BLOGS AND ARTICLES FROM THE POS SOLUTIONS TEAM

Point of Sale Software

The years 10 busiest shopping days are here

POS SOFTWARE

Studies in the US  which I believe are valid here show that 45% of all shopping traffic in bricks-and-mortar shops in the Christmas season occurs on the following ten days. 

  1. Friday, November 23 – Black Friday (Today - Less important then in the US but rapidly growing)
  2. Saturday, November 24
  3. Saturday, December 1
  4. Saturday, December 8
  5. Saturday, December 15
  6. Friday, December 21
  7. Saturday, December 22 – Super Saturday
  8. Sunday, December 23
  9. Wednesday, December 26
  10. Saturday, December 29

Peak shopper times are between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

 

Looking at the list, it seems like a lot of Saturday work coming up.

These days are the ones that you need to plan and have your rosters, stock and signage right.

Warning

It is also a good idea to have someone special doing security on those days too; I am a great believer in the theory that much of the security problems in retail can be solved by having grandmother greet everyone personally that comes into the shop.

 

 

 

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AMAZON back flips, it is reopening its American site to Aussie

POS SOFTWARE

 

Amazon Australia as I expected has not done well, the problem is not that our retailers are inefficient or not tech-savvy but our overpriced, undependable and slow delivery services which are holding us back in e-commerce plus our small comparative market. 

So now Amazon has done a backflip and will sell Aussies Amazon stocked and sold products from the US. I expect soon that the 3rd party sellers on Amazon will be released soon.

What happens with the costs of delivery to the Australian consumer from Amazon overseas sites will be interesting. Will they keep the Prime subs which allowed free postage over $49 from the US store?

For Australian retailers, the opening of the Amazon sites overseas is going to increase competition, and the two immediate issues are they need to look at their e-commerce and their delivery options.

Where we are unique in our market space is that our point of sale software is a unified commerce solution which brings together both of these issues into one platform in your POS system. Pieced together systems, that our competitors offer cost more money and lead to problems as different systems both in use, training and the need to talk to each other. Plus there is no long-term as who knows what the individual and separate parts are going.

Only our unified system gives you long-term as well as a day-to-day business solution. Click here for more details

 

 

 

 

 

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Booster bags

POS SOFTWARE

A "booster bag" or "magic bag" has been used by professional shoplifters for years to beat security detectors. 

Magic booster bags

Although you can buy them, as a rule, shoplifters prefer to make their own. What you do is take a bag although a pocket in pants can be used too, put metal foil inside and so shield the security tag from the detectors in the gate. Using it in theory, you can put something in a bag and walk out of a shop.

One shoplifter just got caught using one by one of our clients. What he noticed was someone walking in with a larger sized bag from a well known retail shop, but it appeared to be empty which did not look right. So he watched the person and noticed as the person was passing out, the bag was not empty. When he examined the bag later, he saw that it was lined with aluminium foil.

If you want to know more click here.

If you find them, you know you have a serious security problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Afterpay Touch

POS SOFTWARE

Some of you will need to upgrade to the new after

pay touch software.

Afterpay touch

Update 3/12/18

Please contact us as the links have been removed 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Speed improvement

POS SOFTWARE

Speed improvement

On the newer version of our point of sale software, you will see soon an increase in speed on starting the cash register. We have done a lot of work to make it go faster still. 

This will make it quicker to add another register.

Here are some good tips if you find that your queues are getting too long. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tips on naming your computer

POS SOFTWARE

Today is Name your computer day

 

Name your computer day

So it is an excellent time to review and give you some tips in naming your computer.

Basically, I suggest a name that reduces confusion and allows it to be easy to remember. Also like a pet, today most people like to give their computer a name.

Generally what happens in retail, is some technically minded person comes along and sets up your computer. With a big smile, they turn around to you and ask you what do you want to call your computer?   

Since it is not so easy to change in a retail environment unless you are very technical minded as a simple name change can muck up things, I do suggest that you give it some thought because you are going to be stuck with this decision for many years.

