One of the most essential components of any retail operation is its cash management system and point-of-sale capabilities. Businesses require a cash management system that operates as more than a place to secure store receipts, but must effectively process customer transactions and keep records.
Years ago, the technology was limited to a traditional metal cash register, which steadily transformed to incorporate other advances. Today, options for processing sales transaction encompass very sophisticated point-of-sale (POS) technology.
A point-of-sale system refers to a network of applications, hardware and thin computers that processes transactions for products and services. Regardless of the choice when it comes to cash register vs. POS, your operations must have a setup that meets the needs of the enterprise and adds profitability.
A Dayton, Ohio saloon owner name James Ritty and his business partner John Birch received a patent for their cash register on January 30, 1883. Since its introduction 120 years ago, the standard cash register encased in metal housing has come a long way.
Here are some of the advantages of cash registers:
* All-in-one system – keyboard, display and printer
* Low initial investment
* Start quickly
* Low learning curve
* No danger of hack or virus from Internet
* Low carbon footprint and power consumption
The cash register system provides basic reporting functions and works well in small shops and businesses with stationary checkout processes and do not require advanced features.
For many retailers, the cash register vs pos comparison comes down to the size and needs of the operations. Many business require features that provide access to data instantly and compatibility with the Internet and social media platforms.
POS takes advantage of leading edge technology and the proliferation of smart phones and tablets—more than a billion users worldwide. Consumers increasingly use mobile devices to search for information on products and services to assist them in their buying decisions.
In today’s mobile environment, retailers require usable data, which measure marketing campaigns quickly and enhance customer experience.
Having access to data on transactions as they occur can solve a myriad of operational and record-keeping deficiencies.
1. Track sales accurately
2. Identify inventory levels
3. Pinpoint inventory loss or shrinkage
Many retailers transition to POS systems because it makes their operations more efficient and provides them with a leg up on competitors that have not evolved beyond cash register management systems.
1. Make price markdowns and track the changes for each inventory item
2. Track and reconcile special promotions, including coupons, special discounts and other qualifiers
3. Free employees from workstations, provide associates with the ability to answer customer’s questions and check prices quickly
Many POS systems can also be expanded to include other modules like customer preference data bases or payroll time clocks.
Factors to consider
Determining what your operations require depends on the business and your budget. To help you make the best choice between cash register vs POS, find the answers to the following items:
* Taxes you must collect from customers
* Number of departments in your retail business
* Number of products you carry
* Method of processing transactions
* Number of registers
* Payment types accepted
It’s also important to consider future business growth and the ability to scale your cash management operations easily and cost-efficiently. A POS for your business is not a necessity. The lack of a POS may put your business at a competitive disadvantage. For a review of POS systems visit TopTenReviews.com.
Starting a small business takes much more than passion and drive to succeed, there’s plenty of blood and sweat that goes into it too. There is plenty to consider and decisions to be made. For starters, many business and entrepreneurial experts advise new business owners to narrow down the target audience. In sports for instance you will need to know and understand your primary customer base. Is it a sports enthusiast? A sports fan? An athlete? Having a clear profile of your customer will help you be efficient when allocating money for marketing, for instance, rather than spending large sums of money to reach the public, you can have a small marketing budget suited specifically for those customers that you want to reach.
Find and define your niche. In a field filled with giant corporations to compete with, you will need to identify what makes your product unique. For example, you can specialize in selling autographed merchandise. You can also target the specific merchandise needed in you area, if you live in a golfing community for instance, you can consider selling golfing equipment. You can decide to include special supporting services to accompany and compliment your sports merchandise store
Next you need to do your math to find out your start up and operational costs. Think of bills such as tax fees, rent, insurance, utilities, marketing costs and employee salaries. Consider whether the sales from the sports merchandise will cover the costs and possibly have a profit margin.
Put it in writing
Writing down a business plan will help you put things in perspective in a real, practical way. A business plan will show you how much you will need to start the business, how much cash flow will be required in its daily running. It will also give you a balanced overview of your business and value it according to its assets. This makes for an easier transition should you want or need investors in the future or incase your seeking financing from a bank.
