Marketing Monday: Is Your Branding Working for You?

Let’s talk, business owner to business enthusiast. Do you remember when you were working on creating your store branding? Wasn’t that a nightmare? All the agonizing over style and colors and logo… there were so many sleepless nights, and so much second-guessing. Yet you did it! You figured it out, and now your brand stands as a perfect emblem on your business.

PayGo

You know, for instance.

But are you putting your brand to work?

It only makes sense after what it put you through. Your brand shouldn’t just sit there and look pretty, it should be earning its keep!

Most small businesses prefer to think of themselves as just that: a business, and therefore immune to that whole “branding” thing that bigger companies have to worry about. But all big companies start as small ones, and small companies who concentrate on spreading their brand become big.

Why do you need to be throwin’ your brand up all over town?

First off, your branding is, for all intents and purposes, you. It is the snapshot of your entire business career, distilled into an easily recognizable image. It’s making your introductions and opening doors for your business, without you having to speak a word. It’s a marketing force unto itself. It says, “I’m the Real Deal over here, so check me out.” It proves your credibility to the world.

Credibility means a lot more than a good-looking brand.

As a whole, people tend to be a rather “book by the cover” bunch. Our time is limited, as is our money; and, we don’t want to spend a whole ton of time trying to figure out if the place we may be spending our limited money in is above-board or not. It helps if your brand represents you well. Customers want to be reassured that yes, you are indeed “legit,” as the youths say.

Part of being legit is what people say about you, how they feel about you, and if they know you. If you have a fantastic looking brand that’s leaning against the wall, staring at its shoes, afraid to talk to potential customers at the consumer party, it doesn’t matter how good it looks.

So what should your brand be doing?

The short answer is, everything. The long answer is… well, also everything.

  • Put your branding all over your store, on your bags, and all of your promotional materials. You’ve offered those who have walked into your store amazing products and exemplary service at a fair price. Help happy customers talk about you when they leave your store by ensuring they remember your name. With PayGo, you can make sure they bring your name, address, and phone number with them on their receipt. Memory can be fickle.
  • Make sure it’s splashed all over your social media sites and your online store.
  • Bring your brand to trade shows, and be sure to print it all over your giveaway swag.
  • You can also try out some guerrilla marketing tactics to show off your fun, creative side while creating your very own brand recognition.

Now go forth and brand well!

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

 

4 Steps to Visual Merchandising Success

It’s September, which means we’re about to rush headlong into the three month sugar-fueled shopping frenzy that is the holiday season. Even now, customers are breaking out their good credit cards and replacing their blood with pumpkin spice in preparation for the season. They’re coming for your store. How do you make sure your shop enables these fearless hunters, these deal-savvy sharks in cute scarves and sweaters to buy even more?

“I prefer mocha and blazers, but by all means, do go on with your stereotypes.”

Visual merchandising, that’s how!

Basically stated, visual merchandising is the art of creating a vignette (which is French for small illustration or portrait… That’s right, we’re getting all international up in here) with your products, with the purpose of being visually interesting, to make your customers want to buy said stuff. The beauty of visual merchandising is that it doesn’t matter if you sell quilts, pet supplies, or car parts – you can still use visual merchandising techniques in your store.

1. Use Your Space

You may notice that all of your displays and products are governed by those pesky laws of gravity and tend to stay away from the ceiling. I can’t help you with that. At least, not until my super-secret subterranean lair is completed. And…I’ve kidnapped all of Earth’s top scientists for my nefarious experiments. That’s another story. I won’t bore you with the details.

I can give you some good news: your shoppers eyes are used to looking for stuff at counter-height. Want to mix that up? Create a display that uses that unclaimed real estate towards the ceiling. Hang items from the ceiling. Create a faux drop ceiling to make a more intimate space to view your wares in.

Don’t forget to use your floors. You could even toss in some negative space! You want to create a visually appealing display and that can mean anything, including balancing something with nothing.

Pro tip: Don’t go overboard on the nothing.

2. Create a Cohesive story

Is it Christmas? Not yet, so don’t panic. Customer appreciation week? Store anniversary? Maybe it’s just a really lovely summer and you want to celebrate it. Your displays can reflect all of these things (although you should probably stick with one theme at a time). Think of your vignette as a painting or other work of art. Use it to convey an emotion, desire, or story without having to spell it out for your shoppers. Don’t fret. You don’t have to get all high-concept with it. “Look at how great these items will look together in your house!” is still a story.

