FiveStars versus Belly

FiveStars-vs-Belly

Fivestars premiered by Victor Ho and Matt Doka during the cold months of 2011. It services SMBs (medium and small companies) having a customizable loyalty program. The Fivestars Loyalty program utilizes a universal card (which fits for just about any business using Fivestars), along with a customer’s telephone number to trace and incentivize purchases made at the business. Fivestars also provides the opportunity to market your location using special SMS text campaigns, in addition to reward customers for social networking interactions, and may integrate with lots of POS systems. If you are searching for simple, you’ll think it is in Fivestars, but it isn’t your main option.

Belly’s loyalty program is powered via a customer-facing iPad completely outside of your POS system. Founder Logan LaHive created out a distinct segment for Belly among local companies in Chicago, gaining a Moxie award this year for the best UX (consumer experience). Similar to Fivestars, Belly utilizes a universal card to trace customer interactions, and physical cards could be substituted with the mobile application.

Fivestars and Belly share similar features, but exactly how each program works, and, more to the point, whether it’ll fit your small business, needs a much deeper look. Read the entire reviews for Belly and Fivestars here around the Merchant Maverick site. Continue studying to check prices, features, support, and overall function for every company.

Table of Contents

Fivestars hardware is in your area installed on your pc or POS terminal. You’ll require an up-to-date browser to see your dashboard, though. However, Belly utilizes a specifically designed iPad preloaded using the Belly loyalty software and needs a web connection.

Fivestars loyalty software programs are installed using a USB. All Belly software is a component of the Belly-provided iPad.

Champion: Belly

Fivestars costs average around $2500 annually, with a lot more campaigns and options to select from. Belly offers tiered prices options varying from $99 – $199 monthly, having a one-time $150 installation fee tacked on for that lower plans. You might be able to negotiate your monthly subscription with Fivestars, based on your company needs, but Belly provides a free trial offer duration of thirty days. Both Fivestars and Belly require contracts including 6 several weeks to some year. With Fivestars, you’re obligated to pay for the duration of your hire Belly, cancellations are susceptible to a 6 month cancellation fee.

Champion: Belly

Fivestars and Belly both get good marks for simplicity of use, but maintenance for Belly is lower, as well as your employees do not need to follow along with any extra steps, apart from answering the periodic question. The general consumer experience for Belly is greater compared to Fivestars, and also the program is more engaging and interactive compared to Fivestars program.

So far as installation goes, POS integration with Fivestars is fairly seamless, with Belly installation is basically tethering your iPad to some secure location and establishing the Wi-Fi.

Champion: Fivestars

Both Fivestars and Belly supply you with a representative to help you on the way, however they offer additional compensated choices for expert consultancy. Both of them provide customizable loyalty programs and e-mail marketing strategies, in addition to detailed reports relating to your program and campaigns. Have a downloadable mobile application for the customers. Both give a universal card to be used at any company that utilizes them, but Fivestars doesn’t require people to scan their loyalty card. They are able to use their telephone number rather. Belly requires checking either the credit card or even the mobile application.

Where Fivestars sets itself apart is thru its SMS texting features. The Autopilot program enables you to definitely send several predefined campaigns to gather information out of your customers or lure them to go back to your company. Fivestars also provides a choice of discretionary texts, which may be generated unconditionally (i.e. special promotions while offering). The reports available are more in depth too, since Fivestars integrates directly together with your POS system.

Belly requires a more direct approach with regards to getting feedback out of your customers. Prompts for social networking interaction via Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook can be found immediately after checking in. Belly’s mobile application can also be better quality and provides the choice to interact from your company link in addition to supplying a scanner that you can use instead of the Belly card. The main one concern I’ve with Belly’s program may be the per visit check-in process. Made to encourage repeat visits, Belly’s approach is problematic. A per-dollar point system ties revenue straight to rewards. A per-visit point system awards exactly the same quantity of points whether a person spends $5 or $50. The opportunity to distinguish backward and forward and incentivize greater expenses are what the program is missing.

Champion: Fivestars

Fivestars has additional campaigns you can include to boost your program while offering integration with multiple POS systems. Belly is really a standalone product, so no integrations can be found.

Champion: Fivestars

Support for Fivestars could be utilized through phone or email. The organization offer pretty extensive tutorials and video tutorials via Fivestars College, a light-weight support page, along with a blog. Support for Belly can be obtained through its line. You may also connect to the website for FAQs, in addition to the organization blog, however these choices are for very fundamental support. Belly provides an additional resource hub covering marketing practices, video lessons and testimonials.

My customer support encounters with Fivestars and Belly weren’t everything impressive, but local retailers appear happy with their support, so I’ll defer for them.

Champion: Belly

The most typical complaint against Fivestars originates from mobile application users. The mobile application has very couple of features and does not have a mobile scanner. Other complaints originate from their cancellation policy along with the way Fivestars does business. Customers who join your business’s program basically become customers of Fivestars. Fivestars can send purports to individuals customers associated with your company, in order to another business that utilizes Fivestars. This reveals the doorway to conflict and may potentially remove your edge against your competitors.

Belly has gotten its great amount of malcontent over its cancellation policy too, but the commonest complaint originates from customers using Belly outdoors of chicago. Belly is excellent at marketing Belly, particularly in Chicago, however for companies outdoors of Chicago, the motivation to participate Belly just isn’t as high. Obviously, you are able to operate a effective loyalty program no matter the number of companies use Belly, however the perk of the universal card -you can use at exactly one place- sheds.

What I’d want to see from both Belly and Fivestars is really a coalition program. Many companies have taken advantage of loyalty programs that provide rewards at areas (think supermarkets and gas rewards), so that as both companies broaden their nets, the opportunity of an excellent coalition program can there be.

Champion: Fivestars

Retailers using Fivestars have reported significant increases in profits after while using program. Used strategically, Fivestars can definitely strengthen the connection between customers and companies with time. Additionally, it will get heavy praise from local retailers because of its support.

In which the Fivestars mobile application is missing, the Belly application is extremely popular. So far as figures go, Fivestars has roughly 1500 reviews within the Google Play store when compared to 7000+ reviews for Belly, I believe it’s safe to declare a champion within the mobile application category. Belly is usually preferred among customers using it, and also the application will get great reviews.

Evaluating money to overall recognition, I believe Fivestars arrives ahead over time. If Belly can be their recognition means elevated profits for the business, we’ll reevaluate that assessment.

Champion: Tie

Awesome apps and clever features aside, how can these businesses strengthen your business? Will they:

  • Increase repeat business? For Fivestars and Belly the reply is yes, however in this the champion is Fivestars. Fivestars’ focus on worker training and relationship building puts it within the edge within this category. Fivestars offers video tutorials and guidelines to simplify the register process making the loyalty program simple for people to understand. This program is made to still engage your clients via email and text lengthy after they’ve visited where you are. Belly offers incentives to customers for coming back for your business, but individuals visits aren’t associated with revenue. Belly also provides special campaign features via email, but when compared to campaign features provided by Fivestars, they simply aren’t nearly as good. The character from the Belly program may increase appointments with Belly locations generally, although not always for your business.
  • Generate start up business? Yes for Fivestars, you will find for Belly, but Belly wins. All companies using Fivestars are viewable to customers through the website and mobile application. You have to Belly, but discoverability is a lot greater with Belly because of the recognition of their mobile application, along with its social networking interactions.
  • Provide you with a edge against your competitors? Yes to both, but, when i pointed out above, this might not necessarily function as the situation. Belly and Fivestars match this category, simply because it really depends upon in which you conduct business. Belly may be the less expensive option and a fantastic choice in case your competition has either no loyalty program or perhaps a very fundamental one. However, should you choose business within an area saturated with loyalty programs, Fivestars provides a more serious, although more costly, option and may really increase profitability.

Champion: Fivestars

Searching at these loyalty programs alongside, there’s a great deal to consider. While Fivestars arrives slightly ahead for getting a much better program overall, Belly holds its very own pretty much. Fivestars provides a better quality program its SMS campaigns possess a farther achieve compared to classical email strategies, and contains better customer care options, in addition to a more reliable roi. However, Belly’s deficiencies could be easily overcome, particularly with this type of popular program and smartly designed application, and a straightforward tie-directly into revenue might make an impact.

Phylicia Joannis

Phylicia is really a freelancer, indie author, and Google addict. She accustomed to scout all New York’s free venues in her own free time, however she’s reviewing loyalty rewards software for Merchant Maverick. Her professional background includes technical writing and research, though she’s also fluent in toddler gibberish. When she’s not crying over spilled milk, Phylicia enjoys studying, writing, and performing random Google searches.

Phylicia Joannis

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Effective Means of Loyalty Programs

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The Numerous Faces of Loyalty Programs

There are many different ways available to produce a loyalty program. Have a quick look in the Google Play or iTunes application stores and you’ll see a large number of apps made to influence customer loyalty. Choices vary from coupons and discounts to games and point systems. Both ways has its own merits and drawbacks, and never all methods work nicely for each business. In the following paragraphs, I’ll be breaking lower a few of the more prevalent methods, along with a couple of less frequent ones, as one example of how both ways works.

When thinking about a loyalty program for the business it’s vital that you realize that despite a complete group of features, a course can’t replace quality goods and service, nor will it produce your passion and drive. It’s your decision to animate your program making it something dynamic and fitting for the business. That being stated, what effective loyalty programs do is help make your job simpler. Consider installing a wall-mounted having a drill versus a normal screwdriver. Neither can accomplish anything without you, only one helps make the job simpler compared to other. I really hope you’ll continue studying to find out what method (or methods) might be the next drill.

The Buy “X” get “Y” Method

customer loyalty programs for small business

Merits. A Buy “X” get “Y” approach to loyalty offers simplicity. In case your customers create a specific buy a certain quantity of occasions they get a reward in exchange. Multiples of 5 are typical purchasing parameters, and also the reward is frequently exactly the same product offered free of charge or for a cheap price (i.e. buy 10 donuts, get 11th free). This easy approach to tracking loyalty can increase repeat traffic and it is tied straight to revenue, as your customers need to still buy “X” to get their reward. Using a punch card program helps both you and your customers keep an eye on purchases and rewards. While the action of really punching an actual or digital card is typical, it isn’t necessary. As long as you’ve got a method in position for counting “X” and offering “Y” this program is functional, whether it is punches, points, or purchases.

Example. Pinkberry provides a simple loyalty program for purchasers who join the rewards card. After every tenth purchase, cardholders obtain a free yogurt. Simple! Pinkberry also provides a totally free yogurt on the cardholder’s birthday. Rewards expire after thirty days, and customers who register with their email will get additional marketing offers.

