State of Retail 2016- Timetrade Report

TimeTrade recently conducted a survey of 5,444 consumers, asking in-depth questions regarding their perceptions and behaviors around retail shopping.

TimeTrade also surveyed 100 senior-level decision makers in retail, asking about their plans for customer experience.

What TimeTrade’s research reveals is that consumers still look to the in-store experience to make final purchasing decisions, except now their expectation for customer service is set even higher. For example, 85% of consumers report that if they try on clothes in a dressing room and find they need a different size, but no associate is available, they would consider abandoning the dressing room and leaving the store altogether.  CustomerService_V2

When asked to rank what they value most when shopping in a retail store, consumers choose “Prompt service” as their top priority followed by “A personalized experience” and “Smart recommendations.”

To learn more about “The State of Retail 2016” fill out this request form to download the report from Timetrade.

Our 20 Billion Dollar Day of Love (Infographic)

Valentine’s Day has surpassed the football craze with total spending set to hit a record $19.7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Some 54.8 percent of Americans celebrated the holiday this year, with candy, greeting cards and an evening out at the top of the gift list.

Valentines_Day_Infographic

Holiday 2015 Retail Sales Surge in Furniture & Apparel

Solid holiday sales results were released,  giving 2015 a happy ending for most retailers. Strong demand for furniture and women’s apparel helped U.S. retail sales grow by a “solid” 7.9 percent this holiday season, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.

Furniture was a bright spot this holiday season. Sarah Quinlan, the head of market insights for MasterCard Advisors, said that solid spending in this category — which includes many big-ticket items — is a sign that consumers are plenty willing to open their wallets for purchases they’ve carefully researched. Bloomingville_Furniture

Another encouraging sign for retailers in MasterCard’s data was its finding that apparel sales saw “high single-digit growth” during the season. Shiraleah_boho-iconComing into the holiday rush, apparel sales had been soft at many retailers due to unseasonably warm weather which initially appeared to keep consumers from scooping up cold-weather gear.  As warmer temperatures hung on throughout December, there were reports that apparel retailers were missing out on millions in clothing sales this holiday season.  However MasterCard’s data suggests that consumers ended up ponying up for clothing after all. MasterCard found that women’s apparel sales saw robust growth.

Read the full Reuters story here.

13 Step Road Map to Maximize Business Results with Hyper-Local Marketing

It’s a no brainer. Local businesses that want to maximize their business results should implement hyper-local digital marketing.  Identify your most critical local markets, and deliver compelling localized  messaging, content, programs, offers, and calls to action based on the area or  neighborhood.

 

In this article, you’ll learn…

  • 13 tips for effective local marketing
  • How reaching a local audience can drive business results

More folks turn to the Internet than any other medium—including newspapers, TV, or word-of-mouth—for local information, according to the Pew Research Center. Furthermore, a whopping 83% of local search users contacted businesses offline, with 46% of consumers making contacts over the phone and 37% visiting the businesses in person, and half of all local business searchers eventually made purchases, according to TMP (15miles) and ComScore. Numbers like those demonstrate how digital marketing can take local businesses to a whole new level.

If you are a local business looking to grow (and who isn’t?), follow this digital road map and get hyper-local (with amazing results).

Read more here

 

What Will Overtime Pay Mean For Retailers

Overtime Pay Changes For Retailers

 

A proposed new rule governing overtime pay will mean bigger paychecks for up to 5 million workers, Obama Retailer workingadministration officials said Tuesday.  Currently, certain salaried workers who make more than $23,660 cannot claim overtime; the proposed rule would raise that threshold to $50,440 per year for those workers now exempt from overtime benefits.

It could take months to finalize the proposed rule, which is now subject to a 60-day public comment period. Find out what the overtime pay change really means for retailers.  Retail Dive (7/7)

Gifted Women

Monica_Loving_Ivystone_VP_Vendor_Relations2015

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.

 

Are You Providing An Exceptional Customer Experience?

Busting the Top 7 Customer Support Myths

Customer support is everyone’s business – from the CEO to sales, marketing, tech support and product development.  At its best, customer service is a collaborative exercise that leverages the shared knowledge of everyone throughout the business.

Five stars service

Company leaders who understand the true nature of customer support are in a better position to communicate the vision and to consistently provide an exceptional customer experience. When companies allow customers to contact them via multiple channels and effectively apply knowledge and data to resolve problems quickly, the business will surely grow, emphasizing the importance of customer service excellence. Business 2 Community. (6/13)

West Coast Port Issues Resolved-Resolution Won’t Be Quick

Product manufacturers and retailers have had their patience stretched while trying to get products on the shelves due to the west coast ports labor dispute.  Finally a resolution is in place, however more time is needed before products are loaded and delivered throughout the country.  Port officials have informed retailers it will take 45 to 60 days to clear out the backlog, said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation trade group.    

According to Reuters reports: “It’s not going to be fast,” Jon Slangerup, chief executive officer of the Port of Long Beach, told CNBC television. “It’s going to take us a couple of months to dig out, but we were at full strength on Saturday night, all full strength yesterday, and we’re going to stay at it until this backlog is cleared.”  writes Reuters Lewis Krauskopf.

Ships sit anchored outside the Port in Los Angeles

Cargo containers sit idle at the Port of Los Angeles as a back-log of over 30 container ships sit anchored outside the Port in Los Angeles, California, February 18, 2015. CREDIT: REUTERS/BOB RIHA, JR

 

Retail Dollar Volumes Up for the 2014 Holiday Season

The data suggests that shoppers are ready to spend this holiday season.  Consumer confidence is rising due to an improving job market and lower gasoline prices. Couple standing in front of organic food store smiling If the early shopping days are strong indicators, this could be a positive shopping season for retailers.

Retail Dollar Volume Up 5.3% Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday

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.