Why Data Is The Key To Driving Sustainability In Retail

Both corporate values and customer expectations are driving more conscious policies and spending to benefit the planet. Here’s how data and analytics are helping retail organizations hit their sustainability targets.

We are entering the age of circular economics where “once is never enough.” Products and businesses will need to be designed for regeneration, rather than produced, delivered, and trashed.

Is your business sustainable, equitable, ethical? These days, does it have a choice not to be?In 2020, interest in “ethical brands” and online shops exploded, growing between 300% and 600% based on Google searches alone.

It can be hard to remember just how much things have changed in the months since the pandemic seized the world. Sustainability is now as much about the resiliency of your business as it is that of the planet—with both benefiting accordingly. Sustainability represents a huge opportunity to serve consumers with what they want, and the world with what it needs, in order to help keep everyone thriving—including your bottom line.

We are entering the age of circular economics where “once is never enough.” Products and businesses will need to be designed for regeneration, rather than produced, delivered, and trashed.

Sustainability is rapidly growing as a way to evaluate the non-financial performance of companies and measure the purpose and values that drive a brand.

Coupled with the ongoing concerns around the environmental impacts of carbon emissions, material waste, energy consumption, and scarce resources, retailers are using the challenges raised by the pandemic as a chance to rewire their systems to drive healthier, sustainable, and more resilient value chains that will allow them to thrive in the future. 

For example, reducing synthetic PVC plastics in products can reduce fossil fuel consumption. Sourcing raw materials ethically and sustainably helps increase supply chain longevity. Providing services that encourage consumers to repair, rather than buy new products, can reduce unnecessary waste.

Such an emphasis on sustainability may seem like a whole new way of doing business that at times runs counter to the conventional practices of the past. Yet if we don’t seriously reconsider the future of business, will there be much of a future for businesses at all?

Building this future will require an entirely new understanding of the components, inputs, and resources that go into a business. This kind of understanding is made possible on the cloud.

Sustainability sells: Consumers are driving new transformation

The turmoil of COVID-19 didn’t just bring social distancing—it marked the beginning of an eco-awakening. The increased attention on health, safety, and well-being sparked a renewed awareness around sustainability, particularly in the personal choices consumers make in their own lives and how those choices impact the environment.

In fact, Google research* shows that people now have a greater appreciation for life, are more aware of how valuable nature is for their mental and physical health, and recognize being sustainable plays a critical role in protecting it. As a result, sustainability is more top of mind than before the pandemic.

Now, shoppers are looking more closely than ever at the products they buy and the brands they support—and they’re ready to make different choices if they don’t like what they find:

  • As mentioned, Google search interest in “ethical brands” and “ethical online shopping” during 2020 grew 300% and 600% compared to the previous year.
  • 1 in 3 shoppers stopped purchasing certain brands or products due to ethical or sustainability related concerns.
  • Nearly 6 in 10 consumers say they are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact.

Retailers were already feeling the pressure to reduce their impact on the environment long before the pandemic. After all, the fashion industry alone accounts for 20% of wastewater and up to 8% of carbon emissions globally. But this new shift in consumer behavior serves as an extra warning that it’s time to accelerate changes now—or pay the price later on. 

And it’s not just consumers looking for a commitment from retailers—suppliers, investors, employees, and policymakers are also expecting tangible, sustainable action from businesses. Sustainability is rapidly growing as a way to evaluate the non-financial performance of companies and measure the purpose and values that drive a brand.

At least 65% of world economies have made 2050 net-zero commitments and new EU regulations even require businesses to disclose ESG data about what and how they operate and manage social and environmental challenges.

These changes are already underway. So how can retail businesses stay ahead of them?

Data is key for doing good for retail and for the planet

Retailers have been pushed to illuminate the murkier aspects of their value chains to strengthen credibility and prove in concrete terms exactly how they are delivering on sustainability. But companies can only manage what they are able to measure, so data is crucial for sustainability efforts.

There is a lot of valuable data that can be generated from the first mile to the last mile of products; from direct energy consumption in stores and in warehouses; to CO2 emissions from supply chains and manufacturing; to the effects of resource procurement. Organizations can also gain insight into upstream and downstream activities, such as product distribution and delivery, consumer disposal of product packaging, and other waste.

Migrating to a sustainable cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons a year, which is equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road, according to Accenture research.

Nearly every aspect of the value chain has the potential to be measured in terms of the impact on the environment as long as companies have the right technologies in place.

