Christmas is coming

It’s September already and for most people this signifies that autumn is just around the corner and that the weather is turning a little colder, but if you’re a retailer, you know this means that it’s time to prepare and plan for Christmas.

The Christmas season is the biggest shopping event of the year, and for some retailers, sales during the festive season can account for up to 30 percent of their annual revenue. Of course, all retailers will be working hard to attract customers and generate sales during the biggest holiday shopping period of the year, so you need to work extra hard to compete.

The real key to success is planning ahead and implementing steps to prepare for the upcoming seasonal rush and be ready to maximise the potential. And to help you achieve this, there are several key tasks you should complete long before the Christmas season is upon us.

Plan your displays
Make sure that your window displays, instore displays and shop layouts can really grab attention and encourage and entice people to buy. Start planning the products that you will showcase now and work up exactly how you will present these through your displays.

You should also ensure that you have the necessary materials ready to set up stunning displays. This could include investing in good lighting that bring your displays to life. Be sure to focus on the festive season, don’t use generic props but use props that are holiday specific. You should also ensure that your signage is seasonal and creative, try to include unique messages and signs to get the attention of Christmas shoppers.

Order seasonal merchandise now
If you are planning on selling special gift items, gift packs or seasonal merchandise, you should place those orders as soon as possible. You should complete your Christmas inventory planning and order merchandise by the end of the month at the latest to ensure that you’re able to stock up on in demand seasonal items.

The same applies to gift cards, you should order seasonal Christmas gift cards and plan out and implement how you’re going to promote them. Gift cards are extremely popular during the Christmas season and are hugely profitable for retailers and hospitality businesses.

Ensure your website is ‘on season’
You must make sure that your website reflects the season. For example, you should start to plan and prepare the Christmas themed banners that you’ll display. You should also create special gift sections or categories such as by age, gender, by value and so on. By creating gift-centred categories like this for Christmas, makes it easy for customers to shop for presents. And if you’re running seasonal promotions, ensure that your website visitors can also access and redeem your offers easily.

Hire seasonal staff
If you need to hire additional staff for the festive season, now is the time to start looking. Start to advertise by posting on job boards, re-hiring previous employees, and asking for referrals.

Stock up on store supplies
The run up to Christmas will be hectic and running out of store supplies when the season is in full swing could spell disaster. Prepare for supplies now, so you won’t have to worry about them at this busy and important time.

Here are a few items you may want to stock up on:

  • Cash desk supplies including bags, pens, till tape, staplers, hold tags, etc
  • Payment terminal paper
  • Receipt paper
  • Gift cards
  • Gift boxes
  • Hangers
  • Cleaning supplies

Tighten up on security
The festive season brings more traffic, but this can also mean more opportunities for theft. Get your loss prevention tactics prepared now long before the Christmas season arrive.

Set and update the user permissions on your EPoS system, this will allow you to set user permissions to enable or restrict staff members from doing certain tasks. Review your user permissions to make sure you know exactly what your staff can see and do with your point of sale. A big mistake many retailers make is applying the same permissions for all users.

You should also be vigilant when it comes to who can process voided sales, as this is a very easy way to steal stock.

You should also invest in loss prevention solutions, there are many tools and technologies in the market that can help improve store security including signage, mirrors, cameras, RFID and even foot traffic technologies.

You should consider conducting partial inventory counts instead of doing full inventory counts. Cycle counting means physically counting just certain portions of inventory on a daily or weekly basis, so you won’t have to do a full inventory count anymore. In doing so, you’re able to identify stock discrepancies and theft sooner rather than later. Not to mention, cycle counting helps you stay on top of inventory without disrupting regular store hours.

Confirm your holiday policies
You may want to implement special policies for the holidays. For example, some retailers are more lenient with returns and exchanges when it comes to products that were purchased during the holidays so they can accommodate purchases that were made early in the season.

You should also be clear about how you’ll process returns. Will you issue cash refunds or store credit? Will you allow shoppers to return items without a receipt? These are just some of the matters you’ll need to address.

Whatever you decide though, communicate it clearly with your staff, and ensure your policies are consistent across all your stores.

Have a fulfilment plan
Order fulfilment is always important, but during the festive season, it is a make or break factor. The smallest difference in postage costs or delivery dates can be a deciding factor for consumers, so you should optimise fulfilment as much as you can.

