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New Packaging Options

flexographyAre you taking full advantage of the packaging options available to you? Flexographic printing, an updated form of letterpress that makes it possible to print virtually any design on virtually any surface, gives suppliers far more options than they had in the past.

In fact, many suppliers may not be aware of the full extent of the options available to them. Check out the Paperboard Packaging Council’s 2014 award winners to get a sense of the possibilities for creative packaging.

It’s not just about looking pretty, Menasha Packaging, winner not only of two Paperboard Packaging Council Excellence Awards but also of 12 Design of the Times (DOT) Awards at the 2014 Shopper Marketing Expo, points out that packaging affects the consumer’s path to purchase.

Color, shape, and graphics are central to branding, of course, but the ability to extend packaging beyond merely putting designs on a box opens up potential in shopper marketing.

Menasha’s award-winning sunscreen packaging, for instance,uses a transparent packaging substance which gives consumers more ability to see the product while it’s still in the package. Not only does this entice shoppers to put the package in their baskets, it also reduces the temptation to open packages on the shelf, reducing loss and waste.

One shopper marketing expert famously said,”Shopper marketing is complex enough without adding [packaging] to the mix,” but packaging is in many cases the last marketing opportunity suppliers can absolutely count on — a given shopper may not have seen your TV ad, visited your website, or caught your print ad, but once they see your package, you still have a chance to encourage them to buy.

Your packaging is also under your control. You might plan a display, design a planogram, or envision a special boutique set up, but your boxes might actually end up piled on a shelf or in a gondola, filed with only the sides showing, or dumped into a bin. It’s one last opportunity to get your message across and your product into the shopper’s basket.

Menasha gives companies the option of actually having one of their experts on-site to assist with the process from design to implementation, and often that includes opening their eyes to the possibilities of packaging with current technology.

They’ve recently bought an additional flexographic press to keep up with the demand, so it appears that suppliers are beginning to get the idea.

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8th & Walton BOGO

Bogo coupon, voucher, tag2014 has been a great year for 8th & Walton, thanks to you, so we’re thanking you with a special BOGO event.

From now through January 30th, each class you book will get you a second class absolutely free.

That means you can take one class now and one after Christmas. You can take a class and bring along a colleague. You can sign up for a class and give a class to a friend for Christmas. You can bring your whole team and get an unprecedented half off your total cost. You can sign up for a class each month in 2015, and pay for only half of those classes.

This is definitely the moment to sign up for classes if you’ve been hesitating! And if you’ve taken 8th & Walton classes before and you already know how valuable they are, this is the time to stock up.

  • Classes must be booked together. That is, you can’t book a class and have someone else call and book their class as the “get one free” option.
  • You must call our office. Signing up online is always a handy option, but you won’t get your BOGO that way.
  • Classes must be paid for at the time of reservation.
  • They must be taken by the end of 2015. That is, if you miss your class and want to reschedule, you can’t take the class any later than December 2015. No refunds will be given, so be sure you plan ahead.

Call now to take advantage of this exciting offer!

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Online Promotion to Help Your Offline Sales

2014-holiday-statsThis infographic (click to see it larger) shares the most recent data available on holiday shoppers — except your reports from Retail Link, which are definitely fresher.

But it can be good to see some large-scale data on consumer behavior. After all, your goods are already on the shelf, and now the challenge is to get the level of sell-thru you need to keep markdowns to a minimum.

Understanding your customer is key.

This data from TFM&A Insights reminds us that nearly half of consumers pick the internet as their favorite shopping destination, and that the average shopper does 44% of Christmas shopping online. That means that more than half of shopping will take place in the store.

But the vast majority of shoppers will do research online, even when they’re planning to shop at a brick and mortar store.

What gets them into your store? Promotions, convenience, and knowledgeable staff. If in-store execution isn’t in your hands, you can provide these things online and use them to drive consumers into the store.

Online promotions can be created fast — and almost three quarters of shoppers report that special deals will get them into stores. Send special offers to your subscribers via email or text, and create special offers on your website and in social media, too, for people who are not already on your list.

Get the word out even better by asking your customers to share with friends. Give your customer a discount code and tell her she can share with three friends, and she almost certainly will share it. It’s like a little holiday gift she can give her friends (and your brand).

