Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Retail Ethics Matter to Consumers

Historically, the shopping cart was filled based on a simple process of determining the quality and the appropriate price. Today, it's a more complicated process as consumers become increasingly aware and concerned about how ethically products are made.

In a recent survey of 1,000 UK shoppers, Morgan Stanley Research found that, "While ethical concerns don’t dominate shopping habits—prices and quality still rank highest—they have gained prominence since 2010, particularly with the critical younger consumer demographic."

Of all items in the survey, the nine percentage point increase regarding the importance of ethics was the largest. It points to the reality that the next generation of consumers believes that there is value in protecting both the workers and the environment involved in manufacturing and production.

Several major retailers have already recognized the benefit in providing transparency to their customers. Gap recently released a list of all of the factories that provide it and it's six companies (Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix) with product. Given the nature of the modern consumer's relationship with retailers, it's fair to say that having an ethically sound business model will reap rewards that far outweigh the costs.

As Paul Daulerio of the CT Post notes, "Businesses focusing on encouraging ethical practices are commonly viewed with respect by employees, stakeholders and the community. The ethical philosophy of a business can thus affect it in many ways including its reputation, productivity and profitability."

Championing your business's commitment to sustainability is a move that will cause consumers to connect your brand with a sense of respectability. This can be done with something as simple as eco-friendly packaging that demonstrates to them your priorities. Contact us today to discuss packaging options for your business that will send the right message to your customers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why The Physical Storefront Still Matters

The reality of retail is one that includes omni-channel purchasing, virtual realities, and even artificial intelligence. As with so many other industries, in retail, tech is king. Despite that though, what the numbers show is that the traditional storefront still matters, and it matters a great deal. 

A new report shows that while we are indeed entrenched in the digital age, the foundation of retail remains the storefront. The study found that:

  • 95% of sales acquired, are done so by retailers who have a physical location.
  • Two-thirds of the shoppers who make an online purchase, either already have or will visit the brick-and-mortar store location.
  • Physical storefronts boost online sales; this is not a game of either or, but rather it's a meshing of both realities. Retailers who are succeeding recognize that both the digital realm, as well as the physical one matter to customers. 

One of the mightiest online retailers of today, Amazon, has recognized that there is strength in providing consumers with a physical location. Thus, they're planning on opening dozens of pop-up stores in malls across the US in the year to come. This news following the opening of several brick-and-mortar book stores. If even Amazon is feeling the pull of the storefront, it is a sure sign of the value they hold for consumers.

As the Sales Head of Europe at Mindtree, a technology services company, Anil Gandharve says, “Physical stores are now more than stores — they are bridges between the consumers and brands.”

Sure, technology has moved in to the world of retail in an impressive way, but retailers would do well to remember the emotional connection that people, and thus consumers, have to the physical. Given that reality, as online sales rise, it is a prudent choice to ensure that the physical experience online shoppers do have, is a positive one.

At Action Bag, we specialize in promoting your brand's image by utilizing our years of experience to create packaging options that will stay with your customer long after the product arrives. Contact us today, so that you can feel confident that your in-store and e-commerce packaging will go the extra mile on behalf of you and your business. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Small Retail Websites Can Learn From Big Retail Websites

Most large retailers have a website - and have figured out how to run it well. Many top retailers are in the news for spending millions of dollars trying to make their websites a good customer experience. As such, we have come up with three lessons from the big retailers about making their website a success. Small retailers can apply these same ideas to their websites to increase their own online sales.

1. Online Buyers are Often Afraid  

Many online buyers are wary that they will not receive the product that they ordered, and they are particularly afraid that thieves will steal their credit card information. Large online retailers combat this by prominently displaying the company's satisfaction guarantee.  They also highlight the company's privacy policy and display a security badge.  Small retail company websites can easily do the same.

2. Online Buyers Do Not Like to Pay for Shipping
In fact, 35% of shoppers abandon their online shopping cart because of high shipping charges.   Top retailers have learned that fewer shipping charges and particularly free shipping translate into more sales.   Small retailers cannot always absorb the costs of free shipping, but absorbing a part of the shipping costs so that shoppers do not have "shipping charges shock" at checkout can help boost sales.

3. Online Shoppers Want Payment Options  
Top retailers often offer a variety of credit cards (Discover and American Express in addition to Visa and MasterCard) as well as PayPal, Google Wallet, Bill Me Later and others. Wal-Mart even offers cash payments online. A small retailer might not accept online cash payments or as many bank credit cards, but accepting PayPal as a payment option is easy and costs about the same as accepting credit cards.  

Big retailers are constantly tweaking their websites, finding the best ways to improve customer experience and increase revenue.  Small retailers can do the same. Contact us for all of your retail packaging needs, now and as your sales continue to increase.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dollar Shave Club Sells for $1B

What makes Dollar Shave Club so profitable and valuable enough for Unilever to want it?

People like subscriptions. No one wants to run out of certain products, like razors or toilet paper. Amazon has offered subscription service on consumables for years. Busy customers like knowing that certain products will be on hand without having to remember to pick them up at their local store. Cosmetics fans look forward to finding out what will arrive in subscriptions like Beauty Box. Even kids and dogs get in on the fun with Little Passports and Bark Box!

Discounts are powerful. Dollar Shave Club offers a great deal on both razors and other products like shaving creams and lotions. Other subscriptions also offer discounts and will point out how much more your items would cost if purchased separately. By “locking in” to a subscription, consumers get better, “bulk” pricing, and the business gets solid, recurring revenue.

