Follow-up on Managing Gift registry integration

MarcoleSampleProcess

For a follow-up to Managing Gift registry integration, we decide to highlight a small to medium Gift registry integration. However, before we start just a few words about large software projects (million-dollar plus). For our larger integrations each phase is highly detailed, due to the amount of effort and cost associated with large integrations. The adage “time is money” is particularly true the further along a large project gets, and changes are asked for. The later in the project a change is required, the more it costs everyone.* A great project manager can sometimes mitigate/minimize the cost; however, time will still be lost.

Define Project Milestones

Milestones could be deliverable’s or phases of the project. Deliverable’s could be a sign off on design or a test site of the new system.

Phases work well for medium to large projects. Phases could include discovery phase/planning phase, implementation phase, etc. I know many would say “what? That sounds like waterfall development cycle!?”  My experience is, that large projects and dealing with decision makers (business leaders), is they need to know the “how and what”. Which means you need “Discovery”.  Remember the goal of project management is to meet the goal of the major stakeholders and customers. You can decide as an integrator how you manage your in-house development anyway you like. However, I doubt a multi-million dollar plus contract will get signed without discovery, and some detailed “deliverable’s” aka requirements, including time frames.

Discovery means “Discover” what is required for the project to be deemed a success. These will be considered your “key metric indicators” used by your customers. Some common high-level success metrics include;

Is the project visible? Can your customer see the project coming to life? Mock-ups are great for project visibility.  Having a test site, showing sample screens is another great way to make the project visible.

Sometimes the only way a project integration is deemed successful is if it’s done by a certain date. If the key to success is to have the project by a date. Then you better manage expectations of what can be accomplished in the time frame allowed. Be careful to avoid promising too much, usually success is defined by delivering what you agreed to at a minimum.

Does success have to do with hitting a budget? Everyone knows you can throw more money at a project to get it done quicker, however, I didn’t see too many of these projects get funded unless there’s a pretty good plan in place as to how the money will be spent. It’s usually the one’s where the project is thought out and everyone has a decent understanding of the timeline, and requirements.

For project success, the bottom line is, find out who the key stake holders are and find out their expectations. Also make sure you write down those expectations. Try to be detailed as possible about the expectations. Such as “The Gift registry will match the font’s and colors used in our main website.” Or “order processing will be real-time using our Payment Gateway or Cart.”

Two good things come out of these types of details. First the customer gets to see them, giving them ample time to correct or confirm the details. Secondly, your team gets to see them, which gives them a heads up” on what will be required, and the type of effort involved.

Teams

A few words about teams; There are so many benefits to sharing the project details with your team early and often. First, they can work as an auditor of the project, particularly pieces they as individuals, have experience working on. They can use their experience on similar projects, to help determine if we will hit the deadlines and milestones set for it. Secondly, your team can spot things that you and the stakeholders missed.  Potential drawbacks to technology used, or suggestions and alternatives, such as using open source for some infrastructure. Lastly, trust is built. Your team learns to trust you more, as you show your trust in them. Your trust in them allows project decisions to go quicker, and team members “buy in” grows.  Which in turns raise the quality and professionalism of the software project. Nothing is better, than working with a team that understands the goals, and has made the goals their own.

Conclusion

We talk a lot about understanding the stakeholders/customers, in the end, everyone wants the same thing.  A great finished product/project that meets or exceeds expectations.  A great project starts with great communication.

At Marcole we specialize in software integration projects. Our projects range from zero integration, meaning just a link to our hosted solution, to projects the integrate with all your internal systems. Give us a call or email when you are ready for more information.

*Heerkens, G. (2014). The cost of change. PM Network, 28(1), 22–23 – https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/business-project-cost-change-management-3823

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Successful Gift Registry and Point of Sale Integration(POS) Guidelines

Successful Gift Registry and Point of Sale Integration(POS) Guidelines

When retailers think about adding Gift Registry, one of the first questions right “after how much is it?”, is “how hard is it to add a Gift Registry solution to my site”. And “how much work do I have to do?”.

These are great questions and need to be addressed right away. At Marcole we have encountered many different scenarios and discovered the “best” implementation is the one that matches up with your unique situation. Below are main points that should be included in any implementing plan. Remember if the implementation cost money or time, then it should have a plan.

