Merlinsoft’s Top Ten Retail Selling Tips

2017-01-18

Sales is an essential part of businesses, even more so within retail companies. It involves a lot of face-to-face communication between clients/customers and salespeople. Being able to provide customers with their recommendations and or needs is crucial for salespeople. Listening to the customer is imperative especially in retail environments where complex solutions are involved. Below, Merlinsoft has written ten top tips for being able to sell successfully within the retail sector.

Top Ten:

  1. Appearance is key.

    Taking care in how you look to your customers is important. Customers notice this; they remember how you present yourself and this shows you in a positive light. You’re more likely to look like a distinguished salesperson if you dress the part.

  1. You are providing a service.

    You are there to serve. Do not forget this. You are not doing the customer a favour, do not act above them. Without them, you would not have a business or job. Show them some respect too. You’re more likely to gain it back too, and you never know if you don’t sell anything there and then you may do later. They’ll remember the ‘nice’ salesperson.

  2. Don’t always go for the easy sell.

    If you keep selling the products/services that are easy you won’t be able to ever sell anything else. It’s easy to sell something that’s on offer; it will practically sell itself. Don’t waste your time on it.

  1. Human interaction.

    It may seem like a given, but making a friend in your customer is no bad thing. Build a rapport with them, it doesn’t even have to be to do with what you’re selling. You never know they may need you for a service or have connections that do. Either way, you’ve gained a friend that may help you in the future. The idea is not to alienate or intimidate the customer.

  1. Be Honest.

    People already have a perception of salespeople being dishonest, due to the competitive nature of the job. Not only this, customers are clever enough to know if you are being dishonest with them; do not underestimate them. If you are honest, they will feel like they can trust you and therefore more like to buy.

  1. Maximise sales.

    Once the customer has agreed on an item, it is not considered bad nature to add-on, up-sell or cross-sell. The idea is to be honest again, and to sell items that provide value. If you can understand what the customer wants; you can gear to selling them something that will make them feel better about their purchase. Something they may never have known about.

  1. Go the Extra Mile.

    Be persistent without being pushy. Make sure you are diligent on your pre-sale and follow-up. Making small, consistent and personalised contact will go a long way and this is something that customers will appreciate.

  1. Read your customers.

    It Is important, when making the sale, that you can pay attention to the customer’s behaviour. Being able to make adjustments in your technique based on the personality type of the customer is a quality that salespeople must have.

  1. Don’t Act Desperate.

    Don’t throw a million and one offers on the table that the customer has no interest or need in. You are selling them something that should make their lives better and this should reflect in your attitude also.

  1. Challenge their perceptions.

    Learn your product well. A customer may not be fond of your product from a previous supplier or due to lack of technology. However, you can change their opinion by telling them about the product which was updated and may suit their needs better than before. It’s up to the salesperson to challenge the perceptions of the customers.

Top Ten Ways to Improve your Working Environment

Every year people talk about new beginnings, resolutions and ways to better themselves. This year, as company, we have taken on board this idea and moved to a new office. To celebrate our expansion we have written our top 10 tips for creating a better working environment.

Merlinsoft’s Top Ten:

  1. Every employee has a say

Being able to communicate freely and openly with both your colleagues and managers is an important aspect in any company.

  1. No ideas are stupid ideas

All ideas and suggestions are welcome.

  1. Regular meetings

Having regular meetings helps to improve things on a business front as well as sorting internal matters.

  1. Regular breaks

Having regular breaks helps to boost energy and focus. Never sit at the desk all day.

  1. Social events

Social events outside of work are important, helps to bring down barriers at work.

  1. Open-door policy

Managers who have an open-door policy encourage friendly communication and also ensure transparency between managers and workers.

  1. Natural lighting

Having windows and natural light in the office directly contributes to the amount of energy and sleep employees get. This is important.

  1. Office clean and attractive

Having a clean and attractive office helps to motivate employees as well as helping them to take pride in their work.

  1. Healthy competitions

Having internal competitions makes it fun for employees, especially if they get rewards. Increasing morale is a major factor in businesses.

  1. Attending further educational courses

Being able to attend courses whilst working gives the employee an opportunity to improve and it shows them management encourages this.

