Friday, July 31, 2015

Omni- Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Retail Reality

Written by Julie Krueger, March 2015 
Retail marketing is changing. Today, success means connecting with your most important customer: the omni-channel shopper. Here we detail the three ways retailers can reach this shopper by measuring behavior, providing localized information, and creating the right organizational structure.

The way we think about and approach retail marketing is changing. Today, success means reaching consumers wherever they are, on whatever device they may be using. Increasingly, that means smartphones. According to Google data, for much of the 2014 holiday season, mobile shopping clicks exceeded those on the desktop as shoppers made their purchase decisions on the go. And people are no longer discriminating between mobile and desktop when it comes to shopping—whether that's in a store or on an e-commerce site. This is creating new realities for retailers, as we've seen from our recent research with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands. Chief among them is the fact that digital doesn't just drive e-commerce; it gets people in the store. And this influence doesn't end at the entrance to the store: 71% of shoppers who use smartphones for research in-store say that it's become an important part of the experience. Smartphones are the new personal shopping assistant for people once they're inside.              
As digital continues to touch every step of the customer journey, multi-channel retailers who operate both e-commerce and in-store channels are having to take note. They're changing the way they think about omni-channel shoppers (for instance, Banana Republic customers who shop both online and in-store) and what their shopping behavior means for the overall business. The most sophisticated retailers are ensuring their marketing strategies are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel. Why? Because they realize that a shopper who buys from them in-store and online is their most valuable kind of customer. According to a 2015 study by IDC, these shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
Retailers can reap the revenue benefits of omni-channel shopping, but only if they know how to attract and connect with these highly desirable consumers. Doing so requires a deep knowledge of how these shoppers behave. It also requires structuring the company to be able to act on these insights. Let's be honest: This is much easier said than done.
Using examples from retailers who have started to make this shift, we detail the three keys to connecting with omni-channel shopping: measure behavior, provide relevant and local retail information, and create an organizational structure that supports omni-channel marketing.

Measure cross-device and online-to-store shopping behavior

To engage omni-channel shoppers, you first need to understand who they are. At a basic level, this means knowing important factors about the customer such as gender, demographic, location, website browsing habits, search habits, and where they shop in-store. But that's not enough.

Top retailers understand their customer in even greater detail. They measure the influence of all touchpoints on a customer's journey to purchase—online, offline, and across devices—using sophisticated measurement systems. These attribution platforms track the customer's journey through each channel—TV, display, search, email, and direct mail—providing a holistic view of how a valuable customer makes a purchase.
Using sophisticated measurement, leading retailers can answer important questions about their ideal customer. For example, does she shop across a mix of online and offline channels before making a purchase? Is she likely to visit a retailer's mobile site? Has her purchase frequency increased as a result of a specific marketing campaign? Is mobile assisting her in-store purchase? What marketing channel or ad type would be most helpful in drawing her into a nearby store? Where can a retailer find more customers like her?
Armed with better measurement insights, retailers can, for example, better use online channels to draw shoppers into their stores. "One in four who click on mobile search ads end up in a store, so we've realized that the in-store experience needs to continue to build on that bridge we've made in digital," says Evan Conway, Sprint's vice president of digital. And Sprint was able to understand the full, cross-channel value of its search advertising as well: Sprint's own data shows that for every sale that paid search ads generate online, paid search ads drive five in-store sales.
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores and PetSmart, for example, are using Google AdWords' Store Visits to see whether their ads are driving in-store visits and purchases. By measuring valuable actions beyond clicks—phone calls, cross-device conversions, and even store visits—retailers can see how their digital efforts are affecting in-store sales. "We've always known that our digital efforts had an impact on store traffic, but it was difficult to quantify. These tools have helped us both with our ad formats and in our evaluation of their impact," says David Buckley, chief marketing officer of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores. PetSmart, too, found that search ads had a direct impact on store visits. According to Google's Store Visits metric in AdWords, 10–18% of all clicks on its search ads resulted in an in-store visit within 30 days.

