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It doesn’t matter whether you’re a brick-and-mortar seller, an e-commerce merchant or somewhere in between. For most retailers, returns are just an unavoidable part of doing business. However, operating in a digital environment does introduce challenges that physical retailers don’t need to consider.

Sometimes, it’s obvious what triggers a return; in other cases, a return may require some in-depth investigation before you get to the bottom of the matter. It will depend on your business model, product category and a whole host of other variables.

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Summer “officially” starts on June 21st this year, and I thought I would do a quick blog post to highlight some things to keep an eye on as the summer break approaches.

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Smaller merchants who sell products with Amazon, craving more leverage, are beginning to join the newly founded Online Merchants Guild. As the threat of states levying back taxes on past sales looms, merchants, likely to be easier targets than Amazon, are hoping that a group, such as the Online Merchants Guild, will give them the lobbying power they need to thwart such legislation.

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Celebrity fitness trainer Gillian Michaels promotes SodaStream, a healthier alternative to sugary soft drinks. Photo: Bluewater Media.


Direct response television (DRTV) remains a powerful weapon that every marketer should consider in their arsenal. Despite increasing media fragmentation, increased competition for advertiser dollars and a general sense that traditional linear TV is in decline, DRTV still leverages the most mass of mass media and has powerful advantages that other forms of marketing simply do not enjoy. Here are five compelling reasons why DRTV remains relevant and worthy of any marketer’s attention:

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With the rising level of customer sophistication and the widespread use of Amazon reviews, the days of huge profits for subpar products in direct response is quickly coming to an end. Gimmicks are quickly identified as such and once exposed, these products rarely make it to retail. If they do, they are doomed to fail quickly, afflicted by the weight of returns and a negative reputation.

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Swim cap and sarong courtesy of an art director who doesn’t have a clue.

This past week, an article in the New York Times, titled “Why Traditional TV Is in Trouble,” outlined in rather stark terms how aged the audience for the top 10 network television shows is, in advance of the annual upfront TV advertising derby. The median age for the top 10 network entertainment shows, according to Nielsen and as reported by the Times, is as follows:

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It is finally official. For the first time since 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is completely filled out. On behalf of ERA and the direct response community, please join in welcoming the new Commissioners into office. We wish you great success in your roles to ensure the consumer protection mandate of the Commission.

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This week, your Friday Forecaster goes into the archives to offer “Under Construction,” a DISH column that first appeared in Electronic Retailer magazine's December 2014 issue. Its topic is just as relevant today, as it asks readers to consider their professional and personal life’s course, and whether it is aligned with their true purpose.

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“But I’d never buy a ____ if I couldn’t check it out in person first.” To win over a skeptical segment of the buying public, direct-to-consumer retailers have spent decades successfully overcoming that hurdle. Industry members have used accurate product demonstrations, representative testimonials, in-depth documentation and other methods for building shoppers’ confidence.

Another way many direct response marketers signal their intention to stand by what they sell is by offering warranties — sometimes described as a promise that a product will meet a specified level of performance over a particular period of time.
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A rendering of the “Country Square” kitchen set, currently under construction at Bluewater Media.

In the 1980s, during the nascent days of cable television when your Friday Forecaster was first starting in the advertising business, audiences were tiny, unrated and easy to dismiss by the dominant, big-three broadcast networks. In time, combined cable ratings surpassed those three networks — and in recent years, viewership for Netflix has also eclipsed audiences for those same once-dominant broadcasters. Today, the marketplace is at a similar nexus, as media usage habits shift, and bloggers and social media influencers begin to attract audiences in sizes that range from those requiring micro-measurement, to aggregated audiences that offer numbers rivaling TV’s reach. As of September 2017, it was estimated that there are more than 440 million blogs worldwide, according to mediakix, a number that has surely surpassed a half a billion by now. Food bloggers comprise one of the largest categories, with top influencers attracting audiences that number in the millions, drawn to their websites and social media hubs that include Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter. Enter Bluewater Media, a converged marketing agency based in Clearwater, Florida, that is helping influencers generate and monetize their content.

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