Tech Corner

Catch ’Em All!

Catch ’Em All!

It's been a few weeks since the Pokémon Go phenomenon began making headlines and motivating people to venture outside to “catch 'em all.” Over the past 20 years, the Pokémon franchise has taken many forms—trading cards, TV shows, video games, and now augmented reality. However, this most recent iteration of the game has been nothing short of revolutionary not only for the gaming world, but for other industries as well.

Protect Your Customers' Data

Protect Your Customers' Data

Credit cards: What would today’s retailer do without them? If you’re like most merchants, you’ve found the ubiquitous plastic card has become the default transaction tool for purchases large and small.

There’s hidden danger, though, in being too cavalier about how your staff handles card transactions. Last year’s data breach at Target—affecting some 70 million to 110 million people—drives home the need for every retailer to be vigilant in protecting customer data.

The Digital Zone

Imagine, if you will, a large digital display in your window that passing shoppers use to browse and buy your products with a wave of their hand … even when your store is closed! How about mirrors that dispense fashion advice, holographic store greeters, and interactive displays that provide product information as soon as the customer picks it up off the shelf? This is the future of retail, and it’s not as far off as you might think. Stores in major metropolitan cities around the world already are implementing these ideas.

5 Trends to Watch in 2014

With tech improvements and innovations making headlines practically every day, trends have become nearly synonymous with technology. While we definitely are keeping our eyes focused on tech trends, a closer look reveals the trends we’re watching are really about improving the customer experience in some way, from making social connections with our customers to enhancing the way they shop to being the source of products that keep them grounded in a wired world.

How to Upload and Edit Videos on YouTube

In our four-part video series, we’ll show you step by step how to upload and edit videos in YouTube.

For tips on creating share-worthy videos, check out our article, "Share-worthy," on p. 68 of the October/November 2013 issue of Retailing Insight.

Part 1: How to upload your video

Share-Worthy

Share-Worthy

Step aside facebook and Twitter. YouTube has become the new social media darling, and for good reason. The statistics swirling around YouTube are pretty impressive. More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube every month, and according to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18 to 34 than any cable TV network. People watch YouTube on the go, too: Views from mobile devices account for 25 percent of YouTube traffic.

Strike Back Against Cyber Attacks

Strike Back Against Cyber Attacks

Few of us leave our homes unlocked while we sleep or our cars unlocked while we shop. The reason? While most people are trustworthy, criminals are opportunists, and an unlocked door gives them access to our valuable investments. So, why should the Internet be different?

Spamalot

“Spam-spam-spam-spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam! Spam, spa-a-a-a-a-am!”
—Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Ubiquitous spam. It’s become an expected cost of online communication. No, I’m not talking about canned meat but, rather, the unwanted junk email which, thanks to sophisticated spam filtering, we seldom pay attention to nowadays. And, athough the term “spam” wasn’t used to describe junk email until the early 90s, spam has been around since the Internet’s formative years—the first spam email was reportedly sent in 1978!

Website DIY

Clap your hands and jump for joy! No longer do you have to pay a web-design firm thousands of dollars to get a professional-looking website. If you can browse the Internet and upload photos from your computer, you have all the skills needed to build your website. And, with the multitude of easy-to-use website-building services now available, you can build an attractive, mobile-friendly website for your store in less than an hour.

5 Ways to Rock Pinterest!

Pinterest isn’t just for foodies and DIY crafters anymore. With 25 million “pinners” and growing, it’s the third most popular social network, and more and more businesses are tapping into its marketing potential. According to a 2012 Shopify study, Pinterest-referred shoppers spend 70 percent more money than visitors referred from non-social channels! Even if you don’t have an e-commerce site, a Pinterest presence can still help you connect with potential—and existing—customers. Below are a few tips to pique your “Pinterest” in this popular site.

Geekonomics

The age of the geek has arrived! And it includes everyone with a smart phone in their pockets—and everyone trying to connect with them! Today you can't walk a block without passing people checking their email, updating their status, sending and receiving photos and videos, and browsing the web. With so many of us carrying around a personal computer in the palm of our hands, now is the time to maximize mobile marketing for your store.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: We launched our online store about five months ago and orders have been coming in. The sales are up and down. It seems like we get a few orders a day for a week or so and then it slows way down. I would appreciate your feedback on how to even out the sales, but my biggest problem is order errors.

ShopTalk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: We are in need of a new high-speed copier for event flyers and are looking at leasing or purchasing one. Can you tell me which is better?

Trending Now

Trending Now

With all the buzz about social marketing, many retailers are so busy tweeting and asking for Facebook “likes,” they’ve forgotten the true jewel in the lotus: their customer email list.