What’s more, a discount code feels different from a percentage off in the store. Many consumers now say that markdowns of less than 30% in-store are not motivating for them… but a 10% discount code sent to them feels like a present, so the amount is less important.

Convenience is what drives site-to-store sales. Use social media and your website to remind customers that they can buy online and pick up or return in-store. Give instructions, too, since many shoppers haven’t yet tried this service.

84% of shoppers now use smartphones as part of their shopping experience. One third of shoppers will use a phone to get information about products instead of asking a sales associate.

It’s not surprising that they make that choice. According to Harvard Business Review, half of shoppers and 61% of retailers believe that the internet is a better source of product information than retail employees.

For suppliers, that means making sure that there is plenty of product information, including consumer reviews and videos, on the brand website.

It also means that your brand website has to be mobile-friendly. Shoppers still trust brand websites more than ads, but if they can’t easily find information at your website, they’ll go elsewhere.

And shoppers who check Amazon to read the product reviews will not only be offered competing products, they may also be offered lower prices and free shipping. Make sure that your website is the best source of information for your product — and if possible, for your category.

And don’t forget to reward those who go to your website as part of their path to purchase. Consumers respond well to discounts, but they also respond well to treats, including recipes, personalized messages, gamification (such as McCormick’s super-successful Flavor Print tool), and tutorials. Balancing cost and effectiveness can be challenging, but creativity can help.

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How to Keep Your Customers and Find New Ones

It’s a truism that keeping existing customers is much cheaper than gaining new ones — and in fact, industry studies have found that it can cost ten times as much to gain a new customer as to keep an existing one.

Existing customers can bring you additional sales, too. For CPG companies, moving a one-time purchaser to a loyal customer can be significant. Opportunities to sell to existing customers abound:

  • If they buy occasionally, they could begin to buy regularly.
  • If they buy one package each week, they could increase that purchase to two.
  • If they buy one of your products, they could buy other products from your brand.

On the other hand, angry customers will not only switch to a competing brand, but will also tell — on average — twice as many people about their bad experience as they would about a good experience.

Jason Kohrig of Skosay talked about this issue with Jeff Amerine in “Swimming in a Sea of Data” on Saturday Morning Meeting.

He pointed out that unhappy customers are likely to switch brands, and in many cases they won’t give the supplier a chance to fix the problem. They will rant about it to their friends instead of filling out that comment card or calling the company.

“And with social media I guess that’s even amplified more,” said Jeff, “because they’re tweeting and talking about what their experience was like.”

New technologies extend the reach of the angry customer, but can also offer a chance to reach your dissatisfied customer while it’s still possible to do something about it.

“What you ultimately strive for,” says Kohrig, “is to understand… what they do when their mind’s unlocked and they’re making decisions and that switching occurs.”

Reaching people at that point not only provides more accurate information about the causes of their dissatisfaction, but also gives brands an opportunity to respond.

Watch the entire episode in the video above, and join us on Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m. on KNWA — or watch all episodes at Saturday Morning Meeting or on YouTube.

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The Spread of Walmart

walmart_growth

Walmart’s annual revenue is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Switzerland — and Norway, and 155 other countries.

Walmart is one of the largest private employers in the world, and the largest company in the world by revenue. With 11,000 stores (counting all retail units) and more than 2.2 million associates, Walmart is a retail behemoth.

It all started with Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin franchise. He had a vision of a discount store chain, and while he had trouble convincing people that it would work, he had no trouble showing people that he was right.

The Ben Franklin franchise wouldn’t agree to allow Walton to cut margins and offer deep discounts, so in 1962, Walton opened the first Walmart store. He and his wife put up 95% of the stake, and he traveled the country to learn all he could about discount retail.

Sam Walton’s idea was to open stores in small towns and to offer merchandise at the lowest possible price. His skill at keeping costs down, together with a forward-thinking attitude toward technology and logistics, made Walmart nearly impossible for local stores to compete with.

In 1969, Walmart incorporated. By 1976, Walton closed his franchise stores and focused entirely on Walmart. By 1980, Walmart reached $1 billion in sales. Stores continued to open all across the country.

In 1988, the first Supercenter opened. By 1993, every state but Vermont had a Walmart store, and Walmart was going global. In 1995, Walmart opened in Vermont and in 1996, Walmart China was born.

By 2000, Walmart was the largest private employer in the world.

