Tag Archives: Retail

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3 ways to better manage retail sales staffing

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The best business schools have always praised two things: efficiency and numbers. So, in retail, when sales go down, it makes sense to cut staff and hours, right? And from this “cut” mindset, we look for minimums: how few people do we need to stay open? What other costs can we cut to save money?

Then, when we look at the bottom line, we see results from doing this and continue the same behaviors. However, this approach is not sustainable, and it excludes consideration of critical data that is less easy to measure but just as impactful on the bottom line.

Instead of continuing to cut, here are a few considerations to better manage sales staffing.

Hello, data

We have schedules, sales results and POS details — it is time to start looking at this data differently. Instead of looking at minimums, use the date to find out how many team members must be available to maximize sales.

Get a firm grip on sales trends as the day progresses and compare similar situations to answer to determine the sweet spot between sales person presence and increase sales.

In addition, we must realize all locations are not the same. Competition, hours, physical layout, flow, and the local community may make staffing requirements vary even if we only have a couple of locations.

By understanding the positive impact staff presence can have on sales and noting that that presence might translate differently in different locations, we can mine our existing data to understand the positive impact adding staff can have instead of just the cost impact of cutting staff.

(For detailed methodologies on crunching the numbers and to geek out on research around the positive impact of sales person presence, check out this research from HBR.)

Oh, the choices!

In addition to data, sales success is all about differentiators. We must start looking at what our experience offers the customer as a basis for understanding the variables we can directly impact to make that experience better.

For example, if it is just as easy for someone to go to our location as a competitors’, or buy online instead of coming in, our experienced salespeople can be a competitive differentiator. Consider the basic difference between visiting an Ace Hardware store and a Home Depot.

While it may be possible to pay less at a big box competitor, a local, knowledgeable team may provide more value and a more positive experience.

The bottom line is, by revisiting data we have already collected, we can expand our understanding of customer flow and the relationship between staffing and sales. We can use this data going forward to look at staffing maximums instead of minimums and then exploit the in-person experience as a differentiator from both larger competitors and online retailers.

Numbers and efficiency are critical components of managing costs, but maximizing staff impact on sales instead of minimizing staff impact on costs can be an important shift to achieve better numbers.

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What’s old is new again in retail for 2019

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Regardless of age or profession, every citizen in a small town understands retail’s fundamental principles: trust, word of mouth and network.

As Amazon, voice-controlled devices, and smart homes change the way consumers and retail interact, these fundamental principles of human interaction will continue to become more important.

Here are three old practices that will enjoy renewed importance in the year to come.

Trust

As technology simplifies and expands our reach, it will simultaneously make our interpersonal interactions more important. Social media has captured our attention because of its ability to so quickly convey timely information, both positive (flash sales, new product launches, etc.) and negative (bad reviews, recalls, etc.).

However, the importance of social media notwithstanding, it is critical for physical shop owners to double down on the in-person experience.

Whether we run a flower shop or grocery store, the community that walks in to our business every day deserve our priority. To do so, we have to figure out what it is we offer them that they would miss if we were gone.

Is it convenience? Service? Product line? Seth Godin, the master of all things marketing, notes simply in this Entrepreneur article and his new book: “This is Marketing,” that we must ensure we are not “hunting” for attention, but rather working to “attract” it.

Thus, first we must figure out what differentiates us to our core customers and build on the characteristics that continue to attract them.

Word of Mouth

The next step is to leverage both social media and our core customer base to maximize word of mouth.

One excellent way brick-and-mortar stores can do this that others cannot is by emphasizing the differentiator that is a physical storefront. In other words, to get people to drive instead of surf, our stores must provide a compelling experience.

Looking to the extremes can provide hints and trends as to best practices in this area. For example, Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, is adamant that her core product, cupcakes, are best when experienced in-person, in the shop.

She has likened visiting one of her stores to a pilgrimage and instead of shipping cupcakes, Sprinkles only distributes a limited number of mixes. This reinforces the importance of both her core product and her storefronts.

