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Artificial Intelligence Market to Reach $54 Billion by 2026

artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Market to Reach $54 Billion by 2026

According to a new study published by Polaris Market Research, the global artificial intelligence market is anticipated to reach USD 54 billion by 2026. The advancements of robots and the rise in their deployment rate particularly, in the developing economies globally have had a positive impact on the global artificial intelligence market.

Augmented customer experience, expanded application areas, enhanced productivity, and big data integration have highly propelled the artificial intelligence market worldwide. Although, the absence of adequate skilled workforce, as well as threat to human dignity, are some of the factors that could affect the growth of the market. However, these factors are expected to have minimal impact on the market attributed to the introduction of advanced technologies.

An extraordinary increase in productivity has been achieved with machine-learning. For instance, Google, with the help of its experimental driverless technology has transformed cars including, Toyota Prius. The integration of various tools by artificial intelligence has helped in the transformation of business management. These tools include brand purchase advertising, workflow management tools, trend predictions among others. For example, Google’s voice accuracy technology has a 98% accuracy rate. Furthermore, Facebook’s DeepFace technology has a success rate of approximately 97% in recognizing faces. Such accuracy in technologies is further anticipated to bolster the market growth during the forecast period.

Currently, North America dominates the global artificial intelligence market attributed to the high government funding availability, existence of prominent providers in the region, and robust technical adoption base. Also, the region is expected to continue its dominance during the forecast period. Moreover, the adoption of cloud-based services in key economies, such as the US and Canada, is considering adding to the market growth in the North American region. The markets in Asia Pacific, MEA and South America region are expected to notice a high growth during the coming years. The growth in the Asia Pacific region is attributed to the increasing demand for artificial technologies by the developing economies. Thus, the region is anticipated to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period.

 

Major companies profiled in the report include Google Inc., Intel Corporation, Nvidia Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, IBM Corporation, General Vision, Inc., Qlik Technologies Inc., MicroStrategy, Inc., Brighterion, Inc., and Baidu, Inc. among others.

Key Findings from the study suggest North America is expected to command the market over the forecast years. APAC is presumed to be the fastest-growing market, developing at a CAGR of more than 65% over the forecast period. The artificial intelligence market is presumed to develop at a CAGR of over 55.9% from 2018 to 2026. The high implementation of artificial intelligence in several end-user verticals including, retail, automotive and healthcare is projected to boost the growth of the market over the forecast period. Several companies are making considerable investments to integrate artificial intelligence competencies into their portfolio of products. For instance, in 2016, SK Telecom and Intel Corporation signed an agreement for the development of the artificial intelligence-based vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology as well as video recognition.

For More Information About Artificial Intelligence Market @ https://www.polarismarketresearch.com/industry-analysis/artificial-intelligence-market/request-for-customization
manufacturers

3 Privacy Compliance Priorities for Manufacturers in Ecommerce

Manufacturing leaders aren’t exactly diving into the world of ecommerce headfirst. Instead, they’re cautiously dipping one toe at a time into the waters. Several things keep them from going “all in,” so to speak, but one of the most serious is compliance with privacy regulations.

In June 2018, California’s governor signed the California Consumer Privacy Act into law. This year, the law officially went into effect. Under the CCPA, companies must notify users if they intend to monetize their data and give them the option to opt-out.

Its reach will be significant. The law is expected to affect more than 500,000 businesses in the United States alone — and many more around the world.

Those that fail to comply will face hefty fines. So if manufacturers are going to survive in the age of ecommerce, they won’t be able to wade in little by little and take on privacy compliance halfway. Privacy regulations are complicated, and compliance can literally make or break a business.

Ignorance of the Law Is Not a Defense

Most companies that do business online have researched state and national laws to some extent, but data privacy laws aren’t easy to understand. To truly comply with all of their nuances and demands, businesses have to hire additional people, integrate complex processes into internal operations, and put forth massive amounts of effort.

Most got into ecommerce with the hopes that having an online presence would help them avoid headaches and reach customers more easily. But when the market matures, regulations do, too. And while most companies know not to send email newsletters to people who didn’t subscribe or sell customer information without permission, they don’t know the finer details of regulations, much less how they differ by state.

For instance, a prospective client reached out to us after it had ended up in court for violating a state privacy law it didn’t know existed. The company’s website was using an assumptive privacy policy, which assumes that users agree to their data being collected and used by merely using the site. Because the company was using the site to do business in a state that banned these privacy policies, it faced a potential fine of $1,000 per site visit. The company ended up settling the case out of court, but it was still a shocking and scary discovery.

Even for well-meaning manufacturers, ignorance doesn’t hold up in court as a legal defense. Intentional violations can cost up to $7,500 per violation. And unintentional violations can be $2,500 per violation, making even accidents a significant cost. Manufacturers are timid about ecommerce because data privacy and compliance are intimidating. Some never pursue ecommerce for this very reason.

Imagine a small manufacturer that’s decided to sell online. It goes through the entire process of building a site, implementing new operations, and calculating shipping as transactions occur. Then suddenly, it has to be responsible and ready for multiple data checks and data wiping. It’s a lot to take on, both from the operations and the financial perspective. In total, meeting compliance standards could initially cost companies up to $55 billion.

Make Ecommerce Security a Priority

As you implement ecommerce in your manufacturing business or work to strengthen compliance with your current ecommerce system, here are three things to focus on:

1. Ensure that your systems are secured and encrypted. Wherever your ecommerce data lives, you need to be 100% sure it’s secured and encrypted. This is especially important if you’re handling, storing, or passing along credit card information.

