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About: David Salisbury

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Why Small Businesses should have a Loyalty Program

For small businesses and local retailers, your POS does not likely have a deep loyalty program.

Naturally, you’ll want to explore add-on value integrations that offer deep loyalty programs with advanced features that can help you scale your business over time.


According to McKinsey Research, 29% of customers shop around, yet they ultimately repurchase from the same brand. Your top 20% value customers are likely to be even more loyal in driving your revenue, one of the reasons why they keep coming back is your loyalty program. This is because as good as your brand is, as familiar and trust-worthy as your products and service might be, a good loyalty program incentives customer retention to your niche audience.


Before the holidays start is a great time for small business retailers to adopt a loyalty program, this is because holiday season is typically peak buying season for many small business stores and locations, and retaining some of that new traffic as return shoppers will be key in growing your business. Also comparing your holiday sales with a loyalty program vs. last year without one, gives you a good baseline as to the efficacy of a loyalty program.


According to SmarterHQ, of millennials who consider themselves brand loyal, those who prefer personalised communications have a 28% higher brand loyalty than those who do not, meaning the smarter your loyalty program with automated and predictive loyalty communications, the higher your lift among mobile native shoppers.

Having a loyalty program based on data is therefore of key importance where marketing automation in the form of SMS or Email marketing is automated by the loyalty software itself with deep feature personalized offers. This is deeper than most loyalty programs native to POS systems.


For new and growing smaller retailers and merchants, customer retention is sort of a big deal. This is due to a very simple forum that says it’s easier to retain new customers than to find new ones. According to an oft quoted study by Bain and Co., increasing retention rates but just 5 percent, can in the long run boost profits anywhere from 25 to 95 per cent. We also know from the literature, that attracting new customers typically costs 5x more than keeping existing customers.


The easier it is for customers to sign-up and benefit from loyalty programs, the more small businesses can derive a benefit from them. A good loyalty program will seamlessly drive more repeat spending and engage customers to return to the store or SMB location. The customer data can also help small businesses track particular customers across the customer journey and learn from the most valuable customer audience.

According to Vend POS, the key ingredients of a winning loyalty program are:

  • Perks
  • Data
  • Surprise and Delight
  • Convenience
  • Marketing

The bottom line is with a data-based loyalty program, it will be customised to your niche vertical of your small business and feel very organic and add a bit of spice to the purchase cycle.


An effective loyalty program can also do the following actions:

  1. build and nurture high value customer relationships.
  2. create a custom loyalty program that segments your customers based on data.
  3. send and automate SMS and email marketing offers based on the retail seasonal calendar or customer events.
  4. measures the sales impact, ROI of a loyalty-marketing campaign and value of different segments of customers while providing deep customer analytics.

According to Accenture (2016 study), customers who are members of loyalty programs, typically will generate between 12 and 18 percent more revenue than non-members. At the end of the day, the best loyalty programs target and benefit your high-value VIP customers and create enjoyable customer experiences that elevate your branding and the improve the bottom line value of repeat purchases and memorable deals.

While a loyalty program isn’t a must-have for all small businesses, for those that want to grow smarter and build more personalized relationships with their customers it’s a win-win.

Check out our blog for more small business articles.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.


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POS News Lightspeed raises $207 Million with an IPO in 2019

It’s been a good year for Canadian POS systems. Early this summer TouchBistro announced a fresh series C funding of $16.3 million. Lightspeed POS recently announced a $166 million ($207 Million CDN), series D found, that’s 12x as much.

Lightspeed’s Series D Funding is Immense

Lightspeed POS is a global leader in point of sale, and in the last few years has improved features for Restaurants and E-commerce as well. With the new funds, it hopes to scale more into payments to bolster its service on the way to becoming a tech unicorn with an expected IPO sometime in 2019.

Largest ever Venture Round for a Canadian Tech Startup

According to Tech Crunch, Lightspeed claims this is the largest venture round ever raised by a Canadian tech startup. Lightspeed POS is one of the key global players in providing POS systems to brick-and-mortar retailers and has its HQ located in Montreal. Lightspeed has added separate products in recent years with Lightspeed Restaurant and Lightspeed eCommerce, with payments it would be completing the circle for retail stores and small businesses.

