Christmas in September? Seriously! Why Major Retailers Have Their Christmas Goods out Already

Do you remember a time when Christmas decorations and music playing wasn’t done until after Thanksgiving? It would mean thinking back a long, long time. Now Christmas in September comes to major retailers! That seems a little too early! Can we just get past Halloween, please?

Christmas in September? Seriously! Why Major Retailers Have Their Christmas Goods out AlreadyIt seems like major retailers are putting Christmas goods and decorations out before Halloween. That rubs most people the wrong way, but really they should look at themselves. Why? According to Kathy Grannis, with the National Retail Federation, 40 percent of shoppers every year say they begin holiday shopping before Halloween. So, that means that major retailers know that people are looking for Christmas goods early, and if they don’t find them in their store, they will look elsewhere. Their reaction? Putting out Christmas items earlier and earlier. Back to school is over, so throw up Halloween AND Christmas.

Most businesses have found that the craziness of the last two weeks before Christmas has been less crazy, and attribute it to the earlier season. Possibly, but not everyone agrees, and some businesses hold fast and wait. Yes, planning takes place as early as July, but many businesses ease into holidays and start small when putting Christmas goods out. Most people aren’t as annoyed with a small section that grows as the holiday approaches. Not all big retailers agree either. A major retailer that holds fast to “wait until after Thanksgiving” (yes there really is one) is Nordstrom. They made a decision to take one holiday at a time. Good for them!

As a retailer there is nothing wrong with moving up your holiday sales/decorating schedule. Just keep in mind that although people may start their shopping early, having the music and decorations up as early as September is really just annoying. Try and wait, or at least keep it small until closer in. The good will it will get you may make a bigger difference than a full blown early outing!

Grass Roots Marketing Tips – Why Major Retailers are Thinking Small

Grass roots marketing is a movement that is catching on so well that major retailers like Petco are taking advantage of it to help back fill some of the marketing channels that are disappearing at a scary rate (when was the last time you actually watched a commercial or turned on your car radio?) Between Big Box retailers opening smaller stores, mall kiosks and pop up retail stores, going smaller is becoming a good way to expand.

Grass Roots Marketing Tips - Why Major Retailers are Thinking SmallGrass roots marketing, or viral marketing as it’s also known, uses relationships to promote a product or service instead of using typical mass marketing techniques like Television or Direct Mail. The message is targeted to a particular audience or a specific group of people who would most benefit from a product or service.

Then they count on the specific group to spread the message to their friends and family. The idea behind it is better use of marketing efforts and budgets EXACTLY where they are most effective. Grass roots marketing has become more popular because of its effectiveness and better use of budgets. Mass marketing can be costly, prohibitively so when it reaches such a small part of the target audience.

One way grass roots marketing is used is in product demonstrations in a store or at an event. Big retailers have found this type of grass roots marketing very effective. Companies like big grocery chains and discount warehouses have used sampling to market new product lines for years. Major retailers like Petco are finding smaller spaces and this type of sample marketing are effective in helping them to move into newer niches and target new, specific customer groups that were previously unable to get to their larger stores.

Grass roots marketing is an effective way for big business to use their resources to market successfully to their target audience.

If you would like to find out more how big box retailers are able to utilize the power of grassroot marketing, please give Retail Business Development a call today! 866.869.6975

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Retail Store News – Are Big Box Stores Dead or Dying?

Having been in retail A LONG TIME, I have been around long enough to know that the demise of anything is probably a rumor, but why is the rumor about the death of big box stores so persistent?

Retail Store News - Are Big Box Stores Dead or Dying?First off, let’s start with a little history of big box stores. In 1962 Target, KMart and Wal-Mart all launched their first stores giving the new suburbanites a place to shop for all their needs in one place. During the boom times of the 1990′s and early 2000′s consumers became even more enamored of big box stores and conspicuous consumerism. They were using credit indiscriminately and were happy to cruise the aisles throwing items into their carts and stuffing their homes (and storage units) with “stuff”.