Doing this is a combination of several elements. First, have an audit done that considers your specific industry so you can be entirely sure you know what regulations to comply with and to what degree. After that, you’ll have to put additional processes into place, and those processes will likely need additional software and hardware systems to serve their purpose.

We’ve worked with manufacturers where credit card information was being stored on-site and transferred between systems in a way that wasn’t secure. Often, older ERP systems don’t have the necessary security fields. It’s key, then, to move to a modern ERP and integrated ecommerce system to avoid and rectify situations like these.

2. Monitor employee access. Be aware of which employees have access to your development, staging, and production systems. While digital hacking is a security concern, physical access to information is, too. The best way to control who has access to private information is to grant permission to only specific roles and for only certain pieces of the system. A developer shouldn’t be making coding changes and publishing unchecked. A combination of role-based technical security and tight control on physical access is the best way to address this concern.

A manufacturing company often has a small technical team. We’ve seen teams of one that have access to all levels of data in these smaller organizations. Hiring multiple people just for data privacy management and security purposes is a serious financial burden, but you need to make having multiple people designated to multiple parts of the privacy process a priority.

3. Keep up with CCPA and GDPR. Being aware of and keeping up with CCPA and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation will be essential to staying compliant. If you meet the criteria for CCPA, be sure that you can wipe customers’ information from existence completely upon request.

If your annual gross is more than $25 million or you derive more than half of your annual revenue from selling California residents’ information, you have to comply with the law. This means being transparent about your data-usage policies, giving consumers access to the information you’ve collected about them, offering the choice to sell their information, and being capable of deleting all of their personal information upon request.

Knowing the processes and resources you need to handle compliance obligations is the hard part. You need people who can handle customer requests for data review and deletion and who can remove and keep the right data. Being supported by business and accounting teams will make this process smoother and stronger.

A few years ago, the internet was like the Wild West. Like most wild things, it gets bigger and needs to be tamed and managed. That management is a process. Some laws sound good on paper but will do more harm than good if fully enforced. They can even force honest manufacturers away from ecommerce. Ultimately, we will find a balance with responsible security and data if everyone works together. In the meantime, be aware of laws and make an honest effort to comply with them. There’s plenty of opportunity in ecommerce; you just have to pursue that opportunity with the right systems, team, and security in place.

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Michael Bird is the CEO of Spindustry, a digital agency focused on eCommerce, SharePoint portals, and enterprise websites. He has almost 30 years of experience in interactive development, user behavior, and business solutions.

ecommerce shipping

Ecommerce Shipping Guide 2020: All You Need to Know

This year, the ecommerce shipping industry is adapting automation and other efficiency-boosting tech tools for a 360-degree transformation. The shift in trends that began in 2019 is only going to pick up pace this year, with two of the most important trends of automation and scaling globally gaining impetus.

In 2019, 79% of US ecommerce shoppers said that free shipping would make it more likely for them to buy things online.  53% of users abandon the cart because of hidden costs like shipping, tax, etc. That’s how important shipping is for ecommerce sales.

So what changes should you be prepared for in 2020 when it comes to shipping?

What do you need to know about ecommerce shipping?

These are some of the questions we aim to answer through this guide.

A Step-Wise Peek Into the Ecommerce Shipping Process

Step 1 – Understanding a shipment

The most basic thing you need to understand is what constitutes a shipment. A shipment can be one thing or multiple things, created as a result of an order placed by a customer through online channels. One order might have multiple shipments too.

Step 2 – Using a shipping management software

Managing an inventory, especially when you are listing your products or services on multiple platforms, is a must. Using shipping management software keeps you organized. It also helps you check the status of every order in real-time.

Step 3 – Choosing your shipping carrier

There are a host of shipping carriers that are preferred by ecommerce companies like UPS and FedEx, among others. Therefore, compare the costs, the insurance, the delivery times, and the network of a shipping carrier before choosing one.

Step 4 – How to ship?

What is the most effective shipping method for you? By air, sea, or road? Ascertain this.

Step 5 – Determining whether to ship globally or locally

Will you be taking orders from international customers, or will you be shipping only in your city, state, or country? Answering this question will help you streamline the process.

Step 6 – Tracking & communication

Your work only begins once you have shipped an order; it does not end there. Customers prefer to have constant communication about their orders through tracking. Until the product is delivered, your job is not done.

Step 7 – Packaging and labeling

Incorrect labeling or inefficient packaging can cause damage or loss. Also, a badly packaged product negatively affects brand reputation.

Step 8 – Calculating costs

Shipping costs are one of the most important heads in your company’s balance sheet. Consider the factors like shipping methods, package dimensions, third-party-logistics, etc. while calculating the costs.

Step 9 – Knowing the regulations

You have to check the rules and regulations for all the countries or states you are shipping to. Some products cannot be shipped, while some need to have accompanying documentation, especially when you are shipping globally as they pass through customs. Know this beforehand.

Step 10 – Auditing & refunds

One of the most important steps is auditing your shipments. Shipping carriers might often overcharge you or levy incorrect fees and charges on your shipments. Automated or manual auditing allows you to claim refunds, making a slight addition to your capital.

Shipping Trends to Watch Out For in 2020

1. Going global

The whole world is a market. ecommerce companies are scaling internationally to boost growth. The demand for non-local products (that gain an ‘imported‘ or ‘exotic‘ tag) is only increasing. About 2.2 billion users are expected to shop online globally by 2021 – that’s your market if you go global.

