THIS ISSUE Winter 2023
22 News & Notes
New lines, launches and industry goings-on
86 Speak Up!
16 Fresh Fashions
Fun new apparel and jewellery for fresh spring assortments
18 Upmarket Wellness
An indulgent concoction of wellness products selected for a more discerning clientele
20 In Bloom
New products for spring are awash in bright blooms
44 The Best for Baby
Our bi-annual gift guide filled with the sweetest gifts for newborns and babes of all ages
57 A Cut Above
This season’s chicest items for the kitchen and table
69 2023 Home Trends
Three décor trends to try on for style in your store
12 Hello! Can’t Get No Satisfaction
52 Working a Show Like a Pro You’re in a room the size of a football field surrounded by hundreds of products, retailers and vendors. Welcome to a trade show. Now what?
By Claire Sykes
77 Wooing Shoppers
Excellent customer service is a sure-fire way to overcome price objections.
By Natalie Hammer Noblitt
84 Retail Visions
From how to conduct a display audit to visual merchandising and stock organization, we’ll break it all down for you so you can start the New Year off right!
Store owners write to tell us how disillusioned they are with vendors.
Dealing with Dissatisfied Customers
The lowdown on exactly how to deescalate tense situations instore and leave the dissatisfied customer happy in the end with the service you’ve provided.
By Claire Sykes
63 Setting Sales Goals
No successful retailer would dream of doing business without setting sales goals, so this article gives you the skinny on how to simply do just that – and nail those goals.
By Claire Sykes
81 Staffing Solutions
How to find employees in today’s crazy job market
By Natalie Hammer Noblitt
inSpire. inForm. inStore.
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
With the media spreading word about an impending recession, and the Bank of Canada jacking up interest rates seemingly ever other day, countless vendors turned to consumer events or direct-to-consumer platforms to sell their products during the fourth quarter, directly competing with the stores who purchased their product wholesale mere months ago, excited about their prospects for a gangbuster sales season. Instead, during their make-it-or-break-it-time, retailers found themselves competing against more and more suppliers for a piece of the consumer pie, a pill many are finding too bitter to swallow.
“I’m becoming very disillusioned and frustrated by wholesalers who sell to the general public,” reports an Ontario store owner in this issue’s Speak Up! column on page 86.
All business owners understand the need to make money but eating off your customer’s plate, at least to my way of thinking, is verboten.
When speaking with ‘major’ suppliers who’ve been in business for over 20 years, I often ask if they ask their retail customers how they feel about them selling direct or having their own retail stores. Most haven’t bothered to ask in any meaningful way and aren’t open to hearing the feedback in other cases.
Due to vendors not listening to her needs, an Ontario store owner is looking to source online for smaller companies in Canada and overseas and says she isn’t alone in this mentality. “There’s a shift in the store owner’s mindset.”
Independent retailers deserve respect, especially from the wholesalers who built their business on the backs of brick-and-mortar stores, and who are now starting to eat into their customer’s profits. It’s a short-sited strategy that rarely works in the wholesale gift arena, especially if the company in question is interested in maintaining a business-to-business sales stream. Case in point: Alex and Ani. Their break away from the independent retailers who built their brand into stand-alone corporate stores killed the brand.
For those looking to exit the wholesale business, why not make a clean break and exit it entirely? To quote a retailer with locations in Saskatchewan and Alberta, “Trying to pretend that every decision is made (by a vendor) with the independent retailer in mind, when it truly isn’t, doesn’t build the trust needed to maintain long-term relationships.”
Will suppliers pay heed to what retailers are saying here? Will they engage them in conversation about these pain points or continue to ignore their needs? Some retailers aren’t sticking around to find out. A boutique owner from Port Hope, Ont., wrote to say she has now opted to look outside the normal supplier stream and has been treated better, given better terms and has had her area exclusivity actually maintained.Erica Kirkland Publisher & Editor
THE DEFINITIVE RESOURCE FOR INDEPENDENT LIFESTYLE RETAILERS
Editor & Publisher
Erica Kirkland email@example.com
Design & Layout
Advertising & Production Coordinator Tina Nicholl firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com Mailing Address: 103 Niska Drive Waterdown, ON L8B 0M8
Castlerock Studios, Will Fournier, Leslie Groves, Nickeisha Lewis, Natalie Hammer Noblitt
InStore Magazine™ is published four times a year for independent retailers in Canada selling giftware, home décor, fashion accessories and lifestyle items. The magazine is mailed to 12,000 stores including gift, home décor, hardware, pharmacy and florist.
© 2023 InStore Magazine™. The contents of this publication are the property of InStore Magazine. Reproduction or use of the contents in whole or in part, for any reason, is strictly prohibited without the written consent of the copyright owner. The publisher is not responsible for product claims made by the companies mentioned herein.
Printed in Canada Publication mail #40841587. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: InStore Magazine™, 103 Niska Drive, Waterdown ON L8B 0M8.
