Thursday, January 29, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Its always a quandry, because nobody likes returns, but then again, how you handle them is a true reflection of your company. I thought this article that appeared in Multi-Channel Merchant by Kevin Brown really captured the essence of how we, as retailers deeply involved in Customer Service, can make this challenge a moment to shine. I have just recopied a snippet below, but click here to read the whole article.
Kevin Brown is director of marketing for Newgistics, a provider of small parcel shipping and mail processing solutions for the retail, mobile devices, electronics, medical devices and asset recovery industries
The 40 Days of Returns
Jan 20, 2009 6:29 PM, By Kevin Brown
It’s early. The doors roll open and stop, sending a crash calling out to everyone in the distribution center that the day has begun. As the crisp morning air rushes into the shipping and receiving area, packages move at a fevered pace. A quick glance at the calendar shows it is the 21st, just a few more days until peak season is over.
But it’s not Dec. 21st; it’s Jan. 21st and your company is buried in returns and exchanges from 2008’s holiday shopping season.
For many retailers, this is an unfortunate reality. While returns are a natural part of the order lifecycle, it is oftentimes one of the most overlooked areas in the supply chain. Problems commonly occur because many retailers have not seriously evaluated their return policies and processes, or they falsely hold on to the hope that the issues will simply go away by waiting long enough.
The fact remains that a poorly executed returns program is difficult to manage, leading to increased call center costs, labor and real estate planning problems and inventory management issues. All of which creates a customer service nightmare.
Yet, as the peak returns season winds down, you have a unique window of opportunity to learn from and address these issues before the next holiday shopping season.
In today’s difficult economic environment, customers choose carefully where to spend their discretionary dollars. The most successful retailers are not only presenting their merchandise in a manner that will entice customers to buy, but are also focused on delivering a premium customer experience from start to finish. How a merchant chooses to manage that customer after the sale can have long-term effects on its business.
Customers return merchandise because one or more aspects of the order experience did not meet their expectations. A retailer’s failure to manage this critical area of the shopping experience may result in the customer’s decision to not purchase from it again. In short, returns are not just boxes, they are customers.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
We were recently asked to do a short video for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) that represents many of our advertiser and technology providers. They are, quite rightly, lobbying to make sure the internet stays FREE. That is a very very important thing. If the cable or telephone companies had their way, there would be a free (i.e. slow, spammy, and fairly uninteresting) internet, and a higher-speed, "paid" internet that we could access. Two internets? Impossible and totally impractical, not to mention a good way to kill innovation, interactivity, social networking, and everything that makes the internet fun.
So here is our video in support of IAB. Its an overview of Carolina Rustica, but really its about how we are part of a larger industry that helps employ people and drive the engine of commerce. Enjoy!
Monday, January 12, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Farther down this post you'll find a few light bulb bullet points on lighting ideas and design tips. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but its good to have a few quick ideas if you are just getting started.
As always, you can call Carolina Rustica at 800-205-7819 if you have any questions at all. Whether you order from us or not, we want you to be happy with your lighting, which makes a big impression on visitors and guests to your happy home!
Accent Lamp: Portable lamp that usually has a shade from 9" to 14" wide and height no taller than 24".
Adjustable Lamp: Portable lamp that has an adjustable height or width or shade position.
Bankers Lamp: Portable desk lamp with an oblong shade that is usually adjustable.
Base: Stabilizing body of a lamp constructed from various materials such as metal, brass, porcelain, resin or wood.
Beveled Glass: Clear glass, with edges that have been ground and polished to an angle other than 90 degrees.
Billiard or Oblong Pendant: Rectangular or oval shaped shade that is typically suited for suspension over a billiard table, kitchen island or counter.
Cathedral Glass: Transparent single color sheet glass, with smooth or textured surfaces.
Night Light: Small portable light that plugs directly into an electrical outlet.
A Glossary of Other Common Lighting Terms
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): ADA-compliant fixtures cannot extend more than 4 inches from the wall.
ARM: A decorative-shaped tube or casting that is used to support a socket. An arm usually has socket wires running through it.
BACK PLATE: The part of a fixture that mounts to a wall or vertical surface.
BOBECHE: A disc, decorative plate or piece of glass that sits under the candle sleeve on a fixture.
CANDLE CHASER: A short cap that sets on top of a candle sleeve on a fixture.
CANDLE SLEEVE: Tubing that covers a candelabra base socket on a fixture.
CANOPY: The decorative plate that attaches to the ceiling to cover the junction box.
COMBINATION MOUNT: Refers to the ability for a fixture to either be hung by a chain or mounted to the ceiling.
EXTENSION (EXT.): The depth of a sconce. The measurement from the wall to the farthest point away from the wall.
FINIAL: A small finishing ornament at the crown or bottom of a fixture.
