Word of mouth marketing has evolved in the last decade or so. Consumers are increasingly placing their belief in social proof and credibility. A recent study by Brightlocal, states that 98% of shoppers read online reviews for local businesses.
Customer reviews have the potential to bring your business to new heights, but they can also affect your business’s reputation negatively. However, there’s no need to worry because this article focuses on the essentials of customer reviews and provides excellent strategies to obtain positive feedback from customers.
What are customer reviews?
Essentially customer reviews are the opinions of someone who has visited your store which reflects their personal experiences, satisfaction and overall impression. Customers can leave a review on various platforms dedicated to them. One of the most popular websites being Google My Business, which we’re sure you’ve seen before. The reviews will cover many aspects of your business, from performance, store atmosphere, customer service, etc.
How can customer reviews benefit your business?
Customer reviews play a significant role in shaping the purchasing decisions of others, which can be leveraged to your advantage in attracting more customers to your business. With positive reviews you can build a positive customer reputation and public perception. By using some of your best reviews you can provide prospective customers testimonials to encourage a purchase. Additionally customer reviews can improve your business’s brand awareness, SEO, etc.
As we’ve mentioned before, social proof and credibility are really important in a business success, but how? Social proof indicates that others have had a positive experience with a product/service and this can influence customers to choose your business. Likewise credibility aids in trust and it also enhances trust in your business with potential customers.
On the other hand you may think that negative reviews will only hinder your brand’s reputation. But these negative reviews can help with finding flaws in your service so that you can improve.
How can you get positive customer reviews
In order to get positive reviews you must first offer your customers an exceptional experience. But once this is done you have to reach out to your customers to leave the review. Here are some great ways to initiate this.
Asking for reviews will never hurt—always encourage your customers to leave a review. There are a few ways to do so:
Asking customers to leave a review at checkout
When following-up via email or SMS
Rewarding customers for leaving reviews, etc.
A great way to secure reviews is to make it as easy as possible to access the review page. We suggest using QR codes like in the example above.
Dealing with negative reviews
How should you deal with negative reviews? If you are given the opportunity you should always show initiative and respond quickly to your unsatisfied customers. Then offer these customers a solution to their problem. This way you can try to change your customer’s opinion of your business.
If you are interested in learning more about Google reviews, check out one of our previous blogs, the importance of Google reviews. In this article, we talk about how to handle both negative and positive reviews as a small business.
Hopefully this article can help you improve the reputation of your business, and helped you understand how to support customer reviews. If you are interested in marketing, business, and the newest retail news, subscribe to our blog.
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.
Small retailers often face the tough job of competing against big stores that have more resources – more money, bigger advertising budgets, and well-known brands. Don’t worry, there’s still hope. Small retailers can still compete with big box retailers if they focus their efforts. Here are some strategies that can help small retailers compete successfully with larger stores.
Focus on personalized service
One effective strategy for small retailers to compete with larger, big box retailers is to focus on personalized service. Small retailers can move faster and offer in depth service that is hard for larger retailers to match. By getting to know their customers, small retailers can tailor their offerings to meet customers’ unique needs and preferences. After all, studies have found that personalized experiences improve a customer’s satisfaction and improve sale conversions by 10%-15%.
Personalized service can take many forms. For example, independent retailers can greet customers by name, remember their previous purchases, and make recommendations. Point-of-sale software with strong built-in customer management tools can easily help with this. The retailers can also offer a range of services like free gift wrapping, personal shopping assistance, and customization options. In this way, small retailers can create a welcoming atmosphere that makes local customers feel valued and appreciated.
By providing personalized service, small retailers can stand out from larger retailers that often offer a more impersonal shopping experience. Personalized service will lead to loyal relationships with customers. This loyal customer base can be a key advantage for small retailers, as it can help to drive repeat business and generate positive local word-of-mouth referrals.
Small retailers can serve niches
Offering unique and niche products is another way small retailers can compete against big box retailers. While big box retailers typically carry a wide range of products, they often prioritize popular and mainstream items. Small retailers, on the other hand, can offer unique and niche products that are not commonly found in big box stores. According to a study by ComCast, 44% of consumers say they are more likely to shop at a small business if it offers unique products not available at larger stores, so consider how you can serve niche markets in your business.
