As the infamous Staples ad campaign once exclaimed, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. No, they weren’t talking about Christmas time – they were talking about back-to-school season! It’s one of the most exciting times for retailers as shoppers are out and about looking for great savings as they or their kids are heading back-to-school. It’s always important to get prepared as soon as possible, so here’s how to prepare your retail store for back-to-school season.
What are shoppers looking for this season?
It’s no surprise that inflation is a major concern for the majority of consumers these days. As the expenses associated with daily life keep rising, individuals are looking over their financial plans. In fact, more than 45% of parents are shopping for sales more often. What does this mean for retailers? Well, it presents the perfect opportunity to leverage in-store promotions and offers. When doing so you should ensure that your customers recognize the potential savings they’ll get via your deals. This will stimulate impulse purchases and increase the motive to buy products.
Back-to-school tax holiday
As the challenges of saving money continue to grow, state governments have recognized the need to step in and provide assistance during the back-to-school season. To that end, many states in the US have implemented tax holidays specifically aimed at helping parents reduce costs on school supplies. Take a look at the following list of participating states. For further details check out here.
States participating in a back-to-school tax holiday
If you are a retailer in one of these states, you should try to coordinate your store promotions with the tax holidays. This can help ensure a better shopping experience for your customers.
Don’t forget about teachers
It’s important to remember that it’s not just students who are seeking excellent back-to-school bargains. Teachers and school administrative staff are also actively searching for supplies! It’s crucial to provide attractive deals on items that cater to their needs as well. Consider offering discounts on products such as coffee mugs, tote bags, classroom supplies, and more. Moreover, you can create special promotions tailored specifically for teachers. Extend discounts on supplies that are essential to their unique requirements.
Preparing for the masses
Since numerous businesses experience a surge in customer traffic during the back-to-school season, it’s important for you and your business to be adequately prepared for the influx of shoppers. Ensuring that you have enough inventory is vital. Employing a reliable point-of-sale (POS) system that assists in inventory management can be very beneficial. Additionally, it’s worth considering whether imposing restrictions on specific products is necessary. This might involve setting limits on the quantity of items customers can purchase.
It’s important to take into consideration whether your brick-and-mortar store is equipped to handle a significant increase in foot traffic. Should you consider implementing measures to limit the number of customers inside the store? Are there any adjustments needed to the shelves or displays to accommodate the increased customer flow? Can your store efficiently manage long queues of customers? If your business is grappling with a shortage of staff, a viable solution is to use modern technology, such as self-checkout kiosks. This can expedite the sales process while simultaneously keeping labor costs in check.
Make sure shoppers know about your deals
There’s little benefit in crafting fantastic back-to-school deals and promotions if they go unnoticed by potential customers. Therefore, it’s essential to actively advertise them. Multiple avenues exist for promoting your sales. For example, you can distribute flyers (a tried-and-true approach), invest in paid social media or Google local inventory ads. Additionally, for smaller local businesses, a worthwhile strategy is to make use of local Facebook groups or boost visibility on Facebook Marketplace, as it’s popular for local searches. Sharing your back-to-school promotions in these groups can effectively reach your target audience.
The back-to-school season brings anticipation and opportunity for numerous retailers. To secure your portion of the shoppers’ limited budget, adequate preparation is crucial this year. Plan ahead, provide compelling deals ahead of time, and ensure widespread promotion of your offerings across various channels. Additionally, it’s important to recognize the role you play in alleviating some of the financial strain experienced by families during challenging times.
Effectively displaying your merchandise online is an additional effective method to attract customers to your store, particularly during the back-to-school season. Utilizing a tool like TAKU, you can effortlessly present your inventory online, boosting its visibility and appeal. Discover more by simply clicking on the banner below!
Despite its simple appearance, the barcode is a powerful tool in the retail industry that boosts efficiency and makes shopping easier. This year marks the 50th anniversary of barcode technology. In fact, the BBC considers it one of the 50 things that made the modern economy by revolutionizing inventory management, store checkout, and manufacturing.
