How to Catch the Algorithm’s Attention

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Linley+Lauren // Image provided by LP2 Boutique Agency

Guest bloggers Linley+Lauren are back with part 2 of their posts about social media algorithms. These biz besties are co-founders of WORK//SHOP, marketing, social media and store planning resources for independent retailers. Follow their fun @linleylaurenlp2 and flamingle with them during their four social media seminars on Friday, April 8, 2016 at Atlanta Apparel.

Visit www.AmericasMart.com/events or www.retailerworkshop.com/upcomingevents
for more details.

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Image provided by LP2 Boutique Agency

Congratulations! It’s time to get engaged… Don’t remember falling in love? Then hop over to our first post to get to know your new suitor, Al Gorithm (aka, the infamous social media algorithm). Last time we talked about why you should get engaged, so this time we’re gonna tell you how to get Al’s attention and make him fall for you!

Our bachelor beau, Al Gorithm, is going to operate on Instagram very much like he does on Facebook. Al will be checking out how engaging a post is, as well as information about photos each user has liked, accounts they follow, and anything going on in their network.

Here’s what he will be looking for in engaging prospects specifically:

1)    How often users interact with the account

2)    The number of likes and comments a post receives from the world at large and from users friends in particular

3)    How much users have interacted with the type of post in the past

4)    Whether or not users and other people across the platform are reporting a given post

The bottom line is… the more engaging the post is, the more people will see it in their feeds.

So how can you be more engaging? First of all, don’t look desperate! We don’t recommend asking your followers to ‘turn notifications on.’ It’s really annoying to have your phone ding anytime someone posts on Instagram, and it’s a quick way to turn followers off.

Next, figure out what turns followers on! Use an analytic service (we heart Iconosquare) to determine what types of posts perform best and when your audience is most likely to interact with them. Apply what you learn as you plan your future content calendar and your consistent follower interaction is sure to wow Al. Show Al that you’re a good conversationalist by asking your followers questions or using a call to action like encouraging them to ‘double tap’ if they like your post. Fill in the blanks are one of our favorite ways to start a conversation. Fill in the blank style posts get NINE times more comments than other posts, yet less than 1% of retail brands use them. Your turn… Smart retailers are planning to start using fill in the __________ style posts!

And finally, we have some really good news about this courtship…  Al is a pretty cheap date! Allocating a small budget towards paid ads to increase your audience reach can actually help your engagement too. Nerd alert! Studies have shown that followers gained from paid campaigns are more valuable than followers gained for free. Brands are reporting a 32% increase in their audience after a 30-day paid campaign followed by a 25% increase in engagement. Talk about a match made in heaven!

Like every good relationship, this one is going to take work. As soon as you get comfortable with Al, he is sure to change. But one thing is for sure, paying attention to him and getting engaged will pay off in the end and together you’ll live happily ever after!

Take care,
Linley+Lauren

Part 2 of 2

Tabletop 101

Your Guide to Dinnerware Materials
By Jessica Harlan

Dinnerware is made of a wide range of materials, from earthenware to bone china. But how much do you really know about each material type? Educate your staff on the properties of stoneware, porcelain, earthenware, bone china, and other tabletop offerings so they can help customers make the best choices. Here’s our guide to the basic terms you should know:

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Earthenware: This material has been fired at a lower temperature, so the glaze and the body haven’t been fused together. “People like earthenware because it has a warmer feel,” says Chris Rosse, owner of Rosse and Associates. Earthenware is known for its rustic look, simple shapes and thicker body.

Faience: This dinnerware is a higher quality earthenware. “It’s almost porcelain, but not quite,” says Rosse. “You can get more detail in your shapes.” Gien dinnerware is a great example of Faience.

Stoneware: This style of earthenware is fired at a higher temperature than earthenware so it is more resistant to chipping, but is still heavy and thick, and doesn’t have a lot of detail in its shape and design. Higher quality stoneware has kaolin in it (a clay used in porcelain) to make it strong.

Porcelain: Porcelain contains a white clay called kaolin that makes it strong enough to withstand the high firing temperatures needed to vitrify it so the glaze and body are fused, says Wendy Kvalheim, CEO and design director of Mottahedeh & Co., Inc. Many manufacturers add certain other ingredients to their porcelain clay to give it durability and other properties. For example, Caskata artisanal tableware contains magnesium, which gives it strength and a creamy color – most porcelain has a cool, greyish cast. Porcelain sounds upscale, but there is a wide variety of quality levels (and price points) available.

Fine China: Fine china has quartz and feldspar in its white clay and is fired at a lower heat than porcelain, says Michelle Richards, spokesperson for Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton. It has a similar bluish or greyish hue as porcelain.