I do not recommend that you call the computer by function, the problem here is that you may be installing it for accounts, but soon it probably will be moved around to something else like a cash register so it will be called the accounts computer even though it is now a cash register. So you will be ringing up for support saying to a technical person, the cash register is down and its the accounts computer. The same problem can occur if you use location. If what was the computer is moved to the storeroom and it is now confusing. The storeroom computer is called the "back computer", the back computer is now called ....

Here are some ideas.

One advantage to using the manufactures name is that it is clearly marked which one it is and you just hope that you do not get another computer of the same name in the shop. 

If you want to be a little creative be inventive a white computer in my house named snow white and a media computer for movies got called the_box. 

If people in the shop are into the Game of Thrones, then the characters name there are recognisable and memorable. Here are some more ideas, what about naming computers after planets, biblical characters, superheroes, etc.

Try to avoid girlfriends and boyfriends just in case they are no longer around, and the last thing you want is to be kept reminded of that. 

If you want some more tips here are some more ideas.

 

See how you go?

 

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Stock Performance Reporting by supplier

POS SOFTWARE

It is said that "The devil is in the detail."

In retail, its the item that sells not the category or the department! 

A supplier rep is coming to see you, no doubt they are a friendly person. They have been briefed, they have an excellent overview of the market for their product, the odds are they know how their stock is moving in your store better then you do and they know your shops potential for their product better than you but they also have an agenda to get you to sell more of their product.

So what you need to be is briefed too and with a point of sale software, you can and should be able to look at this supplier's range in your shop and see exactly to the item level what is selling. How fast their items are selling? Which items are making the money?  So you can determine which of their items are worth investing.

Your stock performance report helps to answer such questions. 

What I will do here is take you through a review on one such report and what you can learn from this report.

Go to register reports>Suppliers>Suppliers sales trend, see the arrow in green

 

Supplier sales trend menu

There are the ad-hoc, excel and OpenOffice import which please ignore for the time being although I do suggest later using it to produce summary reports.

Now the options, I picked are here.

Supplier trend options

I picked an arbitrary supplier FAS. Again ignore the extra options for now and press view report. 

Supplier sales trend report

Here’s how it goes:

Look at the arrow in red, you have 19 of this item now, but you never sell any of these items. It is a worry.

Conversely look at the item in blue, you have none in the shop, and you have sold heaps of these items, what gives here?

Now in green what you will see is that one of the stock items is in negative. This is not a good sign as it shows your stock quantities are not entirely right. 

It all comes down to this

By looking at these items in detail, you can see which items are selling well. You can bring up this with the rep as you now have a clearer idea of what you need and what to order. 

 

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Top customers by visits

POS SOFTWARE

In retail getting customers to come more often to the shop is vital.

Questions:

Why do some customers come often and others do not?

Have you thought about this tried to figure out why some come a lot?

If you know, maybe you can use this information to get more people to come to your shop. Well, let us do that!

In your point of sale software and go into register reports>customers

There you will find a report "Top customers"

Image removed.Image removed.

Now click on that report (see the arrow in green)

Image removed.Image removed.

Now put in the dates you are looking at, I suggest at least a year and if you like a minimum spend.

See where the green arrow is highlighting. Change the sort order by visits.

This will give you a report with a grouping of your customers based on how often they buy from you. Now chew over why these people are coming, what are you doing right to get them to come?

 

Now let’s dig deeper

There are many other orders e.g. a listing by people that buy a lot you can use in this report, all which have their own story too. So there is plenty to chew over here.

 

 

 

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Improving your WIFI

POS SOFTWARE

WI FI

 

WIFI now is indispensable and here are some tips if you have problems with your WIFI signal in your retail shop.

Measure the problem

You cannot do much till you have measurements, the WIFI app that I like to use to help me judge WIFI signal strength is WIFI Overview 360 Pro available on google play free. I suggest you first get a copy. 

Now look at the position of the modem

All too often technicians tend to put the cables so modems in the office area which is an out of the way place in the shop. As walls and doors all block the WIFI signal so putting the modem in the office room is often wrong. This is not good for WIFI modems. The WIFI modem should be as central as possible in the shop hopefully near the main areas where people use WIFI.

Move things away

Move away from anything from the modem that blocks the signal.