Walmart continues to open new stores, with more than a dozen new retail locations so far this month. The corporate announcement of each store is the same: “Walmart Brings Convenience, Affordable Grocery Options and New Jobs to…” followed by the name of the most recent lucky town.

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Walmart Supplier Glossary: Shrouds

shroudsOur word “shroud” comes from the Old English word for “clothing,” and the first listing in the dictionary is for burial clothing.

We say that something is shrouded in mystery, meaning that it is wrapped or cloaked, as with a piece of clothing.

But a shroud is also a security device at the door of a store or other public building. These devices check for electronic security devices and reduce the chances of shrinkage. Increasingly, the shrouds also offer another marketing opportunity. shrouds

What’s the connection between these security shrouds and burials? None. The word “shroud” is also used for rigging on ships. The ropes that keep the mast of a sailing ship in place are called shrouds.

So are many other things that look similar, such as the ropes on a parachute, rigging in a theater — and security shrouds, which at some point must have reminded someone of nautical rigging.

Ads on shrouds were originally for video games and movies, but now suppliers are using shrouds to increase awareness of products from cereal to electronics. Since every customer must pass through the shrouds on their way in and out of the store, the shrouds are very high traffic marketing opportunities.

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8th & Walton Lunch & Learns

Lunch Time In OfficeIt’s a crazy busy time of year, at work and away, but you still want to keep up with your professional development. Lunch & Learns to the rescue!

The topics change from time to time, but they’re always practical — things you can learn today and use tomorrow. The format is designed to let you spend part of an afternoon learning and still get back to the office to finish out the day. Lunch & Learns are held in Bentonville or Live Online. We can also work with you to develop a perfect Lunch & Learn for your company on site in your building or in ours.

Current topics:

Advanced Excel

Data visualization tools may be on the rise, but Excel is still where it’s at for Retail Link. Learn the additional Excel skills that will help you make the most of the tools you have:

  • Pivot Table basics
  • Pivot Table formulas
  • Tips to use Pivot Tables to automate weekly reporting
  • Chart creation
  • Chart update automation
  • Vlookup and IF formulas

PowerPoint Excellence

PowerPoint is the world’s most popular presentation software, and you probably use it in many very important situations — including buyer presentations. Learn how to make the most of your PowerPoint presentations:

  • Best practices for delivering your message
  • Using the right font size, style, and color
  • Use of charts, color, images, and animation
  • Making best use of bullet points
  • Tables to summarize key data points

Creating Profitable Rollbacks

Rollbacks can be an excellent tool for introducing new products to prospective customers but it takes planning and careful oversight to keep them profitable. Learn key skills:

  • Calculate profitable promotional pricing
  • Track inventory and sell-thru
  • Rollback price planning
  • Creation and population of a promotion tracker
  • After the Rollback — what next?
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2015 Retail Predictions

Beautiful young woman shopping for fruits and vegetablesWhat will next year bring for retail? Here are some predictions:

  • As the empowered omnichannel consumer becomes the majority shopper, retailers and vendors alike will have to accept the multi-screen world and the blurring of lines between brick and mortar and digital experiences.
  • Increasing concerns about privacy will arise as retailers and brands push the envelope with predictive analytics. While many consumers are willing to give up some privacy for convenience and personalization, the line between service and spookiness will have to become more clear.
  • Increases in the cost of legacy media and decreases in the influence of such media will combine to make digital marketing the primary medium for advertising. Increasing demand and competition will change the approach and the cost of digital media.
  • Since consumers who do their shopping in physical stores increasingly rely on their smartphones as shopping assistants, mobile media and physical stores will be the strongest partnership.
  • The digital wallet will come into its own as new payment options become safer, more secure, and more comfortable for consumers.
  • In-store technology will continue to develop. Automatic options for customer service, data collection, and shopper transactions will change buying patterns — and those who can keep up will win.
  • Changes in consumer demographics will combine with better shopper marketing insights to allow retailers and brands to focus on behavioral segments more than simple demographics, for a more personalized shopping experience.
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3 Tips for Suppliers from a CPG Success

The most recent episode of Saturday Morning Meeting discussed how to sell a product people don’t want to talk about. Loria Oliver also hosted a new segment of Retail Her, a series of conversations with influential women in retail and CPG.

In this episode, Alison Gutterman, President of Jelmar, had some inspiring words for entrepreneurs: “You don’t necessarily learn about success until you fail.”

