Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marketing to Millennials

By Hannah West

If your store has been around for a few years, you probably have some loyal customers you know by name. Many of these customers are part of the Baby Boomer generation and respond well to more traditional marketing and advertising.

But there is a new generation in town. When young adults born after the early 1980s reach 18, they are grouped into a category called "Millennials" or "Generation Y." Ten years ago they may have been running around your store asking their parents to purchase items FOR them, but now they have their own disposable income.

Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to get more Millennials in your doors:

1. They grew up with technology

When it comes to technology, it is like second nature to Millennials. They grew up with cell phones, computers in school and some may have even read their college textbooks on a screen rather than a page. They have plenty of ways to access information from anywhere. Millennials are not only accessing information from computers, but laptops, tablets and phones! Some fast solutions to their even faster lifestyles:
  • Mention in your emails that discounts will be included if you show the email at the cash register on a cell phone.
  • Share your sales, news and promotions on social media sites as well as email and traditional media. Luckily, SnapRetail makes this easy for our subscribers with an option to automatically repurpose an email for social media.
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  • Run Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest-exclusive promotions or contests.
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  • Invest in offering a smartphone app.

2. They have different priorities than older generations

Since Millennials cover a wide span of ages, your customers can range anywhere from an 18-year-old girl looking for dorm accessories to a 27-year-old father looking for a gift for his young son. Every customer is different, but had this to say about the spending priorities of young adult consumers: "Whereas older adults prioritized family-focused expenditures… today's Millennials spend their money on themselves, primarily on technology and travel."
There IS good news when it comes to Millennial shopping habits. According to a study done by Edelman Digital, 40% of Millennials claimed to prefer buying local. Appeal to Millennials' preferences by:
  • Emphasizing the "shop local" movement in your marketing messages. Take note of important events such as Independent Retailer Month (July) and Small Business Saturday (November).
  • Focusing on what products can do for individual customers in your messaging. How will this benefit them and their busy lives?

3. They love "sharable" purchases

When a Millennial loves a product, everyone knows. And if they hate it, the same rule applies. Millennials love to share their product feedback on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and any other medium possible. As much as they love telling others what to buy, they also look to the web to make their own buying decisions. Another Edelman study revealed that 42% of Millennials check four or more sources when they are trying to decide whether to pay for a product or service. This may be due to the way Millennials connect to products and what purchasing these products says about them. According to, "Sharability of the experience and 'association' are twice as important to Millennials as to Boomers. Millennials don't only think about how they should share their thoughts on a product, they think of how associating themselves with the product will make them look. Give them something to talk about by:
  • Claim online listings on sites such as Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook places and encourage customers to check in and review.
  • Encourage customers to add photos of themselves using purchases or tweet at your store to let you know how much they love their purchase or experience.
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Marketing to Millennials is crucial since they are largest age group of consumers in the world. In addition to the size of this market, they are highly educated and racially diverse. The qualities of this age group in conjunction with their increasing buying power makes them worth the adjustments in your marketing.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Amazon vs. Brick and Mortar

Builder and Fixer David Otani
 “Who is your competition?” This is a question I ask my retail customers and typically they respond with a few different company names, but rarely do they respond with Amazon.  Amazon’s ability to provide great pricing, critical product information including customer reviews, and deliver within a short period of time is the new standard for customer service. Retailers who cannot provide the same level of excellent service along with a great tactile experience which Amazon cannot do, will not succeed in retailing in the future.

Retailers, in general, are late to the technology party.  They are imbedded with legacy systems that were costly to deploy and now painful to write off.  That said, if retailers want to compete and stay relevant, they will have to improve their systems to provide the consumer with more information and keep track of their consumer’s activities across multiple channels.

The cost to garner a sale in brick and mortar is exponentially more expensive than on the web. However, a brick and mortar provides a tangible experience with immediate gratification that the web cannot. A brick and mortar shopping experience can include customer interaction, the ability to touch and feel a product and, of course, the option to leisurely browse the aisles of whatever products or displays that catch their eye.  Additionally, brick and mortar provides a branded experience that no third party re-seller can ever provide.

There will always be a place for brick and mortar in the retail world. This doesn’t mean the consumer will view brick and mortar with a different set of lenses. If anything, the consumer will expect more from brick and mortar because of the face to face customer experience. Therefore, brick and mortar should be determining the customer service standard, not Amazon.

