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The internet has had a profound impact on how the gig economy works. Now, it’s easier than ever to connect with gigs and potential clients, and there are specialized sites for matching providers with industry-specific gigs. Here’s how to make 500 fast with these options.
What is the Gig Economy?
The gig economy is comprised of millions of Americans who refer to themselves as freelancers, self-employed workers, and independent contractors. You’d be amazed at just how much of the American workforce this group of people accounts for, and it continues to grow as Americans look for more profitable and flexible work options to meet busy schedules and lives.
Side hustles can begin as a quick way to make a few hundred extra dollars per month, but with the right guidance and determination, you can quickly grow your gig income to full-time status.
Use Sites Like Fiverr
Fiverr is quite possibly the single best resource for connecting professionals with paying gigs. The site is specifically focused on making finding paying gigs as simple and painless as possible. With an enormous user base, there are thousands of gigs and clients just waiting to be connected with the right people.
Fiver is based on the concept of the five dollar gig, hence the name “Fiverr”. This means that most gigs on the site start at $5, but you can advertise your services for an introductory price that you choose. It’s best to start with a basic $5 package to begin with, raising prices as the quality and demand of your services increases.
Be Ready For Unpredictability
Gigging income is pretty much dependent on the demand for your services. You can make anywhere from a few hundred per month to a few thousand during busy seasons, or absolutely nothing during off times. It’s important to remember this when you first start out gigging, as it can be frustrating to plan finances with an income that isn’t always guaranteed.
With unpredictability comes many challenges, but don’t be afraid to keep putting yourself out there. Once you earn a name for yourself, your work will become a bit more steady because you’ll develop a reputation for quality. Always put your clients first and deliver your projects on time.
Time Management and Productive Spaces
So you’ve started gigging, now what? How do you maximize productivity and effectiveness in the gigging world? The first step is to master time management. This can require incredible discipline, especially if you’re working from home.
Time management means setting a schedule for yourself to work on your gigs. Treat it like any other job, where you are to begin at a specific time, work for a specific number of hours, and then finish at a predetermined time. This routine will help you develop discipline, and therefore increase the quality of your projects and ensure you’re meeting deadlines.
Your environment will play a huge part in how well you manage your time. If you’re working from home, it’s important to create a space away from distractions such as the TV or even your phone. Have a separate home office or workspace will minimize distractions and help keep you focused on your projects.
Some people simply can’t work from home, and that’s ok too. You can use your favorite coffee shop, bookstore, or other hangout space to work from if that’s more comfortable. There are many freelancers that prefer to leave their home to complete their work.
Know Your Worth
Even if you’re particularly talented in a certain field, if you’re just starting out, you probably won’t be able to charge top dollar for your services. You’ll need to establish a reputation before you can do that, but you should also be aware of what your services are worth.
Undercharging a client can be pretty frustrating. You’ll feel like you spent a lot of time on a project but were unable to justify it what the amount you’ve charged. Create a fee structure for different project levels, so you’re sure to keep pricing consistent across all project scopes.
Always Be On The Lookout For New Opportunities
There are thousands of sites and other resources dedicated to helping freelancers and independent contractors to find work. If you’re looking to make a significant amount of money per month, you’ll want to always be aware of any new opportunities.
Not only do new projects connect you with potential clients, but they’ll also keep your skills sharp and improve your reputation by offering new challenges. The best independent workers are always up to a new challenge, navigating the project with confidence and prestige.
Be Confident in Yourself
When you separate yourself from employment and enter the gig economy, the competition will be fierce. Confidence is an incredibly powerful tool and can mean the difference between quality projects and sub-par projects.
Being confident will increase the confidence of your clients, as well as your abilities as a freelancer or independent contractor. You’re among a group of people who’ve decided to take their destiny into their own hands by creating their own schedules and workflows. This is impressive in and of itself, requiring great discipline and determination.
Confidence, great resources, and a little persistence will help you take charge of your gigs and start making extra money each month. If you grow enough, you can even choose to go full-time, making your own hours and setting prices for your services.
Denver, Colorado (June 19, 2019) – Retail Mindedis pleased to announce that Founder, Author and globally recognized retail thought leader Nicole Leinbach Reyhle will speak at the upcoming WithIt Women’s Leadership Development Network Conference, Igniting Leadership, taking place in Virginia June 24-26, 2019. WithItwas founded in 1997 with a dedicated belief that women should play a major role in the growth and future of the home and furnishings industries. Now in their second decade, WithIt continues to encourage and develop education, mentoring, and leadership opportunities for women in the home and furnishings industries – a critical talent pool. Leading the retail education for this conference will be RetailMinded.com Founder, Author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing & Marketing Your Retail Business” and Small Business Saturday Spokesperson Nicole Leinbach Reyhle.
