How hard is it for you to just say no?

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It’s always interesting to me that people find it hard to say “no”.  I am talking about the people that don’t say yes, either.  Right, you know what I’m talking about.  If you have been in business for any length of time you have come across people who just can’t say no but they don’t say yes.

Many believe that when you never respond that it should be accepted as the universal “no”.

Yet, just saying no from the beginning would save so much time and money.  I believe saying no should be considered a standard of excellence in conducting oneself with professional etiquette.  I would guess that most people would appreciate that response and see it as a respectful gesture that you don’t want to waste anyone’s time including your own.

Say no, if you’re not interested…

Say no, if you’re don’t want the person on the other end to call you back…

Say no, if you don’t want emails and voice mails clogging your inbox...

But for some reason, the majority of us just can’t say no.  I did some research on this topic only to find out that this phenomenon has been talked about and written about at exhaustive levels; but mostly about people who always say “yes”.  An article written by Hank Davis from Psychology Today put it best “…they are far more comfortable having your request die of old age than actually refusing it.  They’ll leave it for you to figure out whatever it was you wanted just ain’t gonna happen”.

Really?  Just say “no thank you”.

Here’s my top 5 reasons why we just can’t say no. They are:

1.      The Universal language of “no”

 By not responding you get the message. (We already talked about this which I believe is the #1 reason.)

2.      Avoiding Tension/Conflict

Uncomfortable saying no because we don’t want tension or conflict.  

3.      Hedging our Bets

Thinking about the issue because we don’t want to entirely close the door because it’s just like the lottery “you never know”

4.      Too Busy

Believing that we are too busy to stop and take the time to respond. 

5.      Not Relevant

It’s just not relevant to our business/being.  (This is the most justifiable reason but still just respond “no”.)

focusing is about saying no
— Steve Jobs

That makes a lot of sense intellectually; and, admittedly, I’m not a psychologist (even though I did consider Psychology as a Minor in undergraduate for a moment).  But it’s my guess that it’s more of an emotionally-driven non-response.

Either way, like the lyrics of a popular song “say something or I’m giving up on you”.  But, wouldn’t it be so much easier to just say “no”?

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

 

When was the last time you felt "welcomed home"?

When was the last time you felt “welcomed home” by a brand?

Ralphie and Snuggels back home and getting ready for a bath!

Ralphie and Snuggels back home and getting ready for a bath!

In the winter we took a trip that wasn’t for pleasure but was necessary. Both Snuggles (a small pink bear) and Ralphie (a small brown bear) have been traveling with us since our daughter was a baby.  We once lost Ralphie at a Disney hotel. He got tangled up in the bed sheets when the maid cleaned the room. Lucky for us, we realized that he was missing and immediately alerted the lost and found at the hotel; and, once we identified him we got him back. We escaped a bad outcome. 

Well for this winter trip, we stayed in two different hotels over a short four day period. It was a memorial and burial for my Mom. So, we weren’t as sharp as we normally are due to the circumstances. 

This was mid-February. 

Fast forward to April we realized that Snuggles and Ralphie were missing. 

I called the last hotel we stayed at near the Charlotte airport and they informed me that they only keep lost and found items for 30 days but they would take a look around and get back to me if they found something.  I chalked that up to lost cause. 

I then called the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Hickory, NC where we stayed first. I should mention that this is the same hotel that I stayed at for my monthly visits down to see my mother when she was ill. On our last visit, there was a sympathy card in our room signed by the entire staff.  

I was informed that housekeeping would get back to me. 

They did. 

Not only did the head of housekeeping call me. She was holding both Snuggles and Ralphie and giving me a full description of each. 

This was great news!  They found the bears and kept them!  Now to get them home. 

I worked with the front desk to ship them out via UPS to our home. Both arrived unharmed the following week. And, my daughter was happy to welcome them home. 

This hotel property didn’t disappoint me. They have always showed exemplary customer service by learning my name, my sibling names that stayed there from out of town, greeting us and always ensuring that all of our requests were met.  

In the day where every company claims that they deliver excellence in customer service there are few who truly execute well. Here’s what the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Hickory, NC delivered to me and my family for over a year in customer service; they:

·         Made it Personal - from the Front Desk to the Breakfast Waitress they made it a point to not only greet us but get to know us. 

·         Cared – they felt our pain every month as we visited our sick Mother. Always giving us a word of encouragement. 

·         Listened - they couldn’t make it personal or care without listening to us. (Really listening). 

·         Followed Up - they did what they said they would do. The housekeeper followed up; the front desk shipped the bears. 

Many brands talk about customer service but how many of us deliver a high level of service on a consistent basis throughout every level of the company?  

It took welcoming Snuggles and Ralphie home to remind me that this hotel made me feel welcomed each month I stepped through their lobby doors.  What are you doing to make your customers feel like they are being welcomed every time they come back?

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

 

Guess where?

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I know that this has been a realization for a while; and, I have written about it before. But it still just amazes me that it’s anybody’s guess what store you might be in when you show merchandising photos. Recently we were looking for outdoor deck furniture. Nothing elaborate because we have a limited amount of time to enjoy good weather here in the Northeast. Don’t feel bad for us. There are some wonderful benefits to living on the East Coast but unfortunately, weather isn’t one of them. 

We hit all of the usual retail suspects both brick and mortar (independents and mass) and online (specialty and mass). 

So I thought it would be fun to play a guessing game with you. I included merchandising photos of five different stores (including grocery).  Undoubtedly, some are obscure retailers that we would never consider buying outdoor furniture from to just make it that more interesting.; and, to make a point that every retailer is trying to sell seasonal merchandise.

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Those of you who know the retail landscape probably got every guess correct. So, congratulations! 

What was really interesting, is that we ended up going to a retailer that has been in the news a lot lately (and not in a positive way). 

Without fail, every brick and mortar sales associate (both mass and specialty) told us that there were more options online. We actually found a set we liked and we told the sales associate we would order it online. He immediately explained if we order it online without him that he doesn’t get commission; so, we felt a little obligated to order with him. It wasn’t the retailer’s online store but its marketplace. 

