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Inventory Management 101: What are SKUs?

Inventory Management 101: What are SKUs?

A SKU (pronounced “skew”) stands for Stock Keeping Unit and is used by retailers to both identify inventory and keep track of inventory movement. 

It is basically a unique combination of numbers and letters assigned to each product in a retail store. As a retail owner, SKUs give all of your products a single type of code to help you keep track of certain details for a specific product including price, product information (colour, size, features, etc.), quantity, and manufacturer. SKUs are often associated with vendors or supplier barcodes but can they can also be converted into scannable barcodes and printed on to product labels.

A retail POS system is the software that holds all of this inventory information so that you can track what you’re buying, how much stock you’re carrying and whether stock movement matches what you’ve sold. Whenever you’re looking for a new retail POS system make sure to check if the software will allow you to use your existing SKUs and also generate consecutive SKUs for new products. This is particularly important if you integrate to other non-POS systems (e.g. accounting systems) based on your SKU names. 

SKUs vs GTINs

SKUs should not be mistaken for Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) or Universal Product Codes (or UPCs). SKUs are internal codes used for products that are unique to a retail business. On the other hand, GTINs or UPCs are the same for a product – no matter who/what store sells it.

product label

How are SKUs Made? 

Each retail store has a unique and specific process in place for choosing SKUs. This method is usually easy to understand and follow for retail staff. 

POS systems can help you create SKU codes based on a format that works for your business. For example, your SKU code can have a specific prefix or suffix together with a number that increases consecutively. For example, a SKU for your business might be FD-2340-GR. Others use shortcodes within their SKUs as an easy hint to staff so they don’t need to memorize numbers.

retail POS system

How are SKUs used?

Inventory management: Inventory/stock-takes should be done at regular intervals in retail; both for tax purposes and to ensure accurate inventory levels. 

When each product is assigned a unique SKU, inventory availability is easier to determine throughout the year. And when it comes time for a stock-take, SKUs make it easier to reconcile stock levels – so that actual inventory levels match inventory counts in your retail POS or inventory management system. 

inventory management

Stock replenishment: Making use of SKUs can help store owners identify reorder points and a minimum threshold – so when inventory hits a certain level, they are made aware that a new purchase order needs to be placed. 

These internal codes also help you identify the products that move faster. Meaning you only have to re-order when you really need to – resulting in reduced inventory holding costs. 

skus make for easier stock replenishment

Better customer experience: Have you ever walked into a store and seen a pair of shoes or a t-shirt that you liked – but it turned out that you needed a different size? In this case, retail employees usually scan the item’s barcode or label to see if they have your size in stock, either in the back stockroom or at a different location. 

This instance explains how SKUs are used within a retail system to improve customer experience. When products share a traceable type of code, you and your staff can more easily identify stock levels quickly so that more time is available to actually assist customers.

identify stock levels quickly

Identify profitable stock: SKUs are generally the easiest way for retailers to filter for specific and detailed product reporting – e.g. identifying best sellers and underperforming products by their SKU. When you combine this with merchandising and product categories or tags, business owners can more easily see the effectiveness of their store’s product mix. 

identify best sellers and underperformers

Identify inventory shrinkage: Inventory shrinkage in retail can be defined as the discrepancy that exists between the inventory quantity in a retailer’s POS system and the actual inventory in that store. In other words, it consists of the stock/product/inventory that goes missing due to human error, theft, damage, miscounting etc. 

Inventory management is key to combating shrinkage in retail. As stated in an inventory shrinkage article published by Forbes, “Without an active inventory process, you do not realize your losses until it is too late.” 

And properly designed and implemented SKUs are central to any good inventory management system. They are key to modern digital retail since they are necessary to share and track inventory information between different locations, systems, and sales channels.

SKUs help reduce inventory shrinkage

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We will be posting more inventory management tips in the upcoming weeks.

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Sell More: Black Friday Marketing Tips for Retailers

Sell More: Black Friday Marketing Tips for Retailers

The five day Thanksgiving weekend (American Thanksgiving through to Cyber Monday) is one of the biggest shopping events of the year.

According to the NRF, the average shopper spent $313.29 during the five day period in 2018

For retailers, this presents the perfect opportunity to attract more shoppers with Black Friday marketing and as a result, increase store visits and sales.   

But in order to take full advantage of the holiday weekend, retailers need to be prepared to meet shopper demand and expectations.

Black Friday Shopper Insights and Trends

While shoppers are expected to shop all weekend long, Black Friday has remained the busiest day for in-store shopping with more than 67 million shoppers participating last year and 114.6 million expected to participate this year.

