2018 Retail Sales Projections

With record-low unemployment in the US and consumer confidence at high levels, everything’s looking good for the 2018 retail holiday sales season.

Just how good?

About 5.0 – 5.6% better than last year, which equates to around $1.1 trillion in sales, according to Deloitte.

Their forecast says you should do especially well if you have a “distinctive value proposition.” “Off-price” products will continue to do well. And they believe luxury items should see a rebound.

E-commerce sales will rise 22% through the holidays, compared to just 16.6% from November to January of last year.

And here’s some of the growing trends powering this rise in sales:

1. Shoppers Will Buy More on Mobile Devices than Any Other

This is actually an industry first for all retail holiday seasons. An article at ZDNet notes:

  • 46% of all online orders will happen on smartphones
  • 68% of all consumer traffic will happen by smartphone
  • The total traffic for smartphones will eclipse that of all online traffic for all types of devices in 2015
  • 83% of 18-44-year-olds will use their smartphone in-store

So, what can you do to make sure mobile plays a huge role in your retail holiday sales strategy?

2. AI-Recommended Products Will Drive 35% of All Sales

You know how you’ll see that “People who bought item X also bought,” on many e-commerce sites?

Those recommendations come from AI. Some systems are more sophisticated than others.

You can even see these on websites for quite small businesses.

The article at ZDNet claims this will be a huge trend powering sales growth.

And it makes logical sense as to why.

So, how can you incorporate that into your sales strategy? And, what can you do to make sure it’s more effective than in the past?

3. Video Will Continue to Dominate the Advertising Market

If you’re going to advertise online, where should you do it?

Through video.

2017 saw an astounding 1400% increase in ad requests via video over the previous year. For non-video mobile ad requests, growth was still great, but much smaller (at 200%).

About 80% of brands will increase their video advertising spend in 2018.

It’s definitely worth your time to add video to your marketing strategy, or to increase your budget for it.

That’s what you can expect to see this Holiday Season. So, which trends will you focus on to grow your sales this year?

Orora acquires Pollock Packaging – a market leading Texan packaging and facility supplies business

Orora Limited announced today that it has acquired Pollock Packaging.

29 November 2018

Orora Limited (ASX:ORA) announced today that it has acquired Pollock Packaging (Pollock) for USD$80.5 million (approximately AUD$110 million). The acquisition represents a multiple of 8.7 times trailing earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

Pollock is a market leading provider of packaging and facility supplies, headquartered in Texas, America’s second largest and fastest growing state economy. In addition to 6 distribution centres located throughout Texas, Pollock has distribution centres in Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey and California. The Company has been in operation for 100 years and predominantly serves the industrial, retail and facility supplies market segments, employing more than 440 people and generating revenues in excess of USD$260 million (AUD$355 million).

The addition of Pollock to the Orora Packaging Solutions (OPS) business in North America, increases OPS’s geographic presence across several states and enhances the existing customer offering, particularly in the growing facility supplies market segment. Pollock also operates a corrugated box manufacturing plant and in-house packaging design service in Dallas, Texas.

Orora Managing Director and CEO, Nigel Garrard said, “The addition of Pollock to OPS’s business provides a scale platform to leverage the capability and customer reach of both businesses to continue to drive sales growth with existing and new customers.”

“In addition to a strong core packaging solutions offering, Pollock brings a well-established facilities supplies business that will give OPS the platform it needs to expand in this key market segment and Pollock’s customer base will benefit from access to OPS’s broader supply portfolio and geographic footprint.

“The Pollock management team has a strong track record of proven performance and will remain with the business to support integration of the two businesses and delivery of anticipated synergies.

“Pollock aligns with Orora’s stated returns focussed approach to allocating capital, as was the case with the acquisition of Bronco Packaging in August 2018,” Mr Garrard said.

Orora Limited

How to Keep Retail Labor Costs Under Control

Out of the many American industries, retail has a massive amount of manual labor. Because there are so many small logistics to coordinate, labor costs can quickly skyrocket out of control.

So, how do you keep those in check while still keeping your employees happy?