2. Technology

The use of technology has increased efficiency, revenue, minimized errors and facilitated a better organizational structure. You can use shipping automation software solutions or something as simple as chatbots for your customers to track or know more about their orders.

3. Multi-channel presence

Just using one ecommerce platform like eBay or Amazon is not something online sellers prefer anymore. The new trend is to have a presence on multiple channels to maximize the chances of getting sales.

4. Faster delivery

Shorter wait times and same-day delivery options are what are in demand this year. Instant logistics is a major trend. A survey revealed that 88% of online shoppers are willing to pay for same-day delivery.

5. Personalized and premium packaging

Most ecommerce companies are spending a lot of money on designing the packaging. It works great for branding and says a lot about the company. Offering the users an option to personalize packaging is fast becoming a trend. 52% of customers are willing to make repeat purchases if the online merchant offers premium packaging, while 62% were more likely to purchase from a brand that used sustainable packaging.

The Past and the Present

The evolution of shipping and logistics in e-commerce has been phenomenal, especially in the last five years. The shipping modes, costs, size of warehouses, delivery times, packaging materials are only some of the things that have undergone a change. Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML), automation, real-time tracking, Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc. have brought about this evolution. And this year, the ecommerce shipping industry is set to revolutionize with about 25% of the world shopping online. Are you ready?

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Ana Shan is a product evangelist at AuditShipment.com, an AI-driven audit service that automatically captures more than 20 carrier errors and helps businesses save up to 16% of their shipping costs.

data science

10 Data Science Projects E-Commerce Businesses Are Using

Today e-commerce businesses are using data science in many different areas to stay ahead of the competition. For instance, e-commerce sites are investing funds into personalizing shopbots to enhance customer experience and recommending products to buyers based on browsing habits and previous purchases.

Selling the best products only works if e-commerce businesses can identify who wants to buy them and recommend them when these customers are ready to make a purchase. Here are some ways e-commerce businesses are utilizing data science to enhance the customer experience.

1. Retain customers

One concern for every e-commerce business is customers switching to other e-commerce websites. Customer retention is crucial if a business is to expand and grow. There are many benefits from having loyal customers, such as receiving real-time feedback from them and having them recommend products or services to others.

A churn model provides metrics such as the number and percentage of customers lost to the business as well as the value and percentage of this loss. When a company is able to identify customers who are most likely to switch to a different e-commerce site, it can take actions to try and keep them.

2. Give product recommendations

Using big data analytics offers a way to understand the shopping behavior of customers and predict patterns. For example, being able to establish which brands or products are most popular when spikes in demand for certain products occur or times of the year when customers shop more can help to determine the right strategies.

Recommendation filters for a particular user are based on past searches, purchase data, reviews read, etc. and allow a personalized view. This helps users with the selection of relevant products.

For example, if you’re looking for a mobile phone on an e-commerce site, there is a possibility that you might want to buy a phone cover too. Deciding whether this is a possibility might be based on analyzing previous purchases or data searches of customers.

3. Analyze customer sentiment

Gathering customer feedback is very important for e-commerce sites. Using social media analytics, data science and machine learning, companies can perform brand-customer sentiment analysis. Natural language processing, text analysis, data from online reviews and online surveys are just some ways to analyze customer sentiment.

If you’re running an e-commerce business and you’re studying at the same time, it’s possible to find writing services to help you, so you have more time to devote to the business and analyze all of this sensitive data.

If you need to deliver an essay consider Dissertation Today. Use the best paper writing service such as killer papers review or even resume services.

4. Predict the lifetime value of customers

E-commerce businesses can benefit from knowing what net profit a customer is likely to bring to the company. Being able to predict the lifetime value of a customer can help with factors such as defining objectives for expenditure, optimizing marketing strategies and deciding cross sell and up sell according to customer purchases.

By using data science models to collect and classify data, e-commerce businesses can predict future buying behavior and have more understanding when formulating business strategies. They know which customers are most loyal and can decide where spending money on advertising etc. will offer the most return on investment.

5. Manage Inventory

Proper management of inventory is essential for e-commerce businesses. When customers are unable to get what they want when they want it, it’s a major deterrent to retaining them. They will simply move on to the next company that can offer this. They want to receive the right goods at the right time and in perfect condition.

The maintenance of the supply chain has become complex today and using inventory data analytics enables businesses to manage inventory effectively. Using machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics enables patterns to be detected that can define inventory strategies.

6. Detect fraud

Living in a digital world where millions of transactions are taking place consistently makes fraud detection essential. Many different forms of fraud are possible and fraudsters are becoming smarter every day.

E-commerce businesses can detect suspicious behavior by using data science techniques. Signs of suspicious behavior could include a shipping address differing from a billing address, an unexpected international order or multiple orders of the same item.

Common data science techniques to detect such behavior include:

-Matching algorithms to estimate risks and avoid false alarms.

-Data mining to address missing or incorrect data and correct errors.

-Clustering and classification to help detect associated data groups and find anomalies.

A fraud detection system helps companies to decrease unidentified transactions and increase company revenue and brand value.

7. Improve Customer Service

A customer is central to any business, especially e-commerce. Personalizing services and giving customers what they really want and need is essential to keeping them happy. Big data analytics offers businesses the potential to enhance their processes so that customers enjoy transacting online.

Natural language processing allows customers to communicate with voice-based bots and data can be stored for future purposes. When businesses know more about their customers and what they want, they are able to devise the best strategies to improve their customer service.

