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Metaverse: a new way for businesses to connect with consumers?


Metaverse: a new way for businesses to connect with consumers?

Although not a new concept and with a long road ahead, the “Metaverse” is currently seen as the future of the Internet, which is why technology giants such as Meta, Google and Apple are competing to be number one in the race to dominate the metaverse.

Eva Martín, CEO at Tiendeo, a company that specializes in the digitalization of the retail sector, kicks off the debate with the following question: Are we facing a fleeting fad or a new world that is opening the doors to a powerful business model? By way of introduction, he invites us to ask ourselves what we think of the metaverse, to enter this world to find out how it is changing people’s lives, the opportunities it offers retailers and brands to connect with the consumer.

A whole new universe in the making

The Metaverse is a virtual space that we can connect to through devices such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) glasses or helmets and applications that offer the promise of an immersive experience that feels like we are there, interacting with other people and objects.

In this alternative world, everything will be possible through an avatar: buying goods and services, attending concerts, traveling, playing games, and even working. The amazing thing about this universe is that you can teleport from one experience to another without leaving your room. The development of the metaverse seeks to extend the real world into the virtual world by making everyday actions into a spectacle.

What makes the metaverse so appealing?

The great potential of this technology as a business model is what has led several companies to create their own “omniverses”. To be successful they must understand that the user ventures into the metaverse to escape from the real world, because it offers them the alluring possibility of creating their own personality, their own reality: to show themselves as they “feel” they really are, taking the user experience to another level. Brands have seen in the metaverse the opportunity to create that aspirational reality and self-expression that, many times, the user is not able to develop or transfer to his real and physical life.

This introduces a new form of interaction between consumers and brands through the D2A (direct-to-avatar) model where we will no longer buy clothes for ourselves, but for our representation in the metaverse. This opportunity to improve conversions through fully immersive shopping experiences also has other benefits. In this universe, there are no stock or store space limitations, and manufacturing these products does not require raw materials or workshops to create them, so the profit margin is much higher.

The challenge for companies will be to get people to carry out the bulk of their activities in this digital universe, just as we do in the physical world, giving rise to virtual marketplaces that already move large sums of money. This is not so far-fetched in an age where humans are already glued to technology, whether professionally, socially, or both, and it is speculated that by 2030 we will spend more time in the metaverse than in “real life”. As such, the desire to dominate the new virtual spaces reveals an eagerness to control the way people interact with each other.

The Metaverse at the forefront of the retail sector

The opportunities offered by the Metaverse are endless, especially in the field of commerce. Technology company Wildbytes estimates that in the next five years, 70% of major brands will have a presence in the Metaverse. By 2023 some companies are already promising to launch a new product while others are already looking at the possibility of creating malls, boutiques, and virtual stores where avatars will be able to buy NFT products and pay in cryptocurrencies.

The retail sector is one of the most heavily invested in the Metaverse. For example, Gucci has already started selling its own virtual clothing, the Gucci Virtual 25 trainers and H&M has recently launched its first virtual collection through Nintendo’s social simulation game Animal Crossing.

Ikea also uses AR technology in its App to allow customers to create their own spaces and see how furniture would look in the physical world using AR technology.

There are brands that go even further and have no hesitation about making a clear commitment to the Metaverse. This is the case for Nike, which has gone so far as to create its own virtual universe: Nikeland. A space that offers access to various sporting arenas, as well as a showroom where users can equip their avatars with Nike shoes to take part in competitions. The brand also uses it as a testing ground so that younger generations can experience its new products through avatars before purchasing them in real life.

In short, the metaverse revolution holds the promise of a digital experience in which the virtual world and the real world intertwine and merge under a single reality. It is now up to brands and retailers to find their place in it and explore its full potential.

supply chain

Managing Crisis Within the Food and Beverage Supply Chain

If there’s one thing France hasn’t experienced a shortage of recently, it’s supply chain issues. The pandemic affected food and drink availability in a number of ways, from issues with growth and production to a shortage of delivery vehicles. This has caused a number of issues for food and beverage manufacturers, who are struggling to keep up with demand as a supplier while also experiencing issues in their own supply chains.

The wine shortage in 2021, caused by unseasonably cold weather in key wine-growing regions, has also had a serious impact given France is the second-largest wine producer in the world. The l’Association Nationale des Produits Alimentaires attributed current and future expected shortages to price rises throughout the supply chain.

It’s clear that we’re likely to experience more supply chain issues in the near future. But there are ways food and beverage manufacturers can mitigate these risks. Here, we’ll explore the options.

Protect your existing supplies and production

At a time when food production is affected by issues such as the weather, protecting existing resources is essential. Many food manufacturers have had to recall products because of avoidable issues in the factory. Food manufacturing powerhouse Kraft Heinz made global headlines when it had to recall over 1.2 million containers of cottage cheese because they weren’t stored at the correct temperature.

Equipment maintenance is essential to prevent unnecessary product spoilage and recalls. Many manufacturers will operate on a reactive maintenance model, only maintaining machinery when it fails. Instead, switching to proactive maintenance and checking equipment regularly can help to identify issues before they become a problem. Predictive maintenance technologies are now more commonplace too and will monitor the health of systems automatically.

Food contamination is also an issue that can result in recalls and even affect the health of end consumers. It was reported in 2021 that foodborne illnesses increased between 2018 and 2019, with salmonella topping the list of pathogens. There are a range of processes that can threaten the hygiene of food – from handlers not washing their hands to unsanitary cabling. Many manufacturers use stainless steel goulottes métalliques because they’re easy to clean and decontaminate.