The creation of the barcode
The barcode went through several milestones. The person credited with inventing the barcode is Joseph Woodland. During his career, Woodland worked at IBM and even worked on the Manhattan project during World War II. The barcode came about when Woodland noticed that three dashes and a dot resemble the letter “J” in Morse code. This was the spark that led to the creation of the pattern recognized around the world today.
After World War II, the West experienced a boom which created plenty of opportunities in the retail industry. This is when Woodland introduced the barcode as a retail solution, specifically to solve the problem of supermarket staff taking too long to organize and deal with products.
The interesting thing is that the barcode itself was not the main challenge for Woodland. Instead, the real challenge was in the creation of a reliable device that could easily read barcodes. Woodland initially looked at the movie industry, where a device called a “phonofilm” shone light through slits. A computer would then electronically read the light to produce sound waves. Eventually, Woodland realized that the light did not have to shine through the slits but could instead reflect off the bars and back into the device to read the information.
At the start, Woodland created a prototype of a “barcode reader” by using a 500-watt light bulb inside a box made of thick black oilcloth to keep out daylight. The bulb would shine a narrow beam onto a paper sheet with black and white lines, which reflected the light into a pickup device. The device would then converted it into a unique electronic signal. However, the light was too intense, causing the paper to catch on fire. This led Woodland to put the idea on hold because he could not find a light that could reflect the barcode without causing it to ignite.
The idea of the barcode resurfaced in the 1960s with the invention of lasers—an ultra-focused ray of light that could scan back and forth across a label without setting the paper on fire. The first official design of the barcode was made in the 1970s, once lasers became reliable enough. The initial design was circular and resembled a bullseye. To promote his new innovation, Woodland included the chance to win a prize for those who scanned the barcode.
The modern barcode
As you know, the evolution of the barcode did not stop with the circular design. The circular shape presented its own challenges. For the scanner to read the barcode, it required clear print and an undented tin. Enter George Laurer, who would play a critical role in the redesign of the barcode. Ultimately, he decided to return to the original rectangle design, which proved to be highly successful.
In June 1974, the barcode made its first appearance at a Marsh’s supermarket in Ohio. The first item scanned was a 10-pack of Juicy Fruit gum, priced at $0.67. This historic moment marked the beginning of millions of barcode scans to come.
How barcodes have evolved over time
The most common barcode today is still the traditional rectangular barcode that most of us see every day on products. These type of barcodes are called 1D or one-dimensional barcodes.
With modern personal computing and smartphones, traditional barcodes have helped to inspire newer barcode technologies as well.
QR codes (a topic we’ve looked into before on this blog) are 2D or two-dimensional barcodes that can store more information than traditional barcodes. They can be read from any angle and contain more information in less space, making them versatile for a variety of uses. Retailers use QR codes to direct customers to product information, reviews, and promotional content. QR codes have also become popular in mobile payments, allowing customers to complete transactions quickly and securely. This has helped to streamline payment processes and provide a more convenient shopping experience for customers.
RFID, also known as “radio frequency identification”, is a further extension of traditional barcodes. It is essentially a tag (or label) with built-in devices that use radio frequencies to transfer data. RFID technology has several advantages over standard 1D barcodes. RFID tags can be read from a distance and do not require direct line of sight to the scanner, making them more convenient to use. They are also capable of storing more information and can be modified or changed.
RFID tags are useful in many ways. As the cost of labor and staffing shortage have grown over the past decade, more and more retailers have started to use RFIDs track inventory and minimize theft.
For example, large retailers such as Zara have switched to RFID for faster physical inventory counts. Where before physical inventory count required a lot of staff (and possibly closing the stores), RFID makes stock take as simple as several quick scans of the store. Larger stores have even added overhead RFID scanners to be able to track the location of products to make it easier for shelf restock and locating inventory.
As the cost of RFID tags (and tagging products) continues to go down, RFID will increasingly be used by smaller retailers in a greater variety of ways.
The barcode has revolutionized the modern retail industry as we know it today. The sound of the beep at a supermarket checkout instantly reminds us of the barcode. It is not just a series of black and white lines, but technology that has significantly improved the efficiency of stores and continues to shape modern retail.
