Once you have successfully built your digital storefront and your physical store and products can be found online, the next step will be taking payment for orders online. This is when you will want to focus your efforts on setting up your e-commerce site.
In this blog post, we’ll go over how you can quickly set up your online product catalog for customers to see on your website and to order from.
The importance of selling online post-COVID-19
Brick and mortar retailers who are looking to sell online usually face the same set of challenges including missing product descriptions and images, incorrectly setup products or a lack of funds, resources, or skills to manage an e-commerce store.
While these challenges often prevent traditional retailers from setting up an online store, the opportunities you miss by only selling in-store and not investing in an e-commerce site are far greater. As an increasing number of consumers shop online post-COVID-19, failing to provide an online checkout experience means you are missing out on potential customers and sales
The good news is, modern day e-commerce providers have made it easy to set up an online store as they simply re-use your existing POS products. In fact, retail platforms such as TAKU eCommerce are even able to enhance product data to make your product details more e-commerce ready and more searchable on Google. By re-using existing product details, merchants using TAKU, for example, have the ability to showcase their products and take payments online in just a few steps.
To show you what this looks like, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of re-using your existing product catalog with TAKU eCommerce so you can quickly start taking payments online.
How to Start Selling Online with TAKU eCommerce
Many traditional retailers become discouraged at the thought of setting up an online store. However, depending on the platform, it is actually quite simple to get started.
Let’s see an example of how this works with TAKU eCommerce:
1. Decide where to add your shopping cart
As long as you are using TAKU, you have two options to quickly start selling online:
Automatically create an instant store which is a clean, easy-to-use, single page webstore that works in every screen size. This option is usually best for retailers who don’t have an existing website, need to replace an older looking site or want to just add a new Shop option linked to their store products.
Or alternatively, if you already have a WordPress informational website, you can add the TAKU eCommerce shopping cart as a WordPress plugin. This option is super fast and preferred for retailers that want their online store to automatically match the style of their existing WordPress site.
2. Add your products
Adding your products to your online store in TAKU is as easy as enabling them with a few clicks. But even if your product details are not complete (e.g. your products are very unique or require custom product descriptions or images) traditional brick and mortar retailers should not be held back from launching their online store. In fact, retailers should expect to launch an e-commerce site without their full product catalog in the beginning. As long as a retailer has, for example, 100 products with images and descriptions, she or he can still launch and add new products overtime, eventually building their full online product catalog. In comparison to a physical store, it’s perfectly reasonable to launch with several hundred products and add new ones every day. In fact, highlighting that “NEW items are being added daily” on your homepage is a great way to keep customers coming back.
3. Add Business Information
In general settings, make sure that your business information such as your store name, store address, phone number, work email address, currency, and language are all correct. With TAKU, some of this information is automatically available but you may want to customize it for your online store. For example, you may want to use your trade name vs. your legal business name.
4. Legal Information
5. Customize the look of your store
You can use any of the existing themes as they are or easily personalize your online store using the built-in options. Remember that TAKU eCommerce web stores are built to be completely mobile responsive so you don’t need to worry about how things will look on different screens – they will always look good on any screen size.
6. Check your web address
Every TAKU eCommerce store comes with a free web address in the form of “yourstore12345.company.site”. You can either use this free URL address, buy a new domain from a third party provider, or connect an existing domain that you already own.
7. Enable payments
TAKU eCommerce supports a variety of payment providers meaning that merchants can choose or setup the payment methods that best suit their business needs. This also gives merchants more freedom to negotiate with providers and lower payment processing fees/costs. While we always encourage retailers to take payment online to minimize the risk of losing the sale or shoppers not picking up products, with TAKU eCommerce, you can even include an option for Pay in Store. If this is your preference, you can complete the payment with TAKU when shoppers arrive in the store.
Once the steps above are complete, you’re ready to start selling online!
We hope you are now comfortable with the general steps involved when setting up an online store. In the next two blog posts and videos, we will discuss how you can add fulfillment methods such as contactless curbside pickup and local delivery.
The next step to building your digital storefront is to showcase your products online.
With the flexibility and accessibility of online tools, even if your brick and mortar store is closed, you’ll still be able to serve your customers. The best part is, these tools are easily accessible to retailers who are not selling online through an e-commerce website. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can list your products online.