Downsides. This process can be quite bland and generic, so you’ll have to be just a little creative to be able to differentiate your program. If you’re utilizing a digital program, discover what type of features are for sale to you that will help you stick out out of your competitors, particularly if they will use exactly the same loyalty method. Good quality features to think about are marketing features where you can offer double punches, or additional rewards. Tiered systems will also be a terrific way to diversify your program and encourage continual use. Getting an incredible service or product likewise helps. If you’re an espresso shop encircled by coffee houses, try being bold with unique customer support, personalized products, or daily promotions. You’ll should also consider features that provide you additional control over your program, for example punch or reward expiration, to help keep costs lower.

Industry Match. This process is well-liked by companies that sell exactly the same products repetitiously, for example yogurt and occasional shops, vehicle washes, salons, and pizza shops.

Tiered Structures

Merits. Tiered structures are an easy way to distinguish between frequent and infrequent customers and reward individuals customers accordingly. There’s two common kinds of tiers: status tiers and reward tiers. Status tiers give customers a particular rank, which rank qualifies them for several rewards or benefits. Reward tiers simply offer elevated rewards with elevated point or punch accumulation. Ideally, a 2 or 3 tiered structure provides a small reward at the end tier, probably the most appealing reward or rewards at the very top tier, along with a obvious path backward and forward. This process is effective along with point programs in addition to digital punch card programs. Additionally, it enables more versatility with rewards. You may make acquiring rewards at the end tier relatively simple without having to pay out an excessive amount of for rewards. This will make recurring visits more desirable to customers without having to be too pricey for you. Additionally, it enables you to definitely offer more significant rewards at greater tiers. A person who only stops from your cafe from time to time might not take care of a reward naming a glass or two after them, however a customer who visits multiple occasions each day might.

Example. The My Starbucks Rewards program offers three status tiers for purchasers who pay utilizing a registered Starbucks or Teavana card. Every time a customer pays having a physical card or through the mobile application, they accumulate a star. Every registered card user starts in the welcome level, and rewards increase with every tier. To be able to upgrade to another tier, customers must accumulate a particular quantity of stars inside a year. The truly amazing factor concerning the way these tiers are system is that particular rewards, for example free in-store refills, could be enjoyed anytime.

Downsides. The tricky part about tiers is discovering that magical balance between value and price. It isn’t impossible, however it certainly requires more thought and legwork. Gathering apple from customers and employees to discover what rewards could be most appealing isn’t any easy task. Additionally working out what rewards won’t be too pricey, setting the parameters for every tier, and training the employees to condense this program right into a short, simple reason behind your clients. In case your customers’ status is tiered, there’s even the possibility to isolate lower tiered customers in case your balance is a touch skewed. So, unless of course you really can afford for somebody to complete the legwork for you personally, tiered structures require additional work, but some extra focus on the leading finish will yield better recent results for your company.

Industry Match. This process can be useful for many business types, whether or not they offer specialized products or a multitude of services or products.

Software Match. Perka offers status tiers additionally for their mobile punch card program, an excellent combination worth thinking about if you’re searching into mobile-based programs. Check out the Perka review for more information.

Point Systems

Merits. Probably the most versatile and popular way of loyalty programs may be the point system. It can be useful for simple programs having a static point/dollar ratio, and in addition it works best for more complicated programs with different point/dollar ratios or point/product ratios. With respect to the limitations of the software, point systems could be stable and consistent or dynamic and altering.

Example. The Walgreens balance rewards program offers its people $5 of in-store gift certificates for each 5000 points accrued. Points could be earned on a number of products, for example prescription refills, in addition to certain actions, like exercising, taking bloodstream pressure tests or any other healthy choices. People receive exclusive offers, and rewards are tiered.

Downsides. Really the only downside to some extent system originates from misuse. Point systems can be quite accommodating, but utilizing a complex point system whenever a simple program is the perfect fit for the business could be harmful. The inverse often happens.

Industry Match. Because of its versatility, point systems are a good fit for just about any industry.

Software Match. If you’re searching for search engine optimization, Sweet Tooth provides a great loyalty program via Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento. This program can hold simple in addition to complex point programs, so make sure to look into the Sweet Tooth review. For physical solutions, Perkville, Fivestars, and Belly have significant point-based programs. You may also browse the comparison article, Fivestars versus. Belly, to determine how one stacks facing another.

Cash Reward Methods

Merits. Cash reward methods are extremely unique and appear not the same as one program to a different. The finest draw for purchasers is it offers something which everybody values: cash. It’s not really a preselected reward or listing of rewards a person needs to select from. Cash return offers are big winners within the eyes of consumers. There are various ways to carry out it: cash return on select services or products, cash return for purchases over a specific amount, cash return on every purchase, or a variety of other combinations.

Example. Walmart’s Savings Catcher program is really a prime illustration of a money reward program. Walmart shoppers can be found the chance in order to save the main difference between Walmart’s prices on the product as well as their competitor’s marketed prices. Could it be dangerous? Yes. But Walmart has been doing a fantastic job using the program to date. This program has contingencies which make this program manageable and lower risk. First, there’s a time period. Shoppers have 7 days to scan their receipt to be able to be eligible for a savings. Second, Walmart compares the prices towards the marketed prices of the competitors. So, if Dove soap is usually cheaper at another store however the cost isn’t marketed, shoppers don’t obtain the difference. Third, when customers redeem cash, guess where they stand? Walmart.

Downsides. There’s a very good reason the reason why you don’t check this out method very frequently within the loyalty category for small companies. It may be devastating otherwise done carefully, as well as an alternate method with lower risk will frequently be a more sensible choice. The price of noncash rewards is frequently less than the price of cash rewards, and developing a system that actually works for your company is very tricky.

Industry Match. Just the bold may enter here.

Compensated Memberships

Merits. Compensated memberships are most generally observed in wholesale stores like Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s club, however they may also be used in small companies. Basically, customers pay a charge to patronize your company, or receive additional discounts and promotions. The truly amazing factor about compensated memberships is this fact method can offset costs before customers buy things. Compensated memberships for companies that sell a distinctive service or experience will get additional advantage to be exclusive.

Example. The Sally’s Beauty Club offers member-only discounts on products on the internet and in shops. People pay an enrollment or renewal fee of $5 each year. After enrollment or renewal, people get a $5 coupon they are able to redeem on purchases through the finish of later, so customers who purchase their membership possess the chance to have it back immediately.

Downsides. Compensated memberships could be a major switch off for purchasers when they don’t begin to see the added value, but when costs are lacking, you won’t have the ability to remain in business. Locating the balance backward and forward can be quite difficult outdoors from the wholesaler / retailer market.

Industry Match. This process could be effective for companies rich in demand, affordable products, or companies that provide unique services or encounters.

Coalition Programs

Merits. I have faith that coalition programs have untapped potential among small companies. Two heads are superior to one, and teaming up with the proper partner can change lives for your online business. What one thinks of most may be the brilliant pairing of groceries and gas. The 2 don’t frequently compete, plus they both offer necessary products. The truly amazing factor about coalitions is how they complement each other while remaining separate. A sea food restaurant can get together having a pancake house, a smoothie shop and a health club can get together, as well as an auto shop can work with a vehicle wash. I’ve only seen a couple of software packages offer the opportunity to facilitate a coalition program for small companies, however it has great potential.

Example. Lately Macy’s, Rite Aid, ExxonMobil, along with other brands launched a coalition loyalty program known as Plenti. Points could be accrued across these companies, and rewards could be redeemed in multiple ways, with respect to the business. For Rite Aid, customers who bring home 200 Plenti points will get $2 in savings using their company companies inside the coalition. This program sticks out since it enables people to redeem more significant rewards. A Macy’s shopper may require a fish tank of gas greater than a tshirt, so getting that choice for spending reward points increases the need for this program.

Downsides. Among the primary downsides for any coalition program is managing it. Concerning aren’t lots of possibilities software-wise, many programs are restricted to shared gift certificates or certificates, or discounts.

Industry Match. Coalition programs are perfect for chains, shopping malls, and noncompeting local companies.

Gamificationgamification-badges-online-games-rewards

Merits. Gamification is a technique that provides a little bit of fun or interaction for your loyalty program. This is often as easy as a meter calculating the space prior to the next reward, or perhaps an actual, interactive game. Gamification makes your loyalty program more intriguing and encourages people to complete an action, for example buying, to carry on the interaction.

Example. For some time a minimum of, the internet food delivery website GrubHub used Tasty Rummy to inspire return visits. After every third order, customers could play a round of Tasty Rummy, an odds game where customers needed to select 1 of 3 cards to win a prize. A few of the prizes incorporated free food or drinks, but even though you didn’t win, you’d obtain a clever quip or joke for the trouble.

Downsides. There’s hardly any downside should you keep gamification simple. Interactions that provide something to expect to another time around will go a lengthy way, whether or not the rewards are extremely small. If you’re utilizing an odds game, however, that is one little tricky. Nobody loves to play a game title they think is rigged against them, therefore if your clients never win anything, it’s game over for the loyalty program.

Industry Match. Gamification is ideal for ecommerce companies, food and restaurant chains, and companies that are looking to include some extra fun for their program.

Conclusion

As the methods described in the following paragraphs offer efficient ways to improve the caliber of your company, applying a course that work well requires a mix of creativeness, industry-specific understanding, and quality customer relations. When selecting a loyalty program for the business, consider what you’re offering, who you’re offering it to, and just what methods perform best for connecting together. Many methods work harmoniously along with other methods, so that your loyalty program doesn’t need to be restricted to only one. Loyalty software programs are still a comparatively new space for small companies, however the choices still improve. Take time to evaluate which works well with your company, and compare several program to determine what you could reasonably maintain. It’s also smart to take a look at companies concentrating on the same business structures to determine what labored (or didn’t work) on their behalf. The Merchant Maverick Loyalty Software section is a superb spot to read reviews from retailers and business proprietors across industries. Best of luck!

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Best POS Software with Built-in Loyalty Solutions

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pos loyalty program software

Are you currently searching for any POS system to help you build customer relations, get more traffic, and stick out from the competition?

You will find dozens upon a large number of POS systems available, some good, some less. Loyalty solutions have been in existence for quite a while, however the possibilities for small companies will always be couple of.

Damaged lower by industry, that list will get even smaller sized, especially while you transfer to eCommerce and mobile platforms. Keeping that in your mind, among the simplest ways to apply loyalty solutions for your company is to make use of the various tools available using your POS system.

