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This week's top 5 cultural insights and e-commerce trends: 15 March 2019

Business · 4 min read

AOB: 15 March 2019

Millennials are taking over the world, Italian products are taking over China and shopping apps are taking over our phones. This week, AOB gives you the key information on these latest trends and helps you protect your business from 'decoupling' and online fraud.

Millennials surpass baby boomers as prime consumers

The reign of the baby boomer is over, as millennials become the world’s biggest population group. This is important for businesses, which will have to adapt their products and marketing strategies to appeal to this younger, ever-demanding group of shoppers. Brands need to be prepared to meet expectations in terms of delivery, transparency, authenticity, sustainability and overall experience to retain loyalty among customers. And it is increasingly crucial to have in-store and online strategies that complement each other, to avoid going the way of many retailers who are struggling in today’s digital climate. 

From gardening tools to makeup brushes and office chairs to earphones, millennials want something different from their purchases than their parents. Whether that means adopting a new millennial pink color option or making your packaging 100% recyclable, this generation deserves your full attention. Read about how digitally native vertical brands are epitomizing the transition and learn more about the interests of the Chinese millennial generation here. 

The new Silk Road: Italian exports to China at all-time high

According to a study by Coldiretti, the Italian farmers association, exports of ‘Made In Italy’ agrifood products have risen 260% over the past 10 years, totaling an all-time high of €450m in 2018. This could partly be attributed to Italy’s support of Xi Jinping’s vision for the new ‘Silk Road’ – the Belt and Road initiative – which is a China-centered trading network. While imports from China to Italy still outnumber exports by 33%, Italy is certainly on the way to balancing out trade relations. Unsurprisingly, wine is the biggest Italian export – representing over €130m in value – although perhaps more surprising is that Italy has overtaken Spain in terms of exports in this area.

With Italian products increasing in popularity in China, now could be your opportunity to grow your business there. Discover more unlikely opportunities for your brand in our article, Selling Tea to China.

18 billion hours spent on shopping apps across the globe

Highlighting the increasing importance of m-commerce, a report by App Annie has revealed that consumers spent 18 billion hours globally on shopping apps in 2018, an increase of 45% on 2016. And by 2021, mobile shopping is predicted to account for 75% of all e-commerce sales. While digitally native brands might have the upper hand in this arena, traditional retailers can still take advantage of app success by using them to personalize and enhance the in-store experience. In fact, 63% of consumers use their phones while in store as a shopping aid – to compare prices, check stock and search for discounts.

However, there is much to be done – 34% want apps to provide better personalized recommendations, while 30% want retailers to improve prior purchase features. Ensuring your app provides a seamless experience is the key to staying ahead of your competitors. Read our 22 golden rules for e-commerce success for more online tips.

Could your customers break apart your business?

Thales Teixeira of Harvard Business School has written a new book, ‘Unlocking the Customer Value Chain’, exploring how the success of many of today’s businesses is underpinned by a particular phenomenon called ‘decoupling’. In his book, Teixeira argues that decoupling is a bottom-up process, led by the changing tastes of consumers. So, what is it exactly? Decoupling is where the customer value chain is broken apart and disrupted by new business models – much like the customer service industry and ‘disintermediation’ (cutting out the middlemen). For example, the habit of consumers browsing in a store before going home to buy online shows how the process of selecting products has been ‘decoupled’ from making the actual purchase. And the returns process for online shopping has been similarly decoupled from the act of going into store, thanks to at-home pickup and drop-off point options.

The question is, could your brand be at risk from decoupling, or could you exploit its principle to thrive? Either way, the key is thinking outside the box and keeping a very close eye on how consumers are changing their habits around your current business model.

Small businesses need to watch out for online fraud

Research by Emailage has shown that 48% of American and Canadian businesses think their business is too small to be an online fraud target. Their complacency and reluctance to set up proper security for their businesses, however, means small businesses in the US lost an average of almost US$30k each to fraudulent online activities in the past year. Despite what the business owners might think, their small size can make them extra-vulnerable compared to larger organizations, who have more resources to deal with cyberattacks.

Emailage offers some possible solutions to these issues, such as setting up email verification and using third-party payment processors. So, to avoid losing your hard-earned cash to pesky hackers, make sure your security system is up to date for the digital age. Read more about cybersecurity here.

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