In today’s retail environment, Timely Automated Insights are the most valuable resource.

Hey there, Vend user!

By now you have probably settled into a nice daily routine with Vend helping you run your store(s) and your business. The key to successfully growing your business depends on the tools you use and on how quickly you adapt to the changing needs of the market.

 

Introducing POSxDATA, a reporting tool that integrates seamlessly with Vend and allows you to set up automated reports that are delivered directly to your inbox!

 

POSxDATA enables you to answer top of mind questions such as:

  • How did sales at Outlet A compare to sales at Outlet B this week or this month?
  • How many stock transfers occurred between my outlets in the last month?
  • Which products are running low on stock and need to be re-ordered?
  • What are my customer balances at the end of each month?
  • How were sales this week compared to the same time last year?

 

POSxDATA allows you to set up these reports in 5 minutes and then not worry about re-running these reports every time. The Daily, Weekly and Monthly schedulers allow you to choose how frequently you want to receive a particular report. The interface is mobile-friendly so you can even set up reports on-the-go through your phone.

In today’s competitive business environment, Vend has you covered on the day to day business operations and POSxDATA will supply the intelligence you need to make smart decisions.

 

POSxDATA is currently available for free to all Vend users. Simply click on the link below to register and connect your Vend account to get started.
https://app.posxdata.io/#!/register

 

Below is a quick walkthrough video that show how easy it is to set up a report.

 

We want to hear from you!

We are constantly looking to add more report templates that are useful to Vend customers. We would love to get feedback on the data points or analysis that would help you with your decision making. So email us with your request and we will do our best to solve your reporting needs in the shortest time-frame.

 

About Us

POSxDATA has been developed by Shoppinpal, a top developer partner of Vend. Shoppinpal has been working closely with Vend for over 3 years and have helped many Vend customers with their custom requirements. Shoppinpal is an integrations expert and has significant expertise in developing connectors for Vend that allow data to flow from Vend to other systems such as Netsuite ERP. Check us out at www.shoppinpal.com

The Indian brick & mortar retailer’s dilemma…to digitize or not?

2 years ago, I would have gone to a mall (in India) to purchase a pair of shoes which I now can buy at a cheaper price sitting at my home with a guarantee of same day delivery. Moreover, with many players entering the e-commerce market we now have a plethora of choices for shopping online, as if the entire retail world has been served up on a platter to the consumer with a great selection of products and unbelievable prices. Electronics, Apparel, Books, Media you name it. Almost everything which was exclusively available at physical stores can be now bought via few clicks on your phone.
Implications for brick and mortar retailers
For most brick & mortar retailers, this dramatic shift in the retail ecosystem has adversely impacted revenues and growth. Showrooming has become quite popular and been a real pain — the shopper uses the information provided by the staff at the store but eventually makes the purchase online, sometimes even while he/she is in the premises of the store!

Realistic Retail Shop

Retailers’ recognize the need to collaborate with marketplaces, however only a fraction has jumped on that bandwagon due to technological and operational complexities. Besides the big3 (FlipKart, SnapDeal, Amazon) there are several other prominent national players (e.g. PayTM, ShopClues) and many niche/local ones as well. One of the biggest stumbling blocks is the use of a popular ERP/POS (Tally, for example), which only tracks their store sales and is completely disconnected from the catalog they need to create on a marketplace. More than maintaining a separate catalog, the killer requirement is the need for constantly syncing stock counts 2-way between the store and marketplace so that the retailer doesn’t run out of stock…which eventually results in the retailer getting suspended from the marketplace!
Further complicating the situation is that many retailers own multiple stores which then brings in new requirements around data sync across different store locations and virtual selling channels. Many POSes (Vend, for example) have stellar support for syncing inventory and sales data across multiple store locations. However, they don’t help when it comes to syncing data across e-marketplaces. Creating a brand new catalog for each and every marketplace along with manually monitoring inventory + sales has become quite a drag for retailers, and in most cases the business owners end up hiring additional staff to manage various digital channels. No wonder most retailers shy away from digitizing their operations and listing on marketplaces.

