4 Holiday Retail Mistakes to Avoid

What percentage of your annual sales happen during the holiday season?

How critical is it for you to get everything just right this time of year?

We want you to be a big winner.

So check out these mistakes – and make sure you avoid them at all costs:

1. Inadequate Preparation for the Sales Volume

Amazon – yes Amazon – even had this happen to them. It actually happened on one of their own holidays, “Prime Day,” which was Monday, July 16, 2018.

Fortunately, they minimized the damage to their sales by cutting off all international traffic and by launching a backup front page to their website.

We won’t name other names, but every other major retailer has found themselves unable to handle demand on the biggest holidays of the year (for at least part of the time).

So, no matter where you sales come from, online or off, make sure you have the infrastructure to support your anticipated sales. You might even consider going overkill.

2. Letting Your Guard Down on Fraud

You hear about the big companies getting nailed by hackers because the stories sound so amazing and sensational and make for great headlines.

However, smaller companies are more frequently the target for hacking and fraud.

Why?

Because fraudsters know they typically don’t have as sophisticated of security measures in place.

They’ll have an easier time committing fraud and getting away with it.

So, don’t underestimate the likelihood that you become a target.

3. Not Being Prepared to Ship Fast

Deloitte’s 31st holiday retail survey (released in 2017) revealed that shoppers’ primary concern was shipping.

Okay. That makes total sense.

Do you have the logistics systems in place to ensure your customers get what they want when they want it?

Another one of consumer’s top concerns was to have a good shopping experience online because they want to save time by not going to the store.

The two tie together well.

So, are you prepared to meet customer shipping expectations? Do you have metrics in place to measure how well you do?

4. Succumbing to Overwhelm and Doing Too Much

Look, retail in 2018 isn’t easy.

We’ve given you more suggestions than you can tackle in just one holiday season.

So, how can you prioritize the 1-2 things which will make the greatest impact on your business this year?

And can you prioritize the other areas you need to improve going forward?

With so many moving parts, it’s easy to spend too much time focusing on the wrong thing.

For now, can you create a prioritized plan that doesn’t spread you too thin?

Regardless, with consumer budgets fairly healthy and sales expected to increase, you’re set up for a successful 2018 holiday sales season.

How Tennant Rocks the Cleaning Equipment and Products Industry

We don’t have too many partners whose history goes all the way back to 1870.

However, Tennant’s does just that. George H. Tennant originally founded the company as a woodworking business.

He then morphed it into a wood flooring and products company. And eventually it moved into manufacturing cleaning products and equipment as it does today.

In 1932, the company began producing floor cleaning equipment, so it’s coming up on nearly a century of experience in the industry.

Perhaps that’s why it has a $1.37 billion value today!

In 1970, the company actually built the first floor scrubbing machine you can ride on. And today, the company maintains an intense focus on floor-cleaning products that don’t harm the environment.

Let’s take a little closer look to see specifically what Tennant does so well and why you’ll love the company when we recommend their supplies and equipment:

1. Tennant Focuses on Values, Not Products

Tennant wants to make the world a cleaner, safer, healthier place. Yes, they make cleaning products and equipment. But that’s not the way they think of it.

And it’s evidenced by the fact that when they create new products, they’re designed to use less water and lower amounts of harsh chemicals.

The company’s actually been named to Forbes’ most trustworthy companies list four times!

2. Product Showcase: ec-H2O NanoClean Technology

Now this is an interesting technology. It converts plain old water into a detergent-free solution that cleans effectively.

This not only saves you money, but clearly that would also reduce environmental harm (versus using harsh chemicals), improve employee safety, and safeguard human health.

In other words, it perfectly lines up with how Tennant states it operates.

It works by using an e-cell to generate millions of microscopic bubbles (nanobubbles) which clean with the effectiveness of a chemically-based solution (but without any chemicals).

One company, Marsden, tested Tennant’s Orbital Scrubber, which operates with this technology. The scrubber cleaned the targeted floors in just a single pass – which greatly increased productivity.

