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Top Trends From The Fall 2017 High Point Market
The fall High Point Market is a notoriously slow one for the bedding industry, as many manufacturers are already well on their way preparing for the winter Las Vegas show. This year was no exception. In a way, the fall market served as a pretty accurate representation of the bedding retail industry right now: the struggle to attract bedding buyers to High Point is not dissimilar to the struggle it is to get consumers into retail stores. Despite limited traffic, the manufacturers we met with were in good spirits, reporting positive conversations with the buyers in attendance. There was a clear anticipatory energy throughout the show, as everyone agreed that the marketplace is on track to look wildly different in five years time. Rather than lament the past, they are looking confidently into the future, excited about the possibilities. There is no doubt that the bedding industry is at a crossroads, but manufacturers and retailers alike are forging ahead.
New Study Explores How To Improve Sales Performance By Empowering Store Managers
As most retailers will know, a poor relationship between corporate leadership and store managers can have serious consequences on sales performance. A new report published by Square Root, a developer of store relationship management software, takes a closer look at the lingering issues and challenges that can cause such a break-down—and what retailers can do to improve them.
Polling more than 1,300 store and district managers in the US and Canada across several retail categories, this new study found a high occurrence of job dissatisfaction amongst this subset of retail workers. While there can be a whole host of contributing factors, the report revealed some of the most pressing issues: lack of corporate alignment, miscommunication and outdated technologies.
The biggest source of this strife is a feeling of being on different pages, with unhappy managers 150% less likely to feel aligned with their corporate team. Those who are unsatisfied with their jobs often feel like they are struggling to understand the company’s key priorities - and receive little feedback from their own managers. They are also twice as likely to report that their company meetings lack focus.
For most, this sense of misalignment is the result of an underlying lack of communication. Unhappy managers were twice as likely to report that their company did not have efficient systems in place for communication between corporate and store — and just as likely to agree that better communication across the board would have a positive effect on their store’s performance. Nearly 20% of those who reported low job satisfaction reported that they lacked the latest tools and technologies they need to be effective.
As a whole, these communication issues had a trickle down effect on how store managers viewed the company. Unsatisfied managers were three times more likely to report that their boss did not value their opinion and twice as likely to say that their boss does not have their best interests in mind. As such, two out of three reported that they planned on leaving their company within two years
Thankfully, there are ways to salvage this broken relationship. The report honed in on three key factors that can contribute to greater job satisfaction: empowerment, focus and communication. As 90% of those surveyed believe that they have a direct impact on their store performance, it’s vital for corporate leadership to create a culture that supports and encourages store managers. By developing new strategies and adopting new tools that help improve communication, corporate leadership can more effectively communicate their priorities and solicit feedback. With the proper tools and actionable data, retailers can create a more positive work culture that empowers their employees—and, in turn, helps improve customer experience and foster greater long-term sales success.
Signs Of A Successful Online Shopping Cart
Amazon has trained us well. Today’s consumers expect every retailer, from the big boxes to their local independent shops, to provide easy and secure online checkout. If your ecommerce site doesn’t offer this convenience—or makes the process uncomfortable in any way—you risk losing your best business to competitors.
Unfortunately, not all software providers are able to deliver the secure transactional cart experience your customers expect. Thankfully, Jennie Gilbert, Chief Operating Officer of Retailer Web Services, has created a comprehensive list of features you should look for when choosing a software.
Safety First, Always
Safeguarding consumer information should be your No. 1 priority. Your customers trust you with their most private information; make sure their trust is justified.
- Only use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to communicate information. This establishes an encrypted link between the web server and user’s browser to ensure sensitive information is sent over a secure, private connection.
- Comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) to ensure all entry, processing, storage and transmission of sensitive information are secure. Ask your e-commerce provider to supply an Attestation of Compliance to prove they meet these standards.
- Encrypt and purge credit card information. Be sure any credit card information your site collects and stores is encrypted using PCI compliant standards. Fully purge old information in a timely manner.
- Carefully control who can see credit card information. Not everyone that works on your website should have access to credit card information submitted through online orders. Ensure you can control what each user can see and keep these permissions up to date whenever roles change or employees leave your company.
In addition to these safety measures, choose software that allows you to provide a convenient and customized checkout experience.
- Use interactive delivery calculation. Your cart should allow you to create rules that automatically vary delivery fees according to items purchased, delivery location, total order price and other important choices made during checkout.
- Prompt for add-ons. Asking customers to add related accessories, warranties and/or complementary products to their order saves them aggravation and maximizes ticket sizes.
- Robust and variable distance restrictions. Some vendors only allow online transactions within a specific distance from your physical retail location. They may not allow items to be added to a cart without first confirming the delivery address is within the accepted radius. Make sure your cart can handle these restrictions and vary them by brand.
My First Market: Fall High Point 2017
By Elaina Hundley, Sleep Retailer’s Marketing Manager
After an early morning flight to my first market in High Point, NC, I was plagued with nerves and greeted by a drizzly grey day. After a fun first showroom meeting, I was relieved to find that the weather had also turned. It ended up being a beautiful, crisp autumn day, a perfect day for hopping from building to building and experiencing many of the showrooms I’ve been reading about over the last few months. This first market was a quiet one; many of the showrooms were not terribly busy, but that gave me the chance to take my time trying out products and engaging in meaningful conversations with manufacturers. These conversations confirmed some of the conclusions I had already come to from following mattress and bedding news, but I think they also left me feeling positive about the future of the sleep industry.
