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Brighton, United Kingdom, is world famous for its pier, creative community, amusement arcade, and the seaside towns thriving independent business community.  

More than 30 of Brighton’s independent retailers are using Vend ePOS to run their retail businesses. The independent retail hotspot has an eclectic range of retailers, from rubber duck speciality stores to stunning homeware, gift and fashion retailers, like Lavender Room.

We talked to Jennifer Atherton, owner of Lavender Room, about how she uses Vend to make informed decisions from real data and reporting, and how it helps Brighton retailers like Lavender Room get to know their customers and keep them coming back.

And the exciting news is the Vend team are coming to visit Brighton 20-24 May!
Brighton retailers can get in touch to set up a time for the team to visit your store or to chat about how Vend can help your business. Contact us on +44 78 5224 4059 or go to vendhq.com/uk for to find out more about Vend.  

How long have you been trading and what was one of your early challenges running an independent retail store?

We’ve been trading now for 16 years.  My business partner and I used to work in London for big High Street retailers before coming here to set up our business.

We used to use another ePOS company, but they were quite old fashioned and archaic so we finally made the switch to Vend about five years ago.

Vend is a lot easier to use than our previous system that needed updating all the time. It’s saved us time because it’s more user-friendly.

What’s it like being part of Brighton’s independent business community and being located in North Laine?

We’re lucky in Brighton because unlike lots of other towns we have a big independent business community. Where we are in the North Laine area is pretty much all independent businesses, around 300 indies in a small area. The Brighton community really loves that and wants to look after the independent businesses.

We have the High Street here as well with the big shopping centre, but the North Laine area is very independent and eclectic. I think that’s what gives Brighton retail so much character. There’s all sorts of shops rubbing shoulders with each other, that’s quite hard to find in other places.  

As an independent retailer, how do you keep up with micro trends?

What we do is buy little and often. If there’s a new trend we can buy limited stock and see how it sells, so we can follow trends without having to make a large commitment.

That’s how we like to buy, we don’t place huge orders in one go, we tend to keep placing orders all the time and look for suppliers that allow us to work with very short lead times so that we can do that.   

What’s it like using Vend in store?

Vend is a very clean, easy-to-use system. It doesn’t even require a lot of training for staff because you just open it up and can see what to do.

I would recommend Vend because it does what it says and it’s a clean, simple, easy to use system, which is what retailers really want, and it minimises all our admin time.

How does Vend make an impact on your bottom line?

It’s been great for us because we’re very reactive in the way we buy, so we can chase the sales and follow what customers want.

We tend to use it for very specific product decisions, like reporting on weekly sales or seeing what our best sellers are, at a very product focused level.

What Vend allows us to do is have close behind the scenes reporting. For us, it’s all about the reporting so we can access our best sellers, we can see what suppliers are doing well and what profits we’re making, so for us that’s been really really good. The till features are also lovely.

Brightoners keep an eye out for the Vend team 20 – 24 May! Get in touch to set up a time for the team to visit your store or to chat about how Vend can help your business. Contact us on +44 78 5224 4059 or go to vendhq.com/uk.

Vend’s cloud-based ePOS software streamlines retail business, making it easy to make sales, monitor stock levels, sync with your online store and access real-time business insights from anywhere. More than 25,000 stores in 140 countries use Vend, including more than 30 independent retailers in Brighton.

The post How the Lavender Room Stays Competitive with Vend ePOS appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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This is a guest post by Sophie Macdonald 

A study by Temkin Group found that 77% of customers would recommend a store to a friend after having had a good shopping experience there. That’s huge! Think of how many of your customers will tell their friends and family (and how far that word could spread) after having had a wonderful experience in your store.

Whether your brand’s style is colourful and energetic, or minimalist chic, make sure you’re delivering a shopping experience that will bring your customers back time and time again.

Not sure how to do that? In this blog, we shed light on 5 areas brick-and-mortar retailers should focus on in order to create in-store experiences that stand out. To help illustrate our points, we’re putting the spotlight on a handful of retailers that are doing amazing things in-store and online.

Before we dive into the strategies and tactics you can try, let’s first take a quick look at each of the retailers you’ll be meeting in this post:

  • Wellington Apothecary: When it comes to holistic healing, relaxing massages and gorgeous natural skin and beauty products that don’t cost the earth, Wellington Apothecary are a local hub. The energy as soon as you enter the store is calm, clean and homely with warm natural lighting and the captivating smell of herbs welcoming every visitor.
  • Caughley: Known in Wellington for being the one-stop shop for effortless fashion that doesn’t sacrifice comfort or burn a hole in customers’ wallets, Caughley haven’t just nailed their brick-and-mortar store, their online store is the perfect compliment to their products and brand.
  • Iko Iko: This vibrantly coloured, stand-out store is a household name in Wellington when it comes to gift hunting. With everything from artsy gift cards and novelty mugs, to sunglasses, beautiful bags and children’s books, Iko Iko is known for having something for everyone.
  • Madame Fancy Pants: Cuba St, Wellington is the place to be if you’re a small retailer with a little something special to offer, and Madame Fancy Pants is a true example of this. With beautifully selected garments, glamorous in-store decoration and captivating displays, MFP has mastered capturing the attention of browsing shoppers and intentional shoppers alike.

Also mentioned in this blog is Mecca Maxima. This multinational makeup retailer originally started in Melbourne, Australia as a small makeup store, stocking only seven emerging cosmetics brands. In the last twenty years, Mecca has grown from that little-known store in South Yarra to a leading retailer in several countries for small and popular make-up brands, even branching out and creating their own coveted cosmetic brand. Their branding and loyalty program, called ‘The Beauty Loop’, stands out in a saturated market of cosmetic companies’ emails. 

Now that we’ve covered a little about each retailer, let’s get started with the point of this blog: 5 key areas of focus for customer retention that will help to engage customers and foster loyalty.

1: Clear brand throughout your store

There’s no mistaking Iko Iko. Even from the street, every Wellington resident knows where this iconic store is located. Vibrance is core to the store’s brand and it’s a vital player of their customer acquisition and retention strategies – unforgettably noticeable. Simply walk past and you can’t help but want to explore Iko Iko’s colorful collection of products, and that doesn’t stop at the store’s exterior.

Iko Iko doesn’t stock their own brand of items. Instead, they curate a rainbow variety of products that meets a huge range of customers’ needs and desires. From gifts to personal purchases, Iko Iko appeals to a remarkably wide range of shoppers; because of this, it’s important that a huge part of their brand is related to the shopping experience and those vibrant colors.

Take a look at the images from within the store. There’s an abundance of colour and decoration but that never distracts from the beautifully vibrant stock itself. With clever use of wall space, display units, and organisation, the store doesn’t feel at all cluttered.