Floors dried in seconds, which reduced the risk of falls.

Plus, it does all that in an environmentally friendly way.

Needless to say, Marsden was blown away with the results and happily uses Tennant equipment with NanoClean technology whenever possible.

You can learn more about Tennant’s NanoClean technology here.

So yeah, Tennant’s a pretty cool (and effective) company all around. And we’re happy to recommend their products and equipment to you when they make sense.

Amazon Go Stores Are Here – Should You Panic?

Have you heard about Amazon’s new “Go” stores?

They have no cashiers and no checkout. That means no lines and no waiting.

You simply grab what you want and “go.”

Computer vision and sensors gather data on what you take as you shop, and then they pass this information to Amazon. You must have the Amazon Go app on as you’re in the store, and then your account gets automatically charged.

For now, Amazon Go focuses on ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made by local chefs. They’ll also include meal kits you can take-and-go for your whole family, plus grocery essentials like bread, milk, and others.

Currently, Amazon has a total of four Go stores located in Seattle (3) and Chicago (just one).

However, they plan to have 3,000 stores in place by 2021, which would make them the third largest convenience store chain behind 7-Eleven and Circle K.

What Does This Mean for C-Store Owners?

If you’re a c-store owner, how should you react to this?

Should you feel terrified, wondering if this spells the end for many c-stores just like Amazon helped do for many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers?

Probably not.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods (now owned by Amazon), believes that Amazon isn’t doing this to make a profit. He thinks Amazon wants to gather data on consumer behavior.

For example, Amazon will be able to tell how many milliseconds (1/1000th of a second) a consumer spends considering a purchase. And just like the internet, Amazon will know exactly what consumers want to buy.

Even so…3,000 more c-stores in play with this ability may make times rough for others in the niche.

What Should You Do?

Amazon’s really a tech company. They have all sorts of built-in capabilities that other retailers can’t duplicate.

You’ll only fall behind if you copy Amazon.

So what can you do?

Not deals and discounts. Those quick-fixes cause large long-term problems.

Instead, you have to keep optimizing that in-store experience.

Keep your bathrooms pristine. Have window-washing fluid and wipers always available if you sell gas.

Try different types of food and groceries to find what sells best. Make sure that fresh aromas circulate around your store to encourage purchasing.

Buy in as large of volumes as possible to negotiate discounts with your suppliers.

Offer deals and discounts in exchange for email addresses. Build and test loyalty programs.

Amazon can’t make everyone happy. And you can learn how to serve your niche better than Amazon and everyone else so you don’t have to worry about losing market share.

Karcher Leads the Floor Cleaning Equipment and Pressure-Washing Industry

In 2017, Karcher turned over 2.5 billion Euros in commercial cleaning and pressure-washing equipment…the most of any company in its niche.

That’s about $2.9 billion!

So clearly, they know a little something about what they do.

And their equipment’s so respected across the globe that it frequently gets chosen to clean the world’s most respected monuments. This includes the colonnades in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro, the Colossi of Memnon in Luxor, Egypt, and Mount Rushmore.

…And you can bet the historians responsible for their cleaning and preservation have tight standards in place so they don’t desecrate these historically important monuments.

So if their equipment suits purposes like that, it should certainly rock your floors, right?

Find out why:

1. An Intense Focus on Responsible Employee Treatment

Every corporation has some random language about how well they treat their employees, don’t they? But c’mon, you know many companies don’t actually mean it.

…Well, Karcher actually does.

And they have concrete proof to back it up. Alfred Karcher founded the company in 1935 and believed strongly in never overlooking his responsibility to take care of his employees.

This company understands you can only do your best when your personal circumstances are set up to do so.

So, they offer financial assistance for maternity leave, child care, and care of relatives.

It’s one of many mechanisms that led to the company getting the ARBEIT PLUS employers award for pioneering employment models in 2013.