1. Upload your products to Google
The COVID-19 pandemic has made shoppers limit their trips to physical retail stores. As a result, they are now checking in-store stock availability before visiting.
To make things easier for your customers, it’s a good idea to make real-time inventory data available on Google. This can be done manually or you can do so easily by using an integrated retail software such as TAKU Retail.
TAKU’s integration with Google also allows merchants to display their products through Google “See What’s In-Store” (SWIS). With SWIS, product catalogs appear under a merchant’s Google My Business listing. This feature helps retailers attract nearby shoppers by showcasing in-store products with real-time stock updates. The best part is – there is no data entry required when uploading products to Google with an integrated solution since your existing POS data is simply re-used.
2. Free and paid Google Products Listings
Once you’ve uploaded your products to Google and are showcasing your products through SWIS, you also have the option of using Google Product listings to further increase your online visibility to local shoppers.
What are Google Product Listings?
Google Product Listings, otherwise known as Google Shopping campaigns, help retailers put their products in front of shoppers who are looking for what they sell. Retailers can use Google Product Listings to promote their in-store products and boost traffic to their brick and mortar stores.
Below is an example of a Google Product Listing:
These listings showcase your products and store information to nearby shoppers who are searching on Google. Since they appear based on what local shoppers are searching for, Google Product listings attract high value shoppers. In other words, they showcase the right products to the right people in the moments that matter the most.
When shoppers click on a listing, they will land on a Google-hosted page for your store which displays your in-store inventory, store hours, directions, and more.
Google recently announced the launch of free product listings, making it easier for merchants to display their products online. Note: While free listings are only accessible to US merchants, an international rollout is expected by the end of the year. Now, search results in the Google Shopping tab will consist mostly of free listings, helping merchants connect with more shoppers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.
Which means that even if you are not selling online, you can still showcase your in-stock products to potential customers.
TAKU Retail POS has partnered with Google to make it easier for merchants to get started with Google Product listings. By using TAKU, product feeds are automatically optimized and submitted through your POS. To learn more, click here.
3. Adding your products to social media
Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms with more than 2.45 billion monthly active users. Now, merchants can give customers an easy way to browse and purchase products with Facebook Shop.
Facebook Shop has expanded a great deal in the last few years and is used in 70 countries by 800 million people monthly, making it the perfect opportunity for retailers to showcase their products to millions of potential customers.
Again, you can upload products manually or with an integrated retail platform such as TAKU eCommerce that will automatically sync your in-store products to Facebook Shop. With an integrated system, your product catalog will sync every 12 hours once you have uploaded your products onto your Facebook page. This will ensure that your product information and stock levels are updated on a regular basis.
Depending on the type of products you sell, Instagram may be another essential platform for retail businesses. With more than 1 billion monthly users, your customers are already on Instagram. So make it easier for them to discover and browse your products with Instagram shopping. Essentially, Instagram Shopping allows merchants to transform their profiles into digital storefronts.
We hope Part 2 was helpful to you. To learn more about the last 3 steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
To learn more about the next steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new reality for retailers and consumers alike. Now more than ever, consumers are spending their time searching online and browsing the internet. As a result, it has become increasingly important for retailers to move their physical stores online.
But going digital doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s very possible to grow your business using the internet without actually selling anything online.
While we always encourage merchants to take orders online, and an e-commerce site can be an effective way to build an online presence, it is not the only way of doing things. Whether or not you have an online store, it will be extremely helpful for you to drive more foot traffic, more sales, and brand awareness using the internet.
So even if you aren’t ready to start selling online tomorrow, you can approach the process step-by-step. The entire 5-step process will be covered in this blog and video series.
Step 1: Be Found Online
Oftentimes, the first place that a customer learns about your business is the internet. Whether they’re searching on Google or discover you through an Instagram ad, your store’s digital storefront allows customers to interact with your business (calls, visits, or purchases etc.) even before they’re in your store.
What is a Digital Storefront?
