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5 Ways to Win at Inventory Management

5 Ways to Win at Inventory Management

There’s a rule in business. Whoever manages to do the most work using the least amount of time using the least amount of resources is eventually going to win... 

Shopventory Expands Through Otterology.com Acquisition

We'd like to share some great news from Shopventory!

DENVER, Colorado – June 3, 2015 

Shopventory, a leading provider of inventory management and optimization solutions for medium to small size businesses, announced today its acquisition of certain assets from Minneapolis-based Otterology.

Shopventory has acquired the Otterology service, its customer base and various other related assets including Otterology trademarks and associated Internet domain names.

"Shopventory's success in helping SMB's optimize their inventory management while saving time and money has led to our rapid growth and positioned us as one of the leading inventory management solutions for retailers leveraging the power of Mobile Point of Sale (MPOS)," stated Dave Carlson, Shopventory Co-Founder and CEO. "Our client-centric service and return-on-investment focus for our customers put us in position to acquire the assets of Otterology." 

CLICK HERE for the full press release.

Your support over the past two years helped make this possible. Keep the suggestions and feedback coming. We sincerely appreciate your ideas and input. We have some exciting plans ahead and this is just the beginning.

Make it a great day!

Cheers,

Dave Carlson

CEO

Shopventory Available in the Square App Marketplace

Shopventory is pleased to announce our formal integration with Square and our launch in the Square App Marketplace. Inventory and profitability management for Square retailers is now easier and faster than ever before with Shopventory. Sales, inventory and profit are now synced real-time between Shopventory and Square for more accurate reporting to help retailers succeed."The combination of Shopventory and Square makes it easier for retailers to order the right product at the right time so they always have high-demand product in stock and they know the cost and retail value of their inventory at any moment in time," Bach Le, Shopventory CTO and Co-Founder.

Catch our press release here!

We welcome your comments.

Turn Square Receipts Into A Big Opportunity

Oh, receipts. Not typically the most exciting part of running a business... until now. Earlier this month, Square introduced a new receipt feature called Square Feedback for the Register app to help business owners capitalize on that little printed (or digital) slip. receipt

We know many of you are already familiar with Square receipts, but if you aren't, here's how it works: As a customer, Square saves your information (based on your credit card swipe) and saves email address and allows you to choose whether you wan't your receipt emailed to you or printed at the store.

Until recently, this was just a missed opportunity for business owners—an under-utilized point of contact with your customers. Now, in addition to the standard receipt information, Square merchants can add something else to the receipt—a feedback request. It's an additional $10/month subscription-based service for business owners, but that investment could allow you to resolve customer issues right away before they pop up in an online review later.

With this service, your customers will be able to tap on a smiley face or frowny face and take a short checkbox survey based on multiple aspects of the purchase. You can ask customers about wait time, customer service, quality and "other." The most useful part of this feature is perhaps the text box where they can leave some details about their experience at your shop. It's like a digital comment card!

The receipt then becomes a platform, giving your customers an extra opportunity to communicate with you, provide you with new ideas, identify problems (before they show up in a Yelp review later) or just send you a smiley face right back. It doesn't take the place of human interaction—of course—but the more avenues you can provide to communicate with your customers, the better.

Have you tried this receipt feature yet on your Register app? Let us know what you think so far in the comments?

Square Introduces New Restaurant Takeout App

That moment when you're staring at your computer obsessing about lunch just got a little more exciting. Square may have just dropped Wallet from the app store, but also launched a new one called Square Order. This restaurant app allows you to browse merchants near you, find out estimated wait times, put in a takeout order, pay for it using the credit card linked to your account, enter a tip and receive a ping when your order is ready to be picked up.

via Square

Before you get too hungry (or hangry), we should let you know that Square's new Square Order app is only available in San Francisco and New York City. The iOS app is available for download now, with Android still in beta testing.

Currently, the takeout options are just a hint of what could come. The app allows users to suggest new restaurants, meaning that there may be quite a bit of change in that area. A reporter for the SF Weekly noted about 35 options at the time of her order, ranging from boutique bakeries to Whole Foods.

square order takeout

Similar on-demand food products have been emerging left and right in recent years, both in the app store and online. Various rapid delivery services, seating wait lists and others are trying to take a bite out of the food industry, so we'll be interested to see how Square Order fits into this tech space. Many of said apps haven't made it out of the Bay Area, but we'll be waiting (impatiently) for at least a few of them to launch in Southern California.