Up higher

What we find works well is to raise the WIFI modem, the higher the better. Because it sometimes is an eyesore what you can do is put the modem in a nice material bag and hang it up on the wall. Do not use a plastic bag for this. 

Silver foil

A neat trick here which you can experiment with to boost the WIFI signal is put silver foil between the modem and the wall. Some WIFI signal in the shop will bounce off the metal foil back onto the modem.

Reduce the number of devices you use

Try reducing the number of items using the WIFI in the shop, too many WIFI devices can cause problems. Maybe you cannot provide all your staff with WIFI in the shop to their mobile phone. 

Reduce electrical interference 

Try to reduce the electrical interference particularly from other WIFI modems. I remember going to a neighbours shop and talking to the owner there to make some compromise in the positions of the WIFI modems as their modem was interfering with our client's modem. This is a particularly big problem in shopping centres where there are heaps of WIFI modems, cordless phones, etc all belching radio signals. 

Try changing the channels on your modem

Try changing the channels that your WIFI modem uses. As a rule, 5 GHz is faster but works on a shorter distance while 2.4 GHz gives a longer range. Experiment with both and see what works best for you.

Antenna adjustment

Try putting the antennas in different directions say one vertically and the other flat. WIFI signals come from all different directions.

So there it is, now see how these tips go for you.

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Problem with cloud storage

POS SOFTWARE

Cloud_point_of_sale.jpg

A word of caution:

Cloud storage as it is a third-party system is inherently risky. What it is, is another person's computer that you are putting on your information.

If that computer is in another country, then the information is also subjected to another country's legal system, in some cases, this may be an issue with Australian law. 

More importantly for most of our clients is that there are numerous examples of cloud providers evaporating like the cloud they are named and information being lost despite these people using well-established companies like Microsoft.

For example:

One of our clients a few days ago just got burnt. What happened is that he hired a professional photographer a few months ago to photograph his shop. This the photographer did and then gave him a USB stick with the photos on it. Then my client did was look for a good deal and then signed up to a cloud storage service. He then transferred the photos to this online cloud storage and thinking that as he had the pictures, he could score a USB stick for other tasks, so he reused the USB stick.

He needed the pictures a few days ago and discovered that the photos were gone from the cloud. He then in a panic contacted the cloud provider to ask where the images are? He was told that as he had not used the account for 60 days, the account was automatically cancelled and so the photos were lost. Now he has no pictures, and the photographer has to come back.

The solution is

If you are going to use cloud storage, I recommend that you also use as a backup an external hard drive just in case. For a few hundred dollars you can pick up today a massive hard drive. You will not be sorry if you have too many copies. 

 

 

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Make a shop user guide

POS SOFTWARE

User guide for a POS Software

This is a tip. Open up a computer editor like notepad or Microsoft Word and start a user guide making pages on what to do at the end of the day, week, month, quarter and year end. Now save it on the windows screen. This is now your user guide.

I also put in my user guide pages for computer procedures, contact information for the specialist for a particular point and just about everything else that I may need as I discover it such as extras like the procedures to return goods to supplier ABC, etc.

So the next time you do any of these tasks you write in the user guide step by step exactly what you did, e.g. you go to this document, put these options in here, then print off a copy and then send this copy to person XYZ. Now you go to this website and enter these figures in there. Now you do this... 

The reason I say use an editor is so you can edit and add extra items as they catch your eye.

The problem is often that you do a quarter processing for GST and then you do not usually remember all the steps the next time it needs to be done. So the idea is that soon this user guide will give you and your staff a set of instructions that you all can turn to for guidance. This user guide is not something that you write once and never look at again. I run through it religiously before doing the task, and if I discover a better way of doing something, I edit and change it. At all times I make sure that everything is up to date. 

This user guide will save you heaps of time. 

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Busiest retail days of the years coming!

POS SOFTWARE

Are you prepared for Christmas?

Being prepared

 We are now to the start of this year's festive season, have you checked to make sure that everything technically works? 

Here is an interesting question to ask yourself, what will be the cost to your business if you suffer a Point of Sale outage on this holiday? 