Lightspeed will expand into payments as one of its chief competitors Vend, is scaling its engineering team. Meanwhile, Shopify continues to expand as an incredible E-commerce POS player with many new products and a fast pace of innovation.

Lightspeed has scaled globally especially well in recent years, with offices in Montreal, Amsterdam, London, Gent, New York, Ottawa and Olympia.

Lightspeed POS isn’t just a point of sale solution, it allows retail stores to do accounting, inventory management, purchasing analytics, with a wide variety of integrations to smarter software solutions. These range from loyalty, analytics, Email marketing and appointment scheduling.

With an emphasis in best-in-class customer experience, with this round of funding Lightspeed HQ has the opportunity to truly add new features that make it an even more popular solution for brick-and-mortar retailers and local stores.

“We started this company because we weren’t satisfied with the status quo. You shouldn’t be either. It’s not enough to just accept transactions and deliver receipts; our products should make your life easier and your customers happier. That philosophy runs through everything that we do.” – Dax Dasilva, CEO

Lightspeed plans to continue to scale globally and build a native payment processing infrastructure so it won’t have to rely on Vantiv or Cayan and can leverage new kinds of convenience for the small businesses it serves. Lightspeed was founded in 2005, and has grown to serve more than 50,000 businesses, a number boosted by several key acquisitions. After raising nearly $300 million, an IPO and official unicorn status remains.

Lightspeed has been committed to Canadian ownership and its backers include
Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec and iNovia Capital. Dax Dasilva is like a celebrity at Startup Canada functions now, with a significant social media following and PR circuit and has contributed significantly to the local community of Montreal.

Canada is in a unique position to influence the future of POS solutions for small business retailers with Shopify, Lightspeed, TouchBistro, Quetzal POS, ACE POS, among others.

With 40% of Lightspeed’s revenue coming from Europe, it’s clear Lightspeed’s global expansion is heading in the right direction. It’s been about one year since Lightspeed arrived in Australia, and with acquisitions in Belgium and Luxembourg, France is likely the 2018 target.

Continue reading POS and retail articles on our blog.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.

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Humans vs. Automation in Retail


As Amazon and Walmart battle it out in omnichannel, the fast food and coffee world might have to fend of automation to appear more human-centric for a while longer. This is what appears to be happening with Starbucks, this according to Scott Galloway, author of The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. He calls Starbucks, the “original gangster” in the fight against automation.

His argument is that customers enjoy seeing humans who enjoy their jobs, are learning and who seem to be being paid well, as Starbucks is known for investing in its employees and their health. Starbucks doubled its number of locations between 2006 and 2016 to 25,000.


We know that actual robots will mature in the next two decades at an alarming rate, that could displace many repetitive tasks humans do.

A 2017 report by investment advisory firm Cornerstone Capital Group found that about 6 million to 7.5 million retail jobs will be rendered obsolete by automation in the coming years. This is also because e-commerce warehouses will increasingly become automated as evidenced by new kinds of automation seen in Alibaba, and Amazon locations.


Cashiers and other bank-end retail associates could see some jobs disappear in the 2020s, roughly 50% of Americans who work in retail are at risk to losing their jobs it’s postulated by 2027.

As price wars continue and off-price retail becomes the norm, with retail brands such as Macy’s morphing into one, we are witnessing retail is under-going a period of transition. We are already seeing the future of restaurants change with food delivery apps, and technology’s role in commerce will definately accelerate.

In E-commerce itself, voice AI of personal assistants and showrooming in VR could significantly accelerate total retail sales done via E-commerce in the coming years. As grab and go stores become a reality, whether the AmazonGo of Chinese variety, the way we see shopping and services will change.

However, much of the retail automation will be at scale, impacting big-box retail chains. Small business retailers and local merchants might be immune from the impact, since communities will rally around the people and family businesses that fuel their local economies. A day may come when interacting with a human at a store is considered a luxury of sorts.

