Email is not only alive and well, it is a vital tool for retailers. For many though, email marketing means spam. It’s also seen as the “poor cousin” of marketing channels.
The reality is, when executed properly, email marketing outperforms all other marketing media, often returning greater than ten times the initial investment.
What ‘actual’ email marketing is – and is not.
Real email marketing is linked to your business objectives - creating ‘email with purpose’. Email with purpose is about engaging with buyers and referrers, rather than large databases of unqualified prospects. It’s not numbers for the sake of numbers, but quality leads that are interested in your products or services.
It doesn’t matter what software system you use, what matters is that your emails look professional, build brand value and make the most of the opportunity to engage with customers and create value for your business.
Either way, it’s not a function to be relegated to a marketing junior or the IT department. Fully managed email marketing by experts brings insight, purpose and results to both your marketing and your business.
Evidence of email being awesome.
Here are some examples of real-life retailers doing fabulous things with email:
We know that as a business owner and operator, you’re incredibly busy. And sometimes, when you’re setting up a new business (or flat out running your current one) you may not have the time to tackle the wonderful world of software implementation.
Sometimes it’s nice to just have some things - even wonderful things like software implementation - taken care of for you, so you can focus on all those other demands in your life. (Like your store fit-out. Or getting enough sleep. Or spending time with your family).
At Vend, our objective is to bring delight to you, our customers. We’re here to make your work easier. Which is why we have added Premium Support to our list of services.
We want you to be able to focus on running your business while we focus on giving you the readymade toolset and training you need to hit the ground running.
With Premium Support, we will take care of your initial Vend account setup, including:
By subscribing to Premium support, you’ll also receive unlimited phone support during New Zealand business hours and ongoing, one-to-one training for yourself and staff.
You’ll learn all the best practices for managing products and inventory, stocktaking, editing quick keys, discounting, implementing pricebooks, creating reports and effectively utilising the dashboard.
For more information about Premium Support, and Vend support in general, have a look this article in our Knowledgebase: What does Vend offer for customer support?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about premium support, and we’ll get back to you in a jiffy. ^Tara
It’s no secret that the traditional cash register is on it’s way out. More and more businesses are ditching their cash registers and replacing them with handheld, mobile devices powered by the cloud. What may seem a mystery is how - and why - businesses untether themselves from the front counter.
We visited iPad enthusiast and Vend customer Ali McIntosh, of Tessuti luxury gifts and homewares to learn more. Ali was very quick on the draw when it came to switching shop operations to an iPad POS system , and we wanted to find out how she approaches business, untethered.
Though Tessuti has been in business for 22 years and kept it’s edge, when Ali McIntosh took over two years ago she knew she needed to take steps to adapt with the times and surpass her customers’ changing expectations. Still, she wasn’t sure where to start.
“My daughter made me use Vend at first.” she said. “I didn’t grow up with this stuff and I wasn’t sure I wanted to take on technology like this. But it’s really easy now. And it really impresses all my friends.” Ali laughs.
Not having a front counter puts “less pressure on the customer. There’s nothing that lurks and draw focus from the rest of the shop. It’s so much easier to arrange the shop and keep a good flow.” Plus it saves space. “We can pop the iPad under the workbench when we gift wrap, which is often.”
“Using the iPad is much more personal and doesn’t interrupt the sale,” says Ali. “We can take it to a customer looking at products (without taking them away from what they are wanting to buy!) and look up what stock the other store is holding, and flick between Vend and our online store for visuals and other colour options. And offering to email customers a receipt if they require one is a great on the spot paper saving option.”
“Our customers are always interested in the fact that we run our POS on an ipad. It has the ‘cool’ factor and engages them in the process.”
Do away with “business as usual.” Learn more about customising every customer experience with an iPad point-of-sale. Untether yourself and your business.
Ali is strongly dedicated to customer engagement and takes a very hands-on approach to ensure every detail is right for the maximum experience. She handwrites all of her labels and employs an artist as shop assistant to help expertly arrange the showroom.
“You have to have something that sets you apart. Tessuti is about the whole experience. The colours and textures and small details are what draw people in.”
“Well,” she amends, “Monty often brings people through the door - but the other things keep them here.” Monty is the resident chocolate lab shop assistant.*
“He’s very helpful,” Ali says with a laugh, “but we do have a product called ‘Monty Breakages’ we’ve had to use from time to time.”
Customer experience and aesthetics aren’t everything. “Cost saving was another consideration for us as a small business when chose our POS.”
Vend “is affordable. And investing in an iPad was worth it. We do everything from it. Run our music. We use iMessage to communicate with the other store. We run Vend and Shopify. It’s so tidy.”
