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Why Blog?

Coffee Cafe

 

Most businesses in today’s internet-focused landscape do have their own website. There are plenty of ways to make a website appealing to potential customers, but one often overlooked opportunity is a blog. A blog can be something as simple as a quick weekly article promoting the business and products, about the team, a glimpse into the inner workings of the business, or even helpful tips for your customers. With so many potential topics, it’s fairly easy to maintain a blog, though so many businesses disregard its potential power.

Here are five reasons why a Blog is an excellent tool for your business:

  1. Increases your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When someone does a search for you on Google, or any other browser, how likely are you to show up? Some lucky stores and businesses have a one-of-a-kind name and show up right away. But others need to work a little harder to pop up when someone searches “small boutique” and the town’s name. Writing a blog with useful and interesting content is a great way to get your website and store in the eye of the Googler.
  2. Engage with Content. As mentioned previously, the better your content is in the blog, the more you will keep readers coming back for more. Think about an average Monday. How many times are you distracted at work? Most people get tired of looking at their social media feeds and want something else to check out. Offer up tips, tricks, new looks, product information – really, anything that you think will engage your specific audience to gain a repeated readership.
  3. Engagement with your Customers. Have a contest on your blog! Your readers can potentially win a gift card, or a gift basket from your store if they read the blog and enter to win. Be creative with this. Your customers want to feel like more than a simple transaction. A blog is a great way to share stories about people shopping in store (favorite regulars), or to get feedback on the store or business.
  4. Link to your Social Media. Maybe you’re already a wiz at social media like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Or, maybe you need a little help gaining followers on these channels. If a customer is on your website, be sure to link to your social media feeds from the website and/or blog. Contests like the one mentioned in the last tip can be run through Facebook or Instagram. Or, you can take a simple Facebook post and add much more content to it by creating a link to a new blog article!
  5. Sell More! The bottom line is to utilize your website to increase business. Blogging gives you an easy opportunity to highlight products and, in turn, sell more. Have a monthly blog featuring brand new items to your store. Or, do what we did and send out a blast about the best sellers. Customers always want to know what everyone else is buying – show them on your blog. And be sure to give your personal favorites as suggestions, too. Link to your ecommerce site or give instructions on how to buy.

The Top 5 Sellers from July Gift Show

Total Accessories was hustling and bustling during the recent July Gift Show! And with an Apparel Show right around the corner in August, it’s time to take a look at some of the hottest sellers in the showroom.

Vivi Ponchos coral and white1. Ponchos from Vivi Designs have consistently been the most re-ordered item. Our customers cannot get enough of these easy-to-wear, easy-to-sell ponchos that are perfect for all seasons and come in so many colors!

Sondra Roberts F18

 

 

 

2. Sondra Roberts Fall Trend Handbags – we couldn’t accessorize without them! These bags are consistent crowd pleasers, with metallic details, rich fall colors, and the newest styles seen on runways all over the world. Any woman could use one of these for everyday wear, or a clutch for a formal event.

iLi Sunglass cases

3. iLi New York’s Leather Sunglasses Cases are such a rocking item that many customers choose to order them in every color! With a zipper to keep your glasses secure, these genuine leather cases are simultaneously sleek and adorable.

 

 

4. Coco  + Carmen’s Novelty tops and Coco Tie Sleevesweaters for Fall are on point! Keep your fashion in the game by scooping up some of these best selling ladies’ tops before they sell out. This particular tie sleeve sweater comes in three different shades and looks amazing with Coco’s OMG Jeans.

 

Mary Frances CPGP

 

 

5. Mary Frances’ cross body phone bags are the beaded bags everyone wants and needs. No matter what your customer is into, these bags tell the story of the carrier. Mary Frances is known for elaborately shaped beaded bags, but these cell phone cross bodies, with a lower price point, open up her bags to a whole new market.

Call or email us today to get any of these best sellers! Or, stop by during the Apparel Show, August 7-11.

It’s SHOW TIME!

Total Accessories is putting on a production for you – it’s SHOW TIME! From July 9-16, July Gift Market is be in full swing in our Building 3 Showroom on the 7th floor (right by the elevators). The first reason to stop by? Amazing NEW ITEMS from your favorite vendors that you will definitely need to order. And we have a special GUEST STAR coming up on Friday! Here are all the details:

 

 

Abbacino for Blog

Abbacino
There’s a new kid on the block at Total Accessories – Abbacino handbags and wallets, from Spain! Absolutely any store could use gorgeous leather and faux leather bags and wallets to entice a huge range of customers. Stop by to feel and smell the leather, and ogle the beautiful bags! Abbacino is bringing you “Trendy designs with Mediterranean flair.” Stock up NOW.

