Monday, October 30, 2017

Brand Keys 2017 Holiday Shopping Survey

Brand Keys 2017 Holiday Shopping Survey
Finds Increase in Consumer Spend Doubles YOY

NEW YORK, NY October 30, 2017 – A robust stock market and high levels of consumer confidence have coalesced to double the increase in anticipated 2017 holiday spending over 2016. “Generally good economic news has consumers signaling a 4% increase in their holiday spend this year to an average of $936 per household,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys,, the New York City-based brand loyalty and customer engagement research consultancy that conducts the annual survey.

Earlier & Earlier Shopping = The New Normal for the Winter Holidays
Consumers are making decisions and plan to shop even earlier than in previous years. “Retailers have recognized shifts in the consumer shopping paradigm, and will again try to capitalize on them by kicking off Black Friday-like sales even earlier than in previous years,” Passikoff said.

According to the 11,625 shoppers who participated in the 2017 Brand Keys survey, despite larger spends consumers have adopted new shopping patterns when it comes to the holidays and calendar events, particularly the winter holidays. “This is an incredibly important shift,” said Passikoff. “It means that a ‘season’ that represents nearly 25% of the retail industry’s total sales, is spread out – conservatively speaking – over a four month-plus period even though the ‘Winter Holidays’ have traditionally been defined as the 61 days of November and December. It may work that way on the calendar, but not in successful retailers’ marketing strategies!”

Black Friday Turns Gray, December Is More Seasonal and Traditional
Consumers have begun holiday shopping earlier and earlier. Last year 41% of consumers reported shopping before Black Friday. This year that number has increased significantly, with just over half the consumers (51%) reporting they had already shopped or intended to do so before Black Friday, a shopping period known as ‘Black November.’ “Super Saturday has overtaken Black Friday in actual sales,” noted Passikoff. “So while Black Friday represents a retail raison d’être, it is fast becoming a relic of twentieth century retailing.”

“Marketers have taught, and consumers have learned, that deals abound year-round,” Passikoff noted. “This has resulted in earlier shopping and the knowledge that deals are likely to only get better as Christmas approaches.”

As a result, a smaller percentage of consumers (20%, down 5% YOY) have indicated they are actually shopping on Black Friday. Twenty-nine percent (29%) of respondents indicated that they will holiday shop in December, the largest specific shopping period identified by consumers in the 2017 Brand Keys survey.

“Deals notwithstanding, shopping on Black Friday and in December itself has become more of a traditional, seasonal thing families can do together,” noted Passikoff. “It’s a habituated behavior that grabs consumers when Jack Frost nips at their noses and Santa Claus is coming to town, despite the fact that 71% of their shipping has already been completed!”

When it came to time periods consumers will holiday shop, they reported the following (percentages in parentheses indicate changes from 2016 data):

Before September: 6% ( +2%)
September: 7% ( +2%)
October: 16% (+5%)
November (before Black Friday): 22% (+1%)
Black Friday 20% (- 5%)
December: 29% (- 5%)

Where They’ll Shop –Online and Off
Virtually all consumers interviewed (98%) are buying online again this year. “It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retailers have had more difficult times engaging customers over the past five years,” said Passikoff. “They’ve been trying to forestall the online assault with ‘better’ reward programs and low-lower-lowest pricing schemes, but consumers are on to that. Online has become the default venue for browsing, promotions, price checking and, ultimately, buying holiday gifts.” Consumers again intend to use multiple venues to shop this year:

Store Type 2017 % change from 2016

Discount Department Stores 95% ----
Specialty & Apparel Stores 75% +30
Traditional Department Stores 73% - 10
Electronics 25% + 5
Price Clubs 24% + 4
Sporting Goods Stores 18% - 2
Outlet Stores 15% + 5

Catalogues (8%), are down again another 2% from last year. “If a consumer can pull up the same content on a computer, a tablet or a smartphone, they regard hard-copy as redundant,” Passikoff remarked.

What They’ll Buy

Consumers indicated the following categories where money is going to be spent. Changes from last year appear in parentheses:

Clothing and Accessories 85% (+5%)
Personal Care Products/Spa 55% (+5%)
Electronics/Phones/Computer 48% (- 2%)
Kitchen/Cookware 45% (+3%)
Toys 30% (+10%)
Food and Wine 26% (+6%)
Jewelry 25% (+5%)
Books 15% (+ 5%)
Sporting Goods 10% (- 2%)
Home Décor 10% (+ 5%)
Tools 10% (-----)

Gift Cards Are (Again) Ubiquitous
Gift cards have become as universal as sending greetings in one form or another, with nearly everyone indicating they’ll buy at least one this year (95%).

Value, Convenience and Shopping Ease Are the Best Retailer Gifts
Just as in holiday seasons past, value is paramount for all platforms. Consumer expectations regarding outreach and convenience are up again. Expectations for the shopping experience for brick-and-mortar retail are also up again,” Passikoff said. “Retailers that can provide a sense of consumer comfort, confidence and shopping ease will see better bottom lines.” Free shipping and returns, order online-pickup-in-store or ship-to-store options will have holiday shoppers’ attention again this year.

Brand Keys ( is the only research consultancy that specializes in customer loyalty and consumer emotional engagement metrics that accurately predict future consumer behavior. These measures enable companies and brands to anticipate shifts in what has become a more digitally driven and rapidly changing marketplace.

Len Stein

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Welcome to some new and upgrading customers!