3. Group Items With Purpose

Create a focal point around a big-ticket or popular item. Then, surround it with great add-on purchases for your shoppers. It can do a lot to drive up your sales. This story is, “You need all of these things together! Look how awesome they would be together! They’d be so happy together! You must buy each and every one!”

4. Take Advantage of Color

It’s been proven a million times over that color has a huge influence on shoppersChances are that your sales floor has a whole lot of color out there. So use it!

Green makes people feel relaxed and creative, pink and blue are calming, and orange is associated with great deals. White is “boring,” so use it sparingly.

If you think that color isn’t such a big deal, consider this:

In one afternoon of pure shopping joy,  I spent my entire paycheck on beautiful items that served no purpose. I attribute it (and resulting week of eating ramen and stale crackers) to the store’s visual merchandising. This store grouped products into beautiful vignettes based on single colors, in displays reflecting the psychology of each color. Friends and family no longer allow me to return to that store. Interventions may have been staged for my own financial safety.

Color psychology works!

No joke, I would totally buy this if it fit in my living room.

What’s the end of your successful merchandising story? We hope it’s you traveling to a beach where someone brings you drinks and whimsically plated fruit.

Pictured: the advantages of visual merchandising.

Want more visual merchandising inspiration? We’ve created a whole board about it. While you’re at it, check out the rest of our Pinterest page!

Are you looking for more ways to make your customers smile (and spend more)? You may want to check out:

Slow Shopping: The Trend that Could Make You Big Bucks

Marketing Monday: Advertise Outside the Box with Guerrilla Marketing

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

Back to Class: Drive up Your Online Traffic With These Advertising Tips

Who doesn’t love this time of year? It’s a time for change, improvement, and pumpkin spice. In this spirit, PayGo would like to introduce our Back to Class series. In it, we will focus on changing and improving your shop to ramp up for the holiday season. Pumpkin spice is optional (yet so recommended).

Let’s say you just brought your shop online. Yay! But unfortunately for you, discount-cacti.com (yup) isn’t seeing a whole lot of action. Maybe people don’t know about your site, maybe you haven’t found your market yet, or maybe the online affordable living pincushion scene is more difficult to break into than you thought.

It’s an extremely competitive market.

It’s a lovely dream to have your shop advertised singularly by the heaping praises of your happy customers, but unless you sell mythical creatures and literal magic, that’s probably not gonna happen. This means, you’re going to have to advertise to get people to your URL. So, how do you properly advertise to drive up traffic on your site?

Make Sure Your SEO is Top-Notch

Right now at this very second, there is someone out there who desperately wants what you’re sellin’. They’ve never heard of you, your store, or maybe even your town, yet you’re the one place that has what they want to find. So how do they find you? By you working your  SEO skills.

Get Social

Social media is where we get movie recommendations, travel planning advice, and the occasional melodramatic meltdown so why wouldn’t people be looking there for shopping, too? Social media is one of the best ways to advertise your shop, and arguably one of the easiest. Something as simple as setting up a Facebook or Instagram page for your business or tweeting about all of your great new products and promotions can increase your visibility all over the internet. You can get your customers in on it, too! Sending out links to your best customers for reviewer sites like Yelp can show unsure customers that you’re established as a solid business.

Freebies and deals

Free stuff! Just the idea of it makes people buy more. I have a vast collection of branded keychains, bumper stickers and so on from places I’ve shopped at online, and even though it means that my car is the tackiest one on the block, I continue to shop at those places because I just like getting free stuff (well, and I like their products, but… yeah, free stuff). If tossing in a store-branded sticker or two into each shipment isn’t in the budget, you can still give another kind of freebie: discounts! Percentages off of next sales, BOGO deals, or free shipping for customers are great perks that keep people coming back to your store. They also keep your store favorable in your customer’s minds. You could even count this as guerrilla marketing, which is like traditional marketing’s cool, edgy sister and is also a great (and cheap) way to advertise in general. You don’t even have to limit it to online stores; your brick-and-mortar shoppers might like some incentive to shop online when they can’t get to your store as well.

