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Top Retail Trends of 2017 Extended

Editor’s Note: This article reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the view of Star Cloud Services.

With 2017 nearly half over, we thought it would be a good idea to review some of the top retail trends we are seeing so far this year.

Retail technology is featuring high on the list of what independent and local retailers can now do to improve their in-store offers.

We provide mobile coupons, digital receipts and in the future customizable receipt promos with our unique cloud-connected printers.

As such, we’re on the leading edge of the intersection of retail and the Internet of Things, with a unique ability to turn the paper and digital receipts into loyalty-marketing and monetizable advertising that produces ROI.

Retail is evolving now at an exponential rate following in the footsteps of machine intelligence, connected devices and new software integrations, that were previously not possible.

So what are the big retail trends in 2017 that independent retailers should know about?

1. Provide Unique In-Store Experiences

As Vend POS mentions, in-store experiences are one of the major changes in retail which adapts itself to consumer preferences.

This requires the new level of campaigns, creativity, and events to attract customers to come to the store. The way small business retailers think about seasonal campaigns must shift.

2017 is seeing a new emphasis on creating in-store experiences that delight shoppers. New retail hacks the fact that the new consumer enjoys experiences and not only products. These can boost retail traffic and provides added value to the all-important customer experience.

2. The Augmented Cloud and Mobile Point of Sale

For retailers, your favorite POS solutions are improving their partnerships and API integrations with ISVs (independent software vendors). Whether it’s added loyalty features, analytics or improved management of employees – everything counts.

I believe these integrations, sometimes called “add-ons” is reaching a new stage of maturation in 2017. What we are seeing is a combination of better software, improved machine intelligence and greater emphasis on valuable partnerships in the POS space.

Before choosing a POS solution, therefore, it’s wise to carefully review what integrations and apps are compatible with you preferred cloud and mobile POS.

3. Store Closures set Records in 2017

It’s hard to dispute the first half of 2017 has already seen major spikes in retail big-chain store closures approaching (2008) recession levels. This is particularly interesting since unemployment in the U.S. is at very low levels.

While this has resulted in the “Retail Apocalypse” meme that’s trending; this is a natural consolidation that’s taking place. However, it is resulting in a weaker than normal retail job market.

4. Big-Box Retail Makeovers

Wal-mart is improving it’s e-commerce and BOPIS offers (buy online pickup in store). Meanwhile, Macy’s is becoming a discount store. We are seeing a lot of other retail chains are closing stores and optimizing their strategy for the new consumer.

5. Pure Play Extinction

As top e-retailers open up stores to do showrooming and for added brand awareness, pure-play e-retailers are becoming less common.

As the divide between online and offline disappears, more e-retailers are opting to open up physical stores. Here is a list of some of the top e-retailers who have made the transition to physical stores as well.

6. Showrooming Spikes

How retailers let their customers “try on” their product in-store, without have stock in-store is producing surprising conversion increases.

Therefore “showrooming” is becoming more mainstream now in retail verticals where it wasn’t seen before such as apparel.

This amounts to the opposite of BOPIS, try in-store buy online (TISBO).

7. Leverage Artificial Intelligence in Brick-and-Mortar Environments

The age of personalization moderated by machine intelligence is near.

Even brick-and-mortar retailers must now use tools to leverage customer analytics to their full advantage. Store sensors such as Dor technologies enable your POS to be smarter. The democratization of data affords even small business retailers to become “data natives” to offer their customers a better in-store experience.

As the internet of things (IoT) begins to become more salient to retail, artificial intelligence will become more ubiquitous. Customers are getting accustomed to algorithms recommending them products, and as predictive analytics evolves, greater levels of personalization will produce great results.

8. The End is Near for Sears

The writings on the wall for Sears.

Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD) is going bankrupt and it’s uncertain how much longer it can survive. The decline of the American Mall is a major story in the last decade of American detail that has led to a retail store cull.

While some believe Amazon has killed the need to go out and shop; that’s not necessarily the case for SMB retailers that are more local community-based. With major e-retailers like Amazon and Alibaba moving towards opening physical stores, a new retail is rising in response to the new consumer who is digital natives.

9. Rise of the New Consumer

There’s a lot of debate in 2017 about a very tangible shift in consumer behavior. As more GenX and boomers are starting to behave themselves like “digital natives”, new online opportunities are taking place.

The new consumer is not just a discount shopper, they are mobile natives in-store. They are hyper influenced by new kinds of “word-of-mouth” such as influencer marketing. As the attention span of mobile devices moves content to video, how retailers reach their customers online is changing too.

10. Retail Storytelling on the Rise to Adapt to GenZ

The way retail brands tell their stories is changing, with the advent of younger millennial and GenZ shoppers who are video natives.

The way we see customer experience is adapting to the preferences of the next-gen of shoppers. A new emphasis on transparency, authenticity and corporate social responsibility is being highlighted as retail brands attempt to sync with the values, and not only the behaviors, of the new consumer.

A new emphasis on visual storytelling that cuts through the noise is required to engage us accompanied by better video marketing by retail brands.

11. Advent of the Store 4.0

What’s being called the store 4.0 is arriving. This refers to omnichannel fulfillment centers that provide, according to Deloitte:

  1. Fulfillment
  2. Inspiration
  3. Friction-free

 

Retail experiences and environments. Is your store up to the mark?

12. ChatBots

As Facebook Messenger chatbots become more popular, the entire way we do conversational commerce will change. Shopify acquired the chatbot Kit, that is now popular on their app store.

Chatbots can help with customer service 24/7, help retailers with marketing and help augment small businesses with artificial intelligence. In the near future, the way small business owners manage their business with automation will be greatly improved.

13. Voice User Interface

Amazon Echo and Google Home now are officially on the scene in many North American homes. This means the VUI has a great potential to impact conversational commerce as well.

There’s some consensus that a post-mobile ecosystem is beginning to emerge, where artificial intelligence enables the consumer to be less tethered to their mobile devices.

Since “Alexa”, Amazon’s personal virtual assistant is scaling in skills that are app-integrations very quickly, retailers and service providers can ride the wave with their own APIs. Amazon expects this to become a multi-billion dollar industry in the near future.

14. Mobile First Offers

It goes without saying that in 2017 shoppers access mobile devices in-store.

Retailers have to leverage this trend in new ways to boost customer retention and create offers that improve customer loyalty that leads to higher customer lifetime value from the right customers.

This is one of the reasons we’ve offering SMBs omnichannel solutions via our cloud-connected printers.

Loyalty-marketing that’s mobile-first allows retailers to tap into customer-centric channels that were previously unavailable that are facilitated by QR codes, digital receipts, and mobile coupons.

