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Is Your POS System Truly Modern?

June 3rd, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Retail businesses, no matter how big or small, have come a long way from the cash register days to web-based POS systems that give greater control to the POS operator.

With a variety of POS players in the market and rapid advances in technology, it is easy for businesses to be confused or settle for a lesser system that does not give the complete benefits of a POS system. We have discussed how to choose a good POS system in a previous post. This post points out some important consequences of using an outdated POS system.

  1. Delays in the checkout process: A slow moving checkout line can frustrate even the best of us, and thus lead to lost sales. Customers greatly value – and therefore come back to – stores with a fast checkout process that is not riddled with avoidable delays. A POS system that is not easy to operate can cause the POS operator to spend longer on processing/completing a sales order, leading to disgruntled customers and fewer sales, and possibly even bad word-of-mouth. All of this could easily have been avoided, however, with an efficient POS system that is easy to use even for a first-time POS operator.
  2. Limited payment options: These days even in-store retail customers like to have multiple payment options available to them, and having such a variety available increases your chances of completing a sale successfully. An up-to-date POS system would let you accept both online and offline payments such as cash, credit card, and check, along with other options such as gift card, vouchers, credit notes etc. You would not have to turn away a customer just because he does not have enough cash on hand or balance on his card, if your POS system is equipped to process multiple payment methods for a single order.
  3. Inability to provide personalized customer service: Even for a retail customer at the checkout counter, personalized service that offers exclusive discounts or loyalty benefits is important. A good POS system lets you offer special discounts/offers to individual customers that are customized as per their purchasing habits or brand loyalty. Creating such discounts is feasible only if the POS system allows the POS operator to store customer data, and pull up discounts set up at the POS backend based on mobile phone number, or email ID, etc. 
  4. Gaps in data integration: For the POS operator, an up-to-date POS system that integrates sales order and customer information with your backend ERP system can make the difference between good and average customer service. If your frontend and backend systems are not in sync, customer and inventory data cannot be utilized to its fullest potential. Just as your POS operator will be limited to simply processing a standard sales order, your backend team would not be able to utilize information to create targeted marketing strategies that are essential to meet your business goals.
  5. Loss of sales due to internet issues: Outdated POS systems can prevent your POS operators from processing sales orders, or from accepting certain types of orders and payment methods simply because the internet connection is down. Conversely, an efficient POS system lets your sales order processing continue seamlessly irrespective of whether you are online or offline, including processing all types of payments, applying discounts, collecting customer data, etc. Such a system will sync back all the information to the backend ERP and ensure your inventory and accounts databases are updated as soon as you are back online.

Ignify provides a comprehensive retail solution that includes a competitive POS system that caters to the requirements of all types of retail businesses, as well as ecommerce channels. The solution can be used across multiple terminals and store locations, thereby allowing you to maintain a uniform system across stores and not worry about your customer’s checkout experience as your business expands.

To learn more about Ignify’s retail systems, contact us at retail@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

10 Tips for Choosing a Good POS System

May 14th, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

When you are a retailer, the one thing at the top of your mind is streamlining the checkout process and giving your customers efficient service. Having a good point of sale (POS) system can go a long way in ensuring that you not only send out, but also bring back happy customers to your store.

While the competition is high when it comes to choosing the right POS providers, the following pointers could help you narrow down the best one that suits your business needs – please also refer to our infographic for the quick checklist.

  1. Single screen interface: To ensure that your sales executive at the checkout terminal can process items faster, it is important to have a single screen interface that lets you input the item details, review the order details and process the payment. Navigating between multiple screens/windows for these primary functions can be confusing and cause the POS operator to waste precious time.
  2. Ease of use: A single screen interface also lends itself to ease of use that requires minimum training for the POS operator. This should be an important factor in deciding upon your POS system to factor in the various skill levels of POS operators (interns, students, freshers, part-time workers, etc.) at your checkout terminals. Irrespective of whether your POS operator has previous experience using a POS system, he should be able to manage your checkout process efficiently with the POS system in your store.
  3. Ability to function online and offline: The POS system should be able to function seamlessly irrespective of whether you are connected to the internet or not. It is not advisable to have only an offline or online system, as internet downtime for a web-only system can have serious repercussions on your sales. The system should be able to operate offline and then sync your records/transactions with your database once you are online again. 
  4. Flawless payment processing with multiple payment methods: The system should support all types of payment methods such as credit cards, cash, checks, and gift cards etc. as per your business policies. The method of payment should not impact the efficiency of the checkout process, nor should you be required to turn away a customer simply because your system does not accept the customer’s preferred mode of payment.
  5. Customer data encryption/security: One of the most important functions of the POS system that accepts credit cards and stores any form of customer information is to ensure that the information is transmitted and stored securely and in an encrypted format. Assuring the customers that their information is secure will help your gain their trust and repeat business.
  6. Ability to apply promotions/discounts: The various promotions/discounts that you offer your customers should be reflected and applicable via your POS system. Having to tell a shopper that a particular discount is not available to them can lead to a disgruntled customer and cause you to lose his business.
  7. Real-time inventory updates: All sales and modifications to your inventory should be reflected and available real-time to all your sales executives and/or online customers irrespective of the number of stores you operate. This can help avoid backorders for online customers. Inventory management and stock-keeping can be made easier as well.
  8. Connect brick and mortar stores to the web store: Your POS system should be connected to your inventory database and ecommerce web store, while keeping all three in sync at all times. Having two different systems for your physical stores and web store can lead to inventory and accounting management problems. 
  9. Integrated with backend ERP system: If you are already using an ERP system to manage your catalog, inventory, customers and accounts, it is advisable that the POS system integrates with it real-time for most of the basic functions such as sales order placement, inventory updates, etc. Being able to keep your systems in sync at all times helps improve overall business efficiency.
  10. Customizability: There is usually no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing your retail stores through POS systems. Based upon your unique business and customer requirements, the POS system provider should be able to provide you a customized solution that helps you maximize your sales and bring efficiency to the checkout process. 