The first step to implementing a more efficient fulfilment process is to gain real-time visibility across your sales channels. You and your staff should always know what products you have in stock and where they are, so you can provide accurate availability and fulfilment information to your customers.

Additionally, knowing where products are stocked can help you map out fulfilment routes and improve decision making when it comes where to stock up and when.

Ensure your solutions can handle the rush
Having a strategy for the festive season is brilliant but you must also have the technology to support your plans and vision. Before implementing your activity, make certain that your systems can handle the rush.

It’s vitally important that you take this step before the seasonal crowds descend, holidays are the worst time to deal with tech issues and the last thing you want is to have problems with your technology when you have holiday shoppers at your doorstep. Now is the time to ensure that your systems are up to the task.

Are you planning to upgrade your software or implement new software for the holidays or the new year? Perhaps you’ve outgrown your stock control system. Or maybe you want to run special promotions but need a new platform to do it. Whatever the case, figure out the systems you need and get them all set up long before the holidays. This means everything should be installed correctly, and all your data should be migrated to the new platform.

You might need to install additional hardware, you should try to anticipate the amount of extra traffic that you’ll get this season and arrange any other equipment you’ll need to accommodate this. For example, you should look at your EPoS system, retailers often require additional registers for the festive season, and if this applies to you, now is the time to set everything up. If you need extra tablets or computers to ring up sales, get them into your store ASAP.

See to it that your website can handle the extra traffic and if you’re running online marketing campaigns and driving traffic to your ecommerce store, then make sure your site can handle it.

Test the speed of your website and have a chat with your hosting provider to ensure that things run smoothly when people visit your online store in the coming months.

Conclusion
Whilst the festive shopping season might not be in full swing for a couple of months, this is definitely the time of year to start preparing for it. The actions that you take now will undoubtedly determine how well your business will do during the 2019 Christmas season.

We hope that this article has provided you with some useful and practical advice that you can implement straightaway in preparation for this hugely important shopping season. Of course, many of you will already have some of these systems and tactics in place already but please remember as a leading supplier of retail and hospitality technology solutions, RMS can provide you with the technology and services that you will need to maximise your retail potential.

From Epos systems, specialist software and management services, we have a track record of delivering the retail solutions that work for you, both at Christmas and beyond! Please don’t hesitate to give me a call to discuss how RMS can make a difference to you and your business.

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It’s out with Microsoft Dynamics RMS and in with the new!

Twenty years is an absolute lifetime in terms of today’s modern technology and in this article we look at the ‘end of life’ for this highly successful point of sale software. But as the clock ticks away, retailers must move to a new solution before the July 2021 deadline.

As long ago as 2015, Microsoft announced that their retail point of sale solution, or Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System to give it its correct title, would be retiring in 2016. However, whilst the product was then no longer available to new customers, support continues for existing customers until July 2021.

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Channel your energy

Do you know the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel retail?

Omni-channel retail delivers a seamless experience for the customer. This means that every way that a customer interacts with a company; whether that’s online, in-store, using a mobile app, via email and more besides, their user experience is fully connected.

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RMS supports the Scottish Borders Business Excellence Awards 2017

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RMS is delighted to be supporting the ‘Retailer of the Year‘ category of the Borders Business Excellence Awards 2017. organised by Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce.

In today’s era of immense choice for consumers and increased digitalisation, retail customers are not only discerning about what they want, but are putting new demands on retail customer service, and consequently retailers are having to make extra efforts to meet these consumer requirements and ensure a competitive advantage.

RMS understands the importance of highlighting retailers’ achievements and giving them the recognition they deserve for the hard work they put into growing their business – and also the positive impact that this has on the Scottish Borders community.

In recognising the challenges which all retailers face in exceeding customer expectations, maximising omni-channel capabilities, boosting efficiency, productivity and profitability in all areas of their retail business, RMS works closely with retailers to guide them on how to realise their goals.

Our Cloud managed OpSuite Retail Management Solution EPoS software is a UK market leader in the provision of strategic, innovative, retail-specific solutions that make a positive impact on achieving better retail profits through effective sales, purchasing, stock control, pricing, promotions, loyalty programs, warehousing and web store management.

We are proud to be part of recognising well-deserved work in this vibrant channel and look forward to continuing to work with retailers in the Scottish Borders during the coming year, and supporting them with exciting opportunities to further the growth of their businesses through OpSuite Retail Management Solution EPoS software.

