Feature Articles: Business Sense

Recently, I was at a department store (that will remain nameless) on the hunt for — what else? — shoes to wear to trade shows. Half the place was crazy with shoppers buzzing around the end-of-season sandal sale. Sales help swarmed all around that area but in the full-price section where I was, it was deserted. No shoppers. And no sales people. Finally, I flagged a guy down, but he immediately announced that his handheld scanner didn’t work so he couldn’t help me. When I asked him to give me a hand with finding someone else, his response was to glance around listlessly and shrug before wandering off. Seriously? A shrug?

One of the most important sections of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) is 15 (b) [15 U.S.C. §2064]. It requires manufacturers, distributors, importers and retailers of a consumer product that contains a defect, which could create a substantial product hazard or creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, to immediately report the relevant information to the Commission. Through the years, including the twenty year period when I was Director of Compliance and Enforcement, the reporting obligation has proven to contribute enormously to public safety.

It’s already started: The summer movie buzz. From “Spider-Man” and “Godzilla” to “X-Men” and “Maleficent,” there are lots of big names and big budgets boosting the season’s big screen entrants. Whether you flood into theaters or choose to watch at home, Hollywood has the formula down for boosting its bottom line. So maybe it’s time to take a page from Tinsletown’s script when it comes to wholesale sales, and more specifically, using your company’s distribution to increase business.

Be honest, at some point “What’s in it for me?” has crossed your mind. Generally, this question is accompanied with negative, self-serving behavior. It carries with it derogatory connotations and if this was a conversation about generational behaviors, think Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials. Then the conversation would spin towards entitlement and the supposition that many people approach the world today with an “I am, therefore I should receive” mentality. But before I go too far into opening that Pandora’s box, I want to stop and see if I can convince some that maybe it’s not all bad to surmise “What’s in it for me?”

How many times have you used the phrase “fashionably late”? At one point or another, we’ve all had visions of wearing something fabulous and making a grand entrance in a room full of people. And when you’re the one wearing the clothes, swanning in late could be a great way to get noticed. But when you’re the one making the clothes, tardiness is the best way to ensure you’ll be overlooked. “Late” is a dirty word in the wholesale world; however, being on time can help you clock more sales.

Even if you’re well over making or keeping New Year’s resolutions, all of us want solutions that work for our business. This year focus on the “solutions” in resolutions and discover ways you can solve business problems, big or small. Here are 5 “re”solutions to get you figuring out how you can revitalize your business in 2014: Review, Remember, Research, Refresh, and Reduce.

American companies seeking to rapidly grow their business have taken aim at extending their brands to markets outside the United States. If foreign markets are on your radar, you should apply for trademark protection in each of the countries where you want your brand to be sold. Below are some thoughts on filing trademark applications in foreign countries, either individually (original trademark applications), or by use of a centralized filing system that piggybacks your U.S. trademark application or registration to foreign countries (Madrid Protocol extensions).

In a recent article about Vera Wang, it was noted that everyone at the company adopts “the look”, which is monochromatic and slightly unisex. Stop into the Ralph Lauren offices, and you’ll immediately notice how much everyone there looks like an ad for the clothing giant. In fashion, you really can’t help but look the part. But ideally the uniformity in wardrobe reflects the employees’ deeper understanding of the brand and willingness to soak up every aspect of the corporate culture. What’s your corporate culture?

Trade shows present many opportunities beyond sales meetings. They are an occasion to see new products, spot trends and network. While it is natural to line up your sales team in a phalanx when a competitor strolls by your booth, there may be benefits in meeting other vendors, speaking with them about their successes, and being open to synergistic prospects not possible for your company to achieve on its own. Like licensing, co-branding will expand your product line and can introduce your brand to a new segment of retailers and their customers…