15. Next-Gen Tech will Influence the Future Store

A wide array of future technology will impact retail including new consumer orientated augmented reality offerings that should arrive well before 2020.

The evolution of VR, 3D-printing, robotics, drones and dozens of other verticals will impact the retail industry. New advances in shopper-tracking, digital signage, smart mirrors and more sophisticated use of beacons is already occurring.

The future of the store is evolving and computer vision facilitated by LIDAR is an important component of that as well. We are seeing ourselves, that QR codes and RFID tagging are becoming more common place.

These trends are impacting the pre-post sales customer experience in new ways. Each year, showrooming in VR becomes closer to being a reality.

As these tech advances occur, what we term e-commerce today will be even more ubiquitous to the new consumer.

16. Amazonification of Retail Continues

Following the best retail news outlet, RetailDive, it becomes apparent just how much Amazon innovates on a monthly and quarterly basis.

Recently, Amazon’s launch of its third-party subscription marketplace already features services such as Fitbit, The Wall Street Journal, Disney Story Central, Dropbox and other pubs such as the Chicago Tribune.

Amazon is not simply an e-retailer; it’s scaling to become the dominant online ecosystem of the future.

Amazon is moving beyond being an e-retailer and has entered the realm of artificial intelligence as a global corporate behemoth with advances in logistics, Amazon Prime and Alexa, among others. Therefore, for retailers, Amazon is worthy of constant study.


Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter.

 

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Top 6 Maternity and Kids Toy Stores

At Star Cloud, we are passionate advocates of small businesses whom we feature on a daily basis on both Facebook and Instagram.

Come and share our celebration of local and independent small businesses for babies.

The Giving Tree Children’s Boutique

The Giving Tree Children’s Boutique, in New London, Minnesota, specializes in quality, unique baby’s and children’s clothing in sizes newborn – 12. They also carry a wonderful selection of classic wooden and educational toys, books and gifts for all ages.

You will always be welcomed with a smile, and your children will be welcome as well. There is a small play area and salt water aquarium for their amusement while parents are free to browse and shop! You’ll enjoy your visit to The Tree!

Facebook | Website

Arkansas Baby LLC

Arkansas Baby LLC, in Little Rock, is a children’s boutique that provides a selection of natural products like cloth diapers and environmentally-conscious diapering options, toys free from harsh chemicals and heavy metals, as well as homeopathic remedies and personal care items for both the natural mom and baby.

Natural items for diapering, play, and wellness — how wonderful!

Facebook | Website | Instagram

Le Gribouillis

What a genius idea it was to create a place — in Levis and Val-Belair, Quebec City, Quebec — especially for mothers who want to get out and meet and chat with other … adults!

While moms can have a tisane, coffee or freshly-made smoothie, and relax, exchange ideas, and laugh, their babies and young children can sleep, meet, and play in areas specially designed to meet their needs.

Services offered include beverages, snacks, light meals, a shop, special workshops and events for mothers and mothers-to-be, and haircuts on Mondays.

Enchanting for babies, toddlers, and young children. A favorite spot for mothers and mothers-to-be: 177 reviewers have awarded Le Griboullis a rating of 5.0!

Facebook | Website | Instagram

Photopia Studios

Some of our sweetest memories are evoked by photos of our babies and children. And truly great photographs are created not taken, says owner-photographer Cliff of Photopia Studios, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

With his creative talent, awesome skills, and loads of charm with babies and children, the results will be memories you’ll love forever.

Facebook | Instagram Website

Kids Emporium by Lazy Francis

Kids Emporium by Lazy Francis, in Chelsea, London, UK, is a special baby and children’s boutique offering clothes, accessories, shoes, toys and gifts.
Clothing spans basics and casuals through to special occasion and luxury kidswear for 0-12 years, alongside footwear, accessories, toys, gifts and interior design pieces.

Here you will find exquisite choice and variety for every occasion in a child’s life and for all types of customer, taste, budget and need, with regular arrivals of new and exciting hand-picked brands.

Facebook | Instagram Website

The Magical Toy Shoppe

The Magical Toy Shoppe, in Lexington, Kentucky, is a toy store where children can explore and play — a great shopping experience for both kids and adults! Their goal is to carry high-quality unique toys for every child.

There’s a great selection for children of all ages, from toys for infants to baby dolls and games, from craft kits to sleds, and magical educational toys and books, too. Rated 5.0

Facebook | Instagram Website

Small businesses like these enchant us. They inspire us. They fuel our communities.

By shopping locally we are contributing to our local economies, supporting family businesses and making a difference. We hope you have enjoyed their stories of Baby Love.


Ching Ching Wang is a marketing intern and student at Concordia University. She’s building skills and experience at the intersection of data management, analytics, and marketing. Constantly learning, always curious, she combine a DIY mentality to problem-solving. Ching Ching is also a self-starter and is working on a YouTube video channel, and has a wide variety of interests such as communications, international business, world religion and mindfulness practices. LinkedIn | Twitter

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Digital Receipts for Sustainable Shoppers

It’s Earth Day on April 22nd, and retailers are not immune to listen to what their customers are saying on the topic of sustainable retail practices.

What does this mean? It means each purchase we make counts and has an impact on the environment. It means digital natives (as opposed to digital immigrants) want to go paperless and are using more convenient and instantaneous methods of transaction and payment.

Vend point of sale knows a thing or two about the sustainability conscious consumer.

Small Businesses Should Align with Consumer Values

There’s a huge incentive for small businesses to align with these new values and trends of younger consumers who are steadily growing up and doing retail differently.

Call it what you may: transparency, social responsibility or authentic business ownership if our customers are doing it, we’ll want to cater to them.

The Digital Influence of Mobile

What if there was a service and a mobile-first technology that facilitated this? That could offer small businesses and local retailers an effortless way to:

  • Implement digital receipts
  • Leverage mobile coupons
  • Create technological solutions that marry the internet of things with ecological stewardship and social responsibility in brick-and-mortar retail.

What Would be the Business Benefits of a Mobile-First Digital Receipt?

“Now, more than ever, the shopper is in control of the entire retail experience. The receipt — the last part of the transaction — should not be any different.” ~ David Salisbury, VP of Sales and Marketing

1. Digital receipts and the benefits to the environment

It’s not just in California or the west coast any longer where shoppers are increasingly ethical with regards to how to reduce, recycle and reuse.

For millennial Moms and many other populations, this extends very much to the products we buy, their packaging and the waste they create as byproducts.

