Archive for the ‘Retail’ Category

It’s not coincidental I’m posting this today, March 23, when there are two major nationwide giveaways. Of course, free is good for us customers. But getting customers in once when you are giving something away for free is one thing…getting them to come back and pay for it next time is another.

So first, to the free offers. Starbucks is hosting free pastry day at its US and Canada stores. Download the coupon to receive a free pastry until 10:30 a.m. with the purchase of a “handcrafted” beverage. They’re also using the event to promote the other ways in which their pastries are “free” – that would be, free of artificial ingredients.

Ben & Jerry’s is hosting their annual free cone day. Anyone can come in and get a free cone between noon and 8:00 p.m. No coupon or purchase is required (though you can probably guarantee you’ll have to wait in line!). Ben & Jerry’s has been doing this for years – as a thank you to their customers.

The intent is clear – besides the good PR, they’re hoping you’ll like it so much that you’ll come back to pay for more. (more…)


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If a company is trying to sell a product or service, it makes sense that they would want the purchase process to be easy. I’m not talking about just having the right product at a fair price. I’m talking about ensuring that as customers check out, they don’t have any problems, aren’t asked too many questions and can seamlessly make the purchase.

This goes for both a bricks and mortar store or a Web retailer. There are many ways it can be made difficult. Take my experience last week in helping someone to buy a United Airlines ticket from Cincinnati to the Bay Area of California.


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These days, it’s cool to be going green. And there’s a good reason. If we want to sustain the world for our children, and our children’s children, we need to do things differently. Things like reducing waste, consuming less energy and reducing pollution.

All of these things are certainly do-able, though we have to make some sacrifices. These sacrifices, for the most part, aren’t large. The tough part is changing our habits.

plastic-bag-noGovernments have also been getting into the act by creating laws, particularly ones that encourage citizens to reduce waste. In this spirit, in November 2007, San Francisco banned plastic bags from being distributed by large supermarkets, with retail pharmacy chains being covered under the ban since May of 2008. In July of this year, residents of the rural town of Bundanoon voted to ban sales of bottled water in their community. And in Toronto, since June of this year, plastic bags can no longer be given out by any business for free – they cost 5 cents each.

Now, there are pros and cons to every approach. And with a law or not in place, I do my part to be as green as I can. I try to only have the lights on at home when I need them. I’m fortunate to be able to drive a hybrid car. And I use reusable bags for shopping whenever possible.

However, being in Toronto with my family for the last couple of weeks, I constantly forget about the new law. Though the law frustrates me, it’s not the intent – I believe if done the right way, this is a great thing. However, the way the money is handled and how far it reaches is something to think about. Knowing this, the question I have is, is this the right means to the end? (more…)

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There are lots of national chains that people think of to go first when they need something. Need a coffee, and Starbucks or Dunkin might come to the top of your mind. How about a quick and cheap lunch? You might think of McDonalds or Subway first. And what if you need a new hard drive? You might run to Best Buy. While these brands are certainly popular and have a place in our society, there’s a reason local businesses are thriving.

There can certainly be good reasons to go to a chain. For one, you know that wherever you are, they will probably be there. And there is usually consistency in their offerings. If you need a widget, no matter where you are, Wal Mart will probably have it. It’s likely to even be in the same part of the store as your local Wal Mart, and if price is your utmost concern, you know it’s the place to go.

At one point, the prevailing opinion was that the chains like Wal Mart would force local stores out of business. And while I’m sure there has been some effect, local businesses still thrive, because they offer things that no national chain can.

Take a local coffee shop here in Cincinnati, The Coffee Emporium. (more…)

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