Celebrating 20 Colorful Years! Be Inspired by Company C’s Decorating Tips

Company C_20_Colorful_YearsPlan to inspire your customers this season and into 2014 with great merchandise (of course) and captivating displays of color. This awesome “color” inspired blog  from company C founders Chris and Walter Chapin is an overflowing cup of creativity to use and share with your customers.  

Company C was started in a garage in 1994 by Chris and Walter Chapin and is now a premier design studio and leading producer of exceptional home furnishings displaying their love and adaptation of color. Twice a year the Company C Design Studio brings you the hottest colors from fashion, the coolest colors from nature and the trend setting color combinations nobody has seen yet!

May your cup runneth over with creativity and inspiration……start your own colorful conversations by posting a photo of your unique seasonal displays here and on Facebook or Pinterest to share and inspire others.

” I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” Georgia O’Keefe

For suggestions on colorful products and designs contact your Ivystone and Simblist rep

CompanyC-Green&Serene

CompanyC_wisteria

CompanyC-Inspiration

 

 

Learn From the Experiences of Fellow Entrepreneurs

10 mindsets of successful entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are all different. They all have a unique entrepreneur mindset that contributes to their success. Their mindset might have to do with their personality or even the field in which they have chosen to work.

When figuring out your own approach to the challenges of entrepreneurship, it can help to learn from the experiences of others.                                                                          Sharing Entrepreneurial Stories

Here are the experiences and entrepreneur mindset of 10 well-known entrepreneurs from a variety of different fields.   We hope that you will find something in each of their stories that will help you in your own entrepreneurial adventures.  From Small Business Trends (10/16/13)

Pop-up Retail Shops Find Fresh Advantages

Not just for holiday seasons any more, retailers of all sizes are leveraging the Pop-up store concept to pique consumer interest, drive brand awareness, launch a new product and test their business in new markets.

The good news and important part of the equations is that landlords are warming up to the Pop-up store concept due the traffic surge some neighborhoods and shopping areas receive when a new store opens and they get a chance to turn a short term lease into a long term opportunity.  “The more traffic a Pop-up store gets, the more people it brings to the space,” said Katherine Hill, Director of Offline  at BaubleBar,  in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.  “Both parties benefit.  The company gets the space and the landlord will get prospective clients who may want to rent out the space for their own purposes.”

Brands and companies that plan, launch and maintain Pop-up stores with the right strategies will find they are valuable tools for branding, experimentation, advertising, storytelling and product demand. A Pop-up shop can give your brand a personality and turn it into an entire experience.

Check out the video on how the Fleur du  Mal brand owner Jennifer Zuccarini successfully launched her latest Pop-up store.

 

 

Have any Pop-up success stories of your own?  Let us hear about them.

Need help with resources for your retail store?  See what the Ivystone and Simblist teams can offer your business.

Winning Holiday Strategies for Retailers and Brands

Winning Strategies for Holiday Planning 2013To help retailers prepare for the busy upcoming holiday season, Retail Touch Points has compiled the 2013 Holiday Outlook Guide, featuring insights from a number of leading industry experts, case studies, including a variety of tips and tactics that will help deliver a joyous holiday season to retailers, brands and consumers.

This year the guide focuses on 11 different topic areas, including:

  1. Omnichannel
  2. Mobile Commerce
  3. Mobile Apps & Sites
  4. Pricing
  5. Inventory
  6. Personalization
  7. Outbound Marketing
  8. Showrooming
  9. Workforce Management
  10. Payment

Download a complimentary copy of the Retail TouchPoints_Holiday_Outlook_Guide_2013.

Use the guide to plan a successful holiday sales strategy.  Make plans to engage with your customers early and consistently throughout the season.

Let us hear about your own insights and successes.

For an abundant selection of wholesale gift and home products for your retail operation, connect with Ivystone and Simblist sales teams.

 

Retail Touch Points delivers cutting edge content directed towards acquiring, serving and retaining customers in the new world of multi-touch retailing.

Ways to Make the Remainder of 2013 Amazing

During the last full month of summer, allow yourself  time to take stock of your business and personal situations so you can set an action plan to make the rest of the year as productive as possible. Regardless of your position or status, there are actions you can take to drive forward your business and yourself.     All things are possible

Chances are you will need a productive To Do List to make the rest of your year amazing……here is a useful  tip to start (or add to) your list for the remainder of this year.

Seven actions you can take on to make the rest of your 2013 amazing!

What would you add to the list?

 

Smiles Prove to Make the Difference in Customer Service

Need proof that congenial customer service matters? A recent study from London’s Kingston University found that a smile and a friendly greeting were the most common reason why shoppers felt loyalty toward independent businesses.         Smiley Face!

The study examined more than 2,000 consumers and 1,200 small- and medium-sized businesses and found that more than one-third of shoppers come back to stores because of great service, and 20% say having a salesperson remember their order is important.

While great customer service seems like a no-brainer, only half of the businesses surveyed said a smile and greeting were a common practice for their staff.

Customers willing to pay for smiles

 

 

Business Growth Tips From a 184 Year Old Family Company

These “potable” business tips from a 184 year old family company will translate well for virtually all business types and categories.  Here is proof that; providing a good product at an affordable price, steady growth, remembering  your own “backyard” and considering the future can have exceptional pay offs.

Cheers!

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

LISTEN TO THEM

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!