Over the past few months, it has become incredibly clear that I am entering the sleep industry at an interesting and uncertain time. Retailers and manufacturers alike are feeling the impact of the “fast fashion” of the sleep world: the bed-in-a-box craze. Due to the tactile nature of mattress shopping, I think the industry took it for granted that mattresses could and would eventually be sold online. At market, I felt a growing sense of anticipation about where the market would go next and heard plenty of speculation as well. As an industry newbie, I am not sure how much I can speculate about the outlook of the market, but as a millennial consumer, I can lend some insights on what I think works and what I saw.
For my generation, the bed-in-a-box style mattress feels like the height of convenience. However, quality becomes increasingly more important to most consumers by their mid-twenties. Online companies may have cornered a young consumer market, but I am not sure how long their window will last. That said, they are still out there successfully competing and I know many retailers and manufacturers are still trying to catch up with the mattress e-commerce boom. My suggestion: if you can’t beat them, find your own angle.
What I saw in High Point confirmed my suspicion that true sales success comes from creating a retail experience that is not only convenient - but fun and meaningful as well. From colorful pillow displays to interactive technology to thoughtful visuals communicating the manufacturing process, the showroom features I saw packed a punch and drew me in. But what stood out the most for me was the pride in craftsmanship and interest in maintaining moral business practices that benefit all. Carefully planned altruistic campaigns have cropped up recently, for example Spring Air's Love your Melon campaign as well as the Malouf Foundation’s plan to fight human trafficking. On a subtler level, companies like Kingsdown, PureCare, Therapedic, Vispring, Shifman and others remain dedicated to supporting retailers by developing high-quality products that keep both consumer needs and retail challenges top of mind.
While I certainly walked away from this market with a sense for the industry’s uncertainty and the concerns of manufacturers and their retail partners, I also walked away with a deeper understanding for the kind of heart this industry has. If traditional retailers continually up their game and share their heart – by genuinely caring for their customers and communicating their compassion – I am certain consumers will recognize it.
What Jellyfish Can Teach Us About Sleep
There seems to be an endless fascination with sleep: how much should we get, how do we get more, what happens when we don’t get enough and especially, how do we get better sleep? But despite the growing body of scientific studies, researchers are still scratching their heads over why it is, exactly, that we sleep. What purpose does it serve? While the physical benefits of sleep are evident, scientists still don’t have one conclusive answer for why we do it. But theories abound in the research communities and there has always been an assumed brain-sleep connection that lies at the base of most hypotheses. Recent evidence has even indicated that during sleep our brains are active and involved in mental housekeeping that helps with memory consolidation. So clearly the brain is involved in our need to sleep, right? Maybe not. A recent research study at the California Institute of Technology set out to gain a greater understanding of sleep by taking a closer look at the nighttime habits of the Cassiopea jellyfish – a creature that has no brain at all.
According to the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, sleep has some specific characteristics: it is a period of reduced activity with a decreased responsiveness to external stimuli that can be relatively easy to reverse. Some scientists would also extend the criteria to include an increased drive to make up for lost sleep. With this definition in place, three grad students from the California Institute of Technology – Ravi Nath, Claire Bedbrook, and Michael Abrams – decided to test the theory that sleep required a brain, however small.
The team chose the primitive Cassiopea jellyfish as the subject of its experiment. Instead of a brain, Cassiopea jellies only have a diffuse net of nerve cells distributed throughout their bodies. In fact, they barely classify as animals – they have no mouths, instead sucking in their food through pores in their tentacles and actually engage in a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic organisms that live in their cells. The jellyfish typically spend their days floating upside down near the ocean floor, pulsing their tentacles in a steady rhythm. So the researchers used this pulsation as a metric with which to measure activity.
First, to assess the possibility of these brainless creatures actually sleeping, the team observed the jellyfishes’ pulsing behavior and noted how the pulsation slowed considerably at night. But when food was introduced to the tanks, the jellies roused, indicating that the sluggish state was easily reversed.
Next, the scientists tested the animals’ arousal threshold, or the amount of time it took for them to respond to a change in environment. At random periods during the night, the researchers would move the jellies from their preferred resting spot at the bottom of the tanks. Those jellies with increased pulsations swam immediately back down to the bottom while slow-pulsers would strangely float around, taking longer to reorient themselves.
Lastly, the research team wanted to evaluate how jellyfish behaved after long-term disruption to their rest periods. To keep the animals awake, the scientists squirted the jellyfish with pulses of water every 20 minutes for up to 12 hours, effectively keeping them awake all night. The next day, the jellies were noticeably more sluggish with reduced pulse activity while the following night, the jellyfish slept even more deeply to make up for the lost sleep the night before.
Now comes the question: why is this important? Most prominently, such an experiment demonstrates that a brain is not necessarily required for all of the criteria of sleep to be met. Further, as Cassiopea are ancient, the study is indicative that sleep evolved as a very primordial process that has been in existence for millennia, prior to the evolution of organisms with brains or central nervous systems. This analysis opens the doors to other questions like what other simple organisms might sleep? How about plants?
If nothing else, this research shows that as developed and intelligent as we may be, we still share a fundamental need with even the most minimally evolved species.
Colonial Rule #2: Clothes Maketh The Man
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