“WithIt has served women in the home and furnishings industry for more than 20 years and our annual conference strives to bring focused educational content to our attendees. We look forward to welcoming Nicole to our stage to give valuable information to our women in retail so they can build stronger businesses. As we focus on women’s leadership development, we welcome all retailers who are looking to grow as leaders,” shares Amy Van Dorp, WithIt Executive Director.
Reyhle’s seminars will include education on “The Path to Purchase: Understanding the Realities, Resources & Revenue Opportunities Based on How Consumers Really Shop” plus a breakout session on how to strengthen customer service and sales in three steps.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this event and look forward to connecting with women leaders from a variety of stores and businesses,” shares Reyhle.
The WithIt Leadership Conference will take place June 24-26, 2019 in Alexandria, Virginia and will feature Reyhle on Tuesday of the show. For a full seminar schedule, click here.
Retail is changing. Fast. We’re not starting with anything that you don’t already know. But the changes in the retail landscape have an impact on how consumer products are sourced. And the best supplier partners find ways to elevate their sourcing strategies. Each year, each season, they become more efficient, while offering better value to their retail partners. Here are two key approaches to look for from your suppliers.
Harnessing data and analytics to fuel businesses growth and profit
Efficiency thrives when there are clear visibility and communication. A common way to do this is by using Enterprise Resource Planning solutions (ERPs).
For more than a decade, ERPs have allowed organizations to manage day-to-day activities for retailers and their suppliers. They allow business processes to be managed on a single platform and enable the flow of data between them.
But now, like retail, ERPs are also evolving.
Newer, digitized ERP tools, allow retailers, brands, and suppliers to digitize their data, using a cloud-based web and mobile platforms. Data collected is then converted into accessible analytics. These analytics give teams and partners a “common language.”
Analysis of this data allows suppliers to reduce production waste and inefficiencies. This means a lower cost to you. And a greater likelihood of on-time shipment of product. Product that meets your requested quality level.
Understand how your key suppliers harness the power of data and analytics with ERP tools. Where are they investing in new tools to improve their analytic skills? How are they becoming more efficient and cost viable partners for you?
Just in Time Production
Another way to speed up the supply chain is to change where production is happening. Changes in trade policy remind us all that revisiting where products are produced is an essential part of responsible sourcing.
Manufacturing in the US began its decline decades ago. Now, advances in production technology have made production in North America more cost viable. Or as the McKinsey team recently put it,” Is it time for apparel manufacturing to come home?” This is true not only for apparel business but small to mid-sized production runs of home goods and consumables.
In demand-driven manufacturing, companies will use data and automation to produce consumer goods in just-in-time. That is, once a customer makes a purchase, the manufacturing process itself activates. Production is often in small production facilities located across the country. Not across an ocean.
Powerful new technology such as 3D printing or purchase activated manufacturing (PAM) makes this transformation possible. 3D printing is a great option for producing hard goods of a single material. Many PAM operations exist for apparel brands today, changing the landscape of the fashion industry.
When companies have technology like this at their disposal, they are more insulated against the impact of trade dynamics. You exercise greater control over where and when your products are produced.
Another benefit comes in the form of inventory management. When you use demand-driven production, product is ordered once the consumer purchases. You can have confidence that you can sell an item for full price without the risk of heavy discounts or clearance markdowns.
Demand-driven production may be new for you or your supplier base. Try testing a couple of lines of products with the new technology. Companies that test and innovate in this new space will be best positioned to outpace their competition. Those that choose to wait and see will only be marking time. The longer they wait to jump in, the harder it will be to pivot.
To survive as a retailer today, you will need the best partners. Look for suppliers who have the future on their minds. That means they will:
Show a passion for learning and have a proven record of testing new ideas and strategies.
Collaborate with external resources so they can learn, grow, and go after the next big thing.
Cultivate the ability to capture and process data, from having “basics” such as key performance indicators (KPIs) and ERP systems to advanced tools such as on-demand manufacturing, purchase-activated manufacturing, and 3D printing.
What lies ahead for retail sourcing doesn’t hinge on the latest technology. It is, however, based on a shifting mindset— to the digital age ideals of innovation and curiosity.
Nurture that mindset in your organization. Look for it in your partners. Your customers will thank you.
Juli Lassow is founder and principal of JHL Solutions https://jhl-solutions.com in Minneapolis, a retail business consultant/solutions/management firm. Lassow advises her retail clients how to increase their productivity, growth and profits and specializes in partnering retailers and suppliers.
