Smartwerks http://smartwerksusa.com The best business partner you'll ever have. Wed, 27 Jul 2016 16:09:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://smartwerksusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/cropped-sw_logo_fav-32x32.png Smartwerks http://smartwerksusa.com 32 32 Tips for Business Networking http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/networking-techniques/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/networking-techniques/#respond Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:53:31 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18946 The post Tips for Business Networking appeared first on Smartwerks.

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In order to run a successful business, you need to build and maintain a strong network. One of the biggest challenges for today’s business owner is finding the time to network with other business leaders. Being able to find time during the day can seem like a monumental task. Organizing your day to include networking keeps you engaged with the community that helps grow our business.

When we network with other businesses, we market our expertise and products while exchanging ideas and best practices. Time and energy spent on networking with other business owners and executives has tangible rewards.

The key to networking is to think of it as part of your routine. Here are 5 networking techniques to target your efforts and make them more productive:

1. Social Media

You can increase your reach and amount of interactions through social networking sites. Networking sites offer the convenience of visibility and the possibility of interacting with peers and potential customers while sitting in your office or at home. You can follow trends in your industry, offer advice on familiar problems, and write about what you’ve learned. Becoming a thought leader increases your potential for more interactions.

networking techniques

2. Follow Up with New Connections

Connecting with someone at a networking event is like a first date—your professional relationship has just begun. Make sure you follow up with your new connection on social media, through a personalized email, a phone call, or a handwritten letter. Give yourself a 48-hour deadline to reconnect to show your interest and offer some new ideas you may have wanted to talk about but didn’t get the chance.

3. Make Them Feel Comfortable around You

A sure-fire way to turn people off is to talk only about yourself and your business (unless of course you’re Bill Gates or Richard Branson). People get bored quickly when they are unable to contribute to a conversation. This can also translate into a negative interaction that has the opposite effect of your networking efforts. Actively listening to others makes them feel special, like they have something important to say, and has a positive effect. If your new connection feels comfortable with you, then they will look forward to future interactions.

4. Expertise + Offer to Help

After introducing yourself and settling into a conversation, ask questions about their business and any recent success and challenges they may have. This is a great way to actively listen and make them feel more comfortable around you. If you can, offer your resources, such as contacts, partnerships, or knowledge, in order to help with their challenges. This increases your value to them and their connections.

5. Frequency

Maximize your networking techniques through frequent and quality interactions. This can be as simple as posting an interesting article on a social media site, or committing to attend a mixer once a month. Much like advertising, front-of-mind awareness increases the likelihood that someone will pass your name to another person as a trusted source or expert in your industry.

Networking Is a Best Practice

Remember to nurture the strategic relationships that you’ve built. This select group of professionals become your mentors and sounding boards for your ideas. These relationships require frequent interaction on a more personal level. Business networking is not something you should only do after work—it should be one of your best practices.

Resources:

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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3 Simple Ways to Increase Employee Engagement http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/employee-engagement-ideas/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/employee-engagement-ideas/#respond Thu, 07 Jul 2016 18:16:04 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18932 The post 3 Simple Ways to Increase Employee Engagement appeared first on Smartwerks.

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Businesses with a higher level of employee engagement have higher rates of productivity and overall success. Often described as the emotional connection an employee has with his or her company, employee engagement has a positive influence on an employee’s behavior and level of work performed. Employee turnover and reported sick days are less likely within engaged workplaces. Positive behaviors in the work place lead to safer places to work, higher levels of customer service, and higher quality of goods produced.

Yet, according to a Gallup poll, 70% of U.S. workers were not engaged with their work. How do employees establish an emotional connection with their work? We have three simple ways a small business owner can foster an environment where their employees love to come into work every day.

1. Engagement Begins at the Top

Research on leadership styles have shown that employees can be energized by their leaders. One simple way to motivate your employees is consistently portraying the company’s values through your actions. Hard work, attention to detail, and a positive attitude are great examples and can be contagious.

You’ll need to consider your managers in this equation, as well. They have more direct contact with employees and need to communicate the company vision and values. A good leader communicates with their management team to clarify goals and opportunities, and show transparency.

employee engagement ideas

2. Opinions Matter

Employee surveys are an excellent barometer of your company culture. Use a web-based tool like Survey Monkey, so employees can login anonymously and provide their feedback. These surveys are also a great way to track what is working and what does not.

Communicate with your employees about the results. Let them know what can be implemented and the issues that cannot. Open and honest communication allows them to better understand their roles and environment. Implementing their suggestions also gives them a feeling of being in control of their work. It creates a culture of trust and ownership.

3. Recognize Strong Performances

Leaders are quick to point out poor performances, mistakes, and missed opportunities. Many times they let the strong performances go unrecognized, making the employees feel unappreciated, when in fact they are a source of pride. An exceptional leader is quick to praise strong performances.