We don’t want to shop with paper bags, and we don’t believe all this paper is necessary. If we’ve reduced the paper trail in healthcare, the office, why not at the cash register?

Sustainability is everywhere, and we’re learning in business how to align with a new generation who take ecological stewardship very seriously.

2. Improved Efficiency of store operations

In small businesses and for independent retailers, the same issues of logistics and efficiency exist as always and ever. The customer experience is always the priority, and especially as this regards loyalty marketing.

What if a digital receipt was a marketing and sales channel? You could flip over the receipt on your smartphone and discover coupons and special offers from your favorite stores, shops, cafes, and restaurants?

What if SMB retailers could promote themselves without a costly pay to play digital marketing advertising strategy, while improving their customer retention and loyalty-marketing ROI, at no extra cost?

Star Cloud’s new Micro Receipt TM, allows a paper savings of up to 80%! That’s ROI in more ways than one.

3. Email versus Digital

A lot of digital receipt solutions claim that Email integration is somehow new and exciting. Getting more spam isn’t so exciting for most of us, and your customers would probably agree.

When we implemented a QR code based system, we took privacy and consumer security into account. Giving the consumer full control of the interaction means not asking them for their personal information and interrupting their journey.

With younger consumers increasingly on SMS and apps, Email is no longer the way to go. However digital receipts as implemented with Email has even more serious drawbacks:

Email as a Legacy Channel at the Cash Resister
  1. They slow down lines and wait times
  2. Can require training for staff to deal with difficult customers
  3. They can aggravate customers and increase churn (the opposite of customer retention)
  4. They don’t cater to mobile-first digital natives, who are more aware of social media and SMS traffic to their phones
  5. Email open rates and especially click through rates are abysmal
  6. We are already saturated with loyalty programs, Email promotions and very cliche sales offers, in other words, Email is a legacy channel that’s high volume with little result in 2017

Mobile Receipts Are More Seamless

4. Benefits of a QR Code Mobile Method

For the small business owner, a digital and more seamlessly method of implementing digital receipts that leverage mobile coupons are obvious:

  • No need to train clerks
  • Does not go into the “spam” or promotions folder of Email clients
  • Does not slow down the sales process and check-out lines
  • Can influence the shopper’s customer journey pre and post purchase (mobile coupons)
  • Is a form of self-checkout where the consumer has optimal storage of their receipts and purchase history
  • No need for shopper to give personal info
  • Higher security, customer-centricity and greater privacy (it’s anonymous)
  • Cost-efficient (it’s free for those who purchase Star Micronics hardware)
  • Easy to implement (no point of sale mod required)
  • Can eliminate paper via BLE beacons in the foreseeable future

5. Adds utility to Mobile apps

In the evolution of the mobile app, shoppers are seeking convenience and utility above all else.

What could be more useful than mobile coupons in the discount era of shopping? This has a huge upside.

The AllReceipts app is being offered by an increasing number of POS participating solutions and augmented by an increasing array of retail tech startups in analytics, loyalty, expense management that all incorporate artificial intelligence.

QR code scanning, like RFID is making a come-back. You don’t have to look far, Amazon Go’s mobile sign-in is a QR code format.

For the modern day consumer, digital receipts are a welcome reality. That it has a Receipt Flip function that gives access to mobile coupons is a huge incentive. Especially in existing verticals where coupons and loyalty marketing are a big deal already.

Being a solution at the intersection of POS, payments and IoT means our product is in a unique position.

Being POS agnostic and having access to an almost unlimited array of small businesses and receipt data. In the era of modern shopping, data is increasingly being recognize as a key to unlocking better margins in retail. In building an innovation hub for retail that has a strong foundation, we believe empowering small businesses is easier than ever.

6. Use as a Coupon system

With the rise of e-commerce and discount shopping, the game has changed in how retailers interact on price, convenience and creating experiences that entice and retain customers to a brand.

The coupon culture is intrinsic to the retail experience in North America. This is because citizens are living on tight margins, just like many SMB retailers.

The paper coupon system is getting old. It’s getting messy, with a huge wastage of traditional media, advertising and store flyers that no longer works.

QR codes facilitate not only the augmented receipt for mobile-first consumers but a whole new way of doing marketing on the paper receipt itself via receipt promos.

Mobile Coupons Leverage Discount Retails’ New Popularity

Austin-based RetailMeNot was recently sold in a $630 million dollar deal. It’s coupon codes and deals amount to retail offers in excess of 70,000 merchants including Nordstrom, Target, Macy’s and Wal-Mart.

Its sites and mobile apps provide coupon codes, free trials and other retail offers from more than 70,000 merchants including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Wal-Mart, and Target.

In fact, the right mobile coupon solution could make all the difference. Not just for deal-hunting consumers, but for how small businesses can stand out and show their uniqueness.

Mailed out brochures might be effective for some grocery chains, but what about all the other verticals? What about loyalty marketing that’s becoming more personalized with artificial intelligence.

Mobile coupons, are a deal-breaker for those small businesses that want to keep up and leverage digital influence in 2017 and beyond.

Loyalty on Mobile; Increasing Customer Engagement

7. Ability to re-engage with customers.

In brick-and-mortar retail and especially for new SMB retailers, developing brand loyalty and those high-value loyal customers is a high priority.

Our solution suite at Star Cloud is focused on customer retention and leveraging value in the customer experience to better engage with shoppers.

Digital receipts that are actionable with mobile coupons, appeals to consumers on multiple levels.

The bottom line is the message is fully customizeable by the retailer to their audience. Targeting their customers with the best message at the right moment. Like any tool of technology or marketing, it has to be used tailored to the audience.

With AllReceipts, a store or a boutique is able to engage customers directly on the digital receipt via a URL or via Receipt Flip that actives the shoppers innate curiosity for your best deals at key moments in the shopping season.

Seasonal Campaigns with Receipt Offers

SMBs and indie retailers can thus leverage events, holiday campaigns and develop a cost-effective loyalty marketing strategy that doesn’t depend just on old-school Email.

Leveraging digital influence is a key strategy in boosting your omnichannel customer experience. In 2017, digital influence may as well be called mobile influence. As we are seeing with Amazon Echo in the home, voice commerce and chatbots are starting to have an impact on product search in the discovery phase, but what if mobile coupons were part of the experience, bringing customers back and helping them remember you.

Small businesses can now differentiate not simply by having good customer service, but also by offering eco-friendly solutions that are useful.

Here’s the thing, ethical shopping isn’t going away. If anything, aligning your brand with your audience’s values matters more now than ever before. By the way, what’s the ROI of doing the right thing for a small business as perceived by your customers? It’s priceless.

