Guest Blog By Nick Sprau

The franchising landscape has changed considerably over the past decade, and the result has been a real headache for some franchise owners trying to keep their books straight and current. Traditionally, a franchise owner was an individual entrepreneur who approached the franchisor, seeking to open one or two locations. More recently, however, individual owners have been selling to a master franchisee to gain economies of scale through consolidation. Now, many franchisees who began with a few stores find themselves with dozens or even hundreds of sites to manage across multiple geographic locations.

Guest Blog by John Douglas 

Ralphs v. UFCW Local 8, decided by the California Supreme Court on December 27, 2012, upholds the constitutionality of two statutes - the "Moscone" Act and California Labor Code 1138.1 - both of which effectively provide trespassers on private property in California with immunity from civil injunctive relief if they are engaged in a labor dispute. These statutes were passed to protect union protestors - and the California Supreme Court's decision effectively upholds that status quo.

Guest Blog By Kevin Conway and Mark Smith

The Chinese market is a land of opportunity for online retailers, but reaching those consumers also poses great challenge on the back-end of a website. Traditionally global e-tailers have had a choice for managing the end-user web experience: Navigate the complexities of hosting their content within China or take gamble on performance by hosting their cloud infrastructure elsewhere in the region. Either road can be quite an undertaking. Compound the job with the proliferation of evolving cloud technologies, and the choices become downright overwhelming.

Guest Blog By David Sisco.

Now that the 2012 holiday shopping season has come to a close, it’s time for retailers to focus on the next phase of the holiday customer experience: returns. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to return nearly $63 billion worth of holiday gifts this year – equivalent to nearly a quarter of all the merchandise that is returned to retailers in a typical 12-month period. Some of these returns will happen in store, but thanks to the large growth in e-commerce, many holiday goods will be shipped back to retailers. Many retailers allow consumers to purchase items online and return them in-store as more companies compete in this multichannel world.

I have to admit it – I’ve always thought artificial Christmas trees were stupid. But I’m a man of the 21st century, and I wondered what kind of environmental impact came about through all that chopping. Well, thank you to Trucost for at least slightly absolving me of whatever guilt I feel for buying a real Christmas tree every year. According to Trucost research, artificial Christmas trees are six to ten times more environmentally costly than real Christmas trees. But as with all statistics, there is more to the story. One fact is that most of us real tree people end up purchasing many natural trees over our lifetimes of Christmas revelry.

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