Fulfillment labor costs have increased 10 percent to 15 percent over the past five years, even greater for many companies. List prices for small parcel shipments have increased 3 percent to 5 percent per year every year for the past 12 years. How you think about the cost of fulfillment and its effect on your merchandise assortment that may need to change? If products don't make money when fully loaded with costs, shouldn’t you take a serious look at your merchandising assortment and strategy?

During a session at the Sept. 16-18 NEMOA Fall Conference in Mashantucket, Conn., a panel of marketers offered up more than 60 rapid-fire pointers and questions on how to survive in “a risky economy.” The panelists included Jean Giesmann, executive creative director for Stony Creek Brands; Chris Bradley, president of Cuddledown of Maine; Sharon Dunn, president of Duncraft; and Glenda Lehman Ervin, vice president of marketing for Lehman’s.

Social media has been broadly embraced by the public for several reasons. But two stand out in my mind, as I relayed to attendees of the NEMOA Conference in Mashantucket, Conn., Sept. 16-18, during my session, "Social Media Marketing — Separating Hype from Reality."

Stan Krangel, president of the MKC Catalog/Internet division of Blyth Inc., which also operates the Exposures, Boca Java, The Home Marketplace, Walter Drake and As We Change catalogs, outlined several ways to roll with the punches this year and next in a session during the Sept. 16-18 NEMOA Fall Conference in Mashantucket, Conn. As proof, he injected how he’s modernized things at Miles Kimball over the past couple of years.

By and large, attendees at industry conferences throughout at least the first half of this year had something of a bewildered look. Kind of a “What the hell am I supposed to do now?” sort of thing going on. Then again, so too did just about anyone in this country amid the brutal recession. But perhaps the Fall NEMOA Conference, held last week at the gaudy Foxwoods Casino complex in Mashantucket, Conn., showed signs of a new, more encouraged, more aggressive attitude among attendees and speakers.

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