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Good News Out Of Bad News

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This morning's RIS News had this to report ( http://www.risnews.com/):

"Memorial Day kicks off summer, but so far this year retailers have not enjoyed much sun and fun. It's not just the economy that is driving store closures. Other factors include sky rocketing fuel prices, increasing costs of just about everything and consumers being squeezed by the falling housing market and layoffs.

So with all these big guys closing stores, what hope is there for the little guy? Is there any hope at all? Pretty frightening, huh?


Well, the good news is that the little guy is not prone to the pressures of the big guys: leveraged real estate, huge employee insurance programs, stuck with inventory that is not moving. In other words, the little guy can be a lot more nimble and faster to respond to the market with a lot less to worry about.... That is, if the little guy has the systems in place to respond fast, track inventory right down to the proverbal gnat's a--, and has or can build personal relationships with his customers.

What does it take to do that? Look to your POS system to do all of the above and see if you are using this technology to its fullest extent. If you need help figuring out how to use it, contact one of our Retail Consultants and get a full Retail Tech Check to find out what your existing POS system can and can't do for you.

And work to flourish and prosper despite what the economy is or isn't doing!

To get your free Retail Tech Check, go to:

Or contact us at 800-266-1328 or email us.

Donna Wesley Rogers
One Step Retail Solutions

Challenges Retailers Face Today

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One Step Retail Solutions recently published a new whitepaper, “The 6 Biggest Challenges Retailers Face Today” exploring a number of demographic and economic trends that have made retailing in the U.S. more challenging.

With the changes in the current economy, the whitepaper identifies how to meet today’s retail challenges and demonstrates how small and mid-size retailers can create a sustainable, competitive advantage. It examines the potential benefits and applications of point of sale software to enhance store operations and its effect on the ability of any retail business to survive and even expand during times of economic downturn.

“Over the last year, while updating our research into the current retail environment it became evident that the constantly changing technology landscape, in and of itself, has now become an additional source of concern for retail owners and managers,” says CEO Scott Kreisberg. “We also determined that small to midsized chains, especially those who wish to continue their growth, face an even greater set of challenges than single stores or large retailers.”

One Step has a unique vantage point, in that it has helped many retail clients grow from one or a few stores to reach the 20 to 100+ store range. These retailers have survived and expanded over the years, even through several earlier downturns in retail spending. A small chain owner may think that those stores are in a different category, but in fact they had to deal with the same set of challenges that other small retailers face.

A key part of the reason these retailers survived resides in how they made use of their retail technology as a tool to overcome their business challenges, leading to a more efficient and competitive business operation while at the same time better serving their customers’ needs.

This new whitepaper is available at the One Step website: http://www.onestepretail.com/.

For more information on how a POS System can help you overcome these challenges and grow, contact us at 800-266-1328 or email us.

Retail Security Standards

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In the recent RIS News Store Systems Study 2008, the findings included the fact that Specialty Soft Goods retailers selected PCI Compliance as their number one priority in store-level IT spending (61%). (http://www.risnews.com/)

The report states further: “Last year, the top two priorities were Better Tools for Associates…and Speed Through Checkout. Last year, PCI Compliance was not a major factor.”

At the same time, Dave Hogan of the NRF (http://www.nrf.com/) said that PCI compliance was not the answer for retailers seeking a solution to stopping determined criminals. The response to Hogan’s recommendation that security standards need a fresh approach came in from many industry experts who largely agreed that retailers must look beyond PCI compliance.

And just last week, news surfaced that Advance Auto Parts, a specialty chain with 3,261 stores, had been compromised by a computer hacker who tapped into financial information at 14 Advance Auto stores in Virginia and seven other states. Like many retailers who have experienced identity file theft, Advance Auto Part’s security efforts took on a renewed sense of urgency after the breach, an action they no doubt wish had occurred sooner.

According to a recent article by Christina Zarrello writing for RIS News, Dave Hogan also told RIS that merchants should not be required to keep reams of data and that banks should provide merchants with the option of keeping nothing more than the authorization code provided at time of sale and a truncated receipt. He said, “I would like them to go on record and state that 'Retailers have the option to no longer store credit card data and they will not be penalized for not keeping credit card data.'