Provide omni-channel shoppers with relevant, local information

Once you begin to understand the relationship between digital and in-store for your omni-channel shoppers, it's important to think about reaching them wherever they are and making the experience seamless. Why? Well, according to our recent research, three in four shoppers who find local retail information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores.
Online-to-offline ad formats can improve the shopping experience for your customers, making it easy to see your store location, products, and available inventory from within the search ad itself. Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, for example, uses local inventory ads (LIAs) to show customers searching online for a particular item exactly where it is available at a nearby store location, along with local store hours, and other helpful information like directions. According to Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, the result has been a 122% increase in store visits compared to using only Product Listing Ads (which don't include local store information).
"If people are searching for a product on their phones, there is nothing more targeted than serving that item with a picture, description, and price, while letting customers know exactly how far they are located from the product," says Buckley. Easy access to this type of information means a smoother path to a brand's front door.
And these results have helped extend the reach of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores' advertising budget, driving $8 of in-store sales for each dollar invested online. "When we compared our most recent performance of local inventory ads with offline media typically used to drive store sales, such as a recent broadcast television campaign, the local inventory ads returned in-store sales at more than 5X the rate of TV advertising for each dollar spent," Buckley reveals.
Office Depot also used LIAs to reach its growing base of omni-channel shoppers. "Local Inventory Ads provide us with a unique opportunity to offer products that customers are searching for and assure them there is inventory in a store nearby," says Christine Buscarino, vice president of ecommerce marketing for Office Depot, Inc. The result was a better shopping experience for its customers and a 3X higher return on digital marketing spend for the company.
Office Depot local retail ad

Create an organizational structure that supports omni-channel marketing

Once you've identified your most valuable customers—omni-channel shoppers—and you've started to understand their online-to-store behavior, it's time to take action on these insights and create that seamless shopping experience that leads to a sale. To do so, you'll need an organizational structure that supports you.
For most retailers, this means closer collaboration between your online and in-store marketing teams. Macy's has managed to do this successfully. The brand has adopted a unified approach to meeting its customers' needs across channels. "We continue to learn from our experiences and mold our business model around what our customers are telling us and how they are behaving so that we can continue to succeed in this environment. In many ways, this is a race to remain best-in-class—and to win with the customer," says Terry J. Lundgren, chairman and CEO at Macy's.
Because it now has a more complete view of the customer shopping experience across channels, Macy's sees its online and in-store marketing as a holistic entity to support the brand as a whole.

"That incentive of growing the number of omni-channel customers is something we have all shared over the past couple of years," says Jennifer Kasper, group vice president of digital media and multicultural marketing for Macy's.
"We used to have two separate, siloed budgets. We really have only one marketing budget. We look at the best way to spend that; whether it's digital or offline, we focus on how they work together to deliver the most sales and the best customer experience," says Serena Potter, group vice president of digital media strategy at Macy's.
The lesson here is to take a close look at how your employees and teams are set up to support omni-channel shopping behavior. In other words, you need to have the right metrics in place (an omni-channel mentality is key here) to incentivize employees to support the experience. If not, the organization could be hindering its own goals. Say, for example, e-commerce teams are rewarded only for online purchases. The likely result is that they won't have an incentive to run innovative digital-to-store campaigns that generate in-store sales. Likewise, make sure your store teams are rewarded for contributing to the sale, even when it ultimately happens online.

Moving forward to the omni-channel shopping era

Omni-channel shopping presents a dramatic shift in how we think about retail, but it's a change that comes with huge opportunity. Start your journey by understanding the specific traits of these shoppers. Get to know who they are and what propels them to shop online and in-store by using the tools that will help you measure online and offline purchases effectively across channels. Most important, give your customers what they're craving: instant, relevant information no matter where they are or what device they're using. Ultimately, though, it's your team structure, incentives, and measurement that together support the common goal of attracting more loyal, valuable omni-channel shoppers. By focusing on their wants and needs, you'll create a seamless shopping experience that's more likely to drive sales across your organization.

To view the original article please visit:

Interested in Omni-Channel? Check out these articles for more info!
What is the Return on Omnichannel?
Keeping Up With the Shifting Retail Scene
Why I Can’t Stop Thinking About Rebecca Minkoff’s Connected Store

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Handle Negative Online Reviews of Your Business

Negative Reviews Article Main Image
Bad online reviews can be the death of a business as increasingly connected customers research their purchases — and complain when they’ve had a business dealing that didn’t go their way. We talked to some experts about how best to handle negative feedback that’s painfully public.

“Negative reviews can have massive effects because everyone loves knowing about the experiences that other shoppers have had,” explains Kyle Willis, CEO of No to the Quo. “I had a client who reached out for help because he had someone who didn’t have a positive experience who then made it a mission to let the world know about it. My client said that negative review cost the company over a million dollars in business over a year.”

But a bad review doesn’t have to mean disaster. “A negative review is actually a good thing,” says Tash Jefferies, an author who teaches on Udemy. “It keeps things authentic — I never want to feel I’m just preaching to the choir and I’m only drawing in those who love me. It means I’m actually pushing beyond my comfort zones.” Beyond that, a few negative reviews can give your good reviews a ring of truth. Having nothing but glowing reviews may make readers wonder if your reviews are legitimate. “All the reviews I have are literally people who didn’t know who I was and wanted to write something. That speaks to anyone who comes along,” says Jefferies.

Still, too many negative reviews or comments are going to create a problem for your business. Let’s take a look at how you can make your online reviews work for your business — instead of against it.

