Cloud POS is expected to grow 22.7% annually from 2018 to 2023
But what are the benefits of having cloud technology in your retail space?
3 Key Benefits of Cloud POS for Retailers
1) The ability to sell and operate from anywhere
Web-based POS solutions store data in the cloud which makes them available around the clock for authorized users to pull reports or manage inventory right from the comfort of home or while on a business trip. In comparison, traditional, installed software requires managers to be on-site in order to gain access to important business information such as sales and inventory reports.
With a well-designed cloud POS system, retailers also have the advantage of running their POS software on any hardware from iPads to Windows computers. This flexibility means that retailers are not tied to a specific operating platform. Retailers using traditional POS software and are looking to make the switch to cloud, can do so easily with their existing hardware.
2) Reduced Ongoing Costs
In the long-term, cloud POS software is more cost-efficient than traditional software. This is due to the elimination of many hidden ongoing maintenance costs associated with installed software. In comparison, cloud-based POS solutions requires minimal upfront investment, have little to no downtime during updates, and reduce the amount of in-house technical support and post-sales support required.
3) Access to Real-Time Business Information
Cloud POS software also comes with the benefit of easier access to real-time information. In other words, inventory and sales data is updated as products are received or sold rather than every few hours or daily. If used well, more timely data can help to eliminate significant inventory costs by minimizing stock-outs or overstocking slow sellers. This is particularly important for retail businesses that have multiple locations where consolidated sales and inventory data is critical to purchasing decisions. At the same time, a well-designed cloud POS software will have real-time marketing integrations that help drive more local traffic to your retail store.
Every so often, retailers are affected by things out of their control such as recession, inflation, seasonal natural disasters and pandemics (just to name a few). One of our customers had a huge setback when a large truck crashed into their storefront because of black ice. Bottom line is, you always have to be ready for surprises. Without the right precautions in place, this could put a huge strain on your businesses and could lead to closure. In an uncertain world, we want to make sure you have the right tools to manage your store so we have put together a few tips below to help you stay resilient through any unforeseeable events.
Conduct a physical inventory count to verify inventory amounts. Record any losses of inventory that are damaged, or expired, or spoiled. You’ll want to make sure that the inventory you have counted matches stock levels in your POS or inventory management system.
Review your inventory to decide what needs to be discounted and promoted immediately to bring in cash flow and to minimize the losses from your most outdated stock.
Contact your suppliers and vendors to get an update on order lead times and ensure accurate delivery schedules. You don’t want to sell what you can’t fulfill.
Use new hiring tactics. Write engaging job descriptions, promise of more hours, and offer a rewards-based incentive program so that your staff can stay invested with the success of your store.
Review loss prevention and security policies with employees. Don’t forget to review your POS access rights to make sure the staff permissions are still accurate.
Retail Store Exterior and Interior
Regularly make sure that the storefront is clean by washing windows and doors, and cleaning high-traffic areas thoroughly.
Have the store’s new merchandising plan and products tags ready for staff. Ensure that all of your staff are informed of any new changes and are scheduled to help display stock before you open.
Place promotional signage around the store.
Retail Operations Management
Organize back office tasks: Review your fulfillment processes as cashiers need to have easy access to product or curbside orders at the front of the store to minimize their walking around the store.
Review receipt management procedures and train staff to put receipts directly into shopping bags instead of handing them to customers or ask customers if they want an email receipt instead. Remember that privacy regulations require that you get positive customer consent to save their emails for future use so an email marketing tool to capture consent that will allow customers to unsubscribe themselves.
Enable staggered pickup times. Requiring customers to make an appointment to pick up their purchases to avoid huge lineups outside of your store. E-commerce providers such as TAKU eCommerce allow customers to choose a pickup time and date at checkout. Alternatively, you can use apps such as Eventbrite, Calendly or Acuity Scheduling, many of which are free for a single store account.
Security, Technology, and Utilities
Ensure that your utilities are working properly:This includesheating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC), phone, internet, electricity, and plumbing etc. If any of your utilities were disconnected while you were closed, it’s a good idea to call the utility companies to make sure they are working before you re-open.
Check all surveillance and security cameras to make sure they are working properly.
Ensure alarm systems are working and consider updating alarm codes if needed.
Verify that your retail POS system, credit card terminals, and scannersare ready to process sales. Before opening, ring in a test sale to make sure your POS is good to go.
Make sure that your payment terminal (PIN pad) is capable of accepting contactless payments. Know what your contactless limits are and increase them if you are comfortable with the higher risk (contactless “tap” payments are subject to chargebacks).
Health and Safety Measures
Appoint a health & safety representative in your team. It is important to implement rules and regulations that comply with local laws and to ensure that employees and customers feel comfortable and safe in your retail store.