NRF Thanksgiving Weekend Data

Top purchases over the 2018 holiday weekend included: apparel (57%), toys (34%), books and video games (29%), electronics (26%), and gift cards (20%)

It’s important to note that the multichannel shopper outspent the single-channel shopper by $93 on average in 2018

NRF Type of Black Friday Shopper

This year, the majority of shoppers are planning to start their shopping in-store (47%) compared with those who are planning to start online (41%)

The following are the top reasons that people plan to shop this holiday weekend

  • 65% of shoppers state that it is because the deals are too good to pass up 

  • 28% say that it is due to tradition

  • 22% state that they like to begin their holiday shopping during the weekend

  • 21% of shoppers say that it gives them something to do

  • 17% state that it’s a group activity with their friends/family 

Keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of these trends and increase your retail sales this upcoming holiday weekend! 

6 Retail Store Marketing Tips

1) Assess your Online Presence 

Review your online presence

Recent consumer research shows that nowadays, shoppers are conducting Google searches prior to visiting retail stores. In other words, online information is what drives shoppers to purchase in-store. So even if you do not have an online store, it’s important to assess and revamp your online presence prior to the Thanksgiving weekend.

If your business cannot easily be found online, there’s a large chance that you are losing out on potential shoppers. So here is a quick checklist that will help you assess how your retail store appears online: 

  • Check to see if you business information and holiday hours are updated on Google My Business. You can use tools like Yext to run a scan of how your business appears on listings/online directories across the web (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc). 

  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly – mobile friendliness is a major ranking factor used by Google when deciding how to rank your website. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to check the mobile-responsiveness of your website.  

  • Check review platforms like Google My Business and Yelp and make sure you are consistently replying to customer reviews. You’ll want to ensure that your customers are regularly leaving reviews as 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. Click here to find out how you can gather more positive reviews for your retail business. 

2) Engage Shoppers After the Weekend is Over 

Black Friday Sale

Over 56% of 2018 Black Friday shoppers still had holiday shopping to complete after the weekend was over. And the majority of shoppers (92%) believed that the strong deals offered over the weekend would continue or improve throughout the rest of the holiday season. 

So, in order to capture this chunk of customers, it’s a good idea to run  sales and promotions post Black Friday weekend. Not only will you be able to draw in more shoppers and sales, this strategy will also help  you get rid of any slow moving or remaining stock. 

To reach as many shoppers as possible, take advantage of email marketing and other digital marketing tools to promote your post Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals! 

3) Partner Up with a Local Business 

partner up with a local business

As a small retailer, it’s hard to compete with big-box stores on Black Friday – slashing your prices in an attempt to increase traffic and sales just isn’t good for your margins. But with 65% of shoppers crediting good deals as their main motivation for Black Friday shopping, you still need to find ways to stand out. 

By partnering with local businesses, you can provide unique deals that shoppers will have a hard time passing up. And this way, you don’t have to risk low profit margins. In fact, you can still sell products at regular price or even at a premium.

The best collaboration strategies include: 

  • Selling products in bundles: Packaging products that complement each other in one product bundle is a great way to increase your store’s average order value. For example, pairing three lipstick shades with a skincare product or, bundling sweaters with a free bag. In order for this strategy to work, it’s obviously a good idea to partner with a store that sells complementary products. 

  • Offer partner promotions/discounts: Another effective strategy includes cross-promoting. For example, shoppers will receive 10% off of total sale or free shipping at your partner’s business when they purchase $50 or more at your store. You can print promotional material on your receipts and customers can use this as a voucher. 

  • Host Events: You can also team up with local businesses to host special events. For example, you could partner up with a restaurant to host a late-night open house or extended seasonal hours. Remember a good chunk of shoppers view Black Friday as something fun – 17% of shoppers see it as a group activity with their friends/family and 21% of shoppers say that it gives them something to do

4) Offer Exclusive Benefits to VIP Shoppers

exclusive offers

Black Friday is a great opportunity to strengthen your brand’s engagement with your loyal shoppers. After all, they are your target customers and the ones that are the most interested in your products.

By introducing the idea of exclusivity in your email marketing campaigns, you trigger psychological rewards like a sense of belonging and importance. This is why exclusivity makes your promotional offers appear more attractive to shoppers and encourages them to visit your store. 