It’s true; the younger generation considers email to be hopelessly slow—about as modern as a telegraph. But if your customers are ages 30 and older, email remains a fantastic way to reach them.

That means creating a powerful e-newsletter campaign that establishes you as the brand leader—and allows you to build stronger, deeper relationships with your customers.

Something to Talk About

Something to Talk About

People are talking about your business. Do you know what they're saying?

The answer can spell the difference between success and failure. Positive reviews on internet message boards help boost revenues and fatten your bottom line. Negative reviews can spike your best business plans.

“People are increasingly putting reviews online as the internet becomes more social,” says Daniel Burrus, a business consultant based in Hartland, Wis. (www.burrus.com). “All of the reviews are in the cloud and available for anyone to read.”

Trending Now

Trending Now

Standing at the counter while her transaction rings through, your customer works her smartphone like a video poker game.

“Flash sale two blocks down!” she squeals to her friend, and instantly, they’re both huddled over the palm-sized screen, oblivious to everything else around them. Even though they’re in the midst of your store, nothing matters except this tiny box of light held between them, emitting a new kind of information.

Analyze This

Analyze This

Do you count the customers who come into your store? Do you watch how they walk the aisles and pick their merchandise? Do you know what days of the week are most popular and what people purchase on those days?

If you answer “yes” to those questions, you have an important clue to the puzzle of making your website as profitable as your brick-and-mortar operation.

Fast Forward

Five years ago, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs stood before a convention audience in San Francisco and revealed the very first iPhone. Fast forward to today: Jobs is no longer with us, but his legacy lives on in the fifth generation of his company’s ground-breaking invention, the iPhone 4S. And rumor has it, the iPhone 5 isn’t too far away.

Fairwashing

Fairwashing

The terms “sustainable” and “fair trade” have become buzzwords at trade shows and in catalogs. From jewelry and apparel to home décor, many manufacturers and importers now offer retailers a dizzying array of choices, all presented as being true to the spirit of this emerging, socially conscious movement. Some hope to entice you with promises of environmentally responsible manufacturing and worker-friendly practices—but when you scratch the surface, a different picture emerges. After all, who exactly would come out and tell you their products are made using child labor or toxic ingredients?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: What do you think about plastic gift cards? Are they worth the investment?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: In a recent Shop Talk, you answered a question about a requirement in the new health care law that gave store owners the obligation of creating 1099s for vendors and reporting this information to the IRS at year end. I have read that the bill was overturned, so now I’m a bit confused. Do we have to do this or not?

Good Business

Good Business

You can see them coming from across the street with their clipboards and brochures—another merchant processor salesperson has come to call, promising you better rates and lower fees. Of course, they want three to five years of commitment from you, often for a pittance of savings. But to know that, you have to wade through the fine print, tiers of ratings, and lists of fees, all helpfully spelled out in six-point type on a five-page contract.

Face(book) Time

MySpace is passé; Twitter is limited and quickly becoming dominated by self-promoting celebrities. So, the verdict is in: Facebook, the greatest phenomenon of 21st century social networking, is the place to be.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I have been asked to be a vendor at an offsite event. There will not be a phone line available to plug in a credit card machine. Is there an easy way for me to accept credit cards and print customer receipts?

The Art of Private Labeling

The Art of Private Labeling

When you think “private label,” you probably imagine high-end, exclusive private stock with a limited offering, or its opposite: your local grocery’s cheap store brand that’s all about budget shopping. Whether high or low end, private labeling may seem out of the domain of small business. True, private labeling is not for every business, but when approached as a strategy and branding technique, it can be a powerful tool to get your store noticed and create customer loyalty.

Good Business

Good Business

Running an independent business is like having a child. The birthing process for a business is as strenuous as any labor I have experienced. Once born, a child requires 24/7 care, just as a business does. And like a business, while our day-to-day duties as parents change as the child matures, our responsibility is always there.

It’s often said about raising children that it takes a village. This is because a parent by him/herself can’t possibly know everything or have every answer. I believe the same holds true for your business.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: As a bookstore in business for 23 years, I am concerned about the huge impact e-books are having on my already stressed brick-and-mortar retail store. Any suggestions about how to either work with e-books or compete with them? We have expanded the gift, card, aroma, and other lines, but I really want to try to keep a little ahead of the game.

Tangled Web

Deciding that your store would benefit by having its own website was the easy part. The tough part is avoiding the nasty pitfalls that make too many websites money losers instead of money makers.

The first commercial websites were designed by early computer experts. These hardy pioneers were quite comfortable in the arcane world of computers, but woefully lacking in communications and marketing skills. The result was a flood of clever websites that accomplished little except make their sponsors look silly.

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