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The Future of E-Commerce



The CIM Manchester branch and Manchester Digital teamed up to host an event at Manchester Business School (MBS) on Tuesday 10th April, entitled The Future of E-Commerce.  Refresh PR was there to report on the event for the CIM Manchester blog, so we thought we’d share the details with our e-fans too.

 

A busy lecture theatre at the University listened as Tony Kane from Touchpoint Communicatons (and current IMRG chair) began by providing insight into key e-retail milestones.  Reminding us that the first iPhone arrived in 2007, YouTube in 2005 and the Amazon Kindle in 2008, he was able to quickly demonstrate just how much progress has been made in such a short amount of time.  Clearly shopping habits have been transformed by technology, and quickly too: 74% of consumers are now likely to buy flights and holidays online, and six in 10 use it to do some form of grocery shopping.

 

The IMRG provides in-depth information and data on the UK e-retail industry.  Through its knowledge base it provides data in 56 countries together with economic, internet and demographic indicators.  From this base, Tony was able to provide key stats to the audience.

 

From 2000 – 2011 UK shoppers spent £300bn online, and in 2012, 1 million British jobs will be either directly in, or supporting, e-retail.  This progress means that 50% of UK customers expect to shop online by 2020, according to IMRG.  Some other facts we gleaned from the event include:

·         The Government is currently looking at how the UK can grow via export-led, e-commerce growth

·         Optimal Government support could increase growth by 1.5m jobs/500k business in 2015 and 3m job/1m business by 2020

·         To support this the Government continues to roll out broadband to rural areas, provide support and incentives for start-up businesses, and look at legislative issues

·         The barriers to this international development remain trust (62% of people fear fraud in ordering goods from European countries) and confidence (that the order will be fulfilled)

·         Best Practice guidelines and a Trust Mark standard are being considered to reveal legitimate retailers (and those unregulated too)

 

Globally, world internet users will reach 3.7b in 2015 and the BRIC countries are taking the lead with China’s B2C e-sales up 130% in 2011.  However, the UK remains the second B2C e-sales market behind the USA, with Japan ranked third.

 

Finishing by showing the audience the popular YouTube video by Erik Qualman - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpMZbT1tx2o – Tony’s talk certainly provoked a lot of debate afterwards.

 

Following Tony was John Hinchcliffe, ex-marketing director at NBrown amongst other top companies here in the North West.  John’s very entertaining, and very informative, talk focused on e-marketing to the silver surfers – the 50-65 year old audience which is booming online. 

 

Providing case study examples from the world of fashion, not only did the audience learn more about the buying habits of 40, 50 and 60+ year olds, we were also treated to a quick analysis of just how wrong it is to show off those bingo wings – ladies beware! 

 

John finished his talk with an overview of markets he expects to experience significant growth online in the coming years.  Why not consider ‘the really old’, those aged 80+?  After all, in 10-15 years, the silver surfer boom will be in this age bracket, and will still be shopping online, if businesses can provide the products they require of course – it’s time to act now!  In addition, how about segmenting that 50-65 year old group? 

 

All in all, it was a worthwhile event - and we've enough stats about the rise in E-Commerce to convince us of where the future lies!

Tagged with: E-Commerce, F-Commerce, PR, Public Relations

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Facebook Timeline for brands - the countdown is on!



Facebook currently boasts more than 800 million active users and almost 3.5 million brand pages - pretty impressive hey! Today Facebook revealed several updates regarding Facebook Timeline. Now, unless you have been walking round with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears for the last couple of months, it has been pretty hard to avoid the discussions about Facebook Timeline.

Most of us will be familiar with Timeline on our own profiles but what will the change mean for brands? Timeline for brands offers new options for self-expression. Brands have the opportunity to showcase stunning photographs and videos and really grab attention - the saying ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ rings true.

 

Timeline for brands offers new options for self- expression, check out the pages below - a ‘how they might look’ from mashable:

Mashable and Facebook Brands image

The main profile picture across the top (cover photo) can bring a distinctive edge to a page and can be changed whenever you so wish. Timeline also allows a brand to feature a story for up to a week at the top of the page by ‘pinning’ it to the page. Administrators can access a log detailing page activity which includes tools to easily highlight, hide or delete posts and change the date of posts.

 

Timeline enables brands to have more meaningful interactions with social audiences which is key. For example Nike, and its Nike+ technology, gives an insight into when people are running and where they are running. Nike can then share running courses with fans in their home town/city or even recommend places nearby for a recharge post-run.