Remember – shoppers are bombarded with emails during this time of the year. So make your emails stand out with:

  • a clear incentive in the subject line (for example: Exclusive VIP Sale) 

  • a personalised subject line (personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened). Alternatively, you could include the shoppers first name in the email opening line. 

  • a short, simple, and to the point message. 

 5) Promote Scarcity 

promote scarcity

As mentioned above, the majority of shoppers (92%) believe that strong deals will be offered all throughout the holiday season. And with so many competitors offering deals during the weekend, shoppers are left with a lot of decisions to make. That’s why it’s necessary to create a sense a urgency with your Black Friday marketing campaigns.

Urgency and scarcity are widely used marketing tools in retail. And for good reason – creating a sense of urgency in shoppers increases demand and ultimately leads to more purchases. 

The following are some strategies that you can employ to incentivize shoppers to act fast: 

  • Set Deadlines: Create an incentive for shoppers to take action by running your promotions for a limited time. One effective way to create time pressure is to include a countdown timer on your website or in your email campaign. Show your shoppers how many days, hours, and minutes are remaining for them to get a deal on their favorite items. 

  • Use FOMO (or fear of missing out): Scarcity drives shoppers to take action. In order to promote scarcity, it’s a good idea to highlight that certain items are limited or low in stock on your e-commerce site. If you do not have an online store, it’s a good idea to run Google Local Inventory Ads and specify that certain items have “limited availability”. You can do so by adjusting the input for the availability attribute for all relevant products. 

6) Run Google Local Inventory Ads

Google Local Inventory Ads

Multichannel and omnichannel shopping are quickly becoming the new reality of retail:

It turns out that these shoppers are more valuable too. According to the NRF, shoppers who used more than one way to look for deals spent up to $93 more than the single channel shopper. And according to a study done by IDC, multi-channel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those shoppers that only purchase from one channel

This Black Friday weekend, you can get in front of these multi-channel shoppers with Google Local Inventory Ads. These ads work by targeting nearby shoppers who are searching online for products that your store sells. Google LIAs are effective because they capture shopper intent at the moment that they are looking to purchase. 

Click here to learn how your store can easily implement Google LIAs together with your POS system to increase store sales and foot traffic. 


Good luck and have a Happy Thanksgiving weekend! 

Subscribe to our blog for more holiday marketing tips. 

#blackfriday #marketingtips #retailmarketing #holidaymarketing #increasestoresales 

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Google My Business Tips: Picking an Accurate Business Category

Google My Business Tips: Picking an Accurate Business Category

Once you’ve entered your business information in Google My Business (GMB), the next step is to pick an accurate business category. 

What is a Google My Business Category?

Your business category on your Google My Business listing is used to describe the type of business you operate (pet store, hardware store, grocery store etc.). 

It’s important to be specific when choosing your business category -the category you choose determines how local shoppers find you!

For example, if your primary category is “pet supply store”, your business will show up on Google when shoppers search for “pets”,”pet food”, or “pet supplies” in the area. 

Important Things to Note 

  • You can only select 1 primary category for your GMB listing.This is the category that people see on your business listing. It is also the most important – Google prioritizes your primary category in it’s search algorithm. 
primary category example
  • You can select up to 9 additional categories (other than your primary category) to describe your business. Focus on selecting the most relevant and specific categories for your business. 

  • You can’t create your own category. It is best to choose a more general category if you cannot find the one that you had in mind. 

  • Google can detect category information about your retail business from across the internet (including your own website and other mentions from across the web). 

Best Practices for Choosing a Business Category 

Google provides specific guidelines on how to choose a business category. 

Which can be broken down into the following points: 

1) Be as specific as possible when choosing a primary category. The more specific you are when choosing your primary category, the less local stores/businesses you will be competing against. For example, if you sell gift baskets, choose “gift basket store” instead of “gift store”.

2) Your primary category and additional categories should describe your retail business as a whole. Don’t add additional categories in an attempt to list all of your products, amenities, and services. For example, if you run a furniture business that also includes a pastry shop, avoid adding the category “pastry shop”. Instead, the pastry shop owner should claim their own listing and choose “pastry shop” as their primary category. Google suggests that you select categories that complete this statement: “This business IS a” rather than “this business HAS a”.  

3) Try minimizing the amount of additional categories that you add. Although you may be tempted to select as many categories as possible, it’s important not to. Doing so will negatively impact your store’s local ranking. Only choose categories that directly apply to your business!

Note: Skip adding categories that seem redundant. Again, you should focus on adding the categories that are most specific to your business. Google will do the rest of the work! For example, if you choose the category “children’s furniture store”, Google will implicitly add more general categories like “furniture store” and “children’s store”. 