8. Optimize prices

Data-optimized pricing is making some retailers plenty of money. Many online retailers, such as Amazon, Home Depot, Discover and Staples, vary their pricing based on secret formulas. Cost analysis, competitor analysis, and market segmentation are all critical when it comes to pricing.

Pricing of products can impact a business in many ways when it comes to market share, revenues and profits. A key for retailers is to be able to figure out the right price and with big data analytics, they are not only able to determine that number for the market in general but also calculate it with some precision for individual customers.

9. Make online payments easy

Many e-commerce sales are made via mobile platforms and online payments must be secure and safe for customers. Big data analytics helps to identify anything that threatens the process and helps to make online shopping safer.

Various payment options make the online payment process easy and convenient for customers.

10. Determine the quality and reliability of products

E-commerce stores usually provide warranties for products that allow customers to deal with any problems at no cost during the warranty period. Analytics relating to warranty claims can help to determine the quality and reliability of products.

If manufacturers are able to identify early warnings of possible problems, they may be able to address them in time to avoid serious damage to the business.

Text mining and data mining are two techniques that can be used to identify patterns relating to claims and problems with products. The data can be converted into real-time insights and recommendations.

The bottom line

We’ve taken a look at the ten ways that data science models can impact e-commerce. There are so many e-commerce websites and many of them sell similar types of products. Data science helps e-commerce businesses to understand and analyze customer behavior and provide ways to enhance customer service.

When companies understand what they do best and who their loyal customers are by using data science, they are able to improve product designs and customer service, formulate better pricing strategies, manage inventory effectively and provide secure online purchasing and payment options.

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This guest post is contributed by Kurt Walker who is a blogger and college paper writer. In the course of his studies he developed an interest in innovative technology and likes to keep business owners informed about the latest technology to use to transform their operations. He writes for companies such as Edu BirdieXpertWriters and uk.bestessays.com on various academic and business topics.

supply chain

Digital Supply Chain 2020: Here’s What Industry Players Should Know

The new year is here and with it comes a new set of opportunities, challenges, technologies, and trends to keep a close watch on, regardless of what industry your business caters to.

In 2019, global businesses saw an influx of unpredictable economic and political changes directly impacting the supply chain and customers. This year kicked off with IMO 2020, spurring panic for those that waited until the last minute to launch compliance efforts.

Beyond these concerns remains a variety of changes on the 2020 horizon that Pervinder Johar, CEO of Blume Global shares with us and how global and domestic businesses can prepare for success in the new year. Here’s a peek behind this year’s logistics curtain.

While shipment journeys are complex and fragmented, efforts to improve the flow of products will take precedence.

All the data in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t execute on it. We’ve been talking about the potential of the digital supply chain for more than two decades. In 2020, the balance finally shifts from future potential to current benefits. Connected devices and IoT-enabled solutions are giving us more data than ever to make better decisions — connecting the legs of the supply chain path while simplifying information exchange. To improve the flow of products and information from point A to point B, we will see more shippers adding sensors on almost everything, not just the most expensive equipment.

Maximized capacity and minimized empty miles.

We will see a more concerted effort to reduce waste in the supply chain. Eliminating the empty miles and excess CO2 emissions will become a bigger focus for smaller companies as larger organizations use it as criteria when selecting supply chain partners. Major manufacturers, shippers, and carriers have the clout to move the rest of the market. Smaller companies will invest in sustainable initiatives and the reduction of carbon emissions as a cost of working with major companies.

Better technology and planning will close the gap between planning and execution.

Traditional, long planning cycles don’t align to the expectations of today’s consumers. In addition to moving products, companies must deal with the added expectations from customers around product availability and expedited delivery — and in short, customers want what they want, and they want it now. While the Amazon effect has elevated customer experience across the board, it has also resulted in companies stockpiling trillions of dollars of inventory – a cost that very few aside from Amazon can justify. As a result, we can expect to see fewer companies stockpiling inventory and more focusing on improving inventory management and execution.

The American Transport Research Institute (ATRI) conducts an annual report on the operational costs of trucking. In its 2018 report, ATRI found that trucking companies traveled over 9.4 billion miles in 2017 and 20.7 percent of all those miles were empty. The industry can do better.

It has become essential for LSPs to be able to securely collaborate with their customers, carriers, and other service providers on a neutral digital platform. Accessible data and predictive analytics will remain key competitive differentiators. By establishing a centralized, digital repository that provides the same access to all reliable data across the supply chain, retailers can promise improved customer experience, competitive prices and a higher quality offering.

Low- or no-cost TMS-like solutions will become a priority for motor carriers.

Motor carriers are a critical link in the supply chain — yet they are the most dispersed and least connected of transportation modes. While they carry a huge volume of cargo — more than 70 percent of domestic tonnage— the vast majority are part of small organizations: 90 % of firms operate six trucks or fewer (source: American Trucking Association). Carriers, LSPs and shippers need to embrace solutions that provide low- or no-cost TMS-like solutions that empower even a single-truck firm with access to logistics and supply-chain networks.

Smart technologies will decrease the amount of time it takes for an invoice to be processed.

Currently, LSPs, freight forwarders and shippers need to wait weeks/months for invoices to be processed, which impacts their bottom line. But, with the increased investment in and use of smart technologies by companies along the supply chain, the amount of time it takes for an invoice to be received and paid will significantly decrease. This will also lead to better and stronger relationships between companies along the supply chain.

Artificial Intelligence will reach its potential by becoming domain specific.

