I think we should all have Gun Turrets on our Cars !! Yes – I said it.

Now, don’t get too upset with me….Yes – there are a few people who deserve the full monte here, but that’s not what I’m suggesting.

I think we should have PAINT BALL Guns locked and loaded, so that when we see that person texting, swerving because they are looking at their phone, putting on makeup, or have their dog blocking their view as his head is out the drivers window,

we should be allowed to PAINT their car.  We could even color code it.  BLUE for Texting, RED for Makeup, GREEN for FOOD….etc.   This way, when you get near a car that has paint ball splatter all over it, you’ll know that you should give them an EXTRA LARGE cushion.

It’s really a Safety thing…the life I save may be your kids !!!

12 States now have a PRIMARY law forcing HANDSFREE Driving.   Primary means that a police officer is allowed to pull over the driver based specifically on observing the use of a portable device while driving.

THIS IS AWESOME !!!  Check it out.

The following states/regions have mandatory Handsfree laws:

Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, W. Virginia

37 States ban use by Novice Drivers (that was a stupid compromise…if you are going to the effort to do what’s right, go all the way!!)

I understand the need to use your devices at various times….I’m just suggesting that you use a Handsfree headset, or a Bluetooth device integrated in your car.   It’s not expensive, and it’s a heck of a lot easier.

As for the people doing makeup while driving…that one is beyond me.

- Zippy 

Zippy has been sitting high on a mountain top for a few days pondering deep thoughts….

Remember AT&T’s old AD campaign where the most important part of your selection of which Phone Company to use was the ability to hear the person you are talking to?    Have you ever seen a Mobile Phone ad focus on the call quality.  They focus on the camera, the apps, your data plan and your friends and family, but they have totally ignored the fact that half our phone calls are spent asking the other person to repeat what they said because you can’t understand them.

Did companies loose focus on what’s really important to the consumer?  Do they ask? Do they care?  Is some mid-level marketing person just trying to make a name for himself by showing creativity, or have we totally lost focus on what’s really important, in favor of what the buzz is right now?

Along the lines of a lack of customer focus, when does a business hit the point where you can’t squeeze any more pennies out of a good product before lowering its quality, and customers start to focus again on good service, and working with someone you trust?  As a customer yourself, do you value your working relationship anymore with your suppliers, or is profit the only driving force today?

Are we as a group better then we were 20 years ago? 50 years? 100 years?  As we evolve, are the people looking out for themselves, or their grandchildren?  Will we be better in 100 years? 50 Years? 20 Years?  What does the future hold for a society that is only out for itself?    Are we there?  Are we on that road?  Is there a way to reverse the trend?     What say you?

- Zippy

Zippy is happy to be back home.   After 6 great weeks visiting customers in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Akron, Charlotte, St. Louis, Jacksonville, and ….oh I can’t remember….the one thing that I do remember the most is that customers now realize that ‘Cheap Accessories’ are not good for business anymore !!

At NACS, everyone agreed that poor quality is hurting the category, and they are ready to make a change.
At the FESCO show, we heard exactly the same sentiment.

People are paying $500 – $800 for their devices now.  They don’t want it to break because someone made a cheap add on.   People rely on these devices and they need their power…they need their sound.

Stores are starting to realize that their customers will pay a few bucks more if they can trust the quality.  A product that works 3 times and breaks – is NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE.

They don’t want that little image on their iPhone 5 that says ‘ YOU GOT SWINDLED – THIS CABLE IS A KNOCKOFF and ISN’T MADE TO WORK WITH YOUR PHONE, SUCKER‘.  (I think Apple says it a little nicer, but you know that’s what they want to say !!)

I am STANDING UP and PROCLAIMING to the world – YOU CAN have:

- Quality Products
- Attractive packaging
- For a reasonable price !!!

BIG BANG…BOOM !!!     Yes – Zippy just jumped up and is making a gigantic declaration.  (No fat jokes please !!!)

Stop Accepting the garbage that makes your customers not want to come back to you.
Stop accepting the “We’ll put our products in your store on consignment, and replace the 30% – 40% defective ones at no cost to you.”  Ahem  - that’s BS.   The cost to you is the lost profit when your customers don’t come back.

