Coming up I hope :)

I have requested two interviews.

1. Eviction Lab, want to know what is happening with evictions in the USA. Check this site out https://evictionlab.org it's not pretty but it's important to talk about. So i have emailed and asked them for some insights.

2. I also contacted a site that does specialty tea sets. I hope to have someone from the site based in the UK contact me soon for an inerview.

3. I have also sent a request to two more people one expert on heat waves and a company that provides expert witnesses for trials.

C. T.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Zuuzs? Huh? What is that? Patricia Blair Explains In This Edition Of Candid Conversations

Have you heard the expression what do you get for the person who has everything? Or, how about he/she is so difficult to buy for.  Sometimes it is just not easy to find a gift for a person on a good day much less at Christmas.  One of the famous lines people will give when asked about what they want for Christmas is “I don't know.” The flip side is having to deal with a list that is long and or filled with some pretty pricey stuff.

zuuzs.com staff decided to do a survey via its Facebook page, asking friends who they think is the hardest person to buy for.  Though not scientific people responding to the survey picked husbands as the most difficult to buy for.  My reaction to that was, really?  So I contacted Patricia Blair, zuuz's VP of marketing to explain the survey and the concept of zuuzs.  Patricia, great to meet you here on Candid Conversations.

Patricia B: Thank you so much for the opportunity!  It’s a great time of year for zuuzs!

Cliff T: A survey, that is a neat idea.

Patricia B: Well, social media is meant to be an engaging platform, right?  And so we thought, why not ask our friends what they were up to this gift-giving season.

Cliff T: Was this a planned idea or did it just pop up in a meeting?

Patricia B: It just popped up.  Zuuzs was designed to be a socially interactive online shopping site—where shoppers can share they're deals and receive cash back.  So it’s important to us that we also interact with our customers to get their thoughts and ideas.

Cliff T: How many people responded to the post on Facebook?

Patricia B: Almost 1,000 responded to the “Most difficult to buy for?” question. Over 2,000 responded to the open-ended “What do you want most for yourself for Christmas?”  And over 1,000 responded to the specific list of “What was at the top of they're wish lists"? 

 Cliff T: Patricia, I have to admit reading that husbands are harder to buy for than any other group is a surprise, was that your reaction as well?

Patricia B: No, not at all.  I wasn’t surprised because at my house, my spouse is impossible.  First of all, he’d much rather give than get—which works out nicely for the family, but just one Christmas I’d like to WOW him with a gift.  Also, electronics are high on his list, and he’d much rather pick those out himself so he makes sure he gets exactly what he wants.

Cliff T: How are you connecting the results to using the zuuzs site?

Patricia Blair: Zuuzs tries to make our online shopping experience as easy and fun as possible.  The survey helped inform two ways to shop: We designed a holiday shopping page [www.zuuzs.com/shopping/] that arranges gifts by price point and by who you’re shopping for—kids, men, ladies, etc.  So browsing is easy!  Zuuzs also takes our shopper's preferences (for retailers, products and so on), and when someone signs into their zuuzs account, they get an automatic selection of great deals that are most relevant for them specifically.

The holiday shopping page is working so well, we are currently designing a New Year’s Resolutions page for January, coming out next week and a “Love is in the Air” shopping page that will come out in mid- to late-January.

Cliff T: Speaking of zuuzs, what is it and how does it work?

Patricia B: In short, zuuzs shoppers get cash back for shopping with our more than 800 major retailers including Wal-Mart, Nordstrom, Target, Ulta, Macy’s, etc.  Specifically, customers go to zuuzs.com and create a short profile that identifies their favorite stores and products.  Zuuzs customizes they're shopping experiences, pulling the best and most relevant offers from over 800 retailers.  When customers are ready to shop, they click on the deals or the retailers they are interested in, and zuuzs transfers them to the retailers.  Once there, customers make their purchases, and zuuzs sends them they're cash-back reward. Amounts vary, depending on the purchases and retail partner.

Cliff T: How long has zuuzs been around for and does the name zuuzs mean anything in particular?