Their careful space organisation is more and more obvious as you get into the store; they have a wall dedicated to greeting cards, a book display unit, jewellery in another unit, bags at one end of the store and even a section for novelty crockery and kitchen-ware, yet somehow the store is fun, exciting and even in a busy shopping rush, it’s a welcoming space to come to.  

Iko Iko stands out from the crowd and it really works for them! While there’s a lot to draw your eye in Iko Iko, it’s engaging and feels like you could spend hours exploring. This is exactly what you notice of their customer’s shopping behaviour – people come to Iko Iko to peruse and enjoy the vibe. Even if your store is understated and minimalist, you want your customers to enjoy their experience – and carrying your brand and theme throughout your store in an appealing way helps shoppers to associate that positive experience with your store.

Just a few doors down on the same street, Wellington Apothecary is an entirely different example of nailing brand consistency in-store. As has already been mentioned, the ambience of the store is apparent as soon as you enter. Having a minimalist design really draws customers’ eyes to the details of each product, and that’s exactly the point with Wellington Apothecary.

Each product in the store is easily reachable, and that’s vital when it comes to products that customers are using on themselves. They want to be able to sample, smell and get a feel for products because they want to find the product that best suits their needs and when that comes to skincare, it can be a difficult process of elimination. The store itself is open, with beautiful lighting, a large display table in the centre and then shelving and smaller display units around the walls.

With display labels in front of each section of products giving details on pricing and bottle sizes, customers can make selections while trying out the testers supplied and making use of the in-depth knowledge of holistic remedies that Wellington Apothecary offers.

Their branding is consistent but subtle – their labels each have the same logo, font and stylings, and really help to nurture that feeling of wellness that the store emobodies. The whole store’s vibe really supports the brand, tying the shopping experience with a feeling of homeliness and peacfulness.

Giving customers the feeling that they can spend hours peacefully in your store is an art, and while every store is different, every retailer wants their customers to keep coming back. Wellington Apothecary’s brand is synonymous with calm and contentment and this invites their customers to come back again, time after time.

If you haven’t already, find what aspects of your brand you can filter into your store to give your customers an experience they won’t forget because they’re already subconsciously associating it with your store.

2: Product placement

We’ve known this one for a while, but sometimes it’s easy to forget – placing your products throughout your store is an art.

That old adage ‘eye-level is buy-level’ is key here and just think about it! Companies have been paying the big bucks for years to get prime placement in larger stores like supermarkets, aiming to have their products at browsers’ eye-level.

Making this work within a smaller brick-and-mortar store is, in many ways, easier. There’s no meeting the demands of companies that want to pay money for their products to be front-and-center, which gives retailers the opportunity to organize their stores how best suits the spaces. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Wellington Apothecary’s gorgeously cohesive product packaging and branding are eye-catching and classy. Up-close you get a full understanding of each product thanks to careful labeling and product organisation. Note that everything is within reaching-distance, and while it’s hard to tell from the photo, popular products are placed at eye-level or at the level where the eye is drawn to within the store (the top of the display table in the centre). Every product is placed purposefully with the branded label facing outwards so that customers know exactly what they are looking at. And as explained previously, this is exactly the kind of shop that you want to be in for a long time.

Just down the road from Wellington Apothecary is Caughley. As mentioned earlier, the interior design of Caughley makes for a beautiful shopping experience, and this is hugely supported in the way that they display their quality stock.

From the above image, you can see there is a lot of space to move around the store which streams natural light from large front windows. The clothes that line the walls are color-coordinated, drawing the customer’s eyes to a visually appealing lineup that makes it easy for customers to find their preferred patterns and colors. With shoes and bags to compliment the clothes on a shelf above, customers can’t help but imagine their options as an ensemble.

Everything in Caughley appears to be complementary to the store’s aesthetic – the clever choice of white-washed brick and concrete floors with natural wood displays helps the store to appear chic, clean and spacious with each new season of stock.

And there’s plenty of space between stock too. Notice from the centre display that clothing is perfectly folded and in small piles so that even when shopping gets a little haphazard, it’s a simple task to order the store and maintain customer’s experience of uncluttered, aesthetic decision-making. The same goes for the clothing racks – these are beautifully organised and have an ease of navigability that means that customers feel comfortable sorting through the rack without wrenching at hangers or dropping items.

It’s wouldn’t be a well-rounded analysis of product placement without referring back to organisational masters, Iko Iko. Their flamboyant store is bursting with stock that is so artfully arranged, the use of space in a small store is genius.

Popping with colorful posters and patterns, customers are inclined to peruse and it’s made so easy with everything lining the walls or carefully displayed on stands near the counter. Staff are always on hand to give customers advice and offer help, but you’ll notice that everything is within the natural range of eye-motion.

3: A consistent online to in-store experience

Seamlessness is key, particularly when it comes to customer’s experience of your store and it’s supporting website. Just like your brick-and-mortar store, you want your customers to know exactly where they are and what you’re selling.

Remember the description above of walking into Wellington Apothecary? It’s like being embraced with a cacophony of subtle scents and minimalist design that makes you want to simply browse and spend time there. Their online store doesn’t fall short in delivering a complimentary browsing experience.

Site visitors immediately know they’re in the right place with the Wellington Apothecary logo in the top-left corner of the page and a beautifully branded jar of Frankincense skin balm as the heading image. The clean site design and navigation bar helps customers to find exactly what they’re looking for, or to just explore the site.

As customer’s scroll through the different product categories, they’re treated to beautiful photography that shows off the stock as well as the Wellington Apothecary’s clean branding. With descriptions that tell you exactly what to expect of each product and its ingredients, it’s like customers are in-store talking to the apothecary’s knowledgeable naturopaths.

Another store that’s nailing that online-to-in-store flow is Caughley. Classy and cool, the Caughley website design nails their brand’s feel of street-style chic. Their crisp website design powerfully represents their stylish brick-and-mortar store, with the additional flow of subtle animations (such as a floating logo as customers scroll through the site) that adds to the feel of effortless cool that is also obvious in-store.

The distinctive branding, clear product categories, and easy navigation all make the customer’s online browsing experience simple and enjoyable, and from any page shoppers can scroll to the bottom and find the store’s contact details. Caughley’s staff are well-known for going above and beyond with their customer service and adding clear contact information to their website gives Caughley’s customers confidence that they will have a perfect online shopping experience too.

4: Loyalty programs that incentivize further purchases

In a 2016 study by Virtual Incentives, 56% of shoppers said that they felt receiving a reward that was personalized to them would make that store or brand appeal to them more. When it comes to brick-and-mortar stores, the question of how to pull off a loyalty program can sometimes best be answered by considering what’s working for others. There’s the old ‘coffee card’ system which works great for stores with certain products or services that are bought regularly, but what about when it comes to stores that have stock a wide variety of items?

