Blogs

Birchbox and Zappos: The New Type of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing isn't new; using celebrities to sell products is an age-old practice. However, a new type of influencer marketing — using regular customers as brand spokespeople — is on the rise. Highlighted in a National Retail Federation (NRF) article, “Customers Are the New Celebrities,” this trend of curating a group of select social media…

4 Ways to Responsibly Scale Your E-Commerce Brand

Choosing how and when to scale their e-commerce operations is an increasingly important, and difficult, decision for retailers. While more consumers are shopping online, not every retailer should be swept up in the excitement. In a classic Goldilocks scenario, some growth opportunities are too hot while some are too cold. Brands must understand their customer and…

How to Jump on 3 Current Trends Impacting Retail Success

For a while now, retailers have been betting big on bits and bytes as they invest in retail technology. Overall, retailer IT spend was estimated at $60 billion in 2013. Although e-commerce platform spending gets much of the press, it’s only a small portion, $1.2 billion, of the overall retail tech budget. So where's the…

Other Staff Bloggers
Customer Service

Influencer marketing isn't new; using celebrities to sell products is an age-old practice. However, a new type of influencer marketing — using regular customers as brand spokespeople — is on the rise. Highlighted in a National Retail Federation (NRF) article, “Customers Are the New Celebrities,” this trend of curating a group of select social media…

While Facebook's users are getting their first taste of the new "Reactions" emojis that recently rolled out, marketers are already working to better understand the impact they will have on their social media efforts. Facebook Reactions, in case you missed it, are a collection of six emoji that can be clicked on all posts and…

Six hundred billion dollars. That’s what advertisers are set to spend worldwide in 2015. Social media powerhouses Facebook and Twitter have rolled out new ways to target consumers through advertisements. But is the return on investment there for the companies that are fronting the bill? According to Gallup, 62 percent of consumers say that social…

Omnichannel Integration

For a while now, retailers have been betting big on bits and bytes as they invest in retail technology. Overall, retailer IT spend was estimated at $60 billion in 2013. Although e-commerce platform spending gets much of the press, it’s only a small portion, $1.2 billion, of the overall retail tech budget. So where's the…

The end goal of all retail companies is to hear the cha-ching of the cash register. But getting there is rarely an easy path. Retailers must make a series of decisions before the cash register rings, and one misstep along that decision path can cost them big. In fact, these missteps equate to $1.1 trillion…

PATIENT: “Doc, we've recently experienced a sales drop and I don't understand why. What's the best way to track down why it happened and how to fix it?” CATALOG DOCTOR: “You're doing right to quickly dig into causes behind the sales drop. The quicker you know why, the faster you can fix things. Here's a…

E-Commerce

Retailers today have to differentiate themselves with experiential products and services, since most can no longer win on price. This was the key message delivered by Ron Boire, CEO of Barnes & Noble (B&N), during a fireside chat with James Green, CEO of Magnetic, during a session at eTail West yesterday. During the chat, Boire…

Improving email execution processes, using personalization to create relevant content, leveraging marketing automation to reach revenue metics, and focusing on healthy and active list growth are four key email trends retailers should be focused on in 2016, at least according to the speakers featured in a Jan. 21 Total Retail webinar called “Marketers Talking to…

Brick-and-Mortar

One thing retailers can count on in January is innovation. Each year, retailers across the globe gather for Retail’s BIG Show hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF). This year’s event covered the usual topics, such as payment technologies and improving the customer experience, but also demonstrated that there’s a big shift affecting the retail…

One of the universal truths I see is a lack of understanding by many marketers, from newbie to experienced, of what their website is really for. I know, I know, marketers always say the right thing: It's about conversion. When I look at their website and ask them what their site conversion rate is, I hear them proudly state, "I convert 2 percent, look how good I'm doing!" (And of course some marketers don't even know what their site conversion rate is.)

It's official: J.C. Penney scrapped its every-day-low-price strategy for the rollercoaster world of markups and markdowns. Merchants, marketers and graphic artists waited with bated breath, hoping J.C. Penney could make this strategy work. Imagine the time it would save! Price changes and errors would be a thing of the past.

Mobile

What follows is a list of the Total Retail content in 2015 that generated the most reader comments. You’ll see that our readers are highly engaged when it comes to content on shipping rates — who isn’t when it has such an impact on your bottom line — social media marketing, payment options and cooperative…

If you’re a skeptic like me, all of the talk of beacons in retail stores sounds a little too pie-in-the-sky. Beacons, as you probably know by now, are devices that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones in the hopes of improving their in-store shopping experiences. When placed in-store, beacons use Bluetooth technology to detect nearby smartphones and send them ads, coupons or supplementary product information.