Because, after all, if you try to squeeze too much out of your employees without doing something for them in return, you frustrate them. Then they leave faster, which drives up your hiring costs, and spreads the word that you’re not the employer to work for.

Here’s some ideas on how to balance employee happiness with labor costs so you get the best of both worlds:

1. Fine-Tune Employee Schedules

Just like any process in retail, this is easier said than done. How do you keep the optimal number of employees on the job at all times, and especially so during a hectic holiday season when demand can surge at any moment?

Scheduling software can automatically read your point-of-sale data to help you make the right decision for your company.

This software can also monitor your employees’ hours so they can’t steal time. They only get paid for the time they actually put in.

2. Help Your Employees Focus on Customer Retention (Versus Acquisition)

Frequent one-time sales focus on customer acquisition. But as soon as the sale’s done, the customer hops on to another retailer who has their own sale. Frustrating!

Instead, build your sales processes around customer loyalty. Dozens of programs and strategies exist. Offer free home delivery when customers reach certain spend levels, for example.

Keep in mind your employees play a big role in this too. Make sure they understand exactly what techniques to use to strengthen customer relationships. Make returns easy. Make store policy clear and straightforward. Give your employees freedom to make in-the-moment decisions that make customers happy.

That retains customers and makes employees’ jobs fun and engaging, which keeps them happy and at your company.

3. Cross-Train As Much As Possible

Employees stay happy and engaged when they learn new things and successfully take on new challenges.

Doing the same task 100 times per day for years on end leads to boredom and disengagement.

Start by cross-training employees who display the highest aptitude in their current roles.

4. Reduce Turnover

The leading reason employees leave a job isn’t money. It’s because of their happiness. Money is a part of that, among many other factors.

What are those factors?

Open a conversation with your employees to find out. With their help, customize their jobs so they stay as happy as possible. Do it right and you’ll find workers competing to be at your store, rather than running out the door.

Using these strategies and customizing them to your own store leads to much lower labor costs, and far happier employees. So, don’t waste time implementing them because they’ll only improve your business.

How to Manage the Lack of Customer Loyalty in 2018

It’s tough to keep customers coming back and purchasing from you. Today, they don’t have just three to five different choices…they have dozens or maybe even more than a hundred.

If they have a perceived negative experience with you, they either go to another store or shop somewhere online. And this will only accelerate because of how easy the internet makes it to purchase from across the globe.

So how do you keep customers coming back instead of hopping from you to the next retailer?

Here’s some strategies to learn from:

1. Figure Out What “The Extra Mile” Means to Your Customer

Many retailers give out candy or free pens. That’s not enough to impress your customer. Frequent Starbucks customers, for example, can get personalized gold cards (or any of another of dozens of customized rewards).

Customers always like it better when they can choose. So perhaps offering them choices of how they’d like to experience your appreciation would work best.

2. Exceptional Service

Every retailer says they offer amazing customer service. And when it comes to how things work in-store, customers evaluate every last interaction they have with your team.

So, does your team simply say,”Hello,” or even say nothing and walk on by? Or, do they hassle your customers to buy more without even starting a conversation to find out what they want first?

Train your employees to greet every customer and to ask them if they need help finding anything. They should also lay off the sales pressure and instead simply educate customers on differences between products so they can make the best decision for their needs.

Those are just small starts to exceptional service. You could also ask your customers,”What can we do to ensure you have a stellar experience today?”

3. Consider These In-Store Conveniences

Applebees began offering digital checkout experiences at each table. Wow! Now that makes eating there convenient.

Train your employees to build relationships. They’ll need an acute eye for detail to do this. But, for example, they might notice a customer holding a product from another local store.

So, they could say,”Oh yeah. I love going to Johnson’s. They have delicious cupcakes there.”

Small things like that build relationships and make customers feel special and appreciated. Plus, Amazon can’t copy those tactics!

Can you increase customer loyalty? Yes you can. You simply need to make the commitment, create a strategy, and test and refine to see what works best.

