Performance & Maintenance for NCR Counterpoint SQL 8.x

NCR Counterpoint has served my clients well over the last ten years. However, as a systems administrator, NCR Counterpoint’s lacks comprehensive technical documentation that other POS systems currently have. I’ve had many instances when I’ve asked our Channel Partner for the documentation on how to solve X problem and the standard response from them is that they don’t have any documentation, and they’ve just learned how to deal with this through years of experience.

NCR’s business model wants you dependent upon their channel partners and not on your own IT staff. In other words, they want you to depend on them for every change, update or issue.

I will be documenting tips and tricks that I’ve learned from using Counterpoint v7 and Counterpoint SQL v 8.x for more than 10 years on this blog in the near future.

Performance & maintenance is not addressed in their documentation. I’ve learned a few tricks on what I need to do to maintain optimal performance of your database.

I’ve separated optimization & maintenance functions into daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks. Depending up on your setup, SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server Express, you may or may not be able to automate these tasks.

Daily Server Maintenance

Backup, backup, backup.

While our servers are set up as RAID 1 (I was handed this situation), I still believe in having a solid, mulch-tiered backup strategy in place. You never know when you’ll have a server knocked out because of a faulty UPS or other act of nature.

Grandfather-Father-Son Backups – Local

NCR Counterpoint SQL Server backup

We employ the Grandfather-Father-Son method for complete daily backups. We back up the MS SQL Server 2008 each night at the end of the day after all remote stores have replicated and posted using a standard SQL Server maintenance plan. We backup up 7 days worth of data. We then backup up weekly and keep 2 weeks worth of data and we have a monthly backup keeping 2 copies.

Each night, after the complete backup, we compress the full daily backup and send it to our AWS S3 account. There we keep 7 full days of backups in the cloud for an off site copy.

NAS Backup

Before anyone comes in to the stores, we have our SQL server backed up to one of our NAS devices in the early AM. This NAS device is a RAID 5 network storage device. We also creates a differential backup once every other hour to minimize any data loss that may occur and send it to the NAS device At most, we would lose 2 hours of transactions at a single location in the event of a catastrophic failure from SQL Sever 2008.

Database Optimization

Because our database is only about 10 gigabytes in size and we’re not a 24-hour operation, we also rebuild the index each night, update our statistics and clean up temp files automatically to make sure we’re running at optimal performance.

SQL Server Express 2008 does not allow you to run automated scripts to maintain your database. I use the following SQL script found at the Foliotek Development Blog to rebuild the index’s each night.

[codesyntax lang=”sql”]

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I created a stored procedure that is called each night through the built in task scheduler to perform the index rebuild on all the remote locations. I’ll go into details on a future blog as to the exact steps I took to do so. If you don’t have a very busy remote location, you can also perform these by hand every few weeks. This will help with product look-ups.

Weekly Housekeeping

Typical weekly tasks are housekeeping tasks for the accountant & management rather than for database maintenance. Each Sunday night, we make sure that the following Counterpoint commands are run and post correctly:

Inventory -> Adjustments -> Post All Adjustments
Inventory -> Physical Counts -> Post
Inventory -> Transfers -> Transfer’s In/Transfer Out
Inventory -> Quick Transfer’s -> Post
Purchasing -> Purchase Requests -> Post
Purchasing -> Receiving -> Post
Purchasing -> Adjustments -> Post
Purchasing -> Returns to Vendor -> Post

This gives the general manager a more accurate view of what’s going on in their stores. If you run your books month to month, you can perform these at the end of the month.

Monthly Database Maintenance

Again, much of the monthly maintenance is housekeeping for the management and accounting staff. I typically run the following commands in NCR CounterPoint SQL to clean up our data:

Inventory -> Utilities -> Purge Inactive Items
Inventory -> Utilities -> Recalculate Item Qty’s
Customers -> Utilities -> Purge Inactive Customers
Customers -> Utilities -> Recalculate Customer Balances
System -> Utilities -> Purge Messages
System -> Gift Cards -> Maintain Gift Cards
System -> Store Credits-> Maintain Store Credits

Depending upon what your particular company’s policies you can purge inactive items, customers, gift cards, store credits and make sure that all customer balances are correct. In the companies that I serve, they are typically set to purge items over 5 years old.

I also take the time to pull a copy of our AWS S3 backup and make sure that I can fully restore the database. Typically I do this for a daily backup, weekly and monthly. Backups are only good if you can restore from them.