Online to offline (O2O) — bridging the best of both worlds

The key to winning in this Retailers need to play on their strength — for certain categories (e.g. Appliances) shoppers like to touch and feel the product before they commit, which provides physical retailers a big edge in these segments. ShoppinPal is in the process of jointly rolling out solutions with top marketplaces whereby consumers could reserve a product online and make the final purchase in-store once they visit. Also on our roadmap is the “try and buy” capability, which is most suited for apparel and jewelry.

Happy Realistic Retail Shop

Our vision is to bring true omnichannel to small and mid-sized retailers globally. Take our seller app for a spin and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear how we can help solve your challenges in this space.

India’s Retail Revolution

In the past quarter I’ve been spending a lot of time in India working with retailers of all sizes. Some of the biggest names in the private sector are making massive bets in the space, and at the same time smaller chains are looking for ways to establish a stronger relationship with their increasing mobile/digital shopper. I’ve noticed a few key trends, each of which deserves a post or two – so I’ll start out with a summary here and continue this topic as a series.

The 1st big trend I expect to see in the next 2-3 years is the rapid fire growth of the mobile POS. It will happen like nowhere else in the world. I believe it will be along the lines of the mobile revolution, whereby several nations and continents in the developing world skipped the landline. In the same way much of Indian retail will not see the legacy POS and will directly transition to modern cloud based systems. In the past 2 months we’ve been getting several enquiries from Indian retailers who want to increase engagement with their shoppers and drive higher foot falls to the store. This presents a phenomenal opportunity for m-POS vendors and other related services (cloud-based accounting, digital marketing, mobile commerce etc). However, I think the speed of innovation by dominant players in the west will not be enough, and like the mobile revolution we’ll see a slew of Indian product companies come up shortly that will address local needs in a cost-effective manner.

The 2nd key trend is behavioral changes in the middle and lower middle class that will significantly impact consumption. On one of my cab rides I got into an interesting conversation with my driver. He left his village over 15 years ago and came to Mumbai. Initially he was very hesitant to go to any restaurant or store that had even a slight upscale ambience. However over time he walked into some of these places and realized that prices are actually not that different and the experience is orders of magnitude better…in fact shopping for groceries at a store like Big Bazaar is a great weekend outing for the family. Many of his close friends shared the same hesitation, so he took each of them for a shopping trip to show that these places are indeed price-competitive and everybody is welcome. Now all those friends of his also shop at Big Bazaar and eat at the mall once a month. In fact some of them have even started shopping online. This is a major shift and the implication is that billions more will be consumed as a result of the shifting attitudes of the lower middle class.

Third there’s the war amongst the e-commerce giants — FlipKart and Amazon. Both have insanely deep pockets and they are putting the cash to good use, although some of their practices such as forcing merchants to sell below cost are questionable and have resulted in significant lash back from various groups. The big retailers are obviously scared of this new dynamic – the new kid FlipKart rose to a 10X valuation in less than half the time these big boys (e.g. Shoppers Stop) have been around. This war will be very interesting to watch and I’ll continue sharing my observations as we continue to work with players here.

You can beat eCommerce: Here’s How

In the last 10 years online shopping has come to roost. Amazon, eBay and others have turned the world of shopping upside down by offering a wide selection and addictive convenience to shoppers. Brick and stores have suffered as a result with fall in foot traffic, and resulting loss of revenue. However there’s hope dear hard-working retailer as you can fight online commerce on it’s own turf. Or in other words you can take advantage of technology breakthroughs to attract new shoppers and drive new sales right from your store.

What key advantages can I offer

New capabilities enabled by cloud POS systems, order-ahead services, and easy integrations with new shopping channels, will help you win the hearts and minds of shoppers in your area.

What technology breakthroughs do we speak of?

There are some amazing new tools that need to be availed of.

Cloud POS systems

Point-of-sales systems of today have evolved from the green-screen machines sulking away in a corner. The new breed of POS systems, such as Vend, LightSpeed, ERPLY, and ERPLY allow retailers to manage their stores from just about anywhere with an Internet connection. will let you manage your operations from a variety of devices (including tablets), allow easy upgrades, and also integrate with all kinds of 3rd party software. The last point is critical as we shall see.