The current retail industry makes some brands nervous and others excited. Every company wants to be successful like Amazon and avoid following in the footsteps of Sears. This means trying new things, taking risks, and keeping up with the latest trends.
One of the most popular trends that consumers and retailers are embracing is the pop-up shop. This is a store that is only open for a few days or weeks and then disappears. Pop-up shops have been called the “Uberization of Retail” amongst other names and have been hailed by economists as both brilliant and disasters to the industry.
If you manage an eCommerce store or run a brick and mortar location, it may be worth testing out the pop-up shop waters. Here’s why and how your brand should embrace the pop-up shop trend.
Why Should You Open a Pop-Up Shop?
There are many reasons why pop-up shops have worked for both retailers and customers. They have arrived right in the middle of a perilous time for retailers and when customers want something new. Below are a few factors to consider if you are on the fence of opening a pop-up shop which should sway you in the positive direction:
Pop-up shops are affordable right now. With mall stores sitting empty, landlords are desperate to fill the space, even for a few weeks. They are happy to make a deal for a pop-up shop so you only need to pay rent for a short period of time. (Look at Halloween supply stores as a key example.)
You can test new products or branding with a lower risk. A pop-up shop allows you to take another direction with your brand without taking the risk of actually changing everything. You can open a pop-up shop with new products and services, or a new brand image, and see how it is received. If your customers are excited, the change can be permanent. If not, then you don’t lose much.
Customers are hungry for experiences. Pop-up shops come in all forms. Celebrities debut exclusive fashion lines, museums tease exhibits, and food chains test their culinary boundaries. Pop-up shops are highly experiential. Customers can take photos and show off that they’re at the latest, coolest place to be. If you are considering starting a pop-up shop, make sure you add experiential elements that draw curious shoppers to visit and share with their friends.
Like all trends in fashion and retail, no one really knows how long the pop-up shop trend will last, but it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in the near future.
What Do You Need to Open a Pop-Up Shop?
While pop-up shops are meant to be fun and temporary, you still need to treat them with the same level of care as a traditional brick and mortar business. Below are six things to consider when opening your pop-up shop.
Find a space that does short-term rentals. Try to negotiate using the space for a month or two (depending on your pop-up duration) and make sure your contract is made for a monthly lease.
Cover your bases with permits and insurance. You don’t want to lose money if something comes up, so make sure you have all of your paperwork in order for your pop-up business.
Develop a comprehensive marketing plan. Pop-up shops generally rely on buzz to succeed, but it takes a lot of marketing to develop that buzz. Make sure you have a strategy in place to promote your pop-up shop and get people excited about it so they can take over and start driving the conversation.
Choose store designs and visuals. Just because the store is a pop-up doesn’t mean you can leave the walls bare (unless that’s part of your branding). Make sure you budget for decor, mannequins, mirrors, and other essentials.
Set up answering services to route your calls. Expect your customers to have questions about the location, the hours, and the products of your pop-up shop. Make sure that your phone solutions can either route calls to your traditional answering service or be just as effective at helping shoppers.
Train staff to handle the pop-up location. You may need to hire temporary staff to work at your pop-up location and help customers. Make sure you budget for these extra hands and take training time and materials into your calculations.
A pop-up shop is a great way to make money in a short period of time while growing your audience. If you carefully develop your pop-up strategy, then you can use this sales plan to connect with your customers and drive them to connect with you online or to shop in your traditional stores.
The retail sector is undergoing tremendous change, with a growing volume of sales shifting to online stores. But for owners of all types of retail businesses, issues related to cash flow and inventory remain a primary concern.
According to an exclusive Kabbage survey of independent retailers, more than 40 percent cite inventory as their largest expense over the course of their first decade in business. Given the seasonal ebbs and flows of the industry, a number of those small-business owners wind up borrowing money in order to cover their costs.
What can you do to make things easier for your retail business? We asked the experts, including experienced consultants and successful business owners, about three common inventory and cash-flow concerns that arise in the retail sector.
Should I take out a line of credit to pay for my inventory or cover it with a credit card?
Longtime retail consultant Allison Boswell says a line of credit, whether through a bank or an online lender, can “take the pressure off” in ways a credit card can’t. She says a number of clients she advises wind up putting all their inventory expenses on a credit card in order to get points or miles that they can use for their personal vacations or expenses.
“But they’re not in the miles business,” she says. “They’re in the retail business.”
The problem with using a credit card, Allison says, is that things go wrong. She cites a mix-up that happened to a client who put $10,000 worth of merchandise from a vendor on her credit card. When the shipment wasn’t what she wanted, it took her nearly six months to get a refund.
A line of credit, on the other hand, will give you control over the situation—and the flexibility to hold back on paying for shipments until you’re satisfied, rather than paying up front and taking your chances.