Thus, the next step: get clear on ways to make the in-person experience definable, unique and memorable so that we can continue to reinforce it to our core customers and in our social media.

Network

Finally, rethinking our networks is another basic worth revisiting. Like those small-town principles, there may be local relationships tarnished by something done long ago; relationships never started because of some now-forgotten slight; or new roads not taken simply because they are new.

In each case, to maximize the impact of the in-person experience, we have to reconsider our current network and look in both old and new places for ways to expand partnerships, referrals and other mutually beneficial relationships.

The bottom line is: while technology continues to propel us into more relationships, faster; the underlying retail trend for 2019 will be the focus on optimizing our storefronts’ in-person relationship differentiators to strengthen the mutually beneficial relationships we have with our customers.

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No thanks — I have enough customers

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A business has to walk a delicate line between serving existing customers and prospecting for new ones. It’s hard enough when you have a big company with distinct departments to handle the unique needs of each.

But when you’re a mom-and-pop operation or a solo entrepreneur, those challenges are magnified. And if you decide you can’t take care of your customers and solicit new ones at the same time, the repercussions for ignoring one of those constituencies are negative.

Choose to serve existing customers only, and you’ll find, one day, you have no fresh pool of people who need your services.

Concentrate on prospecting for new customers at the expense of serving current customers, and you’ll leave a wake of dissatisfied customers whose negative reviews thwart any ability to find new ones.

A neighbor of mine was pleased with her contractor’s remodeling project on her house and referred him to all her friends. A solo operator, he became overwhelmingly busy with all those referrals and eventually stopped answering his phone; he was too busy to bother with new requests.

Friends reported back to my neighbor that they had called this fellow repeatedly with no answer or callback, and they eventually used different contractors.

Fast forward eight months, and this same contractor was knocking on my neighbor’s door, asking for business. He had exhausted his current supply of customers, had no prospects waiting in the wings, and had burned bridges with all those referrals he had ignored.

A professional handyman struggled with this same challenge. As a one-man operation, he couldn’t answer phone calls from prospective customers if he was on a roof or crawling under a house doing work for existing customers. Realizing that he was losing future business, he bartered services with another entrepreneur who could answer phone calls and set appointments for him.

A friend recently was disappointed with a specialty food product whose label touted its family business where love, pride, and quality organic ingredients were the mainstays of their foods. So disappointed that this product did not fulfill expectations, he figured that that particular item had escaped quality controls, so he sent photos and the lot number to help them figure out why this product was missing key ingredients.

The company’s response was that was the way the product was supposed to be, that others liked it, and they guessed that he just didn’t like their product. No explanation why the product didn’t match the package photo or description.

No suggestion to try one of their other products. Just a terse, “others like our product, and we guess you don’t.” In other words, “we have enough customers, thank you, so we don’t need you.”

I am reminded of an old business lesson about a food retailer who did a hefty business in selling fresh fish that was procured daily. A customer told him that he should sell fresh fish, which surprised him.

He explained that their fish was indeed fresh, and their supply came in daily. She didn’t believe him. Now, at this point, many of us would have simply discarded that customers’ arguments as silly — after all, the store already did quite a brisk business in fish, and they didn’t need this one customer buying its fish.

Pressing the issue, he asked why she thought their fish wasn’t fresh, and she replied that “everyone knows fresh fish is on ice, not in plastic wrapped packages.”

Deciding that “enough” customers were not enough, he experimented the next day with putting that day’s catch on ice. Sales skyrocketed.

Every business needs to serve existing clientele while at the same time market for new ones. “Enough customers” today might mean no customers tomorrow.

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New year, new skin for your spa clients

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Our clients will certainly be setting goals and New Year’s resolutions for 2019: starting a new exercise routine, a dietary cleanse, or perhaps a goal to finally give themselves the skin that they always wanted.

We, as spa industry professionals, should be several steps ahead of them and ready to guide them in the right direction when it comes to making major improvements in their skin for this upcoming year. Follow my expert tips below and help your clients transform their skin in 2019.

Start the conversation about skin transformation.