Read more of our insights by following us on LinkedIn.


Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter

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How Retailers Are Going Green for Earth Day

Due to climate change and the exhaustion of resources, Earth Day means more to customers today than ever before. Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and it’s a great opportunity for retailers to connect with globally-minded green consumers.

Since are aware of the environmental and societal impact of how they spend their money, there has been a shift towards conscious consumption.

It’s Generational

Although Millennials don’t deserve all of the credit, studies prove they are more socially conscious with their purchases than any generation that precedes them. A 2015 Nielsen study found that almost three out of four Millennial and Generation Z respondents are willing to spend more for a sustainable product, along with over half of Baby Boomers.

Enter the New Consumer

Because of consumer preference for socially conscious product, sustainable business practices and the promotion thereof are integral components of a successful marketing strategy. Earth Day is the perfect time to create (and promote) a globally conscious brand.

The Woke Consumer

In wake of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,129 people, many consumers vowed to pay more attention to where and how their clothing was made. Still, clothing waste has doubled in the past 20 years, with the average American throwing away around 70 lbs of textiles annually. In response to this excess, consumers are increasingly interested in buying fewer, higher quality pieces of ethically produced apparel.

Ethical Fashion

Ethical fashion is an umbrella term used to refer to clothing which is sustainably designed, manufactured, sourced, and sold. Although ethical fashion doesn’t have official parameters, it is defined by the Ethical Fashion Forum as apparel which “maximizes benefit to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment,”.

This often refers to Fair Trade goods which are produced with minimal resources, without causing harm to animals or the environment.

Big Brands are Catering to the Ethical Fashion Consumer

A common misconception about ethical fashion is that it is uncool or less attractive than clothing that is not sustainably made. Levi’s, Patagonia, H&M and True Religion, among others, have started offering denim made with minimal water.

North Face offers customers drop-off bins for old merchandise, from which they make upcycled apparel. Reformation makes trend-conscious, beautiful (if pricey) sustainable clothing with minimal environmental impact. The bottom line: sustainability sells, and Earth Day is the perfect time to start catering to the green consumer.

Get Green Power

Companies such as Kohl’s, Google, Starbucks and Apple reduce their carbon footprint with green power, aka renewable energy; instead of traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power. Green power is defined by the EPA as “electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.”

Who’s the Leader Now?

Companies like Walmart are also opting for energy efficient lighting. LED or CFL (compact fluorescent lights) are easier on the eyes and reduce energy consumption and expenses over time. Corporate social responsibility starts at the top.

Green power can be implemented at different levels, depending on the needs and budget of the company. Although the initial investment may seem lofty, green power results in reduced electricity bills and saves money over time. Check out the Fortune 500 list of sustainable supergiants for Earth Day inspiration.

Pare Down or Digitize

QR code receipts are a great way for companies to go paperless and to engage with their customers. The green customer appreciates knowing that they’re doing business with an environmentally conscious company, and with AllReceipts, companies can send customers digital coupons or invite them to loyalty programs after the sale.

If customers or companies aren’t prepared to go completely paperless, companies can reduce paper consumption by offering micro receipts. AllReceipts saves companies up to 80% in receipt paper by printing small scannable codes. Customers scan the QR code on their smartphones to view the full receipt, which helps retailers keep track of sales and increase customer engagement.

This also allow consumers to use mobile coupons in the AllReceipts app.

Offer Reusable Bags

Offering customers the option to buy reusable bags in-store not only helps reduce the use of plastic, but the bags serve as advertisement for the company in question. California spearheaded the bag-free movement, charging a 10 cent minimum bag tax every time a non reusable bag is used. Although charging customers for bags when it’s not state mandated probably isn’t the best bet for customer retention, by offering customers an incentive — such as a small discount — to bring their own bag, companies can encourage eco consciousness and consumer loyalty.


Jasmine Glasheen is a Freelance Writer and Retail Strategist. A panelist on RetailWire’s BrainTrust, Jasmine has been published on Retailwire, Independent Retailer, CART, and many others. She was formerly the editor of Off-Price Retailing magazine, and has been quoted both in Forbes and in RetailDive. When she’s not at her keyboard, you’ll find her guzzling kombucha or dancing like a maniac. LinkedIn | Twitter

 

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Will AmazonFresh Disrupt Grocers?

Word on the street is that Amazon is delving into curbside pickup with a new concept, called AmazonFresh. AmazonFresh would be an upgraded version of BOPIS, where customers wouldn’t even have to leave their vehicle to pick up the goods. The idea is that customers could order online, then AmazonFresh employees would pack the customer’s order and bring it out to their vehicle.

Amazon reports that AmazonFresh curbside pickup orders could be available within 15 minutes of being placed.

The Myth

Despite conflicting information from The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider, Amazon publicist Pia Arthur vehemently refutes claims that AmazonFresh plans to open 2,000 physical grocery stores over the next 10 years. “It’s absolutely not correct,” Arthur says. “We have no plans to open 2,000 of anything.”

In actuality, the AmazonFresh concept is still being tested and is currently only available to Amazon employees.

The Competition

So, is AmazonFresh poised to give WalMart’s grocery business a run for their money? WalMart beat AmazonFresh to the punch with curbside delivery, since WalMart already offers curbside delivery at many of their already established physical locations. Plus, curbside pickup at Walmart is free, where AmazonFresh charges customers $15 per month and a $10 charge for orders under $40 for their delivery services. AmazonFresh curbside pickup may prove too costly to be a daily convenience.

Of course, cost isn’t the only factor customers take into account when choosing a grocer. The younger generation is rife with dietary restrictions, whether they eat organic-only, gluten-free, or vegan, and this is the market being targeted by AmazonFresh. According to Citi via CNBC, Whole Foods has the most to lose if AmazonFresh becomes a success. “Whole Foods has 60 percent of their stores overlapped with Amazon’s current or future delivery markets while Walmart is just 23 percent exposed.”

The Reality

Although at first glance, AmazonFresh looks like the logical continuation of Amazon’s growing attempt to break into the 8 billion dollar grocery industry, the logistics of the enterprise may prove more complex than foreseen. Logistical issues listed by Bloomberg as deterrents to AmazonFresh include: cost, produce quality, and poorly trained employees were all l.

If not addressed, these setbacks may prove more costly and time consuming for customers than actually shopping at a physical store.

Another deterrent for AmazonFresh customers may be that the pilot lacks the capacity to address the growing trend for grocery stores to offer a dine-in experience. Contrary to popular belief, many Millennials and Gen Z customers value the in-store experience and shop where they do for the social element. Curbside delivery concepts such as AmazonFresh lack the communal dine-in capacity offered by full-store competitors like Whole Foods.