Recognition can come in the form of communication and awards, but research suggests that non-cash awards are better than cash. Also, recognition of strong performances should be as frequent and immediate as mistakes and poor ones. Waiting until the end of a quarter to congratulate employees may be too late.

Communication Is the Key

Decades of research have proven that employee engagement increases profitability. The key to all of the research on employee engagement is fostering a culture of open communication.

Any healthy relationship, including business owners and employees, begins with open and honest communication. Holding regular meetings is one way to communicate frequently. Another is to speak individually with employees on a regular basis, either face-to-face, or a simple phone call or email. Frequent connections build a genuine attachment, which makes motivating your employees easier.

Recommended Resources:

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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4 Ways to Prevent Inventory Shrinkage http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/4-ways-to-prevent-inventory-shrinkage-in-retail/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/4-ways-to-prevent-inventory-shrinkage-in-retail/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 13:58:06 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18814 The post 4 Ways to Prevent Inventory Shrinkage appeared first on Smartwerks.

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Simply defined as the loss of physical inventory, shrinkage affects revenue in every business—especially in retail. Your company’s inventory shrink is the difference between your accounting records, typically from receipts and purchase orders, and physical inventory. According to the 2015 National Retail Security Survey, retailers lost $44 billion due to shrink. The loss of inventory equals the loss of profit and potential income. An excellent way to tighten up your bottom line and increase profitability is to address your inventory shrink.

How does inventory shrinkage in retail companies occur? Over 70% of all shrink was from theft by employees or customers. Other areas of loss are due to paperwork errors, multiple inventory management systems, obsolete product, and damage. Severe occurrences of inventory shrink can result in decreased bonuses for employees and changes in business operations. Preventing the loss of inventory is manageable and doesn’t need a large capital investment.

inventory shrinkage in retail

Prevention

Reducing inventory shrink requires action and input from every employee—from the stock room clerks to the accountants. Mistakes will happen and acknowledging them means you’re ready to implement a plan for continuous improvement. As a team, every aspect of your business can be scrutinized for areas of concern. Here are 4 ways you can prevent inventory shrink:

1. Train Your Employees

Another way to prevent theft is to train your employees. Theft can account for an overwhelming majority of your losses. Employee theft comprises 43% of inventory shrink. Forbes Magazine describes how you can spot employees stealing from inventory (read our article on theft prevention)
Very few small companies talk about shoplifting prevention or have guidelines in place to handle thieves. An open and honest discussion about shoplifting may open their eyes to the issues regarding shoplifters. You can teach them to how recognize shoplifting techniques and close the gaps in your security. Also, placement of product within your store, such as keeping expensive items locked in a case or toward the back of the store, prevents the quick grab-and-run. These easy and cost-effective steps can avoid the installation of a large scale security system or hiring a team of security guards.

2. Implement a System of Double-Checks

Inaccuracies within your inventory management may come from mistakes during the receiving process or through using multiple systems to manage your inventory. Implementing a system of double-checks when accepting inventory is a good way to prevent mistakes. Also, using a single automated system can reduce mistakes in transferring data from one system to the next.

3. Rotate Products

Learn how to rotate products that quickly become out-of-date. A robust inventory tracking system can give you alerts on shelf-life. It can also analyze which products are selling and the ones that are not. Adjust your sales tactics to prevent loss of product freshness.

4. Improve Receiving and Stocking Processes

Prevent damaging new product through improvements to your receiving and stocking processes. Train your employees on how to handle and store products in the warehouse or backroom. Smart product placement on store shelves is another way to prevent damage. Make it easy and safe for employees and customers to reach their items and place bigger items on the bottom of shelves.
If you have a warehouse or storage facility, make scheduled inspections of the exterior, including the roof, so repairs can be made in a timely fashion without experiencing product losses. Fire detection and prevention systems are also important anywhere product is stored.

Make a Plan-Of-Action

With these tools, you can sit down and create a plan-of-action to prevent inventory shrink. Something to think about is good hiring practices, which promotes employees with integrity. Once you have good employees, train them on shoplifting prevention, safe and reliable receiving processes, and how to properly use your upgraded inventory management system. Inventory shrinkage in retail companies is impossible to eliminate entirely, but you can minimize the damaging effects with a great plan.

Recommended Resources:

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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Is It Time for a Strategic Plan? http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/time-strategic-plan/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/time-strategic-plan/#respond Tue, 07 Jun 2016 14:36:50 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18794 The post Is It Time for a Strategic Plan? appeared first on Smartwerks.

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There are several warning signs that may indicate a need for a strategic plan. One sign is the loss of core business; the core group of clients who helped build your business. The reason for their departure may be from negative interactions in the store or at the check-out line.

