Is Shrinkage Eating Up Your Profits? Combat Your Retail Enemy With These Handy Anti-Shrinkage Tips

download (26)Running a successful retail business isn’t just about driving tons of traffic, generating hefty sales and standing out in the crowd. But it’s also about determining potential or ongoing loss-generating events and laying out a well-planned strategy to prevent loss and reduce factors turning profits away.

That being said, shrinkage remains one of the biggest concerns for retailers, costing them a lot of money every year as a result of fraud, shoplifting and employee theft. It’s not only necessary for retailers to be vigilant about factors driving revenue losses, but you may need to nip the lingering issue in the bud to ensure that your business runs smoothly and is more profitable.

Here are a few ways you can improve security around your store and prevent shrink before it starts.

Invest in an Inventory Management System

Keeping track of retail stock is paramount to loss prevention. And this can be achieved with a robust inventory system integrated into your business. An efficient inventory system will help keep track of merchandise by conducting frequent stock counts and spotting unusual inventory patterns and discrepancies.

And a POS Cash Register

A cash register is vital POS hardware for any retail business that performs numerous product base transactions on a daily basis. Not only does a cash register facilitate easy and efficient record keeping but it also comes with a cash drawer that offers a safe and reliable space to store cash and receipts.

Surveillance Cameras

Today, video surveillance systems and cameras are installed in almost every retail store as an advanced security solution to monitor the movement and happenings taking place inside the store. By installing cameras in and around your store, you can help reduce shrinkage, theft and manage liability while creating a safe environment for your customers as well as staff.


For small retail stores, mirrors can work as an inexpensive yet effective tool to detect shoplifting and other suspicious activities. Mirrors can be installed in blind spots including corners and areas that are covered by fixtures and shelves and aren’t clearly visible from the point of sale.

Employee Training

While you invest in advanced technologies and tools to reduce loss prevention around your business, training your employees on professional selling etiquettes can help a lot. By conducting training and loss prevention programs frequently, you can make employees aware of good retail values and principles and train them to identify shoplifting and theft activities.



How To Become A Smart Retailer

download (27)In today’s time, being a retailer is the most challenging profession because there are numerous local competitors or big malls around you, who are selling exactly the same goods which you have in your stock. With the increased competition, you have to be very careful, while marking the selling price of the goods you are offering to your customers and this ultimately leads to low business profit. This is the main reason, why many small retailers are finding it hard to grow or sustain their businesses. However, if you follow the below mentioned simple and effective tips, then you will become a smart retailer of your area or town and your business will grow at a rapid pace.

Purchase goods in bulk quantity

It is always advisable for small retailers to purchase selling goods in bulk; because if you buy items in bulk, then there are chances that the whole sellers will offer you extra retailer margin which is very helpful to meet your business loses. And, you can also purchase goods directly from the manufacturers of goods. Additionally, there are many online whole sellers which offer bulk items at reduced prices. Therefore, it is the best method or tip to save a lot of money.

Give discount on overstocked items

Give your customers a reason to shop from your brick and mortar store by giving discounts or offers on goods which are overstocked in your store to attract your customers. Moreover, this is also very useful to reduce dumped backlog of products in your stock.

Keep researching

As a small retailer, you should on your toes in this era of retail competition. Research your customers and competitions. Research your staff before hiring them. Research your sell weekly or monthly sell.

Be local

As a local retailer, you need to be very familiar with the communities within which you operate your business.

Go online

Shoppers of today’s time are more tech savvy than ever; they love to shop with their fingertips. So, try to have an online platform for your store by hiring a team of IT professionals, to build a strong brand of your business.

Good dress sense

You should be very careful with what you and your staff is wearing, as a small retailer you can wear sneakers, but this looks indecent and leaves a customer’s negative impact on your customers which mostly include housewives.


New Hurdles To A Great Customer Shopping Experience

images (24)Retail professionals and customers struggle with complex emotional feelings more today than ever before. The sense of unrest that penetrates American lives, tech and Internet obsessions, and that ever-fleeting-hard-to-capture personal focus are, perhaps, the greatest offenders. What can retailers do to combat the fright, fatigue, and fragile focus that plague their customers?


Americans readily admit they want a safe, comfortable environment, but they don’t want to be hindered as they go about their daily activities. They do not want an armed guard in every boutique or store they enter, but they do want a general feeling of safety. If the surrounding neighborhood is beginning to deteriorate, shoppers may feel less safe and seek out other locations to shop. A report of heightened terrorist activity may keep shoppers at home or at least away from major shopping centers. While political unrest and terrorism are out of a business owner’s control, other aspects of safety are not.

Safe environment implies safety from catastrophic events like fire, for example. Of course, you can’t prevent every disaster, but you can give your store an advantage. It is imperative that entries and exits be clean and clear at all times. Trash should be promptly removed from the store in clear plastic bags and placed inside designated waste bins. Fire and police responders listed trash removal and clear exits as needed improvements to businesses time after time. Strive to keep all the entrances and exits free from clutter. Doors designated to be locked during business hours should be kept locked (and checked from time to time throughout the day); doors designated for customers should be open and welcoming.

To combat other insecurities, work with local police and first responders in the event of an emergency. Be active, flexible and calm. The time to plan for emergencies is during calm times. Print out your disaster plan, more than one copy, and keep it handy so that no one will have to try to look for the plan or try to determine what to do or how to do it during a crisis. Include the store’s physical address and simple directions to the store so that a stressed, frightened person could read this and not be forced to recite it from memory while rattled. Have flashlights on hand. In emergencies working flashlights make people feel calmer and more in control. If you haven’t checked the batteries lately, do so now.

Computer Security

Another concern shoppers and retailers share is cyber security. Data breaches continue to erode consumer confidence and brand reputation. Any data breach poses a real risk to customer confidence and store profit. It’s worth mentioning that active security and compliance to security are not the same thing. Since PCI DSS compliance can be a long and complex procedure, many see PCI DSS compliance as active security. While compliance does improve security to some extent, compliance is obeying the law; active security denotes an active defense-a special respect for and special treatment of information be it digital or hard copy.

Actions for data defense include an up-to-date internet security program and firewall, PCI DSS compliance (as a minimum), limited access for third parties, special care with hard copy, etc.

Tech Obsession

Even though technology generally improves our lives, many Americans have become slaves to computers, cell phones, and tablets. Smartphones are almost a constant disruption. Frequent gatherings show clusters of people punching away in their virtual world while they eat or shop in close proximity, but they are not talking to each other-they are involved with their “virtual worlds.” According to PEW research, users check their smartphones an average of 110 times a day, set them beside their plates while eating, and even check them in the bathroom. A decade ago no one had a smartphone. Now 46% of smartphone users say their device is something they “can’t live without.” 93% of adults age 18 to 29 admit to using their phone to avoid being bored, and 47% say they rely on their devices to avoid talking to others and to communicate with friends.

To further muddy the waters, the shopping experience no longer begins when customers walk through the door. Now shopping begins with a Google search on a personal devise, followed for a search of product and store reviews. This is followed by posting to a social networking site to get the opinion of friends and family. When a customer walks into the store, the shopping experience may be nearing its conclusion. For store personnel, it is time to act, to close the deal.

However, store professionals are frequently viewed as the interruption to the shopping experience rather than the completion or answer phase. Picture two customers out for an afternoon of shopping, talking at each other while focused on their mobile devises. It takes well-informed, people-skilled sales professionals to insert themselves into the conversation, give assistance and close the sale. Sales personnel must be well-trained and each one needs to be interested in the customers. Their focus must be entirely on the customers or they will miss opportunities.

Social Media “Addiction”

Then there is social media. It’s become a habit for many, requiring a lion’s share of the day’s attention for others. 28% of iPhone users check their social media channels before getting out of bed in the morning. 18% of social media users say they can’t go more than a few hours without checking out what’s happening on their favorite social media sites. This would be “down time” but now micro-moments with social networking have robbed people of even those short periods of rest.

So, what can a retailer do? You have no control over how much time a customer may spend on social media but you can establish a relationship with your customers on social media. You need to be where your customers are. Ask your customers what social networking sites they frequent and be sure to post regularly. Generally, 1 or 2 posts weekly are good for Facebook. Keep it short and use pictures. Twitter requires more effort needing multiple posts per day. However, the key is consistency in whatever social sites you choose.

Shopping Experience

Finally consider your customers shopping experience. It may have begun several days before a customer visits your shop-someone wants a new something, unique and flashy. The customer performs an online search. Next they will consult with friends on social networking, get their thoughts and input, study on-line reviews of various products and stores and, finally, come to the store to touch, feel, see and hear. Your store is a stage for their enjoyment. The store needs to pop with color and feature tantalizing displays to draw the eye. Re-dress mannequins weekly pairing different items together, especially those slow moving items. Frequently customers cannot imagine how to wear something or what to partner it with; how you dress the mannequins will teach them and spur on their imaginations making your merchandise more enjoyable.

Since customers are looking for the unique, be sure that you stock some products that are less well known. Try a new vendor or 2 at market or visit a different market to increase ideas and try something different. If you carry the same choices as other local stores, you may place yourself in a price war to win customers’ attention. The independent retailer generally cannot win a price war.

Time Crunch

Shoppers and retailers alike are forced to navigate with a perceived time crunch hanging over them. Reality allows all people to have the same 24 hours in each day and 7 days in each week, but how people use their time leaves much open to interpretation. Is the time well-used or wasted? Some people always get done what they need to and enjoy leisure time. Others may feel overwhelmed with what “needs to be done” that is always left undone. However, no matter if the time stress is real or imagined, it is an interruption to shoppers that retailers must overcome.

The best way to overcome a time issue is to study the shopping experience your store offers. Is it fun? Is it easy? Do your customers feel connected to your store? Remember, your store is a stage to entertain, teach and entice. People make time for things they want to do and enjoy doing. Make your store enjoyable, an on-going party, a fun event to celebrate.

Saving Money

Since the economic recession of 2008, retailers have dealt with customers’ urgent desire to reduce debt and establish savings. Although more people are currently employed and wages are slowly increasing, the added income is not being spent at shops and boutiques, but applied to existing debt or to savings accounts. Millennials are of a different mindset from Baby Boomers-they tend to want vacations, entertainment or dining out but not things. Capitalize on this by helping with your customers’ plan for the events in their lives. Provide information on comfortable travel, vacation sites where your logo was spotted (on a cap or tee), packing advise, etc. Partner your store with a local independent restaurant. Be creative. Give your customers a reason to visit your store. Keep merchandise new and exciting. Is there new and unique merchandise for them to see each time they visit? If not, you may be losing their interest and their focus. Be sure to entice customers to visit with new merchandise, in-store events, friendly sales staff and great customer service.

Concluding Thoughts

Life is hectic and evolving. There is a constant battle being waged for customer focus and there is no quick fix, nor is there a single fix for this on-going problem. Just as each store is unique, so is each solution. If one idea doesn’t work, try something else. It is important to commit each idea to writing, either on computer, devise or paper so that you can return to think about what went wrong and what went right. Therefore, plan; then be firm, fixed and flexible.

This article was written by Linda Carter, President of The Retail Management Advisors, a retail consulting firm whose mission is to help independent retailers survive and thrive. With more than 30 years experience helping independent retailers, she has the experience to help you too.



Retailing and Mall Shopping Ain’t What It Used To Be

download (24)The US retail sector may be post peak, and with the changing demographics and online sales competition, the once popular shopping mall and Department Store may become much like the once dominant species of our pale blue dot. Like the dinosaurs, the department store model looks like it will soon be ancient history. Let’s talk, as there is more evidence than not to back up this prediction.

The Kansas City Business Journal had a piece titled: “Study: Department stores must prune mall space to bloom again,” published on April 25, 2016 which stated: “A real estate research firm says department stores must close hundreds of sites – about 20 percent of all anchor space – in U.S. malls to regain their productivity of a decade ago, The Wall Street Journal reports. For example, Sears Holdings Corp. should shutter 300 stores, or 43 percent of its total, to achieve the sales per square foot it had in 2006, according to the study by Green Street Advisors. This is so even though Sears and other retailers have closed hundreds of stores in recent years with the rise of online sales and discounters.

Meanwhile, The Louisville Business Journal had a telling article recently titled: “Major retailer plans to close all of its Louisville-area stores except one,” published on April 22, 2016, which stated: “Kmart is planning to close all but one of its stores in the Louisville area this summer. The retail chain’s parent company, Sears Holding Corp., announced Thursday that a total of 78 Kmart and Sears stores will be closing, and that number includes four Louisville-area Kmart stores, WDRB TV reports.”

And, what exactly was that Wall Street Journal piece saying in addition to all this? Well, read it for yourself; “Glut Plagues Department Stores,” by Suzanne Kapner – and the recommendation from the research firm that in the US there needs to be at least the closure of 800 anchor tenant department stores for profitability to stabilize, that would be about one-fifth of all major department stores. Can you say; Ouch!? For the Retail Sector, I think this is what all retail stock fund managers are collectively saying about now, and one would have to ask; why? Why is this happening?

Well, consider the exuberant growth over the years, and the increase in online sales, expansion of Wal-Mart superstores and the spendable income of Americans declining – due to college tuition costs, health insurance, and the increased costs of things once not heard of, but now necessities of modern life such as: smart phones, cable TV, etc. Wages and Salaries on average have been stagnant and alongside even moderate to nil inflation flat in their growth. The world is changing and the retail world must adapt or die – there is no longer a choice in the matter. Please think on this.


Important Things You Must Know About Retail Management Information Systems

images (23)Retail management will mean running a store where merchandise is sold. Retail management information systems will include using software, hardware and procedures in order to manage activities such as inventory control, planning, logistics, point of sale transactions, and financial management. You can use this system in your business to manage your finances, store, and inventory from one office.

If you allow information to be exchanged instantly, store managers can efficiently control profits for the entire company. It must support product management and must enable an in-depth analysis of customer data. This is a very flexible system allowing managers to set prices for different time periods based on the location of the store. This will also allow them to meet the needs of inventory and sales managers. Most importantly, it involves the use of a mobile user interface.

How It Functions?

It supports the basic functions of procurement, storage and delivery. With this system, managers can efficiently deal with customers, suppliers, inventory, and product sales. It will allow you to successfully track purchase orders as well as update inventory record with dynamism. Furthermore, it will allow you to analyse cash, credit card, and check transactions in order to reconcile information as well as enhance efficiency by examining shortages and overage to show developments which can be remedied.


With this system, operations are sure to improve and costs will be reduced since it will facilitate the integration between inventory, payments and transactions. By efficiently tracking inventory, customer requests can be addressed in an instant. And with fast responses, you can likewise enhance service, increase your profits, and expand your customer base.

Due to the fact that you can easily have an access to data, you can easily identify opportunities to recycle materials, boost waste reduction, and select eco-friendly packaging. These strategies will surely pave the way for a very profitable business.


This system can easily be customized for various industries. For instance, it can be customized for department stores, sports, furniture, supermarkets, prescription drugs or fashion. There are some systems supporting different languages, tax systems, cost structures, and currencies. With this system in place, there will be a support for various business models. It can actually accommodate consignment, franchise, online business models, and direct sales.



5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a POS System

download (23)One of the most significant things a business owner must have to effectively run his business is a way to keep track of the inventory. The best way to achieve this task is to have a powerful point of sale system in place. These systems not just monitor sales, inventory, and cash flow, but manage the business as a whole. A high performance POS system helps you to improve business operations by streamlining inventory, keeping track of the most popular items, and managing reports of daily sales.

To choose the best retail management software for your business, you need to avoid these mistakes.

Not doing enough research

Most business owners who end up disappointed with their point-of-sale software are those who don’t do enough research before purchasing one. A simple Google search will give you plenty of options to choose from. You can request demos and free consultations from the ones which you have shortlisted. Based on the demos, you select a system that best suits your business needs.

Not checking references

Most of the vendors will provide you their best references, but by requesting them to provide a local reference, you can save yourself from purchasing a poor-quality product. You must visit the local restaurant/retail store, which is using the POS system of the same vendor to ensure its quality and effectiveness. Having seen the product, you will be able to choose the best product in terms of both features and quality.

Not looking for the support options

Support options are essential for any software or hardware. A reliable support system is invaluable to every pursuit in life. So, make sure that your vendor provides assisted support services to meet all your requirements.

Purchasing a system that doesn’t offer detailed sales reports

It is not enough to purchase a POS system that keeps the record of all your sales transactions. To run your business profitably, you need to have actionable insights. And, these insights are provided by the daily sales reports generated by the point of sale solution. With the help of these insights you can easily identify the top performing and least performing items in your store.

Buying Hardware First

Many business owners make the mistake of purchasing POS hardware before selecting the software system. Always remember that not all software are compatible with all hardware. The software system will have hardware and operating system requirements. Moreover, each program of the software will only work with certain types of scanners, printers and card readers. Ensure to buy your software first and then buy the recommended hardware.



Intelligent Information Storing And Retrieval System

images (21)Business challenges are unique and needs to be solved within a context. The different operational elements combine together to generate the output for the organization. Your biggest asset is the knowledge you gain during business activities. You need to access this information when required. What would happen if you are not able to relate any specific business information with a particular situation? The loss cannot be measured in its entirety however the business will lose some sort of leverage.

Managing the information on paper is a thing of the past. The fast paced business environment requisite speedy solutions. As the business has now access to primary as well as secondary data and that too in abundance, it becomes necessary to manage the flow of this data. It should be understood that the different types of data generated in business activities have varying levels of significance. The accumulated information is not for everyone to access or use it. It is meaningful to employ relevant parameters to justify why different types of accumulated information need to be categorized in accordance with its relevance foe the user.

Experts believe that an automated system that manage content is in high demand. A big business problem is solved through these automated systems. It is anticipated that new technologies would provide new ways to build up content sharing competency across the organization. The system integration has become better and the database has become the lifeblood of the operations. The cost and the risk related to mismanagement in managing documents and information could be significantly high. It is believed that 45% of the operational efficiency is due to ineffective management systems that reduces the essence of effective execution of team work.

The printing services offered by Xerox can be managed meticulously. The carefully planned service offer can reduce significant cost of your business. Since printing undergoes a certain procedure it will produce different cost structure for the business. The service provider facilitates the business to execute effective control from the utilization of specified tools. In this respect the methodology implemented by the service provider will assess the exact situation of your business and will customize solution that is within the stipulated budget. This is an attraction for every type of business since printing solution is part and parcel of every business operations. The performance optimization level offered by the service provider is massive and allows the business to minimize the transaction costs. You can accelerate your specific need by utilizing the services that assist in expanding wide ranging possibilities to accrue solution that suits your requirements.

The operational procedure offered by Xerox to manage the document through an automated system is excellent. The system provided by the service provider can manage any type of query with ease. Not only the operational efficiency of the document management will get better the end users will also save considerable rime in identifying and accessing the document. A significant aspect of the service is its reliability. The accuracy required to use specific documents at the right time are directly related to productivity. This superlative level of customer orientation is very important for the automated system to understand the diverse needs of its users. The available experts design the most integrative solution for handling the database and produce information on demand. The effective technological integration offered by the service provider is classic and adds value to your business operations.