Solve Review Problems Before They Start

Happy sign

The easiest way to prevent negative reviews is to make sure your customers aren’t unhappy enough to post them in the first place. “We believe in the old adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” says Richard Thomas, Executive VP of Listen360. “We advise our clients to be aware of issues and address them — but not to expect a perfect rating from every customer all the time. There really shouldn’t ever be a time when a business is caught off guard by lots of negative reviews.”

However, it’s not always possible to please every client — especially if you’re a consumer-focused business that deals with a lot of customers on a daily basis. One unhappy customer may be difficult to pick out of a sea of transactions, but that could be the catalyst for big problems later if it’s not nipped in the bud. If negative reviews do crop up, you want to spot them quickly so you can act. Social media monitoring can help you spot negative commentary before it gets out of hand. You can also set up Google Alerts to email you when a mention of your business pops up anywhere online — from social networks, to review sites, to personal blogs.


How to Respond to a Negative Review

Customer reviews

Negative reviews or comments can be frustrating, especially when customers seem to be blowing things out of proportion — but it’s important to keep a cool head and try to see things from the customer’s point of view.

“You have to really understand that customers aren’t going out of their way to burn you for no reason,” explains Alex Brola, President and Co-founder of Checkmaid. “You probably screwed up. Some customers certainly see things as being far worse than they seem to a business owner, but that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. It just means you need to have empathy — understand that it’s a big deal to them, respect that, and act accordingly.”

The first step to mitigating a negative review is publicly acknowledging you’ve made a mistake — even if you don’t feel that you have — and apologizing. Resist the temptation to pick an argument or try to explain that things didn’t really happen the way the reviewer says, because it’s not going to win you any points. “You don’t want to get into the situation of ‘their experience wasn’t like that, here’s what truly happened,'” says Willis. “Because anyone who’s going to go on Yelp to read a review is going to side with the customer and not the business.”

Then, offer to mend the situation in whatever way you can. If the customer is unhappy with a service or product, offer to replace it. “When the customer takes us up on the offer, it often results in them changing their review — without us asking them to,” says Willis. “If they don’t accept the offer, then it still serves as a sign of goodwill and shows potential customers looking at reviews that the negative experience was an outlier, not the regular way we conduct business.”

Brola also recommends setting aside some time every week to reach out to customers who have had a bad experience — just touching base with an earnest apology can go a long way towards making things right. “If it’s really hurting business to have a specific negative review, you’d better make it a really big deal to get it removed,” explains Brola. “It’s unlikely you’d get a negative review removed with the initial apology or refund, but if you follow-up multiple times it can be done. Time heals these kinds of things — as long as you stay on top of your game, keep in touch, and show that you really care.”

Working with reviewers, no matter how disgruntled they seem, isn’t a lost cause. “In most cases, if your customer is taking the time to give you negative feedback, it is because they believe the problem is something you can fix,” says Thomas. “The bottom line is, when you improve your business for one customer, you have improved it for all your customers. So at the end of the day, everyone is happier.”


Using Negative Reviews to Improve Your Business

Line out the door

There’s a silver lining to even the most negative review. “You have to appreciate the negative reviews as much as the positive ones,” says Thomas. “Look at all your reviews and feedback, and try to identify trends or common themes. If you will let them, your customers can almost function as business consultants.”

Every negative review is a chance to improve your service – both for the reviewer and your future customers. Jefferies has used feedback — both positive and negative — to improve her course offerings. “Anyone who writes a review always gets a note back from me,” says Jefferies. “I always ask what didn’t work, because for me that’s always an opportunity to find out where I’ve gone wrong. I’m always eager, always friendly, and always thankful.”

No matter how large or how small, the feedback you glean from your reviews should be shared throughout your business. Beyond making sure everyone’s on the same page to prevent future problems, it lets your entire team know that excellent customer experience is your highest priority — and given how quickly social networks can spread a negative customer experience — it definitely should be!

[Image credit: Charles Henry, Ed Yourdon, David]

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Where will payment hackers go post-EMV?

By | July 23, 2015                                                             

Right now, in the midst of summertime—school vacation, camping trips, beach days—it’s hard for anyone to imagine Oct. 1. But it’s top of mind for retailers, which will experience a shift in liability, from credit card companies and banks to themselves, whenever a credit card is compromised by fraud if they haven't updated their systems to be EMV-compliant.
All retailers should have their EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard, Visa) point-of-sales systems ready to go on Oct. 1 to handle the new credit cards that are far more difficult to hack. 
Until then, U.S. consumers are blithely swiping their credit cards and debit cards with magnetic strips holding access to their money, their good credit, and even their personal information. These simple magnetic strips have been compared to an eight-track cassette and are fairly porous to data-sucking thieves.
New EMV cards will have a shiny metallic square containing a more secure chip and most can also use Near-Field Communications to make a payment. The new POS systems are expected to be much safer than their predecessors, helping retailers prevent the kind of massive fraud that have infamously compromised the payment systems at Home Depot, Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, and others.
But hackers aren’t just going to disappear after this switch to EMV cards and POS systems that accept them. And it’s safe to guess that they’ll likely go online.