Makeup mega-store, Mecca Maxima is well known for their successful ‘Beauty Loop’ loyalty program. With three different tiers that become accessible to customers at different 12-monthly spend rates, loyal customers can easily climb the tiers and receive generous rewards.

Though the one thing that really sets them apart is that their loyalty program isn’t restricted to one location – it works online and in any Mecca store. Customers simply sign up with their email (while in-store or online) and eventually add all their key personal details, and then every time they make a purchase in-store they’re simply asked if they’re part of the Beauty Loop; when shoppers make an online purchase, they just need to make sure they’re logged in to their Beauty Loop profile while doing so and the points are automatically attributed to that profile.

Mecca’s online system tells customers which tier they are a member of, and how much more they need to spend by x date to get into the next tier, and how much they have already spent in the last 12 months. Keeping their customers up to date like this not only lets those customers know when to expect a reward, but also incentivizes them to make more purchases so that they enter into the next tier and receive even better rewards.

The Beauty Loop loyalty program is easy to navigate, informative, and a powerful loyalty marketing tool in that it’s so accessible to customers. But not every store can afford to do large-scale giveaways like this.

Small-scale Wellington retailer, Madame Fancy Pants also utilizes a loyalty program that works both in-store and online, and it’s a program caters perfectly to their smaller customer database. Customers can work up to rewards like free shipping from online purchases and $50 off in-store and online purchase when they’ve earned 500 points. Simply by signing up customers instantly earn 30 points and start paving their way to tangible rewards. Check out their loyalty widget below.

By giving their customers the 30 point head-start, Madame Fancy Pants are already giving their customers even more incentive to join the program and keep shopping. Giving customers a little extra credit towards their loyalty program for simple acts such as sign-ups and social media shares also makes them feel appreciated and like being a part of the program is easy, helping to increase their purchase rate and frequency – it’s a win, win!

Marketing apps like Marsello, give retailers additional power to maximise on marketing like loyalty programs, without going to the trouble of creating them from stress. It’s always worth considering if something like a loyalty program would appeal to your customers and get them shopping with you more, which in turn is helping to drive ROI.

5: Customer Service is King

In each and every one of the stores that have been mentioned in this blog, they all nail their customer service. While it’s a different experience in each store, they all welcome their customers and offer a helping hand right off the batt. There’s no sense of pressure to purchase or judgment, every one of these stores has mastered making their customers feel comfortable, informed and confident about their purchases. It can be as simple as the Mecca Maxima employee affirming a purchase by saying something like, ‘I have this lipstick in this shade too, and I love it! It’ll look beautiful on you.’ Or when the Wellington Apothecary staff give you detailed advice on what skincare balm to use for your skin type and explain in detail why the ingredients in each product work the way they do.

But customer service is so much more than offering support, advice and information for your customers. It’s the entire experience that they have in your store, so perhaps you could consider customer service a limb of your brand. From browsing..

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It’s impossible to walk into Great Yellow Brick and not smile − this LEGO® Certified Store in South Africa is all about making people happy. Unlike traditional toy stores where all the toys stay in boxes on the shelves, LEGO come to life at Great Yellow Brick.  Shopping here is especially unique, with an augmented reality (AR) and unique play experiences. We talked to two of the founders, Hayley and Rob Greenstein, about how they run extraordinary retail.

Tell us about Great Yellow Brick and how your store started? What makes your store special?

Great Yellow Brick started four and a half years ago as a partnership between Hayley, myself [Rob], and another partner, Gregg. We’re a LEGO Certified Store. It’s been such a fun project, it’s a really fun brand and everyone loves it. Everyone walks into the store and tells us they are big LEGO fans.

We’ve got a strong history in retail and we’re very passionate about what we do. We have two young boys who are very much into LEGO and we both played with LEGO a lot as children, we have a lot of love for the brand. It’s great seeing it through our children’s eyes now, seeing them experience and play with different sets and what’s available today. In our store we have a lot of models and play tables where you can come and see, touch, and play with LEGO. We are literally encouraging people to come into store and play with LEGO. It’s very different to the rest of the market which just has boxes on shelves. That’s the whole intent around the world of LEGO stores, for people to come and play and really interact with LEGO.

Great Yellow Brick created a unique retail experience with Vend - YouTube

What’s the customer experience like at Great Yellow Brick? Tell us about how you use AR (Augmented Reality) in your store.

At Great Yellow Brick you get the full LEGO experience with a full product assortment and exclusive items. You get a unique play experience where kids can interact with different items − they can build many figures, pick individual bricks, play with the latest components. We bring LEGO to life in our store.

We’ve got beautiful play areas in our store where people can engage with the product including unique experiential touch points, like the Build a Mini-figure Station. At the mini-figure stations you can pick different heads, bodies and accessories, and take them home with you, which is very special.

Another brilliant experiential part of the store is the Digi-Box which is an Augmented Reality (AR) experience. We’ve never seen a piece of technology like this in any other store – not in South Africa or oversea. It’s huge screen that you can walk up to with a box of LEGO, hold the box up to the camera, and it will animate what’s inside the box in front of you. The immediate response is a smile – everyone’s like “Wow! Am I really watching that happen?” – it literally animates the LEGO in 3D in front of you.

It’s a really nice way to engage with customers and kids, sometimes the kids need help holding the box or slightly at the wrong height, so we do things like the Digi-Box dance! They think you’re crazy but once they’ve done the dance it starts working. It’s a great point of interacting and engaging with customers in a really fun way, it’s quite a fun element in the store.

How’s it going using Vend? Tell us a bit about how your staff and how they’re using it in store.

Vend is a terrific point of sale – we really enjoy the software. Vend allows us to use roaming iPads, we bought really nice iPad holders with a sling. The staff also have a mobile payments terminal because of Vend’s integration with our payment provider [Yoco].  

We’re very big on structuring staff positioning in the store. There should always be someone on a greeting position. The staff really make coming into the store a great experience, they’re fundamental. It’s all about the staff creating engagement, we are very big on motivating the staff to engage with customers in the store.

We’ve recruited staff that can really play, engage, and interact with kids and adults. We’ve got drama students, musicians, teachers, those are kinds of people we’ve looked to recruit, which is very different to your typical store. When the store is quiet, the staff are expected to curate the play areas and play in them. What ends up happening is within a few minutes a kid will walk up to them and sit down and play, and they’re building ships, buildings, barnyards. The staff have a lot of fun doing this!

What’s the retail landscape like in South Africa?

There are a lot of of shopping malls in South Africa. You don’t have to drive more than five or ten minutes to find another regional shopping centre. We’ve got a lot of multinational big retailers in those shopping centres. While your spoiled for choice, these malls start to look the same and it can become boring.

With the recession in South Africa, I [Rob] think people are more nervous about spending. Shoppers are becoming more and more wise to where and how they should spend their money. We use our unique selling points and customer experience to draw people in to our store.

