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Main Street shopping is dying, retailers struggle to keep up with Amazon

(NEWS) As popularity in online shopping increases, the need for brick and mortar stores is rapidly declining.

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Good ol’ Main Street

Back in the day you could buy everything you needed on Main Street. Then Main Street was swapped out for malls and shopping centers and then those for Super Targets/Walmarts.

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Now Amazon (and a few others, but mostly Amazon) has come in and scooped up all of the foot traffic that used to go to those stores.

Brick and mortar break down

Brick and mortar is on the way out (honestly, it’s been on the way out) and Amazon just keeps picking up steam (at least 152 million active accounts)! Malls used to be filled with wandering teens and busy shoppers.

Who wants to go out to a store and buy something you don’t immediately need when it can be delivered to your doorstep in 48 hour’s time?

Timeliness is next to godliness

I think we all know the answer. Online is cheaper, faster, and more convenient. We don’t have to deal with parking or going to a store, only for them to not have the item we are looking to purchase.

Online, there are no crowds, no annoying sales people bugging us every five seconds when, in today’s culture, we know what we want, when we want it and how to get it, without anyone’s help.

Clicking a button or two and getting exactly what we want is the dream experience and it’s no longer a dream!

Amazon has got it goin’ on

According to a ReadyCloud.com article from February 2016, Amazon has 183 million products! What local store can say that?! With all of their goods they could stock 1290 Walmart Super Centers.

The number of monthly visitors to Amazon could fill 80 Mall of Americas or 60 Disney Lands.

And to further set themselves apart Amazon created this little thing you might have heard of, “Prime,” back in 2005 that offers two days guaranteed shipping!

A little bit of everyone is using Amazon

Nineteen percent of Millennials, 16 percent of Gen X-ers and 11 percent of Baby Boomers have a prime account and the number of Prime accounts (which comes with guaranteed two-day shipping) has increased 35 percent since 2015. Now, in 29 cities, those who have prime accounts can get items within an hour. In 1000 additional cities, Prime account holders can get same day shipping!

It’s pretty damn hard to compete with that and companies like Macy’s, JCPenny, and many others aren’t.

Several retail chains are closing storefronts left and right and while some try to salvage business by moving online, others are just dying out.

Moving past main street

As much as I like to romanticize Main Street and the role it has played in America’s history, it’s just not a sustainable concept. Just ask Wet Seal, J. Crew, Nine West, True Religion, and Payless (all of whom are on the chopping block). Macy’s has been dubbed a high credit risk this years by Moody’s which means they’re also in trouble, and Claire’s has a huge payment coming up on their $1.79B in bond debt and most doubt they’ll be able to make it, so they’re also in line for serious troubles.

The bottom line is that people want the cheapest and easiest shopping experience possible.Click To Tweet

In today’s society, easy shopping comes by a click of the mouse and a ring of the doorbell – not driving, walking, talking, searching and still maybe not finding what we are looking for. We already have zombie malls that are vacated and sometimes revitalized as schools, but most are just becoming dilapidated, abandoned lots – will this happen to brick and mortars small and large?

Whether it is Amazon or merely shopping on a company’s site instead at their store front, online is in and sadly, Main Street is out.

#ByeByeBrickAndMortar

Pam Garner is a Staff Writer for The American Genius with a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas, currently pursuing her master's degree in graphic and web design. Pam is a multi-disciplined creative who hopes to one day actually finish her book on all of her crazy adventures.

Business News

Sneak peek at what Gen Z wants from employers

(BUSINESS) Gen Z is up and coming in the workforce. Grab their attention and keep them on board with these tips for employers.

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If I had been born one Olympic Games cycle later, I could include myself in Gen Z. Alas, I’m classified as a Millennial, and now that Gen Z is growing up, marketers and businesses are after this fresher generation’s attention.

While there’s no exact start and end date to who counts as Gen Z, demographers and statisticians generally consider this generation as people born between the mid 1990s and mid 2000s.

Also referred to as Post-Millennials, Gen Z is defined by kids who grew up using the internet at a young age, and are comfortable with social media and technology.

