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.

How You Can Prep Yourself for Big 4th Quarter Success Starting Right Now

Back-to-school shopping season has fallen upon us. For the next six weeks or so, you get to reap the rewards.

As hectic as your store might already be, somehow you have to prep yourself for the holiday sales rush too.

What should you think about? A few things:

1. Forecast Your Sales

You should be able to predict your 2018 holiday season sales with reasonable accuracy. Technological analytics tool make this possible.

If you’re having a hard time with that, it’s time to consider investing in those systems so you have them in place for future years.

Make sure you have your hottest sellers ready to go. And also compensate for shipping delays due to supplier stock issues or severe weather.

2. Get Your Team Ready

What’s one of the leading differentiators for physical stores?

Customer service.

That’s one place where you can beat Amazon. Without any physical stores available at their disposal, you can capitalize by offering a scintillating in-store service experience.

Employees should know your product and get your customers to what they want immediately. Give your employees the power to hand out on-the-spot discounts for hesitant customers. Offer your customers milk and cookies or hot cocoa (no joke).

Arm your staff with candy to give away to children. Ask parents for permission first. But if staff see a cranky child, they can come to the rescue with a little treat for a child who calms down.

Attract the top talent with above-market pay. Motivate them with performance incentives. And train them like you’re planning for the Super Bowl of retail (because you are).

3. Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate

If there’s one thing that works in every business during any market conditions, it’s differentiation. You’ve heard us talk about it on this blog before. So, strategize ways you can differentiate your store, brand, and experience from others.

Extend Cyber Monday an additional day to accommodate last-minute shoppers. Set up limited time offers on various products. Offer samples and in-store demos.

Go as far as using color to encourage spending. Blue and green relax and calm your customers, leading them to spend more. Psychological studies prove people also react faster and more forcefully when they see red.

The minutest details make a difference. So what haven’t you changed before that you could give a try this year?

These are all simply our ideas and suggestions. You have to try out new things and adapt as you believe will work best at your store.

Handi-Foil’s Award-Winning Products Make Them A Guaranteed Option

In business, can you name one thing that’s guaranteed?

Sure, you have a routine you go through every day. And sometimes, you can fall back on that and feel like your situation’s safe and secure.

But really, if you have any kind of experience, you know nothing’s guaranteed. Change is the only constant.

Well, Handi-Foil of America puts a wrinkle in that. If you want a vendor you can always count on to meet or exceed you and your customer’s expectations, it’s Handi-Foil.

Here’s why:

1. A Ridiculous Amount of Industry Credibility

Handi-Foil has won the Key Supplier Disposable Award. The American Institute of Baking gave HFA a “Superior” Certificate of Achievement. And the company’s won numerous other “Vendor of the Year” awards.

You might get a little skeptical of awards. After all, who knows if the company has friends on the selection committee?

However, when you win many different awards from various recognizable names in your industry, you know you’re doing something right in a big way.

2. Innovative Products Available

Every company says they have a focus on innovation. That’s standard corporate speak.

HFA has some cool innovations – so you can actually trust their capacity to think, progress, and lead their industry.

Example: their “Eco-Friendly Space-Saving Roll Foil” boxes. These have significantly cut warehousing, packaging, and shipping costs for customers.

Their Steam Table Pans are also 15% stronger than before and have a more attractive appearance. That makes them more useful – and good for serving. the Tru-Fit Steam Table Pan fits into the Full Steam Table Pan with minimal steam loss so your food stays hot and ready to serve, while also allowing you to serve more varieties.

And finally, the Eco-Foil product is made from 100% recycled aluminum, while also being 100% recyclable after use. So, you don’t create any waste!

Handi-Foil experienced tremendous growth in the past ten years. And with the awards they’ve won and the innovations you’ve seen, it’s easy to understand why.

So if you hear us recommend Handi-Foil when we believe their products make a good fit for you needs, you should absolutely jump with your arms straight up in the air, smile wide, and click your heels because you’re in great hands!

