shopventory

You're Being Reviewed

You're Being Reviewed

The advent of sites like Yelp, Angie's ListHundredX, Facebook, Google Reviews, and scores of others has absolutely changed the game in retail, especially for the food service industry. This means Customers will be drawn to— or driven from— your business before they even leave the house...

To Go Big: Go Small

To Go Big: Go Small

You may have noticed something different at your local grocery store recently. You've probably also seen it in the restaurants in your city or even the local liquor store. It's something downright radical: Local Alternatives...

Effect of Inventory Management Technology on Employee Theft

We recently read a report from Software Advice, a company that researches and reviews inventory management software, who conducted a survey of nearly 400 employees to better understand how these systems can catch thieves that target any point in the supply chain. The results of the report were very interesting:

  • The report found that 22% of employees at companies without inventory management software openly admitted to stealing products (see chart below). This should be unnerving for manufactures and distributors, as well as retailers, since the inventory shrinkage that stems from this theft will affect profit margins for companies at any point in the supply chain. Software
  • The report also found that 24% of all companies with large quantity of goods in stock still do not use inventory management software, despite the fact that inventory theft by employees accounts for 44% of all inventory shrinkage.

  • Fifteen percent of employees whose stores use inventory management software admit to stealing from their store, versus 22 percent of employees whose stores use other methods.
  • Only 37 percent of small “mom and pop” stores are using inventory management software, versus 53 percent of local and regional retail chains and 85 percent of national retail chains surveyed.
  • Only a portion of “mom and pop” stores and regional chains are leveraging inventory management software (37% and 53% respectively), according to the report. Based on this fact it is apparent many businesses are leaving themselves exposed to the threat of employee theft – a problem that costs businesses in the United States more than $15 billion annually.
  • Using inventory management software is beneficial, as it allows companies to keep track of their inventory and avoid the time consuming process of manual data entry. While these systems won’t necessarily stop employee theft entirely, they give companies a resource to conduct accurate and consistent cycle counts to notice when there is an anomaly that could be attributed to theft.

The inventory management researcher at Software Advice, Forrest Burnson, who conducted the study, said this issue of employee theft needs immediate attention:

“Whether you’re a small, medium or large business – it is very important to protect your inventory. Since at least 60% of respondents to our survey admitted that employee theft was a problem of some degree, no matter the company size, business owners need to be swift and direct in addressing this matter. Using software is a great way to better secure your business and ensure your profit margins do not decrease.”

To read the full report, click here.

If you have comments or would like to obtain access to any of the charts above, please contact forrest@softwareadvice.com.

Inventory Solutions for Multiple Locations

Managing inventory is a beast for one shop, but it becomes a whole different animal when you add multiple locations. This isn't necessarily defined by just having more than one brick and mortar store—it's any situation where you're selling from multiple points and housing inventory in multiple places. Even an online shop that sells at various farmers markets could benefit from multiple location solutions. At Shopventory, we've been working on our multiple locations feature for the last few weeks. Service for up to three locations is now available in our Premium plan, with the option to add more locations as needed. It includes all the inventory management tools available with our other great plans, but also features unlimited order volume, detailed sales reports by location, inventory reporting by location and profit margin reporting by location too. This allows small business owners to see all that important data and trends for each location, as well as move your inventory between locations as needed to stock your stores more efficiently.

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It was our intention to ease some of the challenges that come with managing multiple locations. We want you to be able to monitor your inventory counts in when you can't be in two places at once, communicate better with your employees and run all of your businesses like the awesome boss you are.

We steal our best ideas from you, our customers, so please let us know what you think of this new Shopventory multiple locations plan—we wanna know the the great, the good and the could-be-better so that we can keep helping you run the business you love.

Shopventory Now Supports Inventory Management Across Multiple Locations

We've been working on some fun updates in the secret laboratory for a few weeks now and we're excited to announce that Shopventory now fully supports inventory management for businesses with multiple locations. High fives all around!

With this new multiple location capability, you can now...

-Keep an eye on all your locations from one simple dashboard -Manage a central warehouse -Maintain inventory counts automatically for off-site pop-up shopsfestivals and weekend markets -Make inventory transfers between locations -Update inventory among locations with quick bulk upload spreadsheets customized for your business -Mix and match POS devices—Square at one store and PayPal Here at another? No problem.

We didn't stop at multiple locations—we also just released an update so you can  search and filter inventory while you edit, which we hope will save you some time. When setting an alerts, you can also create an alert based on location, item name, category name or quantity (or any combination) so that your alerts are truly the best for your business.