point of sale

ax for retail webinar

For more information on how to choose the right POS solution for your business needs, please email us at retail@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Carl’s Jr. Uses Microsoft Industry Solutions for Self-Service Kiosks in Stores

January 12th, 2015 Sandeep Walia No comments

I’m at the NRF Big Show 2015, and I’m pleased to report the Carl’s Jr. Self-Service In-Store Kiosk solution is running on Microsoft technology. The screenshots below show examples of self-service with the ability to customize items, place the order, complete payment, and get a receipt without any staff assistance.

self-service with the ability to customize items, place the order, complete payment, and get a receipt without any staff assistance

Self-service capability is a big deal for Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), who are under pressure to reduce labor costs in restaurants due to the cost impact of the Affordable Care Act and increasing minimum wages. The solution is running entirely on the Microsoft-based Dell hardware, which provides an integrated card swipe and attached printer (approximately $750 in cost for the hardware), and Microsoft Retail industry solutions for the self-service application.

The self-service application allows for upsell, including the ability to round up by adding more items or making a sandwich to a combo.

self-service application allows for upsell, including the ability to round up by adding more items or making a sandwich to a combo

Also provided is the ability to customize a sandwich (or any item for that matter) by adding as shown in the example below – extra cheese, another sausage or lettuce, or removing items, e.g. no sausage.

ability to customize a sandwich

What makes this compelling is the in-built automation that can lead to significant cost reductions in stores at a reasonable price point. For more information on retail solutions, email us at retail@ignify.com

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

SEO/SMO Tips to Get Your Web Store Ready for the Holiday Season

December 2nd, 2014 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

In a previous post we discussed how Ignify eCommerce provides various customer-friendly features to help you make the most of the holiday season. Along with setting up those features, you would also be sprucing up your product catalog and bring out the discounts in preparation of the holiday season. We bring you some search engine optimization and social media optimization tips that will complement your efforts and help you stay on top of your game, and ring in higher footfall and revenues.

As elaborated in earlier posts, optimizing your web store for search engines is a long term activity and your SEO/SMO strategies have to be well drawn out to bring great results. But there are some focused activities that can be implemented to capitalize on the holiday traffic.

1. Identify top pages/products: No matter how big or small your catalog, there are certain items which you would like to particularly highlight during the holidays. Identify such important pages that display not only the products you want to sell at that time, but also those that have traditionally been the crowd pullers. Your SEO/SMO efforts should be concentrated on pushing out those pages even further.

2. Create holiday themed pages: In addition to your regular pages, create temporary holiday themed pages and promote them through your SEO activities. These pages should be optimized using holiday-specific keywords and rich content. You can use these pages to link to your PPC/Google ads, Facebook ads, etc.

holiday themed pages

Optimizing holiday themed pages with holiday-specific keywords and content is a helpful way to pull in holiday-focused traffic.

3. Check if your title tags, meta descriptions and keywords are optimized: Revisit your pages, particularly the top pages you have already identified and ensure that they have been optimized as per SEO best practices. Ensure that these pages have unique title tags that are informative and include the relevant keywords. The meta descriptions should be checked for their keyword density and compelling copywriting to ensure higher click through rates when they show up in the search results. Also, revisit your keywords to see that they are competitive and best describe your page.

4. Add images and Alt Tags: Images not only add to the aesthetic value of your page, they also help elaborate upon the product’s features in a captivating manner. Search engines such as Google tend to rank pages with images higher. So it can be beneficial to add a few colorful images to your important pages complete with Alt Tags. Check if existing images on your important pages have Alt Tags and add them if absent. Alt Tags should crisply describe the image and add to the keywords on your page.

5. Get creative with social media campaigns: The importance of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest cannot be overlooked during the holiday season. Facebook and Pinterest particularly lend themselves to creative and colorful holiday campaigns that get the shopper into the festive mood, choosing you over the competition and increasing the click through rate. It is a great opportunity to engage with your customers through contests and giveaways.

social media campaigns

Social media campaigns

Social media campaigns are important for creatively engaging with customers and persuading them to choose your business over the competition.