So, he sat down in front of the computer and we waded through pages and pages of outdoor furniture on their website and their marketplace. We decided on a set. The sales associate punched in my address, credit card, etc.  It was more like a concierge service except we had to look at all of the photos with him as he worked the mouse scrolling through the options. 

At the same time, we bought an umbrella and grill from the store to be delivered. Later, we found out that it was sales associate second day on the job; so, we were especially glad that we took the extra time and made the sale with him. 

And, in case you’re still guessing the retailer locations of the above photos, I have to tell you I took these photos over the course of early to late spring; so, it’s anybody’s guess. 

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

What did you get for your birthday?

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Recently I celebrated a birthday and had a lovely day. I am always reminded as each year passes that more and more brands are leveraging their customer data, as they should; and, more and more loyalty rewards programs in particular are identifying incentives that really mean something to their customers.

In the past, I have always received generic well wishes from many of the loyalty rewards programs and/or service companies that I am a member. This year, I received something from more brands across different categories and industries. What better time to recognize your customers than on our birthdays?

 

Here’s how some of my favorite brands wished me a happy birthday:

  • Starbucks sent me a birthday wish and offered me a free food or beverage item of my choice. I just had to use it on my actual birthday. I did.
     
  • Marriott sent a festive birthday wish along with an elite credit towards a free night. I just needed to activate the link so they could put the credit in my account. I did.
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  • Hair Salon. A family owned business sent me a post card offering $5 off of my next service. It came through the mail and it was homemade which made me smile. I love independent owned small businesses! All I had to do was present the card at my next appointment. I did.

 

 

  • Spa & Wellness Center. Another family owned business mailed me a birthday postcard wish the old fashioned way with a $10 credit towards my next spa service. I haven’t used this yet but I do plan on it.
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  • Panera’s celebrated my birthday with a pastry. Days later they sent me a reminder that it would expire soon. So nice. (Unfortunately it expired before I could get over there to use it).

 

So, I was really impressed and while I know it’s an algorithm that identifies my special day it still made me feel good that each one of these businesses appreciate who I am as their customer. While it’s hard to build loyalty these days I got to tell you this scores big in my book.

On the other hand, I got some nice birthday greetings from other brands that I frequent and they were fun too.

For example, I got a JetBlue birthday wish. It was nice of them to send me an animated electronic birthday card. I opened it and enjoyed reading it. The funny thing, JetBlue told me I should go to their website and book a trip. A birthday gift for myself. I love JetBlue but that suggestion sounded more like a birthday gift for JetBlue. I would have just enjoyed the wish without the suggestion because it then became about them and not me.

While all of the wishes were about driving sales some made it less subtle than others and captured the essence of the messaging which is remembering me on my birthday. And, let me be clear it’s not about gifts. A genuine birthday wish without an incentive is fine. As long as your messaging stays focused on your customer that is what helps to build brand loyalty.

So, here’s wishing you have a lovely day on your birthday too!

 

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

 

 

Images Matter

The second in our series of guest blogs. Enjoy.
— Sonya Ruff Jarvis
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Images Matter

 

A single product photo won’t cut it with lifestyle goods. Images have to show how a product is used, how it feels in a space, its dimension and scale. Here, important reminders for creating images that online shoppers can truly use.

 

In an online marketplace, seeing is more than believing. Seeing is purchasing. All the fantastic descriptions in the world won’t sell a product if the consumer or client can’t see a picture.

And gone are the days when a simple snapshot convinced a customer. Today, they want to view a model with their specific body type wearing the clothing they’re considering (sizeable.com.au), or a demonstration of the full functionality of a Lightweight Black Hole® Cinch Backpack 20L (patagonia.com).

Of course, not every business has the budget, staff or equipment to do it all. But some basic considerations can make your product imagery more useful to a customer, increasing the confidence needed to make a purchase.

Color
Does your product come in several colors? Is color the key feature of your product? At a minimum, make sure your images represent every option.

Take it further by showing your product in indoor lighting that you’ve standardized across all your product photos. Then include an image with natural lighting--again, making sure that it’s the same level and amount of lighting from the same space across all your product images.

Even better, place a white card against your product, and use the same white card with all your product photos. When your customers can distinguish that “classic tan” has a bit of salmon, and “neuvo tan” has more of a green undertone, they will *love* you.

Texture
I’ll be honest: I have no idea how “velvet” and “microfiber” feel when compared side-by-side. Is the leather stiff or soft? What about the denim? Textured tile can look fairly flat from the front--how does it look from an angle?

Take a close-up photo to show the texture as clearly as possible--from the front and from the side. Take it further by creating a short video as you (or a model) run your hand over the surface. If it’s a cushion or fabric, squash it a bit.

Dimensions
This may be a no-brainer, but the dimensions of your product are essential. If it won’t fit a space, then nothing else matters.

Take it further by offering an image of the product with the dimensions actually shown on the photo. It can be confusing for a customer to determine whether the “left arm” of a sectional sofa is the longer or the shorter. Save your customer service team time by preemptively answering those questions.

Is your product a consumable? Tell them exactly how much space it will cover or how many uses they can expect. Then illustrate the quantity that you consider enough for a “use.”

Scale
If your customer is shopping for a dresser, and your photo shows your large dresser in a spacious room but your small dresser in a tiny room, it’s difficult for the customer to compare how it will feel in their room. Or to use the example of the sectional sofa: Does it sit low to the ground, or will Grandma be able to get out of it easily?

Placing your product in its best setting is key to earning a first look. But consider also placing each product in a space that’s uniform across all products. Make it easy to compare by positioning something consistent nearby--maybe a potted plant or a floor lamp. Perhaps the same person appears in all your images or videos.

How It Feels in a Space
This is huge. And it’s the most complicated to illustrate from a still image. But video will shine.

It can be as simple as your iPhone and a tripod. (I like the JOBY GorillaPod™ 325 Tripod.) Set it up, hit record, then engage with the product. Open the curtains and smile. Roll a layer of paint onto the wall. Ten to 15 seconds is ample time for action.

