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If you have been in the retail business for many years, you have discovered the simple key to survival: customer satisfaction. A happy customer will become loyal to a retail business for a lifetime and allow you to weather through slow sales periods. However, finding the right way to please your customers is difficult, as every one of your competitors is trying to draw those same customers to visit their stores. About 55 percent of business owners in the U.S. believe that customer service is the top way to differentiate a business from competitorsin an effort to retain customers, according to the Sage's Business Index.

Utilize the following strategies to make your customers happy when they shop at your retail store.

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Many of us prefer online shopping to in-store buying, yet most consumers still do not shop online.  According to a 2015 PWC report, only 27 percent of US consumers are regularly making online purchases. This begs the question: Why – in this age of constant Internet usage – do so many people hesitate to shop online? Below are three common myths about online shopping – but more importantly – ideas on how merchants can overcome these fallacies.

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In years past, traditional shoppers may have been loyal to a certain channel, but today’s consumer easily transitions from one shopping channel to another. Many shoppers choose to check prices online or via their smartphone and then pick up their purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. But the opposite is also true – shoppers may see something they like in a physical store but only complete the purchase online or via their mobile phone.

Furthermore, due to the blurring of boundaries between the online and offline channels, returns have become a key issue for both retailers and customers. Shoppers expect to be able to return goods at all of the retailers’ channels regardless of where the purchase was made.

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Ad revenue from social networks in the U.S. is expected to climb from $7.32 billion 2014 to an astonishing $14.40 billion by 2017, eMarker projects. How is this possible? According to AddShoppers research, social network users spend 8.2 percent more than other online shoppers. So the trick to making more social sales is converting followers into buyers—something Internet Retailer Managing Editor Zak Stambor says is getting harder to do.

Businesses face the challenge of gaining visibility on popular platforms such as Facebook, as they navigate the ever-changing restrictions of social platforms. Stambor recommends buying more ads to solve this problem, but if there's a cap on your advertising budget, there other creative, cost-efficient methods you can use to attract more followers and turn them into buyers. Here are just a few:

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With the retail industry poised for rapid growth over the next several years, HR teams need to accommodate and update policies in order to engage and retain both new and old employees. An added challenge is that millennials are inching their way to being the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, so many emerging trends are adapted to the needs and skills of these young workers. Let’s take a look at some HR trends in retail that are worth keeping up with.

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Even as technology becomes more accessible and consumers demand faster service, many retailers are reluctant to adopt the solutions they need to grow successfully. Instead, they rely on manual spreadsheet tracking to maintain inventory, orders and other important information. But as a business grows to multiple sales channels, manual systems won’t be enough to support a scaling company.

Here are four reasons why spreadsheets are detrimental to a business:

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Many consumers see a retailer’s marked down price versus the original selling price and believe they’re saving a lot, but it literally pays to know what the numbers behind the deals mean.

Some retailers have been accused of showing inflated retail prices to make their deals look better. More often than not, they are showing the actual manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), but no one actually sells that product at that number. These five simple steps can help you uncover the deals from the duds.

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Supply chains - often involving many vendors and complex relationships - have always been a logistical challenge. As business evolves in our modern, mobile world, and enterprises are doing more global transactions than ever before, it is also becoming a collaboration, communication and accountability challenge.

While the process of managing a supply chain is getting more complex, the environmental consequences, labor considerations and sustainability of supply chains is also under extreme scrutiny. These challenges can all be rolled into the concept of supplier responsibility; how responsible is an enterprise when choosing suppliers and how socially responsible are those suppliers when creating their products or services?

Supplier responsibility is especially important when scaling for large orders and quick ramp-up, such as is the case now for Apple as they start selling their new watch and updated laptops. In fact, while Apple’s approach to suppliers has been interesting with the Apple Watch - they are relying heavily on just two suppliers - Apple is a great example of how companies can excel when it comes to supplier responsibility.

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