If you want to deliver the level of service that your customers demand, check that your computer system is working correctly now!

 

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Another court case over

POS SOFTWARE

 Although I do not want to name names, one of our clients, a small newsagent has finally settled with one of their old suppliers their case. The amount of money our client has recovered about a quarter of a million dollars which is not all their loss and they have to bear their costs which will make a substantial dent to the payout figure.  I will not be surprised if it is over half the payout amount.

So I think it is a good example to discuss the dangers of taking on agency sales in modern retail. 

An agency sale is a product for sale that a retailer markets on behalf of another organisation e.g. transport tickets,  bill payments, dry cleaning drop-offs, transport, lotteries, etc. Often the payout is seen partly in the number of customers coming to the shop to get these items. As the margins on these products tend to be low, to get a decent return you need a lot of sales which became the problem here as you will see. Say you make $20,000 at 2% margin you are looking at a million dollars of turnover. 

What happened here is that the supplier gave our client an electronic key once our client had signed the appropriate forms and also gave the supplier their bank account details. 

The problem is that someone else got a copy of my client's electronic key and soon they were trading on this account. As they were selling my client got billed for their trade. This other business did about $100,000 a year of trade in these goods and over time, the amount grew to about a quarter of a million dollars. 

This was only noticed by accident when an item was sold in this other business that my client had never traded. My client then immediately questioned this sale. Soon a stop was put on the account. Then my client requested as it was an error for a full refund of a quarter of a million dollars.

A dispute started.

No-one disputes that these trades were done by someone else.

However, the supplier stated that the only way for this key to have gone to this other business was if our client or people associated with our client had intentionally or otherwise given this electronic key to another business. So my client is at fault. My client does not feel that this happened. Also, my client's lawyers stated that even if this was true, it was the supplier's fault as their security is clearly not good enough as all a person had to do was copy an electronic key. 

Now you would think that it would be in everyone's interest to find out who this other business was? Well not really as it might establish who is at fault and if that other business did not have a quarter of a million dollars, then whoever is left with the blame and so probably the debt they would not be able to be recovered.

However, both sides did agree that my client was at fault for not having proper control over their accounts, something they are legally supposed to do. 

So began a three-year case which went on and on until finally, both sides came to a deal.

Here are some points that I think came out of this legal case

1) You need to audit your agency sales, your point of sale software needs to produce reports detailing your sales which you need to match up to the supplier's figures.

2) You need to ensure adequate security of your computer system. The supplier's argument that someone who knew what they were doing *could* get a copy of the electronic key given access to my client's computer system is valid. 

3) The authorities were not helpful, and the legalities are not straightforward.  Here is suited both parties interest not going to the police.

4) Agency sales even if they do not make much profit can generate a lot of turnover so giving a high risk.

 

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Importance of cleaning your keyboard

POS SOFTWARE

Cleaning a keyboard

The keyboard of a point of sale system in a shop is generally in a dirty environment and shared with many people. People will often work the keyboard while eating and some may have used it after blowing their noses. As food build up inside the keyboard, it makes an excellent environment for germs to spread.  So the odds are that it is incredibly dirty and full of bugs. So regularly I suggest that you give it a clean.

This is how I do it.

Before I start to clean the keyboard, I turn off the computer. I find this quicker then disconnecting the keyboard. 

On the keyboard, I find a sticky note is great for running down the tracks to pick up the loose debris that collects there as it sticks to the glue. So keyboards need a few sticky notes. Sometimes a toothpick is handy here for bigger stuff. Then I use a cotton swab into some rubbing alcohol to get into these tracks too. Now I may need another sticky note to run through again.

Now I use a cloth with only a touch of the rubbing alcohol and wipe the surface. If a spot does not go away, the toothpick is useful to remove the spot too.

Now wipe with a dry cloth. Do not leave the keyboard moist. 

Cleaning a computer keyboard is not just about looking good but also about good personal hygiene 

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Credit limits

POS SOFTWARE

One of the main reasons for small business failure is poor credit management.

