Atlanta Gift & Home Market – Lights, Products, Action….What a Show!

For those who attended Atlanta AmericaMart Gift & Home show you surely witnessed the energy,the abundance of great products, and most definitely the certainly the positive energy buzzing throughout this awesome trade market.  For those of you not able to attend, here is a photo recap-from fashion, to function to just plain fun, Ivystone customers, reps and vendors had it all going on!

 

What Is Your Digital Retail Personality?

Want to find our more about your digital retail personality?
Do people look to you for creative genius?
Or is it your razor-sharp analytical mind that makes you an irreplaceable asset?

 

To learn more take the Shop.org Digital Experience Workshop retail personality quiz.

With just 5 short questions, they’ll tell you what kind of retail pro you are.

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Gifted Women

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Monica Loving | VP Vendor Relations- Ivystone

Gifts and Decorative Accessories recently interviewed 9 inspiring women who are making a difference in the Gift and Home industry.  These women brimming with drive and passion have been placing their indelible stamp on the Gift and Home industry for many years.

Read on to discover what drives women such as Monica Loving and many others to work tirelessly to make the Gift and Home industry a great place to work and build a lasting career.

 

Technology Trends That Can Level the Playing Field

Writing an article about technology can be quite challenging as the pace of change in today’s tech world is difficult to fathom. By the time many of us feel we are on top of things, we encounter a whole new series of apps and devices that we “must try”. In many cases, technological developments can save us time and money but other times we seem to get bogged down in attempting to grasp it all.

Doug Cofiell blog image

Doug Cofiell CEO Ivystone Group LLC

Three short years ago I wrote an article about prioritizing technology in your business. The major topics in that article included the importance of your website, the permanence of social media and rise of tablets as a business tool. While the adoption of tablets in our industry has been slower than expected these three areas have certainly increased in importance in most businesses. More trends continue to emerge and there are countless developments that can be highlighted.

In an attempt to summarize some of the broader ideas without going into exhaustive detail I’ve highlighted three areas that are important to understand when making decisions about your business. These are not new trends but they will drive business decision making for many years.

  1. The Continued Rise of Mobile. Whether it is the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and “phablets” (those huge phones we are seeing out there) or the emerging Wearables market; the world is becoming more mobile. With WiFi networks readily available and costs falling there is no slowing down this trend. According to a recent study by Millennial Media and comScore, the ratio of mobile devices to people on earth is nearly 1:1.  Mobile is changing the way we work, shop and interact. We are no longer tied to a desk but we are more connected than ever; putting in more hours as our devices allow constant connectivity. With the computing power of today’s smartphone being greater than the computing power that ran the Apollo Space Missions, expect commerce to continue to be transformed as applications get more sophisticated.
  1. Shifting to the The Cloud is certainly an overused term but the shift to this type of computing does have profound effects on business. Because programming is centralized and can be accessed on any device it fosters the mobile culture and provides scalability to smaller organizations. The easiest way to think of the cloud is as a big shared service where you can pay as you go rather than making big infrastructure investments. Most of us use cloud based services everyday whether its photo sharing or music streaming. This trend will continue to grow in importance as businesses attempt to become more flexible and innovative
  1. Use of Big Data or more accurately Smart Data. Another term that is getting tossed around quite a bit and is relevant to most decision makers. As the cost of storing data continues to drop towards zero, companies are using these big databases to analyze patterns and customer trends. The implications of this are not completely downstream yet but all this data will help us understand our customers better and allow us to reach the audience we truly want to reach.

You can find many different cases of where companies use large quantities of data to make decisions. Here’s an example of smart data use on the product development side from Techtarget.com. Express Scripts, which processes pharmaceutical claims, realized that those who most need to take their medications were also those most likely to forget to take their medications. So they created a new product: Beeping medicine caps and automated phone calls reminding patients it’s time to take the next dose.

These three trends fit together with our mobile lifestyle being enhanced by the power of cloud based applications providing data that enhances the user experience. As each area grows in importance, they become more intertwined. The best part for an industry like ours that is made up of small businesses is that these trends all level the playing field; allowing small companies access to the same programs as larger competitors. Businesses can look and feel much bigger than they are by taking advantage of services that are readily available in the cloud on their mobile devices.

Lastly, a note of caution about technology in general. Back in the early 1900’s Gertrude Stein said “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense”. I am afraid of what she’d say in today’s world given that the amount of information we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Technology is transforming the way we do business but it is important to maintain the core tenets of what makes you successful. If we remember to disconnect every once in a while maybe we can keep our common sense!

 

Doug Cofiell is CEO of Ivystone Group LLC, a professional sales agency providing wholesale gift, home and fashion accessories to retailers across the United States. Selling to independent retailers, large national chains and designers under two distinct brands; Ivystone and Simblist Group.

Get Your Neighborhood Buzzing About Small Business Saturday

In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help businesses with their most pressing need — getting more customers. The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This single day has grown into a powerful movement, and more people are taking part than ever before. This year, the big day is Nov 29.