Bone China: Kvalheim says it was the English in the late 1700s who experimented with adding bone ash to porcelain to avoid it slumping in the kiln. Simultaneously delicate and strong, the inclusion of bone ash to the clay gives bone china incredible durability, which allows it to be formed into sophisticated and detailed shapes with a super-thin profile. Bone china has warm, ivory tones, has translucency thanks to the thinner shape and it’s also more chip resistant than other materials. Shawn Laughlin, owner and designer of Caskata, says her Insignia C collection is the last domestically made bone china.

Vitrified: This refers to the process of heating clay to a temperature that’s so hot, it fuses the glaze and the body together and makes the surface glass like, so it is impervious to water.

For more information: Caskata – caskata.com, 508.242.5573; Mottahedeh – mottahedeh.com, 800.443.8225; Rosse & Associates – rosseandassociates.com, 404.522.7574; and Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton – wwrd.com, 732-938-5800.

Images courtesy of Caskata, Mottahedeh and Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton.

Let’s All Speak the Same Language

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

TJ ReedLast week during a consultation with a retailer, whose business was just about a year old, I realized she did not understand some of the terminology I was using in my suggestions.  I stopped and reversed the conversation so that I was asking her the questions, and I quickly found she really did not know half of the things I was talking about.  She then admitted to me that “Retailese” was like a whole different  foreign language to her, yet she had been too embarrassed to admit to reps, vendors and even other retailers,  that she sometimes had no idea what they were referring to.

Here are some terms every retailer should know.  Hopefully, it is just a refresher course for some things you may have just forgotten.:

A.R. just means as ready

A.R.O. is after  receipt of order. (I.E.  as payment due at A.R.O.)

ADVERTISING ALLOWANCE  is a discount given by manufacturers to offset the expense of advertising their product line or item.  Amount varies from 2% to 8% on the invoice.  Always ask – many larger companies are happy to help promote their product.  They help with cards, ad and even billboards if their name is featured.

A.O  is At Once (as in ship at once)

B.O. is Beginning of the Month

B/C or Best Way means Best Cheapest way to ship

BOGO is Buy One Get One – a popular sales slogan and gimmick used to promote items in the store, such as buy one pair shoes, get another half-price.  Or buy one, get one free, etc.  Usually always an effective promotion to encourage multiple purchases.

C.I.A. is Cash or Check on Advance

C.O.D. is Cash on Delivery

CHARGE BACK is an amount of merchandise returned to vendor from store, usually for credit or replacement.

CLOSE-OUT is  a group of goods offered by a resource to retailers at the end of the season at a discounted cost.

DESIGNER is the visionary,  talented person in charge designing and developing the    product.  They usually draw the sketches, design the details, and select the fabrics  – then create the perfect style. (Such as John Bourgeois is the designer of Multiples.)

E.O M. is End of the Month

F.O. B. Free On Board is from where merchandise is shipped.

H.O.C. means hold confirmation.  Asking a rep or vendor to hold an order awaiting your guarantee of order. (This is better than canceling because you were unsure.)

JOBBER is a middleman who purchases from manufacturers and sells to vendors thorough their firms. This merchandise is usually for at-once delivery and at special pricing.

KEYSTONE means doubling the wholesale cost in order to determine retail price.  (This is very old school retail theory, and no-no in today’s world.  You can not make a profit using this method today.)

MARGIN MARKUP is how much you determine to charge for an item.( As example, keystone is 50% margin.  You need to figure about a 2.2 markup at the minimal in today’s retail world.)

MARKDOWN is the reducing of merchandise to move slow moving goods, and  end out-of-season remerchandising.  ( t is best to markdown and move out to make space  for new trendy, and sellable goods. That is money clipped on those hangers, get it and turn it into cash.)

O.H. means On Hand

O.O. means On Order

O-T-B  is a purchase plan you should always have before placing any orders. (Also the name of an OTB inexpensive software on the market from Mort Has.)

P.O. is Purchase Order

PRIVATE LABEL  is developing merchandise to specifications or altering standards of national brands to create and sell merchandise that is unique to the store with your name featured on the label. (This allows you a better markup, as it is an exclusive for your name.  Not only is it special to you, it is also impossible to price check, and if good enough can help establish an image for your business. An example – Kim Rogers is the Belk private label brand.)

SALES REP is the company representative who previews the line and product to you and is generally the person you deal with on a regional basis. (You will probably also have a national customer service person for re-orders and problems.)

SHRINKAGE is the loss of merchandise by shoplifting, eternal theft and sometimes bookkeeping errors.(Don’t bury your head in sand – it happens every day!)

O O is. Stock on Order

O H is Stock on Hand

VENDOR is the manufacturer who creates the goods you are buying.  He is your supplier and goods are general shipped from him to your door step.

