Posted on 18 Jun 2013 In: Retail News

Is Lululemon Going Sour?

There’s a lot of new activity going on at Lululemon Athletica, the Vancouver-based chain of yoga apparel.   Remember the recent brouhaha over their see-through yoga pants?  They had to be recalled, costing the company an estimated $67 million in sales.  The industry is buzzing now with talk about Lululemon opening up men’s stores.   And now word of the CEO resigning.

But we’re curious — what do you think of this?

According to reports, the company posted this help wanted notice on their homepage.   When visitors clicked on the sign, they received a fun and pun-filled job description and a chance to upload resumes via LinkedIn.  According to CNNMoney, Lululemon received, as of June 16, 160 applications.  But here’s the kicker:  this classified was a gag.   A self-effacing joke on the CEO resignation.

Yet, you know what’s not so funny?  Shares of Lululemon are down by nearly 19% since Christine Day announced she was stepping down as CEO on Monday.

So, is all of this publicity good for the retailer or bad? What do you think about the turmoil going on…?

Posted on 7 Jun 2013 In: General

NRF Launches Retail Jobs Platform

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has just announced an innovative and  fundamental piece of their This Is Retail campaign:  a job board platform for retailers.

“Whether you’re looking for talent or job opportunities, Retail Jobs powered by NRF is an industry-wide recruitment tool that will connect retailers with the professional talent to get the job done in any area of retail,” announced  Matthew Shay, President and CEO of National Retail Federation.

The platform is for job seekers and employers searching for help.   You can also sign up for daily updates on employment opportunities.

Let us know if you utilize it!

Posted on 21 May 2013 In: General

Wake Up and Smell the Roses

Could “flower smeller” be a job?   Anything can happen.

Case in point:  Sleepy’s, the Hicksville, New York-based mattress company with locations throughout the northeast. They placed a help wanted ad recently for, get this:  a snooze director.

Interested?   Qualifications include at least 18 years of sleeping experience.  Potential applicants should log onto Snoozedirector.com for application details.  Among those: a  demonstration of  your “slumber skills” in a video or traditional resume.

“And yes, you really would be able to call it the job of your dreams.  Besides testing mattresses and demonstrating sleep positions, you would be called on to research trends, do vlogging and live blogging and support social media efforts — further showing those relatives that all your tweeting and Facebook-ing really did lead to something,” read a Newsday article about the position.

Which leads us to commending Sleepy’s for coming up with the title, the position, and the ensuing publicity in local media.  Because that’s really what this job is all about — it’s a fun title and it gets people talking about mattresses.    As an independent retailer, take a look around your store and find a common denominator.  Maybe you can also come up with unique job titles for your staff, or better yet, hold a Facebook contest asking customers for ideas.   The winner gets a prize — a shopping spree at your store, perhaps or special discounts. Just remember to publicize all of it in your local newspapers!

Posted on 14 May 2013 In: General

It’s a Bricks and Clicks World for Retailers

We are living in an omni-channel “bricks and clicks” retail world.

What does this mean?  According to this Time article, consumers are looking for bargains and to make purchases everywhere — online and in-store.

“Even so, while retailers aren’t going to turn away online sales, it’s clear that they prefer shoppers to be walking among the aisles of tempting merchandise inside physical stores. Why? It’s assumed that consumers who make the effort to visit real-life stores are more serious about their intent to spend. The online experience is perfectly suited for quick, easy browsing. But all too often, the browsing doesn’t translate into actual purchases—hence the better-than-average chance of so-called “shopping cart abandonment.”  There are plenty of looky-loos in real-world stores as well, but the need for immediate gratification, and the way that holding an item, seeing it in person, or trying it on can push a shopper over the edge with desire, means that the in-store shopper is generally quicker to pull the trigger on purchases than his online counterpart.”

And major retailers such as Target,  Gap and Banana Republic are luring on-line shoppers into their retail stores by offering on-site only specials and discounts.  For the independent retailer, this is an opportunity to mimic what the big guys are doing.   So use your online presence to offer a special incentive for your customers — but remember, the offer should only be valid (redeemable) in-store.   And then let us know how it fared.   We love hearing about your success stories!

