Last month we held an informative Epicor Eagle Best Practices Webinar
focused on how to run an effective training program. The webinar features Katie Hendricks from Reeves Ace Hardware. Hendricks shares what Reeves Ace Hardware
is doing to run an effective training program and the impact they are seeing in the business.
A common theme that runs through profitable and successful companies is a strong employee training program. Effective employee training can give your business a significant edge on employee retention, customer satisfaction and retention, and bottom line profitability. As an independent retailer, making this happen can be challenging.
“Training is everything to a business. Embracing technology was the key for our business and a simplified Epicor Training on Demand program has empowered our employees to be better at their jobs,” said Katie Hendricks, training manager at Reeves Ace Hardware.
Reeves Ace Hardware operates five locations and has been in business for 85 years with plans to stay in business for another 85 years. Hendricks also talks about how the business is driving an effective training program to ensure employees have the knowledge and skills they need to provide superior customer service and continued business success. She provides great tips to help retailers improve employee skills (ultimately driving morale), which noticeably improves customer service and business performance. The following are a few key points how retailers can achieve success in training:
- Boost employee confidence and customer satisfaction by giving staff the knowledge they need up-front, followed by on-the-job practice
- Enjoy real productivity increases in key retail areas like inventory management, POS, etc.
- Keep the entire team knowledgeable with a central hub for resources, safety, benefits, outside classes, and more
- Create a culture of ongoing learning with incentives at both individual and management levels
- Easily assign training courses and manage the training process
Help staff wary of technology
by letting them learn at their own pace and reward them for completing training. For more information about Epicor Training on Demand, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Jenny Kois, Learning Services Manager, Epicor
Two years after its launch, Epicor Payment Exchange (EPX) has been named one of the fastest-growing payment processors in the United States by ¹The Nilson Report. With a surge of 506 percent year-over-year growth from 2012 to 2013, the solution is meeting the needs of retailers. EPX was developed to provide additional value to Epicor retail customers, and indeed it has already demonstrated significant benefits to its users:
"We save more than $1,000 per month with Epicor Payment Exchange and we gained the ability to process debit cards. It's just a better all-around solution," said Gary Meinke, Owner of Bayside Paint Inc.
“Our accountant says we were one of her only clients that saved money on fees last year—our use of Epicor Payment Exchange greatly influenced that savings. Because of the solution I save at least 30 minutes each week on backend reporting and reconciliation. We are very happy with the solution,” said Kelly Price, Office Manager of South Coast Supply Inc.
Here are some interesting facts and figures about EPX since it was launched: View the full-size version here.
Posted by Matt Mullen, General Manager of Epicor Payment Exchange and Head of Product Management & Marketing for Epicor
¹“Top Merchant Acquirers in the United States.” (March 2014). The Nilson Report. Retrieved from http://www.nilsonreport.com/publication_newsletter_archive_issue.php?issue=1036
I’m excited to share the news that we recently celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the release of Epicor Training on Demand
, an online training tool designed to offer role-based or job-specific training content to users of the Epicor Eagle business management solution. Thanks to the success of our customers, Training on Demand has made an impact in the businesses of over 800 retailers across the United States that have invested in this innovative training tool.
Williams Lumber and Home Centers
, a 68-year-old hardware, lumber and building materials retailer located in New York State, is using Epicor Training on Demand to enhance customer service and promote employee performance. “The Williams Lumber management team has benefitted from Training on Demand
in learning how the retail side of the business affects the backroom—this tool sharpens our associates’ skills,” said Frank Trippi, IT director for Williams Lumber.
In addition to the success of our customers, 2013 also marked our first recognition by Brandon Hall Group
, a well-established research and advisory services organization in the performance improvement industry. Epicor Training on Demand was named a winner in the 2013 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology Awards
. We were proud to accept the Bronze award in the category of Best Advance in Learning Management Technology for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
. The award entries were evaluated by a panel of independent senior industry experts, Brandon Hall Group senior analysts and executive leadership based upon the criteria of product/program design, functionality, usability, innovation, and overall measurable benefits. A full list of the Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology award winners can be found here
Today, customer service is the foundation of success in the competitive retail market. The key to establishing proficiencies that reduce business mistakes, increase efficiencies, and improve customer service is grounded in an effective training program.