Diversify your suppliers

Access to, and costs of, the raw materials needed to make foodstuff is a key issue right now. it’s essential for manufacturers to diversify their suppliers in the wake of supply chain disruptions. If you rely on one or two suppliers for one key ingredient and they experience issues, you’ll feel this more acutely.

In the wake of COVID-19’s dramatic impact on small businesses, while global behemoths like Amazon increased their profits, we’ve seen a shift towards prioritising local businesses. To encourage this, the government introduced click and collect services for small businesses that didn’t have the resource to set up an ecommerce presence.

The same should go for businesses looking for new suppliers. Small businesses need support, and local suppliers can offer more security to your business because they’re more easily accessible. What’s more, with a renewed focus on sustainability in France in 2022, going local can boost a business’ green credentials.

Support the elimination of food waste

Consumer food waste is a real problem worldwide, but especially in France. Despite a number of legislations in place to prevent food waste, research by Statista has shown that bread is one of the food items French consumers waste the most often. The survey found that 16% of consumers were throwing bread away at least once a week. Given that flour is an ingredient that has soared in price, throwing away its end product is costly.

At a time of food shortages and soaring prices, the nation should be focusing on reducing food waste. France is a global leader in the reduction of business food waste, as well as helping consumers to recycle applicable soiled food. The government and businesses can build on this platform with educational campaigns on reducing the amount of food that is thrown away or recycled.

Food manufacturers can play their part too. Packaging should include information on how best to store the food, as well as tips on making it last longer – such as storing unused bread in the freezer, transferring dried food to airtight glass containers, and putting fresh herbs in water.

France’s supply chain issues are set to continue into 2022. While it’ll be difficult to completely prevent shortages and price fluctuations, there are a number of steps that food manufacturers can take to mitigate these issues and ensure they can continue to provide essential resources for businesses and consumers alike.




Are You Reaching Today’s Customer? Keys To A Great Multichannel Marketing Strategy.

Getting customers in the door means first getting, and keeping, their attention. As consumers have moved more toward e-commerce, the challenges for digital marketers have become greater, but so have the opportunities.

Marketing to a target audience is more complex today, but the evolution of technology has opened numerous doors to reach consumers effectively through multichannel marketing, says Christena Garduno (, chief executive officer of Media Culture.

“Multichannel marketing allows marketers to cater to potential customers across channels by mirroring how they operate in different digital spaces,” Garduno says. “You as a company need a significant presence across social media platforms and other digital channels. And you have to develop a clear, compelling and consistent message while keeping the brand voice intact.”

A marketing channel is any platform or method that’s used to market a product or service to consumers. Multichannel marketing involves reaching out to and interacting with customers through various channels, including regular email, social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, websites, search engine optimization, video, texts, and others.

“Multichannel marketing done well will capture a higher engagement rate from consumers, build long-lasting relationships with customers and positive brand awareness, and move you ahead of your competitors,” Garduno says.

Garduno offers these points as keys to your multichannel marketing strategy:

Develop a channel focus. Understanding who your audience is, including their age, education, career and income level, is central to determining the most effective channels by which to reach those consumers and creating the right messaging. “You need to focus on the right channels to grow your business,” Garduno says. “To evaluate the effectiveness of a channel, see if it’s producing a measurable benefit. You can do this by tracking various metrics such as the number of opens and clicks in email marketing, the quantity of likes and comments and number of new followers over a given time in social media marketing, the click-through rate and total visits on your website, and more.”

Personalize your strategy. “You want the consumer to feel important, as if you’re speaking only to them, while making it clear you anticipate their needs,” Garduno says. “You need to personalize your message, which means making it highly contextual, relevant, and emotionally engaging. Personalization influences customers to pay attention to your brand message amid an endless expanse of marketing content.”

Maximize a multichannel CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing, supporting and building customer relationships across the entire customer lifecycle. “Companies need a multichannel CRM system to stay relevant,” Garduno says. “A multichannel strategy requires user profiles, and a multichannel CRM enables a company to create a consistent customer experience based on aggregated, actionable data. Potential customers do research on their smartphones, then go to their tablet and may complete a transaction on their desktop, so you have to keep up with that kind of shopper.” With a CRM platform that provides multichannel customer data in the form of profiles, Garduno says it’s easier for companies to engage with customers in ways that will be beneficial to them. “You know what they like, what channels they engage with the most, how much money they’ve spent with your brand, and more,” she says.

Run drip campaigns. These focus on user actions or specific timelines. The idea is to effectively engage users and move them closer to buying. “A drip campaign is a series of emails you send to customers at certain intervals,” Garduno says. “It can be used for CRM or lead nurturing. Drip campaigns are an effective way to keep your target audience engaged with your brand. The unique ability of a drip campaign is being able to identify the different stages your audience is in and sending different emails to them accordingly. That approach builds trust amongst the audience, which wouldn’t happen if they all were subject to a generic email blast.”

“Having a strong multi-marketing strategy is essential as consumers have higher expectations and reaching them in a variety of ways is key to companies’ growth,” Garduno says. “It’s about being thorough and never being complacent.”


Christena Garduno ( is chief executive officer of Media Culture, a multichannel brand response media agency that drives growth for global clients with innovative and performance-driven media campaigns. She is a member of Forbes Agency Council.  


5 Insightful Use Cases for Food & Beverage Companies – SOLOCHAIN WMS

The digitization of supply chains is well underway. SaaS solutions, such as the SOLOCHAIN WMS, have made it easier for Food & Beverage companies to reap the operational benefits of new technology solutions, rapidly obtain ROI, and stimulate growth.  

In this blog, we take a quick look at five scenarios that illustrate how the SOLOCHAIN WMS not only improves daily operations on the floor, but also provides management crucial information to help leaders make better decisions. Find out how SOLOCHAIN concretely enables more efficient and cost-effective activities in the warehouse and paves the way to better client experience, sustained growth, and higher margins.

