4 Technologies Helping Retailers Put the Customer First

DONNA COBB | May 13, 2019

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Forward-thinking retailers are constantly being challenged and enhanced by technology. As online and mobile shopping continues to disrupt the “traditional” retail experience, retailers are relying on new technologies to better delight customers, attract them back into stores, and ultimately succeed in the multichannel environment. A survey from WorldPay shows more than half of American consumers (55 percent) expect augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to be as popular as smartphones in the near future, while nearly 70 percent believe they will go mainstream soon. From smart mirrors that can automatically measure a user's dimensions, offer up the correct size, and then “dress” the customer virtually, to apps that can “place” furniture in a shopper's existing living quarters, AR and VR provide seemingly endless possibilities to create immersive in-store experiences.

Spotlight

CTC + CDW Merchants

The Christine Taylor Collection and CDW Merchants are joining forces to provide even better products and services to the retail visual merchandising industry. The two companies are uniting as one under the CTC brand led by Christine Taylor as a division of Bunzl Retail – a single-source global retail solutions provider.

OTHER ARTICLES

Gap is the Latest Retailer to Get Into Resale, Partners With thredUP

Article | February 24, 2020

Gap is the latest retailer to dip its toes into the secondhand apparel market, following the lead of Macy’s, Nordstrom and others, in a bid to stay relevant in an industry shaken by changing consumer tastes. The company announced last week that it has partnered with resale platform thredUP, which bills itself as the largest online consignment and thrift store. In select Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Janie and Jack stores, thredUP bags and labels will now be available for customers to mail in their clothes, in exchange for credits to use at Gap’s portfolio of stores. Macy’s, J.C. Penney and J.Crew’s Madewell brand have also partnered with thredUP in recent months.

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5 Shopify Alternatives in 2020-21 that Make Ecommerce Simple for Beginners