*Companies who train their employees are:
- 58% more likely to be successful at developing the skills needed for meeting future customer demand
- 46% more likely to be strong innovators in their markets
- 33% more likely to report higher customer satisfaction than other organizations
- 39% more likely to report success implementing customer suggestions
- 18% more likely to currently be a market-share leader in one or more of their markets
It’s truly an honor to work with such inspirational retailers that are effectively using Training on Demand to establish and improve these crucial business proficiencies. Here at Epicor we are committed to helping retailers improve customer service and their overall business performance—providing technology and educational programs that help retailers benefit from their investment in technology. I look forward more successful years to come and more innovative ways to improve business performance.
Posted by Jenny Kois, Learning Services Manager, Epicor
*"High-Impact Learning Culture: The 40 Best Practices for Creating an Empowered Enterprise," Bersin & Associates, June 2010.
In the initial blog post
on customer loyalty, we looked at the growth of customer loyalty programs, key factors that influence customer loyalty, and what customers are increasingly searching to improve in the programs in which they participate. This post addresses how retailers are giving customers what they want to secure their loyalty.
In the second part of the series on customer loyalty programs, Retail TouchPoints
(RTP) associate editor Alicia Fiorletta addresses how retailers are integrating customer loyalty programs across every communications and commercial touch point. This omnichannel approach is becoming increasingly dominant in the retail sector. Fiorletta notes:
Omnichannel retailing is evolving at a rapid pace. In order to better connect with savvy consumers, best-in-class retailers are revising their loyalty programs and initiatives to create differentiated and customized experiences. Although deals, coupons and incentives continue to drive loyalty initiatives, retailers must be sure to focus strategies on providing great customer experiences across all channels.
As example of how this is working successfully, she cites Stride Rite’s Rewards Program
, whose membership exceeded a million within six months “due to the ability for participants to receive instant access to rewards, account information and products across all channels.”
While technology is essential in executing omnichannel tactics, the role of in-store associates remains a critical factor. A recent post by Tai Aguirre on the Taico Incentive Services blog notes the central role that employees play in achieving customer loyalty, and in influencing the success of omnichannel tactics:
The influence your employees have on how your company delivers a great brand experience cannot be overemphasized. An engaged workforce creates a performance culture that becomes visible to your customers. When problems arise, as they certainly will, your employees will be up to the task of providing a positive customer experience. Engaged employees are deeply involved in figuring out how to meet your organization's objectives for the good of all.
Esprit Smith, Marketing Consultant for the Retail & Consumer Practice at Lenati reiterates this in the RTP piece: “Retailers should train front-line employees to understand the importance of a loyalty program. Since store associates typically are the first point of contact with the customer, they need to thoroughly understand the benefits for the customer as well as for the brand and organization.”
By connecting with consumers at the point of sale and throughout the shopping experience, associates can share more details on loyalty initiatives, as well as the variety of perks consumers can receive once they register in the program.
notes in a recent article, true customer loyalty is the ultimate goal of these efforts, and “true customer loyalty means making the relationship more important than making the sale.”
summarizes that customer loyalty programs are not a panacea, but work with other customer experience factors (e.g., price, convenience, product availability and customer service) delivered through seamless omnichannel techniques.
How are you pursuing customer loyalty in your business? What kind of programs have you implemented? We’d love to know your thoughts on how to get true customer loyalty?
For a full copy of RTP
study Customer Loyalty in 2013 and Beyond, click here
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Epicor
Last week’s National Retail Federation (NRF) — Retail’s BIG Show in New York City saw more than 30,000 attendees walk in and out of the Javits Center’s doors, and I feel like I talked to at least half of them. NRF is that one place you meet lots of new people and can reconnect with “old” colleagues and friends in just two short days. And they all want to talk about the same thing—what’s the newest thing out there that will inspire our customers and fuel business growth.
