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Don't Send That SurveyMonkey!
There are better ways to get information. Karen Clark Cole offers a masterclass in solving business problems by really observing and listening to your customers.
Here are today’s highlights:
Shopify launches a new tool for merchants.
More direct-to-consumer businesses are finding low-risk ways to venture into retail.
More big companies are trying to attract front-line workers with educational benefits.
In job postings do you take the time to make clear why your employees find their jobs meaningful?
Here’s some advice on how to write an effective job posting:
More big companies are hiring and retaining front-line workers by offering educational benefits: “A study conducted by the research firm Brookings found low-wage industries offered workers less opportunity for advancement over time. It said: ‘Over 10 years, only 43 percent of workers in low-wage occupations leave low-wage work. Moreover, their chances of moving up get smaller and smaller the longer they remain.’ As the war for talent intensifies, forward-looking companies are investing in frontline workers for internal upward mobility. The edtech company Guild Education helps Fortune 500 companies such as Walmart, Disney, and Lowe's facilitate education programs to invest in their frontline workforce by offering not only master's, bachelor's, and associate degrees but also high-school diplomas, management certificates, and courses on English as a second language.”
“In January, Walmart announced it would extend its college-degree and professional-certificate benefits to include employees' spouses and children.”
“Chipotle began offering debt-free degrees to its workers in 2019 and expanded the program last year to include a wider variety of colleges and degrees.” READ MORE
Shopify has launched a new “link in bio” tool, Linkpop, to let merchants sell from other platforms: “The new offering is aimed at creators and allows them to sell products directly from their Linkpop page. Creators and merchants can include important links on the page and also launch storefronts to sell directly on the platforms where they’re engaging with followers. Consumers can then browse a Shopify merchant’s selection of products and make purchases directly on Linkpop without having to leave the app they were using. Merchants can set up an account, link it to their Shopify store and start adding shoppable links to the page. They can also add links to websites, articles, videos, playlists and more.”
“Shoppable links automatically sync with a merchant’s product catalog to feature all of the details that a customer will need before making a purchase. Once a merchant sets up an account, they can share up to 200 links on their Linkpop.”
“Shopify has now launched a new tool to compete with Linktree directly. It’s also competing with the broader ‘link in bio’ market, which includes Shorby, Linkin.bio, Beacons and more.” READ MORE
As online advertising rates rise, more online brands are turning to bricks and mortar: “Some retailers lease their spaces directly, but others have chosen a different approach. On Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, where Another Tomorrow has its store, several other digitally native brands line the streets, including Mack Weldon, Goodlife Clothing and Brooklinen. These companies relied on Leap, one of several start-ups that operate a ‘retail as a service’ model, offering help in leasing and expanding stores and gathering data on shoppers. Leap leases locations in clusters and then subleases them to retailers, said Jared Golden, a co-founder and co-chief executive of Leap.”
“In turn, the brands pay a fee that covers rent, labor and insurance, as well as a percentage fee based on the store’s sales, he said.”
“In addition to shorter leases, some landlords are offering more generous tenant improvement allowances. And taking a percentage of store revenue in lieu of a fixed rent, while not a new strategy, has become more common.”
“‘When you open stores, your business gets much stronger in that region because people are passing by and can just walk in,’ he said, adding that his clientele likes to ‘feel and touch our offerings and get that experience.’” READ MORE
As office head counts tick up, parking battles are raging once again: “Much like a corner office, a primo parking space can convey elevated status. Executives usually enjoy the widest berths and shortest walks. Workers at some firms compete to be named ‘employee of the month,’ often because the honor comes with special parking privileges. In pandemic times, many of those like Mr. Palmer—who resumed their commutes when Covid-19 cases first declined—have felt the precious real estate they claimed for their cars was a just reward for consistently showing up while others stayed home. They’re irked by new returners competing for their spaces.”
“Someone who previously commuted to an office 20 days a month might have paid $200 for a pass, which worked out to $10 a day.”
“That person might now report to an office only 10 days a month and shell out $15 for a single ticket each time. At $150 over a month, it’s a net savings—but it can feel like gouging.” READ MORE
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The price of fertilizer is skyrocketing: “Since Russia invaded Ukraine, shipping companies have avoided docking at St. Petersburg, Russia, to collect goods, Mr. Niang said. That, together with the impact of the West’s financial sanctions against Moscow, means fertilizer exports from Russia—the world’s largest producer—have fallen sharply. Mr. Niang contacted sellers elsewhere, such as in Senegal and Morocco, but was told their order books are full until the end of the year. ‘Maybe we will find one or two options different from Russia, but it’s going to be very expensive,’ he said.”
“Fertilizer prices were already high before the war. They have now reached record levels amid a precipitous drop in Russian supply, according to CRU Group, which analyzes commodity markets.”
“At the same time, more-expensive natural gas, another Russian export and a crucial ingredient in fertilizer-making, has led European fertilizer factories to scale back production.” READ MORE
THE RUSSIAN INVASION
A Ukrainian entrepreneur shares some optimism:
José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen now has 84 kitchens active in Kyiv:
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
This week, Karen Clark Cole offers a masterclass in how Blink helps its clients solve problems—starting with talking to, observing, and understanding their customers, a process that she says works for both big tech companies and small non-tech companies. “What do I always say?” she asks. “Come on! Talk to your customers. Never make it up yourself. Always talk to your customers, get their ideas, get their input. If you’re going to design something that you want your customers or your future customers to use, you’d better understand them.” And she’s not talking about sending out a SurveyMonkey. Plus: I explain why I decided to sell 21 Hats.
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If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren