Guest Column | August 22, 2014

4 Retail Solutions VARs Should Recommend For The Holidays

By Francesca Nicasio, Vend

Retail Solutions For Holiday Sales For VARs

With the holiday season just a few short months away, it’s high time for you to start assisting your retail customers to gear up for the upcoming rush. While experts are predicting consumer holiday spending to increase by around 3.5 percent in 2014, the retail world is more competitive than ever, so merchants have to stay on top of their game.

This holiday season, help your retail customers do just that through the following:

Omni-Channel Solutions

The numbers surrounding omni-channel services, such as click-and-collect, were record-breaking for the 2013 holiday season (click-and-collect orders were up 61.8 percent from 2012). Furthermore, with an increasing number of consumers using multiple channels to research, browse, and shop, you can expect this trend to continue this year. That’s why it’s essential that VARs equip merchants with capabilities that would help them bridge the gap between offline and digital channels.

One of the first tasks in accomplishing this is to provide inventory integration solutions that would enable retailers to manage inventory across various touch points and offer Web-to-store services, such as click-and-collect or in-store returns.

Having the capabilities to seamlessly manage customer relationships across ecommerce, mobile, and brick-and-mortar will also be a big boon for retailers, especially during the holidays. If merchants can view their customers’ purchase history and browsing across multiple channels, they’ll be better equipped to make relevant recommendations and tailor their marketing efforts.

In-Store Analytics

The holiday season always brings in a rush of people, and this gives merchants plenty of opportunities to not just generate sales but to get to know their customers. See to it that your retail clients are able to capture the wealth of customer data that’s bound to flow through their doors in the coming months.

People counters, beacons, and in-store sensors are just some of the solutions that can help them do this. These products and services allow stores to analyze metrics such as traffic, dwell time, and peak hours. They also help merchants make staffing decisions and ensure that there is a healthy associate-to-customer ratio at all times.

Superette, a New Zealand-based apparel retailer, for instance, uses Vend together with Swarm to track sales along with foot traffic data. The solution, according to store owner James Rigden, allowed them to increase store efficiency and gain a better understanding of their business.

“It has helped out with staff rostering, timing of staff breaks, timing of job allocations, and pin-pointing daily and hourly customer trends,” he says.

Check in with your clients and ask them about their store activities during the holidays and suggest that they start collecting customer data. Educate them on the importance of analytics in the increasingly competitive retail landscape and recommend solutions to help them get to know their customers better.

Security And Surveillance Tools

It is estimated that shoplifters make off with billions of dollars during the holidays. This season, VARs can help retailers be vigilant and prevent theft by offering more sophisticated security and surveillance solutions. Video, for one, has come a long way since analog cameras. These days, VARs can offer IP video as well as surveillance tools that integrate with their store’s POS or analytics solutions. Doing so allows them to easily get to the bottom of issues by accessing receipts and transactions along with corresponding videos.

Mobile Solutions

Consumers are extremely busy this time of the year, and when it comes to shopping, the faster they can get in and out, the better. Depending on the type of retailers you’re dealing with, there are several mobile solutions that you can offer to streamline their operations. You can, for instance, recommend a mobile POS system that would enable them to send receipts via email (cutting down on checkout time) and ring up customers from anywhere in the store (reducing long lines).

You can also bring up mobile payments, as they can pave the way for a frictionless and speedier checkout experience. Consider Top Shelf Boutique, a San Francisco fashion truck that lets customers pay with their smartphone through PayPal. Shoppers can simply use their PayPal app to check into the store, and they can pay just by showing their face to the cashier.

“Customers are always pleasantly surprised with how fast we ring them up. They’re always saying, ‘That’s it? I’m done? Great!’” shares Christina Ruiz, owner of Top Shelf Boutique.

Talk to your clients as they’re prepping for the holidays, and discuss how you can improve their checkout process through mobile solutions.

Francesca Nicasio is a retail expert and author from Vend, a point of sale, inventory, and customer loyalty software that helps over 10,000 retailers manage and grow their businesses.