Given the public cloud’s inherent efficiencies, it is one of the fastest paths to hit sustainability targets and reduce energy costs. In fact, according to Accenture research, migrating to a sustainable cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons a year, which is equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road.

But the cloud offers other capabilities that benefit the overall sustainability efforts of retailers, too. Namely, the cloud enables a strong data foundation that allows information to be collected, processed, managed, and analyzed in one place.

The reduction of silos and the availability of a single, centralized view of all relevant data creates the end-to-end visibility needed to understand the full environmental impact of business decisions across the value chain.

Here’s how data is helping retail organizations hit their sustainability targets:

  • Lowering carbon emissions and energy usage. Retailers need to accurately measure and understand carbon emissions and energy consumption across thousands of devices, facilities, processes, and locations. By gaining a full picture of carbon emissions, businesses will have the power to optimize and implement sustainable best practices—and track future progress—that will deliver real reductions. For example, data can be used to identify cleaner times of day or lower carbon density regions that can create big opportunities to offset and lower emissions.
  • Reducing waste and optimizing supply chains. There are numerous opportunities for retailers to apply data to supply chain sustainability problems, such as inaccurate demand and inventory planning, manufacturing inefficiencies, packaging or product surplus waste, and more. Integrating data from disparate internal systems, partners and suppliers, and external public sources can help create more sustainable and resilient supply chains. Real-time visibility and advanced analytics enable retailers to drill down into key sustainability metrics, benchmark their progress against other industry players, identify and mitigate risks, and improve overall production quality.
  • Unlocking deep insights for better decision making. Retailers are looking to answer questions about how current processes impact the environment now and how their businesses will be affected by climate change in the future. Leveraging rich datasets about the planet, new AI and machine learning models, and smarter analytics enables them to extract insights and predict outcomes around sustainability, helping them to make better decisions that keep them on track to future goals.

Retailers are already working on sustainability

Putting their vast amount of data to work, retail companies are already starting to harness, organize, and democratize data both within and outside of their organizations, identifying where environmental impact is happening and taking action.

For example, retailers are applying predictive forecasting models to chase down waste to make demand planning more accurate. Understanding what products customers are most likely to buy and where they will purchase can influence decisions about sourcing, where to place inventory, and optimize shipments and deliveries. It also provides a more personalized product selection, keeping both customers and suppliers happy.

Retailers can also reimagine last-mile delivery packaging. For instance, intelligent packing recommendation (IPR) solutions can analyze the physical dimensions of every SKU, packing materials, and other properties like fragility and temperature to make sure every box is optimally packed. Google Cloud research shows that IPR brings significant savings and an improved customer experience, reducing the total packaging cost per order by 29% and total shipping costs by 19%.

When retailers do good while doing well, everyone wins—consumers, businesses, and the planet.

To learn more about the role of technology in sustainability, check out our Sustainable IT Masterclass or watch our “Solving for Sustainability in Retail and Consumer Goods” on demand.

Maria McClay, Director, Department Stores, Fashion and Beauty, Google Cloud. Maria McClay is a director at Google Cloud, working with Fashion &

Source: Why Data Is The Key To Driving Sustainability In Retail

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Retail Sales For June Provide An Early Boost, But Bond Yields Mostly Calling The Shots

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The first week of earnings season wraps up with major indices closely tracking the bond market in Wall Street’s version of “follow the leader.” Earnings absolutely matter, but right now the Fed’s policies are maybe a bigger influence. In the short-term the Fed is still the girl everyone wants to dance with.

Lately, you can almost guess where stocks are going just by checking the 10-year Treasury yield, which often moves on perceptions of what the Fed might have up its sleeve. The yield bounced back from lows this morning to around 1.32%, and stock indices climbed a bit in pre-market trading. That was a switch from yesterday when yields fell and stocks followed suit. Still, yields are down about six basis points since Monday, and stocks are also facing a losing week.

It’s unclear how long this close tracking of yields might last, but maybe a big flood of earnings due next week could give stocks a chance to act more on fundamental corporate news instead of the back and forth in fixed income. Meanwhile, retail sales for June this morning basically blew Wall Street’s conservative estimates out of the water, and stock indices edged up in pre-market trading after the data.

Headline retail sales rose 0.6% compared with the consensus expectation for a 0.6% decline, and with automobiles stripped out, the report looked even stronger, up 1.3% vs. expectations for 0.3%. Those numbers are incredibly strong and show the difficulty analysts are having in this market. The estimates missed consumer strength by a long shot. However, it’s also possible this is a blip in the data that might get smoothed out with July’s numbers. We’ll have to wait and see.

