In The News

4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Automating Your Retail Business

Posted: January 9, 2019

"Automation. It sounds very futuristic…and a little scary. In fact, the word might intimidate you so much that you run far from it in your retail business. But by doing so — avoiding really useful automation tools — you’re barring yourself from helping your business truly thrive.

Here are some reasons why you should embrace, not fear, automation. 

1. It Helps You Understand Your Business

Because there is such fierce competition in retail, both online and off, you need to be in complete control of your marketing and sales efforts. Using a business intelligence dashboard, you can gain great insights into how every campaign you launch does, and you can use that information to shape future campaigns for even more success.

This information is gleaned — you guessed it: automatically — and can help you understand where traffic to your site is coming from, at what point in the shopping process people are leaving your site, and which marketing channels are driving traffic and sales. 

2. You Cut Down on Rote Tasks

How many times have you answered your store’s phone only to answer the same questions?

We close at 9.

We’re on the corner of Myrtle and Central.

9!! We close at 9!

Here’s another way automation will make your life easier: an auto attendant phone system can prevent your sales clerks from interrupting a transaction with a customer to answer the same old questions. The recorded message can provide answers to those common questions. If the caller still needs to speak with someone, she can select the number for the department or person she’s looking for. The number of calls your staff actually has to answer is greatly reduced through technology. You can’t beat that.

Another option is the chatbot. These digital virtual assistants use artificial intelligence to interact with customers through messaging apps. A shopper is on your site and looking for a pair of size 6 cargo pants and doesn’t have time to sift through search results. She opens the messenger and types in “size 6 green cargo pants” and the chatbot finds exactly what she wants. It can even offer her a discount to get her to buy. No humans needed.

3. You Keep Your Marketing Going Strong

What business owner has time to constantly send tweets, Facebook updates, and emails? While you will have to put in some initial legwork to automate social media, once you do, it’s like you’re constantly updating your marketing channels…while in reality, you’re doing something else.

Tools like SproutSocial and SocialJukebox let you create social shares that will then be automatically shared on the schedule you set. You can also automate your newest blog posts to be published to your social channels.

Email, too, can be automated. Create a drip campaign so that any time someone subscribes to your emails, they’ll be put in the funnel and start receiving your emails.

The key for marketing automation is to still check in and measure results. If you see a high number of email unsubscribes after Email 4, look at the copy to see if you can understand what’s turning people off. Recalibrate your efforts and measure again later. 

4. Your Shipping is Less of a Headache

Particularly for e-commerce sites, shipping eats up a lot of time…or at least can unless you automate the process. Using shipping automation software like ShipStation, you can start the order fulfillment and shipping process as soon as an order is placed.  Your team spends less time packing boxes and printing shipping labels.

Automation isn’t so scary after all, is it? It can, in fact, streamline your retail business and make your life a lot easier!"

Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Cision. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

Read the article online at RetailMinded.com.

 

Is Your Membership Up To Date?

Posted: January 1, 2019 

NCA Buyer Members - if your membership is set to expire in January or February, it is time to renew! You have received an email from the National Costumers Association that is titled 'Membership Renewal Notice'. At the bottom of this email, there is a link that says 'Click here to pay this invoice'. Upon clicking this link, you will login and be able to pay your invoice online. 

You can check to see when your membership will expire by logging into 'My Profile'. If you need help accessing your username and password, contact [email protected] or 303-339-0750

Not an NCA member? Consider joining us! Learn more about NCA membership by clicking here

 

Happy New Year!

Posted: January 1, 2019

The NCA wishes you a happy and healthy New Year! 

 

The Art Of Craft: Ruth E. Carter Breaks Down Series Of Early Sketches For ‘Black Panther’ Costumes

Posted: January 1, 2019 

"With over 40 film credits and two Oscar nominations to her name, costume designer Ruth E. Carter took on superhero scope for the first time with Ryan Coogler’s Marvel phenomenon Black Panther. Following T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)—a superhero and King-to-be in the technologically advanced, African nation of Wakanda—the Marvel pic hinged largely on one central question. That question, for Coogler, was: What does Africa mean to me? “For Ryan, it was an exploration of his own ideas about Africa, what he knew and what he didn’t know. That aspiration, for him, was important, to delve into culture, into things that are mysterious about Africa to people, and dispel a lot of those mysteries,” Carter explains. “To tell the stories of the vast tribal customs and beautiful traditions that we see across the continent.”

Crafting and sourcing around 1500 costumes for the project, Carter’s work embodies the international nature of its ambitions. For a film that moves between a fictional African kingdom, South Korea and the United States, she sent shoppers out to South Africa and Ghana, had outfits made in South Korea and Busan, and had embroidery done in Thailand. “We went around the world,” she says. “We really, actually bought from the source.” In early conversations with Coogler and Marvel’s Nate Moore, the conversation was “about Afrofuturism, about how we grew up and what our lives were like, as far as how it fit within the consciousness of African Diaspora,” Carter shares. “Ryan shared with me a story about seeing Malcolm X with his dad at the movies when he was a little boy, and how he remembered [my] costumes, and was really happy to meet me.”

Read the full article online here

 

 

Cash Flow Tips to Help Every Retail Small Business Grow  

Posted: December 26, 2018 

 

From evolving consumer trends to labor shortages and seasonal fluctuations, retail companies face unique challenges regardless of size. In fact, the industry has one of the highest concentrations of small businesses. According to the National Retail Foundation, the vast majority – more than 98 percent – of retail workers work for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

 

For these smaller companies, getting access to capital in order to grow their business, and managing cash flow is a necessity. The fourth quarter is an especially critical time of year. Nearly 75 percent of retailers report that the fourth-quarter is their most profitable time of year. At the same time, more than half (65 percent of online retailers and 60 percent of brick-and-mortar retailers) report their costs increasing by 25 percent on average. To curb common challenges, here are tips that can enhance cash flow.

 

Maximize Your Deductions to Minimize Taxes

 

Many small business owners are generally familiar with some of the small business tax deductions that can help you save money at tax time, but did you know about Section 179? This tax break for small businesses is intended to make it more affordable for small companies to buy business equipment, such as furniture, vehicles, computers and other tangible capital investments. Small businesses can deduct the full value of qualifying business equipment purchases up to $1,000,000 in the same tax year that the purchases are made. This alleviates the pain of depreciating (or deducting the amount in portions) on a year-by-year basis over the useful lifetime of the equipment. To take advantage of Section 179, consider your long-term equipment needs and consider making purchases before year-end to save on your taxes later.

 

Consider Your Funding Options

 

Since banks often require old bank statements and dated tax returns it can be challenging for business owners lacking long credit histories to get access to funding. On top of this, small businesses are oftentimes overlooked by banks favoring bigger companies seeking larger loans.

 

Many small business owners have begun using online lending platforms that look at their live data to approve funding. These innovations allow for wider and more varied types of business loans, faster access to working capital, and evaluation processes that consider a company’s current business performance instead of dated documents.

 

For example, despite having 10 years of industry experience, Trish Dill, the owner of Desert Signs in Phoenix, Arizona was turned down by a traditional bank for a small business loan. Through an online lending platform, Trish was able to get the funding she needed to buy the equipment that helped her operate her business more efficiently and take on larger projects. The short-term loan also allowed Desert Signs to expand its advertising and increase its customer base."

Read the full article online at Retail Minded.

 
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