Do your homework
Carry out a thorough survey of the area you want to establish your business. Find out from the internet whether there are any existing businesses in the same industry. How do they sell their stock? If there are no competitors could it be that perhaps there is no market for your products.
Once you’re confident that you can start and run a profitable sport merchandise store, next is to find a reputable, reliable and trustworthy wholesale distributor. Here is where contacts in the sports merchandise industry go along way. Find out who supplies similar stores with their merchandise.
Finally apply for all the licenses and permits required by your local government and work hard, a profitable sports merchandising business awaits you.
As a new retailer, knowing who to purchase your products from can impact your day-to-day operations, cash flow and your stress level! If you have already started your retail business or are thinking about starting one, you should look to determine what’s going to be important to you in the immediate and long term future. In other words, is price your most factor right now? What about product selection and inventory levels? How about minimum purchase orders? Some of these issues may be more important for you in the long term, so establishing a relationship with a wholesale distributor may be the best option, even if they have slightly higher prices. These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself before determining if you should buy direct from the manufacturer or through a wholesale distributor. So let’s dig in and see what’s what. First, let’s look at buying direct from the manufacturer and the Pros & Cons of doing so:
Buying Direct Pros
- Low Price – Buying direct usually results in a low price to the retailer. However, this is not always the case. Wholesalers who buy in larger quantities can and do negotiate a lower price from the manufacturer and pass this on to their retail customers. Manufacturers sometimes put limits on what wholesalers can sell their products for, therefore protecting their product pricing. This has the effect of putting the wholesale price that most retailers will pay for that particular product in the same ballpark. Similarly, some manufacturers will not sell to a distributor or offer reasonable distributor pricing. So the end result is that you, the retailer, pay the same price everyone else gets which can be less than what a wholesaler may charge.
- One Stop Shopping – This can be a pro or a con. If your retail store is only going to carry products from 1 or maybe 2 manufacturers, then purchases are typically easy and its a pro. You can track your inventory levels and make repeat purchases without having to go to numerous manufacturers to order new or repeat products. The con part of this scenario is that you are counting on one manufacturer to supply your entire inventory. Shipping times, inventory levels, discontinued products and the big one, going out of business can have a severe impact on your business.
- Financial Strength – Even though it’s possible to have a manufacturer go out of business, typically the more established manufacturers are financially viable. This means you won’t have to worry about where you are going to get your products from and if they’re going to be around in the future. Financial strength also means they can invest more in R&D for producing new products that will usually sell well.
- Distribution – Depending on whom your manufacturer is, distribution of their products can be an asset for your business. Large manufacturers can have distribution centers all over the country making it easier for you get your products locally.
Buying Direct Cons
- Product Line – Most retailers will have many product lines from several manufacturers. They cannot afford to buy from just one place, especially since one manufacturer cannot supply the retailer with enough different product lines to appeal to their customer base.
- Inventory Levels – Depending on the technical sophistication of the manufacturer, finding out what they have in stock of a particular product line or lines can be frustrating. Do they offer online purchasing and inventory counts that are in real-time? Do they send product feeds on a daily basis with accurate inventory counts? You may have these same issues with a wholesale distributor, but they are worth considering when making decisions.
- Minimum Purchases – This can be a huge problem for start-ups and fairly new retail businesses. Most manufacturers will have strict minimum purchase quantities you will have to follow. You’ll need to look at these quantity levels very closely and at the minimum purchase order amount. If for example, you need to purchase some stickers, flags and bedroom signs. You have to buy a minimum of 6 of each product. Ok, not too bad. They are small ticket items, and the total comes to about $45. However, the minimum purchase is $100 per order. Now you have to purchase an additional $55 of merchandise that you do not need just yet. You either have to wait until you sell some other product and then make the order, or figure out what is going to sell well over the next few days and order those additional products. If you have some experience in knowing what sells in your store through data analysis, this may not be a big issue for you, but if you are just starting out or are fairly new, you have limited experience and may just not know.
Now lets look at buying from a wholesale distributor and what the Pros & Cons are:
Wholesale Distributor Pros
- Product Line Variety – A wholesale distributor purchases products from many different manufacturers. This gives you, the retailer, a diverse product line from which to choose. You could only have two wholesale distributors, but literally hundreds of products lining your shelves. You can have the same Pro as the “One Stop Shopping,” under Buying Direct and also the Con. However, the Con is more than likely related to the financial strength of the wholesaler than anything else. (But, do your homework on the other items.)
