Why You’ll Fall in Love with Cube Packaging

Cube Packaging is definitely one of the youngest companies in our President’s Club, as they began operations in 2007.

So to make the President’s Club list at the young age of 12, they must be doing something awfully special.

Cube specializes in environmentally sustainable packaging solutions. And with their commitment to continual manufacturing process improvement, they’ve won designations like the 2018 Business Excellence Award for Large Businesses.

Here’s some other interesting highlights about Cube Packaging:

1. A Focus on Reusability, Which is Even More Sustainable than Recycling

Recycling is a good and healthy thing. But Cube Packaging takes recycling a step further to reusability.

Cube makes all their packaging products with the goal of having consumers use them more than once. Their packaging is actually made of more durable materials.

However, through innovative design techniques, these more durable containers also don’t require more material to make in the first place.

So you do definitely end up with a significant net gain with reusable packaging.

2. Niche Focus

Cube Packaging makes a large amount of packaging products that display food. They focus on grocery stores, restaurants, catering, and meal prep solutions.

As a business, you know the value of a specialist niche expert. That’s Cube Packaging.

They rock the sustainable food display container market.

3. Special Novelty Food Containers

Need to spice up the display of your food with a special them to get customers in a purchasing mood?

Cube Packaging has a large line of novelty food display containers.

For example, they have a pumpkin container shaped like a smiling jack-o-lantern for Halloween, multiple products shaped like footballs for the NFL season, and the same for basketball and soccer.

You know how little touches like that drive your sales way up during key sales seasons. And that’s one of many differences Cube Packaging makes for your company.

So, yes, when it comes to reusable packaging solutions, we’re excited to recommend Cube Packaging for your business.

And you should feel just as excited when you hear us say their name!

4 Inventory Management Best Practices to Follow in 2019

43% of small businesses don’t track inventory at all or use an antiquated method.

43% … as in, nearly half!

Doesn’t that sound crazy to you here in 2019?

Now look, managing retail inventory is no simple task. Yet, massive corporations like Costco and Walmart manage to turn their entire inventory over 10-12 times per year.

This leads to you having stockouts when you need to sell a certain product and too much stock of product that isn’t selling now.

Here’s what you can do to make sure you have the right amount of inventory in stock all year round so you optimize your sales revenue and profit margin:

1. Automate Like Crazy

Look, a step saved is…a step saved! The large retailers use automation to the maximum extent possible.

If you can get computer software to save your employees a step or two, by all means do it. This gives them time to focus on higher level decisions software can’t make or do.

Physical counts of your existing inventory still have to be done to make sure inventory matches what’s in your POS. But those can be minimized, which creates a consistent shopping experience for your most valuable customers.

2. Make the Most of Your Surplus

Look, sometimes market trends shift so quickly that you’re left with too much inventory. You simply can’t always make the perfect decision.

What do you do when that happens?

Donate it.

Because, if you simply toss your product in the dumpster, that leads to dumpster diving, security issues, and a negative reputation in the area.

Why not create a win-win-win for you, a non-profit organization, and your bottom line by donating the excess inventory to someone who needs it?

3. Personalize Each Store to the Local Market

Your POS software shouldn’t just sync inventory at a single location. It should sync inventory across all physical stores so your employees can find the nearest location with the item, and then ship it to your customer.

Being able to view inventory by location or across all locations at once lets you identify local market trends.

Of course you don’t need to have 100% unique inventory at each location. But you might have 20% or so that caters specifically to the local market…and they’ll love you for it!

4. Have at Least A Simple Cash Flow Management Process in Place

You know the massive amount of capital you need to operate a retail business. So, it’s important to make sure you always have enough so you can buy the inventory that sells best when you need it.

At a minimum, you should have a spreadsheet which outlines:

  • Monthly sales goals
  • Fixed and variable costs
  • Planned inventory purchasing 2-3 months away

Regular review of this will alert you to any upcoming cash flow crunches.

Look…managing a physical retail location isn’t easy…but it just got a lot easier for you after reading those tips.

4 Sales-Killing Customer Experience Mistakes Retailers Make

Ever visited one of your own stores, and one of your competitor’s, completely undercover and experienced how things go for yourself?

Have you done the same with websites too?

You can’t get a full impression of your customer experience in just a single visit. But you can at least get an idea.