For more information, on how to choose a business category, click here

How to Choose/Edit/Add a Business Category

1. Sign in to Google My Business here

2. Click on the “Info” tab on the left. 

info bar on google my business

3. Click on the pencil icon beside your primary category. 

pencil icon

4. Once you click on the pencil icon, you can either change your primary category or add additional categories.

primary and additional categories

5. Click on “Apply” in the right corner of the pop up screen. If the changes that you have made are significant, Google may ask you to verify your business again.

apply category changes

To learn more about the factors that affect your local search ranking, click here

#googlemybusiness #businesscategories #localseo #localsearchranking #foottraffic #cloudpos #retailpos 

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What is Local SEO and how can it Benefit your Retail Store?

What is Local SEO and how can it Benefit your Retail Store?

Reaching a local audience is critical to the success of any brick-and-mortar retailer. This is why local search engine optimization (or local SEO) is so important. 

Local SEO helps store owners promote their retail business to local shoppers.

In this article, we’ll go into detail about what local SEO is and how it can benefit your retail business – from increasing your online visibility, driving foot traffic, and ultimately growing your revenue. 

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO stands for local search engine optimization. It is the process of “optimizing” your online presence so that your store can appear as high as possible in search results. By focusing on local SEO, you can attract more business from relevant local searches.

Essentially, the purpose of a local SEO strategy is to ensure that users can find you – both online and offline. 

The Importance of Local Search

shop local flag

According to Google: 

  • 4 in 5 shoppers use a search engine to find local information.

  • 50% of shoppers who conducted a local search on their smartphone, visited a store within the same day.

  • And 34% of users who searched on a computer/tablet did the same. 

Having said that, the amount of users that are conducting local searches is also growing at a significant rate. 

Over the past several years, there has been over a 500% growth rate in “near me” mobile searches that contain the phrases “can I buy” or “to buy”. 

For shoppers, search is no longer about finding a specific business. It is about finding a specific product in a specific place and in a specific period of time. 

The challenge for store owners then becomes giving target shoppers the answers they are looking for at the exact moment that they are searching. And by doing so, capturing both their interest and the sale. 

This is where local SEO comes in. 

The Benefits of Local SEO 

local store

We know that the modern shopper prefers to conduct product research online before making purchases in store. So it makes sense that retail businesses with the greatest local online presence (or a strong local SEO strategy) will capture the majority of sales in a certain area. 

Listed below are the key benefits of a local SEO strategy. 

Local SEO Strategies

seo strategy

As a local store owner, you may feel that investing time into your Google search ranking is useless as it means competing with larger retailers like Amazon and Walmart. But this isn’t the case for local search.

Google recognizes the benefits of local business and it knows that shoppers do too. So in order to determine how your business ranks in local search and if it is geographically relevant, Google takes a certain set of factors into consideration. 

With that being said, there are key elements to ranking well in local search – which can be broken down into the following three components: 

  1. Optimizing your Google My Business listing: Google My Business is a free online listing service offered by Google. It is a powerful yet easy tool that retailers can leverage to drive local foot traffic. To learn more about Google My Business, click here
  2. Optimizing your store’s website for on-site SEO: Increasing your on-site SEO involves updating your website to optimize for several ranking factors. This includes improving internal linking structure, building local content, optimizing for keywords (website URL, meta descriptions, titles, headers etc.), and ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly. 
  3. Optimizing for off-site SEO: This involves everything you should be doing across the web (other than your own website). Key strategies to focus on include NAP consistency, inbound links, and local directory listings. 

If you would like help implementing a local SEO strategy for your retail business, hiring a local SEO consultant is a good place to start. Click here for an informative and thorough guide on how to find the best local SEO company for your retail store. 


Keep an eye out on our blog for more SEO tips. 

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about how you can increase foot traffic and store sales, click here

 

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Retail Marketing: Halloween Marketing Ideas

Retail Marketing: Halloween Marketing Ideas

Retailers are beginning to prepare for the holiday shopping rush. 

And considering this year’s estimated spending of $8.8 billion, Halloween presents the perfect opportunity to kickstart your store’s marketing before the holidays.