Santa’s Little Helper

2016-12-05Tis’ the season to be jolly! Christmas is a celebration for most, being around friends and family celebrating in different ways. But what do we dread the most about Christmas? Shopping! It can be frustrating trying to get through hundreds of other shoppers, thinking about those picky gifts to get and balancing several bags between two hands. But do you ever think about retailers and what they must have to go through to make sure their customers are happy at this busy time of year? Making sure they have items in store, making sure everything is working right, keeping a smile on their face, keeping in time with deliveries etc. It’s a lot of hard work and it can be even harder if retailers do not have the right systems in place. Retailers need to be prepared weeks in advanced, maybe months.

A vital part of a retailers business is the management of stock. Every retailer knows the importance of this and they spend weeks making sure everything is up to date and ready for the festive season but even then shoppers are unpredictable. They can still run out of items and need more stock as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this becomes difficult when customers become disappointed which is something retailers hope to never experience.

So how can retailers keep up with the madness that is Christmas? Retail technology!

Retailers need a fully integrated and adaptable EPOS system in order to manage their business efficiently and effectively. These systems provide ample opportunities to grow and manage.

The system allows retailers to cut queues and waiting times, and therefore speed up transactions. The system can have permissions whereby only specific functions can be available to certain employees; this prevents the risks of human error especially during busy times. The system also allows you to keep an accurate track of sales and stock and therefore have access to extensive reports which is useful in the long run.

The stock management is easier as the system notifies you when the stock is low and can produce an automatic re-order from your preferred supplier. Being able to manage everything from one system and database is a major advantage when it comes to running the business successfully. In addition to this, having an integrated website will improve and further increase sales and demand. Many companies have online catalogues and or have the ability to sell items online which is possible using a capable EPOS system.

This is also the same with visitor attractions at Christmas too, even Santa can’t see every child in a day (apart from Christmas day of course) and although tickets aren’t stock items, they are usually stock restricted. The best way to manage the flood of visitors would be to set and stagger times throughout the day. Then 2000 visitors aren’t going to demand to see Santa at the same time and all complain that the queues are too long. Set intervals every half hour and ease the flow of visitors, also allowing online pre-booking then you know exactly who and what to expect on the day.

MerlinSoft Ltd can provide all of the above and more. Its system is designed to withstand busy periods and make old complex methods effortless. Merlin is constantly evolving with our in house developers able to meet demands for new developments as our customers need them. We’re not just a provider of retail and attraction software, we’re a partner and work with you to ensure it’s the software you need.

Improving your Customer Experience

Museums, parks, castles, zoos, gardens, palaces, abbeys, the list goes on! How many of these have you been to? The visitor attraction industry is forever growing and customers are becoming spoilt for choice. But are they visiting yours?

Visitor experience is an extremely important factor and companies should be constantly trying to find new ways of improving this. Companies should be aiming to exceed their customers’ expectation every time they visit attractions; only then will the customers return. The main objective here is to minimise customer effort and this will demonstrate a positive impact upon the visitor experience.

Creating a positive customer experience means making it easy for the customer; put yourself in their shoes, what don’t you like about visiting attractions? Waiting in long queues and spending a lot of money are probably two of the main reasons that discourage customers from visiting. Technology creates opportunities for companies to increase customer satisfaction and it enables a more effective and efficient solution. A solution which is most beneficial to businesses, as well as customers, is online ticketing.

Benefits to the customer means that it is much faster than standing in a queue or waiting on the phone. As much as people in Britain like to boast about how patient we are and how good our queuing etiquette is, you still can’t deny that the sight of a long line is frustrating. It is also much cheaper, companies encourage customers to buy online and to do this they offer discounts and special promotions. Naturally, companies like to cut down on the amount of work they have and as always, customers revel at the thought of saving money. A win-win, wouldn’t you say? Accessibility is a major feature that customers also benefit from. This starts from the company’s website; is it smart phone and tablet friendly? It is guaranteed that most customers will buy their tickets when they are out and about, browsing the internet. What is the point of a website if no one can access it? People may see a flyer and want to book online wherever they are and you, as a company, need to be able to provide this. Furthermore, customers will want to have e-tickets as well as the paper tickets the can print off at home, saving on postage for the customer and admin for you.