Article | October 16, 2020

In 2004, Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Luke established an online website to sell snowboards. They tried a bunch of online store builders but were not satisfied with the status quo. So, they decided to build a tool that could operate their website. Soon, they realized that the tool was more powerful than the website's business. And hence, Shopify was born. Eventually, Shopify became one of the largest eCommerce store builders in the world. By 2009, the company had $100 million in sales and decided to launch its own API as well as an app store. More than a decade later, Shopify is now supporting over 800,000 stores globally and is a $125 billion company. While the company has shown remarkable growth in its business, it would be ignorant to say the market's needs have been fulfilled by the Shopify platform. Shopify's eCommerce platform works for a lot of businesses, but that does not mean it will work for every business. Here is why Shopify is Not the Right Fit for Every Business: Shopify's growth over the years shows that the company has taken several steps to address the market's inherent needs. However, the presence of several other companies and the issues still faced by merchants show some significant gaps in Shopify's offerings: 1. Cost of Setting Up: Each price-point offers a fixed set of features and functionalities. If you want anything over and above that, you will have to buy the subsequent package. For instance – something as conventional as a Gift Card is not available in the $29 per month package; to get it activated, pay as much as $299 per month. 2. Cost of Operations: The additional functionalities and features cost extra in your package. Even basic features like transaction or credit card processing attract an additional fee. To add to that, you have to purchase the app to activate the feature from the Shopify app store. Even though some apps are free, the apps that offer maximum value tend to cost north of $39.99 per month. 3. Limited and Expensive Themes: The entire Shopify store has a total of 73 themes, with the prices going as high as $180 a theme. This means that as a merchant, even after paying the high price, you may end up with an eCommerce platform that hardly stands out from the crowd. In short, while Shopify was started with great intentions, the cost of using it has started outweighing the probable value it has to offer. This issue gets further highlighted when one starts looking at the Shopify alternatives. Best Alternatives of Shopify While Shopify suits the needs of a certain set of merchants, here are the alternatives that can suit the merchants looking for more tailored, affordable, or customizable solutions: 1. Quick eSelling Quick eSelling is one of the most affordable and easy to deploy ecommerce store builder among the Shopify alternatives. It can be deployed in under 10 minutes for the basic variant. Its free variant has some prolific features like a native Android app, responsive website, and a catalog that can support up to 1000 products. The free package requires a 5% transaction fee, which gets eliminated the moment you upgrade to a paid plan. All the paid plans have a fixed monthly fee and no setup costs. The list of standard features includes a wide set of functionalities like customizable web-store themes, SMS & Email marketing, comprehensive payment gateway integrations, detailed analytics reports, inventory management systems, social media plugins, discount coupon codes, and even live chat. The premium package which costs around 50% the price of the $299 Shopify package, comes with a dedicated account manager and enterprise-level integrations. Ideal for: Merchants who are seeking an affordable, easily usable, and quickly deployable solution. 2. WooCommerce WooCommerce is popularly considered one of the most preferred alternatives for Shopify. It is quite convenient for website owners as it is a plugin for WordPress. Unlike other tools in the list, WooCommerce is designed to make WordPress sites work as functional eCommerce platforms. And in that particular aspect, it does a great job. However, if you are not already using an established WordPress site with high traffic, running WooCommerce can become quite expensive. On average, a website owner has to spend as much as $1000 in setting up a WooCommerce store with a moderate degree of customization. Even if you are not customizing a lot, running a WooCommerce store can cost you as much as $150 in a month. This would cover your hosting, themes, shipping plugins, security, and SEO. You will pay additional 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Ideal for: Someone who has a successful WordPress website and now wants to convert it into an eCommerce store. 3. Yo!Kart: Yo!Kart is a popular self-hosted multi-vendor platform for building online marketplaces. Unlike Shopify, it is a standalone platform that comes with a lifetime license and rich ecommerce features. The platform is fully customizable and scalable. Yo!Kart packages start from $999 and every package comes with a 1-year free technical support, free installation, and full source code. There are no monthly or yearly recurring fees. Considering it is a comprehensive platform, you may need some technical training to understand the system. Ideal for: Business owners who want to start ecommerce websites like Amazon or ebay where multiple sellers are selling under the same roof. 4. PrestaShop PrestaShop runs on the basic premise that creating an online eCommerce store should be an affordable exercise for any merchant. That is the reason why it is available for free and comes without any additional monthly fees. Its features include eCommerce functionalities like CRM & Email Marketing, Inventory Management, Multi-Store Management, and SEO Management. You can get a basic eCommerce store running by paying the registration fee for the domain and the hosting fee dues. While this may seem like a great alternative, given the fact that it is practically free, there is one major caveat – you cannot deploy or personalize your PrestaShop eCommerce store unless you know how to code. The entire platform has been designed, keeping in mind people who can code at professional levels of proficiency. The cost of hiring a developer who can add features to your store or modify the theme can be very costly. In addition to this, some basic features like promotions & reviews management, data security, and mobile access are not available on the platform. Ideal for: The merchants who have access to programming talent and don't mind a basic eCommerce store. 5. Wix Wix became popular as an online website builder. It also offers interesting eCommerce functionalities. For as low as $35 a year, you can have the Business Basic package that comes with a free year of using the domain, analytics reports, and 20 GB of storage. If you want greater control of your eCommerce platform but are not a professional programmer and are not interested in hiring one, Wix can be a great alternative. Its most expensive package costs about $80 a year. It comes with features like email marketing, SEO management, inventory management, data security, and promotions management. The challenge is – most of the charges marketed by Wix are very affordable for the first year in operations. After a year, many of these features, like the domain, will become payable elements. This way as soon as the first year of your operations is over, your cost of running the eCommerce platform will dramatically go up. Ideal for: Merchants who want to have greater control of their website's design without the need for coding skills and those who want the first year of operations to be largely affordable. Conclusion: Shopify can work for you if you are seeking a limited set of features. However, for lesser price-points, the alternatives for Shopify offer great functionalities. Quick eSelling is good for cost-effective and rapidly deployable eCommerce websites that come loaded with native features. WooCommerce is a viable option if you have a WordPress site and want to convert it into an eCommerce store. Yo!Kart specializes in building multi-vendor marketplaces. PrestaShop can be handy and very budget-friendly if you have access to coding talent. And Wix is good if you want greater control over what your store looks like, without getting into the programming aspects.

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U.S. dairy farmers dump milk as pandemic upends food markets

Article | April 7, 2020

Despite strong demand for basic foods like dairy products amid the coronavirus pandemic, the milk supply chain has seen a host of disruptions that are preventing dairy farmers from getting their products to market. Mass closures of restaurants and schools have forced a sudden shift from those wholesale food-service markets to retail grocery stores, creating logistical and packaging nightmares for plants processing milk, butter and cheese. Trucking companies that haul dairy products are scrambling to get enough drivers as some who fear the virus have stopped working. And sales to major dairy export markets have dried up as the food-service sector largely shuts down globally.

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5 steps retailers can take to ensure business continuity

Article | April 20, 2020

Every industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with governments implementing various measures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. This means consumers have had to adapt their behaviour, which in turn is reflected within the economy. As many people are furloughed and many stores have had to implement temporary closures, data shows that people are buying less, which has had a direct impact on the retail industry.

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Spotlight

CTC + CDW Merchants

The Christine Taylor Collection and CDW Merchants are joining forces to provide even better products and services to the retail visual merchandising industry. The two companies are uniting as one under the CTC brand led by Christine Taylor as a division of Bunzl Retail – a single-source global retail solutions provider.

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