Stand out from larger competitors and attract customers seeking unique or rare products through niche offerings. For example, a small retailer that specializes in outdoor gear can offer specialty sports products that are not found in big box stores (e.g., custom made mountain climbing shoes).
To offer unique and niche products, small retailers need to identify their target market and understand their needs and preferences. To identify potential products to offer, they can conduct market research, attend trade shows and conferences, and stay up-to-date with industry trends. Additionally, small retailers can partner with local creators and craftspeople to source unique products that are not available elsewhere.
Another advantage of offering unique and niche products is that it can bring in loyal customers who love those products, and they will likely come back to the store and tell others about it. This can help small retailers build a reputation of being a special spot.
Emphasize sustainability and ethics
Small retailers can beat big box retailers by focusing on sustainability and ethics. Consumers today care much more about the environment and ethical business practices. So it makes sense that they’d prefer businesses that share these values.
Small retailers can use eco-friendly packaging, source products from local or sustainable suppliers, reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy, and recycle. Customers around the world have expressed that they are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
To keep it going, independent retailers can also prioritize ethical practices such as fair labor and trade, transparency in supply chains, and donating to social causes. Prioritizing sustainability and ethics will help you attract loyal customers who have a deep connection to these causes.
Small retailers should focus on local communities
Independent retailers are an important part of any community. Building a strong local community presence is another way that small retailers can differentiate themselves from big box retailers and compete. Small retailers who engage in their local communities can build relationships with customers, establish trust, credibility, and develop a loyal following.
How can a local retailer get involved? For starters, they can participate in local events and sponsor community activities. These can include: charity events, fairs, sports leagues, or parades. They can also collaborate with other local businesses to promote each other and create a sense of unity.
Small retailers can compete with larger retailers by focusing on personalized service, serving niche markets, emphasizing sustainability and ethics, and building a strong local community presence. By doing so, they can differentiate themselves from big box retailers and attract loyal customers. With dedication, creativity, and attention to detail, small retailers can successfully compete against larger retailers and thrive in the retail industry.
If you’re a small retailer looking to compete against big box retailers, consider using an all-in-one retail point-of-sale system with built-in CRM tools like TAKU. Our tools can help you manage your customer relationships more effectively by enabling you to track customer data, purchase histories, and preferences, to tailor your marketing and promotions to their needs. Learn more by clicking below.
As Spring is finally here, people are going to be heading outside much more often, especially after the last several years. With increased foot traffic outdoors, retailers should be looking for ways to bring some of that foot traffic into their own stores. If you are a retailer, you may be wondering: “How can I attract more local shoppers?” Well, in this article, we’ll go through how brick & mortar businesses can attract more shoppers.
Exciting in-store experiences to attract more shoppers in store
In-store experiences have definitely become more common. People today are always looking to participate in new experiences. Here are some ideas for interesting experiences you can curate for your consumers:
1. Photo ops
Set aside a small space in your store (or even outside your store) where customers can take photos and share their visit on social media. This space should get customers excited. Some ideas include: a chalkboard with some unique art related to your business, a custom neon sign, or even an installation of some beautiful plants along with some decoration. Get creative here, and allow your brand to shine through. Don’t forget to put up photos of other shots for ideas.
The pictures your customers take will end up advertising your store for free through the customers’ social media posts. It also creates a positive association between your brand and the consumer.
Reminder: Offer a small incentive to get shoppers to tag you in their posts. Tagging is important to increase visitors to your social media accounts.
2. In-store events
Another way brick & mortar shops can attract more shoppers is through exciting events in store. By events, we don’t mean things like sales and promotions. Although those can be effective, we recommend running events such as: lessons/classes in something related to your business, having an expert in your industry come in and host a seminar, or the reveal of a new product line.
Make sure that the event you are hosting provides value to your business. The event should be related to the industry your business is in, but not something you already offer in some way.