Before you ask, yes, there are benefits to businesses too! One of the main advantages of getting your customers to book online is the collection of essential data. As customers book online, you can create a database and with this be able to plan marketing campaigns in the future on a personal level. In doing so, the percentage of customers returning is a lot higher. Maybe entice them with an offer too! In addition, having customers book online means companies incur less costs, which is always a plus. It also induces a more ethical approach to companies; less paper means a reduction in carbon footprint. Customers like to see that businesses are ‘green’ and making a step towards sustainability.

Social networking plays a big part in all of this. Everyone loves to post updates and statuses and it’s always a good idea be included in all of these. It not only gets you free publicity but it gives you brand visibility which is ever so important, especially in the visitor attraction industry.

MerlinSoft offers an integrated solution for online ticketing and venue management. We work with visitor attractions all over the world to ensure we are giving you the exact tools you need to offer an exceptional visitor experience. Our websites are built to your specification to ensure your brand matches your website; we don’t use templates we build your website from the ground up. You have total control over tickets and events, as well as all of the customer data that is collected for your use at no extra cost.

To find out how we can help your visitor attraction call us on 01226 294413 or email sales@merlinsoft.co.uk

The change in trends with the emergence of “Black Friday” to the UK retail market

Black Friday has been an American tradition for many years, the day following Thanksgiving since 1932 is synonymous with sales. The UK in recent years have adopted this day in an effort to boost sales during the recession. 
 
Being very successful but also controversial since it’s launch in the UK, with people fighting to get their discounted HD TVs, people and children getting trampled on and damage to shops with added cost for employing security to ensure order. 
 
Since the vast amount of trouble year on year and bad press from the media customers have turned to technology to solve some of these issues. 
 
Amazon have started a “Deals Week”, hot ticket items have been increased in stock, maximum quantities have been used to limit the amount of items a person can buy in one transaction and an extra day “Cyber Monday” added to give people an extra chance of buying their new TV or Laptop at a discounted price. 
 
All of these solutions are good news to the consumer as it gives more opportunity to buy the items they need online without leaving the house and queuing up outside a supermarket at 4am in the terrible British winter weather. 
 
Selling items online also has it’s pitfalls. For deals sold online that are known to be popular can cause huge surges in traffic and can shut down a website in seconds, frustrating consumers and losing trust in their brand. Look at the recent “Dismaland” debarkle from famous unknown artist “Banksy”, where tickets were only available online, and had lots of interest. So much interest that it cause the website to shut down and annoy all the customers trying to buy tickets… which was quite fitting in this example as that was kind of the point with “Dismaland”.
 
To overcome this consumers have again turned to technology companies for the answer, creating a “queue” system for website, and lets face it in Britain we know how to queue. Only a limited amount of traffic is allowed on a website at anyone time, when they drop out more are let in, giving the consumer a chance to login and get the item they want without damaging the reputation of the business in the process. 
 
It’s these trends, and technology advancements that keep consumers coming back, and by keeping up with technology you as a business can help your clients stay happy and more importantly spending more. 
 
Merlinsoft Ltd are always working with retail and visitor attractions to ensure their needs are met. We work with our clients to ensure they have a system that works for them. We develop all our own software in house, so we take requests from clients very seriously and try our best to implement these requests and pass them on across the board to everyone. The people who use the systems are the ones that know the most about what it is they need in a system, and we try to meet these.
 
For more information on our packages email sales@merlinsoft.co.uk or call us on 01226 294413.

The Importance of Technology in Business

Merlin tablet

Merlin constantly develops new technology for customers.

We are nothing short of hearing about the advancement of technology, from smart watches to virtual reality; we as a generation have grown and aspired to develop and re-create some of the most complex technologies of our time. Humans have managed to increase their capacity of knowledge with constant breakthroughs in all sectors of our industry. And yet everyone is constantly asking why we must keep up with technology, why we can’t go back to the ‘good old’ days’.

Well, we could; if we had more time… Time to use books for research instead of the internet, time to write letters instead of emails and texts, time to travel abroad and see family/friends/clients instead of Skype and Facetime. Yes, we did have time to do all of the above and some may still but now we have found bigger and better ways of doing those things quicker, more efficiently, more effectively. So why stop now? Technology is emerging whether you like it or not, so why not embrace it.