Another sign can be quarter-over-quarter losses. That’s an easy one to see. And, another is when your competition has moved into your area and purloined (a nice way of saying that they are stealing) your market share. Maybe you should have opened another store or had more advertising? These signs point directly at a need for change—a need to regain lost revenue before it’s too late.

It’s time for a strategic plan. Markets have become global and innovations in technology are forever evolving. Over time, your plan should evolve, too. Every aspect of your business needs to be analyzed for strengths and weaknesses.

But, it’s been years since you wrote a business plan. Remember those long hours of focusing on your future and what you thought your business would be like in three-to-five years? While investigating this important topic, we found that taking the time to plan is as important as maintaining your daily operations.

Ask Yourself 3 Questions

A strategic plan resembles the business planning process. Typically, a business plan is created before the sign is in front of your shop and the doors are open. A strategic plan takes place midstride, while customers are flowing through your doors. It analyzes sales metrics to present a real-time picture of your customers’ experiences. Many of the guides on building a strategic plan offer three simple questions to guide the process:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where are we going?
  • How will we get there?

Your answers build the foundation of your plan. So, take your time and try to be as objective as possible when answering them.

strategic plan

You Are Here!

According to Forbes Magazine, the first question is not as easy as it seems. It’s very broad and will help you think about your current position in the marketplace, revenues and expenses, who your competitors are, and what you are good at doing.

Drilling down into your business operations, you should focus on customer experience and Point-of-Sale. As you can see from our previous articles, we feel passionate about how the right POS software can grow your business, and save time and money. Take a long look at your customers’ experience and you will gain insight into all facets of your business.

Imagine the Possibilities

In order to answer the second question, you will create a set of goals and milestones to be achieved over time. Your vision and mission should guide your process. This will help you understand the areas of your business that require priority attention over others. Create a timeline and be realistic about your goals. Don’t forget to determine all of the stakeholders in this process and collaborate with them. It’s in their best interests to succeed, so bring them on board with the plan.

Choosing the Right Vehicle to Get You There

Ask yourself if the systems in place are able to take you into the next three or five years. This includes the number of employees, marketing/advertising, store locations, and back-end systems, such as accounting and inventory management software.

Customers expect smooth transactions that are quick and simple. They also expect timely delivery. The systems in place need to accommodate your future customers, as much as your current ones. For small businesses, a POS solution should grow your business and improve productivity. The functionality of a cloud based POS software can help you realize your goals.

Ready to Launch

Having a written plan in place empowers you and your employees. The entire business becomes aligned with the goals, which brings everyone together as a team. It also holds everyone accountable for their part in the plan. Now that your plan is done, you’re ready to launch!

Recommended Resources:

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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5 Tips for Coaching Your Sales Team http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/mobile-pos-app-5-coaching-tips/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/mobile-pos-app-5-coaching-tips/#respond Wed, 25 May 2016 15:32:23 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18501 The post 5 Tips for Coaching Your Sales Team appeared first on Smartwerks.

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In the past, managing your sales team was typically through “gut based decisions” and how you felt they were doing. Of course, after hours of observing their interactions with customers, your level of confidence was pretty high when it comes time for employee evaluations.

You rated each individual on a scale of 1-to-5 for categories that ran the gamut—from strategic thinking to customer engagement. 360° reviews, self-evaluations, and meetings with other managers confirmed the ratings your employees’ deserved. Or, so you thought.

Unfortunately, according to the Harvard Business Journal and years of scientific research, a manager’s ability to rate their employees’ performance is probably wrong. The results of these studies talk about how managerial feelings get in the way of true performance indicators. The only objective criteria for a true evaluation is found in the data.

Evaluate

For your sales team, data driven analytics can be found in customer feedback and sales of products and/or services. Customer feedback surveys offer a view from the other side of the counter. These surveys describe the customer experience, which differentiates your business from other businesses in your industry.

Along with surveys, today’s POS software helps you understand your customers’ buying habits. The most popular items on your shelves and the worst performers. This also provides data for your sales team. A sales report on revenue can indicate your best salesperson and the one that is lagging behind.

Reaching deeper into the data, you can see exactly what each individual is selling. For example, one of your top salespeople is selling only one item and not the full catalog. This is a top performer, yet they are missing opportunities.

Providing data driven feedback to your sales team and individual members can improve their performance. But, how do you present the data without upsetting the proverbial apple cart? We suggest sales coaching. Below are 5 tips for you to follow when coaching your sales team.

mobile pos apps

1. Timely Feedback

With mobile POS apps, you can give your sales team real-time data. Positive feedback on daily or weekly sales reinforces good behavior.

2. Include Recognition

Here is an opportunity to describe how your salespeople are succeeding. More than just hitting sales goals, this means digging deeper into the data and sharing your evaluation of the numbers. Your employees like to hear what it is they are doing right and why they are doing well.