You can do some simple editing and add music with free or cheap apps--Flipgram is pretty user friendly. If that intimidates you, look for a video editing agency that’s willing to do an hour’s worth of simple trims and fade-ins. Or check with a graphic design/videography school in your area--even high schoolers are getting really good at this stuff.

As I mentioned in the last blog, words matter, too. Don’t forget to include very short descriptions including keywords in the alt text spaces for each image and video. If you’re hosting video on YouTube, fill out every descriptive box.

A few final points:

  • Before you begin creating images, hone in on your brand “feel.” This might be a series of adjectives: airy, energetic, happy, calm, classic. Set up each image so that it consistently evokes the tone of your brand.
     
  • Lighting and editing really are key. Take the time to get it right. It may be worth hiring a professional the first time out to consult and provide tips if you want to DIY.
     
  • Be sure any model you use in your photos and videos represents your demographic. If you’re marketing to new college graduates, use them in your images.

A picture is worth a thousand words, yes. But putting some extra thought and planning into your product photos and videos also could be worth significantly increased sales.

 

Julianne Will, Writer | Editor | Social Media Marketer | ESL Instructor | Entrepreneur
Julianne has been published in major metropolitan daily newspapers and national magazines, as well as written print and online copy for diverse industries including wine, fitness, food, travel, retail, banking, industrial technology, real estate, commercial paint and decorating, and more. She crafts strategy, creates profiles and serves as the voice of businesses on social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Julianne also has launched a small ecommerce business retailing goods that give back.   juliannewill.com | explorelocaluniverse.com

Tuesday was an interesting day...

Tuesday May 22, 2018 was an interesting day for me; and, I am guessing for the retail home improvement b-to-b industry too.  For me, I took the day off and went with my daughter on her school’s 5th grade field trip to the Mystic Seaport, coined the Museum of America and the Sea in Mystic, CT.

For those of you who are not familiar with Mystic, CT it is a small town in the southeastern part of the state that is along the Mystic river that flows into the Long Island Sound which is access to the Atlantic ocean.  So, it is a seaside town and the Mystic Seaport Museum re-created the 19th century seagoing village NOT with replicas but real buildings fully staffed with the most amazing historians, storytellers, cooks and musicians.  It is quite impressive and really brings history to life.  It was a great field trip for the children but all of the parents loved soaking in some history too!

We had an excellent tour guide who was a retired Librarian named Kate.  She helped to refresh my memory; plus, I learned new things about 19th century living in Connecticut. The experience was enlightening and sometimes surprising; but, definitely an interesting day for me. 

Being involved in the home improvement business-to-business retail world, the internet was blowing up with breaking news while I was enjoying the field trip. We were asked (no, really told) to be role models to the students by not using our phones. So, I had no idea what was going on…until much later.

I finally read the news that a major CEO had left a retailer to head up the second largest home improvement mass retailer.  Surprised?  Yes, but it makes so much sense.

When DIY home improvement and hardware get under your nails it is hard to get it out.  The hardware/home improvement industry has a way of pulling you in and while it is boring and un-exciting to many there are also those of us who love the business.  So, as I was walking around exploring and taking in the sites and literally watching history come alive before my own eyes, where was my gaze fixed?

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You guessed it! What really caught my eye and interest were the old hardware and maritime stores.

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This tiny village back in the day had its hardware store and its mass merchants that were central to the survival of villagers and seamen who relied on these products.

So, Tuesday May 22, 2018 was an interesting day because it reminded me that the hardware/home improvement industry means a lot to me but it also means a lot to so many people out there that contribute and work in the industry. 

From the outside, I understand why this executive went back to his hardware/home improvement roots because it draws you in and when you leave it you miss it.  I bet he had an interesting Tuesday too!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

I’m walking the floor...

I’m walking the floor at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and it is wrapping up today. While, the name of the show includes hardware, the show is so much more than that specific category. It encompasses all of Home inside and out except soft lines and table-top to fine dining.  

Yes, just like the store floors, the Hardware Show crosses and crisscrosses many different product categories that you think wouldn’t naturally appear at a “Hardware Show”. 

Here are some of my fun finds this week that I found walking the show floor that are worthwhile to share:

  • Garage Smart has Smart garage and storage products. Plus, the products are smart device controllable with a Bluetooth app or voice control. Really cool stuff!
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  • GCI Outdoor a fellow Husky neighbor has great beach chairs that are rockers. You can rock on the sand!!  It’s so comfortable and smooth!!  Can’t wait to get one!

 

 

 

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  • Bio Bidet has some really neat bidet toilet seats and shower heads. Plus, it’s weird to say but they were absolutely sleek and gorgeous!

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Liggoo is offering a new modular mobile product with all of the accessories. You can use it 5 ways even as a flashlight!

 

 

The floor has more than 2500 exhibitors; so, it’s difficult to share all of the products that are interesting because there are so many. Plus, Smart home automation is a feature area that I really enjoyed visiting.  Regardless of what Business-to-Business trade show I attend, Smart Home is the emerging new category to watch!

I’m wrapping this up because I want to squeeze in some more time to walk the show floor to find some more interesting products!  Stay tuned...

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

My Omnichannel experiment...

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I never get to conduct experiments in my family that’s usually left up to our daughter. She loves anything science. We never know what we might find in a bowl or in the freezer. We call her the “mad scientist” and love (sort of) every gooey and smelly experiment that she conducts.

So, last week I decided to conduct my very own experiment based on a retail journey. It’s not exactly scientific but let’s call it my “Omnichannel” experience. I needed some materials and decided to order online and pick-up my purchase later at the store.

So, I set out to do my shopping one night while lounging and watching TV in the comfort of my home. Easy shopping, found it quickly, then searched for an online coupon code. Found one, 40% off! Entered it in the promo code area and I hit apply. Bingo, it worked! Off to a good start, my product is ordered and I got a discount. (But if I were in the store I would have definitely been able to use one competitor’s coupon in addition to the store coupon). So, ordering online gave me convenience and my store discount but because I didn’t make my purchase in-store I lost some savings by not being able to use a competitor’s coupon too.