Our new Standard plan ($59/month) includes support for up to three locations. If you're interested in trying out any of these new features, give us a whirl for free by signing up here or upgrade by emailing us at help@shopventory.com.

With so many of our clients managing multiple locations and participating in off-site sales, we really hope you love this new feature. And if you have any suggestions to make it better, please let us know.

Our best ideas always come from you!

6 Sanity-Saving Tips for Year-End Inventory

You survived the holiday rush. PHEW. But if you’re in retail, your work is just beginning. Before you settle in for your long winter’s nap, you  still have to count the things. All the things.Here are our six favorite year-end inventory tips to help you get through the process without a breaking into the New Year’s Eve champagne early. We’ll drink to that.

1. Dedicate time to the task. Take the day off or use a series of slow afternoons to dedicate solely to inventory. Focus and keep distractions at bay.

2. Enlist help. Two sets of eyeballs are better than one even with a small shop. Depending on the size of your business, this might involve simply asking a trusted pal to come in for an afternoon. For larger businesses, split your staff into small teams to count (and recount) together.

3. Reward yourself and your staff. Motivation can come in many forms. Order lunch for everybody or bring in a masseuse to give your crew back rubs during their breaks. Give yourself something when you’re done too—you know what you like best.

4. Keep notes upon notes upon notes. After you’ve combed through your products, you might’ve discovered you need a better way to organize them. Or you might’ve uncovered a huge box of plastic dinosaurs that didn’t sell very well this year but will be perfect for your legendary window displays. Make sure you’re not just counting, but making detailed notes that’ll help you be more successful in the coming year.

5. Clean house. Do you have products that have been collecting dust for years, decades even? Even a clearance sticker can’t work miracles. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of outdated or ridiculously unpopular merchandise. All it’s doing is weighing you down and taking up important space.

6. Use technology to save time and money. Yes, we’re slightly biased. Truly though, the right tools and software can help make taking inventory much less of a drag. A system like Shopventory keeps track of your inventory and sales automatically throughout the year, so it makes those year-end reports and accuracy checks that much easier come tax time. Even if you’re not using a program this year, it’s a perfect time to start since you’ll have all the right information and spreadsheets on hand to upload. You’ll thank yourself next year.

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All Great Businesses Started Small - The Story of Starbucks

starbucks

Has coffee become your life blood for your day-to-day work? Ever dropped by a Starbucks for a nice grande white chocolate mocha? (If you haven't, I highly recommend it as a pick-me-up and sweet tooth cure!) If you've ever been to a Starbucks in your life, you've probably noticed at least one or two five minutes apart from each other. But they didn't start that way; Starbucks grew organically from one small, local business in Seattle to a worldwide coffee giant in less than a few decades with little start-up money.

Passion for the Coffee Bean

Starbucks originally didn't sell brewed coffee and espresso, but coffee beans. Two teachers and a writer were inspired by Peet's Coffee and Tea in Berkeley, CA to start their own similar business, also selling coffee beans. As you probably know, teachers and writers typically don't make a JK Rowling salary, particularly not in the '70s. English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker were friends with Alfred Peet, founder of Peet's; with his blessing, the trio pooled together $8000 of their money plus loans to start up their own coffee bean venture in 1971. Nine years later, Starbucks was the largest coffee roaster in Washington and Siegel decided to pursue other dreams.

Fun fact! The founders named Starbucks after a shipmate in Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick. Even more fun fact! They almost named it "Pequod" after that particular shipmate's boat. Really makes you think coffee, right? (Not so much...)

To continue with their nautical theme, they made the logo a siren to evoke the sensuality of the sea. However, the logo evolved to a less "exposed" version not many years after. Though it fit rather well given their Seattle location and their name.

Enter Howard Schultz

Presently CEO of Starbucks, Schultz became a part of the team in 1982 as head of marketing because of his connection with Hammerplast, a Swedish company supplying Starbucks. His job was to spread the word and magic of Starbucks, searching for new tastes, flavors, campaign ideas, and whatever else boosts business. On a trip to Italy, Schultz sampled the delicious coffee and relished the refined cafe culture. Inspiration hit.

Remember, Starbucks at this point was a coffee bean hub, not selling coffee by the cup as we know it now. When Schultz returned, Baldwin wasn't too keen on the idea of serving espresso as Schultz envisioned. In spite of the less-than-stellar feedback, Schultz believed in his idea and left the group in 1985 to start his own coffee business called Il Giornale, after a popular publication in Italy.