Fun new apparel and jewellery for fresh spring assortments
1/ Social butterfly necklace, $50 retail, Jacqueline Kent, 888-963-9097, www.jacquelinekentjewelry.com
2/ Backstitch pattern dangle earrings, Giftologie, $20 retail, 905-329-5717, giftologie.ca
3/ Baby alpaca scarf, $95 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
4/ Open-heart pendant on suede cord with charms, $14.50 retail, Suzie Blue, 613-686-6250, www.suzieblue.ca
5/ Hand-embroidered wool shawl, $79 retail, Baba Imports, 647-389-4503, www.babaimports.ca
6/ Plaid shaping leggings from Memoi, $93 retail, distributed by Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950, www.designhome.ca
7/ Layers earrings, $27.95 retail, distributed by Axicon World Imports, 800-465-5587, www.axiconworld.com
An indulgent concoction of wellness products selected for a discerning clientele
1/ Sisal Body Brush from Danica Heirloom, from $13 retail, 888-632-6422, www.danicabrands.com
2/ Aromatherapy roller blends, $14.95 each, Warm Buddy Company, 888-649-0649, www.warmbuddy.com
3/ Hand-poured wooden wick candle, from $16 retail, Noel & Co., www.noelandco.ca
4/ Waffle-weave face towel, $28 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
5/ Made-in-Canada bubble bath, $18.99 each, Epic Blend, www.epicblend.com
6/ Opera-length duster from $139, Market of Stars, www.marketofstars.com
7/ Turkish terry-cloth towel, $48 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
New products for spring are awash in bright blooms
1/ Travel lotion, $4.25 retail, The Niche Marketing Group, www.thenichemarketing.ca
2/ Kindness Collection of soy candles, $35 retail each, The Niche Marketing Group, www.thenichemarketing.ca
3/ Washable sunflower placemat, $20 retail, Harman Imports, 800-363-7608, www.harmaninc.com
4/ Candle holder, from $8 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, northamericancountryhome.com
5/ Faux tulip bundle, $33.50 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, northamericancountryhome.com
6/ Moncillo reed diffuser, $39.99 retail, Finesse Home, 866-787-5494, www.finessehome.com
7/ Soap from The English Soap Company, $11.50 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950, www.designhome.ca
Koppers Home Launches Kozie Lifestyle
Canadian wholesaler Koppers Home is proud to announce the launch of its new lifestyle brand, Kōziē Lifestyle. Focusing on Nordic-inspired furniture, décor and home accessories, the collection launches January 15 on the company’s website and virtual showroom. The brand introduction will also take place in the Koppers Home showroom in Guelph, Ont., and at the Toronto Gift & Home Market this winter.
“With Kōziē Lifestyle we hope to make sourcing home décor more enjoyable in an environment that is more conscious, meaningful, and impactful,” said company president Ron Koppers. “Our newest brand offers options that are made of natural and ecofriendly materials because we want to be as transparent as we can with our offerings. We were very influenced by the Nordic mentality when we created this collection, offering a more calm and clean aesthetic. There are items made of recycled wood, recycled plastic bottles, and recycled and natural fibers. Items were carefully chosen to ensure products are made to last over time and will become a staple in customers’ homes.” 866-604-0490, www.koppershome.com
Corkcicle Switches Canadian Distributors
The new sales representatives for Corkcicle in Canada is Design Home Gift & Paper. The innovative and top-selling drinkware brand is an innovator in the insulated drinkware category. Beyond just tumblers, they offer insulated coolers, barware, canteens and more.
“We are proud to represent Corkcicle, a highly recognized, awardwinning, industry-leading hydration and barware line,” said Design Home president Jay Djang. “Corkcicle prides itself on providing the global market with stylish designs while eliminating single-use plastic.”
Cash Claridge, vice-president of sales for Corkcicle, said, “Our new partnership with Design Home will bring us a stronger presence in Canada, with increased visibility.”
Corkcicle will be marketed through Design Home’s team of representatives across Canada. 800-663-9950, www.designhome.ca
“Cocoon yourself with our Pink Pepper & Plum fragrance during the winter months”.
News & Notes THE GOODS
Crack Open . . . a Pair of Socks!
Beer-can socks from Hatley, The Little Blue House continue to be a bestseller for the Canadian company a couple years after their introduction. The socks come with an eyecatching countertop displayer when you purchase a 24-pack which includes two of each of the eight styles. The packaging, quality of the socks and displayer makes this item a great add-on sale for Valentine’s and Father’s Day. 800-667-2583, www.hatley.com
Leave it to Jacqueline Kent to design a drool-worthy collection of blingedout collars and accessories for pets and their owners named Diamonds in the Ruff. The initial assortment includes dog and cat collars in sizes small/medium to extra large from $25 retail as well as dog bows and bejewelled tumblers with paw prints. 888-963-9097, www.jacquelinekentjewelry.com
‘Tis the time of year when comfort goods fly out the door. Slippers, robes, shawls and cozy pajamas are among the most in-demand items which is why Baba Imports has introduced a sweet set of cotton boho-style pajamas. The set retails for $69 and the pajamas are available in over 18 colours and prints. 647-3894503, www.babaimports.ca
The 2023 desktop calendar from Nova Scotia artist Hannah Hicks features a splash of happiness each month. Printed on premium thick glossy cardstock, the calendar is sold with a custom wood stand handmade by LakeCity Woodworks, a social enterprise that supports people with mental health challenges. The calendar measures five and half inches by eight includes. $13.50 cost. www.hannahhicksart.com
News & Notes
Full Line of Personal Care
The Soap Company of Nova Scotia offers a full range of personal care and home cleaning products all of which are made in the province. Available in numerous scented options along with an unscented line, the product offerings include hand and foot cream for $15.95 retail, 30 ml of laundry powder for $24.95 and a pure soy candle with a 40-hour burn time for $24.95 retail. Also available are face and body creams, deodorant, bath soaks, essential oils and stain removers. wholsale.soapnovascotia.com
New Canadiana Giftware
New this spring from Lifestyle Market is the Vancouver tote featuring the artwork of Julia Gash and made from unbleached natural cotton. Custom cityscapes can be ordered for your store for $22.99 retail.