“If the merchandise is going to show up late, it may be too late for you to benefit from it,” Allison says. “With a credit card, they already have your money. With a line of credit, you have complete control over who gets paid when, and you’re not at the mercy of a vendor.”
Should I use a third-party logistics company for shipping orders or handle it myself?
When John Cascarano’s men’s grooming company Tame the Beast began to grow, he started storing his inventory in his garage. But that proved to be a problem after he learned huge shipments from truck drivers couldn’t be hauled up his driveway without costly special equipment.
John turned to a third-party logistics company to help with his shipments, but there were problems with that, too. They simply didn’t offer the personal touches John wanted to include when he shipped his product, such as branded boxes and samples of additional products.
“They’re all designed for efficiency,” John says. “They want as many clients as they can.”
Eventually, John found a local third-party logistics provider near his home in Nashville that allowed for a more personal approach. He provided them with those branded boxes for shipping and free samples. He’s also started to work with Amazon on a similar set up.
“You’ve got to set a lot of time around the part that really matters,” John says. “And it’s about what’s different or special about your product.”
How do I take advantage of the slow seasons?
Retail industry veteran Sarah Kelly’s online cosmetics company, SaltyGirl Beauty, sees seasonal boosts in business around the December holidays and at Valentine’s Day. Because she sells darker colors of cosmetics in the fall and brighter colors in the spring, Sarah has learned to tailor her offerings based on the time of year.
And what about the summertime? Sarah takes advantage of the business lull by looking ahead and planning.
“The months of July and August are quiet, but it also gives us that opportunity for getting ready for the holidays and into the first quarter of next year,” Sarah says. “It’s not the worst thing.”
Allison Lilly is the Small Business Stories Editor for Kabbage, Inc., a financial services data and technology platform that provides access to automated funding to small businesses in minutes. Kabbage has provided access to over $7 billion in funding to more than 185,000 businesses.
The way we exchange money is constantly changing. Coins and cash are becoming less and less prevalent, with touchless payment methods and others taking their place for further convenience and simplicity. It’s important if you’re running a business to keep up with these payment trends so that you’re not left behind when they become the popular choice for the year. Here are the most popular payment types of 2019.
Credit and Debit Cards
While the world of payment methods may be always evolving, one constant is the credit/debit card. These plastic cards have been used for decades now, providing simplicity and convenience for consumers worldwide. They’re accepted just about everywhere and can have access to cash limited only by the amount you have in your account.
Credit and debit cards have changed over time, form simple mag-stripe cards to RFID-chip enabled cards, to the more recent touchless payment cards. Whatever the case, credit and debit cards remain one of the top payment methods for consumers worldwide.
Ensuring your business accepts all credit and debit cards can be a vital part of retaining and attracting customers. Having a chip reader is a requirement, as any credit or debit cards issued after 2015 will have them. This means that anyone who’s opened a checking account or applied for a credit card in the last four years has a chipped card.
PayPal is the world’s largest and most trusted online payment processing organization. Since 1998, the company has provided secure payment and money transfers, even offering their own lines of credit. PayPal quickly evolved into the most-trusted online payment method, and still services thousands of online and brick and mortar retailers to this day.
With PayPal, you can send and receive money as well, making a must-have tool for freelancers and small business owners everywhere. PayPal offers mobile payments, and during the 2018 holiday season, the company actually hit $1 billion in mobile payment volume.
PayPal’s whole pitch is making payments easier, quicker, and more secure, and they seem to be doing just that. With numbers like $1 billion in mobile payment volume, it’s safe to assume that this favorite payment method isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Smart watches, smartphones, tablets, and more…the list of mobile devices goes on and on, and it’s becoming very uncommon for a person to own only one mobile device. Each mobile device is able to be connected to touchless payment methods such as Apple pay, so it’s safe to assume that mobile payments will quickly gain more traction in the retail world.
Touchless payments mean no more carrying around cards. The card’s information is stored within the app, which is opened during the transaction. The mobile device is held against the POS system (provided it supports touchless payments), and the transaction is completed. It’s that easy!
It’s safe to assume that mobile payments are here to stay, especially since just about everyone owns at least a smartphone. With advancements in technology comes smarter, more reliable mobile devices, and less intrusive ways of paying for goods and services. You’ll want to get a POS system that accepts these payment methods to stay ahead of the curve.
Ewallets are also gaining popularity in the payment method industry, being one of the top payment methods in the US. Shoppers register an eWallet account with a specific retailer, adding funds and providing personal information with which the retailer will authenticate its shoppers.
