Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Lesson #304: Top 4 Ecommerce Trends of 2018

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/30/2018

Ecommerce has become a key part of consumers’ everyday lives. Many people have embraced the ease and convenience provided by ecommerce...

Ecommerce has become a key part of consumers’ everyday lives. Many people have embraced the ease and convenience provided by ecommerce, often at the expense of offline retailers.  The rapid growth in ecommerce has encouraged many companies to take advantage of this online shopping trend.  But with the ever changing technologies in ecommerce and its increasingly competitive environment, one needs to keep abreast of future trends that will shape this industry in order to stay ahead of the competitors.

Here are four top trends shaping the future of ecommerce, which I curated down from this list of 60 trends and other data points detailed in this great infographic from my ecommerce colleague, Josh Wardini at Subscriptionly, a curated ecommerce subscription box reviews site.

1. Mobile Displaces Desktop as Ecommerce Method of Choice

Since the usage of mobile devices is nowadays widespread with most people using smartphones more than desktops to search online (56% of shoppers research products at home using smartphones), it’s imperative to have a mobile-friendly site.  Moreover, a great percentage of mobile searches lead to purchase within an hour. It’s estimated that by 2020, mobile ecommerce will constitute 45% of the entire ecommerce industry.  Therefore, you need to create mobile-friendly stores because customers prefer getting brand and product information through mobile phones over desktop sites.

2. Hyper-Personalize the Consumer Experience

Online shoppers prefer buying from stores that offer them a hyper-personalized experience. And they will switch to shopping from another retailer without any qualms if the personalized experience is poor.  According to Gartner, brands that will effectively manage to personalize the shopping experience will enjoy a 15% increase in profit by 2020.  Hence, only show your customers content that they would most likely be interested in. You can figure this out from their previous purchases to encourage them to continue purchasing from you, as well as by tapping into data that is specifically relevant for them. For instance, one retailer grew its revenue by 5 million dollars when it delivered personalized weather-sensitive updates to its clientele, promoting rain gear prior to known rainy days in the forecast.

3. Cryptocurrencies As Payment Methods

The cryptocurrency revolution has brought about disruptions which cut across all industries, including ecommerce. Today consumers want cheap payment methods, which is why they’re turning to cryptocurrencies as these have low transaction rates.  For example, Bitcoin transaction rates are around half of the rate charged by credit cards. Therefore, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will become a popular payment method in the near future.  Besides, the privacy they provide appeals to many shoppers worried about credit card fraud.  Adding cryptocurrencies to your payment methods will both attract new customers and increase your sales.

4. The Race to Same-Day Delivery Service

Although most ecommerce businesses find it hard to make same-day deliveries, online shoppers have come to expect this kind of service from the biggest online retailers, like Amazon. It is forecasted that same-day shipping will soon become the norm because 72% of shoppers claim that they would be more receptive to shopping online if companies were to deliver their products within a day.  To emphasize this point, it is believed that Macy’s 2015 partnership with Deliv, which saw the company providing same day deliveries for a $5 fee, is one of the reasons the brand become the second-largest online clothing retailer in 2016.  Many changes in delivery services are expected soon to become a reality. It is forecasted that deliveries by drones should take no longer than two hours by 2028. Consumers are even willing to pay as high as $10 to see this speed of delivery happen.

Start adapting to the above mentioned trends and effectively apply the necessary changes to yoru businesses, to ensure that that you stay one step ahead of your competitors.

Thanks again to Josh and the Subscriptionly team for sharing their ecommerce trends infographic with me.  It was great reading, that clearly communicated all the same trends I am seeing in the space, and was worth sharing with the Red Rocket Blog readers.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

[VIDEO] George Deeb Presents Advice on Approaching Investors at Startup Summit

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/23/2018

Last week, I had the pleasure of being a speaker at the 2018 Startup Summit at NC State.  It was a great event with all-star panelis...

Last week, I had the pleasure of being a speaker at the 2018 Startup Summit at NC State.  It was a great event with all-star panelists and speakers offering terrific insights for entrepreneurs.

The emcee, Keith Washo, asked me to do a quick video interview on what investors are looking for in their startup investments and their entrepreneurs.  Here is a link to the video:

So, hopefully, there are some nuggets in there that will help you all with your businesses.  Thanks again Mark Bavisotto and Keith Washo at Startup Summit, for including me in your program.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lesson #303: How to Find Expert Consultants for Your Business

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/16/2018

From time-to-time, you may need to find a consultant to help you with your business.  Sometimes, those needs are high level, like sett...

From time-to-time, you may need to find a consultant to help you with your business.  Sometimes, those needs are high level, like setting strategies or marketing plans.  And, other times, those needs are more point solutions, like a pro in search engine optimization or product sourcing.  Whatever your need may be, there is most likely a consultant out there that is immediately available to help you.  The problem is finding them.  This post will tell you how best to fill your consulting needs.