NCR Counterpoint Year-End Maintenance

NCR Counterpoint requires you to perform a few operations at the end of the year to make sure that you are ready for the new fiscal year. Typically right after the stores have closed and all stores have replicated (I force replication as soon as the post), I have the accountant or myself run the following reports:

Inventory -> Reports ->Valuation
Customer -> Reports -> Aging
System -> Gift Cards -> Reports
System -> Gift Cards -> Store Credits -> Reports
System -> Accounting -> Reports -> Unvouchered Receiving

Finally you’re going to have to make sure that you have the new calendars set up in NCR Counterpoint for the next fiscal year. You can find them at the following menu location:

Setup -> System -> Calendars

If you do not have your next fiscal year set up, you’ll need to do so. You will have to set your Seasons, Month’s and Weeks. Typically if you press the “Set Default Dates” button, you’ll have everything set up automatically, correctly. This can be done ahead of time.

NCR Counterpoint Current Calendar Year

Finally be sure and change your current fiscal year at:

Setup -> System -> Quick Setup

There you’re going to need to change the current fiscal year to the new fiscal year.

Follow these guidelines and you can remove 90% of the maintenance related headaches when dealing with NCR Counterpoint. If you have anything additional to ad, that you do in your routine, let me know in the comments.

Studio 1909 provides NCR CounterPoint consulting & database management for small to medium sized retailers. For more information, send us a message.

Auto Expire Loyalty Points in NCR CounterPoint SQL v8.x

NCR CounterPoint Loyalty Program

NCR CounterPoint has a built in loyalty program feature where you can define numerous parameters and set up different types of loyalty programs for different customers. One of the features that it is missing the the ability to expire the loyalty points.

I’ve written a quick and dirty sql snippet that when run will expire the loyalty points after X-amount of days

[codesyntax lang=”sql”]

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You’re going to want to open SQL Studio and create a new job that runs nightly and runs the sql code above. You can adjust the code with your own NCR CounterPoint Frequent Buyer Program name(s) and how long your points will remain valid. The only downside to this SQL script is that there is no auditing or history.

Studio 1909 provides NCR CounterPoint consulting & database management for small to medium sized retailers. For more information, send us a message.

 

In Store Retail Analytics With Swarm Mobile (Presence Analytics)

In many small and medium (SMB) sized retailers and generally had to rely on their point of sale providers like Xsilva’s LightSpeed or NCR CounterPoint to give them marginal reporting to help them make sound business decisions as they grow and manage their business. Typical POS reports can tell you historical data of what was sold, where it was sold and for how much, but they don’t tell you conversion rates in your retail stores like Google Analytics does for websites.

Until recently, SMB business has not had access to automated people counting analytics because their technology budgets are either very small or non-existent. Implementing any sort of automated conversion tracking in-store has been out of reach for the small retailer.

Over the last 3 month’s, we have investigated a number of companies for our clients to provide automated user tracking in their retail stores. Data tracking can include facial recognition using IP Camera’s, infrared heat tracking, traffic flow heat maps and cellphone tracking to provide automated customer counts to verify conversion rates in the retail environment. Most of the systems that I found during our research were priced well beyond what a small or medium sized retailer can afford.

Recently we did a small deployment test with a product form a company called Swarm Mobile. We deployed their proprietary wireless devices in two of the five stores for our largest client for testing. They were deployed in the largest and smallest stores. We were testing the integration with NCR CounterPoint and Xsilva’s LightSpeed.

Swarm provides an out-of-box solution to track customers in your store using a cellphone and to see what sort of “Show rooming” they are doing while they visit your store. Swarm provides, presence analytics and limited POS Insights.

Swarm Mobile

Swarm describes themselves as, “Swarm is a venture-backed technology company headquartered in San Francisco, CA with offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Australia. Founded in early 2012 by digital marketing and ecommerce veterans to help retailers and customers connect. Swarm’s technology treats smartphones as offline cookies, giving brick-and-mortar retailers the same data, personalization and marketing techniques that make e-commerce so successful. Working with Fortune 500 companies and single location stores, Swarm has quickly become the de-facto standard for shopper analytics and omni-channel marketing.”

In a nutshell, the produce a hardware product(s) that once placed in the retail store can track anyone who walks by your store and walks in if they carry a cellphone. The hardware devices mimic a mini cellphone tower tracks the customer’s cellphone through their phone’s unique ID.

Why Swarm Mobile

Our biggest motivation in selecting Swarm-Mobile over other companies was the amazing low the price point. Most companies at the time (June 2014) were charging $5,000/year to provide automated counting of customers with integrated conversion tracking. Swarm-Mobile offered a sound price point and easy no-lock–in contract for $69 a month. If I wanted to get out of the contract, I would only have to pay for 2 additional months as a penalty.  This was something that I could live with.

Installation Ease

Installation of their proprietary device was far easier than I expected. It took me less than 5 minutes to get the two hardware devices setup and running. They ship a “Parent” device that you place anywhere on your network and a child device that you try to place at the center of your store.

