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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

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.

Mobile Payments

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

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.

Conclusion

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.

The post Which Payment Types are Most Popular in 2019? appeared first on Retail Minded.

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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:

  •        gamification
  •        skilled management
  •        top-notch communication
  •        motivation
  •        forming a sales development team
Gamification

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.

Skilled Management

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.

Using technology

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.

Feedback

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.

Top-notch Communication

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.

Being available

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.

Motivation

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

The post 5 Essential Strategies for Improving the Productivity of Your Sales Team appeared first on Retail Minded.

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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 post Rise of the Omnichannel Shopper Is a Boon for Brick-and-Mortar appeared first on Retail Minded.

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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.

The EPA regulates hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) to ensure these wastes are managed in a compliant manner. RCRA mandates that generators of hazardous waste are responsible for waste from the time of generation to the final destruction.

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:

  • Aerosols
  • Insulin
  • Multivitamins
  • 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.

The post Carry Pharmaceuticals? What you Need to Know About the EPA’s New Rule appeared first on Retail Minded.

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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

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.

5G Connectivity

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.

The post 4 Technology Trends That Are Empowering Small Businesses appeared first on Retail Minded.

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While it doesn’t really matter whether you call them – “performance reviews” or “contribution reviews,” or something else – what does matter is that people get regular feedback. They receive performance appraisals and assessment of values contributions. That is why we encourage our culture change clients to call these discussions “contribution reviews” and include feedback to team leaders and members about the extent to which they are seen to demonstrate desired valued behaviors, as well as about their performance for the time period in question.

Many organizations manage performance on a calendar year plan, so the end of the year is when performance reviews occur. Your leaders, managers, and employees need regular performance feedback! Feedback lets staff know where they stand on goal accomplishment, contribution, and teamwork.

Too often, reviews aren’t done well — or even done at all. At a recent keynote event, I asked how many attendees have a review by their boss each year; more than half said they did NOT. Without regular feedback and insights on how they are perceived by their boss, peers, and customers, employees are left to wonder “who cares about what I do around here?”

Do your employees a favor: provide them with honest feedback, at least once per year, on their accomplishments, missed commitments, opportunities for development . . . AND on their demonstration of the organization’s desired valued behaviors.

From Performance Reviews to Contribution Reviews

In order for contribution reviews to be effective conversations, expectations must be clear for performance and for values, in advance. Most of our clients clarify performance expectations well in the planning process. Some clients use SMART goals, which ensure performance expectations meet the SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, trackable and time-bound).

Translating desired valued behaviors into effective measures as part of evaluating contribution takes a bit of effort, yet it will help clarify the kind of corporate citizenship you want every organization member to demonstrate, day in and day out.

Creating Values Standards with Actionable Feedback

In order to be actionable by the receiver, values feedback must be provided in the form of standards: exceeds the standard, meets the standard, and needs improvement.

Let’s take an example. One client defined the desired value, alacrity, as “our enthusiastic eagerness to get the right things done quickly. We honor the pace of business today and get things done promptly and efficiently. As active risk takers, we choose action over inaction. We cooperate to create open systems and communications. We learn and adapt on a daily basis, striving for excellence, without letting the pursuit of perfection slow us down.” Behaviors for this value were refined to fit the standards rating for annual reviews in this way:

Exceeds Standard

1) Holds self and others accountable to high standards.

2) Often exceeds and consistently meets deadlines committed to.

3) Assists team members with their projects regularly.

Meets Standard

1) Meets minimum standards for work performance.

2) Consistently meets deadlines committed to.

3) Assists team members with their projects when able.

Needs Improvement

1) Rarely exceeds the standard for work performance.

2) Misses deadlines on a regular basis.

3) Rarely seen assisting team members with their projects.

All valued behaviors are ranked either “exceeds, meets, or needs improvement.” A player might deserve an “exceeds” ranking on item one but a “meets” ranking on items two & three. To ensure an accurate assessment of valued behaviors, clients gather perceptions from bosses, peers, and even customers in a custom values survey, typically administered twice each year. Data from respondents is utilized to gauge values demonstration in their contribution reviews.

If your organization does annual reviews for every staff member, that’s good. If annual reviews just focus on performance, you’re missing out on a key differentiator in today’s business environment: values alignment.

Contributed by S. Chris Edmonds, Founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. 

The post Contribution Reviews Create Values Alignment with Actionable Feedback appeared first on Retail Minded.

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In e-commerce, the checkout process is the most crucial for all businesses. It is very painful for an online seller who receives visitors to their site but makes minimal sales. It is even more painful when a potential buyer places items into the cart only to abandon them at the checkout stage. Research has shown that over 70 per cent of online shoppers drop the cart just before checkout. Here are some of the reasons why shoppers give up before entering the payment details.