If you're based in the SF or NYC market and interested in getting your restaurant listed on Square Order, we'll be blogging about the setup process in another post soon.

Square Releases Spanish Version of the Register App to Support Latino Businesses

Square recently announced the Spanish-language release of their popular Square Register app. Latino-owned businesses comprise 22.4% of Florida businesses, 20.7% of Texas businesses and 16.5% of California businesses, according to Square, so this was an important step to continue supporting these large, thriving business communities. square swipe

“Every entrepreneur and business owner should have access to tools and resources that inform their decisions and help them reach their goals,” said Square executive Ricardo Reyes. “Square’s powerful tools offer more than just a point of sale, they build on the experience for the business and its customers. Now Square is optimized for Latino businesses to serve their customers across the U.S.”

The Census Bureau reports that Hispanics are the most likely among American minorities to start and grow their own businesses—nearly twice the rate of the general population. We know first-hand how important this is for our own city of San Diego, where the Hispanic community compromises one-third of the population—that's one million people, including 50,000 Hispanic small business owners.

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Currently, Square is only available in the U.S., Canada and Japan, so we can't help but wonder if this release also moves Square into a position to launch in additional international markets as well.

Did you attend one of the launch events in San Francisco, Houston, Miami or Los Angeles? Let us know how it went in the comments!

Your Cash-Only Policy Is Holding Your Small Business Back

In recent Intuit study shows a whopping 55% of American small businesses do not accept credit cards. Is your jaw on the floor? Ours was. We fact-checked that stats again and again to make sure the study wasn't taken in 1997. "Intuit estimates that each business that does not accept plastic misses out on approximately $7,000 in sales annually, equating to approximately more than $100 billion in collective lost revenue. This missed opportunity represents a combination of new sales and sales that go to other businesses that accept credit cards."

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That's more than half of you out there saying "no" to paying customers and either losing business or souring the customer experience, if only just a little bit. CNBC spoke with the owner of Joe Coffee, a chain of craft coffee shops in NYC. For ten years, it felt natural to be a cash-only business—it avoided significant processing fees and was in-line with their mom and pop reputation. However, owner Jonathan Rubenstein started to feel a shift. "We started reading our Yelp reviews—75 percent of the negative comments about Joe were about us not taking credit cards," he said. "We were losing a lot of sales in terms of people not having cash and going to a competing coffee shop but also people spending less money who wouldn't buy a $17 bag of coffee [beans] or a $75 grinder." 

Cash flow is vitally important to the health of a small business, and accepting credit cards can help alleviate cash flow strain as well. Small businesses that take credit cards get paid quicker and make more sales than businesses with a strict cash-only policy. The survey found that 83 percent of businesses that accept credit cards make more sales, with 52 percent making at least $1,000 more per month and 18 percent making at least $20,000 more per month. In addition, 74 percent of those surveyed said they get paid faster and reduce bad debt by accepting credit cards.

If you like your facts in infographic form, we've got you covered below.

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Do you accept credit cards? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

Everything You Need To Know About Square Cash

There's been much chatter on the Internet lately about the launch of Square Cash this past fall and more recently with the release of some game-changing new features last week. Since we work closely with many business owners who use Square, we thought we'd provide a quick guide to Square Cash. square cash

1. What is it?  At its most basic level, Square Cash is a way for a friend to pay a friend. It can also be much more than that, although it's probably not going to revolutionize the way you take payments in your retail shop like Square Wallet could. Depending on your line of work though, it could be a great new tool for wholesale clients or for taking care of other types of invoicing and quick payments.

2. You don't need a Square account to send or receive money. There is an easy Square Cash app for Apple and Android devices, but as of February 2014, you can also request cash from a friend or make a payment in an email by copying request@square.com on the message. No need to log in. This recently released feature sets it apart from other similar payment apps.

3. You can check the status of your requests. If you've sent  payment requests to your studio mates to split the cost of the new office espresso machine, you can go back and check who has paid and who still owes you.

4. Free money! They'll email you $1 if you try it.

Do you use Square Cash for your business or personal payments? Let us know how in the comments!