Once the shopper is authenticated, he or she can purchase goods and services with their eWallet. Ewallets are secure and create a much more personalized shopping experience for consumers. There are several methods of authentication, so consumers can be sure that their account is never accessed by anyone who isn’t authorized to use it. Mobile, email, and username/password identification methods are the most used.
Using an eWallet can help keep your shopping habits controlled as well since you’re not shopping directly from your bank account. You’ll have to fund your eWallet when you want to make a purchase.
Cash or Check
While cash and checks are certainly becoming a thing of the past, they’re still one of the most widely used payment methods in North America, and especially in the US. Cash still holds its value, and many consumers actually prefer using cash over using a credit or debit card.
Additionally, paying by check remains a staple as well, but the trend seems to be among older consumers as opposed to millennials and generation z’s. Debit cards essentially serve the same function as a written check and are generally more convenient than carrying around a checkbook.
Cash has been around for centuries, with printed money only a recent addition to gold or other precious metal coins. It’s safe to assume that while cash and checks have been put in the background for now, cash probably won’t disappear anytime soon. Digital currency is having trouble taking off in the mainstream money markets, so cash will probably experience at least a few more decades of use.
Payment methods will always change and evolve, and keeping up with these trends can mean the difference between staying in business and going out of business. Many small businesses struggle with this, using outdated or otherwise incompatible POS systems that don’t accept modern payment methods. Keep your POS system up to date, and be sure to stay aware of changing payment methods so you can be informed and better serve your customers.
Across all industries, companies heavily rely on their sales teams to bring in more profit. In fact, there are quite a few companies that don’t sell great products or services but they have killer sales teams that still rake in crazy amounts of revenue. Of course, this model should be avoided and only serves as an illustration of how important it is to have a skilled and motivated sales team.
On the other hand, it is usually the sales reps that suffer from burnout. They can lose motivation, especially when not achieving the goals set before them. This harms the overall productivity and can be detrimental to a growing business. And this is something that every ambitious entrepreneur should be aware of.
When this happens, many business owners push their sales reps harder and make them work more, which only makes the matter even worse. Instead of working harder, the sales reps need to be more productive with their current workload. In this game, like in many others, quality beats quantity.
For this reason, it is crucial to know how you can improve your sales team’s productivity. There are numerous strategies to do it but some of the essential ones include:
forming a sales development team
Through sales gamification, you are turning a regular task into a game. By selecting various gaming elements and implementing them into the team’s task, you are basically creating a healthy competitive atmosphere while getting your sales goals achieved.
To gamify team productivity, use badges, points, scores, and of course, leaderboards. This will make your team more productive without them even realizing it. The sales game in and of itself is a rather competitive game, and by making it even more competitive, you will notice those sales figures eventually rising.
Sometimes sales reps are not the ones to be blamed for poor results. When you have a team of lions led by a donkey, you can’t really expect much. The same goes if you want a professional and productive sales team – their leader has to be professional and productive as well.
A skilled and resourceful manager can make or break a sales team. Therefore, you should use every strategy out there to hire or create the best managers for your sales team. It doesn’t only matter what education they have. As a matter of fact, it is even more important that they constantly keep improving themselves.
There are various strategies that can help a manager boost their sales team’s productivity:
Setting well-defined goals for the team
Setting well-defined and realistic goals as well as communicating them clearly to your reps is essential. They need to be clear about what they are required to do and the goals have to be within their capabilities.
Use the latest technology to your advantage. For example, you can use practice management software to organize administrative tasks, streamline appointment bookings, simplify invoice creation and billing, as well as automate a number of other tasks.
Every manager can criticize their sales representatives but they also need to provide feedback on a regular basis. It is important to let your reps know what they did right and what they could do better. After all, this is a sign of respect and it also boosts engagement along with productivity.
Communication between your sales reps and the management has to be up to standard. Each business has to maintain a great work environment if productivity is a priority. However, there can be no such environment if there is no great communication.
Employee management isn’t only about delegating tasks to your team. It is also about perfecting communication, learning to listen, and implementing every piece of advice. Sales reps have to listen to each other but they also need to listen to you. Also, you need to pay attention to what they have to say. Introduce open-door policies, allow them to express their opinions, and always have project debriefings.
There are numerous strategies that can help you improve communication but nothing beats listening closely and allowing your team to say what they have on their minds. That way, they will feel appreciated, the management will have no difficulty spotting a problem, but most of all, dealing with issues is a lot easier when there is healthy personal interaction between the members and superiors.
It is important that the sales reps can always reach out to their superiors. That is why introducing multi-channel communication is highly recommended, especially if you manage a remote team.
To make your team communication stellar, use apps like Slack, as well as platforms like Jira, Trello, and TeamViewer. This will make it easier for your reps to keep in touch and solve their problems together with you.
