Invitation to Retail’s Biggest Party in 2014

NRF 2014 blog

CitiXsys invites you at NRF and experience how iVend Retail Management Suite can help your business turn profitable and your customers happier. Thousands of stores in over 45+ countries are running iVend Retail from CitiXsys and are more profitable and efficient.

Retail industry has matured over the years and grown exponentially but retailers have found it difficult to keep up with the pace of modernization and automation required at the systems level. Home grown solutions, legacy systems and proprietary systems within the ecosystem of the retailers have resulted in inefficient and disconnected systems.

CitiXsys enhances the whole retail management experience by combining cutting edge technologies and the best practices prevalent in the industry in its iVend Retail Management suite. The application suite not only treats the entire landscape as single holistic enterprise but also seamlessly integrates the key functions of retail through iVend Loyalty, iVend eCommerce, iVend Mobility and iVend Analytics that are integral parts of the suite.

Be sure to stop by and visit us at Booth #3539 to:

Learn how to enhance customer’s shopping experience and maximizing returns to the retailer’s investment How integrated Retail management solutions can help retailer’s improve efficiency How digital passes negate the need to have plastic gift cards, loyalty cards, gift coupons ad help them engage with customers and simultaneously Go Green. Benefits of having a flexible Mobile POS that operates with a common view of inventory, order management, payments etc. in both Online and offline mode Strategies to enable Retailers of all sizes to deliver a mobile integrated Instore Experience through Android and iOS devices

Retail’s Biggest Show begins on 13th January 2014 and CitiXsys gives you a chance to Grab your free Expo pass worth $750 here.

Free Expo Pass

Customer loyalty programs in industries other than Retail

In this day in age, it is not at all uncommon for most service chains to be filled with customer loyalty program tags by various retailers. At nearly every turn, we are Loyaltyprompted to scan our rewards tag or enter our phone number in order to earn “points” or “cash back” for our spending. Though these programs are everywhere throughout the retail marketplace, the importance of customer loyalty programs is spreading to other arenas. Here we will explore how customer rewards systems can benefit and work within non-retail businesses.

Customer Loyalty Programs for Hotels
When consumers make travel arrangements, they are met with countless options for their sleeping accommodations. Because much of the country is still struggling with the economic downturn less people are traveling, and those who are want to get the best value for their dollar. It is for these reasons that customer loyalty programs are essential for attracting and retaining hotel guests. Many hotel chains have set up rewards services with member-recognition which allows guests to earn points for each night, or stay at one of their locations. After a certain amount of points, consumers can earn a free night. This is very attractive to consumers and adds the needed incentive to keep guests returning. In addition, some hotel loyalty programs also offer special promotions and discounts for loyalty members, such as reduced rates on special holidays or birthdays.

Customer Loyalty Programs for Airlines
The cost of an airline ticket can be staggering, which is why rewards programs for airlines are crucial to retaining flyers. For those who must fly frequently for work, or who simply enjoy travel, a customer loyalty service for flying is the best way to get the most bang for their buck. Because of this, many flyers will only travel with those airlines who offer these services. As with the case of hotel programs, customer rewards services for airlines enable flyers to accumulate points, or “miles” for their purchase of a plane ticket. Some airlines allow customers to strictly put these miles toward future flights, while others  will also allow their flyers  to use their points to upgrade to first class, receive cash back.

Customer Loyalty Programs for Credit Cards
Customer rewards services for credit card companies is another trend that has gained in popularity. These programs are extremely beneficial to both the spender and the agency, as customer loyalty plans for credit cards encourage higher levels of spending while offering great rewards options to consumers. Such programs will typically include some type of cash back rewards or the option to earn points for every “x” amount of dollars spent. Points can be saved and used to purchase a number of items from exercise to iPads and even travel accommodations.

Customer Loyalty Programs for Movie Theaters
As the popularity of customer rewards programs increases, it becomes more important for movie theaters to get on the bandwagon. Especially now, while consumers are not spending as much on entertainment, movie-going has become the top pick for some fun and escape from reality, and rewards programs will keep them coming back. Some theaters offer points for each movie ticket purchased, while others rack up points for every dollar spent, including at the snack bar. Points eventually entitle a movie-goer to a free night at the movies or free popcorn and drinks. You may even consider extending a free movie for the member’s birthday.