 

It’s now more important than ever before to seed relevant newsworthy content to fans, after all the whole point of Facebook for brands is to encourage customers to engage, share content and interact with a brand, isn’t it? Only time will tell what it really means for brands, we’ll be sure to keep a close eye on all the developments!

 

Check out some brands that are already up and running with the new Timeline, our recommendations are Manchester City, Red Bull, Louis Vuitton and Radio 1.

 

I personally love the new lay out, it’s more creative – it reminds me of a blog-style layout - plus it’s interesting and for brands on Facebook I think it is opening up a completely new and creative way of engaging with fans.

 

Sources; Mashable, Forbes .com

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Manchester, North West , PR, Public Relations

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Refresh PR at Marketing Week Live - Day 2



It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for – the second instalment from Refresh PR’s trip to Marketing Week Live. Here are the highlights from Day 2:

The biggest opportunities in online marketing have been identified as:

·         Mobile platforms – the popularity of accessing web pages via smart phones continues to snowball, so make sure your website works on screens of all sizes or better yet, develop a mobile version of your site  

·         Cloud hosting – enables companies to expand and contract their storage quickly and easily, to accommodate a surge in web traffic as a result of an offer or sale, for example

·         Using social media to create new products and help make business decisions – your fans and followers should already be a captive audience, so use them as a focus group

·         Putting customers at the centre of campaigns - as we saw from our blog about Day 1, this can generate some really engaging, unique content

·         Near field comms integration – touch technology like that advertised by Barclaycard is expected to be scaled up to adverts, so rather than scanning a QR code, people simply need to hold their phones next to an advert for it come to life on their phones or take them directly to the relevant page on a website

·         Learning from social gaming – and boy is there a lot to be learned! Social games allow audiences huge levels of control over their product, enabling them to sculpt it into something they want to play and share. It’s time to let go…

 

And the biggest challenges we’re facing are:

·         Regulation changes on cookies at EU level – this will have a massive impact on affiliate sites as this is how they measure results. It also means that as consumers, it’ll impact on retailers’ knowledge of our buying decisions

·         Managing data and security – customers increasingly need reassuring about this as previously impenetrable organisations such as Sony continue to fall foul of hackers

·         Facebook acting as a gatekeeper for your content – while we’re big fans of Facebook and what it can do for businesses, it’s becoming more and more commonplace for this social behemoth to insist on businesses doing things it’s way. In a similar way to Google affecting how websites are being built and subsequently optimised, Facebook is essentially controlling how businesses can and can’t communicate with their customers, and this is only set to escalate

·         Thinking like a customer – all too often, companies think like companies when they undertake social media activity, rather than thinking like their customers. This simple change in mindset will help determine what info customers would like to receive, how often, via which medium, in which tone of voice etc

We hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions or would like more information on PR and social media campaigns, contact info@refreshpr.co.uk or call 0161 212 1695 for a chat.

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Marketing, PR, Public Relations, social games, social gaming

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Skype / video chat on Facebook – coming soon!



The Refresh PR team loves Facebook for so many different reasons, none more so than because it’s constantly changing, evolving and a company that can truly say it’s innovating.  Today Facebook announced three major changes which will begin rolling out immediately to everyone's accounts.

 

The changes are based on a sound grounding too. Since it was developed, social networking has been about connecting people together and this will continue – Facebook knows that its users will grow and grow (it’s now up to 750 MILLION users).  In addition, it doesn’t see the value of measuring the number of users either, in fact what is instead important is the number of people who are interacting on Facebook, and how they interact.

 

Facebook knows we like to share things.  Four billion things are shared on Facebook every day.  We are now sharing twice as much information on Facebook as we did this time last year.....so if Facebook provides us with new ways to share things, will we share even more?  Of course we will!!

 

So what’s new?

 

GROUP CHAT:  Half of all Facebook users are a member of a Group, whether it’s a Group planning someone’s birthday, or something bigger.  The average number of people in a Group is seven – people like Groups as it makes it easy to organise an event or chat to close friends privately.

 

To make it easy to communicate with several different people at the same time, rather than having to start a Group, we are now going to be able to do this through chat.  On the chat tab, with one click, we will all be able to select several people to add to a conversation and message them all instantly – at the moment we can only chat to one person at a time.  Everyone selected will see the chat thread instantly and those offline will receive a summary of the conversation when they log in.  This begins rolling out today so watch out for it soon.

