As holiday season approaches, you should start to consider what to stock your shelves with and how to merchandise it. Now that most cities and regions have fully re-opened, you should expect more foot traffic in your store and more shoppers ready to spend money during the biggest shopping season of the year.
In order to capture shoppers’ attention, you will need to stand out. With supply chain issues affecting big box stores that import more from abroad this year, local businesses have the room to thrive and stay competitive during this busy season. We will introduce you to some of our selling tactics for this season to make sure that there is a steady flow of people coming in and out of your store.
Put new seasonal items at the front of the store to encourage customers to make impulse purchases
Merchandising is especially important during the holidays. The right strategies can make a world of a difference when trying to sell seasonal products such as greeting cards, decorations and gifts.
Make sure that you prominently showcase new or seasonal products by highlighting them in signs around the store and featuring them in any window displays. Make customers feel welcome and at-home when they browse in your store. You can also create a display at the checkout area that features seasonal low-ticket items that people would buy impulsively such as winter lip balm, hand cream, and stocking stuffers.
Put any discounted items (e.g. last season holiday goods) at the back to drive customers further into your store
Placing sale items at the back of the store means that you are able to capture shoppers looking for a bargain by making them walk through the entire store and see your entire catalog of items on display. Studies have shown that this encourages shoppers to buy more on impulse.
A lot of pharmacies or supermarkets use this strategy by placing bulky “loss-leaders” such as toilet paper (products sold at cost or even under cost to attract shoppers into the store) at the back of stores to encourage shoppers to use a shopping cart since this will make it easier for shoppers to browse for a longer period of time and pick up higher-margin products.
Package products that aren’t selling as well together
Make holiday gift packs to move slow moving products. Make sure to highlight the value of the gift pack (e.g. how much is saved versus buying the items individually)!
Grouping similar items together can make them seem more appealing to shoppers. In some cases, it can even increase the selling price of certain products! Attractive packaging can increase the perceived value of certain products. Festive packaging also adds to the overall look of the store and makes gifting easier for shoppers who do not want to wrap their gifts. Since convenience is important to many shoppers, this can directly impact holiday sales.
Deck out your store and online channels with seasonal and/or festive decorations
Put up inclusive holiday decorations to make sure that you do not alienate any customers while trying to create a festive spirit. A popular theme is decorating the store based on the seasons (example: Winter-themed décor and trinkets for December). Pinterest is a great starting point to get inexpensive DIY ideas if you’re on a tight budget.
Offer products that aren’t selling well as a gift with purchase
This is another way to move products that aren’t selling as well as expected. Make sure to have a minimum purchase amount to drive larger orders. This is also an easy one to offer in-store and online. Generally speaking, it’s good to have free gift offers with all channels but make sure your higher value gifts are reserved for in-store sales since shoppers buy when they can see everything you offer in person.
Use QR codes on your storefront window to keep selling even when your store is closed
Instead of turning off the lights and calling it a day, use your physical storefront to showcase holiday sweepstakes or promotions. One way to do this is by using QR codes in your storefront displays to make it easy for customers passing by to shop for items impulsively and learn more directly in your online store.
Once customers are in your online store and have added items to their cart, even if they don’t buy right away, you are able to send them retargeting emails (emails that remind them that they still have items in their cart ready for online checkout) and let them know about future promotions.
Since 2015, almost 50% of all web traffic happens on mobile phones. In 2020, this rose to almost 55%. As mobile phones play a more important part of peoples’ lives, retailers need to use this to their advantage. This means being aware of the way your business shows up online and using the right tools to attract shoppers. Whether it is paying attention to social media, customer reviews, building a website, or taking payments remotely, business owners today need to use technology to help grow their business.
Mobile Friendly Websites Get You Noticed
One of the (FREE) effective ways that you can show up higher on search engines like Google is by having a mobile responsive website. This basically means a website that looks good on smaller screen sizes such as those on mobile smartphones.
After all, a website has more functions than just allowing people to shop online. While having an online store is no doubt helpful, a website is also a calling card for shoppers to see and experience the store brand. It can even be a 24/7 catalog for people browsing online. Store websites help direct traffic to physical stores which gives retailers more opportunity to upsell shoppers.