Epicor drew the most conversations from three new solutions we showcased in our booth—Epicor Retail Cross-Commerce, Epicor Retail CRM 7.0, and Epicor Retail Store Windows 8 Tablets Edition. Epicor Retail Cross-Commerce bridges the gap among online, mobile and brick-and-mortar realms for a more satisfying, consistent consumer experience and streamlined retail management by providing a unified transaction engine. Which is exactly what 63% of retailers want, according to the 11th Annual Store Systems Study.
Epicor Retail CRM 7.0 continues to gain adoption as the foundation for winning customer engagement and loyalty strategies for a growing number of leading retailers. It always amazes me how little retailers know about their customers. We had so many great discussions with retailers during NRF on what they could do if they only captured a little more data or tied transactions to the customer. They’d find out who their best customers are, what offers or communication brought them in, what they buy with what, etc. With this knowledge, the possibilities of targeted marketing are endless.
Supporting the next evolution of mobility in the retail enterprise, attendees saw the Epicor Retail Store Windows 8 Tablet Edition first hand during the Epicor and Microsoft NRF Big !deas Session Windows 8 POS Tablet: Why Less Really is More. Mobile Store is not new to Epicor—we have many retailers who have been very successful users, especially this holiday season. However Windows 8 takes Mobile Store to the next level and provides so much more flexibility with information at the staff’s fingertips. I’m not the only one excited about it—I spoke to one retailer who is looking forward to replacing all their registers with tablets.
I can’t talk about NRF without talking about my build-a-bear smallfrys® friends. Once again Epicor partnered with Build-A-Bear Workshop® to obtain new friends which we gave away in exchange for $10 donations to benefit the Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI). RetailROI is celebrating its 5th year in helping to raise funds and awareness for at risk and orphaned children worldwide by providing real solutions to help improve their lives. Every dollar raised at the our booth is going directly to computer lab upgrades, educational programs, and roof construction at The Master’s Home of Champions Rehab orphanage and school in Liberia. I will have the honor of visiting them in person this fall, as I plan to attend another RetailROI trip.
When all is said and done, there was an abundance of energy during Retail’s BIG Show. Retailers, especially those who visited our booth, appeared enthusiastic about 2014 and the resurgence of the economy. This year is the year to empower the world’s leading retailers with the world’s most advanced solutions – enhancing customer experiences and inspiring growth.
Growth happens in the space between what your customers want and what your competitors provide. How can you own that space? Let’s Talk!
Posted by Diane Cerulli, Director of Retail Marketing, Epicor
In the first part of a two part series on Retail TouchPoints
(RTP), associate editor Alicia Fiorletta details how retailers are differentiating and customizing their loyalty programs.
Customer loyalty programs are increasingly big business— according to loyalty marketing expert COLLOQUY
, loyalty membership programs totaled nearly $2.65 billion in the United States in 2012, a 27% increase over the start of the decade. The average U.S. household now participates in 22 programs.
Fiorletta notes the retail segments where loyalty program sign-ups are on the significant rise: department stores (+70%), drug stores (+45%), specialty stores (+26%) and mass merchandisers (+8%).
According to the 2013 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census Report
, the challenge for retailers is not only to make their loyalty programs grab the attention of their customers, but also that they are used consistently. As Fiorletta notes, “To compete in today’s tech-savvy marketplace, companies must find ways to differentiate and customize their loyalty programs.”
What factors influence customer loyalty?
- Core offering
The companies that boast the highest levels of fiercely loyal customers have built that loyalty not on marketing programs or gimmicks, but rather on a solid, dependable, core offering that appeals to their customers. These companies have focused intently on what they know engages the type of customers they want to attract, and have determinedly concentrated on delivering what is expected every time.