Revolutionize Your Business With Digital Printing!

images (22)As everything is becoming greatly reliant on new technological processes so is printing. A range of different mediums are being utilized and different formats are solving the printing issues of the businesses. As the backdrop has changed considerably businesses are shoeing more enthusiasm with printing processes that deliver high quality image and low turnaround time. For instance the on demand solutions are the foremost requirement for businesses. This variability is only attainable when a high quality printing procedure can be utilized to generate print in huge volume. Furthermore another important aspect is the cost associated with the procedure in order to measure the overall attractiveness of the solution. However this should not discourage you in looking for solutions that are superior in quality.

The business needs to communicate with the stakeholders using various tools. Now you can print flyers, business cards, brochures and other material in huge volumes at an affordable price. If your requirement is to generate the print in a considerable less time then digital print is the answer. The speed of this process is quite incredible and its capacity makes it a very eye-catching prospect for businesses varying in size and scope. In the same way the quantity of waste produced is significantly lower due to which this process is better suited in generating sustainable printing solutions. A very important part of the modern day marketing procedure is the ability to develop personalized and distinctive content.

For a business that needs extensive coverage and solutions in short time the aforementioned procedure is viable and productive as well. For instance the business can generate special content that is unique, embed the images that are relevant with it and design specialized services for every customer. This is certainly exceptional considering the fact that your business can precisely focus on how to develop relationship with every customer in a particular context. At the same time the business would be able to garner more interest as the content would specify to the interest of the customer. You can envisage how smartly you can get a go ahead by your prospective customer to meet and discuss about business.

Digital printing can transform the course of your communication with different stakeholders. How effectively you communicate can life your profile. The different type of printing services offered by the expert can live up to your expectations. Your determination to know the customers as a neutral can take a boost up if you design printing solutions in a professional manner. You are representing a particular camp therefore you need to be ahead of the game. More importantly the level of response that the business wants to create can be achieved through this procedure in an effective manner. This is what you want, a chance to engage with the customers in an individualized manner better engagement.

A one stop shop is what you need in getting different varieties of solutions at a reasonable price. Digital Printing can offer significant leverage to your communication needs. You can swap benefits by partnering with the service provider. The service provider will work on the approach that will give leverage to your communication needs. By having customized printing solutions for your flyers, brochures and business cards you can end up as a winner. You need to give yourself a chance to respond to different situations in an affordable manner. Believe me; you will get the desired pivot to engage with stakeholders in a better way.


Designing the Interior of a Retail Store

download (22)Retail has long been powerful and one thing we know is that there are a lot of different approaches to designing the interior layout of a store. However, there are some common design strategies that all retailers can use, which lead to generating more sales for a business. The interior design of your retail store is an issue we have been seeing recently, in an effort to help traders become more successful boutiques and thrive in today’s digital age. Since tell the story of a brand and create immersive experiences to utilities for the development of showcases and announcements signaling when it comes to retail the important thing is in the details. We want you to have the basic knowledge.

It is a known fact that in America, 90% of consumers when entering a shop turn right unconsciously. The first wall you see is often referred to as a “wall power” and acts as a first vehicle high impact provides a potential to the good in this space, so make sure you give extra special attention in terms of what you choose show. Be sure to arouse the attention of your customer with products that you put on the screen, either new or seasonal elements, high yield or high demand for products, to tell stories of your product and create vignettes.

The threshold area, also known as the “decompression zone” is the first space where potential customers walk when they walk into your store and usually consists of the first five to fifteen feet of space, depending on how great your business. This is also the space where your customers are going to make the transition from the outside world to the first experience you have to offer. They also make critical judgments, like how cheap or expensive is your store, how well coordinated is the site, lighting, accessories, lampshades and colors. Since they are in a transition mode, customers are more likely to miss any product, signaling, or cart to put there.

This can vary greatly depending on the size and overall design of your store, but knowing that your customers want to turn right, your next job is to make sure customers continue walking through your shop to get the maximum exposure of your products. This not only increases the chances of making a purchase, but a well thought out way can be a great way to strategically control the flow of traffic in your store.