Posted on 3 May 2013 In: General

Independent Retailer Conference

Are you attending?  Straight from the source:

Retail Minded, the nation’s only retail lifestyle publication that supports retailers both in and out of their stores, and Nolcha Events are pleased to announce the second annual Independent Retailer Conference hosted by Retail Council of New York State, which will take place May 20, 2013 in New York City.

The Independent Retailer Conference is dedicated entirely to the unique lifestyle and responsibilities of indie store owners. This one day, action packed event offers retailers and community leaders the chance to engage, learn and connect with retail experts, industry leaders, service providers and like-minded entrepreneurs. Attendees can expect an interactive experience that leaves them better educated and more inspired – with takeaway tools to bring back to their stores.

This year’s event features a dynamic line up of expert speakers, including keynotes Ron Cates, an international social media and email marketing expert from Constant Contact, as well as the Founder of Retail Mavens, Cathy Wagner, who will discuss how retailers can be more profitable in their own unique businesses. With each of their presentations geared uniquely for independent retailers, they will deliver practical, useful and impactful education to attendees. Additionally, there is a PR Panel and an APP Panel scheduled that will further help support indie merchants. Among panelists include the Founder & CEO of Shop Keep POS, Jason Richelson, who is also a former shop owner, and Inna Lamis Shapin, a PR expert who works with clients nationwide. The conference is pleased to include Carissa Reiniger, Creator of Thank You Small Business & Founder and CEO of Silver Lining Limited.

The Independent Retailer Conference will take place at the Scholastic Auditorium in New York City. Get your $49.95 ticket (saving $30) with the code NOLCHARETAIL by clicking here.

Posted on 23 Apr 2013 In: Seasonal

It’s Go to Work in Pajamas [Mother's] Day!

Would you wear pajamas to work?   Didn’t think so.   But it’s one way to go  if you wanted to get some attention.   And that’s exactly what 1-800-Flowers.com franchise, Three Chicks Florist & Gifts, based in Lake Hopatcong, NJ got when the owners dressed down in pajamas one Mother’s Day.  But they didn’t stop at Mother’s Day. Their retail calendar is full of surprising touches that customers look forward to.

“During prom season we wear tiaras because we were never prom queens…,” says owner Judy Castiglione.

Some might think these sort of things are hokey or corny but that’s beside the point.  The fact is, people seem to really enjoy old-fashioned, simple fun.  It makes them feel comfortable, warm and cozy.   And that’s what draws them into certain retail stores again and again.
For more on what you can do to promote your shop, take a look at the latest issue of The Art of Retail Marketing.   And do let us know what you’re up to, in your place of business.  We love creative, energizing ideas!


Posted on 15 Apr 2013 In: General

Twitter Tutorial

We previously blogged about the importance of having a strong social media marketing plan to advance your retail business.   But now that you have a Twitter account, and have followers, let’s address how to utilize this free vehicle to your best advantage.

For starters, as this article perfectly points out, are you concentrating on obtaining as many followers as you can get, or are you focusing your efforts on getting the right kind of followers?  The right kind of followers are potential customers, people in your area who are your target demographic, people interested in what you have to sell.    It does you no good to have a million followers if they are not into what you have to offer in your store.

Next, are you engaging with those followers?   Twitter is all about direct and quick communication, so if you are not responding to your followers, or if you are not tweeting with them, your efforts are likely going to waste.

According to the article, “It may not always be possible to create long blog posts with valuable content and tweet them on a daily basis. In such cases, tweeting daily tips or fun facts is a great idea, as such tweets generally get a lot of engagement. Also, these posts are bite-sized and easy to read, which is always a good thing on Twitter.You can also include behind-the-scenes images or ask interesting questions to followers.”

In addition, don’t hesitate to tweet about any flash sales you might be having, about any special event going on that day in your store — even if it sounds trite to you.   For instance, let’s say you receive a new shipment of spring inventory.  Take a few quick pictures and tweet them.  Give your followers a tease!   Then let them know when these new items will be on display.   The key is to tweet interesting or fun posts, and to do if frequently.

Start today.  Do a test run — offer something special to your Twitter followers and watch what happens.  If it’s nothing — you know you are not engaging with the right followers or with the right tweets.   And then alter your posts accordingly.

