are looking to start one, check out our blog post for valuable tips and tricks on setting up customer loyalty programs.

3. Use your website:

If you have a website or online store, create an online form that visitors can use to opt-in to your email campaigns. Make sure to put a link to this form in an area that your customers will easily find it – like a header, check out page, or pop-up.

4. Leverage email receipts:

ThriveHive, a marketing firm for small businesses, finds success in gathering contacts by offering email receipts. If your POS solution offers email receipts, you can ask for email addresses for this purpose first. Once customers have provided their email address for a receipt, offer to add this email to your customer database, and give them the opportunity to sign up for your email campaigns. Customers will be more likely to agree since the extra time needed to provide an email address won’t be a deterrent.

5. Offer a discount or special offer in exchange for information:

Sometimes customers need an incentive to give you their information. Think about what you can offer in exchange for their email addresses. A discount coupon, a special offer, a link to an exclusive eBook, or free shipping – all of these offers have been used with great success by many retailers.

6. Host a contest

Authority Hacker recently shared that they collected 1,626 new email subscribers with a single contest. Whether it’s a photo contest or a giveaway, have your customers enter your contest by emailing you directly or by signing up on your website with their email addresses.

7. Segment for optimal results:

Once you have a customer list – take it to the next level by segmenting it into smaller categories. You can separate customers based on home address, gender, age, purchasing history, or any other data you have access to. These smaller segments will allow you to send more personalized emails to the individuals on your list – thereby increasing their success.

Make sure that you treat your email list with the attention it deserves, by investing time in building a solid list of customers with accurate email addresses. Even email campaigns with the most attractive offers can fail if your email list is full of bad email addresses. Use services like ZeroBounce to make sure that emails are valid when you are adding them to your list. Every time a customer visits your store and purchases something, confirm that their email address is accurate while you are processing their payment and printing their receipt.

Keep this effort going all year long. According to Hubspot, the average email marketing database degrades by 22.5% every year! So it’s equally important to employ methods that generate new contacts throughout the year, or you’ll have an empty contact list before you know it.

Tips and Tricks for Performing Physical Counts: Part 3

“43% of SMBs either don’t track inventory or use a manual method.” (Source: Wasp Barcode)

Counting every item in your inventory manually can be a daunting task for many business owners. It’s labor intensive, and prone to user error, but if you want to keep an accurate set of books and want to know your true Cost of Sales, it’s a job you can’t avoid. But there’s good news: portable counting devices can minimize the time and effort required to do a physical inventory count; and maximize accuracy at the same time. Many of our customers have found that the right kind of mobile counting device quickly pays for itself. Like any investment you should take the time to carefully consider your options, but it can be difficult to know where to start. There are hundreds of portable counting devices on the market, offering a variety of features and price points. In the 3rd part of our blog series on Annual Inventory Counts, we will discuss popular types of portable counting devices we have worked with during our 23+ years of helping retailers.

These days, most of our customers use two main types of counting devices: 1) a tablet with a Bluetooth scanner and 2) a portable “Data-Collection” device with an integrated scanner. Each have pros and cons that are worth your consideration before you go out and purchase one.

A tablet is often a good solution because many people already have them. In addition, they can be used for many other purposes, such as stock replenishment, pricing, label printing, as well as helping customers on the sales floor. However, they can be a bit cumbersome when performing inventory counts because you normally need to use both hands: one for the tablet and one for the barcode scanner. That means that counting your inventory becomes a two-person job. Bluetooth scanners can also be a bit finicky, often requiring users to pair the scanner with the tablet before each counting session. Finally, unless you use an expensive, retail-hardened tablet, you risk damaging the tablet during the counting process – one good drop onto the floor is usually enough to break the average consumer-grade tablet. You can purchase ruggedized tablets, but they come with a pretty high price tag. So before you invest in a ruggedized tablet, you’ll probably want to make sure that you can use it for other purposes.

Portable Data-Collection devices are much smaller than tablets and come with integrated barcode scanners. This makes them much easier to handle and eliminates the need for two-person counting teams (although using teams is a technique we highly recommend). Every feature of these devices is designed with inventory counting in mind; from the simple user interface, to the batteries that last up to 12 hours without re-charging. In addition, they tend be built with ruggedized shells that can withstand multiple drops to concrete.