The potential productivity gains from AI are anticipated to be anywhere from $13.7 trillion to $15.7 trillion by 2030, according to the McKinsey Global Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers, respectively. The next phase of AI success happens when technical capabilities are matched with industry-specific expertise. We are at a significant inflection point in the adoption of AI-enabled solutions. Linking domain expertise and data with technical innovation is necessary for technology to reach its full potential to deliver measurable, effective results to the companies that implement them.

Tariffs and trade woes mean new supply chain opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Bigger, more sophisticated supply chains will seek out new primary sources. In part due to the tension over tariffs with China, companies are moving their supply chains out of the country and building up new footholds in Southeast Asia. Aside from tariff concerns, companies are looking at overall cost of business and the availability of resources to meet their needs.

returns

National Returns Day Anticipated with 26% Increase

‘Tis the season for giving and returns. UPS released information today confirming National Returns Day will return with a vengeance, as seen over the last seven years of year-on-year increases. According to the report, an estimated 1.9 million returns in the form of packages are expected. This number represents a 26 percent increase from last year’s National Returns Day.

“For retailers, a seamless returns process is essential to keeping and growing business,” said Kevin Warren, UPS chief marketing officer. “We proudly offer businesses of all sizes – from global players to small and medium-sized merchants – the sophisticated returns services that today’s consumers demand.”

As part of its Pulse of the Online Shopper study, UPS confirmed that the returning process plays a major role in their likelihood of using a retailer again. In fact, 73 percent of online shoppers confirmed the returns experience impacts potential business.

As e-commerce continues to establish its position in consumer patterns, UPS stays one step ahead of the trends by offering a plethora of fast, reliable, and convenient delivery (and return) options for consumer products. Among these options include the 14,000+ UPS Access Point® locations found at UPS Access Point® locations found at Michaels, Advance Auto, CVS Pharmacy and The UPS Store® locations and the 36,000 drop boxes for smaller packages.

Additionally, UPS customers have an added option of having a UPS driver come to them as long as a return label is ready to go. UPS boasts a network of over 4,800 locations fully equipped and ready to assist customers with all of their full-service packing, shipping and return needs.

shopping

American and Chinese Consumers are Shopping Like There’s No Trade War

What Trade War?

If shoppers are worried about the U.S.-China trade war, it’s not showing up yet in measures of their buying confidence or holiday retail sales.

We are more than a year into dueling tariffs between the United States and China, and we know that tariffs add costs to supply chains, but how much of those costs are passed on the consumer depends on decisions by manufacturers, buyers and retailers as well as the “import-intensity” of the products we buy.

So far, if prices have risen on consumer products, it’s not dampening American appetites to buy. And Chinese consumers don’t rely to a great degree on imports in general, so China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports don’t appear to be the biggest factor in their personal spending either.

Spending and the U.S. Economy

At the end of the third quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that U.S. consumer spending was on track for $14.67 trillion this year, reaching an all-time high.

Personal expenditures make up 68 percent of the U.S. economy, and it’s consumer spending that’s keeping growth of our economy from slowing further. (By comparison, our “negative net exports” or total exports minus total imports, comprise five percent of U.S. GDP.)

Two-thirds of spending is on services such as housing and health care, which are largely impervious to the trade war. The remaining third is spent on non-durable goods such as clothing and groceries, and on durable goods such as cars and appliances.

Brimming with Confidence

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index is a monthly report on consumer attitudes and buying intentions. Despite analysts’ expectations that concerns related to trade disputes would cause U.S. consumers to become cautious, the index shows a trend of rising consumer confidence since 2009.

Breaking Records Online

Retail sales figures tell us whether that confidence is translating into spending. Indeed, American consumers are still filling their real and virtual shopping carts to the brim.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 165 million people were expected to shop over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Online sales for last holiday weekend are already being reported and appear to be breaking records.

Americans spent $7.4 billion online on Black Friday, up 19.6 percent from last year. We spent another $3.6 billion on Small Business Saturday, up 18 percent from last year. And while surfing from our desks at work, Americans spent $9.2 billon on Cyber Monday, up 16.9 percent from last year. More than half of Americans surveyed by NRF said they start their holiday shopping the first week of November. Online sales for November came in at a whopping $72.1 billion.

Chinese Consumers Outspent Us All

Cyber Monday is so successful in driving online sales in the United States that Canada, the UK and Germany have all adopted Cyber Monday to kick off their holiday shopping seasons. Australia launched “Click Frenzy” day. The Netherlands’ equivalent is linked to the December 5 Sinterklaas holiday.

But hands down, the world’s largest 24-hour online shopping day goes to China’s Singles Day held on November 11 annually. This year, Chinese online shoppers bought $38.3 billion on Singles Day alone. Think of it this way – that’s more than $1 billion every hour.

This is not a one-day phenomenon. If you were to overlay China’s consumer confidence index with that of the United States, they would look similar. Despite being slightly lower for China and with a dip in 2016 that we didn’t see in the United States, consumer confidence rose between 2014 and remained high in 2019, trade war notwithstanding. In mid-2019, retail spending in China surpassed retail spending in the United States for this first time.

Retail Spending in China Exceeds US

Beyond the Tariff Headlines

Financial analysts are watching China’s consumer spending carefully amidst the trade war. Many said this summer’s drop in car purchases was a harbinger that shoppers are growing wary, but the slowdown also coincided with the end of big discounts. Others say retail sales actually underestimate the strength of China’s overall consumer spending because those numbers offer just a partial picture of personal spending on goods and services, which include large expenditures on healthcare, education and leisure activities.