Retailers are unprepared for online fraud

While omnichannel retailers may be preoccupied with preparing for Oct. 1, they may not be prepared for what experts say is the inevitable shift to online payment fraud. The good news is that, if a retailer is hit, it can be a sign of business success.
“If someone hits you, it’s a bittersweet moment, that you’re big enough that someone wants to take advantage of you and your many transactions,” Jason Tan, CEO and founder of fraud detection company Sift Science, told Retail Dive. “The trouble is, as long as you keep growing and your business is thriving you’re always going to see fraud.”
The reality is that online fraud will jump, and retailers by and large aren’t ready for that. That could mean a new season of breach stories and a different kind of nightmare. 
“Offline merchants are generally prepared because it’s mandated by the credit card companies and they have a big liability shift coming,” Tan says. “I don’t think the online merchant is that prepared because human nature is to procrastinate. In other countries the year after the EMV mandate, online merchants saw two times the fraud. That’s a massive massive jump in fraud — so how do you how install a defense mechanism so that doesn't keep you up at night?”


The good news: The technology is here

While EMV technology has been employed for a while abroad, it’s just now arriving in the states. But the technology to tackle and prevent online fraud is here now. Tan notes that Sift Science tackles fraud issues using machine learning behavior technology with APIs and advanced modeling to track, score, and categorize online transactions. 
Using such algorithm-based systems, Tan says, is far superior to the human-led, human-dependent rules-based systems that most retailers use now.
“There are too many orders from manual review that require a full time staff, and, worse, they’re not accurate,” he says. “You want to be able to stop the bad users, but let in the good customers easily.”


Convenience remains important 

That's it, of course: the key is to find effective technology keeps data safe without overly inconveniencing shoppers. Making checkout too difficult is a recipe for cart abandonment. 
It’s a disaster when hackers find their way onto a retailer’s site, but it can be deadly to a sale if authentic customers there to buy have to deal with awkward, time-consuming fraud prevention measures. Tan says that Amazon is an example of a company that uses technology extremely effectively, and knows how to keep the checkout system humming smoothing for its fraud-free customers.


The bad news: Trouble's still lurking

It’s easily forgotten that a major pipeline to online fraud is the telephone. Unscrupulous retail or hotel employees often obtain credit card numbers over the phone during a sale or customer service transaction and sell them for use online, Laurence Cooke, founder and CEO of loyalty and payment platform nanoPay, told Retail Dive.
“It’s so much easier to steal a card when you’re being read the card numbers on the phone,” Cooke says. “What doesn’t go away with EMV is that cards are captured on phone orders or catalog orders, and then they get used online.”
EMV transactions will be palpably slower than credit card swipes are now, which might prompt people to use contactless payments.  
“When you use a mobile app,” Cooke says, “it’s a more secure way, but as easy as swiping or tapping.”
That means that the switch to EMV, and the resulting added risk of online fraud, have a good chance of boosting the adoption of mobile payments, Cooke believes.
And if retailers are smart enough to take advantage of mobile’s data collection capabilities and streamline their online systems in ways like those Tan describes, they will also be able to develop more effective loyalty programs. That in turn could move mobile payment adoption even more swiftly.
Indeed, while Tan gives Amazon credit for its ability to quickly nab dubious payments, Cooke similarly gives the e-retail giant props for its loyalty program. The two things turn out to be tightly connected.
“The reason Amazon beats Wal-mart isn’t because they have better supply chain or better options,” Cooke says. “It’s that Amazon knows everything about you and Wal-Mart knows nothing about you. Wal-Mart may have discounts, but they may not be relevant to you at all.”
If retailers want to, they could leverage mobile to help make payments more secure and, in turn, help them get to know their customers in the same way.


NFC, Apple Pay, Androiddoesn’t matter

Cooke is fairly agnostic about whether the road to greater mobile payment adoption is Near-Field Communication, Apple Pay, or Google Wallet. 
“I don’t think Apple Pay can be completely successful everywhere without Android also being completely successful,” he says. “My only opinion is that it should be up to retailers to choose. We shouldn’t try to force it.”