START being a part of CHANGE.
START giving your customers what they will pay for.  

Consumers are smarter.  As a buyer for Retail, you need to be smarter too.   You don’t need all the SKU’s anymore, you only need a handful of the right products.  Sure – if you have the space, then go ahead and add a couple of extra items, but make sure they are items that compliment the core items, and if you choose quality, your customers will come back.

Lets face it – that’s what it’s about – offering useful items that your customers need at the right price. You do this – and they MIGHT remember you…BUT…if you don’t do this…I guarantee they will remember you.

- Zippy

 

 

 

About 5 months ago, Zippy jumped off his lily pad after talking to his good friend Mot and decided the future looked good in Fish…bowls that is.   So into the think-tank Zippy went, and when he came out he had concocted a new delivery system for ZipKord – the Colorful ZipKord Fishbowl series.

mini car charger

In a very awesome way, the colorful cables and power adapters have taken over the conversation in a way few could predict.  The standard professional ‘black and red’ chargers and cables are still going strong, but the colors and candy feel of reaching your hand into the fishbowl and pulling out your favorite flavor, has really taken us by surprise.   Currently, over 800 of our customer stores are selling a variety of these products, and everyone is very happy with the results.

Why you ask?  We asked the same question, and we came up with a few reasons:

  • Colors capture people’s eyes
  • Easy Access, right at the checkout
  • Great (cheap) price, with obvious quality design
  • The fun of reaching in to a bowl of ‘stuff’ and picking out a winner !!

Our distributor partners are liking it because the bowls have 40 units in them, so it’s the same decision process for the retailers, but a larger and longer term sale.

 

FB4_310_np_smAnd the Results?  Our first customer who started selling the 1 Amp Car adapter in 300 stores, has sold over 12,000 units in just under 3 months.   Incremental sales in a category that was sluggish before.

The point of this blog?  Mostly to let you know that in sales, we’ve learned that understanding a bit of Consumer Psychology has gone a long way to the success of this new product, and the results are awesome !!!

 

 

FB3_DC2_3_sm

 

 

Are there any new lands left to explore?   I wonder if Lewis & Clark would have embarked on their adventure if they had an iPhone (or Samsung Galaxy for that matter).  I am generally an early adopter in most things technology, but I admit I finally purchased my first iPhone, because of a new item that we will launch soon.   In the first 2 days – I fully get why people love their Smartphones.  There seems to be an APP for everything.  Yelp, Google, Farts (why are these sounds always so funny … to EVERYONE ???), if you can think of it, someone else has probably made an APP for it.   This makes things in our world so much easier, but I question at what expense.

Have we now lost our sense of adventure, because finding things is so much easier?  Have we lost our willingness, and potentially, or ability to communicate with other people because all we need to do is ask “Siri” what to do?   No longer do I need to stop at the Circle K and ask for directions, I just GPS where I want to go.  If I don’t know, I YELP to find what I want, then I GPS.   Its all so easy, and I admit, fun at times.  I just wonder if moving our brain to our SMARTPHONES is making us DUMBPEOPLE.

Progress is progress, and I live it every day.  My livelihood depends on it.  Will the future DUMBPEOPLE find new things to explore?  Can the everyday person hitch his wagon to a horse and explore new worlds, or is all innovation going to be in the nano-world where the common man will be left behind?

We hope that technology helps us and makes us smarter.  The caveman use to hunt for food everyday just to stay alive.  Today, we complain if someone has 11 items in the 10 item checkout.   Are we losing our basic skills, or do these luxury’s of today, allow us to focus on solving bigger problems of tomorrow?

- Zippy

 

I always thought it interesting when I watched Star Trek, how everyone was dressed the same in the future.  Yeah, they had slightly different colors, and maybe a button here or there that was different on their clothing, but mostly, our writers and costume designers of today, for some reason, saw the future as a place where we all wore the same ‘uniform’.   And I’m not just talking about their ‘business’ attire.

starCloth

It seems that’s exactly what’s happening with our mobile devices.  They all look the same.   The reasons seem obvious – we are trying to maximize the space of the phone, and get as much on it, and out of it, as we can, while still fitting into our pocket or pocketbook – (do they even still use that word?)   Back Camera? Check! Front Camera? Check ! Flash / Flashlight? Check  / Check !   And it’s not just the phones we use for ‘business’ since we all seem to need these ultra functioning devices in our personal life as well.