How To Price Handmade Goods

Every business owner out there sells something or other, but then there are the makers. At Shopventory, we're lucky enough to have clients all over the world who are truly makers—of everything from watches to screen-printed art. When you work your behind off to create something truly one-of-a-kind—how do you possibly put a price tag on that special handmade product? How to price handmade goods

To price this tricky (but amazing) type of inventory, try this simple formula from Etsy:

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

The Breakdown:

Materials: Include all your most insignificant materials, packaging, shipping, etc. for each item. It adds up!

Labor: What would you (or do you) charge per hour? Multiply your hourly rate by the hours it takes to create each item for your labor cost.

Expenses: Include studio rental, utilities, repairs, web hosting, office supplies, product donations, promotional materials, advertising, meetings with wholesale clients, gas to deliver products, processing fees for PayPal Here or Square, and every other cost to run your business. Divide those monthly costs by the number of items you sell each month (or plan to sell) for your expenses/item cost.

Profit: How much profit would you like to make on this product? Be honest. Don't be stingy with yourself.

Add the above up to get your wholesale price. Multiply that by two for your retail price. Easy-peasy.

Other considerations:

Higher prices can either turn customers off or turn them on. Your packaging, branding, quality of work and price will determine the perceived value of your goods. Pricing your products too low can make your customers question the value, so try to find a happy medium. When in doubt, estimate a little high. MAKE zine cites a the owner of a wedding stationary shop that raised her prices in order to focus on what she thought would be fewer clients. Instead, pricing herself as the most sought-after designer in town made her the most sought-after designer in town.

Is your craft your full-time job? Do you want it to be? Here's where that old saying comes in: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Price for the business your want, not the business you have. Yes, you might still be sending dozens of free lotion samples to beauty bloggers to generate buzz and build your client base, but it also means that you are confident enough in the quality of your products that you will charge your friend's cousin's dentist full price.

Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Square Market Now

squaremarket

Recently, Square released a new service called Square Market. Known for its convenient card reader you simply plug into your smart device, Square is now tackling e-commerce for small and mobile businesses. Creating an online store typically takes a lot of money and time; Square hopes to make this service accessible and practical for both retailers and customers.

What is Square Market exactly?

Square Market is an online marketplace for businesses to essentially launch their own online stores with access to more customers. The high rollers you may have heard of in this department are Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy. Square Market is for anything that can be shipped, be it apparel, beauty products, crafts, household goodies, or anything without a timely expiration date.

Because Square Market is free to use, charging nothing to set up, the service alleviates the stress on your time--and wallet. You’re able to list items, add photos, and create a distinctive profile for your business. Rather than spending a fortune for web development and maintenance for your own shop, you only pay 2.75% for each item sold.

Additionally, founder of Square and creator of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has implemented Twitter into Square Market, allowing you to tweet your products directly. Having a huge following on Twitter can pay off for your online store if purchasing something is only 140 characters away. And even if you do not have a following the size of Ashton Kutcher’s, the Square Market is one way to gain a larger customer base just by the sheer convenience of online ordering.

Square Market released in late June, so there may be some tweaks to be made to the overall interface, but it could be a solid solution for businesses tight on funds that also want to expand to an online market. It’s free, aside from the 2.75% processing fee per item sold, and integrates with Twitter, which may open up possibilities to integrate with other social media bases. Either way, it’s a viable e-commerce option small businesses should explore now if they are seeking growth and, maybe more importantly, relevance.

Share any thoughts below on this new Square service or the online store you use, or tweet us (@Shopventory)!

A Guide to Pop-Up Shops

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Summertime is the perfect time for pop-up shops. With everyone out shopping and dining, putting up your own pop-up shop in the midst of this traffic can help you sell more this season. Here are some tips to set yourself up for success in your pop-up endeavors.

1. Take Advantage of Festivals, Events and Trade Shows

Festivals, fairs, and exhibitions are consumer treasure troves for pop-ups. Manning a pop-up shop at one of these can wrangle tons of customers and keep them coming back for more once the event is over. Summer is the perfect time to set up shop at these events, but how do you find out when and where they are?

