Business Owners Use Technology to Grow

As in almost every aspect of daily living, technology has become an integral part of retail for both the consumer and the business owner. Technology comes with a lot of advantages on both sides as well. Consumers can find precisely the products for which they are searching, compare prices, and make purchases from stores that are not within a comfortable driving distance. Businesses can reach more potential customers and get feedback to discover what works and what does not. Marketing has changed from the standard commercial to crafting a website that will be found through the most popular search engines. Technology is also helping businesses that see the majority of sales offline grow as well. The integration of e-commerce and point-of-sale (POS) transactions in a single store system has contributed to the success and growth of many small businesses, as well as plenty of larger ones.

Benefits of a Cloud-based POS System

Many online businesses are opening brick-and-mortar store locations to meet consumer demand. Shoppers are looking for more than the standard national chain brands. They want to see unique items in-person, and to touch them and make a connection, before making a purchase. POS software puts everything the savvy business owner needs in a single program. Systems like Shopify give business owners the chance to create an eye-catching online store that doubles as a POS system for physical store transactions. Users can set up a website and add real-time product inventory. Whether an item sells online or in the store, information is synchronized automatically to provide the most up-to-date data.

Hardware is straightforward and easy to use. An iPad serves as the cash register screen, and credit cards are swiped through a plug-and-play card reader in the audio jack. For cash transactions, a cash drawer can be opened through the tablet as well. Receipts are sent wirelessly to the printer. This comprehensive system includes everything a traditional cash register does, without the added hassle. It also gives shoppers peace of mind that their private information is secure.

Other features provide even better customer service solutions. Receipts can be sent via email when shoppers would prefer to avoid a printed version. Analytics keep detailed records of pertinent information such as e-commerce page views, product inventory, and sales history.

It is this flexibility that helps successful businesses adapt and move forward.

Real Businesses Find Success

Many businesses have seen measurable growth in a short period of time when using technology to offer the best of both worlds to customers. Dylan Clifton, owner of Perception Apparel, has been running his business for only a few short years. Like most startups, he tried to limit expenses by handling store design and marketing himself. He entered the Huffington Post’s Build a Business Competition and found instantly that the entire process became easier. Perception Apparel immediately took off to the degree that Clifton intends to open a physical location eventually.

“My sales have more than doubled in the first month, and my social media efforts are growing at an exponential rate. I am now looking into expanding my shirts into brick-and-mortar locations. I have never been more confident about the success of my business,” says Clifton.

Other businesses have found similar success and credit goes to the functionality of being able to use the same software for both online and in-store transactions. Daymon John, founder of FUBU and star of ABC’s Shark Tank reality television program, hits the nail on the head about why this is such a successful model. “With this easy to use ecommerce solution, entrepreneurs save time and money, so they can focus on other aspects of their business.”

This is what most business owners want, to focus on what motivated them to start a business in the first place. Most entrepreneurs are creators. Although designing a website can be a creative expression, when all is said and done, most want a product that is easy to maintain on a day-to-day basis.

This is the modern face of retail. It is versatile and adaptable, no matter how technology continues to change.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Are Cheeseburgers Worth As Much As Babies?

I have been reading a lot about the protests going on, apparently throughout the United States, where fast food workers want to make a minimum of $15 per hour.  Last week here in Detroit, a bunch of workers protested, and 25-30 got arrested after they took to the streets…literally, by blocking traffic on major thoroughfares during the morning rush hour.

I have to be perfectly blunt on where I stand with this issue, and it’s not at all with the workers.  Before you paint me as some heartless scumbag, let me outline my reasons.