Real Time Visibility on Inventory for an Agile eCommerce Grocery

Supply chain operators know the impacts of inventory inaccuracies on profitability. Short of accurate information to manage their stocks and stay ahead of the demand signal, companies are doomed to make poor use of their capacity, suffer from losses, and lose the ability to fulfill orders on time.

A grocer operates a multichannel operation from his distribution center. Employees must deal with replenishment orders for a dozen brick-and-mortar groceries, manage cross-dock transfers, and fulfill and ship customer orders made through the grocer’s eCommerce platform (D2C).

With real time updates that give precise information on every item’s location, and rates of inventory accuracy above 99%, SOLOCHAIN ensures that inventory is easily located and properly handled by employees.

Thanks to automated data exchanges between their ERP system and SOLOCHAIN, handheld scanners that are integrated with the WMS, and a 2D digitized map of their distribution center, the grocer’s employees can rely on accurate inventory data across their entire network and intelligent replenishment suggestions that anticipate on the demand signal.

Manage the Heat Efficiently in a Multi-Temp Facility

Businesses in the Food & Beverage industry have to deal with expiration dates, customer specific shelf-life requirements, and traditionally thin margins. Failure to manage fresh and frozen inventory properly can rapidly melt a grocer’s profits.

Take our grocer from the previous scenario: their distribution center has three different temp zones, one of which is a cold storage area. Employees at the dock affected to receiving and transfer tasks must therefore contend with items that must be handled efficiently and expediently to avoid losses.

SOLOCHAIN supports employees receiving frozen goods of the environmental conditions that must prevail in every section of a truck before they accept the delivery. Thanks to that information, they can rapidly make sure that all items meet quality standards, which enables them to come to quick and efficient decisions regarding their reception.

In the eventuality that items do not meet the standards, SOLOCHAIN also tells them what steps must be taken to refuse a shipment and inform the system of any and all changes to inventory. Thanks to the WMS, frozen goods are properly handled on the dock and congestions are avoided, preventing operational penalties and costly losses.

Making Candy Bars that Make Everyone Smile

Food processing requires that operators pay attention to a variety of details: FIFO across different temp zones, items consumed in a batch, customer shelf-life requirements, etc. To ensure its commercial success, a candy bar processing facility must be able to rely on the right data so that items are consumed at the right time and processed products are efficiently picked and shipped that meet the client’s standards.

SOLOCHAIN supports all activities in the processing facility, from the reception of ingredients to the production of processed goods to shipping the candy. At every step, adaptable mobile workflow and graphical tools are accessible to employees on intuitive, easy to read interfaces. Dashboards provide them the right information to ensure that items are handled properly and efficiently. SOLOCHAIN will, for example, communicate FIFO data to employees picking ingredients, guaranteeing that stocks are efficiently consumed and losses are avoided. It will also inform employees of a client’s shelf-life requirements, making sure that picked items meet their standards and are not returned, which avoids costly penalties.

Meanwhile, SOLOCHAIN affords management granular visibility on crucial information: who is performing what task, details regarding production progress, all inventory modifications in real time, and the status of orders fulfilment. Thanks to intuitive dashboards and detailed reporting capabilities, the SOLOCHAIN WMS enables faster order fulfillment, improved customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, higher margins.

Download WMS SOLOCHAIN Product Sheet Here

Efficient Recalls at the Ice Cream Factory

While all food manufacturers do their best to steer clear of having to perform recalls, they remain a part of the game. The real differentiator between competing companies is how well recalls are managed. The key, of course, is to achieve recalls that are precise and expedient. By doing so, operators avoid crippling financial penalties and maintain the high service levels that have allowed them to build strong customer confidence over time.

Thanks to its powerful traceability capabilities, SOLOCHAIN informs an ice cream maker of all the items that were consumed in a batch. Moreover, it allows the ice cream maker to rigorously trace each and every one of these items, from vendor to customer. And if that wasn’t enough, the WMS also contains a visual tool that makes it easy for employees on the floor to verify, understand, and comply with FDA regulations.

SOLOCHAIN therefore makes it easy for the ice cream maker to precisely identify which lot of cream was problematic, which batches of ice cream consumed that cream, and which must consequently be recalled. SOLOCHAIN let management know of the exact location of every unit from these batches, enabling them to make precise and efficient recalls. Thanks to SOLOCHAIN, no good ice cream goes wasted!

Brewing and Delivering Efficiently Thanks to Facilitated Compliance

A brewer delivers its beers across the United States and Canada. From state to state, province to province, the rules relevant to what information must appear on labels are different. Employees must therefore ensure that every shipped case of beer complies with regulations and requirements in the client’s location. When a brewing operation endeavours to deliver efficiently on such a large territory, clerical operations are no longer an option.

SOLOCHAIN is easily integrated with the brewer’s ERP system and labeling software & equipment to support labeling and shipping activities in the warehouse. The WMS acts as hub that automatically relays information to the brewer’s systems and employees regarding a client’s requirements and the laws prevalent in their state or province. The data is thus fed to the labeling software and available on easy-to-read interfaces, which expedites the work of employees fulfilling orders on the floor.

Thanks to significant efficiency gains and a drastically reduced error ratio in their shipments, the brewer achieves higher service levels, which attracts more clients and enables growth.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.


