It may seem off-putting at first, but in time we’ll all be thankful.
Laurel & Tercel
Long emails are the worst. Unless you absolutely need to send one, you shouldn’t (if the need is real, consider a phone call or in-person conversation).
And yet, instead of telling people to kindly boil it down, we trudge through their emails, wasting time. Or we risk missing valuable information by reading past dense blocks of text.
Neither strategy is effective. Nor is being rude to colleagues, friends, or potential business partners. One CEO has a simple solution:
“I work a lot through email and text. I make it my goal to review what has come in and separate those that I can answer,” says Beth Ford, the chief executive of Land O’ Lakes, in a recent interview with Fast Company.
“I also always say to my team: ‘Please don’t write me a novel, I won’t read it.’ I just don’t have the time. Instead, write in the subject line what it is that this is about. And tell me upfront–is a decision needed, or do you need me to look at something, or is it a ‘When you have time, take a look at this’?–so I can prioritize effectively and be responsive when I need to be.”
Simple as that, if everyone included this line at the end of their emails—”Please don’t write me a novel, I won’t read it”—in time, the novels would stop coming. Yes, it’s blunt. Yes, some people will perceive it as “too blunt.” Yes, those people are wrong.
Part of being an effective employee is ensuring you’re productive and efficient. Another part of being an effective employee is building positive relationships with your coworkers, which means they will probably send you long messages sometimes.
The beauty of Ford’s subject-line advice is that she is not dismissing the content of a long email you may send her or chastising you for sending it. Instead, she’s just telling you that due to the reality that time is fixed and work is ever-increasing, she will not be reading your email if it’s very long. This notification is both informative and actionable, as the recipient could easily re-send a more concise email or request a conversation.
Ford’s request also exposes conventional email subject lines for what they are, which is generally useless.
One major reason why messaging platforms like Slack have become so popular is that they enable quick, direct communication by cutting down on niceties we don’t really need. Whereas I once wrote my editors emails with vague subject lines like “Question about that story I just wrote,” I can now Slack message them, directly asking the question without preface. Directness and honesty are in, not only because they facilitate deeper workplace relationships, but also because they just make life easier, and more efficient.
If any semblance of “be more productive” is on your New Years’ resolutions list, consider making like Ford, and refusing the novels—especially if you’re a leader. Ample research suggests that when leaders model behavior, the rest of the pack follows suit.
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by Dermot Davitt firstname.lastname@example.org Source: ©The Moodie Davitt Report 30 June 2019
MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA. The Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) hosted its annual training event from 24 to 26 June at the Roda Al Bustan Hotel in Dubai, attracting a record 38 delegates from association members. Representatives from MEADFA members gather in Dubai for the latest training event from 24 to 26 June, with the focus on sales and marketing techniques and trends; stand-out team members (below) were rewarded by the association at the event. It is the fourth year in which marketing and sales executives have gathered through MEADFA to share knowledge and explore trends in the travel retail business. Corporate learning consultancy Laurel & Tercel Founder and CEO Ms. Iman Ousseyran chaired the event, which aimed to explore the forces that will shape travel retail over the next decade. The event introduced modern marketing tools to delegates, with a focus on customer relationship marketing, online marketing, social media and interactive marketing. The Sales & Marketing Forum is a new programme for MEADFA, and the latest step in its ‘Learning Together’ programme. The association launched its first learning & development event in 2006, and since then has delivered training to 550 representatives from MEADFA members through 25 programmes. MEADFA President Haitham Al Majali commented: “We are proud to be able to bring delegates from so many different markets together every year to such a high-level learning and development event. The sharing of experiences is invaluable. I’m sure the benefits will be immediately visible with the increased productivity of delegates.” MEADFA said in a statement: “The continuous increase in numbers of delegates and the eagerness to continue to attend MEADFA training programmes and forums year after year prove MEADFA’s commitment to the development of people. MEADFA, by using its resources, created this platform to support its members and provide them with the latest market trends, information and skills.”