If you’re not familiar with Chat GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), you’re missing out! It’s an artificial intelligence (AI) technology that’s been making waves lately, with people finding all kinds of creative ways to use it. Here’s a quick overview of what it’s all about.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence program that’s been trained to understand and respond to human language. Think of it as a really smart robot that talks to people through text messages. If you ask it a question or task, and it will check its database of knowledge to give you the best answer or solution. As more and more people use it, ChatGPT, powered by AI, becomes smarter.
Some well-known brands are already using the AI technology behind ChatGPT to support their retail businesses. For example, H&M created an AI style assistant which helps customers pick clothes that fit their style and budget. Another example is Domino’s (the pizza chain). They have created an AI which allows customers to place orders, track their delivery, and get answers to frequently asked questions.
The AI technology that ChatGPT has made mainstream will continue to grow. The best part is that ChatGPT is still cost-effective so independent retailers can also get in on the action.
How to use ChatGPT as a retailer
ChatGPT can automate customer service queries, give personalized product advice, create targeted marketing messages, and generate reports on customer behaviour and trends. With ChatGPT, retailers can use the latest AI tech to streamline their operations and make informed decisions. Here are a few of the ways it’s already being used today:
A. Creating retail marketing
One of the easiest ways to use ChatGPT is for retail marketing. For example, you can use ChatGPT to generate ideas, create drafts, and optimize written content.
1. Content creation
ChatGPT can be used to quickly generate unique and engaging content for retail stores. For example, it can be used to create product descriptions, promotional materials, and more. By leveraging the power of AI, retailers can create content that is tailored to their target audience, resulting in improved engagement and clicks. Businesses can also use ChatGPT to analyze customer feedback and utilize the insights to create more effective marketing materials.
If you have a social media account for your store, try using ChatGPT to generate a caption for your next post. For example if you are posting an instagram post for Valentine’s Day, you could ask the following on ChatGPT: “instagram caption for a valentine’s day post”. ChatGPT will then automatically create something appropriate for you.
While ChatGPT can help you save a lot of time, it’s important to remember that the answers may be too generic if you don’t give enough detail in your request. The best way to improve this is to add more context to your request by adding something like “from a health store to its audience” so that the AI can try to personalize the caption to your business.
Expert tip: Whenever possible, provide ChatGPT with as much context as possible for the best results
2. Getting customer feedback about your store
ChatGPT is a great tool that can help you learn more about what your customers are saying about your products or services on Google and other platforms. It can help you identify areas where you can make improvements and provide a better overall experience for your customers. For instance, if customers are consistently giving your store low ratings due to slow delivery times, this data can help you take action and make changes to your delivery process so that your customers are getting their orders in a timely manner.
To conduct this analysis with ChatGPT, you’ll first need to collect all the review texts from your review platforms. You can then paste all the text into ChatGPT and prompt it to “conduct a sentiment analysis”. The data can help you spot where you need to make changes, such as better customer service, better product quality and faster delivery. After finding areas that need improvement, you can use ChatGPT to create messages/campaigns aimed at addressing the issues and improving customer satisfaction.
B. Retail customer service
You can use ChatGPT to improve the customer service your store provides.
1. Responding to customers
Retailers can use ChatGPT to respond quickly and accurately to customer inquiries. It can help automate customer service request and even provide personalized product recommendations based on customer needs. This can help save time and money for customer service teams, allowing them to focus on more complex customer issues.
If responding to customer messages on your digital platforms is no issue, you could always consider using ChatGPT to edit your responses before sending them off. Ensuring that you’re using the best grammar, tone, and language can go a long way—making sure you sound as professional as possible.
Retailers can use ChatGPT to quickly and accurately answer frequently asked questions (FAQs). This can be a huge time-saver for customer service teams as it can help answer customer questions without the need for a human representative. You can use ChatGPT to create a library of FAQs that customers can search through to find their answers. Store owners can also use ChatGPT to refine and update existing FAQs as needed. Plus, it can be used to generate personalized, targeted responses for customers based on their queries. This helps ensure that customers are getting the most accurate and helpful answers possible.