- Technical Knowledge – Wholesalers usually know a lot about the products they buy, they have to. So if a technical question needs answering, they are usually well equipped to answer them and can point you in the right direction. This is not always the case with the manufacturer. Not because they don’t know the answers, but sometimes finding the person with the technical knowledge can be a process in and of itself.
- Faster Shipping – In the majority of cases, wholesale distributors can ship your items much faster than manufacturers. Unless of course the manufacturer has several distribution facilities around the country, but this often not the case. If you are a small retail operation, getting your product fast may be a major concern. Wholesale distributors can ship the same day in many cases, whereas manufacturers may take a week or more to get your items out.
- Low Minimum Orders – This is the big one! Many wholesale distributors have much smaller minimum order policies than the manufacturers. If you work closely with your wholesaler, buying items as low as 2 or 3 of a particular product can be possible. You may even be able to purchase just 1 item, if the price point is high enough. You also tend to have a lower minimum purchase amount per order. You can get them as low as $25 to $75 per order and mix and match your product lines within the order. Try getting those options with a manufacturer.
- Customer Service – This can be both a Pro and a Con for both options, but generally you will get better service from your wholesale distributor than the manufacturer. Especially, if you are new operation and fairly small.
- Online Purchasing – Again, this can be a Pro for both wholesale and buying direct. However, not all manufacturers have online purchasing. Many wholesale distributors do. If they do not, then look for one who does. It makes your purchasing procedures so much easier. You can track your orders, create repeat orders based on past purchases, and purchase inventory at 11pm at night. It essentially gives you more flexibility which is important when running your business.
Wholesale Distributor Cons
- Financial Strength – Many wholesale distributors are smaller in size than manufacturers and have less capital with which to operate. This is not a tremendous concern, but as a retailer you should look to see how long they have been in business to determine if they have a decent track record. Ask for referrals and talk to other retail clients of theirs to see what experiences they have had.
- Too Small – If the wholesale company has not been around for long, they may only have a small product line. Inventory levels may be kept at lower amounts creating backorder problems for you. Some investigation on the wholesaler can answer many of these questions and help you make a determination of which wholesaler to work with.
The bottom line for start-up businesses and fairly new retail businesses is that purchasing flexibility and cash flow options are probably your main concerns. Ask the questions that are important to you and use this guide as means to direct your conversations. As a retailer you need product to sell and it’s usually your largest investment, so know who you are dealing with and determine who is going to give your business the options you need the most. As we mentioned earlier, think both short-term and long-term when making the decision of buying direct or from a wholesale distributor. You may find that the long-term benefits out way the short-term gains!
Much has been written about the various ways to effectively get your ad message in front of customers. From website banner ads and email campaigns to highway billboards and blogs, there is no shortage of ways to engage with consumers.
Looking through the fog of retail marketing tips that exist, business owners often overlook one of the most high-impact opportunities to speak to customers: when they’re in your place of business.
In-store signage plays a critical role in converting visitors to sales. All at once, signage helps clear excess inventory, reinforce company branding efforts, and create consumer excitement about offers that are truly special. But there is a right way to approach how signage should be created and where it should be placed. While recognizing that not every business owner has a graphics design team at his disposal, we offer these five retail marketing tips to help entrepreneurs create in-store signage that resonates with shoppers.
1. Reinforce your branding
Look around any large retail store. Companies with marketing and graphics departments continue their branding efforts by using colors, fonts and design styles that are consistent with their other advertising ventures. The Home Depot’s use of orange, Apple’s use of white space, and Target’s use of its bulls-eye are all prominent examples of branding efforts that are continued on in-store signage.
Your business’ branding campaigns may not be as elaborate as those. But in-store signage is a high-profile way to establish an identity, or further the marketing efforts that you’ve already initiated.
2. Short but sweet
One of the most common mistakes small retailers make with in-store signage is trying to cram too many words into too small a space. Signs should read more like a book title than a chapter. Product and price are often all that are needed, perhaps accompanied by a logo and age-old advertising buzzwords such as “Sale”, “Special” or “Featured Item.”