Save the date and plan to #shopsmall and spread the word to others in your local area*. If you are not a small business owner, encourage your local businesses to take advantage of the free promotional materials for this annual event.        Small Businesses are the heart of the economy

In 2013, nearly 1,500 Neighborhood Champions across the country tapped into the power of the Shop Small Movement for their communities. This year, you can be one of them by planning an event to celebrate Small Business Saturday with your neighborhood.

For business owners:

Take Part in Small Business Saturday

 

For supporters:

SHARE WHERE YOU’LL SHOP SMALL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

I will #ShopSmall for ________ at _________to support my neighborhood
*Fill in the blanks and tweet/ post this to promote the local businesses in your area.

Halloween Hype Leads to Scary Good Sales for Retailers

Halloween for retailers is not just about costume sales.  The celebrations for this holiday continue to increase sales for retailers through more elaborate decor, creative entertaining and of course more spectacular costumes for kids, adults and pets.  Average spending is predicted to be up again this year and with the holiday landing on a Friday, this equates to scary good sales!

4 reasons Halloween will be a boon for retailers this year

Awesome and creative costumes and decor adding to Halloween sales:

Cat in Costume

Baby Duck Halloween Costume

Decorative Pumpkins

Doggie Costume

Spider Ice Cubes

Give A Voice To Breast Cancer Awareness and Share Your Story

Beaucoup Designs True Blue Goes True Pink!

With Breast Cancer Awareness month  right around the corner, Beaucoup Designs will be offering exquisite new and cherished existing merchandise to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer.

Three new pieces will be available in early September from Beaucoup Designs owner and designer, Leah Ann Messer.  Two of these pieces were designed in honor of her sisters, Janet and Melissa, both of whom have recently battled with Breast Cancer. Leah Ann has designed a beautiful new bracelet named “Melissa”‘  and a stunning new necklace named “Janet”, recognizing the incredible courage and struggles experienced by each of her sisters.     Beaucoup_TruePink_Campaign

Leah Ann’s third design will be a beautiful pair of pink earrings, and they too will need a NAME!  In order to find the perfect name for this design, we are asking all of our customers, sales reps, and friends to email YOUR story and give your voice to raise awareness and help find a cure.  Your story can be about any experience you have had with breast cancer.  After receiving these stories, Beaucoup will publish them on their website, Beaucoupdesigns.com. At the end of October the Beaucoup Advisory board will choose one entry.  The new earrings will then be named after the author of the entry (or the subject of the entry).  This person will also get to choose the non-profit cancer organization of their choice and we will give 100% of the proceeds to this organization.

Please spread the word and give a voice to your story. Email your submissions to truepink@beaucoupdesigns.com.  In the email, include your name and contact information.  This information will remain confidential (it will be your choice to have your name attached) and will be published on the Beaucoupdesigns.com website.

We want to have a place where everyone who has been affected by this disease can have a voice, and by sharing these heartfelt and touching stories, we are able to help each other and help find a cure!

Leah Ann Messer- True Pink Video

 

 

 

Do You Have What it Takes to be Lucky?

There are people in this world that just seem to be lucky. Everything seems to go their way. Even when an event that would be considered bad for most, “lucky” people seem to end up better off. Why is it that some people seem to be lucky? It’s not that they have some sort of lock on luck or that they were born under a “lucky” sign. Lucky Charms Learning to embrace opportunities and create your own luck can be the difference between a successful and happy life and passively waiting around for something good to happen.  So stop waiting and make your “luck” happen.

Here are 5 clear cut things that can improve your “luck” today.   With a little extra effort, you can be lucky too.

 

5 Things Super Lucky People Do

Are you on the Map for Small Business Saturday?

This year Small Business Saturday is Nov 30th and is known as the day we shop and support small business in a BIG way.  Plan ahead to attract more customers and make Small Business Saturday 2013 a memorable day to celebrate your business, your customers and your local community.

Nov 30th is now 4 weeks away so jump into your planning now to help make this Small Business Saturday a stellar success.  Here is a useful countdown planner.     ShopSmall_logo

Small Business Saturday is a day to rally people nationwide to get out and Shop Small so how about rallying your local community for this event?  Ignite your neighborhood and tell all the local businesses in your community to get ready for the big day.

For additional inspiration, check out what other communities have done for successful events focused on this important shopping day.

Need help with finding the right gift and home products for your retail store to get ready for Small Business Saturday?

Ivystone and Simblist can help!

How a Big Yellow Duck Delivers So Much Happiness

It’s a simple idea really…..take the convergence of 3 large rivers, the gateway of the city of Pittsburgh, and turn it into an art project representing a large bathtub.  All that was needed was a big yellow duck and the result was millions of people flocking to see the 40’ bobbing body of happiness delivering much more than anyone could have imagined.    Big Yellow Duck-Pittsburgh Point of 3 Rivers

 

Yes, I visited the duck one incredibly beautiful Sunday morning on my weekly 15 mile bike ride on the Pittsburgh bike trails.  I was thrilled to see the gigantic

MMScolieri on a Sunday morning bike ride w a big yellow duckbundle of sunshine along with the emotional enthusiasm in the enormous crowds delivered by the presence of “the big yellow duck”.  It was a unique bike ride that day and so is this equally happy and unique marketing perspective from the Jill Berardi Group.

       9 Marketing Musts Delivered by a Duck