2. Product Spotlight: EASY!Force Advanced Pressure-Washing Sprayer

If you’ve ever done pressure-washing for an extended period of time, you know how tiring it can be to hold your finger on the trigger of the sprayer’s gun.

Not the end of the world. But, clearly a pain. Stiff joints and muscle cramps are no fun. And if you have arthritis, the job could become practically undoable.

Well, Karcher won an award for an innovation to the trigger.

You can actually use your thumb to push the trigger into the handle itself. And the way the gun’s now designed, the pressure of the water coming out actually does most of the work.

There’s also a yellow safety lever on the gun to prevent unintentional firing.

Anyway, Karcher won the Purus Innovation Award for this. And you can read the full story on their website.

So look, Karcher’s clearly got game when it comes to pressure washing and floor cleaning equipment.

And we’re more than happy to recommend them when they make sense for your business needs.

3 (More) Ways to Thrive in Retail in 2019 and Beyond

So many retailers are panicking and running terrified, thinking Amazon’s going to control the whole retail world – and that nothing can be done about it.

Truth be told, Amazon owns somewhere around 50% of all ecommerce, but only 5% of all retail sales.

That last number could double to around 10% in the next couple years. But, that still leaves at least 90% of all retail sales for everyone else.

So, where are the gaps? What revenue streams can you access?

Here’s some more ideas:

1. Let Customers Customize Every Detail of Their Products

Here, we’re not talking about letting them slap their initials on the side of a purse. We mean customers would love to be able to build their own purse, watch, or sunglasses.

You can do this online. But what would be cooler than doing that in person at the store?

Dresden is a good example. Shoppers can customize the color of their glasses frames, their size, and the lenses.

How would you feel if you could walk out with exactly the product you wanted, rather than one thousands of other people own too?

2. Brick and Mortar Stores Will Continue to Flourish Because…

Yep. That’s right. They will continue to flourish. Despite all the negative news you hear about various department stores closing their doors, there was a net increase of 4,000 more brick-and-mortars opened in 2017.

Technology actually fuels this. Why?

Mobile apps and cloud-based software make it easier than ever to own and operate a store. Social media, when used well, drives your advertising costs through the floor.

Software and hardware has become cheaper than ever before.

Technology is not destroying retail (on the whole). Rather, it’s changing it for the better.

3. In-Home Services Will Boom in Popularity

It’s pretty obvious consumers are trending toward staying home as much as they can. This has become especially true when they have to buy boring must-have commodity goods.

In response, smart grocers are ramping up their home-delivery services. Companies like Enjoy hand-deliver and set up electronics for consumers. IKEA now owns TaskRabbit, which will enable them to install furniture in consumer’s homes.

Amazon and Best Buy send salespeople into people’s homes to recommend electronics and installations.

Opportunity’s Abundant…You Just Have to Know Where to Look

So yes. Retail’s alive and rocking. You just have to know where the opportunity lies and have a strategic plan that’s ready to adapt to changing market conditions.

Easier said than done. But more than worth the struggle!

Amazon and ‘unboxing’ breathe new life into century-old Pollock business

Sometimes everything old is new again.

Just ask the folks at Pollock.

The Grand Prairie-based maker of millions upon millions of corrugated boxes is celebrating its 100th anniversary with renewed vigor thanks to the “Amazon effect” — where every sort of product is being bought online and shipped to people’s doorsteps in those lowly, ubiquitous containers.

Pollock’s two Grand Prairie plants churn out nearly 2 million square feet of corrugated products every day — about 450 million square feet a year.

To put that in perspective, if the boxes were used as carpet, it would be enough flooring for more than 400 50-story skyscrapers.

One can only hope that consumers are recycling most of them.

Read More >

What Rocks about This Addition To Pollock’s President’s Club Strategic Supplier Partners

You may not know this company’s name. But you absolutely, guaranteed, no-doubt-about-it know the product they invented:

Stretch wrap.

Yes. Lantech invented stretch wrap in 1972 at the peak of our nation’s energy crisis. And since then, stretch wrap has served as the standard for unitizing pallets.

