Grocery Gift Cards for Gifts

Given the current economic situation there is a consumer shopping trend that is moving toward the giving of essential items. Nothing is more essential than food.

A growing population of consumers are giving the gift of food. It is not fruitcake, eggnog or candies. Instead, growing frugality is moving consumers toward baskets of fruits, kitchen staples and packages of meat. More and more people are demanding grocery gift cards to help their loved ones with the cost of food. During tough economic times, more people cut back on non-essential spending such as dining out, going to the movies, cable/satellite TV, etc. Food, however, is one item that people can not go without. Retailers and industry analysts alike say that gift shopping at the grocery store is growing in popularity. As more grocery stores increase their offering to include non-food items such as DVD, books, household and seasonal items, people are expanding their idea of grocery store providing more than just their meals.

Gift shopping at the supermarket is an attitudinal shift which food retailers are eager to encourage. According to an LA Times report, one California grocer had gift card sales jump as much as 30%. More people view food as a way to express love. This is prompting the revival of the traditional food gift basket as well.

STCR provides POS systems that have fully integrated gift card functionality. If your POS system is not currently taking advantage of selling gift cards, whether it is your store’s gift card or Blackhawk, please contact your STCR sales representative at (607) 757-0181. We will help you take full advantage of this growing trend and help you make the best use of your POS system.

PCI Update

What may happen as the result of not being PCI?

If cardholder data is stolen you could incur fines, penalties and even termination of the right to accept payment cards! Find out more on the web at:

Who do these requirements apply to?

Merchants and service providers that accept, capture, store, transmit or process credit or debit card data. If you are reading this it most likely applies to you.

There are 6 goals or categories with 12 requirements each having several sub-requirements listed in the PCI documentation. Below you will find the 6 categories and the 12 main requirements. This information can also be located at the website for the PCI Security Standards Council which was formed to promote PCI compliance. The council does not enforce the standards; the enforcement is done by the card brands. The requirements outline a minimum level of protection for payment card data and should be recognized as such.

Build and Maintain a Secure Network

Requirement 1: Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

Requirement 2: Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

Protect Cardholder Data

Requirement 3: Protect stored cardholder data

Requirement 4: Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

Requirement 5: Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs

Requirement 6: Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

Implement Strong Access Control Measures

Requirement 7: Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know

Requirement 8: Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

Requirement 9: Restrict physical access to cardholder data

Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

Requirement 10: Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
Requirement 11: Regularly test security systems and processes.

Maintain an Information Security Policy

Requirement 12: Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel.

Being compliant with the PA-DSS guidelines is an ongoing process and grocers need to be ever vigilant. You can find up-to-date PA-DSS and PinPad information at

Mobile Sales Channel - The Next Frontier

It seems that an increasing number of people are using web enabled mobile devices. As the supply and demand for mobile applications increases, the more consumers rely on their mobile device to do things that they used to do using traditional methods. As we all know, online retail continues to increase and not surprisingly this trend is emerging in the mobile device arena.

According to a recent survey conducted by Aberdeen Group, the percentage of retailers pursuing a mobile sales strategy has more than doubled in the last two years. The obvious reason is the increase in consumer demand. This survey found that 38 percent of retailers are currently in some stage of mobile retail technology or mobile channel adoption. The same survey done at the end of 2008 showed this number was only at 18 percent.

The advancement of mobile technology with smarter, commerce-ready mobile devices is the driving force for this adoption. Furthermore, the move toward mobile channel caused a change in traditional channel management and marketing strategy. Aberdeen data shows that retailers with an online and mobile channel have had to adjust their marketing strategy to reflect the changed channel behaviors, based on customer preferences.

Data from this report indicates that on average, retailers are currently dedicating 41 percent of their annual marketing spending toward the digital channels (online 34 percent and mobile 7 percent). This report also shows that there are three new major elements of the mobile experience for retailers. Mobile web, which usually features online selections and categories of products for information gathering, product demo and feature comparisons is the top component of a mobile retail technology platform strategy for almost half (49 percent) of retailers surveyed. The second highest preference for 43 percent of the retailers is mobile coupon targeting and delivery, which can be tied into customer loyalty programs. The third most popular component of a mobile retail technology strategy is smart phone platform-specific mobile retail at 37 percent.

Of the various digital marketing strategies, the most successful retailers utilize every avenue available. Tying web presence with social media and mobile application is a powerful way to reach out to the increasingly technologically savvy consumers. As mobile devices become more and more prevalent, this trend will only continue to grow.

Custom Content Marketing

Grocery store marketing typically consists of weekly specials promoted through ad; displays and customer loyalty programs that may provide product discounts or free gifts for spending a certain dollar amount. According to new data released by Greensboro-based Pace Communications, the U.S. grocery industry has increased the use of social media as part of a plan to gain customer loyalty.

Incorporating custom content into your marketing plan can help separate your store and help you move ahead of the competition. Blogs and social networking can help your marketing efforts, but most supermarkets are using these technologies to simply deliver the same information. Custom content is about giving your shoppers information that they can’t get anywhere else and making that content so appealing that your store becomes known as the best destination.

You are most likely already using custom content. For example a recipe page on your web site. You could take your single page of recipes and expand it into a separate website, one with its own brand identity that attracts people who want more than just weekly discounts. Add content such as general wellness information and seasonal recipes and you now have a branded site that offers shoppers something of lasting value. A web site that customers will turn to again and again and one they will recommend to friends and family. They will appreciate that it comes from you, the same trusted name they depend on to feed their families.

Another option is a magazine for your most loyal shoppers that is full of content created specifically about your stores. Does your meat department offer more antibiotic-free or organic selections than the competition? If so, do your customers know this? A custom magazine is the perfect way to share this information and others like it to further grow loyalty with your shoppers and separate your stores from all the rest.

A custom content strategy aims for the same goal as any other effective marketing plan. What makes custom content different is that it allows for the integration of those other tried-and-true marketing strategies that you already use, such as coupons and seasonal promotions. And no matter how custom content is implemented, results can be tracked, so that you know how well it’s working.