2. Understand Your Ideal Target Customer

It's an important step because of two reasons:

1) It helps determine which events you should focus on attending 2) Determines who and how you target the people who are most likely to buy from you

For example, if your business is selling a product-line of yoga pants, so your target crowd will most likely frequent healthy lifestyle festivals. Check the local Chamber of Commerce websites for festivals and fairs or alternately, use BizTradeShows.com to find tradeshows you can participate in.

3. Set Up Temporary Seasonal Shops

Pop-ups are short-term, and you should use this fact to your advantage. Landlords would rather have their spaces filled than vacant for a lot of reasons. Reach out to any unfilled locations and negotiate with the landlord; it's possible you may not have to pay rent aside from utilities (water, electricity, Internet, etc.). See if you can work out a deal with mutual benefits. Once you've found the perfect location, make sure your budget can handle any other fees. Business rates and insurance are some to keep in mind.

Sidenote: If you reside in the UK as a vendor, Appear Here is a handy tool for looking up landlords listing vacancies for pop-up shops.

4. Experiment With Merchandise

It may not be readily obvious but pop-ups are a great way to test out whether the new merchandise will be successful. If you made an ideal customer profile and selected a relevant event to participate in, you get to observe the purchasing behavior of  people who share essentially identical characteristics to your usual customers. Use pop-ups shops to check whether your gut feeling about pricing, merchandise or package deals are validated by customers.

5. Get a Mobile Payments Reader

The days of paying with cash are dwindling and almost everyone pays by card now. Make it more convenient for yourself and your customers by getting a mobile card reader (ie. Square, Intuit GoPayments, or PayPal Here). It works with your Apple or Android smartphone and tablet, processing cards quickly and easily. It will save you a ton of time and hassle, plus your customers will find it convenient.

6. Increase Traffic with Social Media

If you already have a strong customer following through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc., flaunt your pop-up initiative. Tweet your location and any specials to get them into your shop or to visit the festival you're selling at. It should NEVER matter whether or not you have followers. You're never too early to start telling your story, sharing your experiences and building up a brand.

Get on your social networks, start listening to what  people are saying and get in on the conversation.

7. Create Drama, Attract Attention and Make it an Experience

Put thought into how you're going to attract customers to your stall. It could be simple, such as through great visual merchandising or it may involve more such as having giveaways.  Add splashes of color, movement, lighting, music, or aromas to make your pop-up memorable and welcoming.

Running a pop-up shop can be a labor of love. Yet with the right preparation, your pop-up can flourish wherever you plant it. Best wishes!

How to Sell your Own Gift Cards with Square

 

UPDATE NOV 2014: Square has just announced gift cards are available directly from Square. Visit this link to find out more: https://squareup.com/gift-cards

 

Square has proven itself to be the proverbial double-edged sword.

The entire purchasing experience is curated through the Square Wallet mobile app, which gives customers the ability to buy store gift cards from anywhere and saves store owners the hassle of having to buy custom designed gift cards. Theoretically, it’s a great system.

But it’s a huge drawback if customers don’t have Square Wallet installed on their smartphones. The Square register doesn't currently have a gift card “option” either. So are store owners hopeless with selling their own gift cards with Square?

There is an alternative.

You can bypass Square Wallet by simply inputting gift cards as part of your inventory.

Inputting Gift Cards into Square

When you do this, be cognizant of how you price the gift card. It’s complicated for two reasons:

1) Sales tax is automatically tacked onto all inventory in Square.

2) Discounts are accounted for before tax is applied to the purchase.

We’ve made a super simple guide to the two ways you can deal with gift cards in your inventory:

Option #1: {Preferred}

Simply add the sales tax upfront. To do this, price the gift card for its face value (a $25 gift card costs $25) and have the buyer of the gift card pay sales on it. When the gift card is redeemed, you can add the full face value to the discount.

Option #2:

Price the gift card at less than face value so that when sales tax is added, the final cost of the gift card is equal to its face value. When the gift card is redeemed, reimburse for the pre-sales tax price of the gift card. This effectively taxes all the items which were purchased by the gift card rather than the gift card itself.

Confused? Here’s an excel spreadsheet that takes care of it for you.

Some math is required, but hopefully this explains how to sell your own certificates and gift cards with Square. Let us know in the comments if you've found other ways of selling your gift cards!