To address this further, over 2,900 retail loss prevention executives will be heading to Orlando this year for the National Retail Federation’s annual Loss Prevention Conference and EXPO. The event will be held June 23-25 at the Orange County Convention Center.

We will report here on news from the Conference.

Contact a sales rep at One Step Retail Solutions to help you with a POS solution that gets you PCI compliant.

Call 866-617-8181 or send email.

Written by One Step Retail Solutions

Tips for Tackling Check Fraud

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Loss Prevention Precautions for Retailers

"NSF," "Account Closed," "Counterfeit" -- each time retailers see these words on a returned check, they know they have lost money. According to the National Check Fraud Center, check fraud and counterfeiting are among the fastest growing problems affecting the U.S. financial system.

Estimated annual losses from check fraud and counterfeiting exceed $10 billion and increase every year. There were over 3 billion re-presented check entries processed through the automated check clearinghouse network in the fourth quarter of 2000, according to the National Automated Check Clearing House Association.

Checks account for approximately one-third of retail spending and they are one of the most popular form of payment, second only to cash. Because of their popularity retailers cannot afford to lose business by refusing to accept checks.

However there are some precautions retailers can take when accepting checks that will help combat check fraud.

TeleCheck, a leading provider of check services, offers these recommendations to combat check fraud:
Establish a check acceptance policy detailing acceptable forms of ID, required information and dollar limits and make no exceptions to the policy. Fraud artists are skilled at creating hassles or confusion that can leave businesses stuck with a bad check.

When accepting a check, make sure a name, address and phone number are printed on the check and the written and numeral amounts correspond.

Pay attention to the "feel" of the check; most check paper has the same weight and texture.
Watch the check-writer sign the check and have the customer print the name below, if the signature is illegible.

Compare the signatures, photo and physical description of the ID with that of the check writer.
Check the driver's license, which should be smooth all over with no ridges that indicate an alteration or modification. Verify that the ID is still valid.

Ninety percent of returned checks have low check numbers (100 to 500). While low check numbers indicate a recently opened account and a potentially more risky check, particularly for business or dba ("doing business as") checks, that is not always the case.

More useful information on the check is the account's opening date (month and year), usually indicated by four numbers to the side of the account holder's name and address.
Don't accept second-party or third-party checks.

The four-digits following the magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) number at the bottom of the check should match the four-digit number at the top right hand of the check.
All checks, except government checks, should have a perforation along one side of the check.
You can try calling the financial institution to confirm if funds are available, but there is no guarantee that the check will clear.

Use a check guarantee or verification service.

Writtten by From Melody Vargas
From About.com

Contact one of our Sales Reps on how to prevent check fraud.

Call 866-617-8181 or send email.

Targeting Current Customers


Too many retailers concentrate on how to woo new customers and, thus, they do not pay enough attention to what they can do to gain the loyalty and increased patronage of their repeat customers.

For example, when was the last time that YOU ran a special sale just for current customers, communicated with your current customers via a phone call or direct mail piece, encouraged current customers to recommend new ones by giving the former a gift for doing so, sent birthday, anniversary, or Christmas / Hanukkah cards to current customers, offered extended shopping hours just for current customers, etc.? Unless you are actively engaged in all or most of these activities, you can do a better job in this area.

Here is why it is so important to target current customers, as well as new ones:
It is more efficient to serve repeat customers than to heavily promote to lure new ones.

Often, new customers are lured because of a special sale, buy goods that have a low markup to the retailer, and then switch to another store when it runs a sale event. Repeat customers are more apt to buy a full range of merchandise, not merely discounted items. This means that the retailer can reach its profit margin goals.

Loyal, ongoing customers are the backbone of every business. And in today's highly competitive environment, these shoppers cannot be ignored or else they may be won over by compe titors.
Revenues can be increased (not just maintained) by placing greater attention on repeat customers. They can be encouraged to shop more often and to purchase more on each trip to the store.

From Joel R. Evans, Ph.D. & Barry Berman, Ph.D.

Contact one of our Sales Reps on how to better taget your clients. Call 866-617-8181 or send email.