Viva Las Vegas Market!

Find an Incredible Array of New Resources at the Fastest-Growing Gift & Home Decor Market in the US!

The full spectrum of categories are here – general gift, tabletop, lifestyle, housewares, gourmet, seasonal, lighting, furniture, home décor, spa, toy, jewelry, inspirational, textile, vintage, trend, stationery and so much more providing literally thousands of reasons to attend the Las Vegas Market January 22-26, 2017.

Since its launch in the Summer of 2005, Las Vegas Market has become the most comprehensive furniture, home décor and gift market in the Western United States. The campus is comprised of three interconnected buildings and a temporary exhibit facility called the Pavilions, encompassing 40 floors and 5 million sq ft!     Ivystone_LasVegas_Showroom_LookBook_Jan2017

Ivystone quickly settled into their prime location of 45,000 sq ft, in Building C #696. Check out the newest Las Vegas Showroom Book Here

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.

Learn and Earn Word Of Mouth Marketing For Your Business

If you could master what has been identified as one of the most valuable forms of marketing, the one that most people trust above all others Word of Mouth Marketing 4and the one that is most likely to deliver sales for your company, would you instead choose to ignore it or leave it to chance?

Why would you simply choose to sit back and hope conversations will just happen organically about your brand? If you want to win the marketing race you need to unleash the power of word of mouth marketing (WOMM).

Most of the time, your talkers will come from the everyday actions you take to be a great business – they recommend their friends because they really like you. But sometimes you have to be more proactive about earning those talkers and getting them to spread the word.

Word of Mouth Marketing-GraphLook at the facts. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of  marketing.

According to Susanne Fanning, President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association for the word of mouth and social media marketing industry, marketers need to focus on the three E’s: Engage, Equip, Empower.  If you can master these, you can become the most beloved and talked about product in your category, which will ultimately lead to increased sales. “We’ve seen a good WOMM campaign generate thousands of conversations, recommendations and triple sales in just a year (yes, even for the boring products).”

Engage—Give your fans the gift of you. Engage with them. Listen to what they are telling you. Be part of the conversation about your brand. Be a presence in your fans’ lives. @NikeSupport is a prime example of customer service done well. They constantly respond to followers on Twitter, whether it’s about their apparel, Fuel Band or other products. Every few minutes, you can watch them respond to someone new.

Equip—Give them reasons to talk. It can be amazing products, great service, insider knowledge, social elevation, incredible stories, unbelievable facts or even funny disclosures. It’s on you. It really depends on you understanding your consumers and what they like about you and providing whatever it is they need from you. Apple revolutionizes technological devices and delivers amazing products to its consumers, allowing them to naturally rave about the newest iPhone. Another area to excel in and that’s on the rise is social customer service.

Empower—Give consumers different ways to talk and share. Let them know that they are important to you and that sharing their opinions is important to you. Help them find ways to share within their circles and find ways to help move their conversations around. Lay’s is an excellent Word of Mouth Marketing 2example to highlight how they empowered their fans to “Do Us a Flavor,” and allow consumers to create a new flavor of potato chips to hit store shelves. Over 3.8 million submissions were sent in 2013 making it one of the biggest marketing campaigns for PepsiCo owned Frito-Lay.

As is typically in these times, technology has increased social connectivity making it easier for consumers to do your marketing for you. A post Word of Mouth Marketing 3that takes just a few minutes for a fan to write will be seen by hundreds of friends who trust them, and it can rapidly travel out to thousands more. Very well planned messages have been shared by millions within the span of days.

Look at the Epic Split video by Volvo featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the video was released on YouTube on November 14, and on the first day the film was viewed over 6.5 million times and shared over 32 thousand times. Then in four weeks it was shared over 6 million times across social networks. It quickly became the most shared film on YouTube. The clip has received extensive media coverage from all over the world as well, and has been the subject of approximately 20,000 editorial pieces online thus far.