If Amazon is able to resolve these issues before AmazonFresh completes its beta phase and becomes available to the public, then the concept could prove to be an asset for time-crunched customers looking to avoid an in-store experience. In the end, the future success or failure of AmazonFresh will prove dependent upon quality of the food itself.

If staff is adequately trained to selectively pick and double-check produce before it is packaged and handed off to customers, then AmazonFresh will prove a lucrative time saver. However, customers may find it more difficult to dig through a bag of groceries to check produce quality in their car than to simply pop into a store where the produce is easily surveyable, so customers need to be able to trust what they’re given in order for the concept to work.


Jasmine Glasheen is a Freelance Writer and Retail Strategist. A panelist on RetailWire’s BrainTrust, Jasmine has been published on Retailwire, Independent Retailer, CART, and many others. She was formerly the editor of Off-Price Retailing magazine, and has been quoted both in Forbes and in RetailDive. When she’s not at her keyboard, you’ll find her guzzling kombucha or dancing like a maniac. LinkedIn | Twitter

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6 Best Seasonal Campaign Ideas for Retailers and Small Businesses

‘Tis the season and ‘tis always the season.

Taking full opportunity of the seasons and events in your local community can build a better business, engage more customers and increase profits.

Many retailers struggle to create interesting and unique seasonal campaigns and here, we have the best ideas to kick start you to remarkable and memorable seasonal campaigns.

1. Creativity is key

Think outside of the box and challenge your competition.

Think of how Google utilizes its web design through Google Doodles to emphasise a momentous day or person throughout history. Why not add snowflakes to your logo during the winter or add leaves during Fall? Try changing your strap line to incorporate your seasons.

Over large seasonal campaigns like Christmas, Easter and Black Friday, customers will be swamped with emails, offers and promotions from other companies. The key is to stand out. Create a clever, funny marketing campaign or a compelling, emotive storyline that makes you stand out from the crowd. Even try changing your traditional mode of contact.

Why not pick an interesting, catchy or different theme for the season? Instead of a traditional family Christmas why not change your theme to ‘Advent Calendar’, ‘Countdown to Christmas’ or ‘Naughty or Nice’?

The key is to stand out from your competitors and create captivating campaigns.

2. Storytelling through a customer journey

Providing excellent customer service is vital to a successful business.

Customizing business to suit your consumer needs is a great way to build loyalty and trust with your clients.

A loyalty program can establish this and ensures customers keep coming back for more. A loyalty card for a coffee shop is an example where customers buy nine coffees and getting the tenth one free.

This type of loyalty card program may not work every business. So why not check out Thirdshelf, a loyalty marketing software that automates customer communications and helps independent retailers create their own customized loyalty programs that build strong and lasting relationships with your consumers.

Remember to choose the best seasonal campaigns that is tailored specifically to your target audience. For example, a flower shop would benefit from Mother’s Day and Summer Wedding seasonal campaigns.

3. Finding the best channels for your business

Using multiple marketing channels is essential during an age of digitalization and social media.

Social media is a fantastic way to engage younger audiences. From Twitter and Facebook to Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, social media is a great way to reach a wider audience.

It’s also an opportunity to leverage user generated content such as holding contests. Examples include photo competitions, questions to the experts of your company, or customers sharing their favorite products, with a branded #hashtag. This helps to create a personal and authentic business brand.

New features of Facebook and Instagram stories are great ways to showcase your business. You could even hold time-limited competitions lasting the full 24 hours of the story. It personalizes your business’ relationship to brand followers by allowing a personal insight into your company.

A top tip is to find the best channel that suits your consumer market.

At the same time, don’t forget the importance of emails when reaching your clients. In today’s age, email may seem outdated but it helps business with their seasonal planning and updates customers on the latest discounts. It can also build hype and awareness of seasonal campaigns. But most importantly, email is considerably more trustworthy than social media channels and engages more consumers and helps business profitability than social media.

Likewise, a weekly or monthly newsletter is a fantastic way to personalize your business strategy, hold promotions and keep customers informed of current events and unique selling points: a fantastic way to showcase what your business is all about.

4. Incentivizing, promotions and discounts

Can you name a customer that doesn’t love a discount or promotion? I can’t either.

Incentivizing, discounts and promotions builds a positive rapport with your consumers and can encourage loyalty and future investments.

Coupons are great ways to thank your customer for contributing to your business but at the same time ensure that they return and continue their investments. Try offering discounts online or in-store with their next purchase. Or likewise, you could offer discounts to nearby food outlets or local attractions to provide incentives for returning customers.

AllReceipts is a Digital Receipt app that allows customers to access their receipts via smartphone and offers a fantastic opportunity for retailers to add mobile coupons to their receipts that ensures loyal, returning and long term customer acquisition.

Free product giveaways or samples are ways that consumers can test and try your product which often generates sales.

Either way you choose to approach this tip, incentivization is a way to thank your consumer, build relationships and encourage further investment in the long term.

5. Harvesting local flavour

Locality can be your unique selling point.

Before you think big, it’s always good idea to think small and harvest your local community into your business. You never know how your local reputation can build a bigger, better and brighter reputation that reaches a wider audience.

If your business is family-owned, why not post videos on social media of your family working together? Benefits of SMBs is that emotional connections to customers are more direct.

Stores can even create in-store experiences that coordinate with local or micro-seasonal events. For example, you could create educational experiences related to a product you are selling. An example is demonstrations of bath bombs for Mother’s Day or chocolate samples at Easter. At the same time, you could host themed events relating to a particular season, such as a Beach Party if the focus of your seasonal campaign is summer vacation. This strategy can draw people into your store, increase awareness and boost sales.

You could even reach out to local media such as local newspapers to gain publicity before your in-store event. Equally, you could use local media after your event to show the benefit and positive outcomes of the customer experience you created. Even using local influences such as holding a meet and greet with your local politicians can increase engagement.

6. Prepare your top Seasonal Calendar dates

My last, but certainly not least, remember to start early and plan your seasonal campaign.

Planning your seasonal campaigns ensures that your business is ahead of the game, ensuring you make the most of promotional opportunities.

This advice may seem pretty obvious and straight forward, but there is nothing worse than having to tweak your marketing campaigns during the season when your focus shown be on operations, execution and keeping customers happy. Starting early can save you lots of stress and increase the popularity and profitability of your business during the seasonal campaign.

Planning can also help you to avoid mistakes, providing enough time to make necessary adjustments to improve your seasonal campaigns.