Also new is the Toronto mug with an optional add-on gift box. The white ceramic mug is printed in full colour in Canada and is dishwasher and microwave safe. $15.99 retail. 647-779-8206, www.lifestylemarket.ca
News & Notes
New Gift Bag Resource
Without using any chemicals, Greenii Inc. was established to recycle newspapers, magazines, flyers and brochures into gift bags. The Halifax company’s offering comprises handmade paper bags made from recycled Coffee News papers, white newsprint and Kraft paper bags. The newsprint bags are available in sizes ranging from extra small to extra large. Pricing for quantities less than 500 range from $0.60 to $1.10 per bag, dropping to from $0.52 to $0.90 when 1000 pieces or more are ordered. The Kraft bags are available in 250-piece counts ranging from $87 to $130 per box with a large variety of sizes available. Logo printing services are also offered as are crinkled paper shreds in a variety of colours. 647-801-3424, www.greenii.ca
Meet the Makers of Canadian Handmade
All is Well
Make sure your inventory of comfort goods is well stocked! Tis the season to sell all that is well and cozy.Styling by Leslie Groves Photography by Will Fournier
Dealing with Dissatisfied CustomersBY CLAIRE SYKES
What retailer hasn’t encountered them? They’re unhappy. They may even be angry or downright belligerent. At the very least, they’re dissatisfied. You’d give anything to avoid them but how can you? After all, they’re your customers.
What’s a business owner to do? Start by viewing dissatisfied customers and their sometimes-unpleasant behaviour as a challenge and an opportunity — to listen carefully to their needs and offer a creative solution that leads to a happy customer. When you do, that person basks in the best customer service they may have ever received. And you enjoy the strengthened relationship, while your store reaps the profits.
Part of great customer service involves resolving problems, and there isn’t a retailer who doesn’t face those. The kindest and most loyal customers can get upset sometimes. And even the most dissatisfied ones can be won over by good problem resolution and end up as some of your best customers.
But what if you’ve done everything you possibly can and your customer is still dissatisfied? Or what if they express their dismay angrily? Or their angry words turn into hostile behaviour? If you’re equipped with the right know-how and common sense, you can shape that conflict into cooperation.
It helps to know why some customers respond so indignantly when they view your service or products as not meeting their needs. Can you blame someone for feeling peeved because your sales staff is ignoring them? Or if those tablecloths haven’t arrived like they should’ve and the birthday party is tomorrow? Poor customer service, out-of-stock inventory and errors on special orders are common reasons for dissatisfied customers. Oftentimes, however, someone’s angry outburst has little to do with you and your store. Maybe the person feels tired or hungry, or rushed and impatient. Or they expect poorer service from you because of past negative experiences they’ve had at other stores. Then again, maybe this person is just having a bad day and, unfortunately, they’re taking it out on you.
Whatever the reason, when you’re facing the heat of these fiery scenes, don’t make a run for it. Throw water on the situation and keep your cool. However, if the customer displays disrespect or violence towards you, your staff or your property, get out of their way and get help. No customer is worth this kind of abuse. (Refer to the sidebar for detailed instructions on how to diffuse a hostile situation.)
Everyone makes mistakes, even the most successful retailers. But it’s how you deal with those errors that makes all the difference. If you acknowledge the problem and sincerely show your customer that you care and want to remedy things, most likely they’ll want to work with you. You want them to remember how seriously and courteously you took their concerns and then did all you could to make it better. The good word they spread about their positive experience at your store is well worth the effort you spend to make them happy.
Remember, there’s no benefit to you or your business if you see these hostile customers as in the wrong. Worst yet, the bad reviews and negative word they spread about your store is not worth the business you could lose.
This short article has given you all the tools you need to turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied one, and a hostile situation into a constructive one. When you do, you enjoy the success that comes with yet another happy customer.
12 Steps to Diffusing a Hostile Situation
In most cases, you can begin to extinguish your customer’s hostility by exhibiting a calm presence. Take a few slow, deep breaths before speaking. A calm tone of voice and open body language can set the stage for resolving the situation in the most positive way.
1. Move away from other customers. If your dissatisfied customer becomes angry, steer them away from other shoppers. For one, it’s “bad publicity.” But most important, you want to keep it private, while giving your customer the undivided attention they deserve. This shows them that you’re willing to take the time to listen and attempt to accommodate their needs.
2. Distance yourself from the behaviour. Don’t get pulled into your customer’s animosity by taking their behaviour personally. Their anger is about their dissatisfaction with something at your store, not you. Stay objective and you’ll be able to see the problem more clearly and deal with it effectively. >>
3. Express your regret. No matter what happened or who is really at fault, tell the customer you feel bad that they’re so disappointed and that that is the last thing you want for them.
4. Repeat the complaint, calmly. Hear the customer out and then be silent for a few moments in case they want to add more. Then, tell the person what you heard them say so they know you get it.
5. Empathize with them. Put yourself in your customer’s place and try to imagine how they must feel. Tell them you can understand their disappointment, anger or confusion and that you want to make things better.
6. Listen to the customer. This person may be angry because they feel no one cares. If you let your customer talk first, and for as long as they need (within reason), their anger will more likely dissipate.
7. Listen to the complaint. Strip it from its negativity and note what the problem is. This is key to dissolving the dissatisfaction. You have to hear what the person is saying, and not dwell on the negative delivery of it.
8. Thank the customer. They have brought a problem to your attention. That’s a good thing! Let them know you appreciate this because it’ll help you serve them better next time.
9. Explain how you’ll correct the problem. Be sure your customer understands exactly what you promise you’ll do. Ask them what they think will make things right and consider their view. You may be surprised at how easy the fix truly is.
10. Know what you’ve gained. Identify to yourself what you’ve learned from the incident, as it relates to your store and staff, and also personally, and decide what to share with your employees.
11. Put the lesson to work. Apply what you’ve learned to improve service for all your customers. Make the necessary general-business and staff changes and create store-wide procedures to uphold top-quality customer service for everyone.
12. Follow up with the customer. If you didn’t already resolve the issue with them at the time of their complaint, then once you do, immediately contact them to make sure they’re satisfied. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a 10 percent-off coupon, either.