Lantech’s changed a little since then (sarcasm intended).

They now hold the rights to more than 277 patents that help customers just like you eliminate wasted material and money from your supply chain. Lantech now has a goal to eliminate damaged products throughout the supply chain entirely.

Today, they manufacture essentially two categories of equipment:

  • Stretch wrappers
  • Case equipment

1. Highlights of Lantech’s Stretch-Wrapping Machines

Semi-automatic machinery wraps 20-40 loads per hour. Automatics top out at well over 180 loads per hour, depending on the machine you choose.

The Q-series is the most popular semi-automatic model. It’s entry-level and makes it easy to stretch wrap most common loads and sizes. The S-series is designed specifically for unstable, light, and heavy loads. And finally, the G-series is a high-quality, long-lasting option for the low-volume user.

With the automatic stretch wrappers, the Q-series gets you up to 70 loads per hour. The S-series weighs in at about 100, and the RL series does the highest volumes at 180 loads per hour – all without any jams.

2. Highlights of Lantech’s Case Equipment

Lantech’s case erectors and case sealers keep your cases square – but they do not jam! That means increased productivity and less time with technical troubleshooting.

Both machine types automatically adjust to the case width you need wrapped. With the case erectors, 8 suction cups hold boxes in place while corners get formed. Unique flap folders also help to maintain perfect 90-degree corners. The two-stage flap folding system in the case sealers assures flat surfaces so your product stacks safely and with perfect stability. Case sealers also come loaded with rulers and counters to ensure perfect accuracy throughout the entire sealing process.

Clearly, Lantech has progressed way ahead from where it first started with stretch wrapping. When their stretch wrapping machinery makes sense for you, we’re more than happy to recommend them!

What Successful B2B Retailers Do Online in 2018

Up to this point, we’ve mostly covered B2C retail. So it’s only fitting we give the B2B folks a fair shake too.

And besides, some of the lessons you learn will translate over to B2C also, if you serve that niche.

So take a look at what some leading B2B ecommerce retailers do to keep their online retail sales strong:

1. Block Pricing Until Customers Log In

Why do successful online brands like Selini NY do this? Doesn’t that actually make it harder for buyers to purchase?

They don’t want competitors to easily access their pricing and then undercut them. So, they simply force a buyer to prove they are in fact a buyer by making them login.

But, to login, you need to show a valid tax ID, which reveals your company’s identity.

2. Offer Live Chat Customer Service

A McKinsey & Company study found “slow response times” are the top online ordering complaint for B2B buyers.

And make no mistake about it – B2B buyers are increasingly becoming Millennials, who demand immediate response times (versus over-the-phone customer service).

How do you meet their demand?

Easy. Live chat.

It’s actually easy to install and add to your website (for once).

Check out Freund Container to see it in action.

3. Outdo Your Competition with Education and Product Feature Explanations

Because Millennial buyers don’t like to talk on the phone, and because your competitors shower your prospects with content, you have to participate in that part of sales too.

The rule of thumb is this: everything you do to sell in person needs to be replicated online.

Most companies, at least when they’re new to online sales through content, skimp. You’re better off doing nothing at all than putting up thin content.

Because everything’s online, you can also research your competitors, see what they say, and then provide more in-depth content that educates them on what they want to know about your product.

Don’t fall for the trap of telling them what you want them to know. That results in lost sales. Tell your prospects what they want to know, and you’ll be fine.

Bright AgroTech offers a simple (and doable) example of what to do.

4. Allow Your Customers to Buy How They Want – Without Talking to Customer Service

Your website should support customers’ ability to repurchase their same order with just a single click, get quantity discounts, and set up a recurring order.

This seems like just a small thing (as compared to contacting customer service). But, it saves steps for your prospects.

And anything you do to save them steps results in more sales for you.

Sincerely Nuts allows you to automatically replenish at different intervals.

So in the B2B world, those are some simple (and doable) things you can include to increase your sales.

Which makes most sense for your company?