How can independent retailers differentiate themselves from chain store retailers?

I [Rob] think what independent retailers can do differently is treat their customers more like people and not just feet through the door. It’s really nice when you walk into a store and the staff member asks how you’re doing, remembers what you bought last week. People want to have a personal relationship with retailers, that’s what we’re creating, relationships with customers.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in retail?

The biggest lesson we’ve learnt is having really strong stock control and inventory management. The logistics around stock control and management – ordering, receiving, holding, counting stock – is really important and something we’re actively looking at while considering new store locations. We’ve got two storerooms already and just took on a third because of the volume of boxes we need to keep.

How easy was it to get started with Vend? How does it help run your retail business?  

Peter and the team at Iridium helped get us setup and trained us. It was a very quick, painless and simple process. It only took about 45 minutes to train the staff on Vend.

Getting setup on Vend also had a low-cost barrier to entry. It’s not expensive to get started on Vend. All you need to get started is an iPad, you don’t need big servers. The local integration with Yoco [payment providers] was also fantastic. It makes the daily cash up and daily reconfiguration very simple.

The fact that Vend works on a desktop browser and iPad is fantastic. It’s given us the ability to be mobile which is enormously important. We’re planning on going away after Christmas, at the same time of a big new product launch. We’ll be overseas and we’ll be able to follow exactly what the store is doing, make product updates, all completely remotely.

The post Behind the Counter: Great Yellow Brick appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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While there is certainly a case for making shopping fast and convenient, let’s not forget that there’s also a significant chunk of consumers who are craving for rich experiences and want shopping to be a leisure activity.

Not everyone wants to get in and out of a store in as little time possible. Many shoppers are willing to take their time, provided that you offer a lot of value in-store.

For this reason, retailers need to cook up creative ways to get people to not just walk into their shops, but actually stay there. After all, the longer consumers are in your location, the better the chances that they’ll make a purchase. According to The Wall Street Journal, retailers such as Origins, which has invested in getting shoppers to linger in-store, have seen sales increase 20% to 40%.

So how can you encourage customers to stay longer in-store and potentially increase sales? Below are ideas and tips you could implement.

1. Make room for interesting experiences

Rather than devoting all the space in your shop for selling products, consider allocating certain areas for experiences. Perhaps you can dedicate a particular part of your store for sampling products. Some Origins stores, for example, have large sinks where shoppers can try out soaps, lotions, and scrubs.

Not a fan of samples? Create an area where customers can hang out or have fun. Take for instance, Forever 21. Some of its stores have photo booths where people can snap pictures between shopping.

Meanwhile, certain Disney stores have entertainment corners in their locations, where parents and kids can sit around and enjoy Disney movies and shows.

Try to adopt these retailers’ strategies in your business. Have a think about any experiences that your customers would want to have in your store. What would make them want to hang out or stay longer? Find the answer to that and make it happen.

2. Make your store Instagrammable

The rise of photogenic pop-up spaces like the Museum of Ice Cream shows that today’s consumers would travel — and stick around — in places that offer photo opportunities.

Modern shoppers love sharing their experiences on social media and forward-thinking retailers are capitalizing on this by setting up Instagram walls in their stores.

Consider Morning Lavender, a retail store and cafe in Orange County, CA. Morning Lavender has a large flower wall in its location that customers love posing in front of.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Morning Lavender OC (@morninglavenderoc) on Feb 15, 2019 at 9:25am PST

See if you can do something similar in your space. Create spaces in which shoppers can hang out and snap photos. Doing so won’t just get people to stick around, but it can extend your social reach as well.

3. Offer in-store services or classes

Help customers make better use of your products by either assisting or educating them. Consider cosmetics stores such as Mac and Sephora, which provide makeup services on-site. Customers are pleased because they get a nice makeover, while the retailers are able to not only move products but also connect and get to know shoppers better.

Meanwhile, the Nike store at South Coast Plaza in California offers run analysis, bra fitting, pants hemming, and personal shopping.

Another approach would be to hold classes. Sephora, for example, holds free makeup and skin care classes in its stores. The subject matter ranges from beginner topics (e.g., “Makeup 101,” skincare basics, etc.) to more advanced makeup tricks (e.g., contouring, eyelash wings, etc.). What’s great about classes is that in addition to getting people to stick around, they also pave a natural path to purchase.

In Sephora’s case, the associates mention that people can buy the products they used in the class. No one is required to buy, though. Sephora’s team does a good job of not putting any pressure on class attendees.

They do make it a point to follow-up via email. Everyone who signs up a Sephora class gets a message thanking them for attending, and the email includes links to the items they’ve tried, in case the customer is interested in buying them.

4. Serve food and drink

Some retailers are experimenting with food and drink concepts to get shoppers to stick around. According to RetailDive, one example of this comes from Kohl’s, which started adding Kohl’s Cafes at its Menomonee Falls and Delafield, Wis. locations.

Similarly, Urban Outfitters has partnered up with popular chefs so they can open in-store restaurants that are tailored to the local tastes of different markets.

Do note that your food and drink efforts don’t have to be big or fancy. In some cases, simply offering shoppers a bottle of water can do wonders. Feeling festive? Pop a bottle of champagne to serve in-store.

5. Set up in-store charging stations

Looking to get your mobile-centric shoppers to stick around? Try setting up charging stations in your stores. That’s what retailers such as Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus, and Under Armour are doing.

Business Insider reports that these stores are just some of the merchants utilizing mobile charging stations to encourage people to head to their stores and actually stay there. The charging stations come with compartments where people can leave their phones in while going out and about. All shoppers need to do is “enter his or her phone number, choose a security image, select an available locker, insert the phone, and plug it into the relevant charging cord.”

According to ChargeItSpot, the provider of the above-mentioned charging stations, retailers that offer in-store charging spots saw a 54% conversion rate for customers completing a purchase while charging their devices.

So far, it looks like the solution is keeping both retailers and customers happy.

6. Strike a balance between fast and convenient vs. unhurried and experiential

You may have to cater to two types of shoppers: those who are purposeful and want to get in and out quickly, and those who are willing to stick around for worthwhile experiences. The key is to find balance and serve both.

Check out what grocery chain Lowes Foods is doing. According to the WSJ, the retailer “offers self-checkout and express lanes as well as an online order and delivery option for shoppers who are in a hurry. For those who aren’t, 29 of its 94 stores offer options like clipping herbs from an in-store garden, samples at a craft beer bar and a “Chicken Kitchen” that features staff dance performances.”

Target does something similar at numerous locations. While the retailer has express lanes and offers convenient services like in-store pickup, many of its branches have in-store dining and coffee shops where customers can just hang out.