And regarding copy writing, pay particular attention to misspellings, grammar errors and other blunders that reflect poorly on your business. Advertising a “Wensday Special” might not keep people from eating at your restaurant, but it doesn’t help the general perception that customers have of your establishment.
3. Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Any list of retail marketing tips concerning signage should include a reminder that less is more. The primary purpose of a sign – whether announcing a sale or displaying your store hours – is to convey a message. Each should stand out or they will fail to accomplish their purpose. But when retailers post a sign on every wall, shelf, rack and counter, they accomplish the opposite. Nothing stands out.
4. Finding the right environment
A store owner recently launched a mobile marketing campaign. To build a database of consumer cell phone numbers, she added a message on her outdoor marquee alerting drivers to join her mobile club by texting in. Hmm, asking drivers to text. Probably not the right environment.
That might be an extreme example of a poorly placed sign, but the lesson can be applied to areas within your store as well. Place signs where they can be easily seen, and make sure your customers aren’t left with more questions than answers.
5. Making in-store signs interactive
With today’s technology, be sure to include this with your list of retail marketing tips: add elements that tell whether your signs are working. QR codes capture customer response but require scanning technology that many people do not use. Text message capabilities are more common, and by adding a message that reads, “Text in to save 20%,” you get a better idea as to the response to your signage.
Maybe you are the owner of an aging sports bar who’s failed to meet customer demands for big-screen televisions. Perhaps you own a hardware store and it’s easiest to simply blame lagging sales on the advent of big box retailers. Or maybe your boutique clothing store has failed to capture the attention of the always-changing 20-something audience.
Keeping up with the times is tricky business for any retailer.
It might just be, however, that your product isn’t what needs to evolve. It might be that your retail marketing strategy is what’s outdated.
Marketers in all segments have learned that reaching today’s consumer requires a different strategy than it did even 10 years ago. Newspaper ads that used to reach your local audience now seem to go virtually unnoticed. Direct mail is still an effective part of your plan, but redemption rates have dipped. And then there’s this thing called Facebook. You thought that was for reconnecting with old college roommates, not for driving business to your weekend sale.
In today’s business climate, it’s vital that entrepreneurs utilize advertising tools that are most impactful at engaging with customers. If that means you discontinue running a quarter-page ad in the Sports section in lieu of hiring a part-time social media consultant, then so be it. Business owners have to go with what works. Use this list of five current advertising tools as a starting point to reinventing your retail marketing strategy.
Build a website…or perhaps a better one
If you launched a website back in the early days of the Internet and you haven’t seen the need to update it since, think again. Most consumers begin their pre-purchase search on the Internet, and if your site isn’t optimized to attract traffic – or designed in such a way to engage customers when they get there – then you’re missing an opportunity to reach potential customers – customers who are looking for you.
Use a blog to showcase your expertise
Part of your retail marketing strategy might include adding a blog to your website, a feature with two-fold benefits. First, it gives you a chance to paint yourself as an expert in your field, with hopes that customers will follow your commentary regularly and remember your name when the time comes for them to make a purchase. And second, because of the way search engines operate, a blog is a great way to make sure more people find your website when they do organic Internet searches.
Open your store to online purchases
The prominence of online shopping continues to rise, and retailers who don’t satisfy this consumer preference are missing a growing audience segment. As you breathe new life into your website, consider allowing visitors to purchase online, even if you only offer in-store pickup.
Improve your social skills and boost business
There are a handful of social media channels out there, and virtually every business should be making use of some of them. The key to your retail marketing strategy is finding the channel that’s right for you. Facebook is the reigning leader, but more recent sites include Pinterest, Twitter and Google+. All give businesses the freedom to create no-cost pages in an environment where they can engage with fans, followers or customers.
Reach customers on the move with text message ads
The popularity of text messaging has created an entirely new tool for retailers to use in a retail marketing strategy. The perks to retailers are many. Text message ads are sent only to people who ask to receive them, and more than 95 percent are received, opened and read by the recipient. In most cases the text message is read within 3 minutes, ensuring that your message is sent in real time and driving the best possible traffic when you need it the most.
The 2013 MLB season is almost upon us. MLB has put out their 2013 projected opening day lineups.
