GUEST BLOG: Five Ways To Drive Customer Conversion Rates In Your Stores by Mark Ryski

The following is a guest blog written by Mark Ryski. Ryski is the founder and CEO of HeadCount, an analytics firm specializing in store traffic and conversion, serving retailers across North America. He is also the author of Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric. For more information, visit

Same-store sales are looking a little flat and retailers need to find ways to deliver better results. There’s still a scent of the financial melt-down lingering, but you have survived that crisis and it’s time to start getting the sales needle to move in a positive direction.

There are three main ways to drive sales in stores: (1) encourage more prospective buyers to visit your store; (2) increase your average ticket; and (3) increase your conversion rate — that is, sell to more of the prospects already visiting your stores, but don’t buy.

To a great extent, retail sales have been a two-trick pony: drive more prospective traffic and increase the average ticket. Driving more prospects into your stores usually requires an advertising or promotional investment of some kind, and many retailers focus on increasing the average ticket. But what about conversion rate? It is a third trick every retailer needs to learn, and another sales opportunity that most retailers today completely overlook.

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GUEST BLOG: Top 10 Steel Toys of All Time by Becky Cunningham

The following is a guest blog written by Becky Cunningham, a contributor for Capital Steel & Wire, Inc. and a writer with expertise in communication and public relations. Capital Steel & Wire, Inc. is a supplier of domestic and international steel bar and wire products.

Throughout history, millions of dolls, trucks, board games, balls, stuffed animals, crafts, and other toys have been introduced for children of all ages and generations. The best toys of all time are debatable, but there are those few standard toys that have made an important mark in the life of the American child. What’s more significant is that these toys have one fundamental feature in common—they are all made of steel. Check out our list of the top 10 steel toys of all time.

1. Slinky

“It’s Slinky! It’s Slinky! For fun it’s a wonderful toy. It’s Slinky! It’s Slinky! It’s fun for a girl or a boy.”  Slinky—and its famous jingle—is certainly a childhood classic; the slogan speaks for itself. But what the slogan doesn’t say is “It’s steel! It’s steel!” The ever-popular Slinky, developed in 1943 by mechanical engineer Richard James, was a hit the moment it was available in stores. In November 1945, Gimbels Department Store sold its entire inventory of Slinkys in just 90 minutes.

This “walking” toy was actually an accidental creation. In an attempt to develop springs to support sensitive instruments aboard ships in war time, James inadvertently created a spring that bounced around different levels of his workshop and recoiled into an upright position. Fascinated by this discovery, he experimented with different types of steel and tensions, and, a year later, made a spring that would walk—the Slinky.

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Kidscreen 2011 – The Golden Ticket

by Ryan Conti

Have you ever wondered how SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, and Chuggington came to be? We know that the right product connected to the right audience puts millions of dollars into everyone’s coffers. he Kidscreen Summit, held last month at the Hilton New York, welcomed people from all over the world, giving them the opportunity to pitch their properties to various production companies.
I liken the Kidscreen Summit to Roald Dahl’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the five golden tickets, but everyone has a chance at success. The stakes are high, the payoff enormous. There are so many benefits to attending, where do I begin?

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GUEST BLOG: The Generation Born Online is Changing Business Models

by Andy Marken, Marken Communications

If you’re a parent, you have to wonder how a kid can start out knowing zip, zero, nada and in the blink of an eye, they’re rocket scientists! Our son was always handy in managing the VCR, but now that everything is online who cares?

Today’s youngsters—the iGen (interconnected)—don’t know what a VCR is or video tape, they were born wired. Instead of being propped up in front of a television, they’re online.

It’s estimated that 40 percent of U.S. children under the age of 12 will go online at least once a month this year. Nearly half will do so by 2015.

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GUEST BLOG: Co-Founder Marshall Gavin Tells the B. Dazzle Story

by Marshall P. Gavin, co-founder and executive vice president of b. dazzle, Inc.

In today’s tough economy, when mass-market discount import products are an increasing share of the market, b. dazzle, inc. bucks the trend by choosing to manufacture in North America and directs its efforts only to the specialty retail market. The company’s values include quality products that are wholesome, cross-generational, fun, and mind-stimulating; personal service recognizing the importance of every customer; a commitment to the American economy and the small business sector; and a strong commitment to high ethical standards.

In 1993, my wife, Kathie, and I lost our jobs in corporate America within six months of each other. We looked for new employment, but there was a terrible recession in Southern California in the early ’90s, and we were unable to find anything locally. After a few months of no additional prospects, our savings ran out and our home went into foreclosure.

Kathie always had a dream of creating a puzzle based upon patterns she studied in school, specifically ancient Egyptian ”heads and tails” tile matching games. Recognizing that we were at a point of losing everything anyway, I suggested to Kathie that it was the perfect time to take the risk of starting a business to produce and distribute her puzzle idea, and we wrote a business plan.

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