Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Marketing Tools Part 2: Using Coupons on Your Point of Sale Receipts to Increase Sales

People are always looking for ways to cut costs and save money. Adding coupons to your point of sale receipt paper rolls is a great way to help customers save while increasing sales at the same time. Coupon incentives encourage customers to buy something that they may not have tried otherwise. You can experiment with using a coupon to promote a new product or offer a BOGO or % off promotion. Here is a side by side comparison of two coupons that illustrates how you can use a coupon to drive sales and awareness.

Recently pcAmerica wrote a great article that outlined several tips for creating effective coupons that we found very informative, and we hope you will as well: 

1. Make your coupon specific. If your coupon is good on Tuesday, June 19, 2012, then it is only good on that day. If your offer is too good, you can reduce your discount or change your offer the following week.

2. Offering a deal for your customers gets your customers used to reading and redeeming your coupons. It not only keeps your old customers coming back, it gets you new customers.

3. Think of it this way. If you offer your customers 90% off on their next purchase or meal, you're going to get a really high coupon redemption rate. On the other hand, if you offer your customers 5% off on any Tuesday between 4:50 PM and 5:00 PM, you are likely not to see anyone redeem your coupon.

4. If you really need to, you can use unique coupon codes just by stamping or printing a unique number on every coupon that you issue.

5. Likewise, you can track email coupons by asking recipients to submit their email address when redeeming a coupon and comparing it to your list of issued coupons.

Did you find these tips useful? Do you currently have a couponing program in place? Do you find it effective? Are there any stumbling blocks that you are looking to overcome?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

3 Secrets of Successful Multi-Channel Companies

Guest post from

Let's start out by defining multi-channel sales.  The term multi-channel is used to describe environments in which you are selling products through different avenues, or channels such as a store, web store, a marketplace like eBay or Amazon, or even an event such as a flea market or trade show. You could also consider dropship suppliers as a channel too.

You need software or systems to execute a multi-channel strategy and herein lies the problem.

Your systems aren’t connected and when these systems aren't connected you spend lots of time keying items into multiple systems, updating items and prices, gathering orders, updating order get the idea. Managing inventory can also be a problem because you need to constantly update many systems with the inventory you have on hand or you'll end up selling products you don't have.

The issue of manual effort required to keep everything running smoothly is so widespread that most companies can't move forward with taking products to new channels because it's simply too much work. However, getting your products into many channels could help you increase sales - quickly.

Here are three secrets that successful multi-channel companies have made sure their channel strategies include. Anyone can throw up a bunch of web sites and hope for the best, but to truly make it work (i.e. make money) your strategy has to include the following:

1.  Successful multi-channel companies deploy item syndication.  To do this effectively they've connected the system that acts as the Item Master to the channel system. For example, the Point of Sale system (the item master) is connected to the web store system and automatically pushes new products and updates to pricing to the web store. These companies are easily able to manage items pricing, price lists and updates electronically to their web store with very little manual effort.

2.  Successful multi-channel strategies automate order management.  Orders from a web store or marketplace get pushed to the item master system creating centralized management of orders to be fulfilled and customer data. Once orders are filled, the system pushes an order status to the web channel so it can notify the customer shipment is on its way.

3.  Successful multi-channel companies automate inventory management. Each time a web order is placed it is pushed into the master system to await fulfillment. Upon receiving the order, the inventory for the item is "committed" and once order is filled the total inventory is decremented.  Items in which no inventory is available are automatically hidden in the web site or an "out of stock" is automatically published to the web for that item.

If this were easy - everyone would've figured it out right?  Many companies put together detailed import/export processes, which require time and effort - but considerably less than manual entry.  Custom Integration can be costly and hard to support, but if you have your own resources (or super-technically inclined) you could do it yourself.

There are a constellation of POS, ecommerce, and accounting systems that have integration built-in to another, but these systems require the use of both systems (which you may or may not have). If you want to add another channel to the mix, you're back to square one.

A promising new breed of cloud-based management platforms may make multi-channel strategies easier and cheaper for companies because they offer a variety of connectors for a variety of systems (POS, ecommerce, accounting, marketplaces) - so you can connect and leverage the systems you've already invested in.   

Author Bio: nChannel provides an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform that enables retailers to cost effectively synchronize and exchange sales, customer, and product data from transactions that occur at the register, in the warehouse, or via a web-store.