Not every POS systems have loyalty solutions, obviously, and a few are extremely fundamental, but fundamental marketing options are superior to no options whatsoever. Oftentimes the POS loyalty program software is incorporated at no additional cost, so why wouldn’t you utilize it?

If you’re looking around for any POS having a solid status and powerful loyalty and marketing solutions, keep studying.

Here’s our top three listing of POS loyalty programs (POS systems with built-in loyalty solutions). Rankings were according to Merchant Maverick ratings, overall loyalty solutions offered, and added cost.

Third Place: Quetzal quetzal-logo

The Quetzal POS is made for small retail companies and it has a comprehensive loyalty solution. Quetzal is most effective being an iPad POS but may also be used with any internet browser. Quetzal includes a five-star rating with Merchant Maverick and loyalty solutions come at no additional cost.

Loyalty Solutions

Quetzal uses thumbs up/lower buttons as a way of by hand awarding suggests customers. With a few imagination, this process could be utilized for a highly effective tool for loyalty. You are able to give customers a thumbs up every time they buy something and provide special rewards or discounts after they achieve a particular quantity of points. Quetzal also provides additional tag features to trace customer spending trends.

Additional Factors

Exactly what the Quetzal loyalty feature lacks is definitely an interactive knowledge about your clients. It’s more a casual tracking tool for you personally than the usual full-scale loyalty program, though you can use it to reward customers. You should check out the Quetzal review for additional info on their loyalty solutions and overall features.

Second Place: Bindo bindo-pos-logo

Bindo POS is really a feature-wealthy system having a concentrate retail. This iPad POS provides additional online shop features for retailers. Bindo includes a five-star rating with Merchant Maverick, and you will find no additional costs for loyalty solutions.

Loyalty Solutions

Bindo POS loyalty solutions could be customized in many ways: By quantity of orders/visits, quantity of products purchased, or amount of money spent. This program could be modified into tiers, an effective way of rewarding your most loyal customers. Additionally towards the loyalty program, the machine tracks customer revenue and private data for other marketing possibilities.

Additional Factors

The Bindo POS can also be able to managing additional discount choices, gift certificates, and store credit. Read much more about this technique on the Bindo POS review.

To Begin With: Vend vend-logo

Our to begin with champion for POS software with inclusive loyalty solutions would go to Vend, a cloud-based POS. This technique offers solutions for eCommerce platforms in addition to physical locations within the retail industry. Vend includes a 4.five star rating with Merchant Maverick and also the loyalty solutions can be found at no additional cost.

Loyalty Solutions

Vend offers an inclusive, customizable loyalty program to reward customers. Rewards are calculated using dollar ratios that may be focused on all purchases or qualifying products. This program may also be established to offer bonus dollars in addition to promotions and Very important personel choices.

Additional Factors

The Vend POS offers among the best inclusive loyalty solutions I’ve found, and also the software programs are very simple to use. Read much more about this technique around the Vend review.

Honorable Mentions

There’s a couple of other POS systems that, when they don&#8217t quite merit the very best three, should have mention. Scalping strategies have solid ratings around the Merchant Maverick site and supply loyalty solutions inside the software.

Ambur POS

This technique is definitely an iPad POS created for single location restaurants. The in-house loyalty solutions Ambur provides be more effective referred to as enhanced customer management tools, including discounts, coupons and gift certificates. To learn more, browse the Ambur POS review.

Revel POS

This technique was created mainly for restaurant and small retail companies. The built-in Revel POS loyalty program utilizes a point-based system to reward customer spending and it is available for the next fee. Additionally for this option, Revel has lots of 3rd party integrations available. Browse the Revel review for additional info on Revel POS loyalty program software options.

Erply POS

This retail-oriented system offers POS loyalty solutions via e-mail marketing for discounts and promotions and tracks the sales good reputation for your clients. Browse the Erply review for more information.

Conclusion

While the amount of POS systems with inclusive loyalty software programs are growing, it’s still a comparatively few. Loyalty solutions for small companies are available in many sizes and shapes some programs integrate together with your POS software while some work on another network. The conclusion? When the software programs are included in your POS system, utilize it! The simplest of programs is definitely an effective tool for building customer relations for the business. Make the most of all of the tools provided inside your POS system. The truly amazing factor about POS loyalty solutions is the fact that they’re designed particularly for the software, and they’re frequently more intuitive than a 3rd party software solution.

There’s a couple of more points to consider, like the proven fact that some POS systems may charge yet another fee for his or her loyalty software. In individuals cases, I’d think about the value when it comes to features, customer support and necessity. 3rd party software involves a person service experience outside of those of your POS, in addition to different rules and contract factors. You should check out the loyalty software section for more information on 3rd party software.

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Improving Customer Engagement with Loyalty Cards


Highway Signpost with Customer Engagement wording on Sky Background.

Engaging your clients inside a positive, distinctive, and relevant strategy is essential for any company. The various tools you utilize to interact your clients need so that you can do three things:

  • Leave an optimistic impression
  • Separate your company from others
  • Illustrate the advantages of selecting you

Loyalty cards are an easy way to complete all of these things. They will use effective digital tools behind the curtain and also have advantages like a physical indication of the business. If you’re searching for methods to enhance customer engagement for the business, keep studying.

Influencing Customer Engagement

Why it’s important

While getting a dependable, foreseeable loyalty program can take part in your customer engagement strategy, it can’t function as the entire it. Finding creative methods to interact with your clients is definitely an organic, complex process, and loyalty programs are a good start to obtain there. All you do, from how you recognition rewards for the loyalty program, to how you manage customer complaints and suggestions, impacts the way in which customers view your company. These apparently small, mundane interactions will build with time and make lasting impressions in your customers. Research has shown that weekly interactions between customers and companies build loyalty, and 78% of loyal customers had experienced delight or surprise from that business. Showing courtesy and supplying good service are anticipated. Whenever your business exceeds the expectations of the customers, you’re growing the chances that they’ll spend more money, and/or even more frequently, at the business.

Talking about spending, one method to encourage a rise in customer expenses are to provide a number of incentives. Research conducted recently by LoyaltyOne regarding grocery retailers implies that roughly 8 from 10 shoppers would like grocery discounts to gas savings as incentives. Gas incentives were, but still are, a terrific way to reward customers, however they aren’t highly relevant to everybody. Similarly, inside your business, the rewards you are offering today might not be relevant tomorrow. Understanding what your clients want, and recognizing when individuals wants change, is essential to maintaining the amount of engagement that drives your company forward. How do we evaluate which your clients want, or when individuals wants change? I’m glad you requested.

Engaging Customers Through Loyalty Cards

Benefits

The potency of a loyalty card depends positioned on how it’s used. Research has shown there are over two billion loyalty program memberships within the U.S., with customers averaging around seven memberships each, but under one fourth of individuals are positively engaged customers. If your loyalty card for your company is only a gimmick, yet another factor to temporarily boost traffic, a loyalty card is going to do hardly any for you personally. Utilized as an item of connection, a loyalty card becomes a lot more effective. Consider a loyalty card like a middleman presenting two potential buddies, or perhaps a door giving use of . . . well, whatever’s on the other hand. A loyalty card introduces your company for your customers, promising something useful if they’re prepared to cultivate rapport. Obviously, loyalty cards don’t promise monogamy, your clients aren’t married for your business in the end, however they offer possibility of a far more significant relationship between both you and your customers. Whenever you provide a loyalty card, you’re telling your customer, “Hey, there’s more to my company. Do you want to discover?” Whenever a customer accepts your loyalty card, they’re suggesting, “I’m willing to hear what you are offering.” That connection may go absolutely nowhere. Or, it could cause a committed customer who brings you their business along with the business of the buddies. Or, and I’ll talk much more about this later, it might are a complete disaster and really hurt your company. There’s a hazard involved with beginning a loyalty program, and I’ve seen a couple of fails firsthand. The conclusion? Loyalty cards really are a gateway by which relationships between both you and your customers can grow. Here are a few advantages to presenting a loyalty card together with your loyalty program:

  • Identifies most loyal customers. This is correct for many loyalty cards, although not all. Loyalty cards with tiered structures be capable to differentiate between periodic customers and much more frequent ones, in addition to low spenders and greater spenders. The way in which tiered systems are structured can vary from course to course, but they’re among the best ways to pay attention to cultivating better relationships using the customers who really assistance to increase your business.
  • Enticing to prospective customers. For the way you plan the launch of the loyalty program, a loyalty card may be used to lure prospective customers through person to person. One factor you could do this is provide a secondary group of cards to new newbies (or old newbies, too) to provide for their buddies to allow them to test out your business. At the minimum, basically just like a place, I tell my buddies about this. Put an additional card within my hands, and that’s double points for the business. The additional card will help remind prospective customers that you simply exist and therefore are waiting prepared for everyone them.
  • Free advertising. Should you provide a physical card for the customers, they’ll make it around together everywhere. Whether it’s within their purse, wallet, or on their own keychain, anywhere they’re going there’s an opportunity someone around them might find your card.
  • Brand builder. Coinciding with free advertising may be the brand building potential. Loyalty cards aren’t viewed as frequently among small companies (unless of course you’re a series), so getting one boosts confidence that you’re legit, promotes recognition of the brand for individuals who’re less acquainted with you, and improves your general appeal.
  • Digital Loyalty Software. There are several benefits that include digital loyalty programs, even when they don’t make use of a physical card. These digital tools offer everything from tracking individual customer spending to outlining your best selling products or perhaps calculating your best promotions. It’s these back finish tools that enable you to evaluate customer behavior and switch it into something actionable. Customer profiles help you produce customer transactions more intimate. Customer tracking tools help you produce interactions more relevant. Customer comments options enable you to help make your program as well as your business better. Marketing and marketing tools result in the whole process a great deal simpler once you’re prepared to engage customers.

Pitfalls

And today comes unhealthy news. The greatest obstacle to some effective loyalty program, and often business generally, is managing customer expectations. You aren’t likely to satisfy every customer. Many will complain about all you do. Many will be perfectly happy (before you ruin, that’s: then, be careful Yelp, your company sucks). Complaints is often as simple as serving lukewarm fries, or as serious as not delivering the wedding cake on their own big day. Whenever you provide a loyalty program, you’re basically promising a mutually advantageous relationship. If customers don’t seem like you’re keeping the finish, one, or perhaps all, of those three things will probably happen:

  1. They create a large fuss, or, to become fair, possess a completely appropriate reaction in your direction, the server, or cashier, or someone at the business, possibly creating a scene.
  2. They patronize your company less frequently or stop coming altogether.
  3. They provide you with an adverse review. This may be a profoundly written “this place sucks,” a treadmill of individuals rare gems that really help you stay awake during the night.

