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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Top 3 Ways to Unify Your Brand Experience Across Channels

Recently, I met with an owner of a small chain of boutiques. Although she is successful in her brick-and-click stores individually, she's having a difficult time with brand fragmentation and is trying to integrate both the offline and online channels. Her offline customers have access to different information and levels of customer service than e-commerce customers have, and oftentimes, neither source is completely accurate because there's no infrastructure in place to manage multichannel campaigns.

If you run marketing for a small brick-and-click business, you're likely struggling with a similar issue - how to put all of the pieces together to create a unified brand experience for customers, regardless of whether they come into your store, search online, or see the product of their dreams on Pinterest.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wal-Mart: 50 Years of Gutting America's Middle Class

Walmart's explosive growth has gutted two key pillars of the American middle class: small businesses and well-paid manufacturing jobs

Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas, 50 years ago this month. Sprawled along a major thoroughfare outside the city's downtown, that inaugural store embodied many of the hallmarks that have since come to define the Walmart way of doing business. Walton scoured the country for the cheapest merchandise and deftly exploited a loophole in federal law to pay his mostly female workforce less than minimum wage.

Retailers Encourage Shoppers to Buy Online and Pick Up In-Store

As online shopping has surged, traditional retailers have lost millions in sales to so-called showrooming — when shoppers check out products in stores that they then buy from Web sites like Amazon. It has gotten so bad that Best Buy even replaces standard bar codes with special Best Buy-only codes on big ticket items so they cannot be scanned and compared online.

Now some big retailers are taking a new approach to the dreaded showrooming by transforming their stores into extensions of their own online operations. Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears, the Container Store and other retailers are stepping up efforts to add Web return centers, pickup locations, free shipping outlets, payment booths and even drive-through customer service centers for online sales to their brick-and-mortar buildings.
“We are living in the age of the customer, and you can either fight these trends that are happening — showrooming is one — or you can embrace them,” said Joel Anderson, the chief executive of Walmart.com for the United States. “We have a lot of assets, but they’re only assets if you embrace the trends of the customers.”