Friday, May 22, 2015

Preparing Your Business for EMV

In October of 2015, EMV will become a reality for those individuals involved in the process of accepting credit cards. While Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express, each has their own unique description for the changes in liability, beginning in October 2015 when a fraudulent transaction occurs, liability for any resulting counterfeit losses will fall on whichever part of the chain is responsible for the EMV transaction not occurring.
If your business is not EMV ready, now is the time to begin developing and implementing your EMV roadmap. Learn more about EMV, the liability shift, and your responsibilities in our latest infographic below.

Click to enlarge
Click Infographic to Enlarge

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Memorial Day marketing tips for a successful start to summer

As part of our ongoing series which focuses on consumer and marketing trends around major holidays throughout the year, we’ve just released the Memorial Day Holiday Hot Sheet.

Memorial Day marketing emails are all about offers and sales

Experian Marketing Services looked at over 150 brands that sent Memorial Day emails in 2014 and mailings with offers or sales in their subject line made up over 80 percent of the Memorial Day mailings compared to 37 percent of promotional mailings sent by all brands in May of 2014.

The week leading up to Memorial Day has the lion’s share of email volume and generates 90 percent of Memorial Day revenue. While the holiday itself had the highest percentage of revenue, the Friday at the start of the Memorial Day weekend may be a good day to increase mailings, as it received 21.8 percent of Memorial Day revenue from just 18.3 percent of volume.

Memorial Day email volume and revenue

While most Memorial Day emails included offers in the subject line, free shipping and percent off subject lines yielded the greatest revenue per email. Subject lines with the key words of “sale” or “discount” also enjoyed high revenue per email.

Memorial Day offers and keywords


The search is on

When searching for Memorial Day sales or deals online, many Americans are commonly seeking out sales at specific retailers with some of the top being Best Buy, Home Depot and Guitar Center. In fact, seven of the top 15 variations of searches for “Memorial Day sales” or “Memorial Day deals” in 2014 contained the name of a retailer. Several variations also included reference to a type of product without mentioning a specific brand. For instance, “Memorial Day mattress sale” was the fourth most common variation of searches for Memorial Day sales or deals during the week ending May 31, 2014 and the highest ranking product category-related search that week. Vehicle-related searches also occupy two spots in the top 15.

Memorial Day search term variations

With many businesses closed or operating on a holiday schedule on Memorial Day, it’s no surprise that in the days leading up to the holiday and on Memorial Day itself, shoppers are trying to figure out where and when they can shop — regardless of whether there’s a sale going on. For instance, on Memorial Day last year, the fourth most commonly used keyword in Memorial Day-related searches was “open” and the 13th most common keyword was “hours.” In many instances, consumers are looking for information on a specific retailer, such as “is Office Depot open Memorial Day” or “Kohl’s Memorial Day hours.” Though some are seeking general information such as which business are open.

Memorial Day marketing Tip

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Are You Providing a Hyper-Relevant Experience for Shoppers?

Personalization is a hot topic in retail today, and retailers are paying close attention, rolling out beacon technology to track shoppers’ actions, focusing marketing materials to capture their attention and encouraging customer service training. But a recent study from Cisco Consulting Services finds that  today’s consumers are really seeking a hyper-relevant experience even more than a hyper-personalized one.

Technology has allowed consumers to reach out to brands at any time and from any place, and this has resulted in customers looking for more personalized interactions from retailers, as people want their patronage to be valued and appreciated.
Technology has allowed consumers to reach out to brands at any time and from any place, and this has resulted in customers looking for more personalized interactions from retailers, as people want their patronage to be valued and appreciated.

That means that shoppers want to find what they came for and pay in a streamlined fashion. Some might want to be addressed by name, but it seems that’s not a deal breaker. What is important is getting the basics right consistently. For example, the Cisco study found 39 percent of respondents said that greater efficiency in the shopping process (e.g., ensuring items are in stock, speeding checkout times) as the top area retailers need to improve. Compare that with the 13 percent who said a more personalized shopping experience was the #1 concern.