Pollock Paper sells the products you never think about

Lonnie Pollock III has friends that are doctors, lawyers and real estate big-wigs. You know, the typical professions that play well at parties.

So when he’s asked about what he does, people give him a funny look when he says, “I sell toilet paper.”

They usually give a small double take. But after all, somebody stocks those downtown office buildings with janitorial and office supplies.

From the Dallas Business Journal: https://www.bizjournals.com

Read More >>

Quick Analysis of Consumer Attitudes and Behavior for 2018

PwC Global just released its 2018 Consumer Insights Survey. To gather the data, the company surveyed 22,000 consumers in 27 territories.

Fortunately, there’s lots of good news to report. So let’s get right to the highlights:

1. Consumers Are Economically Optimistic

Consumers in general have great optimism about their local economies. As you know, that increases their willingness to spend. And that’s exactly what consumers plan to do.

Their desire to spend includes both online and at brick-and-mortar stores. And their optimism extends years into the future.

2. What Consumers Will Pay More For

Where does the opportunity lie? In the near future, much of it revolves around same-day shipping. Consumers will pay more to have you do this.

If there’s any way you can make this happen, even if only in select areas, you’re doing yourself a huge favor.

3. The Role of AI Devices

Alexa and Google Home are in the early stages of adoption yet. Men 18-34 use them most frequently.

These consumers will buy in bulk. 18% say they spend more now that they have an AI device. And 25% expect same-day delivery.

Brazil, China, and Southeast Asia have the greatest growth potential and most consumer interest in adding these devices to their home.

Should drone delivery become a reality, 40% of consumers say they’re willing to purchase and get a delivery by drone.

4. Consumer Habits

Believe it or not, the number of weekly brick-and-mortar shoppers increased from 40% in 2015 to 44% in 2018.

To understand what they want to purchase, consumers turn to social media first and foremost. 37% want to learn from social media influencers or their own friends, while just 34% turn to retail websites to learn what they like first.

Purchases by personal computer have fallen from 27% to 20% from 2010 – 2015. However, purchases from smartphones increased from 7% to 17% over the same time frame.

Just 14% of those surveyed expressed a willingness to purchase as a result of email.

Savvy retailers will put together these facts and create business and marketing systems that keep their revenues healthy – even as Amazon continues to lead the marketplace.

Why Hammermill Nails Your Paper Needs

Hammermill’s legacy in the paper industry stretches all the way back to 1899.

In its first decade of operations, the company grew to over 500 employees.

But why?

Well, partially due to its product quality. But Hammermill was also one of the most forward-thinking companies of its time.

They were the first to introduce profit sharing. They also offered paid vacations, sick time, and bonuses in a time when all were rare.

The company’s new patented watermarking process in that day ledto great efficiency in distribution.

While much has changed at Hammermill, its commitment to innovation and excellence has not. Even in 2000, before sustainability became the hot-button issue it is now, Hammermill was already planting several new trees for each one it cut down. They actually began a similar practice all the way back in 1960.

How’s that for thinking ahead?

And today, the digital era sets new standards and expectations for paper quality. Today’s business customer expects printshop quality right in their own office. And Hammermill delivers on that with paper designed specifically to create the best resolution on today’s printers.

The company also has even more sustainable options, like its Great White 100, which is paper made from 100% recycled post-consumer pulp.

Hammermill has also designed its paper to be 99.99% jam-free.

Paper for Nearly Every Purpose

Yes, the trend today is to make everything digital. But sometimes, you still need to use a little paper. And since Hammermill harvests paper in a sustainable way, you don’t have to worry about harming the earth.

Here are some of Hammermill’s products and the situations they’re specially designed for:

1. Tidal paper offers solid performance at a reasonable cost. It works best for internal purposes and general everyday use. Its ColorLok technology helps ink dry 3x faster so it doesn’t smudge. Black ink shows up 60% bolder, while color ink appears 30% more vivid.
2. The Colors product line helps you deliver the most impressive experience possible. So, this would be for customers or making an impact on decision-makers at your business. You can get it in 15 different colors and it comes with a smooth surface for maximum showthrough.