How Macy’s is Surviving the Retail Apocalypse

You’ve heard all the nightmare stories about various retailers closing dozens of stores – or even going out of business entirely.

…But what do some of the bigger names do that keep them in business, even with Amazon approaching $1 trillion in value?

Macy’s is going exactly the opposite way many retailers are heading. They beat Wall Street expectations in the first quarter and showed a positive second quarter of comparable sales.

Their stock price has risen from $17.53 in November of last year to $37.55!

That’s a 114% gain in under a year.

So what does Macy’s know that few other retailers don’t seem to get? And what can you learn and apply from Macy’s example?

Well, take a look:

1. They Get What Customers Actually Want

Customers do want discounts and promotions. But, big names have found out those aren’t as effective as the in-store experience, where Amazon currently can’t compete.

Macy’s CEO Jeffrey Gennette even said in a recent earnings call,”We are in the experience business.”

Macy’s has been piloting virtual reality to show customers what furniture looks like in real living spaces, for example.

2. Innovations in Their Flagship Store

Macy’s Herald Square in New York CIty is currently the world’s largest store, with 10.5 stories and nearly 2 million square feet of shopping space.

The store has its own app. For example, when customers walk in, they immediately get a notice that tells them they get 25% off on select items.

The app also offers indoor navigation maps for the store. And to make the retailer’s beloved Santaland tradition practically painless, the app allowed customers to make their reservation ahead of time so they didn’t have to stand in line.

3. Macy’s Loyalty Program

At the most difficult time in the past year (back in November when Macy’s stock price cratered), the company decided to add a loyalty program (rather than a deals, deals, deals program).

Customers who spent $1,200 or more with Macy’s in a year, for example, got 5% back in store credit and free shipping.

So, the focus wasn’t offering deals which led to one-and-done customers. They wanted to get customers back to having a strong relationship with Macy’s.

That’s how Macy’s totally knocks it out of the park – even amidst all these other retailers shutting their doors. Of course, it’s not all they do.

But what can you learn from them, and are you willing to study Macys to see what might help you thrive in retail in 2019 and beyond?

4 Retailers Opening New Stores in 2018

As Amazon approaches a $1 trillion value, the news for most retailers appears grim. Toys R Us had to shutter its doors. A slew of other retailers have had to do the same.

But amidst all the chaos, several chains are actually opening new stores. In total, retailers are opening 1,700 new stores, while closing 3,000 on the year, says an article at CNBC.

So what about these guys opening new stores? Do they have a strategy? Are they just crazy? Both?

Take a minute to look at a few of them, what they’re planning, and how you might apply what they’re doing to your own business plan:

1. Ulta Beauty

This company’s planning to open 100 of those 1,700 total new stores in 2018. Ulta feels like it can drive more market share gain this way.

They’re also remodeling old stores to include skin services, makeup stations, and cosmetics bars.

Takeaways: Do you have any value-added services you can offer your customers? Have you fully met market demand?

2. Target

Seems odd that a large retailer has plans to open more stores in 2018, doesn’t it? Well, Target will add 35 smaller stores, which, the company says, have more profit per square foot than their larger counterparts.

These smaller stores offer more groceries and clothing – items which customers return frequently to buy.

Takeaway: How can you more adequately meet niche demand?

3. Dollar General

Wow, this chain plans to open 900 of those 1,700 total new locations – more than 50%! How can they possibly consider doing this in 2018’s retail environment?

Simple, Dollar General serves low-income shoppers in rural communities. Although they have rival Dollar Tree (who also owns Family Dollar), they’re in a niche they already dominate which other chains have decided not to serve.

Key takeaway: Are there any unique opportunities or niches in your market that other companies pass over?

4. Warby Parker

This originally online retailer plans to open 40 new stores in 2018. Many other internet retailers plan to follow.

Why?

Consumers are demanding it. Plus, these companies know the location of their customers. So, they simply look for customer hotbeds, and then open a physical store with a convenient location.

Takeaway: How can you use online data to inform your offline strategy?