Blog it Out

We all know you could talk about your store at length, but that doesn’t always work into regular conversation. But don’t hold yourself back from chatting it up, shop-wise. Start a blog! Here’s a place where you can put your SEO skills to work while still talking about all the great new products, discounts, and sales you have going on both online and in-store. The key to blogging isn’t just in the content, though. It’s important to blog consistently (at least one post a week) and to be sure you’re sharing your content all over the web on things like social media. You don’t even have to write all the time. Creating content such as tutorial videos for the stuff you sell is a great way to increase visibility online.

But what if you don’t want to blog consistently? Track down some bloggers that promote the kind of things that you sell and see if you can’t make a deal. Professional bloggers have a built-in audience that might be beyond your current reach. If you can set up a deal with a blogger or two with some free product, advertising space, or discount codes for their viewers, you could see your online traffic surge. You can also look into hiring some guest bloggers to do your writing for you!

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

Slow Shopping: The Trend that Could Make You Big Bucks

Everyone loves some good retail therapy (everyone’s bank accounts, on the other hand, might disagree). And we all know that a leisurely afternoon wandering a neat, eclectic shop is way more fun than a breakneck slalom through Target on a Saturday.

Pretty much like this, yeah.

More and more retailers – especially small, independent ones – are turning to the practice of “slow shopping.” Slow shopping means placing value of the shopping experienced over sales, with the idea that happy shoppers who spend more time shopping are willing to buy more. Seems logical, right?

So how do you get shoppers to slow down and smell the roses?

Bring Snacks (And Maybe Also Roses)

Have you ever been out and about with a group of people and heard someone mention food? Did you notice how everyone’s necks snapped around and their eyes got all wide and feral-like? …No? Maybe that’s just me. Regardless, food is always a great draw for customers. Maybe it’s something as simple as putting out coffee and a candy dish for your customers, or maybe even adding some cafe items to your shop (which your PayGo software can be set up to accommodate) so your customers can nibble away while they peruse your store.

Be Eye-Catching (Within Limits)

Blank walls and uninspired displays will leave absolutely no impression on a customer. Yet, if your shop is stuffed with stuff, your customers won’t know where to start. Then, they may give up before they find anything they want to buy. Find a balance between bland and overwrought, with some well-thought-out visual merchandising.

Be Friendly (Not Pushy)

Customers may not like to be jumped on like a fly in a spiderweb the second they walk in your store. It’s still important to establish some kind of dialogue. A simple, “Isn’t it just lovely outside?” can break through a customers tough, I’m-shopping-so-leave-me-alone attitude without literally shoving them into the nearest display (which, while hilarious, is rarely a crowd pleaser). Some simple small talk can open up all kinds of conversations, which can keep the customer in your store a lot longer.

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

These Tips Will Help You Pick out the Perfect WooCommerce Extensions

As you may have heard (because we won’t stop talking about it), we’ve integrated PayGo with WooCommerce. You may have also heard some of the fuss about extensions – mainly, that there are tons of them. They may even be a bit overwhelming, but fear not! I’m about to guide you through the jagged peaks of confusion to that which is the seasonably chilly and thinly atmosphere-d world of extensions.

You’re gonna want to dress in layers.

The climb will be… not that tough, really; you’re just making a few decisions. But I’m already dedicated to this mountain metaphor so here we go!

You Need a Map

No one starts an expedition without knowing where they’re going (unless they’re me, in which case you might be heading out to a house party with no idea where it is and somehow end up in Idaho and why, because you don’t even live in Idaho, but you followed a wrong road somehow and there was a squirrel and you got distracted and now you live in the woods on berries and pinecones and the wolves have accepted you as one of their own). Navigating extensions is the same way. It’s all well and good that you have thousands of extensions (or roads) to choose from, but until you know where you’re going (probably not Idaho) it’s just going to be confusing (roughage-based diets and woodland creatures).

So, what do you need your extensions to do?

First off, what does your online store do? Where do you usually ship? Do you need to worry about different currencies on a regular basis? How much customer feedback do you need? How much detail do you need for your items? Do you sell intangible things like classes or events that would need to be sold through the site? Much like when you are setting up SEO keywords, it’s wise to break down exactly what you need your website to do.

How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time

Okay, now you have your map and hopefully some comfy shoes, because this will be… yeah, still not as difficult as it looks. I’m really making a mountain (ha!) out of a molehill. But regardless, let’s scale that peak!