*We did try to get a photo of Monty. However he was very camera shy and wigglesome. Luckily you can find one here. ^Tara
There is a lot of buzz around cloud computing recently. While millions of people are enjoying the freedoms and benefits offered by cloud-computing, many aren’t sure what the cloud actually does - and why it’s important.
In a nutshell, cloud computing takes your systems, files, data and software and makes them accesible from any device, anywhere, at any time. Which means cloud computing makes getting things done easy.
With Vend and other cloud business apps, small business owners are discovering a welcome new ability to productively blend their work with their personal lives.
Here’s the story of one such customer. We’d love to hear yours, too.
Each year it seems everyone is so much busier.
My husband and I are no different. We have a lot more on our plates than ever, with two little daughters and two growing businesses. We are both workaholics, but since having children, I am now starting to see the benefits of rest. So why have I returned from maternity leave to manage Spring Lynne Motorcycles after only three months, instead of the planned twelve?
It’s pretty simple; with the cloud I can do everything I need to from home.
With the cloud I can track inventory, watch cash-flow and manage payroll all from home, while my youngest daughter sleeps peacefully in her own bed. As long as the toddler of the house is at preschool, I’m at home working and just as productive as usual. The cloud has allowed me to enjoy a bit of balance.
As I get busier I believe more and more that rest, recuperation, and play (if used moderately) increase productivity. “Individuals who are working flat out with no time for pause or reflection are likely to have fewer opportunities for what Einstein called ‘combinatorial play’ with reduced creativity as the inevitable consequence.” So even Einstein must’ve taken a few breaks! And that makes me feel better about subscribing to the ‘work smarter and not harder’ adage. (Source)
But it wasn’t just time-saving that first turned us to cloud-based operating systems. It was money-saving. We wanted to keep set-up costs down for the opening of our second store, Timaru Yamaha in October 2011. We settled on using Vend for point-of-sale, and loved it. We avoided a lot of stress by working from home before the doors had even opened. Now that we’ve experienced how simple and powerful Vend is to use, there’s no looking back.
It’s true that in business time does equal money. But having more time doesn’t mean we have to fit it in with more… jobs - what about just talking, thinking and being creative? Lately I’ve been reflecting and I wholeheartedly agree with Professor Sharon Beder when she writes, “What this world needs is not more work - it needs more wisdom. To have a culture of wisdom, we need a society in which people have time to contemplate, time to think about the problems and time to talk about the solutions.” (Source)
So with each year as we get busier, we can thank smart phones, the cloud, and other technology for bringing us clever ways to create more time.
Do you have story you’d like to share? Email email@example.com ^Tara
Word of mouth is the most effective way to promote your business.
Still the question remains - how do you get people talking? They won’t talk about that cat with a lightsaber you put on Facebook. And they probably won’t even talk about that new product release you think is so amazing.
So how do you get people talking? Put simply:
1) Be noteworthy. Do or create things that are worth sharing, and,
2) Work hard to ensure people actually want to share.
How to Create Great Word of Mouth
1. Run competitions
Let’s say last month you spent $500 on 4 weekly adverts in the newspaper. You’re not sure who read it, if anyone at all! And you’re not that confident you got the wording right or whether you’re happy with the position of the advert in the paper. It’s totally hit and miss.
Wouldn’t it be far more effective - and engaging for your audience - to instead run a campaign over the month where you give away a product that COST you around $500, but is worth $1000 to the receiver?
The competition entries are a way for you to physically measure how many people have taken notice of your campaign and who they are. So you are conducting important market research at the same time. Measurable marketing is the best kind of marketing. You know if you are wasting your money or not. And if its worth doing again.
Be creative with your competition idea so that its newsworthy enough to notify the media. (Not sure how to notify the media? Learn how to write a press release here.)
When you have a winner make sure you get some photos of them with their exciting new prize. This photo and your competition story could make the news and get you:
a) A prime spot in the newspaper.
b) A much bigger space in the newspaper than the adverts you bought.
c) An interesting story that people might enjoy reading compared with a boring, generic advert.
d) An angle which makes you sound very generous with your giveaway offering.
As a result of a contest I’ve had full a page magazine feature - which cost me nothing! An advert of that size would have cost me upward of $30,000! And who loves reading ads anyway!?
2. Sponsor or host events
You can also notify the media if you are sponsoring an event, or holding one yourself. If you hold regular, exciting events, send regular press releases and after a while the media will get to know you as an exciting, forward thinking business.
When sponsoring an event its a good idea to also be involved with a charity - this is more newsworthy and the charity may provide you with press also. Plus it means people recognise and trust you as a contributing member of the community.