A digital storefront is everything that a customer can find about your business online, including the following components:
Your Google My Business listing(s) in search results (and if your listings are complete and optimized)
Online customer reviews
Social media profiles
Your website (with or without an e-commerce component)
If your website is optimized for mobile devices (also called mobile responsiveness)
Visual elements of your business including photos and videos
How Your Digital Storefront Impacts your Retail Business
Online and in-store shopping were once seen as separate channels, competing for traffic and sales. But this is no longer the case. In fact, the future of retail relies on the two working together to deliver a seamless and complete customer experience, otherwise known as omnichannel retail.
Even though moving towards omnichannel requires change and investment across a retailer’s business operations (technology, processes, staff etc.), it can be done in a step-by-step process. Below, we’ve outlined the necessary steps that are involved in becoming an omnichannel retailer.
The following are some tools you can use to help your business be found online:
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free online listing tool that helps retailers manage how their business appears on both Google Search and Maps. By verifying and optimizing your business listing, you can help local shoppers find you. Retailers can start by adding basic information such as address, phone number, store hours, and website URL. Then add details such as store and product photos, store description, and services etc. It’s also a good idea to get added to other local directory listings such as Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo, Foursquare etc.
To learn more about Google My Business and the steps you can take to optimize your listing, download our ebook here.
When shoppers search for businesses on the web, online reviews from sites such as Yelp often appear. These customer reviews (if they are positive) can help drive more people to visit your store. On the other hand, negative reviews are likely to drive them away – which is why it’s important to monitor them carefully to maintain a good image.
It’s crucial for retailers to respond to all of their customer reviews – both negative and positive. In fact, even if you receive a negative review, a quick response helps to highlight good customer service to potential customers. To learn more about how to manage online customer reviews, click here.
If you want your retail business to sell more, it’s good to collect more customer reviews. Find out how to get more customer reviews here.
Social media can be a very effective platform for increasing brand awareness and attracting new customers. However, you need to know where your customers are digitally (e.g. which social platforms they hang around) before you can begin using social media to try and attract customers.
For example, if your target audience is an older demographic (50+), you have a better chance at success if you’re using Facebook rather than Instagram.
Retailers are advised to do research and figure out the top social platform(s) that their target demographic spends time on. From there, you can figure out the best practices for marketing on that platform. Remember – it may be tempting to be on every single platform, but by focusing on one, you have a better chance of learning it thoroughly and having success.
Your website has a major impact on how shoppers feel about your retail business. From the design, site speed, and product showcase, your store’s website is often the first impression customers have of your business. Remember – an e-commerce component is not a requirement for having a website. Sure, your customers may want it or expect it (especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns) but the purpose of any website is to drive traffic, sales, and awareness. Merchants should not let the fear of e-commerce prevent them from setting up at least an informational website.
The point is, building a website is an incredibly important step in establishing your store’s digital storefront. There are millions of local searches that take place everyday on Google and your business will show up higher in search results if you have a website which will drive more foot traffic to your store. In fact, 88% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week. So, do your part by setting up your website and give potential customers a better chance to find you online before your competitors.
A website can also serve as a starting point for you to add new retail tech into your operations. For example, while customers may not be able to purchase directly from your website (if you don’t have e-commerce yet), they can still use it to browse through your merchandise. Or, you can use live chat software to answer customer questions and offer customer service in real-time.
If you would like to learn more about how to easily set up a website for your retail business, click here.
To learn more about the next steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
If you are a retail store owner, and you’re looking to purchase a new POS system, you’re going to have to decide between a cloud-based or an on-premise software. A new POS system is a significant investment of both time and money which is why it is so important to do research to find the best option for your retail business.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the two types of software and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
What is a Traditional POS System?
Traditional POS systems, also known as legacy or on-premise POS, store data on a local database. You can think of it in the same way as storing a report or document on your desktop computer – you can’t access it from anywhere else.
What is a Cloud-based POS System? What is SaaS?
On the other hand, cloud POS systems store data in the cloud, meaning you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. For example, think about using applications like Google Drive or Dropbox to store your data.
While “cloud” and “SaaS” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to remember that there are hybrid cloud solutions which are not 100% cloud-hosted. This is different from SaaS systems which are true cloud native applications – software that is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. This central hosting is what makes SaaS so cost-effective and easier to maintain compared to hybrid solutions.