3 Ways to Attract and Keep More Customers

New research from Forrester finds that when it comes to attracting customers and keeping them, people respond more to the “experience” they have with the business even more than with their perception of price.

background of the hands with hearts

So it makes sense that one of the best ways to attract customers is to connect with them on more than a transactional level using everything in your arsenal; your personality, your services, social media and events.  Whether providing valuable information about your business or a much needed laugh, inject some personality into your brand and show the human side of your business to make it attractive.

1-Get Back to Your Roots In your need to attract customers don’t EVER assume that everyone knows your business exists, even if you have been in business for 3,5,10 or 15 years in the same location!  I have heard countless stories from business owners that include the statement “after being in business in this location for X years, surely everyone knows about my business and what we do here”…..simply not true!

Act as if you are running a new business each and every day.  This could make a huge difference in attracting and keeping customers and be remarkable to your bottom line.  Make a short list of what you would do today as if you were opening your doors on day one.  Here are a few examples:

  • Be at the top of your game- Greet, welcome and explain your products/services.
  • Tell your business back story- If you business has a great back story (and who’s doesn’t), tell it verbally when possible and show it visually throughout your business and online.  People love a story so provide yours on your business, products and services. Photos and videos are shareable on social media and digestible for busy customers. Aim to visually convey your brand’s story on your website and through social media.
  • Highlight your special talents and services- Does your business customize products, ship anywhere, offer a design service, provide local delivery, take special orders ….you get the picture. Don’t hold back…make it clear verbally and visually in all possible locations.  Signage, websites, social media, local press.

 

2-Stay Connected. Growing a business is about fostering long-term relationships. Capture customer information and communicate consistently via email, phone, social media.  Communication is a two-way street so provide your customers multiple ways to communicate with you.

  • Promotions, events, sharing updates and humor are a consistent reminder of your business brand.  Ditch the fear and stop worrying that you will be bothering your customers, everyone can use an occasional reminder or update on what your business can offer.
  • Make sure customers have a clear path toward a deeper level of engagement with you and your company – and vice versa. It can be as simple as leaving a comment book at the counter, a survey on a receipt or a place to comment online. The more customers interact with your brand, the more they’ll remember you when it’s time to make a purchasing decision. Make it easy for them to communicate with you.
  • Get visual- Some good ideas include filming a video interview with your best customers having fun at your business or using your products, asking customers to submit a picture of themselves using your product, or uploading video product demos and tutorials.

3-Offer Exceptional Customer Service. I am referring to your top of the line service here.  If you believe you can make a customer’s experience better today, don’t hold back….go for it!  This could make the difference in word of mouth advertising (the best kind!) and earn your business social buzz and recommendations.

  • People love to share when they have something great (or truly miserable) happen to them.  Give them something great to share on a consistent basis.
  • “Experience” is the new currency….if you can do remarkable things for your customers, your customers will share because they’re happy.  Make it easy for your customers to help you.

Share with us some of your great customer service stories and we will happily share with others to help everyone attract more customers.

 

5 Mistakes Retailers Can’t Afford to Make

With so much to do each day to run your business it could be easy to overlook critical details that make all the difference to your bottom line.  Below are 5 hot points to avoid along with solutions to help you resolve these frequent challenges.  

Mistake #1:

Stock too much of one item and your money is tied up.

This is the challenge you face every day. With so much money invested in your inventory, it’s essential that you stay on top of it. That means that your inventory figures need to be constantly updated. Relying on a cash register or paper-based transactions does not automatically update your inventory. Retailing requires that inventory tracking occurs in real-time and is effortless and automatic.

 Mistake #2:

Run out of stock and you’ve missed an opportunity to make a sale.

Few things hurt sales, or frustrate customers, more than failing to stock an item consumer’s want. A good inventory management system should enable you to always know what inventory you have on hand, without conducting a physical count. It should use a bar code scanner to scan items when ringing up sales or entering new inventory – automatically adjusting inventory totals as you sell items and automatically notifying you when items are out of stock.

 Mistake #3:

Making inventory decisions by the seat of your pants.

Imagine being able to spot trends in sales, profits, liquidity and assets as well as optimal operating hours and profit margins. Oh, and of course track inventory with easy-to-access data so you can act quickly on new products or eliminate poorly performing products.

Mistake #4:

Ignoring shrinkage and failing to secure against theft.

Shrinkage is all merchandise that is taken out of stock without being paid for. Studies consistently show more people will steal if they think they can get away with it. You might not even realize that theft, by employee or customer, is actually going on in your store.

 Mistake #5:

Not making lemonade when you have lemons!

Pricing items correctly and knowing when to offer discounts is key to successfully managing and growing your business. You should be able to identify the most “saleable” items, which are typically your most price sensitive (generally the 20% of your inventory that moves the fastest), and price them competitively.

You can then recognize the “slow movers” from the remaining bulk of your inventory, which are typically your most non-price sensitive items, and raise the margins. By selling the “slow movers” early in the season, when items are more saleable at higher prices, you will minimize clearance markdowns at the end-of season.

Reporting is critical to understanding and managing your inventory. QuickBooks Point of Sale allows retailers to keep track of critical information and avoid costly mistakes and Merchant Solutions  Authority is focused on these types of business solutions for retailers.

Merchant Solutions Authority is a proven and trusted advisor to retailers across the country.  MSA specializes in business tools and methodologies for independent retailers – single store operations; small to medium sized chains.

Why they are different: Merchant Solutions Authority has over 50+ years of experience in independent and specialty retail – they know your passion and understand your business. MSA uniquely combines their retail and product experience with business expertise to simplify your operations and enhance your profitability.

Let them help you avoid costly mistakes.

For more information on Merchant Solutions Authority please visit their website:

MerchantSolutionsAuthority.com