 David Otani has been a retailer for over 25 years, opened over 300 stores and has held executive level positions as a general manager, planner, merchant, and real estate / construction director. David’s passion for retailing has allowed him to be part of many success stories, both new ventures as well as turnarounds.
Additionally, David lectures at FIT semi-annually, runs a Judo school, and is currently ranked number one in the U.S. in Judo in the masters division.

Monday, October 20, 2014

5 Ways to Boost In-Store Sales

Click to enlarge

A challenge every retailer faces is how to increase sales in their store. While you may have considered improving the checkout experience, or offering gift cards, the question remains whether these efforts are worth it to your bottom line.
Our latest infographic looks at five different changes and updates retailers can make in their existing business to increase sales and boost profits. In addition to offering ideas, real world examples of the effectiveness of these suggestions towards increasing sales are included.

Infographic Content

5 Ways to Boost In-Store Sales

As a small business owner, consider these five ways to increase in-store sales.

1. Invest In Sales Training 

What - Hire the right people and develop the right skills
Why - Having a trained sales staff is one of the main reasons people choose an in-store purchase over an online one. Recent research suggests that around forty percent of customers are open to persuasion and may need help making a product decision.

4 Steps in the Art of Selling
Open / Ask for Needs / Demonstrate / Close
Eighty-six percent of the time sales staff didn't ask to close the deal. Give your sales team skills they need to succeed in today's complex sales environment.

At one self-help apparel company, providing extra sales assistance during select hours increased fitting room use by thirty-seven percent, and increased conversion rates by up to two hundred percent.
A well-prepared, effective sales rep can result in almost four times more revenue for your business than a poor one.

2. Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs

What - Structured marketing efforts that reward, and therefore encourage, loyal buying behavior.

  • People will tend to buy full priced items with gift cards increasing your profit margins.
  • Customers who purchase goods with gift cards are much less likely to return or exchange an item saving on transaction costs.
  • Refunds can be issued through gift cards eliminating cash refunds.

Why - Gift cards will attract new customers to your store who will typically purchase more than the gift card amount and make a return visit.

Over $100 billion is spent on gift cards annually with a staggering ninety-three percent of U.S. consumers purchasing or receiving a gift card annually.
At fifty-eight percent, over half of consumers still purchase gift cards at in-house retailers and mall kiosks - compared to forty-two percent of consumers who purchase gift cards online.
Seventy-two percent of customers will spend about twenty percent more at your store than the value of their gift card.
Twenty percent of customers never use the full value of the card - the remaining balance is revenue for your business.

3. Mobile Point of Sales Systems

What - Save as much as $10,000 on start up costs using a POS system compared to a traditional cash register, and increase you and your staffs' efficiency and effectiveness.
Why - Around twenty-six point two percent of businesses are considering switching to a mobile POS system.

Why Mobile POS?

  • Get real-time inventory information
  • Get customer stats on demand
  • Automatically email receipts
  • Streamline your sales processes
  • Some POS systems integrate with your accounting software
  • Enhance the customer experience, deliver unique offers to individual customers
  • Less expensive than traditional POS systems and cash registers

Nordstrom rolled out point-of-sale devices allowing customers to check out from anywhere in the store.
This efficiency reduced the potential amount of customers have to think about their purchases before they reach the register.
Total retail sales increased from $1.5 billion to $1.73 billion for the same period - a 15.3 percent increase!
The average number of items sold and the average selling price both increased after implementing the mobile point-of-sale devices

4. Online/Social

What - Offering a consistent and streamlined shopping/browsing/marketing experience both online and over social media can increase your in-store sales.
Why -

  • 88 percent of consumers are researching items online and then buying them in a physical store.
  • 78 percent of small businesses attract new customers through social media.
  • More than 50 percent of in-store retail sales in the US will be influenced by the web by the year 2017.

Retail Stores / Online Stores / Local Search Ads / Mobile Stores / Mobile App Stores / Social Media

Customers that arrive at a store after visiting the store's website on average spend thirty-seven percent more in-store than those that have not yet visited.
By spending as little as 6 hours per week, more than sixty-six percent of marketers see lead generation benefits though social media.