And even if you haven’t, all the customer experience mistakes possible have been made by one retailer or another.

So take a minute to learn from other examples and personal experiences so you know what to look for and fix:

1. Giving Customers Preferential Treatment

Do you make special offers to new customers, but then give your regulars no opportunity of their own?

What about the reverse?

The truth is you can do this. But you can’t make it obvious to one customer type that they’re not getting in on the deal.

For example, if you know an in-store customer by name and ask them what they want, they feel valued and appreciated. But your new customers feel hurt and forgotten.

If you offer to help your regular by name, get to know the new customer’s name too so they have a similar experience.

Otherwise, they leave and feel like you don’t care about them.

2. Taking a Political Stance

According to data from Euclid and quoted by Shopify, 78% of customers prefer you take no political stance whatsoever.

So, to keep it simple, best just to avoid politics.

However, if you’re determined to tackle a political issue, you can win when you do it at the right time and in the right way.

For example, consumers loved Dick’s Sporting Goods move to stop selling assault-style rifles in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting.

3. Inability to Talk to a Human

Automation runs supreme in retail. It’s your lifeblood…but not when it comes to customer service.

Accenture’s 11th annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey found 83% of consumers prefer human help – when trying to get service over digital channels.

Consumers need to be able to talk to customer service over the phone in just a few minutes. And they want to talk to reps who care and have decision-making power.

Sounds pretty simple. But you can probably name at least a company or two you interact with who clearly operates in direct contradiction to these principles.

4. Selling Customers Only What They Ask For

This one sounds a bit odd at first. Isn’t it exactly what you should do?

Well, you’re leaving money on the table by not exposing your customers to comparable options or additional products which enhance the utility of the one they’re purchasing.

You may have a premium model with more features too.

Don’t try to talk the customer into making a different decision. But do make them aware so they can make a choice that better suits them, if they’d like.

The same goes for your website. You should have product recommendations on every product page uniquely suited to what the customer’s considering.

Customers frequently appreciate this. And as long as they feel you’re operating to try to help them discover what else they might like, rather than trying to crank more money out of them, you’ll be okay.

So that’s just 4 of the many customer experiences you might make.

Best to let your competitors make them, while you make the fixes and snatch their market share, right?

Meet the POS Thermal Printing Industry’s Leader: Cenveo

How many companies do you know who produce one in three of all of a certain type of product used?

For example, if you use a mop, do you know if a company produces one in three of all the mops used in America?

Well, that’s the case for Cenveo, who produces one out of three of all the envelopes used in the United States.

But they’re not just for consumers, or even direct mail.

Clearly, they understand print and mailing. And here’s what else they do that you simply can’t question:

1. POS Thermal Print and Imaging Supplies

Cenveo’s Nashua product line serves every type of receipt printer you can find in retail stores. The product line has receipts available according to the exact specs required by OEM printer manufacturers.

With an intense focus on high quality and affordable pricing, the Nashua product line has imaging supplies for every thermal (and non-thermal) application.

2. Rapid Product Delivery

Need it yesterday? That’s never a good position to be in with your business. Ideally, you plan things and execute according to that plan.

But sometimes, you can still do everything right and find yourself in a pinch.

Don’t worry! Cenveo comes to your rescue with a distribution network created to service 90% of the US within 2 to 3 days.

They’ll even fulfill from multiple warehouses at once so you’re not left fighting an uphill battle any longer than you have to.


3. Operate Your Business Better

Cenveo offers a line of managed services, which they consult on so you can make the best use of their products and your own processes.

Their managed services focus on Six Sigma and Lean principles. Cenveo can help you solve problems such as:

  • Vendor consolidation
  • Streamlining processes
  • Optimizing bidding to deliver customers the best pricing
  • Managing accounts onsite
  • Identifying the most cost-effective manufacturing methods
  • Optimizing distribution

Basically, if you have any challenges related to POS thermal printing, or any type of commercial printing or mailing, Cenveo’s your go-to.

And when their products and services make sense for your business, we’re excited to recommend them to you!

NRF Forecasts 3.8-4.4% Growth in 2019 Retail Sales

Depending on what news source you pay attention to, you can get a different take on reality.

So what’s truly going on? Who’s paying attention to the facts? And who’s using an emotional slant just to get you to read their story?