Concentrating on efficiency has two benefits. One, retailers cut costs be eliminating waste and superfluous practices. And customers get the benefit of quicker, more responsive service. Customers end up happier, and, as a result, more loyal to those stores that make shopping easier. Retailers that build agile business processes to turn these insights into value can capture a profit improvement of 15.6 percent, according to Cisco Consulting Services.

Combining mobile technology with the in-store experience is no longer just for early adopters — it is mainstream. The next step is integrating mobile with the technology powering the Internet of things. IoT lets shoppers connect to retail in ways that makes their shopping experiences more enjoyable, and helps retailers create relevant customer experiences.

Shoppers typically want to engage a technology solution if there is a benefit for them attached. Those benefits might be in terms of cost, efficiency or engagement. To meet those needs, for example, a retailer might:
  • use digital signage to inform shoppers of a “flash” sale. The “smart sign” is notified by an IoT powered backend system about a stock situation. Preprogrammed parameters cause the promotion to launch, helping retailers clear out inventory, and can guide customers directly to the merchandise;
  • implement a buy-online-pickup-in-store solution that provides current inventory information to shoppers beginning their journey online, but opting to finish it in store;
  • provide interactive mirrors for trying on clothes, capturing the image and sharing on social media.
By investing in Internet of Things technologies, some retailers are attempting to engage consumers, attract them to stores, and attempt to cross-sell and up-sell. It’s yet another tool in a box that can never be too full.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

5 Critical Skills How To Coach Retail Salespeople


how to coach salespeople 
05 | 03 | 15
The opportunities for coaching retail employees are huge and exemplified in this brief story...

Monday, May 4, 2015

7 Marketing Ideas to Make Your Mother’s Day Profitable!

Growing up as a kid, my mother would say: “Everyday is Mother’s Day!”

And while that may be true (after all, motherhood is the hardest job of them all), Mother’s Day presents a tremendous opportunity to boost sales with creative marketing ideas.


Strategic Entrepreneurs take advantage of these celebrations as a way to increase profits and provide value for their customers.

Spouses, children and grandparents will be spending money to help celebrate the positive contributions our mothers have made to society.

As Entrepreneurs, it’s our job to think of creative Mother’s Day marketing ideas to help make our customer’s buying decision a little easier … as well as make the day as special as possible for their moms.

Just a little effort, sprinkled with creativity, could produce a windfall of profits for your business!

While restaurants, spas, salons, florists, and clothing retailers are usually the first to come to mind when looking to spend money on mom … strategic entrepreneurs in almost any industry can also use this holiday to create a spike in sales, regardless of the business.

With honed Mother’s Day marketing ideas, retail and service businesses alike can develop methods to stimulate sales.

Mother’s Day marketing ideas need to be interesting, unique, and give your customers a reason to pay attention while creating some exciting buying opportunities for your customer!

Here are a few creative Mother’s Day marketing ideas for small business owners:
  1.  What do you buy the mom that has it all?  Stores and websites can make this process easier for children, spouses, and others looking to buy something for that special lady by offering a gift guide or suggested selections for mothers based on their interests.
  2. Offer a special combination of products or services just for moms, offered at a discount over each item purchased individually.
  3. Free gift-wrapping is always handy and welcome (especially for busy spouses with limited time to sneak away to wrap mom’s gift).
  4. Create an event for children to come inside your store and select items just for mom. Perhaps offer a special discount to children, or offer a special low-priced selection just to kids. This will bring spouses into your business that may also be looking for a gift.
  5. If you’re offering a service, consider creating a tangible gift that a spouse or child can wrap up to give to their mothers. For example, if you’re a fitness trainer, perhaps you can offer a free gift basket with the purchase of a boot camp.
  6. As the entrepreneur, if you know your customer or client is a mother, why not recognize them with a special gift, card, or invitation?
  7. Host a special event for mothers at your store. Make it a big event (and kid friendly) as to drive traffic and interest.
Remember, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, people love being entertained and love originality!