We chose to place the parent device in our client’s flagship store’s server room. It’s as simple as attaching an antenna to the device, plugging it into the network and plugging the power on.

The “Child” device was just as simple. Their instructions were to place the device as close to the center of the store as possible. Once it was placed, you were instructed to go to their web portal and finish the installation. You need to know the dimensions of your retail store as well as a close approximation of the distance from the device to your front, left, right and back wall.

Setup took me less than 15 minutes from start to finish. Most of that time was measuring the size of the store for setup.

In our smaller store, the store manager was able to successfully install the devices by herself with no networking or computer knowledge in about 20 minutes. That’s an easy install.

Integration with POS

Swarm-mobile integrates with a number of POS programs. In the two test stores we chose, swarm supported both LightSpeed and NCR CounterPoint, two of POS systems our client runs.

Swarm supports Lightspeed Cloud, Merchant OS,  Lightspeed Pro, Vend, Ascend, Edge, Microsoft RMS, Quickbooks,& NCR Counterpoint.

While they were able to integrate with our smaller store running LightSpeed with minor issues, we have yet to see a successful integration with NCR CounterPoint.

The Data Dashboard

Once you’ve installed and integrated your POS system with Swarm, you’re given access to a data dashboard that can provide insights into your business.

Store Overview

The store overview gives you a quick snapshot of your retail store’s sales. You can set the date range for a quick overview of your retail operations and judge how many people (cellphones) drive by the store, come in and eventually how many of them are converted into customers.

 

Swarm Mobile Store Overview

 

The Dashboard

The Swarm Dashboard gives you an overview of what’s going on in your retail store on any given date or date range. It gives you a quick overview of key metric that you should base your conversion rates in your store on.

Swarm-Dashboard

 

You can also look hour-by-hour on any given date as to the performance of your store.

 

Store Analytics

Store analytics give you a comparison of what happened a week ago as well as what is going on right now or through a given date range.

Store-Analytics

Consumer Profiles

The consumer profile gives you detailed information on how long they spent in your store and what time they came into the store.

Consume-Profile

Network Analytics

Network analytics tries to address the problem of Amazon show-rooming. With Swarm, you can provide free WiFi that spies on what customers are doing in your store.

Many retailers are subsidizing Amazon business by being an unwilling showroom for Amazon’s merchant ecosystem. Consumers are going to retail stores to see if they can get a product less online. You’re provided information such as what URL’s they visit and what time they visited the site and can take actions to prevent this.

By using the Wi-Fi feature, you can track what websites consumers are visiting show rooming in your store. This can help with pricing strategies, giving the consumer a good price on certain products with the gratification of getting the product immediately.

Caveats: Didn’t work out of the box

One of the primary selling points was the fact that Swarm worked with a number of POS systems. We were excited to have some sort of presence conversion metric ratio. We were sold when we were told that we could use the two different POS systems, Xsilva Lightspeed and NCR Counterpoint our clients had 5 different stores and we decided to deploy the system in the largest and smallest store.  The smallest store ran Xsilva LightSpeed. While LightSpeed is not a mature POS system, they were able to cull basic data from it by installing a third party application called xxxx. After the installation of the software, it took about 36 hours to start seeing dashboard results

NCR CounterPoint was a different animal. As of this writing were still not able to see statistics on conversation rates. After talking without account specialist, we found that their “integration” partner was nowhere to be found.

As a retailer one of the most important metrics is the conversion rate. As a marketing manager your primary job is to get people into the retail or e-commerce store. As a  sales manager, your primary job is to get people to purchase your products. Swam help you automate your conversion metric.

Slow to integrate POS

While I understand that it takes a few days to customize a big data integration, I was told that their partner was nowhere to be found. Under this test, we went more than 90 days without a solution in sight.

As of the publish date of this post, we’ve yet to find out when they’ll be done integrating with our system.

Doesn’t tell you what data you’re sharing

One major issue that we had with the integration software was the software agreement from a third party analytics company.  The software wanted more than my daily sales. It specified that it wanted our inventory and customer information as well.

While I was informed by my account manager that the data would only be used by swarm mobile, I’m skeptical in this day of the every present data marketer in every aspect of our lives.

Not 100% Accurate

The final issue that we’ve had with Swarm-Mobile is the accuracy rate. We’re still in a beta phase where we’re figuring out what the error rate is for their data. They don’t allow customers to adjust how sensitive the device is. They even made an adjustment after we deployed the device for 6 week. This in turn messed up our presence data for about 10 days.

Conclusion

We’re excited to see Presence data becoming integrated with the retail environment. These devices will help the retailer make better business decisions including how well their staff is performing overall and how effective their marketing is. While not perfect today, they should be mature for the small retailer to use within the next 12 months with fairly good accuracy.

