Stats Don't Lie: Gift Cards Work for SMBs

Jenn Reichenbacher

April 8, 2014

Americans love gift cards. We like to give gift cards as well as receive them. In fact, they’ve been the most requested item on holiday wish lists since 2007. As an industry, gift cards eclipsed $118 billion in 2013, an eight percent increase over 2012. While e-gifting fueled a significant portion of the overall growth (increasing from just $300 million in 2012 to an astounding $3 billion in 2013), traditional retailer gift card volume grew as well, rising from $36 billion to $39 billion. For small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) gift cards may be viewed as just a ‘nice to have’, but retailers need to understand the business value gift cards can, and will, deliver to their bottom line. Just check out the following information (statistics compiled by Gift Card Granny). Retailers benefit...

SMB Tips: Keep Customers Coming Back with Loyalty

Jenn Reichenbacher

March 27, 2014

Consumers love a deal, discount or special offer. For generations, retailers have been providing incentives to consumers to get them to visit their business and make a purchase. Today, according to RetailMeNot, 92 percent of consumer use coupons in one way or another. In fact, coupons saved consumers over $1.8 billion dollars in the first half of 2013 alone - amazing!For small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) a great way to distribute coupons or special offers is actually through a rewards or loyalty program. Before you throw your arms up and run away, loyalty programs are actually easier than you think. Gone are the days of paper punch cards and manual management. Today’s technology advancements have made it down right easy for businesses of any size in any vertical to develop and...

I Used My Isis Wallet, And I Have an iPhone

Jenn Reichenbacher

March 18, 2014

NFC, BLE, something new – as the world waits on Apple® to see what they do or do not include in the next iPhone®, existing users have a new way to pay today. While iPhone users have been able to pay by phone using QR codes through digital wallets (LevelUp), mobile commerce applications like those from Isis® have been restricted to non-Apple devices. That is, until now. With the launch of the new CashWrap™ case from Incipio®, iPhone (5/5s and 4/4s) users can now take advantage of the convenience and value of paying with their Isis wallet using NFC technology. An iPhone user, I was thrilled to get my CashWrap case and set up my Isis Mobile Wallet®. After linking my American Express card, I was ready to shop. I set out seeking my first experience. After checking out the available offers, I...

Connected 24/7 – Good or Bad?

Jenn Reichenbacher

March 4, 2014

Look around you. Whether you’re in walking down the street, on the subway, at the airport, or in the local coffee shop, there’s an obvious common theme – the vast majority of people are on their smart device. According to PewResearch, 55% of American adults own a smartphone and another 42% have a tablet computer. Statistics from eMarketer predict that, in 2014, Americans will spend more time on digital devices than watching TV – amazing! Whether on a smartphone or tablet, Americans today are nearly always ‘on’ – engaged and connected 24/7/365. Using devices to their full potential, it’s no surprise that we spend an average of five hours per day on smartphones and tablets (non-voice activity). While some of these statistics initially surprised me, when I really examined my own daily...

What Does Loyalty Mean to Me? Experience and Value Are Key

Jenn Reichenbacher

February 11, 2014

I would definitely consider myself a loyal customer. I regularly visit the same retailers, merchants and even restaurants over and over again. And, for those I really love, I’m an ‘evangelist’, often raving or sharing socially about something they served, a special deal or a cool thing they did for me while I was there. So what keeps me coming back? When I think of loyalty, from the consumer viewpoint, I think of two things – experience and value. With experience, it’s really about the products or selection offered, the engagement of the sales or wait staff and the overall quality of the engagement. There’s nothing worse than walking into a store and having no interaction with anyone that works there or, in the case of a restaurant, waiting several minutes before someone visits your...

Common Themes at the Mobile Payments Conference

Jenn Reichenbacher

February 4, 2014

This was my first time attending the Mobile Payments Conference (MPC). Organizer TMCNet mixed things up a bit for 2014, moving the location from New York to Miami and running the event in parallel to one of their larger conferences, ITExpo. Not sure of what to expect, I went in to this event with an open mind to two plus days of learning and networking with some of the best and brightest from the industry, including representatives from MasterCard, ROAM, iConnect, Tyfone and FIS. With just over 100 attendees in total at MPC and panels and keynotes touching on everything from mPOS to analytics to security, it was obvious to all in attendance that the world of mobile is about much more than just payments. From the very first panel discussion on Monday to the last conversations, one common...

35% of Holiday Shoppers Forecasted to Buy Gifts at Local Small Businesses

Jenn Reichenbacher

December 13, 2013

According to the National Retail Federal (NRF), 2013 holiday seasonal sales growth is expected to increase to 3.9% from 3.5% in 2012. While many ‘big box’ retailers are hedging their bet on the 2013 holiday shopping season, the opportunistic merchant may just well be the small and mid-sized business (SMB). In fact, 35% of holiday shoppers note that they’re planning to purchase gifts locally from small businesses this year, possibly leaving some ‘big box’ retailers on the outside looking in. While SMBs struggled to compete with larger retailers in years past, there is definitely upward momentum in ‘keeping it local’ as evidenced by key media campaigns around “Small Business Saturdays” and “Made in the USA”. This trend towards small business is not restricted to this holiday season and...

Is Thanksgiving Day Becoming the New Black Friday?

Jenn Reichenbacher

November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Day. In the U.S. it’s a holiday focused on giving thanks for the blessings and good fortune each has experienced during the previous year - a holiday filled with family, food and, for many, football. The day after Thanksgiving has been long recognized as the official start of the holiday shopping season, or Black Friday. And, since 2005, Black Friday has officially held the honor of being the busiest shopping day of the year. Over the years, retailers have continued to push the limit on Black Friday store openings to generate maximum sales volume and revenues. Traditional opening times of 9 and 10am were moved long ago to earlier hours like 5 and 6am, and more recently large ‘big box’ retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and others have even opened at 12am. Last year,...

Diving In: Generational Shopping Patterns

Jenn Reichenbacher

November 19, 2013

Shopping decisions can seem almost arbitrary on an individual basis, but with a wider angle and a deeper perspective, sweeping trends emerge. One of the most notable divisions in shopping habits is along age lines; baby boomers, Generation X and the millennial buyers between them show major differences in how and what they buy. Understanding your customer base and plugging in to what your ideal shopper wants through better knowledge of generational shopping patterns can boost sales by helping you reach your customers in more effective ways.The Baby BoomersAfter World War II, the country experienced a tremendous surge in population from 1946 to 1964. This phenomenon, the Baby Boom, led to a demographic wave that changed the shape of the nation as it passed. In the 1960s, the first baby...

SmartPhones: Leveraging Technology to Improve the In-Store Shopping Experience

Jenn Reichenbacher

November 7, 2013

 If you own a brick-and-mortar retail business and cringe whenever you witness customers wielding smartphones, you might want to rethink things a little. We've all heard horror stories about people visiting local businesses, scoping out the merchandise and then using their smartphones to find the same items online for much cheaper. It’s called showrooming and, as a result of it’s growing trend, many business owners are opposed to smartphone use in their stores. But, a new report by Google is sure to change many people's minds.The report is entitled "How In-Store Shoppers are Using Mobile Devices," and it features the results of a study that was performed in conjunction with The Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council and MARC Research. After examining the behaviors of more than 1,500...