Patricia B: Zuuzs has been around for just over a year, though we really started promoting it during the first half of 2012.  The zuuzs name came from our founder, tied to a nickname his wife had as a child. Very sweet story.

Cliff T: So wives or anyone else can use the site to shop find what they want and get cash back on purchases, interesting.  What is the typical amount that a person can get from a transaction on zuuzs?

Patricia B: It really depends—on the customer, on the retailer and on the items purchased.  Some of our partners offer up to 10 percent!  But 2-5 percent is the average.

Cliff T: From what I see you have to be a member to get the cash back, that said do you offer special incentives for members and for those who become a member of the zuuzs community?

Patricia B: Basically, it’s really easy to join, and it’s easy to invite your friends into your zuuzs circle. From there, members have access to the good deals and the cash back. 

Cliff T: What are some of the other things members can do, i.e. can they make up wish lists or customize the account to look for special items etc?

Patricia B: One of the things we hear great feedback on from our members is the customized deals that we offer them when they first log on.  Based on each member’s purchases, we scour our retailers for bargains, and offer those up whenever someone first jumps on our site. 

Cliff T: Of course one of the big questions at this time of the year is with respect to shipping.  Patricia, I am assuming that that is dealt with via the merchants on the site?  I am also assuming that clients need to deal with things like returns via the merchant as well.

Patricia B: Yes, once the purchase is made, shipping and returns are between the merchant and the buyer.

Cliff T: Getting back to the survey what were you aiming to do, by that I mean were you looking to get people to think about what they are buying or was this just a fun thing to do?

Patricia B: zuuzs is all about engaging our members—and the survey seemed like a great way to encourage conversation over Facebook!

Cliff T: Besides thinking about what to get what are the other things shoppers should be doing to make it easier to shop online?
Patricia B: Here are some tips for savvy, safe online shopping:

  • Order online and pick up at the store.  Get the browsing benefits of online shopping while still getting near-instant gratification by ordering online and picking up at the store.  And you can save lots of money! 
  • What’s the shopping trifecta?  Retailer rewards + credit card cash (or points) rewards + zuuzs cash back equals maximum rewards for your gift-giving. 
  • Look for free shipping.  Shop online stores that offer free shipping either across the board or when you spend a certain amount in one order.  Many retailers also ship to store for free. 
  • Don’t store credit card information.  Unless you shop an online store frequently, don't allow them to store your credit card information. Many online stores keep your credit card information as the default, so make sure you check this before logging off. 
  • Keep your passwords sacred.  Never save your user names or passwords on computers you share with others. 
  • Shop the “buy x, get y” deals.  You could potentially get enough gifts for all your friends in one fell swoop. And capture the savings. 
  • Skip the gift wrapping upcharge.  It can add $5 or more to your cost. 
  • Read the fine print.  Some retailers don't allow you to use coupons on sale or clearance items. 
  • Save by ordering from out-of-state retailers.  If there are no retailer facilities in your state you save on sales taxes.  For instance, in DFW this translates into about 8 percent; in Chicago about 10 percent savings.  This benefit will likely be legislated out of existence soon, so this may be the last holiday to take advantage of it. 

Cliff T: Well with a name like Zuuzs and concepts like doing surveys to engage members it sounds like you think outside the box and have fun doing it? Is that a fair statement?

Patricia B: Absolutely! That’s the whole point of zuuzs.  We’re serious about saving, but we want to have fun at the same time!

Cliff T: Patricia, I want to thank you for sharing the story about the survey and Zuuzs, it has been fun.

Patricia B: I am always happy to share. And I invite your readers to visit zuuzs and tell us what they think at contact@zuuzs.com.

Patricia Blair is the VP of marketing at zuuzs.com.  Recently zuuzs did a survey on they're Facebook page and found that the majority of people cited husbands as the most difficult people to shop for.

Zuuzs is a site featuring over 800 merchants, members can get cash back by clicking through zuuzs to they're favorite retailer.

Patricia spoke with us via email from her office in Dallas, Texas. 

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