FLUSH: Directly mounts to the ceiling using a pan the same diameter as the fixture.
INVISI-MOUNT: A fixture mounting system where the mounting hardware is hidden on the back plate.
MOUNTING STRAP: A metal strap of galvanized steel used when securing fixtures to a junction box.
PENDANT: Any chain-hung fixture that does not have arms.
SCONCE: Any wall-mounted fixture.
SCREW COLLAR LOOP: A circular ring with a threaded portion used as an attachment point to the canopy on hanging fixtures.
SELECT-A-LIGHT: A lighting system where you may use a single, medium-based lamp or a three-light candelabra base cluster.
SEMI-FLUSH: Sometimes known as ‘close-to-ceiling’ fixtures. Mounts directly to the ceiling using a canopy.
TOP TO OUTLET: The measurement from the top of the fixture to the center of the outlet box when installed.
WIREWAY: Any hollow tubing where wire runs through to either the sockets or the mounting point.
Some Lighting Trends and Tips
For optimum air circulation and efficiency ceiling fan blades should be hung 8-9 feet from the floor. In homes with high ceilings adjust the fan's position by using a downrod.
Fabric Shades play an important role on a chandelier. Their material drastically softens the glare from bare light bulbs, creating a warm environment within a room. They also beautifully accessorize the style of the chandelier.
A fixture's glass significantly affects the overall design. For example, hammered glass lends a weathered, old fashioned feel to a fixture while alabaster evokes modern high end fashion.
For an easy and dramatic way to change the look of a room simply reposition the floor lamps. Remember to keep them behind furniture and in the corners so they don't get in the way of foot traffic.
Sconces can create intimate living space by brightening the border of a room. They should mounted no less than 5-6 feet from the floor, higher in rooms with taller ceilings.
Mini-pendants provide an excellent, decorative light source for kitchen islands. To achieve the ideal illumination, position them 30-40 inches from the surface of the island.
When hanging a chandelier, center it in the middle of the room at least 48 inches from each wall. For adequate head room over a dining room table, make sure the chandelier is at least 12 inches narrower than the table and 30-34 inches above it.
Position floor and table lamps to create a triangle of light that eliminates undesirable, shadowy nooks in sitting areas. Remember to keep lamp shades just below eye level to avoid glare.
A fixture's appeal is heightened by the type of glass used to diffuse the light. Frosted glass softens the light for an overall glowing effect that aptly complements fixtures with dark finishes.
Small living rooms with light-colored surfaces require less ambient light than larger rooms or those with dark paint and wood tones. Wall mounted fixtures in various sizes are the perfect way to create ambient light.
For a spacious effect, use fixtures to define individual areas in the kitchen. Create a cozy breakfast nook with a hanging fixture or outline a work station with an island pendant.
Wall mount fixtures are one of the biggest trends in lighting today. While serving as pieces of artwork adorning the walls they also provide needed illumination.
Warm, welcoming light in your foyer sets the mood for your entire home. You can install a flush mount ceiling fixture or hang a chandelier. Just remember to allow enough space between the bottom of the fixture and the top of the door.
When hanging a chandelier from a standard 8 ft. ceiling, suspend it at least 6 ft. above the floor. Chandeliers hung from cathedral ceilings should be suspended 3 inches higher for every additional foot over the standard 8 ft. ceiling height.
Once only found in dining rooms, chandeliers are making a big comeback. They are a beautiful and creative solution to the lighting needs of bedrooms, hallways, and even bathrooms.
Painted finishes are a very popular trend in lighting today. The two toned finish effects provide rich dimension and versatility allowing fixtures to blend harmoniously with a range of decor.
In order to properly illuminate the bathroom, three light sources are recommended: eye-level, such as wall mount fixtures or sconces; overhead, such as pendants or chandeliers; and night lights.
Wattage measures the amount of energy a light bulb consumes, not its brightness. For increased brightness choose a bulb with higher lumens.
Soft metal finishes, such as brushed nickel and pewter, continue to increase in popularity. The subtle quality of silver metals does not overwhelm a room's design, but provides a clean, understated elegance.
Adding a dimmer to your lighting system puts you in control of the light level. Effortlessly transform your room from bright and cheerful to warm and intimate.
When choosing a single exterior fixture for an entranceway, make sure its length is 1/3 the total height of the doorway.
Keep in mind that from 50 feet away, post top lanterns will appear to be half their actual size. If you are not certain about the size, remember that in this case, bigger is better.
When placing two wall lanterns on either side of an entryway, make sure their length is ¼ the total height of the doorway. They should be mounted just above eye level for optimum illumination.
Consider reducing the total wattage of your outdoor bulbs from 100 to 50 watts to eliminate "light pollution". Effective outdoor lighting is not overly bright. It is well placed.