In the middle of an economic recovery, hundreds of shops and malls are shuttering. The reasons why go far beyond Amazon.
DEREK THOMPSON / APR 10, 2017 / The Atlantic / Business
From rural strip-malls to Manhattan’s avenues, it has been a disastrous two years for retail.
There have been nine retail bankruptcies in 2017—as many as all of 2016. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears have each announced more than 100 store closures. Sports Authority has liquidated, and Payless has filed for bankruptcy. Last week, several apparel companies’ stocks hit new multi-year lows, including Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, and American Eagle, and Ralph Lauren announced that it is closing its flagship Polo store on Fifth Avenue, one of several brands to abandon that iconic thoroughfare.
A deep recession might explain an extinction-level event for large retailers. But GDP has been growing for eight straight years, gas prices are low, unemployment is under 5 percent, and the last 18 months have been quietly excellent years for wage growth, particularly for middle- and lower-income Americans.
So, what the heck is going on? The reality is that overall retail spending continues to grow steadily if a little meagerly. But several trends—including the rise of e-commerce, the over-supply of malls, and the surprising effects of a restaurant renaissance—have conspired to change the face of American shopping.
Here are three explanations for the recent demise of America’s storefronts.
1. People are simply buying more stuff online than they used to.
The simplest explanation for the demise of brick-and-mortar shops is that Amazon is eating retail. Between 2010 and last year, Amazon’s sales in North America quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion. Sears’ revenue last year was about $22 billion so you could say Amazon has grown by three Sears in six years. Even more remarkable, according to several reports, half of all U.S. households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.
But the full story is bigger than Amazon. Online shopping has done well for a long time in media and entertainment categories, like books and music. But easy return policies have made online shopping cheap, easy, and risk-free for consumers in apparel, which is now the largest e-commerce category. The success of start-ups like Casper, Bonobos, and Warby Parker (in beds, clothes, and glasses, respectively) has forced physical-store retailers to offer similar deals and convenience online.
What’s more, mobile shopping, once an agonizing experience of typing private credit-card digits in between pop-up ads, is getting easier thanks to apps and mobile wallets. Since 2010, mobile commerce has grown from 2 percent of digital spending to 20 percent.
The Growth of Mobile Shopping
People used to make several trips to a store before buying an expensive item like a couch. They would go once to browse options, again to narrow down their favorites, and again to finally pull the trigger on a blue velvet love seat. On each trip, they were likely to make lots of other small purchases as they wandered around. But today many consumers can do all their prep online, which means less ambling through shopping centers and less making incidental purchases at adjacent stores (“I’m tired, let’s go home … oh wait, there’s a DSW right there, I need new sneakers”).
There will always be a place for stores. People like surveying glitzy showrooms and running their fingers over soft fabrics. But the rise of e-commerce not only moves individual sales online but also builds new shopping habits, so that consumers gradually see the living room couch as a good-enough replacement for their local mall.
2. America built way too many malls.
There are about 1,200 malls in America today. In a decade, there might be about 900. That’s not quite the “the death of malls.” But it is a decline, and it is inevitable.
The number of malls in the U.S. grew more than twice as fast as the population between 1970 and 2015, according to Cowen Research. By one measure of consumerist plentitude—shopping center “gross leasable area”—the U.S. has 40 percent more shopping space per capita than Canada, five times more the U.K., and 10 times more than Germany. So it’s no surprise that the Great Recession provided such a devastating blow: Mall visits declined 50 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to the real-estate research firm Cushman and Wakefield, and they’ve kept falling every year since.
Shopping Space per Person, by Country
In a long and detailed paper this week on the demise of stores, Cowen Research analysts offered several reasons for the “structural decay” of malls following the Great Recession. First, they said that stagnating wages and rising health-care costs squeezed consumer spending on fun stuff, like clothes. Second, the recession permanently hurt logo-driven brands, like Hollister and Abercrombie, that thrived during the 1990s and 2000s, when coolness in high-school hallways was defined by the size of the logo emblazoned on a polo shirt. Third, as consumers became bargain-hunters, discounters, fast-fashion outlets, and club stores took market share from department stores, like Macy’s and Sears.