Now the problem is

Many people will not deal with you without credit yet it is too easy to sell on credit to a customer and as they come in, for your staff allow them to get more and more money outstanding, and then you find out later that you are looking at a long and big problem trying to collect it all. I know from personal experience trying to recover debt can be stressful and time-consuming and it is also a great way of making enemies. 

Often what we see is retailers often have to make deals to get most of the debt so you’re just leaving money on the table

This is why it is so essential to make from day one for each debtor a credit limit. It then becomes a management decision if the debt goes over a certain amount. Once the credit limit is reached (the account is maxed out) and our POS software will not allow any more purchases on the account unless some of the debt is paid or you make a management decision to increase the credit limit.

Here is how we do it

In your system, click on the main menu to customer > customer maintenance

Now call up a customer, now click Other Details. (see green arrow below)

 

 

There are two options that I would like to run through with you. 

You can select a credit limit for a period, a big problem with majors is that they have the money, but they take a long time to pay, so in this case, you may want to give them a large credit limit but watch if they go over time.

The next option is that you can decide whether the account if it goes over the credit limit should be stopped or whether the operator should be warned so you can be notified. While they are in front of you and they want the goods is the cheapest and best place to collect the debt.

Trust me. It’ll all be worth it to do this.

Allow people to get more credit limits over time, start them small and let the amount build up.

I also would recommend too that every year to do a review of your credit limits.

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Black Friday

POS SOFTWARE

Black Friday is considered to be the official start the Christmas shopping retail season. In the US it is one of the busiest retail days of the year. Its importance in Australia is growing as you can see here.

Black Friday on Google Trends 2018

There is every indication that this year will exceed last year so almost all significant retailers Australia are doing something by offering the public some good specials and most will have extended trading hours to take advantage of the increased traffic on that day.

Also what we are seeing is the marketing groups are pushing their members for submissions for the day.

Image removed.Image removed.

If you are part of Zip, you need to have your submissions in by this Friday, 9 November. One advantage of Zip as a marketing group is that its membership is free.

Note I would not worry about Cyber Monday, it is more for software companies like us in Australia, rather retailers.

If you have not done anything yet, I do suggest that you do give serious thought about doing something at least put a few signs up and put something on your receipts. 

 

 

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Melbourne Cup today

POS SOFTWARE

Our Melbourne Office is closed today but support will be done through our NSW office today plus you will have access to our after-hours support

Melbourne Cup 2017

If you are having a punt, I wish you good luck. Unfortunately, it looks like we will have some rain, which always mucks up the horse selection so I would not recommend making a selection until the course condition is clear.

 

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Speed up the cash register queues - seven tips

POS SOFTWARE

First of all

Studies show the average time a person will wait is 6 to 7 minutes in a queue before walking out. This is the average, some will not wait at all, and some will walk out if they see a long line. Also studies show that shoppers have a long memory and if it was slow the last time, they often do not come back. The loss of trade here is calculated at about 10% of overall sales. 

Bottom line

So if you are doing $1,000,000 turnover a year, its estimated your loss is about $100,000 a year. If your averages margin is about 30%, it costs you about $30,000 here of profit a year. 

This is why so many majors eg Amazon, the big supermarkets, etc are investing huge sums of money in an attempt to speed up the cash registers such as click-and-collect, self-serving registers putting up with all its problems of high theft and offering online with free delivery. 

 

On this cash register number, they were doing a transaction every three (3) seconds.

Here as you can see, they did transactions from two (2) seconds onwards.

On this page, it was four (4) seconds onwards. Interestingly the $431.80 transaction that would have been for many items to scan was done in about forty (40) seconds.

The big problem here is that this is about the limit that an operator can process.

Here are seven tips to stop you robbing yourself of sales besides having our system, 

1) Try and restructure your queue layout, so you have a single line that leads to several operators, not only will it speed up the queue but it also seems to the customer fairer.

2) Put something up that hides long lines from the public, what you do not want is people walking in, seeing a long queue and just walking out.

3) Give people something to do in the line, it might take their mind off the wait. A TV with the news and weather on, magazines they can read and buy, etc.

4) Staff should not be allowed to go to the cash register area if they are not doing the cash register, it looks terrible to a waiting customer when they are waiting to be served, and they see a people behind the counter doing something else besides helping them.