Today, the world cannot function without it. It empowers us just as much as we thrive off of it. Technology is essential to every business; it makes them grow faster and excel in all areas. This means that they can offer more to you, to everyone. In order for companies to gain a competitive advantage they need to keep up with the technology of today and incorporate this into their organisation; even those that aren’t considered technological.

Technology in business is growing ever more important. With the busy lifestyle of consumers, it’s even more important to offer an easy to use and easy to access service. With the astronomical surge in retail habits shifting to online sales, keeping up with these trends are even more important today than it was yesterday and will be more important tomorrow.

Paypal, Stripe, fingerprint scanning and contactless payments make online purchasing more secure than ever. With trends showing that the trust and security in online retail has been steadily increasing over the past 5 years, it’s more important now to allow your customers the opportunity to book, buy and pre-plan their retail journey online.

MerlinSoft has evolved consistently with modern technology which can be seen from their constant upgrades in the Merlin software. Our clients are provided with ongoing updates which tender to their needs so that it is not only user friendly, but highly developed. In doing so, Merlin has kept up to date with changing technologies which has set them apart from many of their competitors. This is what customers want; this is what they look for, and if technology can provide that then companies must follow suit.

It is important to find a technology supplier that will keep up with trends and also help to push the boundaries of technology. Finding a supplier you can work with to get the software that fits your needs is important to gain a working relationship that ultimately benefits your customer. This is why Merlin works with clients to offer bespoke packages based on the needs of our clients.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

Portrayed as the technology of the future, the term actually describes a revamped version of a well established 1960s computing model comprised of centralised mainframes, networked to dumb remote terminals and paid for using a ‘time sharing’ method. After all ‘The Cloud’ is merely a mainframe sitting in a Data Centre somewhere on which you buy time. Rather than be connected by wire you are connected by satellite. Nothing much really changes does it?

A good computer system in retail must use an architecture that combines:

• A public network to provide remote customers and suppliers with access to the retailer’s system for on-line transaction processing,
• A private network that provides access for remote employees,
• A private network for handling point of sale transactions, and
• A super-fast local head office hub to handle large scale user access and for batch processing.

The first item in the above list could be called ‘Cloud’, the next two can be best described as ‘Private Cloud’ and the last one as simply a super-fast Local Area Network (LAN), connected to the same server environment which services the external networks (The ‘Cloud’).

Interestingly enough, Merlin® offers all of the above for maximum efficiency and minimum disruption.

NOTE: Using ‘Cloud’ for everything could hurt your retail business, as three out of the four areas listed above would work poorly if they were to rely on a shared public network. So, when people bring up the ‘cloud’ topic, you can safely ignore it and instead demand discussions about system stability, accessibility, speed, functionality, usability and simplicity.

The importance of branding

brandingblog
Whether you’re starting up a new business, music career, festival, online shop or the next Amazon, or even if you’re an already well-established brand building their empire online, branding is everything.

A well branded company is what sets them apart from everyone else online; with more and more businesses selling their products online, in an overcrowded marketplace getting noticed is key.

Ensure your customers know where to find you.

In an arena that is becoming over crowded you have to make sure that you stand out and make your customers experience as enjoyable as possible. A poorly performing website is where most businesses lose their customers to rivals; second to that is a poorly designed website.

Email footers are the most effective area to connect with customers you already have, ensuring they know what social networks you’re on and are reminded of your website URLs. Additionally, this can provide a space for any products you want to push or any events you want to sell tickets for. Put all of these links in your footer taking care not to use too many images as this can sometimes lead to emails being automatically placed in spam.

Online directories and Google maps are also key to being found. If possible ensure that any logos or branding is placed upon these sites and is therefore instantly recognisable to your existing and potential customers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that, on average, people only start responding to advertising and marketing after seeing your brand 9 times.

Repetition

Brands are built on repetition. Calling out to your clients via blogs, email marketing, YouTube videos, radio spots, TV, banner ads etc. the list goes on and on. Take “Go Compare,” for example: they shot to fame when their adverts featuring an opera singer singing a jingle were shown over and over again, to the point where people loved it or hated it. Either way – they knew it. If that advert had been shown once, people would have forgotten about it, but putting it in front of people time and time again, it became recognisable and trusted as an established brand.