Then came the crash. The housing market bottomed out, investments tanked, and people stopped spending as much. So was this the death knell of big box stores? Not necessarily, but it did have an impact and slowed the relentless march of the superstore.

So what should we know about the change in big box…here are some great resources from around the web that we think are interesting…

Going smaller in big business – we are really interested in the concept of having smaller “stores” within the confines of a big box store. Target tried this with their “shops” concept that featured a handful of boutique stores inside the larger store. While they did not elect to continue the concept, it is an interesting idea that may have some future benefits.

Going smaller literally – Many of the big box stores are spawning smaller satellite stores. Wal-Mart is doing convenience stores, Best Buy has mobile stores and Petco has their Unleashed locations. This is definitely an interesting direction. According to the Motley Fool, both Target and Walmart are seeing increased profitability with the smaller store model.

Online spending and showrooming – One of the most interesting things we are tracking the idea of showrooming. While not great for smaller stores or single location operators, this can be a great boom for big box stores. Basically showrooming is when someone goes to a retail location to check out an item BEFORE heading home or to their smart phone to buy it online. It will be interesting to see if major retailers can use apps or geotargeted information to convert the people in the stores to online shoppers.

I do believe the demise of the big box stores has been heralded prematurely, but that there will have to be some changes in the coming years that will be fun to watch.

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Mystery Shopping – Take a Peek from Time to Time!

Mystery shopping. You’ve considered it before, maybe even tried it. It worked well the first time, right? Well, if it’s been awhile, you may need to take another peek at what’s going on in your store.

Retail Business Development was a huge help the first time, time to call them again. RBD sent someone in to pretend to be a customer and do some reconnaissance. You found out that your staff, by and Mystery Shopping - Take a Peek from Time to Time!large, were following your rules and protocols. But things have been off lately and you’re wondering if some of the new staff you hired are the culprits. Time to find out. RBD mystery shopping to the rescue!

A good quality mystery shopper is looking at everything about your store. Is it clean? A dirty, cluttered or unorganized store is a big red flag to customers that they need to go elsewhere.

How long did they have to wait? At the very least, being greeted when a customer walks into your store is just polite and will keep potential customers from walking off in a huff because they were ignored.

Now, how long are they waiting to be helped? Customers have busy schedules too and being made to wait for an inordinate amount of time will make them turn around and leave.

How well do those new staff members know their products and services? They may just need some training.

The mystery shopping report from RBD will give you an idea of what areas are needed. Does the staff follow store procedure? If they don’t you could be losing money, and your customers could be leaving your store angry. If they are confronted with a problem customer, how well do they handle it? Face it, angry customers are going to happen. Being able to defuse a situation and turn that angry customer into a happy one will not only bring you repeat business, but also referrals for new business.

Let RBD use their mystery shopping expertise and find out exactly where you need to change. Then do it. That tune up will be a huge help in the long run. Give us a call today to find out more! (877) 802-0924

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A Bi-Lingual Sales Force Benefits Your Sales

In America today, being bi-lingual is never a bad thing, especially in business. It makes sense to have a bi-lingual sales force if a portion of your customers speak other languages. Makes sense that if you do, your sales will grow.

A Bi-Lingual Sales Force Benefits Your SalesMany companies have found that in successful business, a sales force should reflect their communities. Why? Several reasons. First it makes your customers comfortable. Customers become more comfortable because they know they are understood, and they know you care enough to make sure there is someone there who can speak to them in their language. It also has another benefit: expanded advertising possibilities. If you know you have someone who can help new customers speaking a different language, you can specifically target your advertising to them. A bi-lingual sales force can accomplish this easily.

In metropolitan areas, having a bi-lingual sales force is almost a requirement. Here’s another important reason why: making sure they understand the terms of any agreements they need to sign. Customers may speak English well enough to work with English only salespeople, but they may not have the ability to read it. Knowing there is someone who can explain it to them in their first language establishes trust and will help to close your sales. It also means fewer deals fall apart after the fact because they understand exactly what they are signing.