RMS is a UK market leader of EPoS hardware and software solutions enabling your retail operation to win now and in the future.

We care about your business, if you have questions about how your retail business can benefit from our OpSuite Retail Management Solution EPoS software, please contact us today on 01750 700 527 or via our on-line enquiry form

We look forward to helping you with the future EPoS needs of your growing business.

You can also follow RMS on Social Media for all the latest information on the great benefits, features and deals on EPoS Hardware.

Mobile Computing Devices – The Retailer Benefits

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In today’s era of immense choice for consumers and increased digitalisation, retail customers are not only discerning about what they want, but are putting new demands on retail customer service, and when they have made a decision, they want it now.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are not just competing with each other, they are also competing against successful on-line retailers. Compared with a simple and quick purchase from the couch at home, it is especially important for retailers to create faster and simpler ways to make brick-and-mortar purchases.

With the use of mobile devices at the POS, retailers are able to step up to the challenge and satisfy the customer’s need for pre-purchase information whilst in-store, through the integration of all relevant distribution channels.

Today’s retailers need to meet these consumer requirements to ensure a competitive advantage. One of the most important ways an advantage can be acquired is by sales assistants utilising mobile devices in-store. By using them, the sales assistant can get informed more quickly and efficiently, and therefore improve customer service and increase sales turnover.

Read on to discover more on why mobile computing devices can benefit your retail shop. Continue reading

WHERE CAN SMALL RETAILERS GET PCIDSS COMPLIANCE EXPERTISE?

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Retailers are frequently asking RMS the question – “What does a small-to-medium sized business have to do in order to satisfy the PCI DSS requirements?”

It is such a frequently asked question because most retailers understand that if they lose credit/debit card data through a data breach and they are not PCI DSS compliant, then they are likely to incur Card Scheme fines for the loss of this data and may be liable for the fraud losses incurred against these cards and the operational costs associated with replacing the accounts.

In addition it’s likely that their customers may also not want to do further business with them.

Because these consequences can be huge, we decided to ask this important question, and others, to BC Technologies LLP who provide PCIDSS compliance expertise to businesses in a range of sectors. Their role is to take the distraction of IT technology away from a retailers business so that the retailer can concentrate on achieving business targets. We spoke with John Orr and the following is a summary of our conversation.

Q. PCIDSS – what is it?

A. Most retailers who take card payments whether through rented or owned terminals will be aware of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCIDSS for short.  The objective of PCIDSS is to reduce fraud and the theft of sensitive data by tightening up the procedures that surround the use of cards and the transaction process. When card fraud occurs any subsequent investigation will focus on this.

Q. How does it work?

A. Compliance to PCIDSS is undertaken by self-certification. The retailer is required to fill out an online questionnaire which is designed to probe into those aspects of its IT network and card handling processes that could be vulnerable to data theft and fraud. If the processes are good and the retailer understands the questions then they will pass the compliance test. This means their risk of fraud and data theft is managed to an acceptable level. Through the questionnaire they will become aware of the need to manage and document the processes involved when their business takes a card payment. Because card fraud and data security takes place in a technical environment the questionnaire is both complex and jargon laden.
If a retailers answers fall short then their business is found to be non-compliant. At that point they need to address the non-compliance issues.

Q. What does non-compliance mean for a retail business?

A. Put simply it means that some aspect of their card payment set up is not as secure as it could be and that they are vulnerable to fraud and data theft. Non-compliance has to be rectified and they may be liable to fines and possibly even termination of their card payment service.

Q. Who is responsible?

A. The retailer is! The questionnaire has to be signed off by a senior manager in company. The sign off binds them to quarterly review and annual re certification.

Q. Is this just an Annual Commitment?

A. Yes and No – The sign off includes an undertaking to keep compliance under review every three months in addition to the annual questionnaire.

Q. Scope – this term pops up, what does this mean?

A. In order to deal with the assessment the retailer needs to consider the various points that are touched by their payment system i.e. the Scope. Does the card reader share the Wi-Fi that is offered to customers? Is the reader in any way linked to other computers or devices in the business’ network?  If the retailer operates on-line, how do they organise the storage of transaction data? Is the website secure? Who amongst the retailers staff has access to any transaction related data? Have the staff been vetted and trained in card payment and anti- fraud procedures? All these touch points fall within the scope of the payment system and the PCIDSS questionnaire.