 

Addressing Negative Customer Reviews for Retailer and Restaurants

/disapprove by hobvias sudoneighm

Negative customer reviews have an enormous impact on the decision process with customers who plan to interact with your local business. Sites like Yelp, Trip Adviser, Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Urban Spoon have enormous influence on the customer decision making process.  Businesses that have less than stellar reviews can expect a significant drop in business from informed customers.

In a recent survey, 9 out of 10 customers reported that negative reviews have an impact on their buying decision. 58% of respondents said that they were more likely to share a bad experience than a good experience with the business.

What steps can you take to minimize negative impact on your business? Simply put, don’t get negative reviews. While good in theory, it’s not always possible to please everybody. Below you will find 5 simple steps to correct negative reviews and to enhance your profiles positively.

1) Watch for reviews daily.

A recent client we took on asked us to help with their negative customer reviews. They had opened a restaurant 18 months before and were concerned when the experienced a significant drop in business over the last 6 months.

When doing the research on the client, we found that they had a total of 27 reviews. Nine of them were negative with a one or two star rating. Due to the way that Yelp filtered the reviews, most of the bad reviews appeared on top. While the four and five star ratings were hidden to the general public.

Depending upon the volume of your business, you as the retailer or restaurateur should be watching your reviews daily or at a minimum weekly. It takes only a few moments each day to log on to your business console for sites like, Yelp, Yahoo Local, Urban Spoon, TripAdvisor, and so on and see if there are any negative reviews posted. This puts you into a position to respond to issues before they become something that can affect your bottom line.

2) Respond in a timely manner

Generally one of the PR rules on the Internet has always been: “don’t feed the trolls”.  There are people out there that are only trying to get you to respond emotionally.

According to Wikipedia a Troll is: In Internet slang, a troll  is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Our same customer didn’t respond to any of the negative reviews for more than 12 months. Instead of addressing the customer service issues, they chose to ignore it. The manager told me that the issues revolved people who felt entitled to more because they had purchased a Groupon for the business and did not like the restrictions on what they could or could not purchase.

We recommend to our clients to respond quickly and sincerely to both negative and positive reviews. Responding to both negative and positive reviews gives the impression that you care about service.  Responding to a difficult client, event Groupon aficionados shows future customers that you care about how you’re perceived. It also gives you a chance to rectify an issue quickly.

Getting clients to respond quickly has helped reduce the number of negative reviews. Once the issues are resolved, customers were more likely to retract their bad reviews. In more than 60% of the cases, they customer did just that.

3) Take responsibility

If you have ever had the pleasure of working retail, you’ll find that the customer is NOT always right. Management should make every effort to make each person a satisfied customer.

Management of any restaurant or retail establishment needs to take immediate responsibility for the actions of their staff. When dealing with negative reviews, management should provide publicly a remedy for the dissatisfied customer. Two things come from this: future customers are shown that you are willing to take corrective action, and second, it makes the negative reviewer loose any sort of credibility if the management response is direct, sincere, and quick. Even if a customer never response to the negative review, your actions will look positively to future potential customers.

4) Follow through with Corrective action

Yelp, Citysearch, and other sites are notoriously bad to work with. I’ve seen reviews that are blatantly libel towards the owner from ex-employees and these sites refuse to remove the reviews even though it’s against their TOS. Yelp and CitySearch simply don’t care to police their reviews for slanderous content. Take a look at Yelp’s own app review from pissed off retail and restaurant owners.

As a retailer, you need to understand that review companies main job is to extract as much money as they can from you. Typically their sales staff will tell you that they can help get negative reviews removed if you advertise with the customer.  This is simply not true. We’ve worked with hundreds of retail clients that never see these reviews go away.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve found that if your managers follow through with corrective action and simply ask the consumer to change or remove the bad review, many times they will comply.  Again, you have to remember that your actions need to be swift, sincere, and corrective.

5) Spam your reviews with legitimate good customer reviews

I a few clients that we took on tried a bit of black hat review hacking by setting up a few accounts and posting overly blatantly glowing reviews of the restaurant after receiving a bunch of negative reviews.

Another client did the unthinkable and hired a firm in India to post positive reviews about the business. While I have nothing against Indian firms, the customer didn’t realize that many of these firms, while having the ability to speak English, don’t have a grasp on the nuances of American English. They stuck out like a sore thumb.

Consumers are fickle. They can smell a fake review a mile long. When dealing with negative reviews, it’s always easier to solicit real reviews from real customers.

We set up our customers with an exit survey either at the end of the meal or at the register for optimal response rate.  The easiest method is to set up a tablet with a review on your website that allows the customer to quickly let everyone know how their visit to the business was.

We trained the employees to solicit these responses and help the management tie a bonus structure back to the employee for positive feedback.