Most stores use a circular path starting on the right to reach the back of the store and return to the front. Some will make it even easier, covering the road with different textures, in homage to the old saying “where the eyes go, your feet will follow.” Another thing to consider is that you should use the route to direct your customers to somewhere, which often means putting a flashy ad or screen to draw attention at the end of a corridor, for example.

With all the effort and time you put into your merchandising strategy and the proper arrangement of your products, the last thing you want your customers to come in a hurry and do not observe in detail your store or limit the products they can buy. One way to combat this is through “speeders.” In essence, this can be anything that offers customers a visual break and can be achieved through special signage or seasonal.

Most retailers properly implemented using what is known as “positions of goods” which are devices special display products near the end or in the middle of store aisles that encourage make impulse purchases while complement the products on display. However, since it is likely that your store does not have many halls, it is important to think of the group of products in a way that makes them easy to see and go together from the perspective of a buyer. Also remember to keep products “higher demand” at eye level. Finally, it is recommended to change these products weekly or regularly enough to create a continuous sense for repeat visitors.

You can also make your store is comfortable by incorporating some sort of waiting area with comfortable seats and benches that encourage customers to spend more time in your store, especially if a buyer is accompanied by someone who is not interested in making a purchase or children. A small tip to consider is to keep the seats or benches in front of the merchandise.

The design of your store is an endless process, where you can always be changing place things, to create a journey of experiences. At the end of the day, however, that’s exactly what you should focus, where you can constantly test and optimize your products. Make your acquaintances and family members give you feedback. Finally, keep in mind your customers and see what attracts them, what to avoid and how to move, then determines if they match your intended design. Keep your eyes and ears open, so you’re sure to create an environment of retail that is a win-win for both for you and your customers


Gift Card Programs for Coffee Shops

images (20)Gift cards can be one of the most profitable items a Coffee Shop or Café can offer. Here are some of the various questions that any Coffee Shop or Café owner should ask when implementing a system to their store.

Where fees are there? Hopefully, there are no swipe fees or monthly fees. When fess are added to a gift or prepaid card, the program becomes as costly as a credit card to the retailer. If there are fees, what are they? Are they charged per load, per purchase? Is there a charge on the inquiry? Paying $.10 to $.25 a swipe for someone to check a balance can hurt the retailer’s bottom line.

Where do I get cards? Based on national averages of the Coffee industry, the average coffee shop goes through 1,000 cards a year. It’s important to make sure that the retailer can purchase cards from their provider at a rate that is in line with the rest of the industry. Some providers force the retailer to purchase cards at two or three times the regular rate. Retailers want to insure that the cards they purchase are custom cards with a full color front and back.

Can customers tip on the gift card? Tipping is extremely important to the baristas that work at a coffee shop or café. The system that is used should be able to take tips as well. Employees can be resistant to using a gift card system that reduces their opportunity to receive tips. Being able to tip is also something that customers like. Don’t make your customers feel guilty that they can’t tip an employee because they use the card.

Does the card system allow split payments? In other words, does the system allow for an easy way to use a partial payment? Customers want to be able to use whatever money is left on a card. Being able to pay with gift cards and cash or credit cards make it convenient.

Is it a gift and loyalty card? Even if you don’t plan on implementing a loyalty or rewards system currently, you want to make sure that the system is capable of handling it. Being able to have the same card act as both gift and loyalty is important. Customers certainly don’t want to carry two cards around. Also, make sure you know what loyalty systems are possible. Buy 10 Get 1 free? Every dollar spent is a point? Percentage back?

Will it work across multiple locations? While you may not be a multi store operator now, it does not hurt to think like one. Being able to have customers easily use their gift cards across your locations is important. If you are thinking about franchising in the future, then you need to know if your system can accommodate corporate pooling of gift cards.

Mike Spence is the President of SelbySoft, Inc. A point of sale provider to the coffee, cafe and pizza industries. For the last 20 years, Mike and SelbySoft have helped thousands retailers use gift and prepaid systems to increase their bottom line, reduce theft and retain customers through proven point of sale and gift card systems.