Statistically speaking, people are more inclined to remember an adverse knowledge about your company compared to what they really are a positive one. Based on an SDL survey, 76% from the nearly 3000 people they surveyed stated they appreciated a significant negative experience of the this past year. For just one quarter of this number, the main negative experience cost them $20 or fewer as well as an hour to repair. Only 55% appreciated an optimistic experience. These negative encounters, trivial as they might be, are very highly relevant to your company. Actually, they may be pricey.

Improving Customer Relations

The very best technique for fostering positive customer relations is really a preemptive one. Know ahead of time that your company is likely to neglect to meet expectations for somebody, somewhere. Roughly 59% of customer support failures are related to an individual, instead of a failure of technology, or perhaps a joint failure of both. Should people provide you with a break once the internet is lower and absolutely nothing is working? In one human to a different, yes. But may they won’t. Because sometimes customers forget that they’re coping with people. And, around the switch side of this, sometimes employees forget that buyers are people, too. Sometimes Personally i think similar to a herded sheep when I’m waiting in the road at Starbucks. Particularly when I don’t understand what I would like (yikes!). At times it just takes a muttered comment or sideways glance from your worker to ruin my whole experience. Other days, I walk to the counter, just like a boss, and let them know things i want in a short time span, but for whatever reason the individual alternatively finish misses things i stated, or will get everything wrong. And, for any couple of seconds, I forget the cashier is an individual who, like me, makes mistakes. For the reason that moment, all I understand is the fact that my expectations weren’t met. Every customer’s reaction to that moment differs, but every customer may have individuals moments. Being ready for individuals moments is essential to improving customer relations for the business.

Customer comments. Some loyalty programs provide you with the choice to make notations on the customer’s profile. If your customer comes with an issue, make sure to notate it and react to it, even when it’s trivial. Getting a person prepared to complain is really a great sign. This means they trust that you simply care enough to listen to

their complaint and find a solution. It might also mean they’re manipulative rather than let anything go, but that’s splitting hairs. Complainers provide you with valuable feedback, even when their complaint is groundless. Fostering trust is essential, sometimes customers would like to be heard. Using complaints to enhance your company and just how both you and your employees connect with customers can also be important.

The price of a poor experience. There’s a genuine risk involved with not implementing customer complaints seriously. LoyaltyOne and Verde Group did some pot study just how much an adverse experience costs a company. The outcomes varied with respect to the industry, but losses were believed at between an 11%-25% decrease in revenue because of negative customer encounters. Silent customers, or customers who don’t complain straight to a company, constitute an enormous most of these encounters. Based on the SDL study, eight in ten customers don’t give companies an opportunity to make things right. These customers frequently reduce their spending or stop spending their cash at this business altogether. Additionally those that storm social networking, Yelp, or tell all of their buddies to not patronize your company. Negative comments are probably the most damaging. Even understanding what I understand about negative reviews, I’m reluctant to provide a company my patronage if they’re not well rated by their clients. Prospective customers are frequently switched off by scathing negative reviews. Exactly what do you need to do?

Rapidly resolving issues. You won’t have the ability to win every argument having a disgruntled customer. Actually, winning the argument could cost you more over time. Rather, try to resolve matters rapidly. The more an issue drags out, the much more likely it’ll escalate into something uncomfortable. Resolving issues doesn’t mean giving your clients something free of charge (although I really like freebies). Many issues could be resolved by simply apologizing and accepting blame. Based on the SDL survey, the best way to regain disgruntled customers involved the company owning their failures and acknowledging their mistakes (In the event that doesn’t work, try providing them with something free of charge!). Apart from individual customer complaints, you will find problems that affect all your customers, like a power outage or perhaps a stocking problem with a well known item. When unexpected things happen you know will inconvenience your clients, don’t wait to allow them to complain. Most of them won’t a minimum of, to not the face. Among the advantages of loyalty cards is they will help you become more positive together with your customers. Knowing your clients were inconvenienced throughout a certain period of time, you should use your loyalty program, whether it looks after a transaction history, to provide a coupon or special offering to customers who made purchases in that period of time. Should you don’t wish to offer any discounts, an apology for that inconvenience could work wonders too. Simply acknowledging the inconvenience goes a lengthy way with many different people, although it won’t work with everybody. You may also offer additional points, or punches if you are using a paper or digital punch card system, for that inconvenience.

Loyalty programs with Loyalty Cards

Fivestars

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Fivestars provides a loyalty program with optional loyalty cards. It’s a great fit for small companies with a small amount of employees. Fivestars offers tiered programs, email promotions, and social networking choices for getting together with your clients, in addition to additional SMS text marketing plans.

Belly

belly-logo

Belly is really a Chicago based company that provides both plastic loyalty cards along with a mobile scanner to award customers for frequent visits. It’s an excellent fit for cafes, bars, small grocers and native niche shops. Features include e-mail marketing tools and social networking integrations, including Yelp review abilities.

Perka

perka-rewards-logo

Perka provides a digital punch card for rewarding customers. It’s a great fit for cafes, coffee and pizza shops, boutiques and companies that offer exactly the same product repetitiously. This program offers additional in-store ads, register bonuses, analytics on customer transactions, and push notifications for purchasers using the downloaded application.

Loyalty Gator

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Loyalty Gator provides a loyalty program with several options, including plastic loyalty cards, punch cards, along with other material. It’s a great fit for small storefronts, bars, spas, and boutiques. Customer engagement tools include targeted and transaction based emails, online enrollment, and extra customized marketing material.

Conclusion

Loyalty cards are an easy way to enhance customer engagement in your business. They provide effective tools to trace and evaluate your customers’ spending habits, requirements, and overall effect on your company. These power tools can assist you to personalize interactions for every customer to supply enjoyable, unique, and relevant encounters which strengthen the look of the business. Accustomed to achieve to your clients as well as their potential buddies, loyalty cards really are a physical representation of the business along with a indication for your customers that the services are prepared. While you continue to look for methods to improve relations between both you and your customers, consider the advantages of a loyalty card for the business. In the centre from it, customer engagement is exactly what drives your ability to succeed. Loyalty cards are merely a different way to make it happen.

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Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.

There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.

Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.

Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.

So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

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Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,

There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).

Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am – 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.

To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

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Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses. CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.

CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.

CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

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Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.

Flint has only two rates:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Yep, that’s it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.

One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.

This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.

If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.

Runner-Up: Payline Data

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Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

  • $5 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.50%
  • $0.10 per transaction

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

  • $20 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.20%
  • $0.10 per transaction

We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.

Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 – which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.

Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

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Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.

All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.

Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopify’s App Store to browse offerings.

Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify “Experts” page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.

For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.

Runner-Up: Ecwid

ecwid-logo

Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical “free trial period” for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).

Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.

Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or “pop up shop” operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.

In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

shopkeep-logo

ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).

ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.

Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).

Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.

Runner-Up: SalesVu

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SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.

Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).

Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.

SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.

You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.

There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, you’ll get a 30% discount.

There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.

One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available). 

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.

QuickBooks Pro’s list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model — and it is nearly always available at a discount. While there’s no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.

One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what it’s supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While that’s far from a resounding recommendation, it’s also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

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Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere. 

Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.

In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number to reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.

Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,you’ve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

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TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).

The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.

TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discount if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.

Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isn’t the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.

For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

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Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.

Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons including  PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

invoiceable-logo

Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isn’t just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.

Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.

That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. It’s leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably won’t need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose – after all, it’s free.

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

zoho-logo

User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The “building blocks” which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.

You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
  • Standard: $12/user/month
  • Professional: $20/user/month
  • Enterprise: $35/user/month

24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.

You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

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Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.

Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is also  customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.

Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

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BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, it’s designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be “the only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business types” –  and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.

Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.

One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.

There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBug’s receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the company’s commitment to customer service.

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

bookeo-logo

Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)

Bookeo’s pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.

One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isn’t much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.

Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeo’s promotional website.

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

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At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out. 

Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.

MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and you’re on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

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AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options. 

AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.

In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeber’s investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.

Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

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Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed ‘cards’ which are then pinned onto ‘boards.’ At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3×5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.

The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user

Trello’s simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Trello provides email support (via support@trello.com) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability – of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool – Trello scores extremely high.

You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.

Runner Up: Basecamp

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With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that – simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.

This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.

Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they don’t provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.

Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase software’s functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website

If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think you’ll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

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ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.

Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. There’s a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If you’re not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offers a full refund, no questions asked.

The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.

One of ShipStation’s biggest selling points is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

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ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping information from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.

Cost per month is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:

  • $14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
  • $29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
  • $49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month

The price for shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine the monthly bill. How much you pay for licensing is based on the number of online sales channels you use with ShipWorks.

Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty of screenshots.

As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isn’t directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

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Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.

Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.

Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.

Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.

Runner-Up: Belly

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Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.

Monthly subscription costs range from $99 – $199, and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs for the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.

Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.

Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

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Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).

The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wix’s store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.

All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.

Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications

There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

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With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.

Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.

While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a website’s store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.

This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

The post Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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ten best Ways to use CRM Software

uses for crm software

If you’re operating a company that interacts with customers past the initial purchase, you will want a method for managing contacts. And not simply for the customers, but in addition for your vendors, the employees, your investors, potential leads, even random people you meet during flight layovers. What’s promising? You will find loads of affordable solutions open to make managing this facet of your company a great deal simpler. But Customer Relation Management is all about greater than gathering what they are called and emails of everybody you communicate with. Listed here are best ten ways to use CRM software to exhibit precisely how versatile scalping strategies could be.

Use #1: Business Management

Contact Relationship Management Software Diagram

Managing Contacts

The very best use for CRM software programs are its primary use: managing from email correspondence to sales activity and consolidating it into one centralized hub. This may be completed with a paper and pen, a rolodex, as well as an Stand out spreadsheet, but there are several apparent drawbacks to that particular method. You can’t search a rolodex exactly the same way you are able to an electronic system, as well as well-made spreadsheets get their limitations. Using CRM software, or CRM tools available via a loyalty program or POS, saves numerous man hrs, as well as your sanity. CRM software at its best takes all of the moving parts involving customer contact and links them together to produce a system that’s seamless, intuitive, and simple to navigate.

Inventory Management

With respect to the program you utilize and the kind of business you use, CRM software programs are also able to managing inventory and tracking item quantity levels, the interest rate where they offer, as well as which products aren’t selling. Zoho CRM offers inventory management tools that track sales, and manage product lists, cost books, vendors, and much more.