It also helps that bi-lingual people tend to be from the communities of the languages they speak. Why is that important? Because they understand the culture as well. Cultural differences and respecting them can make or break a sale.

All of this trust and comfort with a bi-lingual sales force leads to gains in your sales. More customers, customers who trust you, customers who feel understood and respected, all purchase more and stay loyal. They also refer customers to you. Your business and your sales can’t help but grow.

Need bi-lingual sales on a per need basis? Make sure to check out our event and mobile marketing sales teams!

Customers Who Speak in a Native Language Other than English | Selling to the Ethnic Population

If your customers speak in a native language other than English and are part of an Ethnic population, should you sell to them in their native tongue? Yes!

Maybe they are newly here from another country, maybe they are older and never learned English. Either way, they will possibly need the goods or services your business is there to supply. So it makes sense to have someone available to help those people in their native tongue.

Customers Who Speak in a Native Tongue Other than English| Selling to the Ethnic PopulationIf you want to sell to someone establishing a bond with them is a must. That is hard to do if you don’t speak their native language. How can you understand what your customers needs if you can’t understand what they are saying to you, and visa versa? The last thing you want as a salesperson is to lose the sale because your information was lost in the translation or because your attempt to speak their language ended up offending them. Whatever part of the ethnic population your customers are, whether they are Greek, Chinese, Hispanic, Muslim or Asian, there may be language and cultural differences that need to be addressed. Having staff that is aware of the predominant cultures of the neighborhood and can speak their languages can help keep sales from being lost.

“Sell” technology is complicated enough without having a language barrier that makes it even harder. Imagine how frustrated both you and your customer will be if you can’t understand what they need, or if you do figure it out, you can’t explain the basic features of the smart phone or tablet, or the plan specifics. Information they will need in order to make an informed decision.

You know your neighborhood. Make a concerted effort to make it part of your hiring practices to have those prospective employees be bilingual or perhaps part of the predominant ethnic population of your neighborhood. Saying to yourself that they should bring an English speaking person with them is doing them a disservice and shortchanging your own business. They will go find another, more language friendly place to shop.

Either learn to speak their native language or hire people from the ethnic population nearby.

Key Customer Demographics for Retail

Some key customer demographics for retail stores come to mind when setting up and organizing your retail store location and layout.

Key Customer Demographics for RetailDoes where you shop change how you shop? In some ways, yes. Think about how you shop in a store like Walmart versus how you shop in Macys. Then how you shop in Macys would be different than how you shop in a kitschy downtown Key West kind of boutique store. So keeping key customer demographics in mind when working on the organization and location of your retail store is important.

But retail demographics are more than just type of store. It’s also who shops in them, their lifestyle and spending habits. When in retail, knowing the key demographics of your customer base will help you know how to sell to them. Demographic profiling is an effective tool because it helps retail marketers manage current customers, develop strategies aimed at specific prospects and reduce the overall costs of marketing and customer acquisition. It also allows you to explore new markets using direct marketing. They do this through segmentation.

Segments are built by analyzing data and grouping elements that share targeted characteristics. Segmentation means that your direct marketing efforts are cost effective. Segmentation means that by organizing customer and market data in this way, organizations are able to understand the differences and similarities between groups of customers and prospects. It helps you develop an effective message.

So look at the different kinds of information that you can gather about your customers:

  • age range
  • what they spend
  • what kinds of products they are buying or looking at
  • where they live
  • are your products a consumable or a one-time purchase

…and then use that information to target your customers and your prospective customers. Use it to train your staff. They will need to know how to tailor their sales process to the age and ethnicity of their target customer base.

Collect, analyze and use the information that your customers bring to you. Segment it to expand your customer base. Then sit back and see how you will reap the benefits using these key customer demographics.