For this reason, some prominent Chinese investors are nonplussed by the Trump Administration’s tariffs. They look at a decline in certain manufacturing and exports as a structural shift in China’s economy – an “economic rebalancing” – that began long before the current trade war. In their view, household consumption will drive most of China’s future economic growth, and China’s consumer spending is not very dependent on imports.

According to World Bank data, consumer imports comprise just 13 percent of China’s overall imports. Most of the large multinational consumer goods companies now produce in China for the Chinese consumer. According to McKinsey analysis, across key consumer categories including personal digital devices and personal care products, Chinese brands have become credible competitors to foreign brands, acquiring greater market share – and shielding Chinese consumers from tariffs on U.S. imports.

Consumer Spending to Play Bigger Role in China’s Growth

Consumption is playing a much larger role in China’s economic growth than just a few years ago. In 2011, consumer spending accounted for less than 50 percent of China’s GDP growth. Last year, it accounted for 76 percent of GDP growth, outpacing both manufacturing investment and exports.

In fact, China’s total exports of goods and services as a percentage of GDP has dropped from a high of 36 percent in 2006 to 19.5 percent in 2018, with exports to the United States at just four percent.

That why China’s central bank is also monitoring consumer sentiment. In recently released results from its biennial survey of 18,600 residents in 31 provinces, nearly 80 percent of respondents expressed caution about spending and a preference for saving.

China’s politburo has directed the government to focus on turning up the tap of consumer spending by China’s growing urban middle class and to kick-start spending in rural areas. The government already cut personal income taxes and began offering subsidies for large ticket energy-saving home appliances and energy efficient vehicles. The government is expected to announce more measures in the coming months designed to goose household spending.

WB Chart Title China Exports as % of GDP

Business is Ill at Ease

Economists worry the trade war is causing a drag on economic growth, not just in the United States and China but globally. Businesses say the trade war with its escalating tariffs is a “wild card” in their planning. Uncertainty is causing them to hold back on capital expenditures.

It’s looking less likely the United States and China will agree to a “Phase 1” trade deal by the end of the year, but even if they do, the partial deal may not be enough to restore business confidence. If businesses continue to hold back on investments and reduce inventories, it could start to negatively impact jobs and incomes. This may be particularly true in China where a larger portion of the population is dependent on manufacturing jobs.

Consumers Keep Calm and Shop On

Meanwhile, holiday shopping is in full swing. Some holiday merchandise is already subject to tariffs on Chinese imports, but the tariffs the United States plans to impose on December 15 will affect many more consumer products. If imposed, buyers and retailers will have to decide how much cost to pass on to their suppliers and consumers in the coming year.

For now, shoppers are keeping calm and shopping on with resilience. But as a last line of defense against slowing growth, their confidence can be fragile. Where the trade war is concerned, buyer beware.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fourteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

e-commerce

5 Must-Have Features of Enterprise E-Commerce

E-commerce is everywhere — unless, of course, you look in the B2B space. Unfortunately, one segment lags behind all the rest when it comes to online sales: manufacturers. Just 38% of manufacturers have e-commerce websites, and only 6% of all manufacturer sales come through this particular channel. 

Part of the reason manufacturers are so slow to adopt e-commerce can be traced back to the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The traditional ways of doing business largely haven’t posed a problem yet, so many manufacturers don’t feel a real sense of urgency to explore the increasingly relevant direct-to-consumer model. 

It also has a lot to do with technical hurdles. For many manufacturers, moving to e-commerce involves taking on yet one more system to master — that or an expensive integration with their current enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It’s nearly impossible to get an e-commerce platform to talk to an old “closed” mainframe, so plans to upgrade often involve a two-year timeframe or longer to get everything up and running. They might also involve a million-dollar price tag. Not surprisingly, this tends to put e-commerce on the back burner pretty quickly. 

And it’s important to note, too, that most manufacturers work through distributors and dealers, making e-commerce seem like nothing more than a mere alternative to their current traditional sales channels. 

A Missed Opportunity

What many manufacturers seem to be missing, though, is that B2B customers are also B2C customers. Chances are that they’re already shopping online for their personal needs, and not having a way to buy their business products and services online can have a hefty negative impact on the customer experience. If you’re manufacturing a commodity product and your sales process lacks the convenience of shopping for that product online, your customers might begin to look elsewhere. 

Remaining passive about e-commerce is simply the wrong approach, especially with B2B buyers moving more of their purchases online all the time. As it stands, nearly half of all companies utilize online channels for 50% to 74% of all their corporate purchases. Not being online just means you’ve missed out on an opportunity — not only to secure additional sales, but also to broaden your reach to a global level

Also, remember that it’s easier than ever for competition and new players in the market to get in front of your customers via Google, Facebook, and email. Not having an e-commerce site could easily cost you market share, even if the competition’s product isn’t as good as yours.

Beyond the Basics

Knowing that it isn’t enough to conduct all business offline, know, too, that it isn’t enough to just invest in getting an e-commerce platform, leave it there, and call it good. Your site has to offer the functionalities necessary to run an online business. If your system doesn’t support multiple pricing tiers, it probably also doesn’t mimic your current sales process. Clearly, that’s not a good thing. 

Your site needs to be able to support multiple buying options, such as “requests for quotes” as opposed to a shopping cart model. It can take time to arrive at a number in a complex B2B transaction, and the last thing you want is for a customer to have to take the interaction offline just to finalize scope and nail down specifics. 