Once the customer filled out the survey, we set up some auto responders to remind them 3 days after coming to the business to go to Yelp, Google Places, Urban Spoon and others to place a review for a free gift on their next visit. We also put an expiration on the free gift to get the customer to bounce back into the business before a pre-defined period of time.

Conclusion

You may not be able to get rid of negative reviews about your business, but you can change the public perception. If you have a business that has been experiencing negative reviews, follow the above five steps to mitigate the negative publicity about your business.

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Studio 1909 Corporate Video Production

Utah Professional Video Producion

Studio 1909 is fully staffed to produce professional videos for YouTube or Vimeo and other internet properties. From the director to the grips, we hand pick our staff to produce award winning video productions that engage and educate your customers. Studio 1909 has created commercials, product testimonials, product training, education, and live productions for both big and small corporations.

With online video and internet-enabled TV such as the Roku and Apple TV emerging as an explosive marketing opportunity for marketing professionals, you can engage your customers longer with professionally produced videos.

eCommerce Video Production

Studies have shown that attracting customers with video can increase your click-through-rates by more than 55%. Studio 1909 clients capitalize on the explosive growth of e-commerce enabled websites to preset clear and concise product information. Your message will get out to millions of consumers who will engage your products much longer than traditional websites. Studies have shown that visitors on your site will stay 2 minutes longer if your product or service contains a video.

Live Video Streaming

Businesses today are producing events for their customers and streaming them live on through the internet. Studio 1909 uses the latest internet broadcasting technologies to stream fashion shows, musical events, product announcements, product launches, seminars, and special speakers. Your production can be free, pay-per-view, and later sold as a video on demand. Studio 1909 can show you how to monazite events, reaching even the most remote customers.

Commercial Production

YouTube, Facebook, and traditional TV is an  inexpensive way to to reach masses of people. Commercials are crucial to expanding your audience and creating brand awareness. Video viewers are 6 times more likely to buy your product or service if they saw it first online. Studio 1909 can create engaging videos that will be shared through the power of social media.

Contact us for a no obligation quote below or call 801-528-3094.

Utah Inventory Counting Service

Utah Inventory Counting Services

With over 15 years of retail IT experience, Studio 1909 is a local expert in inventory control. Studio 1909 has not only managed retail IT systems for more than 15 years, they’ve also owned a retail establishment and exercised tight control over a number of Point of Sale systems inventory control.

Studio 1909 equips their employees with the latest technology in inventory control equipment and connects them to your Point of Sale of choice. We deliver concise, accurate data and reports for every business of any size.  Studio 1909 is focused on serving the Northern Utah market with 100% satisfaction as our goal.

You can benefit by using Studio 1909’s inventory counting services by reducing costs, optimizing your inventory, flexible scheduling, and reduction in employee overtime. Using our expert staff, your costs of performing inventories are reduced. We perform inventories on your schedule, preferably when your retail stores are closed. We can deliver full data to you within an  hour of completing the inventory. We can provide you paper, PDF, and database dumps of your inventory and help you import that data into your POS system of choice to keep a tight control on inventory shrinkage.

Studio 1909 offers the following services:

Retail/Financial Inventory Auditing

This service involves counting the physical inventory of your location using specialized inventory control hardware, and then processing the data to give you a complete report matching it to your POS data. We utilize laptop computers, portable scanners, and a live database to give you the best possible report for your financial transaction. The final report is available at the conclusion of the count and is able to show comparisons with previous inventory results. You will work closely with our engineers to provide business intelligence reports of your inventory evaluation. We can also provide the reports by department and section at the retail location.

SKU/Barcode Counting

Using our standard service, Studio 1909 provides the retailer with a list of items in inventory as well as the quantity of each item by barcode, UPC, or POS ID. Values and item descriptions are also available when you consult with our expertly trained engineering staff. The final results can be provided to the retailer in a format of choice including: imported into your database, delimiter separated values, paper, or electronic PDF.

Price Verification

Our Price Verification service is the most exhaustive and valuable service a retailer will ever experience. This audit is performed using the customer’s  SKU/UPC from their Point of Sale Systems. Using the customer’s data, Studio 1909 will provide an accurate product listing, report, and an exceptions list so you can make the highest available profit in the retail space. Additionally, mispriced items can be gathered and presented to the customer for corrective action. We can generate new price labels in your POS system for a complete and accurate count of your inventory.

Studio 1909 prides itself in providing you with the most up-to-date methods to control and count your inventory, helping you purchase products better, control shrinkage, and reduce theft.

Contact us for a no obligation quote below or call 801-528-3094.