Same-day delivery

Heralding a new era in local, new services have sprung up in major metros worldwide that allow for immediate delivery in densely populated areas. Deliv is one of those companies that specializes in same-day delivery for retailers. Their couriers pickup an order as soon as it is placed at the retailer and deliver to the shopper usually within the day. The cost is very reasonable and quite cheaper than next-day or even 2-day delivery by Amazon or at eBay.

eCommerce Carts right from your POS

Traditional eCommerce platforms were designed to best suit the need of online wholesalers, and not brick and mortar. Retail stores need a better solution that works directly with their POS to eliminate the need for managing different systems. Solutions such as ShoppinPal allow you to create a simple and fast online store right from an enabled cloud POS. They also allow you to plug your storefront in new channels such as PayPal, Facebook. Yelp etc allowing you to capture sales from local and social traffic. Finally they allow busy shoppers to order and pickup right at store, and for select metros even same-day delivery.

How does it all work together?

Solutions like ShoppinPal were created to help retail stores drive new revenue and simplify online commerce. Once integrated, they can read all your inventory, pricebooks and stock in real-time, render a storefront with pictures pulled in right from your POS, and further create an invoice right back to the POS once a sale is made. They further integrate with other popular consumer channels, as well as delivery services like Deliv. We are really excited about the future of retail and armed with the right tech tools, the market is yours to win.

How to Use Google Maps to Drive More Traffic to Your Retail Store

According to Google, 97 percent of customers shop for local businesses online; amazing, right? In the world of apps, Google Maps is a heavy hitter. It’s the most popular smartphone app out there, with over 54 percent of smartphone users who use apps using it to get where they need to go.

If you have a physical retail location you can’t afford to ignore this easy and free way to – literally and figuratively – get your business on the map. When your business is listed, you help your customers find you through different Google channels such as Maps, Search and Google+ and drive more traffic to your stores.

With 50 percent of smartphone users using a map app (most likely Google Maps) to find retail stores and 74 percent of smartphone users using location-based services, this is a service that’s becoming more and more relevant as the rise of smartphones continues. Shoppers are using both Google and Google Maps to find restaurants, businesses and retail stores. As Google doesn’t charge to list your business, this is a service you can’t afford overlook.

How to Get On the Map

To get started, you need to have a Google account (this account will work for all of your Google activities from Gmail to Google+). Next, you need to ensure your store is on the map. Believe it or not, the good samaritans over at Google may already have listed it for you; they may not have. To check, surf on over to Google Maps and search for your business. If you find it, you’ll need to ‘claim’ your business. If you don’t find it, you’ll need to ‘list’ your business.

To list your business on Google Maps, you’ll need to do so through Google Places for Business. First, sign in to your account and then create your business listing based on the instructions provided. If your business is already listed, you’ll need to claim it. You can do that by clicking on the corresponding clickable link that pops up when you pull up your business on Google Maps; from there you can choose the option to claim your business. You can get more detailed instructions on claiming your business. As claiming and listing your business can take a few weeks (Google doesn’t just put anyone on the map), it’s wise to get started right away.

Optimize Maps for Maximum Exposure

Optimizing your business for maximum exposure is an important part of your Google Maps strategy. Though getting on the map is the first, and arguably most important step, your work doesn’t end there. Learn to leverage Google to drive more foot traffic to your store. Here’s a plan to help you get more traffic out of maps:

1. Take Advantage of Google’s Free Features for Business

Google wants to be as complete as possible, so it provides lots of opportunities for you to upload information on your business. Start by making sure your Google Places/Maps listing is as thorough as possible. Add photos of your business. Fill out the hours. Provide a link to your website. Next, stay on top of customer reviews that are left for you. Google provides a forum in which customers can review your business; whether those reviews are negative or positive, it’s key to stay in the conversation and respond when a customer discusses your store on Google. Google provides a wealth of information on how to use their free features for big exposure.