“In most cases, you can begin to extinguish your customer’s hostility by exhibiting a calm presence. Take a few slow, deep breaths before speaking to the person.”by Leslie Groves Photography by Will Fournier
1/ Bunny hat and apron, Jubilee by Danica, from $35 retail, Danica, 888-632-6422, www.danicabrands.com
2/ Demdaco’s Giving Bear, $69.50 retail, Canfloyd, 800-263-3551, www.canfloyd.com
3/ Linen pillow, $66 retail, Indaba Trading, 800-746-3222, www.indabatrading.com
4/ Warm-up buddy, from $39.95 retail, Warm Buddy Company, 888-649-0649, www.warmbuddy.com
5/ Receiving blanket set, Kidcentral Supply, 877-218-0395, www.kidcentral.ca
6/ Apron, Kidcentral Supply, 877-218-0395, www.kidcentral.ca
7/ Muslin blanket, Kidcentral Supply, 877-218-0395, www.kidcentral.ca
Baby Best for
Encourage a sense of adventure with a safari-themed selection
1/ Velvet pillow backed in gold, Lady Rosedale, 416-854-2948, www.ladyrosedale.ca
2/ Baby blanket, $99 retail, Klippan, 613-858-0655, www.kidinme.com
3/ Kid’s crinkle robe, $75 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
4/ Sunshine pillow, $76 retail, Indaba Trading, 800-746-3222, www.indabatrading.com
5/ One-piece outfit, Kidcentral Supply, 877-218-0395, www.kidcentral.ca
6/ Baby muslin blanket, $35 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
Experience the Difference!
1/ Newborn hat, Kidcentral Supply, 877-218-0395, www.kidcentral.ca
2/ Mini tote-pack from Vera Bradley, $130, Canfloyd, 800-263-3551, www.canfloyd.com
3/ Demdaco finger puppet book, $28.50 retail, Canfloyd, 800-263-3551, www.canfloyd.com
4/ Demdaco plush mommy and baby elephant, $47 retail, Canfloyd, 800-263-3551, www.canfloyd.com
5/ Receiving blanket, Kidcentral Supply, 877-218-0395, www.kidcentral.ca
6/ Bib, Kidcentral Supply, 877-218-0395, www.kidcentral.ca
7/ Muslin blanket, $35 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
“You’re in a room the size of a football field, tangled in a maze of display booths filled with hundreds of other retailers, suppliers and manufacturers. Welcome to a trade show. Now what?”
Working a Show LIKE A PROBy Claire Sykes
You’re in a room the size of a football field, tangled in a maze of display booths filled with hundreds of other retailers, suppliers and manufacturers. Welcome to a trade show. Now what? Where to begin?
Don’t wait until you enter the building to ask yourself these questions. You need to plan for the itinerary you want to follow, and the people and booths you want to visit. Remember, you’re spending money and time to attend that show and you want to make the most of it. You can, when you prepare yourself and your staff, remain focused at the show and enforce an efficient policy for follow up afterwards.
A GOOD THING
A trade show is the best way to meet manufacturers and suppliers and do business together. There are venues for:
• New products. It’s the only place where the most current gift products are on display for you to see — all at once, all under one roof.
• Manufacturers and suppliers. During the show you can talk with dozens of key people, representing thousands of products and services.
• Compar ison shopping. With so many companies displaying and demonstrating their products, you’ll want to shop around for the best deals.
• Seminars. From ones on financial management to interior store
design, they complement your experience at the show and increase your retail know-how.
CHOOSE THE BEST SHOW
Depending on the size of your store, there are any number of trade shows appropriate to your purposes. Focus on those that pertain most closely to your customers’ needs and ones held at times of the year when you can make the best use of the information you gather. Consider your product mix and service needs, and how much time you can allow away from your business.
• Do your research. Contact industry associations for lists of shows. Ask your suppliers and other retailers for their show suggestions.
• Know your market. Always keep your customers in mind when attending a trade show. If you want to provide them with a greater variety of kitchen-related or homedécor products, for example, seek out shows that promote these.
• Be scr utinizing. Choose the show that fits your store in general. Too broad of a show, one that’s geared more toward the big-box stores, for example, may not be specific enough for you.
BEFORE YOU GO
Once you know which shows you’ll be attending, make sure you prepare for them, so you don’t waste hours on the trade show floor. Get more out of the time you spend when you:
• Pre-register. This way you’ll make sure to get into the trade show and avoid long line-ups at the door. It’ll also give you time to take advantage of better hotel and airfare rates.
• Research your inventory. What are your merchandising priorities, inventory plans and business focus for the coming year? Look at your own product needs, and new products and price points you want to introduce. With these answers, you can approach exhibitors intelligently, so they can help you select merchandise appropriate to your goals.
• Pack wisely. Don’t forget those trade show documents you’ll need to get in. Also, have your store inventory information on hand, including the spending dollar amount you’ve allotted yourself while at the show for each category and/or supplier, so you’re not tempted to go over budget.
• Be thorough. Before you go to a trade show, look at the entire floor plan and agenda, then decide where you want to focus your time and efforts. Plan to see as many reps as you can.
• Know the exhibitors. Study the show directory for information on manufacturers and sales reps exhibiting at the show. Know their categories and ordering performance, such as their ability for short-cycle deliveries. Then choose the vendors you want to
visit, keeping an open mind to those reps who may be new to you.
• Make appointments. Reps’ schedules fill up quickly, so call or email them weeks in advance to arrange a less-distracting breakfast or dinner meeting. A few days before the trade show, contact them again to confirm. And make sure you’re on time, even if that rep may not be.
Tip! We may live in a digital world, but a well-designed business card still makes a lasting impression.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
As the owner or manager of a store and a trade show attendee going from booth to booth, make sure you carry the right attitude and approach:
• Stay open. Be enthused, curious and receptive, in general. There’s much you can learn and offer, and you’ll likely leave the show with great ideas and insights. While you’re looking at products, let your first impressions grab you, because that’s how your customers will experience them. And don’t avoid the alreadyfamiliar booths. Those companies may have new products since you last visited.