Halloween by the Numbers

shopping inspiration graph

Based on the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Annual Halloween Spending Survey, 68% of shoppers plan on celebrating Halloween this year – spending an average of $86.27 per person

And the top places that shoppers are gathering Halloween shopping inspiration are from online searches, inside physical retail stores, and through friends and family

The post popular items that shoppers are planning on purchasing include candy (95%), costumes (67%), decorations (72%), and greeting cards (34%)

NRF Halloween Survey Results

With these numbers in mind, we’ve put together a list of Halloween marketing ideas. Keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of these insights and sell more this Halloween season!

4 Halloween Marketing Ideas to Help you Sell More

1) Halloween Merchandising 

Halloween outdoor merchandising

28% of shoppers plan on gathering Halloween shopping inspiration from inside physical retail stores. 

So get shoppers through your door by displaying your Halloween merchandise (whether you plan on using an entire aisle or a single point-of-purchase display) at a prominent location. Ensuring that you have proper signage and a clear path leading shoppers to your Halloween-themed merchandise and displays, will also make them more likely to purchase.   

Even if you’re not in the business of selling costumes or other Halloween products, you can still spook out your store with some festive decorations and visual merchandising. Think about creating a window or point-of-purchase display that showcases products that you already sell – but with a Halloween twist. You can use spider webs, jack-o-lanterns, leaves, and Halloween colours (black,orange,red etc.) to spook things up. 

halloween window display

2) Halloween-ize your Online Presence 

halloween decorations

35% of shoppers site online search as their source of Halloween shopping inspiration. So in addition to dressing up your physical store for Halloween, it’s also a good idea to add festive elements to your online presence as well. 

Completely revamping your store’s website is time-consuming and in some cases, it can be expensive. But adding a Halloween touch to your website can go a long way in getting shoppers in a festive spirit. Including Halloween images on your homepage (download free Halloween stock images here), fixing themed add-ons, and adding pop-up designs are all cost-effective and easy ways to add a spooky feel. 

You can also drive more shoppers to your website by creating a separate page (a landing page) dedicated to Halloween. Here are a few tips: 

  • Create a Halloween gift guide for your shoppers that features all of your Halloween merchandise. If you don’t sell Halloween merchandise, consider posting helpful Halloween content. Some good content or blog post ideas include: “Halloween costume ideas for children”, “Halloween decor ideas”,”DIY costumes for adults”, and “tips for hosting a Halloween party”. 

  • Use Halloween keywords (this will help your store appear higher up in search). 

  • Promote any Halloween discounts or promotions that you are holding. 

Don’t forget to decorate your social media and email marketing campaigns for Halloween as well!

3) Google Local Inventory Ads (LIAs)

Google LIAs

Considering that the majority of shoppers are planning to use a search engine as a source for shopping inspiration, it is also a good idea to run local inventory ads on Google. These ads are tailored to users based on their location. So when a shopper searches for Halloween related merchandise, they will be shown in-stock product of local retailers in the area. 

Running Google local inventory ads (LIAs) is an effective strategy that many retailers have leveraged to drive foot traffic. In fact, Best Buy drove over 1 million shoppers to their stores with Google LIAs. The ads also resulted in a 44% increase in clicks to their website. 

Here are a few tips for optimizing your Google LIA campaigns: 

  • Target mobile shoppers: shoppers are searching on their phone before visiting physical stores – to ensure that their trip is worth it. In fact, 86% of Canadian shoppers said they will go to the store to buy when that store has an item they need or want immediately. You can target mobile shoppers by placing a positive mobile bid adjustment to your campaigns. It’s best to boost ad groups/campaigns that have strong mobile performance. 

  • Adjust for high traffic hours: while you want to keep ads active 24/7, it is a good idea to boost ad performance during high traffic hours. This includes the hours that your store is open and when your shoppers are most likely to search. 

  • Consider physical location: It is probable that shoppers from all parts of your city are interested in your products. But users closest to your store (20-35 km radius) are much more likely to visit. Target local shoppers by increasing bids for users that are closest to your store. 

For more information on how your retail store can easily implement Google LIAs to increase foot traffic and sales, click here

4) Add Halloween Products 

Halloween treats

If your store doesn’t sell any Halloween merchandise, you may want to consider selling seasonal items to boost your store sales. After all, Halloween is a billion dollar industry. 

To help you decide which items to sell/what would work best for your store, think about referencing last year’s shopping trends (shown above). 

The following are some good examples of how retailers can add in popular seasonal offerings: 


Happy Halloween and happy selling!

We will be posting more holiday related articles in the upcoming weeks. Keep an eye out on our blog or subscribe for more holiday marketing tips. 

#halloween #retail #increasesales #retailmarketing #marketingtips #builtforretail #retailpos #cloudpos 

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