Caution Flag Keeps Waving

Yesterday continued what feels like a “risk-off” pattern that began taking hold earlier in the week, but this time Tech got caught up in the selling, too. In fact, Tech was the second-worst performing sector of the day behind Energy, which continues to tank on ideas more crude could flow soon thanks to OPEC’s agreement.

We already saw investors embracing fixed income and “defensive” sectors starting Tuesday, and Thursday continued the trend. When your leading sectors are Utilities, Staples, Real Estate, the way they were yesterday, that really suggests the surging bond market’s message to stocks is getting read loudly and clearly.

This week’s decline in rates also isn’t necessarily happy news for Financial companies. That being said, the Financials fared pretty well yesterday, with some of them coming back after an early drop. It was an impressive performance and we’ll see if it can spill over into Friday.

Energy helped fuel the rally earlier this year, but it’s struggling under the weight of falling crude prices. Softness in crude isn’t guaranteed to last—and prices of $70 a barrel aren’t historically cheap—but crude’s inability to consistently hold $75 speaks a lot. Technically, the strength just seems to fade up there. Crude is up slightly this morning but still below $72 a barrel.

Losing Steam?

All of the FAANGs lost ground yesterday after a nice rally earlier in the week. Another key Tech name, chipmaker Nvidia (NVDA), got taken to the cleaners with a 4.4% decline despite a major analyst price target increase to $900. NVDA has been on an incredible roll most of the year.

This week’s unexpectedly strong June inflation readings might be sending some investors into “flight for safety” mode, though no investment is ever truly “safe.” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell sounded dovish in his congressional testimony Wednesday and Thursday, but even Powell admitted he hadn’t expected to see inflation move this much above the Fed’s 2% target.

Keeping things in perspective, consider that the S&P 500 Index (SPX) did power back late Thursday to close well off its lows. That’s often a sign of people “buying the dip,” as the saying goes. Dip-buying has been a feature all year, and with bond yields so low and the money supply so huge, it’s hard to argue that cash on the sidelines won’t keep being injected if stocks decline.

Two popular stocks that data show have been popular with TD Ameritrade clients are Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT), and both of them have regularly benefited from this “dip buying” trend. Neither lost much ground yesterday, so if they start to rise today, consider whether it reflects a broader move where investors come back in after weakness. However, one day is never a trend.

Reopening stocks (the ones tied closely to the economy’s reopening like airlines and restaurants) are doing a bit better in pre-market trading today after getting hit hard yesterday.

In other corporate news today, vaccine stocks climbed after Moderna (MRNA) was added to the S&P 500. BioNTech (BNTX), which is Pfizer’s (PFE) vaccine partner, is also higher. MRNA rose 7% in pre-market trading.

Strap In: Big Earnings Week Ahead

Earnings action dies down a bit here before getting back to full speed next week. Netflix (NFLX), American Express (AXP), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), United Airlines (UAL), AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), American Airlines (AAL) and Coca-Cola (KO) are high-profile companies expected to open their books in the week ahead.

It could be interesting to hear from the airlines about how the global reopening is going. Delta (DAL) surprised with an earnings beat this week, but also expressed concerns about high fuel prices. While vaccine rollouts in the U.S. have helped open travel back up, other parts of the globe aren’t faring as well. And worries about the Delta variant of Covid don’t seem to be helping things.

Beyond the numbers that UAL and AAL report next week, the market may be looking for guidance from their executives about the state of global travel as a proxy for economic health. DAL said travel seems to be coming back faster than expected. Will other airlines see it the same way? Earnings are one way to possibly find out.Even with the Delta variant of Covid gaining steam, there’s no doubt that at least in the U.S, the crowds are back for sporting events.

For example, the baseball All-Star Game this week was packed. Big events like that could be good news for KO when it reports earnings. PepsiCo (PEP) already reported a nice quarter. We’ll see if KO can follow up, and whether its executives will say anything about rising producer prices nipping at the heels of consumer products companies.

Confidence Game: The 10-year Treasury yield sank below 1.3% for a while Thursday but popped back to that level by the end of the day. It’s now down sharply from highs earlier this week. Strength in fixed income—yields fall as Treasury prices climb—often suggests lack of confidence in economic growth.

Why are people apparently hesitant at this juncture? It could be as simple as a lack of catalysts with the market now at record highs. Yes, bank earnings were mostly strong, but Financial stocks were already one of the best sectors year-to-date, so good earnings might have become an excuse for some investors to take profit. Also, with earnings expectations so high in general, it takes a really big beat for a company to impress.