Follow the Star Cloud Services Blog for more articles on retail, retail technology and customer experience.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.

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The Future of Voice Activated Shopping

We think of mobile and AI impacting increasingly the holiday retail season each year, but what about voice devices and personal virtual assistants?

The trend to adopt voice AI devices in the home is increasing at a rapid pace pioneered by Amazon Echo, Dot, Show, Spot, Google Home and Google Home mini.

The reality is owners of Alexa devices even back in 2016, spent an average of 10% more, in 2018 how high could this figure reach?

Voice AI scales E-commerce Adoption

According to Google also back in 2016, 20% of mobile searches were conducted via voice. As voice AI becomes the new mainstream way we search, we can only assume it will accelerate new retail channels and make voice activated shopping a mainstream occurrence.

When Google’s commerce platform, Google Express, removed fees and also integrated with Walmart in the summer of 2017, this signalled that voice activated shopping was going to be something big.

The affordable Dot meant Amazon raced to as much as a 75% marketshare in 2017, with Alexa skills vamping up to 18,000 at last count, with new “Alexa routines“, that can in theory chain skills together. This means that purchasing consumables from Amazon could become one day as easy as a voice command.

In 2018 with new devices anticipated from Google, Facebook, Apple and many other companies, voice activated commerce remains the “star of the show” as it relates to retail, but that’s not all. Voice discovery of local retailers be proximity could be an important feature of the future of holiday shopping.

AI powering E-commerce

Voice-AI could prove the way along with VR showrooming, that E-commerce accelerates in the 2020s as an improved channel for trusting consumers and younger mobile natives increasingly entering the voice AI economy.

In that world, it will be voice suggestions, instead of mobile Ads that win your heart and subtly influence your shopping habits based upon your Amazon or Google history. Goodbye Facebook.

Amazon as a first mover and with a variety of Alexa devices, holds as dominant if not more so a role in the future of voice activated shopping as Amazon AWS does in the cloud.

With iOS devices changing from Microsoft’s bing back to Google for its web search results we have to assume that the likes of Cortana and even Siri have fallen too far behind Alexa and Google Assistant in the race to be the most useful and ubiquitous personal assistants. Meanwhile for Mandarin speakers the Tmall Genie of Alibaba, retails for around $73.00 (RMB 499).


As the mobile web gives way to the Voice-AI web of IoT and a different kind of smart city such as the rise of food delivery apps, and later autonomous vehicles and drone delivery hubs, the voice interface remains the fastest growing retail technology trend that could impact the future of commerce.

Voice activated shopping will be a significant way as consumers, we interact with big-box stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Costco, Alibaba, Target, Petsmart and others.

As Amazon Dot and Google Home mini like devices get even more miniaturised, smarter and cheaper; Alexa and Google Assistant might literally be everywhere in just a few short years.

In that world, we won’t reach for our mobile devices to access apps, we’ll just activate these apps then called “skills” by voice commands. This will alter retail discovery, paths to purchase and the very foundations of the customer experience in many instances. A little bit closer to home and the now of today:

Look for Amazon, Walmart and Google to integrate voice commerce into their holiday shopping experiences, offering deals that can only be unlocked by first stating ‘Alexa’ or ‘Ok Google.'” – Retail Dive

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.

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GenZ Wants more Retail Store Tech

As GenZ shoppers grow up and make more discretionary income, the retail industry is abuzz with how this will impact new consumer trends, preferences and customer journeys.

There’s mounting evidence that Gen Z converts about twice as much on mobile (see study by ContentSquare) and that they relish in-store experiences.


GenZ are also early adopters of voice search, that favors local retail stores and more intimate experiences. This means that GenZ mobile and voice natives may even do E-commerce in new ways.

However, the lack of personalization hurts the in-store experience for this tech savvy generation. Retail stores and retail brands are already having trouble keeping up with young Millennial and GenZ preferences.

GenZ are the first generation to not only grow up with the internet but the start of exponential new consumer technologies arriving such as smart speakers in the home. GenZ also with regard to content are heavy YouTube users and generally favour video content in preference to text.