The bottom line

Above all, retailers need to realize that there’s no magic fraud protection in EMV, or in mobile payments, or machine learning for that matter.
"I don’t think it’s black and white— I don’t think you’re either secure or not," Tan says, "The hackers and the fraudsters are always working.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Trends of Men's Fashion Week 2015

While the clothing at New York Men's Fashion Week was more conservative than that of London, Milan, or Paris's Fashion Weeks, it is clear it proved to be successful! Here are three of the major trends we saw that made Fashion Week stand out compared to the rest!

More Diversity on the Runway
Compared to Runway shows of the past, this New York Men's Fashion Week had a more diverse group of models than ever before. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, designers for Public School, made their show one of the most notable with their take on a tailored urban street style. Not only did the show incorporate different ethnic models, but it embraced those with tattoos and featured a few female models.

Ready to Wear Style
One of the trends that made this Fashion Week unique is the fact that many of the designers created looks that could be worn from the runway to the street. Each suit was tailored to perfection and leisure clothes looked like they would be seen on any stylish man walking down the street.
J. Lindeberg

En Noir
Todd Snyder

California Men
An overriding trend throughout each catwalk was a California laid back style. It seemed that many designers drifted that direction with their takes on athleisure and surf inspired style. Whether it be a workout shirt with a nice jacket thrown on top or the long surfer hair that was seen everywhere, the West could be felt in New York.

Michael Bastian
N. Hoolywood

Monday, July 20, 2015

Last Chance to Register for Go Beyond the Sale Webinar 7.23.15
Turn your Paper Receipts into Social Shares
Customers who use digital receipts spend up to 40 percent more than those who only want paper receipts. Join One Step Retail and flexReceipts, Retail Pro’s exclusive partner of enriched digital receipts for a primer on electronic receipts. Learn how this post-transaction marketing opportunity is far more than a mere paper replacement.

Register today:

Friday, July 17, 2015

How to choose the RIGHT swimsuit for your body type [infographic]

Whether you're the one buying or you're helping your customer find the perfect swimsuit- this infographic can help you find the right suit for each body type!
Shopping for the perfect swimsuit can oftentimes be tough, but once you know what bathing suits work for your body type, you’ll find the most flattering swimsuit in no time. Our friends over at Farfetch, designed this infographic for us showing how to find the ideal cut and style that will give you the perfect beach body.

Whether you have a large chest or a tummy you want to camouflage, this infographic will make your next swimsuit shopping a breeze.

 swimwear that suits

Read more:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

4 Ways to Drive Traffic with Cross Promotion

Collaboration has led to some of the greatest achievements of all time ranging from the discovery of DNA to the creation of Fortune 500 companies. So why shouldn’t the same idea work for your business success too?

 “Shop Local!” has been a popular theme giving the small to medium size retailers the business opportunity to collaborate and reach new customers that will keep coming back. We have a few suggestions of how to make your business standout in your community by finding the right partnerships to increase sales growth.

1.       A Passport Program
Talk to similar businesses in your community to create a passport program for customers to engage in! You can schedule the program for any length of time, but by having it occur for a day or over a weekend, you will have a much better chance of customers getting to every store.

For this passport program, each retailer will give a stamp whenever a customer makes an in store purchase during the designated time frame. At the end, customers who have filled their passport can turn it in to be entered to win a gift basket with goodies from all the places they shopped that day! This is a great opportunity for you and your customers to promote this on social media and tag retailers to drive traffic to their website.

Not only will you have an increase of traffic through your front door, but you’ve created relationships with your retail neighbors that can be very valuable in the long run!
Ex. South Lake in Pasadena hosts a Holiday Fest each December that all of the local retailers can participate in and promote!

2.       Choose a Charity
If the passport program is a success and your new team of retailers would like to host another event, selecting a charity to receive your donations is a great way to build mutually beneficial partnerships while helping others. You can select certain items in your store or a percentage of each purchase can go towards the proceeds to a charity in your local area.

This gives retailers involved a chance to cross promote on social media, in store, and directly to customers while assisting those in need!
Ex. Three Dog Bakery hosts a food drive for one month at each of their locations. They’ve made it into a competition between their stores of who can raise the most money for their local animal focused charity!
3.       Know your niche market and utilize it!
Knowing who your market is and where to reach them is crucially important. Teaming up with companies that consist of your possible clientele can be great for new business.
For example, if you own a store that sells athletic clothing such as yoga pants or running gear, hosting a trunk show for your local Yoga or Pilate’s studio or running club gives you direct contact to your niche market! People may not buy everything at the trunk show, but it provides an incentive to stop by your store later or you can ask the owner if you can leave business cards or flyers at their front desk and see your customer base grow! You can also offer an incentive to those that make a purchase at your store for the opportunity to try out a free sweat session at a local Yoga, Pilates, dance studio or Crossfit gym

*This will help cross promote to your target demographic while creating mutually beneficial business partnerships within your community.
Ex. A Snail’s Pace teamed up with running shoe company, New Balance, for their pub run! Runners were able to try out new shoes from New Balance and finish the night with a drink.