3. Create Brand Ambassadors
Give outstanding service. This is a very simple one. There are countless businesses out there providing poor or just mediocre service to their customers. Don’t be one of them. Make sure your service is efficient and second-to-none. Impress your customers and ensure your staff are trained to do exactly the same. Keep in mind we live in the age of convenience so anything you can do to make your customers life more convenient, do it and reap the rewards.
Spoil your staff. This is also very simple. Think of ways you can reward your staff and create incentives for them. Make sure the workplace is always high energy and fun. Give your team lots of attention and training and they will have no choice but give great service to spread the word about you and your business. And sometimes staff are your best customers!
Have you thought about starting a blog for your business, but doubted that the investment in time would be worth the return in customers or sales?
Do you wonder what you could possibly have to say that anyone in the world might want to hear?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Blogging is all to often consigned to the “too hard basket”. After all, you’ve invested in a website, created a Facebook page, dabbled in Twitter and Pinterest - so what value can starting a blog possibly add?
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Businesses with blogs receive 55% more visitors and 97% more inbound links than their non-blogging competitors*. In addition to generating more traffic and sales, blogging is the glue that ties together your social media marketing, and can do some pretty wonderful things for your business.
And yes, while the internet may, at times, appear to be bursting at the seams with Tweets, posts and status updates with very little to actually say, quality always rises above the rest. The very fact that you were passionate enough about something to start your own business, and found customers who wanted to buy what you were selling, means that you have something interesting to say, and, more importantly, an audience ready to hear it.
Here are our top 7 reasons to blog for your business.
1. Optimize SEO
If you have a business website or ecommerce shop, more than likely you’ve spent a bit of time on your SEO. You know what your keywords are, you know how competitive they are, and you know you want to rank well for them.
Mapping your blog content to your keywords and linking accordingly can have a very positive effect on your page ranking. Plus, it means you already have a lot of material to work with. Your knowledge about your company and products makes great blog content. Just be sure to avoid keyword stuffing. It will harm your SEO more than help - not to mention the negative effect it will have on your readership.
2. Build trust online
Consumer trust is incredibly important in business - particularly when it comes to ecommerce. There are many aspects to building trust online. An easy to navigate site and simple check out process are key. These days, however, transparency is becoming more and more important to consumers. People are savvy and traditional barriers are being broken down. Customers expect you to be open, honest and present. A blog is a great tool for you to show yourself as a person and an expert.
Tash from Holland Road Yarn signs every post just like that - by Tash. Her posts range from how she organizes her time as a small business owner with her very own personal life, to her latest sock-making aspirations. Via her blog, Tash is as present in her ecommerce store as she is in her brick & mortar shop. Customers from distant cities get to know and trust her immediately.
3. Generate buzz
Buzz is a big part of marketing. Look at how much big and small businesses alike invest in getting people talking on social media and sending out press releases. Buzz is also a form of trust building. Lots of buzz means your product is very popular, which implies good quality and desirability. Use your blog to keep the buzz rolling and show the rest of us how much the world loves you.
Whimsical jewellery label Verameat has caught the attention of media and celebrity alike. Their press blog boasts images of Zach Galifianakis and Chloe Kardashian sporting Verameat designs and snaps of editorial and fashion features. With very few words and a small time investment, Verameat makes a strong case for the label’s desirability.
4. Build your brand
We don’t need to tell you how important it is to have a strong, clear brand. What we can tell you is how great a blog is for adding credence to that brand.
Take fashion boutique Superette, for instance. Superette’s brand isn’t about fashion - it’s about lifestyle. Of course you want to look great when you’re sipping homemade iced coffees on the beach. Naturally you want the best deal to look great on the weekend. The Superette blog is all about making their brand accessible.
5. Cultivate community
Where some brands promote a lifestyle, others make it personal and actively create community. The Bread and Butter Letter live and breath vintage items, crafts and everything people make with their hands. More than anything they want to share that love with their community. Which is why their blog is the focus of their website.
Online customers stop by to check out their latest in one-of-a-kind clothing, take a moment to learn about gingerbread houses and are invited to the next Nana Night (a sponsored evening of camaraderie, crafting and conversation).
6. Create a craving
If you are a cafe or a bakery you don’t need to look far for compelling blog content. Start up a tumblr feed and populate it with beautiful snapshots of your mouthwatering creations. Consider it bait, and look forward to capturing people’s appetites hook, line and sinker.
Crave Cupcakes has taken this to another level. Not only do they blog images of their goodies, but they’ve incorporated it into their homepage so the first thing browsers see is an almost daily stream of eatable marvels.