Whether you are motivating existing clients or working with new ones, be sure to get crystal clear about what your spa can do for them in terms of creating noticeable changes in their skin. Ownership, management and staff should meet and chat about how they can present the spa’s greatest service and product offerings in a concise and meaningful way.

If you are a laser center, for instance, you will want to brainstorm ideas for promoting certain machines and bring awareness about their efficacy and results. Be sure that clients understand the technology and can see helpful before and after photos that show significant changes in the skin. Clients respond best to visual cues via photos and videos.

If your spa has more of a holistic and natural focus, then invite clients to experience a treatment that will pamper them mind, body and skin in a new and integrative way. Many clients are looking for skin care routines that create lasting results but also facilitate relaxation and tranquility.

So be sure to talk about what your services can offer them if they are more wellness-minded and looking for a new self-care routine in the new year.

The key takeaway, here: answer existing and new clients’ questions before they have to ask them. Spell out precisely what your spa can do to address their concerns so they will come to you in the new year for all of their skincare needs.

Customize a care plan.

The new year is a great time to revisit care plans for existing clients and set up novel and exciting care plans for new clients. Revisit your current client charts and make sure you have updated photos, intake forms and demographic information.

Look at their purchase histories for services and retail products and see if it has been a while since they came in or replenished their skincare. The new year is an opportune time to start a new and fresh regimen and reconnect with clients who are looking for a skincare reboot.

For new clients, create a short term and long-term treatment plan: one for the first 90 days and one for the rest of the year. It’s important to get them started with products and services that will give them a jump-start — see what works and what doesn’t — then proceed with a regular monthly plan for the rest of the year.

In the first 90 days you can see how clients do with their homecare and if they stick to a treatment plan of in-spa services. After that, I usually advise my clients that we can start to modify their plan and get a bit more aggressive with their treatments after getting to know their skin.

Reach out and advertise.

Whether you prefer to reach out to your current and prospective clients via email, social media, postcards or radio/TV ads, be sure to create a brand presence in the new year. Once again, clients are looking to make changes to their health and wellness routines and will be pleased to see information about your business.

Perhaps you can offer free consultations and skin analyses. Consider what product starter kits or packages of services you could offer that would entice them to come in. Incentives for pre-booking multiple appointments are also great ways to get people in the door.

Informative presentations and seminars are a huge hit especially if you do live demonstrations of services. Think about interactive ways to invite new and existing clients into your space.

As always, work with your trusted product and equipment vendors to arrange for visual displays, free products and live demonstrations around the spa. Very often, they have a budget for events like these and will be happy to assist you in creating a fun and attention-grabbing live event in your spa.

If you are hoping to attract new business to your spa this new year, then have a solid plan in place now. Create a buzz for new and existing clients by getting very clear on what your spa can offer them to transform their skin.

Invite clients in for customized sessions to discuss a transformative care plan for them that includes professional services and products. And spend some time and money advertising in the new year to enhance your brand’s presence so that those looking to make changes to their skin will know where to find you.

These three simple tricks will bolster your business and start the new year off to a lucrative and exciting start!

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Negotiating commercial leases: Get a document review

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For many commercial tenants, negotiating a good lease or lease renewal against an experienced agent or landlord can be a challenge. While an entrepreneur focuses on marketing and managing his own business, savvy real estate agents and brokers are specialized sales people. Their job is to sell tenants on leasing their location at the highest possible rental rate.

Tenants may go through the leasing process only two or three times in their entire lifetime — yet they have to negotiate against seasoned professionals who negotiate leases every day for a living. Negotiating appropriate leasing terms is vital for a commercial tenant as the amount of rent he or she pays will directly affect the entrepreneur’s financial bottom line.

Whether you are leasing a new for the first time or negotiating a lease renewal for your business, here are some tips:

Get a document review

Commercial tenants often sign their lease documents without a proper review. The Lease Coach offers a complete 39-point lease inspection with a written review and a one-hour consultation for under $1,000.

This is a good investment for your business. A lawyer may point out a potentially harmful clause in a lease agreement (something written in the landlord’s favor …); however, The Lease Coach offers solid negotiating strategies to help the tenant modify — or completely remove those clauses.