Try Dor which provides a gateway to practical planning techniques. The software analyses and gathers data from your business to measure the success of each individual campaign.

If a strategy works well, you can re-use it in the following year and if not so well, you know to avoid it. The point is, is that if you don’t plan ahead, then you won’t know the best and optimal strategies that suit your business.

Whether you know it or not, there’s always a seasonal holiday going on. There’s no need to restrict your seasonal campaigns to the big holidays like Christmas and Easter. Seasons are year-round endeavours, so get planning and picking your seasonal campaigns.

A good idea is to plan a marketing seasonal calendar. This advice is extremely useful for retail owners, as it is easy to miss or forget the different seasonal opportunities that exist in each month. Despite the Easter surge of chocolate, the spring and summer season is where business comes to a lull. So why not exploit this and think creatively?

Think about micro-seasonal events that can engage more customers and boost sales. Top events include Mother’s Day, Summer Vacation, Independence Day and Back to School.

Bringing it together

An effective business will ensure that all these tips interlink. You can provide discounts and promotions for local attractions, you can use creatively build your social media channel and you can leverage social media to emphasise a personal customer journey through competitions and branded #hashtags.

A successful business finds way to utilize these tips and intertwine them to create engaging and remembered seasonal campaigns that keep customers coming back for more.


Sarah Jane Callender is a Freelance writer and student at Lancaster University studying Politics and English Literature. Sarah enjoys championing small businesses and is interested in digitalization, the gig economy and its impact on politics and economics. With a passion for travelling, she rarely likes to stay in the same place for long but loves the comfort of home. LinkedIn | Twitter

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Top Stories and Trends in Retail

Retail News at your Fingertips

Starting in April, 2017, each Saturday we will attempt to summarize some of the biggest stories in retail news and trends as we cover the future of retail.

When to Visit?

Published at 10am every Saturday, we hope it can become your one-stop shop for retail innovation and retail insight. We curate some of the best breaking retail news topics from respected publications such as Retail Dive, RetailWire, National Retail Federation, LinkedIn Retail & Ecommerce channel, among others.

To stay in touch with us, follow us on LinkedIn.

Retail News Digest – April 15th, 2017

Walmart Introduces In-Store Discounts for Online Shoppers

As Walmart seeks to become more competitive with Amazon, and after acquiring Jet.com for $3 Billion, Walmart is now rolling out new discounts for web shoppers.

Retail Dive reports starting April 19th, Wal-Mart will be offering discounts for items solid online but picked up in store.

Referred to as BOPIS, an acronym for buy online pickup in store; this is an aggressive move by the retail discount giant, that is the initiative of Marc Lore, who is seeking to empower customers to save more.

The price war between the retail giants; Amazon and Wal-Mart, is one of the defining trends to watch in 2017.

The “Pickup Discount” will be available for 10k items, and will be expanded to over one million by mid-2017. Wal-Mart has a fleet of nearly 7,000 trucks that deliver products to their fulfillment centers.

The “Age of Ask” Might Upend how we Find Products

As smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo are becoming more popular, how consumers are discovering products is changing. The “age of ask” refers to using voice and AI in the home to also see if local stores have products in-stock.

Many analysts believe voice commerce can up-end how mobile commerce takes place and will quickly develop into a multi-billion dollar retail channel.

As “Alexa Skills” multiply, how apps turn into utilities and services within easier reach that apps we typically don’t use or uninstall is gaining traction. We are at the beginning of a new ecosystem of how people interface with APIs.

Visual Search just Got Easier

In 2017 advances in machine learning allows consumers to search for items visually easier than ever on Pinterest and Google. Google image search now has a “similar items” button.

New visual search convenience and voice recognition are showing next-web innovation at how consumers in the future will be able to discovery, interact and buy products. Many argue that Pinterest is no longer just a DIY inspirational app, but truly one of the premier visual search engines in the world.

With Amazon thus far beating out Google in voice commerce capabilities; Google is under pressure to innovate in ways that might offer value to merchants and the new consumer.

Retail Jobs on the Chopping Block?

RetailWire explored how the 4th industrial revolution might impact retail in a recent discussion, you can see the responses here.

Industry 4.0 will see not only machine intelligence, but increasingly smarter robotics and AI intersecting with the internet of things. This scales with developments such as the evolution of the smart store and autonomous vehicles to make many retail jobs go obsolete by 2030.

Amazon Pegged to Own 50% of E-commerce Pie by 2021

In just four years, it’s being predicted Amazon e-market share is likely to rise from its current 34% to 50%, in just four short years, or by 2021.

This tells us something we’ve already known for years, the majority of online growth is being made by Amazon.

Amazon Prime’s “unique selling points” are now a laundry list of amazing convenience being driven by multiple fronts of innovation.

Amazon Prime Video recently acquired an important NFL deal and are facing off with Netflix for the best original content. Prime’s revue continues to show impressive YOY growth, with $6.4 billion last year (2016), up from $4.45 billion in 2015 and $2.8 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, annual growth of Amazon prime members worldwide is impressive.

Did you miss last week’s top retail news? Go here.


Michael Spencer is a content strategist, futurist, and marketing consultant. He was named a 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice and blogs on technology trends as well as retail. He’s based in Montreal and manages social media branding for tech startups, in addition to blogging. LinkedIn | Twitter

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Top 10 Retail Trends According to Shoptalk

Shoptalk on the Future of Retail

In the two years since its inception, Shoptalk has emerged as the forum for thought leadership. The panels at this year’s event, held March 19-22nd, set the precedent for retail innovation for the coming year. As expected, technology and adaptation were on the tip of everyone’s tongue, with each brand leader eager to share and adopt strategies for evolution.

Sandeep Bhanote said we were in the midst of a “Retail Renaissance” from which the brick and mortar store experience of the future will emerge.

But what this store of the future will look like and how brand leaders can adopt current technology to prime their companies for the next chapter of retail was the primary theme of Shoptalk ‘17.

The retail climate calls for innovation, whether that looks like Walmart’s “Store #8” tech startup incubator in Silicon Valley, or Ebay’s “digital concierge” is yet to be determined, but the need for evolution is uncontestable. The thought leaders at Shoptalk mentioned the following ten takeaways as key components of the “store of the future.”

Back to Bricks

“It’s easier for eCommerce retailers to open stores than it is for traditional retailers to start eCommerce.” David Bell , author and professor at The Wharton School.

In a sudden reversal of the e-commerce trend, online retailers are opting to create an in-store experience for their customers. The biggest names in e-commerce including Amazon, Fabletics, and Warby Parker are opening brick and mortar stores. Here’s the caveat: e-commerce now defines in-store trends (and not the other way around). But this doesn’t mean we should haul off and start opening brick and mortar stores. Future brands will start off in e-commerce and enter physical retail to offer their existing customer base a deeper brand experience.