4.       Sharing Advertising
Marketing your store can be expensive and you want to make sure you’re utilizing the right tools for the best bang for your buck. Social Media has great platforms for retailers to communicate directly to consumers, but if they’re not searching directly for your business, it can be difficult to reach the right audience.  

Consider working with a retailing neighbor to split the cost of mailers or sponsorship for a community event in your area. There is a high chance that any advertisements will be posted in their store as well, giving your business more promotion!
Ex. The Ann Arbor Summer Festival has many different levels of sponsorship allowing for any size retailer to be a part of the event!

Teaming up with other local businesses gives every retailer a chance to be more involved in their community and increase traffic to their stores.  Once the customers are in your door, it’s up to your stellar sales staff and unbeatable customer service to create loyal customers who are excited to return, even when there isn’t a promotion occurring. Start partnering up and encourage people to Shop Local!

If there is something that has worked for your business we would love to hear your story and share it on our social media platforms! Please feel free to email us at:

By: Kimmy Evans
July15, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

5 Ways to Handle Difficult Customers

No matter what type of work you do, it’s likely you have encountered a difficult customer. It’s more likely, however, you have encountered many difficult customers. Maybe – just maybe – you are even a difficult customer yourself to others on occasion. After all, customer service nowadays isn’t always what it should be. Keeping that in mind, consider the five tips below on how you can deal with difficult customers.

Tip #1: Let Your Customers Vent 
Customers don’t always aim to be difficult. Often, they become difficult because they feel they cannot express what they have experienced, how they’re currently thinking or what they want from you to make them feel satisfied – or at least better. While you can’t always give them what they want in exchange for their complaints or requests, you can choose to listen to them. Letting your customers “vent” can help them feel as if you care, as well as allow them to get whatever it is they want to say off their chest. From your own first hand experience, you can probably understand this is often the best medicine to heal something that isn’t working right.

Tip #2: Genuinely Listen to What Your Customers Say 
It’s easier said than done, but genuinely listening to your customers can help you more more efficiently find a resolution. Too often, however, employees choose to “tune out” when customers become difficult and instead respond to them in a generic fashion that does not lead to a resolution. Make the choice to hear what your customers are telling you, as well as aiming to understand their perspective. While you can’t always deliver a final resolution that meets their expectations, you can acknowledge that you heard what they said by repeating the key elements of their complaint or frustrations. By repeating what they have said, customers are more likely to gain trust in you and feel supported in your efforts to help them.

Tired of dealing with difficult customers? These 5 tips can help.
Tip #3: Identify Any Constraints You Have in Supporting Them 
Difficult customers vary in reasons, but one thing they have in common is that they all want direct attention in helping to find a resolution for their problem. One way to help deliver this is to tell them right away any constraints you have in supporting them. For example, if they want a full refund on something they purchased and you know you can’t immediately give this to them, let them know. Yes… you’re likely to hear another ear-full of frustrations and disappointments from your customer, but follow this with what you can do for them. In business, if you can deliver bad news with good news, that always helps ease the pain of the not-so-great news.

Tip #4: Act Quickly When Supporting Difficult Customers
Time means everything to an upset customer, so make it your company’s priority to act quickly when a client isn’t happy. This could be as simple as replying to a tweet they shared with you that expressed their concern or refunding them for a defective product. Whatever their “difficult” is, react to it in a timely fashion to avoid them becoming more upset, frustrated, disappointed and difficult. Very simply, don’t put off peeved customers. However you can help them, do so right away.

Tip #5: Learn From Every Difficult Scenario 
Difficult customers – like it or not – have a lot to teach businesses. Are you finding that most of your difficult customers are brought to life by similar circumstances? Possibly your difficult customers have some other things in common? Evaluate who your difficult customers are,then evaluate why they are this way. While there are always exceptions, often you may find that the root of the problem is not the customers themselves, but rather your business…or worse,  you or an employee on your team. By taking time to unveil these problems, you can take the time to find solutions that will help avoid difficult customers in the future.