Measure your commercial space

Most entrepreneurs lease commercial space and pay rent per square foot. Your commercial space, however, may have never been properly measured and you are paying more than you should be for Phantom Space (or space which doesn’t exist).

Measurement discrepancies are common so make sure that you have your area verified. This not only affects your base/minimum rent but also your Common Area Maintenance (Operating/CAM costs).

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International beauty trends and their impact on the spa industry

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Our spa clients can be heavily influenced by the latest and greatest prevailing topics in the beauty world. As of late, it seems like many of the current trends consist of imported beauty routines from all around the globe.

K-Beauty, J-Beauty and G-Beauty are all the rage and our clients are just as intrigued as we are. These international beauty care paradigms are shaking up what it means to take care of our skin and actually align quite well with many of the spa practices that we hold near and dear to our hearts.

K-Beauty

Korean beauty has been popular in the United States for many years now. I am not shocked when clients tell me that they are incorporating K-Beauty products and rituals into their daily routines and having success.

In general, K-Beauty promotes some simple skin care principles: health, hydration and even skin tone spiked with some interesting textures and unheard of ingredients (think snail goo). According to Elle.com, in an article from this past October, K-Beauty is still as strong as ever here in the U.S. and is changing how many Americans are approaching their own skin care routines at home.

Because K-Beauty is famous for at-home protocols that contain anywhere from five to 15 steps (morning and night) for flawless skin, they are really upping the ante for what it means to put effort into skincare.

Because the Korean model aims to achieve long-term and lasting effects, everything is customized for the individual and their skin care needs. Furthermore, the K-Beauty model is not just for women, men are also expected to follow the same strict regimens morning and night and tend to do so with just as much enthusiasm as the ladies!

A typical morning and night routine consists of: removing makeup (if applicable) with a separate makeup removing product, followed by a double cleansing of the skin — first with an oil and then with a foaming cleanser. An exfoliation step using a peeling gel or scrub is next and can be done daily or weekly depending on the condition of the skin. This is followed by a pH balanced toner of some sort to hydrate and fortify.

After toning, a very unique step of K-Beauty is a “treatment essence” which is used to promote cell turnover and prepare the skin for the subsequent steps. A serum is then applied for concentrated, targeted care followed by an eye cream, moisturizer and SPF.

K-Beauty die-hards will also use sheet masks on a daily or weekly basis and night packs, which are leave-on moisturizing masks worn while sleeping.

K-Beauty’s impact on the spa industry

As you can see, this is not a routine for the lazy and lackadaisical skin care client — it’s a specific, customized, skin care discipline that makes most people’s routine look like a sad cop-out! Many U.S. clients are starting to see that putting effort into an at-home skin care regimen is possible and achievable.

Even if your clients aren’t willing to perform 10 steps morning and night, maybe they will be persuaded to do three to four! K-Beauty is all about layering different formulations in a certain order to achieve an effective result.

And as we know, homecare is crucial for creating lasting change in the skin and supporting in-spa services, so if there is one thing that K-Beauty is teaching us, it’s that you can’t scrimp on your at-home beauty routine!

J-Beauty

Japanese beauty is another trend from Asia that is becoming more and more popular in the U.S. Its philosophy is rooted in health and wellness from the Japanese bathing rituals of centuries past. Because of this, J-Beauty followers tend to favor massaging their skin to increase muscle tone and aid in lymphatic drainage.

According to Samantha McMeekin of Glamour Magazine U.K., J-Beauty, like K-Beauty, is all about preventing damaged skin and signs of aging in lieu of heavy corrective techniques. In fact, the Japanese like to use the word “anticipation” to describe how they are tackling aging skin concerns.

Skin care is a ritual that starts at a young age because J-Beauty is all about the “long game” of skin care not the instant or quick fix. In other words, J-Beauty can be described as a skin care philosophy based on “innovation and reliability” with a sense of humility.