Side Thought – I wonder how many people do as I do, and LEAVE THEIR PHONE IN THE CAR when having dinner with family & friends??? !!!   As some cities have done with smoking, we should make a ‘no phone or smoking inside the restaurant’ policy.

Back to my point…the new Samsung looks very similar to the iPhone.  Yes – there are very slight differences, but mostly, they are the same.  Tablets? The same.  iPhone has dominated the industry with 1 phone, even though they release updates twice a year.  Samsung Galaxy IV? Looks like the Samsung III, and the II, and the I.

Samsungviphone

With their strong success, I wonder if Samsung will just continue with 1 phone in their line, like iPhone has.   Yes – we have color options, and of course the cases allow us to show our personality, like a tie around a man’s neck, but overall, things are just like Star Trek of the future…..

It is very foggy outside today, and for some reason it is reminding me of the foggy world of business these days.

It’s hard out there.  Plain and simple.

Sometimes I wonder why it is so hard.  Competition is one reason, it’s much easier for a small business to look like a big business, and to find a niche and compete.  People take shortcuts. Everyone is trying to be the latest and greatest, and quite often the consumer is the one to suffer.

There is pressure on upper management in retail operations to raise profits, so they cut where they can.  One of the core places they cut is human resource.  Buyers are super valuable assets to the back office of a retail store, yet they are asked to do way more then they have time for, and the ultimate result is that sometimes the best product for the consumer is not the one chosen.

The buyers don’t have time to really understand their customers, especially in an environment such as electronic accessories, where the market shifts with each new moon.

So what are we to do?  How can we help the buyer?

Two basic objectives that a buyer has is to present a product the consumer needs or wants, and to make sure that consumer doesn’t have to get back in their car 5 days later and return the item because it is broken.

Knowing what they need or want is part magic, and part sweat.  Making sure they don’t have to return it is about finding a brand who pays attention to details.  Knowing a car adapter that gets hot during the test is a bad product, and will scare the consumer a day later.   Knowing that paying the extra .25 cents in the manufacturing process can mean the difference between a product that is tolerated, and one that really makes the consumer happy.

Long term profits over short term profits are the key to a sustainable business, and that is what will separate the novelty companies from the professional companies.

The fog is starting to clear.

 

 

Mark this day.  I firmly believe that T-Mobile has made a quiet, but significant change for the future of Wireless in the USA.

Read the article here

As the article points out – T-Mobile has removed the phone subsidies that forces users to sign long-term contracts.  Initially people will think this is a move against the customer, but it is the exact opposite.   T-Mobile is doing this to entice customers to come to them.  They are lowering their rates, and, they will force the competition to do the same.   This is a very user friendly move by TM and I applaud it.

- Zippy

I spent last week in New York setting up and attending the FESCO trade show at the Citibank Baseball Park, home of the NY Baseball Mets. It was initially set to be the week before, but, Mother Nature and her mess of a daughter Sandy had other plans. Travel reservations were changed, vendors showed, and so did a committed group of customers (thanks !!) Hats off to NY for doing a great job recovering in a very short amount of time, and our thoughts are with all our friends and neighbors who are still struggling getting back to normal due to Sandy. We wish you all the best.

Each year, FESCO does a great job putting on a very cozy show.  The hours are long, and a bit crazy, but – the food is good, and making new friends while seeing old ones is always a plus.

The new ZipKord Counter Rack, and Floor display were both well received.

The 650up was a big topic of conversation.  On the heals of Sandy, people recognized the essential need of having a battery backup solution so that they could keep in touch with their family during this time of need.   I hope people don’t wait for the next storm, to bring this product into their stores so that they have this essential product.
Retailers – Take Note !!

Personally, I enjoyed being in Times Square to share all the excitement of Election Night, 2012.   In Rockefeller Center, they had window washer lifts going up the building as the Electoral Votes were counted.  It was very exciting to be in the City with all that was going on.

In summary, it was a good show, we added a few new outlets for the ZipKord products, including at least 2 new customers in South America.  Thanks again FESCO for having us join you.

- Zippy