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.
According to Palestinian businessman and entrepreneur Sam Bahour, the people of Palestine have great business ideas, plenty of education, and capital to finance projects. What they need to reduce investment risk is mentoring and partnering with business people from foreign markets. This is exactly what is occurring with Bethlehem Free Trade Artisans.
Bethlehem Free Trade Artisans or BFTA, is a combination non-profit, for-profit organization working to spread the fair-trade message in Palestine and link Palestinian producers to global fair-trade markets. Open since 2009, BFTA has helped local producers reach markets in Europe and the Middle East. Their founder and CEO, Suzan Sahori, has a history of successful projects in both the public and private sectors. Under her guidance, BFTA has grown to represent hundreds of Palestinian artist and craft people.
Now with the help of American businessman and consultant, J.R. Atkins of Something Different Companies, BFTA is getting ready to expand into the US Market. “Since J.R. has lived and worked in the West Bank, he was able to understand our business and cultural context and thus quickly identify opportunities to grow our business,” says Sahori. “He made suggestions for our website, marketing, and distribution methods that will be instrumental as we grow our business in America.”
“Suzan and her BFTA team have done a great job of building solid relationships with local producers who make unique items that will sell well in the US. The key to success is to identify a wholesale marketplace in the US that will allow us to reach thousands of retailers in a short amount of time. It looks like we have done that in the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market” said Atkins. J.R. Atkins operates a consulting practice with offices in the US and Bethlehem. He helps companies in the areas of social media, websites, email marketing, and Marketing consulting.
If you have a success story of a West Bank organization you would like to share or would like assistance growing your business, please contact us.
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.
A website that aims towards success demands a well thought out blend between its design and content. In the ever-changing industry of website design trends rise and fall with each passing year. Keeping track of everything is difficult, especially if the design isn’t even related to your field of work.
Ignoring this and just making a website based on a hunch or some personal preference is a big NO. Don’t fall into this trap. Respecting your users’ experience and having functionality that is easily digestible is key. Confusing layouts, eye-hurting color schemes, and annoying texts are to be avoided at all costs. However, I will not be pointing out potential problems, but rather trends in this article that are quite welcome to add to your thought process. Here are a couple of those trends:
You probably didn’t see this one coming, neither did I. I’m not talking about underlines that you see in your conventional text processors or hyperlinks, for example. Implementing underlines within your sites’ design is the smartest way to highlight the content you wish to be in focus.
Always consider the background image, color, font and functionality of the web page where the content is displayed. Try fitting in the underline in a way that it complements as many factors mentioned as possible. Make it seem natural. Using white space is great with this, especially if you want to use basic contrast or thick fonts.
With touchscreens and other kinds of modern displays, the way a business can present information has drastically changed. Designers have to arrange the ideas in a way that they catch the interest of visitors. The attention span of an average visit is very short indeed. The way your information is presented has to reflect the amount of time you have to catch a glaring eye.
If your information is constructed in a way that it encourages your users to go from point A to point B. Having their focus aimed at a certain point of interest that transitions into another point of interest in a smooth way is paramount when you want to promote browsing through various parts of a website for specific information.
Minimalist designs have positioned themselves as the style of choice both in terms of design and clarity. Using more than two or three colors creates a messy composition promoting nothing but confusion. Try combining simple colors by using gradients and hues in context of your page design.
Colors should emphasize the focus points as clearly as possible. A well-placed object with appropriate coloring is the winning ticket to sending the desired message. The intensity of chosen colors mirrors the intensity of the perception of your product, serenity or excitement – chose accordingly.
This has been chewed over by countless market analysts. The mobile market is a giant growing with each passing year – its impact has changed the way we do marketing. Most of online shopping and browsing is done via smartphone and tablet – your website must be prepared for incoming traffic from such platforms.
Having a responsive web page for all platforms and resolutions has to be taken into account when approaching your sites web design. A lot of businesses lose traffic and revenue because users lose interest if your site isn’t approachable on demand. Don’t force your users to sit in front of their PC for some interaction. Maintaining your brand by being attentive and approachable is the key to success.
Designers have started displacing text in regard to the page composition. Having assets in layers above your text obscure it in a stylish way, creating an arrangement that will shape an otherwise boring text into something that will spark the mind.
Be careful when using this approach, a lot of designers have made mistakes with it. Having your text unintelligible is far from desired. Chose simple words that can be understood when only one or a couple of letters are covered. Basic fonts should also be considered when doing this because of additional clarity. Whatever your choice is, the design shouldn’t be too complex – keep your message clear, always.
Guest Blogger, Nick Brown – Nick is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged on projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.