Pollock Named to Zippia’s 20 Best Companies to Work for in Grand Prairie

If you decide to move to Grand Prairie, or if you already live here, which companies would be at the top of your list to work for?

Or, maybe the better question to ask would be: which companies should be at the top of your list to work for?

Well, the career expertise website Zippia decided to find the answer to the latter question. And to do so, they evaluated three criteria:

  • Salary data
  • Company financial health
  • Diversity

They pull this data from the BLS, Federal Election Commission, and the resumes and job data that pass through their own company.

The basic goal is to use data to make sure only the best companies make the list. Many surveys use subjective opinions to calculate their rankings. You can read detailed information about their selection process here.

Out of all the businesses in Grand Prairie, Pollock cracked the Top 20 for 2018.

They gave us this nifty little badge to display as proof. You’ll certainly see it on our website because we’re so proud to show it off:

What Makes Pollock So Great to Work For?

Why did we make this list?

Well, we take an intentional approach toward creating that “family feeling” each day. We may have hundreds of associates, but it’s our goal to never lose that intimate feel you only get with smaller, close-knit companies. Managers actively work with associates to resolve concerns and make Pollock a great place to work.

President & CEO, Lonnie Pollock III, visits each location multiple times per year – and actively works to make himself accessible to every person at Pollock. That’s challenging (but doable) when you’re one person and have hundreds of associates!

At the same time, we work hard to solve problems for larger companies that bigger competitors have difficulty replicating.

Our ability to empower associates to do their best both individually and as a team leads to workers who feel positive, motivated, and consistently perform at high levels. We also strive to deliver excellent benefits and keep the atmosphere fun with events like a Thanksgiving potluck and Easter egg hunt.

Finally, what would one of the best employers in Grand Prairie be without active community involvement? Pollock supports many charities, including the North Texas Food Bank, Lone Star Park Charitable Foundation for Grand Prairie, and the United Way.

It’s our goal to continue to make Pollock one of the best employers in Grand Prairie every year. If distribution’s something you find fascinating, we’d love to talk!

The Secrets Behind Zara’s Retail Success (Part 2)

So what else does Zara do that gives them a nearly unbeatable position in the fashion industry?

Well, besides their jaw-dropping supply chain, they avoid “penny-wise” and “pound-foolish” decision-making, notes Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business professor Kasra Ferdows in a Bloomberg article.

They realize that if they don’t discount as frequently in some areas, they have more capital to invest in others that helps them keep margins high.

As a result, they can afford extra labor and shipping costs when both are needed to meet customer demand.

Compare that to a company who might not get this. What’s their first reaction when they hit a crisis?

Layoffs!

At Zara, layoffs may need to happen in the event of something they can’t control, like a global recession. But, knee-jerk solutions like layoffs wouldn’t necessarily be the first solution they would turn to.

Coordinated, Centralized Order Fulfillment

Zara has figured out how to make rapid deliveries to its stores – and keep everyone on the same page without causing extreme confusion.

Each outlet stores makes two orders per week on weekdays. Trucks leave with their shipments and arrive at stores at specific times.

Clothes are labeled and priced by the time they reach the stores, so they simply have to be placed on the floor for sale.

Every team member understands all the steps in the supply process, and they know how their actions impact all other people and processes.

And guess what?

Customers know exactly when to go to Zara’s stores to find the latest fashion trends.

This leads to Zara having remarkably efficient workflows.

And, Zara can even ship new test inventory to stores in small batches. That limits their risk.

If it doesn’t work out, Zara’s out only a small amount of product.

This process is so effective that European customers, who typically visit most fashion stores just 3 times per year, go to Zara 17 times annually.

Rapid Expansion Into New Markets

Because Zara gets product to market so fast, it can rapidly expand before competitors get a sense of what sells.

This allowed Zara to increase revenue in India by 19% year-over-year from 2016 – 2017.

So, what did you learn from Zara?

Regardless of the industry you’re in, you know of something you can do better than everyone else.

How can you actually execute on that idea and get a competitive advantage that’s impossible to match?