7. Go beyond sales targets when incentivizing associates

While sales targets are extremely important, you may also want to consider metrics such as customer engagement. Consider Origins, which started testing new staff compensation plans that “rewards guides for how well they collect customer information from shoppers and keep in touch with them.”

Doing so incentivizes the staff to not just focus on selling products, but to genuinely connect–and keep in touch–with shoppers.

If it makes sense for your business, see if you can adopt a similar strategy.

Bottom line

Retail success isn’t just about attracting people into your shop — it’s also about getting them to stay and buy.

So, have a think about how you can do just that in your retail store. Should you offer product samples? Incorporate more services? Be more Instagrammable? Whatever the case, put your ideas to work and see what happens!

The post How to Get Customers to Stay Longer in Your Retail Store: 7 Tips and Ideas appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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It’s crucial for retail business owners to get the most value possible from the systems they have in place. Here at Vend, we want to support retailers to bring together the apps they already love to use. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce our newest partnership with BigCommerce!

Vend + BigCommerce – Limited Time Offer

To get things off to a great start, Vend retailers that sign up for a new BigCommerce account before the end of June 2019 will receive the first 3 months of their subscription FREE, by signing up with this offer.

Learn More

BigCommerce is a leading ecommerce platform with hundreds of built-in features, making troublesome hidden fees and too many third party apps a thing of the past. Retailers can widen their reach by selling on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Shopping, and online marketplaces like Amazon. Plus, it’s easy to scale their business with a solution that’s built to grow with them—as new features and apps are being added all the time to stay ahead of the latest ecommerce trends.

Instead of an all-in-one retail offering, BigCommerce is focused on being the best ecommerce platform on the market. In the same way, at Vend we want to craft the best POS for retailers around the globe. When retailers bring BigCommerce and Vend together, they enjoy the best of both worlds and even choose their preferred payment provider—with no extra transaction fees.

Once BigCommerce and Vend are set up, retailers can centrally manage their day-to-day operations and have a seamless sync of sales, customers, products and inventory levels. Whether customers shop in-store, online, on social media, or via marketplaces, retailers will only sell the items they actually have. We’ve removed the complexity when it comes to omnichannel sales, so there’s more time to focus on creating a delightful, connected experience wherever customers buy.

So how do Vend and BigCommerce work together?

  • Centralized day-to-day operations — Sales, customers, products and inventory can be centrally managed in Vend, while physical and online stores update instantly, saving time on painstaking admin and double-entry
  • Flexible inventory across stores — Retailers can choose how stock levels are displayed on BigCommerce: whether orders are fulfilled from one location, or inventory is combined from selected stores and warehouses to sell online
  • A real-time view of performance — Sales trends can be instantly identified to compare how brick-and-mortar stores are performing—while retailers can easily track customer spending, profit margins, inventory on-hand, and more
  • Increased profit margins — Retailers can truly see what’s making them money—by using Vend with BigCommerce they can get deeper insights into what’s selling best and where, for smarter purchasing decisions
  • Engaged and delighted customers — With a central customer database from in-store and online sales, it’s easy for retailers to identify, segment, or reward customers so they continue to make repeat purchases

The Vend and BigCommerce integration is available from today. Until the end of June, retailers that sign up for BigCommerce with Vend can get their first 3 months of BigCommerce FREE when they sign up for an account with this unique offer.

If you’re not using Vend yet, then why not start your free trial today? Alternatively, you can head to vendhq.com/bigcommerce to find out more about Vend and BigCommerce.

The post We’ve partnered with BigCommerce to bring retailers a better way to sell, in-store and online appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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We’re thrilled to unveil Vend’s Remarkable Retailers roundup for 2019! This is a collection of seven stories about forward-thinking retailers in the UK who are doing extraordinary things in the areas of sustainability, experience, technology, and product.

At Vend, we know that the best way to get inspired is to see other thriving merchants and discover exactly what they’re doing in their businesses. Remarkable Retailers 2019 does just that. If you ever wanted to get an inside look into successful retail operations, be sure to check it out.

How Remarkable Retailers came about

A panel of Vend retail experts hand-picked 14 groundbreaking retailers from a list of thousands. We connected with several independent stores and asked them what innovation means to them.

We rounded up the best and most meaningful insights into a compilation of retail stories.

Who are these Remarkable Retailers?

We encourage you to check out the Remarkable Retailers page to meet these amazing merchants. But to give a quick look, here are the retailers that you’ll encounter:

  • Watershed, an independent brand and concept store whose business is rooted in storytelling and thoughtful product curation. Even more interesting is that Watershed crafts custom surfboards, and runs “Surf Shack” — an accommodation experience for surfers.
  • The Edit, a retailer with 4 fashion boutiques in Cheshire. The Edit’s award-winning store design helps them create comfortable and memorable in-store experiences. Their changing rooms, for instance, are extra large so mums can bring in their kids and baby strollers.
  • Soden Style, an interior concept store that runs trend-driven seasonal pop-ups that are open for a limited time.
  • Cositas, a home and gift store that has a shoppable 3-D virtual tour of their store. Cositas also conducts workshops to continuously drive in-store traffic.
  • We Built This City, a hugely popular brick-and-mortar store that showcases London-inspired goods from artists, designers, and makers living and working in the city. WBTC also creates strong retail experiences by letting artists work live in the store, so guests can see them in action. What’s more, WBTC allows artists to customise their storefront and window display to showcase their work.
  • Isle Skye Candle Co, a candle shop that’s driven by sustainable business practices. Founded in 2006, they have had a conscious commitment to the use of natural ingredients and finding new ways to be environmentally friendly.
  • Papersmiths, a design-led stationery and paper goods brand that implements data-driven product assortments.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Head on over to www.vendhq.com/remarkable-retailers to learn more about these stores. You can also grab a free copy of the 2019 Remarkable Retailers PDF so you can access their stories anytime!

The post Remarkable Retailers 2019: Get Inspired by the UK’s Most Extraordinary Stores appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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Last year our local expert partner Iridium represented Vend at the Xero Roadshow in South Africa and we’re delighted to share they’ll be back again for 2019! The Iridium team will be on the ground at the Xero Roadshow 2019 South Africa on the 14th May in Johannesburg and 16th May in Capetown.

The Xero Roadshow 2019 South Africa is a great chance to learn about what’s new in the South African accounting industry. All the industry experts and leaders will be there, including the Iridium team’s brilliant Director and Managing Director, Peter Magner and Simon Magner.

Register for the event at xero.com/za/events/roadshow/.

Event details:

14 May:  Sandton Convention Centre, 161 Maude Street, Sandown, Johannesburg, 2196

16 May: Cape Town International Convention Centre. Convention Square, 1 Lower Long Street, Cape Town, 8001

Vend and Iridium share a passion for helping retailers run their businesses with the perfect software solution, and give them the modern tools they need to grow and be successful in today’s retail climate. Vend’s point of sale software integrates beautifully with Xero’s accounting platform so that retailers can see more, know more and do more by having their retail management and accounting sync in real-time.