3. Offer Suggestions

While you recognize their success, offer a suggestion about how to improve in weak areas. People tend to listen better if they have been praised. Any negative criticism can close the link of communication between you and your team. This is an opportunity to offer constructive criticism.

4. Align Feedback with Expectations

Give feedback that directly speaks to the sales goals and expectations. Your messaging will only create confusion with your team if you judge them on other aspects of their job, such as personality or habits. This is also a good reminder for you to explain exactly what you want from your sales team.

Discuss the Future

Did you ever like being lectured or talked at? Probably not. And, neither do your employees. Engage your team through dialog to construct their future success. Your salespeople are on the frontline every day, meeting customers and learning about their needs. They have valuable input, and you’ve had to spend more time in the back office. Listen to them and they will be more apt to listen and agree to your data driven analyses.

The Power of Coaching

Whether you’re a small retailer or have multiple locations, real-time reporting of sales and customer data gives your sales force a powerful tool to improve productivity and increase revenue. This data can also be shared with other employees in the organization to support the sales goals and create an environment of open communication. Everyone will understand how to better support the sales’ efforts. And, if done correctly, incorporating these coaching tips may do more than just improve sales, they may change your whole environment into a more positive and fun place to work.

Recommended Resources:

The process of evaluating employee effectiveness is moving toward data and away from managerial insights.

This articles explains how to improve sales through focusing on the middle performers.

Managerial tips on sales coaching from a top salesperson in a Fortune 500 company.

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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Embrace Your Inner CFO: How To Evaluate a Mobile POS http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/evaluating-small-business-pos-software/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/evaluating-small-business-pos-software/#respond Fri, 13 May 2016 13:49:06 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18275 The post Embrace Your Inner CFO: How To Evaluate a Mobile POS appeared first on Smartwerks.

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Today’s CFO is more than an accountant. They are a financial strategist with a deep understanding of budgets and business operations. If you’re a small business owner, one of the most important roles you need to fill is the CFO, because they know what is coming into the company—from where it came and when.

Through valuable expertise in operations and finances, the CFO can budget and forecast quickly and with confidence. An effective way to improve earnings is through analysis of the individual components of working capital. This includes inventory turnover and collection ratios that may identify areas of concern, such as inventory or cash management, as well as accounts receivable and payable management. Understanding operating cash flow means better management of working capital to create financial strategies.

Become a Financial Strategist

Ideally, a financial strategist needs to have all of their data in an easy to access location. This allows for real-time analyses of each department and every aspect of the business. For a small business, the move to a cloud-based small business POS software acts as an enterprise resource planning solution without all of the expensive migration and implementation costs.

But first, as the CFO, you need to evaluate the POS systems out there. It’s easy to do. There are three major aspects of an all-in-one system to evaluate: flexibility, value, and total cost of ownership.

small business pos software

1. Flexibility

As your company grows, your small business POS software needs to grow, too. Over time, you will also want to look at your business through varying reporting methods. Finding a software that can evolve with your needs is very important. Because, as the CFO, you are always looking at the data to find tomorrow’s opportunities.

2. Value

Where do you find value in a mobile POS? One way is through customer satisfaction. Today’s mobile POS systems streamline receiving and processing customer sales, and provide more accurate sales estimates and order fulfilment. The value is through differentiating yourself among the competition—repeat customers and lower customer acquisition costs.

Another important value of a mobile POS is the ability to provide real-time reports and metrics covering all aspects of your business. At any time of day, you should be able to make data-driven decisions to execute your business strategies. Businesses that leverage data-based metrics are in a stronger position to adapt to market fluctuations and find opportunities for growth.

3. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

This is a broad category and describes costs of integration, implementation, training, and support. These costs are hard to pin-down, because of the many details associated with an all-in-one system. Fortunately, there are mobile POS systems that reduce the TCO through cloud technology and ease-of-use. If a system is too complex or not intuitive, then you and your employees will spend too much time trying to figure it out, or creating work-arounds, adding to the TCO.

A great way to lower TCO is through due diligence; find companies of similar size and industries and see what they are using. Talk directly with the sales and support teams for mobile POS systems and decide if they are a good fit for you today—and tomorrow.

Cloud-Based Strategies

Having all of your data in one location allows for greater financial visibility and control over financial reporting. This leads to continuous improvement of operational systems and increased productivity through eliminating tasks that take up too much of your employees’ time. A cloud-based mobile POS can provide the enterprise solution that you need to grow your business without all of the costly headaches and lost time from antiquated systems. Embrace your inner CFO and define the financial future of your company.

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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Over 30 Years in POS: What We’ve Learned http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/mobile-point-of-sale-30-years/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/mobile-point-of-sale-30-years/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 14:59:18 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18192 The post Over 30 Years in POS: What We’ve Learned appeared first on Smartwerks.