  1. You lost me when you shut down traffic – If workers wanted to gather and demonstrate to get media attention, fine.  But when they shut down traffic, sorry, you lost me.  The people whom they were blocking traffic for were regular people just trying to get to their jobs.  And, the demonstrators made it so that they couldn’t.  Innocent people with no skin in the game became collateral damage to those looking to make a point that could have been made without negatively affecting other people.  I equate this to people in traffic that pull out in front of other people before traffic clears, because they don’t want to wait a spot.  You shouldn’t make your problem other people’s problem.
  2. A real world comparison – Somebody I know worked at a day care facility taking care of a room full of toddler age children.  She worked there for seven years and was barely making $11 per hour.  She left that job to go to one that paid closer to $15, which she got only after negotiating.  Sorry, but you’ll never convince me that taking care of children all day, being instrumental in their development, and overseeing their well being for a huge chunk of their young lives is worthy of less compensation than working in a fast food environment.
  3. The market does not and can not bear $15 – If fast food companies could not find enough qualified people to work at lower wages, then the wages would go up. Pure and simple.  But, since they can find plenty of applicants to work at lower wages, free market theory indicates that there’s no rational economic reason for $15 to be paid.
  4. Paying $15 would mean job losses – Simple cause and effect tells me this: If fast food minimum wages went up to $15, prices would go up.  If prices go up, people would buy less fast food.  If people bought less fast food, restaurants would close.  If restaurants close, workers lose their job.  Bottom line, there’s no way the market could simply absorb these costs without a portion of workers going from what they make today to zero.
  5. No company has a responsibility to provide employees with a standard of living – The basic premise behind the $15 number is that the current minimum wage is not high enough for a worker to support themselves.  I don’t dispute that.  In fact, simple math tells me it’s true.  But, where is it the responsibility of the fast food companies to provide this?  Call me heartless, but the fact of the matter is that any company is expected to provide fair wages for the work performed.  That’s what I get.  While it so happens that I do make enough to support my family, what if that changed?  What if there was an illness and we couldn’t afford treatment on my salary?  Do I have a right to march in and demand more money?  Of course not.  What if my wife and I decided to take after the Duggan’s and shoot for 19 kids?  Would I go into my bosses office after each birth and demand a raise?  No.  That’s silly.

The point is that while $10 per hour (roughly the minimum wage) is peanuts compared to some of the costs, I don’t think that simply demanding an industry specific artificial prop is the answer.  There are other ways that each person has to work through and take personal responsibility for making the decisions about:

  • Reduce expenses – I’d be interested to see how many of the protesters have smart phones with high data plans with which they go to social media to propegate their ’cause’.
  • Side hustle – There are other ways to make money when you’re not at work.  Cut grass, shovel snow, clean windows, write a blog, or any other number of things.
  • Second jobs – When I hear stories about my parents and grandparents generations, there are multiple stories of people who worked multiple jobs.  It’s hard, it can be grueling, but it’s what people have done when the first job isn’t enough.

Personally, I hearken the whole thing to the Occupy Wall Street movement of a few years ago, as the common theme is trying to take ones problems and project them to others in order to gain a solution, rather than working the solution themselves.  I just can’t get behind that especially when it involves, you know, blocking traffic.

Readers, what do you think about the whole uprising going on for $15 per hour wages?

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Ideas to Start a Fashion Business and Have Success with It

mb-2014-05fashionIf you would like to start a fashion business, most probably you’re not doing it only to prove a point, but you have a sense of style and you are good with people. Starting your own business is an important step in everybody’s life (especially if it means giving up your corporate job). The good news about this field is that there is always room for one more player. New outlet centers are opened every day so why couldn’t you find place for yourself in one of them? Usually these are small businesses run by one or two people.

Do you have any experience with the fashion business?

It is possible that you have been taking some classes in entrepreneurship or you saw your grandparents or parents run their store for years. As another option you may have been working in a store yourself for a while where you acquired the necessary skill sets. Regardless of what your story might be, besides a passion for fashion, you will also need a sense for business.

Can you put up with the risks involved?

You shouldn’t be scared by this question, but if you wish to start a fashion business, you should know that there are some risks involved. It is possible that you will invest in a business that goes down the drains within a year. Nonetheless, let’s not forget that if you’re good at what you’re doing, you will be able to make a lot of money and leave a nice inheritance to your children.

Why did you choose the fashion industry?

There are so many industries to choose from so why did you choose this one? You could have opened a homeopathic pharmacy or anything else. You might think that your passion for fashion will carry you through the tough times, but it’s not enough to think this; you have to know it.

What kind of a niche you are going into?

If you wish to start a fashion business you have to know what kind of niche you are dealing with. It is easy to notice if a niche is already overcrowded. Also notice whether there are numerous small players or if the niche is dominated by a few large players. For this you will have to do some market research. Take a look at the catalogs that you receive in your mailbox and maybe take a trip to the mall during the weekend. All this information isn’t meant to scare you, but you have to know what the competition is like. As it has been mentioned before: there is always room for one more player.

Is there something you can specialize in?

If you take a look at the success stories of other business owners, you might see that it’s easy to reach your goals if you can give your customers something they can’t find anywhere else. Maybe you are thinking about handmade embroidered dresses or leather objects imported from Turkey. Finding something special to offer your clients can make all the difference between success and failure. Just find that one something that people feel they are lacking.

Do you have any kind of advantage over your competition?