Use #2: Customer Tracking

Identifying customer spending patterns

To find out what clients are buying, just how much they’re buying, and just how frequently, you’ll require a good tracking system. This is among the primary advantages of CRM software. Digital loyalty platforms like Fivestars can gather lots of data since the software integrates directly together with your POS. This data may be used to personalize encounters for every of the customers, or utilized on a worldwide scale to trace how good certain goods are doing. Getting use of your customers’ spending patterns, habits, and preferences enables you to definitely make more skillful decisions about promotions, prices, and advertising, in addition to increasing the customer experience.

Correspondence Tracking

For individuals who require immediate access to client correspondence, whether it is email, telephone calls, or personally conversations, CRM software programs are vital. Many CRM software systems offer correspondence tracking in the first transaction towards the last. The CRM software solution Base does exactly that, storing call logs, emails, documents along with other types of correspondence for every customer.

Use #3: Targeted Marketing

uses for crm software

E-mail marketing

Commonplace in many loyalty programs, e-mail marketing plays a large role in generating repeat business and obtaining start up business. E-mail marketing keeps your company linked to your clients inside a non-intrusive way. Marketing campaigns serve many purposes: offering discounts, alerting your clients to new items, inviting these to occasions, or maybe even saying hello. Digital programs like Fivestars’ AutoPilot Program permit you to manage campaigns according to customer activity, delivering emails whenever a customer continues to be inactive for over a certain length of time.

Alternate Media Marketing

If you’re searching for further methods to access your clients, many loyalty and CRM providers offer mobile and social networking campaign tools. SMS texting campaigns, social networking blasts, as well as mobile application notifications, like the one provided by the loyalty platform Perka, are efficient ways to connect with your clients past the traditional email method.

Campaign and Promotion Management

Internet marketing tools can be used as greater than lengthy term relationship building. Campaign and marketing applications may be used to solve short term requirements of your company. Whenever your small business a lift, internet marketing tools provide you with immediate access for your people to encourage feet traffic for the business. The Flok loyalty program includes a “happy hour” tool that allows you to setup rewards on certain days and occasions to improve traffic. Certain mobile application programs like Perka and Flok can send promotions to customers when they’re inside a certain distance out of your location.

Use #4: Integrations

Social network background with media icons

Social Networking Integrations

Loyalty programs such as the one Belly offers may bring all of your social networking applications together and provide your clients use of individuals platforms in a single. Additionally they provide the ability for purchasers to love your social networking pages and take a look at business on Yelp. Zoho and Nimble offer social networking integrations, helping you to monitor and interact together with your customers on their own social networking feeds.

Additional Integrations

CRM software plays an important role in getting different programs together to seamlessly interact and provide an intuitive, fluid system. Additionally to several data migration and export options, many providers can integrate with Google applications (for example Gmail, Contacts, Maps, Drive yet others), MailChimp, Constant Contact, eCommerce platforms, Accounting software, Helpdesk software, and numerous others.

Use #5: Customer Comments

Business Hand Pushing Customer Feedback On Virtual Screen

Reviews

CRM and loyalty software offer great tools to create monitoring review sites as well as your social networking pages a great deal simpler. Some programs monitor review sites like Yelp to provide you with current info on where your company ranks and just what individuals are saying. The Sweet Tooth loyalty platform for eCommerce offers reward tie-ins for product critiques published on your site, stellar motivation for the people to leave reviews. In case your system allows it, in-house reviews are an easy way to provide your clients an chance to convey concerns or comments before they finish on the internet.

Chatter Feeds

Chatter feeds, such as the one provided by Salesforce, permit you to keep in touch with employees with similar speed as other social networking outlets. Chatter feeds are perfect for group collaboration.

Use #6: Data Analysis

Analysis Analytics Bar graph Chart Data Information Concept

Trends and Insights

Most loyalty programs, and a few CRM programs, provide a pretty helpful degree of data analysis to provide you with actionable insights to your business.  The greater thorough your tracking tools, the greater in-depth case study could be. On the product level, data analysis let you know what goods are selling and which aren’t, so that you can determine if you want to make adjustments on quantity levels, or begin a promotion. Inside a sales atmosphere, analytics let you know how good each person in profits team does, so that you can get the best choice when assigning tasks. The Bottom CRM offers in-depth sales analytics to complete exactly that.

Use #7: Sales Tracking

Sales funnel marketing 3d template EPS10 vector illustration

Purchase Pipelines

CRM software provides you with the opportunity to track happens each purchase is within across your team. You are able to prioritize sales by chance and manage every aspect of your workflow too. Sugar CRM offers real-time pipeline management to provide you with probably the most up-to-date information, in addition to management tools that will help you assign tasks for your salesforce.

Worker Sales

Along with sales tracking is worker tracking. Many CRM companies offer tools that track what workers are doing, their progress on assigned tasks, and also the stages of all of their sales.

Use #8: Mobility

Vector Concept Of Cloud Services On Mobile Phone.

In case your business necessitates frequent travel, then getting use of your contacts, along with other facets of your company, is crucial. Some CRM providers offer mobile phone applications and remote access options so that you can connect to the important information no matter where you’re. Zoho CRM and Solve360 CRM both offer mobile phone applications additionally for their primary software. Pipedrive CRM provides an iPhone mobile solution in addition to a remote access choice for android and home windows users.

Use #9: Task Management

Time Management - Pledge Of Success. Business Planning And Resul

Make use of your CRM to handle from personal tasks to business deals, conferences, and much more. Sync the program together with your calendar, create and assign new tasks, and link projects and tasks with specific contacts.

Use #10: Document Management

Data Management

Resource Libraries

CRM software may be used to collect, manage, and distribute documents, in addition to track which documents happen to be delivered to which client, or worker, or vendor. Zoho CRM, Clevertim CRM, and Contactually CRM all offer document libraries with different amounts of tracking.

Final Ideas around the Ways to use CRM Software

Quality CRM tools make handling the relationship between both you and your customers efficient, effective, and, hopefully, just a little simpler. There are lots of great CRM software providers and loyalty programs around that may fit the requirements of your company. I encourage you to look into the CRM software reviews along with the loyalty software reviews to understand more about all these programs.

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How To Pick Software For The Salon or Health spa

For most of us, a visit to the health spa or salon is really a relaxing event, a welcome vary from the grind of daily existence. They are able to&#8217t see past the darting scissors and also the foil they don&#8217t understand what lurks behind the fleecy robes and also the aromatic herb teas. They’ve literally no clue just how much bloodstream, sweat, and barbicide go into creating that tranquil atmosphere.

Which&#8217s the purpose! You might be running madly around behind the curtain, disinfectant in hands, scheduling and rescheduling, sweeping up hair (or cleaning hair from drains), and creating one fire to another, but all of your customers see is really a carefully crafted illusion of peace and decadence. That&#8217s exactly what the beauty and wellness industries are only for, in the end. Should you&#8217re who owns a health spa or salon, you dedicate your existence to promoting existence-renewing services for other people. A haircut or perhaps a pedicure might not appear like an issue within the grand plan of products, however it often means something to somebody that enters your shop feeling tired and useless leaving feeling refreshed and delightful.

It requires a great deal to maintain that illusion, though&#8212and not only with regards to the temperament and talent of individuals you hire. Nowadays, consumers have very specific technological expectations of each and every business they patronize. Particularly, with regards to service and hospitality industries, people want so that you can schedule easily (online, if at all possible) and pay with alternative methods. Which&#8217s where software is available in.

In this article, we&#8217ll explore the sorts of tools you have to operate a effective health spa or salon and things to look for when selecting specific POS (reason for purchase), scheduling, or loyalty rewards software.

What Features Do You Want?

It&#8217s a hopelessly inane phrase, I understand, let&#8217s begin at the start. You are able to&#8217t choose appropriate software for the business should you don&#8217t know the thing you need. With respect to the kind of shop you&#8217re running, you may be looking for everything from a great way to trace customer information to some complex, multi-purpose booking and payment processing tool. Start the procedure by thinking about these questions:

  • Will I want software that accepts payments, or shall we be held okay simply using a conventional card scanner? If that’s the case, do I wish to stay with cash and charge cards or will i want so that you can accept non-traditional means too?
  • Do I wish to show my companies calendar online? If that’s the case, do I wish to show the supply of person employees too?
  • Will I want my customers so that you can book online themselves?
  • Will I want my customers so that you can pay for appointments online?
  • Should i book physical rooms, services, or both?
  • Am I Going To be selling any physical products (shampoos, manicure kits, incense, etc.)? If that’s the case, will i require a system that may track inventory?
  • Do I wish to network with current/future customers via email?
  • Does my company presently possess a customer rewards program. Do I wish to implement one?
  • How important is social internet marketing to my health spa or salon?

What Kind(s) of Software Can One Use To Handle My Health spa or Salon?

Now that you’ve got a much better concept of what you would like your computer software(s) to complete, we are able to discuss the different tools that are offered.

Booking Software

Should you&#8217re managing a beauty or wellness-based business, it&#8217s kind of a considering that you&#8217ll require a scheduling tool of some type. Even though attempting to decipher the cramped handwriting on the traditional paper calendar is all sorts of fun, booking software programs are just better. No fading ink no entered-out words no crumpled or coffee-stained pages to quite happy with. Just superbly crisp, Occasions New Roman appointments, specified by perfect geometric squares.

Well-designed appointment scheduling software is, to be honest, a marvel of contemporary engineering. Make a tool that may virtually eliminate double-booking mistakes, instantly take into account vacations and occasions whenever your workers are unavailable to operate, and layout your projects days in discrete, easily digestible chunks. Is the bloodstream pressure going lower, just considering it?

Hold on, there&#8217s more!

Many booking software programs include online abilities, allowing your clients to schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments without getting to in. A couple of even permit online pre-payments. These functions are appealing for several reasons, most famously being the a shorter period spent twiddling with your calendar, the greater time the different options are doing literally other things. Connecting together with your clients upselling proper hair care products restocking the linens eating cheese balls directly from the bucket&#8212whatever floats your unique boat. Furthermore, customers like getting the choice to schedule their very own appointments. I&#8217m a reasonably introverted person. Because of the choice from a business that enables me to reserve on the internet and one which makes me call and speak with a receptionist, I’ll pick the former 100% of times.

POS Software

You&#8217re not managing a traditional store or restaurant, so it might not happen to you that time of purchase software programs are a choice. Generic POS systems usually aren&#8217t suited to use within spas or salons&#8212most completely lack appointment calendars and the opportunity to book clients, for instance&#8212but several POS solutions happen to be particularly built to handle unique requirements of service companies.