Why Shoppers Abandon Goods Before Checkout
  • Comparison – Some clients will be comparing prices from different online shops and once the total price is displayed, they will purchase from the seller who offers the best deal.
  • Stressful sign-up process.
  • Hidden costs and high shipping charges.
  • Distractions.
Tips To Avoid Losing Customers During Checkout
  1. Avoid distracting clients

By the time a client navigates to the checkout page am sure you have put in a lot of effort to convince them to remain focused. It will be your own undoing if you tried distracting them with pop up messages and links. It is also not wise to try bringing up discount pop-ups. At this moment you want to help your client focus until they make the payment. Some sites that make sales online even remove navigation bar from the checkout page lest clients fail to close the deals.

  1. Make it possible to view the total cost

As earlier noted, most customers will compare prices from different sites before deciding on where to purchase. It is therefore important to make it easy for the clients to view the total cost without having to register or sign in. If you complicate the checkout page, most users will become frustrated and leave the page altogether.

  1. Show all charges

As you display the total cost, ensure you include all prices including those of extra costs like shipment. Otherwise, clients may conclude that the estimated price is that of the item alone. You should break down the costs so that your client does not feel duped and run away to a competitor’s site.

  1. Only ask for relevant information

Some sites will ask for unnecessary information on the checkout page that often causes frustration to customers. For instance, some sites ask for too much information such as age, multiple addresses, and bank details this mostly plays to their disadvantage. Instead, make it easy on your potential buyers, show them that you trust them and you will have a high conversion rate. At the end of the day, all you want is to make sales and not a database of customer’s details. In the event, a customer fails to fill in the forms correctly, show them where the mistake occurred because it is annoying when you keep trying to proceed with the next step but keep getting the error messages.

  1. Indicate that a client’s payment is secured

Everyone is cautious about where they fill in their bank details thanks to the many fraudsters all over the world. By simply indicating that the payment detailsare secure and that they won’t be shared with third parties, it gives the clients a sense of security. That way, the potential buyers are likely to click the buy button that is good for your business.

  1. Free shipping

Customers are intrigued by small things that most online sellers tend to overlook. For instance, if you indicate that you offer free shipping, you may find many customers visiting your site and actually completing the payment process. The trick is just including the total cost of shipping onto the product price so that you don’t incur losses.

  1. Easy return

Most sellers usually indicate that goods once sold cannot be returned. Well, such a statement can scare away clients who are sceptical about the quality of your products. Most sellers will even include such a statement in bold letters on the checkout page. That could be the main reason why you are receiving many visitors on your site but you have no sales to show for the traffic. Assure clients that you will replace their item in the case they are faulty.

  1. Customize the checkout page

When customizing the checkout page using a site builder, you should try some of these tips.

– Localize the money according to the client’s location to avoid confusion in terms of the amount to pay.

– Make the checkout page mobile friendly.

– Try psychological tricks such as making the money seem little so that buyers cannot feel the pinch of paying.

– Create a smart form such that it automatically fills in details such as location depending on where the customer is. Better still; allow the user to log in via Google accounts so that it is possible to automatically get details such as name, location, and email.

Conclusion

The checkout page is the most crucial part of any e-commerce site because it determines whether sales are made or not. To ensure that shoppers do not abandon the cart after navigating all the way to the check out page, you have to apply some few tricks. For instance, avoid distractions, don’t ask for unnecessary information, secure payments, offer free shipping, allow clients to return faulty goods, and customize the checkout page to ensure maximum sales.

Contributed by Kerry Harrison, an experienced content writer, with a First Class Hons Degree in Multimedia Journalism. She currently works for UK Web Host Review, providing content on SEO, web hosting, web performance, UX, web security, web design, and much more. 

The post How to Stop Losing Shoppers During Checkout appeared first on Retail Minded.

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It seems, almost daily, we are regaled by technological developments that promise our customers richer, more enhanced experiences. That’s definitely true in regards to digital signage. This technology has been shaking up retail for over a decade. Screens continue to get bigger, clearer, and more affordable. We have astonishing LEDs that span city blocks and 8K displays that stop us in our tracks with never-before-seen clarity and vividness.

While retailers are rightfully intrigued with this technology as a means to attract attention and provide customers with an improved shopping experience, fancy screens aren’t the primary driver in achieving differentiation. The content is.

Beautiful screens are only as good as what’s playing on them

I recently saw the latest 8K screens at a trade show in Las Vegas, and they were a show-stopping spectacle. Large crowds gathered around to witness brilliant videos of cityscapes and natural wonders. The problem is all this sizzling video was created specifically to display these screens at these shows. If you’re a retailer looking to deploy a fleet of gorgeous displays to wow customers, keep in mind that 4K and 8K content is in short supply–extremely short supply for 8K displays. In order for an 8K to shine, you need 8K content which likely means you’ll need a hefty budget for original content production.