Covid Conundrum: Anyone watching the news lately probably sees numerous reports about how the Delta variant of Covid has taken off in the U.S. and case counts are up across almost every state. While the human toll of this virus surge is certainly nothing to dismiss, for the market it seems like a bit of an afterthought, at least so far. It could be because so many of the new cases are in less populated parts of the country, which can make it seem like a faraway issue for those of us in big cities. Or it could be because so many of us are vaccinated and feel like we have some protection.

But the other factor is numbers-related. When you hear reports on the news about Covid cases rising 50%, consider what that means. To use a baseball analogy, if a hitter raises his batting average from .050 to .100, he’s still not going to get into the lineup regularly because his average is just too low. Covid cases sank to incredibly light levels in June down near 11,000 a day, which means a 50% rise isn’t really too huge in terms of raw numbers and is less than 10% of the peaks from last winter. We’ll be keeping an eye on Covid, especially as overseas economies continue to be on lockdowns and variants could cause more problems even here. But at least for now, the market doesn’t seem too concerned.

Dull Roar: Most jobs that put you regularly on live television in front of millions of viewers require you to be entertaining. One exception to that rule is the position held by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. It’s actually his job to be uninteresting, and he’s arguably very good at it. His testimony in front of the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday was another example, with the Fed chair staying collected even as senators from both sides of the aisle gave him their opinions on what the Fed should or shouldn’t do. The closely monitored 10-year Treasury yield stayed anchored near 1.33% as he spoke.

Even if Powell keeps up the dovishness, you can’t rule out Treasury yields perhaps starting to rise in coming months if inflation readings continue hot and investors start to lose faith in the Fed making the right call at the right time. Eventually people might start to demand higher premiums for taking on the risk of buying bonds. The Fed itself, however, could have something to say about that.

It’s been sopping up so much of the paper lately that market demand doesn’t give you the same kind of impact it might have once had. That’s an argument for bond prices continuing to show firmness and yields to stay under pressure, as we’ve seen the last few months. Powell, for his part, showed no signs of being in a hurry yesterday to lift any of the stimulus.

TD Ameritrade® commentary for educational purposes only. Member SIPC.

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I am Chief Market Strategist for TD Ameritrade and began my career as a Chicago Board Options Exchange market maker, trading primarily in the S&P 100 and S&P 500 pits. I’ve also worked for ING Bank, Blue Capital and was Managing Director of Option Trading for Van Der Moolen, USA. In 2006, I joined the thinkorswim Group, which was eventually acquired by TD Ameritrade. I am a 30-year trading veteran and a regular CNBC guest, as well as a member of the Board of Directors at NYSE ARCA and a member of the Arbitration Committee at the CBOE. My licenses include the 3, 4, 7, 24 and 66.

Source: Retail Sales For June Provide An Early Boost, But Bond Yields Mostly Calling The Shots

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Critics:

Retail is the process of selling consumer goods or services to customers through multiple channels of distribution to earn a profit. Retailers satisfy demand identified through a supply chain. The term “retailer” is typically applied where a service provider fills the small orders of many individuals, who are end-users, rather than large orders of a small number of wholesale, corporate or government clientele. Shopping generally refers to the act of buying products.

Sometimes this is done to obtain final goods, including necessities such as food and clothing; sometimes it takes place as a recreational activity. Recreational shopping often involves window shopping and browsing: it does not always result in a purchase.

Most modern retailers typically make a variety of strategic level decisions including the type of store, the market to be served, the optimal product assortment, customer service, supporting services and the store’s overall market positioning. Once the strategic retail plan is in place, retailers devise the retail mix which includes product, price, place, promotion, personnel, and presentation.

In the digital age, an increasing number of retailers are seeking to reach broader markets by selling through multiple channels, including both bricks and mortar and online retailing. Digital technologies are also changing the way that consumers pay for goods and services. Retailing support services may also include the provision of credit, delivery services, advisory services, stylist services and a range of other supporting services.

Retail shops occur in a diverse range of types of and in many different contexts – from strip shopping centres in residential streets through to large, indoor shopping malls. Shopping streets may restrict traffic to pedestrians only. Sometimes a shopping street has a partial or full roof to create a more comfortable shopping environment – protecting customers from various types of weather conditions such as extreme temperatures, winds or precipitation. Forms of non-shop retailing include online retailing (a type of electronic-commerce used for business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions) and mail order

2 Specialty Retail Stocks To Add To Your Shopping List

2 Specialty Retail Stocks to Add to Your Shopping List

Let’s face it – retail is one of the most competitive industries out there. Consumer preferences are constantly changing and it takes a lot for these types of businesses to earn shoppers’ hard-earned cash. That’s one of the reasons why investing in specialty retail stocks can be a great long-term strategy if you choose wisely. Since specialty retailers focus on specific product categories, like office supplies, furniture, or men’s or women’s clothing, they are oftentimes able to carve out a unique niche and stand out among their competitors.