Now that we have described the main types of counting devices, let’s talk about the different ways that these devices handle data transfer, thus making the counting process easy for you. Generally, there are two ways that mobile counting devices connect to your inventory database. Tablets typically access data using a WIFI connection, while portable data collection devices typically use a USB cable connected to one of your computer workstations. Once a connection is established to your inventory database, most mobile counting devices will upload a list of your inventory product codes and descriptions so that you can disconnect the device and perform your count without needing to stay connected to the main database. Using this scaled-down “catalog” of products, the device will validate each barcode you scan, making sure that the product is actually in your database before you count it. Once the count is completed, the device is re-connected to the main database and the counts are transferred to your main inventory system, usually updating some kind of count “worksheet” that is used to compare your actual quantities counted with the theoretical quantities that your inventory system expects.

Some of the mobile counting devices that use a WIFI connection to access your inventory database require you to keep a connection to the product database at all times. These devices update your inventory worksheet in real-time – as product labels are being scanned. In our experience this type of architecture, while a bit more convenient (because you don’t have to transfer files to and from the device) can be prone to data integrity issues if your WIFI connection is not reliable or you try to count products while you are outside the range of your WIFI hub or switch.

If you’re using MyPOS Connect, we offer both types of mobile counting devices. Our Inventrue software application can be installed on any tablet with a currently supported version of MS Windows; and it works with pretty much any Bluetooth scanner on the market (that has a Windows driver). Since many of our customers have tablets already, this is a popular option.

For those of you who are looking for something more compact, we would like to introduce the Opticon OPH 1005. It’s a hand-held data collection device with an integrated barcode scanner at a very reasonable price-point.

The OPH 1005 relies on manual file transfers; but don’t worry, it’s very simple to use and extremely reliable. If you’re interested in the Opticon OPH 1005 for MyPOS Connect for this physical count season, you can reach out to us at 877-877-4767 or email us at trssales@tricityretail.com.

Tips and Tricks for Performing Physical Counts: Part 2

In the second installment of our Blog series on Tips and Tricks for Performing Physical Counts, we offer some advice that you can use while performing your counts to ensure accuracy and minimize effort.

Divide and conquer

My wife and I typically like to perform household chores together. Although, sometimes, the list of tasks is so long that it doesn’t make sense to do them together. That’s when we like to “divide and conquer”, by splitting up and each of us tackling half the jobs. This approach works equally as well when performing physical inventory counts. If you have enough employees to make two or more teams, split them into pairs and give each team a different group of products to count (see last week’s blog post for ideas on how to group products for easier counting.)

Many of our clients perform their physical counts by using small teams of two or three people. This is especially useful if you don’t have portable inventory scanning devices. One person can be in charge of the count sheets and one person can do the actual counting. By specializing, each person becomes more efficient at their assigned task, resulting in faster counts with fewer mistakes.

Don’t forget to record accurate count times

This is important if you decide to perform your annual physical count during normal hours of operation, rather than closing your store for the entire count. It is likely that you will sell products after you’ve counted them. If you post your counts after a sale is made, the on-hand quantities in your system will be out – which defeats the purpose of doing a physical count. So make sure your POS system can time-stamp your count import files and worksheets. If you’re recording count times manually and your inventory system lets you assign a count time when recording the quantity of each product, make sure to impart the importance of accurate count times to your entire team. If you’re using a barcode scanning device, ensure that the time is set correctly on the device. It’s easy for the device clock to stop if it’s been left uncharged since the last time you used it.

Create a Stock Count worksheet in your POS system before you start counting

If you’re using a portable counting device that tracks count times and your POS system provides the ability to create count “worksheets” to import counts from your device, it’s important that you open a new count worksheet before you start counting anything. This will prevent you from erroneously importing counts with times earlier than the time that the Count Worksheet is opened. Failure to import counts in the correct chronological sequence can cause your count worksheet to be riddled with errors. With some inventory systems, you might even have to perform a complete re-count!

Don’t count the same items multiple times

This might sound ridiculously obvious, but you’d be shocked to find out how often it happens. When the person performing the count is forced to stop mid-count; they can easily forget which product was counted last. When they resume counting, they can easily recount items that have already been counted. Avoid this waste of and money by having your team members carry markers or placeholders of some sort so that they can easily find the last product they counted and then continue their count as though they were never interrupted.

