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The global movement toward sustainability went full-throttle in April. Earth Day fell on April 22nd, just prior to the two-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse. This was followed shortly after by the earthquake in Nepal. The combination of these events created more discussion around sourcing, forcing people to take a closer look at the repercussions of manufacturing products abroad.

As the public was bombarded across channels – from social media to commercials, articles and celebrity activism – it got me thinking: Have you ever heard the expression "it takes 1,000 whispers to make a shout"? Well these 1,000 statements caused a collective moment toward awareness around ethical sourcing. There were several dialogues that set-off the wave of conversation in April. Here’s what came out of them:

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Why should consumers shop with you if they can purchase what you’re selling at a lower price elsewhere? That’s just one of the dilemmas retailers face when trying to attract and retain loyal customers. And while you can’t necessarily control what the competition is doing, you do have the ability to deliver the ultimate shopping experience so they can keep coming back for more.

Here are some ways to boost customer loyalty in your retail establishment:

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Imagine you’re on vacation; you’re walking down a street crowded with storefronts searching for the perfect souvenir. One of the store’s signs shouts “Get your Typical Trinkets Here!” while another’s loudly displays “Traditional Toys for Sale!” which store would you choose to go into?

Walking around Prague it’s easy to find yourself in this very situation. “Typical” translates for many Russian or European tourists to mean “authentic," but when retailers are promoting their wares to these customers they are missing the opportunity to connect with Americans who read “typical” as “predictable” or “common place."

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Why Homegrown Search Strategies Seldom Travel Well

When you enter the global search-marketing race, it doesn’t take long to figure out that Google isn’t the only search engine you need to focus on. In my own case, one of the first challenges was understanding the different rules for SEO and buying keywords on Baidu, the leading search engine inside China’s Great Firewall. Then it was Yandex, the major search engine in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). I even learned how Yahoo could be a better choice in Japan than Google.

By 2010 I was deep into taking our websites beyond translation and thinking about global search. It was at this point where I discovered that you couldn’t just translate your domestic keywords for search campaigns in foreign markets. The second thing I learned is that the digital marketing strategies perfected for my home market seldom travel well in other countries.

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Have you heard about scan avoidance technology? It may not get a lot of high-profile attention outside of the retail world, but it is literally saving retailers billions at manned and self-checkout counters. We recently had the chance to connect with Malay Kundu, founder and CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based StopLift, to get some thoughts on why retail chains worldwide are installing StopLift Checkout Vision Systems’ Scan-It-All video recognition technology to detect scan avoidance incidence at both the manned and self-checkout. Working with retailers on four continents, including Tesco in the UK, StopLift has already detected and confirmed more than one million incidents at thousands of checkouts.

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Running a store can be a rewarding way to interact with your community and earn a living. But day to day, it’s also a series of hurdles. One of the biggest challenges for many small retailers is knowing how to protect what they’ve built – after all, it only takes one unplanned disaster to bring a thriving business to a screeching halt.

With appropriate business insurance in place, unexpected disasters don’t have to mean financial ruin. But how do you know which policies to choose? Every business is different, but the following questions are ones we hear most often from our retail clients. Take a look at the answers to get an idea of how business insurance can help you protect what you’ve built.

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Anyone who’s ever tried to give up chocolate or put in more time at the gym knows that bad habits are easy to form but hard to break. And in the monkey-see-monkey-do world of retail sales, one person’s bad habit could spread to the entire team; bad habits equal lower sales and declining revenue.

Have you identified the top ten worst retail sales habits? No? That’s fine, because we did for you. Here they are, along with a few ideas on how to stop them.

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As a retailer, you are dependent on the quality of your suppliers. If you are manufacturing end product items, the piece is only as good as its weakest part. If a consumer product fails, it will cost your company its reputation, but if an industrial product breaks, it can cost you money and, in the case of criminal litigation, your freedom. Consumers expect that certain standards are met when purchasing a product. It is the retailer’s job to ensure that suppliers are compliant with these standards.

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