2. Use Keywords to Your Advantage

Are there certain keywords or product words associated with your business? If you know a customer is going to be searching for a certain word associated with your store, such as “handbags”, it’s wise to make sure ‘handbags’ is in your Google Maps/Places description. Think of important keywords a customer might use to describe your business, and then include them in your Google description.

3. Encourage and Respond to Customer Reviews

Be sure to encourage your customers to share their experiences on your Google Maps page. Actual customer reviews go a long way in establishing actual trust and reputation within your community. Not only is it great for prospective customers to read reviews, but Google uses keywords from reviews to find relevant places for users. The Google Maps app makes it very easy for customers to rate and review your store on the go. It’s also critical that you monitor and respond to these reviews to show your customers that you care and are committed to making your retail store the best it can be.

4. Optimize Your Online Store for Mobile

Creating or claiming your listing, optimizing your store’s information, and generating and responding to reviews is an excellent start. But don’t stop there. Remember when you added a link to your website in your Google listing? Mobile commerce, specifically purchases made on smartphones, are on the rise. Often times a merchant’s website is not optimized for mobile. Other times a merchant’s mobile version of its site makes it simple to find store locations and contact information. But guess what? Google Maps already gives your shoppers your location, directions and phone number. So your website link you provide them in Google Maps should direct these shoppers to a great mobile experience for your online store. Prospective customers want a glimpse of what items you sell in your store before they visit in person. Make sure your e-commerce site is optimized for mobile shopping and makes checkout a quick and easy transaction.

If your store doesn’t have a mobile-optimized online store or no e-commerce store at all, a mobile commerce platform can be an efficient way to give your shoppers an instant mobile-optimized storefront for shoppers to browse your store’s real-time inventory and most popular items, see specials you’re running, and buy on the go. Shoppers can also order items and select in-store pickup instead of waiting for shipping if your mobile commerce platform is integrated with your point-of-sale system.

According to Google, 50 percent of consumers who search locally on their smartphones visit a store within a day. Don’t miss out on these customers. Optimize your Google Maps listing to help drive more traffic to your stores.

It’s Simple: Make Your Business Mobile-Friendly, Or Lose Customers

The Pew Research group reports that more than half of the U.S. population is mobile tech enabled — 58 percent have a smartphone and 42 percent have a tablet. More and more people get their news, do research and purchase products on their mobile devices. Smart companies are gearing up to support this mobile revolution, and smarter companies have been catering to smartphone users for years. Get your business and web presence mobile-ready. Without doing so, you’re recommending more and more customers to shop with your competitors ever day… unless you’re into losing money and that kind of thing?

What is the Impact of Mobile Access?

Tech Crunch reveals that 21.8 percent of the Black Friday sales last year were through a mobile device. Tablets accounted for 14.4 percent of the sales and smartphones 7.2 percent. KPCB predicts by the end of 2014, 25 percent of the Internet traffic globally will be through mobile devices. And smartphones will be used more and more for actual transactions, not just browsing then switching to a tablet or desktop for the transaction.

The Google Mobile Path to Purchase showed 48 percent of research on mobile starts with a search engine users started a search on a mobile device. Nearly 55 percent of those mobile searchers made a purchase within one hour. Do you want that purchase to be with you? Or with your competitors? The mobile user wants access to concise information through which they can make a quick decision. Your business needs to cater to these mobile searchers to stay connected.

Mobile-friendly Business

Forbes writer Joshua Steimle goes as far as to say that if your website is not mobile-ready in 2014, you may not be around for long. Making your website and content available to mobile users is key to competing with companies that have made the change. The three primary ways to manage this are through responsive design techniques on your website, by creating a separate mobile site, and creating a mobile app designed for specific devices. The path you ultimately take to be mobile-ready really depends on the type of content you’re serving up.

Websites and Responsive Design

Responsive design is a way to make your web presence look good and function well on any device, whether that’s a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Websites with responsive design will detect any of those devices you are using and format the page accordingly. Your website will display correctly without the user having to zoom in on portions of the page. They will have buttons that they can actually press without zooming in or pressing two buttons at once. Viewing your site is one thing, but making it easy for the mobile user to select items, fill in fields and check out is critical.