Q. Is it possible to reduce the Scope for an easier and more secure life?

A. Bear in mind that in order to manage the card payment process the retailer needs to have a written policy to cover each touch point. If they have a policy then they need to document how they review that policy. So not only do they reduce their risks but they reduce their workload if they can keep their scope narrow.
Many retailers will use payment systems which run through on-line portals or chip and pin systems. The PCIDSS will perform tests on a retailers website to determine security. The retailer would be responsible for checking that their card machine is not tampered with or stolen. At the other extreme there are businesses taking card details by phone. The opportunities for fraud when card details are taken by phone are immense. Are details written down? By whom? Are the staff trained and vetted, where and how is that data stored, who has access to? Is it securely destroyed?
These simple questions will all require a process and policy. Just like Health and Safety the retailer needs to have a policy, procedures and a log to demonstrate that their PCIDSS compliance is reviewed and updated. You can see that defining Scope is critical both to security and to the resources required to achieve compliance.

Q. How can a small retailer easily deal with PCIDSS compliance?

A. The system exists to reduce to reduce the risk of fraud and delaying or ignoring compliance is simply extending risk. The time and effort involved in dealing with PCIDSS can be burdensome and given the consequences of fraudulent activity it makes sense to outsource the know how to achieve initial compliance. When a retailer starts in the right place they can then take on the ongoing reviews from a position of knowledge.

Q. Where can a small retailer get other PCIDSS compliance questions answered?

A. Two sources: 1. Give us a call at BC Technologies LLP – 01369 706656. or 2. On the PCI ComplianceGuide.org website.

 

You can Freephone RMS today on 0800 138 0050 or complete our on-line enquiry form to speak with one of our dedicated team. Either way, we look forward to helping you with the EPoS  needs of your growing business.

You can also follow RMS on Social Media for all the latest information on the benefits, features and great deals on EPoS Hardware.

OXD (OpSuite Experience Day), an unmissable EPoS event

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OXD - reserve your place today

Mark your calendar as Out-of-Office on May 17th and attend OXD at Novotel Edinburgh Park.

You are invited to OXD (OpSuite Experience Day), an unmissable EPoS event designed specifically for ambitious independent retailers who are interested in seriously reducing their business overhead costs. 

Be part of this Scottish EPoS event dedicated to helping you explore how you could protect and improve profitability in your retail business through the Automation, and Integration of your Retail Multi or Omni-channel operations. 

The Automation which OpSuite can provide to all areas of your retail business dramatically removes costly manual and duplicated time consuming tasks by integrating all your business operations.

Free sessions will explore how the Automation & Integration Management (AIM) of OpSuite Retail Management Solution EPoS software dramatically removes costly manual and duplicated, time consuming tasks in your business by integrating all your business operations.

At OXD you will learn directly from EPoS experts on how your EPoS system can improve profitability in your retail business. Key sessions including:

• How to lower overheads by reducing man hours on duplicated manual tasks.
• Complete tasks quicker so more can be achieved in a day.
• Quickly produce more accurate reporting of business performance to enable confident, profitable decision making.
• Free up staff so they can focus on enhancing sales and customer service.
• Improve customer service with more efficient transaction processing.
• Save time and money with streamlined control over Purchase Ordering and Payables.

In-store sales, eCommerce sales, purchase orders, pricing, warehousing, distribution, promotions, customer loyalty and reporting can all be integrated into one automatic stress-free management operation across all your shops and eCommerce web-stores.

Join us on this OpSuite Experiential Day and obtain invaluable insights and expert advice on the benefits Automated & Integrated Management (AIM) technology can bring to your business goals of improved profitability.

Plus, view the very latest EPoS hardware technology from Datavan, Epson, Honeywell, HP, SNBC, and Zebra at OXD.

Lunch is on us – come and join us – Reserve your place today at – www.rmspos.co.uk/reserve-oxd-place/ – and you could win an Aures Yuno EPoS system and other great EPoS products worth over £2000.

We look forward to meeting you there.

If you have any questions about OXD, or the Retail Management Solution Services we provide, please Contact Us today on 01750 700 527 or via our on-line enquiry form

We look forward to helping you with the future EPoS needs of your growing business.

You can follow RMS on Social Media for all the latest information on the great benefits, features and deals on EPoS Hardware.