As retailers, this time of year is an important one. The buzz and anticipation of a new season is starting to reach its climax. Dreams of seeing the newest additions to the team and the unthinkable, for most teams at least, a World Series begin to simmer. Knowing what new players have arrived and the buzz around your teams new upcoming season, will give you valuable insights into what you should be purchasing ahead of time and stocking up on. Your marketing campaigns should already be made and be circulating by now and capitalizing on the hope springs eternal time of year.
So check out who is on the opening day roster and start getting the word out to all your customers that Spring is here and so is Baseball!
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — Tommy Lasorda wants to celebrate come October. (Taken from an article by MLB. See more Dodger stories here: LA Dodgers)
The Hall of Fame manager has waited 25 years since he saw his beloved Dodgers spray the World Series champagne and host a championship parade for the city of Los Angeles.
Worse yet, Lasorda has seen the rival Giants win a pair of titles in the last three seasons.
“That’s enough,” the Dodgers legend proclaimed from the Rancho Cucamonga third-base dugout, where he managed a Dodgers split squad against the Quakes — the club’s Class A affiliate. “We’ve got to start celebrating again.”
“That didn’t happen before — to go this long [without winning a World Series],” Lasorda said. “When I managed, the first five years, we were in three World Series.
“But we’ve got the opportunity. We’ve got the players, we’ve got the people who purchased the club behind this ballclub. They’ve showed that they put their money where their mouth is. They want to win just as bad as I want to win.”
The 85-year-old Lasorda was honored by the Quakes in a pregame ceremony hosted by Rancho Cucamonga Mayor L. Dennis Michael. The renovated home dugout at the Rancho Cucamonga Epicenter was also named in Lasorda’s honor.
Lasorda’s current role with the club centers on evaluating and teaching Minor Leaguers. He sees a bright future for the organization — one he hopes includes another title soon.
“I hope it happens before the big Dodger in the sky calls me,” Lasorda quipped.
Today’s retail marketplace serves a much different function than in the past. Beating competitor prices is no longer the hook to attract new customers for brick and mortar operations, since people can now find the best prices by searching online. Even box stores have had to close due to better deals online. Yet many small retail businesses live on because they do things to excite and engage their customers, as the following store enhancing tips reveal.
Modernize Your Store
Even if you sell vintage merchandise, make your store look like it exists in the present instead of the distant past. If it seems too old fashioned it can have a haunting or lonesome effect, especially when business is slow. But if the store has modern and unique decor it presents a much more authoritative and inviting image. Regardless of the merchandise you sell, give the impression that your store is ahead of the trends.
Avoid Signs of Desperation
Instead of using big banners that pitch discounts, think of more creative messages that communicate long term store benefits. There’s no rule that says you have to use any signs at all in the store. Be careful of messages that imply your store is trying to unload merchandise quickly, or it may be perceived as desperation. Your store will have stronger credibility if it reinforces messages about your brand’s mission statement than your deals. You also will not have to change the signs as often if the messages are more timeless.
Create an Energetic Atmosphere
One way to attract new customers is create an energy in your store with custom upbeat music. It’s long been known that music can affect consumer behavior, but it does not have to be popular music. In fact, it’s better to work with local artists because they can waive the licensing fees that stores and venues are required to pay. Just make sure it’s upbeat music turned down below conversation level and used strictly as background, so that it will not offend anyone. Let it reflect your target demographic.
Build a Niche Environment
Make your store look like no other store in town, so that it will have its own identity. Things that are unique are simply much more memorable than things that aren’t. Embed themes in the ambiance that reflect niche products or services. This strategy helps the store build character, creating a more familiar image that can attract new customers who appreciate imagination and personality. One way to create a niche environment is to merge themes together in ways that have not been done before, such as posters of pets, which are already universally loved, using the niche products you sell.
Train Your Sales People
One of the most important lessons you can teach your sales staff is that information overkill can become an intrusion. Save all the important product knowledge for when customers ask questions. Many times they will come back into the store after they have made a purchase to find out more about products after having experience with them. Make sure sales people understand how to summarize product benefits and they do not pressure customers.