Very happy to share that the following retailers have signed on with myself over the last 30 days. I look forward to working with you!
  • Four Way Meat Market, California: Card Defender for Microsoft Dynamics RMS
  • Waterski Pro Shop, Idaho: Upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics RMS to Retail Management Her (RMH)
  • Universal Police Supplies, Arizona: Upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics RMS to Retail Management Her (RMH)
  • River and Adventure Toys, Idaho: Upgrade from Microsoft Dynamics RMS to Retail Management Her (RMH)
  • The Caring Place, Texas: Card Defender for Microsoft Dynamics RMS
  • The Jug Shop, California: Card Defender for Microsoft Dynamics RMS
  • Plano Cycles, Texas: Card Defender for Microsoft Dynamics RMS
  • Picuris Smoke Shop, Arizona: Card Defender for Microsoft Dynamics RMS
As always, contact me at 208-340-5632 or with retail point of sale related questions.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Restaurant Point of Sale Advice

A quick note that I am focused mainly on the retail side of things but do have personal experience in table serve restaurant management as well as the sales and support of multiple restaurant, bar, and quick serve point of sale systems.

If you are searching for a hospitality point of sale system, please do contact me at 208-340-5632 or with a note that my advice will likely not be as in depth as what I can provide on the retail side.

Fall Clean Up

Quick note that I am going through my Blog Site and YouTube Channel and removing posts or videos that contain outdated information.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Retail Management Hero Training and Installation Videos

As more and more Microsoft Dynamics RMS users migrate to the Retail Management Hero software, I thought that it would be helpful to include links to the various videos that provide installation, setup, or general training on RMH. The videos  are not a substitute for help from your RMH partner but are more of a prerequisite to more formal assistance and training.

The Basics:
POS and Manager Navigation: (33mn)

Other Operations - Label Printing: (11mn)

More Advanced Installation & Setup:

Installation and Configuration: (49mn)

Setup: (12mn)

General Printed Materials:  Available via your RMH Partner

I'll be working on more RMH related videos myself over the coming months. In the meantime, please contact me at 208-340-5632 or with any questions.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Issue Encountered with the State of Utah Purchasing Department

Ran in to an issue with the State of Utah purchasing department that needs to be shared to help prevent this happening in the future (and may be useful to other public sector purchasing agents).

I was contacted to provide a bid for the State of Utah specific to a Microsoft Dynamics RMS lapsed maintenance agreement. Microsoft's policy is that only the Partner of Record can provide this type of information so I provided the State of Utah with a Microsoft Dynamics RMS Change of partner form so I would be their Partner of Record and I could provide pricing to renew the RMS maintenance.

The contact at the State of Utah replied that they would not provide this information and are soliciting bids/quotes. If I was unwilling to provide a bid/quote based on this information, then I would be considered a "no bid".

Obviously I can't provide a bid/quote without the Change of Partner form so the State of Utah was creating a situation where no one could bid except their current Dynamics RMS Partner.

This really doesn't make any sense - why waste a vendors time? Much easier to just note that this is a sole source opportunity or that the State of Utah wishes to renew the Microsoft Dynamics RMS maintenance agreement with their current Dynamics RMS Partner.

I'm hoping that there is nothing fishy going on with the bid processes with the State of Utah. Hopefully they just didn't understand how Microsoft assigns a Partner of Record who is the only entity allowed to access maintenance renewal costs.

Because this involves tax payer money, I'm also posting this in case other vendors have had similar experiences that should be shared as well as for media and government watch group use.

Contact me at 208-340-5632 or with any questions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Retail Management Hero (RMH) Central Pricing

Very exited for the annual Retail Realm Conference coming up in November so we can finally see what the RMH Central program looks like!  Many Microsoft Dynamics RMS users that I've worked with also use RMS HQ and have been holding off on the replacement of RMS and HQ pending more information on RMH Central.  Until November rolls along, I just have pricing information to pass along::

RMH Central User License: $360/year
RMH Central Store License: $360/year

As you can see, RMH Central will be subscription based pricing.  More details to come - contact me at 208-340-5632 or in the meantime with any questions.


Monday, October 9, 2017

New Features and Functions in NCR Silver

The folks at NCR have been busy adding new features and functions to the NCR Silver POS app for iOS devices. I've actually sold and supported NCR Silver in the past and found it to be a great entry level cloud based POS system.

Here is a link to the details:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What's New in Retail Management Hero (RMH) Version 3.4.2

As I'm involved with several Retail Management Hero (RMH) deployments this month, I figured that a quick list of new features/functions in RMH would be helpful. This applies to version 3.4.2 of RMH.

PRODUCT UPDATE: RMH Version 3.4.2 is now available!

Retail Management Hero (RMH) Version 3.4.2 is now available! This full feature release brings a wealth of new features, improvements and fixes, including:
  • TaskPads (POS, Store Manager)
  • Active Reports (Store Manager)
  • Enhanced custom reports to include filtering (Store Manager)
  • Additional fields to the Detailed Sales Reports (Store Manager)
  • Cash Drawer: Support for two independent cash drawers (POS)
  • Column tooltips in customer lookup and item lookup (POS)
  • Automatic refresh at the POS after changes are made at the Store Manager (POS)
  • Tax brackets (POS)
  • Prompt to Show PO/Transfer – Receipt document after Commit (Store Manager)
  • Recall Layaway (list/grid) – Include columns for Ref and Comment (POS)

For more details please contact me at 208-340-5632 or