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Ask the Retailaholic…

by Adam Zack — January 14, 2015

Dear Retailaholic,I’ve been in a long-term relationship, and I’m starting to get worried that things may be heading down the wrong road. We started out many years ago as a result of convenience. I was in a hurry to get to a party and I turned the corner and there he was. He was clean and well groomed. He was amply stocked with all of my favorite things. He was friendly, not pushy, and genuinely happy to see me. I bought a bottle of wine from his eclectic, fairly priced selection for my party, and well, I was smitten. I found myself going out of my way to stop by to see him. Twice a week lunches turned into dinners, which soon turned into weekly shopping. Next thing I knew he was wooing me with promotional offers, free cake on my birthday, and weekly specials that were just too hot to resist. Before I knew it, I moved across town just to be near him. His employees knew me by name. I felt special. I felt appreciated. I felt loved. I wouldn’t even look at another grocery store. But then things started to change. It was around the time the recession was happening. The familiar faces I was so used to seeing started to disappear. The mouth-watering deli selections started to look a little tired. The hot specials became luke-warm at best. I started to feel unloved and most importantly, unappreciated. I admit it, my eyes started to stray, even though he still had my heart. If only he would show me he still cared! Make me feel like I was the customer who meant the worl...
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JUST WHO IS THIS GUY?

by Adam Zack — January 6, 2015

Who is this new guy writing the Retailer Insight column for DW Green Company? Does he know the difference between a cantaloupe and a Tuscan melon? Does he know the difference between EDLP and EBIT? Just what “retailer insights” can a dude working for DW Green have that I don’t already know?Hello, my name is Adam Zack and I’m a retailaholic. I’ve been in the grocery business pretty much my whole life. My degree is in business administration (University of San Diego 1986) and I ran a successful chain of 8 stores from 1988-2011. The last four years I have managed the most successful single store in San Diego. My passions are food, wine and the ocean.So why the hell did you leave that to work for DW Green? Are you crazy? Well, it was time to take the next step from running a family business. It was time to get on the other side of the table and try and help blend the creativity that thrives at DW Green with the chaotic everyday operations that retailers face daily. I know what it’s like to operate on a 1-2% net margin. I also know what it’s like to be behind the 8 ball when times get tough and competition is putting on its steel toed boots and taking aim at your backside. I know that nearly every independent grocery retailer has unique strengths and benefits that they should be expressing to their customers. Creative differentiation is the path to success, and I have not seen anyone who can beat DW Green’s inspired passion to help independents kic...
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Quality vs Low Price—The Holiday Dilemma

by Adam Zack — December 18, 2014

So the holidays are here…a time to celebrate love and good cheer with family and friends. It’s the time to be thankful. A time to express our gratitude with gifts, cards, great wine and a memorable meal or two or three!  Nothing shows how much you care like the cheapest turkey you can find!  Or the Prime Rib roast that is a little tough and gristly, but good Lord only cost $3.99 per pound!  The tradition of finding the cheapest meal ingredients possible, and bragging about it to those beloved cherished guests has always been somewhat of a mystery to me.  Sure, everyone loves getting a “deal”.  Everyone loves finding that great bargain that saves money.  But aren’t we talking about a special occasion?  A gathering that happens once, maybe twice a year?  Isn’t that a good reason to seek out the highest quality?  The best turkey?  The most tender cut of quality beef?For most supermarkets the quandary comes with appealing to those masses seeking the bargain of the century.  If we don’t have the cheapest turkey in town, maybe we will lose customers to the competition.  It’s definitely a valid concern because when they come in to buy the cheapest main course, they also buy the rest of the items for their meal.  So let’s think of some options for next year, after all, we want their Christmas dinner to be memorable for how absolutely delicious it was. We want them to say “It was better than a fine restaurant!”  Next year, let’s promot...
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Take Texting Out of the Box

by webmaster — April 7, 2014

When you think about a texting program, what does it mean to you? The traditional approach to texting is to send out an email blast to your customers, and send out the same message via text (compressed to fit the character limitations, of course). This approach can work, to an extent, but remember texting and email provide very different channels of communication. Using the abbreviated structure of texts to do work better served by longer-form formats like email is akin to drinking a Big Gulp through a coffee straw.The place where texts excel over email is in the speed and immediacy of their delivery. Email is a form of communication that is much more passive than texts; a sent email must wait in an inbox for the customer to go and open it, but a text is delivered almost immediately and appears instantly on screen. What this means for a retailer is that it gives a superior method to deliver certain types of messages, which in turn creates the opportunity for some out-of-the-box thinking about ways to use texting programs to communicate with your customers to build loyalty. Here are some examples of alternate ways to implement texting programs.  ...
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An iPad-Ready Web Site

by Ryan Joy — September 13, 2012

Is your site optimized, not just for mobile phones, but for a tablet?In yesterday’s Apple event, CEO Tim Cook said Apple sold more iPads last year than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire line. He also noted that 250,000 apps have been customized for iPads and declared that we live in a post-PC age. • Optimizing for a tablet means designing for fingers rather than mouse clicks. Buttons need to be bigger, and fancy navigation like drop downs need to work perfectly on every platform or be eliminated.• User experience testing has to go beyond the standard cocktail of browsers to include smart phones and iPads. UX testing can cover a multitude of sins in usability; even if you don’t know better, if you test it, they will tell you what’s broken.• No Flash. • As a rule, don’t send tablet users to your mobile site. I bought my iPad to see big, beautiful graphics, not a screen full of basic buttons designed for a 3.5 inch screen.Even if you have a successful web site, I’d recommend testing it with a tablet. It’s a market that will only continue to grow....
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How Your Brand Can Use Pinterest

by Ryan Joy — March 1, 2012

Whole Foods Branded Pinterest Page

What is Pinterest?