• Reach out to reps. It’s important to network with them at a trade show. They’re a source of valuable information about the industry, so take advantage of that. And don’t pass up a chance to tour local gift shops.
• Engage with other retailers. Introduce yourself to fellow store
owners. In the spirit of friendly competition, when you share your business concerns and means of dealing with them, you’re bound to learn something. It’s an opportunity to begin solving problems that confront the retail industry and discover what others are thinking, so you know better what you can do at your own business.
• Get fr iendly. A trade show’s casual and formal social opportunities provide other chances to learn from and share with people in the sector. You can gather a lot of information over a quick coffee and conversation with other store owners and vendors. So don’t scratch impromptu socializing off your list because you think you don’t have time for it.
• Gather information. Collect as much product literature as you can. Take photos if that’s allowed. Get vendors’ names and contact information, so you can follow up with them after the trade show if you don’t hear from them.
• P lan to do business. As a marketplace, the retail trade show is the most economical venue to buy and sell. Exhibitors are happy to take orders, and frequently they offer attractive pricing for those placed at the show.
• Attend seminars. These offer a wonderful opportunity to bring yourself up to date with new products and changing issues in the industry. Trade show seminars and business sessions provide countless ideas that you can put to use right away at your store.
AFTER THE SHOW
Just because the trade show is over doesn’t mean it’s through with you. There’s plenty you can do to continue getting the most out of the experience once you’ve returned to your store.
• Hold a promotional event. Let your customers know you attended the trade show by organizing a new product party. This communicates to customers that you stay on top of the trends and care enough to provide them with the latest products.
• Host a customer focus group. Casually or formally, present to your customers the products that interested you from the trade show and ask them their opinions. Let your customers suggest what you could be carrying, since they generally represent most of the shoppers who come into your gift store.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Take everything you learned at the show and put it into practice as it applies to you and your store. Centre your merchandising around the new products and special deals you ordered at the show. Then, keep track of how your purchases from there sell.
Follow up with all the business contacts you made at the show in more depth, as your business needs change. Finally, take what you’ve learned from this trade show and make it work for you, even more successfully, at the next.
A Cut AboveStyling by Leslie Groves
A Cut Above
Chic items for the kitchen and table
1/ Tea tumbler from Good Citizen, $41 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950, www.designhome.ca
2/ Rustic cheese set by Twine from True Brands, $41.50 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950, www.designhome.ca
3/ Cold-brew dark chocolate bar from Coco Chocolatier, $10 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950, www.designhome.ca
4/ Popcorn bowl from Santa Barbara Design Studio, $42.50 retail, Design Home Gift & Paper, 800-663-9950, www.designhome.ca
5/ Sponge cloth, $6.50 retail, Harman Imports, 800-363-7608, www.harmaninc.com
6/ Apple, Fig and Fennel Spread, $15 retail, Saltspring Kitchen Co., 250-931-6000, www.saltspringkitchen.com
A Cut Above
Chic items for the kitchen and table
1/ Lotus bowl, $80 retail for set, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
2/ Apron from Kay Dee Designs, www.kaydeedesigns.com
3/ Mugs, $11 retail each, Koppers Home, 866-604-0490, www.koppershome.com
4/ Mango bowl, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, www.northamericancountryhome.com
5/ Wall basket, $29 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, www.northamericancountryhome.com
6/ House butter dish, $30 retail, Harman Imports, 800-363-7608, www.harmaninc.com
7/ Coasters, from $34.50 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, www.northamericancountryhome.com
SETTING SALES GOALS
Sales goals serve as definitive marks you can aim towards in order to reach your desired profits. You can expect to achieve the numbers you need only when you and your sales staff set sales goals that are specific, realistic and measurable. No successful retailer would dream of doing business without them.
Sales goals also provide you with a budgeting structure and set performance standards and other goals for employees. When people know what’s expected of them and they attain their goals, they tend to be happier and less stressed, resulting in a store that attracts more traffic. Working for a goal-setting company with robust revenues and room for raises benefits your store and your customers.
A Roadmap for SuccessBy Claire Sykes
TYPES OF SALES GOALS
To successfully hit the mark, begin by recognizing the three types of sales goals, as defined by Joe Milevsky, president of JRM Sales & Management:
• Cor porate goals. These reflect the financial level of performance that you, as the owner, seek to achieve to consider your business successful.
• Sales-staff goals. These drive all your employees toward the total gross sales that will help you reach your corporate goals.
• Personal goals. Whether it’s a second location or saving for a house, these goals help determine the level of corporate and sales staff goals.
With these general goals in mind, aim accurately by following these five steps:
1. Study your company’s history. Compare your sales figures over the past five years to identify trends and inconsistencies. What contributed to these? Apply this knowledge to future goal-setting tasks.
2. Decide what you want. Write down your personal and corporate goals and encourage staff to do the same. This crystallizes your thinking and gives you something concrete to look at and evaluate.
3. Break down your goals. Divide your annual corporate goal by the month, basing each on historical percentages within the last five
years. Apply those same percentages to individual sales goals, for each month. Then, break down the monthly figure by the day, based on the number of days the person works in a given month.
4. Establish a timeline. Give yourself a date to begin working towards sales goals and dates during the year that you want to reach certain dollar amounts. Imposing deadlines on yourself and others keeps you motivated to achieve your goals.
5. Monitor your progress. Keep records that track the number of customers who came in, number of sales and dollar amounts of sales, etc. by the day, week and month, so you can evaluate how well you’re doing and where you need to make changes to your goals.
SETTING YOUR SIGHTS ON AN ACTUAL NUMBER
Everyone’s goals are different. Know how high to set them when you:
• Know your budget. To set a corporate sales goal, produce a budget with your desired bottom line in mind. Forecast annual revenues, cost of goods and expenses. If your expenses are in line and your gross margin maximized, and the bottom is not acceptable to you, then you’ll need to raise your sales goal, accordingly.
