Trends and predictions are part and parcel with the start of a new calendar year. One area in which trends are analyzed at the beginning of the year involves the retail market segment. There are a number of retail trends that are likely to dominate the scene in 2018.
A major 2018 retail trend will center on grocery eCommerce. A primary reason a focus in 2018 will be on grocery eCommerce is associated with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and Walmart’s decision to up its game when it comes to online grocery marketing.
Prior to the latter part of 2017, U.S. citizens lagged behind their international counterparts when it came to grocery eCommerce. All of that is expected to change in 2018 due to a significant uptick in the number of U.S. consumers who will embrace grocery eCommerce.
Forbes, the widely read business magazine, traditionally makes predictions pertaining to retail trends at the start of a new year. In 2018, the magazine focused on one major trend to pay attention to in the retail market segment in 2018. Specifically, the “big trend” to watch for in 2018 is that a multitude of retailers, from different market segments, will finally concede that they must embrace change.
Embracing change does primarily involve so-called traditional retailers, including those stores that have been in business for more extended periods of time. These enterprises have long held firm to the principle that retailers determine what a customer should desire to purchase. These enterprises also believed that retailers held the keys as to how customers shop.
In reality, that has not been the case for quite some time. In fact, in the digital age, customers truly to define the shopping experience on all levels. 2018 is marked to be the year in which retailers reluctant to accept this reality will finally do so.
With a notable number of traditional retailers closing their doors forever, many others muttered the mantra that 2017 was a year to survive. Those that made it into 2018 are expected to be seen realizing that they must change and embracing that process.
2017 say the cryptocurrency world garner attention from the media and large swaths of the public. By the last quarter of 2017, a growing number of retailers were also starting to take notice of cryptocurrency.
Thus far, cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, has been regarded as an asset class rather than a type of currency or form of payment. A trend among some retailers in 2018 will the integration of cryptocurrency into their sales systems. As part of this effort, some retailers will take the step of holding onto whatever cryptocurrency or currencies they elect to accept from consumers. This will eliminate the fees associated with conversion to U.S. dollars following a cryptocurrency purchase.
The one benefit that brick and mortar stores have over online retailers is face-to-face human interaction. Increasing the tech availabilities of retail staff, and eliminating the checkout counter, is thought to be a sure way to enhance the overall human interaction between patrons and staff at retailers in the brick and mortar world.
2018 will not be the year in which robots start to populate retailers floor space in the brick and mortar world in large numbers. There actually will be an uptick in the visibility of robots and automation in brick and mortar stores, but the real trend in robotics will be behind the scenes in retail fulfillment centers.
Major online retailers, with Amazon leading the way, will incorporate robots into the work of more of their fulfillment centers in 2018. In 2017, Amazon had robots in action in about 20 percent of their fulfillment centers. That number will increase, and noticeably so, in 2018. Similarly, other retailers will utilize robots more broadly in their fulfillment operations during 2018.
Guest Blogger: Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage a leading company that provides Internet fax service for individuals and businesses.
Over the past decade, technology completely transformed the marketing and advertising industry, but it’s rarely discussed how it changed the PR industry. Back in the day, at the dawn of the internet, issuing press releases used to be the most common method of keeping your key publics, as well as the general public, informed about some important activities of your company, increasing exposure, and expanding your reach. Nowadays, there are more personal and direct ways to contact your target audience and let them know that you’re about to launch a new product or service, enhance your brand recognition, or improve your company image.
There’s no doubt that social media platforms have changed the face of communication. If we bear in mind that Facebook has 2,01 billion monthly active users, or that Twitter boasts 328 million people who share their thoughts and ideas within its 140-character limit, it’s clear that together with Instagram and LinkedIn, these social networks enable companies to break the fourth wall and enter their audiences’ lives on a more profound level. Successful companies combine their PR, development of a visual brand and social media efforts in order to create an effective two-way communication channel with their target audiences.
Apart from using social media networks to announce new products and all kinds of events, you can also take advantage of your audience’s comments, suggestions, and frequently asked questions to create relatable content, and even improve your products’ functionalities thus meeting your audience’s needs.
Of course, the development of digital media doesn’t mean that you should stop paying attention to traditional marketing channels. There are certain demographics that can be reached almost exclusively through traditional media. That’s why it’s essential to employ a comprehensive media and PR strategy that will extend your reach, as well as, access all your potential customers.