For example, a vacuum shop could host a seminar on how to go about spring cleaning. The vacuum store doesn’t offer spring cleaning services, but people who are planning their spring cleaning will most definitely be using vacuum cleaners. So offering them a guide on how to effectively go about the cleaning will give them an added benefit and encourage the purchase of a new vacuum.
Even if they don’t end up purchasing a vacuum, this event will still bring them into the store, but more importantly the event will allow the customer to perceive your brand as the expert on cleaning. Now they will be more likely to think of your store when considering their next vacuum purchase.
3. Partner with others to host pop-in shops
Another way to increase foot traffic in your store is to host pop-in shops for other businesses. This works best when the other businesses are related but not directly competitive to yours. Simply designate a spot in your store to host another small business’s pop-up stop to offer items that help sell your own products. For example, a bakery shop could host a pop-up shop for a small artisan jelly business or a coffee shop could host a pop-up donuts business.
Attract more customers in store through low cost merchandising tactics
Retail merchandising is key to creating a positive customer experience. A strong merchandising strategy brings the products to your customer rather than the other way around. Here are some modern merchandising tactics your business can use to engage your customers.
1. Storefront Window Display QR codes
A cost efficient way to attract more customers in your store is to use QR codes in your window display. This allows them to be accessible to everyone passing by. These QR codes allow anyone with a mobile device to easily learn more about your products, even when your store is closed.
QR codes are easily changeable which allows you to regularly update them every time you change your window display.
A way to modernize your store merchandising strategy is to use signs to cross-sell other products. Most in-store signs today take up space but only promote one specific product. Adding cross-selling signs allows you to use the same amount of space but promote multiple products at once. Simply merchandise products together that are known to be bought together and create a sign that presents that to your customers.
Adding signs that say “Buy this if you like this” or “This goes great with this” is simple, but it’s enough to draw attention to other products.
3. Highlight your Google profile & Google Reviews
Another way brick & mortar shops can attract more local shoppers is to highlight popularity and your Google reviews. Google prioritizes local businesses when nearby shoppers search online. Make sure that your Google store listing has accurate information including your address, store hours, etc. A good omnichannel system will be able to easily manage this information for you.
Highly engaged reviews are important for new customers that have never visited your store. A sign at the front of your store stating “ Google best seller” or a good quote from a Google review would attract new customers into your store. Some ideas include:
Printing out users’ reviews and placing them near the product
Placing a sign at the front of your store with the products that are gaining the most recognition on Google
Putting up a sign that offers an incentive for shoppers to leave reviews
Omnichannel to attract more shoppers
Retail stores that sell in-store and online use omnichannel software to easily turn online visits into bigger in-store sales. Omnichannel software is what allows retailers to offer real-time inventory and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store or what is sometimes called Click & Collect) to customers without any manual work. With the right system, customers can place orders online and pick up in stores when the same system notifies them that the products are ready.
1. Real-time stock availability
Showing real-time store stock levels online allows customers to see real time stock availability so they won’t be disappointed when they get to the store. A positive shopping experience encourages returning customers. Using a tool such as TAKU’s built-in integration to Google or to your own online store lets you easily showcase your available store products online without any effort.
2. Buy online pickup instore (BOPIS)
Customers love to shop online but don’t love the shipping costs or the amount of packing materials used to send products out. By allowing them to pick up their order in store it solves their problem while also creating an opportunity for your business to upsell, lower merchant processing fees and reduce return rates.
BOPIS reduces the friction between your online store and your in store experience for happier shoppers. And using the right all-in-one technology will increase sales while reducing the operational costs of fulfilling from the store.
Attract more customers by offering In-Store Exclusives
In-store exclusives are a great way to attract more nearby shoppers. Local customers are willing to shop in person instead of online if there’s a strong value-add. You can give your customers this reason by offering in-store only exclusives. Here are a few in-store exclusives you can offer:
In-store only promotions/deals
You can create an exclusive feeling for your in-store shoppers by implementing promotions and discounts offered only with an in-store purchase. This is where your store can offer any promotion or deals worth sharing. Some examples include:
Offering some products only in store
Grouping bundles of your products and selling them as a combo
Giving coupons that can only be redeemed in your retail locations
Creating a seamless shopping experience for your store has never been easier with TAKU. Besides running all of your in-store and online sales in one system, our built-in free Google listings allow you to easily advertise your real stock availability to nearby customers. TAKU Retail can also help you easily integrate BOPIS into your business. If you want to learn more about it, click the button below for a free demo.