Now you know how to speak the language!

T.J. Reid is Editor of FASHION ADVANTAGE magazine, celebrating its 25th year in distribution.  She is also a regular guest speaker at AmericasMart.  To reach her, call 800-221-8615 or visit www.tjreid.com.

Winning Those Mother’s Day Dollars

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

TJ ReedMother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays in the store, and it should be yours, too. You may not realize, but $16.3 billion are spent each year on Mother’s Day gifts and cards. (Card total is $133 million sold, making it the number three card holiday behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day).

And it’s not just cards they are buying; the average amount spent on mom is $126.90. That’s a lot of cards, flowers, apparel, jewelry, dinners, and weekend getaways.

Not only are folks buying for their mothers, 20 percent of all men buy for their wife, 9 percent buy for their daughters, 8 percent for their granddaughters, 7 percent for their friends and 2 percent for their grandmothers.

Although 69 percent of Mother’s Day purchases are for flowers, jewelry ranks at 11 percent and apparel comes in at 6 percent. (That’s not bad, 6 percent of $16.3 billion?). When asked, 10 percent of daughters say they would buy clothes for mother, but only 5 percent of sons agree. This is one of the reasons, retailers need to target the daughter-in-laws; encourage them to do the gift shopping. It makes more cents!

Everybody likes mothers! Ninety-six percent of all consumers take part in Mother’s Day in some form, and Mother’s Day gets 25 percent of the money spent on all holidays throughout the year. In one survey, 25 percent of mothers say they would like to receive a gift card so they could chose their own gift.

Retailers should offer special incentives for gift card purchases. Perhaps the same as we do with Valentine’s Day: offer a rose with each card. Gift wrap the card as if it were a huge gift. Make it beautiful; something she’ll be excited to open, and something she’ll love and appreciate!

In my book, What Mother Never Told Ya About Promotions, on pages 54-55, you will find a complete list of ideas for Mother’s Day events to create excitement and additional sales in your store.

To learn more about this and other promotional ideas, LIKE Fashion Advantage on Facebook. I try to post on a regular basis with new creative ways to help you entertain and reward your customers.

T.J. Reid is editor of Fashion Advantage magazine, and author of several books on successful retailing. She is a frequent speaker at the Atlanta Apparel Markets. For more information about her, please visit www.tjreid.com.

Fashion, Facts & Figures from T.J. Reid

By T.J. Reid, Editor of Fashion Advantage 

TJ ReedThere are some good statistics still out there about this season:

Forty-four percent of our shoppers say they buy for 10 or more people.  Sixteen percent for seven to nine people, 29 percent for four to six and only 11 percent have one to three on their shopping list. Hope that 44 percent is just beginning and they are all finding their way to your store!

Thirty-two percent of our shoppers are paying cash, as opposed to 46 percent of cash customers in 2010.

And here’s a figure for you:

Total Gift Card Spending to Reach Estimated $25 Billion. According to NRF’s 2010 Gift Card Consumer survey, conducted by BIGresearch, Americans will spend an average of $145.61 on gift cards, up from $139.91 last year. Total gift card spending is expected to reach $24.78 billion.* NRF’s first holiday survey, released last month, found that gift cards remain the most requested holiday gift, marking the fourth year in a row gift cards have topped consumers’ wish lists.

Because three out of five people will receive gift cards, the total per person is $156.00.

I also find it interesting that survey said only 30 percent would spend the card within 30 days, so this is the gift that keeps on giving. And amazing $1.8 BILLION go unused!

Yes, the average person will not spend $15 of their gift card money; either because they lost it or forgot it before time ran out.  Because they haven’t actually spent their own money to buy it, it lacks the importance of actual cash in the pocket. But 80 percent of those who do use their cards, spent more than the card amount.  Again because it was not their money in the first place, so they feel free to add to.

The bottom line here: SELL GIFT CARDS!

T.J. Reid is editor of Fashion Advantage magazine, and author of several books on successful retailing.  She presents M & M’s – Marketing & Merchandising to Create a ‘Sweet’ Profit” with lessons on enticing the customer through display, advertising, social media and word of mouth, and creating engaging events and invites with a special emphasis on the Valentine’s Day sales period on Saturday, February 1 at 10 a.m. at the January Atlanta Apparel Market.

Small Changes in Your Booth’s Presentation and Marketing Material That Can Generate Big Press Payoffs

By Amy Flurry of Recipe for Press

Amy FlurryAs a vendor, the trick to landing press and spreading the word about your product lies in attracting editors to your booth. What can you do to catch their attention and draw them into conversation? We’ve polled national home and lifestyle editors who scout the AmericasMart for new story ideas and compiled a few easy tips that will help you anticipate what writers, editors, and media influencers are looking for and what keeps them coming back for more.