Don’t forget the displays

It’s easy to focus on counting merchandise on shelves and hangers and then forget all about the manikins and front window displays, or any merchandise out on loan with customers or outbound sales reps. Also, check the back room for layaways or special-order items that haven’t been picked up by the customer yet. Technically, all these items are part of your inventory and should be counted – regardless of whether they’ve been paid for or not.

In our next installment, we’ll talk about portable counting devices and explain how they work. We’ll also introduce a new counting device that we’ve integrated to MyPOS Connect, as well as a new feature that you’ll want to have before your next physical count.

Tips and Tricks for Performing Physical Counts: Part 1

So the holiday selling season is finally over and now your thoughts turn to a relaxing vacation somewhere warm and sunny, where you can recuperate from weeks of long, frantic, stress-filled work days. After all, you’ve earned it; and you deserve it…. Not so fast, my friend! There’s one more tiny little task you have to accomplish before you leave for your vacation: it’s the dreaded annual physical inventory count!

Fear not. Done correctly, you can perform a complete physical count of your store’s inventory in less time than you think; and without any swearing or hair loss!

Over the next three Blog articles, we’ll share some of the tips and tricks that many of our customers use to overcome the challenges they face when performing annual physical counts. We’ll discuss how you can stack the deck in your favor by setting yourself up for success before you even start counting; and we’ll share some best practices for ensuring that you don’t miss counting any products – or count them more than one time. Finally, we’ll talk about some of the different portable counting devices that are available in the market and make some recommendations, based on what works best for our customers.

In this first article of the series, we’ll share some ideas about what you can do, before you even start, to ensure that you conduct your next physical count more effectively.

These days most retailers use portable counting devices capable of scanning barcodes and recording the quantities of each product (more about this in the third article to come). Since many people do physical counts just once a year, their portable counting devices lie dormant for 51 weeks; which means the batteries need to be recharged. There’s nothing worse than making a plan, having your staff come in early (or stay late), and closing your store – only to discover that your barcode scanning devices weren’t charged up and the whole operation will be delayed.

There are a number of different types of rechargeable batteries used in portable counting devices. Many of them need to be used and recharged regularly to ensure that they will retain a full charge. So it’s possible that the capability of the batteries in your portable devices could be significantly depleted after sitting around dormant for almost a year. Be proactive. A few days prior to your physical count, pull all your portable counting devices out of hibernation. Plug them in and fully charge the batteries, then test them through the course of the next two or three days. If they seem like they are retaining their charge after leaving them on overnight, then you will probably be fine; if they seem like they are losing their charge faster than expected, you should consider contacting your vendor and purchasing replacement batteries. You should be able to get 8 hours of constant scanning from a single charge – anything less than that and you’ll want to buy replacement batteries that can be switched out and charged independently of the counting device.

Another way to eliminate headaches before you get started is to divide your inventory up into manageable groups that can be easily counted within a given time period (hour, day, etc.); then assign one person (or team) to count each group of items. There are many ways to divide your inventory. Some retailers divide and count their inventory by category or department, because that’s commonly how they analyze sales reports; so it’s more familiar to them. Others segment their stock by supplier or manufacturer (or designer) when performing counts, because that’s how they generate supplier orders. Some retailers count their inventory based on the location in the store (aisle, shelf, fixture, etc.); counting all the products in one location before moving on to the next location.

Whatever method you use, you’ll want to perform the count with as little repetitive walking as possible. So it’s helpful if your POS system can generate lists (or count files) by location. If your POS system doesn’t have that capability, then just focus on creating count sheets (or files) with the products grouped by category or supplier, rather than just starting with one huge list (or file) that will force you to walk around the store hundreds of times before you count every product. For those of us who like to just dive in and “get the job started”, this type of pre-planning can be difficult indeed, but it will save you a lot of headaches; and at the very least, it will ensure that your count is complete and that you won’t miss counting any products.

A word about inventory counting services. If you want to get your inventory counted with little or no effort from you or any of your employees, you might consider using a third-party inventory counting service. There are a few companies that specialize in counting inventory for retailers. However, they can be quite expensive; and the accuracy of their counts may not be to your standards. Their employees may be very experienced counters but they may not be familiar with your merchandise; or they may not be as invested in performing an accurate count – like you or your employees would. In addition, many inventory counting services don’t actually provide you with on-hand quantities. Instead, they calculate inventory value based on the retail price of each product they count. The result is an inventory valuation, but no actual on-hand quantities. Using inventory counting services is a common practice in the grocery industry, where quantity on-hand data is rarely tracked; so counting services that work mainly for grocery stores may not even have the ability to report on-hand quantities. If you’re thinking of hiring a company to perform your physical counts, make sure they are able to provide a file or report with the quantities counted for each product. Then check their work immediately following their counting sessions by confirming on-hand quantities for a dozen or so random products.