Thanks to all of the stimulus that has been added to the economy over the last year and the fact that a newly vaccinated population is getting back to shopping in person, we could see some strong sales coming out of the specialty retail space in the coming months. There are 2 specialty retail stocks that stand out as potential buys at this time given their unique brands and impressive earnings reports. Let’s take a further look at these intriguing stocks below.

RH (NYSE:RH)

RH, formerly known as Restoration Hardware, is a great specialty retail stock because it is doing something that is completely unique. While there are plenty of home furnishings stores out there, RH is distinctive in that it specializes in ultra-high-end luxury home goods and creating a unique shopping experience at every single store. Homeowners can find upscale products including furniture, lighting, bathware, outdoor & garden, tableware textiles, and décor at RH, and each one of the company’s showrooms offers an original and aesthetically pleasing experience.

The company counts Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway among its investors and is undoubtedly benefitting from a hot residential real estate market. With that said, RH has upside potential regardless of what’s going on in the economy, as the company doesn’t have exposure to seasonal inventory and caters to wealthy consumers that spend big year-round. The stock has been pulling back in recent months after a rally from $70 to $700 a share, but after the company’s latest earnings report it could be gearing up for more gains.

RH saw its Q1 revenues up 78% year-over-year to $860.8 million and delivered Q1 adjusted diluted earnings per share increase by 285% year-over-year to $4.89 per share. Other positives from the stellar report included an increased fiscal 2021 outlook and the fact that the company expects to be net debt-free by the end of the fiscal year. The bottom line here is that RH is a specialty retail company that is executing at a very high level, which is evident in both the earnings results and stock price.

Lovesac (NASDAQ:LOVE)

There’s a lot to love about this specialty retailer, which designs and manufactures modular couches and beanbags. What really stands out about Lovesac is how it has created a brand and product lines that have quickly become the favorite furniture of an entire generation. Millennials are among Lovesac’s most frequent customers, as they love the idea of the company’s flagship product, a unique modular furniture piece known as a “sactional”.

These are couches that are easily assembled and disassembled in order to meet the needs of the consumer. There are literally dozens of different ways that sactionals can be rearranged to fit in someone’s home, and the fact that customers can continue adding on pieces and accessories over time is perfect for creating repeat buyers.

While the company has 91 retail showrooms across the United States, investors should be impressed with the progress that it has made over the last year developing its digital sales channels. E-commerce sales were up over 250% in 2020 and although the company might not be able to keep up that torrid pace, Lovesac has proved it is more than capable of finding buyers online. Also, keep in mind that those showrooms are going to see foot traffic pick up as the pandemic winds down.

Lovesac just reported very strong Q1 2022 earnings results including net sales growth of 52.5% and diluted EPS of $0.13, up 122.1% year-over-year. Analysts also love the stock, as Lovesac recently got a price target increase from Craig Hallum on Thursday. Pandemic tailwinds are continuing to help this specialty retailer grow, and that narrative should remain in place for the foreseeable future. These are all great reasons why Lovesac is a great stock to consider adding to your shopping list.

By:

Source: 2 Specialty Retail Stocks to Add to Your Shopping List

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Critics:

A stock derivative is any financial instrument for which the underlying asset is the price of an equity. Futures and options are the main types of derivatives on stocks. The underlying security may be a stock index or an individual firm’s stock, e.g. single-stock futures.

Stock futures are contracts where the buyer is long, i.e., takes on the obligation to buy on the contract maturity date, and the seller is short, i.e., takes on the obligation to sell. Stock index futures are generally delivered by cash settlement.

A stock option is a class of option. Specifically, a call option is the right (not obligation) to buy stock in the future at a fixed price and a put option is the right (not obligation) to sell stock in the future at a fixed price. Thus, the value of a stock option changes in reaction to the underlying stock of which it is a derivative. The most popular method of valuing stock options is the Black–Scholes model. Apart from call options granted to employees, most stock options are transferable.

