What Is Your Digital Retail Personality?

Want to find our more about your digital retail personality?
Do people look to you for creative genius?
Or is it your razor-sharp analytical mind that makes you an irreplaceable asset?

 

To learn more take the Shop.org Digital Experience Workshop retail personality quiz.

With just 5 short questions, they’ll tell you what kind of retail pro you are.

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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.

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

 

Gifted Women

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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)

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.

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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.

Got Thieves? Customer Service is Key

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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.

Give A Voice To Breast Cancer Awareness and Share Your Story

Beaucoup Designs True Blue Goes True Pink!

With Breast Cancer Awareness month  right around the corner, Beaucoup Designs will be offering exquisite new and cherished existing merchandise to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer.

Three new pieces will be available in early September from Beaucoup Designs owner and designer, Leah Ann Messer.  Two of these pieces were designed in honor of her sisters, Janet and Melissa, both of whom have recently battled with Breast Cancer. Leah Ann has designed a beautiful new bracelet named “Melissa”‘  and a stunning new necklace named “Janet”, recognizing the incredible courage and struggles experienced by each of her sisters.     Beaucoup_TruePink_Campaign

Leah Ann’s third design will be a beautiful pair of pink earrings, and they too will need a NAME!  In order to find the perfect name for this design, we are asking all of our customers, sales reps, and friends to email YOUR story and give your voice to raise awareness and help find a cure.  Your story can be about any experience you have had with breast cancer.  After receiving these stories, Beaucoup will publish them on their website, Beaucoupdesigns.com. At the end of October the Beaucoup Advisory board will choose one entry.  The new earrings will then be named after the author of the entry (or the subject of the entry).  This person will also get to choose the non-profit cancer organization of their choice and we will give 100% of the proceeds to this organization.

Please spread the word and give a voice to your story. Email your submissions to truepink@beaucoupdesigns.com.  In the email, include your name and contact information.  This information will remain confidential (it will be your choice to have your name attached) and will be published on the Beaucoupdesigns.com website.

We want to have a place where everyone who has been affected by this disease can have a voice, and by sharing these heartfelt and touching stories, we are able to help each other and help find a cure!

Leah Ann Messer- True Pink Video

 

 

 

Viva Las Vegas and the Ivystone Showroom!

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Visit the Las Vegas Market in person and join Ivystone and their vendors July 27-31st (Bldg C-Showroom #696) for day long hospitality starting with Starbucks coffee each morning along with great products, food and events throughout the day.  If you can’t make the trip in person, view Ivystone’s Las Vegas Showroom Look Book for an in-person “feel” of the irresistible product options during and after market.

Either way you can’t lose…..after all it’s Vegas!

Be sure to contact us for additional show and product details.

For details on Ivystone’s Las Vegas Showroom visit us here.