favorite online retailers

favorite online retailers

Whether your child is heading off to kindergarten or college, you don’t want to send him or her to the classroom without the necessary supplies. So you visit your favorite online retailers or head to the mall to buy notebooks, pencils, folders, clothing and maybe even big-ticket electronic items. But buying all the items you think your child needs before he or she heads back to school can be a mistake.

Some school-related items won’t drop in price until after the back-to-school sales are over. Plus, if you rush to buy everything now, you might discover that many of those purchases weren’t even necessary once school starts. So to avoid spending more than you have to, here are seven things you should avoid buying before your child heads back to school.

Fall apparel. Fall clothing already is appearing in stores, and some retailers might offer small discounts on some items during back-to-school sales or over the long Labor Day weekend. But markdowns of 40 percent or more likely won’t show up until mid- to late fall. Not only will you spend more than necessary if you buy fall clothes for your kids now, you might end up purchasing things your kids decide aren’t cool enough because the other kids are wearing something else, says Kristin Cook, managing editor of Ben’s Bargains. If your kids need clothes, she recommends taking advantage of ongoing clearance sales on summer clothes that can be worn the first month or two of school when it’s still hot outside.

HDTVs. You might not consider a television as a back-to-school purchase. But if your child is heading off to college, she might ask for a small HDTV for her dorm room or apartment. The summer months are usually a bad time for TV deals, though, says Mark LoCastro, spokesperson for DealNews.com. Wait until November when HDTV prices are the lowest of the year during Black Friday sales.

School supplies. Wait until you get a supply list from your child’s teacher before purchasing anything. Otherwise you could end up with the wrong type of supplies or an abundance of things your child won’t use. If possible, try to get by for a couple of weeks with what your child still has from the previous year because big-box retailers such as Target (TGT) and Walmart (WMT) will dramatically mark down school supplies after Labor Day, Cook says.

Smartphones. Even elementary-age kids are taking phones to school now. So if your child has been pestering you to buy one, hold off until later in the fall. After new models are revealed, older versions will be available for deep discounts, says Jon Lal, founder and CEO of BeFrugal.com. In particular, don’t rush to buy the new Amazon Fire Phone, LoCastro says. DealNews.com research shows that Android phones, even popular ones, see discounts of about 50 percent within the first two to three months after release. There’s a good chance that Amazon (AMZN) will discount its Android phone in order to remain competitive in a crowded market, LoCastro says.

Tablets. You won’t see deals on many tablets now because demand is high, says Joe Warner, assistant managing editor of Ben’s Bargains. Wait until Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) to find deals, he says. Or consider buying your child a laptop, instead, especially if he’s heading off to college. With so many sales on laptops now through the start of school, they’re cheaper and more practical than tablets, LoCastro says.

Textbooks. Don’t buy textbooks for your college students until they’ve attended one class and are sure they won’t drop it, says Trae Bodge, senior editor of RetailMeNot.com. Look for used, rather than new, textbooks on sites BigWords.com and CampusBooks.com. See How to Cut Your Textbook Costs in Half — or More for more ways to save.

Trendy gear. If you buy your child a backpack or lunchbox before school starts, you run the risk of having your child change her mind about what she wants after she sees what the other kids are using to bring their books and lunch to school, says Regina Novickis, savings expert at PromotionalCodes.com. Encourage your child to use her current gear for a few weeks. Then you can make a safe investment knowing your child has what she wants, Novickis says. Plus, by waiting, you might score discounts on items that didn’t sell during the back-to-school rush.

In the summer, the air is both so hot and so humid that your body may sweat very soon after you leave your home. Even if you work at a relatively cool area, you will sweat soon after you leave the building. This situation is a clear reason for you to always use perfume on hot summer days. However, choosing summer fragrances is often a hard thing to do because not all perfumes are suitable for summer use. There are, fortunately, several fragrances that are considered perfect for hot and humid summer days. You should try them and see whether you will smell and feel better after you use them.

1. Musk perfumes

Musk perfumes with fruity or floral fragrances are perfect options for hot and humid summer days because they create light and airy sensation to their wearer. Acqua Universalis, with its musky citrus notes, is an example of perfumes that will counter the harshness of summer. Try to find musk perfumes with rose, lily or peach fragrance and wear them if you want to feel everlastingly fresh in the hottest season of the year.

