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)

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

How Satisfied Are Your Customers?

The more information you have from your customers, the better your opportunities for growth and capturing the all important holy grail of business, customer loyalty.     Customer Satisfaction

When you have accurate and worthwhile information from your customers, you put yourself ahead of your competition. Here are 6 actionable ways to get information and feedback from your customers to help improve your standing with them:

1. Ask Them. The simplest way to find out what people want from your service or product is to ask them. The problem is that many businesses owners often assume they know what people want.  Assuming and really knowing are decidedly different.  Always ask and act on the answers.

2. Be Your Own Customer. One of the most obvious ways to find out what a customer experiences when they use your business is to be a customer yourself. You can do this by walking the customer journey one step at a time and seeing things through your customer’s eyes.

3. Focus Groups. These groups gain information and insights as to how the target audience is using or reacting to a service.  Information gained from focus groups open up the opportunity for your business to see what it is customers expect.  Recent results from a focus group survey used by a bakery to review their customer needs discovered that they had three different types of customers: locals who wanted personal attention; after-work shoppers who wanted convenience; and tourists who wanted something special.   You can also use social media to gather this type of data.  Collectively it is great information to tailor products and services toward.

4. Questionnaires and Surveys. Getting customers to put their thoughts in writing on a questionnaire or survey is one of the best feedback techniques.  When well-conducted, the information can be invaluable.  As Volkswagen was designing the new Bug, they sent their existing customers a detailed survey stating, “We want you! Your ideas, preferences, and constructive comments will be evaluated and fed into the development process. So tell us about your impressions and ideas for the new Beetle. We’ll do our best!”  The result:  air-conditioning is standard and lighters and ashtrays are optional. Who would have guessed?  Car companies and manufacturers of high ticket items are consistent in getting this type of customer feedback, why can’t you be as well?

5. Use the Results (and real data). The most important  information on whether your customers are satisfied with your service or not is whether they continue to buy from you. While sales information may be a first line indicator of how well you are doing,  it is no guarantee that you are delivering the product or service the customer really wants.   Use the data from one or more of these steps to assess the real story and take action accordingly.

6. Customer Service aka Your Staff. Your personnel is the most resourceful and reliable, as well as the least costly, of your customer feedback sources.  Your staff should be encouraged to build strong relationships with customers so that they feel free to share how they feel about all facets of your business from the product selection to the check out process. Make certain they have an easy way to feed back important information for improving customer service and for managers to make use of what they tell them. There is also value in taking good care of your staff.  Recently a grocery chain, through their annual customer and staff satisfaction surveys discovered a direct connection between customer satisfaction levels and staff satisfaction levels.  Those stores where customer satisfaction is high are consistently the same stores where staff satisfaction is high.

You may deliver what you think to be the best service in the world, but if it is not what people want, your time and talent is being wasted.  Finding ways to get customer feedback is vitally important to your business, why do you think a majority of websites consistently ask for survey participation upon exit?  You should be doing the same and plan to implement one, two, three or all of the above techniques – your business can improve overnight.

Here are steps to help you get started:

6 Questions to get actionable feedback from customers

From Retailwire.com

Best Practices for Exceptional Customer Service

Five stars service

A customer’s most important and lasting impression often comes from customer service—that personal contact with your company’s sales or other customer service personnel. Striving to make customers feel not just important but genuinely comfortable and willing to do repetitive business with you and your organization should be the goal to strive for at all times.

Each person’s idea of exceptional customer service will vary.  But most people agree that if the person serving you goes above and beyond what is normally expected with service, products, time and insights, that would be exceptional.       

With the move toward social media and the ability for customers to comment immediately on Twitter and Facebook; customer service is under the microscope at all times.  Albeit extremely important to have presence with websites and social media, the personal connection still reigns supreme.

Exceptional customer service will absolutely save your organization tons of costs because if done well you won’t have to fix problems or correct wrongs.  Setting out to achieve and sustain exceptional customer service has a huge added benefit of developing happy customers and retaining them for the long run.   Key to achieving this goal is to develop exceptional personnel who understand the importance of customer service to the overall business.  Focusing on empowering all personnel to serve the customer’s needs will never go out of style.

So it becomes clear that the more complex our world gets, the more value there is in authentic, clear, customer connections.  Ron Frank of IBM summarized it well, “As organizations become more intelligent, top CEOs are focused on drawing deep insights from customer data making it possible to understand customers and engage with them as individuals.  In parallel, some have leveraged more traditional and personal ways to connect with their customers and the teams that serve them to a larger benefit”.

How to Improve Your Customer Service Game in 2014- is worth the read- from Intuits Small Business Blog.

What is one small customer service choice you have taken that has seen notable results?

Going beyond what may normally be expected, here are additional posts to help serve you:

15 Customer Service Skills Every Worker Needs

10 Examples of Shockingly Excellent Customer Service

 

Inside the Minds of 10 Successful Entrepreneurs (and what you can learn from them)

Business owners are all different, each having a unique entrepreneur mindset that contributes to their success. Their entrepreneurial approach might have to do with their personality or even the area of business which they have chosen to focus.

When figuring out your own methodology and challenges of entrepreneurship, it can help to learn from the experiences of others.

What makes a man tick?Explore the mindset of 10 well-known entrepreneurs from a variety of different fields, I particularly am inspired by stories 6-10 . The hope is that you will find something in each of their stories that will help you in continuing your own entrepreneurial adventures.

10 Mindsets of Successful Entrepreneurs

From Small Business Trends- October 2013

 

Retailers: The Point of Sale Industry is Rapidly Changing – Are You Onboard?

To move forward into 2014 as a successful retailer you can’t just assume the key will be in stocking products in demand.

What do the consumers of 2014 want from their retail experience?

Customers want their needs to be served in the most efficient and intuitive way possible and Point-of-Sale (POS) systems are absolutely proving to be excellent channels to achieve this primary need.

The most widespread trend that will be taking over in 2014 will be the integration of mobile options. The days of waiting in long lines during peak retail seasons are numbered. Recognizing the need to adapt to the changing landscape of the eligible client-base – a younger and ‘always-on’ customer – mobile point-of-purchase systems are proving to be a win-win. Not only do tablet or smartphone POS systems streamline services and enhance guest satiMobile POSsfaction, this consumer-driven trend offers enormous cost-savings when compared to traditional cash register POS systems.

Additionally, the touch screen aspects offered by most mobile POS devices are more intuitive than traditional systems. Mobile POS systems do not require complex configurations or the need for a back-up server. Most employees are efficient with smartphones and tablets, which not only saves time from a staff training perspective, but also offers self-service for customers, yet another example of increased efficiency and differentiating value in the storefront.

Another trend we expect to see hit the POS space in full force next year is the integration of more loyalty programs and customized advertising and marketing promotions to engage with customers at each stage of the purchase process; from driving impulse consideration, all the way to the final purchase. Loyalty programs have been picking up momentum for the past couple of years and are now becoming fully integrated into on-site POS systems, both mobile and traditional. With customer loyalty software programs launching in every type of retail venue imaginable, cashiers are able to sign customers up within one to two minutes, meeting the easy and quick transaction consumers’ today demand while also reminding them of the added-value offered by the vendor.

Excerpts of the above were taken from Jay Graham’s article in Retail Info Systems.

If I can help you in your purchase and understanding of how a POS can make your business more efficient, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Shawn Thompson

sthompson@merchantsolutionsauthority.com

www.merchantsolutionsauthority.com