Satisfaction is important; indeed, it is essential. But, taken in isolation, the level of satisfaction is not a good measure of loyalty. Many auto manufacturers claim satisfaction levels higher than 90 percent, yet few have repurchase levels of even half that. The situation is stacked against the business: if customer satisfaction levels are low, there will be very little loyalty. However, customer satisfaction levels can be quite high without a corresponding level of loyalty. Customers have come to expect satisfaction as part and parcel of the general deal, and the fact that they are satisfied doesn't prevent them from defecting in droves to a competitor that offers something extra. So, while high levels of customer satisfaction are needed to develop loyal customers, the measure of customer satisfaction is not a good indicator of the level of loyalty. The two are not measuring the same thing.
- Level of elasticity
Elasticity expresses the importance and weight of a purchasing decision— effectively, the level of involvement or indifference. This applies to both the customer and the business. The customer's involvement in the category is imperative: the more important your product or service is to the customer, the more trouble they have probably taken in their decision to do business with you, and the more likely they are to stick with what they have decided.
- The marketplace
The marketplace is a key factor in the development of loyalty. The elements most closely involved are opportunity to switch and inertia loyalty. If the number of competing suppliers is high and little effort is required to change, switching is clearly more likely. Conversely, the more time and effort invested in the relationship, the more unlikely switching becomes. Inertia loyalty is the opposite of ease of switching.
According to research, more affluent and better-educated customers are less likely to be committed to a specific brand. They say that the commitment of less affluent consumers to the brands they use is often unusually strong, possibly because they cannot afford to take the risk of trying a brand that might not suit them as well. They also suggest that younger consumers are less committed to brands than older consumers.
- Share of wallet
As markets become saturated and customers have so much more to choose from, share of wallet becomes increasingly important. It is cheaper and more profitable to increase your share of what the customer spends in your sector than it is to acquire new customers.
With these in mind, retailers must understand that tech-savvy customers, most having come of age with the Internet, increasingly look for instant access to the loyalty programs in which they participate. But in addition to speed of access, personalized content is also a key.
In the RTP
piece, Jason Copulsky, a principle at global consultant Deloitte
, notes, “A key best practice for loyalty initiatives is customizing and creating a differentiated experience by taking customer data and making programs meaningful. The overall experience with a loyalty program is important— from the rewards to the recognition— but the stakes to be relevant are much higher.”
How are retailers going about achieving this?
Part two of this post will look at Omni channel retailing, and why this tactic is coming to the fore in securing customer loyalty.
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Epicor
2013 marks the third year recognizing the Home Channel News Hardware Store ALL-STARS. Hardware stores are acknowledged in this awards program for their exceptional impact in the industry. These retailers are not necessarily listed because they are the largest, or even leading in profitability. Rather, they have an interesting story, a great leader, exciting innovation, or an unconventional approach to retailing. According to Home Channel News they have demonstrated an “All-Star sense for customer service and business acumen.” Epicor is excited to recognize the retailers named that operate their businesses with Epicor Eagle.
Congratulations to the Epicor customers honored with this esteemed award:
Anchorage True Value Hardware, Anchorage, Alaska
Pete’s Ace Hardware, Castro Valley, California
Hemlock Hardware, Fairfield, Connecticut
Intown Ace Hardware, Decatur, Georgia
Congleton Brothers Pro Home Center, Beattyville, Kentucky
Ames True Value Hardware & Supply, Wiscasset, Maine
Dunkirk Do it Best Hardware & Home Center, Dunkirk, Maryland
Frattalone’s Ace Hardware, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Home Hardware and Variety, Boulder City, Nevada
Goffstown Ace Hardware, Goffstown, New Hampshire
McGrath’s Paint and Hardware, New Jersey
Kelloggs & Lawrence Do it Best, Katonah, New York
Parkrose Hardware, Portland, Oregon
Bomberger’s Store, Lititz, Pennsylvania
Tri-County Ace, Seneca, South Carolina
Ace Hardware of Chattanooga, Tennessee
Randy’s Do it Best Hardware, Virginia
Island Do it Best Home Center and Lumber, Vashon, Washington
Watson Ace Hardware, Lake Mills, Wisconsin
For the full list of Hardware Store ALL-STARS winners click here.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
Last week I had the pleasure of attending The Hardware Conference, held in Marco Island, Florida. I was met by over 400 retailers, leaders, and influencers in the retail hardware industry, 90 of those being Epicor Eagle users. It was a conference full of activity from technology training sessions to meetings for True Value, Ace, and Do it Best retailers, the annual meeting for Hardlines Digest participants, as well as an open exhibit area for the latest products in retail hardware.