Xinjiang US Import Sanctions Looming Over Global Supply Chains

On December 23, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (the “UFLPA”), which passed Congress with strong bipartisan support. With the UFLPA, the US has targeted imports of goods sourced from or produced in the Xinjiang region of China in an effort to address allegations of forced labor. Until now, similar orders had focused only on certain products – computer parts, cotton and cotton products, silica-based products, apparel, and hair products – from Xinjiang or from certain Xinjiang producers. The new measures will affect a wide range of industries and supply chains around the world. Companies are obliged to apply heightened diligence and transparency requirements in Chinese-based supply chains, and anticipate extended shipment delays for US imports and possible shifts in global apparel, food, solar, electronics, and automotive sectors, among others.


The UFLPA was a bipartisan effort following on the heels of congressional action dating to 2019 in reaction to alleged human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. It was enacted as part of a whole-of-government effort to combat alleged forced labor abuses in Xinjiang:

-US Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) has issued Withhold Release Orders (“WROs”) applying to cotton, tomato, apparel, hair products, silica-based products, and computer parts from Xinjiang.

-The Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) of the Department of Commerce added more than 50 Chinese entities on the Entity List.

-The Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the US Department of the Treasury designated more than a dozen persons on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”) under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

-The US Department of State imposed visa restrictions against China Communist Party officials “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the unjust detention or abuse of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang” as well as their family members.[1]

The UFLPA calls for a ban on the import of “all goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, or by persons working with the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government for purposes of the ‘poverty alleviation’ program or the ‘pairing-assistance’ program.” These programs, per the UFLPA, subsidize the establishment and operation of manufacturing facilities in the Xinjiang Region.

In fact, CBP’s authority to withhold release of imports suspected of involving forced labor already has existed for almost 100 years under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits importing into the US any product that was “mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced labor, including forced or indentured child labor.” CBP enforces the prohibition through the issuance of WROs.

CBP first began issuing WROs relating to Xinjiang in 2016. Most recently, in 2020 and 2021, CBP issued a series of WROs. Some apply to listed companies and their subsidiaries while others apply to the entire Xinjiang region:

In one of its first major actions under the Biden Administration, on June 24, 2021, CBP issued a WRO instructing ports of entry to detain shipments containing “silica-based materials” that are “derived from or produced using” products manufactured by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. (“Hoshine”). Hoshine is one of the largest global producers of metallurgical-grade silicon, the raw material needed to produce solar-grade polysilicon that is used to create solar cells. In addition, BIS added Hoshine and four other Chinese companies to the “Entity List,” banning exports, re-exports, or transfers of US goods and technology to the listed entities. When the new order under the UFLPA goes into effect, the 2021 restrictions will be viewed merely as a preview to a much more pervasive region-wide and not sector-specific import ban that will reverberate through a wider variety of supply chains.

The US government has identified the following industries as involving heightened risk due to potential forced labor in Xinjiang:

Where there is suspicion that the goods contain materials originating in Xinjiang, these industries’ products will likely be held at customs as banned from imports into the US on suspicion of being sourced with forced labor.

What does the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act do?

Pursuant to the UFLPA, 180 days after enactment of the Act, on June 21, 2022, CBP will apply a “rebuttable presumption” that applies to any goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Region or produced by the entities listed by the Task Force. This “rebuttable presumption” will apply except when the CBP determines that the importer has:

(a) fully complied with the guidance described in the China forced labor strategy and any regulations issued to implement that guidance;

(b) completely and substantively responded to all inquiries for information submitted by the CBP to ascertain whether the goods were mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part with forced labor; and

(c) shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that the good, ware, article, or merchandise was not mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced labor.

CBP advises that the importer may be required to submit time cards, wage payment receipts, and daily process reports that demonstrate the employment status of the employees in order to meet the burden of proving the lack of forced labor. In fact, textile companies whose cargoes got held up at US ports pursuant to Section 307 have needed to prove such evidence to CBP to get the goods released.

Finally, the UFLPA calls for increased enforcement of WROs. Within 30 days of making its determination, CBP will submit a public report to congressional committees identifying the good and evidence it has considered. The UFLPA provides for the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (the “Task Force”), in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and Director of National Intelligence, to develop a strategy for supporting enforcement of CBP WROs.

What does this mean for companies?

The UFLPA is distinguished from a CBP WRO, which subjects to detention at US ports of entry products produced by listed entities or, in many cases, any products derived from or incorporating such products because the UFLPA’s rebuttable presumption will subject any and all goods sourced from or produced in XUAR to the import ban. The release process under the UFLPA will be what it has been for WROs.

To release the goods from detention, the importer must either re-export them from the US or provide evidence demonstrating that the goods were not manufactured with forced labor. In practice, goods subject to a CBP WRO are banned from entering the US until and unless the importer can convince CBP that it should not be withheld.

For example, in January 2021, CBP stopped a UNIQLO shipment of men’s cotton shirts that had arrived at the Port of Los Angeles / Long Beach pursuant to the XPCC cotton WRO. UNIQLO was required to provide various detailed records of the production chain (including timecards, salary records, and transportation records) from the raw cotton grower to the bulk trader to the yarn maker to the finished product. While UNIQLO argued that the shirts were not produced by XPCC, the burden is on the importer to prove the negative; even if UNIQLO eventually succeeds in convincing CBP, the shipment will have been delayed for months. Thus, the new WRO will also trigger shifting of supply chains by companies that do not want to take that risk.

In addition to customs consequences, a variety of measures may be applied to Xinjiang-affiliated entities. For example, an Entity List designation prohibits exports and reexports of all US goods, software and technology to those entities absent a license from BIS. Even more, those listed on the SDN List are prohibited from dealing, directly or indirectly, with US persons and are likely blocked from the global financial system altogether.

1. Shifting of Supply chains

When the rebuttable presumption under the UFLPA becomes effective on June 21, 2022, all goods sourced from or produced in XUAR – including any goods incorporating or derived from such goods in any amount – will essentially be banned from entering the US pending a favorable determination by Customs.  In other words, there is no de minimis requirement for the import ban. Therefore, companies should expect and plan for global supply chain pricing and sourcing issues.