C. Other creative uses
Lastly, here are two other handy uses for ChatGPT.
1. Data cleanup
Making sure your data looks uniform to create reports or run analyses has never been easier. With ChatGPT you can provide it some data then ask it to make sure things such as format are consistent across the board. For example if you have a list of dates you need to paste into a spreadsheet but they’re all in different formats, you can ask ChatGPT to convert all of the dates to a format of your preference. Take some time and think about how you can use ChatGPT to save your time when doing administrative work.
Expert tip: When working with data, be sure to think about whether there are any privacy concerns. While ChatGPT can be very helpful, it is important to consider any regulatory or policy requirements before you share any personal or confidential information.
Finally, you can use ChatGPT to translate your writing. This will help you easily communicate with all of your customers. If your store is in a bilingual community and you are not as a confident in one of the languages, you can use ChatGPT to translate your store messages, signs, website content, social media content, etc.
What’s great about ChatGPT’s translations compared to current translators (e.g., Google translate) is that the AI is able to understand and translate expressions, slang, and other subtle parts of languages that traditional translators struggle with. What’s also amazing about ChatGPT is that it will consider the context and tone of the phrase being translated which is super important in getting an accurate translation. If you need to use translation tools in your retail operations, look no further than ChatGPT.
AI is going to continue to shake up the world of business. We highly recommend that you consider trying out ChatGPT now while there is still free access as we predict they’ll become more of a standard business tool in the coming years. We’re excited to see how AI tools will help retailers work less while selling more!
There is an art to marketing your brand to retail shoppers. Because marketing is constantly changing, you need to adapt your marketing strategy as customer habits change over time. Here are 6 retail marketing strategies that will shape retail marketing over the next decade.
1. Personalized Experiences
A growing marketing strategy is the use of personalized ads and experience. 80% of shoppers reported that they’re more likely to do business with a brand that offers a personalized experience. Additionally, almost half of most customers want to see ads targeted at their interests.
So what is personalized experience? This generally means customizing promotions and discounts to the wants of a specific customer versus a generic message to all customers. Understanding the individual tastes and wants of your customer has never been easier. Modern POS systems allow you to track customer info, as well as their purchasing habits which you can use to create personalized experiences for them. For example, if a regular customer often buys colorful socks, but they have not made a purchase recently, you could send them a personalized in-store offer related to socks to encourage them to visit the store.
2. Visual search
Google’s image search is going to be a game changer in retail marketing. Searchers can upload images onto Google and reverse-search them, finding where others have uploaded the image on the internet. Give it a try here.
This can allow people to see images of a product online, save it, then find easily find stores that sell the item. There is a reason why Gartner said that visual search is one of 5 technologies that will have a great impact on the world of digital marketing in the years to come. It can improve nearly every stage of the buyer’s journey. We predict that marketing strategies that use product images and content with visual search will become common practice within the next 5 years.
3. Strategizing for featured snippets
Featured snippets are short descriptions on websites that help you show up at the top of a Google search. The purpose of a featured snippet is to help users find a quick answer. You have probably experienced it before when you Googled a question and saw a quick answer at the top of the search results. That was a featured snippet.
This feature of Google is especially helpful as attention spans continue to decrease in recent years. Currently average attention spans are only 8 seconds long. This means it is essential to catch someone’s attention quick, or risk losing it altogether.
Featured snippets help reach catch audiences’ attentions quickly, however it can be difficult to get featured snippets. Check out this article on how you can optimize content for featured snippets. It’s worth mentioning that TAKU Retail is the first retail management software to be a trusted Google Partner. TAKU can help businesses appear higher up on Google search results and Maps when people search for you online.
4. ChatGPT and AI Chatbots
You have likely heard about how people are now using ChatGPT to search for information or to learn. But there are an increasing number of ways that AI chatbots can help retailers save time and money including:
AI-generated marketing content. With access to so much data, AI chatbots are an easy way to quickly write content for social media or even the text for marketing campaigns on the fly. Think less writer’s block, and more engaging posts.