Finally, malls are retail bundles, and when bundles unravel, the collateral damage is massive. (For example, look at pay TV, where ESPN has bled millions of subscribers in the last few years as one of its key demographics, young men, abandon the cable bundle that is critical to ESPN’s distribution.) In retail, when anchor tenants like Macy’s fail, that means there are fewer Macy’s stragglers to amble over to American Eagle. Some stores have “co-tenancy” clauses in malls that give them the right to break the lease and leave if an anchor tenant closes its doors. The failure of one or more department stores can ultimately shutter an entire mall.
3. Americans are shifting their spending from materialism to meals out with friends.
Even if e-commerce and overbuilt shopping space conspired to force thousands of retail store closings, why is this meltdown happening while wages for low-income workers are rising faster than any time since the 1990s?
First, although rising wages are obviously great for workers and the overall economy, they can be difficult for low-margin companies that rely on cheap labor—like retail stores. Cashiers and retail salespeople are the two largest job categories in the country, with more than 8 million workers between them, and the median income for both occupations is less than $25,000 a year. But recently, new minimum-wage laws and a tight labor market have pushed up wages for the poorest workers, squeezing retailers who are already under pressure from Amazon.
Second, clothing stores have declined as consumers shifted their spending away from clothes toward traveling and dining out. Before the Great Recession, people bought a lot of stuff, like homes, furniture, cars, and clothes, as retail grew dramatically in the 1990s. But something big has changed. Spending on clothes is down—its share of total consumer spending has declined by 20 percent this century.
What’s up? Travel is booming. Hotel occupancy is booming. Domestic airlines have flown more passengers each year since 2010, and last year U.S. airlines set a record, with 823 million passengers. The rise of restaurants is even more dramatic. Since 2005, sales at “food services and drinking places” have grown twice as fast as all other retail spending. In 2016, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money in restaurants and bars than at grocery stores.
Non-Food Retail vs. Restaurants and Bars: 1992-2016
There is a social element to this, too. Many young people are driven by the experiences that will make the best social media content—whether it’s a conventional beach pic or a well-lit plate of glistening avocado toast. Laugh if you want, but these sorts of questions—“what experience will reliably deliver the most popular Instagram post?”—really drive the behavior of people ages 13 and up. This is a big deal for malls, says Barbara Byrne Denham, a senior economist at Reis, a real-estate analytics firm. Department stores have failed as anchors, but better food, entertainment, and even fitness options might bring teens and families back to struggling malls, where they might wander into brick-and-mortar stores that are currently at risk of closing.
There is no question that the most significant trend affecting brick-and-mortar stores is the relentless march of Amazon and other online retail companies. But the recent meltdown for retail brands is equally about the legacy of the Great Recession, which punished logo-driven brands, put a premium on experiences (particularly those that translate into social media moments), and unleashed a surprising golden age for restaurants.
Finally, a brief prediction. One of the mistakes people make when thinking about the future is to think that they are watching the final act of the play. Mobile shopping might be the most transformative force in retail—today. But self-driving cars could change retail as much as smartphones.
Once autonomous vehicles are cheap, safe, and plentiful, retail and logistics companies could buy up millions, seeing that cars can be stores and streets are the ultimate real estate. In fact, self-driving cars could make shopping space nearly obsolete in some areas. CVS could have hundreds of self-driving minivans stocked with merchandise roving the suburbs all day and night, ready to be summoned to somebody’s home by smartphone. A new luxury-watch brand in 2025 might not spring for an Upper East Side storefront, but maybe its autonomous showroom vehicle could circle the neighborhood, waiting to be summoned to the doorstep of a tiny apartment building. Autonomous retail will create new conveniences and traffic headaches, require new regulations, and inspire new business strategies that could take even more businesses out of the commercial real estate. The future of retail could be even weirder yet.