Failure may not be on your list of goals for the coming year, but Gutterman, the third generation leader of a major cleaning supply company, sees the value of failure. “In every failure there’s a lesson,” says Gutterman, “and it will help you succeed the next time you try something.”

Gutterman had a lot of good advice for entrepreneurs. Our three favorite tips:

  • Ask questions.

Alison Gutterman’s grandfather started the Jelmar company, so she used the example of asking questions of her grandparents and her parents, but entrepreneurs can learn from those who came before them, even if they’re not in a family business. “Find out about their history,” says Gutterman.”Find out about their struggles. Find out about what their wishes were in their lives.”

Entrepreneurs can learn from people who’ve been in their positions before. The opportunity might come up in a networking situation or in an 8th & Walton class, but there will be opportunities.

  • Embrace the randomness of life.

Oliver pointed out that entrepreneurs can sometimes get bogged down in preparation. “They often kind of get lost in the minutia of planning, planning, planning — stage one, stage two, so forth, so on — and never get to the execution phase. What advice could you give to someone who’s struggling with taking that leap of faith?”

“Sometimes,” Gutterman responded, “You gotta just take a deep breath and say I’m going to do it.”

Jelmar has been a Walmart supplier for two decades, but they didn’t seek out the relationship. Instead, they were noticed by a Walmart executive at a trade show. Gutterman described this as a random event, but in fact the company representatives were at the trade show, taking the leap of faith required to get their product out to a larger audience, putting themselves in the way of opportunity.

  • Be persistent.

“We used to have an award for the Manny Gutterman Rep of the Year award,” said Gutternman, “It was a shoe that had a hole in it as a plaque. And it reminded our sales people that you have to pound the pavement.”

Gutterman’s experience tells her to learn and to be prepared for surprising opportunities, but she isn’t talking about luck. Hard work is a key component of success in the retail space. “Almost all of the products that we touch, we wear, we see,” she pointed out, “they all started from an entrepreneur’s idea.”

Hear all of Gutterman’s encouraging words in the video above, and tune in for Saturday Morning Meeting every Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on KNWA.

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Sam Walton’s Rules of Business

Walton's_Five_and_Dime_store,_Bentonville,_ArkansasWe’re celebrating Walmart heritage this week, and nothing is more central to that heritage than Sam Walton, the founder of the Walmart empire.

Sam Walton had ten rules for business: ten things he believed were the basis of running a successful business, and he shared them in his book, Sam Walton, Made in America: My Story.

Sam’s 10 Rules for Building a Business

1. Commit to your business.

Sam Walton’s passion for his business was legendary. Walmart was his life. If you want to get on the shelf at Walmart, you can’t be casual about your products or uncertain about your direction.

2. Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners.

Fortunes have been founded on those early stock shares, and Mr. Sam’s associates were willing to give their all for the business. Walmart treats suppliers as partners, too, sharing responsibility for building business.

3. Motivate your partners.

“Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score,” said Mr. Sam. Team building and scorecards continue to be central to the Walmart way. Could these methods work with your partners?

4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.

Retail Link was revolutionary when it began. Retailers hadn’t previously shared information with suppliers in this way. Joint Business Planning is the natural outgrowth of that sharing. Communication on this scale requires trust — and builds it.

5. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.

You can’t do everything yourself… yet many businesses have foundered on dissatisfaction or disengagement among workers. As you build your business, take time to appreciate the contributions of your staff.

6. Celebrate your success.

Mr. Sam famously did a hula down Wall Street to celebrate reaching a financial goal. That’s a great example of public celebration of success. Even if that’s not your style, your positive sharing can pay dividends in increased confidence among your partners and lessened confidence among your competitors.

7. Listen to everyone in your company.

Mr. Sam was adamant about listening to all associates. Too often, when problems come to light in a business, it turns out that someone was aware of it and kept that knowledge from higher-ups. By listening to your people, you encourage them to tell you more.

8. Exceed your customers’ expectations.

A customer-centric business does things differently, and customers appreciate it. Go the extra mile for your customers.

9. Control your expenses better than your competition.

Walmart is famous for watching all along the supply chain for places where it is possible to be more efficient and cost-effective. This is a good example for any business.

10. Swim upstream.

Walmart was so different from the conventional wisdom that many people told Mr. Sam his ideas would never work. Those people were wrong. It’s worth testing different ideas and trying out new things.

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