Many analysts believe GenZ are the most advertising immune generation in history and favor value-driven brands who are pioneers in corporate social responsibility such as having a voice in sustainability, inclusion and making the world a better place with social entrepreneurship and value-add on products.


A study by Gen Z consumers (ages 16 to 22) by Forrester Consulting identified difference three new themes to watch.

  • Trusted Discovery: GenZ are more reputation and image conscious of brands and more attuned to social media. Social Media is one of their measures of social proof to validate trust.


  • App Notifications in Favor of Email: GenZ are mobile natives with attention spans that don’t favor Email, but rather mobile notifications. They are more text/SMS orientated in preference to human interaction in store or using automated systems.


  • Tech-Driven Loyalty: They are less loyalty to retail brands who fail with poorly designed mobile features, slow online chat, and poor social media features. GenZ are instant gratification natives, and this is shaping the entire future of E-commerce discovery.


However, Chinese consumers are nearly double as likely to shop online than their western counterparts. GenZ then, are mobile natives that more resemble the new consumer of China who are more influenced by influencers, live-streaming brand advocates and shopping directly on mobile.

There’s also increasing hints that GenZ are more pragmatic shoppers than Millennials and not as experience-orientated.


GenZ shoppers also care about:

  • Protection of personal data and cyber-security assurance
  • In-store experiences that are entertaining, communal and bring people together
  • Instant-gratification and convenience
  • Personalization in the store
  • Peer influencers on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat
  • More likely to see Ads in Snapchat, Instagram Stories and WhatsUp for Business
  • Off-price, discounts and getting a good deal
  • GenZ shoppers tend to prefer automation and self-serve in preference to micro interactions with sales associates who may not be as educated as they are about their prospective purchase.
  • Grab and Go Shopping



While there is plenty of evidence GenZ appreciate stores and human interaction in them (especially with subject experts), GenZ appear ready to lead the trend to more technology in brick-and-mortar stores.

According to payments platform Adyen, 46% of the youngest generation say they’re communicating with brands via chatbots, while a sizeable number of them aren’t enthusiastic about biometric payment systems.

Other technologies pegged as likely successful with GenZ include:

  • Showrooming with the ability to check item availability
  • BOPIS, buy online pick up in store
  • Favor in-store experiences augmented by mobile tech
  • IoT combined with augmented or mixed reality
  • Interactive displays and smart mirrors
  • Self-order, self-checkout or preferably, grab and go experiences that reduce wait times and lineups



According to a landmark study by IBM and the NRF (2017), prefer shopping at physical retail stores in preference to online shopping.

Yet as mobile natives, Gen Z also have higher expectations of technology’s impact on retail.

Generation Z expects technology to be intuitive, relevant and engaging — their last great experience is their new expectation – Steve Laughlin (BM General Manager of Global Consumer Industries )



55% of Gen Zers give their time to brands they consider to be eco-friendly or socially responsible – Retail Dive


The National Retail Federation also has a lot to say on the topic.


Gen Z love collaborative engagement. – Mathew Shay


They echo the sentiment that GenZ will gravitate towards stores better implementations of technology and digital:

If Gen Z is already more engaged with technology, that’s not going to change as they hit peak spending years. Retailers — this is a wake-up call. It means your omnichannel practices need more tech spice. – Charles Dimov


Introducing improved mobile discovery and creating memorable experiences with the help of digital can augment a retail brand for Gen Z.

Integrating mobile into the physical shopping elements of discovery, getting product information, having fun, getting input from friends and creating memorable moments is a worthy investment for brands and retailers targeting all demographics. – Lyle Bunn


Many retail analysts have noticed Gen Z appear more sensitive to values, identity and lifestyle related themes in their consumer preferences.

Gen Z consumers expect and reward authenticity. They select brands and retailers that reflect their own identity, including their values and lifestyle. This trend represents an exciting opportunity for niche brands and retailers to align with Gen Z consumers by being relatable and relevant to these young shoppers. – Franklin Chu


Follow the Star Cloud Services Blog for more articles on retail, retail technology and customer experience.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.