As you consider investment in some new snazzy screens, remember the journey should start not with a purchase but a strategy—a keen attention to objectives, the content mix, and measurement. From there, evaluate the right hardware options and ensure you have budget for original content production. Shoppers are turned off today with stale content, so you must feed the beast.

Let’s quickly outline the best practices to creating the most effective digital signage content.

Great content starts with a solid strategy

The first step: Identify objectives
You need to define a measurable objective that the screen should achieve. This will help you measure success and give you an understanding of the ROI (which you may need to justify the purchase of an expensive piece of hardware). Examples of objectives include telling your brand story, incenting store visits with compelling offers, highlighting products to increase basket size, and providing entertainment to reduce perceived wait times. Whatever the objective, remember that every screen should have a purpose.

The second step: Develop a content strategy
After the objective of the screen is defined, it’s time to concoct your top-secret formula: the content strategy. The strategy is the guiding instrument for content creation. It outlines key factors like the mix of content types (educational, promotional, entertainment, etc.), playlist duration, measurable calls to action, and the frequency for refreshing content.

The third step: Create great content
Whether it’s from an in-house creative team or an outside creative agency, there are many avenues to creating great content. Most brands focus on content for the traditional touchpoints like broadcast, print, digital, and social media, and they plan to repurpose assets for the digital signage channel. Unfortunately, sometimes the available content doesn’t fulfill the objectives of the digital signage network or connect back to the content strategy. It’s imperative to factor in the digital signage component during the asset planning phase. That will ensure you capture images and videos in resolutions that will look the best on your screens, plus you can factor in other requirements like the runtime for your video clips.

The final step: Measure results
Based on step one, you’ve likely defined what success looks like. Now it’s time to dig in and see if your digital signage is delivering the results you hoped for. If so, great. Tweak elements of the content to see if you can further optimize your results. If you’re not yet meeting the success measures, closely evaluate the content and ensure it connects back to the strategy. If it does, you may need to revisit the strategy. Make sure the program isn’t self-serving; it needs to reduce friction and enrich the experience of your customers.

Today’s screens come a variety of shapes, sizes and resolutions. You’ve got HD, 4K, 8K, and beyond. The flash and bang that you get from these modern displays can be enticing. With clearly defined objectives and a robust content strategy in hand, you’re can intelligently select the right hardware for the job.

Contributed by Mason Page, EVP Strategic Business Planning for Ideagrove. 

The post When It Comes to High-end Digital Signage, Content is King appeared first on Retail Minded.

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Why Is Branding Important to Consumers?

Brand names are those known in the whole world. Ask someone if they want a soda and the vast majority will immediately think of Coke. Designer shoes? Gucci. Luxury car? Mercedes. Even when it’s not the best (most people prefer Pepsi in blind taste tests, after all), they’re more likely to choose the better-known option. So, do people truly prefer brand to quality, and, if so, does this mean that you need a brand for your project? How do you go about making one?

Consumers expect a certain amount of quality for something that is well-known, particularly if it’s recognized for actually being good. This can only take a business or product so far, of course: If you’re prominent for your poor quality products, then you’re not going to get many customers that will return to you. So, when making your brand, make sure the goods are of the highest quality.

How Does Branding Benefit Consumers and Marketers?

Marketers love brand names. Buying brand name items is something many people do out of habit because they know what they will be getting. The air of respectability and trust that it has means that the word of the brand has power to it. Therefore, consumers will get what they pay for, and marketers won’t have to overstate the good qualities an item has. Good brands will also be immediately recognizable so that it stands out from the plethora of competitors that you surely find out there.

Branding Over Quality

Of course, branding does have to compete with quality. As stated above, quality is still an essential factor in whether your project will succeed or not. If you run essay writing services and your essay writing service reviews are all poor, you can expect to see fewer consumers even with a brand name. A business that produces top essay writing reviews is more likely to build up their image making them the best. The products or services offered (in this case, essay writing reviews) have to be good quality first, and the brand can build on that.

Is a Brand Necessary?

Strictly put, a brand isn’t necessary. It’s impossible to succeed in your venture without one. It is, however, infinitely more difficult, and you’re far more likely to fail. On the subject of writing services reviews again, you would likely build up to little or no new consumer bases, and your business will struggle. But a good paper writing services review or two will help make a name for yourself. And that name will bring in new people.

What Is Your Brand’s Focus?