Stock price fluctuations

The price of a stock fluctuates fundamentally due to the theory of supply and demand. Like all commodities in the market, the price of a stock is sensitive to demand. However, there are many factors that influence the demand for a particular stock. The fields of fundamental analysis and technical analysis attempt to understand market conditions that lead to price changes, or even predict future price levels.

A recent study shows that customer satisfaction, as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), is significantly correlated to the market value of a stock.Stock price may be influenced by analysts’ business forecast for the company and outlooks for the company’s general market segment. Stocks can also fluctuate greatly due to pump and dump scams.

See also

How Sales Enablement Can Drive Revenue Growth in 2021

How did your leadership priorities change in 2020? If you started paying more attention to the sales enablement needs of your organization, you’re not alone.

According to recent HubSpot research, 65% of sales leaders who outperformed revenue targets in 2020 reported having a dedicated person or team working on sales enablement efforts instead of making it an initiative someone works on off the side of their desk.

[New Data] The 2021 Sales Enablement Report

For sales organizations that have been waiting to implement dedicated sales enablement measures — the time is now. With 2021 right around the corner, intentional sales enablement is a must-have for organizations that want to remain competitive in the future.

HubSpot recently sat down with Chris Pope, Director of Sales at Crayon, to discuss how companies can implement sales enablement strategies that can move the needle and drive revenue growth.

“Crayon defines sales enablement as providing our account executives with the resources and content they need to win more deals. Closing deals is more important than ever, especially in today’s competitive market where there are fewer deals to close,” he says.

In 2020, Crayon placed even greater emphasis on sales enablement to support their sales force. “We’ve put even more effort into making sure that our sales teams have the resources they need, simply because every deal matters more than ever,” says Pope.

How to Improve Sales Enablement for Your Team

1. Use data to inform your sales enablement content.

Crayon uses data to inform sales enablement decisions. According to Pope, his team relies on “velocity reports” to determine what areas of the sales process reps need the most support with.

“Velocity reports tell us what our reps conversion rates are at every stage of the sales funnel. How many opportunities are turning into discovery calls? How many discovery calls are turning into demos? How many demos are turning into proposals? And how many proposals do we send out that turn into closed business?” says Pope.

“We leverage that data to inform us where each individual rep needs to spend the most time, and where managers need to spend time training individual contributors.”

From an organizational level, this approach helps sales leaders know how to support sales managers and reps, and provides valuable insight into the type of training and content would be most effective.

Two examples of enablement content Crayon leadership has provided to their sales team include:

Call Recordings

“We love call recordings. We not only have call recordings of what the perfect call sounds like, we also have recordings of ideal discovery calls, effective demos, and successful closing calls. We share these recordings with reps who may need help in those areas, and we share them broadly across the organization so everyone is on the same page,” Pope says.

Battle Cards

Battle cards are a valuable tool for preparing reps to speak to features and objections related to your product. Crayon relies heavily on battle cards to ensure sales reps understand what they’re selling inside and out.

“We use our own product to make sure that our individual contributors have the most up to date messaging on how we position against our competition. This knowledge has been crucial not only for our organization, but for our customers as well,” says Pope.

2. Focus on sales team culture.

Chances are, you’re familiar with the term “company culture” — the idea that a company should have a shared set of beliefs, values, and practices. But when was the last time you assessed the culture of your sales team?

Sales teams are often dynamic organizations with motivated team members whose ability to sell is critical to the health of a company. Building strong rapport among members of the sales team and having a culture of open communication, especially in a remote environment, is an effective way to support sales enablement.

Feeling supported and included while selling remotely can be challenging for reps. For Crayon, sales team cohesion is a high priority.

“We’ve done our best to create a team atmosphere. We have daily calls where the entire sales team is on together, we have a peer program where our more experienced reps are paired with less experienced reps to offer coaching and mentorship, and we’re creating cross-functional opportunities for our pipeline generation team to work closer with our closing team,” says Pope.

These activities build trust across the team, and strengthen communication among sales managers and reps, creating a better environment to tackle sales enablement issues as they arise.

3. Prioritize sales enablement at each level of the organization.

At Crayon, sales enablement is an all-hands-on-deck initiative from the top down.

“Sales enablement is a team effort at Crayon. It starts at the top with our Senior Vice President of Sales, who delivers insight on broad topics and training related to overarching sales themes such as a demo workflow, or how to run a closing call,” says Pope.

“The managers and directors are responsible for individual training tailored to the needs of their reps. This can include listening in on at least a few calls for each individual contributor weekly, and providing regular feedback.”

In addition to the sales enablement work of leadership, Crayon focuses heavily on team selling to get everyone involved.