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Outsourcing Labor and Staffing – In-Store Sales People Aren’t Always Enough

Retail employee outsourcing labor and staffing sounds ominous, but it’s a great way to cut costs without downsizing, or to try something new, or take on a project without the risk of a new hire that you may or may not need later. Outsourcing will keep your current in-store sales people doing the core job that makes your business run, while bringing in outsourced staffing that can handle specific technology companies and brands.

Outsourcing Labor and Staffing - In-Store Sales People Aren't Always EnoughOutsourcing launches of new products can be a smart solution for your mobile phone business. But how can you find staffing that is versed enough in new technology to handle it? Using a temp service may not give you the expertly trained people you need to handle the project. So what to do? Find a company that has trained, efficient people who can do the job for you: a company like Retail Business Development. RBD can give you customized solutions that you need. Doing so will mean you are in a better place than you were when you started. You have trained people doing the new stuff, and your equally trained in-store sales people doing the job you need to continue to keep the business afloat.

Retail, telecommunications, mall speciality retail outsourcingAn outsourcing labor and staffing company like RBD can provide solutions that mean you can do many things, like expand into new markets; launch new product ventures; try out new retail concepts; improve your market; launch new programs and come up with flexible solutions that are a perfect fit for your business.

Need help with business planning, finding a new location for a new store, designing and opening that new location, training staff or marketing? Outsourcing labor and staffing will do those tasks and more.

Retail employee outsourcing is a good solution for your retail cell phone business. Give them a try today.

Event Marketing – Selling In Non-Traditional Venues Works!

Event Marketing - Selling In Non-Traditional Venues Works!Have you thought outside the box in event marketing? What about selling in non-traditional venues? You know, go where the people and the needs really are?

Think about when you’ve needed a charger you forgot, an extra battery at the end of the day because yours died. Now where were you? Somewhere where you could get what you needed? Probably not. More likely you were at a night club, a concert or even an airport or train station. Well, so are your customers. So go, treat it like a tradeshow plus.

Set up a simple table but make it stand out so you will be noticed. Make it a fun space, a space where asking questions and showing interest is rewarded. Also make sure you have people there ready to sell. Also staff it with a true sales staff who can answer questions knowledgeably. Anyone can sell a cord or battery, but what if someone has a question about a plan or new phone? Having staff that is prepared for anything will mean you make money.

But who has the staff to spare to man all these non-traditional venues? Your well trained staff needs to be in your store selling. So hire some outsourced staff to help in these temporary booths. Hire a company like Retail Business Development that can send experts in your business in to be a sales staff at the trade show! Go where the people are, and sell them then and there. The perfect use of your trade show dollars. Make those dollars a true paid for investment, not just a “spend it to make it later” opportunity. RBD will send in well trained teams to show and sell, not show and tell.

Thinking outside the box will bring you new customers from non-traditional venues. Use outsourced staff to help you out.

Selling in non-traditional venues? Click the link to find out more!

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Loss Leader Pricing In Cell Phone Stores

Loss leader pricing can be an effective way to make sales in cell phone stores. Often used in this kind of retail for roll outs and staying competitive, it can be a risk, but the risk can be worth it.

Loss Leader Pricing In Cell Phone StoresLoss leader pricing is a strategy where retailers price and advertise an item at or well below cost in order to attract buyers into their store. In the cell phone industry, they are often used to bring in longer contracts as well as sell accessories. Mobile phone companies give away cell phones for free or at significant discounts. In exchange for the phones, the customers are required to sign a contract for mobile phone service for at least a year. The amount of money paid for this service more than makes up for the losses they incur from giving away a phone. It’s also why there are hefty early termination fees in the contracts.

Of course, not every phone can be offered as a loss leader, but it’s why you see the most popular at the lower prices. The loss leader strategy is not always the best one to use, but in cell phone stores it makes sense. Long term contracts make more money in the long run. Offering the most popular phones at a greatly reduced price gets customers in the door and onto a plan that keeps them as customers. Cell phone stores also make a good profit from accessories for those phones, from cases, to extra storage, to Bluetooth and hands free headsets.

Loss leader strategies in the cell phone industry make a lot of sense.


 

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