 

NEW DESIGN FOR CHAT: Chat is one of the most loved features on Facebook with billions of messages being sent each day.  The new design will take into account browser size and show all friends - together with the ones who are chatted to most often (so not just those online) - making it quicker to strike up a conversation.  The new design will also have space for more features which will be announced in the near future.

 

VIDEO CALLING:  The most exciting development (in our opinion)!  Facebook has teamed up with Skype and video calling will now be possible on Facebook.  Think about the implications for this:

1.       You’re already connected to your friends – you don’t need to find out their Skype username

2.       You’re already on Facebook so in just one click you can call a friend

3.       You don’t need to log out of Facebook or go elsewhere to contact a friend...they’ve got you hooked!

4.       It connects immediately

5.       It’s easy, simple and almost anyone can use it, from teens to silver surfers

This is a massive development.  Users will be able get to video calling via any of their friends' profile pages or via a button on the chat tab.  The plug-in needed takes 20 seconds to download...so no big software downloads are necessary.  It’s not available on mobile devices yet, but watch this space.

 

Skype already sees 300 million minutes of video calls per month and this will take it into the billions.  Quickly.  Skype says it’s ready and is already thinking about new products that it can bring to market on Facebook.

 

The changes won’t happen overnight, but what Facebook does know is that it will help us to share even more information over the social network than ever before, helping it to grow as the ‘social eco system’ it aims to be.  And there are many more apps and partnerships to come.  So it seems we’ll be sharing at least twice as much information this time next year again, if not more. 

 

If you’re on Skype will you switch and just use Facebook from now on?  If you see the changes, let us know what you think. 

 

 

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Marketing, PR, Public Relations

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Embracing social without becoming completely anti-social?



I’ve had a few reasons to go home to my parent’s house recently and every time I reach the driveway, I reach for my BlackBerry with dread before walking to the door.  Without fail, within 30 minutes I’m guaranteed to get asked “Will you please put that phone down?”

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being rude, just diligently checking Facebook, twitter and the blog – and those of our clients too.  Okay, it’s a little anti-social, but at a recent networking event I was faced with a statement of fact from the speaker: In a few years the ‘phone’ function of our phones will become incidental and we will realise the ambitions of those who have been banging the drum for social media for decades.  The speaker was right – the phone will quickly become one small part of a beloved handheld device that offers us so much potential and access to the world. 

 

Trying to explain this to the folks is another matter entirely – even Facebook has (fortunately, some would say!) evaded their home entirely.  Yet currently around 40 per cent of mobiles in the UK are smartphones – I’m not on my own here.   I think it’s a shame that they are missing out on something that is gathering pace at incredible speed. Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook Locations could provide them with some amazing instant voucher deals for their favourite local restaurants soon – and Groupon and Chiconomise would be fantastic for offers for them.  And introducing them to these sites via the computer in their office just isn’t the same, in the world of instant information it doesn’t work like this!

 

Rant over, it’s actually my old fave Facebook that is really interesting me at the moment – this week www.Asos.com will launch its first store inside Facebook, allowing customers to buy its entire range from within the social network – so it’s a matter of months before this development in shopping becomes the norm.  Farmville and other social gaming apps continue to grow, creating direct revenue via Facebook credits which could reach over $1 billion in the next year.  Who knows the potential, even in the next six months, for this social network with over 600 million users worldwide? ‘F-Commerce’ – I love this term, although I’m not sure my bank balance is about to.

 

And with the advent of the tablet, from the IPad 2 which should launch later this year to other android-based devices, manufacturers are continuing to push the boundaries of life as we know it.  Predictions show that well over 50 million tablets will be sold by 2015.

 

The challenge in my work life is to keep ahead of developments, to apply these to work with clients and Refresh PR and make sure we capitalise on the exciting developments coming in the next few years.  The challenge in my home life is to help my parents become part of this phenomenon – mum’s already spending hours at a time on her DS since new games championed by the lovely Mr & Mrs Redknapp arrived under the tree this Christmas.  So, teaching them (and myself too it would seem) to become social while not becoming completely anti-social in the process will be an interesting one.    

 

It’s going to be a busy year!

 

 

 

Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Foursquare , Groupon, North West , PR, Public Relations, Silver Surfers