In the next Blog post, we’ll discuss some tips on how to avoid major mistakes when actually performing your annual physical count.

Top Tips to Help Make Your Customer Rewards Program a Success

Customer rewards programs that integrate with point of sale systems come in all shapes and sizes. From reward or loyalty points offered on every transaction to special discounts and email campaigns targeted at your top customers, customer rewards programs can offer immense value to your business. Some of the benefits include: increasing sales and revenue; maximizing customer satisfaction; generating customer loyalty; and gaining valuable data about your customers. However, if you don’t plan properly or if you overlook crucial details, you might not get the benefits you expect from your customer rewards programs.

Our team has many years of experience helping retailers succeed. In that time, we’ve picked up some top tips for rewards program management and implementation. In this week’s blog post, we share a couple of these tips with you to help ensure that any rewards programs you undertake not only meet but exceed your goals.

1. Get clear on your goals.

Do you want to increase the size of a customer’s average purchase, increase their purchase frequency, or increase the number of customer-to-customer referrals? Whatever your goals, ensure they have a measurable outcome (like average receipt value). This will help you choose which customer rewards program to implement – and determine whether or not it’s successful.

2. Know the drawbacks and benefits of different approaches.

For example, there are some major differences between discounts for VIP customers and a rewards points system. With VIP discounts or pricing, you can apply different discounts to each sale according to each customer’s profile. However, with most loyalty points programs, all customers typically earn the same number of points per dollar spent. So, by using discounts, you can still reward all your customers, but your best customers will get deeper discounts than everyone else. On the other hand, a loyalty points program rewards all customers equally, but only applies the reward when the customer redeems their points. So one-time customers don’t cost you anything – plus you can control your customers’ ability to cash in points by setting minimum transaction values before points can be redeemed.

Every system has its own unique drawbacks and advantages. Do your investigating and determine which method will best meet your goals.

3. Take note of excluded products.

If you’re running a loyalty points program, you may want to exclude low-margin products from the program – as well as products like gift cards and gift certificates. To make this easier, link any “exempt” products to a Classification called ‘No Rewards’ in your POS system. This will help you exclude those items when you’re creating your points program by importing a list of valid Products that will accumulate points.

4. Watch your margins.

If you offer additional discounts or allow customers to redeem points, don’t forget that those deductions will eat into your margins. Keep in mind the value of points when determining both your regular and sale pricing. Beware of “double-dipping” where an in-store promotion combined with a customer discount might result in selling some products below cost.

5. Measure your results.

Remember those goals you set at the beginning? It’s time to refer back to them. Once you’ve had your program running for a while, start running reports to determine how your numbers compare to the measurable goals you originally set. Armed with that information, you may find that your program needs some tweaking. If all looks satisfactory, you’re good to continue; but don’t forget to review your program’s results on a regular basis to ensure its success.

Reports Our Customers Love

In this week’s Blog post, we present a few reports that have been deemed “most loved” by our customers. These reports are so popular because they provide the kind of information that helps manage and control your business more effectively. They save time, they help solve problems and they support decision-making that impacts bottom-line profitability.

The reports we’re highlighting are just four of the 200+ reports that come standard with every MyPOS Connect system; and they can be accessed in the Back Office Manager module or from the Reports Portal, or right from the POS screen (based on user security settings).

Now, without further ado, here are four reports that our customers tell us they love the most.

Dashboard Report

This is a high-level, visual overview of your sales on a chosen date, as compared to recent previous sales. It shows a pie graph that presents your sales by primary classification; a bar graph indicating how your sales on the selected date compare to sales on the same day of the week for previous weeks; it highlights your top sellers for the chosen date; and it displays a trending analysis for sales, COGS, Margin, and average sale and item amount. This report enables you to compare current sales performance to previous periods so that you can spot trends immediately and make proactive decisions.