You have to engage with your customers on a regular basis for them to know you are there and ready for them when they are ready to shop with you.

Consistency is key

Once your brand identity is set up, try to maintain it throughout all of your marketing activities. Look at Apple Inc., for example: they have only once changed their brand identity to keep up with current trends. If you look at any of their products, websites, emails, letterheads, stationery and even their hardware, everything is consistent. You know instantly when you see the apple logo, or when you receive marketing emails from Apple: the fonts, the layouts and the colours are always the same, only the message changes. It is this consistency that builds trust in your existing and your potential clients. Trust is essential in an online business and consistency helps to build that.

When you have established your brand, ensure that any websites and marketing material reflects this and only try to update this as technology moves forward. Any websites you create should mirror your brand: if you sell tickets for events, ensure you choose a supplier who will work with you to maintain your brand identity and create bespoke ticket designs and websites based upon this.

Product-only websites are the same: make sure that all confirmation emails look and feel the same as the main website and are consistent with any marketing material you send out.

Data

Some companies survive on solely selling the data collected from people shopping online. It is big business and an area that is currently thriving. More and more people want to sell their products, services or promote their creations.

Collecting data from your customers is essential for the survival of your brand. People buying from you – whether it is in the form of event tickets, products or lifetime memberships – will buy from you again and again if their first shopping experience was a good one. The data that they put into your website should then be yours to keep and do with what you will (if they are willing to give their data up to be marketed to).

Selling through third party websites as opposed to your own could be problematic as you often have to pay for that information or in some cases will not be allowed access to it at all. Make sure that your online provider lets you keep all of your user information. This can then be used for marketing campaigns and to allow you to send out emails to clients letting them know you still exist and that you are still better than everyone else.

Offering discounts to loyal customers in order to ensure their repeat business is a tried and tested method of creating a loyal customer base.

Merlin offer bespoke websites with your own unique URL which is fully branded to your current website, selling tickets, products and memberships (all at the same time if required, which is an excellent way to up-sell). We work with clients to offer a bespoke package tailored to you, ensuring that your brand identity is maintained throughout. All data collected from people who register on the website we create for you is yours to keep, enabling you to interact with your customers and hopefully guarantee repeat business. We do not charge extra for this data, it is yours to keep.

To find out how we can help you increase your online presence, call us on 01226 294413 or email us on lee@merlinsoft.co.uk.

Increase your customers secondary spend

Merlin believe in making the most of what you have, and there are some simple things you can do to increase your customers secondary spend when at your attraction, here’s a couple of points to get you started;

Increasing secondary spend

1. On-Line ticket sales:

The real advantages of on-line tickets sales are two-fold;

a) The visitor pays upfront and you have the money irrespective of whether they attend or not!
b) Psychologically, as they have paid in advance, they still have the entry money in their pockets!

In the case of a) it is very easy to add on-line ticket sales to an existing website and be selling tickets 24 hours a day 7- days a week. The cost of this is negligible and can be covered very easy by a small on-line booking fee if required. Many venues make no charge for on-line booking as the cash-flow advantages and the reduction in staffing intervention is worth the small fees charged. In addition, if you link merchandise to ticket sales as part of your on-line offering this will also increase sales of existing products. For example if they are attending a special event there may be specific merchandise linked to that event which can be bought at the same time as the tickets. ‘Dinosaur Live’ attracted 10,000 visitors and parents could buy their children self assembly models of a variety of dinosaurs both before and during their visit. Shop sales rocketed during that exhibition as even if they hadn’t bought on-line they knew these products were available on their visit,

Having paid for tickets on-line the visitor often sees their visit as a ‘freebie’ as they haven’t had to pay out money on the day so still have money in their pockets. Data gleaned from existing users of on-line tickets sales show an increase in secondary spend of up to 24%. Clearly this is a fantastic opportunity for you to increase your revenues in the shop and café. To tap into this lucrative market you need to be creative in your product offerings and ensure they can take something away that links to the visit. Using the example of the dinosaurs I mentioned earlier. How about looking for local products such as paintings, craftwork, ceramics, etc.