Asking the Right Questions

First, you probably already have a template for your standard implementing plan. But before you start filling it out and checking boxes let’s start with some questions. There is no one solution that works for all situations. When integrating anything, not just Gift Registry, the retailer and potential integrator need to take stock of all the potential integration points. It’s not the customer(retailers) responsibility to determine all the points, it’s the Integrators. An experience Integrator needs to ask the right questions and more importantly, listen to the answers.  The partnership starts in the initial conversations. In a good partnership, the integrator and customer want the same result, a cost-effective and timely solution that best fits the customer’s needs and the production environment.  Asking good questions will also help you build trust with your customer.

Good Questions to Ask

If you have an experienced integrator you will hear questions like these.

  • Are you wanting to host the gift registry solution on your servers are do you want us to host the solution?
  • What is your current e-commerce platform?
  • What is your current POS system?
  • Do want Kiosks in your store for your customers?
  • Is shipping items an issue? Do you ship globally?
  • Would you want your customers to scan items to add to gift registries while in they are in your store(s)?
  • How busy is your website and or store(s)? Meaning how much gift registry traffic are you expecting?
  • What are you looking for in a Gift Registry system?
  • How do you want to handle item and price management?
  • What about images, where are they stored?
  • Do you have an IT support team? Or how do you want to handle technical support issues?
  • What kind of reports are you use to?
  • How will your team handle administrating the Gift registry?

These are just some of the main questions that need answering. There are more, but I wanted to give you a flavor of the questions. Too many times, integrators or Retailers just want to “getter done”, before they realize what the customers’ expectations and requirements are.

One last thing about asking the right questions. Depending on the size of the organization, you may need to check if the right person is being asked the questions. Check with the team who will be using the system. They could have valuable feedback and requirements, and make sure those who “sign the checks” give sign off on the new project as well.

The next post we will go into different types of ways of integrating, including using APIs. Then finally we will talk about a plan!

What to look for when adding a Gift Registry solution

What to look for when adding a Gift Registry solution

What to look for when adding a Gift Registry solution

When thinking about adding gift registry to your web and mobile services, there are two perspectives that are vital to keep in the middle of the decision process.

  1. Gift Registry Customer Perspective

Retailers know that the customer, also known as the Registrant, always comes first. The Retailer, known as the owner or corporation, must keep the customer in mind when integrating, managing, and implementing GiftRegistryWorks, the gift registry system. Marcole has been implementing gift registries since 1991. Since then, we have been working to constantly improve, develop, and test GiftRegistryworks. We strive to remain innovative, as we were first to use browsers for in-store implementations, as well as with mobile scanning of items.

Today, Gift Registry is less auxiliary as most customers expect the service to be available on any web device. Customers are looking for a responsive design on both desktop and mobile for a user-friendly experience. Customers  want reliable and stable data security without the hassle of a complicated webpage.

  1.    Gift Registry Retailer Perspective

Retailers are looking for a solution that’s not a time sink, but easy-to-use and self-explanatory. Running a successful business requires time and focus and any additional software needs to be implemented quickly and accurately. Retailers should be managing their business instead of spending time adjusting and calculating data. For retailers, scanning items and updating registries should be simple and quick. All webpages should be password protected. All store associates should have the ability to run reports through set permissions. At Marcole, we provide these services as part of our base package, not as an add-on or custom charge.

Technical support, or “gift registry specialist,” makes implementation and management easier so the retailers have less to worry about. We have experience that is specifically for your business, such as knowing what “patterns” and “collections” are and how they should be implemented.  Understanding whether or not you need “subcategories” and how to use “seasonal flags” and “item inventory”. These are learned processes Marcole thinks about first when working with the client.

To summarize, the solution should have the following features and benefits:

  1. Easy to use for Registrants, a page flow that makes sense.
  2. Responsive pages, allowing the Registry to show on any device.
  3. Web presence
  4. Mobile presence
  5. In store administration capabilities
  6. Ability to handle multiple stores and many associates
  7. In store Kiosks applications including printing
  8. Ability to scan items real time and add them to registries
  9. Admin tool for adding and updating items via an easy use to GUI.
  10. Ability to integrate with today’s checkout gateways.
  11. Easy to integrate into Ecommerce platforms.
  12. Secure and robust technology
  13. Domain experience from the software provider, to help with the unusual situations.

In the end, a solution that has both the retailer and customer in mind, is a solution that has potential. Give Marcole a call or email and let us help you figure out how to implement Gift Registry that works best for you and your customer.