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Utah Live Internet Broadcast Consultants

Studio 1909 Live Stream in Utah

More retail businesses are hosting events for their customers and streaming them live on the internet to gain a leg up on their competition. Companies use internet broadcasting technologies to stream fashion shows, musical events, product announcements, product launches, seminars, and special speakers to reach out to their current and future customers through smartphones, laptops and home computers.

At Studio 1909, we have the knowledge and expertise  to film and stream your live event in HD on almost every internet broadcast platform including: Bambuser, Brightcove, DaCast Streaming Services, iNK Barrel Video, Justin.tv, Limelight, Livebeats, Livestream, Sermon.net, Showcaster, Streaming Media Hosting, TwitchTV, Ustream and YouTube. We also have experience running the following streaming servers: Akamai, Wowza Media Server, Flash Media Server 4.5, Windows Media Server, and QuickTime Streaming Servers. If you’re concerned about 100% control, we can build you a open source based streaming media server with an intuitive graphical interface where you control all aspects of your broadcast.

Stream Live Pay Per View Events in HD

Studio 1909’s extensive experience with live streaming video can help you monetize your internet streaming events without the hassle of building out an extensive technology infrastructure. Our staff can provide you with a turnkey solution so that you can concentrate on running your live events.

Studio 1909 can help you acquire new customers or use your existing customer base serve as a recurring revenue stream. If failure is not an option, you’ll choose Studio 1909’s HD streaming solutions.

We can help you with:

  • Management, pre-bookings, and virtual tickets for a live event.

  • Providing you with a solution to sell Video on Demand (VOD) after your event.

  • Providing you with detailed reporting about the live event registration.

  • Selling live events on any hardware platform.

  • Creating a comprehensive affiliate program to help sell your event.

  • Creating and manage coupons for your fans and sponsors.

  • Developing additional loyalty programs around VIP memberships.

All of these are now available for a fraction of the cost it would take you to develop the talent and infrastructure to successfully stream your event within your existing organization. Studio 1909 can provide a flexible package to make sure your live event is a complete success.

Benefits of Live Streaming

Retailers can distribute videos advertising your products at point of sale or on the Internet. Doing this, retail shops show their current and potential customers that they use cutting edge technology to provide comprehensive information about their products.

Video has been show to increase conversion both in-store and online by helping the consumer in the purchase decision-making process through effective demonstration and simulation. Watching videos of products (especially high quality ones) strengthens trust, commitment, and intention to buy, ultimately resulting in increased customer loyalty to your brand. For products that are difficult to understand, the power of video gives the customer the opportunity to learn about all the features. Retailers can use videos to educate consumers post purchase, reducing the time they have to support those products.

Case Study: Blue Boutique Seminar Live Broadcast

One of Utah’s premier Lingerie boutiques needed the ability to set up and broadcast live fashion shows and PPV events featuring specialty speakers. Studio 1909 was contracted to provide the underlying technology and expertise to produce these events live to their customer base. When the shows were completed, Studio 1909 was able to provide them with a pay per view video on demand service to monetize the videos after the live event was finished.

For a no obligation quote, please call 801-528-3094 or fill out the contact form below.

Past Clients Include:

[table sort=”desc,asc”]
bc-logo,Brewforia Beer Market
Ramp Sports,Blue Boutique
TEDx Salt Lake City,All of Life
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Utah Point Of Sale (POS) Consultants

Utah POS ConsultantNo retail business should be without a modern Point of Sale (POS) system to track inventory, create sales reports, and help with product procurement. At Studio 1909 we can help you answer the question of which POS will work well with your business. We understand that purchasing a POS is a big decision that will affect your company for many years.

Studio 1909 can help guide you through the complicated process of purchasing a Point of Sale system that will work well with your business. We have more than 15 years of retail IT experience with POS Systems, including NCR Counterpoint (Windows & Linux), Quickbooks POS, Xsilva LightSpeed (Mac OS X), SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service (Linux), and Openbravo (Linux).

What you need to consider when purchasing a Point of Sale (POS)

System Security and PCI DSS Compliance

The PCI DSS, or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, were developed by Visa and MasterCard to ensure that cardholder information is protected and hacker proof. Most POS systems deliver this high standard of security in their systems. Studio 1909 can make sure that your systems adhere to the PABP (Payment Application Best Practices) in your software and transactions. Studio 1909’s staff can help you make sure that your POS systems are secure from hackers & dishonest employees.

Any business accepting credit cards will find that its is imperative that you use POS software built with card data security in mind. Failure to be PCI compliant when taking credit cards can result in large fines or termination of your merchant account.

Place an emphasis on 24/7 service

When you purchase POS hardware/software, keep in mind that depending on your size, you’ll need to budget in technical support as well as support on-site for your POS. Incidents such as hardware failures and software glitches need to be regularly maintained by a knowledgeable support technician. Typically, POS vendors do not provide 24/7 support. Choosing to partner with Studio 1909 gives you access to a well training support staff each and every day of the year.