Well, the National Retail Federation believes the economy’s going to be just fine for 2019.


Macroeconomic data supports it. Consumer financial welfare will remain strong. More people are working. Employees are making more money. Taxes are lower. And consumers have generally high confidence in the economy.

And this, despite some volatility in the stock market in the past six months, a government shutdown, and tariffs on some Chinese goods.

However, the NRF expects there may be some short-term trouble now that additional Chinese tariffs ranging from 10-25% have been in place since March 1st.

And by the way, these growth projections include both online and in-store spending.

What’s Your Strategy Going Forward?

In business, it’s nearly impossible to invent something completely new and get the market to take it. It can be done. But for the most part, business is a response to market trends.

Clearly, the trend is toward spending for now.

So, how do you keep consumers buying from you, and even gain market share?

Well, eTail says consumers want multichannel buying experiences…and that they actually spend 65% of their total shopping budget in-store.

What’s that mean in practicality?

Everyone shops online. Most buy in-store. In other words, all your online shopping properties need to perfectly align with your in-store shopping experience.

Consumers need to easily access product data. They want to place an order online, and get it at your local store.

They need several images of your item online so they know exactly how it will function in their daily life. They need to see images and videos of other consumers enjoying the benefits your products provide.

Secondly, customers need a memorable experience. Today, it’s all about personalization. Consumers want to feel like you created a shopping experience just for them.

That means getting into your data, and also having conversations with customers. What do they and don’t they like about your online and offline shopping experience? What can you do to make the experience so impressive it would be stupid for your customer to go to your competitor?

Some companies fall into the trap of having execs who live in ivory towers trying to create an experience out of thin air. Don’t do that. Get into the trenches and front lines, and experiment directly with your customers and get their feedback.

Retail’s not easy in 2019. But you have a huge consumer trend powering growth. And you have more access to data than ever before. So it’s a perfect time to adjust to the market and make your sales soar.

Ranpak: The Company to Turn to For Environmentally Friendly Packaging


What’s the big deal about that year?

David Bowie introduced his alter-ego: Ziggie Stardust. Digital watches made their debut. HBO launched into American homes.

…But those aren’t the events we’re talking about.

Instead, it was the year the Ranpak company began producing environmentally-friendly packaging material.

Now isn’t that impressive? The environment certainly was becoming a bigger issue. However, how many companies had environmentally sustainable business practices back then?

With innovation and forward-thinking like that, you know Ranpak has something special going on.

And here’s why they’re a big deal to businesses like yours today:

1. The New WrapPak Protector Continues the Company’s Sustainability Legacy

“Sustainable” and “functional” describe Ranpak’s WrapPak protector. This protector is actually used to keep perishable food bought online fresh.

The difference between this product and competing options lies in its simplicity and sustainability. It reduces costs, saves space, and minimizes handling needed for transported product.

… And of course, it’s 100% recyclable, renewable, and biodegradable.

2. E-Commerce Packaging Experts

RanPak has identified 7 best practices for an exceptional e-commerce order delivery experience.

We can’t go through them all here. But, you can get a few highlights:

  • Using the right size box because often too big of a box gets used, which causes products to break during shipping
  • Using re-usable packaging material because 33% of consumers surveyed say they want this
  • Using an attractive design with innovative marketing writing that creates an emotional connection with the customer

Read the full white paper at RanPak’s website.

3. Custom Packaging Engineering

With proven experience and demonstrated success like this, you can definitely see why you’d want RanPak custom-creating your packaging for you if you have the need.

Through a process of understanding your current packaging design, testing that design, benchmarking your design against RanPak’s new custom model, and training you to implement the new packaging production process, RanPak helps you identify and implement the perfect packaging for your customer.

This leads to much happier customers, which of course results in more loyalty and consistently strong sales.

You no longer have to guess how to do your packaging. You have a proven model and analysis so you know you’re doing the best you can in your industry right now.

So yes, we’re ecstatic to recommend RanPak when their products and services make sense for your business.

And you should jump for joy when you hear us suggesting them to you!

How to Make Your Product Indispensable to Your Customers

Having a great product customers love makes for an awesome start in retail.

What? Just a great start?

What more do you need to do than have an amazing product?

Well, you’d rather have customers who just cannot do without your porduct. We’re not talking about turning them into addicts.

