Alert- Lithium Battery Shipment Regulations to Change January 1, 2013

If you are a retailer in the twenty-first century, chances are you ship something that contains batteries. Here at Working Person’s Store, we ship battery-operated flashlights, gloves, socks, and heated vests to destinations around the world. Some of the products we ship contain lithium batteries, which are considered a hazardous material because they can short circuit.

New regulations regarding the international air shipment of lithium batteries go into effect January 1, 2013. A good source for information about these new regulations is the International Air Transport Association, including its updated Lithium Battery Guidance Document. The Guidance Document as well as other helpful information, including pamphlets for consumers and shippers, is available online. Continue Reading…

Creating Collaborative Content Teams

All Departments Should Collaborate For A Successful Content Program

Creating Collaborative Content Teams

Not so long ago a retailer’s marketing materials included predictable options that were generated on a somewhat repetitive editorial schedule- spring, fall, and holiday catalogs; regular and seasonal advertisements placed to generate the biggest impact at the least cost; sales sheets for buyers; and perhaps some direct mail pieces timed to hit desks and counter-tops at just the moment potential buyers are expected to be most receptive.

But for today’s e-tailer, the well-defined editorial calendars of yesterday that established the year-to-year routines of the marketing, merchandising and creative teams have been become more complex. In the virtual multi-channel marketplace, e-tailers face a never-ending challenge to meet the voracious demand for a continuous supply of updated content.

In this fast-paced climate of overlapping demands, no single approach will work for every every company. Every business has its own personality, culture, and organizational needs. The processes implemented, collaboration between the individual segments of each organization is crucial to its success. Neil Schuler of Schuler Creative Consulting suggests this three-step approach to creating a workable process:

  • Identify the steps/tasks needed to complete a project and map out a timeline
  • Identify the points of collaboration between the individual work teams and schedule face-to-face meetings at these points
  • Establish a guide for each of these inter-team meetings, outline objectives, duration, required input, etc. Continue Reading…

Digital Retail Catalogs- Your Next Channel Of Distribution

Put Your Print Catalog Online To Reach More Customers

So you have a print catalog and you have a website. What’s next? To stay current with customer expectations, it’s time to think about making a digital catalog your next channel of distribution.

Almost 90% of those who responded to a 2012 Catalog Spree survey indicated they would opt out of receiving some or all of their mailed print catalogs if the catalogs were available digitally. And over 55% would prefer to receive all of their catalogs digitally.

A digital catalog can be created simply by creating a PDF of your print catalog, but that really is just the start of an array of possibilities. Digital catalogs today increasingly include rich interactive content with audio, video, search functions and web links. The possibilities are endless, and meaningful content will increase your catalog’s chances of being viewed. Continue Reading…

Mobile Devices Pose Benefits and Risks

Assess Risks Posed By Mobile Devices

Mobile Devices Pose Benefits and Risks
Are You Prepared?

Chances are, some of your corporate data, and likely even that of your customers and clients, is walking around in someone’s back pocket or stuck in the side of someone’s purse. Perhaps your sales manager even handed it over to her 13-year-old for a quick call home when the Saturday night movie lets out.

Every business needs to develop a mobile device policy, whether it conducts business transactions via mobile devices or not. Because whether it’s the internal company contact list, a spreadsheet with last year’s sales data or your customers’ credit card numbers, some of your data is probably residing on the phones, notebooks, and tablets of your employees. And whether or not you have an operating policy to guide usage and access, they are probably using those same devices to access your network.

The statistics reported at MobiThinking by various analysts are staggering: Six billion mobile subscriptions held by an estimated 4.2 billion people! Itís time for all enterprises to take advantage of this growth and also protect both businesses and employees from risks inherent to such power. Continue Reading…

Will 2013 Be a Lucky Number for Entrepreneurs?

Optimism In 2013

Will 2013 Be a Lucky Number for Entrepreneurs?