The pinnacle of the conference this year -- other than celebrating its 25th year serving the hardware community -- was the newly introduced Beacon Awards, a national industry awards program developed by The Hardware Conference and The Hardware Connection, honoring the “best of the best” independent hardware and home improvement retailers in the United States. We were proud to congratulate four Epicor Eagle winners during the awards ceremony held on Friday night during the conference. The Epicor winners of the Retail Beacon Award were Marmac Ace Hardware and Sullivan Hardware and Garden; the winners of the Beacon Awards Best New Store were Hartville Hardware and Lutz Ace Hardware.
Marmac Ace Hardware – Maui, Hawaii
In operation since 1971, Marmac has a 9,000-square-foot store in Kahului. In July 2013, the family opened a second store in Wailuku that encompasses 13,000 square feet. Now with a larger sales floor, the new store offers have expanded their original product offerings as well as increased stock in niche departments like cleaning and pet supplies.
Sullivan Hardware and Garden – Indianapolis, Indiana
Sullivan Hardware & Garden opened in 2012 designed as a destination where customers would come not just for good service, but also for the best selection of products. In his free time, owner Pat Sullivan is busy co-hosting a local Saturday morning radio show with co-host, Dick Crum, answering caller’s home and garden questions.
Hartville Hardware – Hartville, Ohio
In April 2012, brothers Howard and Wayne Miller opened the largest independent hardware store in the country. The 305,000-square-foot home center spans two levels, over seven acres, and also features a 1,850-square-foot idea house located inside.
Lutz Ace Hardware – Lutz, Florida
Brothers Scott and Todd Andrews decided to diversify their pool supply business by opening an Ace Hardware store in January 2012. Lutz Ace Hardware features 11,900 square feet of retail selling space, which also includes a very successful gift shop business.
From left to right: Scott and Tina Andrews (Lutz Ace Hardware), Jim Holden (Epicor), Pat and Beth Sullivan (Sullivan Hardware and Garden), and Howard and Marsha Miller (Hartville Hardware).
While there was a lot of activity around new products to feature in hardware stores, another key highlight of the conference was the Technology Forum. Epicor Eagle users were provided with a full day of hands on training covering educational topics such as inventory management, new Eagle features, and mobility for your business, among others.
Thank you to all the hardware retailers, sponsors, and leaders who attended this conference. We look forward to another 25 years of service from The Hardware Conference.
Posted by Bob Aronson, Vice President Sales, Epicor Retail Distribution Solutions
It has been an interesting summer for those that follow the ongoing swipe fee battle. First the Visa and MasterCard retail credit settlement, then Judge Leon’s ruling on the debit fee cap. A quick and simple summary to get us all up to speed:
- Banks used to charge merchants interchange (a percentage of the total transaction) for accepting debit cards at a lower rate, but similar to how credit cards were priced.
- Interchange is a risk-based pricing model and most (not the banks) thought that wasn’t fair because debit transactions are good funds -- no lending, little risk.
- Congress took action and the Durbin amendment was passed.
- The Federal Reserve (Fed) studied and sought opinion and came out with a cap of $0.21 per swipe in 2011 -- about $0.23 less than what they used to cost.
- Fast forward two years, and the new pricing scheme is pretty well understood and accepted in the market. Then Judge Leon says -- wait a minute, Congress thought it should be $0.12 per swipe. The Fed appealed the ruling and everyone in payments is again talking about debit.