For instance, as 40-45 percent of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon comes from Xinjiang, the US solar projects industry will start to suffer even greater supply chain headaches. Currently, the WRO only applies to silica-based materials if the silicon was produced by Hoshine. Under the rebuttable presumption, it will extend to any products containing either silicon or polysilicon produced in China. This is expected to impact the supply and pricing of polysilicon worldwide. China produces more than 65% of the world’s silicon and around 89% of the world’s polysilicon. Most of the polysilicon production is believed to be outside of Xinjiang. Since Xinjiang is not a transparent place at present, it is hard to say exactly how much. US importers will likely encounter third-country suppliers who are reluctant to dig as deeply as the UFLPA demands.

In order to avoid import delays, component and product manufacturers in third countries (for example, Germany and South Korea) will seek to shift their supply chains to products that are not sourced from or produced in XUAR, if possible. Those efforts are beginning now in anticipation of the June effective date.

2. Heightened Supply Chain Transparency and Recordkeeping Obligations in Affected Sectors

Companies – especially those in industries listed above as identified by the US government to be higher risk – need to establish heightened supply chain transparency obligations. Supply chain transparency will help companies in the uphill battle of meeting the burden to prove the absence of forced labor. Up to now, transparency in Chinese in-country supply chain has been lacking, which makes it difficult to forecast the future impacts of the UFLPA. Without such transparency, it will be nearly impossible for companies to convince the CBP, “by clear and convincing evidence, that the good, ware, article, or merchandise was not mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part by forced labor.”

Transparency and recordkeeping will go hand-in-hand, and both will be necessary to navigate the UFLPA waters. In addition to requiring transparency on all levels of the supply chain, companies also need to keep records of the entire supply chain to be able to quickly and easily provide such records to CBP as evidence of lack of forced labor, if and when necessary.

3. Reputational and Banking risks

Aside from US sanctions enforcement risks, reliance on Xinjiang suppliers in any aspect of a supply chain presents significant dual-sided reputational risks. For example, due to reputational concerns, major brands, such as Calvin Klein, Gap, H&M, IKEA, Patagonia, and Tommy Hilfiger, stopped purchasing or committed to stop purchasing cotton sourced from Xinjiang.

There is also reportedly backlash from Chinese authorities and consumers. Brands that issued statements against sourcing cotton from Xinjiang, such as Burberry, thereafter faced a public backlash from Chinese consumers. Intel issued an apology to its Chinese customers after facing backlash for telling its suppliers that it would not be using forced labor or goods sourced from XUAR.

Banks in particular are highly attuned to OFAC primary and secondary sanctions-enforcement risks, as well as the above-mentioned reputational risks. In view of the 9- and 10-figure sanctions-related settlements, even non-US financial institutions are generally conservative in their sanctions compliance and risk appetite. Sanctions pose an existential risk to some banks that rely on access to US correspondent banking accounts in order to deal in US dollars. Thus, aside from the CBP order, banks and companies continuing to engage in transactions directly or indirectly with sanctioned Chinese producers risk having their transactions rejected or blocked by the US and global financial systems.


Vedia Biton Eidelman is an associate in Eversheds Sutherland’s International Trade Practice. She advises clients on a wide range of regulatory matters, including sanctions (OFAC) and antiboycott matters; antidumping, countervailing duty and safeguard actions before the US International Trade Commission (ITC) and the US Department of Commerce (DOC); export controls (ITAR and EAR); national security controls on investment in US entities (CFIUS); trade policy issues such as free trade agreement negotiations; customs matters; and transactional due diligence.

[1]  M. Pompeo, “The United States Imposes Sanctions and Visa Restrictions in Response to the Ongoing Human Rights Violations and Abuses in Xinjiang,” (July 9, 2020),

social commerce

Like, Follow, Buy Now: Harnessing the Power of Local Payments in Social Commerce

A staggering 3.8 billion people use social media, around half the internet users worldwide. With these figures in mind, social media giants are eager to reach digitally connected consumers and monetize their userbases. Gone are the days where social media was simply a place to see what friends were doing and give them a ‘like.’ With the likes of TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram leading the charge, purchasing products online is now as easy as liking a friend’s post. In fact, with over one in three global shoppers having made a purchase on social media in the past year – social media is rapidly becoming the new online marketplace of choice.

However, whilst a good tool for attracting customers, social commerce must work hand in hand with digital payments to truly unlock success. Converting browsers to buyers on social media will rely heavily on a brand’s ability to offer a range of local payment methods at the checkout.

A growing opportunity for merchants

In the US, by the age of 12, most children have access to a social media account, but that’s not to say that this is the only audience social media is appealing to. Senior citizens in the US are the fastest-growing group of Facebook users, with numbers doubling between 2019 and 2021, indicating a lucrative opportunity for merchants appealing to a broad range of demographics.

In fact, Facebook is certainly leading the pack when it comes to social media – with over 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide. For European regions such as Italy, the pandemic has also contributed to the explosion of social media usage. Time spent on Facebook’s suite of apps rose 70% in March 2020 – indicating the potential for social commerce uptake as people acclimatize to using these platforms to access shopping, entertainment, and communication.

For China, however, a country where the likes of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are blocked to consumers, sites such as Tencent, WeChat, and Weibo have been attracting millions of users, making China one of the biggest social media markets in the world. With multiple demographics across the globe now engaged with social media channels and more than comfortable with shopping online, the opportunity for merchants to trade on these platforms is greater than ever before.