The best place to start is at the beginning. Let’s say you need a tool to calculate shipping. You can search the extensions stores, or just perform a search on “WooCommerce Shipping Extension” and see what turns up. You might end up with a list of extensions, or possibly some articles on what the best extensions might be. It might still seem like a dizzying amount of information, but we can narrow that down even further.

Pay Attention

When hiking, you pay attention to animal trails, markings from previous hikers, and which berries are hallucinogenic (ingest or avoid depending on personal preference). These are important things to notice. Extensions are the same way – people have been there before you and they’ve left you clues and guides. There are ratings, reviews and information on builds and updates. Ratings can show you how many people were either impressed or irritated enough to take to the web and express their feelings (and we all know how hard it is for people to open up on the internet). It’s a good idea to read both the positive and negative reviews, because people who have downloaded the extension in the past may have run into problems or benefits that you haven’t thought of yet. Reviews can act as guidelines or warnings, and it’s wise to pay close attention to them. Keep in mind, the companies who are developing these plugins and extensions write their own descriptions, and they may not match up to the reviews.

Similarly, look at the stats. How many people have downloaded the particular extension you’re looking at? Because too few might mean that the software is new and hasn’t been tested too much, so you may run into bugs. Has the extension been updated recently? A recently (within the last few months) updated extension means that the developers are still working on improving it, and if there is a problem that might come up there’s a good chance it’ll get fixed quickly. How old are the reviews you’ve been reading? If you’re seeing a lot of complaints about a certain bug, that might have been fixed already.

Don’t Worry!

So you’ve done your research, you’ve chosen a few that you think are winners, and we’re nearly at the peak of this weird metaphor. But now you’re having second thoughts. What if you made a wrong decision? What if you don’t like an extension you chose? What if you find out you need something different later on down the road?

It’s okay! This isn’t defusing a bomb, it’s just picking some extensions. Sometimes you might not like an extension you picked, and it’s very possible that you might either outgrow an extension or need a new one someday. But that’s okay, because these aren’t decisions that will be written in stone. They can be changed if something doesn’t work out. You can also add or remove extensions at a later date if you need to. Pick what you think will be the most useful to you, and modify as you go.

You’ve done it! And really, isn’t picking extensions easier than opening a store or managing employees or climbing a mountain?

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

Marketing Monday: Advertise Outside the Box with Guerrilla Marketing

Anyone who goes into business knows that marketing is everything. It’s what most effectively and efficiently lets the world know that you have something to offer them, instead of settling for wishing, waiting, and the occasional voodoo spell. Most people think of marketing as fancy, professionally designed advertisements or commercials. Sometimes that’s just not a fit for your business. That’s where guerrilla marketing comes in.

I’ll get the big disappointment out of the way: guerrilla marketing doesn’t involve business-casual office workers crawling through the bushes and throwing branded keychains at unsuspecting pedestrians (although I would absolutely give all of my disposable income to any business that actually did that). Instead, guerrilla marketing refers to the practice of using creative and unconventional methods to cheaply and effectively advertise for your business. It’s different and less expensive than the usual marketing methods, it catches consumer’s attention in a unique way, and it may be a perfect fit for you.

Get Your Name Out

There are a lot of ways to increase you or your business’s name and brand visibility around town and online. You could do something as simple as leaving your business cards around town in places that might relate to your business. You could sponsor and attend an event, since most events list their sponsors prominently in their promotional materials and a sponsorship could be quite cheap. Or, you could go with something everyone loves and get your business name printed out on M&Ms or other sweet treats and hand them out at events, gatherings, or just to people and businesses.

Make it Fun

Everyone loves giveaways and contests! They’re a fun way to get the community together and talking about how great you are. Maybe you could raffle off a few items, or even some classes and events. For a one-two marketing punch, get all entrants to submit their email addresses – and add them to your newsletter. You could also give away branded things like keychains, bumper stickers, or even temporary tattoos to your customers, so they can have free stuff and you can have a whole army of marketers.

Do Good Things

Helping others is always a good move, but if you can help others while working in some low-key promotion, it benefits everyone. I’m not saying do something nice simply for the benefit of your business, of course. However, there’s no harm in snagging a bit of credit for the good of your company. For instance, you could volunteer with a charity while wearing something branded with your business, or you could organize a blood drive at your store. People respond well to kindness and good deeds, and they’ll remember your name in a positive way.