This naturally leads to my next point. Assuming your e-commerce site comes equipped with all the basics like browse, add to cart, checkout, email confirmation, etc., there are a few features to look out for at the enterprise level. Those often include the following:

System integration options

In e-commerce, a certain amount of coordination is necessary between the website itself and your back-end system that you use for inventory and accounting purposes. Without proper integration, order fulfillment can easily get problematic. Focus on maintenance, data input, and offering a seamless user experience. Most of all, understand all the system integration options of your marketplace website before going with one provider over another.

Proper data to support search

Product information is important. It’s what consumers see prior to making a purchase decision. But it can sometimes pale in comparison to the product data used behind the scenes. A number of data fields and HTML tags enable your products and website to rank in both Google and on-site search results. Make sure your platform accommodates these options. Also, inquire about the tracking capabilities of your on-site search function. It can be useful to monitor what users found — and didn’t find — during a visit.

Customer tiers

At the enterprise level, you’ll likely run across different types of customers. Being able to segment these customers into various tiers can come in handy. Based on their purchase history, for example, you might determine that one tier would respond well to a certain promotion while another’s browsing behavior could inform subsequent product recommendations. In other words, segmenting tiers allows you to personalize your messaging, pricing, and other marketing efforts to fit the needs of your customers. So look into this functionality while reviewing your e-commerce options.

Analytics integration

Whether you’re looking at an off-the-shelf platform or a custom solution, reporting is very important. At a bare minimum, make sure a standard tool like Google Analytics can be integrated with your e-commerce system. You’ll also want to inquire about the setup of advanced features like e-commerce tracking.

Merchandising

Generally, any platform you go with will provide the functionality of assigning products to categories. This can help with on-site search and make it easier for visitors to browse your product line. Beyond that, you might wish to feature certain products. The question, then, is what ability do you have in the platform to create banner ads, highlight related products on a product page, create landing pages around a spotlight topic for the month, and feature products in other ways? 

Providing a good online experience naturally makes customers feel good about doing business with you. It also increases the likelihood of driving new customers to your business without needing to invest in additional resources. 

Ultimately, you can handle more transactions with an e-commerce site in your corner. Just make sure your site provides you with all of the functionalities you need to keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy. 

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Michael Bird is the CEO of Spindustry, a digital agency focused on e-commerce, SharePoint portals, and enterprise websites. He has almost 30 years of experience in interactive development, user behavior, and business solutions. His successful agency, Spindustry, puts these strategies into practice to help businesses grow.

south american

Embracing the South American Ecommerce Marketplace

Ecommerce is on the rise in South America. Double-digit growth is expected for 2019 with sales of $71.34 billion (USD), tying it with the Middle East and Africa as the world’s second-fastest-growing retail ecommerce market. 

That’s great news for shippers looking to expand their online retail presence in South America.

A diamond in the rough

Online retailers in South America have been struggling for years to overcome several obstacles to success, including extensive customs delays, poor transportation infrastructure, and the lack of end-to-end supply chain visibility. Progress has been made on all three of these “challenges,” but more work is necessary to ensure the region’s continued double-digit growth. 

Within each challenge lies opportunity

While these obstacles may keep a few shippers from expanding into South America, others are viewing the area as a “diamond in the rough” and working diligently to reap the rewards of this truly untapped region. 

Having the right information is the first step to wading through the muck and mire of this complicated ecommerce marketplace:

South America customs vary by country

Red tape and bureaucracy pose the biggest obstacles for importing products into South American countries. In addition to customs taxes, tariffs, and fees, it can take 30+ days for some goods to be cleared through customs, especially in Brazil and Argentina. As a result, inventory builds up, costs rise, and customers wait longer for their products to arrive. In comparison, however, Chilean customs are very similar to the U.S. and allow products to flow through relatively quickly.

As you can tell, customs procedures can differ significantly, making it difficult for shippers to ensure compliance with each region’s unique customs. For a more seamless process, it’s essential shippers work with a customs broker or third party logistics provider (3PL) with local offices in the area. They’ll know the customs standards and understand the paperwork necessary to ensure products are approved for import.

Free trade agreements 

The United States-Chile trade agreement allows all U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to enter Chile duty free. While still in the works, the United States-Brazil free trade agreement can help facilitate trade and boost investment between the two countries, especially in infrastructure. The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement eliminates tariffs on 80% of U.S. consumer and industrial imports into Colombia. 

South America infrastructure at port and inland

South America is hobbled by its inadequate infrastructure, and it’s probably not going to change anytime soon. Roads remain the primary means of transportation, but 60% are unpaved, hampering the speed of delivery by truck to inland locations. Improvements are slowly occurring, thanks to increased government funding (but corruption hampers many efforts). It’s worth mentioning that China, the largest trading partner of Brazil, Chile, and Peru, invests heavily in the region, providing more than $140 billion (USD) in loans for infrastructure improvements in the past decade, according to The Business Year.  

While surface transportation remains stagnant, ocean freight shows promise. According to icontainers.com, routes going to and from South America represent 15% of the total number of trade services.

The largest container port in South America is in the city of Santos in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state. Its location provides easy access to the hinterlands via the Serra do Mar mountain range. More than 40% of Brazil’s containers are handled by the Port of Santos as well as nearly 33% of its trade, and 60 % of Brazil’s GDP, according to JOC.com

In 2018, Brazil’s busiest container cargo port handled 4.3 million TEUs, compared with 3.85 million TEUs in 2017. 

For Argentina, Zarate serves as the critical port for roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) and breakbulk cargo, while Buenos Aires and Rosario serve as the top container ports. Only two countries in South America are landlocked, Paraguay and Bolivia. 