 

 

Mary Frances for BlogAnd now for the special guest spot…
Mary Frances will be here, at Total Accessories, on Friday July 13th from 4-6pm! Grab a glass of wine and meet the face behind the infamous beaded handbags that adorn the front of our showroom. The new Fall Mary Frances bags are here, as well, so you can do your orders while you’re in to meet Mary! You won’t want to miss out on these showstoppers.

Next week is SHOW TIME!

Total Accessories is about to put on a production for you – it’s SHOW TIME! From July 9-16, July Gift Market will be in full swing in our Building 3 Showroom on the 7th floor (right by the elevators). The first reason to stop by? Amazing NEW ITEMS from your favorite vendors that you will definitely need to order. And we have a special GUEST STAR coming up on Friday! Here are all the details:

 

 

Abbacino for Blog

Abbacino
There’s a new kid on the block at Total Accessories – Abbacino handbags and wallets, from Spain! Absolutely any store could use gorgeous leather and faux leather bags and wallets to entice a huge range of customers. Stop by to feel and smell the leather, and ogle the beautiful bags! Abbacino is bringing you “Trendy designs with Mediterranean flair.” Stock up NOW.

 

 

 

Mary Frances for BlogAnd now for the special guest spot…
Mary Frances will be here, at Total Accessories, on Friday July 13th from 4-6pm! Grab a glass of wine and meet the face behind the infamous beaded handbags that adorn the front of our showroom. The new Fall Mary Frances bags are here, as well, so you can do your orders while you’re in to meet Mary! You won’t want to miss out on these showstoppers.

Fall 2018 Fashion Trends

Fall Fashion is emerging at Market! Walking around the Atlanta Apparel show, we got a good idea of what’s hot for Fall.

Givenchy-Fall-2018
Givenchy Fall 2018

Many of the sleeve details we have seen in the last few seasons will remain during the cooler weather. Off-the-shoulder tops are still relevant and can be seen in sweater form, using chunky knits or mohair fabrics.

In fact, sweaters are huge for fall, particularly with big turtleneck or V necklines. Think “Ugly Christmas Sweater,” if you want an idea of some of what this trend is about! This sweater trend is certainly not shying away from patterns. Many runway looks featured leopard print as a dominant print, even with sweaters. Stripes are huge, and we noticed a lot of sweaters and knits with rainbow color stripes.

Additionally, with tops, we are seeing buttons down the front and a tie on the bottom. This gives a 90’s feel that definitely emanates from the whole look of Fall 2018. Hoods are also back, attached to tunics, dresses, and even some of those funky-chunky sweaters.

Striped Pant Leg
Striped Pant Leg

As previously mentioned, stripes appear all over the place in Fall Fashion, including on pants. Many labels are doing a solid, patterned, or plaid pant, often cropped, with a stripe down the outside of the leg. The label’s logo will sometimes appear in this stripe, which plays into the “Logo-Mania” we are seeing a lot of this Spring through Fall. From Gucci and Fendi, to ready to wear fashion, the idea of splashing a logo on a shirt, down the side of pants, or wearing it like a name tag (Gucci) is a resuscitated 90’s heartbeat.

In addition to striped and plaid pants, denim is still huge in fashion for the upcoming season. Bell bottom jeans have made quite the comeback, and denim overalls are going from shorts to full length overalls for Fall. Structured skirts that look like office wear are being paired with funky tops, and suede and velvet are favored fabrics with skirts and pants. Knee high socks, like those worn by the lead in iconic 90’s movie Clueless, are also appearing on the radar.

J Mendel Coat featuring Pattern and Fur collar
J Mendel Coat featuring Pattern and Fur collar

 

As for color, most displays at Apparel Show contained deep reds, like burgundy or crimson, blush, bright, goldenrod yellows, and army green. Floral prints are all over dresses and one-piece jumpsuits. Fun prints, like animal prints or star patterns, are on trend.

