Online Grocery Sales on the Rise

Since the early days of the Internet, companies have tried to capitalize on online shopping. Some have failed, some have held their own. Nielsen, a leading global research and measurement firm, has recently suggested that annual online grocery sales will double to $25 billion by 2014. Currently, online grocery sales are around $12 billion which is up from about $5 billion in 2006.

Nielsen attributes the growth to the increasing number of the Generation Y, who grew up with and are comfortable with technology. Regardless of the comfort that young people have with the latest technology, Nielsen still believes it will take time for consumers to get used to shopping at online grocery stores. This suggests that online grocery shopping has significantly more potential than $25 billion per year possibly turning into a $100 billion plus industry in a decade or more. Some other key factors contributing to the increase are:

1. Convenience - the growing need for convenience has already transformed the grocery industry
2. Increase in Mobile Applications - 63.2 million of Americans have Smart phone, making online grocery shopping easier and quicker
3. Customization - Digital platform allows online grocers to personalize the shopping experience

The bottom line is that online grocery represents a largely unrealized opportunity, but grocers must work to build awareness and establish the value proposition. The process needs to be easy and convenient, and online grocers must educate shoppers about the benefits in simple terms: buying groceries online saves time and money—two considerations that every shopper is looking for.

PCI and Mobile Payments

PCI is again making the news as the group that puts together the PCI requirements (PCI Security Standards Council – PCI SSC) has recently decided to delist all mobile payment solutions. This lumps all forms of mobile payment under one heading, including apps that are encrypted payment specific running on locked-down mobile devices and apps that are more open running on standard mobile phones that have been downloaded and installed without vendor supervision.

Right now since there is no standard, it is up to the individual QSA assessors to decide on what they deem as passing for PCI certification and a location that has been certified in the past may or may not pass now if they are using mobile applications.

Vendors of mobile applications mostly have now backed down with their development and sales program because of this change.

The PCI SSC Council is now evaluating mobile payment applications and their supporting environments with the goal to deliver guidance by the end of 2011.

Invest in Training

The most successful companies have long recognized the value of a well trained staff. Some of the many reasons savvy business owners realize how investing in training will impact the bottom line are:

• Increase job satisfaction and morale among employees
• Increase employee motivation
• Increase efficiencies in processes, resulting in financial gain
• Increase capacity to adopt new technologies and methods
• Increase innovation in strategies and products
• Reduce employee turnover; enhanced company image.

These are just some of the compelling arguments to make ongoing training an organizational goal. Staff training can be on the job where more experienced employees are assigned to train new employees. Cross-training existing employees for various tasks handled by other staff members is also important. This ensures operations are not disrupted when employees leave the company either temporarily or permanently. Sometimes a company does not have the knowledge internally to train staff for various reasons:

• Key person left the company
• Company acquired new technology
• Leverage more feature/function from their current technology.
Regardless of the reason, a prudent owner will recognize the investment value of developing his human resources to actualize increased efficiencies that will ultimately impact the bottom line.

These same principles hold true for independent grocers in this competitive market. As a solutions provider for independent grocers we understand these needs and have developed training programs to assist our customers in this ongoing effort. If you want to make the investment to improve your operation, contact your STCR Sales Representative at (607) 757-0181. They can tell you about what options and programs we can customize to fit your specific needs and then see how it can improve your bottom line.

Are You Ready for Summer

It’s summer time! Schools are out and the temperatures are rising. While most people look forward to  vacations and fun in the sun, a lot of us look forward to staying inside and turning on the AC. Each year the demand of electricity increases with the increase of power-consuming electronic devices. This puts a strain on our power grid and the results are potential power interruption that could affect any electronic device. As the temperatures rise, so does the need to keep your electronic devices operating in cool atmosphere. Here are some good practices to keep your hard-working computers and registers running in optimal condition.

Battery Backup (UPS): If you do not remember when you purchased your current battery backup devices, it is time to replace them. UPS’s are critical equipment to prevent any electrical surge from damaging your electronic devices. A slight electrical disruption could have a big impact on your electronics including networking devices. UPS’s are an inexpensive investment that protects your entire front-end and back-office operation.

System Backup: This is one of the most overlooked tasks in operating a POS system. As with any computerized systems, your POS is not immune to failure. The IBM POS systems have automated backups as well as the ability to provide manual, off-site backup capability. We always recommend that you run manual backup procedures and make removable backups periodically so you are protected from hardware failure.

Systems Environment: The IBM POS system is retail hardened. They are built to withstand the toughest retail environment. Even with that, it is still a good practice to keep the environment of your POS system as clean as possible. Keep in mind not to block air vents around the system and make sure there is sufficient air circulation. Clean vents of built-up dusts and keep in mind the temperature of the room where you place your computers.

These are some of the good practices to do any time of the year. Performing these checks and implementing will help ensure your POS system runs cool all summer long.