We mean having customers who love your brand. They love your product itself. And they love what you stand for. So, it would take quite a series of disastrous mistakes for them to leave you for another brand.

Those are the customers you want.

So how do you get those…even if you simply have a store brand?

Take a minute to learn from beloved yogurt brand Chobani, which has surpassed Yoplait as America’s leading yogurt brand:

1. Give to Your Employees

In 2016, CEO Hamdi Ulukaya wanted to give 10% of the company’s shares (Chobani is a private company) to all employees – ranging from forklift operators to top-level execs.

At first, he was told this couldn’t be done. Nevertheless, he found a way to get it done. And the move received wide praise in the mainstream media, and on social media too.

The company also gives 6 weeks of paid leave to men and women after a birth, adoption, or taking in of a foster child. That’s rare in any industry. And it’s even rarer in manufacturing.

2. Give to Other Food Startups

At its core, Chobani wants to make healthy food available to everyone. They have a program for helping out other food startups so they get on the path of success faster.

Companies who make it in get grants and unrestrained access to Chobani leaders. Literally no strings are attached.

Most such programs in the corporate world would want a stake in the startup, at minimum.

3. Give to Regular People

Many of Chobani’s manufacturing employees are veterans. When the company learned their employees were having a hard time putting food on the table, they created a special “hero batch” of yogurt to raise $1 million to help them out.

Chobani guaranteed they would donate at least $1 million, even if the new product itself didn’t help raise the funds.

The veterans would win regardless of what happened.

So, as you can see, the story behind the product matters. Like a ton!

What positive story can you create, not just to garner positive attention, but to do things that help people in meaningful ways?

Office Essentials: The Supplier with More than a Century of Problem Solving Experience

Offices looked and operated a little different in 1918 than they do now in 2019.

Not sure if you’ve noticed the same. We’re just sayin’…

Pardon the sarcasm, but we did it to make a point: things have changed in the American office over the past century.

And Pollock has been a recognized name as that change has taken place. It began with Lawrence S. Pollock in 1918, who organized the Pollock-Burt Paper Box Company at the age of 26.

After leaving for and returning from service in World War I, Lawrence merged the company with the paper jobbing business he started to form the Pollock Paper and Box Company. And today, the company’s now run by his grandson, Lawrence S. Pollock III.

How has the company, which now specializes in Office Essentials, been able to remain a force in the industry over that time?

Like so:

1. One-on-One Consulting Solutions and Supply Analyses

Even though this sounds unique, it’s actually not even unique to Pollock’s Office Essentials. It’s a company-wide practice that Office Essentials happens to participate in too.

You’re not just a number. You’re not another line-item on someone’s P&L statement.

You are a real company with real people and real needs. And they’re unique. The Office Essentials team works with you to precisely learn your needs.

And they meet them to a T.

2. A Full Range of Office Supplies

Because of Pollock’s dedication to solving all your office supply challenges, you never walk away searching for answers. The company offers thermal printing paper, cash register receipt rolls, restroom cleaning supplies, and even black lights.

So regardless of the office supply issues you face, you have a solution.

3. Coast-to-Coast Distribution Network

Pollock has 9 distribution centers and a fleet of 100 delivery trucks to ensure you always have the office supplies you need when you need them (in 2 days or less). This even includes if you’re located in Canada.

You can also customize your delivery times to meet your supply flow needs.

You get all this with Pollock Office Essentials. And you can feel good because the company supports the United Way and North Texas Food bank in helping the 564,708 homeless Americans and 13.5% living in poverty.

Yes. With Office Essentials, you’re making a smart decision.

And we’re happy to recommend Office Essentials when it makes sense for your needs.

Why Social Responsibility Matters to Your Brand

Millennials now have the most spending power of any generation. And since they’re the largest in terms of sheer numbers and are now old enough to be in higher-income jobs, it’s imperative to your company’s success to meet what they value.

Among their many differentiating characteristics, they adore brands who embrace social responsibility. Put broadly, “social responsibility” means the brand makes a public phenomenon of showing how it influences society in a positive way.

If your brand doesn’t do this, you lose sales to others who do. It’s that simple.