70% of shoppers surveyed by Google said that they did online research or looked up a retailer online at one point before stepping into a store or purchasing an item. Because the majority of this research happens on mobile phones, digital marketing for a retailer must include improving the mobile experience for shoppers to drive more customers into stores.
In order to show up online, feel free to check out our best local SEO practices blog post to learn more about how you can show up higher on local search results.
Compete With Big Box Retailers Online
Since 2015, there has been a 500% increase in online searches that contain the words “near me” and “to buy.” Shoppers want to find things near them when searching online. In the same Google study, “open now” searches went up by 3x.
What does this mean for physical retailers? It means that being online gives you a chance to compete with big box stores that sell similar or same products.
Example: A shopper searches for “Acana dog food near me” and sees the following results. Though national chains do show up here, it gives smaller retailers a chance to compete. They can do this by highlighting how close they are, showcasing their products and showing competitive pricing. As shoppers are motivated by convenience and distance, this information can determine whether or not they step into your store.
Google’s Local Inventory Ads feature helps you show up higher on search results online. In short, Local Inventory Ads (LIA) showcases product and store information to shoppers nearby who are searching for specific or similar products. This is a great platform for retailers who sell barcoded products.
People Don’t Want To Figure Out Your Website
People who land on your website want convenience. 60% of people won’t return to a website if it is hard to use or not mobile responsive (easy to read on every screen size). People value convenience and want to have easy access to information. Shoppers won’t stay on websites that do not function properly on their screens. This is why mobile friendliness is particularly important to retailers who want to increase their visibility online.
Expert Tip: For PC users, you can click F12 > Select a different screen size to test out how your website is shown online on other devices.
Want to know how TAKU can help you sell anywhere at anytime?
To keep up with shoppers today, merchants need a modern cloud POS software that will allow them to quickly adapt to market changes and easily sell both in-store and online. Cloud technology offers that flexibility.
The Coronavirus pandemic changed the way that consumers shop, work, and live. Retail is no exception. In 2020, over 80% of consumers shopped at least once online. Since the pandemic, there have been new sales strategies that retailers are adopting such as contactless payment, curbside pickup, virtual consultations, and even social commerce (purchasing products through social media). According to retail experts and shopper surveys, this new behavior is here to stay.
What Is Cloud POS Software?
A cloud POS system is a retail management software that doesn’t need to be installed anywhere. Instead of maintaining a server computer in your physical store, cloud POS companies host your information on secure third-party services such as Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. This is different to traditional POS systems which can only be installed and/or used on specific devices.
Cloud-based systems has advantages in the current shopper environment when compared to installed software. Some obvious advantages are its flexibility and affordability. These characteristics make a huge difference during uncertain times and are key reasons why more merchants are switching to cloud-based systems than ever before.
Until the pandemic started, multi-location retailers were the businesses most likely to look at cloud-based POS. This makes a lot of sense since the sharing of information between different stores is much harder with traditional POS systems. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased the demand for online sales options. For retailers with only a single physical store, this means that they need to manage customers and inventory between in-store and online sales.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main benefits of replacing your traditional retail POS with a cloud-based system.
The Benefits Of Cloud POS Software For Retailers Today
As traditional shoppers are increasingly buying online for store pick-up or delivery, retailers need a solid strategy to keep track of inventory, This can be stressful for retailers since online sales are often handled separately from traditional POS systems. Keeping track of inventory history and stock levels everywhere you sell is critical as stock-outs can lead to upset customers and lost sales.
A lot of traditional POS solutions have “cloud” options but many of these are clunky, remote workarounds that don’t sync inventory across locations in real-time, often break down, require expensive third-party tools and technical support to fix.
With uncertain demand throughout the pandemic, managing inventory can be difficult with traditional systems. This is because these systems are sometimes separate or sync only once a day can be a serious drain on resources and finances. The pandemic has also made it even harder for merchants to afford the staff necessary to manually manage inventory or check stock levels because the quantities in the POS system aren’t accurate.