If you have a fairly new website, or it’s simple and for information only, implementing responsive design shouldn’t break the bank. If you haven’t touched your site in years, you may want to do a total rewrite to get the benefit of the best of responsive design techniques. You might invest several thousands of dollars on a rewrite with a responsive design, but your investment could place you ahead of slower moving competitors. Just remember that good web developers today think about responsive design first, not just an afterthought when you’re already knee deep in a website redesign that then adds big dollar signs not in the agreed upon budget.

Some of the areas addressed by responsive design include:

  • pages adjust to the size of the device’s screen
  • images resize automatically so they stay within their sections
  • page headers and footers remain small to allow for more content to display
  • custom menu systems are created to allow the mobile user to navigate through your site easily
  • search boxes are easy to find and use
  • product images are used as a focal point instead of text
  • product options are easy to select on a mobile device
  • cart and checkout buttons are easy to find and use

Responding to Mobile Users with an App

Some websites are just not conducive to responsive design. These include older and very complicated websites. In those cases, a special mobile app may be the solution. The social media platform LinkedIn chose to create a web app for each mobile OS so that those mobile users could have a unique experience, notes Forbes. Both iOS and Android users have an app to access LinkedIn that uses the native functionality in those devices. This ensures LinkedIn doesn’t miss any of its market due to lack of mobile compatibility.

How Mobile Data Can Change Your Retail Strategy

Google’s Our Mobile Planet report showed mobile shoppers spend 25 percent more on average than traditional shoppers. Retailers need to embrace this new era, and embrace the fact that 80 percent of shoppers carry around an Internet-ready device at all times. Furthermore, 78 percent of shoppers use their smartphone while in a store. A mobile website or app is a great start, but to capitalize on mobile shoppers, you must discover who they are and what they’re doing.

Scan and Run

It’s been called showrooming—a smartphone user scans the barcode of an item to see if they can get the item cheaper on Amazon. A brick and mortar store can’t be surprised by a consumer who wants to save money and time if there’s a long checkout. These shoppers are not a lost cause though. A comScore report found the average amount of time to receive online goods is 7.2 days. And, 78 percent of those polled say they choose the least expensive shipping option available, according to Internet Retailer. In our impulsive world, consumers still prefer to pay less and wait longer. Combat this trend by benefiting from smartphone usage yourself. Offer discounts through email or app notifications. Expect consumers to price check and don’t set premium prices on goods that are widely distributed especially if they retain value over time. If you’re able to offer exclusive products not sold online, make it happen.

Checkout Overhaul

A Yankee Group survey last year found 32 percent of companies with 500 or more employees are already using mobile POS and 29 percent plan to convert in the next 12 months. Retailers need to plan now as the checkout process is transforming. First, focus on customer service with your checkout process. A bad experience may be enough for a customer to switch to online shopping for good. Conduct surveys to find out what your customers desire and apply it to the checkout process. On the technology end, research firm IHL Group found mobile POS sales reached $2 billion in 2013. Integrated with several of the new breed of POS systems, ShoppinPal allows customers to browse a your store’s items, order ahead to have items ready for pick-up, and redeem rewards and self-pay on their phones so you keep their business. Take advantage of mobile POS and the value-driving mobile shopping solutions that work hand in hand with these point-of-sale systems.

Big Data, Big Strategy

Online retailers got a jump on big data by collecting information from ISP addresses. Now, brick and mortars can use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology to obtain valuable consumer information. Retailers can find what areas of a store a customer visits, how long they stay and their reaction to digital offers. This is all done without compromising the users security i.e gathering phone numbers and contacts. This data can be used to form a strategy that gives the customer a personalized and one of the kind experience. If one area of a store gets heavy traffic but low volume of purchases, decipher whether the issue is pricing or display. Analyze purchase history by integrating POS data into Quickbooks. This allows customers to be treated like VIPs when they are offered relevant deals and suggestions. Return customers should be given the most attention, these are the dollars that stores can keep away from their online competitors.

If you offer customers a personalized experience whether it be on though mobile or face-to-face, they are likely to come back for more.

