Retail Podcast 404: Danielle Ewert Attaining Transparency with POS
Bob Phibbs interviewed Danielle Ewert, Senior Manager of Onboarding and Training at Springboard Retail. In this episode Bob and Danielle talked about how to get the most out of your POS system.
Tell me something good about retail
Danielle Ewert: Attaining Transparency with POS
Bob: Thanks for joining me. Today our guest is Danielle Ewert, senior manager of onboarding and training at Springboard Retail. Good morning.
Danielle: Good morning. It's great to be here, Bob.
Bob: I am thrilled to have you here today. We are in the midst of trying to figure out what's happening with the virus. We're recording this in about the middle of March, but, I just wanted to get started, since you are a person who does onboarding, and we were just sharing a story about what's going on at your daycare. Could you share that with us?
Danielle: Absolutely. I'm in Massachusetts, Cambridge specifically, so, you know, wedged between two large universities, MIT and Harvard, who have closed up shop.
So, for a very big kind of bustling area, we're in a little bit of a ghost town right now. But our daycares are still going strong and they're taking some pretty wonderful and funny precautions. One being teaching kids how to wash their hands properly via really fun songs. They're bringing in guitarists and doing hand-washing songs in the classroom, which has been pretty funny.
They send us videos and pictures of them, of course, during the workday, so, we can feel like we're participating. And my daughter is a rambunctious 17-month-old and not potty trained and, walking around of course, but barely speaking.
And she can properly wash her hands because of the precautions that a daycare is taking that she knows. Yeah. Wash for a good amount of time. She knows how to lather. She goes for the right towel to dry her hands. It's kind of incredible.
Bob: See, I think that's what I take from this, is that we've got to teach millions of people finally that society's health starts with personal health.
And, I could tell you I'm 62 years old, and learning how to wash your hands - the only thing I hate about washing my hands was my Uncle Ray. So, I'll tell you this quick story. My dad's brothers and sisters would get together and we would all do a family camp back in the ’60s for a week.
I'll never forget the day I was in the bathroom and I'm washing my hands with cold water and my uncle says, “You know, you should use hot water. Turn on the hot.” I was like, “Oh.” I mean, no one had ever said any of that to me. So, I think those blind spots are informing some of the ways people think about things like hand washing now, like, “Oh, well, I never did it.”
Well, that doesn't mean it was right.
Danielle: Probably not a good thing that you didn't do that.
Bob: Right. So, I wanted to speak to you today because you are head of onboarding and training, which means we are alike in many ways. So, how do you interface with retailers?
Danielle: So, we are point of sale and inventory management system and we do everything remotely. So, when we're interfacing, like right now, you and I are screen-sharing where we can see each other. We're speaking over our computers. This is exactly how I work with my clients. We work through Zoom and we share computer screens and our team walks them through their accounts and best practices.
And we teach them hands on how to use our system and how to onboard in a way that will benefit their business. And it's nice because when we do screen share, we'll often have them drive. So, they're doing the clicking cause it's better for them, for their muscle memory.
So, we're walking them through, but they're doing, because most people learn by doing.
Bob: Well, see. That's what I am so thrilled to speak to you about because I consider myself a pretty good trainer, and I think there's a certain mindset to training you either have or don't have, right? You either get like, “Oh, it's cause and effect,” and going back to the simple thing of your daughter at 17 months, we've made it fun, right?
We didn't say, “Okay, now kids, we've got to all learn that or we're all going to die.” Oh, great. Thanks for that. Your 17-month-old is loving this idea and you mix it up, but also you have to repeat it, right? They didn't just come in and say, “We're going to do, we're going to wash our hands 20 seconds.” And I would think that would really be important in your case because with POS systems, let's be honest, they scare the crap out of most retailers, don't they?
Because they can do so many reports. And you know, when the guy sells it or gal sells it, it’s “Yeah, I can do this and this and this and this.” And you're like, “Can I just figure out what my average sale is?” And, so how do you overcome that, maybe bias, right? “It's too much for me.” What are some techniques, cause I think it has applications on the frontline as well, right?
That we have to really understand learning. So, what tips could you give us about what you've learned, for example.
Danielle: Well, going back to the doing, I think first you have to just do it calmly because retailers are, I think there are no busier people in the world than retailers. And you know, the last thing people want to do is spend their time, you know, configuring their data from a previous system to a new system - that's daunting.
And if you decide to do the data work yourself, you better be pretty Excel savvy because it's so much work and the data cleanup, it's literally the last thing that retailers want to do.