2. Orange perfumes

The scent of orange can truly diminish the blistering atmosphere of summertime. There are a number of perfumes that use orange fragrance that you can choose from. If you prefer a unisex perfume, consider choosing Neroli Extrait. The combination of orange and musk fragrances in this perfume makes it a perfect product that makes you always feel happy and energized.

3. Coconut perfumes

Coconut also creates a cool sensation during a hot summer day. Coconut perfume provides your body with just enough amount of fragrance without too overpowering. When you want to wear a coconut perfume, make sure that you buy perfume with genuine essential oil extracted from real coconut fruit.

If you run an apparel shop, your mannequins play the role of your models and salespeople. They know how to pose attractively and they know to goad your customers to buy the apparel they are wearing. Therefore, don’t ever downplay their role because without them, you may not be able to run your business and to reap profit.

As the shop owner, you have to make sure that you choose the right mannequins for displaying your product. When choosing mannequins, there are several important factors that you should take into consideration.

1. Realism

You can always use headless, armless and legless mannequins to display your products, but it will be much better if you use mannequins whose pose and attraction resemble those of real people. Remember that your mannequins are your silent models and salespeople. They will not play such roles perfectly if they lack everything human-like. Always make sure that you use only realistic mannequins to display your products.

2. Theme

It is preferable that you use mannequins whose appearance is in accordance with a specific theme you use for your shop. If you are selling teens’ clothes, avoid using adult mannequins. If you are selling Chinese clothes, consider using mannequins whose posture and face are like those of Chinese people.

3. Uniqueness

Your customers like something new and unique because it surprises them. If you believe that static mannequins are old-fashioned, consider using rotating mannequins that move like a carrousel.

4. Color

It is okay for you to use black, chrome or transparent mannequins although they are not human-like. As long as they will look perfect inside your shop, they are always a suitable options for your shop. A good example of a shop in which transparent mannequins will look perfect is a shop with European vibe. Do research to your store’s overall ambience to decide whether mannequins with a particular color will look great there.

point-of-sales systems

point-of-sales systems

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned retailers about a type of malicious software attacking point-of-sales systems, dubbed “Backoff,” that it said is undetectable by most types of antivirus software.

The agency released a 10-page advisory about the payment-card-stealing virus Backoff on Thursday, saying it has been observed in at least three forensic investigations into breaches of payment systems.

The U.S. government has released reports on several types of malicious software that cybercriminals used to steal payment cards in the wake of last year’s unprecedented breach at Target (TGT), which resulted in the theft of some 40 million payment card numbers.

Backoff is a family-of-point of sale malware first identified in October 2013 and with capabilities that include scraping memory for track data, logging keystrokes and injecting malicious stub into explorer.exe files, DHS said.

It said attackers use publicly available tools to find businesses that use remote desktop applications, then gain access to an administrative account to insert the malware.

The DHS advisory warned that such malware put both the business and consumer at risk, exposing data including names, credit card numbers, email addresses, mailing address and phone numbers.

“These breaches can impact a business’ brand and reputation, while consumers’ information can be used to make fraudulent purchases or risk compromise of bank accounts,” it said.

the future of shopping

the future of shopping

Back in 2012, I wrote a piece titled, “Five Trends Driving Traditional Retail Towards Extinction.” Looking back, I’m generally happy to see that the trends I examined are still valid, though “extinction” might be a little strong.

Living in New York provides a firsthand view into the petri dish that many of these companies use to experiment. So almost two years later, I’ve revisited the space to focus on three more trends that are changing the way we shop. (I’m leaving out an exploration of mobile for the moment, since it’s probably worth its own post.)

The Macro View

First, a brief look at the bigger picture. Last month marked Amazon’s (AMZN) 20th anniversary, which is kind of amazing to think about since e-commerce seems both very new and indispensable at the same time. Either way, the world has had plenty of time to digest the trend.

