Brick & Mortar Retailers – Still the Desired Destination for Shoppers

Great news from a recent study by Synqera, where results show that more than two-thirds of Americans prefer to shop in traditional, brick and mortar stores than online commerce sites. The survey found that shoppers gravitate towards retail locations that offer more customized shopping experiences, but the dreaded “checkout” remains the number one pain point for 73% of U.S. consumers.

Personal service is a big factor that drives customers to brick-and-mortar retail stores, Synqera found 80% of shoppers say they’re more likely to shop in a store that provides a customized experience for them.  Custom coupons at checkout was a requested by over 76% of respondents.

Two-thirds of consumers are more likely to shop in a store where they receive personal suggestions while shopping.  While 75% make more purchases if they are in a good mood while shopping.

Take heed and make certain your salespeople actively engage with customers, greeting them when they enter, suggesting add-on products to go with what they’re purchasing, or offering advice and insights. (This is a great way to combat showrooming – if customers know they can get the info they need from your sales staff, they won’t have to turn to their phones to look it up and possibly find the product somewhere else for less).

Showrooming is very real and very damaging for retailers that can’t easily compete with e-retailers.  In an effort to combat it, insights like those that Synqera found can help to pinpoint where retailers should focus their time, money and innovation, even in the most unlikely or obvious places, like the checkout line.

There are also ways to make suggestions without salespeople. For instance, you can display groups of products that complement each other together, such as a camera with accessory battery packs, straps and cases. You can use signage to suggest “Buy two, get a third free,” “Check out our sales items in the back of the store” or “Sign up for our email newsletter and save $5 off your next purchase.” You get the idea; suggestive signage both inside and outside the store becomes crucial to sales success.

Suggestions help engage the customer with your store.   The more actively engaged the customer is inside your store, the better they feel about shopping there.


Brick & Mortar Customer Experience Infographic

Denim and Developing Truly Loyal Customers

Today Levi Strauss is celebrating 140 years of the denim blue jean.  What an incredible and enviable success story. This company and iconic product has had an amazing and profitable history that will likely continue throughout all of our lifetimes.  Seemingly impossible that there is a product which has attracted billions of customers and has kept them loyal for 140 years!   Levi denim jeans

While true that the blue jean’s awesome versatility and work-horse functionality is responsible for this type of sustained history and loyalty, it could never have been accomplished without tremendously committed customers loyal to the brand.  Understandably, we all aren’t so fortunate to have started a business responsible for the invention such an enduring product, one that has been able to cultivate loyal customers for centuries, however your business can’t possibly grow without some similar (albeit smaller) form of customer loyalty.  Now your job is to consider how to cultivate that loyalty.

Think of loyalty as a faithfulness or allegiance to a company or a brand based on a high level of satisfaction.  Customer satisfaction breeds loyalty.  When a business or a brand consistently satisfies and exceeds customer expectations, it is natural to consistently make that company or brand the first choice.

So how can you create and encourage truly loyal customers?     Levi's denim 2


Asking and hearing what customers are saying about your business along with making changes and improvements to increase their satisfaction can go a long way in making customers loyal to your business.  Loyal customers come back and can be more profitable.  Often the 80/20 rule applies- 80% of revenue comes from 20% of a business’s customers.  The key is to understand the customer needs and expectations and make changes that positively impact the customer’s experience with your business.  In 1873 Levi  Strauss and Jacob David listened to a particularly difficult customer  who was consistently ripping trouser pockets and seams due to extreme use.  Levi's denim 3   By placing metal rivets at points of strain: pocket corners, base of the zippers, etc. to strengthen the trousers, the company created the first riveted clothing, aka the blue jean.  By listening and making a small change, within a very short time, all types of working men were buying the innovative new clothing and spreading the word.

Cultivate a sense of ownership

Are you launching a new service or new products?  Invite your most loyal customers to become beta users and solicit their feedback to make adjustments and improvements.  This will give your best customers a sense of being a “shareholder” in your business as well as helping you create better offerings to your at-large customer base.  Way back in the 1850s Levi Strauss developed denim as work-wear for the pioneers of the American West. Only in the 1950s did this fabric evolve into fashion garments; jeans and jackets were taken up by bikers and rockers, giving denim a sense of cool and rebelliousness. By the 1970s Hollywood stars such as Steve McQueen and Paul Newman wore the brand.  Can your customers help you test and launch new concepts and be the trendy messenger for your business?

Create a loyalty program

Reward customers for multiple purchases of a high margin product.  Remember to measure your results and make changes that positively impact the customer (while being fiscally responsible).  Consider a program that provides free products or services as a reward for repeat business.

Creating truly loyal customers through these types of programs can prove to be a long-term distinct competitive advantage.


Offer premium services

If a small portion of your customers are responsible for a majority of your revenue, provide them with premium level of customer service.  Perks for your best customers let them know how much you value their business.

  • Let your best customer’s preview and purchase new products.  This could be anything from opening early or staying late to accommodate their schedule, shipping products to their home or office for free, giving them first chance to purchase new arrivals or attend sales.
  • Host an exclusive event for your best customers inside or outside of your business.
  • Make a point to call out your best customers in email marketing campaigns (preferably with a great quote or referral) or social media.
  • Reward referrals-consider providing discounts and other rewards to customers who recommend your business to friends and associates after they make a purchase.  Customer referrals are a valuable tool, so let them know how much you value their recommendations.

Back in 1873 it was for Levi Strauss’s challenging but quality customer for whom they added the rivets to denim in order to satisfy his need and that one decision is responsible for  the growth of the company and 140 years of success!

Simply two visionary immigrants- Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis turned loyal customers, denim, thread, and a little metal into the most popular apparel on earth…..just think of what you can do.

Have a great working customer loyalty program? Let us hear about it!