Managers should always find new ways to motivate their sales reps. Team members that are excited about coming to work every day will be way more productive than those that feel unappreciated and useless.
Therefore, managing a sales team means constantly looking for new motivational strategies that boost productivity levels in the office. Before you dismiss this idea altogether, keep in mind that these strategies don’t always require monetary rewards or incentives that cost a lot of money.
Indeed, there are a number of ways to motivate your sales representatives without having to spend money. Celebrate each success as a team, praise them for over delivering, open a bottle of champagne with your sales team when they perform well. This way, you will show that you appreciate what they do and they will feel more motivated to keep doing a great job. All of this does wonders for productivity levels.
Remember, just like you should criticize errors or carelessness, you also need to reward both big and small wins. All effort has to be recognized and appreciated. When you build this healthy kind of relationship with your sales team, it will be much easier to get them to work better as a whole.
Forming a Sales Development Team
More and more businesses are starting to form sales development teams when they start to struggle with the productivity of their sales reps. Members of a sales development team do the difficult work that not many people could do. They are the ones cold-calling leads, responding to inbound leads, and evaluating potential leads for your business.
Of course, this is not the only reason why you should create a sales development team. This team is also a bridge between sales and marketing, as they engage leads generated by your marketing team and filter out the ones that should reach your sales reps.
And even though a number of businesses don’t even want to consider gathering a sales development team, these experts are quite important for the whole company.
Imagine how lucky your sales team would be if they had someone working around the clock to filter low-quality leads and only pass them the ones who are ready to make a purchase. This is a solution that perfectly aligns the sales and marketing departments. Ultimately, productivity levels can only go up when this kind of team is around.
It is obvious that there is more than one way to improve your sales team’s productivity. However, it is crucial that you do an audit before you start implementing what you have read in this article.
Determine what tampers with the productivity level of your sales team and then act. Once you find out where the squeaky wheel is, use the strategies above as well as every bit of knowledge available to you to rectify each mistake and improve your sales team’s productivity.
Contributed by Dave Schneider, the marketing manager at Albacross, the free B2B lead generation platform. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me and runs the churn reduction app, LessChurn.
New Research Around Consumer Shopping Habits Offers Retailers Insights on Increasing Foot Traffic with an Omnichannel Approach
The past decade was a major turning point for retailers, with legacy brands shifting their business models in response to the emergence of digital-first brands and changing shopping behaviors. Big players have adapted innovative new ways to appeal equally to an in-person and online consumer, i.e. Walmart with Jet.com.
Even so, there remains heightened competition from behemoths (such as Amazon) taking over customers’ wallets and screens. And now, with the rise of the direct-to-consumer brand making shopping more seamless and tailored than ever, retailers are witnessing the rise of the automated shopper who values personalized convenience above all else.
But if we take a step back, we can see that brick-and-mortar locations still live on and in fact, many direct-to-consumer and online-first brands have started to open physical locations. Take Amazon acquiring Whole Foods for example. This pattern of creating an omnichannel experience for consumers has only proven to be more successful for building brand loyalty. What we’re finding is that digital retail’s relevance is extending to the in-store experience and actually helping to drive in-store foot traffic.
It just takes a little convincing to lure consumers in-store
A new report released by Blis entitled “Omnichannel Consumers Treading New Paths to Purchase” shows that shoppers are still willing to go in-store, but they just need a reason to do so. In fact, 35% of consumers actually prefer purchasing in-store rather than online, and 41% of consumers surveyed said they could be swayed to head in-store off the back of a well-timed mobile ad. Further, with 45% of respondents citing an online reservation as a motivating factor for in-store pick-up, a quarter also said they’d be willing to buy in-store and have the purchase shipped to them (with 35% believing in-store purchases are more secure than online).
This provides an opportunity for retailers to capitalize on their consumers’ unique shopping preferences. Tailoring an approach that can move seamlessly from online to in-store and hone in on the elements that matter most to the individual shopper has the potential to increase sales and drive foot traffic.
The automated shopper continues to be on the rise
In today’s hyper-connected landscape, consumers are placing a higher premium on convenience and personalization than ever before. As a result, retailers are seeing a rise of an automated shopper who is willing to have an item automatically shipped on a recurring basis. The study found that a majority of consumers — particularly men — are receptive to this subscription model; in fact, 42% of men (vs 30% of women) were keen on automating clothing basics (like underwear), while 35% of men would automate shoe purchases (vs 25% of women). The concept also appeals to the younger 25-34 year old cohort, with 81% receptive to automating shopping (vs 61% for overall consumers).