The Luxury Mall

“The malls that don’t evolve will be nothing more than a relic of the past .” Stephan Schambach, NewStore Founder.

Our perception of luxury is based on sensory experience, so online luxury outlets lack the closing power of their physical counterparts. Cara David, managing partner at YouGov recently published the statistic that 71 percent of luxury shoppers prefer to buy in-store.

Stephan Schambach took the theory a bit further, stating that the future of shopping malls may not be in the discount sphere, but in the luxury market. Since high price point shoppers aren’t inclined to buy without giving their purchase the touch test, the mall of the future may be anchored in the luxury experience.

Artificial Intelligence

“If you don’t have an #AI strategy you will die in the world to come.” Devin Wenig, CEO of eBay.

Artificial intelligence is no longer an abstract idea but is an applicable technology with measurable benefits. We need to stop thinking about machines as disembodied voices and start thinking about machine learning vehicles to monitor customer preferences and increase personalization. Online platforming is getting smarter in machine learning, with AI being used to process customer data to create a more relevant and engaging shopping experience.

Amazon strategy

“Even if your brand doesn’t directly interact with Amazon, your customers certainly do.” Shane Atchison , CEO at POSSIBLE.

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” was the resounding motto from Shoptalk speakers offering strategies for dealing with the e-commerce giant. We can learn a lot from competition, like the importance of constant innovation, market saturation, strong analytics and a solid marketing strategy. Use AI to stay abreast of customer lifestyles and buying preferences in order to personalize content marketing, and don’t hesitate to invest in information.

Voice Search

“Consumers don’t expect to use natural language to engage with machines today, but it is only a matter of time.” Julie Ask, VP at Forrester Research.

Smart speakers and voice search were hot topics at Shoptalk. With 55 percent of teens and 41 percent of adults using voice activated search on a daily basis, it’s not a trend retailers can afford to ignore.

Whether the search takes place on Alexa, Siri, Google Home, or via iPhone, companies are scrambling to maximize their SEO listings over voice searches. Retailers face very real advertising challenges on voice-activated platforms, as non-abrasive advertising over smart speakers has yet to be mastered.

Augmented Reality

“We’ve created a more seamless experience using breakthrough technology so customers can save time shopping and focus more on their project.” Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs.

Since most people think of Pokemon Go when they think of augmented reality, the assumption is that AR only has potential for use in retail as a marketing tool. However, technology like the Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app proves that augmented reality has more practical applications for the “store of the future.”

The Tango-enabled Lowe’s phone app allows customers to locate their intended purchases in-store on a virtual reality interface prior to entering the actual store, thus saving them time and freeing up associates to work on more complicated customer requests.

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Virtual Reality

“Virtual’s ability to fully immerse users within a totally different space allows for a risk-free environment to create and collaborate without the normal risks associated with making business decisions.” Mark Hardy, InContext Solutions CEO.

Virtual reality headsets are taking off, with Samsung, Playstation, Google, and Microsoft all scrambling to produce the best in the business. VR stores and fitting rooms are becoming increasingly popular in retail, although the cost and operational kinks such as headaches and motion sickness are still deterrents to widespread adoption. Retailers are also utilizing VR for internal communications, such as virtual meetings and store walkthroughs.

Chatbots

“Chatbots operate on the channels that customers already use , primarily messaging apps and social media, which smooths the path for their adoption.” Fang Cheng, Link CEO.

Chatbots were the stars of Shoptalk since over half of customers no longer feel the need to engage with a person to resolve their customer service needs. In fact, Venture Beat recently reported that 71 percent of consumers want the ability to solve their customer service issues on their own.

Retailers like are future proofing their business by automating customer service. Devin Wenig, President, and CEO of eBay announced the launch of “a personalized shopping concierge” at Shoptalk 2017. Ebay’s revered Shopbot is essentially a chatbot created to streamline online customer service.

Sustainability for Profit

“If companies stopped overproducing and focused on the cost of goods sold instead of the cost of goods made they would uncover a 30 percent EBIT opportunity right there.” Marlene Vogelaar, Entrepeneur

It is no longer possible to divorce retail profits from their environmental and societal implications. The millennial affinity for feel-good philanthropic purchases and an increasing shift towards transparency within the retail market call for well-publicized sustainable practices.

Lucky for retailers, retail transparency also calls for openness about sourcing costs and creates the potential to start a dialogue with customers. Marlene Vogelaar also advocates “just in time” manufacturing, a la Zara, as a cost-effective remedy for overproduction and market saturation.

Seamless Commerce

“Omnichannel is dead. The consumer is the channel.” Mike Blandina , Westfield.

Shoptalk thought leaders have had it with the outdated concept of Omni-channel. A company’s IoT strategy needs to be worked out internally to make it in modern retail. This includes, but is not limited to inventory updates, advertising relevance, email marketing, and cross-channel efficiency.

The information on your store’s app should match your website and your in-store experience, or customers will find a more consistent company with which to conduct their business. No excuses. As Michael G. Relich said at Shoptalk, “Customers don’t care how your company is organized. They want a seamless experience.” Shoptalk, as it did last year, gave us tremendous insights into next-gen commerce and the future of retail.


Jasmine Glasheen is a Freelance Writer and Retail Strategist. A panelist on RetailWire’s BrainTrust, Jasmine has been published on Retailwire, Independent Retailer, CART, and many others. She was formerly the editor of Off-Price Retailing magazine and has been quoted both in Forbes and in RetailDive. When she’s not at her keyboard, you’ll find her guzzling kombucha or dancing like a maniac. LinkedIn | Twitter

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9 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic for Retailers and Small Businesses

Getting customers in the door is a challenge for most brick and mortar retailers. Customers aren’t going to leave their homes to visit a physical store unless the company is offering them something they can’t get online. And that something needs to be relevant to the customer’s lifestyle and shopping patterns. In fact, relevance is the most overlooked component to success in retailer efforts to increase foot traffic. The following 10 tips will help your store increase foot traffic by catering offerings to customer demand

1. Add a personal touch

Why do you think fine dining chefs walk around and introduce themselves to everyone at the restaurant? People want to connect with the person behind the scenes. Connecting to your customers will humanize your brand, but it needn’t always be done in person. Respond to Instagram photos and customer posts on social media to connect with your customers in a time efficient way. Also, regularly post photos of your offerings that portray the lifestyle marketed by your brand, and offer prizes for the best customer photos of your product.