Regardless of whether a business is retail-based or not, it is important that all companies strive to reward their customers for loyalty. Establishing a rewards program with member-recognition is the most effective way to satisfy your consumers and keep them coming back.

What does Business Intelligence mean for mobile-social Retailer?

Customers are the most important part of the equation for you as a retailer.  Unless you have the precise business information of what your customers want or with a view that what you have is worth their while, then business wanes or declines.Business Intelligence

This doesn’t have to be a concern if you have business intelligence. Business intelligence starts with what you bring to the table from your own head, but it is much more.  It is an analytical tool that you can arm your sales staff with.  It makes available software applications, integrating analytic, customer-centric information your staff needs to make a sale with management of products.

Customer Impact

Customer service begins with the right information available to management, sales staff, and customer before the customer arrives on the scene.  Store management can track inventory, amount of traffic, profit ratios, and asset support, made possible through an integrated retail system.  Tracking a product is made transparent at every point along the chain from ordering to sale, from profit margin to customer purchase history, from placing it in inventory to tagging it as an item of interest in a customer’s profile, and from placing customer information on sales representative’s mobile devices to sending a related item in a customer email.  The whole system is integrated without redundancy of work from a point of sale entry.  When customers do arrive, information is waiting on them to merely express interest for a certain product.

Customer service ends by analyzing a product’s impact on customer sales as well as measuring the store’s profitability has to be easily accomplished and quickly displayed for understanding.  Graphic analytic dashboards portray significant ratios, trends, current status against past performance, and more.  Through business intelligence, graphic visuals make information quick to notice and easy to read and understand.

When analytical software yielding business intelligence is used, the following five principles are a given – with every customer.
.
Customer Expectations
Customers respond well to Business intelligence from sales staff when they call up information on mobile devices while being helped.

  • Inform customers of history of items bought.
  • Assure customers that items are in stock.
  • Schedule customers for a date of delivery.

Shopper Engagement
Customers interact with the sales people for only a limited number of minutes, sometimes seconds.  So, once sales representative knows what interest customers have, they can engage customers.

  • Give more than general information about a product to tip the scale for a sale.
  • Add knowledge of a customer’s last purchase or general interest and deliver the sale.
  • Know how to use a mobile device and show where to find a product on an app or browser to bring in off-site business.

Customer Loyalty
Customers show the loyalty when they are shown.  This can be done in several ways.

  • Give reward points at point of sale to help them accumulate points for future purchases.
  • Offer incentives with gift cards, additional merchandise, and travel.
  • Pique customers’ interests of new products and items related to last purchase through emails and text messages.

Shopper Sources
Customers don’t always go to a store to buy.  Now they have a virtual world at their fingertips. Business intelligence allows you to be where their fingertips go.

  • Keep every product current with the keywords customers type into search engines.
  • Optimize your website for easy browsing and easy purchase.
  • Give them a place to show their satisfaction by “liking” their experience on your social media pages.
  • Allow them to “followyour products and sales events on social media.

Customer Awe
While customers appreciate stability, they have come to expect the next innovation on a regular basis. Business intelligence keeps them abreast of product development, instilling confidence in your company.

  • Update your website regularly and frequently..
  • Make website navigation user-friendly.
  • Highlight new products with interesting captions.

5 ways to propel your Retail business forward

As more and more business owners are recognizing the profitability of online sales, retail business Integrated retailsoftware is becoming increasingly crucial to their revenue. Of course successful online sales require a comprehensive e-business system, but even brick-and-mortar stores today rely on retail business software to stay competitive. Brick-and-mortar stores now must compete not only with one another, but with e-commerce venues and with the online sales of other brick-and-mortar stores.

Retail management software allows for greater efficiency- meaning increased revenues. The right software will not just maintain your current revenue. Your businesses will experience growth both online and off if you take full advantage of the business technology available today.

Using retail business software to build and manage your e-commerce, optimize your POS, offer loyalty incentives, and streamline your sales process pays off not only in the short-term. As your customer base grows alongside the retention rate of your existing customers, this software is key to long-term growth and profitability. Here are five ways you can use business software to propel your company forward:

1. Take advantage of the tools offered by fully integrated retail business software

  • Use business software to manage not only retail stores, but warehouses and websites. This will save you both time and money.
  • Use the reports generated by retail business software when making business decisions; they provide the most accurate picture of your retail sales.
  • Automatically adjust your inventory numbers electronically.
  • Enhance your customer experience. By allowing your customers to create online accounts, not only do you gain online sales- you also have increased access to your customers. Many retailers boost sales through online newsletters, exclusive discounts, and loyalty programs.