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For more than 30 years, the people at Smartwerks have witnessed first-hand many of the innovations developed within the POS industry. From cash registers to hand-held mobile point of sale devices, we have contributed to those innovations in POS technology. And during this time, we have faced many of the same challenges our customers face in a highly competitive marketplace. What separates us from the rest? Why have we been in business for so long? We listen to our customers.

Mobile Point of Sale and The Internet

Much of the innovation in POS technology has grown from the advent of the Internet. Businesses using the Internet to its fullest potential are better at communicating information with their customers, vendors, and employees. Today, an off-site salesperson can use a mobile device to complete any transaction from anywhere around the world. Just think, 30 years ago, generating a purchase order was never instantaneous.

Mobile point of sale systems are some of the most complex in the computer industry. These systems have to interact with a variety of end-users and perform multiple roles that include sales, inventory, financials, and customer relations. Each component has to interact with the other, so the salesperson can know what is in the warehouse, while the accountant can see how well sales are doing and what’s dying on the warehouse shelves. All of this functionality would not be possible without the Internet.

We have seen whole areas of commerce change because of the Internet. For any business wanting to expand their reach, POS systems and software provide a multichannel or omnichannel presence. These complex go-to-market strategies rely on proven business-to-consumer relationships.

mobile point of sale

Beyond Ten Years

An article in INC magazine describes how many businesses fail before their ten-year anniversary. Why do they fail? Setting aside the obvious—the inability to make a profit—one of the primary reasons is loss of touch with their customers. A successful company understands the conditional nature of their success and how it is directly tied to their customer. Working together to be successful is a recipe for longevity. Take a quick look at the companies that have been around for 30 years and you will recognize their ability to listen and adjust to their customers’ needs.

This especially holds true in the tech industry. Every year, something new and amazing comes out to change the way we work and live. And, never before have businesses and consumers experienced such connectivity.

Adaptability

Through the convergence in technologies, especially in the POS industry, doors have opened for many businesses to grow like never before. A company utilizing a cloud-based system has a distinct advantage over its competition, providing on-demand information for their employees to make informed decisions for their customers.

These capabilities allow them to differentiate themselves in their industry. Entrepreneurial competition is forecasted to grow even more in the coming decade. Having the ability to communicate a compelling value-proposition stems partly from adaptations in technology. It also comes from understanding your customers and what separates you from a growing field of competitors.

The Next 5 Years

After 30 years in the POS industry, we see a need for businesses to maximize technology in order to provide customers with a positive shopping experience. Today, POS systems need to accommodate shoppers who research before making their purchases. Millennials research products while shopping, using their phones to compare pricing and quality. Interestingly, according to CMO.com, 44% of shoppers want to purchase online and pick up their purchases at the store. The growth of e-commerce does not indicate the demise of brick and mortar stores. Actually, e-commerce has shown the need for physical locations and personal relationships. We know people need to interact with a sales person or be reassured that they can if they need too.  Human touch will always be included in the recipe for a successful business.

Recommended Resources:

It’s a year old, but still holds true.

We think the Omnichannel is still alive and will be for a while, but this article has some very good points to consider.

If you are interested, Wikipedia provides an interesting look at the evolution of POS.

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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Paper Based Transactions = Lost Revenue http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/mobile-pos-paper-equals-lost-revenue/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/mobile-pos-paper-equals-lost-revenue/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 12:50:06 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18161 The post Paper Based Transactions = Lost Revenue appeared first on Smartwerks.

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Early adopters of cloud based POS software and mobile POS solutions have experienced a cutting-edge advantage over their competition. Real-time transactions improve customer service, eliminate waste, and maximize profit. The ROI extends beyond hardware costs. Use of cloud based POS software increases customer and employee satisfaction, and can be a tool for global communication. Merchants using paper based transactions will be left in the dust of their competitors.

Still Clinging to a Paper Based System

Many businesses are falsely led by the belief that if their inventory management system isn’t broken, then it doesn’t need to change. They also believe any changes will create challenges for their employees. These myths are far from the truth. If you believe them to be true, then you may have become complacent in an extremely competitive environment. Below are some myths about paper based systems that may signal your wake up call.

mobile pos

Myth 1: Paper is Cheaper Than Mobile Devices

In the past, the up-front costs of mobile technology seemed like a large investment. Yet, over time, the costs of paper, printing, labels, and checklists is more than the purchase of a mobile POS system and software. Today, mobile technology has flooded the market, substantially bringing down the cost of mobile devices, especially tablets and handheld technology.

Myth 2: Employees Are Comfortable with the Old System

A commonly heard complaint for change in any system is training and employee satisfaction. Fortunately, most if not all of your employees already have mobile devices and are familiar with how to use them. In 2014, two years ago, 75% of America owned a tablet or e-reader and 64% American adults own a smartphone. The number of tablets and smartphones has grown in the past two years, not slowed or stopped. Your employees have embraced technology to make their lives easier. Training them on a mobile device should be simple.