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POS News Shopify launches Shopcodes

As we at Star Cloud Services remain the leaders in QR codes on receipts and how to incentive digital receipts with mobile coupons, QR codes are coming to the point of sale.

Shopify announced shopcodes.

QR codes that make shopping on mobile a breeze

QR codes on receipts from Star Cloud Services, and QR codes on products and in stores by Shopify mean it’s easier than ever for customers to access promotions and learn more about products on mobile.

With Shopcodes, it actually facilitates e-commerce purchases as well. Thus, QR codes are becoming an omnichannel necessity for the smart retailer to gain traction from mobile-native customers.

With the #iOS11 update, #QRcodes are set to make a comeback and change shopping.

Shopify Shopcodes are essentially a tool for small businesses that affords you to create beautiful QR codes for your products in minutes. This could be a simple add-on for your retail websites that enable easier opt-in to try your products or physical reminders of how to look up products and even buy them right away.


QR codes then aren’t just great loyalty marketing opportunities for brick and mortar retailers on receipts, they also make it easy for your customers, via Shopcodes, to buy products on their smartphones.

Since it simplifies a scan-to-buy customer journey, it’s also an easy-to-scan code and track how many people scan your codes and make purchases through Shopify analytics. Here QR codes aren’t just Call-to-Actions (CTAs) they add seamless online and e-commerce opportunities.

Customers can quickly purchase or learn more about a product wherever they find a Shopcode offline

Customers then:

  1. Scanning the codes brings up screens with more info on products and items
  2. Scanning the codes can lead to a sale with a buy button. Scan-and-go is like an online variation on grab-and-go.
  3. Shopify is adding a new dimension to mobile window-shopping, that could have brick-and-mortar implications where customers can test out products in-store and buy online in a showrooming retail journey.

By incorporating Shopcodes into your product packaging, offline shoppers can scan them to learn more about your products. – Shopify


What we are seeing with iOS 11 and Shopify and the growth of payment systems like WeChat is how QR codes add value and utility to consumers and thus to small business retailers as well.

Star’s own Micro Receipts, enable also a more environmental micro receipt that saves paper. QR codes aren’t the awkward things they once were, they are ultra modern mobile friendly square barcodes that can be printed and boost digital influence in-store as well as online or as valuable advertisements on offers.

To recap Shopcodes is a Shopify app that enables:

  • Merchants to design custom QR codes
  • Merchants to assign those QR codes to specific products
  • The ability for retailers to create beautiful QR codes in minutes
  • Mobile-first methods to buy products via a scan-to-buy option
  • Additional analytics on code scans and QR code based purchases via Shopify analytics

Displaying a Shopcode on the windows of your retail store lets you sell even when your doors are closed to customers by directing them to your Shopify store instead

Whether at the POS with Promo PRNT receipts, or online with Shopcodes, it’s clear QR codes have a bright future. The iOS 11 update and the spread of WeChat to global services for consumers will contribute to a QR renaissance we are seeing at the point of sale in 2017.


Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.


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Food & Hospitality Tips. How to improve customer experience

The advent of food-delivery apps is changing the way the new consumer eats and gets to your restaurant or food location. That’s not to say customer service isn’t still the single most valuable customer experience to optimise.

Here are our leading tips on the matter for cafes, restaurants and food service locations.


No matter how many years of experience a waiter or server might have, always make sure you have a standardised way of equipping your human talent with the most up to date customer service training and technology.

Making sure human staff on the front lines have the emotional intelligence, skills, knowledge and confidence doesn’t mean just in-house training, but finding a professional service like Myagi, that can help. Myagi makes it simple to scale excellence across your entire organisation.

Toast POS, see their reviews.


As clothing boutiques are on Vend and bike shops are on Lightspeed, it’s important to choose the right POS solution for your vertical. Touch Bistro is our pick for many food service establishments. Though Revel Systems and Toast POS are also great choices.