2. Engage your customers at POS
Make the sales process both easier and more engaging for customers. In addition to streamlining the physical sales process, software management systems gather POS data that’s mutually beneficial to merchants and customers. Customers appreciate access to their purchasing history, and business owners glean invaluable information from POS data collected. This software allows you more touch points at which to further promote sales: on receipts, via email and/or individual customer accounts. Use retail business software to recognize repeat customers so they feel appreciated. And whether you deal in products or services, the POS analytics provided by retail business software gives you the numbers with which to analyze your customer’s buying habits and judge the success of your sales process.

3. Create and maintain effective loyalty systems 
Follow the successful business trend of building loyalty reward programs. Those who buy from you often should be rewarded for doing so. Loyalty programs offer to develop relationships with the customers by offering two benefits, Financial benefits that increase the customer’s satisfaction & Social benefits that increase the retailer’s social experience with the customer. This can be done through loyalty cards, online accounts, clubs, coupons or discount incentives.

4. Become a multi-channel retailer 
In the wake of the economic recession, sales have generally fallen- unless, that is, you’re looking at online sales. Online retailers have actually been enjoying a sales increase since 2008. Although brick-and-mortar stores have not reported much growth at all, companies who sell online are growing at a steady rate. With an average increase in online sales of 19%, multi-channel retailers nationwide now have incentive to reallocate their budget toward e-marketing.

 5. Track the retail moves with Business Intelligence
More and more consumers are using the Internet to investigate products they later purchase at brick-and-mortar stores. Retail analytics in integrated retail software will give you a picture of your consumer base, their purchasing habits, and the overlap between their online activity and their purchases in-store.

By now you have an idea of the importance of fully integrated retail business software revenue-boosting resource. Following these five guidelines will ensure that your business becomes part of the retail sector that’s booming-not declining.

Retail Management Software Solutions for Multiple Functions

Even many of today’s smallest retailers need integrated retail management systems, simply because consumers have gotten used to sophisticated retail technologies in stores. Having an understanding of retail software solutions and how they work can help you to revolutionize your business and keep up with the fast pace of today’s markets. By developing more knowledge about how retail management systems work, you can find out what’s right for you and how to outfit your stores accordingly.

iVend Retail for Departmental StoresPOS Systems

Point of service or point of sale aspects of retail software solutions are extremely important. These are parts of a larger retail infrastructure that can help you manage inventory and track sales within your retail locations. While many think of POS equipment as equipment that facilitates transactions, which you need, another element of POS systems is that they can streamline the information gathering that you need to do when the sale is made. They also engage the shopper and can draw out more information about your customers that you can use to your advantage later.

Inventory Management and Supply Chain Software: More Retail Software Solutions

It used to be that only mega-companies had supply chains; now the supply chain as an idea is commonly applied to even the smallest businesses with just one retail location. The ‘supply chain’ refers to how materials and products move from acquisition to the eventual sale. Thinking about the supply chain means thinking about how you source the products that you sell, how they are stored, and how they are sold. Inventory management retail software solutions help you to quantify these processes and make them more efficient, saving you time and money.

Customer Loyalty Systems

Again, larger retail companies developed sophisticated customer loyalty systems first. These strategies translated into preferred customer cards and all kinds of other routine systems for delivering discounts to return customers. However, your small business can also use this kind of technology, loyalty retail software solutions which can be simple and direct, to get more out of every new customer who enters your retail locations. With efficiently manage loyalty systems, your staff don’t have to physically track every customer in order to deliver discounts and benefits to return customers. High-tech retail software solution design allows for automated loyalty management systems that can keep consumers coming back to your stores.

E-commerce Systems

E-commerce is another trend that has now reached down to the simplest of small enterprises across the country. All kinds of “bricks and mortar” retailers now use e-commerce systems reach out to a greater market and to augment the sales that they make in a physical location. Even if you only have one location, a few employees, and a small inventory, you can still benefit hugely from e-commerce retail software solutions, especially if your products are specialized or customized in any way.

Look into how to apply all of the above systems to make your business more efficient and get you more profit year after year.