When Vend and Xero are integrated, Vend will automatically send daily sales, account sales, payment totals and stock orders from Vend to Xero. The integration allows retailers and their financial advisors to reconcile payment deposits in retailers bank accounts each day, and match payments made to suppliers against stock order invoices and payments from invoiced customers. For more information on how Vend and Xero work together to help retailers run and grow their businesses, go to vendhq.com/uk/xero-pos.

Discover how the right software solutions can help your biz take off!

Small businesses are at the heart of South Africa, with a recent study by The Small Business Institute finding 98.5% of South Africa’s economy is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises (SEMs), which creates 28% of all jobs. But unfortunately 70% of emerging small businesses fail within the first two years of operation.

It’s crucial to have the right software solution in store for retail success. The Iridium team helped set up South Africa’s first certified LEGO store, Great Yellow Brick, who also use Vend integrated with Xero, Shopify and Yoco.

Hayley Greenstein, co-founder and co-owner of Great Yellow Brick, found getting set up with Vend “quick and easy” and a “pain-free process” thanks to Vend’s easy to use software and experienced on-the-ground help from Iridium. When opening the store, Great Yellow Brick knew they needed a point of sale that integrated with other world-class retail apps like Xero, to make sure they had the time and flexibility to create amazing in-store experiences.

Great Yellow Brick created a unique retail experience with Vend - YouTube

If you’re interested in finding out more about how retail businesses like Great Yellow Brick are using integrated cloud technology Vend + Xero to win, then come along to the Xero Roadshow and talk to the Iridium team about Vend’s Advisor Program and the benefits of your retail clients using Vend and Xero. Anyone can be a Vend advisor – including accountants, bookkeepers and consultants.

The Vend Advisor Program is designed for people who want to spread the Vend word, earn commission and provide their contacts and clients with useful software and valuable services.  We have a Partner Dashboard to track leads and commission, offer training to get you certified and provide promotional tools to easily promote your value-added services. Vend or an Expert Partner, like Iridium, will take care of the Vend side of the setup, so you don’t have to lift a finger.

Again, you can register for the event at xero.com/za/events/roadshow/. See you there!

The post We’re on the Road Again: Join Vend + Iridium at Xero Roadshow 2019 in South Africa appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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Every retailer dreams of having happy, loyal customers who buy from their store again and again, and who wouldn’t? Loyal customers are a godsend; they’re much easier to sell to — and if they really love your brand, they’ll proactively spread the word to encourage more people to buy from you.

But how exactly can you get there? If you answered “loyalty or rewards program,” you’d only be partly correct. While having a great rewards system can increase repeat sales and loyalty (and we’ll talk about this later on), it should only be one part of your overall customer loyalty strategy. Real, honest-to-goodness customer loyalty stems from your shoppers having meaningful connections with your brand.

Today we’ll explore how retailers can encourage those connections. Check out the ideas below.

Know exactly who your customer is, and build your brand with that person in mind.

People are loyal to brands they can relate to. That’s why you need to make every effort to ensure your company is highly relatable to your customers. Your messages and marketing materials need to speak their language. Your shelves should be stocked with products they can see themselves wearing or using.

Achieving all that starts with knowing who your target customer is. Find out as much as you can about your audience. What do they value? Where do they live and work? What’s their annual income and education level?

Knowing the answers to these questions will enable you to craft the best messages, stock the right merchandise, and generally be more relevant to your target shopper.

One great example of a retailer that truly knows its audience is Ashley Stewart, an apparel company with a target audience of plus-size women, primarily of color. Ashley Stewart has done a tremendous job at communicating and relating to its specific audience. Every aspect of its business — from the products it sells to the models it uses on the website — is geared towards its specific target market.

Strive to do the same thing in your company. Figure out your ideal customer, get to know that market as much as you can, and make sure that everything you put out there is relatable to your audience.

Be a kind and decent company.

Companies that attract the most loyal shoppers usually have a moral compass and stand for something good. They have specific core values they adhere to, and they endeavor to “walk the talk” by engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Doing this isn’t just good from a moral or ethical standpoint; studies have shown that CSR is good for business. And there are many examples of companies encouraging loyalty through CSR, such as Chipotle’s Food with Integrity campaign and TOMS One for One initiative.

That said, companies wanting to do good don’t necessarily have to implement high-profile CSR campaigns to do so. Being a good and decent company can be as simple as promoting kindness and diversity in the workplace. You can check out Fortune’s list of best retailers to work for to see examples of how other companies are doing this.

But perhaps a better way to illustrate this point is to show you what could happen if you don’t engage in ethical business practices. Have a look at what happened to Uber, the popular ride-sharing service.

In February 2017, stories about sexual harassment within Uber started to spread. Former employees came forward to talk about the systemic sexism they experienced while working at the company. And to make things worse? The following week, a video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with his driver about pricing surfaced on the web.

All these incidents prodded many users to delete their Uber accounts. The hashtag #DeleteUber (which was originally created as a political protest) resurfaced on social media. Uber tried to do damage control, but their efforts did little to bring back lost customers.

Learn from Uber’s mistake, and recognize that obnoxious or unethical behavior can kill customer loyalty faster than you can say “corporate social responsibility.”

Charm people with your unique voice and personality.

Let your company’s unique voice and personality shine. If you act like every other company in your market, customers won’t be able to distinguish your store, let alone develop a connection with your brand.

It’s always a good exercise to figure out what differentiates you from your competitors and to use those distinctive factors to come up with a voice and personality that’s completely “you.”

The Virgin Group’s airline companies (i.e. Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic) are doing an amazing job at this. Virgin isn’t afraid to be cheeky, and it shows its personality in marketing materials, the design of its planes, and even its safety video. 

Virgin America Safety Video #VXsafetydance - YouTube

Sure, all that cheekiness might turn some people off. But Virgin’s customer loyalty strategy successfully attracts and retains its core customers — and that’s what really matters.

Keep up with your customers by going omnichannel.

Know what else encourages loyalty? Excellent retail experiences. When you give people convenient or enjoyable shopping experiences, they’re more likely to return to your store and recommend your brand to their network.

Of course, creating great retail journeys starts with understanding how consumers shop. And these days, it’s safe to say that people are increasingly using multiple channels and devices to research, browse, and buy. It’s not uncommon for a shopper to browse products in-store, check prices using his phone, and complete the purchase online.

This is why it pays to develop a killer omnichannel strategy. Maintaining presences on multiple channels (i.e. brick and mortar, ecommerce, social media, and mobile) enables customers to shop however and wherever they want. This, in turn, results in increased sales and loyalty.