5. Location Based Mobile Marketing

What - Beacons are easy to use, affordable devices that SMBs can use in-store. They enable wireless communication with customer smart devices, which allows the SMB to communicate with them in proximity to or in-store.
Why - Beacons allow SMBs to broadcast offers to nearby consumers deliver relevant, targeted messages, and collect and track data to help improve marketing outreach effectiveness in the future.

Hillshire farms promoted their American Craft Link Sausages and saw:
  • A thirty-six percent increase in brand awareness and lift in overall sales.
  • A five hundred percent increase over the CPG average for mobile ad engagement.


To view the original article visit:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Why Retailers Will Love the Apple Pay Era

Why Retailers Will Love the Apple Pay Era
Photograph by Monica Davey/Corbis

Retailers should be particularly excited for Monday’s debut of Apple Pay, which promises to be an excellent tool for separating shoppers and their money.
Apple’s (AAPL) mobile payment service will let iPhone users buy things by simply pulling out their device. Researchers have long found that shoppers spend more the further they get from handling actual currency and tend to better remember cash transactions. These tendencies help explain why credit card balances tend to bloat and why casinos use chips in place of money. It’s also why companies such as Starbucks (SBUX) encourage customers to load money onto apps or prepaid cards.
Behavioral economists have a term for this dynamic: decoupling. The card or app or casino chip mentally separates the consumer from his bank account. The payment is both delayed and bundled with other charges so it doesn’t seem so painful. Citibank tested the research in 2009 and found a mobile “tap to pay” pilot program significantly boosted both the number and size of consumer transactions.
Buying things without cash is simply more fun. Richard Thaler, a behavioral economist at the University of Chicago, proved such transactions are more pleasurable experiences (PDF). Anyone who has ever walked away from an Uber ride knows this feeling well. With credit card data embedded in the app’s settings, someone using the service never actually pays or even tips—at least not in any physical way.
The question with Apple’s new payment service is whether it’s an additional degree of distance from credit cards or merely taking the well-established place of plastic in the psychology of shopping. Apple Pay doesn’t require any swiping or tapping, which seems to suggest a new level of abstraction. With a fingerprint on the iPhone button and a little wave at the cash register, the deal is done. “Now paying in stores happens in one natural motion,” Apple says in its pitch. “You don’t even have to look at the screen.”
Some 220,000 stores are already set up to accept the payments, including Bloomingdale’s, Foot Locker, Macy’s, McDonald’s, and PetSmart. The list also includes RadioShack, a retailer desperately in need of a revenue boost. The other brick-and-mortar companies in that troubled camp—J.C. Penney (JCP), Sears (SHLD)—would do well to get onboard.
To view the original article visit: Bloomberg Business Week

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Transformation Tuesday eReceipts and Mobile POS

Remember how receipts used to look like back in the day when you had to physically write everything down?

Today, paperless receipts are now common in American Retail. It is beneficial for both the consumer and the retailer because it is cost effective, more secure, and it offers the opportunity to extend the customer relationship and attach an email address to sales transactions.

We went from cash registers like this….

To registers like this…
To our current Mobile POS systems that look like this! With Mobile POS you can move through lines faster to increase sales, check inventory and pricing, and increase customer service. Thank goodness for innovative solutions!

For more information on mobile POS options available on the market, contact us by phone 800.266.1328 or request a free consultation.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Optimism Shines as National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase 4.1%


Washington, October 7, 2014 – After a turbulent start to 2014, the National Retail Federation announced today it expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to increase a healthy 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, higher than 2013’s actual 3.1 percent increase during that same time frame.

Holiday sales on average have grown 2.9 percent over the past 10 years, including 2014’s estimates, and are expected to represent approximately 19.2 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales of $3.2 trillion. This would mark the first time since 2011 that holiday sales would increase more than 4 percent.

“Retailers could see a welcome boost in holiday shopping, giving some companies the shot in the arm they need after a volatile first half of the year and an uneventful summer,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “While expectations for sales growth are upbeat, it goes without saying there still remains some uneasiness and anxiety among consumers when it comes to their purchase decisions. The lagging economic recovery, though improving, is still top of mind for many Americans.

“Recognizing the need to keep household budgets in line, we expect shoppers will be extremely price sensitive as they have been for quite some time. Retailers will respond by differentiating themselves and touting price, value and exclusivity,” continued Shay.

While consumer confidence has been unstable much of the year, improvements over the past few months in key economic indicators will give way to increased spending power among holiday shoppers. Retail sales, jobs and housing data all point to healthy gains.  