Five Tips For Better Retail Management in Any Type of Retail Store

Multi-channel Retail StrategiesOperating a retail store can be quite challenging. All the details have to be managed no matter how small. Managing a store without the proper tools in a cost & time effective manner can even become impossible. It is therefore important to take advantage of emerging trends in the retail market to keep your business at par or ahead of your competition. Here are a few tips;-

1.      Appreciate the importance of integrated retail systems

Using an integrated retail management system can make this task considerably easier. An integrated Retail Management System is a software platform with complementary  components which can be used in specific areas of the retail business. These include budgeting, point of sale accounting among others. The biggest advantage of having integrated retail system such as iVend Retail is that every component can be accessed at will. With all the components working in tandem, the value the software brings to the business becomes greater than the sum of these components.

2.      Introduce shopper engagement at POS

At the heart of any successful retail business in the modern world of fierce competition, is shopper engagement. Instead of expecting your shopper to line up behind cash registers, and  wasting time, you can introduce mobile devices equipped with both credit card and barcode readers. These portable devices improve the customer experience by making it easier for sales associates to engage and satisfy clients. The risk of shoppers getting frustrated by waiting in a long queue is almost eliminated. Most of today’s shoppers are tech savvy and are likely used to the quick execution that online sales are known for. Therefore, they would also expect their local retail shopping experience to be just as fast.

3.      Have an effective loyalty system

Customer service is essential to any retail system in today’s competitive world. Providing impeccable service to your most valuable customers can help distinguish your business and elevate it above your competition in their eyes. Having effective loyalty management software gives you the power to run you loyalty program effectively. This powerful tool, combined with targeted campaigns and astute customer segmentation can make each member of the program feel that your entire system is designed to cater for their needs. Your retail business will be more focused on developing lasting relationships as well as improving corporate performance.

4.      Multi-channel retailing

Multi-channel retailing involves delivering customer propositions through multiple channels with a considerable amount of cross integration in information, service and management. This system allows you to reduce costs through effectiveness and efficiency. Separate management of these channels often leads to impairment of customer relations and increase in the costs associated with running each channel separately.

Multi channel retailing channels retailing will also help you improve your customer experience leading to increased loyalty. The customers on the other hand will benefit from the availability of more interaction opportunities as well as an ability to witch from one channel to another will ease. Multi channel retailing also allow you to syndicate product information through companies like eBay, Amazon, among others. This increases the retail prospects available for your business. These market places offer seller portals through which you can manage inventory and product information.

5.      Take advantage of new innovations in the retail sector

There have been numerous innovations in the retail sector. In order to keep abreast with other businesses, it is important to implement them. One such innovation is iVend Mobile, a Mobile POS system that allows your staff to conduct most sales on the floor, this eliminates lines, reducing the amount of time customers have to wait and helps streamline inventory management.

Innovate or Face Extinction

A business needs to innovate or they risk becoming irrelevant.

The typical sales model no longer applies for retailers. There’s no doubt that there will always be a need for brick and mortar stores; people need to touch and feel a product before purchasing it. In fact, over a third of online consumers cite this as the top reason they don’t prefer to buy online.

Innovate or Face Extinction in RetailToday, however, it’s really all about convenience: consumers want to buy whenever they want to, wherever they are, and as easily and hassle-free as possible. They may love shopping at your store most of the time; but they also want to be able to purchase from you when they are stuck at the office late or at midnight when they are shopping for holiday gifts. Retailers big and small must integrate multi-channel retailing into their repertoire or they will experience attrition in sales and their customer base consistently.

The latest innovations in retailing tend to be adopted early by large retailers. Consider these interesting new innovations:

  • Nordstrom’s just announced that they are testing a mobile application that will allow customers to order custom made men’s suits whenever they desire. Can you imagine sitting in your hotel room at midnight, while away on business in Asia, ordering several thousand dollars worth of custom, high end suits?
  • Neiman Marcus has a mobile app that allows you to work with your favorite sales associate.

Are you embracing innovation in your business? If not, imagine the impact of the following scenarios on the success of your business.

A frequent client stops by your shop, looking for a dress for an upcoming special occasion.  After trying on several dresses, she leaves, saying she’d like to think it over more. Later that week, she decides on one of the dresses at your shop, but she’s at a mall twenty minutes away and your store is closing.