Make hand-sanitizer available to customers.
Adjust your store hours:Shorten your opening hours to help staff keep up with the extra cleaning required and to give them adequate time to replenish stock.
Let people know that you take orders online – TAKU helps retailers showcase their products 24/7 online and accepts payments easily and quickly (read more here). Fulfill orders in-store and allow customers to schedule a pickup time so that customers can pop in to pick up their items without the stress of long wait times or lineups.
Update Google My Business. Update your Google My Business listing and let customers know you are open for curbside pickup or delivery. Remember to adjust your hours of operation on your listing if you decide to shorten your store hours!
Get added to local directories. Add your business to local directory listings (Bing, Yahoo etc.) to make it easier for shoppers to find you online. Support Retail is one of our favorite directories and was created during the COVID-19 pandemic as a free tool to help connect local businesses to shoppers in the area. Being featured on local directories with links to your website improves SEO which also means that you are able to have your website appear ahead of your competitors on search engines such as Google.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to add a few relevant tips for retailers that have reopened or planning to reopen soon. We understand that it might be a little overwhelming, but completing this list can help your employees and staff feel safer, and create more trust.
🚨 COVID-19 Retail Best Practices
Purchase protective equipment for employees (ex. face masks & gloves) especially if you serve a high-risk population. Sanitize doors knobs, handles, countertops, PIN pads, etc. Any areas of high touch by employees or customers will need to be sanitized repeatedly throughout the day. Consider wrapping your PIN pad with plastic wrap so that you can wipe it down with sanitizer between every customer but still protect the device. Review your fitting room policy if you are a clothing or apparel store. Many stores will no longer allowing fittings and instead relying on better descriptions or even fitting technology. Encourage “Contactless” Payments (e.g. tap or Apple Pay) and discourage the use of cash to protect your staff and customers wherever possible. Increase your “contactless” limit with your merchant processor but remember that you are liable for any potential chargebacks on “contactless” payments. Implement proper hygiene and social distances practices. Communicate health and safety procedures to staff. Ensure proper hand washing, sanitizing, and overall cleanliness. Place signs in the store to remind employees to wash their hands, sanitize, and keep at a safe distance from one another. Hang health & safety signage around the store so that customers can easily read and understand procedures. Modify your return and exchange policy: You may want to put a hold on return and exchanges for the time being given the hygiene concerns.
Want to learn more about how to be seen as the top result on Google (or other search engines)?
Back-to-school is a time of change for many people – teachers, parents, and most importantly students. Many see it as a fresh start and a time for new perspectives.
Smart retailers will play on these feelings with creative marketing tactics.
3 Back-to-School Promotions to Help you Sell More
Even if your store has no connection to back-to-school or college, you can still engage with your shoppers in a memorable way.
Here’s how: cater your promotions to shoppers by using change as a marketing tool.
Listed below are 3 promotion strategies that can help you sell more.
1) A free gift with every purchase made
This type of promotion offers every shopper who spends a certain amount in-store ($50 or above, $60 or above etc.) a free item.
One example of a gift with purchase could be a back-to-school basket with different school supplies. You can also print your brand name on each of the items in the basket. It doesn’t necessarily have to be school related either – popular store merchandise or a gift card are also effective gifts.
The benefits of this promotion strategy include:
attracting shoppers’ attention
increasing the likelihood of impulse buys
making it easier to up-sell and cross-sell
improving shopper experience
enhancing attraction and remembrance of your brand
Social media contests are a great tool to increase sales and generate a buzz online. As most shoppers (college students and millennials especially) are conducting product research online, it is also a great method to reach target shoppers.
This back-to-school season, 49% of K-12 families and 45% of college shoppers are planning to shop online. So get in front of these consumers by running a giveaway or contest with effective prizes.
Here are some ideas for effective prizes:
A “back-to-school survival kit” for different ages of students.
A de-stress prize such as a gift card for a popular restaurant or spa nearby (consider partnering with a local business)
Free tickets to fall festivals, concerts, apple picking or other events
Here are some examples of creative back-to-school tie ins:
A store that sells cleaning supplies could offer discounted packages for college students. It could be marketed it as an all-in-one package for cleaning dorm rooms.
A health food store or grocery store could give away healthy meal plans and recipes for college students. Or alternatively – recipes for preparing healthy lunches for children.
Families love including their pets in holidays, birthdays, and other milestones. So a pet store could offer back-to-school merchandise for pets! Pet-smart is a great example of a store that has leveraged back-to-school. In the past, the retailer has taken advantage of the back-to-school season with their school-themed pet gear.
Want to know more about how to increase foot traffic to your store?
After over a year of lockdowns and re-openings, retailers are finally able to open up their doors to the public again. Now, more than ever, retailers need to take more initiative in their local SEO efforts to ensure that they are visible to online shoppers.