Not all consultants are created equal.  A business generalist will not have the depth of a domain expert, as an example.  But, on the flipside, maybe your business problems are so broad, that a jack-of-all-trades is well equipped to point you in the right direction to start, to then dig deeper with a different pro on that specific topic, once it is identified.  And, consultants that are well versed in solutions for enterprise scale companies, are most likely not the right consultants to help early stage startups, with much lower budgets.  So, be very clear on exactly what is needed for your specific pain point and company size, and focus there during your consultant interview process.


Now you need to decide how long you think this consultant will be with you, and whether it is a full-time problem or a part-time problem.  Some consultants prefer bigger, longer, full-time assignments.  And, other consultants prefer smaller, shorter, part-time assignments.  So, depending on what your business need is, will dictate what type of consultant you will need, and more importantly, where to look for them.  You will also need to decide if the work needs to be done on-site, in your office, or if the work can be done virtually from the consultant’s office.  The advantage of virtual consultants: it opens up the world of potential talent to you, instead of simply finding someone willing to work in your home market.  That said, some work simply needs to be done in the office working hand-in-hand with your team, for efficiency sake.


Like when hiring employees for your business, it is always best to start with someone you know and trust.  If not for the work itself, for the introductions to potential consultants for you.  So, maybe send an email to your fellow business colleagues or fellow CEO’s, asking if they have run into the same problem in the past, and if they are aware of any experts on that particular topic.  Having that “stamp of approval” from someone you trust that has worked with the consultant in the past, should increase the odds of a successful outcome from the project.


There are several websites out there that have built marketplaces to find consultants by topic, budget and location.  Those include companies like Catalant (US focus), Graphite (US focus), Business Talent Group (US Focus), Talmix (EU focus) and Expert 360 (AU focus) where you can post your exact needs, and experts will bid their expertise and costs for you to choose from.  LinkedIn also has a solution here called Pro Finder, but it is not as big as the other sites listed here, in terms of activity on that site.  There are also sites like GLG and Coleman, where they have a network of thousands of specific domain experts, that you can get on the phone for an hour of their time, typically focused on enterprise scale companies.  So, consider posting your needs on these sites and see how it goes.


Social media is also a good place to look.  Most people on LinkedIn have been recommended by their peers as experts on specific topics.  For example, my LinkedIn network has tagged me as an expert in startups, entrepreneurship, business development, e-commerce, online marketing and venture capital, to name a few.  So, search for people with the keyword topics you need to solve your pain point, and ask them to point you in the right direction.  Someone with 99+ recommendations around the key term “fundraising”, is probably a pretty good fundraiser.  Same thing on Twitter.  Many people on Twitter add hashtags to their profile description with skills that they want to be known for, so search for those Twitter users (e.g., #BusinessCoach).  The problem with Twitter vs. LinkedIn, in Twitter’s case, people are attaching tags to themselves, so you don’t really know if they are really a pro on that topic, or not.  Whereas on LinkedIn, the tags have been made by third party individuals, which adds materially more credibility to their expertise.


If you are looking for very specific point solutions, the freelancer websites could be the way to go.  For example, the other day I needed an expert on the cloud ERP technology Odoo, and I went to freelancer sites like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr or Guru, where you can type in keywords of what you need, and their search engine will bring back the various talent in their database that should fit the bill.  There are many other freelancer communities based on your specific skillset needed, but the ones I listed above are the big one-stop portal sites that have a little bit of everything.  What I like about the freelancer sites, is you can see how busy/engaged these freelance consultants have been to date, and what their past client reviews have been.  So, again, the importance of third party validation to make sure you are making a smart engagement.


Most of the above is talking about finding specific individuals that can help you with your consulting needs.  You could also consider engaging consulting firms that specialize in your particular pain point.  And, no not the big firms like McKinsey, Bain or BCG, as they work on huge budget projects for huge enterprise companies.  I am talking about the boutique firms you never heard of, like Maddock Douglas, whose expertise is around business innovation and are willing to work with early stage businesses in their target industries.  You can throw Red Rocket in this bucket for your growth strategy needs.  So, do a little digging on Google (e.g., “Chicago Brand Strategy Firm”) and see what you stumble on in the Google results.  Then, ask to speak to their references before engaging them.


Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding around how to find a consultant for your business and your specific pain point.  It is very important you do your homework on that person or firm, to make sure they are the right person to solve your exact situation.  The worst thing you can do is try to force a square peg into a circular hole, as all that will do is result in you wasting valuable time, energy and money to only end up in exactly the same place you started . . . stumped!!


And, just like that, the content for our third book is now complete.  We hope you have enjoyed reading our 303 startup lessons, to date, and continue to leverage them as your trusted how-to handbook for entrepreneurs!!  And, given the topic of this post, we are hoping Red Rocket has proven itself over the years, as your expert growth consultant of choice.  If there is anything we can help you with, don't hesitate to call.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Lesson #302: Business Lessons from the Great Conductors

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/09/2018

I don't usually talk about my personal life in this blog, but the opportunity presented itself.  Music has always been a passion ...