With a modern cloud-based retail POS platform, retailers are able to do all of the following within a single software:
share the same products across all locations and digital channels
split the same product stock quantities by store, website or warehouse
easily create new stores or stock splits to re-allocate inventory at any time
give staff the ability to check all locations for real-time product availability
control exactly how much access staff have to see costs and inventory details
fulfill online sales from stores for pickup or delivery with ease
buy online, pay in-store during pickup
buy online, add more / exchange / return in-store
minimize stock-outs because you can quickly adjust purchasing or move stock quantities around as sales happen, not after the fact
A cloud-based retail POS system provides greater mobility which basically means that retailers can sell from anywhere inside the store, outside the store or online 24/7. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that retailers need this kind of flexibility in their business. During the recent lockdowns, retailers with access to their POS systems from anywhere were able to immediately work from home or take payments outside of their stores during order pickup.
Modern systems such as TAKU Retail can function on any device which makes it even more cost-effective for retailers to adopt. True cloud systems are not tied to any specific device. Where earlier cloud systems are limited to only a single type of hardware (e.g. iPads), the latest cloud POS systems allow retailers to use any existing web-enabled devices. Similar to how people sharing a Netflix account can watch shows on Windows or Mac computers, Android or Apple smart devices, people selling using a cloud POS can work off of any of these devices together. This type of flexibility helps merchants reduce the overall cost of hardware, even as they grow, since almost any existing device can be turned into a station.
And accessibility doesn’t refer only to selling or accessing reports. While older installed or cloud systems only give retailers access to specific functions, true cloud systems give you full access to all of the features in the software so you can run your business from anywhere. This also includes managing access rights all from one dashboard. If you’re a larger retailer, you should be able to quickly manage (or revise) the access rights for each staff member across all devices wherever you happen to be working.
3. Manage Shoppers From Every Channel In One Dashboard
While the Coronavirus pandemic will pass, changes in consumer shopping habits are here to stay. Retail consumers are now shopping locally, cost-consciously, and digitally. Being there for your customers wherever they are is often called “omnichannel retail” or “unified commerce”.
What’s important to remember is that being omnichannel is about more than simply making sales in all channels. It’s about providing a seamless experience for shoppers. It means making it easier for shoppers to find you, buy from you or even bring something back to you. There’s no doubt that taking orders online is important to the survival of a lot of retailers during the pandemic. But in the long-term, omnichannel retailers are more profitable because they have more opportunities to engage with their shoppers across different channels. And omnichannel drives higher-margins in-store sales together with the convenience of online 24/7 shopping.
Another thing to keep in mind is that online sales naturally come with higher return rates as shoppers make mistakes or shipments are damaged. Being able to manage all of your sales and returns across all channels from stores is important to minimize returns and to minimize the costs of these returns – e.g. by offering in-store returns or exchanges to avoid losing sales or paying double the processing fees.
Many retailers experienced significant growth in online sales and store pickup during the pandemic. In fact, in some essential sectors, traditional stores were unable to keep up with the demand as they struggled to handle the sudden boost in traffic.
As your business grows and becomes more complex, your retail management system must be able to accommodate new stores, new sales channels, new employees, and new product lines without any limitations. A flexible unified commerce system will have the built-in options required for you to adapt as your business grows. This includes functions such as unlimited physical stores, unlimited back office users, unlimited stock quantity splits and customizable tax rules. With customizable settings, fast onboarding support and transparent pricing, modern cloud systems offer retail owners a flexible tailored solution that can easily scale without hidden costs.
With shopping behavior shifting constantly throughout the pandemic, being able to track, manage, and engage with customers across all channels is key for long-term success. An all-in-one cloud POS software allows you to handle all of your touchpoints from in-store shopping and curbside pickup to local delivery, all under a single login. It allows retailers to be flexible with their business processes and adapt quickly when the environment changes.
With traditional systems, data needs to be manually managed between different sales channels. In comparison, cloud-based systems give merchants access to shared retail data which makes it significantly easier for them to see trends as they happen in real-time.
Built with next-generation technology, modern cloud platforms are even able to help retailers leverage their own retail data to attract more shoppers. As the first POS company to be a Trusted Google Partner, TAKU is the first platform in the industry to automatically help retailers be found online by people searching nearby for what they sell. Not only can newer cloud POS systems increase sales when shoppers are engaged, they can now help retailers get in front of shoppers before they even leave their homes.
Make sure you’re using retail technology that can keep up with the rapidly changing world post-pandemic. Make the switch to cloud today – it’s easier than you think.
Want to know how TAKU can help you sell anywhere and at anytime?