Question you should be asking the POS provider are:

  • Will I pay extra for customer support?

  • How long does my customer support last?

  • What hours are your support representatives available?

  • How long will I wait on hold if I call with an emergency?

Studio 1909 can provide you with 24/7 support for most Point of Sale systems.

Software Usability and Training

Most POS systems need to have strong training and support. Retail companies have a high turnover rate, and training of new employees is a priority. Studio 1909 can provide one on one training, or multiple sessions through webinars, recorded training sessions, and on-site or in-person training solutions.

Before you buy

Before setting out to buy a POS system, contact Studio 1909.  Our sales staff will guide you in gathering your specific requirements, matching you with a trusted POS software provider. Studio 1909 can help you make sure that your POS systems run smooth without problems and let you focus on running your business.

Give us a call at (702) 708-1909 or fill out the form below to get in touch with our sales staff.

Ethically Crush the local SEO competition without shady black/grey hat methodologies: A Case study.

Warning: We don’t participate in SEO Douchebaggery. We don’t ever strategize SEO like this. We take a slow & methodical approach to (local) SEO. Individual results may vary.

After responding to a post on Reddit’s http://www.reddit.com/r/bigseo/ sub-reddit about how to do local SEO, a number of people asked me to provide a case study of some of my successful local SEO methodologies to decimating the competition for one of my clients.

As you can see from the Google Analytics overview, we have successfully made the hard climb from 25-50 local visitors with 75-100+ US & international visitors to more than 700 local (Salt Lake City metro area) visitors a day, with 300+ US and international visitors.

Blue Boutique Local SEO 18 Month Chart

In January of 2012 Studio 1909 took a contract for a small, but local chain (4 stores) of Lingerie/Adult stores in the Salt Lake City metro area called Blue Boutique. They had a small website that was mainly used to sell sex toys online. They owners didn’t have a clue how to leverage their site to increase their local traffic in the brick-n-mortar stores.

At the time, they were getting between 100-200 visitors a day looking to purchase sex toys online but not looking for information about the company. 20% of those visitors were looking for general local SEO information like store hours, phone numbers and locations.

After sitting down with the owners and general manager of the business, we strategized as to what was the ultimate goal for their website. While some of our clients wanted Studio 1909 to increase visit to their site or increase e-commerce conversion, the ultimate goal for the Blue Boutique corporation was to decimate the competition in the Salt Lake Metro area in the highly competitive adult, lingerie, and piercing market.

Like most small adult/lingerie chains, they faced stiff competition. They were battling behemoth companies like Amazon and Victoria’s Secret for their sex toy and lingerie sales. At the time we took the contract, Blue Boutique was not ranking in the top 100 for a number competitive key words such as lingerie, sex toy, adult novelty, etc. This was of grave concern being that they had been in business for 25 years. They were lucky to get any search engine traffic at all.

During our initial strategy meeting, we discussed that Studio 1909 in Salt Lake City was not going to use any black/grey hat methods (SEO Douchebaggery) to increase visits to the website. Google & Bing are too volatile when using these methods and can have severe consequences. Studio 1909 din’t want to risk getting tons of traffic and then going to outer fringes on the web when they update their algorithms.

Studio 1909 tool a long-term strategy to take the slow and steady approach to SEO. The first 30 days we did do cookie cutter methods such as adding their site to the various yellow page listing, setting them up for local listing etc, but local listings was not our only strategy. While these were necessary steps for local recognition, they didn’t garner immediate results.

Studio 1909’s long term strategy was to transform Blue Boutique from a purely less than stellar e-commerce site to an expert in the metro area on sex and sexuality through events, blog postings, and informational articles. The plan was to create a content strategy that would place Blue Boutique above the competition in local searches. This content would be shared through social media channels, press releases, and in-store advertising. The goal was to increase sales in the brick-n-mortar stores over increasing sales on our online property, a strategy that is considered a completely opposite conventional thought process.

Our long term local SEO roadmap

I sat down with the general manager and took about a week to create an Online Marketing Calender for 1 full year, one quarter at a time. During this time, we did extensive key-word research in the adult and lingerie industry. Our key words included general adult terms, products, positions, and events.

While the marketing calendar wasn’t set in stone, it was a way Studio 1909 to create a general direction for the retail stores and mesh their traditional advertising with an comprehensive online strategy. Our strategy included SEO, PPC, video production, product reviews, events, blog articles, infographics, community events and in-store promotions.

In a later meeting Studio 1909 presented a marketing calendar to all of the stakeholders in the company. The stakeholders were the managers and assistant managers of the individual stores. My goal was to get their 100% buy-in. If the store managers were excited about creating content, they would guide their employees to become the experts of the company online without having the expense of hack writers doing low quality blog articles for $15 a pop.

