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Next Big Thing: Amazon dashes into farm & ranch

BY HBSDealer Staff

Farm and ranch and cutting-edge e-commerce?

Central Garden & Pet has introduced the Amazon Dash Button for several of its most popular products, making it easier for customers to stay stocked up on things like bird food and flea control products.

The Dash Button is a Wi-Fi connected device that can reorder frequently purchased products with the press of a button.

It can be set up via the Amazon shopping app and connected to one's home Wi-Fi network. Once connected, a single press of the button automatically places the order with Prime Free shipping.

“The landscape for ordering products changes at lightning speed, and with the addition of the Dash Button for AvoDerm, Kaytee, Comfort Zone and Adams, we’re making it easier for pet owners to have the right products available all the time,” stated Rodolfo Spielmann, president of consumer pet products for Central Garden & Pet. “Now it’s even more convenient for consumers to reorder their favorite products like Avoderm dog food or Kaytee products for small animals and birds."

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Obituary: Fred Whyte, former Stihl president

BY HBSDealer Staff

Fred Whyte, former president of Stihl, passed away on Friday, July 7, at the age of 70 after battling an aggressive form of cancer.

Whyte was surrounded by his family at his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at the time of his death.

He had served the company for more than 45 years — 23 of which were spent leading the company to success.

Whyte began his career with Stihl in 1971 as a regional manager for Stihl American, following in his father's footsteps.

After moving up the ranks, he led the company's expansion and operations in Canada at the age of 34. Then, in 1992, Whyte returned to the United States as president of Stihl Inc.

"During Whyte’s tenure as president, he led the company from a moderately-known brand to the number one selling brand of gasoline-powered handheld outdoor power equipment in America," said the company in a statement.

Upon his retirement, he was named sole director and chairman of the Board of Directors for Stihl Inc., and he continued to influence company strategy worldwide from this post.

“We, and the larger Stihl family, are very saddened by the news of Fred’s passing,” said Bjoern Fischer, president of Stihl Inc. “He will be remembered for his extraordinary leadership, passion and personal connections he had with both his customers and his employees.”

Whyte also served as chairman of the board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and president of the Portable Power Equipment Manufacturers Association (PPEMA).

In 2015, the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) recognized Whyte with the Frank Armstrong III Service Award for his contributions to the Virginia manufacturing sector and the association. He was also named honorary member of the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA). In 2016, Whyte was honored by the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates with a joint resolution outlining his successful tenure with Stihl Inc. 

He was a member of Old Dominion University’s Board of Visitors and served as rector from 2013-2014. He also served on the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Children’s Health Foundation Board of Directors.

During his retirement, Whyte stated, “I often say history is a great business teacher. And after working for more than four decades in this industry, I can confirm that substance wins out over style, every time.”

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Retailers hope to steal some Prime Day thunder

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon may be pulling out the stops to lure customers to participate in Prime Day, but competitors are taking steps to grab their own online sales.

The online giant’s third annual Prime Day global shopping extravaganza officially kicked off on Monday, July 10, at 6 pm PST, and will run until the wee hours of morning on July 12. Eager to take advantage of early bird shoppers, Amazon began rolling out sneak previews — and sales opportunities — as early as last week.

On July 5, Amazon gave Alexa shoppers access to more than 100 exclusive deals on Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Amazon Tap, Fire TV or compatible Fire tablets. Voice shoppers will also get first dibs on select Prime Day deals on July 10, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. PST — two hours before the general public.

To sweeten the deal even more, voice deals across “smart home products, devices, chocolates and more [extend] all the way through July 17,” said Assaf Ronen, VP Amazon voice shopping.

The online retailer also launched exclusive pre-sales for its Prime Now customers — a move that promised to get qualifying purchases to members within two hours. These deals, which began on Saturday, July 8, will run through July 11.

Of course, Prime Day was created as a way to boost sales during a typically slow period — and efforts are paying off. Sales for Prime Day 2016 were 60% ahead of the event’s debut in 2015, according to Amazon.

This volume equated to between $500 million and $600 million, or 1.5% of Amazon’s third quarter sales. If that trend continues, Amazon could generate between $800 million and $1 billion in sales from this year’s Prime Day, according to Peter Cohan, strategy and entrepreneurship professor at Babson College.

This volume proves that all retailers — not just Amazon — stand to benefit from the online shopping event. “The opportunity for retailers is to create their own shopping holiday that puts customers first,” said Adrien Nussenbaum, U.S. CEO and co-founder, Mirakl. “By building their own marketplace with a broad assortment of products, [retailers] can truly compete to offer the best customer experience possible.”

Among the retailers taking this advice to heart, Sur La Table launched a one-day shopping event called “Lime Day.” The sale, which is set to launch online and in stores July 10, features more than 300 items on sale for up to 75% off. Stores will also be serving free lime slushies made with the retailer’s Margarita Mix, and employees will be decked out in lime-themed attire.

Newegg is also promoting its third annual "FantasTech" sale. The three-day event, which kicks off on July 11, will feature “deep discounts” on hundreds of products across all tech categories, including external hard drives and computer components to gaming laptops and 4K Ultra HD Smart LED televisions.

Meanwhile, J.C. Penney is hosting its own online-only shopping event, “Penney Palooza.” The second annual two-day sale, which will run July 10-11, will feature “48 hours of non-stop savings,” according to the retailer. 

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