It is simply not possible to achieve these kind of results without technology. The results are undeniable; consider the fact that those who read these posts as well as yours could potentially have hundreds of offline conversations with friends, families and acquaintances.

Engaing, Equipping and Empowering  your customers will fuel conversations and drive passionate Word of Mouth marketing that will make a huge difference for your brand and your sales.

Send us examples of your Word of Mouth achievments and be on the look out for Part 2 next week as we share these and more powerful WOMM success stories.

 

Suzanne Fanning is the President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association for the word of mouth and social media marketing industry. Her social strategies have been featured in Advertising Age Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, and PR Week.

 

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)

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)

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.

Got Thieves? Customer Service is Key

JoyceWashnik_Giftbeat

By Joyce Washnik, Editor, Giftbeat

How would you feel if one of your longtime customers, someone you knew by name and were even affiliated with through your local chamber of commerce, turned out to be a thief?

It happened to a New York retailer, who says the woman stole from her for 10 years before she figured it out. Now the customer’s picture is posted on the store’s back door so employees see it every day. “We never ‘caught’ her, but  she never came in last season, so she must know we’re onto her,” she says.

Dealing with theft is an ongoing challenge for retailers, but it’s especially hard to catch when carried out by your store’s “best” or most frequent customers. Or by the well-dressed woman who chats with everyone and compliments your merchandise, only to drop items in her purse when your back is turned.                  Woman Shoplifting

A number of our retailers have installed camera systems to stay on top of would-be thieves, especially as their inventory has shifted to more desirable categories such as jewelry and apparel. Others have moved expensive items to protected cases, or even installed alarm gates.

But experts say you already have what you need to make thieves less likely to frequent your store: customer service. “Customer service is the first weapon in the anti-shoplifting arsenal,” says Bill Bregar of Loss Prevention Systems. “Shoplifters hate attention! To do what they do, they must have privacy, even for a few seconds. Customer service negates their ability to steal.”

Here, retailers offer additional ways to thwart thieves:

  • Cite local ownership. A Louisiana retailer confronted a shoplifter last year and asked, “Why do you hate my kids?” The customer looked stunned when the retailer explained to her that the jewelry and shirts in her purse were how she paid for her children’s education, food, clothing and house note. The thief drove off with the stolen items, but the next morning, they were all in a bag at the store door. Now, the retailer plans to post a large family portrait in each location so customers see who is behind the business.
  • “Can we hold those for you?” A South Carolina respondent doesn’t hesitate to approach someone who appears to be a shoplifter (or has stolen before) and say, “Would you like me to hold that at the counter for you?” It sends the message that you’re watching them.
  • Telltale signs. If a person is wearing a coat on a hot day, a New York retailer says to watch out: He or she could be a shoplifter. She also trains sales associates to look for other red flags, such as big purses/totes or trips back to the car for a “forgotten” item.

If you have discovered creative and effective ways to thwart retail theft, send us your story, we would appreciate hearing about and learning from your experiences.

Note: For more than 20 years, Giftbeat has been the “bible” for independent gift retailers who want to make smarter product selections, slash costs and increase profits. Each issue includes in-depth articles covering business news and trends; ideas and inspiration from your retail peers; “what’s hot” gift sales data; and interviews with industry experts. Best of all, Giftbeat brings you the expertise of successful retailers from across the country to help you get — and stay — ahead in today’s competitive marketplace. Visit Giftbeat to download your free sample issue. In addition, sign up today for editor Joyce Washnik’s free Top Tips & Picks alerts.

Google Maps-A Big Deal for Small Business

Leverage Google Maps in a way that can benefit your small business.  Check out the obvious Google Maps function (Google Places), to the more creative ways to navigate your small business to bigger and better things -all within Google Maps functions.

3 Ways Small Businesses Can Dominate With Google Maps

 

google 3 Ways Small Businesses Can Dominate with Google Maps

Source: Business-Management-Degree.net

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