Comparison of Traditional and Cloud-based POS Systems
Accessibility: As mentioned above, on-premise POS solutions have disadvantages compared to cloud-based POS when it comes to data accessibility. Since data is stored on a local server, you can only access data if you are on-site/in-store. In comparison, because you can access data anywhere with a cloud-based POS, you don’t have to be in-store to make changes to inventory, check sales reports, etc.
Cost: On-premise POS systems require a high upfront investment. If you add maintenance, hardware, and re-installation costs on top of the upfront fees, on-premise software can be quite expensive unless you are able to use it for an extended period of time.
Cloud point-of-sale software usually requires very little upfront investment – instead, you pay a monthly subscription fee. Since updates are automatic and handled by the POS provider, there are no maintenance fees required either.
However, cloud POS providers charge based on a variety of factors including number of stores, employees, and inventory. That means that a cloud POS system can be quite costly as well if it is not built to scale with your retail store. If you are leaning towards signing up with a cloud POS software, it is a good idea to choose a POS that can grow with you.
Updates: Traditional POS systems need to be manually updated and may require on-site technical support. Not only does this take up time and money, it can be disruptive as the POS system cannot be used while the update is being done. In comparison, cloud POS software comes with the added benefit of real-time updates which are usually run off-hours. Not only does this reduce maintenance costs and help ensure that your software is always up to date, it makes your software “future-proof” as your solution will keep improving over time.
Hardware: With on-premise POS software, it is likely that you will be tied to specific hardware devices. This is due to the fact that you must pay a licensing fee for every device you wish to operate on. The more devices you have, the more costly it will be for your retail business to implement an on-premise solution.
Alternatively, with cloud POS software, you will not be tied to specific operating devices. Innovative cloud POS technology can function perfectly on any device from touchscreen monitors and iPads to mobile phones.
Data: Since traditional POS systems store data on a local server, there is a risk of losing all of your data if your system crashes, there is a software bug, or there is a disaster (e.g. fire, flood etc.). On the other hand, since cloud POS software automatically stores data in the cloud, your data will be safe in the instances above. At the same time, reliable POS providers will always use reputable cloud hosting service providers such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure to host their applications for both security and world-class reliability.
Whether you’re a long time merchant or you’re just starting out in retail, having the right POS system in place is crucial for your success.
A retail Point-Of-Sale system helps you simplify and manage all aspects of your business operations including sales, inventory, and customers. Even better, today’s innovative POS software is data-driven and includes marketing integrations designed to help you increase your revenue.
In this article, we’ll take you through the key aspects that you should consider when choosing a retail POS system.
4 Things to Consider when Purchasing a New Retail POS System
Cloud vs On-Premise: First, you must decide whether you want to use a cloud-based or an on-premise retail POS system. The main difference between the two softwares has to do with how data is stored.
On-premise software is installed on specific devices and data from your POS is stored on a local database (e.g. a device in your store). Because the data is stored on a specific computer or device in your store, you can only access data if you are physically in the store. For example, you can compare it to having data (e.g. a document or report) stored on your computer at home – it cannot be accessed from anywhere else.
On the other hand, cloud software stores data on a cloud server – meaning that it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. A simple example for this would be using Dropbox or Google Drive – as long as you have an internet connection, your data can be accessed from anywhere.
When deciding between the two types of POS software, you must consider which one is a better fit for your retail business. Click here for an in-depth comparison that will help you better understand the type of software that will best suit your operational needs.
2. Device Compatibility: It’s important to note that not all POS software works on all devices. So you must also consider compatibility with your existing devices when selecting a new POS software. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest a considerable amount of money (and time) in new hardware devices.
When narrowing down your POS options, look for compatibility with existing devices and hardware such as your POS terminals, credit card terminals, barcode scanners, etc.
Expert Tip! An important point to note is that just because a software is cloud-based, does not mean that it is compatible on any device!
3. Training and Onboarding Costs: While you may be tempted to choose the cheapest POS software option, it’s important to look at cost of onboarding the solution into the overall ROI (return on investment) of investing in new POS technology.
A POS system that is inexpensive but difficult to use can cost you a lot in the long term. This is especially true for high-traffic retailers that deal with peak periods and long lineups. It is also important for retailers with high turnover rates or seasonal peaks. If you are constantly training new staff members, you need to consider a solution with built-in training tools.