Myth 3: A Trail of Crumbs

The security and comfort found in a paper trail is a myth—plain and simple myth. Yes, paper can be held in your hand, like a twenty-dollar bill. That feels secure, right? Not nearly as secure as encrypted information on redundant servers that can be accessed 24/7 and any day of the year. Can you imagine spending a minute or an hour going through a stack of POs? Or waiting for someone to fill one out? That’s where sales are lost, during checkout, and paper based systems always lose against the ease and speed of a Mobile POS.

The Downside of Paper

Checkout time dramatically impacts customer perceptions of service and influences customer buying decisions. Studies have shown that 88% of consumers want a quicker checkout experience. For example, if the checkout process is too long, customers will leave the store before selecting items from the shelves, also called “shopping cart abandonment.” Or, a potential customer may walk past your store if the lines are too long, which is called a “drive-by.” Both are issues your business can’t afford. Consumers also had negative experiences if they felt that clerks and employees were too busy handling transactions to answer questions or help with purchasing decisions.

mobile pos

The Upside of Mobile POS

There are many advantages of mobile POS and managing data in the cloud. The primary reason is accessibility. Why limit yourself to your storefront and filing cabinets? Bring your store to your customers. Electronic data interchange (EDI) can process orders and payments in seconds. Paper based systems take days or weeks to process and manage inventory. A robust EDI improves delivery time and leads to higher customer satisfaction.

Increased response time with customers improves employee productivity. Your employees will have the ability to answer questions and be more proactive than reactive at their jobs. Time spent providing a more positive customer experience equals greater sales.

The end-to-end security framework found within a mobile and cloud based POS system enhances security during payment. End-to-end encryption secures the transaction, therefore lowers the risk of credit card fraud and theft of personal information. Cardholder information is protected through encryption of personal data, while merchants are safe from security breaches.

ROI with Mobile POS

We live in a fast-paced world that expects immediate results. No one wants to stand in a long line, especially when they can shop from home. Reduced times during checkout equates to increased sales and greater customer satisfaction.

As your business grows, POS and Mobile POS devices can be upgraded to increase their functionality. These devices are user friendly, because of touch-screen technology, making them easy to operate for the novice. And, familiarity with these devices is found in our everyday lives. In the long-run, the purchase of a robust POS system with mobile features will last for many years.

Recommended Resources:

A quick and easy explanation of EDI vs. paper

Some tips on how secure your POS should be

Interesting statistics on consumer perceptions

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

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Can POS Software Help Grow Your Company? http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/can-cloud-pos-software-grow-company/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/can-cloud-pos-software-grow-company/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:31:30 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=18085 The post Can POS Software Help Grow Your Company? appeared first on Smartwerks.

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Cloud POS software and touch screen technology have changed the retail environment. They make transactions quicker for the customer and easier for the employee to complete. These innovations create a positive customer experience and ensure return business.

Cloud POS Goes Beyond the Cash Register

Does your Point-of-Sale (POS) software do more than simply process transactions and accept payment? It should be the lifeline for your entire operation. A robust cloud POS system can quickly process payments, track inventory, create financial reports, manage staff, and gather customer data. These bundled features do more than just save time, they save money and provide much needed sales analyses.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, finding the right cloud POS software means that it needs to contribute to the success of your business. It also needs to have a balance of functionality and ease of use. Here are three ways the right POS software gives you the tools to grow your business:

1. Bundled Features

With the right POS, the front-end of your business can grow and tackle increased traffic at the cash register. While the back-end of your POS collects sales and customer data. These bundled operations help streamline workflow, so you can analyze customer purchases to find trends and forecast business for the next week, month, or quarter. Understanding the needs and wants of your customer creates a better overall experience. This will allow you to target new customers in unexplored markets. Business Insider Magazine explains 5 ways a POS with CRM enabled functions can improve your customer experience.

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2. Inventory Management

Inventory management costs time and money—a major headache for all businesses. Having too much or not enough inventory in stock can result in lost profits. You should know what is on your shelves at any point in the day and what is needed for tomorrow. Item management is a powerful tool to grow you company and accuracy is a major component of your business analytics.

Another area of concern is product returns. Your POS should handle real-time purchases, as well as returns. This keeps your inventory current and easily tracks your product going in and out the door. The front-end customer experience is smooth, while the back-end is easily handled with the simple scan of a barcode.

Also, inventory management helps detect theft, a major source of inventory shrinkage, which makes it another line of defense against unnecessary losses. To learn more about this, we have described 5 Item Management System Features that a POS software can help you reduce inventory shrinkage and maximize profitability.