Staff working on the front lines in customer service need to be able to deal with crisis situations and conflict resolution on the go, for those messy situations. Having a company wide policy of how to handle certain situations and difficult customers is important so staff can set the bar high for expected levels of customer experience, no matter the person, day or customer.


To improve customer service and customer experience for customers, it’s a good idea to ask staff on the front lines to be as empathetic and perceptive as possible to identify how new customers can be served better at all points of their experience journey.

Implementing customer surveys on a regular basis to help identify where you can improve is a good idea. To offer innovative service, it’s important to take a proactive stance and not simply react to industry trends but spot them and adapt before your competitors.


When hiring for customer service roles, it’s not like hiring for other roles. Candidates should not be judged the same or solely based upon their resume or upon experience. The deep rooted ability to be emotionally attentive to generous service, to passionate hospitality is also a skill that’s inborn. Basic job requirements can be taught, but having a heart for hospitality is a gift and naturals in this can provide a higher level of service than many of us mere mortals.


For some food locations and in the right restaurant verticals, testing self-ordering kiosks on iPads or tablets is a valid option. Self-order menus aren’t difficult for food POS solutions to automate, and can help save time for staff and even require you to hire less staff on average to help save on bottom lines and augment existing staff with better technology.

Lightspeed recently rolled out such a solution. Self-serve Kiosks are nothing new for Revel Systems for a trendy “grab and go” customer experience.

Check the Star Cloud Services Blog for more articles.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.

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Amazon’s One-Click Patent Expires as Whole Foods Flourishes

If Amazon is not stealing news headlines with its decision to open up a bidding war for a the right city to hold its second HQ, there’s tons of other reasons we should be following one of the most important e-commerce, cloud and tech companies of our times.


Amazon’s one-click buying patent expired Tuesday September 12th, which in many ways gave it an unfair advantage in the early days of e-commerce and since 1999. The 1-click button is as ubiquitous as ordering products via Dash, and helped streamline Amazon one-click buying as part of its checkout process that revolutionised an industry.


As Amazon wasted no time in cutting whole foods prices, by up to 40% for some key products. According to data from Foursquare, Whole foods saw a spike of more than 25% in foot traffic the first Monday and Tuesday after the changes were made in late August.

The stats first reported by Bloomberg, indicate that Chicago saw the highest surge with big hits being avocados, bananas and various meats. Amazon acquired the upscale chain for $13.7 billion and offers it an immediate brick and mortar presence with a similar audience to its high-value Amazon Prime users.

With items such as Organic fuji apples marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49 a pound, and organic avocados $1.99 from $2.79., the price reductions certainly add to Amazon’s trust appeal.

The traffic data is being taken as an optimistic sign that Whole Foods stores can see significant lift where in Chicago the difference was 35% more traffic, which amounts to a significant jump in customer appeal. A Whole Foods market brand on the rise, could see grocery rival shares continue to tumble.


For many retailers and e-commerce brands one-click buying is risky since it in effect, eliminates shopping-cart abandonment and thus can be too costly. Some studies in 2017, put true rates of shopping card abandonment at about 70 percent.

The one-click patent it’s had for the last 18 years, is today valued at around $2.4 billion annually increasing Amazon’s sales by roughly 5 percent. Those are significant margins that helped Amazon be associated with seamless omnichannel customer experience that has become the most trustworthy search stop for products.

Amazon’s superiority in number and quality of patents is so shockingly high compared to all other retailers put together, it gives you some understanding of why Amazon is known as the leader in customer-centric innovation, maybe in the world. With Amazon’s more recent focus on voice AI and predictive AI, 1-Click is part of a winning mechanism that has enabled them to become ubiquitous with online shopping.


Indeed since Amazon’s surprise acquisition of Whole Foods, grocery shares have taken a collective beating, perhaps none more dramatic than Kroger’s. Namely, Kroger shares plunged more than 9% in mid June, which is the largest traditional grocery chain in the U.S.

  • Costco was down 7%
  • Target was down 5%
  • Wal-mart down 5%

What is clear with Whole Foods is Amazon is aiming to disrupt the entire food chain, and Walstreet and its competition knows it’s up to the game.