Retail Apps + Toy Stores: A Match Made in Parenting Heaven?

From marketing via Instagram and Pinterest to location-based deals and targeted rewards, today’s niche and small retailers are getting creative. If you own or manage a shop that sells products kids and parents love, it’s time to think outside the toy box.

Big box stores offer the masses of overtired and overworked parents some serious appeal in terms of convenience – moms and dads can buy everything from computers to diapers in the same location. If you want to appeal to the parent shopper you’ve got a challenge – but not one that can’t be overcome! Shopping apps bring a lot to the sales floor and keep a toy store relevant with busy parents.

Retail Apps Offer Parents Sanity

Think about your average parent. They’re usually rushing from job to pre-school to birthday party to dinner: if they’re not cleaning spaghetti off the walls, they’re safeguarding the electronics from juice-crazed toddlers. Sometimes, parenting can feel like trying to manage a house full of frat guys (minus the alcohol). Needless to say, sanity can be a struggle for moms and dads, and as a result, they naturally gravitate toward anything that makes life a bit easier. The tired parent is an untapped market: send personalized purchase ideas and give moms and dads the ability to self pay from their phones (when they have a flock of kids in tow) and you can create an extremely loyal customer base.

Retail Apps Offer Parents Deals

Penny pinching has become a cultural phenomenon. From deal sites like Groupon to tv shows about couponing, shopping has become a serious business for a lot of us. Folks watching their budgets so closely is not the worst thing ever if you adapt and find ways to engage them: shoppers are more willing than ever to look around for a good deal. Shops that embrace the right retail app can keep their savvy parent shoppers in the loop on special prices and great buys. From offering customers check-in deals or even product-specific discounts, small business owners that utilize shopping apps can lure customers in with the power of a good, old-fashioned deal.

Retail Apps Offer Personalization

Check-in deals. Shared shopping lists. Mobile payments. Shopper analytics. Retail apps are an excellent way for stores understand their customers and enhance the shopping experience for busy parents. Retail apps also offer stores the powerful ability to target customers based on preferences. You know how Amazon offers personalized recommendations based on past purchases and browsing histories? Shopping apps do too, which is one more reason a parent will want to shop your store instead of passing it up to shop with the online giant.

When the ease of digital shopping is merged with real-time benefits, both the shop and the customer wins. Bottom line? If you sell parent and kid-friendly products, from nursing aprons to science sets, a retail app is a great way to drive sales while offering parents the stress reduction and convenience they crave.

How to Increase Mobile Shopping Security for your Consumers

Despite the new trends reshaping the mobile commerce this 2014, small businesses must retain one important aspect – the security of their consumers. Digital strategist Jinal Shah argues that smartphone security is still an area for improvement. “It appears that one of the biggest consumer obstacles – perception of mobile web security – also needs to be addressed more fully before a broader swath of consumers feels comfortable entering credit card info via their smartphones,” Shah said in her article on Mashable.

As your clientele increases over time, make sure that your business is ready to offer the best security by following these tips:

Maximize third-party security software

Verizon Enterprise Solution vice president of hospitality and retail Phil Burroughs said that retailers are one of “the most vulnerable to cybercrime and theft.” In the news published on Verizon Wireless, it was suggested that you must only utilize third-party solutions coming from the most credible vendors. For example, if you allow a certain third-party vendor to manage your Point of Sale (POS) systems, you must ensure that the merchant complies with the standards of the Payment Card Industry (PCI).

Leverage your app features

If you want to stay ahead of competitors, you must know how to disable unsecure mobile app options and highlight the high security features. Consistent monitoring must be done to ensure that your services remain protected all the time. Remember that most cyber intruders don’t consider the nature of which your system is created.

Consider the mobile platform

Platform-specific differences are an area of consideration, since revisions and software updates vary in security features. For example, when the Android 2.1 was introduced, shoppers were able to maximize the Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), which beefed up the system’s security against viruses and malware. With the KitKat update, there was a shift to the Digital Certificates mechanism, making it easy for patrons to identify attackers in the local network. As a retailer, you must be aware of any changes made in your chosen mobile platform’s security before planning adding any new service feature.