POS software has the benefit of offering inventory management features&#8212an area where booking tools have a tendency to are unsuccessful. Let’s say you sell physical products inside your establishment&#8212hair brushes, shampoo, essential oils, even paper or card-based gift cards&#8212a reason for purchase solution might be essential. POS software also brings robust worker management tools towards the table, another area where it excels over traditional scheduling programs. If you would like employees to clock out and in, track time, etc., an item of purchase solution is much more likely to suit your needs than the usual booking tool, though some booking software are designed for low-level worker management. The treatment depends around the extent that you need to monitor the folks on your side.

Across the same lines, POS software typically offers far better reporting. Would you like a method to track your busy and occasions? Chart worker hrs and productivity? Break down labor costs? POS systems have the back.

Finally, its not all booking solution will help you to accept payments, however, you&#8217d be difficult pressed to locate a POS vendor that doesn’t offer built-in payment processing features.

Should you&#8217re particularly searching for any POS system to deal with your health spa or salon, keep studying. And if you would like much more suggestions, take a look at our article on top 4 POS Systems for Spas and Salons. It’s also wise to read our article on key features to consider when choosing POS software for the service-based business.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Service companies depend almost solely on customer loyalty. Footwear store could possibly get by on a single-off clients, but aestheticians, beauticians, masseuses, etc. live or die around the repeat business of person clients. It will help for those who have a means, not just to attract potential new clients, but to produce existence-lengthy devotees. That&#8217s where loyalty rewards programs come up.

You may create coupons and loyalty systems that old-fashioned way, obviously, with newspaper coupons, flyers, and punch cards, why place yourself to that particular trouble when you will find much simpler ways to carry out it? Avoid wasting trees! Reserve that toner and ink. Loyalty software provides a very good way to gather actionable customer information and make sustainable rewards programs.

Most rewards software enables for multiple kinds of loyalty programs, from tiered structures to points systems. You are able to offer cash rewards or perhaps create compensated membership programs. Different systems are more effective for various companies, but spas and salons could easily implement any of those options.

The very best factor about loyalty rewards software is it monitors information for you personally. You don&#8217t need to have a physical record of card balances, by hand check expiration dates, or cope with lost punch cards (and unhappy customers). The program stores all of the pertinent data&#8212it knows when individuals have rewards coming, and may even alert these to this digitally.

E-mail Marketing Software

Should you don&#8217t desire to use loyalty software, wish to implement your loyalty rewards program on the bigger scale, require a good CRM solution, or want to boost your scheduling tool, an e-mail advertising tool might just suit you perfectly. E-mail marketing software provides you with the opportunity to both collect customer data and act upon it.

A good, well-planned email campaign is definitely an efficient way to interact newer customers and keep relationships together with your regulars, regardless of whether you&#8217re conveying details about your company, offering specials, or delivering digital coupons. Take a look at a couple of types of methods for you to use email to your benefit:

  • Instantly alert people to alterations in business hrs
  • Introduce new staff people
  • Promote periodic specials
  • Deliver coupons
  • Send birthday greetings
  • Engage former clients with &#8220haven&#8217t seen you shortly&#8221 or &#8220hope you return&#8221 offers
  • Send appointment reminders or confirmations

Modern e-mail marketing software enables for very specific customer targeting and offers incredibly helpful analytics. You are able to pick which customers are opening emails or engaging with electronic coupons, and employ that information to produce better still marketing campaigns.

Ok Now What?

Okay, we&#8217ve spoken about what types of features you might need so we&#8217ve discussed different types of tools your company could employ. Now comes hard bit: really locating the software solution(s) that checks all of the boxes for the particular health spa or salon.

Happily, you don&#8217t have to do much heavy-lifting here. At Merchant Maverick, we&#8217ve devoted numerous hrs to researching and testing the very best booking, POS, loyalty, and e-mail marketing software. Continue reading!

The Very Best Comprehensive Salon/Health spa Keeper

Should you&#8217re looking for an application solution that may handle scheduling, inventory management, worker management, and payments, we advise MINDBODY, Square Appointments, and SalesVu.

MINDBODY

As booking software particularly designed for gyms and spas, MINDBODY combines strong scheduling and calendar tools with POS and CRM elements. It&#8217s not a great choice for hair or nail salons and it is pretty limited in certain areas, however if you simply&#8217re managing a wellness business and want an intricate system that may handle multiple appointments, take a number of payment options (including gift certificates and Groupon), and supply good analytics, MINDBODY is really a reasonable approach to take.

Read our full MINDBODY review for any better concept of what miracle traffic bot could provide for your company.

Square Appointments

Square review

Supplying a simple yet responsive calendar interface, robust customer booking tools, and built-in CRM and e-mail marketing, Square is Appointments (formerly Bookfresh) is a superb scheduling tool. Pair these functions using the POS abilities of Square generally, though, and you’ve got a fairly special software solution for spas and salons.

This application also comes the opportunity to integrate by having an impressive variety of 3rd-party software solutions, including Quickbooks and Bigcommerce. Overall, Square Appointments is a superb choice should you&#8217re searching to have an all-in-one method to manage your calendar, take payments, and interact customers inside a significant way.

Our full overview of Square Appointments provides additional information.

SalesVu

Searching for something just a little heavier around the POS finish of products? SalesVu has the back. This full-featured POS system is effective inside a traditional sense, supplying tools for retail and restaurant establishments to handle inventory and employees, access reporting and analytics, and take payments in a number of ways. However, additionally, it provides fairly robust appointment scheduling features for service companies, a fairly rare offering within the POS software industry.

Affordable, with great customer care and mobile abilities, SalesVu is definitely an amazing choice for spas or salons that require heavy-duty reason for purchase features and the opportunity to manage customer and worker calendars.

Browse the full SalesVu review if you wish to learn more relating to this unique POS system.

Stand-Alone Software

You might not want something which will do it all. Should you&#8217re searching for any tool to fill a particular niche, consider buying a more specialized computer software.

Best Booking-Only Tools

The next software packages works nicely either in a health spa or salon they provide great scheduling features and the opportunity to take payments:

  • BookingBug
  • Skill Scheduling
  • Appointy
  • Bookeo
  • 10to8

Our booking software comparison page should provide you with a wise decision of the items else can be obtained and just how these vendors compare.

Best Loyalty Rewards Programs

Any of the apps below will help you produce a great customer loyalty program:

  • Sweet Tooth
  • FiveStars
  • Perkville

Read this comparison of the greatest loyalty rewards tools if you wish to learn more.

Best E-mail Marketing Software

Regardless of whether you&#8217re searching for any stand-alone e-mail marketing tool or want something which can integrate together with your POS and/or booking software, the next vendors make the perfect starting point:

  • Campaign Monitor
  • MailChimp
  • Benchmark Email
  • SendinBlue
  • Active Campaign
  • Mad Mimi

Our e-mail marketing software comparison chart is a terrific way to observe how these vendors complement when it comes to prices, customer support, and much more.

Final Ideas

Let&#8217s be truthful: should you operate a health spa or salon, you&#8217re inside a tough business. It takes skill along with a deft hands to achieve this industry, as well as small missteps can lead to an environment of disharmony or chaos. It might appear counterproductive, but to produce a luxurious, meditative, or tranquil atmosphere, you have to use technology.

We advise testing out among the full-featured POS/scheduling tools pointed out above should you&#8217re searching to provide your company a lift. However, adding even one stand-alone application for loyalty or e-mail marketing can improve your own productivity making your company healthier. Software programs are your friend, and could be a very valuable servant. Spent your existence serving others at least, have permission to allow something take proper care of you.

The publish How To Pick Software For The Salon or Health spa made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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What’s SaaS?


what is SaaS

Definition

SaaS means Software like a Service, a way to license and operate software entirely in “the cloud.” In a nutshell, which means that any software offered ‘as a service’ doesn’t need to be installed on your pc to become used. You just on line around the software vendor’s website, sign in, and employ the program entirely from the window inside your internet browser. SaaS programs will also be sometimes known as “on demand software,” but mercifully, that isn’t in usage as the second acronym. (However if you simply begin to see the term floating online, just realize that it’s talking about SaaS.)

The prevalence and near-predominance of SaaS piques the eye of first-time entrepreneurs and Enterprise-sized companies alike. Actually, deploying software in this sort of online-only platform results in a rare win-win scenario for companies and consumers alike. SaaS isn’t a flash within the pan it’s a milestone in technology that will become a fundamental element of our future.

Using Software like a Services are usually accomplished through simply a internet browser with an internet connected computer. However in more complicated or high-bandwidth cases, some SaaS usage is much better accessed through a little client downloaded for your computer. These clients act like a easier interface towards the same online software. (These include installing mobile clients in your phone or tablet for CRM apps or using desktop clients to gain access to gaming systems.)

In the following paragraphs, we’ll cover a little more than simply the fundamentals. Continue reading to obtain the full picture, and find out how SaaS might benefit your company.

Advantages of SaaS

I’ve damaged lower the main advantages of SaaS in the perspectives of both software vendor and also the finish user, but in the two cases, software of the type might be summarized as “faster, cheaper, simpler, smarter.” Investors and early adopters don’t hear individuals words, though rather, they simply hear “cha-ching.”

For Software Vendors:

For that vendor, SaaS deployment is about reducing costs and growing BI (Business Intelligence):

  • No media to buy (physical CD or DVD which to load the program to market like a physical product)
  • No media encoding (dedicated disc burners, location to accommodate production equipment, etc)
  • No packaging (disc inserts, jewel cases, boxes, cellophane, etc)
  • No shipping associated with a physical product to the distributor. (Just like Netflix put Blockbuster bankrupt, there’s no software on the CD to distribute to retailers).
  • No retail space needed (no contracts or partnerships to bother with, which further reduces costs for that finish-user and increases profits for that vendor).
  • A lot more accurate metrics on usage, which guides product.

For Users:

  • No exorbitant one-time license, but an infinitely more manageable recurring subscription.
  • No (or couple of) technical needs to satisfy.
  • No IT department needed in-house.
  • Near immediate deployment (zero local installation and minimal configuration).
  • New upgrades and security patches are carried out instantly and without anyone’s knowledge
  • Wide selection of technical support is generally incorporated, from extensive documentation to reside talk to powerful telephone calls (in some instances)..
  • Scalability. Forget about positive over-achieve. Sign up for exactly the thing you need, and upgrade whenever you&#8217re ready.
  • Compatibility. Remember when Ms Word documents couldn’t be opened up when the other user were built with a different form of Word installed? Or once the other user were built with a different platform altogether (Mac versus PC)? With SaaS, all users access the very same software. Compatibility issues basically disappear.
  • Ubiquity. Have to access your software admin whenever you&#8217re outside? As lengthy you may already know your username and password, you’ve full use of your software subscription from the internet connected computer. Should you&#8217re traveling, go to your hotel&#8217s data center or perhaps a library and sign in to obtain some impromptu work done. Many SaaS developers also support access from cellular devices, so that your tablet will be your go-anywhere workstation.