More physical stores may be right for you and your customers. And hopefully these examples have showed you how you can use them to increase your sales and market share.

EMI Yoshi Rocks Disposable Entertaining Plasticware

EMI Yoshi is one of those suppliers who truly understands differentiation.

And you immediately notice this when you see their products.

It’s their goal to add luxury and sophistication to the presentation of your food. You’ll make a smash hit as the people you serve wet their taste buds simply by looking at what you have to serve.

Take a look at a few of the products to get a feel for what we mean:

1. 7” Crystal Tray

C’mon, when’s the last time you can recall seeing anything plastic like this? Imagine perfectly sliced fruit, hors d’oeuvres, or even a simple snack like cheese and crackers carefully arranged on this tray.

It’s just one of many varieties of trays you can find with EMI Yoshi.

2. Color Shooter Glasses Add Life

What do you get with most plasticware, or any kind of dinnerware, for that matter?

White. Clear.

…Sigh.

Okay, so for most events those work well. But what if you want to liven up your event?

For example, check out these 1.5-oz neon lights shooters:

Alcohol is supposed to get your party going, right? Well, why not take it one step further and add more flair with colorful shooters?

3. Wavy Bowls Give Your Dessert a Powerful Presentation

Finally, take a look at this fascinating wavy bowl:

Whoa! Ever seen anything like that at a large event before? Think your guests have?

Designs like this are sure to impress.

So now that you have a better sense of what EMI Yoshi is all about, get to know it better as a company.

Clearly, you get an exquisite look with the affordability of plastic. You also get a company committed to hassle-free customer service. Include with that ridiculously fast delivery times, and you have a recipe for success.

And finally, realize EMI Yoshi is committed to caring for the environment too. You may not think that way when you consider a company that manufactures plastic tableware.

For starters, understand that polystyrene cups and plates use far less energy and water to make than their paper counterparts. One study found they use half the energy. And a

4 Retail Trends to Follow for a Successful Close to 2018

You usually the trends articles coming out around the end and beginning of the year because that’s when everyone’s getting their business plans in place. However, you still have time left in 2018 and you can get a jump on 2019 by understanding key trends driving retail going forward.

Here’s some big ones to understand and act on:

1. Experiential Marketing

This is what you can do in-store that online retailers simply cannot match. For example, Restoration Hardware isn’t just a hardware store. Instead, in their flagship stores, they offer in-person experiences of the bars and bistros they can help you make so you get immersed in the actual experience of the final product.

How can you make the same happen in your own store?

2. A Hyperfocus on Efficient Logistics

Americans have more leisure time than any previous generation. However, they also spend more of that time in front of one of their many digital screens. They don’t want to waste their time trying to figure out what to buy, only to find out it costs too much.

Smart retailers offer in-store pickup, omnichannel online shopping, same-day delivery (locally if nothing else), and reliable delivery estimates.

Tough to execute because of all the moving pieces. But necessary if you want to thrive.

3. Showcase Your Brand Values In-Store

Amidst all the retailers filing bankruptcy or shutting down mass numbers of stores, Microsoft and Dyson are actually opening their first stores. Yes, right here in 2018.

Why?

Part of the reason lies in their wise decision to differentiate. But part of it also reflects their desire to connect with consumers on a deeper emotional level by sharing their brand values.

Millenials, the generation who will have more spending power than any previous one, want to spend money with companies who take care of the environment, have a high sense of general social responsibility, and who have their businesses optimized for digital shopping.

How can you execute the same and serve your own market?

4. Scintillating Service from Associates

If a customer enters your store looking for a blue dress recommended online by a friend, do your associates know how to quickly find it?

A 2018 PwC Global survey found the number one factor for customers to have a positive in-store experience lies in your sales associates’ knowledge.

Can your team quickly, efficiently, and accurately answer any store associate question thrown their way?

Retail isn’t easy. And it won’t get any easier. But these trends give you an indication of what to focus on to not just survive, but lead the future.