6. Use PPC ads aggressively: Holiday time is targeted marketing time, and nothing reaches your target audience faster than pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google, Facebook, etc. Create a themed and targeted copy for your PPC ads, and ensure that the keywords in the advertisement and your landing page align. PPC ads are a great way to bring customers to your important pages and drive sales there. Given that you would be making a bulk of your revenues during the holiday season, investing in PPC ads is a wise choice.

pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and Facebook

pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and Facebook

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google, social media, etc. are highly targeted toward your audience, pushing traffic toward your pages and driving sales there. 

For more tips on how you can optimize your online store for the holidays, please email us at eCommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

Multiply Your Holiday Shopping Sales in Four Easy Ways

November 26th, 2014 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

The holiday season is around the corner and everyone is rushing to finish their shopping on time. For a busy customer, the convenience of purchasing for everyone in one place and not having to wait in multiple checkout lines can mean the difference between choosing one store over another.

With online shopping being increasingly preferred by the busy shopper, it becomes important for an ecommerce merchant to ensure that he combines the best of online and offline shopping to give the shopper a truly satisfying shopping experience. Here are some tips to take the stress off festive shopping, and make the most of this holiday season for your customer and your business. 

Multi-store browsing

It wouldn’t be a leap of the imagination to assume that a diverse catalog that caters to a cross-section of shoppers would lead to greater sales. While that may be a sound argument to make, it can also be argued that crowding a single web store with divergent products can confuse the shopper and push him towards a niche web store. Not to mention that the design that suits, say, an apparel store might not gel well with a bookstore.

To help you deal with such a dilemma, Ignify eCommerce provides you the ability to operate multiple web stores via a single Manager Panel, and let your customers browse across them with a single integrated shopping cart at checkout. This means that if your catalog has apparel and electronic gadgets, books and tools, you can easily create a different web store for each one of them and link them together. Each of your web stores can be designed to best suit the products and the target audience you wish to attract. All of these web stores are then linked together and shoppers can travel from one store to another from the comfort of their chairs, and complete their festival shopping without having to wait in long checkout lines at the retail stores.

Multi-store browsing

Customers navigate across the multiple web stores by clicking on the different web store links.

Multi-store browsing

An integrated shopping cart makes checking out items from multiple stores a breeze.

Multi-device compatibility

This multi-store browsing facility can be made even more attractive by letting your shoppers shop using any device of their choice. For shoppers always on-the-go, being able to shop on their mobile phones and tablets just as easily as they would on their laptops or desktops is an attractive option.

Ignify eCommerce not only lets you provide your customer such multi-store, multi-device compatibility with responsive web design web stores, it also lets your customers carry over their shopping sessions seamlessly from one device to another. A social media integrated login process lets them login to any of the web stores quickly, where shopping carts can be saved and orders tracked as required. In case of multiple saved shopping carts, they can even be merged to create a new cart and an order placed conveniently; all this without discriminating between the shoppers’ choice of device.

Multi-device compatibility

Responsive Web Design web stores as rendered on a mobile phone and a tablet.

Multiple payment options

Once the shopper fills up his shopping cart with goodies for family and friends, the least of his worries should be a hiccup at checkout, where his preferred payment option is not available. This can force the shopper to abandon his shopping cart and move over to the competition’s web store.

Avoiding this scenario is easy, with Ignify eCommerce’s web stores allowing you to easily set up various payment options such as Credit Card, PayPal, Terms PO, Cash, Check, Reward Points, etc. The backend Manager Panel processes orders just as easily for online payment methods as for offline payment methods. Your customers can also make partial payments against invoices and use different payment options for each part of the payment. This means that no matter how big or small the billing amount, the customer can pay as per convenience and ability.  

Multiple shipping options

For festive shoppers, a major concern with online shopping is receiving their packages on time. Getting your Christmas gifts delivered after New Year is not an option. The uncertainty of delivery makes many shoppers opt for the more traditional retail stores to complete their shopping on time. You can capture these shoppers and even those last-minute shoppers by providing multiple shipping options ranging from 7 day delivery to overnight shipping.

Ignify eCommerce lets you set up various shipping carriers such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc. and make them available on your web store for the customer to choose from. Not only can you provide a choice of shipping carriers, the customers can also have different items in their order delivered to different addresses using different carriers. This ability to ship to multiple addresses can be particularly attractive to shoppers who do not want to miss out on the opportunity to send gifts to friends and relatives out of town. 

Multiple shipping options

Provide your shoppers multiple shipping options.

So this festive season make your customer feel like a king and let him shop across your multiple web stores using the device of his choice, place his order with the payment method and shipping carrier to his convenience, and then also have his gifts hand-delivered to different locations on his behalf, without ever having to leave the comfort of his chair!

For more information on how to optimize your web store for the holiday season, please email us at eCommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, eCommerce, and Point of Sale software solutions to organizations. Ignify is winner/finalist of the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.