“If one of our reps is great at positioning our product against a competitor’s or they’re strong at demoing a certain aspect of our platform, we’ll invite their team members to tune into their sales calls so they can learn from them.”

Everybody within the organization plays a role in our sales enablement.

In 2020, sales managers at Crayon took a hands-on approach to coaching reps who had opportunities for improvement.

“We’ve really made it a focus to make sure managers are involved in more calls. Managers are putting time aside to give individual contributors and feedback that they need after calls, and benchmarking performance after every stage of the sales cycle,” says Pope.

According to Pope, if a rep is struggling with a specific part of the sales process, Crayon’s team will “focus our training on the specific aspect of the process they’re struggling with to help them improve and get their overall win rate up.”

4. Don’t wait to give feedback.

When sales managers and seasoned team members are coaching reps, the Crayon team makes it a point to provide feedback quickly.

For example, if Pope were to listen in to a rep’s sales call with a prospect, he would schedule 15 minutes with the rep right after the call to deliver feedback on how it went.

“When you let time pass, the call is not as fresh in the rep’s mind, and your feedback is not going to be as direct as it would be if you delivered it right away.”

5. Make sure sales managers feel supported.

Sales managers often have a lot on their plate. They are responsible for coaching and leading their reps to success, and are accountable for their team’s performance to leadership. For growing companies, relieving pressure from sales managers is crucial for a healthy organization.

“As you continue to scale your teams you don’t want your managers to feel overwhelmed. You want to make sure they have enough time in the day to give every individual contributor the attention that they need to to perform their best.” says Pope.

Pope says Crayon focuses on conscious staffing and resourcing to avoid sales manager burnout:

“If we know we’re going to hire a new group of sales reps, we make sure we already have enough managers in place who have the bandwidth to lead.

So when those people start we don’t have a new manager meeting new reps, we have experienced managers working with new reps, and we make sure that team members have the data they need to understand what their path to success will be as an individual contributor.”

Improving Team Morale in 2021

Per HubSpot’s 2021 Sales Enablement Report, 40% of sales leaders expected to miss their revenue targets this year. That means sales enablement efforts are not only necessary for growth — they are critical for survival.

In a competitive landscape where sales teams are working with volatile markets and buyer uncertainty, keeping morale high is more challenging than ever. Pope shares why communication is Crayon’s greatest tool for keeping employees engaged.

“Morale has been all over the map for different members of the team. At Crayon, we never go a day without checking in on our reps,” he says. “I try to at least have two times a day where I’m asking them how their days are going, what they’ve been working on, what calls have gone well, what calls haven’t gone well, and asking how can I continue to support them.”

This approach to communication happens at the organizational level as well.

“Crayon has done a really great job of communicating, being honest about when we might go back into the office, and making sure we’re meeting with folks who are concerned about not having an office atmosphere to make sure that they’re comfortable with their remote work setup,” says Pope.

If you’re looking for more advice on boosting sales rep productivity and morale, check out this post for advice from an Aircall sales leader on navigating employee fatigue.

By: Lestraundra Alfred @writerlest

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A Scary Number of Retail Companies are Facing Bankruptcy Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

The sign outside the J.C. Penney store is seen in Westminster, Colorado February 20, 2009. Department store operator J.C. Penney Co Inc posted a 51 percent drop in fourth quarter profit on Friday, and said its loss in the current quarter would be deeper than Wall Street estimates as shoppers hold off on spending. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES) – GM1E52L0AQI01

The retail death march persists. Somewhat under-the-radar, Italian luxury goods retailer Furla filed for Chapter 11 on Friday after being hit hard from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is looking to close stores and cut debt as part of the reorganization. The retailer, founded in 1927, plans to emerge from bankruptcy with a greater focus on e-commerce.

Furla joins a long list of well-known retailers that have buckled during the health crisis.

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New York City-based department store chain Century 21 filed for bankruptcy in September and said that it will shut 13 locations that for years served up deep discounts on designer wares. The company pinned the blame on the COVID-19 pandemic and uncooperative insurers who were supposed to help provide the company with fiscal support during tough times.

Bankrupt J.C. Penney, meanwhile, received a bailout in September from landlords Simon Property Group and Brookfield. The consortium valued the century old department store — which went bust back in May — at some $1.75 billion. A total of 650 stores will stay open, down from the more than 1,000 pre-pandemic.

“It takes a long time to kill a retailer,” Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Kodali told Yahoo Finance Live “So as long as they are able to pay their bills, which if they have an owner they will — they can absolutely be around. But that doesn’t mean death for J.C. Penney is totally off the table.”

