What is Social Media?

What is social media? Wikipedia defines social media as media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. Businesses also refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). Social media utilization is believed to be a driving force in defining the current time period as the Attention Age. A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.

Some social media web sites are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter just to name a few. As social media becomes a more integral part of people’s lives, its reach and impact grow. Here are some of the recent developments that businesses should know and should take advantage.

One of the most popular social media sites is Facebook. Recently Facebook launched a new feature called Facebook Places which allows Facebook members tell each other where they are, what they are doing and even who they are with. This has a great impact for local merchants and small businesses because they are more likely to be included in the conversation among Facebook users. Facebook also creates a Local Business page for each of the Places that are listed in Facebook Places. When someone “checks in” to your business, it will include a link to the Facebook page for your business in the message that gets sent out to their friends.

So how do you participate? Facebook lets merchants “claim” their pages. If you already have a Facebook page for your business, it will merge with your new Places page. When you claim your page, you will also be able to manage your Place’s information such as address, contact information, business hours, business profiles, pictures, etc. You could also get aggregate information about how your page is used.

The growth of social media is growing at a very fast pace. As a retail merchant, you may want to consider taking advantage of this trend to increase your business’ exposure.

The Shopping List

A study done by the NPD Groups, the leading global provider of consumer and retail market research information shows that 94% of shoppers prepare a written list before leaving the house and 72% say they never or rarely deviate from it. Of the 25% who do buy on impulse, value is the main motivation, 80% say they do so when they see an item on sale, 67% say they buy when they see items and remember they were needed and 37% say they do so when something looks like a good meal or snack.

For retailers, it's about helping consumers get what they want. About 70% of people shop at multiple locations and stores that can get creative, using list functions on their websites, developing list software, even providing ways they can send their list ahead of time and just pick up the groceries have a better chance of getting those consumers in their store. For grocers, that means marketing to people in their homes is more important, people eat many times a day, but typically shop only once a week. People are looking for recipes and ideas on the Internet, so food websites are really important as well.

While women still tend to do most of the family's food-related work, the whole family contributes to the list: 60% of married and family households pencil in what they want and kids add to lists in 40% of homes. Consumers aren't walking into stores without an agenda that means it's all about how to get consumers into your store.

With the right point-of-sale system you can create customer loyalty, improve customer service and increase your bottom line. For more information on how the IBM point-of-sale system can work for you contact STCR Business Systems at (607) 757-0181.

IBM SurePOS ACE Independent Retailer Package

Offer independent retailers a powerful POS solution and technical support—packaged at an affordable price

The IBM SurePOS ACE Independent Retailer Package

Transforms store operations with a complete POS solution to manage transactions and data, help lower costs and stay competitive

Independent retailers face trying times in an ever-tightening economy. They struggle to stay competitive in a world of retail giants with extensive resources and demanding customers, who are more price conscious than ever, yet expect an enhanced shopping experience. IBM understands the challenges independent retailers face and has developed the reliable POS technology to help differentiate your business in innovative ways and reduce the hassles of everyday operations. An Independent Retailer is defined as an enterprise of 100 stores or less who have five lanes or less per store.

The complete POS solution
IBM and STCR Business Systems, Inc. have been providing industry leading point-of-sale solutions for more than 30 years. IBM Retail Store Solutions offers the IBM SurePOS™ ACE (Application Client Server Environment) Independent Retailer Package (AIR) so that independent retailers can have the complete POS solution they need to be competitive at a price that works for their business. IBM and STCR are dedicated to providing the highest level of service and support to independent retailers.

The IBM SurePOS ACE Independent Retailer Package
IBM has utilized decades of retail POS experience in developing the AIR package to be flexible and extendable to meet the needs of dynamic retail environments and continues to make significant annual investment in ACE technology to surpass industry standards and requirements.

The AIR Package is offered in a Premium version, with a dual station printer with MICR. You also have your choice of colors, either Iron Gray or Pearl White/Storm Gray.

To learn how the IBM SurePOS ACE Independent Retailer Package can transform your business, please contact STCR at (607) 757-0181. STCR has been selling, installing and supporting IBM cash register systems for more than 30 years and we have been in business for 43 years. We are an IBM Premier Business Partner with the in-house expertise to install IBM Products and train your personnel in the most professional manner.

Changing Shopping Trends

During the last two years the vast majority of consumers (92%) have changed their shopping behavior, with 89% indicating they’ve become more resourceful and 84% saying they are more precise when they shop, according to a recent study. Most of these new approaches are based on frugal spending with 65% of consumers feeling like they’re not sacrificing much. In fact, segments accounting for about 80% of shoppers actually consider the changes they’ve made the source of emotional and practical rewards so they have little intention of returning to their old ways, according to researchers.

Many consumers have turned to private labels with three in four (75%) indicating that they’re more open to trying the private labels versus two years ago. Also, eighty-five percent of consumers say they have found several store brands that are just as good as national brands.

“We continue to witness consumers creating a whole new rule book and skill set for shopping that’s based on value, not boasting of brands,” a vice chairman of a leading consumer product practice stated. “Our analysis concludes that personal gratification and a desire to feel smart about what consumers are putting in their shopping carts are trumping brand satisfaction, and that price-consciousness, value-orientation and bargain-hunting will remain prevalent for years to come.”

Debit Card Interchange Fees

On June 21, 2010 an agreement was reached with key conferees on the Wall Street reform bill regarding the Durbin amendment regulating interchange fees which passed the Senate 64-33.

There are a number of modifications and compromises that were made to the Durbin interchange amendment. Some of those were:

•Discounting between card networks
The Senate-passed amendment provided that card networks could no longer prevent merchants from offering customers a discount to use one card network vs. another (e.g., a discount to use Visa vs. MasterCard), and that this discount would apply in both the credit card and debit card contexts.

This provision has been removed from the amendment. In its place the compromise includes a provision directing the Fed to issue rules preventing card networks from requiring that their debit cards can only be used on one debit card network (thereby ensuring that merchants will have the choice of at least two networks upon which to run debit transactions). This provision also provides additional competition to a previously non-competitive part of the market. It allows merchants to choose the debit network with the lowest cost – the opposite of the current system where merchants are forced to use a specific network with fixed prices.
•Discounting between forms of payment
The Senate-passed amendment provided that card networks cannot prevent merchants from offering a discount for one form of payment vs. another (cash vs. check vs. credit vs. debit). The compromise clarifies that these discounts cannot be offered if the discounts differentiate between card issuers or card networks.
•Setting of maximum/minimum transaction thresholds for use of a credit card
The Senate-passed amendment provided that card networks could not prevent merchants from setting a minimum or maximum dollar amount for payment by credit card.
The compromise provides that such a minimum may not exceed $10, with authority given to the Fed to increase that dollar amount. The compromise also limits the ability to set maximums for payment by credit card to the Federal government and colleges and universities. The compromise further clarifies the Senate language and establishes that a minimum payment not exceeding $10 – matching laws currently on the books in a number of states.