Other specific on-trend items include Puffer jackets, jackets with fur collars, floral wrap dresses, Athliesure items worn as fashion looks, and boyish elements (like an army green coat) mixed with flowy, hippy dresses.

Preparing for Market with Rachel Retailer

From the desk of Rachel Retailer: From Rachels Desk

Market Season is here and it is time to visit our friends in Atlanta! I don’t know about you, but I cannot leave without making my checklist. Here is what mine looks like:

1. Create my top vendor list:

How? Run a sales report for the last 6 months and one for the last 12 months. List my top 15 vendors and look up their showroom numbers at the Mart. Sort the list by Building and Floor.

2. Create my schedule:

How? First I used my list of vendors, sorted by floor, and decided how much time I will need to spend in the different buildings. Then I decide which days I will be working in each area.

3. Travel!

Now that my schedule is set, it is time to book my travel! I start by checking prices at https://www.americasmart.com/travel.

4. Book my appointments:

Now that I know which days I will be in certain areas of the Mart, I can call to schedule appointments. First I call my top 5 vendors. Then I call my favorite two reps (if not in the top 5 vendors). I then look through the rest of my vendor list and decide if I need an appointment with the rest. I find that 2 appointments a day is great; I can always fit in another two or three if needed.

5. Don’t forget meals!

Check my schedule to make sure I am near showrooms with good food. The Link Showrooms have free lunches every day. They also have breakfast and dinner with appointments. It’s worth a repeat trip for me!

6. Did I send my sales and inventory reports to my appointments?

As soon as I make an appointment I send sales and inventory information to the sales person (if I trust them). I tell them to have a suggested order ready for me when I show up and I give them a budget that I expect to spend. Different sales people handle this differently but it will always save me time, and it keeps the appointment focused and on track.

7. Download the Americasmart App! This is the best way to find my way around.

8. Packing!

  • Wear Comfy Shoes! I can walk between 5 and 10 miles a day during market, and having shoes that can help stand up to that abuse is important.
  • A Big Bag! I tell myself every year that I am not going to collect paper and catalogs, but it always seems to happen.
  • This year, I am going to try and take pictures of displays and products that I like with the room/booth number as the next picture. I hope this helps me lower my paper collection as well as help me plan for the next day.
  • A Battery Pack. I bring at least one in case I need an extra charge for my phone.
  • My Notebook (obviously!)
  • Business cards. I never seem to bring enough cards so I am bringing 100 this time.

From the Desk of Rachel Retailer: Preparing for Market

The best thing to do to prepare for Market is to start planning now! There is an excellent formula for buying success in the previously published blog, Utilizing Your Rep. Take a look at that, and follow along with these additional strategies:

 

  •      As stated in “Utilizing Your Rep,” you will want to make appointments with trusted salespeople. The mark of an excellent sales rep is someone who is prepared for your appointment, and not simply shooting from the hip. They anticipate your questions, and the time frame you will need.

 

  •      In terms of timing, making two appointments a day, and staging them three hours apart, makes for a successful market plan. Most appointments will last between an hour to an hour and a half. Three hours between appointments gives you plenty of time to run late within an appointment, and then to find your way to the new appointment. This way, if you see something you like along the way to your next meeting, you have the time built in to allow yourself to stop and purchase what you see. Two appointments per day still gives you time at the end of the day to place any last minute additions to your schedule.

 

  •      It is easy to get distracted at Market, but you must prioritize your appointments! Meet with the most important sales people for your store. These important people should include reps for your two or three largest vendors, as well as what we can refer to as “stocking” agencies, which are agencies that carry multiple lines for your store.

 

  •      Another excellent trick is to schedule your appointments around meals! The Mart can be a difficult place when it comes to grabbing a quick meal. The limited eateries within the building often have long lines during meal times, and can be a pricey option. You can schedule a breakfast and a lunch appointment, or even anticipate your meals by calling ahead to find out what your vendors are serving.

 

  • Invest your time wisely! You can easily save yourself nearly an entire day at the show if you do some work ahead of time to write restocking orders and come prepared. A sales rep could easily HFC (Hold for Confirmation) the order for you prior to Market, and meeting time can be used to simply review and confirm. Doing this restocking before you hit your deep discount sale season is best.

 

  • At the show, it’s important to look to your trusted vendors for items you need to fill holes in your store. Simultaneously, you can have your reps pull up the orders youHFC’d and confirm them. By reviewing these orders, you also have a chance to cancel off some of the reorders to replace them with new styles. Make sure you see to it that you take advantage of any show specials.