The next step in my journey, I received a confirmation email from the store that they received my order. Also, my husband received a confirmation email (I added him as a second person that could pick up the purchase just in case I wouldn’t be able to make time to get there).

Within one day after my initial communication I received notification that my purchase was ready for pick up. And, the notification listed the last possible day I could pick up my products.

A couple of days passed by and finally I set out one late morning to pick up my products that I ordered online. I parked in the store’s lot, pushed the ignition button off and hit my timer on my smart phone. I thought, let me see how long this takes from parked car to pick up.

I entered the store and the first thing I saw was a stand-alone no nonsense sign telling me exactly where to go to pick up my online order.

Signage was at the entrance!

Signage was at the entrance!

Easy counter sign at pick-up location

Easy counter sign at pick-up location

I went to the back of the store and the associate asked my name, found my purchase, checked my license for ID all the while having a nice conversation. I got my purchase and stopped the timer.

From parked car to pick up it was a mere 4 minutes and 24 seconds. Wow! Under 5 minutes! That even takes into account that I stopped to read the sign, took photos of the sign up front and at the pick-up counter; and, I talked to the sales associate. You can’t beat that if it’s all about convenience and time.

I had my product in hand; so, I didn’t shop the store even though the retailer cleverly put the online pick up counter at the back of the store so I had to walk past merchandise.

The retailer is definitely driving traffic into the store with online pick up but are they really driving more merchandise sales? I walked into the store, picked up my online purchase and walked out. So, based on my experiment I would say no. But then again, I might not be the typical order online and pick up at store customer.

Just imagine, if I picked up my order and the sales associate would have given me a reason to shop the store. What about here’s a discount for shopping online only good to use in store right now? Very few can resist a deal! There’s always something to purchase!

While my experiment didn’t involve moths or shaving cream it was still a fun journey for me; and, I plan on adding more Omnichannel experiences to my experiment list in the future.

By the way, in case you wondering the current experiment living in a bowl in my kitchen is a moth and we’re looking forward to seeing it become a beautiful butterfly!

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

Meet The Grommet!

Nice to personally meet The Grommet!

It’s always an interesting journey to visit a retail company’s headquarters and learn more about that company’s mission, its people and its values. And, the best part, you learn all about the brand right in its headquarters directly from the employees living and breathing the mission and the values of the corporation. Earlier this week, I took a drive up to Somerville, Massachusetts (an interesting side note the GPS address is Cambridge, MA) to visit and learn more about The Grommet at its headquarters.

A huge thanks to Ryan DeChance, Director, Discovery and Meredith Doherty, VP of Discovery for their hospitality. They were the perfect hosts!

A huge thanks to Ryan DeChance, Director, Discovery and Meredith Doherty, VP of Discovery for their hospitality. They were the perfect hosts!

I have been following The Grommet for years and they recently were recognized and awarded the “Design Influencer of the Year Award” by HomeWorld Business magazine.

The Grommet is known for approaching retail differently by discovering new innovative products and bringing them to market quickly; all the while celebrating the maker.

When I arrived at their HQ I realized I probably did not know as much about them as I thought. They are located in a two story brick building off of a sleepy side street. When I walked in the lobby hit me with a display products. My host, Ryan DeChance, Directory of Discovery pointed out some of the notable products displayed in the lobby that I might know like Mrs. Meyer’s Natural Cleaning Products, the Fitbit and the Pocket Monkey just to name a few brands that The Grommet helped to make household brand names. 

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It’s an open air working environment where offices with doors line the perimeter of the building; and, a couple of dogs play around with each other.The humor and creativity shows throughout the office space.

Whether it is the coaster displayed on the side tables in the lobby with the co-founders photograph.

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Or, the large chalkboard in the kitchen area that has a different playful question every other week.

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The personality of The Grommet was alive and well during my visit displaying creativity, intelligence, fun, high-energy and hard at work employees. I want to share with you some information about The Grommet that I did not know:

  • Their shoppers are 70% women.
  • They really do launch at least one new product a day on their website. (Sometimes two!). Yes you read correctly - each and every day!
  • Once they identify an innovative product they make sure that the maker has the expertise to succeed and part of the process includes support with operations, PR, distribution, etc.
  • They operate a wholesale arm in addition to direct to consumer.
  • They operate a brick and mortar store and The Grommet features products in select Ace Hardware stores nationwide.

There is so much more that I discovered that cannot be covered here but you can find out more about The Grommet at the Home Improvement eRetailer Summit.  Ryan DeChance, Director of Discovery, The Grommet will join us and deliver a keynote address.

So come out and meet The Grommet and a stellar line-up of ecommerce leaders and speakers in- person November 7-9 at the Hotel Monaco Chicago, Downtown Chicago, IL and learn more about home improvement ecommerce. Sign up today!

Hope to personally meet you too!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

Where are you going next?

Events are more relevant than ever. If you want to meet the most prospective customers and current customers the best place to connect with them all in one place is at a trade event. I’m not just talking trade shows but any face-to-face event. I know, I always preach about the power of relationships but it’s hard for that connection to happen if you don’t meet and/or spend time with the contact one-on-one. And, events allow you to do just that! I’m talking cocktail parties, roundtables, conferences you name it because when we conduct business face-to-face we inevitably learn too. 

We learn about the company’s goals, challenges and strategy. We also learn what is intrinsically important to them - their values, mission and guiding principles. And, we learn about the person who represents the company. 

In addition, we learn what’s happening in the market. For trade shows, it takes that notion up a notch and there is “show and tell” aspect where you able to see, touch and hear first-hand about products and services that exhibitors are showcasing. 

Recently, I attended the International Home & Housewares Show, March 12-15, 2018 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. When you walk the show it feels energetic and young even though it's 80 years old. No really, attendees are excited about what they will see and learn; and, exhibitors are excited to share their products and services.  Plus, you get to see old friends and make new ones. A trade event is a reunion you want to attend!