She looks up your store on her mobile phone’s browser so she can purchase it and then pick it up tomorrow. Alas, your webpage doesn’t have mobile capability. She gets frustrated when it’s cumbersome to navigate your site, and ends up ordering the same dress from another store at a nearby mall.

Loss of convenience = Dollars flying out the window.

Your children’s retail boutique recently started carrying a decorative accessory that is aimed toward the preteen girl’s demographic. It’s predicted to be the new hot trend. While in-store sales are fairly flat for this item, they seem to be selling well online. However, you don’t have the time or the tools to assess who’s buying these items. You soon run out of stock and the item is backordered.

If you had a retail management solution that integrated with your multi-channel retailing, you’d have quick access to important customer data, such as detailed demographics of purchasers as well as anyone who clicks on your site. What if a young teen in Texas wore this to her school and started a huge trend, which quickly spread in the area?

By having quick access to this data and integrating it with your social media platforms and customer loyalty programs, you could have marketed to a targeted demographic. Instead, some other retailer has capitalized on the trend. 

No management tools = Lost sales.

You own a chain of electronic and consumer goods stores. They become crowded during weekends, especially when you are running popular promotions, and it often seems like your sales staff isn’t able to keep up with all the questions.  A male shopper who is well-versed in IT equipment stops by to purchase a computer and other accessories, all of which are on sale. However, he can’t get anyone to help him and the checkout lines are long. Because he’s in a hurry, he leaves and plans to come back later. But he doesn’t get a chance to stop back before the sale ends, and takes advantage of a competitor’s sale on the same item the following weekend.

If your store had been equipped with mobile solutions, such as in-store tablets, your customers could order their purchases throughout the store and speed up the process.

Imagine making your customer’s shopping experiences a simple and easy task. Whether at home, on the road, or in your store, your innovative systems are providing them with ideas, information, and convenience. This translates into more sales and revenue for your business.

Can you afford not to innovate?

Social Media & Customer Loyalty Programs: An Effective Partnership for SME Retailers

Customer LoyaltyImagine that your retail business has continual access to your customer base each and every minute of the day, 365 days per year. You, along with your staff, can tell them anything you want about your business, and there’s a good chance that they will listen. They may even share this information with their own friends and family. You can also request feedback from them whenever you want. Best of all, it’s totally free. What would you tell them?

If this sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Every time you post on your company’s Facebook page, tweet to your followers, or pin an image to Pinterest, you are broadcasting an important message about your business.

The usage of social networking websites is tremendous, representing a real opportunity to market to a targeted population daily. For example, did you know that 48% of Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 34 check it when they get up every morning? This represents a whopping 71% of US users on Facebook, according to the website Allfacebook.com.

But while you may recognize the opportunity in establishing a social media presence, do you really understand what that entails? Peruse several small business Facebook and Twitter pages, for example, and you’ll see the same recurring themes: a posting once a week advertising a sale or special, a comment to come visit the store, or a request for people to “like” them. There’s nothing consistent nor compelling enough to catch your audiences’ attention.

Social media isn’t about advertisements and announcements, and it shouldn’t be treated as a digital bulletin board. Social media, when used effectively, is about building a sense of community with current and potential users of your products. To build a community, you must engage with your customers, plain and simple. And that’s not done by just posting virtual shout-outs of ads. An effective social media strategy involves posting interesting and informative information about your product, your business, and your industry. It suggests to users how you can help satisfy one or more of their needs. And it catches their attention and makes them want to share the content with others.

It also means that you are not just posting and sharing content but participating and commenting on others’ content as well. Remember, it’s not just about shouting about your business, it’s about engaging in the pleasantries of conversation with your customers. If a customer walked into your store, you’d greet them and ask about their day, correct? If you knew their son just got accepted to graduate school, you’d congratulate them. Think of your social media efforts as digital conversations. Wish your customers a happy birthday; comment on their last vacation picture.

Your social media program is really just another component and tool of your  Customer Loyalty program.  Through both, you should be connecting, communicating, and rewarding your customers. Engaging and rewarding your customers is the most cost effective way to build your business, because it costs over six times more to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one.

By integrating your social media strategy with your customer database and loyalty program, you can utilize integral data to find, track, and engage with your current customers on social media. Knowing their buying patterns can assist you in determining the content that you post and when to do so.