Paper Is Popping!

Haute Papier

Stationery is coming at you from a handmade, fresh, young maker! These companies are springing up all over the place and the Link Leadership team noticed gorgeous new stationery lines at every turn while wandering the Temps at Market. Paper is popping!

Example of bullet journaling

 

 

 

 

 

These new paper companies tend to have a smaller offering that speaks directly to a specific market. Some cards are featuring trendy sayings and hashtags that certainly appeal to a younger demographic. Journals are also a huge staple of the gift market. After a long day typing on the computer or working on an iPad or phone, many people are reaching for pen and paper to do personal work. Take the bullet journaling trend; without the proper utensils, this trend would not have taken off the way it has!

Brownlow Journals

 

Lifestyle brands like Vera Bradley, Slant, and our line Brownlow have successfully integrated stationary into their product lines. Right along with Home Accents and Kitchen wares, Brownlow features paper and pens prominently as inspirational items. Thomas Nelson carries many Bible Journals and inspirational journals that are excellent gifts for First Communions, birthdays, and more!

Let the bright colors of these popping paper products entice you. Add some paper products to your store for a nice punch of an awesome trend! Check out StationeryTrends.com for some unique paper lines.

Why We Buy – A Must Read

whywebuyOK –  I have heard it for the last 25 years – Retail is about creating an experience.  Then, in 2018’s Link Magazine article with Gifts and Dec’s Nancy Wolkow, she tells us it is the most important part of success in retail right now!  But I’m are still confused about how to create an experience without spending millions of dollars on consultants and fancy buildings.

Almost 20 years ago, Paco Underhill, an environmental psychologist, showed us how to apply observations about human nature and our customers to the shopping experience.  Mr. Underhill explains how we can increase sales by altering mood and atmosphere.  You have been watching shoppers for years, let’s use that knowledge to create more sales.

One of my favorite observations that he had in the book was that when shoppers do not have room for more products, they tend to stop shopping.   In one store, he increased the shopping cart size by 20% and sales increased 15%.  Where I was working, we didn’t have money for new shopping carts but we could train our floor staff.  So we created a dedicated shelf area by the register and whenever we saw customers with product in their hand, we offered to bring it to the front for them.  This little change cost nothing, upped the retail experience, and increased sales instantly.

“Why We Buy” is a quick read and helps put you on the path to becoming a retail experience guru!

If you haven’t read it, I suggest you get it today!  If you read it 20 years ago like me, it is time to reread it.  It is well worth the time investment!

Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping Paperback – June 2, 2000

by Paco Underhill  (Author)

Get it at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Buy-Science-Shopping/dp/0684849143/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_img_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=CYYXT6R778KXZ7A2V2Y9&dpID=51r4lQ0oLLL&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=detail

Jewelry Display Ideas

Many buyers will come to the show, buy a ton of product, and return to the store with the same problem: Where do we put all this new stuff? There is a fine line that retailers walk between having too much inventory and not enough product. Thankfully, there are easy solutions to the space issue, even for the smallest boutiques.

 

Going Vertical

Merchandise jewelry on a wall above other items in your store. For example, if you have a wall taken up by a cabinet that rises to about waist-level, the wall space above can be used as an area to hang necklaces, earrings, and bracelet bars can be set on top of the cabinet. Multiple collections can be shown at once with this approach, and valuable floor space is not utilized.

DW52
Anju Jewelry display

Get Brand-specific Displays

Anju Jewelry is a great example of a brand that carries beautiful and inexpensive jewelry displays. They carry unique, free-standing boards for necklaces, small ring holders, bracelet bars, and spinners for an entire collection. Brands like Anju take the guesswork out of where to put a new line.

1171216_1554359884893497_1386689634_n
From Kameleon Jewelry’s Instagram

Be Creative

A unique display idea our leadership team saw at Market was setting jewelry up on faux grass. Many stores have utilized the display idea of a frame as a border with burlap or cork filling the frame, and tacking the jewelry with thumb tacks or nails. A new twist on this is using faux grass as the background. Even covering a small piece of wall with faux grass and using it as a jewelry display area is very on trend. Kameleon shows in this photo that they are keeping up with the trends and merchandising with faux greenery!