Here some of my key take always: 

  • Color leads the way:  the Housewares industry has long been the standard bearer of color trends and I’ll be watching for the new Pantone colors to appear in other categories like outdoor living. 
  • Our homes keep getting smarter:  Smart Home has been a trend that continues to grow; and, manufacturers regardless of the brand are focused on their products working together and making the consumers home life even more convenient. (If you’re old enough...think the Jetson’s). 
  • Innovative new products continue to be lifeblood of all categories; and, Housewares continue to be a leading category in solving problems in our homes.  Take The Negg an egg peeler developed by Bonnie Tyler. It is definitely a clever gadget to have in the kitchen especially with Easter coming up! Interested? You can read about it here at www.thegrommet.com/the-negg.
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I learned some things and met new people including Joy Mangano!

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Whatever the product category you work /play in make it a point to attend your big event. 

My next trip is another oldie but goodie - the National Hardware Show May 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. Where are you going next?

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

 

Words Matter

Inaugural guest blog starts with an industry journalist that I have collaborated with in previous projects. Love her energy and how her mind thinks. Enjoy.
— Sonya Ruff Jarvis
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Words Matter

The way you title your product pages and the language that you use in your product descriptions can make or break your ability to be found in searches. Here, some key basic considerations for powerful SEO.

Let’s go on a scavenger hunt, shall we?

Let’s take a moment to see if we can find your products online without using the name of your business.

What would you type into Google to possibly get you there? Would you use a single word? A phrase? A series of phrases? Would you need to add a location, such as the city in which you’re shopping? What about descriptors: large, cheap, 118-inch, blue, outdoor?

Spend a bit of time and try this. See whether your store or products come up. See whether your competitors’ do. See whether someone who’s searching for what you sell would find your site.

It’s an interesting exercise, isn’t it? So often, when we present our goods to the online marketplace, we think about selling. We list the product benefits, and we include a beautiful photo. And yes, these are important--in fact, I’ll talk about images in my next blog.

But how often do we look at our products from the perspective of finding?

Step into the consumers’ shoes for a moment. When I’m shopping for new curtains for my home, I already know what length I need and what color family I’m seeking. There may be many lovely options out there, but I want to see choices that will work. And quickly. If I can’t tell from the Google results (or, if I’m extra patient/desperate, from the first page that I click on in your site) whether you have what I need, I’ll move on.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to make things easy for the consumer. Think about what a customer needs to know before he or she purchases your product. Then make sure those words are on your product page.

Those words will vary, of course, depending on what you retail, but they’re not much different from the words that a customer might use if he or she called a physical store:

“Hi there. I’m looking for a light blue microfiber armchair, but it has to be narrow--a maximum of 20 inches wide. And it needs to have metal legs. Do you have anything like that in stock? If so, how much does it cost?”

In this case, your product page should include these words: chair, armchair, blue, narrow, metal legs, 20 inches wide, microfiber. You might also add 20”, metal frame, velvet look and descriptors indicating style, such as midcentury or formal.

Your customer might appreciate your glowing description explaining that the chair is comfortable, will last a lifetime and will enliven his living room. But he’ll only know this if he finds your product page first. So make sure your product description also includes specifics, and list as many as possible in your page title without making it too long or awkward. Don’t forget to add keywords to the “alt text” for your images, too--Bing reads those, and a fair number of people use Bing.

There is an entire science behind search-engine optimization. If you have the resources, it’s well worth it to populate the backend of your website with keywords; use heads and subheads appropriately; achieve the proper length in each paragraph; regularly assess page load speed; rewrite your snippet; and so forth. What Google likes and needs from websites in order to bestow a high rank regularly changes, so you’ll also need to repeat these tasks regularly and adjust as necessary.

There are digital marketing agencies specializing in exactly this. But if you’re ambitious and slightly analytical, you can perform some basic keyword research yourself. Subscribe to the MOZ Blog and check out the free MOZ Keyword Explorer at https://moz.com/explorer. The experts behind this site are highly respected and do a good job of straddling the line between practical everyman and geek science.

At a more basic level, however, start by naming and populating your product pages with the details that shoppers are looking for. Run a few searches. Ask a few friends and colleagues to do the same. The answers might lead you to take a less narrow (microfiber) view of your descriptions and give your sales some (metal) legs.


Julianne Will, Writer | Editor | Social Media Marketer | ESL Instructor | Entrepreneur
Julianne has been published in major metropolitan daily newspapers and national magazines, as well as written print and online copy for diverse industries including wine, fitness, food, travel, retail, banking, industrial technology, real estate, commercial paint and decorating, and more. She crafts strategy, creates profiles and serves as the voice of businesses on social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Julianne also has launched a small ecommerce business retailing goods that give back.   juliannewill.com | explorelocaluniverse.com

What's your story?

Everyone has one. 

Do you tell it?

Believe it or not, most people are interested in learning more about who you are; curious about how you got where you’re at and your plans to get where you’re going.  But most are reluctant to ask.

I love when I walk into a brick and mortar and front and center is signage about “their story”.  I enjoy reading about how the brand came to life while standing in its presence.  Many brands do this across diverse industries.  But it is never so evident than when you walk into a retail store.

Every retail brand has a story to tell. 

I was recently in Indianapolis, IN and I shopped at Meijer’s. I live in the Northeast and we don’t have Meijer’s.  For those of you who don’t know Meijer; it is a super center that originally started out as a grocery chain. It is regional and located in the Midwest but has a lot of stores across those states - over 200 of them. 

Proudly on their wall (in the front of the store) they display their story…the humble beginnings as a small independent during the Great Depression, their first milestone to growth, and now after all these years,  how they still connect to their early beginnings by offering a stationary ride for children for still just a penny.

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The Meijer story shows that they started out small with an idea and just $338.76 worth of groceries on credit.  They want to give their brand a personality showing its ingenuity, perseverance and willingness to serve an under-served market.  And, how they continue to run their business by their original values.