Engage with your customers by having sales people give demonstrations how products work. It’s not often people are treated to a tutorial when they walk into a store, so you can stand out as special by demonstrating products the way trade shows help promote new items. Then have the presenters answer questions from customers to create an interactive experience. Customers may be inspired to tell others about what they learned from informative presentations.
In an article for the Entrepreneur Press by Ronald L. Bond, he outlines the 5 biggest mistakes retailers make today. See how to avoid these pitfalls and increase your profits.
In today’s fast-moving and ever-changing business environment, mistakes can be fatal. Even at best, statistics show that about half of small businesses last less than two years. My 20-plus years of successfully operating several retail stores have made me a keen observer of the retail scene, and more important, the mistakes made by many retailers that have, in many cases, caused their demise. Even though the list of potential mistakes that retailers can make is long, I have found these five to be some of the most frequent and devastating.
- Failure to plan effectively and objectively: Many new retailers plunge into business with little more than a prayer and a lot of optimism. Take time to prepare a business plan and estimate your financial needs. Nothing kills a retail business quicker than underfunding. Planning should also include location, your market demographics and your product line. In Retail in Detail, I have included many worksheets and planning tools you can use to assess your prospects for success accurately.
- Focusing on products and not the market: I’ve seen stores slowly stagnate because the owner stubbornly hangs on to a product or product line, even though the market has passed them by. You’re in business to make a profit, not to sell a particular widget. Don’t become married to your products. A word of caution is appropriate here: You shouldn’t arbitrarily dump a product line because of seasonal or occasional setbacks. There are ways to update your product lines without ditching them entirely. For example, if you run a gift shop that carries home decor products, you need to update your product offerings regularly to stay in step with changing decorating styles.
<insert ad here>
Small retailers cannot effectively compete with big-box retailers and the internet on many standard over-the-counter products like small appliances and electronics and should concentrate instead on more individualized products and services. You can offer more personal service and more choices on custom-made and one-of-a-kind products, such as lamps, rugs, furniture, and locally produced merchandise.
- Failure to change with the market environment: This is somewhat related to No. 2 above, but it’s focused more on selling methods and media. Only a few years ago, movies were rented and returned at local video stores. Today, they’re mostly rented online and/or by mail, or by downloading them directly to your computer. The latest trend is the $1 movie rental and return boxes at fast-food restaurants. The internet has dramatically changed many of our shopping practices, and customers are demanding more specialized and customized products and services, as well as comfortable venues in which to shop. Selling standard products off the rack from a plain-vanilla store environment rarely works anymore.
- Underestimating the demands of retailing: Retailing is not for sissies. The demands of operating a successful retail store are many, constant and, frankly, all-consuming at times. Some would-be retailers mistakenly assume they can open and operate a retail store in their spare time. Retailing involves an endless cycle of buy, market, display and sell that can be extremely tiresome and demanding, especially for some personality types. It also means lots of long days and/or nights in the store selling and in the office ordering and paying bills. Of course, with success comes an increasing quality of life if you hire more employees to provide relief, but this in itself carries its own set of problems and demands.So if you’re not prepared to commit a large portion of your life, at least in the beginning, perhaps you should consider working part time at Wal-Mart.
- Neglecting customer service: This may be the biggest cause of retail failure that I’ve observed. Some retailers think that customers are there for their convenience, not the other way around. I’ve seen retail businesses fail because they were located in inconvenient locations and because they didn’t accommodate their business hours to customer needs. If you’re targeting working people, for example, you probably won’t succeed if you open at 10 and close at 3. One store I know of was often closed during published business hours, and the owner seemed unaware that such practices alienated customers. Another retailer located a store in a building that was convenient (and cheap) for them, assuming customers would seek them out. They didn’t!
The other major sin in this category is failing to treat all customers with courtesy and respect. I’m constantly amazed at the treatment customers receive from retail employees. Things as basic as not greeting customers when they enter the store, offering help in merchandise selection, and ignorance about the store policies and stock are commonplace occurrences. This ain’t rocket science! Train your employees–and yourself–on the basics of customer courtesy and service.
Although avoiding these five fatal mistakes won’t ensure retailing success, committing them will surely bring you closer to the brink of failure. There are so many risks and pitfalls in today’s rapidly changing marketplace, it makes sense to increase your odds of success by avoiding them.