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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Invented in 1994, the QR code was originally made so that Toyota could track car parts in their manufacturing process. 28 years later, QR codes have become so much more. In particular, the COVID pandemic helped popularize the use of QR codes in businesses everywhere. Whether you’ve seen it being used by shoppers adding social media accounts or to view a digital menu, it’s an increasingly common tool that retailers can use to speed up service and improve customer experience. Here are 4 different ways QR codes can help retailers.
1. Attract more shoppers to your website
QR codes can look like a complicated barcode but they are actually an image of information. For example, you can store everything from phone numbers and documents to website addresses. But sharing websites and social media accounts is definitely the most common use for QR codes. By adding a QR code to any marketing materials or signage, you are giving shoppers the fastest way for them to access your website or social media accounts. Instead of typing addresses or searching for accounts, shoppers can simply scan the QR code with the camera on their phones and access your information in 1-click.
By making it easier for shoppers to get access to your online storefront and social feeds, you will attract more shoppers to your business. After all, being found online or having an online storefront will not only increase your online sales, it helps drive foot traffic back to your physical store as shoppers have an easy way to stay up-to-date on new product launches, special offers, etc.
2. Sell from your shopfront window
Another way QR codes help retailers sell is to make it easier for stores to sell things from their physical shopfront window. For example, adding QR codes next to products that are displayed in your shopfront window that link to each specific product in your online catalog. This gives shoppers an easy way to scan a product to find out more or even buy online, even when your store is closed. Doing this makes your storefront window more engaging and informative – both of which are important for good customer experience.
3. Get more social media followers
Many retailers today use QR codes to make it easier for shoppers to follow their social media accounts. Since QR codes are scanned as website links, shoppers can easily open your social media accounts with 1 click. Making it easier for people to find your accounts will increase the likelihood that they will follow you. Place these QR codes anywhere customers and business partners can see them (email signatures, profile pictures, in-store signs, counter stickers, etc.).
4. Give fast access to free WiFi
One of the best uses of QR codes is to give shoppers 1-click access to guest WiFi in the store. You can create a QR code that store visitors can scan to be automatically connected to your guest WiFi. This is a special type of QR code that automatically enters the network name and password into an iPhone or Android mobile phone. Shoppers love it as it means no more entering network names or long passwords. It is also better for your network security as you don’t need to disclosing the actual password.
If you want to encourage shoppers to browse, offering free guest WiFi is a great way to get shoppers to stay for a longer time in your store. It doesn’t cost you anything and it’s been shown that shoppers that stay longer in a store buy more things and spend more money.
Scroll down to learn how to create your own WiFi QR code.
How to create QR codes
QR codes are very simple to create. All you need is online QR code generator to make them. When using these platforms, creating your QR code is as simple as pasting the website address you would like customers to open. Then press the generate button, and congratulations you will have just made your first QR code!
A. Standard QR codes
For standard QR codes, we have three recommendations: QR Code Monkey, QR Code Generator and Canva. QR Code Monkey is a great free option. QR Code Generator offers a few more features and even has a premium membership. Canva is our favorite option of the three. Canva is already a very versatile and easy-to-use application for creating designs. Their QR code generator paired with their design tools can allow for some really creative uses of QR codes.
B. WiFi QR codes
The main difference when creating QR codes for WiFi sharing is that the code generator needs to support WiFi information. A good tool for this is QiFi.org which was built specifically for this.
All you need to do is enter the SSID (network name) and password for your guest WiFi network. You may also need to enter the Encryption type, so check your Wi-Fi settings if you don’t already know this. Once all of the information is entered, click Generate to produce the code.
Now you know some ways QR codes can help retailers. Time to start implementing this popular technology to your business. You can follow one of the tactics we mentioned, or get creative and try your own tactic. If you end up coming up with your own QR tactic, please feel free to share it below in the comments!