Gift Registry Works for your Business

When considering adding a gift registry option for your business, there is certainly a lot to consider.  Questions that you may ask yourself may be; where do I start?  How complicated will this new venture be?  Well, not as hard as you think.  Now, there are many gift registry options out there, some even claim to be free.  Most cases it means your free to do a lot of the work yourself.  Why do that!  Marcole Interactive Systems has an easy and affordable gift registry solution for small or large retailers.  Marcole designs, host,  and maintains gift registry software for you.  For more info, click on the link below :  Adding Gift Registry Works

Is Gift Registry Right for Your Business?

Is Gift Registry Right for Your Business?

And
How can I measure the Gift Registry Return-on-Investment?

One of the questions forward thinking retailers ponder is – what creative marketing activity can I undertake at a reasonable cost, to maximize my business revenue while generating a respectable return-on-investment?

Clearly, today’s retail climate demands that astute retailers discover new ways to increase revenue, draw new customers to their stores and keep them coming back.  Gift Registry has proven time-and-again to do just that!  Unlike many retail automation projects Gift Registry does not profess to save money rather the Gift Registry value-proposition is about making money.

Gift Registry was first implemented by Department Stores reaching out to engaged couples.  The earliest gift registry programs utilized labor intensive paper-based systems and catered exclusively to weddings.  At first, the only products typically registered for were fine china, crystal stemware and sometimes silverware.  More often than not, these products were not stocked in quantity by the Department Stores and registries enabled them to special order pre-sold known quantities of merchandise.

In recent years, gift registry has grown well beyond Department Stores and their Wedding Registries.  Today, independent specialty, lifestyle and gift retailers are finding that traditional registries and “wish lists” can definitely help smaller businesses compete more effectively in-store and on the web. Gift registry helps to build customer loyalty and makes shopping easier.

The tangible benefits for the retailer are that the Gift Registry drives revenue brings in new customers, and minimizes returns. The intangible benefits are that Gift Registry builds long-term customer relationships, generates incremental sales as unrelated purchases are made when gift buyers shop and the Gift Registry facilitates database driven personalized marketing campaigns.

Customers who register their selections at their favorite store benefit from the satisfaction of receiving what they want and need.  It also eliminates the unpleasant and inconvenient task of returning unwanted items to the store for a refund or exchange, not to mention disappointing the gift giver for making the wrong selection.

Finally, the customer who is shopping for gifts gains satisfaction by selecting gifts that they know the recipient really wants.  The result is a satisfied customer who can’t wait to present their gift with full confidence knowing that it will be appreciated.

Automated gift-registry systems can range from a clerk-assisted application installed on a single PC – to a global enterprise, multilingual deployment; combining in-store full-service and self-service application modules plus tightly integrated web-based item selection and transactional functionality offering an omni-channel experience.  System architecture and features will vary dependent upon the functionality and level of service to be offered.

Small to mid-size retailers typically do not have the resources to build their own applications in-house and therefore should rely upon Gift Registry specialists who will be able to provide a high-quality turn-key solution at a reasonable cost.  Larger retailers who may have the capability to build their own systems more often than not choose to reduce risk, lower costs and expedite deployment by purchasing well known and proven systems.

The return-on-investment for a Gift Registry implementation will be a function of management and marketing support in addition to a wide variety of retailer-specific variable factors.

Consideration must be given to:

  • The number of registries per-store – per-year
  • Average number of items per registry
  • Average Item retail
  • Average item margin
  • Average percentage of registry sell-through
  • Software cost
  • Hardware cost
  • Web hosting costs (if applicable)

Reputable Gift Registry software vendors can help retailers calculate an ROI based on their particular situation.

Marketing a Gift Registry should be an integral part of an integrated marketing campaign – not an add-on or afterthought.  In-store signage, links from the company web-site, inclusion in advertising campaigns and public relations efforts are all mandatory for success.  Marketing support can include a welcome package for registrants that include checklists suggesting item Categories to include in a registry.  Some retailers provide tastefully printed cards that registrants can provide to guests stating that: “Our gift preferences have been registered with your store.”  Others keep customers coming back with post-event targeted marketing campaigns for “registry completion.” Contact Marcole sales team to help, you provide a Gift Registry your customers’ deserve.

Marcole Gift Registry Team