Il Giornale was a success.

Schultz earned enough money from investors that he up and bought Starbucks from Baldwin and Bowker for the huge sum of $3.7 million. By this time--about 1987--Baldwin had already bought Peet's and he still works there today. Talk about passion for coffee beans.

Schultz's goal was to expand Starbucks to numerous locations, spreading out from Seattle. He consolidated Il Giornale and Starbucks into one business and the brand new company went public in 1992.

Selling brewed coffee and tea by the cup was more than hit. Starbucks underwent massive growth in five years and continued exponential growth from there. Between 2007 and 2008, there were Starbucks shops opening every weekday! Yet, like every business susceptible to the currents of the economy, there were cutbacks worldwide. In spite of that, however, Starbucks is at home in 40+ countries and has over 15,000 total stores worldwide. People want the java.

What can you take away from Starbucks' life story?

Starbucks started off small and local, just like your business. These three guys had no experience running a business previously--Siegel worked at Peet's for a year to learn the trade, but running one's own business is still a steep learning curve. More importantly, they were passionate about the business of coffee beans and roasting.

Though Schultz came in later, he played an integral role in the metamorphosis of Starbucks as a whole. He too was struck by a fantastic idea and rolled with it. He followed what inspired him even if it meant deviating from his team. Now it's a coffee empire.

What you should understand is that sometimes you just can't do it all alone. You may be able to act as manager, marketer, inventor, business(wo)man, etc., but it's definitely all right to have help. It might not be possible immediately, but after a while it might be worth it to partner or hire in order to achieve the goals you've set at a faster pace. Keep an open mind, network, and find someone you truly trust. This applies to investors as well.

As cheesy as it sounds, stay true to what inspires you. Love the business you run. Always remember why you started your business and tap into that spark that drove you to take the small biz plunge.

Next time you're sipping on your white chocolate mocha from Starbucks (wink), think about the company's evolution. Think on what success means to you and imagine your business achieving what you consider greatness. Nourish your inspiration.

Tell us what you think of the story of Starbucks and what inspires you when running your business below, or tweet @Shopventory!

4 Powerful Tools for Small Business Branding

Branding is about the warm-fuzzies. It's about creating excuses for your company to always be associated on the positive end of a customer's emotional barometer. It's about story telling and giving other people the tools to tell stories on your behalf.And that's why it's not enough for a company to think that branding ends at just a logo.

Small businesses should consistently be giving "tools" which can help customers promote a company. Although there are many, we've narrowed it down to the 4 most powerful tools for small business branding.

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MailChimp + TinyLetter 

If you don't have an email newsletter, get on it! MailChimp recently acquired TinyLetter to serve the needs of small business owners when it comes to email marketing.

"Basically, TinyLetter is for people what MailChimp is for business; we help you have engaging converstations with your followers."

MailChimp is geared toward the business side of things. You can automate your newsletters, manage customer databases, track analytics/reports, and integrate with survey tools to see what your customers' opinions are. MailChimp possesses several other features, easily accessible to its users. As your customer base grows, you won't be hindered by email limits like some email providers; MailChimp will help you get the word out.

TinyLetter adds the personal touch customers need to keep coming back. Returning to the basics of letters and conversation, TinyLetter keeps things simple and sweet. If you want to engage with your audience, as time permits, you can make the bonds between business and customer stronger by paying direct attention to their questions and comments.

With a two-in-one package, you have the freedom to choose a more personal approach versus an all-encompassing one. 

smoreSmore 

When you promote to your customers through email, you want to avoid two things: making your promos  appear to be spam and making them absolutely dull. This is where Smore comes in.

Smore is a service that allows you to create beautiful online flyers easily and quickly. There are templates, designs, and color options to play with according to your promotional needs--Events, Promotions, Businesses, and more. When you start, the template guides you and offers suggestions for content placement. You can keep everything clean and simple, while visually appealing and informative. View their Featured Flyers section to spark your creativity and come up with your own for your business--and personal--needs.

While it's called Smore, it is (sadly) not edible. 

moocardsMOO Cards

No matter what, business cards will always be a valuable investment, especially quality cards. You never know who you meet, and MOO Cards can give you memorable cards to keep them coming back for more.

MOO Cards provides a few options for business owners small and large. In general, MOO Cards allows you to use your own artwork or photography in designing your cards. You can also use their free designs and add your logo. With the variety in design and card types they have, you'll feel like a kid in a candy--business card--shop.