Bob: Wait, so let's interrupt that for a second. So why do they do that? To save money? Let's be honest, and you don't realize, I wrote my book, “The Retail Docs Guide to Grow your Business.”
Same thing. So we get done, to the publisher. They're all set. They're all set, now we need to index the book. “It'll cost you another $2,000 do you want to do it or have us do it?” “Oh, I'll do it.” Oh my God. You know, by like the end of the first week I'm pulling my hands. I was like, I cannot give you enough money to get this off my hands.
And ultimately, it's done better. And I would think that's the same for you. So how do you get people to understand just what that workload might look like. Right?
Danielle: Thankfully that's handled pretty well in the sales process. What's cool is we have, a lot of our sales team actually comes from our support team that we've all kind of like grown up through the ranks there.
So, they have a great understanding of the system, how much work is actually involved. And one of the things that's really, I think so powerful about our teams in general is we almost all come from extensive retail backgrounds. We are all either boutique managers or we were buyers. We were inventory managers, we were merchandise managers.
So, everybody comes from this really kind of core understanding of like, you don't have time to do this, so let a professional do this. And do you really want to be like concatenating and in Excel when you should be on your sales floor? That's not the most wonderful use of your time.
So that perspective helps on that front for sure.
Bob: And you’re that calm about it because you're aware that this is so well, it's scary, right? Isn't it? It's scary that I might do something wrong. Then you're kind of that voice of saying, “We'll do it together,” which I think is really important in training.
Danielle: It is together. And you know, there's plenty of resources that we utilize. We use webinars. Everybody does learn differently. Some people prefer to kind of listen and watch and learn late at night in bed. Fine. So we have resources, we have articles, we have kind of how-to’s and plenty of videos to watch.
But the, the one-on-one sessions I think are by far the most powerful because then I get to learn about you as a retailer and why you bought the product. Why? Why did you choose to change? Was it because you lacked reporting and your buying reports aren't up to par? Are you managing inventory across three different stores and you can't allocate your merchandise properly?
Like what are your main points? So, we can take that time and kind of cover that together since that's why you changed.
Bob: I'll bet most people would say, “Yes, yes, yes.” Right? It's like, yes, that's what I'm looking for is information. And, that's, you know, the other thing with POS systems, you know, for me, and I'm dated because I haven't purchased POS systems probably in 10 years but my whole thing was, set up the best reports and have them come to you. Don't get stuck in the idea that you have to go looking for them. Would that be your advice in this system in 2020?
Danielle: Yes. I think you should have kind of core reports that you rely on and that those metrics are how you're moving your business. But the way our reporting features, it's incredibly robust.
And it's really, really flexible. So we have just lists of groups and metrics so that you can create very, if there's a very specific situation that you need to report on at this very moment in time, you're seeing this really unusual dip in the sale of bottoms, and you need to run a department report on bottoms by location, by color.
Maybe not a report you're going to need all the time, but you're seeing this really unusual trend in a product that you typically did really well in. You can run that type of report on the spot. So yes, have your core saved reports that are going to help you kind of buy and run your business and make high level decisions.
But our reporting feature is built on what you need at this very moment in time. And, teaching people by touch, like literally giving people fake sandbox accounts that mirror their accounts so they could play with these things prior to going live on the system. Because you need to play.
Bob: They got to meet with success, right? Practice before you go live. That's my thing. You know, I teach retail sales training and I want you to practice on other people before you're doing it with my customers, which is really going to cost me money. Right?
Danielle: Exactly, and that's how you master these tools. Because they're simple. But retail and business in general is complex. So especially if you're coming off of a legacy system you've been on for like 30 years, the reconditioning to get onto a new system is so wild, just because buttons look different, even if it functions similarly.
Bob: And so, tell us a little bit about your background of being in boutiques and fashion education.
What kinds of things have you done before that brought you to Springboard?
Danielle: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a Chicago gal and I went to Columbia College, Chicago for fashion business. Not fully knowing - there was a lot of merchandising going on there - not knowing exactly where I wanted to land at the retail industry, but knew that was the industry from a very young age.
Kind of funny. I think some people are just born with it and you're born with it and you're stuck in it forever, and it's a good thing. I helped manage and run a wonderful clothing boutique, back home in West Chicago for, eight, nine years.
Bob: What kind of POS system do they have? You don't have to say the brand. Was it a full featured?
Danielle: We were pen and paper. We were pen and paper.