What Makes the O’Dell Corporation’s Cleaning Products A Must-Have

The O’Dell Corporation has an interesting history. Started in 1945 by William O’Dell, a young marine who had just returned home from serving in World War Ii, the company’s grown to a leading supplier for Fortune 500 corporations and family-owned businesses alike.

Young William was able to create exceptional-quality mops and brooms for his day. And today the company specializes in unique solutions. They’ll even make a product to your exact specifications if they don’t already have what you need!

So, what’s the big deal about O’Dell’s products these days? Take a second to find out:

1. The Patriot Mop

The uniqueness of this product begins with its composition: it’s made from 100% recycled combat uniform clippings. And, it’s made entirely in America.

Naturally, kevlar from the uniforms makes it into the mop’s yarn. And guess what? This is one tough, durable mop.

You can count on it cleaning practically anything and lasting a long time. And when it comes time to launder your mop, you won’t have to worry about damaging it in any way.

2. Touchless Mop System

This microfiber mop comes with a convenient pump-action handle that ejects the mop head.

So, you never have to touch a dirty mop head ever again. This also reduces the possibility of contamination when cleaning dirtier substances.

And it makes your cleaning more efficient because you don’t have to launder the mop head in any way.

3. Sure Step Mop

If you’ve ever run or serviced a restaurant, you know how often slips and falls can happen. And even if you don’t, you’ve probably had a few over the years.

Accidents happen.

But you can practically eliminate the frequency of slips-and-falls with the Sure Step mophead.

Even after thorough washing, grease manages to settle on the yarn strands of most mopheads.

Sure Step’s hydrophilic polyester yarns have a grease-release agent baked right in. This allows it to absorb more oils, and also to release more grease than other mopheads when washed.

That leads to cleaner, safer floors. And for restaurant owners, that means far fewer slips-and-falls.

With innovative solutions like this, and even the ability to custom-design products to your exact specifications, the O’Dell Corporation is an awesome supplier partner to have.

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

Why You’ll Love Southern Champion Tray’s Custom Packaging Solutions

What does your products’ packaging say about your product and company?

With an almost obscene number of choices today, the average shopper needs to see something truly unique to change to a new brand.

And if that’s your goal (or for any other packaging goal for that matter), Southern Champion Tray certainly makes good sense.

Here’s why:

1. Award-Winning Packaging Designs

The Paperboard Packaging Council has grown to become the leading industry association on paperboard packaging. Founded in 1929 from a small confederation of boxmakers who wanted to establish fair competitive practices, the association now is the go-to for a nearly $8 billion industry.

History lesson aside, the Paperboard Packaging Council gave Southern Champion Tray three separate awards for various types of packaging. You can see those at Southern Champion Tray’s website.

If you’re in the market for innovative designs that catch customer attention, you’ll only do yourself a favor when you choose Southern Champion Tray.

2. Unusually Thorough Analysis

Say your product needs paperboard packaging. The process of choosing the right material and substrate is actually more complex than you’d think.

For example, Southern Champion Tray will consider such factors as strength, thickness, food grade, coatings, printability, recyclability, compostability, and many others when helping you choose the right material and substrate for your packaging.

You know the best companies always have their processes down to an incredible science.

3. Patents (And Unique Designs) Mean You Can’t Get Some of These Products Anywhere Else

Southern Champion Tray uses unique locking mechanisms for their paperboard boxes. Some of those are patented, which means you can’t get them with any other manufacturer.

Most boxes can be heated in microwaves or frozen in the fridge for short time periods. Their Utility Boxes are food grade approved, but like all other SCT boxes, they can be used for retail products also.

Can you find some of these elements with other paperboard manufacturers? Yes.

Can you find them all in one place, combined with SCT’s reputation for top-notch service? Good luck!

That’s why we love SCT. And it’s why we’re happy to recommend them when their products and services make sense for your business.

3 Devastating B2B Retail Mistakes

Want to tank your B2B sales?

We know you don’t.

But if you make these mistakes, and continue to make them without changing, you’ll watch your sales charts go down and to the right.