So here’s an example of several leading brands and how they embrace social responsibility:

1. Gillette’s Embrace of Positive Attitudes Toward Women

Gillette’s always trumpeted it’s “The Best a Man Can Get.” Recently, they released a video supporting the viewpoint that men should act toward women in positive, healthy, attainable, and inclusive ways.

The particular video strongly discourages attitudes which promote sexual harassment, misogyny, and abusive conduct.

2. MUD Jeans

Every corporation engages social responsibility. However, what’s not clear is the extent.

Is that company just trying to improve its image a little, when in fact they have all sorts of ways they’re not even close to socially responsible behind the scenes?

Learning the full story can be hard.

One of the corporations who really knocks social responsibility out of the park (and all throughout its business practices) is Dutch company MUD jeans.

For example, their jeans include post-consumer denim and organically grown cotton (most cotton requires intensive insecticide use). They also ensure all workers throughout their entire manufacturing process get paid fair wages.

3. Starbucks

When you think of Starbucks, besides caffeine, you think of a gem of a socially responsible company.

Back in 1997, they funded a US/Canada literacy campaign. Today, they want to hire 10,000 refugees in 75 countries and 25,000 veterans by 2025.

This, in addition to constantly working to minimize their environmental footprint, makes Starbucks another great all-around example of sustainability.

4. Coca-Cola

Since the creation of its foundation in 1985, Coca-Cola has donated more than $820 million to causes furthering the empowerment of women, improving access to clean drinking water, and the development of disadvantaged youth.

This model makes sense because donating the funds to other organizations who have specialized experience in their various causes are more likely to make an actual difference.

So, how can you make social responsibility not just another thing you do among other business practices, but the very essence of your business itself?

The better you answer that question, the more Millennial customers you attract and keep.

Why to Make Your Retail Brand Stand for More than Just Deals and Sales

Relying on deals and sales for growth is a recipe for disaster. And yet, some leading retailers stick to it.

It may be a desperate attempt at competing again because they’re simply so out of touch with what it takes to succeed in retail today that they don’t know what else to do.

Believe it or not, and if you read this blog regularly you hear us say this all the time, Amazon’s existence does not have as much responsibility for the demise of leading retail powers as some think.

Many retailers shoot themselves in the foot simply because they haven’t adjusted to what it takes to succeed in 2019. They still want to use retail strategies from the 1990s (and even from before that).

Deals and sales can be a good thing. Customers like those. But if you primarily rely on those to keep going, you’re in trouble.

Here’s what makes two leading retail brands so loveable that customers don’t need deals and sales all the time to stay interested:

1. Publix

Publix is America’s most beloved grocery store chain. It’s a small regional chain located in the Southeast.

Employees truly take service to a different level. Managers and cashiers get to know you by name. They’ll tell you when your favorite items go on sale. They may even know your childrens’ names.

They have a high-quality store brand which doesn’t disappoint. They also have amazing fried chicken (the best in the South, some say), a top-notch bakery, and superb subs.

Publix also has kiosks with a live instructor who cooks simple and delicious recipes. Next to this demo, you’ll find a recipe card and all the ingredients. This makes homemade meals as easy as you can get.

You hear us chatter about in-store experience. Publix nails it!

2. Costco

Believe it or not, grocery stores dominate the list of the most beloved retailers in America. Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and Aldi rock the house.

Costco isn’t exclusively a grocer, although it is their focus. However, yet another reason consumers love Costco is its haggle-free car buying program.

Yes. Costco has one. And it sold 520,000 cars in 2017. Costco simply connects you to local participating dealers so you get the best price and don’t have to deal with a car salesman pressuring you into something you don’t want to do.

It’s also a large pizza chain. No one goes to Costco exclusively for the pizza. But, they do have it available in their mini in-store food court. And it’s delicious enough and done exactly the way pizza should be – oily, cheesy, and large.

Saturday mornings, when most consumers go shopping, have a marketplace atmosphere. Costco has a couple dozen employees out passing samples.

They pay their workers the best in the industry, which only makes them too happy to provide stellar service.

And to top it off, Kirkland, its store brand, retains high quality at lower prices.

So these two retailers, one large and national, and the other smaller and regional, have secure positions in the market. Amazon does not, will not, and cannot stamp them out of existence.

They do the in-store experience too well. What can your brand do to rise to the top in your customer’s minds?