In fact, a study of 46,000 consumers found that omnichannel shoppers tend to buy more and be more loyal. According to the Harvard Business Review, omnichannel customers “spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers.”

These shoppers also “logged 23% more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s stores and were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than those who used a single channel.”

Clearly, omnichannel retailing works. So if you’re still stuck in one channel or if you’re having trouble connecting your offline and online stores, it’s high time to figure out your omnichannel strategy.

Set up a great loyalty program.

Last but not least? Your loyalty program. When implemented correctly, a system that rewards your best customers can encourage repeat spending and boost loyalty. The specifics of your loyalty program will depend on your store, but here are a few quick best practices to keep in mind:

Eliminate loyalty cards. Avoid cluttering your customers’ wallets with physical cards. Instead, implement a POS-based or mobile-based loyalty program that allows you to digitally manage members and rewards.

One retailer doing a great job at implementing loyalty through their POS is Rockets & Rascals, a bike emporium in England. They have more than 800 members in their loyalty program — and the fact that they don’t require physical cards has been a boon for the retailer and their patrons, who don’t always have their wallets on them.

“It’s a wonderful lifesaver for a cold, wet cyclist who’s come in without his wallet,” says Steve Toze, marketing director at Rockets & Rascals.

Personalize people’s perks. Send out rewards or offers based on the behavior of your customers. For example, if a shopper regularly purchases items by a particular brand, why not reward him with a freebie or discount from that same category?

Have a look at what Walgreens is doing. The retailer collects data around the shopping behaviors of its Balance Rewards loyalty program members and then uses that information to send out tailored offers. For instance, shoppers get promos or coupons for items they’ve previously bought.

This level of personalization worked really well for Walgreens, and it helped grow program membership to more than 150 million in just five years.

Vend Tip

Are you a Vend user? This video shows you how you can track purchase histories and make tailored recommendations using our loyalty and customer management features. Check it out!

Increasing Customer Loyalty In Retail | Vend U - YouTube

Offer exclusive perks. Make your VIPs feel extra special by offering promotions just for them or by hosting exclusive events.

Disneyland, for instance, holds “AP Days,” which are special days to celebrate Annual Passholders. During these days, people with Disneyland Annual Passes enjoy exclusive perks such as free keepsakes, special movie screenings, character experiences, and more.

Your turn: tell us about your customer loyalty strategies.

We hope this post gave you some ideas to implement in your business. Now we’d like to hear from you! Do you have a customer loyalty strategy in your company? Tell us about it in the comments.

The post Customer Loyalty Strategies: How to Build Real & Lasting Relationships with Shoppers appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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If you’re in the retail industry, there are a few pertinent pieces of technology you must have.

One of the most popular and vital devices the modern retailer needs is a POS system. Most of us have seen these machines hundreds of times, and probably use them on a weekly basis.

What is a retail POS system? POS stands for point of sale – and the name is largely self-explanatory. Yet, many people are unaware of just how much these systems do, and how they impact retail locations.

A POS machine is the device that handles transaction processing. It accepts and verifies payments – but those used in the retail environment are often more complex. They can track sales, print receipts, and even transform raw sales information into valuable metrics.

In its simplest form, a retail POS system could be thought of as the card scanner you see sitting by the cash register. However, this POS system guide will delve deep into the specifics behind these machines.

We’ll talk about what they are, how they’ve evolved, and why they’re important. We’ll also provide tips on how to pick the right one, including average costs and features to look for.

Your Guide to Retail POS Systems:
  1. History and Origins of the POS System
  2. Why Your Retailer Needs One
  3. Different Types (and Who Should Use Each)
  4. Price and Feature Guide for Choosing Your Own
Origins of the POS Machine: The Beginning of Sales Hardware Devices

Even a century ago, establishments were using machines to help them facilitate transactions, track payments, and manage inventory as they made sales.

Obviously, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, no one was swiping a credit card. However, the ancestor of the POS machine came about because a Dayton, Ohio saloon owner found some of his employees were stealing money from the business.

Source: Ohio History Central

James Ritty was enlisted in the military when he discovered a technology that could count propeller revolutions on a ship. Using the same idea, he invented a machine to track sales.

The cash register didn’t remain in its primitive conception for long. New features soon followed, such as a cash drawer and the ability to program keys rather than requiring the operator to key in everything manually.

These upgrades, coupled with the growing popularity of alternative payment methods like credit and debit cards, led to the evolution of these systems.

What Makes a POS Machine Different from a Cash Register?

When comparing cash registers to POS systems, the difference is in the efficiency and scope of functions.

Source: Finances Online

The modern POS system tracks much more than your typical cash register. Even electronic registers with programmable keys are limited in their functions – they usually only track when items are sold and how much cash is in the drawer.

Compare this to a modern POS retail system, which could track:

  • Special discounts (percentages and flat rates)
  • Inventory levels
  • Sales tax
  • Gift card usage (and remaining balance)
  • Sales percentage per time of day (to determine rush hour)
  • Most profitable product categories
  • Percentage of sales compared to sales forecasts

Those are just some of the important metrics these systems can track.

As we can see, the POS machine’s functionality is beyond a card swiper because it’s tracking a lot more than payment processes.

Why POS Machines Are Essential to Retailers

If you work in retail, you’re used to crunching numbers – row after row, page after page. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, especially without a robust system to help you manage it.

Not only do you need to keep track of your sales numbers, you also need to be mindful of how sales affect your inventory levels. Then there’s the matter of factoring in discounts, sales tax, gift cards, store credit, and other modifiers.

Cap it off with the need to record sales numbers across different time periods and product categories for reporting purposes, and it is easy to see why the retail POS system is an absolute must for any store.  

Think of what you’re losing without one – the biggest factor being time. The more calculations you and your employees have to make manually, the more time you can’t put toward other areas of the business.

When it comes to analytics, over 70% of data goes unused at businesses – that’s a lot of information that could be studied. Then factor in how many companies feel their use of data is behind that of their competitors.

Source: ZD Net

A POS system doesn’t just keep you on track – it analyzes metrics and turns them into useful data you don’t want to miss out on.

Popular Types of Retail POS System Options

Since the POS system is so popular, it should come as no surprise there are multiple options on the market. Which is right for you and your retail business?

Here are some of the main categories:

  • Mobile: Smartphones can be used to provide POS services such as payment processing, sometimes with the help of card-scanner addons. This option is great if you have a small amount of inventory to manage, do a lot of field work, or work as a freelancer/sole proprietor.
  • Tablet: This POS system option brings you all the conveniences of mobile, albeit with slightly less portability. The advantage of going with this one over mobile is that it’s sometimes better for tracking more important metrics. You can prop it up and analyze your data just as you would on a laptop, making it great for small teams and startups.
  • Terminal: These are the most common options for retailers, and you’re used to seeing them (at least in part) by the cash register of your favorite establishments. Terminal systems are usually a little more complex, and as a result can offer features like cloud backup, 24/7/365 support, label printing, and more. Terminals are popular for small businesses and enterprises alike.