In Conclusion
Life – like business – introduces conflict, frustrations and more. Make it your choice to deal with these moments and the people involved in them in as professional of a fashion as possible to avoid more escalated, undesired scenarios later. And as I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, you may even learn a thing or two from difficult customers that can help your business and even you find stronger success.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Amazon Prime Day


Amazon Prime Day

Yay!! It’s Almost Amazon Prime Day!
What is it you ask? It is a great opportunity to develop goodwill with your customers. Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of the cultural fanfare there will be about it.
What is it really? On Wednesday, July 15, Amazon is declaring their own holiday to celebrate their 20th anniversary. According to the company, Prime Day will include thousands of short “Lightning Deals.” These featured bargains will change as often as every ten minutes. In addition there will be many different “Deals of the Day.” Amazon claims that they are offering more sales on July 15 than on Black Friday only to their Prime members.
Some say that they are copying their biggest global rival, Alibaba, who did something similar last year with huge success. It is also an effort to gain favor with their best customers before the competition starts. Both eBay and Walmart are expected to launch similar subscription services soon.
Remember when Amazon was still an ugly website that just sold books? They changed and you have to also.
What does it mean to you? Plenty! Let’s jump on the wagon and get our piece of the pie! It comes at a great time. You certainly have sale merchandise to get rid of – right?
Let’s do it. Plus it means that you can get free publicity for your store! Your local media will be searching for a local angle about this. Give it to them. Just follow our step by step directions!
  1. Name it – Your Store Day!
  2. Send out an email declaring your store holiday and tell what you are doing. We have put a handy dandy template below that you can use to get started!
  3. Emails and Facebook posts every 2 hours with special flash deals – 50% off at least and always include pictures.
  4. In store add a new deal every hour – but you are only advertising the ones on all the even hours. For example, 10am advertised special, 11am instore only special, 12pm advertised special, 1pm instore only special…got it.
  5. Specify that quantities are limited – so don’t worry about how many you have and just offer your wonderful sale customers another fantastic item as a substitute then.
  6. Offer free shipping – or free delivery when they call in to purchase. Be sure to mention that they can call to buy the deals.
  7. Schedule extra people for that day!
  8. Tell us at what the name of your day is!!
  9. Send out a PR release to all the local papers because they will be looking for a local angle for this! (Remember – your press release is NOT a sale flyer – it’s giving them a local-news angle on why shopping local instead of jumping on Amazon is the way to go!)
    Send it out NOW.

    • Get in front of your computer and Google how to write a press release so that you have the format right.
    • Set your timer for 15 minutes to bang out the rough draft. We have made it easy for you and gave you tips below.
    • Walk away.
    • Come back and set your timer for 15 minutes more to smooth it out.
    • Then send it to every local paper, news station, radio station, mom’s groups, community organization, and anything else you can think of. Ask all your team and all your friends to share this with everyone they know.

Here is a sample email/post for a deal:

Subject: [Fabulous Brand They’d Recognize]’s most unbelievable [item] – you have 60 minutes to snag it at 75% off. GO! 
We’ve got THREE of these left, so swing in, hop on the site, or pick up the phone and call us at [insert your number so they don’t have to go looking for it!]. When they’re gone or the clock strikes [next hour], they’ll turn back into pumpkins and you’ll be surrounded by a group of mice with no prince, no ball, no gown, and no 75% off [item]. 
Call us for happily ever after! See you again at [time of next email]!

Here is a sample email to alert them to all of it:

Subject: Oh, no they didn’t! 
You know who they’re like, right? Amazon is just like that friend who throws himself a surprise birthday party and gives you a list of what you need to bring and where he’s registered. And, look! He’s so nice. He itemized what your portion of the catering bill will be. Sweet. 
You’ve probably heard about the Amazon Prime Day happening on the 15th. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, they’d like you to pretend it’s Black Friday and buy all their deals and crazy markdowns. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, they hope you’ll just hang out, pressing your nose to the glass until you finally cave and join up. 
It’s okay! We know that sometimes you just need to order your toilet paper, a Kindle book, headphones, and tap shoes all at the same time and have it in 2 days. And hey, maybe one day you’ll get lucky and your tap shoes will be delivered by drone. 
Amazon may be cool and convenient, but it is NOT local, and it will never know who you are, remember to ask about your sister, or support your community. It just won’t. (But drones. We know! Just stick with us here.)
So this July 15th, in between getting your headphones for 35 cents and having them pay you to take delivery on those tap shoes, swing in to [STORE NAME]. We’ve declared it 
Even though we won’t have any drones, we WILL have a new deal every hour, HUGE discounts on our most popular brands and items, and the best part? We’re just down the road, staffed by people who LIVE HERE, TOO, and you don’t even have to wait two days to take your new [items] home. 
Stay tuned to our Facebook page [LINK THAT UP] for more info, and watch for our speed-deal emails on the 15th – we’ll send out a few so you don’t miss the good stuff (but don’t worry – our emails will go back to their regular weekly format after we party like it was 1999 and Amazon was still an ugly website that just sold books.) 
See you on the 15th
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Some of our favorites from Wimbledon 2015 so far!