So how can your business get in on subscription services? Look at your product line. Are there items that people need or want to buy regularly, like personal care products? Cosmetics and beauty stores would make strong contenders in this space! 

And what about hair and nail salons, or spas, that offer mostly services versus physical products? You can still offer regular customers discounts for scheduling monthly or quarterly appointments in advance. Or, for every appointment you can offer a certain percentage in discounts (4 appointments per year gets you 10% off while 12 appointments per year gets your 25% off!). You can also start a preferred customer club that offers previews and special access to new products before they are available to the rest of your customers.

Whether you are running a salon or spa, or a brick-and-mortar or online cosmetics business, you need branded packaging that conveys the importance and elegance of your products and services. We want to help you develop that brand and get your products into your customers' hands. Contact us to find out how.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How Are You Promoting Your Brand?

Branding is intended to generate a response. The feelings and thoughts that the consumer connects with a brand's image will ultimately influence that brand's ability to prosper. It is vital that people associate the right things with your business. What follows are four of the most important things that you can do to bolster your store or brand's image and reputation.

1.) Customer service. Customer service is one thing that will never go out of style. Most retailers make commitments, but not all follow through. In an effort to make sure that your customers have the type of experiences that will promote loyalty, make the most of each opportunity to provide the best in customer service.

2.) Utilize your online presence. The web allows for unparalleled marketing potential. Social media is a place where you can showcase your promotions and products, and you can connect with customers and respond to their feedback. Don't waste the opportunity afforded.

3.) The drive behind the brand. It's important to determine what the driving force of your brand is. What is your goal? Your purpose? Your mission? Customers are experts at understanding whether or not a company has like-minded priorities and intentions.

4.) Be smart about brand placement. How does one do that? It's straightforward: the more your brand in seen, the more people will recognize it and will feel comfortable with it. That means committing to consistent visual elements that will bring to mind your company's strengths. 

We can help you create and accentuate your brand in a way that highlights your company every time the customer sees it. Contact us today so that you can begin utilizing our vast array of package branding options.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Craft Cosmetics Packaging Trends

According to an industry analysis conducted by Grand View Research, the craft cosmetics industry is on pace to become a $16 billion industry by 2020.  This trend represents an opportunity for small retailers to capitalize on the hot concept of "seasonal and local" when sourcing products for both brick-and-mortar and online specialty sales. To better understand the opportunity at hand, let's take a closer look at some of the forces shaping this trend.

  • Organic and local: Green is queen in the world of women's marketing, especially in the health and beauty sector. According to WomensMarketing.com, research shows that 54% of women prefer organic skin products and plan to purchase them in the future.  Greater awareness of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used in the production of such products leads to an "if you can't eat it, don't wear it" mentality. In addition, the reliance of mass-produced cosmetics on petroleum by-products flies in the face of efforts to reduce production of fossil fuels.   
  • Cultural marketing: Local craft make-up brands capitalize on another current market force, popular specifically among millennials: cultural marketing.  In the past, cosmetic branding downplayed cultural and ethnic differences and promoted a more generic beauty ideal.  Now, new brands emphasize and value differences between Caucasian, Latino, African-American, Asian and blended-ethnicity customers.
  • Indie brands: With the rise of social media as a marketing platform, indie brands offer the unique points-of-view and intriguing brand "voices" that motivate today's women.  The hottest brands tell a story and create a sense of community through their philosophy, their marketing strategy, and even their ingredients.
An enormous opportunity exists for retailers who can leverage the trend of craft cosmetics in innovative ways.  One simple strategy, the packaging of cosmetics according to themes that resonate with a "seasonal and local" ethos, can be used to showcase the unique selling points of products in both brick-and-mortar and online settings. Reusable packaging, including tree-free, linen pouches, and zippered vinyl make-up bags, conveys an overall philosophy of sustainability while allowing for customization in merchandising (think a mix-and-match of products along seasonal, local and/or cultural lines).  

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you find the perfect packaging for your cosmetic items. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Warning From Sears

Many department stores have been in the news lately, struggling to keep their doors open. Sears, in particular, has been in the news after announcing in February that they would be closing another 50 stores over the course of the year, after having closed 360 stores and 160 K-Mart stores (owned by Sears) in the last five years.

What happened? Sears, like many other department stores that are struggling, did not change with the times. Over the past few years, Sears has stated that it would become more digitally oriented, it would begin taking up less physical space and it would become more focused on membership. None of these things came to fruition. In fact, the situation is so bad at Sears that female shoppers prefer the clothing selection at Goodwill, rather than the women's clothing department in Sears. 

In the midst of the department store doom and gloom, smaller stores can learn from their mistakes! Consumers are no longer willing to shop the way that they did 20 years ago, and they expect a completely different shopping experience. In the three ways that Sears neglected to move forward, smaller stores should take initiative and use them to create more profitability and better customer satisfaction. Also, just like with ships – smaller ones are able to change course faster!

1.      First, a digital presence is necessary. This means a mobile-friendly website and a firm social media presence.
2.      Second, take up less brick and mortar space and move to a more online medium. Consumers want to browse in-store, but also be able to shop from the comfort of their home--allow them to do this.
3.      Third, create a connection with customers. While Sears was going to do this through a membership program, it can also be done through more intimate contact on social media and a more personalized touch with every interaction the company has with a customer. 

Observing the moves and mistakes of large retailers can help small retailers of all kinds to not just stay afloat, but grow and succeed. Branding is always an important part of growth for any company, so be sure to contact us for advice and options on your branded retail packaging.

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