Unlocking the power of social commerce

Because of the extensive reach and the power social media holds, brands embracing social commerce can scale rapidly. Everyone can do it, from international companies to individuals selling their goods on Instagram. But, it’s much more than just adding a ‘Buy Now’ button. Whilst social media platforms certainly have the power to unlock online and cross-border growth, the process will not be successful if merchants do not operate with consumer payment preferences in mind.

To enable a seamless transaction through social media channels, merchants and payment service providers (PSPs) need to take a highly customized and localized approach to digital payments. Consumers have become accustomed to choice when it comes to online payments – from buy now, pay later (BNPL) offerings such as Klarna to increasingly popular bank transfer payments such as Pay by Bank App or Trustly. Because of this, expectations around payment preferences have skyrocketed in recent years. So much so that 44% of UK consumers will abandon a purchase if their favourite payment method isn’t available. To ignore this when selling through social channels would be a huge mistake and a missed opportunity for retailers operating on these platforms.

A global strategy with local payments at its core

Whilst digital payments have the power to unlock the true power of social commerce, integrating a diverse portfolio of payment methods is no easy task. Although merchants are becoming increasingly aware of the need for a social strategy with local payments at its core, the cost and complexities associated with such integrations are acting as a major barrier for businesses. In fact, for smaller e-commerce players especially, local payment options may feel completely out of reach.

To overcome this, merchants and payment service providers are increasingly turning to infrastructure providers to meet the demands of global consumers. Partnerships of this kind mean that merchants and PSPs can take advantage of payments technology and on-the-ground local market knowledge.

Speed to market is everything in today’s digital-first retail era and merchants that are able to get up and running with a diverse acceptance of the right local payment methods quickly will be able to take strides ahead of the competition.

Those that neglect to consider the importance of local payments will see themselves fall short ahead of their competitors and lose access to thousands of potential customers.

business intelligence

Five Business Intelligence Tools to Save Your Bottom Line

In the rollercoaster ride of the last year, CPG e-commerce has had its moment of digital reckoning: the way consumers shop will never be the same.

Close on the heels of this realization is the recognition that better business intelligence is the foundation of success. CPG companies that are unable to move quickly and be nimble in the way they respond to consumer trends and market pressure will struggle. It’s that simple.

Moving quickly and being nimble hinges on gathering and analyzing data. And not just any data: actionable, valuable data that drives better decision-making.

This is the power of business intelligence—and Line Item unlocks it for CPG e-commerce. Line Item is a performance analytics platform that enables insight into e-analytics and product attributes to drive revenue and profitability. It’s packed with five essential business intelligence tools that can help CPG brands grow sales and boost profitability in a turbulent and competitive market. Let’s take an in-depth look at each of these business intelligence tools and why they matter.

1. Better search engine optimization strategy.

Consumer behavior and preferences are changing faster than ever before, sometimes even day to day. In such disruption, it’s not enough to “set it and forget it” with your SEO strategy. CPG companies need to be responsive to changes in the market and ensure that their brands and products are ranking in search results. Without this kind of SEO business intelligence, competitive edge is lost.

Line Item is the answer to better SEO strategy. It analyzes whether or not your brands or products are ranking on page one, across search terms and platforms. This is important as the elephants like Amazon and aren’t only retail sites, they are also where (increasingly) shoppers are doing product research. With Line Item, you can understand which search terms are working as well as which your competitors are using. Line Item also ensures that your product titles, descriptions, and images are complete and consistent, closing the gaps that can cost you page rank and sales, ultimately affecting your bottom line.

2. Superior insight into pricing.

There’s a reason that pricing is one of the “four P’s” of marketing: it’s the lever that drives profitability. Price your products too low and you’re leaving money on the table. Price too high and competitors will win your sales.

In a market where demand and preferences fluctuate so wildly, though, business intelligence on pricing becomes a complex challenge. This is where Line Item comes in. With it, you can verify item pricing, selling price, and list price across your portfolio and across platforms. You’ll have better business intelligence to price your products correctly and competitively to protect your profitability.

3. Third-party activity monitoring.

The CPG e-commerce market is many-layered and complex. Third-party sellers account for significant sales activity, but consumers aren’t often aware that they’re not purchasing from you directly. To protect your brand, you need better business intelligence to monitor online activity.

Line Item gives you the visibility you need to monitor unauthorized selling activity on the web, or to determine whether third-party sellers are undercutting your price. This helps you protect your brand and the bottom line.

4. Deep dive into product attributes.

Do you know what’s really driving product or category value? Without powerful business intelligence, it can be impossible to truly tap into why consumers are choosing one product over another.

This is where Line Item really stands out. Line Item can analyze all similar products in a category, item by item, to determine all relevant attributes. These could include brand, form (liquid, powder, or capsules, for example), package type and size, scent or flavor, natural or organic ingredients, and other attributes. Think whitening or foaming agents for toothpaste, sensitivity for personal care products, and more. This robust business intelligence can help inform product development, packaging, marketing and promotions, personalization and much more, across your portfolio and your brand. It gives you an advantage in meeting the market at the right moment with the right product.

5. Promotions analysis.

Are your promotions paying off? This may be a simple question, but it’s difficult to answer in this accelerated and disrupted market.

If your promotions aren’t, you’re wasting marketing spend, and you need to know why. Line Item can tell you if your campaigns are working, which keywords your competitors are using, if long tail keywords are worth investing in and more. When your campaigns are driving your bottom line, you know they’re working—and Line Item makes it possible.

CPG brands can’t afford to be working with yesterday’s tools. Better business intelligence is fundamental to a better bottom line. Line Item is your lifeline to more profitable e-commerce.


About Ironbridge Software

Ironbridge Software was founded in 1989 by Mike Dickenson. Mike’s unparalleled expertise and passion for technology led him to create the first-ever analytical solution for the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry.