So if you need paper for any reason, don’t hesitate when you hear the name Hammermill. You’re guaranteed to be in good hands!

What Makes Fabri-Kal’s Packaging So Awesome

Yep, we’re happy to recommend Fabri-Kal packaging when it makes sense for your needs.

While not the biggest company in its industry, you have to remember that it’s not necessarily the size which matters: it’s their ability to create functional, lasting packaging that meets your precise specifications.

And that’s what the smaller companies frequently rock at. Marriott and Purdue University use Fabri-Kal products, so you know they have what it takes to make even the best of the best happy.

Yes, they have a focus on “world class customer service,” but every company says that. So what’s it really mean at Fabri-Kal?

Well, for starters, they use functionality testing and thermoforming simulations to predict the functionality of your packaging’s design before it’s even made. This is part of what they call the “FK Experience.”

Basically, their experts work jointly with you to help you arrive at a packaging solution that precisely meets your needs.

They rapidly develop a prototype of your packaging so you have a 3D concept to share with your team. And you can even get a short product run to test on your market and gather intelligence.

Plus, since they have a new 400,000 square-foot production facility, that means any volume you request can be quickly and easily made.

A History of Innovation Dating Back to 1950

Chobani, General Mills, and PepsiCo have all engaged Fabri-Kal for groundbreaking innovations in their respective industries.

But, while these happened recently, this really hasn’t been anything new for Fabri-Kal customers.

Fabri-Kal itself began as a 5,000 square foot operation in Kalamazoo, MI in 1950. Their first innovation was buying a machine to produce paint cups for the growing paint-by-number industry at the time.

By 1961, they created their second manufacturing plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. And they opened a third in Piedmont, South Carolina in 1981.

And today, some of their existing products already meet customer specifications, so customers (like Marriott) don’t even have the need to engage in a more costly customized product creation process.

In Marriott’s case, Fabri-Kal’s cup protected the hotel chain’s yogurt parfaits, and its Greenware line was already environmentally friendly. So, Marriott was simply able to order from existing product lines.

So whether you need a custom product, or one that already meets a specific purpose, Fabri-Kal meets your needs. And you should brim with excitement when you hear us recommend them to you.

How to Get More In-Store Customers in 2018

With all the large retailers either shutting down stores or going out of business entirely, you may feel tempted to think it’s hopeless to get in-store customers in 2018.

But your time is far from over. Just like any other change in the marketplace, you simply have to adapt so you survive and thrive.

Here’s some things you can do to make your in-store experience something even Amazon can’t compete with:

1. Offer USB Chargers

Neiman Marcus has installed USB charging stations across all its stores. And just like they do in airports, people congregate around them.

You’ll need a power bar, both Android and iPhone chargers, and extension cables.

Add a sign to make it obvious. And while you’re at it, consider offering free coffee too.

You could even take this whole concept to the max and create an entire lounge area in your store.

Add a TV, a couple couches, and some chairs.

Amazon simply can’t compete with this level of convenience.

2. Add Unique In-Store Events That Don’t Necessarily Require Shopping

PetSmart holds a free puppy play time, which is unstructured time for young dogs to get to know one another.

They don’t pressure customers into buying or signing up for classes.

But they do of course have all their products available. And customers do naturally ask about training classes, grooming, and other services for their dogs (and maybe even other pets too).

So, how can you translate the same concept to your own store?

3. Speaking of Classes…

Amazon theoretically could offer virtual classes for using its products. For example, if you buy tiles and grout, they could offer a series of videos that help you learn how to do tiling work in-home.

….But they don’t.

Home Depot does that in-store. Or, even if you own something like a small yarn shop, perhaps you hold classes showing your customers how to sew certain projects.

Again, simply translate the concept to your store and the type of product you sell.

4. Offer Discounts for In-Store Purchases Only

Well, this one makes your strategy quite clear. You could also create a customer loyalty program that offers bonus points and rewards.

And you could heighten the bonuses and discounts offered when your customer shares your offer with their friend and they purchase.