Feature What’s New. Editors are sent to scout markets for new brands and products to feature in their upcoming issues, and many come to Atlanta for a potential scoop as AmericasMart runs before other major markets. But editors (and buyers too!) need to be able to identify at a glance what’s new in or about a collection without having to stop and enter a conversation. Many only skim the booth perimeters, which makes these areas the ideal places to position new products and stacks of cards sharing your contact information.

Say You’re The New Kid On The Block. Every editor wants to be the first to discover a brand-new business. If this is your first market, display a well-designed sign to identify that you are a “New Vendor,” and they’ll stop every time.

Make a Statement. Another way to stay on editors’ radars is to showcase a statement piece, like a creative sign or unique display that immediately gets people talking. These could also be posted as a media thumbnail with a clever caption. Editors see plenty of vendors throughout the day, and a standout item that represents your brand will help them think of you when compiling product features.

Keep Your Booth Staffed and Active. An editor never wants to go hunting for someone to talk to about a product, so make sure there is always someone present at your booth who is friendly, knowledgeable, and able to interact with the audience.

Be Easy to Reach. Nothing is more frustrating than the inability to easily reach a company you want to feature. To make things easier for interested editors, leave a thumb drive with high-resolution photos in the pressroom, and make sure all press material includes contact name, email and phone number.

Keep Your Takeaways Simple. Press kits weigh down an editor’s bag, and ultimately all of the information you put forward should be on your website. An over-sized postcard with social media handles, even a QR code, is a light and easy takeaway that will remind editors of your product and lead them back to your brand.

Tell Your Story. At the end of the day, what makes your product unique is its story, so don’t be afraid to get personal! Introduce yourself and share the story behind your brand or products as you lead editors to the newest releases. But remember to keep it brief: editors have a very specific mission and a lot of ground to cover, and they can’t afford to get hung up for too long at any one booth.

Ask for the Editor’s Email or Business Card. If an editor checks in with you and strikes up a conversation, by all means ask for their card or email address before they leave. A quick “thank you” follow-up in their inbox complete with a crisp picture of your product (low-res or 72 dpi embedded in the email) is a great reminder of your brand, as is a friendly “follow” on their Twitter or Pinterest.

Be Prepared to Act Fast. Discovering a new product gives editors a true high, but equally important is being able to access print-ready, high-resolution (300 dpi) images to forward to other editors back at the office. Consider a special media-only link to high-resolution product images and information that you can give to editors or leave in the pressroom. This saves both you and the editor time.

Amy Flurry, author of the  popular guide to DIY publicity, “Recipe for Press,” is revolutionizing the way entrepreneurs and businesses manage their own press! Her book and new Pitch Wheel and popular DIYPR workshops strengthen relationships between entrepreneurs and editors and help you get the press you deserve. She presents two seminars at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in January 2014. “Are Your Pictures Press-Worthy?” is on Wednesday, January 8 at 2 p.m.  in the Building 1, Floor 10, Seminar Room 1001. “Retailer DIY PR 101: Turn Up the Volume on Your Publicity Efforts” is on Thursday, January 9 at 1 p.m.  in the Building 1, Floor 10, Seminar Room 1004. She can be reached at @Recipeforpress and www.recipeforpress.com.

How to Spot Gift Trends at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market

By Lindsay Roberts, Founder of TheGiftInsider.com 

LindsayRobertsBrowse Pinterest before you go. Make sure you are keeping up with what people are “liking” and “loving” on the web. It correlates well with what your customers are going to be wanting. Make sure to browse the “Popular” tab, “Products” tab or search specific product types. Follow industry leaders, experts and editors to stay ahead of the trends.

Make sure you subscribe to popular magazines and websites and spend some time browsing their gift guides and picks before you head out to the Mart. Oprah’s O list, social shopping sites like The Fancy, ThisNext and Beso all show what people are really taking to. AmericasMart’s Market Magazine presents home and gift trends and where to find them during the Market. The more you immerse yourself before you go, the easier it will be to spot new trends.

Stay social media savvy while at the show. Make sure to follow AmericasMart twitter hashtags (#ATLMKT and #JulyGift) and Facebook while at the show to see what products are trending. This will help take all the pressure of your eye and you’ll be able to see what others are loving too. Make sure to engage in the conversation and you’ll really get a lot out of this.

Of course, if you need a little help spotting the trends The Gift Insider is here to assist. Make sure to attend our Top Trends in Gifts seminar on Thursday July 11th, from 10 – 11am (Building 2, Floor 6 Escalator Lobby.)  We’ll be sharing our Top 10 gift picks from the Market.