Thank Your Customers

One fundamental truth of advertising is, there’s no marketing substitute for a happy customer. They will talk up your business more effectively than any commercial, ad, or skywriter ever could. So how do you make your customers happy? Well, you could throw a customer appreciation day. You could also offer a loyalty or frequent buyer program to keep your customers coming back and bringing friends.

Need more guerrilla marketing ideas? Check out our Pinterest board!

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

Everything-Proof your Business with These 5 Tips

The world is an uncertain place. At any moment and without any warning, something might come along and completely change your life for the better or for the worse. We try to predict the future, but despite what economists, psychics, and that one uncle who won’t stop forwarding you those weird chain emails say… we don’t really know what might happen five minutes from now, much less five years. All we do know is that it’s best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

How does that extend to your business? We can build emergency preparedness kits and plans for ourselves all day, but how can you disaster-proof your store? Check out these 5 tips on Everything-Proofing Your Business:

1. Always be Prepared

Contingency plans are wise to have. Contingency plans for your contingency plans are even wiser. What would you do if your income started drying up? Are there things you can cut from your inventory and your budget to keep afloat? What is carrying your business, and what would you do if that thing went away?

2. Find A Way to Cut Costs and Save Cash Now

This is pretty simple, but the best way to weather a recession is by keeping expenses low and savings high. Are there vendors that would give you a better deal? Do you need all of your employees to work full-time? Can you get rid of items that you don’t use much but still cost you upkeep, such as copiers or fax machines (which you can use at a Kinko’s or some other office-y postal-y place)?

3. Listen to your Customers

This can never be said enough, but pay attention to your customers. They want to keep shopping with you and they will tell you ways to improve your business, bring in new customers, and keep afloat. Consider scheduling meetings with some of your best customers to pick their brains.

4. Marketing is Everything

What’s the best way to get people into your store? Well, there are lots of ways. Top scientists have recently proven that the best way to get people interested in your store is to make them aware that it exists. You’ll never waste money on marketing, as it’s the best way to let people know how awesome you are.

It’s easy to talk about spending marketing money, but what if you’re reading this while in the midst of a worrying income-slump and there simply isn’t enough money for a solid ad campaign? First of all, hello, I’m sorry you’re having problems but you’ll be alright (and you look fabulous, by the way). You can do this on the cheap, by using guerilla marketing tactics such as giveaways, promotions, or social media ads.

5. Demonstrate your Value

Anyone can sell stuff, from kids with lemonade stands to your high school acquaintances with their handbag/energy drink/candle scheme on Facebook. Getting people to buy things is easy, because everyone needs stuff. Big box stores have the edge on you with their convenience and established brand awareness, but you have something that they don’t. Your service. When the going gets tough, the smart add value to their goods instead of cost. Can you offer services for your items? Can you hold workshops that teach people how to use your items? Customers who feel valued and taken care of will come back to you instead of seeking out your competitors. Best of all, they’ll tell their friends about it. Word of mouth is still the best advertising of all.

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

Your Store’s Future Depends On Its Online Presence

The Future Arrived. Have you welcomed it?

Much like a tsunami or a tornado or an in-law, the future can’t be stopped. Retail is moving into cyberspace and in order to stay competitive, retailers are hopping online like cats in boxes. Being online isn’t enough though. You need an online presence that helps (and delights) your potential customers.

After all, having a website or a social media page is a basic expectation, your ticket to entry that shows you exist.  Real, relevant, and up-to-date information is what your customers want and they’ll shop with the retailer who gives it to them. They’ll be impressed (and woo’d) by the retailer that provides an omni-channel experience.

That’s Where We Come In

We make competing with the big kids on the block easy with PayGoCart. PayGoCart is PayGo’s integration with WooCommerce, the shopping cart solution that powers over 1/3 of all online stores. PayGoCart lets you add, remove, and change inventory in your PayGo point of sale software and have it show up in your online store. All without having to get up or stop eating (don’t think we don’t see you, working-break takers). It gives your potential customers the real, relevant, and up-to-date information they want.

We’ll Help You Do It Your Way

Do you have an existing website? No problem! Your new PayGoCart shop will link to your current site. We can even match some elements so your customers have a seamless shopping experience. Starting from scratch? Request the amount of help you’ll need. Our team can tailor its offering to your needs.