Researching product trends for purchasing. ChatGPT’s knowledge is limited at this point, but the advantage of AI is that it will get smarter over time. It’s ability to analyze data from millions of websites makes it more likely to highlight product trends for you faster than searching for them online.
Scheduling tasks, and overall time management. ChatGPT can help you create a daily work schedule and handle time-consuming tasks including things such as performance reports, shift schedules, etc.
Solving problems. Because of the knowledge it has access to, ChatGPT is very good at generating ideas, drafting business plans, and estimating the costs to solve problems for your business. You should still always get secondary advice, but ChatGPT is a good starting point, even if only to check that you’re on the right path.
5. Accessible and inclusive content
This is one of the most underrated of the 6 retail marketing strategies we are touching on today. It’s important for marketing content to be of quality, but what’s the point if it’s not easily understood? Making content more accessible could include adjustable font sizes (or more legible ones), more use of images to convey information for cognitive or reading impairments, and transcripts for videos/podcasts to name a few. The goal is to ensure that as many people as possible can actually engage with your content, and hopefully understand it. Reducing barriers to your content is key and will ensure you can maximize your reach.
6. Metaverse marketing
If you’ve read our metaverse blog post, you’ll know that more and more people are embracing the digital world. Technology will continue to change how humans interact with each other, extending to how they interact with businesses as well. This is why so many retailers are investing into marketing on the metaverse. Read our metaverse post to learn more about how augmented reality (AR) is being leveraged by big brands such as Ikea to enhance their customers’ shopping experiences.
The next decade is going to be an interesting time for marketers and entrepreneurs alike. As new strategies for promoting your business will continue to grab people’s attention, the promotional game is surely to continue to change. Make sure you’re staying ahead of the curve by subscribing to our blog.
With the holidays right around the corner, there is one task that needs to get done before any store holiday closures. You need to update your hours of operation for the holidays on Google My Business (GMB). The last thing you want is for a potential customer to think you are open and head to your store when it’s closed.
So today, we’ll take you through the steps on how to update your holiday hours on GMB. Luckily TAKU has built-in features for updating your store hours. So we will show you how to update your store hours from within TAKU or directly from within GMB.
Updating your holiday hours in GMB
Firstly, sign into the Google account associated with your store’s Google My Business page. This is your store showcase on Google like the example below. To learn more about Google My Business or how to sign up for a GMB account, check out our retail resources here.
Reminder, you will need to be logged into a Google account that has permission to access your Google My Business store profile.
Once you are logged into your Google account, sign into your Google My Business account from the main Google search page. Simply click the menu button next your Google profile picture.
Click that to find your business profile.
Click on Business Profile to bring up the Your business on Googlemenu with the options below.
Click Edit profile. In the new window, click on the Hours tab and scroll down to the section Holiday hours. Click the pencil icon to edit your store holiday hours.
And just like that you can edit any holiday hours for your business. This way, customers searching for you online or on Google Maps will always see your latest hours of operation.
Updating your GMB store hours from TAKU
As long as your TAKU account is integrated to your Google My Business account once, you can update your store hours directly from your POS. This works for both single stores or stores set up with multiple locations in GMB.
Click Settings from the main menu in TAKU.
Click Stores > Manage Stores
Click the View link for the store you would like to edit.
From the Store Details page, click on the Hours tab and add a New Period to add your latest store hours. Don’t forget to click the yellow button to save your new store hours.
Bonus: Adding FAQs to your GMB profile
Do you often get the same questions from customers? For example, do people always ask whether your store is an official reseller of a brand, or if your store has parking nearby?
These types of questions are perfect for the new FAQ (frequently asked questions) section now available in Google My Business. Posting FAQs in your GMB profile will help you avoid answering the same questions over and over again.
Setting up an FAQ on your profile is super easy and can be done in a few quick steps.
From the same Your business on Google menu, click Messages.
Then click the menu button (the 3 dots) on top right corner of the window.