Product Trend by Week

This is an overview of how each of your products are performing, from week to week, over a given date range. The report highlights each Product’s best weeks with a green marker, the worst weeks with a red marker, and the weeks with intermediate sales performance using a yellow marker. It’s a quick and easy way to help you decide what Products might need replenishing sooner. Many of our customers use this trending information to modify re-stocking information (min/max levels), which enables MyPOS Connect to generate more accurate suggested purchase orders.

Financial Detail

This report provides a picture of the financial performance of your store over a given date range. It provides generally the same information as the Z-Report that is printed at the till, but in a consolidated format that includes data from all POS stations. Customers use this report to post their accounting system and as an exception report to hone in on dishonest employees.

Product Movement

The Product Movement Report allows you to quickly determine everything that happens to your inventory. From initial order to final sale, all of the information is available in a single, easy to generate report. It’s especially helpful as a forensic tool for correcting Quantity On Hand errors in your system. Use this along with the Product Stock On Hand report to backtrack and narrow in on the exact quantity and value of your inventory for today and for any previous date.

With all of the information that MyPOS Connect Reports make available in seconds, you can be confident you have the best tools for the job. If you would like more information about these reports; or if you have an idea for a custom report you would like us to write for you, contact our Support Team at support@tricityretail.com or call us toll-free at (877) 877-4767.

Tips for Opening a Temporary Pop-Up Shop this Holiday Season

As we move into the last Quarter of the calendar year, it’s time to start focusing our attention on taking advantage of the coming holiday selling season. For many retailers, that means getting ready to open temporary pop-up shops and kiosks. Good news! With MyPOS Connect you can rent temporary POS licenses on a month-to-month basis, to get you through the holiday season, and then deactivate them in January when you shut down your pop-up shop. This is a sure-fire way to boost sales with a minimal up-front investment and no ongoing costs after the season is over.

If you’re undecided about whether a temporary pop-up shop might be beneficial to you, consider that pop-up shops and seasonal markets open your operation up to new customers that may not know you exist. They allow you to focus your attention on your most profitable products; and they’re a fantastic test ground for new products and strategies. Most importantly, temporary pop-ups can be hugely profitable. A 2014 industry report by PopUp Republic, a Chicago-based marketing firm, confirmed that the pop-up industry in the United States is responsible for roughly $50 billion in annual sales, which peak around major holidays. According to multiple sources, such as Forbes Magazine, CBC and Entrepreneur, the market for pop-ups has continued to see growth.

If you’ve already started working on finding temporary locations to supplement your holiday sales campaign, here are a few quick tips for maximizing the success of your pop-up store.

Make it exclusive. PopUp Republic followed up their initial report by surveying more than 1,200 American Consumers, asking them to disclose their top reasons for visiting pop-up shops. This second study showed that 61 percent of pop-up shop patrons are looking to find seasonal products, and 39 percent of patrons visit to find new and unique products. Can you offer a new product or put a seasonal twist on an old favorite? If so, you’re much more likely to excite your customers.

Make it an experience. Find a way to make your temporary shop or kiosk an interactive experience for your customers. Another result of PopUp Republic’s study: 30 percent of pop-up customers are looking for an experience, not just a product. Something as simple as an Instagram worthy backdrop, or a quick demonstration that gets the customer involved, goes a long way.

Scope out your location. Set some time aside to find your potential location (or locations). Look for the time of day that foot traffic is the highest. Make sure that the placement of your pop-up will make it convenient for people to stop by and have a look at your offerings. Look at the crowd’s demographic so that you can determine if your products are a good fit; tailor your marketing to that demographic. If you’re setting up shop at a market that is hosted on a regular basis, try visiting a few times before your opening day.

Process transactions quickly. The last thing you want to do is slow down your operation and increase wait times by inefficiently processing transactions. As we mentioned in this blog post’s intro, MyPOS Connect allows you to operate temporary licenses, so you can add a POS system without dramatically increasing your ongoing costs. The software can run on any Windows tablet – which you won’t have to lug around a giant piece of tech.

Stay on top of your sales and inventory. Don’t lose track of inventory and sales numbers. This is crucial if you’re testing out a new product or hoping to open a more permanent selling location. If you’re using MyPOS Connect, you’ll have access to all of your reports, in real time, so you can replenish stock and track costs accurately and you can analyze just how successful your pop-up is.

Keeping these tips and tricks in mind will help you optimize your pop up shop success, not only during the holiday season but, all year round.