These are some of the main categories the modern POS system could fall into. If you’re a retailer, which system should you buy? How much should you pay for it?

POS System Guide for Buyers: Picking the Right Fit for Your Store

If you’re a retailer with any type of physical location, the terminal system may be your best bet. This isn’t to say that the other options won’t serve you well – but a POS terminal will usually give you all the features you need to succeed.

Take these steps to pick the best POS option for your business:

  • Research Solutions and Read Reviews: Check out the leading names in the POS industry, and read what their customers have to say about them. This will help you narrow down your options – choosing between dozens is much easier than hundreds.
  • Ask Other Retailers or Product Providers: If you’re still unsure on which system to pick, ask associates at other retailers which system they use. If your network doesn’t have any other retail managers, you could always contact the companies who make the POS systems and ask them.
  • Watch a POS System in Action: What’s better than hearing about a system? Seeing it in action. Many companies (or review sites) show video demos of POS systems in use. Seeing how it works can help you decide whether it’s the right fit for you.
  • Use Trials and Demos: The best way to choose between two products is to try them out. See if the company you’re considering offers free trial periods. Even in a limited version, trials can provide you with the input you need to make the right decision.
Further Reading

If you need more info on how to effectively compare different point of sale solutions, download Vend’s POS Buyer’s Guide. In this resource, you will learn the 7 secrets to find a reliable POS system, and avoid the costly mistakes most retailers make when choosing a new retail platform.

In it you’ll learn:

  • How to budget for your POS system
  • How to find and vet providers
  • How to get the most out of the solution

Learn More

A 2018 study by Business News Daily called Vend the best POS system provider based on cost, features, and overall product performance.

The Lite plan (built for single location stores) costs only $99 per month if you opt for the annual billing option. You can opt for a pro plan with multi-store functionality for $129 per month if billed annually, or go for enterprise options, which are subject to custom pricing and available with quotes.

Source: Vend

You’ll want a system like this because it can integrate with payment processors like PayPal and Square. You should also consider a system like this for the features it offers – ones to look for include recording and analytics, ecommerce integrations, quick keys, and user account permissions.

It’s more than just a tool for making sales – a retail POS system is a complete solution for complex business operations.

The post Retail POS Machines Overview: Understanding Their Functions & How to Choose One appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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Our latest Behind the Counter post features the UK retailer, The Edit, who sell stylish easy-to-wear womenswear, completed with on-trend accessories and fashionable and friendly styling advice in-store.

Their retail operation has expanded to four stores since launching only two years ago − and we found out the secret to their retail success. Award-winning store design, data-backed buying decisions, and a superb customer experience, have made this fashion retailer hugely successful and loved by customers.

The Edit’s co-founder, Penny Rawson, took the time to share her experience and answer some of our questions. Take a look and see what she had to say.

How did The Edit come to life?

I decided to open the first shop in a little village, quite close to where I live. I felt there was a gap for fashion that made you feel good every day for my range of people, affluent mums that have grown out of the high-street shops like Topshop and River Island, but who aren’t quite ready for Marks and Spencers and Debenhams.

I also wanted to make the pricing really accessible because I love boutiques, but often find the prices stop me from buying everyday clothes. There are beautiful things that I’d wear for a special occasion, but not many pieces for just doing things, like the school run.

We have grown quite quickly, we just hit two years in May 2018 and we now have four stores. It was really easy to just replicate new stores because of the setup with Vend.

How do you keep customers coming back for more? Do you do anything in-store to create a special customer experience?

The Edit grew from a boutique to four successful stores with Vend - YouTube

Firstly, by creating a really beautiful and welcoming store experience. We have massive fitting rooms with loads of space, you can take your kids in if you want, there’s room for people to sit and give their opinion. It’s a really comfortable shopping environment. I think that’s why we won the Drapers Best Store Design Award in 2018.

Secondly, it’s the team we have. We don’t do an awful lot of really structured training, what we do is hire people that are really experienced. We tend to take on people with retail experience, or have done something like managed a cosmetics counter for a brand.

Our team are really comfortable with software and with doing basic figures. They’re also naturally sales-driven people and do it in a very authentic way. They’re building relationships with customers so that the customers don’t feel like they’re being sold to.

What are the biggest challenges you think independent retailers are facing right now?

It’s a really challenging time for retail. You’ve got to make sure you’re absolutely on top of your game.

In the UK, the biggest challenge this year has been the impact of the weather. We had a lot of snow at the beginning of the year so people weren’t buying what they would normally buy. They weren’t buying their spring wardrobes because they were still wearing wooly hats.

What really helps is doing things with marketing and the website, like emailing customers and social media. People will come in every day saying “I’ve seen this on your Instagram, have you go it?”.

I would say another one of the biggest challenges for independent retailers is business information. I still see boutiques out there handwriting receipts — they don’t have the right information they need, like information on stock. When it’s challenging, you need to make sure you’ve got the right stock and only the right stock.

What can independent retailers do to win at retail?

Small retailers can win by being really dynamic, buying in season and reacting to trends. If you’ve pre-bought the majority of your stock, you’re not going to be able to back your best-sellers.

Without having information about my best-sellers on Vend, I wouldn’t necessarily have the confidence to go buy it in that volume. It’s about being sure, being dynamic, and constantly searching for new stock that customers shop for. That’s what we need to be doing as fashion buyers and independent retailers — having the same interests and reacting to moments the same way our customers do.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in retail?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you don’t necessarily have to do everything deliberately when you start out, just do the best you can. Have a vision in mind of what you want your business to look like and let that guide the small decisions.

For example, I might see a product I love, but if it doesn’t fit into the vision for my store then I won’t buy it.

How does accessing Vend remotely help you run your retail business?

It’s so key to be able to access it remotely. It lets us do things like see that every store is open in the morning and enables communication with our team. When I’m out buying I just use my phone to check product information. If I’m buying a best-seller, I can pull up how many sold last month, how much stock I have now, see different variants, and know what I need to buy. Then I can make the right decisions.

Vend really does help me make my buying decisions. It’s really malleable and nice that you can just access the information in a really casual way, it’s easy to find out what you want to know at any point of time.

How do you do stock takes in your store? Do you use Scanner by Vend?

Yes, we do use Scanner by Vend. We usually just hop on the mobile phone and that performs really well, we find it relatively easy to use. We also use it help transfer stock in between the stores. Sometimes we move slow-sellers or best-sellers from one store to another or vice versa, and we use the Scanner app to do that.

The post Behind the Counter: How The Edit Grew from One to Four Stores in 2 Years appeared first on Vend Retail Blog.

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