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Friday, May 1, 2015

The Wired Family: Screen Time and Tech Etiquette Strategies




When I was a little kid, the only gadget was an Inspector and screen time wasn't really an issue because Pee-Wee's Playhouse was only on once a week. Now that we've got a slew of devices, we're figuring out our relationship to them as a family. Here are a few of our ever-evolving tactics and guiding principles:

Screen Time Negotiation: We're lucky in that the while the 8-year-old loves playing Hungry Shark, he doesn't ask for much screen time, so it's rarely an issue. Usually we address it in family terms, like "We're all exhausted from that hike, how about 15 minutes of screen time and then we'll go pick apples?", and all collapse happily together with our gadgets. The kid is often granted screen time when the adults need to work on something he can't help with, or when we've had intense painting-biking-building-cooking-canoeing-gardening days and he could use a little downtime. Movie-watching is family time and we all vote on what to watch, and a cozy Saturday morning episode of Phineas & Ferb while breakfast bakes is generally suggested by a certain 35-year-old. I'm most interested to hear how much screen time your kids get, what they're allowed to use it for, whether chores, etc. have to be completed first, and so on!

Screen Time Renegotiation: Sometimes at the end of X amount of minutes you're this close to evolving your shark, in which case it's totally appropriate to politely ask, "Can I have 2 more minutes?" or "Can I finish this level?" Once new terms are agreed upon, however, they must be adhered to.

No Devices At Meals: This one's easy. Sometimes, if it's just the adults, one of us might say, "How about a reading dinner?" and then we enjoy quality reading separately together time. Otherwise, it's quality family time, all the way. Exceptions apply for emergencies, like if someone needs to show everyone what a pangolin looks like.

Interrupt Respectfully: Just as if someone was reading a book, we do our best to interrupt each other's online reading gently: a nice, "Hey, daddy?..." and a pause for a response before launching into a complicated tale goes a long way. But also, real life always trumps digital life.

Eye Contact: In the words of the ever-wise Ron Swanson, "When you do get your phone back, you will not stare at it when talking with another human being. Look a man in the eye when you speak with him." Call me stubborn but once I've respectfully gotten someone's attention and gotten a response (see above), I (respectfully) refuse to continue speaking until they've pulled their eyes away from their device. Same applies if they look at their device after I've started speaking. I WILL WAIT. Exceptions apply, of course, for example if someone is scrolling through photos to find the one that they're talking about— and has explained that's what they're doing.

Ask Permission to Use Someone's Device: We've discussed this one a lot lately, especially in regards to the fact that it's not simply a "don't touch my stuff" issue. We've explained that it's important to respect each other's privacy, and that phones and computers are often full of private personal and professional texts/emails, surprise party plans, and present-purchases. Since the adults in the household use their devices for work, we've also explained how important it is that they're treated gently and that they're full of crucial information. It's my job to save my work frequently and bookmark hard-found tabs I have open, but if someone uses my laptop I need to know first so I can protect and save anything important.

Treat Each Other's Devices Gently: Things break—especially fragile, expensive things made of thin glass and delicate circuits. If someone broke my phone during normal use I would be sad but understanding, but if someone broke my phone, Calvin-style— "Well, I was tossing them at myself at the time, as I ran down the sidewalk"— I would be super upset. We do our best to handle each other's gadgets gently and conscientiously, away from puddles and melted chocolate.

Sit Up Straight!: This one isn't really a rule, but every once in a while I exclaim "Sit up straight!" at the 8-year-old (or to myself, silently) when he's slowly curled over his device. Early childhood scoliosis, 15 years of ballet lessons, and a grandma with crippling osteoporosis have made me hyper-aware of the importance of good posture, and the pain of bad posture.

Safe Search ON: Again, this isn't so much a rule as my own policy. I have Safe Search activated on my laptop and phone, and it just makes life easier. If the 8-year-old needs to research baby beavers, I want him to be able to do so without having to leap in front of the screen screaming, "NOOOOoooooooo".

How much screen time do your kids get each day, and what are they allowed to use it for? What aspects of tech-etiquette work well for your household, and which are a constant struggle?

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