Spring Cleaning for Small Business-Share Your Ideas @ #SMBSpringClean

Join The Twitter Chat: Follow #SMBSpringClean


Become a part of the conversation to find out what other small business owners just like you are doing this spring to renew their companies. Get more good ideas for spring cleaning by joining us Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 8 p.m. EST for a live Twitter chat presented by FedEx Office.

We hope you’ll take the time to participate and pose any questions you may have about revitalizing your business. If you have any tips to offer other small business owners about spring cleaning or how to bring in new ideas and innovation, we’d love for you to join us.  Be sure to follow @FedExOffice too.

Twitter Chat Details

Be sure to join us for this live Twitter chat event:

TOPIC: Spring clean your SMB: Get organized, bring in fresh ideas, shake things up.

DATE: Thursday, April 11, 2013

TIME: 8 pm EST (New York time)

LOCATION: Just follow the hashtag #SMBSpringClean to participate.

Have a Wish List for Your Small Business? Intuit is Granting 15 Wishes to Help Your Business Spring Forward!

Intuit’s “Love Our Local Business”  is granting 15 wishes to help small businesses in need…..and what small business isn’t in need of up to $5000 worth of of help?

Between April 2nd and May 12th Intuit will be reviewing small business stories from across the country and begin granting selected business up to $5000 worth of business help starting on May 6th.

It’s easy to enter, simply:

  • State your business wish on the Love our local business website
  • Share your wish to get votes -this will improve your chances of winning and allow you to share your wish with people who love your business

Go to the official “Love Our Local Business” website for additional details and be sure let us help by to sharing your stories on the Ivystone Facebook page to gain more votes.

We can’t to hear your business wishes, sprinkle some good luck fairy dust and help them be granted!




Stand Out From the Crowd With These Sales and Productivity Motivators


I often have the discussion with my husband (who is not a sales person)  that sales is an absolute essential skill everyone should learn and feel comfortable with.  Each of us has to sell something throughout our lives, even if it’s just an idea.  As sale people and business owners we certainly know this-we live and breath it daily.


                 Here’s a proven 3,500-year-old technique for helping to make the sale.





Have you noticed that some people just seem to accomplish tons and still appear happy and relaxed?  



Here are six tips for standing out and becoming more productive




What are some of your sales and productivity tips?

Gift & Home Trade Market-Experience the Excitement and Energy (without actually being there)

The winter markets have just ended but the excitement continues with great product introductions and promotions from gift and home vendors.  Enjoy the feeling of the world’s largest marketplace for gift and home products.   Carry on the excitement by contacting one or more of the Ivystone or Simblist sales reps in your area to get more product details!



Great Ways to Jumpstart 2013

To help you get back into the daily work routine, here are some inspirational thoughts for the new year that will rouse you into positive action:

12 Great Motivational Quotes for 2013

5 Ways to Prepare for an Amazing 2013

You’re certain to find something here to jumpstart a great year!

How Well Do You Know the Products You Sell?

I visited a new restaurant over the weekend and after ordering a glass of wine, introduced myself to our assigned waiter, Jason.  Due to the uniqueness of the menu selections, I had plenty of questions; how exactly is Nettle Soup made, what are Hakurei Turnips and could Gingery Fermented Cabbage actually taste good?  I am a self proclaimed foodie but needed more info to understand what I was going to feast upon.

I was so impressed with Jason and the wait staff’s detailed knowledge of the food descriptions, wine and intricate preparations that I immediately felt remiss and lacking in my own sales product knowledge…..can’t help but to always be thinking like a sales rep or a marketer!

 As a multi-line sales rep, it is very challenging to be the perceived expert in all aspects of the product lines we sell, just like a retailer is challenged to be knowledgeable or train their staff on all products in their store.  With that stated, is it not our responsibility and the customers right to expect in depth knowledge of the products we sell?
Would all parties increase sales if we had more in depth info at the forefront of our brains, ready for each and every encounter with a buyer or consumer? 


A few years ago our company represented a high quality line of leather jewelry and travel cases, the manufacturer insisted that each sales rep associated with their product line receive detailed training.  Every rep had to complete and get graded on product presentations in front of company personnel and then in front of a minimum of 3 retail customers.  None of the sales reps on the team were enthused about going through this exercise,  but we had no choice.  In the end, it was a win-win.  We had a thorough understanding of the product line and felt confident in every way to successfully sell the product.  Mission accomplished for this manufacturer, but what about all of the other manufacturers that fall short of this type of detailed sales training?


No doubt we could all benefit from having more in depth knowledge and understanding of what we sell, yet time is always the dragon we wrestle.  Is there something we should give up or change in order to become more product knowledgeable to gain more wins?


FYI-Dinner was great and the nettle soup is something I would recommend.  Your thoughts and comments on this topic will be devoured and shared by me.


A great post from Inc. on this topic:
Bon Appetit!

iPad Guide – Getting the Most Out of Your Tablet

If you are reading this you either already own an iPad or are seriously thinking about buying one soon.  This functional up to date guide will help you get more use from your tablet and effectively manage your device to keep it organized.

iPad: A Magical and Revolutionary Guide provides tips and tricks along with a list of top 40 free app selections.

Even experienced users are sure to find some thing they were not aware of plus new apps to add to your iPad collection.

From copying, pasting, loading videos, battery saving hints and using your iPad as a remote control, there is something for everyone in this guide…..enjoy!

iPad:_A  Magical_&_Revolutionary_Guide

Top 10 Most Popular Stories of the Week

With so much information to choose from and so many options for staying in the know, I thought it would be useful to post The Top 10 Most Popular Stories of the week according to Fast Company.

There is absolutely something here for everyone.  Hope you discover some amazing tidbits that make you think and help you to jump start engaging conversations.

Until next week…..enjoy!