So yes, just because you own a store, or even a chain of stores, that doesn’t mean you have to give up and hand Amazon your business.

There’s many niches even Amazon can’t compete with. You simply have to be creative and willing to try new things.

Retail Apocalypse Continues – But Why?

Business Insider notes more than 3,800 retail stores will close this year. Fox Business adds that this is happening among 22 leading retailers.

And I’m sure you’ve heard about Toys R Us closing all its stores. Even the biggest of dogs, like Walgreens and Walmart are shutting down considerable numbers of stores.

At first, this sounds frightening. If giants fall, doesn’t it seem like anyone could be taken down by Amazon?

But one article at Forbes claims this problem could have been avoided.

Why?

Because retailers haven’t adapted to meet consumer needs.

Large retail stores were born out of the necessity that consumers had a lack of access. With no other options, the market worked such that consumers had to go to large retail stores to find exactly what they wanted.

…And that means prices and margins remained high too.

But, The Market’s Changed

Today, Millennials and Generation Z want locally sourced products, made by workers treated ethically everywhere in the supply chain, which are also environmentally friendly, and provide a unique experience.

Yes, that’s harder to do.

But retailers can do it (as shown by Amazon).

The main problem, the article argues, is that traditional retailers have a completely opposite culture from technology companies. Amazon does not think of itself as a retailer, but as a tech company who happens to be in retail.

Tech companies, for example, buildbig and fast and learn as they go. They’re unafraid to make mistakes and quickly adapt to market demand and changes.

Traditional retailers, however, want to avoid mistakes. They can’t adapt to market changes fast. And they want to rely on their traditional approach that they know what works best.

We’re not saying either approach is better.

…But are you starting to understand why even large retailers find themselves struggling versus Amazon?

If you can’t rapidly react to market changes, while another company is built to do just that, there’s a massive competitive advantage you can’t beat.

So, What Do You Do?

Walmart bought a weapon: Jet.com. They believe that by creating an emotional connection online (discovered through extensive testing), and by targeting a market segment that does not typically buy from Walmart (urban Millennials), they can somehow compete with Amazon.

You may not be able to create a multi-billion dollar operation like Jet.com. But, you can certainly work on integrating your online and offline shopping experiences to meet the needs of new market segments.

Companies who take risks will adapt and thrive. And hopefully you can find ways to do so going forward.

How to Negotiate the Best Deals with Your Suppliers

In business, everything’s negotiable.

If you don’t have a deal in place right now, then you simply haven’t discovered the best solution for both parties.

When was the last time you revisited your existing purchasing practices with your wholesale suppliers?

If it’s been a while, here’s some items to consider to help you negotiate a better working relationship with your supplier:

1. Your Leverage is Your Purchasing Volume

How many units can you realistically sell over a given time period? Have you identified new ways to increase your own sales? How can you use those projections to negotiate better deals with your suppliers?

The point isn’t to trap and coerce a better deal out of your partner. You want to have something you can give them. And understanding your own sales data and forecasts is the starting point for all negotiations.

2. Look for Alternative Solutions If Prices Aren’t Negotiable

Always focus on extending terms, which improves your cash flow. Or, see if you can get faster shipping.

Maybe you can negotiate better return terms. Or maybe you can get a discount if you pay your invoice early.

Creative, original thinking, that’s fair and a win-win for both parties leads to successful deals.

3. Have Multiple Suppliers in Place

If you want to play hardball, you can talk to several suppliers at once. Just make sure that whatever offer you get from each, you get it in writing so you can show it to other suppliers.

Then, let the negotiating fun begin.

4. Make Yourself The Ideal Long-Term Customer (And Mean It)

Always be nice and friendly. Have a willingness to compromise. Because, you need your supplier just as much as they need you.

And if you become too emotionally taxing to justify the effort of working with you, your supplier might simply choose to stop doing business with you.

So think of what you like about your favorite customers, and always exemplify those characteristics to the best of your ability.

5. Add More Value to Your Supplier

You are your supplier’s gateway to new markets and more sales. What access do you have that they already don’t?