Bob: Was this back in 1950? When was this?
Danielle: I consider myself on the younger side, but definitely not back in 1950.
Bob: I might have been insulting. Sorry, it wasn't ageist.
Danielle: Not at all. No, it was a store that was really well established in another region, and they moved back to the Chicago area and it had worked that way for ages. And it worked. It was a very kind of intimate, very high-end boutique. So, it was kind of, again, a very intimate experience with the customer.
So pen and paper suited the feel of the store.
Bob: And I imagine with all of you, you were also really cognizant of what was selling and what wasn't. See, I think that having that direct interaction with customers, you can't duplicate, right? I mean, that's the whole point. You get a full featured, system like Springboard Retail POS, so that you can dive into those numbers because most likely in 2020 you're going to be farther removed from the situation than when you might've started. Is that correct?
Danielle: Exactly. It's also just much harder to come up with concrete. Like you intuitively know this type of earring is not doing as well as it did last season, and I'm not entirely sure why.
So, as a retailer and as a good retailer, you have that intuition. You're working with a customer and your pen and paper. You know what's not working, but you can't pull the exact numbers. So, when you are going to buy, there's still this margin of error that you can't back up with numbers. And I think as wonderfully intuitive as most retailers and buyers are, there's still something really powerful about having numbers to back up what you know is happening in your business so that you can act on it more confidently.
Bob: Absolutely. I think that is the key. And you know, the margin of error these days for making a bad buy is a lot narrower than it ever was, right? Because now you know that someone else online has it cheaper or more available or a million other things, and data is really the thing that determines everything.
Do you think that, you said people have had a legacy system for 30 years, so how could we encourage some of those people out there who are listening today who might have a legacy system and it works fine. I actually remember speaking to some people one time and they said, “We don't want to know the data because then we'd know how much shrink there was,” and I was like, “Okay, that is really the wrong way to look at this,” right? It's like, “I want to put my head in the sand and whatever's left, I'm happy with.” Right?
Danielle: Yeah, I think it's daunting for people to see their numbers for the first time. I think if you start really digging into your business, it could be a very emotional process because you've always, you've run your business a certain way for so long. And I think one of the things that ends up being very shocking for anybody new who comes on to my team at Springboard is how emotional the actual onboarding process is for clients.
I mean, these businesses are so personal and they're part of their livelihood and they're typically often part of their families. And, the whole process is just so wildly emotional that changing a system in general and learning more about your own business, that whole bundle is, it's an emotional experience.
But I encourage people to do their research. And if you think a system is going to change your business, don't be scared of it.
Bob: It’s like going into the fitting room for the first time, like, “Oh my pants have all shrunk.” Well, maybe not. Maybe the mirror is a little bit less kind.
And then, how would they, how would you know, what kind of things makes a full featured POS system better than legacy systems? Cause you brought up a very good point. A lot of people still work in Excel spreadsheets and then download and try to match to whatever it was. And the category reports aren't, well, they're not really all there.
There's, you know, some of them were over here and some are here. So, what does that actually, I mean, obviously I think it saves you time, but what else? As a merchandiser and as a store manager, what other benefits could you get from that?
Danielle: Well, I think in this day and age, there's no reason to not have full transparency, especially if you're a multi-location business.
I think having the ability to see your numbers, your inventory, kind of the movement of your inventory, the sales of certain reps of yours, across the entire business as a whole. You should be able to see things at a store level, but you should be able to see things at a company level as well, even if you just have two stores.
So that becomes incredibly powerful, cause that empowers you to then move your product around properly, so that you have higher turnover. You have things that aren't moving to the sale room just because one location is going to do better with it than another location. So I think transparency across your business is easily one of the biggest things people should be striving for.
Bob: That’s a great point too, because invariably, you get John who loves this one item, sells the crud out of it in one location. The other locations, like, “I don't know why they sell it. That stuff's the ugliest stuff ever.” You don't have time necessarily. You probably could get John to convince them somehow, but out of 10,000 skews, you're not necessarily gonna know it.
So instead you say, “Oh, it's not selling here.” You put it on sale in that store and the one that is already selling on you put it on sale. You clear out, you say, “Oh, it was great.” Except that. You could have made more money if you just moved the merchandise, if you'd just known, isn’t that the key?
Danielle: Just packed it up and gave all that merchandise that nobody has any idea how to sell to John. He could just plow through it at Location A and then your margin on that item was so much greater.
Bob: And that's ultimately how you pay for a great POS system. I think that's ultimately, people always say, “Well, what's my, what's my ROI on this?” Well, the ROI is based on giving you back hours in your day even though the onboarding might be a little scary.
Do you have that full transparency for you to be able to say, “Hey, that's the best way we can do this.” And then you can also have that in line with your online shop to buy online pickup in store. You have full transparency of inventory and I do think that shrink is a big thing. Most people don't look at that. You know, merchandise.
We're supposed to get 24 units, nobody really checks it. Really 20 arrive, and then you end up looking and you have 10 in your store and you're like, “Well, where did that happen?” And you just start to say, “Oh, we have to improve our processes.” You know? That's the whole thing with data, right? It isn't that it's bad or good, it's that it helps you navigate how to be a more profitable business.
Danielle: I think almost every subject we end up teaching in onboarding ends up relating to best practices for loss prevention because that's such a huge part of what retailers are dealing with. Even if they don't realize how much they are dealing with it, every workflow has holes in it that allows errors.
I mean, we're humans. There's going to be data errors. But that's lost product and that's lost money. So, loss prevention. So huge. So huge.
Bob: Yeah, I would agree. So do you have any advice, anything specific you would say for retail owners in general? Just about POS and you don't have eight hours. Top three things you might say to a retailer?
Danielle: Well, I know things are just in general right now, I think we’re in kind of a scarier time. I think retailers are inherently optimistic people. I don't think people venture into retail because they're pessimistic beings.
They want to be around people. They want to make things more beautiful. They want to make things more efficient for people. I think that maintaining your optimism, you have to kind of reconnect to why you went into retail to continue to be successful are, I think some of the things we're seeing right now.
I have this amazing client that we recently onboarded in in New York. She has kids’ stores and the minute the news started spreading with coronavirus, she was like, “If my store is closed, I'm going to be online.” So, she is putting her feelers out to every single creative outlet she can.
And in no time, she's already like building a website to maximize the fact that she's going to have time off of her floor. And it's just such a positive way of going into something that feels so daunting and so scary. And it's just, it's the right attitude. And I think we have to kind of reconnect to that attitude cause that's why we're here.
It's why we all joined retail.
Bob: I honestly believe retailers can make the world a better place, but for people working in shopping and retail, that's what we do. I mean, I love that idea about we're inherently optimistic. Nobody gets in retail, “I bet no one will buy any of this. I bet this is the ugliest stuff ever. I bet I’m gonna lose my shirt.”
People don't do that when they open a bar or restaurant or something. Right? It's like we are planning for the future. And I always say, you know, imagine on 9/11, none of us could imagine a 9/12. That wasn't even possible. And the things that were coming out to us like, “Oh, we've known these guys were out there for a while,” our eyes got opened.
And I think that's kind of what we're going through is understanding that, “Oh, okay. So there's a lot of ways we can get sick, but we're in this together.” And I don't want to dwell on that. Tell me something good about retail.
Danielle: Something good. Well, I think we've been only talking about good things about retail.
Bob: I know. Do you have anything else to add?
Cause honestly, you're just a great guest and I love your attitude about retail and you've been really helpful talking about training and certainly how a great POS system like Springboard Retail can help a retailer. And I appreciate you helping us sponsor our season this time. But more importantly, just any final thoughts, what else you might say?
Danielle: I mean, final thoughts. I just want to encourage people to, if you feel like you do have a hole in your business, obviously I think Springboard is a wonderful product. Kind of plug a lot of those gaps that we often feel are just kind of part of the business, but just I encourage people to do research.
There are so many wonderful tools out there to get your name out. There's so many different, omni-channel options to sell, to never stop being creative and don't get complacent with what you've got. There's always room to grow.
Bob: I think that's perfect.
And, how can we find out more about Springboard Retail POS?
Danielle: Well, we have some really fun avenues. We're putting a post out about all of the digital housekeeping that you can do if you are stuck at home. So things that retailers can actually do. So, our team is working on that right now, which is very exciting.
I think there's gonna be some actual housekeeping things you can do while you’re at home. Spring cleaning in the store, maybe. But you can find us. It's www.springboard retail.com. Wonderful resources there. Connect with some really wonderful people on my team, on the sales team. Find out a little bit more about us.
And there are links to our social media accounts and our blog posts. So, even if you just end up reading about what to do if you're stuck without clients for the next few weeks and how to maximize your time.
Bob: Well, you've been great. Thanks for joining me today.
Danielle: Thank you. I really enjoyed it.