Why Some Brick-and-Mortars Get Their Tails Kicked in 2019

How long is the Amazon casualty list these days?

Truth be told, it may not be Amazon that causes all the harm. In fact, it could be brick-and-mortar’s inability to adjust to the way consumers want to shop in 2019.

It’s not always clear. But one retail expert went on a visit to a well-known brick-and-mortar retailer that sells designer fashion products…and didn’t have such a great experience. We won’t share their name in this post.

So, here’s a rough summary of what he experienced when visiting their flagship store – and why it doesn’t work.

1. Aloof Employees

Should your employees meet-and-greet proactively so customers know where they can find help? Or should they wait until asked?

Customers prefer the first. But many of the employees at this store simply stood around aloof, passively waiting for customers to ask for help.

The number one reason consumers go to stores is to feel a certain way. And it doesn’t really put them in a buying mood if they have to chase down an employee who seems to not be overly concerned with helping them out.

Your employees out on the floor need to understand that they should proactively engage customers. If nothing else, they should simply let the customer know their name and that they’re in the area should the customer need help.

A small, but essential, way of establishing a relationship.

2. Still No Help as The Retail Expert Shopped

As this undercover retail expert shopped this store, he didn’t get any help from the sales team as he tried on various designer shirts and jackets.

Upon finding something that looked just the way he wanted, he went to the cashier and paid. After he finished paying, the sales clerk said,”You know, you would look great with a black pair of pants with that jacket.”

Now this was after he had already made his purchase and was ready to leave.

Missed sales opportunity. He wasn’t going to go back to the floor and find the perfect pair of pants to go with the jacket!

This particular retailer is $3 billion in debt, and no one knows how long they’ll be around.

Sure, the store sold this person what they wanted. But floor sales team members should have been nearby assisting him through the process and asking questions to figure out if he was interested in adding more apparel to his wardrobe.

You might say,”Oh. We don’t want to be pushy.” You can still ask questions to gauge customer interest in additional purchases (or not). And if they’re not interested, simply say you’re available if they have any other concerns.

The point is to help the customer, not overcome objections so you get another sale.

Because, this gentleman did want to make another purchase. It’s just that he ended up doing it at another store!

When customers leave your store, they should feel genuinely cared for. Helping them find what looks good on them at a price they like is something they appreciate.

So, how can you show your customers you care for them and are more than happy to help in 2019?

After all, in-person service is something you can give which Amazon cannot.

Why You Can’t Do Without Avery Dennison Fastener Solutions

You know the value of specialists…Avery Dennison specializes in making fasteners for various retail applications.

In 1964, Avery Dennison transformed the retail industry with their Swiftach tag attaching system that replaced the attachment of tags using string and pins.

In more recent years, Avery Dennison has introduced a number of innovative automotive fasteners, and an Elastic Staple consumer goods packaging system.

Their drive netted them $7.5 billion in revenue last year and keeps them a member of the Fortune 500.

So yeah. They’re pretty good at what they do. Let’s take a closer look at what’s so great about this company:

1. Extensive Experience and a Global Distribution Network

The company’s R&D and Engineering teams have more than 90 years of combined experience ini plastic materials and mechanical design. They maintain an active inventory of more than 900 SKUs.

And the company’s global distribution (and service) network means you have the product and support you need – exactly when you need it.

2. Cable Ties

Yep. You know these. Fastener Solutions makes cable ties for a variety of applications which have up to 250 pounds of tensile strength.

The company created the Ladder Tie, Super Bar-Lok and Secur-A-Tie. They’ve gone as far as coating some of their cable ties with 2% carbon black, which protects them from the sun’s ultraviolet light so they don’t melt, weaken, and break.

They’ve manufactured their automotive cable ties to withstand temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to 239 degrees. That’s a far wider range than the typical cable tie. And it ensures they work in the most intense conditions.

3. Elastic Staple Systems

As you learned, this is one of the company’s recent innovations. The IndES Elastic Staple System, for example, secures consumer goods to flat card surfaces or multi-level card packaging designs.

You get a variety of solutions to your packaging problems and a quick ROI. Steps are taken out of the packaging process. You increase your uptime, reduce operator workload, and reduce material costs.

Avery Dennison does much more. You just experienced a small sampling of the difference they make for your company.

And we’re more than happy to recommend them when they make sense for you!