How to Deliver a Great Omnichannel Customer Experience

When eCommerce first emerged as a new sales channel, companies wrestled with how to set up their distribution channels to address this new opportunity. Some merged the activities right into their existing fulfillment setups, others built new warehouses specifically to support online sales, and others used a hybrid approach such as using one distribution center partitioned off to manage the activities separately.

This “fragmented” approach trickled down to the customer experience, where buyers could only return products via the channel that they used to purchase them, and where the in-store experience was still very different from what one experienced when buying via mobile phone or desktop.

As eCommerce grew, these approaches changed dramatically. Fast-forward to 2021, and the emphasis has shifted away from brick-and-mortar fulfillment and more toward addressing a market that grew by 44% in 2020 and continues flourishing. With both B2C and B2B sellers now firmly in the midst of an eCommerce boom, the push to create a better omnichannel customer experience has shifted into full gear.

Why is Omnichannel Important?

According to CMS Wire, the omnichannel experience refers to the way organizations integrate all the touchpoints in any given customer journey, including mobile device, laptop, desktop, or brick-and-mortar store. “It’s a customer-centric approach meant to deliver value to the customer through better, more consistent targeting and messaging delivered at the right moment,” the publication states.

Where omnichannel was once the domain of the B2C world, it now encompasses all corners of the business world. The consumer who expects to be able to purchase a dress and return it in store, for example, is the same buyer who wants a cohesive experience when procuring goods from a supplier.

“It’s so important to create a holistic experience for your shopper and make sure your brands are showing up consistently throughout every part of the consumer journey whether it be digitally or in store,” J.M. Smucker’s Marissa Eisenbrei told CMS Wire. “Each distribution channel should work together in unison to deliver one experience.”

Staying Consistent

When creating omnichannel customer experiences, companies run into challenges like data silos (where individual departments don’t “share” data with one another), a lack of unified omnichannel customer data, and the need for better personalization across channels. The latter is particularly important, CMS Wire notes, because today’s customer expect a personalized experience based on purchase and browsing history; customer service inquiries; and chat transcripts.

The omnichannel experience also has to be consistent and predictable. Much like diners enjoy being able to walk into a restaurant franchise and get the same experience that they would at another location (even in a different state or country), customers don’t want to be confused or disappointed just because they’re buying through a different channel.

“Make sure you’re consistent and distinctive across every touchpoint a consumer might experience your brand whether it be through commercials, digital ads, websites, or in-store experiences,” Eisenbrei advises in CMS Wire.

Breaking Down Data Silos

In Omnichannel Shoppers: Converting Them in 2021, digital marketing specialist Dhruv Mehta discusses the value of having integrated customer data across all touchpoints. For example, if a buyer sends an email to complain about a product and then calls for a follow-up, he or she would expect the customer support representative to be aware of their complaint.

“Unfortunately, this is rarely the case because of the informational siloes that exist in an organization,” Mehta writes. Companies can use software to solve this problem and create a more customer-centric omnichannel experience. With a single customer view to work from, you can overcome this hurdle and better engage with customers by knowing who they are and what they want.

“For instance, integrating your live chat data with your customer relationship management (CRM) software is one way to build a single source of truth about your customers,” Mehta points out. “This will help you analyze the past interactions in order to better personalize future conversations and seamlessly engage your customers across diverse touchpoints – creating a truly omnichannel experience.”

5 Tips for Omnichannel Success

To bust through these roadblocks and create a great omnichannel customer experience, companies should strive for more emotional loyalty and a personalized, 1:1 recognition through a process known as “customer scoring.” That means including all customer interactions with your brand—community activity, product reviews, sponsorship, private sales, previews, etc.—to develop a 360-degree view of that customer.

Here are five more ways to ensure a great omnichannel customer experience, every time:

1. Go beyond basic “earn and burn” mindset and focus on customer retention. Don’t limit yourself to managing points. For a more emotional loyalty, evaluate and reward all welcome behaviors.

2. Strive to increase average cart size. Your current customers are your best prospects for higher sales. Boost sales for all your customers: anonymous, identified, or loyal to encourage impulse buying and additional sales.

3. Ensure cross-channel consistency. Create a consistent customer experience across all sales channels and help your customer benefit from the best offer wherever they are located.

4. Create a 360-degree client vision. Use software to centralize all customer data, including their locations, purchasing habits, and preferences for a better contextualization of interactions.

5. Push out offers that will entice them. Use real-time offers that are perfectly matched to the customer profile across different sales channels (or directly from suppliers) to keep customers coming back for more.

As omni-channel driven demands become the norm, with resulting customer satisfaction harder to achieve, supply chain professionals will leverage advanced WMS technology to keep their operations nimble, efficient, and scaling – especially in these volatile times. Given Generix Group’s completeness of vision and ability to execute, as recognized once again by the Gartner analyst community, our WMS SOLOCHAIN is well-positioned to help companies needing a modern, flexible and agile solution that can easily adapt to their changing needs.  More Information about Generix WMS

live streaming

How Will Live Streaming Rule 2021 Business Atmosphere

Video streaming is surpassing all other media in terms of popularity. Streaming trends show that this technology has reached new heights. Internet penetration, the convergence of new technologies and an increasing number of mobile users are the main driving forces behind this trend.

Video accessibility and improvement in video quality make streaming more and more popular among businesses and other organizations.

Live streaming has made an unprecedented leap in 2020 – with lockdowns leading to live events, functions and gatherings to moving online. A study by 99firms shows that 80 percent of the audience would rather watch a live video than read a blog, and video streaming should account for 82 percent of all Internet traffic by 2022.