For example, if you know that 45% of your client base that spent over $200 during the last week of the holiday season were males purchasing gifts for the significant females in their lives, based on the last several years of data, you can post content aimed toward that demographic during the next holiday buying season. Let them know what items are hot this year, upsell your products by showing them outfits and matching accessories, and even offer a coupon for this demographic to use the week of Christmas. Most of all, remind them that your retail business has the products, service, and capability to satisfy their need.

Your customer database and loyalty program can work hand in hand with your social media efforts. By posting questions about your products on your Facebook page, for example, you might find out that a large percentage of your clientele actually purchases clothing at your children’s retail store for gifts. Why not take that opportunity to market to that demographic, as well as update your customer database?

Set a system in place for staff to obtain names and email addresses of their customers at the point of sale. Encourage customers to follow you on Facebook and other social networking sites by posting displays in your stores and links on all your printed material and digital sites.

An effective customer loyalty program and retail management system allows the retailer to track and analyze myriad types of data. The iVend Retail Management Solution, along with its companion iVend Loyalty – an Integrated Customer Loyalty Solution, provides the flexibility retailers need to track and analyze data, as well as reward loyal customers.

How an SME Retailer Can Create Loyal Customer Evangelists

How does your small to medium size retail business treat and utilize the good will of your customers?

Consider these two scenarios:

Retailer A is a boutique wine shop with several locations in upscale, suburban communities. When prospective customer A walks thru the door, she is greeted in a friendly, genuine manner. A staff member approaches after a couple of minutes, offering her assistance. She engages customer A in conversation and finds out that she enjoys big, bold red wines. She then recommends several new wines that would suit her appetite. Customer A mentions that she read about the monthly wine social club on their store’s Facebook page and was interested in getting more information. They then have an informal discussion about several of the wines carried by the boutique. The customer decides on her purchase and provides her name and relevant information to the clerk when asked. Finally, the sales clerk obtains her permission to enroll her in the customer loyalty program. This customer continues to make regular purchases at this wine shop, earning savings and discounts on her future purchases. What’s more, she engages in frequent postings about events and wine education on their Facebook page, allowing her friends to see the activity and resulting in several new community members and potential sales.

Retailer B is an upscale boutique women’s apparel shop with two other locations in nearby suburban communities. Customer B walks into the shop and is not greeted at all because the two sales clerks are busy gossiping behind the counter about last night’s dates. She browses around the small boutique, seemingly unnoticed, as she searches for her favorite designer that is often carried at the shop. She finally approaches the counter to check if the store has a specific dress in her size. The clerk tells her they are currently out of stock and turns back to her conversation. She then goes online and purchases the dress from a different vendor.

The kicker? One of Retailer B’s other locations had this exact dress in the size needed. If the clerk had bothered to check, they had could have shipped the desired merchandise directly to the customer. Instead, Customer B bought her purchase somewhere else, and more importantly, communicated her displeasure with Retailer B’s lack of service with several local friends. Additionally, Customer B had shopped in their boutique several times over the past years and spent an average of $500 each time.

 If Retailer B would have had the systems and processes in place as Retailer A, they would have been able to quickly save the sale and enhance the customer relationship by identifying the out of stock item and locating it at another location. The culture of their store would have been one of fanatical customer service.

To the small and medium size retailer, a loyal customer is their best advertising. There’s no room for big budget marketing and splashy campaigns – word of mouth can make them or break them. Every customer, whether they are a happy or dissatisfied one, is an exponential tool for public relations. Did you know that acquiring a new customer costs over six times what it takes to keep an existing customer? That’s why every retailer should have a detailed strategy in place for tracking customer feedback and rewarding loyalty. The customers you currently have are worth their weight in gold.

A good strategy is

simple – concentrate on the CCR’s of customer service: Connect with your customers; communicate with your customers; and reward them regularly.

Connect

  • Whether you run a one man retail shop or multi-location store with several POS, you should be greeting customers as they come into your establishment. Encourage your team to pleasantly address customers and make a connection with them within five minutes of walking into your shop.
  •  Reach out and get to know your customers. Find out what their likes and        dislikes are. Ask for their name and zip code when they purchase an item, allowing you to track their buying habits.
  • Build a social networking community and engage with your clients consistently. Why is social media important? People may love your product, but will likely forget about it unless you are in front of them regularly. Remind them of all the services and products you offer. Inform them of special events. Give them information so they can become a loyal evangelist of your business.