• Deter mine sales staff standards. The combined goals of all your salespeople should be 10 to 15 percent higher than your corporate goal, or you won’t consistently achieve that goal. Expect most of your salespeople to perform at a level that is 75 to 80 percent comparable to your top associate’s sales.
• Make goals reasonable. Don’t set your goals too high or too low or you’ll feel discouraged, stressed or unmotivated. Shoot for somewhere in between, at just beyond your comfort zone. People with reasonably high expectations tend to rise to the level of those expectations.
THE 10 MUST-HAVE INGREDIENTS
Along with your ambition and sense of purpose, setting successful goals requires these 10 things:
1. Compatible goals. Tie sales staff’s personal goals to their professional goals — ones they set themselves, so they feel invested in them. Make sure they relate these to your corporate goals.
2. Imag ination. Goals based on a personal vision are fueled by the imagination that fires them into action. Clearly imagine yourself reaching your goals, and then galvanize your efforts with
positive, present-tense self-talk and written affirmations.
3. Motivation and commitment. The drive to succeed demands desire and determination. While you can’t teach these, you can encourage them, with corporate-level support, appropriately set goals, and incentives and rewards.
4. Incentives. Along with sales commission, give spiffs and hold contests and games for your salespeople. These create fun and excitement and encourage staff to work even harder to achieve their goals.
5. Positive reinforcement. Catch your staff doing things right. Acknowledge their successes with cash bonuses, dinners out or days off. Give public recognition with praise during staff meetings or a special pin.
6. Good organization. Successful goal-setters monitor their numbers and manage their time wisely. It helps when you run your store systematically and orderly.
7. Independence and confidence. Do you and your sales staff possess selfdirection and self-assurance? That’s what it takes to maintain the resolve to pursue and reach goals, especially when the going gets rough.
8. F lexibility. If you’re poised for change, you can adjust your sales
goals in response to uncontrollable obstacles and unexpected opportunities, such as a weak economy or large-volume customer.
9. Perspective. When you can manage and respond to the smallest details while maintaining a focused view of the big picture, both within and outside of your store, you have the vantage point from which to better achieve your goals.
10. Resilience. After all this, what if you don’t reach your sales goals? This is when you take a good look at your mishaps or misfortunes and reassess your strategy and tack, attitude and knowledge. Then get back up and try again.
WHEN EMPLOYEES CAN’T REACH THEIR GOALS
You do your best to hire the most experienced, motivated and intelligent salespeople for your store. You provide training, coaching and plenty of one-onone coaching and communication. And still, at some point there likely will be someone who is not reaching their sales goals. What now?
Work closely with this person. Get
out on the sales floor and observe them, examining all aspects of the way they sell. How do they approach a customer and inspire them toward a purchase? Is your sales employee a good listener? Are they able to develop a relationship of trust with the customer? Are they able to present your company’s products in a way that’s meaningful to the customer? Can the salesperson ask for the sale? How do they handle the customer’s objections? What about customer follow-up? Give the employee feedback on their selling behaviour. Ask about any barriers they face and how you can help.
If your salesperson continues to evade your expectations and the goals you both set, Milevsky suggests a formal write-up consisting of the person’s substandard sales results, problems met on the sales floor and a summary of coaching. You still want to help, not lose, your employee.
Continue to observe, monitor and coach the person. If they show no progress, there are only two reasons. They can’t do it, as in they simply don’t have the ability, or they won’t because they’re not motivated enough. In either case, you must let your employee go.
That doesn’t necessarily mean firing the person, however. The last thing you want to do is terminate anyone. Take note of their talents and strengths and consider where else this employee could be happier and more successful. If they aren’t cut out for sales, perhaps your marketing and advertising department would be a better fit.
IN THE END
You and everyone else must determine for yourselves your own, personal definitions of success, and the terms all of you require to achieve your goals. Just before or after you accomplish those, set new ones for yourself, so you always have something to work toward. Once you’ve reached your destination, don’t forget to reward yourself. Then sit down with your computer or paper and pencil and figure out exactly how you got there.
Typically, people don’t ask why they were successful, only why they weren’t. It’s just as important to understand the factors that contributed to your achievement. Look at your expectations and evaluate the results, so you can set the bar even higher for next year.
The industry is undergoing radical change. Consumer goods fairs are reshaping themselves. The three successful events Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld are being held concurrently for the first time in 2023. Experience this innovative concept with the world’s most comprehensive product range and a diverse array of synergies – also for the stationery industry – live in Frankfurt.
Discover the trade fairs of the future: ambiente.messefrankfurt.com christmasworld.messefrankfurt.com creativeworld.messefrankfurt.com firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. +1 905 824 5017
The Happy Home
This liveable, natural colour palette has a happy vibe that appeals to a more mature clientele
1/ Round chenille pillow, $50 retail, Kozie Lifestyle, 866-604-0490, www.kozielifestyle.com
2/ Cushion with diamond pattern, $44 retail, Nostalgia Import Canada, 800-785-7855, www.nostalgia-import.com
3/ Chenille throw, $48 retail, Kozie Lifestyle, 866-604-0490, www.kozielifestyle.com
4/ Rainbow wall hanging, $65 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
5/ Coir mat, $35 retail, Harman Imports, 800-363-7608, www.harmaninc.com
6/ Boho mugs, $12 retail each, Kozie Lifestyle, 866-604-0490, www.kozielifestyle.com
Freshen up your selection of black and white neutrals with textural items customers can’t resist
1/ Square candle lantern, $64 retail, Kozie Lifestyle, 866-604-0490, www.kozielifestyle.com
2/ Patterned tray from Sullivans, $80 retail, Canfloyd, 800-263-3551, www.canfloyd.com
3/ Kuba patch pillow, $90 retail, Indaba Trading, 800-746-3222, www.indabatrading.com
4/ Willow planter set, $104 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, www.northamericancountryhome.com
5/ Algard vase, $32 retail, Nostalgia Import Canada, 800-785-7855, www.nostalgia-import.com
6/ Starlight votive set, $45 retail, Pokoloko, 844-476-5656, www.pokoloko.com
7/ Coir doormat, $33.50 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, www.northamericancountryhome.com
1/ Square pillow in Herbs pattern, $39.99 to $49.99 retail, Lady Rosedale, 416-854-2948, ladyrosedale.ca
2/ Decorative heron set, $292 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, www.northamericancountryhome.com
3/ Braided placemat, Jubilee by Danica, $10 retail, Danica, 888-632-6422, www.danicabrands.com
4/ Vase, $25 retail, Nostalgia Import Canada, 800-785-7855, www.nostalgia-import.com
5/ Rectangular pillow in Potted Plants pattern, $39.99 to $49.99 retail, Lady Rosedale, 416-854-2948, ladyrosedale.ca
Celebrate the scenes of the season with products the nature lover will adore 2 3
6/ Glass bottle with cork, $11 retail, North American Country Home, 888-303-2221, www.northamericancountryhome.com
4 5 6
7 74 inStore. Winter 2023 inSpire. inForm. inStore.