WooCommerce Has Plenty of Goodies

WooCommerce is pretty darn impressive on its own, but there’s more! WooCommerce has tons of extensions to improve your store functionality. Since WooCommerce works with WordPress, you have even more options to make your online shop work for you and your customers. When your shoppers love shopping your site, your online presence is lifted by search engines, because your website is being useful.

Please note: Given the vast amount of extensions created by developers across the world, it is not possible for PayGoCart to work with every single one of them out of the box. If there’s an extension that’s important to you, please ask your salesperson if it works with PayGo. We built our business on creating custom solutions for customers, so there’s a pretty good chance our developers can make what you want work, it may cost a bit more and take us a little more time.

Money and Time

Your Time is Valuable

You’ve got a full schedule. You’re superhero-ing all over your stores, putting out fires and saving townsfolk (we don’t know what your hobbies are). When are you going to fit in a new webpage? How are you going to manage your online presence? Well, you don’t have to! PayGo offers WooCommerce customization and content creation.

Now is the time. Do something mighty! Chat with us online, schedule a phone consultation, or drop us a line at consultant@paygopos.com with any questions you might have.

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

Payment Integration; or, A Tragedy in Three Acts

You may think that payment integration isn’t that big of a deal, but picture this:

It’s a beautiful day. Birds singing, flowers blooming, cats throwing up on linoleum instead of carpet. You’ve been making great sales all week long, and today is gearing up to be your best sales day of the entire month. Even better, Monica is nearly over that nasty flu and is back at the register, so your workload lightened up today. You decide to take a long lunch on the patio. Maybe at that one place with the amazing pasta – you know the place. Life is good.

But in every life, a little rain must fall. And honey, here comes a monsoon.

foreshadowing!

Act 1

A customer appears. They’re new to town and they want what you’re selling. They pick out five or six of your wares and get ready to purchase. Unfortunately for you, your PayGo point of sale software isn’t integrated with your payment gateway. Monica has a sneezing fit as she’s entering in the payment amount to your card reader and she accidentally adds an extra zero on the end of the payment. She doesn’t catch it and neither does the customer, being enamored with your store and all. It goes unnoticed.

You get back from lunch feeling inspired and refreshed. You haven’t taken a vacation in years, and your sales have been amazing. So you decide, what the heck. You’ve earned it! You work hard and it’s time for a treat. You decide to go to Belize, because Jim just got back and he won’t stop going on and on about the fish and the sand and how, like, he just feels more at one with the world now that he’s traveled outside of the country. Within the space of an hour and a half, you’ve purchased tickets, hotel rooms, and one of those ridiculous floral shirts that everyone who goes to a beach on vacation is legally required to wear at least once so the locals can see you coming and jack up their prices, amirite? You send Jim a text just to rub it in his peeling, sunburned face that he’s not the only one who can go out and let loose and be insufferable for at least six months after the trip ends.

It’s unBeliz- ah, you know, it’s too easy. Never mind.

But then, the customer reappears.  They’ve caught the error and they’re not happy. After apologizing profusely, refunding the angry customer, and talking Monica down (she really is very, very sorry), you’re struck by a gut-wrenching realization: Your plane tickets just walked out the door.

Act 2

You run back to your office and start calculating like the wind, but there’s only one choice: cancel the trip or get your lights shut off. Since it’s rather difficult for customers to shop without lights (unless they’re cats, which has only happened a few times so you probably shouldn’t count on your store’s feline income). You call your travel agent, but you forgot to read the fine print: no refunds. This is why you need to stop hiring travel agents that set up shop in vans in parking lots (in your defense, there was a killer mural of a unicorn on the side of the van and everyone knows that unicorns are the most trustworthy of all the mythical creatures). It’s too late for regret now. You’ve gotta ditch that vacation.

This is one of those times where it’s socially acceptable for an adult to cry, so go ahead.

You decide to post the tickets and reservations on Craigslist. After all, not everyone on Craigslist is creepy, right?

Wrong!

After at least two dozen emails, only one of which was about the actual post (and three that were trying to get you to wire money to incarcerated Nigerian princes), you give up. You know what you have to do now, even if you won’t like it.

You call Jim.

Act 3

In the end, you end up selling your vacation to Jim for less than half of what you paid. You’re able to pay for electricity, but just barely. You have to cancel all of your pending  purchase orders to pay for it.