Kodali added that J.C. Penney “may not be a great customer experience, but at least it’s alive and open. They can figure out what the plan B over five to ten years could be for that space.”

‘That’s a scary number’

States have allowed malls and retailers to reopen, but the situation remains precarious as COVID-19 infections are now back on the rise. Consequently, it’s reasonable to expect malls and stores are shutdown — or shopping times restricted —again before year end. That will raise the prospect of a fresh wave of bankruptcies in early 2021 after what could be a lackluster holiday shopping season.

“I think many of these companies will file [for bankruptcy], and it’s not a handful. It’s several dozen. And that’s a scary number,” Stifel managing director Michael Kollender, who leads the consumer and retail investment banking group for the firm, told Yahoo Finance. “It’s far more than we have seen over the last several years combined.”

Kollender and his colleague James Doak at Miller Buckfire — Stifel’s restructuring arm, where Doak is co-head — have worked on dozens of consumer and retail bankruptcies in recent years, including Aeropostale, Gymboree and Things Remembered.

“We will see some major chains go away and not come back,” Kollender added. “These are chains that were struggling before the situation. COVID-19 will put them over the ledge.”

The pandemic has toppled several household names this year. Stein Mart, a 112-year-old discounter, filed for bankruptcy in early August and will look to close most of its nearly 300 stores. The company cited significant financial stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic for its decision.

August also saw Lord & Taylor — the oldest U.S. department store founded in 1826 — file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after being crippled by COVID-19 store closures. The company was purchased for $100 million from Hudson’s Bay by fashion startup Le Tote in 2019. Le Tote also filed for Chapter 11.

Men’s Wearhouse-owned Tailored Brands also filed for Chapter 11 in August, too. The company said it had received $500 million in debtor-in-possession financing from existing lenders.

Meantime, Ascena Retail Group, the owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, finally filed for bankruptcy protection in late July. The company, which has been circling the bowl for years, will look to the courts to help it shave $1 billion in debt. But it’s likely the retailer will be far slimmer post bankruptcy than its current 2,800 store count.

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Regional retailer Paper Store filed for Chapter 11 in July as well. The operator of 86 stationary and card stores in the Northeast said it’s looking for a buyer.

New York & Co. parent company RTW Retailwinds also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July after years of growing irrelevance in malls. The women’s apparel company — which changed its name to the bizarre RTW Retailwinds as part of a rebranding in 2018 — operates 378 outlet and and mall-based stores across 32 states. It may close all of its stores as part of the filing.

“The combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have caused significant financial distress on our business, and we expect it to continue to do so in the future. As a result, we believe that a restructuring of our liabilities and a potential sale of the business or portions of the business is the best path forward to unlock value. I would like to thank all of our associates, customers, and business partners for their dedication and continued support through these unprecedented times,” said RTW Retailwinds CEO Sheamus Toal in a statement.

And the list of now defunct retailers is almost endless.

Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy in July. It has been dealt a twin blow to its finance from closed malls and a shift away from preppy clothing. The company would up being sold to the duo of Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group for $325 million.

GNC has walked through death’s door after knocking on it for years. The 85-year-old vitamin seller filed for bankruptcy in late June after years of battling waning sales and a debt load north of $1 billion. GNC plans to shutter up to 1,200 stores across the U.S. The company operates more than 5,800 stores.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  A person wears a protective face mask outside the GNC store as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 7, 2020 in New York City. The fourth phase allows outdoor arts and entertainment, sporting events without fans and media production. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
A person wears a protective face mask outside the GNC store as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 7, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images)

“Some companies are just not going to survive this,” says McGrail, who is the COO of one of the world’s largest asset disposition and valuation firms, Tiger Capital Group. Its McGrail’s team — which often includes store associates of a stricken retailer — that hangs the “Everything must go” signs and works to fetch top dollar on fixtures and other inventory.

Such is the current life for McGrail and others in the retail bankruptcy and restructuring fields. In talking to a host of experts, one thing is abundantly clear: more retail bankruptcies are very likely over the next twelve months.

Even for those retailers emerging from bankruptcy, vendors are likely to be tepid to ship them product while at the same time tightening payment terms as the pandemic rages on.

That one-two punch usually kills a wounded retailer for good.

Then there is the general uncertainty on how people will view going back to the mall in the new normal of social distancing. That fog of war is poised to persist well beyond the coming holiday season.

“We are in a retail tsunami,” Kollender said.

This story was originally published on June 24, 2020, and has been updated.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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