New Year, New Wages
A new year means new wages for about 4.5 million Americans thanks to a series of minimum wage increases that went into effect Jan. 1. Eighteen states raised their rates above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour. The last federal minimum increase was more than eight years ago. Maine workers will get the largest increase with a $1 hourly bump. Some jurisdictions like Chicago and New York City implemented their own wage hikes.
Alaska, $9.84 (up $.04)
Arizona, $10.50 (up $.50)
California, $11.00 (up $.50)
Colorado, $10.20 (up $.90)
Florida, $8.25 (up $.15)
Hawaii, $10.10 (up $.85)
Maine, $10.00 (up $1.00)
Michigan, $9.25 (up $.35)
Minnesota, $9.65 (up $.15)
Missouri, $7.85 (up $.15)
Montana, $8.30 (up $.15)
New Jersey, $8.60 (up $.16)
New York, $10.40 (up $.70)
Ohio, $8.30 (up $.15)
Rhode Island, $10.10 (up $.50)
South Dakota, $8.85 (up $.20)
Vermont, $10.50 (up $.50)
Washington, $11.50 (up $.50)
Keep tabs on your reviews
For every bad online review your store gets, you could lose 30 customers. Research shows 84% of Americans are influenced by online customer reviews. Rather than bury bad reviews or, worse, pay to have them removed, redeem yourself with a personalized, on-brand, timely response.
Use these tips to turn reviews into revenue:
- Social listening—monitor everything being said about your brand online
- Managing multiple responses—respond to many reviews at the same time with local, personalized messages
- Respond immediately—set up alerts for new reviews; quick responses are appreciated
- Empower your team—balance your corporate voice with local message (especially with multi-location businesses)
- Monitor success—use backend analytics to measure your progress.
- Customer experience management platforms can help you tackle all of this.
Source: Retail Touch Points
Using Live Video
Live video for your biz has lots of benefits and more and more retailers are realizing their worth. A fifth of the top 500 companies worldwide will be using video chat for customer-facing interactions by next year, according to Gartner research.
Live video boosts sales (research shows 90% of customers think live chat is helpful and 63% said they’d return to a website that offered it); increases customer satisfaction (face-to-face support is preferred by about 33% of consumers); reduces costs (call resolution and reduced travel expense); makes collaboration and employee training easier; and differentiates you from your competitors.
Source: Snap Retail
Quick hit customer service tips
The customer is king and offering great customer service is something every furniture retailer likes to hang their hat on. However, there’s always room for improvement.
Use these quick tips to up your customer service experience:
- Answer customer calls and emails quickly
- Be friendly
- Stay professional
- Expand your communication channels. Phone and email are expected, consider social media
- Always listen
Source: Nova Point of Sale
The Future of Retail
Sometimes it’s hard to predict retail trends beyond this month. CBRE Group’s report The Future of Retail 2030 looks at the state of shoppers and shopping 12 years from now with insights into the evolution of buying and selling.
— Retail trends for 2030 —
- Stores will become showrooms—their purpose will move from transactional to service and experience. Store performance will be measured by foot traffic, touch points or dwell time.
- Retailers will need to connect emotionally with shoppers.
- Customer loyalty programs will flourish as will partnerships between retailers and non-retail companies (think scoring Uber rides in exchange for spending at your store).
- Your windows will become virtual stores after hours; window displays will vary depending on who’s watching, and they’ll be used in conjunction with smartphone-like devices.
- Customers will look for curated content/product/experiences, so they don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of choices.
- Smartphones will be replaced with smaller, wearable gadgets and retailers will have access to even more data on customers and their shopping habits.
- The divide between retail and leisure will further blur as more retail becomes experience driven.
- Consumer awareness of and interest in sustainable products will grow.
Add social value to your store
Retailers are thinking outside the box and rebranding their stores to include social hangouts that encourage shoppers to linger.
You can increase traffic and build customer loyalty by adding bookstores, coffee shops, or wine bars to your store. Encourage people to hang out in your store by creating a social atmosphere (free WiFi is a must) with lounge seating or kid/pet-friendly areas.
Or plan complementary social events like traveling art shows, design how-to seminars, VIP events, movie nights, etc.
Don’t forget to tap into social media to promote your social value.