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I Can't Be Right All of the Time!

February 17, 2012
In the past, I’ve blogged about a few things we are doing in my store that might work for you. I thought you might be interested in how they worked out for me. So, in this blog I want to revisit three blogs; a blast from the past kinda thing.

In 2010, I said I was tired of leaving money on the table and was going to start using a credit card that earned reward points to pay manufacturers. This has worked out really well for us. While not all manufacturers accept credit card payments, there are enough to make this very worthwhile. In fact, it worked so well that a representative from American Express called me last week to encourage me to use it with other suppliers. He suggested a few areas I might not have thought about and here is what I found.
1. We can pay for all of our television advertising with AmEx.  We don’t do print advertising. If you do, see if they will accept a credit card.
2. We can pay for our property, liability, and flood insurance with the card. We can’t pay our hospitalization premiums, though. Maybe yours accepts cards. Worth a try.
3. AT&T accepts credit card payments. I didn’t realize how big this would be until my office manager reminded me that we are billed for our yellow pages advertising on that bill.
4. We can pay many of our taxes by card. This includes property taxes and we are looking into sales taxes.

Paying with credit cards hasn't been all milk and honeyI didn’t realize, when we first started doing this, how hard it would be to reconcile our payments and invoices with my AmEx statement. Some payments and charges were made in different AmEx cycles even though we made them within a 30 day period. Finally decided to make sure all charges and payments were made before the end of one cycle. Much easier to reconcile, now.

I also said this would add a few days or weeks to whatever terms the vendor gave us. We decided that was a slippery slope and don’t take advantage of that. We pay AmEx the week we use the card to pay a supplier.

In 2010 and 2011 I told you that we were incorporating iPads into our daily business. In 2010, we took baby steps by loading PDF versions of catalogs and price lists on our iPads. Honestly, this has been a mixed bag. We went to a lot of trouble getting PDF versions of catalogs and price lists only to find that many vendors were putting their catalogs on their web sites. Since we can use an iPad to connect to their web site, we were duplicating efforts. It does help to have price lists on iPads, though.

In 2011, I told you we upgraded our POS system so that we can check inventory on our iPads while talking to a customer. This has been the best thing since sliced bread. In addition, vendors like Summer Classics and Lane Venture have enabled live inventory on their web sites. Not only can we tell a consumer what we have in stock, we can tell them how long it would take to get merchandise from those two vendors.

We tried to get to the point where we could write invoices and orders on our iPads. That hasn’t worked out well. The software developer has never gotten a satisfactory system up and running for us. In addition, writing an order or invoice requires a lot of data input. While the iPad touch screen keyboard is good for a little data entry, it doesn’t lend itself to that much typing. However, the part of the system that  allow us to look up previous customer purchases on our iPad works and has also become indispensable.

In several past blogs, I have talked about what is selling and what isn’t. I don’t think anyone will be surprised that infrared patio heaters didn’t work out for me this year. Wouldn’t you know it; as soon as I decided to get into the category, we had the warmest winter on record! How’s that for luck? On the other hand, I was right about sectionals. Can’t keep them in stock. Contemporary and traditional outdoor wicker sell best. Finally, I may not have been the first to predict it; but, Driftwood has become the new Forest Green.

Yours in confused retailing, Bruce