Ensure that all mobility channels are safe

The trend of omni-channel retailing introduces the use of social media and other technological advances to increase your conversion rate. Given its open nature, you must ensure that all online and mobility channels are secure and free from cyber thieves. First, you must monitor and protect your public-facing web assets. While they may be effective in attracting consumers, it’s also an avenue for suspicious threats. The solution is a mobile device management (MDM) solution to protect in-store mobile assets against viruses.

Indeed, the spike of smartphone and tablet adoption in mobile retail has not only induced benefits, as it also opened doors for various cyber predators. While this is the case, the tips we’ve mentioned guarantees satisfaction to your current and potential consumers , thus increasing your profit and ensuring the business’s longevity.

 

About the Author

Lily Sommers is a freelance writer from the UK with a keen interest in the latest trends on business, fashion, retail, and social media. She also likes to write about tech and travel from time to time, and would love to have more friends on Twitter and Google+.

Retail Mobile Technology Trends in 2014

After a rapid year of change in 2013 in the retail and technology arena, what can we expect in 2014?

2014 will be the year where small businesses will have to level up and fight the goliaths that are the big box and online retailers. Online vs. Offline will see a higher level of competition, as the stakes will be greater. In addition there are changes on the marketing front that small business owners need to be aware of. Read on to find out what we’ve learned and what’s in store for the New Year.

1. Merchants will focus on delivering the best user experience

2014 will see consumers move to retailers who provide a smooth and pleasant experience for their customers. Mobile apps of particular companies continue to add features that create more personalization. For example, Domino’s released an app that allows customers to save their favorite food items and coupons and in addition track pizza delivery. This has saved me more than once when I was too lazy to go to the trouble of figuring out what toppings I wanted or deciding on the thickness of my crust. I simply chose the pizza I had last time. Done.

2. The mobile wallet will demand innovation and value to grow

In 2013, the smartphone user base grew to over 50% of the mobile handset market in line with previous predictions. But mobile wallet systems have failed to take off. Why? The number of players in the field and the rapidly evolving technology is making consumers as well as retailers hesitant to invest time and money into any particular system.

But we’re putting our money on the mobile payment tools that continue to innovate and provide value above and beyond the payment. Take for instance PayPal, who implemented an order ahead feature (working with eat24, an online platform for food delivery from your favorite restaurant) that decreases wait time for customers. It’s all about value creation and making the user experience a streamlined, hassle-free and fun experience. And on a not-so-side note, I actually used this feature recently while out with friends, and must say it is pretty nifty.

3. Mobile commerce will see growth in 2014

As retailers come face to face with quick shipping and competitive pricing from online stores, it will become super important to face these challenges. It will be a decisive year for small retailers.

Ever checked product reviews on your smartphone while deciding to purchase something in store? You’re not alone. In a recent survey, 66 percent of respondents reported using their smart phones in stores to compare prices, search for deals, check with family and friends about their choices, and read product details and reviews.

Some have reported making purchases from cheaper online merchants right there in the store. Yes, it kind of leaves a bitter taste when a customer walks in, checks out the product, price shops and walks out. That’s why it’s time to step it up.

In 2014, retailers will have to battle this by bringing out their own improvements and invest in mobile apps that wow customers, create loyalty and allow leveraging technology to increase sales. One example of leveraging technology is knowing what product your customer checked out but didn’t buy while in the store, and enticing them to complete the purchase with a deal emailed to them or pushed to the app. This is just one of several features that ShoppinPal provides.

4. Data driven marketing will be a key strategy for local businesses

A study that was just released by the Direct Marketing Association found that data driven marketing was the way for local businesses to compete effectively. Their findings were that small businesses and innovation were the biggest winners in the data driven marketing economy. DDMI Executive Director Rachel Nyswander Thomas stated, “Data also gives small businesses a leg up in matching of products to customers. Data-intensive market insights are now more accessible to mid- and smaller-size enterprises than ever before” With this new information companies are quickly getting on board with local marketing campaigns and small business may finally get the edge on their larger competitors in 2014.