When the budget-friendly perks of SaaS were its only benefit, that will be monumental. SaaS enables you to definitely lease something outside your normal budget limits, greatly extending your purchasing power. If a bit of software costs a 1-time $1500, however, you sign up for its service for $30/mo, you&#8217ll have compensated for that software entirely in 50 several weeks (just a little over four years). However that&#8217s four years to do business which you may not have access to had the ability to accomplish otherwise.

Hold on! There’s more! See also &#8220Extensibility&#8221 below, like a single perk worthy of its very own subheading.

Drawbacks of SaaS

It’s not every sunshine and rainbows, but nearly. Here are the trade-offs.

For Software Vendors:

  • Data security becomes (almost) the only responsibility from the vendor. One exception to this is where users are needed to buy an SSL certificate to secure the bond using the vendor. Normally, this is only needed by retailers who require to keep PCI compliance.
  • New software vendors possess a harder time entering the, because a lot of technical burden falls on their own shoulders the program mustn’t simply be created, but located on the server, and also the UI (interface) should be entirely accomplished via a internet browser window. The complications with delivering software entirely within the cloud keep snowballing into bigger and much more intricacies, however i think you begin to see what i mean.

For Users:

  • Reliable high-speed internet access is essential. And also, since just when was any ISP noted for its reliability? In instances where the SaaS implementation processes orders and financial transactions, any downtime is particularly difficult. Some SaaS vendors particularly affected by downtime are beginning to provide &#8220offline modes,&#8221 which sync up all offline transactions towards the server once the connection is restored. But this isn’t a typical feature yet.
  • Should you ever choose to migrate to a different software solution, you’ll possess the arduous task of transferring vast amounts of information exclusively over the internet. No ethernet or firewire transfer or CDs to endlessly copy your backed-up files. Not a chance, you’ll depend on good ol’ internet-governed progress bars. And don’t forget, upload speeds are generally 1/10 the rate of downloads.
  • All of your business processes offered through the software vendor are in risk when the vendor should close shop or else discontinue the program.
  • Arguments over data possession can ensue. Look at your SLA (service level agreement) prior to signing up and investing in something.

Selection of Vendors

SaaS is really a revolutionary milestone for the way clients are conducted, on componen with email, mobile phones, and fax machines and copiers (technologies which within their time redefined and reprocessed the company landscape). The prevalent utilization of SaaS has already been prevalent, and also the technologies are well from its infancy. Actually, you’ve probably used it for a long time, regardless of whether you were conscious of it or otherwise. Ever encountered Facebook? Netflix? Both are Software like a Service. They’re not just handy, although complex, websites are all a web-based program, which needs only a internet browser to gain access to.

Here’s only a small mix portion of the industries already using SaaS, in addition to a couple of specific examples that you recognize:

  • eCommerce software (website builders like WordPress and Wix, and shopping carts like Shopify and Bigcommerce, etc)
  • Group messaging software (Slack, Asana)
  • Crm (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Keeper
  • CAD software
  • Development software
  • Games and Entertainment
  • Accounting software
  • Invoicing software
  • Hr Management (HRM)
  • Service Desk Management (i.e., Help-desk Software)

CRM apps have especially dominated the SaaS model. Salespeople who generally focus on-the-go can access all the data they’d have at work: full contact details for each lead (including contact history, notes, and relevant documentation), sales pipeline tracking, chance management, as well as sales forecasting, from their phone or tablet. Yet, though this “on-demand” sales data in the users hand of the hands is impressive, it’s not even close to the entire scope of the items SaaS can facilitate.

You don’t need to be a higher-tech sales rep to utilize SaaS applications. We’ve already pointed out Facebook, which is often used by individuals of every age group. But whether you’re someone or an entrepreneur, SaaS opens lots of doorways.

Selection of Customers

Who can usually benefit from SaaS? It might be sufficient, and succinct, to merely say “umm, everybody.” Speculate we enjoy being thorough at Merchant Maverick, I’ll elaborate.

  • Retailers
    • B2C (Business to Consumer) Most retail eCommerce has already been offered by a mix of SaaS solutions.
    • Business to business (B2b) These kinds of companies can leverage SaaS to sync up calendars, task managers, CRM and ERP suites, as well as inventory, invoicing, shipping, etc…
    • Internal use. Employees have to collaborate more proficiently compared to what they can by standing round the water cooler. Sometimes workers are divided by cubicles, floors in an office, or hemispheres from the planet. Using SaaS, internal communication platforms like Slack enables for immediate, secure, global communication.
  • Personal use. Many of the aforementioned-pointed out software groups also provide apps created for individual use. Some SaaS CRM apps simply help remind the consumer of people’s birthdays, as well as an growing most of games are created to be performed along with other gamers all over the world.

Common Charges Connected with SaaS 

Even though the SaaS subscription model is a lot more affordable than purchasing the same software outright, you will find charges which could accumulate rapidly if you’re unaware of them in advance. But don’t worry- we’ve got the back. Listed here are the most typical charges connected with SaaS. Not every charges is going to be relevant or enforced by all kinds of software, so research your options prior to signing up.

  • Recurring subscription, (monthly or yearly) at whatever tier and services information you select.
  • Transactions charges, designed for individuals services which offer commerce functionality to retailers.
  • Online storage. When the software for use is located within the cloud, then most (if not completely) from the data that every user builds up can also be kept in the cloud, File storage isn’t minor, which price is sometimes forwarded to the consumer. However the rate of development in software technologies have required commensurate development in data storage technology, which reduces the price of those storage drives basic demand and supply.
  • Bandwidth overages. Also called Customer Quota, as well as other similar name. Bandwidth charges seem uncomfortable, and lots of consumers vociferously complain about these charges. However the vendors that decide to impose bandwidth caps and overage charges achieve this to safeguard the shoppers around the lower finish of the prices structure. Think about this if your software vendor includes a wide spectrum of bandwidth usage among its users, then bandwidth limits avoid the smaller sized merchant from having to pay for that greater bandwidth use of the bigger retailers. &#8220Pay that which you use&#8221 logic. However, very effective software companies have sufficient infrastructure to soak up many of the bandwidth-related costs, and can promote &#8220unlimited bandwidth&#8221 which provides every merchant one less factor to bother with. And that’s the core tenet of SaaS to begin with.
  • SSL certificates. Again, they are mostly required to ensure PCI compliance. Most vendors who must make sure safe transmission of sensitive data ensure their very own guaranteed connection.
  • Supplemental technical support. This is extremely circumstantial – it might be mandatory for many users, and irrelevant for other people.
  • Extensions. That leads us to&#8230

Extensibility

This might be listed under &#8220Benefits,&#8221 however it deserves enough explanation to warrant its very own heading.

The &#8220cloud sourced&#8221 deployment of software applies perfectly to enabling 3rd party integrations. Solo developers, in addition to firms that particularly concentrate on creating plugins, possess a built-in audience once they list their add-ons on an SaaS vendor&#8217s website. Most SaaS vendors promote their very own &#8220app marketplaces&#8221 where organizations may submit add-ons which extend the functionality of the software.

This really is another win-win-win scenario. The seller is benefited just because a large assortment of compatible add-ons will make sure more customers find their software useful new developers are benefited because they may be a lot more easily promoted, and customers are benefited simply because they can basically pick whichever add-ons they require to create a wonderfully tailored software solution.

The way forward for SaaS

It’s unlikely that SaaS usage will decline in the near future. It’s also unlikely that in your area installed software is going to be totally eclipsed. This leaves us having a hybrid deployment structure mandated on the personal computers, and most importantly, on the cellular devices. If SaaS were ever to totally edge out local installs, our mobile technology would start to see (much more) rapid advancement because the needs for local storage, local processing power, and copious electric batteries could be minimal. However that&#8217s an aspiration for that distant future.

Meanwhile, many software companies have fully dedicated to SaaS deployment. Because these companies expand and offer several categories of software, a brand new layer of SaaS ensues: SaaS Integrated Platforms (SIP). If &#8220normal&#8221 SaaS is really a entrance right into a single store, SIP is really a entrance right into a shopping center. You might be surprised to listen to that you’re most likely utilizing a SIP already. For those who have their email having a major provider like Google, it most likely operates like a SIP, supplying email functionality, text document and spreadsheet support, calendar features, video chat, online storage, and so on. All of these are SaaS applications residing under one umbrella (one entrance, consistent with our previous metaphor). These types of SIPs are growing in number as well as in potential. You might have heard about a couple of: Google, Yahoo, Salesforce, Zoho, and Oracle happen to be within this arena of software development.

Between your impressive listing of benefits, the narrow your search of drawbacks, and also the growing reliance on the web during out lives, the effectiveness of Software like a Services are only starting to present itself. As internet speeds increase and our devices become much more interactive, SaaS will rapidly end up being the new norm within our lives. And That I&#8217ll function as the some guy who remembers the era when mobile phones could only call someone.

The publish What’s SaaS? made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Three Add-Ons for ShopKeep POS

Small retail business payments: modern tablet POS terminal for credit card payments. Packaged purchase, wrapping paper and scissors. Flat vector illustration.

Thanks for visiting a unique edition of the POS integration Hunger Games! In past days, we’ve covered the very best 11 Revel POS add-ons, top 7 Shopify POS add-ons, 5 best Vend POS add-ons, and 5 best Breadcrumb add-ons. This can be a exclusive edition since the POS system under consideration &#8211 ShopKeep POS &#8211 has only three integrations to provide. How come we including it in the series whatsoever? Easy. This particular system is among our greatest rated and its add-ons deserve a shout-out.

ShopKeep started in 2008 by an entrepreneur who had been frustrated together with his malfunctioning POS. Rather of simply trashing that old software and buying another, he made the decision to produce a more intuitive and modern POS to fit his needs. By doing this, he created a system that has become used worldwide by over 20,000 customers.

Should you&#8217re studying this, presumably you already use (and therefore are happy with) ShopKeep POS. Congratulations! Now, why not check out a couple of ShopKeep integrations that may help make your existence simpler? Towards the victor belongs the spoils, right? Without further ado, this is a run-lower from the ShopKeep POS integrations:

E-mail Marketing: MailChimp

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-8-10-21-pmFounded in 2001, MailChimp has solidified itself like a effective pressure for e-mail marketing. The proof is incorporated in the pudding: 12 million companies employ this company&#8217s services around the world.