Now switch gears to a totally different industry but still retail and let’s talk the CT Cookie Co in Fairfield, CT is another brand that has its story front and center.  Starting out as an online cookie company for several years, CT Cookie Co opened her first retail store in 2017.  When you walk into the store the first image is a poster of owner, Andrea Greene when she was a child.  And guess what she’s baking cookies!

Her brand story is about the emotional connection to her customers.  The poster shares her story …  it transports customers back to a simpler time of baking cookies, spending time with Mom or Grandma baking cookies together, using fresh and whole ingredients and making everything from scratch.  The CT Cookie Co brand is able to carry Grandma’s homemade vanilla recipe to market for others to enjoy. You can read more about her story here: https://www.ctpost.com/living/article/Bowled-over-Edible-cookie-dough-causing-quite-a-11306239.php

The store makes that emotional connection with their customers; and, the brand is more than a cookie shop.  It just makes customers feel good when eating CT Cookie Co cookies and using its vanilla. 

Whether it’s a cookie shop or a super center sharing their brand story it gives customers the chance to know them, learn how they came to being and be a part of their journey. 

So, let’s take a lesson from these brands and be willing to tell our stories.  Here’s mine:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msWdpvAl2ug

I would love to hear your story too.

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

What have you discovered, lately?

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I was recently in North Carolina and stopped in the local grocery store that is a regional chain.  Most of you know, I love walking stores (and casinos).  It’s an opportunity to explore and I always discover something new. For me, on this given day, it was a bar right smack in the alcohol beverage section of the store. 

It was cute and trendy and was basically a stand-alone bar with fewer bar stools. It just happened to be in a grocery store.  I started talking to the bartender who informed me that this particular bar area was one of the smaller ones; and that Lowes Foods operates Bar Dens in many of their more than 100 stores across the Carolinas and Virginia. 

Interesting.

As I started doing research on the “Beer Den” I also discovered that I’m apparently the one living in a cave because bar-in-a grocery store has been a trend for quite some time; and, has generated interest among shoppers to enjoy craft beer, good in-store cooked food, and enhance their customer experience. And, guess what it attracts more shoppers to come to the store and linger for a while.  The more they linger usually the more they buy.  Here’s a great article from Food Dive that speaks to this trend.

Enhancing your customers experience is easier said than done but discovering Lowes Foods version of an in-store craft beer bar really “wowed” me.  The obvious standard value added experiences around the Beer Den like events, suggesting recipes to be paired with beers, offering a food menu with the beers, etc. are being executed they created more than the apparent experiences for their customers.

Here are some of the “wow” factors that Lowes Foods, in my opinion, got right:

  • It is authentic both in products served and aesthetics of the bar; so, the optics are inviting and right.  The bartender which I also discovered is called a Beer Den host is knowledgeable and dedicated to the Beer Den.  The host is not running around the store doing other things when not busy at the Beer Den.  They also have Master Ben Den host roles; so, there is an obvious road map to attract talent interested in this area.
     
  • They collaborate with local breweries and communicate that to the community.  Both Lowes Foods and Local Breweries are working together to create one-of -a kind, small batch beers.  Community members love to hear that!
     
  • They created their own unique product called the “Beer Den Growler” which is a 64 ounce designed glass jug that is filled with your favorite beer.  The jug only cost $4.99 and you can bring it back the next time for a refill and you’re charged only for the beer.

Authenticity, investment in your community through tapping (no pun intended) into the local businesses expertise and developing a unique product that you can only get at the Beer Den are all experiences that Lowes Foods created to enhance their shoppers’ experiences. 

So, I’m glad I walked into Lowes Foods that day.  It allowed me to go on an interesting journey and learn more about the trend of in-store bars and discover something new (for me at least)!

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

 

 

 

 

Will you remember this time as "back in the day"?

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Back in the day you had to plan your shopping trips from groceries to furniture.  

Now, online retail has changed the way we approach shopping. There is an engaged escalation of buying all kinds of products (and services for that matter) online. Consumers are getting comfortable with making daily purchases online.  Even the rare person that does not buy online surely has someone in their life that brags about how easy and convenient it is to purchase online. A Pew research report shows that eight in 10 Americans are now shopping online (published 12/19/2016).

Our mobile devices allow us to purchase all sorts of things on the go.  I just saw a commercial where it happened in the middle of the desert (and was delivered the same day).  What about the ability to quickly and accurately do a competitive price check without getting in-and-out of our cars? Purchases can also happen from the comfort of our own home, or office.   Definitely different than my Mother’s shopping trips back in the day.

While all of this is true online retail sales still only represents a small portion of total retail sales.  The U.S. Commerce Department reported that consumers spent nearly $350 billion online in 2016; that’s up double digits from the previous year but only 12% of total sales. 

I believe that online shopping is elevating the consumers experience in-store because brick and mortar retailers know that they have to compete.   They compete on merchandising, on customer service and you can name whatever physical in-store shopping benefit is important to you.  It's new to them but they are fighting to understand it, figure it out and gain more customers for their stores through the online retail marketplace. Each shopping experience educates the shopper and makes us better customers for all types of retailers. How retailers embrace our shopping behavior and leverage our preferences to create loyalty is up to them. 

Please do not get me wrong. I am not pushing online shopping.  I am merely stating the obvious that shoppers are benefiting from the evolution of retail.  And, most shoppers, like myself, find it liberating to have choices.   For example, I love shopping stores and experiencing the merchandising, lay-out and customer service. Sometimes I just need to see it, touch it and talk face-to-face with a floor salesperson. Other times, I like shopping online.  Whether it is an easy buy and I need it in a hurry; or, I do not have the time or energy to run from store-to-store. So, I order it online.   (I confess I have ordered a couch or two online). It is nice to have options. 

So, I wonder how my daughter’s era (who are referred to as digital natives) and history will look back to our days and refer to our retail shopping experiences?  This is surely just the beginning of the evolution of retail.  I am sure I will fondly remember this time and refer to it as “back in the day”.   

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

When's the last time you checked out?