I don't usually talk about my personal life in this blog, but the opportunity presented itself.  Music has always been a passion of mine and played an important part of my life.  I composed a symphony at the age of 16, was the principal clarinetist, rank leader and fanfare band director with the University of Michigan Marching Band while in college, and am a self-taught pianist.  So, I know a little bit about music, as I do business.

I was not surprised when my life-long friend thought I would be interested in watching the below 2009 TED Talk from Itay Talgam, the Israeli musical conductor, which he recently sent to me.  What did surprise me was the content of this video, and how Itay was able to brilliantly tie together leadership lessons from the great conductors in music to similar leadership lessons in the business world.  Take a watch of this video, and then we will continue our discussion below.

As you can see, Itay does a great job of critiquing many different great conductors and their styles, including Carlos Kleiber, Riccardo Muti, Richard Strauss, Herbert Von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein.  A couple things really stood out to me in this video, that you can apply to your businesses.


In music, the job of the conductor is many fold.  The conductor will interpret the music as written by the composer.  The conductor will set the tempo changes.  The conductor will make sure the many individual players perform in unison.  Doesn't that sound familiar to a business CEO, that interprets the business climate, sets strategies, determines the pace of growth and gets all the employees working in harmony towards to goal.  They are exactly the same!!  In both cases, it is a balance between the leader and their staff towards hitting their goals, as a team, while leveraging the individual strengths of its members.


As you saw in this video, no two conductors are the same.  Some gesture with arms big and bold, and others are hardly moving.  Some use a baton, and others their hands.  Some overly emphasize each of their desires, and others only emphasize what they think is most important.  Some are most dynamic during dynamic points in the music, and then change styles entirely during softer points in the score.  Some take a very visible leadership role, and others let the musicians take the lead.  And, like in business, no two CEOs are the same, from A-type personality dictators all the way down to B-type personality enablers.  The key is finding the right style works best for you and is most needed for your business situation and team members; one that will resonate with the team and get them to follow your lead towards hitting your collective goals.


When you saw the video of Riccardo Muti, it looked like he was physically going to suffocate the life out of Don Giovanni, the primary character of the opera he was conducting.  His style was so micro-managerial in nature, that he had to overly communicate his desires to the musicians, at all times, as if the musicians couldn't logically figure out what to do on their own.  As Itay said, he was using the musicians as "instruments, and not as partners" in creating great music.  And, what happened to Riccardo Muti with with that leadership style?  The 700 musicians of La Scala all signed a letter asking him to resign, which he did.  That would be no different in the business world, when you have disgruntled staff wanting to leave a company being micro-managed by an authoritarian CEO.


On the flipside, the videos of Carlos Kleiber and Herbert Von Karajan showed exactly how a conductor should lead.  They weren't overly animated the entire time.  They only got more animated at certain times when they wanted to make sure the music reflected their most-important desires.  At the other times, they calmly set the tempo and let the musicians do their thing.  And, when things were going well, they just soaked it up, visibly showing their pleasure, which served as a pat on the back to the musicians for a job well done.  But, to be clear, when things were repeatedly going awry, a quick glance to the erring musician told them it was time to fix their performance.  This is exactly how a CEO should lead--only get involved when they have to, reward their staff for a job well done and put out business fires as they arise.


My favorite conductor video was the last one, by Leonard Bernstein, one of my favorite composers and conductors of all time, pictured above.  In his video, I was amazed to see his arms did not move once.  Is that even possible for a conductor?  He conducted the entire piece with his eye gestures only.  First, he did not want to get in the way of the musicians shining on this piece.  Second, without overt leadership actions by the conductor, the musicians are forced better to listen to each other in creating one perfect ensemble.  And, third, he is emphasizing the point: at times, less is more.  Each of these are equally important points in the business world.  CEOs need to let their staff shine and get them to work better as a team, even without excessive management, all while getting increased efficiency and focus.


Anyway, I hope you like this comparison between the music world and the business world, two passions of mine that were expertly intertwined in this video by Itay Talgam.  As you have seen in this video (and in your businesses), great conductors (CEO's) "do not interfere" with the creation of great music (businesses) and mentoring great musicians (employees).  Instead, they study their score (business climate) and figure out the best interpretation (business strategy), which they clearly communicate to their musicians (staff), and get out of their way.  I really loved this video!!

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at:  @georgedeeb.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Want Your Business to Grow? Complete One Material Action Per Day!

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/05/2018

When you are running a small business, it is really easy to get distracted. Firstly, your own CEO job most likely has a lot of differ...

When you are running a small business, it is really easy to get distracted. Firstly, your own CEO job most likely has a lot of different tasks, from chief strategist to chief bottle washer. Secondly, your team makes many demands on your time, mostly to help point them in the right direction on their projects. And, thirdly, it’s just too easy to get sucked into the random inbound contacts that come into your email box or through social media.

All I can say to you entrepreneurs who are “floating in the wind” of poor time management is: unless you are doing at least one material thing each day to move your business forward towards new revenue or profit heights, you are never going to grow your business as quickly as you could. Allow me to explain.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter: @georgedeeb.

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