It's that time of the year again - Wimbledon! These tennis matches become the most popular spot to be seen in England and everyone comes wearing their best and most fashion-forward outfits. Here are a few of our favorite looks from the past few days!
 Venus Williams wears a white dress that looks simple from the front, but is a fun surprise from the back! (From her EleVen by Venus label)
 Serena Williams decided to have some fun and work some animals print into her white outfit via Nike.
 Petra Kvitova not only played in some exciting matches, but combine this skirt and shirt combo from Nike with her confidence and she sells it without meaning to!
Kate Middleton decided to ditch her usual whites and go with a pop of color from LK Bennett! And yes, the dress was sold out in stores by the end of the day.

 Chrissy Teigen and John Legend look great together with Mr. Legend looking sharp in his suit with Chrissy Teigen looking great in a dress by Magda Butrym.

Joanne Froggat went with a classic white dress from Ralph Lauren for the event and looks stunning!
Kit Harington rocks his tailored suit perfectly with that signature hair of his.
David Bekham and his son Romeo matching in their suits and putting the rest of the fans to shame as they do it.  
Karlie Kloss kept with the classics of Wimbledon in her white and black number.
This is as close as we will see Anna Wintour to wearing something 'sporty' and we love it!
Kim Murray's cheers and reactions are just as fun as watching her husband play sometimes. As for this floral dress, she chose perfectly for a day out at Wimbledon!
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know which ones you loved!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hear what people are saying about NCR Counterpoint!

Thinking of implementing a new POS system? Here are some user testimonials about their experience with NCR Counterpoint and what it has done for their businesses!

Counterpoint has been a huge step up for us when it comes to viewing information at every level.  While we still struggle with canned reports, we have managed to utilize the export functions to access much useful information as well as custom reporting that you created for us early on.  This eased the transition for us and ensured we could continue business as usual during the transition.” – Planet Granite

“It’s a robust system and a great tool for our business. It’s easy to train new and old staff on their features and has the capabilities to help us run our business efficiently. The touchscreen is simple and it’s a highly intuitive product which helps us.” – Hi-Time Wine Cellars

“The data we are receiving through CounterPoint is superior to anything gathered from our previous system. We have already been able to work with store managers to implement training on data we gathered. Furthermore, we are already saving time and seeing a return on our investment as our previous labor intensive systems have been replaced with simple procedures in CounterPoint. Honeyville now has the tools necessary to be a true retailer and gather the necessary data to grow and expand our retail stores throughout the United States.” – Honeyville Grain

“You may recall that we had three major requirements for our new system: a flexible and comprehensive reporting function for thorough analysis of business and product performance, an accurate and reliable inventory control and purchasing feature to assist in making smarter buying decisions, and a fully-integrated CRM, marketing, and customer loyalty application to help retain existing customers and drive new business.

We are extremely pleased that NCR Counterpoint has met all of these expectations, and its adoption truly represents the most significant step in continuing Pet People’s 30-year track record of success.” – Pet People ofLos Gatos

“NCR CounterPoint offers many features and benefits that will allow for continued growth of our business. Tracking of our customers and offering shopping rewards, to name a couple – allows us to provide incentive for repeat business. Specific inventory analysis creates better turns and focus on our best sellers.” – Carolina Swim Shop

“We recently set up a new database and company in Counterpoint for a retail store we opened this fall, which has helped us expand our business tremendously.” – Auggieland Outfitters

“Being in one of the city stores we do have a lot of theft, [CounterPoint] is a good way to control that. I recently moved the watches once I found that was a big target. Additionally, I am able to realize exactly what was missing and file a report. It is really helpful for merchandising so you can keep an eye on everything.” – Lou Lou Boutique

“I am pleased to say that now, a few months after installing NCR CounterPoint, I am very happy with both of our decisions. We have been able to tailor the system to meet our unique business model which involves fractional quantities, special orders and many custom service offerings. Plus without spending a dollar on customization we have a POS system that operates and feels more customized than any I have used in the past. – U-Fab

“The multi-store functionality and ease of use have been the strongest benefits for us with NCR CounterPoint.” – Mission Liquor

“The Counterpoint system has been very easy to use for myself and the employees at the store.  It is a system that you can adapt to any kind of business and really helps keep you organized.  My back office works smoothly and the touch screen terminals make it very easy and quick to ring up customers.” – Y-3 Boutique

“As the College Cafe recently went ‘live’ as students began to arrive back on campus, I can tell you that we have received numerous compliments on the improved customer experience in the Cafe. If our current projections hold true, CounterPoint will help us serve nearly 25% more customers during peak Cafe hours and significantly increase associated revenue. The ability to host our own meal card program within CounterPoint means we will save all costs associated with Valutec, our previous gift card (meal card) vendor. These costs and processing fees totaled approximately $5,500 last fiscal year.

“In the College Bookstore, CounterPoint has allowed the College to maintain an accurate inventory, reduce carrying costs by 15% and forecast sales with greater precision.” – Prescott College