But what is local SEO and how does it help my retail business?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” This refers to marketing that helps increase the quantity and quality of visitors online that find you through organic search engine results. “Organic search engine results” is just a fancy way of saying “the top results that show up without paid advertising” in a search engine when somebody searches using certain words. Here’s an example in what an “organic result” looks like in the Google search engine, but it is similar in Bing or Yahoo.
Local SEO is just a more localized version of this – it’s the way that local businesses can show up higher in organic search engine results. An example could be a customer looking for a bag of Acana dog food in their area. When they type “Acana dog food near me,” Google matches the search to local listings in their area.
How to improve where you show up in “search results“
Have you ever thought of how results pop up on your ‘results’ pages? SEO plays a big role in that. One of the main things that affect how websites are displayed on search engines is the number of and quality of keywords in the website.
What is a keyword?
Keywords are either statements, questions, or words that people put into the search bar in a search engine. Finding the right keywords for your website and other online store listings is important because it can affect how and where you show up in search engine results.
Retailers looking to improve their local SEO should do some keyword research and take proactive efforts to make sure that their website and other listings consistently include the most popular keywords. Over time, this will help their stores rank better in local search engine results. The best way to continuously include popular keywords is to create new and relevant content such as new blog posts or website pages. At the same time, it’s important to always have some evergreen content (content that will remain relevant for the foreseeable future and can be re-shared and repurposed), suitable for the industry (e.g. petstores).
What are examples of evergreen content?
Blog posts or pages featuring clients, products or services offered, as well as their long-term benefits. The goal is to create content that presents the business as an expert within an industry in order to build trust with customers.
Why you need a mobile-friendly website
Another SEO-friendly move includes improving mobile responsiveness on your store website. “Mobile responsiveness” refers to how well your retail website looks on all different screen sizes, especially mobile smartphones. In 2020, just under half of the world’s population owned a smartphone with 63,000 Google searches performed per second. When a website cannot change to fit different screen sizes for different devices automatically, new visitors will leave the website faster as it’s not a good customer experience.
It’s already harder in mobile as statistics have shown that capturing peoples’ attention on smartphones is more difficult (a difference of 28% as compared to Desktops) due to the smaller amount of space from which you can “sell” your business. But when you add this to the fact that people are also increasingly relying on their smartphones as their main source of information and that “search” online today usually starts from a smartphone, mobile responsiveness is key to being found online today.
Targeting new keywords
Another way to increase traffic to your website is to rank for new keywords (click here to jog your memory on keywords) that target challenges or new needs of your customers. In order to know how to show up for specific terms, retail business owners need to do keyword research. One good resource is Neil Patel: his website offers free resources to check what keywords you are ranking for and how to optimize your website so that you show up in more related searches.
Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) profile
Over 80% of customers go online to find more information about a store or product before ever setting foot in a store. People are getting increasingly more tech savvy, which means that retailers need to adapt to new ways of shopping. Google My Business (GMB) is one of the first stops that new customers usually make to find out details such as opening hours or reviews that past customers have left. It is important to update GMB because:
It’s a free tool that can automatically bring more exposure to your business
It helps customers learn more about your business through features such as Posts, online bookings, photo galleries and store reviews.
It helps customers find you in Google Maps.
⭐ What is SWIS (See What’s In Store)?
See What’s In Store (SWIS) helps retailers showcase their product to shoppers in their area. When shoppers search for products (such as “Acana pet food near me”) in Google, they will see a list of nearby locations that carry those products. If those stores have SWIS activated, Google will show a free product showcase highlighting exactly what products are available in store. Because this feature is most effective when the product availability is accurate, a SWIS product showcase is best when it is managed by a store POS directly linked to Google. The added benefit of SWIS is that it turns product names into keywords which helps retailers show up higher in search results.
Read more about how TAKU has helped retailers globally increase their sales?
One of the most common methods of payment in both traditional and online retail is payment by credit or debit cards. This is particularly true since the pandemic started as more and more shoppers are looking to avoid touching cash and prefer to pay with contactless payment options. After all, card-based payments are reliable and trustworthy ways to accept payments easily. But there are a lot of things to consider when choosing a new payment processor. Here’s what retailers should consider to minimize their costs when signing up with a new card processor:
Type of Payment Options
The type of retail business you have determines the way in which you take payment. There are 3 general types of payment options:
Card Terminals (EMV PIN Pads) for merchants to accept in-person payments
Virtual Terminals for merchants to manually accept payments with the card payer present (e.g. phone or fax payments)
Payment Gateways for customers to make payments themselves in the shopping cart of an online store (e.g. PayPal, Bambora, Stripe, etc.)