It makes some sense then that the pace of e-commerce growth appears to be decelerating in both the developed and developing worlds. I should note that a deceleration in the developing world means going from say, 94 percent year-over-year growth in China in 2012, to 64 percent in 2014. Those are still monster numbers, and there’s still plenty of land to grab, but the peak growth rates appear to be in the rearview.

In the U.S., the pace of growth is a more stately 14 percent. The sector attracts a healthy sum of sum of venture money — nearly $1 billion in Q1 of 2014, according the National Venture Capital Association. But all of that strength doesn’t mean that the future of shopping is as simple as buying everything online. Consider our first trend:

Location-Based Technology for Stores

For online retailers, it’s always been relatively easy to gather data about customers. If you run a Web company you can track all kinds of information about shoppers who visit your site — where they’re located, how they reached your page, what they look at and where they get held up during the shopping process. This helps e-commerce companies adjust tactics quickly to maximize sales.

For brick-and-mortar stores, that kind of granular data has been harder to come by. Location-based technologies promise to bridge that data gap. Apple (AAPL) recently introduced iBeacon, a set of small sensors that can be placed around stores to track and communicate with customers’ iPhones. Startups like Estimote, Nomi and inMarket sell similar technology to retailers.

What does this look like? Let’s say these beacons track a spike in foot traffic near a rack of bathing suits in a high-end department store. But that foot traffic isn’t prompting a comparable increase in sales. Are customers intrigued by the style, but put off by the price tag? If that’s the hypothesis, the store can ping each shopper who approaches the section with a 10 percent discount on the bathing suits. If the hypothesis was correct, customers now buy more bathing suits and the company can subsequently reduce the bathing suits’ price to increase sales.

This kind of technology helps brick-and-mortar retailers to optimize their store layouts, pricing, and improve ad campaigns. It also figures heavily into the next trend.

Omni-Channel Retail

Since e-commerce first started gaining traction in the late ’90s, nearly every brick-and-mortar brand in the country has developed an online sales strategy. But traditionally, it hasn’t worked in reverse. Amazon, eBay (EBAY), Blue Nile and other online pioneers never opened up physical shops for customers to browse items.

That’s starting to change as more and more e-commerce companies warm to the benefits of brick-and-mortar. Warby Parker, a sunglasses brand that started out online in 2010, has set up six stores since opening its first in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood last year.

Customers buy way more stuff if they can see, feel and try on items. Andy Dunn of Bonobos, a men’s clothing brand that started out as an e-commerce company in 2007, told Bloomberg that only 5 percent of visitors to the company’s website make a purchase. In its 10 stores, that number is 83 percent.

Other online companies like Etsy, Everlane, Birchbox and Harry’s have also dabbled in setting up physical stores, often experimenting with temporary locations or popup shops.

Meanwhile, traditional brick-and-mortar brands are getting smarter about integrating online efforts with their physical outlets. Nordstrom (JWN) sets the pace among department stores. It bought HauteLook, a flash sales site, for $180 million in 2011 and invested $16 million in Bonobos. Web sales at the company grew 33 percent last quarter, and it’s using brick-and-mortar locations as distribution centers for fast shipping.

Other retailers are following, at the least integrating online and store inventories. The latest crop of tablet-ready POS systems — like Lightspeed, Revel and Tulip Retail — help streamline the process.

Top Brands Now Start Online

For years, one name has struck fear into hearts of young e-commerce entrepreneurs: Amazon. The online retail giant has a reputation for ruthlessly competing against upstarts, undercutting them on price and diverting millions of marketing dollars to drive them out of business.

So how do you build an Amazon-proof online retail business? In short, make your own stuff. (Bessemer’s Jeremy Levine pointed this out in an interview last year.) More and more, online brands emerge that control every aspect of their businesses, from design and manufacturing to technology and distribution.

So instead of taking clothes from, say, Calvin Klein and selling them over the Web, companies are now making their own clothes and creating their own brands. This control allows them to match traditional competitors on quality while undercutting them on price. There’s Warby Parker for sunglasses, Chloe & Isabel for jewelry, Chubbies for shorts, even MeUndies for underwear and Tuft and Needle for beds. The biggest retail brands of the next decade are being built online, right now.

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