Now that the older end of Gen Z is preparing to graduate college, a new demographic is entering the workforce. Employers who were previously scrambling to attract Millennials are now after the freshest crop of recruits.

Bazaarvoice, a social strategy company that connects brands to consumers, weighs in on what Gen Z is looking for when it comes to employment. 73% of their workforce are Millennials, so Bazaarvoice clearly knows how to attract and retain young talent.

Based on their research and experiences, Bazaarvoice dug into what Gen Z wants from companies, and how businesses can work to reach this upcoming group.

Like Millennials, Gen Z are considered digital natives, aka people who were raised using technology rather than acquiring familiarity at an older age. However, this doesn’t mean Gen Z wants the same thing as Millennials in a career.

Gen Z kids grew up during a time of social progress, and tend to value inclusion for all demographics. Equal marriage rights, electing a black president, and more vocal religious diversity were not historical moments for this generation, but rather a normal part of life.

This is the most diverse generation to date, and they expect to see this reflected in their workplace. A commitment to diversity as well as clearly established company values will draw in this new batch of employees.

Companies should consider providing initiatives like matching charitable donations, paid time off for volunteer days, or even volunteer opportunities directly through work. According to Bazaarvoice, “equality is non-negotiable” for Gen Z.

Employers should ensure their hiring practices bring diverse candidates to the recruitment pool with “blind” screening, no gender pay gaps, and a welcoming workplace that celebrates diverse identities.

And make sure to really stick with and clearly communicate these initiatives and values, because Gen Z will certainly put in the research. Expect your Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and social media pages to be thoroughly analyzed by this tech-savvy generation. Any indiscretion will be noted.

Your employer brand must be consistent across the board to provide honest expectations to a generation wary of hollow advertisements. Including current employee stories in your promotions aids authenticity since this group prefers recommendations from people, not ads.

Once you’ve got Gen Z’s attention with your company values, you have to match their ambition as well.

Gen Z isn’t going to settle for some low pay, crap benefits position. Since a significant portion owes on student loans for education they’ve acquired to work for you, they’ll hope to be fairly compensated with a competitive salary and decent benefits.

This generation grew up with social media influencers and young CEOs rising to fame, so they’re quite independent and motivated. Gen Zers don’t want to feel like part of the machine, they want to make a real impact even at an entry-level position.

Offer chances for autonomy, personal growth, and continued education to appeal to this incredibly motivated group. Gen Z makes up around a quarter of the population, and employers who put in the effort to reach this group will benefit as more Gen Zers enter the workforce.

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Business News

How to level the gender playing field in tech (and other industries)

(BUSINESS NEWS) One job search site has a reasonable answer to solving the gender gap problem in today’s workforce, and others should take note.

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As an employer, you should be screening employees based on qualifications and preferences, not a candidate’s gender. This seems obvious, but even the most well-meaning employers and recruiters are subject to the curse of implicit bias.

Implicit bias comes into play when unconscious attitudes or stereotypes about someone’s gender, sex, race, ethnicity, age, religion or other identifying features are used to judge that individual’s competency. This is different from known biases, where a person is aware of any stereotypes they may believe, but may choose to not disclose their views.

Major universities including Harvard and Yale teamed up to create Project Implicit, a series of implicit-association tests (IAT) to detect implicit bias through a series of quick associations. Their popular Gender-Career IAT “often reveals a relative link between family and females and between career and males.”

The test has users pair pre-established names of men and women with family and career words. Test takers are prompted in one round to quickly match pre-categorized masculine names with words typically associated with family, while the next may have users pair feminine names with career words.

Based on hesitation and accuracy, users get an interpretation of their potential implicit biases. This comes into play with employee screening, where something as simple as seeing a name on a resume can influence an employer, even in the absence of known biases.

In a Skidmore University study, social psychologist Corrine Moss-Racusin created two identical, fictitious resumes for a lab manager position. The resumes only differed in name, with one fake applicant named Jennifer, the other John.

Different versions were sent out to STEM professors across the country for evaluation. Overall, the “Jennifer” resume received less interest, and was recommended a salary that was on average $4000 less than the identical “John” resume.