Here’s what to avoid:

1. Letting Your Sales Team Think E-Commerce Threatens Their Jobs

The natural instinct for most sales people is to feel your online sales channels exist to replace their jobs.

After all, your website automates parts of the sales process at a scale that no single human can replicate.

Guess what your sales team will do with your website as a result?

Yep. They’ll minimize its importance or fail to mention it entirely.

So, you have to show your sales team that you have a concrete plan in place for how your website will help them increase their sales.

Because, after all, no website will be anywhere close to perfect. And, when the time’s right and B2B buyers have done their research, they want the help of a sales person.

Build your sales plan out. And make sure it shows exactly how your sales team remains a part of the sales process.

2. Only Communicating Product Features and Technical Specs

Whether you do this online in your web pages or in person with your sales team, your focus must remain on outcomes you produce, challenges you fix, and deep frustrations you resolve.

Technical specs, facts, and product features can (and should) certainly be a part of your sales process.

However, they work best only for highly technical minds that instinctively know the exact outcomes and challenges your technical specs fix.

When you tell your prospects about the results your products create, regardless of the depth of their technical knowledge, you make it abundantly clear that you have unique value.

And remember, your competitors may not be so skilled at communicating this.

So, it can be a huge leg up as you try to increase market share.

3. Quickly Offering Deals and Discounts to Hesitant Prospects

You have a prospect promising to make a huge bulk order – if you only drop your price by 10%.

Low prices only attract obnoxious customers who don’t truly see the value in your products.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should never offer discounts.

But you should certainly reduce your focus on doing so.

You could also offer a value-added service in place of a discount. For example, if you sell a high-end product with a maintenance plan, offer the first month of the maintenance plan for free.

Customers who see the value in your products will be open to alternative bargaining chips.

So, as you work on increasing your B2B retail sales, watch out for those pitalls. Your bottom line will thank you at quarter’s end!

3 Examples of Holiday Sales Strategies Successful Retailers Use

We’ve talked a lot about theory and strategy.

But what about some concrete examples of what other retailers do to succeed in the critical fourth quarter?

This year, the economy’s strong. Consumers have cash to spend. It’ll actually be hard to not have a good fourth quarter.

What can you do to make sure you make this upcoming holiday season as successful as possible?

Here’s what other retailers have done:

1. Re-Optimize Your Omnichannel Shopping Experience

This is a fancy way to say “give your customers a consistently exceptional shopping experience across all the mediums with which you interact with them.” It can actually be quite challenging.

You have multiple social media channels, an in-store experience, a website, and possibly TV and radio ads and billboards. Keeping things consistent across all mediums takes an intense focus on every detail and crystal-clear communication.

In 2015, Kohl’s rolled out buy online, pick up in-store. They redesigned their mobile website and app. They also launched #KohlsSweepstakes, which ended up being one of Black Friday’s big hits. They also improved in-store app features.

Customers don’t care that you are “omnichannel.” They want a consistent experience that makes it easy, and even fun, to buy during a stressful holiday season.

2. Best Buy Switches Up Its Marketing Messaging to Score a Big Win

In 2017, department stores as a whole saw a noticeable decrease in in-store customers as they shifted to purchasing online.

…But Best Buy wasn’t one of them.

Why?

It moved its marketing messaging from urgency-based (“sale ends in 24 hours” or “for a limited time only”) to value-based (“free shipping” and “financing available”).

In fact, out of 15 leading brands studied, it was the big winner overall.

3. Darlyng & Co Scores Big Profits With Paid Online Advertising

Yes, this is a smaller online retailer. But their strategies can absolutely work for a company of any size.

You can “boost” your top-performing Facebook posts for just a few dollars per day and drive more visitors to your online sales pages. You can also target consumers by zip code and send them into your store.

…And you can do the same with Google Ads and Bing Ads. The power of internet advertising lies in your ability to zero in on super-small niches, which boosts ROI.

If you don’t have the capacity to do this yourself, plenty of firms provide this service.

Ultimately, it falls on you to decide which strategies and techniques to implement this holiday season.

For now, you have more weapons in your arsenal so you can emerge from the holiday season as a big winner!

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.