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Trending: Retail Stores as “Museums”

Trending: Retail Stores as “Museums”

Retailers have struggled with consumers’ growing habit of “showrooming” – shoppers come to stores to see, touch, learn about, and try on products which they then buy from a low-price low-overhead online retailer. Brick-and-mortar retail grew last year in the single digits, while e-commerce enjoyed a 22% growth rate. Are physical stores going to be phased out completely?

Not at all, says Natasha Baker, writing in Retailers can and should embrace showrooming and turn it to their advantage. Baker cites one expert who recommends thinking of stores as “museums” where shoppers can go to explore, learn about products, and be entertained. Retailers can gather instant analytics about shoppers’ preferences, just as e-commerce sellers do. Proximity sensors and “smart shelves” can follow individual shoppers via smart phone apps, and they can suggest related products or alert shoppers to customized coupons (think of Amazon’s suggested products). As reported in, stores like Bloomingdale’s are even using e-commerce to test new products by displaying them in the store but selling them only online.

By adopting the “store-as-museum” model, retailers can also manage inventory much more effectively. Rather than keep large supplies of inventory in back rooms, stores can keep a relatively small number of products on hand, supplemented by deliveries from their warehouses. With access to the stores’ customer analytics system, warehouses can prep inventory for shipment in advance of a shortage, or fulfill online orders placed in stores.

Embracing the technology of virtual commerce can represent real-world savings to savvy retailers. With less need for in-store storage, retailers can reduce their real estate overhead while maximizing their less-expensive warehouse space to supply both their online shoppers and their “museum” stores.


Photo © Ruslan Semichev/Fotolia

Green Office Case Study: Cisco

Green Office Case Study: Cisco

The statistics are surprising: commercial buildings account for 60% of U.S. electrical consumption, 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and 136 million tons of U.S. construction/demolition waste (U.S. Green Buildings Council). As the American economy continues to shift to office-oriented services housed in commercial buildings, builders and users are searching for ways to reduce these environmentally unfriendly numbers, and fulfill the promise of sustainability – a healthier environment and a healthier economy.

Technology leader Cisco, committed to “greening” its business, tested a sustainable real estate strategy in its San Jose, California, offices. Their facilities managers realized that traditional offices are often vacant 65% of the time, while meeting rooms were often overbooked. This usage imbalance was not just wasteful of energy, but also in terms of real estate costs. Cisco developed an initiative, The Connected Workplace, to house more people in less space. The number of individual workspaces was greatly reduced and collaborative spaces were increased. Electronic equipment – copiers, desktop computers, LANs – was consolidated and reduced.

Mobility and flexible space utilization became the foundation of Cisco’s Connected Workplace design. Quoting Cisco’s vice president of Global Work Place Resources and Enterprise Risk Management, Christina S. Kite, “A properly designed workplace requires less building infrastructure, which takes up less space, produces less heat, and consumes less power than traditional workplaces-while supporting employees more effectively.” The results of the Connected Workplace, released in a public case study, give any business a powerful reason to make its commercial spaces more efficient and sustainable with high density storage and adaptable mobile and modular workspaces.


Photo © – Fotolia

The Ultimate Document Management Guide

The Ultimate Document Management Guide

When the high-tech office became a reality 20 years ago, pundits predicted an end to paper documents. How wrong they were! Paper consumption has actually grown a staggering 126% in the past two decades, according to The Paperless Project. All those documents have to be stored somewhere, and if you’re among the foresighted business owners and managers who have installed a high density storage system in your office (see below), you’re ahead of the game. But the right storage system is just the first step in truly efficient and cost-effective document management.

Business author Susan Ward recommends asking yourself these four questions before implementing a document management plan:

1. What are the rules for creating documents? Decide on an in-house style guide and templates; sort out a review and sharing policy.

2. How will files be organized, archived, and disposed of? Follow good file management practices, including timely archiving, to streamline your efficiency; weed out old files that are no longer needed.

3. How can files be retrieved simply and easily? Ward suggests posting a File Locations list adjacent to file cabinets, to remind users of where to find various file categories.

4. How do we keep documents secure? File cabinets should always be lockable; advanced electronic locks allow managers to track user access, and RFID tags can pinpoint a document’s location within the office.

Ward reminds readers that a document management plan is just that: a plan. To be effective, it has to be executed consistently over the long term. But the results – efficiency, cost savings, and peace of mind – are well worth the effort.


Just one example of a space-saving high density storage system

Photo © Rostislav Sedlacek – Fotolia

Want to Succeed in Business? Get Happy.

Want to Succeed in Business? Get Happy.

The U.S.A. is arguably the No. 1 best place on earth, but we rank 11th in happiness compared to the rest of the world. Prosperity is one of the primary components of overall happiness, according to Forbes Magazine. Even though economic indicators show us recovering well after the Great Recession, we still seem to think that we’re not prospering…and we’re not happy.

“Think” is the key word here – and writer Eric Barker says our brains control our happiness far more than we might imagine. It seems we recall any given event as having just two parts: the emotional peak, and the end. If the end is happy, the entire event is viewed positively. (Think about any movie you’ve seen.)

Barker proposes structuring your work days to end on a high note, and lists seven tactics to help you achieve this:

  1. Have a “shut-down” ritual – a routine that tells your brain to move out of work mode and into relaxation mode.
  2. Spend week-night time, not just weekends, with family and friends.
  3. Master something – work on a hobby, take a class, practice a musical instrument.
  4. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime and avoid e-devices as much as possible; this will get your brain into sleep mode.
  5. Write down the good things that happened that day.
  6. Don’t go to bed angry with your partner – and don’t stay up late and fight.
  7. Schedule something to look forward to. The anticipation of fun doubles the happiness.

Increasing your happiness quotient will have a remarkable effect on your business life. You’ll perceive yourself and your business as prosperous and successful. And as we all know, perception is reality.


Photo © Prazis – Fotolia