Brands should target consumers as they make online purchases and identify chances to convert a one-off purchase into an ongoing subscription (with the ability to select delivery or pick-up in-store). By leaning into personalized shopping models, brands will enhance the overall experience and maximize convenience, in turn encouraging brand loyalty and freeing up time for consumers to explore innovative products and concepts in-store.
What will motivate consumers to switch brands?
Despite increasing competition among brands and the struggle for retailers to maintain brand loyalty, the study also revealed some interesting data tied to the influence of discounts for consumers. The findings showed that shoppers are actually less reactive to discounts, with 50% of respondents saying they would need a discount of at least 25% to switch toilet paper brands, and 16% stating that no discount would motivate them, regardless of size.
Overall, despite changing consumer preferences, many retailers are turning to an omnichannel approach to drive traffic from online to in-store and vice versa. As long as retailers can blend the experiences and give shoppers a reason to use both, they should be able to compete in the quickly evolving retail landscape. This lends further proof to the value of location-based consumer insights, which can be instrumental to helping retail brands better understand their customers and ultimately shape their shopping experiences around it. By having a unique, customizable omnichannel strategy, retailers can raise brand loyalty and drive traffic.
Contributed by Gil Larsen, Vice President, Americas at Blis.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published its highly anticipated final rule on the Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals.
These new regulations require retailers with pharmacies to examine – and likely restructure – their hazardous waste management practices. Under the new rule, which was published in the Federal Register in February 2019, retail pharmacies will have more flexibility from certain hazardous waste requirements.
However, the rules do require regulated entities to provide training and complete reporting and adhere to other legislative requirements. Failure to comply can result in costly fines, which is why it is important for every retailer of pharmaceuticals to follow a compliance plan.
Below, we detail what retailers carrying pharmaceuticals need to know about this new rule.
What is considered hazardous waste?
The EPA defines hazardous waste as “waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment.” Once an item containing hazardous properties is no longer usable, it is deemed hazardous waste.
Hazardous waste items have ignitable, corrosive, reactive or toxic characteristics. To determine whether a product is considered hazardous waste, review its safety data sheet, manufacturer information, label and ingredients. Specific guidelines provided by hazardous management service providers can also be referenced.
Common types of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals found in retail locations include, but aren’t limited to:
Some blood thinner medications
Some Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) controlled substances
What are the changes?
The changes in the rule were largely born specifically to address concerns identified by nationwide retailers dealing with compliance challenges for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals in their stores. The new rule changes how the entire health care industry – including retailers with pharmacies – handles, stores, transports and disposes of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals.
While the final rule does not increase the number of pharmaceuticals considered hazardous, it does include many changes that will impact retailers. Some of these changes include:
Eliminates “sewering” of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. Reducing intentional sewer disposal is one mechanism to help reduce the environmental loading of pharmaceuticals into our nation’s waterways.
Offers regulatory relief to retailers for management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. The rule outlines that hazardous waste pharmaceuticals do not count toward generator status, eases labeling and manifesting, and clarifies what wastes should be shipped to reverse distributors.
Amends the listing of nicotine patches, gums and lozenges. These items no longer have to be managed as hazardous waste. Although over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies are no longer considered hazardous when discarded, e-cigarettes are still considered an acute hazardous waste and are subject to the new requirements.
Another key change provides regulatory clarity on how pharmaceuticals must be managed. The rule clarifies the regulatory status of a major practice used by retailers for the management of unused drugs known as reverse distribution. This refers to the process for returning unused pharmaceuticals accumulated during the course of normal operations. During this process, drugs that are not dispensed are handed off to specialized brokers or the manufacturers for disposal.
This final rule streamlines the practice by establishing standards for managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, reducing regulatory burden on retailers and aligning with the existing practices of the retail sector.
What happens if I don’t comply?
There are many repercussions of improperly handling hazardous waste pharmaceuticals at any given time. Retailers that do not understand federal, state and local regulations can face environmental, health and safety risks, including water contamination.
In addition, non-compliance fines levied against the health care sector have increased in recent years, resulting in significant monetary penalties against retailers that are non-compliant. A number of states have taken enforcement actions against retailers that have not been compliant when returning pharmaceuticals. For example, California has taken enforcement actions against several national retail chains with pharmacies for not fully complying with the reverse distribution process.
While the financial burden of non-compliance is significant, the negative impact these public fines have on brand perception can be even more damaging and lasting.
What’s the bottom line?
State-by-state adoption of the Management Standards of Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals will be a long process with varying timelines and outcomes as states have the ability to be more stringent. The rule will go into effect in Alaska, Iowa and Puerto Rico on Aug. 21, 2019. Other states will have until 2021 or 2022 to adopt the new rule. This is because each state has their own version of the EPA and can adapt the rule accordingly.