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Recently, I checked out. I literally checked out of my day-to-day life for a full week. I left my family and my business behind on a sad minute's notice to focus on one priority - my Mom.

You see hospice called to inform us that my Mom probably had little time left on this earth; and, she lived a plane ride away. My amazing husband and daughter supported my hectic effort to catch the next available plane to spend time with her. 

The last week of her life I was with her. I was not thinking about anything else but my one priority, my Mom. Focused on being present, breathing the same air, sharing the same space, making sure she was comfortable and well taken care of.  But most importantly talking to her and letting her know what a wonderful Mom, friend, counselor she had been to me all of these years. 

I have never checked out before where I had one sole focus.  I was thankful I had the support that I could do it. Being present for my Mom's last breath was a blessing to me and I pray for her too. 

Now, I'm trying to be more present in all that I do. Whether it's listening to my daughter's complex school stories; or, watching a game winning play of my husband's favorite team that he DVR'd for me; or, being empathetic about a customer's challenge and figuring out how to be part of the solution.  

There are times in our lives where we must pause. 

This was a time where I stopped. I stopped everything including Sonya's blog. 

I want to let you know that I had a good reason. And, that the blog will resume being published every other Thursday starting today.  

I have officially checked back in. 

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

 

Do you believe?

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My daughter who is 10 asked me if Santa Claus is real?  Before I answered the question I was curious as to why she was asking. Well, a classmate (a year older) told her Santa didn't exist. My next question to her was "do you want the truth?"  She assured me that she really wanted to know if Santa was real. 

I explained that while there is not a man in a red suit steering a sleigh and distributing gifts across the world that the spirit of Christmas is REAL. It's a special time celebrated around the world that gives hope and happiness to many. The season also gives us reassurance that "believing" crosses all aspects of our lives including business. 

But when it comes to our businesses what are we believing in and how are we showing it? Is there an initiative that is done because it's the right thing to do but your margins aren't necessarily the company standard?  Or, are you doing pro bono work offering your services to a group within your community that needs your services? 

I have a dear friend who has inspired me to believe even when it's not Christmas!   He has run successful businesses over his career; and, he knows how to creatively put things together and get things done. He spearheaded an idea that would give back to the community in a big way.  Jerid O'Connell led the charge to create the trail through the H. Smith Richardson Wildlife Preserve in Westport identifying and organizing volunteers and local environmental nonprofits. (http://www.westport-news.com/news/article/EPA-grant-to-help-restore-coastal-forest-in-12397970.php) The project was based on cleaning up, clearing out and getting scores of businesses to participate from the donation of new trees to organic juices. 

As I was looking out over the field of new trees I thought this is my friend, his family's and the community's legacy. The trail will be shared with so many generations and will exist long after each era is gone. 

Believing in something bigger than ourselves drives us to be better and do better. It also challenges us to make a difference wherever we decide to invest our time and talent. 

And, while my daughter didn't take the truth very well about Santa she made the ultimate decision to still believe...I hope you still believe in something too...

Merry Christmas!

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

What about you?

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The other day I was sitting in an airport waiting to board my flight and I overheard a business man on his cell say "we are well aware that there are many things we don't know."  That was refreshing to hear. 

I was on my way home from a conference and I had just had that same conversation with another attendee. We spoke about the fact that it's important to get out and attend industry events. It gives us the opportunity to learn, meet new people, and to look at things from a different perspective. Truth be told, all of us fit into the bucket of "we don't know what we don't know". But so many of us (me included) think we know it all; and, we don't want anyone else telling us anything different. 

The other day I was sitting in an airport waiting to board my flight and I overheard a business man on his cell say "we are well aware that there are many things we don't know."  That was refreshing to hear. 

I was on my way home from a conference and I had just had that same conversation with another attendee. We spoke about the fact that it's important to get out and attend industry events. It gives us the opportunity to learn, meet new people, and to look at things from a different perspective. Truth be told, all of us fit into the bucket of "we don't know what we don't know". But so many of us (me included) think we know it all; and, we don't want anyone else telling us anything different. 

We've been there done that. 

Really?

We think we've seen it all and there is little information that we don't know; but, that is simply not the case.  Regardless of what school we went to, the circles we travel in or the position we may hold there is always something new to learn. 

Whether you are at the beginning, in the middle or heading towards retirement age continuing to learn is important. Having and/or making time to do it is the challenge. 

I believe in face-to-face events for many reasons that contribute to building strong business relationships. I have talked about it a lot in previous blogs and articles.  

In 2016, I founded an event that focuses on ecommerce and gaining intelligence, and sharing insights specifically created for the $350.5 billion dollar home improvement industry. The concept was developed directly from customer feedback along the entire distribution channel. Each wanting to learn how to optimized the internet as a distribution channel by identifying the right channel partners and making the right connections all while gaining relevant intelligence and insights from the leaders in the e-trenches. 

My vision (based on customer insights) is that the Home Improvement eRetailer Summit is where you go when you don't know what you don't know about ecommerce and the home improvement marketplace. It's about connecting, learning and collaborating in an intimate gathering. 

The Summit (now in its 2nd year) is happening right now at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, FL. If you are interested in up-to-date information and speakers' viewpoints please follow us now on twitter @eRetailersummit

Please make sure that you make the time to attend industry events that are relevant to your interests and career growth.  Like the businessman, I confess that I don't know what I don't know but I'm willing and interested in continuing to learn. What about you?

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

Do you shop small?

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Do you make an effort to shop small in your local community?  

It's true that small businesses are the backbone of the US economy. Did you know that small businesses represent 99.7% of all US businesses?  Not only do small businesses make up nearly half of non-farm GDP they cumulatively employ roughly 48% of the US workforce. All these facts are reported by Small Business Profile in the US Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.

American Express founded an annual movement back in 2010 that promotes the importance of supporting smaller businesses in communities across America. It's called Small Business Saturday and is now considered a holiday shopping tradition. Small Business Saturday takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  This year the movement will land on November 25, 2017. 

