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Great Books to Read in 2017

26 Jan

As we continue to look ahead to 2017, there are various books that provide valuable information and that are highly rated by reviewers. Here are a few sources for YOU to check out, by topic.

Click the images to read the reviews.
 

“5 Must Read Books That’ll Inspire Entrepreneurs in 2017”


 

“12 New Books to Help You Build Wealth and Get more More Done in 2017”


 

“11 Great Business Books to Read Right Now”

 

“20 Books Every Marketer Should Read in 2017”

 

“Top 15 Best Books on Social Media Marketing for 2017”

 

Customer Service Means a Good Return Policy

3 Jan

Now that the 2016 holiday shopping season is over (except for spending gift cards), a vital question to consider from both the customer’s and retailer’s perspective is: What kind of return policy best serves my needs? For many consumers, the answer may be: an unlimited time frame to return a purchase. For many retailers, the answer may be: holding down costs as much as possible. In either case, the return policy is a key element of customer service.

These are some return practices disliked by consumers: [Note: Many good retailers do not follow these practices.]

  • An overly short time period to make a return for a full refund.
  • The amount of the refund for a gift item when the gift recipient does not have a receipt.
  • A discounted refund merely for opening the product’s box.
  • The time to process a refund for a return.
  • Items excluded from refunds, such as computer software.
  • The shipping fee to return a purchase made online.

 
Two of the acknowledged leaders are Amazon, whose return policy is easy to use and consumer friendly, and L.L. Bean, whose return policy has received various honors and awards.

As a prelude to a YouTube video about returns at L.L. Bean, Business Insider’s Sam Rega recently stated: Here’s what makes L.L.Bean’s ‘100% satisfaction guarantee’ the best return policy of any retailer.”
 

 

Ethically, Should There Be a “Pink Tax”?

5 Dec

Did you know that there are several instances when women pay more than men for the same goods and services? For example, nationwide, many dry cleaners charge a higher fee for a woman’s “blouse” than a man’s “shirt” — even if the items are exactly the same. This practice has become known as the pink tax. We’re at the end of 2016, and this practice is still in effect.

Consider the following excerpts from a report by Glenn Taylor for Retail TouchPoints

When Boxed.com lowered the costs of feminine products sold on its site, it brought awareness to the issue of the ‘pink tax’ — the higher prices charged for female-marketed products such as razors, deodorants, and body wash compared to similar marketed-to-male products. But Boxed.com hasn’t been the only brand seeking to raise awareness about the pricing gap.”

A recent RetailWire article spotlighted the actions of New York City pharmacy Thompson Chemists, which charged a one-day 7% ‘man tax’ in response to the pink tax. Although the drugstore didn’t actually add on a tax for male shoppers, it did give females a 7% discount on all items throughout the store. The 7% discount reflected a study from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs indicating that women’s products across a wide range of hygiene categories cost 7% more than men’s products sold in the city. As if this added tax wasn’t enough, feminine hygiene products also fall under the ‘luxury’ tax designation in 39 states, which means a 9% sales tax is charged for items such as pads and tampons.”

“Like many politically sensitive or gender-charged actions, the pharmacy’s tax was met with sharply divided opinions from consumers. While the move was reportedly received well in the store, it resulted in a flood of largely negative comments online as the story went viral.”

 

Click the image to read more on this topic from Retail TouchPoints.
 

 

What’s on Your Shopping List? Part 2

29 Nov

Yesterday, we posted about the most popular gifts this year. Today’s post focuses on gift cards. These cards are easy to purchase and enable the recipients to buy what what most interests them — while also being somewhat impersonal.

Based on the recent survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, these gift card findings are clear:

“Holiday shoppers are planning to purchase an average of three gift cards with an approximate value of $46 per card, the second most-popular gift after clothing. Spending on gift cards is expected to reach $27.5 billion, up from last year’s planned $26 billion. The most popular types of gift cards include those from restaurants (35 percent of buyers), department stores (33 percent), Visa/MasterCard/American Express (22 percent), coffee shops (21 percent) and entertainment (17 percent).”

 
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What’s on Your Shopping List? Part 1

28 Nov

What do YOU planning on buying this holiday season?

As Ana Serafin Smith reports for the National Retail Federation:

“With shoppers eager to take advantage of early promotions from retailers, more than half of consumers have already started making dents in their holiday gift lists, according to the annual mid-season survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.”

“NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said: ‘This time of year is about finding the right gifts while staying on budget. For those looking for anything from toys to apparel at retailers large and small, in-store or online, retailers are ready with great merchandise at affordable prices.’”

 
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PLEASE Be a Smart Customer This Holiday Shopping Season

21 Nov

Yes, Black Friday WEEK is finally here — after weeks of being bombarded by holiday shopping ads. This post has two goals: (1) To alert you to the possible deceptions this week and (2) to again present our THIRTY-FIVE holiday shopping tips.

Our first topic is this: Is Black Friday week really a good time to shop? Are there bargains that won’t be available after Friday? Let’s turn to Brian Chen, writing for the New York Times (1, 2), for an assessment of Black Friday deals:

“The overwhelming majority of Black Friday deals are duds. Retailers’ sales promotions begin weeks before Thanksgiving, with a smattering of modest deals that eventually build up to the shopping bonanza that is Black Friday. That is followed by Cyber Monday, a so-called online shopping extravaganza after Thanksgiving weekend.”

“It has become fashionable for online retailers to build up anticipation for Black Friday with so-called flash deals. These last only a few hours, putting pressure on consumers to buy with little or no research. Yet, however you shop, chances of snatching a great deal for a quality item are slim, because Black Friday is mainly for retailers to clear out unwanted goods and best-sellers rarely drop much in price.”

“Year round, The Wirecutter tracks prices across the Web to unearth true deals on high-quality items. Less than 1 percent of the tens of thousands of Black Friday deals online last year were good deals — that is, discounts on high-quality, well-reviewed, and durable products. This year, the situation is likely to be the same.

“A quick search on Camel Camel Camel, which looks up price histories on Amazon, [can be quite enlightening]. Some mediocre deals can be tricky to catch. Toward the end of October, Amazon listed a deal for its Kindle Paperwhite E-reader for $100. This may seem like a good deal because the retail price is $120. But at the beginning of October, the Paperwhite was discounted to $90 — a price drop that Camel Camel Camel could not detect because the discount was applied at the end of the checkout.”

 

Take a look at the following New York Times video for further insights.

 

 

Our second topic is this: How can you be a better shopper for the 2016 holiday season? Here are 35 tips (originally posted two weeks ago).

2016-shopping-tips
 

Is Uber Eat(s) Setting Itself Up for Defeat?

18 Nov

Uber has grown rapidly as an alternative to the taxi. Nonetheless, Uber wants to be more than just a passenger app. And one of its more recent pursuits is Uber Eats, a restaurant food delivery service that already operates in 53 cities: “By tapping into the Uber network, you can get anything from our roster of local restaurants, fast. The average order takes 35 minutes from start to finish. When you’re ready to place your order, you’ll see a total that includes the food and delivery price. There’s no need to tip. Pay with your Uber account and track your order on the site as it comes to you.”

There are questions about whether Uber Eats will generate long-term success. There is substantial competition from services such as GrubHub and Seamless. Many local restaurants will deliver in their immediate area. Perhaps most importantly, other services are often free, while Uber Eats charges a delivery fee in some instances.

Take a look at this video clip by industry expert Phil Lempert regarding the prospects for Uber Eats. What do YOU think?
 

 

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