Posted on 5 Apr 2013 In: Seasonal

Give (Peace) and Charity a Chance

We know what you’re thinking – we’re just getting out of winter and starting to see the first most-welcome signs of spring.  Yet, it’s not too early to start thinking about the winter holiday season.   Because this year, we’d like you to consider adding a charity component to your Christmas and other holiday promotions.

Not only is charitable giving an overall kind and generous thing to do, but according to this article in Smart Money:  “Repeated studies have shown that consumers gravitate toward purchases that include some kind of charitable contribution, says Ken Berger, chief executive of Charity Navigator, a site that evaluates nonprofits’ finances.”

Added Jack Vonder Heide, president of the market research firm Technology Briefing Centers, “The charity angle is a good way to do it because individuals want to give, but economic times of late have precluded them from giving as much as they’d like. This lets them both get the deal and give back.”

So start researching your local charities – is there a food pantry that desperately needs donations?  How about a homeless shelter or a non-profit cancer center?  Find one that touches you personally, or one that’s a good match for your retail store.  And then come up with a plan, whether that’s collecting products (used clothing, canned food, school supplies) or offering customers a chance to donate proceeds from a specific sale.  Then start building your marketing efforts on behalf of the effort.  By taking your time now to plan out this venture, you won’t have to worry about it later, as you get busy with the usual logistics of the holiday season.

Posted on 22 Mar 2013 In: General

A Flashy Way to Bring in Customers

Have you ever done a flash sale at your place of business?  Highly popular among e-commerce sites, according to comScore, Inc, flash sales have grown into a $2 billion dollar business.  Visits to the top five flash sales websites nearly doubled in 2012.  But flash sales aren’t exclusive to the Internet.   Retailers also host them — and if conducted smartly,  a flash sale will not only create a huge level of excitement for your store, but the results can be quite rewarding.

Maria Haggerty, president of Dotcom Distribution, a provider of fulfillment and logistics solutions, says in this Independent Retailer article that if you’re thinking of running a store-based flash sale, prepare well in advance and take this into consideration:

1) Do you have the inventory depth to run the sale? More than 45 percent of flash sale offers sell out faster than anticipated. This means retailers are driving customers to their stores only for them to find that the sale item is out-of-stock. A retailer’s logistics provider or department should have the ability to see and track inventory in real-time.

2) Did you select the right products to sell? Roughly 57 percent of flash sale buyers are women. Do you know who is frequenting your store for these deals? Tapping into similar insights can help retailers select the right product mix for their flash sale demographic.

Posted on 15 Mar 2013 In: General

Are you Socializing?

We don’t necessarily agree with this Jump Start Your Social Media Strategy article in Independent Retailer, which suggests that the best strategy is to focus on one social media platform to promote your store.   By wisely utilizing a number of platforms, your business can skyrocket.

Take Facebook, for example.

Do you know what your competition is doing on Facebook?  You absolutely should.   By “liking” your competing retailer’s business page, you are privy to an incredible amount of vital information:

How many customers or community members are fans of the business?

Do they interact with the owner?

What sort of posts do they respond to?

Do they enter contests and giveaways?

Do they respond to posted images?    How so?

Because neighboring retailers can work together to cross promote their stores by creating unique, on-site events on a regular basis, LinkedIn is a great way to network with other businesses in your community.

And of course, Twitter offers immediate, real-time opportunities to communicate quickly and efficiently with customers.  Having a flash sale?  Setting up a one-day in-store event?   Is a special community leader stopping by your store?  Announce it all on Twitter and see the word spread like wildfire.

What social media platforms are you using?  Can you give us all some tips that work for you?  Please comment.

Featured Retailer

Milk & Honey,
Rockville Centre, NY
& Huntington, NY

It's all about parties at Milk & Honey, a unique clothing and accessories retailer with two Long Island, NY locations -- Rockville Centre, which opened in 2008 and Huntington, in 2010. And why not? Pairing special sales and discounts with a festive night out for customers is a pretty smart way to develop long-term relationships. But this retailer, which caters to women of all ages, doesn't just rely on in-store events to forward their business. They maximize social media to stay in constant contact with customers...


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