Retailers often are focused on the customer, but it’s just as important that they reach out to their employees. Employees are the face of any company and associates who are excited to come to work create better experiences for the customers. More than 65 percent of companies said poor hires hurt their business, according to a CareerBuilder.com Harris Interactive poll.
Retailers are set to score a big victory with the Super Bowl. A record 173 million people are expected to tune in to see the New England Patriots and New York Giants battle in the big game Feb. 5. They’ll do more than just watch, of course. People will buy jerseys, hats, decorations and food for the big game, with the average person expected to spend $63.87 on the Super Bowl this year.
The National Retail Federation is stepping up its lobbying role in an effort to pass legislation that would create more industry jobs. Retailers employ 42 million workers, or one out of every four U.S. jobholders. The NRF’s political agenda includes securing trade agreements with emerging nations, lowering corporate taxes and passing legislation to collect sales tax from Internet retailers.
Former President Bill Clinton says there’s cause for the retail industry to be optimistic. The future is bright, he predicts, if countries come together to fix today’s problems. For retail, the future will revolve around global collaboration, with supply chain partners needing to work together to get inventory to customers in a cost-effective manner.
Even in tough economic times people are willing to splurge a bit on fashion. While most consumers can’t afford $10,000 for a designer dress, they’ll still gladly spend money to look good. Why? Because people feel better when they look good. People don’t necessarily need to max out their credit card to dress elegantly. Some designers are controlling costs by using less expensive fabrics and materials.
A big box bookstore is expanding at a time when many bookstores are going out of business. The chain, which closed 21 stores this year, is opening up 41 new locations. But this story may not have a happy ending. It’s possible the retailer will close more than it opens. Books are going the way of the stamp. Everything is online now where it’s cheaper and faster to purchase.
As it expands quickly, one specialty grocer is tinkering with its successful model by opening up bigger stores. The California-based chain has made its mark as a quirky company selling unique products in cozy, smaller stores. But changing gears could backfire. Retailers don’t want to mess up a good thing. The company faces a unique challenge — it’s like a national chain of mom-and-pop stores.
Congressman Joe Heck recently introduced a bill intended to speed up the wait times for a tourist visa in an effort to more easily allow wealthy Chinese, Brazilian and Indian citizens to visit and shop in the U.S. The visas, which can take more than four months for approval, especially for applicants in China and Brazil, would also allow retailers to bring over employees for training.
According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, financial analysts believe credit card companies plan to increase the fees for small dollar purchases to 23 cents per transaction. Right now, retailers pay about eight cents for a $2 debit card purchase. Experts believe the fee increase will devastate the economics of small debit purchases.
A recent article on dailyfinance.com discussed how a mid-range American retailer is using an in-house design team to convince buyers that “this is not your mother’s” store. They’re also making exclusive designer partnerships and bringing in other stores to sell things inside their walls. But the “store-within-a-store” concept can be dangerous territory.
Roger Simmermaker is a walking advertisement to “Buy American” from his New Balance running shoes to his Lincoln Town Car. But while championing American-made products is a great thought, it’s important to remember that America is a melting pot of cultures and we’re primarily driven to buy what’s cheap, an Avanade expert said.
Randy Misener, Editor-at-Large
Randy Misener is the Industry Executive responsible for Enterprise Retail Management solutions at Avanade. Majority owned by Accenture, Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation and has approximately 15,000 professionals in more than 20 countries.