The Japanese have lead the way in the formulation of advanced SPF, moisturizer and foundation formulations because they understand the harmful effects of UV damage and want their skin to glow without photo damage and heavy makeup.

Though we don’t see a long list of morning and night products being applied like their K-Beauty counterparts, you can be sure that the steps of a J-Beauty routine are efficient, high-performance and pure, with a heavy dose of SPF during the day.

As a rule of thumb, a typical J-Beauty routine will include a double cleanse with an oil and then a gel; a lotion (which is more like a liquid serum for hydration and moisture), skin care oils as leave-on treatments and mineral SPF’s.

J-Beauty’s impact on the spa industry

J-Beauty serves as a great model of a less is more beauty routine that provides a huge impact. For clients who aren’t so keen on an eight-to-10 step routine morning and night, then a J-Beauty-like routine will be more up their alley.

Pick a solid collection of cleansers, serums, oils and creams that can be used to purify and fortify in a calming, at-home ritual. Tools like jade rollers and at-home massage techniques are great suggestions and fit very well with these types of self-care protocols.

J-Beauty represents simplicity and elegance, encourages efficacy, and respect for ingredients and purity. These are lasting principles that our clients here in the West will surely appreciate.

G-Beauty

German beauty is the newest international beauty trend gaining traction here in the U.S. This European beauty model is known for its no-nonsense, no shortcuts, high-quality and filler-free approach to beauty.

According to Liz Ritter’s piece from October in NewBeauty magazine, G-Beauty is popular because it utilizes the highest grades of medical strength ingredients and supports pre- and post-surgery outcomes, to boot! In the age of plastic surgery, cosmetic fillers and laser resurfacing, G-Beauty will have your back.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that G-Beauty is filled with synthetic ingredients because it combines the best of organic and medical grade into highly effective and clean formulations. This is due in part to Germany’s strong connection to the spa lifestyle that promotes healing and rejuvenation as a way of life and not just a luxury for vacations and special occasions.

In fact, Ritter reports, “German spa towns have become the go-to destination for wellness…products have trustworthy and clean formulas” that ensure positive outcomes coupled with pampering and relaxation.

Moreover, because of the EU’s strict guidelines that ban over 1,300 known carcinogenic chemicals used in cosmetic formulations, you can rest assured that products that come from this area of the world are held to a much higher standard of health and purity. In contrast, the U.S., via the FDA, only bans about 11 of those chemical ingredients and many Americans are catching on to this fact and demanding more products from Europe and changes to our regulations here at home.

G-Beauty’s impact on the spa industry

G-Beauty is a perfect marriage of medical-grade ingredients and respect for spa culture. It supports pre- and post-operative outcomes with clean and organic formulations, which is exactly what so many medical spa clients are requesting these days!

If you own a medical spa that needs to change up its product offerings, then consider a G-Beauty line. Higher standards of ingredients, efficacy and a no-nonsense approach will certainly win the admiration of your trusted clients.

Many busy, working, spa guests want a cut-to-the-chase approach to skin care for home and in-office procedures that can give them timely results as well. This, coupled, with clean, organic ingredients will certainly please just about everyone that walks into your spa.

Follow my expert advice: look beyond our borders and find inspiration in the international beauty and skin care trends that are here to stay!

Our spa clients are exposed to these beauty routines via popular magazines, celebrity endorsements and social media platforms. Perhaps there is room in your spa culture to add some of these interesting and worldly routines into your business’ list of service and product options. At the very least, be familiar with these trends and know that clients are fascinated just as much as we are.

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Top 3 lessons from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales

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You did it! You, along with your hard-working employees, made it through the most chaotic shopping season of the year.

Though, if you manage a brick-and-mortar store, perhaps it didn’t feel that busy. Traffic in stores across the country on Black Friday was down nearly 2 percent, according to ShopperTrak. Many store employees said it felt like just a regular busy weekend shopping day.

But fear not! There are still many, many big shopping days coming your way in December. Read on to see what you can gleam from the Thanksgiving weekend sales.

1. Get ready for a big season.

Note: All data, unless otherwise noted, are from Adobe Analytics’ 2018 online shopping data report.