A user-friendly software that is easy to operate will speed up store operations and make for happier, more productive employees. This means a faster onboarding process and lower training costs for you!
4. Scalability: Many retailers make the mistake of choosing a POS without thinking about business growth. While you may only have one retail location with minimal inventory now, there’s no way to know how quickly your retail operations will grow. That’s why it’s important to make a decision about a new POS with the goal of growing your retail business.
This means that your POS software should be able to scale with you. Look out for the following features when selecting a retail POS software:
the ability to handle high transaction and inventory volume
unlimited stores, selling zones, and stock allocations
the ability to hand multi-currency and multi-language
automated tax calculations based on geographical location
Many retail POS providers restrict the amount of stores and inventory amounts that can be used – meaning that you have to invest a substantial amount of money upgrading your POS plan or investing in a new POS altogether. So rather than wasting resources switching to a new POS provider, choose a POS software that supports store growth.
GDPR famously came into effect in 2018 but since then, CCPA in California and PIPEDA in Canada have both changed the privacy landscape further in North America. Now more than ever, retail owners have to be prepared to deal with customers who have questions about privacy. More specifically, questions regarding the collection of their personal information , what retailers intend to do with it, and how they will protect it from misuse/data breaches.
The best thing you can do right now is start on the process so that you protect your reputation with customers and be prepared when the US or Canadian government changes local privacy regulations again. After all, regulators and customers everywhere would rather see that you have a plan and that you’re working on improving rather than giving up or saying “it doesn’t apply to me.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day
For many small businesses, even knowing where the data of their customers and other people is stored is already hard. This is especially true nowadays with so much data being used and so many integrated systems. For most of us in North America, we’re just starting to consider how best to handle privacy in our day-to-day operations.
To make it easier, we’ve listed 8 basic steps for you below to help you get started on your privacy regulation journey within the context of PIPEDA, GDPR, and CCPA (download our GDPR checklists). These 8 steps are not necessarily enough for compliance with the different privacy regulations but they are a step in the right direction. Only you can decide the data risks you are willing to take with your business but hopefully this will help you clarify what those risks are.
1) Do a Privacy Audit for Personal Data
Download our checklists to make a detailed spreadsheet or summary of where you keep and collect personal data in your business.
2) Check if you currently handle Personal DataOutside of the Country
If you do already handle sensitive Canadian, American, or European personal data, we would recommend that you get further legal assistance as the different policies (PIPEDA, GDPR, and CCPA) already require that you comply. Here is a good comparative guide you can reference to understand the differences between each act.
3) What reason(s) do you have for collecting Personal Data?
Determine what lawful basis you have to collect personal data. Consent? Contract? Legal Obligation? Legitimate Interests?
4) Review existing data and delete any unwanted data
This is probably the most painful part of this exercise. If you have been patiently collecting customer or lead data for years, you will need to make the difficult decision to determine as to whether it is necessary for you to keep all of your existing data. In some instances, you may find that you have been collecting data for years that you never use. In others, it may be that you have some concerns about the source of a list of leads you received in the past. Whether you decide to keep the data or not, it is important that you are aware of what you have so that you know the risks.
5) Update company policies and agreements
6) Revise company processes and suppliers
Moving forward you should only gather personal data you need and make sure you have lawful grounds to process it.
Add and document consent wherever possible in your business processes. Consent has to be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous (pre-ticked boxes aren’t allowed) on all of your forms (digital or paper). For email marketing, use reputable services such as MailChimp that are legally compliant so that subscribers are able to unsubscribe at any time.
7) Review all 3rd party processors and sign Data Processing Agreements (DPAs)
It’s also important to consider the privacy practices of your suppliers if you share any data with them that contains personal information. Be understanding that many North American businesses and most small businesses aren’t ready for updated privacy regulations but just make sure that your key partners are making efforts to improve how they handle privacy in their operations. If you’re sharing data with large processors such as Google Analytics, Facebook or MailChimp, you should sign the Data Processing Agreements (DPAs) or review the privacy settings they have for customers that share personal data with them. We’ve listed a few key processor DPAs below:
You cannot have privacy without security. While there’s no such thing as 100% security, every business should review who has access to company data and whether current security settings and back-ups are sufficient.
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