With retail sales inching upward in advance of the holiday shopping season and economic indicators looking better than they have in recent years, we’re wondering whether 2013 will prove to be a turnaround year for the economy. We certainly hope so and we’re taking a few minutes away from flurry to think about what has sustained us through these tough times. reported earlier this year that market research leader IBISWorld identified these retail sectors as the top five prospects for 2012, based on start-up costs, barriers to entry, and estimated 2012 revenue: tires; handbags, luggage, and accessories; art; furniture; and specialty foods. Not only did the decidedly unglamorous tire dealership top the list, its expected growth of 10% is almost double that of the leading trailer, handbags and related goods, at 5.5%. Continue Reading…

Make Way for Millennials In The Workplace

Preparing For Mellinials In The Workplace

Make Way for the Millennials

We’ve been giving thought lately to generational differences across the workforce and specifically how businesses can work best with the generational group just now beginning to enter the workforce, young people born between 1981 and 2000; the cohort dubbed Millennials.

There’s a ton of information being written about the Millennials right now, and while we think much of it is speculative, there are a some recurring characteristics that do ring true.

1. Millennials are tech savvy.  Just watch a 20-year old setting up a smartphone to realize Millennials have an intuitive comfort with technology. Earlier generations get comfortable with new technology in the workplace; Millennials come that way. What does that mean for training?  Think interactive technology. Continue Reading…

Prepare For Inventory Returns

Minimize Returns To Maximize Profits

Every year, the sales peak ends at Christmas for most direct retailers. That means that the inventory returns peak is just starting.

While returns are inevitable, they often affect warehouse operations and customer service departments the hardest. However, these end-of-season returns also affect financial results because of their toll on profits. Merchandisers and inventory planners must account for returns throughout the year.

Soft goods (apparel) tend to have high return rates. Menswear and footwear averages a 10% to 20% return rate. A 20% to 30% return rate is typical for women’s basic apparel. Returns on women’s fashion apparel can go above 30%.

So why do these percentages matter?  Think of it this way. A return rate of 20% for a retailer with $10 million in apparel sales means $2 million in returned sales. Include the resulting reduction in gross margin dollars plus the cost of processing returns:  free return shipping costs, demand on your call center, funding a returns department, managing what becomes distressed inventory and it’s obvious that returns can deeply impact a company’s bottom line. Continue Reading…

Ten Ways to a Winning Website

Winning Sites

Think your small business doesn’t need a professional-looking, effective web site?  Think again.

Leading provider of website packages for small business, 1&1 Internet, Inc., reports that 45% of U.S. consumers have changed their minds about ordering from a small business based on the quality of its website. So if the online presence of your small business is a sloppy, poorly-designed site designed by the brother of your spouse’s best friend’s sister who “does websites,” you might want to rethink your approach. Continue Reading…

Get a Fresh Perspective on Sales

Feature Best Sellers First

Whether you distribute your catalog in print, email, online or some combination of all three, you can drive sales by identifying your true top sellers and placing them where they can grab the attention of both your customers and prospects.

How do you identify your top sellers?

Most of us have a box full of tools upon which we rely to track sales and most of them boil down to tracking purchases by item. Susan J. McIntyre, “Catalog Doctor” at Retail Online Integration, suggests taking a different approach that has caught our attention: create depiction-level sales reports. For example, implementing this approach here at Working Person’s Store, we would track the sales of a depiction in our print catalog, online or in an email that might include an ensemble of a Carhartt jacket, Timberland work boots and a pair of Wrangler jeans. McIntire reports that tracking sales of all items included in a single depiction can result in sales numbers quite different from those created by traditional tracking methods that focus on single items. Continue Reading…

Five Ways to Unleash the Power of URLs

URL Optomization

In real estate, the key to success is location, location, location. As it turns out, a web page address – it’s URL – is also an important key to success. While working to create great titles, copy and internal linking structure on your website, don’t forget to pay attention to your page URLs – all of them.

As the first-generation of online businesses matures, most of us know at least the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) and the importance of using keywords in titles, headings and page copy.  And online businesses put a lot of thought, money and effort into creating a memorable, easy-to-find domain name so that potential and returning customers can easily find them.

But did you know that every one of your website URLs can provide important attention-getting opportunities, and that poorly-structured URLs can actually drive potential site visitors away? Optimizing URLs can be a hassle, but the payoffs are greater visibility and better click-through rates. Continue Reading…

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