Each of these types of payments can be supplied by the same or differing payment processors but they each have different rates. Generally speaking, card terminals have the lowest rates and are considered the most secure because the card holder must be present and / or provide verification with a PIN code. Remember that magnetic stripe readers are not EMV compliant and only chip-and-PIN terminals protect the merchant against chargebacks.
Expert Tip: While card terminals are EMV compliant and do protect merchants against chargebacks, this is usually only for in-person payments made using chip-and-PIN. Since the pandemic started, more and more retailers are offering contactless (tap) payments. But if you do accept contactless payment as a merchant, you should always check your payment processing policy to see if tap payments have chargeback liability. Many processors do not cover tap payments and so merchants may be on the hook for any chargebacks on such payments. This is why many merchants have a tap limit and it is definitely something a merchant should check if they’re thinking of increasing their tap limit.
Virtual terminals have higher card rates than card terminals but they are still generally lower than payment gateways. Merchants should keep in mind that virtual terminals still open the merchant to chargeback liability. The best way for retailers to minimize the liability exposure is to make sure that there is a customer-signed order agreement and for the merchant to collect as much verification information as possible such as billing address, etc.
Finally, there are payment gateways. This is the payment option for e-commerce which generally has the highest fees as it’s considered the highest risk of the 3 options. Similar to virtual terminals, online payments are liable to chargebacks. Merchants selling online should always check with their gateway payment provider for their chargeback policies and how they can best protect themselves from them.
Types of Payment Processing Fees
Even when you know what payment options work for a retail business, various processors will have offer different types of processing fees:
Flat % Fee + ¢ per transaction
Interchange Plus % + monthly fees
CAD vs. Foreign Currency
Credit card processing fees often range between 1.55%-4% with variable rates from Mastercard, Visa, Discover and American Express. Some credit card processors charge more for particular credits cards (eg. American Express) because American Express relies more heavily on merchant swipe fees and annual fees rather than interest rates (that most other processors make money on).
Everything else being equal, merchants should compare different processing fees based on three factors:
The average number of transactions per month
The average dollar value of every transaction
The total value of all sales processed per month
Here’s an example of how processing fees can be dramatically different based on variations in the 3 factors above. Merchants should always compare the rates between processors before signing a new processing agreement.
Expert Tip: While Interchange Plus rates often work best for retailers with fairly high processing volume (e.g. $1M+ annually), it’s important to consider the type of clientele a merchant has. This is because Interchange Plus processing fees charge different rates based on the type of cards used (e.g. gold cards cost merchants more than standard credit cards). As such retailers who sell luxury or high-end products may be better off with a flat % monthly fee if the majority of their clients are customers with premium or foreign currency cards.
POS Payment Integration
Traditionally, merchant processing is handled separately for in-store and online payments. While this is changing now with a few all-in-one payment solutions coming out, besides the overall cost of the processing fees, the biggest cost to managing retail payments is the amount of resources required to track payments against sales.
After all, reconciling payments received is key to making sure that all funds are received and to quickly find out when there are any operational issues that need to be addressed immediately (e.g. suspicious employee behavior, high refunds, etc.)
This is why more and more retailers are looking for POS that can handle their preferred payment processor whether for online or in-store payments. Having payments automatically recorded in the POS minimizes human error and increases checkout speed which is important for stores with higher traffic.
Individual merchants will value different features but, generally speaking, the more established the retailer, the more important it is for the merchant to minimize sales-based fees that take a percentage of sales. While some software solutions have low (or even no) monthly costs, it’s usually because they charge higher than average % fees and / or restrict you from choosing other payment options by charging additional transaction fees on top of the regular payment fees. Others like TAKU Retail charge a flat monthly software fee with no additional sales-based % fees.
Other things to look out for in a retail POS is whether it allows refunds in-store regardless of where a payment is received. Many systems were designed to accept sales separately from different sales channels. As such, it can be a hassle to manage returns and accept refunds in separate systems. Systems like TAKU Retail allow merchants to manage even online returns with store-based refunds or exchanges. This allows merchants to not only encourage exchanges instead of refunds to avoid losing the entire sale, but it allows merchants to refund with lower cost payments options such as cash or debit as many payment processors charge the same rate for refunds as for sales.
Other Things to Consider
Retailers also need to be wary of other a few other factors when choosing their credit card processors to ensure that they are well-protected and aware of the real cost:
The amount of time required (withholding period) for funds to be deposited into the company bank account.
Whether processing fees are deducted upfront (Net Deposits) or at the end of every month (Gross Deposits) – net deposits can be harder for bank reconciliations as the original sales amounts won’t be on monthly statements.
Whether payment processing statements are all-in-one or separate for different sales channels.
Whether there are additional monthly fees and minimums.
Want to read more articles? You can find our latest article on retail shrinkage here