5 Things About Emerging Business Trends Your Boss Wants to Know…and YOU Should Too!
by Cindy Hanauer
There are two types of creativity in our business: Product Creativity and Business Creativity.
Admittedly, many hours are spent on product creativity- finding the perfect mix of fresh-cuts, sourcing the optimal assortment of plants, and finding the latest products that’ll propel our stores well-ahead of the competition. There are many talented trend-hunters on the creative side, who keep us aware of the latest colors, trendy designs, and display techniques. But there’s more…
Developing a creative consumer-centric business strategy for the future will determine the solvency of our business long-term. Even within the four walls of our own stores, our floral shoppes compete for floor space, marketing resources, ad monies and labor. The customer-centric way of business provides a seamless and positive customer experience before, during and after the sale in order to drive increased revenue, higher profit margins and customer loyalty. But customers have changed, haven’t they? And they continue to change, don’t they? Product creativity alone won’t save the day. But, combining product creativity with business creativity – and selling in a NEW way – will keep our business strong through the next generations of buyers.
Here are five emerging business trends that have changed the face of business today, and will continue to change it in the future:
- The Competition Has Changed
Remember when we were SO worried about that new flower shoppe down the street? Today, we’re competing with giants – not just in the flower retailing business – but in the gift retailing channel as a whole. We’re competing among savvy retail giants who spend millions of dollars on new ways to connect and convert consumers to a gift sale.
Large ecommerce floral retailers are interfacing with chatbots, Amazon Alexa and IBM Watson to gain new, younger customers, with an end-goal of engaging them with the convenience of live-time ordering fluidity never before experienced. As a result, companies who were once big fish in a small pond, are now much smaller fish swimming in an enormous ocean.
Think About This: The best companies in the world remain at the top of their game by keeping a close eye on their competitors. A good competitive analysis is a scouting report of the actual market terrain that your company must navigate in order to be successful.
A competitive analysis covers five key topics:
- Your company’s competitors.
- Competitor product summaries.
- Competitor strengths and weaknesses.
- The strategies used by each competitor to achieve their objectives.
- The market outlook.
2. Customer Purchasing Methods Have Changed
88% of all purchasers now search for photos, product information and videos before any purchase is made, including those purchases ultimately made in a brick-and-mortar store. Additionally, 52% of all online buying sessions are now executed in the palm of our customers’ hand – on their mobile device- which is gaining ground tenfold over desktop purchasing! Many of us breathe a sigh of relief, convincing ourselves that OUR customers prefer the in-store shopping experience. To put this into perspective, the retail dollars spent on floral products each year in the US is $31 Billion, while the annual retail dollars spent on gift cards each year is $160 Billion…and growing!
Think About This: Do you keep your potential customer engaged through the entirety of a sales process that may last weeks or months? How do you keep a present customer engaged enough to look for you when they are willing to buy again? Effective customer engagement helps you keep your customers’ attention, and attracts the eyes of new ones, as well.
- Social Media isn’t “Simply Social” Anymore
Not only is social media a large influencer, but now it has become the auxiliary sales arm of many successful companies. Facebook, alone, touts 2.8 billion users per month and has recently launched a selling forum that is interfaced with its user network. Pinterest has developed promotable pins and buyable pins within their ever-so-popular boards of favorite items. Among Pinterest’s top activities are the products that we sell – plants, garden and home décor. Social media selling is a game-changer and it’s only a matter of time before it holds a top position among every other selling method.
Think About This: An integral part of the sales process is getting to know your prospects and establishing relationships—and it turns out that social media can help accomplish this quickly and easily. Social media allows companies to see what prospects are saying about their brand and competitors and allows the company to respond immediately.
- The Culture of Immediacy is Here
The era of mobile purchasing is causing a seismic shift in customer expectations. In the past five years, we’ve seen an explosion of technologies that give us a smaller window to satisfy the customer – from the point of ordering to delivery. Giants such as Amazon and a myriad of start-ups are touting same-day delivery, drive-through lanes, warehouse bots, Dash buttons, Echo, Alexa, and more, Amazon is covering all of its bases by combining ecommerce with physical stores and even faster delivery methods. “Omni-Channel” is out – “Boundary-Less Retail” is in.
Think About This: The customer journey begins from the time they encounter your product until the end of the buying cycle. Does the customer encounter any barriers,challenges or roadblocks? Identify the slow-downs, difficulties, and pain points…and do your best to fix them!
- The Reality of Virtual Reality is Here
3D technology that was once reserved for video games and movies, is now advancing into the supply chain, retail sales and customer engagement. Virtual Reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image that can be interacted with in a real way by a person using special equipment. No longer science fiction, consumers will soon be able to shop in an entire virtual reality store- select products, inspect them, and complete the purchase process. Virtual Reality is poised to disrupt nearly every industry over the next decade by supplementing human intuition, human emotion, and experiential engagement.
Think About This: The key to building a strong future is to not limit yourself to quantitative information, alone. Research new technologies in the retail space and become a student of consumer behavior. Indeed, a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all. We can never stop learning because business never stops teaching.