Implicit gendered bias was even present in women scientists who participated in reviewing the resumes. In the STEM field, women are underrepresented. Especially in tech, men are disproportionally hired over women.

So what can be done to level the playing field for gender when even a name could make employers think women candidates are less qualified?

Stop looking at names when initially researching a candidate. Okay, I know this is easier said than done and isn’t feasible if you’re screening through normal process of resume submission and in-person hiring events.

But if you use an online source, more platforms are offering solutions for fairer hiring practices that allow you to blind screen employees during initial rounds.

For example, job search site Woo offers anonymity for prospective employees, only revealing a candidate’s name and profile with their permission. During the initial pairing process, skills and background are shared, but other details are not available.

When setting up a talent profile, potential employees fill out a wish list, telling Woo about ideal opportunities, like higher salary, company culture, or desire to work with new technology. Likewise, employers set up their profile to reflect what their different positions can offer.

Using an AI algorithm, Woo calibrates employer with employee preferences to make relevant offers. During this step, user’s identities are hidden until they find an opportunity that matches preferences and actively choose to share their expanded profile with that company.

Woo even adjusts education and work history “so that it’s completely generic and less personal” to provide further identity cloaking. (Bonus: if you’re job hunting on the DL, Woo won’t pair you with current or past employers.)

This means employers can’t apply implicit or explicit bias based on name or profile information that may reveal personal details like gender or race.

Once a user chooses to share this information, employers are free to Google and social media hunt the prospective employee to their heart’s content.

Until then, talent benefits from being seen solely for their skills and experience. This can help level the playing field, especially in the tech industry, which is notoriously skewed towards hiring men.

Major companies like Lyft, Wix, and Microsft are already using Woo, and the service is available to employees in the United States and Israel.

Other job sites should consider scrubbing personal details like gender and name for initial searches and matches when showing results to employers. This can help eliminate bias based on gender and other personal factors.

If you’re seeking a job, you can use Woo for free. Employers can submit info to get contacted by Woo about joining up and staring a better, bias free recruitment process.

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Business News

As soda sales slump, companies consider crazy coffee

(BUSINESS NEWS) Retail trends continue to shift as new generations demand innovation – soda sales are slumping and brands are looking to coffee as the answer.

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Since the 1950s, beverage companies have been concerned with the shift of market share from soda to coffee in terms of breakfast and afternoon drink staples. Well now, that fortune has been reversed. According to analysis by the Washington Post, coffee may once again trump the caffeinated drink market, leaving soda manufacturers to question what may come next, while planning a strategy to enter the playing field.

The slump in soda sales are causing some beverage manufacturers and parent companies looking to merge or acquire others in order to hook the consumer throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Considering that in late 2017, Coca-Cola acquired hipster sparkling water favorite Topo Chico, other companies are falling in line to make sure that their reach goes beyond the high fructose corn syrup.

The secretive JAB Holdings, the German parent company of Panera Bread, Keurig, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, acquired Dr Pepper and Snapple, making this 40+ drink brand company a bigger player than ever in the search for “the new soda.”

So what is going to be the “new soda”? One answer companies may have is the coffee beverages that are certainly similar to their current soda line-up. Outside of Pepsi and Coca Cola, bottling ready-made java drinks on behalf of Starbucks and Pepsi, some brands are really leaning into “soda, but not” for their coffee beverages.

The 2017 National Coffee Drinking Trends Report predicted four of the big trendy brands that soda is up against: regular cold brew, sparkling cold brew, nitro joe on draft, and ready-to-drink coffee products. Stumptown Roasters, underneath the Dr Pepper and Keurig mega brand umbrella, has been producing sparkling cold brew since early 2017, which seems unlikely to change in light of these market trends.

The morning mud appears to be an American drink pastime that isn’t going away, with the millennial and Gen Z market wanting exciting coffee innovations to keep their interest and cash loyalty. Soda companies, in this day and age, are struggling to balance their brand portfolio to make sure that dollar keeps flowing, just like their beverages.

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