Food and drink are very profitable lines and it’s worth ensuring that you have plenty of variety on offer, especially if you can have products not found easily elsewhere – home made pies, buns and cakes for example. ‘Own brand’ biscuits, flap-jack toffee, fudge etc. There are plenty of suppliers that will brand items up for you. However, don’t fall into the trap of being too expensive as this gets more negative reviews on Tripadvsior than almost anything else. The fact that you have a ‘captive market’ doesn’t give you the right to rip them off! Just ask yourself how many times people have visited a venue or event and when asked about their experience have commented along the lines of “great day but the sandwiches were a ridiculous price. I’m not suggesting that you try to compete with Greggs or Subway or the like but do be sensible in your pricing structure.

2. Retail Merchandising:

One area that is sadly neglected in many venues is the retail offering. I’m aware that you’re not all high street retailers but you do need to be aware of the opportunities available from good quality products and merchandising.

Back to that comment of ‘captive audience’ where here it can be a real advantage. They have visited your attraction and many of them want to take away a souvenir of their visit. All too often this means rummaging around the same stuff they can buy on most market stalls. In some cases badly presented and even dusty. In some attractions the dusty environment can be a real problem but this has to be contained so that your product offering is always being displayed in the most attractive and appealing way as possible.

First of all try and see your retail offering as a visitor would see it. This can be difficult as it is often difficult to see faults with what we have created. If necessary get a friend you trust to give you their opinion. Retailers in general use ‘mystery shoppers’ to check out their offering. This will assess both the visual effectiveness and also the staff’s attitude to customers.

When creating displays look at providing the ‘wow’ factor. What is the ‘wow’ factor? It’s that little bit extra we get when we choose something, especially if it makes us remember our purchase in a more positive way. This can be done by the use of clever lighting or décor or even sound. TV screens are very cheap but they can be used to show dynamic displays of products in a particular setting.

Ensure all your staff are also part of the ‘wow’ you have on offer. Are they all familiar with your product lines and the history of your venue. Often when in the shop visitors will ask questions they forgot to ask inside.

Picking up again on the Dinosaur Live exhibition make sure you have enough products which reflect the theme and content of what they have just seen.

Don’t ignore the till point either as this is the place where they will have to stand for a few minutes at least. I don’t mean clutter it all around with those cheap tacky goods from the Far East either. Use the space wisely and effectively either to add value to what they have already bought or as a way of advertising forthcoming events and experiences. Remember the two-third rule – two-third space and one-third products. That way it ensures the eye is drawn to what you actually want them to see.

When laying out your retail space always take a picture of the finished product and then view it the day after. Often a picture will identify issues you missed when you were setting it all up. There are also lost of ways you can spruce up displays very cheaply and effectively – I call it the Blue Peter effect! Think back to that programme and how they made some very magical objects out of fairly ordinary objects with the addition of coloured paper, stars and decals and even sticky back plastic. If creativity is not your speciality I’m sure the local art college would be more than willing to get involved, especially if they get a mention on the displays. If you sell models have one or two already assembled and painted to show what the finished product will look like.

We hope this post has been of some use to you, If you would like to talk through any options you have or what Merlin could offer, call us on 01226 321213 or email us at sales@merlinsoft.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help. feel free to visit our ticketing site at www.merlintickets.co.uk

Online ticketing and e-commerce in one package!

Merlin have been working hard to develop the ultimate in visitor attraction management and now with our added e-commerce and online ticketing module we have achieved this.

Easily set up any ticket or product and publish to the web and to the till at the same time.

Easily set up any ticket or product and publish to the web and to the till at the same time.

Now you can sell ticket and products in the same transaction.

Here at Merlin HQ we have been working tirelessly to create the ultimate tool for our visitor attractions who crave the ability to sell tickets and products at the same time in a single transaction on-line.

The main importance of this feature is to promote events while selling merchandise and vice versa to up sell products while a customer is preparing to purchase tickets to an event.

Tickets are sent out digitally and can be printed at home by the customer or simply scanned and redeemed using their smart phone. Products in the same transaction can be sent out using your preferred method or click and collect when they arrive.

Online ticket sales are becoming more and more popular and with the option to sell merchandise at the same time means that your event or venue will gain more exposure and extra sales.

To take the Merlin online site for a demo and see what your customers would see and how easy it is to use, log on to Merlin Online demo and take it for a test drive.

To have a talk to someone from Merlin about the new system and how we can integrate it to your site, call us on 01226 321213