Retailers are encouraged to seek help from a third-party vendor to not only help dispose of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, but to also serve as a compliance expert. Turning to a trained professional can help ensure retailers are up-to-date in regulatory changes and deadlines.
While there might be some time to adapt to the new rule, it’s important to be aware of these upcoming changes and even start implementing them sooner rather than later. Putting best practices in place now can help eliminate waste streams and better ensure the safety of patients, employees, the environment and the retailer’s overall brand.
Contributed by Wade Scheel, the director of governmental affairs for Stericycle Environmental Solutions, a leading provider of environmental and regulated waste management solutions. Stericycle’s hazardous waste services support virtually any kind of business that generates hazardous waste, and the company works with numerous Fortune 500 retailers. Learn more at www.stericycleenvironmental.com.
In the wake of the cloud and the mobile revolution, technology has come to play an increasingly important role in today’s small business. Small business technology spending has grown 18 percent since 2010, according to Brother International Corporation. Over 4 in 10 small businesses plan to increase technology spending. Businesses are spending more on technology because of the increased efficiency and savings they’re seeing in return for their investment. Cloud solutions have reduced small business workloads by 42 percent, according to Microsoft research, and mobile apps save small business workers 725 million hours of labor a year, according to CNBC. Two-thirds of small businesses have become so dependent on wireless technology that they would fail without it, an AT&T survey found.
The growing dependence of small businesses on technology makes your selection of technology a crucial decision for the success of your company. Here are four technology trends that can give your small business a boost.
Cloud-based Infrastructure and Apps
The cloud is allowing small businesses to tap into the same resources available to large enterprises without having to invest in a large on-premise IT center. Cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Cloud are making enterprise-scale IT resources available to small businesses at an affordable price. Small and medium-sized businesses that migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud can save an average of 36 percent on operational costs, a TSO Logic survey found.
Cloud apps are also helping small businesses streamline their operational efficiency by syncing data between apps. For instance, cloud-based accounting software apps such as QuickBooks Online, Xero, and FreshBooks can allow you to sync your bookkeeping data with data from other financial software, such as point-of-sale transaction, expense reporting, and payroll software, saving you hours of labor on data entry and reducing the risk of input errors.
Artificial intelligence is another technology tool helping level the playing field for small businesses trying to compete with larger enterprises. AI-powered business intelligence tools can help you make smart, data-based decisions about crucial business functions such as marketing, sales, and operational management. Today’s leading business intelligence tools, such as Microsoft Power BI, IBM Watson Analytics, and Google Analytics, are designed to be easy to use even if you’re not a data analyst.
While most leading AI services are cloud-based, mobile device manufacturers have also started to build on-device AI capability into smartphones, allowing smartphones to run sophisticated AI applications without the delay of waiting for data to download from the cloud. For instance, Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile platforms can run on-device AI applications such as natural language processing, virtual reality, and biometric facial recognition.
The latest mobile processors are also designed to support 5G connectivity speeds. 5G is on the horizon, and companies that embrace it early will enjoy a competitive advantage over latecomers. Where current 4G LTE networks can deliver theoretical download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, 5G networks will increase this hundreds of times to 10 gigabits per second. This means a video that would take 6 minutes to download on 4G would take 3.6 seconds on 5G.
Using a 5G network will allow small business owners to take advantage of technological innovations that rely on superfast connectivity, such as streaming virtual reality. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are all racing to roll out 5G networks as early as late this year or early next year.
Automated Marketing and Sales Tools
Marketing and sales are essential for the growth of any business, but they can consume an enormous amount of time. Automated marketing tools such as HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot help save time by providing a central platform for managing key marketing tasks such as running social media and email campaigns and scheduling follow-up contacts with prospects. Marketing automation platforms can also help improve the efficiency of marketing efforts through analytics tools that help optimize performance.
In a similar way, customer relationship management apps such as Salesforce, Zoho CRM and SugarCRM can optimize your sales efforts. CRM apps enable you to automatically track contacts with customers, view customer account histories, identify your best prospects, and customize your sales offer to fit buyer profiles. CRM tools can also be used to automate management of your sales force, matching your best available representatives to your hottest current prospects.
Cloud infrastructure and apps can save you money while increasing your efficiency. Artificial intelligence can help you make smarter data-based decisions and run cutting-edge applications on your mobile device. 5G can speed up your communications and allow you to leverage technology that depends on fast connectivity. Automated marketing and sales tools can improve your lead generation and sales conversion rates, translating into higher revenue. Small businesses that embrace these technology trends will enjoy a competitive advantage over rivals who lag behind in adoption. Getting in on today’s technology now will lay a foundation for greater profits for years to come.