7. Inspire & motivate
Interior design and decor specialist, Father Rabbit, has not one but three blogs. One is the official blog of Father Rabbit (the brand’s venerable and discerning long-eared patriarch), one provides recipes for any occasion and the last is all about achievable interior design.
Father Rabbit’s three-tiered strategy speaks very cleverly to their audience. First the blog inspires their customers with, say, a beautiful table arrangement for a small dinner party. Then they provide everything one needs to achieve it.
Find out how Vend is helping brick & mortar retailers all over the world build successful businesses in 2013 and beyond.
Do you blog for your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories. Email firstname.lastname@example.org ^Tara
Gone are the days when “location, location, location” was the defining ingredient for retail success. Smart phones, tablets and even social sharing have changed the way people shop. Smart brick & mortar businesses are now available on every channel their customers want to reach them. But unlike online-only businesses, they can also offer the tactile experience and trust that comes from having a physical store.
With cloud business apps multi-channel retail becomes a simple and manageable way to reach new customers and make more sales.
1. Optimise for smart phones
Never underestimate the value of shoppers researching your store on their mobile phones and tablets before, during or after they visit in person. Shopping carts like Shopify, Magento & BigCommerce make it easy to add a mobile optimised template. Services such as NoQ let you create beautiful, customised smart phone apps for a low monthly fee. Sign up for PayPal Here to take mobile credit card payments in the US and appear in the local listings for over 100 million global PayPal users.
2. Set up multiple online shopfronts
Branding and marketing can be a tricky business. Just because you know your products are equally suited to women in their 20s and 50s does not mean your customers are aware of it. A marketing strategy that speaks to one market segment may not speak to the other. Different shopfronts can be branded specifically to suit each target market.
More shopfronts don’t mean more workload, either. Vend partner, Bizelo allows you to sync multiple ecommerce shop fronts with your Vend account for easy centralised inventory management. What’s more, Bizelo allows you to sync Vend with Ebay or Etsy as well. Which brings us to:
Article by Lauren Taylor
Browser bookmarks are pretty awesome. You can use them to quickly navigate to your favorite blogs, news sites, online recipe books or anywhere else online. But did you know you can also use bookmarks to effortlessly move from point to point within Vend?
We try to make navigating Vend as painless as possible. But sometimes even three clicks to get where you need to go is a chore when you’re busy. One of the great things about web-based software is how easy it is to bypass those clicks. Just bookmark your most frequented pages!
For instance, over 50% of Vend users still log into their accounts from vendhq.com. As beautiful as our display is, you may want to bookmark your login portal and not take so many steps.
Check out our guide to bookmarking in Vend-friendly browsers Google Chrome, Apple Safari and iPad.
Some pages we recommend bookmarking:
Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Email email@example.com ^Tara
article by Chris Downs
Today is a pretty exciting day for our support team. (Or at least me, our resident Zendesk geek.) Today marks one year since we implemented Zendesk as our support and knowledge base platform at Vend.
So, to celebrate our first anniversary we thought we’d say “Thanks!” Thanks to Zendesk, of course, but mostly to YOU, our awesome customers! Some milestones we’ve acheived over the last 12 months:
So what’s in store for the new year?
Also, we have some pretty spiffy schwag we’d like to share with our awesome forum contributors. Post or comment in the Community Forum between January 6th 2013 and February 6th 2013 and you might get a t-shirt! How cool is that!?
One lucky forum poster will get some green bling just for posting; another for the topic with the most “me-too’s”; and a third pack will go to the author of Team Vend’s favorite forum post.
The number one challenge for small businesses is managing cash flow. With the silly season here, Vend CEO Vaughan Rowsell offers his tips to ensure retailers get paid faster and won’t be forgotten at this busy time of year.
With this great deal from Vend, Shopify & Xero discover how cloud-based retail software solutions are helping small business owners manage cash flow this holiday season. FREE for the rest of 2012.
Embrace online accounting tools
Online accounting tools such as Xero are an excellent way to manage cash flow. Systems can be configured to send alerts when outgoing payments are due, automatically invoice customers, and check if payments have been made. They can create and update cash flow forecasts based on real-time figures from daily bank feeds.
One of the most effective ways for small business owners to manage cash flow is to spend a few minutes on financials each day. Accessing your accounting system from a mobile device means you can be on top of your cash flow, anywhere, anytime. By having bank transactions uploaded automatically into your accounting system, you can perform bank reconciliations daily, providing you with a real-time view of your cash flow.
Talk to your suppliers
Supplier relationships, as with customer relationships, can often be very beneficial when it comes to cash flow. Some suppliers offer early payment discounts, which can save you a lot of money.