Did you know that for every $100 dollars spent locally with independent businesses that $48 gets reinvested back into the local community?  While, the opposite is true when you spend that same $100 at chain stores, a mere $14 gets reinvested back into the community.

If we take all of the above mentioned data out of the equation, independent businesses give back so much more to our communities. Besides the investment in the local economy, they also bring new ideas, innovation, and a commitment to invest in our communities. But more importantly as Paul Nugent writes for ShopKeep small businesses help create the community's identity, and they keep the tax dollars within the community among a whole hosts of other reasons.

This not only true on the consumer side but the North America Retail Hardware Association and Independent We Stand recently completed a study where it shows the same is true for the professional side of home improvement.  Builders, contractors and trades people can impact their local communities by buying local.

The bottom line is that small businesses keep our local economy strong and that just feeds into the national economy. And, it's all personal because the small business customer represents your friends, relatives and neighbors. If you think about it, it's odd that we have to be nudged to shop small.  Because small businesses often have the unique items and customized services. And, who wouldn't want those?

I really do love independent businesses. Because you find a passion and energy that is contagious; and, makes you want to be part of something that is different and personal. 

So after we come out of our food coma from Thanksgiving let's think BIG and shop SMALL and join the Small Business Saturday movement on November 25.  I know I will!  

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

What's your CAUSE?

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Whether you are an independent business, big corporation or an individual what's your CAUSE?  What are you fighting for to help your employees, customers, community, or even the world become a better place?

Does that sound cliché?  Well it’s not.  Did you know that @engageforgood recently reported that Cause Sponsorship will reach $2.06 billion in 2017?   

Many companies will support charitable initiatives that have been declared “the cause” for that particular month.  Other companies will contribute to a lot of different charities while not committing wholly to any one cause; and, that works for them.  While, others have a cause that reflects their mission statement and keeps them on track in representing their values both internally and externally by consistently contributing to a pre-determined charitable cause. Still, there is another group that evolves in the causes that they represent.  It all depends upon the season that they are going through (in their business or in their lives) whether the disease, natural disaster, etc. is affecting them or someone they know. 

Whatever charitable cause you choose to connect your brand to please make sure that it's genuine and that you truly believe in it. A recent Unilever study shows that 33% of consumers buy from brands doing social or environmental good.  The major objective shouldn't be to drive traffic to your store, casino or website. Or, to increase sales because you're doing something charitable and want credit for it. If you are genuinely in it to make a difference all of these benefits are by products and will happen if you are committed for the long run. 

Be fickle, uncommitted or fake and your efforts will be seen as that... 

Be true, committed or real and your efforts will be seen as that...

The choice is yours. 

Last year, I was able to participate in the local Alzheimer's Walk to help raise money and awareness about this terrible disease in honor of my Mom. When my friend and I arrived at the walk area there was a huge Dunkin' Donuts tent with complimentary coffee, donuts and muffins.  That jarred a pleasant memory for me that was more than a decade old. Yes, Dunkin' Donuts supported a breast cancer run that I had participated in for years in Central Park; and, I remember that I never knew that Dunkin' Donuts sponsored this event until the year I ran it as a breast cancer survivor. As a survivor, I had access to a VIP tent that offered complimentary Dunkin' Donuts treats. 

Yes, a donut VIP tent was an awesome experience.  Access to donuts, coffee, and special promotional items made me feel special.  And, I have to believe that subconsciously that was one of the reasons that I started making it a point to frequent Dunkin' Donuts.  So, whatever your CAUSE know that done right it can have a lasting affect and build a loyal customer; all, the while you’re making the world a better place…

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.

Happy Sweetest Day!

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I grew up in Ohio celebrating "Sweetest Day" every third Saturday in October.  In my opinion, it is sort of like Valentine's Day for Ohioans (even though Hallmark says it is celebrated in all of the Great Lakes region).   It was founded by Herbert Birch Kingston, a philanthropist, in 1922.  It's not a state holiday but rather a national holiday.  For some reason, few folks know about it that live outside of Ohio. I'm not sure why that is, other than Mr. Kingston lived and worked in Cleveland, Ohio; so, maybe having a native connection made a difference of its popularity in Ohio. 

The Founder began this holiday by giving candy to those in our society who were "forgotten".  (Did I mention that he worked at a candy company?).  His intentions were admirable. It was to bring, happiness to those who are deprived which at the time of the holiday’s creation was defined as orphans, shut-ins and the underprivileged.

Well, somewhere along the line the intention got muddled and it became a second Valentine's Day for Ohioans. We had school dances, gift giving and romantic expectations centered all-around Sweetest Day. Not once, did I ever think the “sweetest” was for someone other than a sweetheart.  Sweetest Day was a big deal in my community growing up, but quite frankly it never caught traction in other parts of the country.  

I didn't realize until college that everyone didn't celebrate Sweetest Day. When I would bring up the national holiday, I would be met with "what's that"? 

So, as Sweetest Day approaches this Saturday, I'm wondering why do some holidays make the annual published calendars and others don't?  And, it's not that they just don't make the cut these holidays are seen as obscure.  

Like anything created to fulfill a need there are expectations that it should evolve and be sustainable for the long term.  Unless, we’re talking about fads.  So, founding holidays are much like creating a service or developing a new product.  Here are some questions that we should ask ourselves when creating “new”:

·         Does it fill a national or global need or it is contained to your local area?

·         Can it survive on its own merit/benefits?  Or is it a “me too” brand because it’s not that different from its competition?

·         Does this (fill in the blank) fulfill a short or long-term need? 

·         How do you gain awareness and interest to create a long lasting brand?

These are not yes or no questions to answer; rather, they are questions to challenge us to think.  Where are we going (the objective) and how long will it take us to get there (milestones); and, what is the endgame (goal)? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new holiday, product, event, or service it is essential that it delivers on a missing “need”. 

While, Sweetest Day isn’t celebrated where I live now.  Every year on the third Saturday in October, I smile and remember all of the Sweetest Days of the past that I celebrated.  October 21st will be the 95th celebration of Sweetest Day.  So, Happy Sweetest Day!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsul or @eretailersummit.