As January rolls in, people will be more careful about money after the busiest spending months of the year. There will be a lot of returns that take place both online and in physical stores. You will need to prepare for this and find new ways to tackle loss prevention too.
Rewrite And Reconsider Different Return Policies
You need to communicate your return and exchange policies to customers both in-store and on all receipts. Make sure you have your policies posted around the store and the checkout area so that staff also understand them. Some important things to remember when writing them are being clear about:
acceptable return windows
condition of items
type of items that can be returned (eg. some stores will not allow cosmetics and intimate items to be returned), return fees, etc.
Being clear about policies can reduce stress for both staff and angry shoppers post-holidays.
Examples: Zara employees tell shoppers their return / exchange policies during checkout. The policies are also printed and circled on their receipts. Zara also offers a short window of exchange for regular-priced items so that people do not keep returning seasonal items for new releases. Having these rules in place are especially important for stores that carry seasonal items. Canadian Tire does not offer returns or exchanges on Christmas trees past December 24.
Retail tip: When processing returns, you should cross out items on shoppers’ receipts and take down their information so that you can see if there is a history of similar behavior. This will help with loss prevention.
Encourage People To Exchange Items Instead
You should minimize refunds because they are a net loss. Besides damage to the products themselves, one of the main costs of returns is bank processing fees. Banks charge fees for purchases as well as refunds by card. In other words, you end up paying twice the fees when refunding money to customers.
While you might offer refunds in your policies, you can minimize your losses by offering shoppers an exchange instead. That way, instead of losing money, you still have a chance to keep the sale or in the best case scenario, make more money.
Retail tip: Offer Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS) so that people can still shop around before they return their products. Shoppers are more likely to buy more or exchange their items in-store. This also gives you a chance to introduce new items to them or impress them with your customer service.
Automate The Process
Shoppers are more likely to return to businesses when they have a good return experience. Whether you sell in-store or omnichannel, retailers need clear return policies and systems in place to handle returns smoothly. You should also make it easy for people to return both online and in-store. This helps nudge customers back into your store in the future. Plus, since you already have their personal information, you are able to send retargeting ads and emails to them about upcoming sales and store events.
Retail tip: You need to get shoppers’ consent before sending them SMS messages or emails.
Resell Merchandise At A Discounted Price
Instead of throwing products away, stores can offer any imperfect items at a discounted price. This lets you keep selling things that would otherwise be wasted.
Example: Best Buy offers both customers the option of buying open-box and refurbished items at a discounted price. This is especially important for high-ticket items such as electronics. Amazon offers different prices for used or returned products based on their condition (used, used-good, etc.). These retailers are able to keep selling products even after the products have been returned.
Want to know more about successful inventory management?
Get shoppers through your door by displaying your seasonal merchandise (whether you plan on using an entire aisle or a single point-of-purchase display) at a prominent location. Use proper signage to lead shoppers to your Halloween-themed merchandise and displays, will also make them more likely to purchase.
Not selling Halloween-themed products? You can still decorate 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 twist. You can use spider webs, jack-o-lanterns, leaves, and fall colours (black, orange, red etc.) to spook things up.
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, 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 seasonal discounts or promotions that you are holding.
Don’t forget to decorate your social media and email marketing campaigns for Halloween as well!
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: Users closest to your store (20-35 km radius) are much more likely to visit than others who are. 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
If your store doesn’t sell any Halloween merchandise, you can consider selling seasonal items to boost your store sales.
The following are some good examples of how retailers can add in popular seasonal offerings:
For retailers, inventory planning matters. Inventory is your largest asset and has the greatest impact on your business cash flow. If you plan your inventory well, you can reduce your overhead costs and increase cashflow. This article will help you understand the essentials to inventory management for retailers.
Cashflow sitting in old or out-of-season inventory is money that could be better used elsewhere. Many successful retailers don’t carry a lot of excess stock to have the flexibility to introduce new products more quickly. This is particularly true in industries such as grocery where products can easily expire or fashion where products can be trendy. All products are worth less over time as they get “stale.” But in fast-moving sectors, products have shorter life cycles, meaning they lose their value faster. As such, carrying too much stock means an increased chance of getting stuck with products that require deep discounting to free up your cashflow. Consider this the next time your suppliers offer you better prices to buy a larger volume of product.