Now comes the “fun” part: Building your brand. The first thing you need to do when considering your brand is what the focus will be on. It should be something connected to whatever service or product you’re offering, of course. Perhaps it’s helping students through college, using the writing example we gave above. Or, if you sell sports equipment, it could be bringing sports into the community. Sit down and think hard about what you want this project to go.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

This is just as important as the focus itself. Every business has a certain demographic that it is to target. The writing example would target college students. Fast food restaurants target people that are in a hurry. You can think outside of the standard “age range, gender, economic status” boxes. Get creative! The world is a big place, and there is something for everybody.

What’s Your Look?

You don’t have to have this completely locked down to start building your brand, but it helps. Knowing the general look that you want to be associated with can help you draw the right people’s attention. At fast food places, the bright colors draw in people that are hungry and want to eat quickly. At more expensive restaurants, the dim lighting and relaxed mood make people linger over their food. There are thousands of different examples, but it all boils down to the same thing: Your look will matter.

Know Thine Enemy

Your competitors, that is. Unless your idea is unique, you’re likely to have a few. Some of these will already have a brand name of their own. So you’ll want to make yourself stand out from them.

All in all, brand name is important. It inspires confidence in consumers and makes marketing easier for businesses looking to sell a product or service. Developing this name isn’t easy, but it is something that can bring you great success further down the road.

The post Do People Pay For Brand Or Quality? How To Develop Your Project Right? appeared first on Retail Minded.

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Let’s get straight to the point here.

Retail profits are not just beneficial to merchants, but rather manufacturers, suppliers, logistical companies and the industries that respectively support each of these channels, as well. Keeping this in mind, how can merchants and the companies that fuel them collectively protect their profits in an increasingly competitive retail marketplace?

Very simply, fulfilling customer demands is an integral part of accomplishing retail profit. Due to this, retailers must identify and then meet the demands that consumers expect. Among them include delivering purchases made online in a timely fashion with the option to add or even change order details post purchase – and often while orders are already in transit – as well allowing customers to determine when, where and how they receive their purchase made. From buying online and picking up in store (BOPIS) to drop shipping products to offering same day delivery or even free delivery, there are a lot of variables for merchants to consider as they aim to accommodate consumer expectations.

With 165 billion packages reported to be shipped annually due to consumer purchases, retailers can no longer ignore that fulfillment impacts customer satisfaction and retail sales… plain and simple.  What’s not so simple, however, is how the fulfillment of these packages are being managed. Everything from inventory availability to carrier options to variables in weather and so much more impact the speed and success of fulfillment management for merchants – and thus, the satisfaction of consumers. There’s good news, however, to this seemingly complex scenario.

Helping to bring transparency to fulfillment, consumer expectations and retail profit include the following:

  • Artificial Intelligence: Enhanced customer experiences are in demand among consumers and fortunately, with AI these are continuously being improved upon. As a direct result to artificial intelligence, retailers benefit from having stronger fulfillment experiences that include recommendations based on past consumer purchases, the evaluation of cost and capabilities of shipments being processed and even the process of picking, packing and shipping in an effort to reduce retailer cost while improving the speed and efficiencies of these scenarios along the way.
  • Hybrid Cloud Technology: 24|7 accessibility to retail data isn’t enough anymore to manage dynamic retail businesses. Having 24|7 accessibility from anywhere and from any touchpoint is what modern merchants need to support the constantly moving details of their businesses and with hybrid cloud technologies, they can achieve this. Without this, however, fulfillment is compromised since the details of fulfillment can change at any moment. From reverse logistics to omnichannel fulfillment to replenishment of inventory, hybrid cloud technology connects the dots of fulfillment management for merchants and a result, helps to keep consumers satisfied when it comes to meeting their fast – and sometime furious – demands.
  • Single Platform Technologies:Having an intelligent software system that integrates all the touchpoints of consumer orders is essential in meeting fulfillment expectations. IBM’s Order Management solution accomplishes this by putting the customer at the core of their software intelligence, allowing retailers to achieve accurate and real-time data on inventory availability from across all selling channels as well as the option to coordinate order fulfillment across their extended supply networks. Collectively, these efforts allow retailers to fulfill customer expectations without compromising their own, as well, which is to strengthen store profit.

Finally, as a merchant it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of running a retail business. Everything from inventory availability to transportation details to unexpected weather to digital marketing impacts the success or failures of a retail operation… yet no longer are any of these excuses for retailers to dismiss profit. Fast and convenient is what customers want and without meeting these expectations, retailers risk losing consumers. To avoid this, online and offline retailers alike need to introducefastfulfillment strategies – not just fulfillment strategies – into their order management. Explore more on how you can accomplish this here.

The post Protecting Retail Profit: Is Fast Fulfillment the Answer? (Hint… Yes It Is… And Here’s Why) appeared first on Retail Minded.

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