The technical and banking infrastructure to accept electronic payments is large and immensely complicated. The fact that it now costs less than half (on average) of what it once did just a few years ago is a great benefit to merchants, and no merchant wants to go back to the days of primarily cash and check. It’s just too efficient at the point of sale and for their business operations to accept plastic. They do want to pay a fair price -- no one likes to overpay or feel like the market is controlled. The interesting thing about the fact I just pointed out, is that the payments market is not controlled -- there are a large number of new entrants each year.
No one has been able to offer a secure, reliable and lower cost model than what the payment industry has today. I don’t think we will see the end of this in 2013, and it will be very interesting to see if the networks are pressured to make a voluntary price concession to avoid an even further decline. If you have an opinion on this or any other payment related topic, we would love to hear it.
Posted by Matt Mullen, Head of Product Management & Marketing and General Manager of Epicor Payment Exchange
Mobile devices and applications are transforming the retail sector, according to a recently released report by Google: "One in three shoppers use their smartphones to find information instead of asking for help from a store employee. In some categories 55 percent say they do this when shopping for appliances, 48 percent for electronics, 40 percent for baby care and 39 percent for household care." These statistics show the movement from service to self-service, with mobile as the principal enabler.
Kevin Benedict of sys-con.com lists some of the most interesting findings in the Google report:
- Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners are smartphone shoppers.
- Sixty-two percent use a smartphone to assist with shopping at least once a month and 17 percent use it this way at least once a week.
- Eighty-four percent of smartphone users use tem to help shop while in a store.
- Fifty-three percent of smartphone users use their devices in-store to make price comparisons.
- Thirty-nine percent of smartphone users use them to find promotional offers while in the store.
- Thirty-six percent of smartphone users use their devices to find location/directions to stores.
- Thirty-five percent of smartphone users use their smartphones to find store hours.
This data dovetails with a Forbes Insight report called “Retail’s Mobile Imperative,” whose key findings included:
- Retailers are actively pursuing the mobile channel; nearly three out of four have some kind of mobile initiative in place today.
- Nearly one-half of retailers say they want to capture “first-mover advantage” as their customers go mobile.
- Retailers are at varying levels of sophistication in terms of their mobile efforts. Fundamental tools such as mobile ads and mobile websites are the most common. Other companies are moving into more transaction-based and customer service-oriented applications. The most sophisticated are adding location- and context-based apps.
- For many retailers, mobile is much more than a “scaled-back” version of the Internet. Rather, they take advantage of the ubiquity of cell phones and smartphones to create location-specific experiences.
- Retailers are determining which mobile devices and operating systems to support, relying primarily on the device’s current and potential market share and the demographics of the device’s user base.
- Retailers appear satisfied with their mobile efforts, with six out of 10 saying their mobile channel returns are either meeting or exceeding expectations.
Much of this phenomenon was anticipated in a GS1 Mobile Com whitepaper that appeared at the onset of this decade, as mobile phone users were beginning to transition in droves to smartphones, and before the development and rapid deployment of tablets. The paper, “Mobile in Retail: Getting Your Retail Environment Ready for Mobile,” states plainly why mobile is good for retail: increased sales, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and added value to physical products and experiences through digital services. Clearly retailers are hearing the message, and with over one-half the planet’s population equipped with mobile phones, there is a vast audience poised to hear their messages.
The mobile in retail phenomenon is developing new angles even as it emerges. In a post on Cisco’s The Network blog, Joanne Taaffe, deputy editor of Total Telecom Magazine, addresses one that’s gaining traction: providing product development data to consumers. According to Taaffe, concern from consumers about the origins of the products they purchase is prompting retailers to start using mobile technologies to track provenance and sustainability of goods.
While costs may slow development of this mobile retail functionality in the short term, and analysts contend that consumer activism will be necessary to drive further moves by retailers to use technology to provide up-to-date information on how they have sourced the products on their shelves, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the practice ultimately triumph. After all, the mobile world is one where the customer is king or queen; recent history has shown that he or she generally gets what he or she wants in the end.
Stay tuned—or powered up.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team