Remember though, keeping your inventory “lean” doesn’t only mean keeping stock levels low. If stock levels don’t match your sales demand and are kept too low, you will constantly have out-of-stock products. You want to avoid stock-outs as they are costly to retailers. They lead to lost sales, wasted marketing efforts, and unhappier customers.
There are many different inventory management methods but ultimately, it comes down to one thing, “do you have stock when you need to sell it“.
In the end, selling at any price is not the objective. To be profitable, retailers need loyal, repeat customers that don’t require expensive marketing campaigns to get them to buy. When you think of it this way, inventory is an important part of your overall customer service. Customer service is the new marketing as every touch point impacts how your customers view your business. Less stock-outs means higher sales in-store and faster fulfillment for online orders, all of which means better customer satisfaction.
What Can I Do As A Retailer To Better Manage My Inventory?
If you’re a small-to-midsize retailer and all of this sounds scary, don’t worry. Not all retailers have the resources of the big brands, and regardless of your size, there are things you can do to better plan your inventory.
1) Make Sure You Always Have Access To Real-Time Stock Levels
You can’t manage what you don’t know. With an increasing number of sales channels (e.g. e-commerce, pop-ups, etc.), a retail POS that can handle “unified commerce” with real-time stock levels is essential to inventory management in today’s market. Unified commerce is just another way of saying a total retail management platform that you can log into from anywhere that offers a single view of inventory, sales, and customer data across an entire business in real time. As expected, the need for real-time inventory data grows as the business and transaction complexity increases.
2) Use Minimum Stock Levels
Use minimum stock levels, also known as safety stock levels. In many retail point-of-sale systems, you can assign a minimum stock level to every product in your store which you can easily track in comparison to your actual stock level. You should also be able to easily make mass updates in your POS when you review your minimum stock levels every 3-6 months.
3) Track Inventory Stock Levels By Supplier
Track inventory stock levels by supplier so that you can consolidate purchases to minimize stock-outs, lead time, and shipping costs. This will also allow you to more easily meet supplier minimum order amounts.
4) Track Inventory Turnover
This is essential to inventory management in retail. Basically this refers to how many times a product is sold and replaced over a certain period of time. This can be tracked at a very high level (e.g. including the entire store inventory) or at the product / category level. There are different ways to calculate turnover but whatever approach you use, consider using Cost of Goods Sold instead of Sales as you will get a more accurate measure as your result will not include markup. For example:
From Jan-Mar, this company had inventory turnover of 13.33. This is calculated by taking the Sales$ for this period and dividing it by Average Stock Value$. Now you can convert this to “inventory days” by taking 365 / 13.33. So from Jan-Mar, inventory turns 13.33 times a year and is on hand for approximately 27.38 days. If you run the same calculations for Apr-Jun, inventory turns 18.33 times a year and is on hand for approximately 19.91 days.
From these two examples, the higher your turnover rate, the more efficient you are, since it means that your inventory is being sold faster and you have more cash flow in your business. A lot of people forget that the cost of inventory is not just the original purchase cost of an item. It includes the ongoing cost TO SELL that inventory. The longer it takes to sell something, the greater your real inventory cost as your money is sitting in that dead stock instead of products that are in high demand.
5) Determine Your Ideal Reorder Days
It is always a good idea to estimate the lead time required to reorder products in time for suppliers to produce OR deliver them before you are out-of-stock. For example, if you know it takes two weeks to receive orders from a particular vendor, make sure to factor that lead time into your reorder timing. In the beginning, you don’t want to cut it too close as unexpected delays can happen (e.g. snowstorms in the winter). This is especially true if you are ordering for a busy time of year such as Christmas. For some retailers, losing a week during the holidays might mean the difference between Christmas and Boxing Day pricing.
Inventory Management – Essential For All
A lot of independent retailers or businesses often think that they are not large enough to use inventory management tools and try to use spreadsheets to keep track of their goods. While this can work in the beginning, as your inventory items grow in both size and attributes, you will either overstock (to prevent stock-outs) or have constant back orders. You will also lose out on freight savings and volume discounts you might have received if you had consolidated your vendor orders more efficiently.
Start improving your operations by following the key essentials to inventory management we’ve listed above. Then when you’re ready, start to slowly automate these functions one-by-one. With the proper point-of-sale system, you will be able to spend less time managing your inventory and more time selling it.
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