Even after the pandemic is over, live streaming will still have a role in marketing strategy. Using platforms like YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Twitch is great for broadcasting live Q&As, interviews, product launches and showcases.

Livestream Supports e-Commerce

Live streaming e-commerce is a new medium for online shopping and a new battleground for retailers. As shopping becomes more digitized, livestream commerce is the main way to create a more entertaining, interactive experience that captures consumers’ interest.

However, those who want to sell and market their products online with live streaming will face some challenges. Firstly, it’s rather expensive to produce engaging, high-quality live videos with charismatic people to make the audience want to buy something and keep coming back for more. The live streaming functions currently offered by Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have limited capabilities for e-commerce. Companies will need to be creative to stay ahead of the curve as it becomes more widespread in the next two years.

With live video streaming, e-commerce will earn new sales by going live with their products and performing live event concepts like see-now-buy-now strategies. Going live with products will improve the online shopping experience for end-users, bringing brands and customers into closer contact.

The key trends in e-commerce and marketing you should be aware of are:

-Consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching online videos.

-Many brands are introducing premium products through live streaming videos because it allows them to demonstrate how the product works and interact with the audience.

Livestream Increases Retail Sales

Live streaming videos benefit retailers by creating more authentic communication with customers, engaging the audience and attracting consumers. Through proper strategies, retailers can also improve their marketing efforts and increase sales by live streaming on social media platforms with influencers’ help.

Key trends to watch in the retail industry:

-Social media advertising is much more affordable compared to traditional platforms.

-Interactive shoppable videos have proven to be more effective in driving sales, increasing the popularity of live streaming in retail.


Cordes Owen is the CEO of Bake More Pies

If you want to learn more about live streaming and how it can benefit your company, visit
augmented reality

How Augmented Reality Can Propel E-commerce Growth

One of the biggest challenges e-commerce retailers have had to deal with is finding a way for the consumers to interact with the products before purchasing. Owing to the fact that most people like to experience the product before making a purchasing decision, customers may abandon their carts. However, technological advancements have come in a big way to solve this through augmented reality (AR).

Simply put, augmented reality is a technology that needs artificial intelligence to be effective, and that creates a digital interface in the environment around a person by placing virtual objects in real-time in the real world. In other words, AR allows customers to review virtual products in their real-life environment, through computer-generated images on a screen to see how well they fit in their lives.

This technology has significantly improved the e-commerce customer experience. In fact, most customers now prefer purchasing on sites that offer this technology.  Even as you think of starting your e-commerce store, it is important to rethink the platform that you are going to use. It is also important to do SEO for your store to make sure that potential customers are finding you easily on online search engines. If you’d like to optimally leverage your SEO strategy, you can partner with an SEO company to help you customize the right strategy for your e-commerce.

That being said, these are the ways augmented reality can take your e-commerce forward.

1. It increases sales

In a brick and mortar store, people pick up multiple clothes before going to fit them in the changing booth. This gives them the chance to see how well an item fits on them. The more items that fit them, the more the chances of buying a few of them, if not all are increased.

The same situation is brought to life in e-commerce stores through AR. Customers are able to try on multiple items in a short time. For instance, a person who wants to revamp a room has the ability to see how multiple pieces of furniture fit in the room. They are more likely to purchase multiple pieces that go well together.

In addition, the ability to view a product in 3D provides many insights as compared to static 2D images. This influences the purchasing decision especially for people who prefer interacting with an item before purchasing. This shows that the conversion rate is high in a site that uses AR as compared to a site that doesn’t use AR.

2. It increases customers’ engagement

AR technology is thrilling and fun. Think of how many hours people use experimenting with Snapchat filters. Going through Instagram Stories, you can see people post different photos of them with different filters on, which is actually AR at play.

Virtual try-on is engaging. Statistics show that customer engagement increases by a huge percentage on an e-commerce platform that incorporates augmented reality technology. Someone can be hooked for some time trying on watches on their wrists or trying on different eyeglasses. The longer they stay, the more they are making an emotional connection with your brand, and the more they will be compelled to purchase something. This connection makes them loyal and repeats customers. Even if they fail to buy during their first visit, you can be sure that the high level of engagement will take them back in the future.

3. Increases brand awareness

Facebook challenges have been on the rise in the recent past. They provide businesses a creative way to market their brands in front of millions of people. Brands that have been able to leverage them have seen so much success in their marketing campaigns. With AR filters, you can start a Facebook challenge encouraging people to try on your products. Use catchy captions and hashtags and encourage people to tag their friends in the challenge. Owing to the fact that AR try-ones are fun, you stand a big chance of success with engaging AR campaigns.

One example of such a campaign was done by an Italian cosmetics company, We MakeUp, on Facebook. The company used a video showing people how to use filters to try on different shades of lipstick. The video encouraged people to try how the lipstick would look on them. The brand recorded a huge success and increased sales.

This is to say that video-only ads are engaging, but they are more successful when AR is added to them.

Case Study of IKEA

Ikea is one of the biggest manufacturers of furniture located in multiple countries across the world. What keeps IKEA on a competitive edge is their affordable prices and the easy to assemble products. So what IKEA has been doing recently to keep their advantage is that they have introduced virtual reality into their store with the aim of improving the customer experience. They have started this activity also in China, which allows users to test the IKEA products by using this VR app. Basically, they can use the app to automatically scale the products, depending on room dimensions which is highly accurate and gives users the possibility to see how products would look in the room.

E-commerce stores are slowly taking over the brick and mortar stores. However, the ability to interact with products in a physical store beats the convenience of online shopping by far. If you are to capture the customers who are still stuck on trying on products before purchasing, AR is an aspect you can’t afford to ignore.