Case Study: Toy Store Upgrades Customer Experience With mPOS System

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bricksmMerchant: Bricks & Minifigs
Size: 7 Locations
Location: Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington
Platforms: NCR Silver
Bottom Line: Mobile POS systems with integrated rewards programs can give mom-and-pop businesses an edge in the competition against large retail chains.

Managing the operations, staffing, and financials at his growing aftermarket Lego business, Bricks & Minifigs, has left co-founder John Masek with little time to spend dealing with the technological infrastructure necessary to run a traditional hardware point-of-sale system.

“There are certain merits, obviously, to having a larger-scale system. [But] when I was looking for a system that would work for a small business, whether it’s mine or one of my franchisees’, I had to really look at it and say ‘What is going to be the easiest thing for somebody who’s never had retail experience? What do I do for them to really help get them jumpstart it and not have to deal with all the rigmarole of an actual server POS system?’ We really tossed it around,” Masek says.

Masek ultimate chose NCR Silver, a mobile POS system that works on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, and integrates with both loyalty and email marketing programs.

“It’s a very nice, simple, fairly full-featured system that allows me to hand it to somebody who’s never used any of the features, and get them up and running in a short period of time,” Masek says.

Now with seven locations — five franchises and two corporate stores — Bricks & Minifigs has grown to become one of the largest after-market Lego businesses in the country. At his store in Canby, Oregon, Masek has his employees using as many as four iPads at any given time. Two of the iPads are stationed at the front counter, where employees process transactions. The other two devices are used by sales associates who roam the floor and use the system’s inventory management features to help customers find what they’re looking for.

“The two floor iPads don’t get used in a POS system all that often because of how our store is laid out. We use them more from a customer support standpoint” Masek says. “We do still drive the majority of the customers to the check stand, but having the additional iPads gives us the ability to access the POS system. So, whether we need to check prices, check inventory, look up points for them, whatever it is, it allows us to step away from the register and not have to inconvenience people that are in line to help another customer. I can grab an iPad that’s in our back room or sitting off to the side and instantly help somebody. So, that’s the biggest thing that we use it for.”

Masek also uses his floor iPads to sign up customers to Bricks & Minifigs’ loyalty program on the fly. Unlike many of the programs run by his competitors, Masek’s doesn’t rely on a single piece of contact information — like a phone number or an email address — to link customers to their accounts.

“One of the things that I do like about the way the NCR loyalty program works is that it doesn’t force you to have to collect any certain piece of information. It just requires any piece of information. So, I have some customers who don’t want to give me an email or phone number, and I can just simply put their name in and as long as they give me that name and I track it when they buy stuff, then they get rewards,” Masek says. “I certainly try to encourage an email address, so I can send out coupons and promotions to people. But as long as you’re consistent within the program, as far as how they want to be identified, the system actually doesn’t care, which is very nice for people who maybe don’t want to give out all their information.”

For those customers who do hand over their email addresses, Masek sends out periodic email updates and digital coupons as a way to spread awareness and bring back customers who haven’t come by in a while.

“We don’t send out a lot of email, [but] we try to make those contacts that we do send out impactful for the customer,” Masek says. “So far it’s had a good result.”

Masek is able to say that with confidence because he uses the data generated by his mPOS system to measure the effectiveness of his digital marketing campaigns.

“When we do some of those marketing programs, we can actually tie a coupon into it, a reward, and then that is in our front-end system,” Masek says. “So when we’re ringing up customers, they will relay that coupon to us either digitally or printed, and I can instantly track my return on that marketing program.”

Ultimately, as the owner of a small business that caters to customers who are used to shopping at national toy chains, Masek says image plays an incredibly important role.

“Just having the environment that makes us look professional goes a long way. I don’t try to compete with the big stores, and so when there are situations where we have to maybe address a price match or something like that, it’s really not something that anything really helps or hurts,” Masek says. “What does help us is just the professional image that we’re able to give with the POS system that separates us from just being a mom and pop store. It does give us an edge in that department.”

The Takeaway
Using a mobile POS system with integrated marketing solutions has enabled Masek to onboard more customers to his rewards program. Rather than linking customers to their accounts by email address, phone number, or credit card, Masek links customers through whichever information they’re comfortable sharing. As consumers grow increasingly weary of handing over their personal information—particularly in the wake of recent consumer fraud cases—adaptable programs like this will become increasingly popular.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.