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  • Nicole Miller

In years past, traditional shoppers may have been loyal to a certain channel, but today’s consumer easily transitions from one shopping channel to another. Many shoppers choose to check prices online or via their smartphone and then pick up their purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. But the opposite is also true – shoppers may see something they like in a physical store but only complete the purchase online or via their mobile phone.

Furthermore, due to the blurring of boundaries between the online and offline channels, returns have become a key issue for both retailers and customers. Shoppers expect to be able to return goods at all of the retailers’ channels regardless of where the purchase was made.

Read more on the RM Blog

Ad revenue from social networks in the U.S. is expected to climb from $7.32 billion 2014 to an astonishing $14.40 billion by 2017, eMarker projects. How is this possible? According to AddShoppers research, social network users spend 8.2 percent more than other online shoppers. So the trick to making more social sales is converting followers into buyers—something Internet Retailer Managing Editor Zak Stambor says is getting harder to do.

Businesses face the challenge of gaining visibility on popular platforms such as Facebook, as they navigate the ever-changing restrictions of social platforms. Stambor recommends buying more ads to solve this problem, but if there's a cap on your advertising budget, there other creative, cost-efficient methods you can use to attract more followers and turn them into buyers. Here are just a few:

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With the retail industry poised for rapid growth over the next several years, HR teams need to accommodate and update policies in order to engage and retain both new and old employees. An added challenge is that millennials are inching their way to being the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, so many emerging trends are adapted to the needs and skills of these young workers. Let’s take a look at some HR trends in retail that are worth keeping up with.

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Even as technology becomes more accessible and consumers demand faster service, many retailers are reluctant to adopt the solutions they need to grow successfully. Instead, they rely on manual spreadsheet tracking to maintain inventory, orders and other important information. But as a business grows to multiple sales channels, manual systems won’t be enough to support a scaling company.

Here are four reasons why spreadsheets are detrimental to a business:

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Many consumers see a retailer’s marked down price versus the original selling price and believe they’re saving a lot, but it literally pays to know what the numbers behind the deals mean.

Some retailers have been accused of showing inflated retail prices to make their deals look better. More often than not, they are showing the actual manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), but no one actually sells that product at that number. These five simple steps can help you uncover the deals from the duds.

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Supply chains - often involving many vendors and complex relationships - have always been a logistical challenge. As business evolves in our modern, mobile world, and enterprises are doing more global transactions than ever before, it is also becoming a collaboration, communication and accountability challenge.

While the process of managing a supply chain is getting more complex, the environmental consequences, labor considerations and sustainability of supply chains is also under extreme scrutiny. These challenges can all be rolled into the concept of supplier responsibility; how responsible is an enterprise when choosing suppliers and how socially responsible are those suppliers when creating their products or services?

Supplier responsibility is especially important when scaling for large orders and quick ramp-up, such as is the case now for Apple as they start selling their new watch and updated laptops. In fact, while Apple’s approach to suppliers has been interesting with the Apple Watch - they are relying heavily on just two suppliers - Apple is a great example of how companies can excel when it comes to supplier responsibility.

Read the Full Story on the RM Blog

With the prevalence of online shopping and increase in showrooming, one of the biggest challenges facing today’s brick-and-mortar retailers is how to drive in-store traffic and sales. With so many online and in-store options, sensible consumers have an abundance of options when it comes to purchasing the newest consumer electronics.

Five years ago, the average consumer knew little about trading in used electronics for cash or store gift cards. Today, awareness of trade-in is much higher and continuing to grow. Because of this opportunity, many big box and niche retailers are already leveraging in-store electronics trade-in programs. In fact, according to NPD Group, smartphone trade-in is “one of the most dynamic, leading tools that carriers and retailers use to drive new device sales.”

Providing valued customers with the convenience to sell used smartphones, tablets, laptops and video games for store value can result in a huge return for retailers – not only providing increased store traffic, but also an upsurge in customer loyalty and in-store spending. Read more on the RM Blog

Demand volatility is the number one risk for retailers and consumer product manufacturers with 83% stating that is a concern. Visibility to risk is the challenge for 2015.

SCM World’s 2014 CSCO study asked respondents about their companies’ visibility of potential risks across the retail and consumer value chain. Each respondent was asked to rate visibility within its operations and then further into the supply base and demand channel.

Layering visibility for each of these industries together provides insight into where companies in the consumer value chain have good visibility. As the figure below shows, manufacturers across the board say they have better visibility into their operations than retailers do for themselves and, with the exception of food and beverage, better visibility into the retail channel as well.

Read the full story and check out an infographic on the RM Blog