Customer service and instore experiences are more important than ever,” says Brett Krauss, marketing manager for V-Count, an analytics systems manufacturer. “These days, customers expect more from retailers — and they’re willing to pay more to shop in places they enjoy. Retailers must create an environment that makes shoppers feel welcome, appreciated, and excited about shopping.”
One of the best ways to ensure your store’s environment is positive is by investing in employees. “Train staff to greet customers and make them feel special,” says Krauss. “Once they’ve found fantastic employees, retailers should also be providing incentives for employees who go above and beyond for customers.”
“When the market is very competitive, it’s essential you stay aware of the value of each customer,” says Steve Pogson, founder and CEO of retail consultancy FirstPier. “When you lose a customer, you don’t just lose one transaction; you miss out on earning profit throughout the course of your business career with that shopper. This influences your bottom line and can have a domino effect on numerous aspects of your business, including job security.”
MAKE IT PERSONAL
The human element of instore and ecommerce shopping experiences can’t be underestimated, says Caitlyn Parish, CEO and founder of bridal retailer Cicinia. Parish’s experience in the fashion industry, retail financial analysis and as a small business owner has taught her the importance of making business
more friendly, tailored and less forceful, she says.
“Using the customer’s name in person, on the phone, over email and in other correspondence provides a more personalized experience,” Parish says, as people pay attention when their name is said. “Consider Starbucks. To establish a long-lasting connection based on recognition, Starbucks personnel always address clients by name — while introducing themselves, calling out orders or thanking customers for their visits.”By Natalie Hammer Noblitt
SHOW YOUR WORTH
“Customers crave a bargain, but they also love supporting local businesses,” says Tricia Gustin, senior director of marketing for The Parker Avery Group. “While hosting open houses and fun events will draw people in for that day, the right product assortment, paired with great customer service, will get them to come back,” she says.
“Smaller businesses must know their markets, and target product assortments and pricing appropriately. Salespeople must be engaged, enthusiastic and
Excellent customer service is guaranteed to overcome price objections
knowledgeable to inform and excite customers,” she says. “If they sit at a desk or on their phone until a customer walks up, you have a problem. Active engagement is key.”
Gustin acknowledges that most retail associates need to multitask but says engagement can happen when salespeople are busy sweeping or restocking. A simple, engaging question paired with a genuine smile goes a long way, she says.
Providing context for the product, including where it came from, if it’s handmade and where the ingredients are sourced, can communicate an item’s value. Customers will often bend preconceived value expectations for an item if they understand that it offers a local element, she says.
Keep the relationship created in the store going after a shopper leaves, Gustin adds. “If your business is on social media, make that obvious with instore signage and handouts. “New products are coming in daily — check us out on IG!” is a simple, but effective message.
Gustin says the end of the customer’s journey in your store should come with a genuine, personalized invitation to come back again. Most of the time, this level of service will help customers feel they’ve gotten
beyond their initial expectations.
“These days, customers expect more from retailers — and they’re willing to pay more to shop in places they enjoy. Retailers must create an environment that makes shoppers feel welcome, appreciated, and excited about shopping.” - Brett Krauss, marketing managerforV-CountBy MONCILLO
80 inStore. Winter 2023
inSpire. inForm. inStore.Great Gifts & Family Pajamas
Staffing SolutionsBy Natalie Hammer Noblitt
The challenge of finding good employees, particularly passionate salespeople, isn’t new, but today’s job market is downright dismal. But, according to retail experts Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, finding good employees isn’t an impossible task. Creating an effective hiring system and an authentically positive work culture can make the process go much smoother.
“With everyone trying to salvage sales and hold onto profit margins, it’s incredibly important to have the right people in your store making sales,” says Kizer. “When you find those ace sellers, you can’t afford to let them go.”
BEST HIRING PRACTICES
Don’t put off hiring until you have a vacancy. Rather, keep in contact with potential hires and seasonal employees so you can quickly move them into place if something changes with your or their current work situation, and offer a job application to anyone who comes into the store and shows interest. Keep your job postings up on local sites in case a person who’s a great fit wants to apply.
Be prepared to change what you’re offering new salespeople, as well. A strange disconnect is happening right now among job seekers and employers. Retailers can’t find good applicants, yet polls have job seekers saying they don’t see appealing employment options. Somehow the two groups aren’t finding each other — or can’t reach common ground. Try something different to attract more applicants, like describing your store’s culture in your ads.
Finding Employees in Today’s Job Market
“Sometimes retailers are so pressed for help they hire quickly, choosing a person just because they seem excited to work,” says Kizer. “They throw the new person onto the sales floor without training. Soon the new team member gets confused and frustrated. It’s hard to do a job when you feel unsure.”