2. Get that local flavor

Make products relevant to customer locales is pivotal to boosting foot traffic in your store. Make a calendar of major music, culture and sporting events near your store and narrow the list down by which local events cater to your customer base. In other words, a sporting goods store probably shouldn’t throw an event based on a ballet production, but could definitely increase visibility by sponsoring the local 5k. From there, pick a few events to use as focal points for your store’s philanthropy, store events, or promotions.

3. Seasonal Marketing

Seasonal marketing is an easy way to personalize your offerings for your customer base. Whether your store is exposed to all four seasons or the temperature only drops 10 degrees during the cold months, there’s opportunity to connect with your customers through shared experience via signage and promotions. Offer fun seasonal discounts, such as, “10 percent off if you come wearing earmuffs,” or “free coffee to anyone who shows us their umbrella!”

4. Keep ‘em coming back

Customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty. No matter the size of your store, some sort of loyalty reward program is imperative to show your customers that you value their business. Customer relationship management software (CRM), similar to the loyalty program builder and communications automation technology offered by Thirdshelf can help to track and identify the results of your loyalty programs to maximize the traction of your marketing spend. This shows you areas that are working and areas where you can to improve.

5. Throw in freebies

If you feed them they will come and if you give them something for free they will spend. Time Magazine lists 5 reasons why customers spend more when you give stuff away. The list includes whhen customers get something for free they’ll pay more for it later, and that people talk about freebies more than anything else. Whether you’re offering samples of your newest hand lotion or free appetizers at a store event, giveaways immediately increase foot traffic and make a lasting impact on your customers.

6. Create an experience

Since millennials value experiences over the things, it follows that to sell things to millennials, retailers need to tap into experience. In 2015 more than 3 out of 4 millennials said they would rather spend money on an experience than accruing more things. With that said, even the most frugal shopper will make a purchase as a reminder of a one-of-a-kind in store experience.

7. Be Disruptive

You can only create foot traffic in a market of breakneck retail evolution by adopting a business model that’s as disruptive as the market itself. Fashion trucks and pop-up shops generate enthusiasm due to their transient nature. The “get it before it’s gone” mentality generates the excitement that most customers find lacking in traditional department stores. Social media marketing is huge for mobile retail, so customers know where to find you and a bit about your offerings. And if you think big companies can’t pull off a disruptive retail model, check out what Zappos is doing with their “Friends With Benefits” roadshow.

8. Build a community

Most retailers cater to consumers with a shared interest, whether you are a home goods store with customers who love to cook, or you sell apparel to Instagram-obsessed teens, there’s an opportunity to bring your customers together over a shared interest. By offering your customers relaxing social spaces and online forums to voice share their experiences, you can create a community in which a love for your brand is the unifying thread.

9. Teach your customers

Shared interest can also be utilized to create foot traffic by offering your customers classes or seminars on topics related to your products. For instance, outdoor retailer REI is famous for the hiking and camping events they facilitate for their customers. Once you realize what lifestyle you’re selling with your inventory, you’ll have a better understanding of what type of education you can offer customers to get them in the door.

10. It comes down to people

Of course, the most thoughtful marketing initiatives don’t count for anything if your customers are greeted by a rude or poorly-trained staff. Know your employees’ strengths and weakness. If you aren’t able to spend much time at your store’s physical locations, invest in a staff augmentation platform like the insights you can get from Dor for hour by hour data that will help you make informed staffing decisions.

The US Census Bureau reported that ecommerce counted for only 8.3% of total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2016. Since most purchases still take place in brick and mortar stores, it’s imperative that retailers cater promotions and marketing to individual customers to boost foot traffic and maximize marketing spend.


Jasmine Glasheen is a Freelance Writer and Retail Strategist. A panelist on RetailWire’s BrainTrust, Jasmine has been published on Retailwire, Independent Retailer, CART, and many others. She was formerly the editor of Off-Price Retailing magazine and has been quoted both in Forbes and in RetailDive. When she’s not at her keyboard, you’ll find her guzzling kombucha or dancing like a maniac. LinkedIn | Twitter

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Flower Power – our Small Business Love

At Star Cloud, our regular Sunday Small Business Love column summarizes some of our best retail stories featuring small businesses all over the globe.

We are passionate advocates of small businesses whom we feature on a daily basis on both Facebook and Instagram.

Small businesses enchant us. They inspire us. They fuel our communities. By shopping locally we are contributing to our local economies, supporting family businesses and making a difference.

Come with us now and share our celebration of local and independent flower retailers.

The Pink Petal Flower Shop

Located in Pierre, South Dakota, The Pink Petal is a full service flower shop specializing in flowers for all occasions including weddings, holidays and funerals. They also have antiques for sale and offer services such as home decor.

They have even been known to shop for the antiques you are looking for — that is the kind of service you can expect from The Pink Petal.

Shop their website for your Easter bouquets and celebrate springtime beauty!

Facebook | Instagram | Website

SS Floral Event

Located in Yateley, England, SS Floral Events directly serves Hampshire, Surrey, and Berkshire as well as Greater London.

An independent award-winning flower shop providing beautiful flowers for all occasions, they offer a wide range of other services including venue decoration, wedding/prom dressmaking and more.

With their vast experience in floristry and events management, isn’t it time for you to enjoy their quality products, gorgeous designs, and best customer service? Rating: 5.0


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Benjamin Walden Creations, LLC

A local Blountstown, Florida, the florist with a great variety of fresh flowers and creative gift ideas to suit any style or budget, Benjamin Walden Creations specializes in weddings, events, sympathy and special occasions in Calhoun, Liberty, Jackson, and Gadsden Counties.

Every day looks better with flowers from Benjamin Walden Creations. This is your chance to send that gorgeous Easter bouquet that sings of springtime’s living beauty.

Facebook | Instagram | Website

Twilight Acres’ Homegrown

Twilight Acres is a second generation family farm located in New York’s Hudson Valley.

HOMEGROWN is their new retail shop in the Stone Ridge Towne Centre, a full-service luxury floral design studio featuring, among others, their own sustainably grown botanicals.

Don’t forget to visit the honor system flower cart located at the entrance to the farm on Cottekill Road!

Facebook | Instagram | Website


Ching Ching Wang is a marketing intern and student at Concordia University. She’s building skills and experience at the intersection of data management, analytics, and marketing. Constantly learning, always curious, she combine a DIY mentality to problem-solving. Ching Ching is also a self-starter and is working on a YouTube video channel, and has a wide variety of interests such as communications, international business, world religion and mindfulness practices. LinkedIn | Twitter

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