3. Financial Reporting

Want to know the highs and lows within your business cycle? Or your highest margin items? Daily, weekly, and monthly reports can describe trends in revenue. Your POS software should provide you with simple and fast reporting functions. Connecting horizontal business functions, like sales, marketing, and finance, in one place increases efficiency. Your POS can eliminate the need to pull reports from different applications and directly answer the questions about your business.

These reports help you understand the obstacles in your path that leads toward growth. You can find solutions to those nagging problems effecting your daily operations. For an example, let’s use product “freshness.” If inventory sits too long, it goes stale. With the right POS, you can find where inventory goes sour—turning an obstacle into opportunity.

Employees ultimately contribute to your bottom-line. Your POS software can tell you which employees are the most successful and others that need help. This is a great way to set sales goals and incentives for your team. Reports will empower them to fill the gaps in their sales knowledge, or strive to make more positive contacts to increase sales.

Making the Switch

Finding the right POS software is a challenge, especially if you have a legacy system that is already bursting at the seams, preventing you from achieving your potential. Smartwerks believes that your POS can grow your company. Our cloud based POS software can provide the support you need in order to face those next level challenges. These software packages can manage several areas of your business from one portal—from one device—making it easier for your employees to contribute to the success of your business.

Recommended Resources:

Inventory shrinkage is an important concept for retailers.

A quick read to boost your financial literacy.

Learn more about the analytics that are necessary to grow your business.

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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6 Ways to Keep Employees from Stealing from You http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/6-ways-keep-employees-stealing/ http://smartwerksusa.com/articles/6-ways-keep-employees-stealing/#respond Fri, 11 Mar 2016 18:29:29 +0000 http://smartwerksusa.com/?p=17089 The post 6 Ways to Keep Employees from Stealing from You appeared first on Smartwerks.

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“My employees would never steal from me…”

If you’ve ever had that thought or something similar, I’m hoping that at some point you came to the realization that nothing could be further from the truth.

Employee theft is a real and common occurrence in every type of businesses. A CBS report found that a typical company loses 5% of its revenue each year because of employee fraud. And according to the 2014 Global Fraud study, small businesses are hit especially hard, being “disproportionately victimized by fraud.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t one simple method that will prevent your employees from stealing from you. But there a several actions you can take, and when used in conjunction, will dramatically decrease the amount of fraud that is committed by your own staff.

1. Conduct a Background Check

One of the first things you can do is perform a background check on each of your potential employees before they are hired. This might sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated process.

There are actually many affordable online services, like this one, that will conduct the background check for you. Most offer several pricing levels, based on the depth of the information that is being researched. Basic ones include a Social Security Number trace and address history, along with a look into criminal and sex offender records. More advanced packages include a check of the domestic terrorist watch list, school verification, and former employer verification.

It’s important that all of you potential hires are subject to the same test. Do not discriminate based on race, sex, national origin, religion, or anything else. Also make sure that each prospective employee agrees to the background check in writing.

Of course, looking into a person’s past is not going to tell you everything you need to know. Just because a person has never committed theft before, doesn’t mean something won’t happen while they’re working for you. But the statistics are on your side. According to the 2014 Global Fraud Study, in 92% of the fraud cases that were reviewed, at least one behavioral red flag was discovered before the person actually committed fraud. Examples of these red flags include past employment-related problems, past legal problems, and divorce/family problems. A background check might not always uncover these red flags, but it’s a good place to start.

Even a simple investigation into an person’s past can provide at least some peace of mind when hiring a new employee. It’s not a perfect process, but you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done your due diligence and started the hiring process off on the right foot.

2. Create a Zero-Tolerance Policy

People of all ages respond to consequences. When my 10-year old is misbehaving, I can get angry and yell as much as I want–but in most cases there will be little or no reaction from him. But when I threaten to take away something that he holds dear, the game changes.

In a small business environment with limited resources, there needs to be clear consequences. Consequences that are swift. Consequences that are severe.

You don’t have to run your business like a maximum-security prison. As we’ll talk about in a minute, good relationships with your employees are important. But when it comes to theft, you have to make it clear from the very beginning that there will be no warnings and no second chances. Your employees need to know if they’re found stealing or committing some other type of fraud, they will be fired immediately.

Don’t just mention this casually during the interview or as part of the orientation/training program. Put it in writing. Have the employee sign it. Make it as clear as you can that stealing from the company is not tolerated.

Make sure that you back these statements up with a conversation on how your company monitors fraud and theft. Clearly communicating your expectations while also explaining how it difficult it will be get away with anything, should help deter any thoughts or plans that they have to steal from you.

3. Develop Solid Relationships with Your Employees

As a business owner and manager, being best friends with your employees is not part of your job description. To gain respect from your employees and avoid being taken advantage of, it’s important that you consistently display your authority and make it clear that you are the boss.

Let’s be clear, though–that’s not an excuse to be an insufferable dictator. That type of behavior only leads to frustrated employees who show up for work simply to collect their paycheck. They have no interest in the success or failure of your company and care little about performing well. In the worst cases, it results in severely disgruntled employees who will behave in extreme ways (e.g. stealing from you) just to get even.

A Hollinger and Clark study of 12,000 employees in the workforce concluded that the happier an employee is on the job, the less likely they are to get involved in fraudulent activity.

The relationship between you and your employees should be based on mutual respect. A respect that considers the goals that each side wants to achieve. When that is respect is realized, the chances of fraudulent behavior decrease significantly.

No one is going to love every minute of their job. But you can do your best to provide an environment where your staff is reasonably happy most of the time. Pay your employees a fair wage and reward them for excellent performance. Ask them how their day is going. Or maybe buy them lunch every once in a while.

If they are having performance problems, try coaching them instead of just telling them what they’re doing wrong. Maybe even ask for a few suggestions on how you could make their job easier or more satisfying.

4. Design a System of Checks And Balances

You’d like to be the eyes, ears, and conscience of your business. Unfortunately, your to-do list probably contains a million and one items, not counting the unexpected issues that pop up on a daily basis. Keeping track of your employees at all times is just not possible.

Being faced with this undeniable fact, you need a way of controlling things and minimizing employee theft without hiring a team of security guards or installing a massive surveillance system.

One of the best ways to achieve this is with a strong system of checks and balances. A system that is designed specifically to help your employees keep tabs on each other.

Giving one employee in your company sole control over one area of the business is a major mistake. Whether it’s a friend you’ve known for 30 years or someone with an amazing resume who just started last month, you never want to put too much trust into a single person. You never know when life’s difficulties will lead them to committing a desperate act. One that could cost you your business.

Whenever possible, major tasks should be divided among your employees. This is especially important when it comes to financials. Accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and account/bank reconciliations should be split between at least two different people. There are many ways to set this up, but the important thing to remember is that your employees must be accountable to each other and to you.

Once you have the process set up, you’ll need to review it from time to time to make sure that everything is running the way it’s supposed to. It’s also a good idea to have a trusted outsider review your financial statements and other analytics to ensure that the numbers are where they’re supposed to be.

5. Invest in a Point of Sale System

You know that to process sales quickly, effectively manage inventory, and develop strong customer relationships, it’s critical that you have a top-notch point of sale system for your business.

But many owners don’t realize that a point of sale (POS) system also helps minimize employee theft.

By allowing you to specify the areas of the system that your employees can access, a good POS limits the amount of trouble your employees can get into. Your workers won’t be digging into financials. Or viewing reports that have no business looking at. Or adjusting inventory levels. Fraud statistics being what they are, this type of control is essential.

A good point of sale system also tracks the sales transactions made by your employees. If discrepancies are found when analyzing the numbers, you can trace each action back to a specific employee. Not only does this help you get to the bottom of things, it also is a deterrent for the employee who is thinking of committing a fraudulent act.

Employees can steal money and goods, but they can also steal time. A Time Clock feature lets you keep track of when your employees come in and when they leave. If they’re stealing 20 minutes here or 20 minutes there, you’ll know about it.

6. Set Up an Easy Way for Employees to Report Theft

When it comes to reporting fraudulent activity, the old adage, “Don’t be a snitch,” just doesn’t apply.

The 2014 Global Fraud Study found that 42% of fraud cases were discovered by tips from other people. And of that group, 49% of the tips were from fellow employees.

Because theft negatively affects the company they work for and ultimately their own job security, many employees have few reservations when deciding whether or not to report fraudulent activities committed by their co-workers.

This is especially true if they are able to report the behaviors easily and anonymously. Often the suggested method for a business, like yours, is to set up a “telephone hotline” where employees and others (customers, vendors, etc.) can report suspicious activity. To me, the idea of a “hotline” is right out of the late 80s. There has to be a better way to do this in 2016, right?

Instead of a hotline, create a simple online form that employees (and others) can fill out to report fraudulent activity. A tool like Google Forms is free and easy to set up. And as long as you don’t collect any personal information or require them to login to Google to fill out the form, it provides as much (or more) anonymity as a telephone call.

Today, most people would rather text or email than pick up a phone. By creating an online form with just a few fields to fill out, you’re making the process of reporting fraudulent as easy as possible on everyone. And considering how many cases of theft are discovered in this way, it should be a necessity for your business.

Employee theft is something that you will constantly battle when running a business. There’s no magic solution to eliminate it and your efforts to prevent it are not something you can just put on auto-pilot. But combining the suggestions described in this article is a good way to minimize the fraudulent activity that occurs with your employees. And hopefully you’ll improve your hiring decisions and employee relationships along the way.

References:

Why Do I Need a POS System?

Download this free guide to learn how a point of sale
system can help make running your business easier.

Free Guide

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