How Mobile POS Can Help Kickstart Your Holiday Sales
By Justin Coward, managing director, mobile retail systems, VeriFone, ASPAC
Retailers are gearing up for the vital holiday season. And while we don’t know what the season holds from a sales perspective, there are some problems that hold true from year to year. Here we look at the challenges faced and how a mobile POS (mPOS), can help both manage costs and generate those vital extra sales to make this a successful selling season.
Problem #1: Bigger crowds mean more tills. More tills equals less counter space for product.
Each year stores sacrifice valuable retail space to install additional fixed tills to cope with the season’s demands. Often, seasonally hired store staff is dedicated to manning these tills irrespective of the actual number of customers in the store.
How mPOS Helps: A mobile POS offers all the functionality of a fixed POS and payment terminal with the additional benefit of the flexibility to complete sales anywhere in the store. Today’s advanced mPOS systems include a built in scanner, so that product pricing is immediately available at the device, including any current promotions, discounts or customer coupons. The result – increased selling space and a reduced cost for additional tills. With the addition of strategically placed islands for storing shopping bags and paper, store staff can quickly and easily get customers checked out and on their way without forcing them to wait in line.
Problem #2: Staff inflexibility
Most stores don’t have a reliable fortune teller on retainer, so trying to determine the proper staff-to-customer ratio is largely speculative and based on previous years’ sales for the same time period.
How mPos Helps: With today’s menu driving retail software for tablets, just about anyone can complete most transactions on an mPOS system without managerial assistance and without a lot of initial training.
If the crowd suddenly thickens or thins out, staff can quickly change from one role to another — restocking when customers are few, and picking up an mPOS and assisting with checkouts during peak traffic. The solution is also ideal for dealing with the post holiday queues that build up when ‘returns’ are being made. A mPOS easily integrates with back-end retailing solutions, making the system extremely cost effective.
Problem #3: The Customer Engagement Glass Ceiling
It is difficult to connect with a customer during the slow summer months and almost impossible during the busy holiday rush. But personalized attention is what customers are increasingly asking for and what they are increasingly spending more money as a result of.
How mPOS Helps: Modern shoppers have an empathy with technology. Tablet-based systems with customer relationship management (CRM) functionality create opportunities for a higher level of engagement with the customer. Lookbooks and product finders help customers narrow down what they are interested in while purchase histories allow staff to quickly pinpoint items that match customers’ personal preferences. All of this gives customers the feeling of a more satisfying and personalized experience even during the festive rush. And, when not in active use, advanced mPOS systems can display videos and advertisements, and at the touch of the screen switch to an interactive lookbook when a customer is ready to browse.
Problem #4: “Sorry, we appear to be out of that product.”
There are few things worse for a retailer than having a customer who has researched their purchase and is in your store ready to buy—and the item appears to be out of stock.
How mPOS Helps: A tablet retailing solution creates endless aisles for products not on display and can even track whether a product is in stock and just needs to be brought out from the back room. And if a product truly is out of stock, sales staff can quickly work to secure the purchase using a combination of stock lookup and the promise of fast delivery either to the store or the customer’s home.
The level of sophistication of today’s mobile tablets and devices is astonishing and they offer the same, if not better, capabilities over many of their older and larger predecessors. If you are considering purchasing an mPOS solution to either completely replace, or simply augment, your existing POS infrastructure, be sure that your purchase is what your business needs. And, know when you need to have the solution fully deployed, and keep this deadline in mind when evaluating mPOS solutions; implementation can take a matter of weeks or months — depending on the system.
Justin Coward is managing director, mobile retail systems, VeriFone, ASPAC.
Ace Hardware has mixed results in third quarter
Ace Hardware reported somewhat mixed results for its third quarter with 8.9% growth in revenues compared to 2012, and profits that were essentially flat compared to the prior year quarter.
The hardware cooperative netted $1 billion in revenues for the quarter, an increase of $84.4 million over the same quarter in 2012.
Meanwhile, net income came in at $34.4 million, little changed since 2012’s figure of $34.3 million.
“We’re pleased with the growth at both wholesale and retail in the third quarter,” said John Venhuizen, Ace president and CEO. “Retail same store sales in the U.S. were up 6.9% for the quarter and stand at 4.4% year to date. We continue to invest heavily in retail initiatives to help fuel growth for our local owners and that growth, in turn, is propelling the corporation.”
Venhuizen also noted the launch of the Paint Studio Initiative during the third quarter, which will revamp paint departments across 3,000 Ace stores by May 2014 as part of the company’s strategic partnership with The Valspar Corporation.
The company cited the December 2012 acquisition of WHI Holdings Corp., as well as the sale of its paint manufacturing assets to The Valspar Corporation, as factors impacting the comparability of its 2012 versus 2013 earnings reports. As of Sept. 28, the Ace balance sheet includes $67.7 million of WHI inventory, $19.1 million of property and equipment, $23.0 million of goodwill and other intangibles, and $23.9 million of WHI acquisition debt.
True Religion taps former Levi’s exec as marketing chief
True Religion Apparel has appointed Mary Alderete as the company’s chief marketing officer. Alderete, who will report to CEO David Conn, will be charged with shaping the marketing strategy for True Religion across the company’s retail, wholesale, international and e-commerce platforms.
“Mary brings a strategic mindset to True Religion and will be the architect of our branding and marketing going forward,” said Conn. “We will benefit from her deep experience building iconic denim brands and from her genuine understanding of how to connect with and engage consumers. Mary is a natural fit with True Religion and will work closely with our leadership team to make True Religion culturally and personally relevant to customers.”
Alderete was previously VP of global brand marketing at Levi Strauss & Co. During her time at Levi’s, she created an innovative, multiyear marketing campaign leveraging digital platforms to engage consumers to personalize, share and amplify the brand narrative. Alderete was also responsible for the global launch of a proprietary fit system. Prior to her time at Levi’s, she held senior marketing roles at Gap, with Banana Republic and Old Navy. She has also held senior positions at marketing agencies, including BBDO West and Foote, Cone & Belding, where she led strategy and campaign development for brands such as Amazon.com, Kraft and Clorox.
“True Religion set the standard for premium denim by merging quality craftsmanship and iconic style, and I am eager to build on the brand’s DNA at such an exciting moment,” said Alderete. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with the leadership team, including the creative minds that helped to build the brand as well as the rush of new talent, to design the future of True Religion in a way that will make denim history.”
True Religion has also named Ilene Eskenazi as chief legal officer and SVP of human resources, effective Dec. 2. She will report to Conn. Eskenazi joins the company from Red Bull North America, where she served as general counsel and VP of human resources. She previously practiced law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Proskauer Rose. She has a JD from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.
True Religion Apparel is a growing, design-based denim and denim-related sportswear brand. The company designs, manufactures and distributes True Religion Apparel products, including its premium True Religion Brand jeans, sportswear and licensed accessories. True Religion products may be found in the company’s branded retail and outlet stores as well as contemporary department stores and boutiques in 50 countries on six continents. The company operates 148 stores in North America and more than 30 international stores.