 

Communicate

  • An SME’s size allows for flexibility and quickness in its ability to gather customer feedback and react on a timely basis. Reach out to your customers to find out what they like and don’t like about your operations. Are you able to special order an item that a frequent customer would like? You may want to consider the cost versus its benefit, as that satisfied customer will likely tell five friends about your individualized service, which will ultimately snowball into great PR for your business.
  • Encourage customers to provide negative feedback along with praise, then deal with it quickly. Tools such as the company Facebook page, customer conversations, and requested feedback from after-sale follow ups can allow you to gain great insight into what they want, as well as what is working in your business. Respond to each negative comment constructively and quickly, as your customers will value your response.
  • Track customer buying habits and proactively inform them about upcoming sales, new merchandise they might like, and special events.

Reward

Are you rewarding your frequent customers for their purchasing loyalty? If not, consider that a large portion of your business is derived from repeat customers. They obviously like your operations – and if they know they will receive regular rewards and savings by continuing to be loyal, why would they go anywhere else?

Be careful, though – if your business doesn’t have a methodical system for tracking customer purchases, you may unknowingly omit loyal customers who aren’t as visible to your staff. Is the quiet shopper that comes by twice a year and spends $600 on each occasion any less valuable then the frequent visitor that spends $50 a month? Your staff may be more familiar with Customer B, who stops by the store weekly and makes small purchases. Forget about that infrequent regular shopper who isn’t familiar to your staff, and you risk engendering hard feelings. Word travels fast in a community.

Having a retail solution that tracks this data seamlessly for your business eliminates this problem. It’s also integral to make sure there is a policy in place for obtaining a named customer with each purchase.

The iVend Retail Management Solution, along with the iVend Loyalty solution, has the functionality that allows you to track important data about your customers so that your team can utilize it to make better use of their sales and service efforts. The iVend Loyalty solution gives you the capabilities to reward your valuable customers at every level and allow them to interact as well.

Fanatical customer service can only happen when supported by proper systems and processes.

Are your systems enabling your staff to create that bond with your customer base?

If the answer is NO and you are looking for a solution write to us on info@citixsys.com, we have a solution for you.

How an SME can Shrink the Shrinkage from Employee Theft

Shrinkage in the retail industry is a serious matter, averaging over $30 billion dollars a year. And the majority of that shrinkage (43%) is due to employee theft, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

This can be especially problematic for a SME retailer; as the business grows, owners must accede control and oversight of the daily operations to others while focusing on the management and long term strategy of the business. This can leave them vulnerable if they do not have the proper controls in place to guard against internal theft.

Many rapidly growing small and medium retailers tend to rely on the trust of  their employees as well, especially long time members. They may not realize the need for security controls until it’s too late.

A good retail management solution, such as iVend Retail, offers key features that will successfully discourage many leading methods of theft. Consider these common scenarios:

(A) A sales clerk at one of your locations gives her login and password information to a friend, who then accesses the retail POS system and steals cash from the till, as well as hacking confidential customer data.

Security Feature: The iVend Retail management solution integrates with a leading biometric fingerprint reader, DigitalPersona, effectively tying security and user rights to the employee’s fingerprint. This allows for complete employee accountability, confirmed audit trails, prevention against unauthorized access, and more.

(B) An employee works in cahoots with an outside partner, who comes into the store to return a single item several times. The employee scans the return repetitively throughout the day, and processes several cash refunds.

Security Feature: The iVend Retail management solution allows only one return per each specific item. The system will lock that item from being returned multiple times, even if it’s at a different location.

(C) Several employees are pilfering small amounts of inventory from various locations throughout the year. While each item isn’t substantial, the total cumulative amount over a year’s time is significant. The discrepancy in inventory is only discovered at the annual physical inventory count.

Security Feature: Cycle counts of inventory can be performed through the iVend Retail management solution periodically throughout the year, thus identifying discrepancies in inventory on a timely basis.

(D) A store clerk gives random and significant discounts on purchases to her friends without any authorization.

Security Feature: The iVend Retail management solution allows you to set discounts, price controls, and price changes at different levels of management.

Other security controls include the ability to force reason codes and comments for returns and exchanges and till counts at various intervals throughout the day.

In these tough economic times, it is crucial for a business to have access to current information and control over operational data. Our iVend Retail Management solution, an SAP Business One addon, is a complete end to end solution that allows the management team to have complete control over each store’s operations in real time.