Some of the most important skills to teach new team members are how to greet customers and how to accept returns or exchanges gladly and politely. A buddy system is always a good idea for new hires. “A mentor can help reassure a new team member and also give gentle pointers as they encounter customers or set up displays,” says Kizer. “Giving someone feedback and providing suggestions on how they can make something even better will
help boost confidence and advance the training process.”
Bender adds that hourly wages and bonuses alone won’t keep employees if they haven’t been trained, don’t feel respected or aren’t allowed to take breaks. People won’t stay if they are unhappy, bored or can’t get schedules that fit into their lives.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND GOOD PEOPLE?
“Start with your own people – both employees and loyal customers who know your store,” says Bender. Try offering referral bonuses to people who suggest job applicants. Usually, just $50 or $100 is enough to be a good incentive. Pay out half the bonus when the new hire starts and the balance after 90 days
“Your team members will refer great
people because they will be the ones working with those new employees,” says Kizer. “Existing staff don’t want you to hire someone who will make their daily job harder.”
Team members who make referrals can also be great mentors. “If I’ve recommended someone to be hired in my workplace, I’m going to keep an eye on them and help them succeed,” says Bender.
Also consider holding a hiring day where applicants are invited to see the culture of your store, meet other team members and find out why it’s such a great place to work, says Kizer. A bonus to showing off your existing staff is getting applicants who want to join what they’ve built. “If you feel you are part of a family and are supported, it’s harder to leave just because someone else pays a little more.”
“Don’t put off hiring until you have a vacancy. Rather, keep in contact with potential hires and seasonal employees so you can quickly move them into place if something changes with your or their current work situation.”
Jan 29 - Feb 2
Cross Border Sales Gift Agency Hall 1 | Booth 1712 Toronto Congress Centre 650 Dixon Road, Toronto ON
www.snooziescanada.ca Cross Border Sales Gift Agency: 905-417-6332 • USA Corporate Office: 252-650-7000 ext. 215
Improve Your Sales in 2023
Conducting a display audit and reviewing your merchandising techniquesBy Nickeisha Lewis
Have you given some thought to planning your 2023 retail displays? No matter how long you’ve been in business, what industry you’re in or if you’re opening your first shop, the tips laid out here will help you plan an amazing design and display strategy. From how to conduct a display audit to visual merchandising and stock organization, we’ll break it all down for you.
CONDUCT A DISPLAY AUDIT
Reflect and assess what worked and what didn’t work display wise in 2022. Review your sales reports to understand what products sold best and the displays they were associated with. It’s a good sign when you have higher sales for certain displays. Try to recall how you set up and planned the placement of those displays as they were the ones that worked best for your customers – rinse and repeat! If the display didn’t work well, assess what you could do differently.
BRING IN FRESH STOCK
Bring some new product lines into your store to drive foot traffic and excite your existing customers. Place these new products where they’ll be most visible (to the right of your entrance, window or feature table) and pair them with existing complementary items from your shop. Now all you have to do is promote these items on your social media feeds and newsletters and encourage customers to test and try them out.
BRUSH UP ON BEST PRACTICES
An important part of improving your retail displays is brushing up on visual merchandising best practices and looking at your store with a discerning eye. Maybe you can rearrange displays and overall store design to improve your presentation. For instance, do your displays feel overstocked and uninspired? Does your store need way-finding or instore signage so customers can navigate your shop with more ease? Another mission to embark on is updating your product placements to increase cross-selling opportunities, such as pairing candles with blankets or sweaters with pants. Doing this can encourage customers to buy more products and increase your sales.
Nickeisha Lewis is the founder of Nola Designs, a retail interior design firm based out of Kitchener, Ont. Nickeisha and her team focus on helping female-owned businesses take their retail stores to the next level. www.noladesigns.ca
inSpire. inForm. inStore.
What Store Owners Have to Say…
BETTER SERVICE FROM U.S. VENDORS
The length of time it takes to get approved by Canadian suppliers to access their websites compared to many US sites, which are almost instantaneous, is unreasonable. Sometimes we don’t even get a reply while other times it comes weeks later. In this day and age, with the technology that’s available, there should be no reason for any delay when a retailer is attempting to do business with any supplier. U.S. suppliers appear way more anxious to do business than most Canadian ones!Bruce Hallquist, Rustic and Refined, BC
I’m becoming very disillusioned and frustrated by wholesalers who sell to the general public. They’re not actually wholesalers. Why would I buy from someone who’s targeting my customers and quite often selling at warehouse prices? I understand that everyone has to think outside the box, but then don’t say you’re a wholesaler.Kimby O’Brien, The Flower Garden, ON
As an independent rep, I’d love to get insight into how and how often retailers want to interact with their reps. I “think” I’m offering my services at a level, timing, method and cadence that retailers seek, but I’d like to know for sure.Sherri Dyer, Sales Representative,
ON HUNGRY FOR NEW
I was surprised to read the identical thoughts I’ve had regarding the gift shows in Toronto in the Fall 2022 issue of InStore. I tripled the size of my store during the pandemic, so I was hungry for new and interesting product when I went to the show in August. Then, when we’re finally able to attend gift shows again . . . why on earth would suppliers throw so many obstacles in the way? I bought almost nothing, and I left after a day and a half because it was just too time-and-energy consuming to run between shows and showrooms. I too have now opted to look outside the normal supplier stream. I’ve been treated better, given better terms, have area exclusivity actually maintained (critical in a small market) and have access to all kinds of smaller makers that are not on Amazon or even Etsy.
I still work with a few big suppliers, but truthfully, my first choice now is to search further or deeper into new marketplaces - and my customers are thrilled.
We’re already facing challenges in bricks-and-mortar retail. Our suppliers are wrong to add even more because there are increasingly creative alternatives for those shops willing to look. Thanks for opening this discussion, Jann Stefoff, Bibelot, ON