Were you in awe of the number of sales and web traffic you saw on Cyber Monday? You weren’t alone. As of 11 p.m. E.T., Cyber Monday 2018 was dubbed the largest online shopping day in all of U.S. history. Shoppers spent a staggering $7.9 billion. That’s 20 percent more than they spent last year. Amazon, too, stated that people globally bought more products than ever before, making it the company’s biggest shopping day in history as well.

But not all retailers were as ready to go as Amazon. More people were hit with “out-of-stock” messages on websites than they were last year. Even worse, some didn’t even make it to the company website. Lowes, Target and PayPal all experienced crashes on Cyber Monday.

“Every minute of downtime can equate to tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue on a normal day. We all know this is much higher during the holiday shopping season,” Rob Strechay told Chain Store Age.

With the expected increase in traffic, check with your IT team or server provider to make sure your website can withstand at least 20 percent more traffic than it did at this time last year.

2. This is the season’s hottest retail trend.

Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) is having a moment! Fifty percent more people opted for this easy-as-can-be service. It’s also a major incentive for shoppers. Retailers with physical stores that offered BOPIS saw 28 percent higher conversions.

3. Go where the shoppers are.

People spent 48 percent more shopping on smartphones on Cyber Monday this year, which brought the total revenue up to $2 billion. That’s the most revenue ever to come from smartphones in a single day, and it’s also the highest ever increase year-over-year for smartphone sales.

But those numbers are nuanced.

Large retailers, who sell over $1 billion or more online, saw higher conversion rates on mobile devices. But for smaller businesses, desktops were still driving more sales, 7 percent more to be exact.

While there is a lot of hype about how more and more people are shopping on mobile, the sales are primarily going to those big corporations with super sleek checkout processes on mobile.

With that in mind, work on perfecting your desktop website.

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Negotiating commercial leases: Request written proposals

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For many commercial tenants, negotiating a good lease or lease renewal against an experienced agent or landlord can be a challenge. While an entrepreneur focuses on marketing and managing his own business, savvy real estate agents and brokers are specialized sales people. Their job is to sell tenants on leasing their location at the highest possible rental rate.

Tenants may go through the leasing process only two or three times in their entire lifetime — yet they have to negotiate against seasoned professionals who negotiate leases every day for a living. Negotiating appropriate leasing terms is vital for a commercial tenant as the amount of rent he or she pays will directly affect the entrepreneur’s financial bottom line.

Whether you are leasing a new for the first time or negotiating a lease renewal for your business, here are some tips:

Request written proposals

When negotiating a new lease or renewal, it is most desirable that the landlord or property manager’s proposal be in writing. Getting the proposal in writing allows you to ensure you understand what may have been discussed verbally and provides a platform for you to counter offer from.

A landlord may not automatically send you a renewal proposal at the end of your term. If your calls go unanswered, mail or e-mail the landlord a letter requesting a renewal proposal within 10 days.

Without looking like you automatically want to renew your lease, you do want to know what deal the landlord expects to do well in advance. Always ask for written proposals versus verbal ones.

Offseason rent relief

Does your business experience a slow period of offseason at the same time each year? If so, you should try to negotiate some rent relief for those months.

Naturally, it is best to make these arrangements in advance of renewing the lease agreement. Being open is often the best way to approach this situation.

It’s a straightforward problem that can be easily solved by reducing the rent during a certain month(s) … even if it means you are paying slightly higher rent during other times of the year.

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ICSC survey finds in-person customer service key to retail success

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Customer service is a key factor for US adults when choosing where to shop and how much they will buy, finds a 2019 consumer survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Nearly two thirds (65 percent) of consumers said that the quality of customer service is a factor when deciding where to make their purchases and more than two thirds (67 percent) said that good customer service encourages them to stay longer and/or spend more money.

Source: ICSC

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Consumers starting to value savings over delivery speed

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A new survey of 2,000 consumers across the U.S. and Canada shows a higher percentage of people are now willing to wait longer for delivery of larger purchases such as home furnishings.

Furniture Today

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