Even if you think you have a very good idea to start a fashion business, you should know that there is almost nothing that people can’t find at the local mall. This is why you have to know what they are carrying. Besides this, you will have to know your target audience: where they live, the style they have, their socio-economic background and a little something about their taste. This way you can get closer to them and you will be able to speak to them – personally.

Who will walk into your store?

The hardest question is what kind of clothes will you carry if you start a fashion business? If you opt for women’s apparel, you may already know that you have a lot of competition. However, if you have found a gap, this might be the right way to go. Naturally a lot of things also depend on the location of the store.

If you wish to handle menswear, you have to remember one thing: men seem to simply hate shopping for clothes. They need to be dragged in the store and forced to buy something even if they really need the given item. In case you think you have a bigger shot with children’s clothes, you have to know what it’s not children you’re targeting, but their parents. Consider your neighborhood when deciding; if people don’t have a lot of money to spend on children’s clothes, it might not be the best idea to open a boutique there or you should specialize in something else.

In case you’d like to start a fashion business, there are a lot of aspects to be thinking about. However, the most important aspect to consider is that you have to be sure that this is what you really want.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Solving Common Small Business Problems with POS Systems

Small businesses usually face several problems in the very first years of conception. In fact, the U.S. Small Business website states that almost 60 percent of all small businesses fail in the first year of business due to simple but universal problems that involve inventory, purchasing, billing, credit lines, and taxation. The companies that do manage to streamline all of these functions into a single integrated system with warehouse inventory management and POS systems are more likely to survive and flourish. If you are a small business owner and are actively contemplating the purchase of a small business POS, here are a few common problems that the POS system will overcome.

Understanding Financials and Taxation

A recent study listed on Smallbusinessbc.ca showed that 83 percent of all small businesses in the country failed due to a serious financial ignorance about accounting and taxation. These problems could have been avoided easily with POS systems as the system automatically tracked payments for products at the billing counter. It also calculated any discounts applicable on sale or marked down products and listed it routinely for the cashier.

Combination deals were also listed on the billing register and the cashier could use and add discount deals, coupons and codes (offered by the customer or the manufacturer) to the billing to discount the price. Almost all POS systems were also updated with current sales tax and VAT rules. As a result, at the end of the day, the daily cash income was automatically tallied with sales tax and VAT requirements. This tax tracking continued over a month and storeowners could just check the monthly printout to find out what they had to pay in the form of taxes.

Inventory Management and Re-Stocking

Business owners did have technical skills but they found it difficult to tally daily sales with inventory depreciation and reordering. In fact, most business owners stated that end-of-day cash register/inventory tallies were the most annoying part of running a business. All of these problems can be avoided with a POS system for small business. It tracks sales for products sold every day. For example, if three bottles of Savlon are sold in a day, the system automatically deducts it from store inventory of 45 bottles and registers in-store inventory as 42.

This not only simplifies the purchase, inventory and tracking process but also keeps the business owner informed about how products sell in the store. The POS system can also have automatic email alerts for the business owner, the warehouse and vendors. Email alerts may be sent to the warehouse for restocking of items. The emails are also sent to vendors when store and warehouse stocks fall low and the storeowner can put in automated repeat ordering parameters. This ensures that products never fall below a certain number and popular high-volume goods are always available for customers. At the same time, the POS software also ensures that product loss in the form of theft and misplacement is minimized.

Marketing and Customer Loyalty

The challenge for small business owners is to market to their customers and increase their brand or store loyalty. With increasing competition, it is now very common to find a wandering customer base. Well-informed consumers are more than likely to comparison shop at more than two to three retail stores just to ensure that they are getting the best. For a small business owner, this means that they have to offer the best deals possible.

With an integrated and cloud-based POS system, this is completely possible. Internet-based billing systems can link to manufacturer and coupons websites and update the retail system immediately. As a result, customers are offered the best deals almost immediately. The POS system also integrates with in-store customers and offers them immediate freebies and coupons when they approach products through in-store Wi-Fi.

Improved Cash Flow

One of the major benefits of a POS system is data availability. For new business owners, cash is usually tight. They have to make informed decisions on what to spend money and when. A POS system provides accurate guidance in this aspect. As it tracks sales, it is possible to find high-volume products with a bigger dealer percentage. These products can be promoted and marketed leading to better sales and higher profits. As the system tells the proprietor what to buy and when, they can make informed decisions about their inventory and expenditure.

Not every small business problem can be resolved with a POS system. However, a good system can ensure that the basic problems of vendor coordination, customer billing, credit lines and cash flow are managed efficiently through the system. This management ensures that stock is available for purchase, a steady cash income is available, vendors are paid, and the business remains financially flush with a chance of success.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.