My strategy was to get the managers to reward employees by having them create bogs, videos, and articles to add to the website. These employees are ultimately the experts in the industry. The deal with hundreds of customers each week and really knew what the products do and how to use them.

We assigned each manager to be in charge of three distinct areas of our SEO strategy: blogs, informative articles, and product reviews. These employees were given the task of completing these projects during their work week for various incentives (each employee’s incentive varied). Additionally we strategized with the general manager a long term in-store event strategy for the business.

Non of the content creation by the staff was a “required” task. The content creation was strictly on a volunteer basis. If an employee didn’t want to create content, they were not punished. Not everybody can write a blog or talk in front of a camera. We did pay the employees their regular hourly wage to create their articles, videos, product reviews, and information posts during their regular work week. One of our advantages in the retail business was that more than half of the staff were working on a college degree.

Studio 1909’s strategy was much akin to Google’s 20% time for their employees. While employees  did not typically use a full 20% of their time (They work on  and hourly plus commission). Each employee  created their content on average of 4 hours per week. Employees were allowed to use the roadmap for inspiration on their articles. We didn’t force them to do the articles, we inspired them to write about whatever they wanted to. This allowed them to write or talk on video about things they are passionate about and not force them to do research on subjects that didn’t interest them.

Each article was posted to the Blue Boutique website. Using this strategy over 18 months, we were able to create almost 200 individual posts. We then took a typical social media strategy of posting the articles to many different social media websites. I won’t go into which ones, as there are hundreds of mediocre guides on how to do so.

Some of the articles were picked up by sites like Reddit. Many were shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. One of the advantages to using 20-somethings to write is that they share the articles with all of their friends. Their friends shared with their friends, ect.

This strategy was shown to be very successful when one of our assistant managers, Amanda Meyers, was picked up by 20/20 to talk about Corset Training. She had penned an amazing blog posting on how to do Corset training. When the 20/20 piece aired in October, the Blue Boutique website  traffic spiked and a number of bloggers picked up the blog.

Another successful strategy for SEO was to start brining in experts in the (adult) industry or “Sexperts” to come to the stores and present seminars and workshops for the existing customers.

Our strategy for our experts was simple. We worked with a real PR professional to create a carefully crafted press release to pitch our expert to real industry experts. This press release was not the typical PR Web crap that most “SEO Experts” produce. It was a carefully pitched story designed to garner interest in interviewing the subject. We didn’t use free PR websites, we paid our PR consultant to get a list of the 400 journalists in Utah to send our story pitch to. This list included radio, TV, newspapers, bloggers, and freelance writers.

One of the seminars we held in-store was for a Mormon Sexologist. This was a curious anomaly as Mormons are not typically not associated with sex and sexuality. After sending out our press release to 400+ Salt Lake Metro media contacts, we were picked up y 8 local properties. This included 3 local radio stations, 1 weekly paper, a morning news show, and a Hispanic paper that came to the seminars. That came to a 3% success rate.

The Results in 18 months

18 Month local SEO Result

Studio 1909 generated huge positive results for Blue Boutique. During the past 18 months, we were able to bring more than 340,000 visitors to their website. Of those visitors, we were able to get more than 150,000 unique visitors in the Salt Lake City metro area with a secondary metro area of Denver brining in more than 24,000 visitors.

With the retail stores doing 55,000+ brick-n-mortar retail transactions a year, it impacted the stores with a significant increase in revenue. Studio 1909 was able to bring in a constant 12-18% more revenue than the previous years. Their previous growth rate was only around 4-6% before our strategy was implemented. Growth rate online is steadily rising and we predict that Blue Boutique will have more than 1,500 visitors a day with more than 1,000 each day being in the Salt Lake City metro area.

Using the employees as the experts in Blue Boutique, Studio 1909 was able to minimize  the content creation costs. While Studio 1909 did the practical execution of the SEO, SEM, PPC, SMM, and video production, the end results was more than $300,000 in additional yearly revenue at an approximate $45,000 cost of execution.

Content is still key when it comes to local SEO and social media strategies. Quick fixes are usually the tactics of snake-oil salesmen. Slow and steady with great content creation is a solid strategy. Consumers can smell promotional content from a mile away. Create better content than the spammers and you’ll be rewarded with local visitors to your website.

Now it’s your turn, we would like to hear about what your best local strategy is to decimate your competition.

About Studio 1909

Studio 1909 is a small advertising, design, and promotional company located in the heart of Salt Lake City.  If you’re interested in having Studio 1909 create a local SEO, SEM, SMM, PPC, or video production strategy, feel free to contact me personally for a personal evaluation. You can give me a call directly at 801-528-3094 or use the form below.

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