Click Chatting Settings
4. Click to expand Add FAQs.
Click the Add a Question button.
Add a Question and answer (the Automated Response) and click Save. Repeat this for as many FAQs you would like to add to your GMB profile.
Now your shoppers can get the answers to common questions regarding your store without having to contact you by phone or email. This way both you and your customers can save time.
Holiday season is pretty much upon us, which means your stores are busy. Many retailers hire temporary employees around this time of year to help out with increased in store traffic. The problem is that it is very hard to find frontline staff right now. We’ve talked about the current labor shortage before as it’s something retailers around the world are struggling with.
This holiday season is going to be tough if you need extra help but can’t find any. Whether you want to hire long-term or short-term employees, here are some retail recruitment tactics designed to help you attract more help.
Job postings with eye-catching graphics
Just like any other type of ad, making something that catches people’s attention is the way to go. What better way to catch people’s attention than with something eye-catching, out of the ordinary, and light-hearted.
Take a look at this famous McDonald’s recruitment ad. It lets people know in a simple way that you don’t need experience, and that they expect you to make mistakes as well. This makes it let intimidating to those who would consider applying for their first jobs.
Show ads in creative places
Increase retail recruitment opportunities by finding creative ways to let people know you’re hiring. There’s always the standard ‘posters throughout your store’, but you can also get a bit more creative with it.
Place “We’re Hiring” signs on washroom stalls and doors.
Put ads on your product packaging. You can place stickers with QR codes linking to job applications, or simply have a message telling customers that you’re hiring. This way you can even attract the ideal type of employee: someone who enjoys your brand.
Email/text marketing campaigns. If you email or text customers with promotions or newsletters, you can always add in a little section telling them you are recruiting new employees.
Don’t forget tried-and-true storefront placement to easily grab street traffic attention.
Look at flat fee recruitment tools
Consider using technology to hire your retail staff more easily. Platforms such as SWOB use technology make it a lot easier for you to hire store staff as they interact with local talent 24/7 with easy-to-use mobile apps that young workers enjoy using. Many of them have affordable, flat fee options for small businesses for a certain number of positions.
Be clear in your job postings
Connect with your readers and think about who your ideal candidate is. For example, if your ideal candidate is a high schooler who will work part-time on weekends, write more casually and maybe even mention the benefits of working part-time on weekends. At the end of the day, you need to relate to readers to get them interested in working at your store.
Screen for personality vs. experience
In a tight labor market, it’s even harder to hire based on experience or skills. But that may not be the best approach as it restricts your talent pool. Students, new grads or seniors without any retail experience are a great resource if you’re able to put in the time to train them.
The importance here, is focusing on the personality, energy or enthusiasm of the candidate. You can always train a person to use a point-of-sale system or how to run an inventory count. But you can’t easily change a person’s work ethic or attitude. If anything, hiring “green” employees can have the silver lining of being more trainable – there will be less bad habits to untrain.
Check competitive posts
Today’s labor market requires you to be competitive. After all, your job posts are a reflection of your business and what you offer as an employer. Before you post anything, make sure you know what your competitors are offering. This includes everything from benefits, and imagery to the keywords used in your job posts.
Including keywords is a method used to improve SEO (search engine optimization) which determines whether your content shows up in search results online. By including a lot of relevant and local keywords in your job posting, it will be more easily found on search engines such as Google by local candidates in your area. So when you post your job opening, be sure to add phrases or words that are location-based such as mentioning where your store is located or which area you are trying to recruit from.
Post to your Google My Business profile
Don’t forget to post your job openings on your Google My Business profile as well. Not only is this free and will improve your SEO, it will show up in front of people who are already interested in your business since the majority of people check store hours before they visit a store.
Community job fairs
Going to places where potential applicants already are is a great and smart way to promote your position openings. The best part? Many community job fairs are often free for you to attend.
Look online for event listings or reach out to local establishments such as:
Local chambers of commerce
Community and business development centers
Many of these organizations offer free booths to encourage local businesses to hire their students or residents. This is especially true for physical retail stores that are key to keeping local communities vibrant.
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