E-mail marketing could be overwhelming – particularly when you’re attempting to design emails that don’t smack of junk e-mail. MailChimp has perfected the skill of creating professional and unique templates which are user-friendly and simply customizable (you may also code your personal templates if you’re like doing so). It&#8217s also easy to arrange products and pictures for your taste having a slick drag-and-drop tool.

MailChimp enables you to send test emails and collaborate with other people to get quick and particular feedback. If you wish to personalize emails to every individual customer, merge tags allow you to insert information like the subscriber’s name or social links. If you’re not able to login to MailChimp, you can easily produce a campaign out of your normal current email address and send it to MailChimp they’ll instantly produce a draft campaign.

MailChimp assembles subscriber profiles with details for example time zone, mobile access, and buy history, as along with an eye on all opens, clicks, subscribes, etc. If you want, you are able to follow-up instantly with new subscribers, sign in with customers after purchases to point out other products they may like, reward your top shoppers with coupons, touch base with customers who abandoned their carts, and reconnect with inactive subscribers to help remind them what they’re missing. Which&#8217s just scratching the service. Other features include geo-location, segmentation, predicted census, analytics, and mobility. You should check the remainder here.

The Takeaway: MailChimp specializes in aesthetically pleasing email promotions for your customers, and enables you to definitely create meaningful engagement together with your shoppers.

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Accounting: QuickBooks

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-8-10-21-pm-copyQuickBooks continues to be certainly one of the biggest names in accounting software since its launch in 1992. Presently, it boasts nearly 1.5 million users and it has maintained a great status.

QuickBooks allows you to definitely instantly download, classify, and reconcile bank and charge card transactions. This integration likewise helps you record your expenses and create professional invoices that fit your company and bear your organization brand.

Ease of access is essential in almost any business you will be able to access your business’s data wherever you are. QuickBooks enables you to definitely manage your bank account anytime, anywhere, on any device. If you have an eCommerce application for example Shopify, BigCommerce, or Square, there’s a good chance QuickBooks will help you sync information (which means you don’t miss any important data points). Additionally, it offers inventory management abilities, instantly modifying quantities and values when inventory is bought and offered, which means you always understand what you’ve and the thing you need.

QuickBooks includes a financing arm that advises you (according to QuickBooks data and credit) about loans that you might qualify. On top of that, should you ever have issues, QuickBooks support is based in the U . s . States. Still not convinced QuickBooks may be the right pick for you personally? Take a look at a few of the features, or even better, test the program yourself.

The Takeaway: Known for leading the industry in modern accounting software, QuickBooks is constantly on the deliver with easy-to-use and varied services.

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Loyalty Program: AppCard

integrations-app-cardIt might be nice if running a effective business only needed you to definitely produce quality products and manage your money. But alas, you might also need to interact your clients and produce their loyalty if you need to keep the business afloat. AppCard is an easy solution that enables retailers to engage customers via membership cards.

AppCard can help you communicate with consumers in various ways &#8211 via a mobile application, push notifications, texts, digital receipts, and emails &#8211 whichever they like.

AppCard may also predict the buying behavior of the customers. By collecting product-level data, with the ability to track overall purchasing trends and instantly setup triggers and personalized marketing campaigns.

Finally, AppCard enables you to definitely measure success with more than 100 actionable real-time reports. By doing this, you can observe the way your campaigns are accomplishing without notice from the device.

The Takeaway: AppCard provides an affordable method to communicate with your clients, monitor trends, and measure the buying behaviors of the shoppers.

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That’s it! Have questions or ideas? We&#8217d like to hear them!

The publish Best Three Add-Ons for ShopKeep POS made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Top 6 Add-Ons for NCR Silver POS

Mobile phone connected to wireless POS terminal, NFC mobile point of sale processing , concept of payment communication technology, cashier hand holding smartphone isolated on green flat vector design

Thanks for visiting another round from the POS integration Hunger Games! Previously, we view the add-ons of numerous POS systems (Revel, Shopify, Vend, Breadcrumb, and ShopKeep POS) do fight. Now&#8217s tribute? The add-ons of NCR Silver.

Produced by tech giant NCR Corporation (history&#8217s first reason for purchase company), NCR Silver has earned its positive status within the POS world and it is presently probably the most adaptive and experienced systems available on the market.

Kudos for you for choosing a tried and true reason for purchase solution! Now it&#8217s time to benefit from the accessible add-ons. This is a shortcut towards the greatest-rated NCR Silver integrations:

Loyalty Programs: PassMarket

passmarket-logoBecause the only loyalty program integration NCR Silver offers, PassMarket wins this category automatically, however the large number of functions available may likely get this to software a front runner anyway.

Rather of attempting to pressure the type of cookie-cutter rewards systems most add-ons provide, PassMarket enables you to create custom loyalty programs for the business. You are able to distribute special deals and coupons for your customers and talk to them directly through their in-application Message Center.

PassMarket offers numerous features beyond just loyalty tools, including (although not restricted to) Gifting, Order Ahead &amp Payment, Geo-location &amp Beacon based messaging, an internet-based Menus. This application integrates with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay so that your customers are able to place orders and pay using their devices.

The Takeaway: PassMarket is really a mobile customer engagement solution that simplifies the shopping experience for the customers.

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Payroll Services: Paychex

paychex-logoPaychex began in 1971 and today serves 600,000 companies.This payroll service pertains to big and small companies alike. Online use of Paychex can be obtained wherever you’re support services include free mobile phone applications for employers and employees (operated by iPhone and Android devices), use of a payroll specialist, and 24/7 support.

Features include:

  • Payroll outsourcing
  • Accounting
  • Direct deposit/paycard reports ledgers
  • Condition Unemployment Insurance (SUI)
  • Charge card processing
  • Tax credit
  • Some time and attendance services
  • Payroll tax
  • Florida sales tax payment
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Healthcare reform services

Miracle traffic bot also provides you with tools to build up employees, including recruiting, criminal record check, flexible spending account (FSA), retirement, health insurance and benefits, mobile application, an internet-based worker access services.

If you feel Paychex stops at excellent payroll features, reconsider. They provide 401(k) retirement plans and group medical health insurance plans with medical, dental, vision, existence, short-term disability, and lengthy-term disability coverage options. Paychex offers outsourced HR services.

The Takeaway: Paychex goes far above the world of fundamental payroll, delivering services that alleviate the strain of administering healthcare, insurance coverage, and 401Ks.

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Business Operation: NCR Console (formerly CimpleBox)

Image result for ncr logoNCR Console makes business management simple by supplying necessary features like sales reporting and purchasers planning/targeting. Capabilities include:

  • Notifications (email or text)
  • Consolidated dashboard
  • Operational calendar
  • Document management
  • Worker schedule management
  • Payment histories
  • Advanced reporting for timecards, income, labor costs, payroll, inventory, losses, cost-of-goods, customer comments, and census
  • Time-off demands
  • Timecard management
  • Labor cost projection
  • Payroll integration abilities
  • Recipe management
  • Product mix integration

NCR Console even integrates having a training module add-with that provides video tutorial management, exam management, an origin library, certifications to finish of modules/training, competency tracking, and the opportunity to integrate with cellular devices.

Finally, NCR Console enables you to gain much-needed feedback out of your customers with operation execution surveys and customizable questionnaires.

The Takeaway: NCR Console may be the digital manager that may help you run your company just like a well-oiled machine.

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Payment Processor: Elavon

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-26-19-pmI&#8217ve awarded Elavon the title of greatest-rated payment processing integration for NCR Silver (despite some pretty stiff competition) due to its surprisingly different and innovative features.

Elavon enables retailers to merely and quickly process debit and credit cards. They likewise have a person-friendly reporting service you have access to online anytime. Nick cards have become prevalent because of their elevated capability to safeguard your clients&#8217 information. Elavon accepts nick card payments wherever you’re using their Converge Mobile application. You may also accept NFC (near field communications) payments, &#8220Tap and Pay&#8221 payments, mobile payments from Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and traditional magnetic stripe cards.

Elavon also provides reporting options with two reporting levels, enabling you to access comprehensive reporting and transaction history on one dashboard. If you wish to observe how your small business is doing, you are able to interact with your bank account through MerchantConnect and find out your web statements, evaluate payments, or view reports anytime, anywhere. This integration can also be outfitted with advanced security measures which counsel you regarding how to increase your business whilst protecting your payment data. To learn more, take a look at our overview of Elavon.

The Takeaway: Elavon excels at delivering simple, effective, and sleek payment processing services which means you don&#8217t need to bother about a factor.

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Mobile Payment: LevelUp

levelupLevelUp triumphs within this category because of high ratings and exceptional service.

With LevelUp, mobile payment processing is really a cakewalk. All of your customers need to do is download the application, enter their card information, then scan the QR code on their own phone at checkout. They even order ahead and accrue rewards.

Talking about accruing rewards, i adore LevelUp also provides a loyalty program? This application enables you to select between numerous loyalty campaigns so that you can select the one which most closely fits your company. LevelUp also offers gift certificate abilities where you can offer your clients either plastic or digital gift certificates. This integration can help you engage your clients with surveys to gauge their feelings and opinions regarding your business. Beacon messaging alerts your customers whenever you are offering new deals.

The Takeaway: LevelUp seeks to create your existence simpler on an array of levels using its diverse features.

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Accounting: Xero

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-8-07-08-pmFounded in the year 2006, Xero has were able to silently upstage classical solutions (like QuickBooks) due to innovative and various features.

Xero offers numerous avenues to satisfy retailers&#8217 accounting needs. This application syncs with your money so that you can instantly import transactions. With Xero, it is simple to manage personal expenses and compensate employees for business costs, stay awake-to-date on purchases and charges, accept payments online services, instantly calculate sales and condition tax rates, and track business assets, for example vehicles and equipment for your office.

Beyond just accounting, Xero boasts numerous additional features:

  • Invoicing
  • Data security
  • Inventory management
  • Payroll
  • Quotes
  • Reporting

You will see the performance of the business with the Xero dashboard, track gains and losses across many currencies, visualize contacts and relationship histories with smart lists, and fix files to accounting transactions so that your details are stored in one location. For more information, take a look at our overview of Xero.

The Takeaway: Xero is a superb accounting choice for small company proprietors.

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What exactly do you think? Have I selected the very best add-ons for NCR Silver? Have you got much better suggestions? Be at liberty to contact us or comment below!

The publish Top 6 Add-Ons for NCR Silver POS made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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