“Though we have only seen consumer income and spending moderately – and erratically – accelerate this year, we believe there is still room for optimism this holiday season,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “In the grand scheme of things, consumers are in a much better place than they were this time last year, and the extra spending power could very well translate into solid holiday sales growth for retailers; however, shoppers will still be deliberate with their purchases, while hunting for hard-to-pass-up bargains.”

NRF’s holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using several indicators including, consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. It now includes the non-store category (direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales.) For historic sales information visit NRF’s Holiday Headquarters and the Retail Insight Center.
Retailers could see a welcome boost in holiday shopping this year.
" Forecasts Online Sales to Grow Between 8 - 11% This Holiday Season" - Matthew Shay NRF President and CEO today released its 2014 online holiday sales forecast, expecting sales in November and December to grow between 8 – 11 percent over last holiday season to as much as $105 billion.** forecasts sales based on government data including, consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. Holiday non-store sales in 2013 grew 8.6 percent.
Holiday 2014 Sales Infographic

Holiday 2014 Hiring Infographic

NRF Forecasts Seasonal Employment to Grow Between 725,000 – 800,000
According to NRF, retailers are expected to hire between 725,000 and 800,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, potentially more than they actually hired during the 2013 holiday season (768,000). Seasonal employment in 2013 increased 14 percent over the previous holiday season.
“These holiday positions offer hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to turn their seasonal position into a long-term career opportunity in retail,” said Shay.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

3 Ways to Attract Repeat Customers

Written by: Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

There’s a misconception in retail that you need to gain new customers all the time when in reality, repeat customers are what any business should aim for. Of course, gaining new customers along the way should remain on any business owner’s to-do-list – but if you treat all customers in way that makes them want to return, merchants are more likely to gain long-term success.
Below are three strategies to help retailers and other small business owners alike in combating “one and only” sales and instead gaining repeat, loyal customers.

Employee Engagement 
Many businesses overlook the value of their employees and the impact they have on their customers. Particularly in retail, restaurant and service oriented businesses, employee and customer engagement is a key piece to the customer loyalty puzzle. The reason for this is actually very simple. People like to go to places that they enjoy, and they like to go places even more when they respect and enjoy the people who work there. This includes the employees – not just the owner or manager – whom they engage with.

Making employees a priority through customer service trainings, expectations and overall store standards can help create a destination that customers will enjoy not only for the product or services offered, but for the employees, as well. Setting standards within your own hiring and training habits can strengthen this, while delivering quarterly, bi-annual or at the very least, annual reviews can help, also.

Customer Value 
The Barking Cat storefront in Salem, MA is well known for it’s outstanding customer service and in return, repeat customers.
Christopher Barnard, President and Co-Founder of Points – a company dedicated to making loyalty programs more valuable and engaging – believes that offering rewards, miles or “points” is key in attracting repeat business.

“Today’s shoppers are looking for more than just products to buy: they’re also looking for points, miles and rewards to accompany their purchases. At Points, we recently surveyed over 1,500 loyalty program members from across North America to learn more about the ways that consumers want to earn with their favorite loyalty programs. The results revealed that the majority of shoppers have redemption goals in their programs (81%), and they are willing to work toward them. 66% percent of consumers agree that earning even small amounts of points or miles in a loyalty program is important to them,” explains Barnard.
Product Knowledge
Let’s face it – if you’re a small business owner competing with the big dogs like Walmart, Target TGT -0.97% or any other nationally recognized business, you have a few disadvantages at your side. This said, you also have countless advantages to your side… such as knowing your product or services offered better than anyone in your marketplace. By positioning your brand, store or business as a leader in product knowledge, customers will return to your business for stronger support, trusted expertise and valued insight over your competitors. Plus, this also puts you in a position to gain media attention by becoming your local market’s go-to-resource whenever it comes to needing insight on what you sell.

With this in mind, sharing your expertise is also a great way to lure consumers of other businesses to yours – particularly when combined with stellar employees and reward based incentives. In fact, the Points study mentioned earlier also revealed that 69% of consumers said they would break their own habits and buy a different brand or from a different company to earn more points or miles.  As Barnard explains, “this information can really help pave the way for retailers and merchants that are interested in developing a loyalty program to woo shoppers.”

To view the original article visit: Forbes