Without purchase orders, your store becomes a little…threadbare. Your customers drop off. You see cobwebs piling up on your merchandise. You have to mark your prices way down. Judging from the ethereal wailing you’ve started hearing at night, you think a ghost may have moved in. Your store develops an unfortunate reputation as “that one haunted place with no stuff and a sad owner who could stand to go to the beach, they’re just so pale.” Meanwhile, your Facebook and Instagram feeds are clogged with Jim’s holiday pictures (that jerk got to pet a monkey. That should have been your monkey!)

You would have called him “Funky”…

You know that you have to change your business plan in order to make it through this. You decide to split the shop in half and lease out the spare area to a pet groomer.

Exactly fifteen minutes into Sudz 4 YR Budz’s grand opening, you discover that you are extremely allergic to dogs. Your shop is now known as “that one haunted place with the groomers and the owner who can’t stop sneezing.” Hey, no one said that reputations have to be particularly clever. Sudz 4 YR Budz, however, is doing quite well. They steal most of your employees, including Monica, who is now head of cat blow-drying (not cool, Monica!). They orchestrate a (literal) hostile takeover of the shop by using puppies as a distraction while they change the locks.

They’re nature’s perfect criminal accomplice.

Now you’re locked out. But the shop’s still yours, darn it – and who are they to kick you out? You’re angry. So you throw a trashcan through the window, like any normal, rational person would do.

Unfortunately, there was a cop behind you. Now you’re in jail for defacing public property and littering. To add insult to injury, now you smell like trash, puppy shampoo, and defeat.

The moral of the story is: It’s far easier to integrate your payment system with your PayGo point of sale software than it is to throw a trashcan through a window.

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.

Be Ready for 2018 (and Beyond!) With These Retail Trends

Holy cats, we have now officially passed the halfway mark for 2017! Unlike myself (who has wasted the year on poor dietary decisions and too many video games), I’m sure your 2017 has been filled with productivity, sales, and other shop-y goodness. As my birthday keeps reminding me, time only moves in one direction, so it’s time to look to the future. And what, you might ask, does the future hold? Well, although it looks like our jetpacks are on hold indefinitely (promises were made, science), we at least have a pretty good idea of what’s coming up next in the world of retail.

Man Meets Machine

Big trends we’ll keep seeing more of include the increased usage of VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), and voice assist. Programs like Pokemon Go helped to normalize VR and AR in a big way. Online connectivity has started turning our appliances and electronics into “smart” devices and products like Amazon’s Echo will make our entire lives intertwined with our technology. So what does that mean for you?

For one, it means that revamping your store just got a whole lot easier. Imagine being able to scan your entire shop and add, subtract or move your store around with a few taps or clicks. No strained backs, second guessing or workman’s comp needed. Increased connectivity also means you can open your store up to brand new markets all over the globe by letting them virtually wander through your aisles or test-drive your wares. There are VR startups dedicated to making all aspects of your stores available to any shopper with an internet connection and some time to kill.

Mobility is Key

Shopping on a phone or tablet is big business, with predictions saying that mobile commerce could contribute up to $250 billion to the economy by 2020. Everyone loves shopping while waiting for the bus or hiding from their boss under their desk (not that I would know anything about that…). Formatting your site for mobile shoppers could make or break your online store, as well as your entire business model.

Bespoke: More Than Just a Fancy Word

One of the beautiful things about our brave new economy is the ability to get nearly anything you want, in any way that you want. Consumers know that it’s their market, and they will increasingly demand products that can be customized just for them. Sites like eShakti have wholeheartedly embraced this trend and made it work to their benefit by specializing in allowing their shoppers to easily select and purchase items that are made to their exact specifications.

Customer Experience is More Important than Ever

We’ve talked a lot about online stuff, but what about your brick and mortar stores? With physical storefronts going the way of the velociraptor (which, if I remember biology correctly, means that your shop will turn into some kind of ornery chicken in a few million years), if you want to keep your shoppers putting on real clothes and walking with their legs or some similar means of locomotion into your store, you need to provide an experience that they won’t get online. This means your store has to work with your customers as much as it works for them. Things like stellar customer service, assisted shopping and a two-way channel of communication between yourself and the people who buy your stuff have become vital to the survival of your business.

PayGo is a solution provider for independent retailers based in Rochester, Minnesota. Our primary focus is on point of sale / retail management software. We also offer a Merchant Account integration, a WooCommerce integration, Digital Marketing Services, and more.