Shippers and ocean carriers using the Port of Santos have been complaining about congestion and labor disputes at the port, and about politicization and time-consuming bureaucracy. That’s why it’s essential that shippers must have the latest information on traffic through these South American ports. Global freight forwarding companies in the area will have the newest information available to help you choose the right port of entry for your freight.

End-to-end supply chain visibility

Most online retailers and carriers understand that the sale is not complete until the product is delivered to the consumer. If merchandise is damaged during transport or arrives much later than promised, it reflects poorly on both parties and undermines consumer trust in ecommerce purchases. 

Lack of adequate infrastructure has forced many online retailers to put logistics on the back burner, focusing on the user experience through purchase. That’s why many products take weeks to arrive at the customer’s door, setting a bad precedent that must change. 

The South America trucking industry is highly fragmented, with providers ranging from owner-operators (about one-third of the industry) to sizable fleet operators and experienced freight forwarders who may not own any trucks at all, according to Tire Business newspaper. 

Final mile, LTL services paramount in South America

Once your product reaches port in South America and makes it through customs, how it gets delivered to the customer’s door can add extensive costs to your supply chain. Less than truckload (LTL) and final mile services are paramount to successfully operating in the region. Especially those carriers that can provide GPS freight tracking capabilities, such as C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere® technology

Final thoughts

Yes, there are obstacles to operating a supply chain in South American countries. Knowing the ins and outs of each country’s unique customs procedure, understanding which South American ports are best for your freight, and being able to track your shipments end-to-end will ensure your success in the region. Shippers who realize the potential of this “diamond in the rough” marketplace should work with a freight forwarder who will be extra focused and diligent in ensuring their freight moves quickly from customs fiscal warehouses to the final destinations. 

Enlist the aid of a global freight forwarding provider, like C.H. Robinson, who offers a global suite of services and has offices in the region that can help navigate any disruption in your supply chain.

Start the discussion with an expert in South America to accelerate your ecommerce trade. 

China

What Every Business Should Know About Selling in China

Not only is China the most populous country on earth (1.3 billion people), it also has the second-biggest economy in the world by Nominal GDP (14.242 trillion dollars).

As the country has pursued ever more progressive policies to trade (and despite the current trade war between China and the United States) more and more opportunities to sell in the country have arisen to businesses across sectors. If you see China as a potential growth market, here are some of the most important considerations when selling in China.

Seek advice

When looking to enter a foreign market, it is always advisable to seek sage advice, and even look to local businesses who you can partner with. Although you may not wish to go down the partnership route, it is definitely advisable to seek the counsel of businesses who are already operating within the sphere, or groups such as the Global Innovation Forum who often provide free advice regarding penetrating new markets. 

This is a smart strategy because selling in China will be totally unlike selling domestically, or in European markets, for example. Any insights that you can garner will be potentially critical to the success of your sales strategy and approach in China, because as is abundantly clear, you will be operating within a totally different market, both literally and culturally.

“The cultural considerations when accessing new markets should never be overlooked. From the way that you brand and market your products to the way that you negotiate with local businesses and retailers, everything you do will be influenced by different rules: rules to which you are unfamiliar. Get the help you need to pass through this difficult phase,” advises Grant Tarrant, a business writer at Writinity.com and Lastminutewriting.com.

Understand Chinese governmental practices and rules

Although the Chinese Government has grown increasingly receptive to foreign businesses working and partnering in China, rules will still be a little conservative in comparison to the Western approach. Make sure you totally familiarize yourself with what you are expected to adhere too, especially when visiting the country and seeking to operate a sales operation from within China.

For example, you will need to understand the levels of bureaucracy that exist to set up a business entity that operates within China. For example, you may need to set up as a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) to operate, and this can be a costly and timely exercise that may delay you implementing your sales strategy. Forming a business plan which pays close attention to all the requirements (and timeframes) of the Chinese state is essential.

Understand your customer

This piece of advice holds for whoever you are selling too, but obviously your Chinese customer base will be different from your US customer base and will have different expectations. For example, haggling is a standard cultural procedure, and Chinese customers demand to know a product impeccably before they buy, so ensure that your eCommerce operation includes high numbers of images and product reviews: this will be expected.

“If you study Chinese eCommerce sites such as Taobao you will see that it facilitates the Chinese custom of haggling down prices. In the West we are totally unfamiliar with this practice as we are satisfied that the price is the price, Be prepared to change your approach accordingly,” says Rachel Walliston, a marketer at Draftbeyond.com and Researchpapersuk.com

Provide impeccable customer support

Chinese customers have come to expect an extremely high level of customer support from their retailers and will demand this from any new business operating within their sphere. Knowing this, make sure you ramp up support efforts, and that, of course, raises questions regarding how you will do this in a new language and culture. Seeking advice from established entities is again the recommended route, and establishing support centers in the country is also best practice. 

Understand the marketing and communication channels

If you go in with a Facebook-based marketing strategy, be prepared to be disappointed. In China the social media platforms are different, for example, WeChat is one of China’s most popular platforms, but barely exists outside of the country. It has been dubbed a ‘super-app’ because it can be used for a multitude of actions, so utilizing such platforms is an absolute must if you wish to successfully penetrate the Chinese market. 

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Ashley Halsey is a writer, editor and international business expert who can be found at both Luckyassignments.com and Gumessays.com. She has been involved in many projects in Asia, and enjoys traveling, reading and cultural exchanges.