Retail Marketing, Uncategorized

Reinvigorating Retail through Pop Up Stores

Pop up stores are here and they may be reinvigorating retail throughout the United States.

As a teenager in the 1980s, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the local shopping mall. Roosevelt Field Mall became my home away from home. My sister worked at Macy’s. She would drive to work, drop me off to roam the mall, then I’d meet her several hours later for the drive home.

Pop up stores back then were kiosks. Small, self-contained kiosks in the central aisle of the mall’s corridors. Some sold only items during peak gift-giving seasons: I remember the bonsai tree concession, another that sold crystal pendants during the pendant-wearing craze of the late 1980s. Another etched personalized messages, monograms and the like on silver picture frames, mugs, etc.

Each of these tiny stores focused exclusively on a single them. They differ from today’s pop up stores the way your grandfather’s Chevy differs from the Volt parked in your garage and recharging from the household current.

Linda Niehm, professor of Apparel Events, and Hospitality at Iowa State University stated in a recent press release, “What we’re seeing is in part of a natural evolution of the retail cycle, and old formats are replaced with something more relevant.”

Retail is a dynamic industry. It is constantly evolving and changing. Stores evolved from single-category shops (the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker) to the grocery store and supermarket (with butcher and bakery counters along with thousands of other products) and the department store (which sold everything including candles in one convenient space.) The internet added pricing competition along with an intense focus on fresh new goods; if I can get a pair of jeans from Amazon at a lower price, why should I bother driving to the Gap in the mall to buy a pair?

Enter the pop-up store. These stores take over small retail spaces for short amounts of time – weeks, perhaps – with a themed experience. Vacant stores or unusual structures such as disused cargo containers are transformed into a retail space.

Niehm and colleague Ann Marie Fiore conducted a study in 2010 that indicated that retail consumers like novelty in their shopping experiences. The same old stores in the mall bore consumers; the novel experience of discovering a new brand, product category, or style in a pop-up store may invigorate the shopping experience and draw customers away from their computers to shop on the internet and back to physical retail spaces. Millennials especially are interested in brands that resonate with their values. They eschew large, traditional stores.

Brands are experimenting with pop-ups in unique ways. Bonobos khakis opened pop-up stores in the lobby of an office building and netted $250,000.

Technology offers another way for pop-ups to succeed. Although the small space prohibits stocking multiple colors or sizes, with the touch of a tablet, shopkeepers can order items from their online store to be sent to the consumer. No hassle, no additional steps for the customers, and an easy in-person shopping experience that lets them see and touch the items in person.

Are pop-ups right for you? They may be a passing fad, but anything that can reinvigorate retail offers additional methods for small business owners to sell more. It may be the right time for you to explore pop-ups for your retail business.

Customer relationships, Uncategorized

Why Customer Service Matters

We’ve all experienced awful service. We’ve all experienced good service.

As business people, we all know – or should know- the value of excellent customer service.

How valuable is good customer service? If you improve service by just 5%, according to Bain & Company, profits can increase 25 to 90%.

So with just a little effort, training, and better hiring practices, you may be able to increase profits. Who wouldn’t want that?

In this article written for Medium, I share not just the facts about why good customer service matters, but how to achieve it without spending a fortunate on fancy loyalty programs, punch cards, free gift with purchase items and so on.

Enacting a strong customer service policy isn’t expensive, but it’s not easy. It takes thought, effort, and consistency. When it’s done well, however, it can reduce customer attrition (churn) and boost profits.

Again, I ask: Who wouldn’t want that?

Read the full article here: The Customer Pays Your Salary – Why Excellent Customer Service Is Vital for Client Retention

Customer relationships, Uncategorized

Customers Are Won, Not Managed

Far too often I hear company executive talk about “managing their customers.” Customers are people who pay your salary, not widgets to be managed.

You can manage expectations, but managing people for profitability is just…wrong.

Let’s talk instead about building trust, value, and long term relationships for enduring loyalty. And yes, profits. Profits come after building trust and value.

Today I’ve published a new piece on Medium talking about how CRM is often used to mean software instead of the relationship itself. You may read the article here: Don’t Manage Customer Relationships. Build Them. 

 

Author Interviews, Uncategorized

Seven Oaks Consulting Featured in Fundera

There’s greater interest now than ever before in rural small businesses. Journalist Priyanka Prakash interviews me for this piece on rural small business in the online publication, Fundera.

Rural Small Businesses Earn Better Profits and More Financing

Among business owners, rural areas get a bad rap. But I’ve found that conducting business in a rural area – thanks to the internet – offers many advantages.

Read the article for the full story. Thank you again to Ms. Prakash for the opportunity.

Uncategorized

Grow Your Email List Fast

email marketing

Email remains one of the most popular ways of reaching customers. Constant Contact, the email marketing company, states that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you earn $38. The right list, strong copy, and a compelling call to action get results.

I’ve written a new article for ADP THRIVE on how to grow your email list quickly. It includes my tips for growing a strong, responsive email list. You can read the article here: How to Grow Your Email List.

Uncategorized

Five Reasons Why Your Business Needs Bloggers

Do you have a business blog? If not, why not? According to HubSpot, business who run a blog receive 67 percent more leads than those who do not.  I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to get 67 percent more leads than my competitors.

Heather over at the Virginia Bloggers Club (of which I’m a member) has written a great post, The Five Reasons Why Your Business Needs Bloggers. A good blog can generate leads, improve your search engine rank, and drive more leads, traffics and visits to your website at a minimal cost.