Additionally, they have an option for business with more than 10 employees and typically order to scale, which is called MOO for Business. As your business grows, this could be a helpful option.

Another idea for your business is Printify. Printify is a feature that allows you to print different photos on multiple cards. You could put pictures of your most photogenic products on your business cards and become a walking catalogue. Share you business in conversation and let them take a piece to remember. 

buffappfeedlyBuffer App + Feedly 

Dabbling in social media takes so much time, and you need that time for your business. Buffer App solves this issue by consolidating your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and sharing your content automatically.

Buffer App lets you to schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts easily; your posts stack and Buffer App sends them according to the times you set. Rather than huge URL links taking up characters in your Twitter posts, Buffer App shortens them so you can add relevant hashtags and comments. And, if you are having trouble keeping up with this on your own, you can add team members to join your social media brigade.

Recently, Buffer App partnered with Feedly. If you don't know what Feedly is, it's an app and browser extension that pulls current news and content of interest to one place. Visually, it's like a sleek online magazine. You can also customize what types of news you get by following particular websites--fresh articles your way.

But how does this help your social media presence as a business?

Buffer App has integrated with Feedly, so you can easily Buffer and share the articles you come across. By following websites that create content related to your business, you can share what you believe your followers will find helpful. Plus, if you're short on time and don't have blog posts churning out constantly, these articles act as useful filler.

The more you share, the more your customers feel an active presence on your end. Providing cool content keeps your customers awake to your business.

These are just four of many useful tools for small business branding. Building your brand online and offline has become imperative for businesses of all kinds. We hope these help save you time and serve your needs well.

Have any other suggestions for branding or want to share your small business story? Share in the comments or tweet us (@Shopventory)!

 

Shopventory's New Dashboard is coming soon!

If you've been using Shopventory's inventory management software, your valuable feedback and needs helped direct this new makeover. Take a gander at the new and improved Shopventory dashboard, alerts, and inventory pages!

Founders Bach and Rares have adjusted everything accordingly and are excited to launch the new version soon!
Here's what's new:
A redesigned dashboard so you can see at a glance how your business is doing.
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A redesigned inventory screen with the ability to filter based on category. Plus, a variety of other criteria like high value, low value, high margin, low margin.

 

Also, a redesigned inventory screen to allow bulk editing of your inventory.
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The ability to get email alerts when inventory gets low. This will allow businesses to re-order before they run out.
shopventory-alerts-v3

Let us know your thoughts on the new design and how Shopventory is working for you! Your continued feedback is immensely helpful and allows us to better our software so you can better run your business. Jot down your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @Shopventory!

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)!

We're Excited About Next Generation Payments

nextgenpaymentsRetailers large and small are adopting new mobile payments systems all with the goal to make everyone’s lives easier. For both the customer and the business, payment will be faster and the experience customized. A customer becomes more than just a walking wallet and, perhaps one day, he or she won’t need to lug around plastic and cash.

Mobile payment systems have typically been found in small businesses or scattered amongst pop-ups, but you may be surprised when you find the new PayPal in-store payment options in retail giants like Home Depot or JC Penney.

PayPal’s payment tools are moving toward improved customer experience. With PayPal Here, local and mobile businesses can process credit cards easily and from anywhere. Larger stores may gradually be implementing in-store payments, which just require your phone number and PIN. Finally, PayPal is partnering with Vend, Shopkeep, Erply, and Leapset, four POS software companies that suit well to small business needs.

With PayPal’s partnering with these companies, payment is fast and sales are organized. With a check-in app that opens the path for loyalty program options, customers are recognized, connected automatically, and encouraged to visit more often. Additionally, combining PayPal with the POS software consolidates almost everything into one system, making the retailer’s life much less hectic.

But if businesses take it a step further with organization, they can’t track the quantities of their products they sell. Business owners’ lives are still chaotic when they’re stuck keeping tabs on inventory manually. What sells the best? How soon before you run out of this or that? What isn’t selling well enough?

While two elements of the equation are solved, they need one more to optimize their business management. Using a program like Shopventory that integrates with what they already use can make a small or mobile business excel beyond what they originally thought possible. It keeps track of inventory quantities and provides reports on your sales to help with your business strategy, all while integrating with your POS and payment system. A business trifecta, if you will.

Maybe one day all customers can rely on their phones as their preferred method of payment. For now, the mobile payments industry is growing more innovative and more businesses are adopting next generation payments to accommodate their customer and management needs.

Have you experienced any next generation payment methods? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@Shopventory)!