In an effort to make it simpler for consumers to simultaneously browse its print catalog and research and buy from their mobile devices, Sharper Image embedded a “Buy  Now” capability into its holiday preview catalog. The catalog is chock-full of electronic, recreation, fitness and travel products, and was sent to 4 million households and businesses on Nov. 4.

Catalog

There are plenty of Christmas catalogs in the mail this year — some great, some just OK, some forgettable. Here are my faves for 2015: The Folio Society "Christmas 2015 Collection" An impressive package in a large envelope with letter, three inserts and two catalogs (one just of children’s gift books). This high-end U.K. book…

PATIENT: “Doc, we do tests, but I don't feel that we learn much from them. What are we doing wrong? What should we change?” CATALOG DOCTOR: "Try building your tests differently to get clearer, more actionable results. Here are some tips for what to do, and what not to do.” Optimizing an Offer Test The goal:…

This is a guest post by Gordon Glazer, director of strategic partnerships and modal optimization strategies for Shipware, a parcel audit and consulting firm that helps volume parcel shippers reduce shipping costs. Gordon can be reached at gordon@shipware.com.  The USPS Board of Governors has proposed a major price increase for competitive (i.e., shipping) products to take…

Operations & Fulfillment

Effective Dec. 28, 2015, UPS Ground rates and accessorial charges will increase by an average net 4.9 percent. UPS Air and International services and accessorials, including UPS Air Freight rates within and between the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, will increase an average net 5.2 percent. UPS Freight rates will increase an average net of…

On the heels of a fuel surcharge adjustment just this past February, FedEx is once again adjusting its fuel surcharge index nine months later. Effective Nov. 2, 2015, fuel surcharges for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground will change resulting in Express/International increases of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent, and Ground increases of .5 percent to…

FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight, subsidiaries of FedEx Corp., will increase shipping rates effective Jan. 4, 2016 as follows: FedEx Express will increase shipping rates by an average of 4.9 percent for U.S. domestic, U.S. export and U.S. import services. FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will increase shipping rates by an average…

Merchandising

A highlight of my year is the annual Direct Tech (now SPI) User Conference. (SPI acquired Direct Tech earlier this year.) This event brings together SPI clients for three days to network with their peers, learn more about SPI software applications and services, and discuss best practices related to merchandise and inventory planning. This year’s…

One of the buzz phrases that's surfaced with merchandise and inventory planning systems over the last few years is “predictive analytics.” At its simplest, the term reflects the fact that data processing capabilities have advanced to the point where they don’t simply generate operational reports and ask the user to interpret information. They're now capable…

As many readers of this blog know, I've been working with Direct Tech, a 26-year-old provider of merchandise and inventory planning tools for direct-to-consumer retailers, for the last few years. Earlier this year, Direct Tech was acquired by Software Paradigms International (SPI), a 20-year-old provider of IT solutions to brick-and-mortar retailers. It’s exciting to be…

Management

Having spent last week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, I came away with three key takeaways: One, if you're an online retailer not selling internationally, particularly in Australia, what are you waiting for? You're missing out on a potential growth opportunity for your brand. Two, brick-and mortar retailers must develop a strategy to deal with "showrooming," — i.e., consumers using stores as showrooms to check out products, then buying those products online at a lower price (with free shipping, of course). Three, online marketplaces are proliferating — it's not just Amazon.com and eBay anymore — and becoming another viable channel for retailers to engage consumers and sell their products.

I like this question. I also like the related question, “If you had to reduce your marketing spend by $100K, where would you cut?”
To answer either of these questions it’s necessary to have a good understanding of the incremental return on investment (ROI) on each of your marketing activities. I’m always surprised how often that starts with “I think … ” It makes me worry and, as a consultant, probe deeper to see what’s really known vs. what’s just “felt.”
The sad reality is that most B-to-B direct marketers today aren’t working from hard facts in this area. They’re operating from

Plain and simple, Canada is booming. If your year-to-year sales to Canada aren’t up more than 100 percent, you’re missing out.
A couple of months ago, I discussed the meteoric rise of the Canadian dollar and the opportunities this presented for U.S. catalogers. Having just returned from a trip to Canada, I’m pleased to report the Canadian market is showing even more potential than I’d previously thought. The strength of the loonie, the Canadian dollar, is a matter of national pride these days. Everyone in Canada is talking about cross-border shopping and travel. I’ve never known the focus on “what you can buy for