You can also work to reduce your supplier’s risks by signing a multiyear contract and agreeing to a purchase volume that works for you.

Negotiations can add quite a bit of profit to your margins and net profit. And if you’re a creative, open-minded thinker, you can make your bottom line much healthier.

North Texas Food Bank Names The Pollock Campus

July 6, 2018, Dallas, Texas

On Saturday, June 30, 2018, the North Texas Food Bank unveiled the new name of their Cockrell Hill location in Dallas, Texas, as “The Pollock Campus”. This location is being repurposed as a HUB for smaller non-profit organizations to give to hungry families in the North Texas area.

Pollock has been a proud supporter of the North Texas Food Bank for 3 years and is also a sponsor of Empty Bowls, Taste of the Cowboys and Harvest. Pollock holds a service day once a year at the food bank where associates donate volunteer time to help sort and pack food boxes. This year, Pollock associates packed 7 pallets, which equates to 8,400 pounds and 7,000 meals for the community. “We are dedicated to giving back to the communities that we operate in. Through PollockCares, we strive to make a significant impact on the lives of people in need,” explains Lonnie Pollock, III, Chief Executive Officer at Pollock.

In honor of Pollock’s 100th year in business, Pollock and the Pollock Foundation made a $600,000 donation to the North Texas Food Bank’s Stop Hunger, Build Hope capital campaign. Other various fundraisers were held at the Pollock DFW branch throughout the year by its associates, and together they raised over $10,000 for the food bank.

      

The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is a top-ranked nonprofit relief organization, providing access to more than 190,000 meals each day for hungry children, seniors and families across a 13-county service area. The need for hunger relief in North Texas is huge; to combat increasing food insecurity, the Food Bank recently launched a 10-year plan to provide access to 92 million nutritious meals annually by 2025. NTFB is a member of Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization.

3 Ways Carefully Tracking Your Cleaning Supply Inventory Saves You Time and Money

A recent survey by Facility Cleaning Decision found the average respondent bought $250,000 in cleaning supplies each year…to clean approximately 1.2 million square feet.

In any business, the larger your numbers get, the more mistakes you make. At least, until you take the time to analyze and optimize your processes for efficiency, anyway.

It’s easy to get complacent with the way you do things. And after all, it takes a fair amount of time to inventory your product.

However, keeping an organized and efficiently-managed inventory on hand leads to benefits like these:

1. Happier Customers

How do you keep your customers (whether internal or external) happier than they could ever be with the competition?

You know what the competition does. And then you top it.

…But you can only do that by keeping close tabs on your inventory.

Do you have the top-performing products that deliver the results your customers want? Do you always have the supplies you need in stock so you can do the work your customers want in the time frame promised?

Do you spend within your budget when purchasing supplies so you don’t have to cut corners elsewhere?

2. Reduce Inventory Costs

Let’s say you’re around that quarter-million dollar budget with your cleaning supply inventory.

Do you buy in bulk so you can negotiate reduced prices? Do you know what you already have in inventory so you don’t buy product that sits around for a year or longer?

Will you find inventory you completely forget about…only to never use it?

3. You Can Catch Inventory Management Inefficiencies Faster

Let’s say you use software to track your cleaning supply inventory. Say you use a high-priced cleaning solution to maintain a large floor that must be kept in top shape year-round.

You analyze your inventory data. And you find that you must reorder this expensive cleaning solution twice as often as you thought.

Typically, you might shrug your shoulders and assume that’s just the way it is because the floor is so large.

But thanks to your software, you can see that one particular employee keeps using a lot of this cleaning solution.

So you talk to them about how they’re doing the work. And, you find out they use a lot more of that solution than necessary because they didn’t understand how to properly mix it.

As a result, you save thousands of dollars a year by simply helping your employee understand the correct way to mix the solution, rather than just letting the problem persist.

As you can see, if you run a significant budget of cleaning products, it makes good sense to track your inventory carefully. The challenge simply lies in creating a system that works for you.