As of late, marketing and sales can’t be imagined without the use of AI. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, 75% of surveyed executives said that they would actively implement AI in their companies within the following three years. All kinds of automation tools make things much easier and improve customer experience. Chatbots are among them, and now many websites feature these little gadgets that help their customers solve some common issues or even pick a product they need. Since PR and customer service are closely related in the sense that bad customer service results in negative PR, while great customer service can do wonders for PR, it goes without saying that if you want to make your customers happy thus creating an impeccable reputation, you need to provide them with the latest technology tools. Luckily, modern chatbots can perfectly impersonate human interaction, which means that you can engage your customers in a friendly, personal chat and start building trust.
One of the most frequent questions regarding PR is how to calculate its ROI. This is one of the biggest shortcomings of the traditional PR since it’s extremely difficult to identify which PR tactics are effective and which should be improved. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you establish whether a tactic manages to drive engagement and to what extent. Also, it’s worth mentioning that many marketers use Google Analytics in a superficial manner, that is only to keep track of monthly visitor count, and they fail to use its other, more complex features to the fullest. Google Analytics segments can make a big difference in the way you analyze the data you’ve collected and provide you with more detailed insight into various metrics.
This is one of the most popular buzzwords of the moment, as almost all companies, both small startups, and the industry giants, believe that employing influencers is critical for their image and reputation. Influencer marketing is similar to celebrity endorsements, and the main difference between these two strategies lies in the fact that celebrities lend their names and a portion of their fame to brands, but this doesn’t imply that they have to be experts when it comes to the products they’re endorsing.
On the other hand, influencers try out, test, and research the products they recommend, and their followers are convinced that their expertise in a particular niche guarantees that the product they are promoting is of the best quality. A stunning 94% of marketers that participated in a recent research study said that they believed in the effectiveness of influencer marketing. This strategy is, undoubtedly, capable of being extremely beneficial for PR, and despite some controversies, it has been gaining momentum ever since its appearance.
Content obviously rules. It’s indispensable in both marketing and PR, and creating a brand story is crucial for attracting your prospects and capturing their attention, as well as for improving your brand image. When we’re talking about content, it’s important to stress that it refers to any element of your interaction with your customers, and it includes blogging, advertisements, social media posts, press releases, white papers, emails, websites, and landing pages. Even details, such as email signatures, play an important role in creating a positive image and reputation.
Producing quality content should be your first and foremost concern, not only because you want to educate and entertain your customers, but also as it’s a powerful weapon against negative brand advocates. You can count on the fact that you’ll have your fair share of PR and marketing rough patches, such as people sharing some negative experiences with your brand on social media, and that’s where awesome content will come to your rescue and save the day.
Sometimes negative customer experiences can’t be prevented, and if you think that ignoring bad comments and angry customers is an excellent PR strategy, you’re wrong. It’s important to handle such incidents in a professional manner and turn these potential PR disasters into triumphs, and that’s why a great narrative, paired with impressive communication skills, is a must.
Technology is of paramount importance to the PR industry, and it can be a game-changer in building and maintaining a positive public image.
Guest Blogger: Nate Vickrey is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also the executive editor at Bizzmark Blog and an author on TheNextWeb.
How do you get a mobile app for your big idea or business? The solutions to this question is addressed in Mobile Road Map to Success by J.R. Atkins, MBA. “When I first developed this material I was working closely with entrepreneurs developing mobile apps and companies seeking to add mobile apps to their business lines. As I reflect on this content, a few years later, it’s still sound thinking and applicable today.”
One example of continued relevance is the dominance of iOS and Android operating systems over Blackberry, Microsoft, and Symbian. Microsoft still is active on their platform but it just never took off with independent developers who dominate the mobile app development field.
Another example of relevant content is the mobile app development process represented by the flow chart below. I still run across people who say they have an idea for a mobile app but have not taken step one, which is creating a written description.
A third example of continued relevance is the basic cost associated with mobile app development. I would have guessed that this would have changed but, since they are general categories, the price points still hold true.
Even though time has passed and application development has improved, these are still reasonable guidelines to use in early planning. For more details and the rest of the story on Mobile Road Map to Success, check out the book on Amazon.
I look forward to seeing your comments and questions.
J.R. Atkins has been speaking, teaching and consulting on Social Media since 2008. He has a BA in Marketing from Texas A&M University, an MBA from The University of Phoenix, Dallas Campus and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He has published 3 books: Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Mobile Road Map to Success. His company, Something Different Companies, works with churches, individuals and companies to implement effective online communication strategies.