Amazon has now established itself as a rival not only to these companies above, but to America’s leading tech companies in the cloud such as Microsoft, Google and Apple in the smart home.

Amazon in the last few years has become so ubiquitous it’s no longer really a retailer, and it no longer truly needs a 1-click patent monopoly to herald a new kind of retail based on data, robotics and artificial intelligence. The arrival of Aldi stores and the rise of Whole Foods under Amazon, signals a new era for the future of grocery retail.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.

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How to Make every Sales Associate an expert

In retail every customer interaction is a chance at converting your business into a winning retail brand.



From order taker to experience maker, retail associates are the bridge of customer trust with your store’s brand and the manifestation of your brand’s integrity and a significant component of its customer experience.

If the human element at your retail location is a deal-breaker, Myagi is a solution for retail training of associates.

Helping your front lines at your retail location means your staff are fully equipped to:


  • Be highly skilled with the right knowledge


  • Have confidence to deliver unforgettable retail interactions


  • Offer the highest quality customer service with a wide range of customers



In an era of product discovery online with customer experiences in store, a new era of the customer journey calls for a new approach.

Customers have already done their homework as to their product requirements, so they expect retail staff with impeccable knowledge able to deliver exquisite levels of customer service.

Given the high levels of associate turn-over, an effective training program is required to empower associates to have laser sharp problem solving skills to deal with the new consumer.

Retail staff are people and by equipping them with the right playbooks from the ground up, Myagi enables an elegant simplicity of retail empowerment all across a retail store’s organisation and brand fulfilment of customer facing service.


Their online training platform and content delivery optimisation systems, means that the people who run your store who are on the front lines and channel content are both up to the highest levels your customers expect, no matter what kind of a store or service you run.

Myagi also offers an analytics suite to help you scale your retail organisation to the next level. Giving your staff tools they love is one thing, but measuring how they are implemented on an on-going basis is key.

For the greatest lift in sales and service performance:

  1. Identify the content
  2. Identify the people
  3. Identify the management practices

At the end of the day people are our most valuable asset, their passion, dedication and talent enables people to lead retail into serving the new consumer better.

So how to bring it all together? See Myagi webinars here.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.


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QR codes for Retail at the POS

We’ve all heard of WeChat, the WhatsApp of China that does payments with QR codes, now iOS 11 is coming out this Fall with QR code native integration.

This has some serious implications for retailers wanting to get on on board with QR code deals. At Star Cloud Services, we offer a receipt promo services with QR code compatibility, and this could become really big. Digital influence is scaling to mobile in new ways and many believe it amounts to a QR code renaissance.

This includes some really smart people. Shopify smart.


Shopify is introducing a way to make mobile shopping a breeze for their e-commerce retailers.

For a low-cost solution that scales for brick-and-mortar stores we have created Promo PRNT that is currently in beta for select retailers. It will be rolling out to more Star Cloud Services retailers early next year. Creating a mobile-first QR code incentive at the POS remains a high ROI retargeting and customer retention strategy for a wide range of small businesses.

The application of QR codes in retail stores is nearly endless, both for promotions and special offers and also for customers to easily gain more information on products.

QR codes are very 1994, but after catching on in China, it seems they are now destined to go mainstream globally more than twenty years later.


The newly announced iOS 11 update that mean QR codes will become native to the camera app and legitimise them everywhere. So we should as consumers get used to those cryptic gibberish looking codes staring back at us, and as retail owners and entrepreneurs we should celebrate.

Here’s an omnichannel mobile convenience we can’t afford to let our customers NOT have access to. In a world where offline still dominates online commerce, giving customers mobile access to deals, our products and new customer experiences means everything.

QR codes can be mobile call-to-actions (CTAs) in an era where every shopping is typically carrying and often using their smart phones in the store and at small business retail locations.

QR codes are one way in which retail and commerce might actually want to copy China. The loyalty marketing opportunities are bigger than Augmented Reality or digital signage, this is because QR codes can be a gateway to anything and everything the consumer loves.

Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.


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