An online “pinboard” that lets you collect photos of ideas you like. Right now, the demographics seem slanted towards women, and popular uses include decorating ideas, meal ideas, party ideas, fashion ideas, and wish lists of products…pretty much anything users want to collect.

Why does it matter?

According to Business Insider, Pinterest has grown 40x in the last six months, and has the same growth rate as Facebook had in 2006. It is fun and easy (addictive, really) to browse, because of the quality of the content and simplicity of use. Hundreds of savvy brands have folded Pinterest into their online marketing strategy.

How can you use it?

Pinterest creates fun interactions with any brand that can use beautiful imagery to connect with customers—so, how can your brand present brand-relevant ideas through pictures? Whether the product is food, movies, clo...
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13 Reflections from 13 Years at DW Green Company

by Ryan Joy — December 22, 2011

Last Wednesday was my 13th anniversary with DW Green Company—I started working here as a Graphic Designer on December 14, 1998.  Since everyone is already reflecting on the passing of time as we near the year’s end, here are some lessons from my time here.1. Companies—and people—can change. Real change doesn’t happen often; in fact we sometimes hit a brick wall trying to help a client reinvent. I’ve seen it though, in our company and others: intentional transformation. And it really is something to behold.2. Brand is the most muddled word in all of business. It would be nice to coin a new word to describe that sub-rational stew of meanings and associations, but at this point I’m thinking it will never happen.3. Great organizational cultures keep great employees. (They also drive some employees to leave, and that’s not a bad thing either.)4. Culture is about the little things, and it comes from paying attention to what is true but unsaid in the organization.5. Companies that stay focused and disciplined in booming times will maintain their momentum through lean times.6. Business relationships are the foundation of sustainability. Advertising is a fickle industry that sees a lot of change for the sake of change. In the time I’ve been with this company, some clients have come and gone, but the majority have stayed for years, and it has been the relationships—company to company and person to person—that have made the biggest impact in our sustainability ove...
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Cyber Monday

by Ryan Joy — November 25, 2011

Last year we helped the outstanding team at Trig’s launch their Facebook page and plan their social media promotions. One of their most successful social media promos was offering online-only coupons (Facebook and Trig’s.com) on “Cyber Monday“.Here’s what the social media manager at Trig’s had to say about the promotion last year (shared with permission):
“Hey, I just wanted to send a quick note to say thanks for the ideas about Cyber Monday. It was SUPER fun and got everyone really engaged in our social media activities. We received phone calls, emails, Facebook inquiries, and more about it. We ran into a few challenges along the way, but overall it was pretty great! The download numbers for most of the coupons managed to do in two hours what many of our coupons do all week.”
At the time they ran the promotion last year, the Trig’s Facebook page was still very new. As the Trig’s current Facebook status says, this year they will be offering “Twenty-one ridiculously hot coupons,” available Monday only, and the Trig’s team has been building for a successful promotion all year.
“It’s amazing what having a year of experience in social media has done for our troops on the ground in terms of understanding and being committed to social media! Last year, we had a lot of success with a sma...
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Focus Is About Saying "No"

by Ryan Joy — November 12, 2011

In 1997, before Steve Jobs returned as Apple’s CEO, he summarized what it would take to turn Apple around:
“You think, well, focusing is saying ‘yes’.
No. Focusing is about saying ‘No.’
You’ve got to say ‘No, no, no.’ And when you say ‘no’ you piss people off…
But the result of that focus is going to be some really great products, where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.”
A recent example of this focus is Apple’s refusal to support Flash on iPhones and iPads, in spite of significant market pressure. Earlier this week Adobe ended development for mobile Flash. I don’t know if this is a victory for Apple, but it illustrates how focusing resources and saying “no” to non-essentials has allowed Apple to consistently stay ahead of competitors.Lack of focus is, in my opinion, the problem with most marketing strategies. It’s common for companies we meet to want to do everything. Our job then, is to help develop a holistic plan to accomplish their goals, and to help maintain that focus as we execute the plan together.New initiatives appear suddenly and spread like weeds around your core activities. Someone suggests an idea in a meeting, another person says “good idea,” and voila, the company now has one more project to squeeze ...
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Stopping to Reflect: The Power of a Strategy Debrief

by Ryan Joy — November 12, 2010

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.” We are all so busy doing, that sometimes we forget to stop and think about what we’ve done and what we want to do. Stopping to really think about your marketing strategy—learning from the past to plan for the future—is a powerful thing, even if you do it just once a quarter.One of our clients has made a tradition of gathering all the key players in their team for a day at the end of the holiday season to debrief. While the season’s successes and blunders are still fresh in their minds, it’s easy to find the spark that leads to new ideas and insights for the year ahead.Another one of our clients recently visited our office to develop next year’s marketing plan. As we reviewed last year’s disappointing numbers for their email coupon redemptions, we realized (“a-ha!”) that a simple layout change could make all the difference. The weekly ad had been taking up most of the space, with the coupon practically hidden in the bottom right-hand corner. We all may have missed this critical adjustment if we had jumped into planning next year before debriefing this one.Debriefing is such a valuable practice, and all it requires is that we pause our busy schedules to:
  • EVALUATE: What worked and what didn’t?
  • LEARN: What insights can you take from what you see?
  • THINK: How
    ...
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