With over 500 million active users per month, it’s clear that Instagram is no small player in the world of social media. There is plenty of potential for brands to leverage and broaden their outreach. But how do you cut through the noise and navigate a platform with such vast scope? You learn from the pros, of course. Here are seven Instagram tips that your competitors are already following right now. By taking these on board, you will be well on your way to mastering Instagram for your own brand.
Are you on the lookout for content marketing advice to improve your overall strategy? Check out our previous post.
Instagram is the perfect social channel for you to showcase the visual element of your brand. No matter what you do, there will be a creative way for you to document and showcase it. Consistent, visual storytelling cuts through the mediocre noise on Instagram. To grab people’s attention and build an audience that anticipates your next post, you need to get creative with how you share your ideas and tell your brand’s story.
Take FedEx, for example. This brand successfully uses images of their delivery service and combines it with posts of happy customers receiving parcels and flowers. This tactic not only makes an otherwise rather functional and unglamorous service look attractive, but it also serves to tell the brand’s story by giving it a human face.
Brainstorm the different processes your business is involved in, and how they affect your customers. With this information, you can create stories and come up with ways to creatively show how your brand’s day-to-day operations work.
The most successful brand storytelling involves bitesize micro-stories that tie into your brand’s values, mission and customer experience. You want to develop a strong brand presence on your Instagram feed that represents your overall brand image. Check out this post for more examples of visual storytelling.
Instagram Stories are a new function, recently rolled out across the social network, which allow you to use a slideshow of videos and images that remain accessible for 24 hours. This feature is in direct competition with Snapchat’s stories, but has the additional benefit of being linked to Instagram profiles. This means that with an Instagram profile for your brand, you have the opportunity to not only bedeck your feed with visual marketing, but to get creative with film and a story to really engage your audience.
Here are some things that you should know about Instagram stories:
Your posts will autoplay in the chronological sequence they were added, and you can post an unlimited number of times. This feature only works on the mobile app. Check out these unique brands to see how other people are making innovative use of Instagram Stories.
As mentioned, brand storytelling is a really great way to interest your audience and add an extra dimension to your image. The more story you can provide, the more you open your brand up to engagement and conversation.
Some customers are naturally curious about where their products come from, and this is the perfect opportunity for you to answer their questions with your Instagram feed. For example, if you are a Fairtrade company, you could show your customers where you source your raw materials from.
credit: fairtrade USA
The Fair Trade USA instagram does this to great effect. This non-profit organization shows exactly who crafts or handpicks the raw materials that go into fairtrade certified products. By doing this, their target audience can buy these products, safe in the knowledge that they are cruelty free. This kind of story is what evokes empathy from audiences and encourages them to buy products.
If you have an interesting brand story, don’t be afraid to show it off. Perhaps you started off as a hobby crafting jeweler to help keep food on the table? Let your audience know about your story and why you started your brand. Any kind of shareable information that connects you to your audience is very useful for social media.
credit: mary orton
Another really great way to broaden your outreach on instagram is to harness the power of collaboration and employ an influencer. Micro-influencer collaboration aligns your brand with their values and mission. This often works more effectively than using hashtags, as the act of following hashtags is often more manual for the user. Banana Republic promoted its clothes to audiences that are defined by their sense of style and interest in fashion. The micro-influencers selected were fashion and lifestyle focused, and this helped Banana Republic to reach a large, but targeted, audience of consumers.
Micro-influencer marketing might be the biggest thing this side of 2017, but don’t worry – you don’t necessarily have to part with a large sum of money to hire their services. Consider offering them some free products to sample, and perhaps they will post to their Instagram feed or story without payment.
If you want to integrate micro-influencers into your marketing strategy, there are a few things you should know first:
For more tips on how to collaborate on Instagram, this article is for you. Once you’ve decided which influencers to target, it’s time to make contact. Consider emailing them directly, rather than direct messaging them on Instagram. Emails tend to get higher response rates, as direct messages are often overlooked.
As with any marketing strategy, it’s really important for you to analyze the performance of your Instagram posts to make sure that you’re barking up the right tree. You need to make sure that you are spending your money in the right way, broadcasting the right kind of content, and targeting the right audience.
There are many apps and subscription services that allow you to track hashtags, engagement levels and mentions of your brand on social media. Keyhole tracks all of these, and even integrates seamlessly with online store creators like Shopify. This means that Keyhole can access all of your ecommerce business’ data in real-time, and give you the most up-to-date reports. Trackmaven is another great product that puts you in the driver’s seat of your social feeds.
Whether you choose to go down the micro-influencer route, or have a go with Instagram’s new story function (or perhaps all of these ideas!) – don’t forget to consistently analyze your engagement levels. The truth will be in your metrics, and data is essential to constantly improve on your marketing strategy and make sure you’re investing your budget in the right areas.
Which of these tips will you take onboard? Let us know in the comments.
Guest Blogger: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to grow their reach. She loves sharing her expertise with other entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them reach success.