More Features for Power Users
For the first time, Square has launched a point-of-sale system designed specifically for retailers, whether you have one store or several. While stores have always been able to use a Square reader and its basic mobile app, the new Square for Retail (squareup.com/pos/retail) has more robust retail-specific features: better barcode scanning, a search-based interface, inventory management that can scale to hundreds of thousands of SKUs and across several store locations, plus smart customer-relationship and employee-management tools.
The inventory management system has real-time unit counts, even across locations, and it will allow the storeowner to request transfers from one location to another. If you input and track purchase orders, when you mark a shipment as received, the POS automatically will load those new items into your inventory. The customer directory tracks sales and builds profiles of shoppers, and it allows the sales staff, who have helped the customer, to add notes. You can create groups of customers (loyal, drop-in, lapsed, for instance). In-depth reporting lets you see how each item you sell affects your bottom line, with automatic cost-of-goods-sold and margin reporting.
Even though the new POS has been built from scratch, it fits into the Square ecosystem, including payment processing, chargeback protection, analytics and other financial and marketing services—addressing the challenge many small retailers have of stitching together platforms and tools from different vendors.
After a 30-day free trial, Square for Retail costs $60 per month per register, although the company will work to create custom pricing for retailers with annual revenues of $250,000
and an average ticket size greater than $15.
Instagram Live for Business
Try this creative way to connect with customers.
One of Instagram’s newest tools, Instagram Live, lets businesses stream real-time videos via Instagram Stories. (You can also send the video to individuals or a group via Direct Message.) Many dance retailers tell us that they have been turning more and more to Instagram, where their posts seem to get the most attention. If your store is finding a growing audience on this social platform, live videos are a great chance for deeper engagement.
Videos can be up to an hour long, but they are ephemeral—they disappear after the broadcast. That means it’s best to treat them like any real-life event: Plan the content of your presentation and promote the time and topic well in advance, just as you would for a trunk show at the store.
Here are some ways to use Instagram Live:
- Q&A for customers. Host an expert (your own pointe shoe fitter, say, or a guest teacher or dancer) to answer questions on a particular topic: getting started on pointe, what to pack for summer intensives, accessories tap dancers find useful, etc. For a smoother broadcast, solicit questions from customers in advance, via Direct Message, or with a sign at checkout. During the live broadcast, customers can ask questions in real time via the comments section, interacting with you, even if it’s just a “like.”
- Behind the scenes at your store. Whether it’s staff unpacking new product or unveiling a new line, a live video can give customers a sense of anticipation and an insider’s peek, making them feel special. It adds a personal touch to a commercial relationship.
- Stream a demo or short workshop. Maybe you run through a pointe shoe fitting, as a way to prepare parents for their daughter’s first-time fitting. Or you do a bun-making or ribbon-sewing demo. Maybe you have a podiatrist show how dancers can protect their feet. Whatever the topic, it brings your store to life and conveys all the added value customers will get there, beyond the purchase.
- Always include a call to action at the end of the video: Tell customers other ways they can stay in touch—subscribe to a newsletter, say—or invite them to an upcoming event at the store.
Another benefit of Instagram Live: Since it does disappear, it’s a great way for storeowners to experiment with video, and then have the chance to improve, the next time they broadcast.
SEO Cheat Sheet
Tips for Facebook, Pinterest and More
When you think about SEO, it’s probably in relation to your website—making sure you’ve placed the right keywords in the right places. And when you think about social media, you’re probably focused on making sure your posts are engaging and you’re being responsive to your followers. But making sure your social-media presence ranks high in Google searches is also very important, according to internet marketing company Higher Visibility. Most shoppers now go online to research a purchase, wherever they buy it. To help local businesses improve the online ranking of their social-media sites, Higher Visibility has published a cheat sheet for search engine optimization on Facebook, Yelp, Pinterest and other sites.
Did you know, for instance, that on Pinterest, every pin should have an optimized description using searchable keywords that describe the image, product or page you’ve pinned? Or that page likes on Facebook won’t help Google search rankings, but having proper branding in the page name will?
For more tips, go to: highervisibility.com/resource/guides/platform-specific-seo-best-practices-guide.
From top: courtesy of Square; courtesy of Instagram; Thinkstock