5) Scan everything you can. Barcodes are faster than manual entry. Bundle items if possible e.g. take five tapes of sticky tape and make a package with a barcode. It is quicker to scan one item then five items and besides you may pick up more sales.

6) Integrate the EFTPOS units into the cash register. This saves double handling of amounts and also has a bonus of reducing mistakes.

7) Make sure that you have fast operators, in slow times an operator that is talkative and likes to comment on every item being scanned might be excellent, but when the queue is long, you need these operators fast. You can quickly check their rate in our software.

 

 

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SWOT analysis for retail

POS SOFTWARE

In my position, invariably as some organisation comes up with an idea that they want use of our point of sale software the second person I meet after the organiser is the consultant and the first thing that this consultant wants to do is a SWOT analysis.

First off

It has become the framework for thought for business today in Australia. 

What makes it so powerful, is that it is easy to do once you get the hang of it, in groups.  Although it works well, I find just with one person.

It works great on a whiteboard but you can also put a big white cardboard on the wall for people to write on. 

What you do is get a few people together to look at your retail business.

Here’s how it goes:

On the top left is Strengths

Here you list your good points where you have edge e.g. you have a better range of stock. You have better trade knowledge, faster service, a good location, etc

Weakness

Now you think up points that you are weak. These are your problem areas, eg your prices are a bit dearer on certain items, people going to the station do not pass your shop, the front of the shop needs work, your hours are not as good as your competitors, etc.  

Opportunities

This is where you list what you see is the growth areas in your business. Maybe you could put in a coffee machine, maybe increase your educational range, etc.  List here where your business could go? 

Threats/problems you face. 

Here you list what problems and difficulties you see in your business, e.g. salaries costs are so high now, that staff has to be cut, pet food prices here are dropping, magazine sales are down, a shopfit has to be done, but the cost is prohibitive, etc 

So here it is:

How you have filled in the board, you have something that a business consultant would charge you several thousand dollars. I am sure you will have much to think about this board.

I have clients that every year, do this to see how they are going.  I do it for almost every new business idea, I get.

Now make it happen for you

If you want to do this, here are some blank templates to start you off

 

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Flash sales

POS SOFTWARE

Crazy Halloween Sale

Everyone is trying to get some more retail sales. One of the most effective methods is a flash sale where you have a great deal going on offer now for a very limited time.

One of my clients got from a local gym, an offer called a "Crazy Halloween Sale" a few days ago by SMS, with an offer of15% off with no administration fees if he signed up today. He thought about it and decided if the gym can have such a sale why cannot he make one for his business.

This is where the story gets interesting.

He took a few items, prepared three offers and used his VIP system in our POS software to send out his "Crazy Halloween Sale" by email newsletter. He picked up a couple of sales which he thought was enough to justify the work.

The next day, the gym sent him an SMS, that due to the success of the  "Crazy Halloween Sale" they were extending the offer to Sunday.  My client thought about it and decided since it was working for the gym and his business he would do this too. So he sent another lot of emails saying because of the success of his stores "Crazy Halloween Sale", they were extending the offer to Sunday. He has now picked up a few more sales.

This is an example of a flash sale and how effective it can be in attracting people due to the hype and the short sale cycle.  

Here are some points if you want to run a flash sale

- Use a marketing sign in the shop window. 

Have a decent mailing list, if you need email addresses if you are our client we can supply you with a free email mailing list from your area with businesses that you can send emails too to seed it but you do have to work it to get this list. You will get by using your VIP loyalty marketing anyway. 

Facebook advertising can be used very successfully.

- Have a believable reason why the flash sale should happen eg you sell doughnuts and today is "National Donut Day". You are a sandwich shop and its after lunch and you have all these sandwiches you must get rid of. Another example might be you have all these Mother's day cards and it is so close to Mother's day that all of this stock must go. The more believable the reason the better.

- See if you can upsell by adding to the sale items some other items.

- Make sure you are prepared with enough stock and staff. There is nothing more frustrating than having people come to buy a product that you do not have or walking out because the queue is too long.

Good luck and let me know how went for you.

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