Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Trends in Background Screening

Okay, it's a VERY tactical topic for The Retail Muse, I know. But I ran across a brief article in the March-April 2007 Loss Prevention magazine that offered some trends in background screening that offered some points worth mentioning:

1. Increased Government Mandates--Federal and state government requirement of background checks is on the rise.

2. Privacy and Accuracy--Inaccuracies in database matches and noncompliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act has got privacy advocates stepping up their activities.

3. Second Chances--"Second Chance" laws are popping up in states like New York and require greater analysis of criminal records to justify whether or not to hire someone.

4. Impact of Recession--People are in greater need of employment, so you should be more careful in verify credentials, such as past employment and education.

5. Social Network Sites--Employers are using social networking sites to try and learn more about candidates. This information is untrustworthy and discriminatory. Stear clear.

--The Retail Muse

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rise of the "Sellsumers"

TrendWatching.com just released a briefing to introduce the "Sellsumers".

According to their report, Sellsumers are an ever-growing group of ordinary consumers making money as (part-time) entrepreneurs. They are driven by the recession-induced need for cash and enabled by the infrastructure of the web.

As TrendWatching.com puts it, "in a nutshell":

"SELLSUMERS: Whether it’s selling their insights to corporations, hawking their creative output to fellow consumers, or renting out unused assets, consumers will increasingly become SELLSUMERS, too. Made possible by the online revolution’s great democratization of demand and supply, and further fueled by a global recession that leaves consumers strapped for cash, the SELLSUMERS phenomenon is yet another manifestation of the mega-trend that is 'consumer participation'."

Obvious connections for campus stores include:
- Creativity: Tap into the "sellsumers" in your customer base for ideas and creativity for new products, services, and business ventures. Don't think you're going to get it away from them...plan to partner!

- Staff resources: Consider hooking up with local or web-based sellsumer ventures to add skills, capabilities, and services to your businesses portfolio.

- Master the Consumer Involvement concept: Study this and other examples of the growing trend that suggests customers want to be co-creators of the products and services that solve their problems, meet their needs, and enhance their lives. The sooner you master this one and find ways to engage your consumers accordingly, the better!

Read the full "Sellsumer" brief (with tons of examples and ideas) at http://www.trendwatching.com/trends/sellsumers/.

--The Retail Muse

Friday, April 10, 2009

Digital Signage that's Not Digital...or all that Expensive!

For years we've all be hearing about, reading about, and seeing digital signage popping up in retailers...and, quite honestly, making many of us in the college store space a bit envious.

All too often, our mainstream retail competitiors are willing and able to put the hot new thing in display and signage into use. Things that we usually cannot give the space and/or dollars for.

But now there is a digital signage-like display system that might be of interest. I first say this at a P-O-P show last year. And ran across it again the other day "spotlighted" on the VMSD magazine site.

The MCS Low Voltage Lighting Display Panel system (from Carl Stahl DecorCable) uses illuminated, 8x10 sized frames to hold simple graphic slides (think overhead film printed with color graphics) to create vibrant images. This system is easy to install and looks nice with 3-4 panels in a vertical line.

From my discussions with the vendor, an entry-level set-up is less than $300 and is easy to install. The graphic films can be produced in-house by using printable overhead film and color printer with your own graphics.

So if it's not true digital signage (with motion, sound, etc.), how would you use it? Well, TRU research tells us that our customers rarely know the brands or wide variety of merchandise that we carry in store. So what about using each panel to display the logo of a name brand you carry in apparel? Or you could mount it in a window to add vibrant images to add to window displays. Since the cables/panels can be clicked into/out of the mounting like track lighting, you could just take it down when you don't want it to be part of a display.

Bottom line--this is an easy, inexpensive way to bring a bit of tech and splash into your store. The best way to use it is up to you. I'm just here to spark the idea!

Check out the VMSD highlight online. The vendor site is a "build what you need" site. So if you're really interested, I'd suggest just giving them a call!

Tony Ellis, CAE

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Are You Reading What Matters?

Reading over a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) e-newsletter, I noticed a reminder that "retailers get a free subscription to NRF's magazine, Stores.

This made me wonder...of all the campus store folks that I've told that they should be reading this magazine, I wonder how many know that you DON'T have to be a member of NRF to receive a FREE subscription if you are a retailer?

So, what are you waiting for? Go to http://www.stores.org/Subscriptions_new/STORES.asp to find out more. Shameless plug? If I worked for NRF maybe. As it stands, I'm just a fan of their magazine and it content and an advocate for campus stores to follow mainstream retailing a bit more closely.

Happy Wednesday!

Tony Ellis, CAE

Monday, April 06, 2009

American Girl, Chicago/Atlanta/Dallas | Visual Merchandising and Store Design | VMSD.com

American Girl is a classic example of a brand come to life and retailed to the finest degree.

If you've not heard of this retailer, it's products, or the extraodinary experiences they create through their stores, check out this article and visual tour provided recently by VMSD magazine.

--The Retail Muse

American Girl, Chicago/Atlanta/Dallas Visual Merchandising and Store Design VMSD.com

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Books Sales Down, E-books Sales Up -- Says ABA

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) recently released its annual estimate of total book sales in the United States.

The report uses data from the Bureau of the Census and sales data from 81 publishers (including all major book publishers) and estimated that U.S. publishers had net sales of $24.3 billion in 2008, down from $25.0 billion in 2007. A 2.8% decrease. In the last six years the industry had a compound annual growth rate of 1.6%.

  • Trade sales of adult and juvenile books fell 5.2 percent from 2007 to $8.1 billion. Paperbound books for children and adults had growth rates of 6.4% and 3.6% respectively. Hardcover fell 12.4% in children’s and 13% in adult.
  • Educational titles had a mixed year. Sales for K-12 books fell 4.4% to $6.1 billion in 2008. Higher Education, which includes college textbooks, fared better with sales of $3.8 billion this year, up 2.7% on 2007.
  • Mass Market paperbacks decreased 3.0%. Book clubs and mail-order fell for the 6th year to $600 million, a fall of 3.4%.
  • Audio book sales for 2008 totaled $172 million, down 21% on the prior year.
  • E-books continue to grow significantly, sales reached $113 million in 2008, up 68.4%.

The writing on the wall here?

Short term = Continue to offer ALL types of books, managing your mix.

Long term = Get into digital!

--The Retail Muse