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The Holiday Shopping Race is On and It’s Going Into Extra Laps!

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Listen to the chatter from consumers as they peruse local shops and malls across America, and you can often hear passive disdain for how early retailers are gearing up selling efforts for the coming holiday season. Most lament “Christmas already” or “it gets earlier and earlier each passing year.” Marketers appear to be deaf to the sentiments or at best unconcerned. This year major big box marketers are moving up the holiday selling season even earlier, with many launching several weeks earlier than ever before. Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving was reserved for a massive waving of the “start your engines” green flag, but in 2018 many well-known retailers are off the starting line early in hopes of getting a head start on the competition. In this race there doesn’t appear to be any penalty for jumping the gun.

A recent study indicated that 64 percent of marketers began running holiday advertising by Halloween. Most will dump the bulk of holiday advertising spend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Nearly 95 percent will commit a significant portion of total advertising budgets by the first week in November. “Retailers don’t focus much of their holiday ad spend on last-minute shoppers, which could be a missed opportunity as it’s a pivotal time to generate brand exposure,” Nanigans said. Consumer spending  between Black Friday and the Monday after Thanksgiving will once again spike and is expected to reach $718 billion dollars, according to the National Retail Federation, a 4.8 percent increase over the same period last year. With almost half of shoppers starting their gift searching on Amazon this year, getting the brand out in front of the competition earlier is critical for major retailers wanting to increase their share of the feast.

The absence this year of a major toy retailer is changing the dynamics of shopping for those little ones around the house. “With Toys R Us out of business, all of the major retailers, including Best Buy, Amazon, Target and Walmart, are fighting for an increased share of the toy market,” said Philip Dengler of BestBlackFriday.com. “Each has already released holiday toy lists and toy books, and they will all be expanding their selection of toys this year.” Consumers will also find great deals on electronics at stores not typically known for being electronic sales leaders. “It is often possible to get better overall pricing on electronics at Kohl’s compared to Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon when taking into account the Kohl’s Cash,” Denger said.

Consumers are expected to turn out in greater numbers than ever before to eCommerce outlets for gift giving purchases. This year, finding an online retailer not offering free shipping will be like finding a drop of fresh water in a desert. It is estimated that online spending will jump $2 billion on Thanksgiving and another $2.5 billion on Cyber Monday. Consumers’ comfort with using mobile smart devices for shopping is boosting eCommerce holiday sales this year. Retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Target and Amazon planned and initiated promotions earlier this year in an attempt to lure increased clicks.

Physical retail outlet shoppers will need to focus on a vast variety of store hours before heading out on a shopping adventure this year. Pounded by consumers in past for opening in the wee hours of the morning or on Thanksgiving Day, many brick and mortar retailers are closed this year on Thanksgiving Day or are delaying openings until later in the day. Consumers will, however, enjoy a longer holiday selling period, as the calendar has offered up an additional week in November.

Buckle-up shoppers, the race is on and it’s going into extra laps!

The Importance of Design in Developing an Effective Website

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As with many aspects of marketing, effective website development is a combination of technology and creative design. Conversion, the point where a user becomes a paying customer, requires attention to not only the technology but also a combination of creative design attributes that guide a user to making a purchasing decision. Human behavioral studies have revealed that 75 percent of website users will make a value judgement about a brand’s credibility based on design, and 94 percent of first impressions about a marketer are made based on design-related factors.

To convert shoppers into paying customers, it is critical to invest wisely in website designers who are experienced in developing an effective design. An effective design will make consumers feel welcome and comfortable, motivate them to take action and present important information concisely.

Color can play a major role in establishing a site’s personality and increase click-through rates when call-to-action buttons are red or green. The use of video can increase conversion rates significantly, and keeping all things simple and easy to find outperforms complex and overly creative. A brand’s value proposition should be front and center. Forms and templates are best when short rather than long, and requests-for-information are most successful when less rather than more is requested. Less clutter and more white space results in less consumer stress. Quality content wins out over quantity.

A recent study conducted by The Harvard Review found that trustworthiness is the biggest motivator for customers to make a purchase. Users want to feel safe, comfortable and at ease. Straightforward and easy-to-navigate signs result in users having a more positive experience, making them more likely to complete a purchase.

Goran Paunovic of Community Voice and a Forbes Agency Council member says, “In my experience, uncovering the ideal design strategy for a company begins by understanding the deeper roots of a business — its founding vision, core beliefs, user personas, differentiating factors, company goals and problems solved, to name just a few.  Designers, marketers and strategists working together can make these experiences seamless by considering the context of use and what differentiates the brand from its competition.”

“As the marketing landscape changes and consumer expectations evolve, it’s critical to remain ahead of design trends,” says Julie Gareleck, founder and CEO of Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). “Our team of experienced website professionals has designed for some of the most trusted and recognizable brands, delivering comprehensive sets of solutions to support our clients’ sales and marketing efforts. Junction has amassed a team of designers recognized as some of the top creative talent in the industry.”

To learn more about how Junction’s implementation team is as adept in building small digital projects as it is in fully-executed, customizable platforms, call 678.686.1125.

A New and Vibrant Destination for Big Business

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The winner of Yelp’s first ever Bizzie Award in 2016, Sandy Springs, Georgia (GA) is becoming accustomed to the recognition many small to mid-sized cities can only dream of achieving. Located just north of downtown Atlanta, Sandy Springs’ convenient location, business friendly environment and its generous supply of smart and energetic young professionals, is finding that it is a popular choice for another group; Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. One of three Georgia cities ranked amongst the most educated places in the United States and home to a generous number of women-owned businesses, the city is abuzz with the arrival of major Fortune 500 companies seeking a new home for their corporate headquarters.

Already the home for mega companies like Home Depot, United Parcel Service (UPS), Delta Airlines and others, the leader in luxury automobiles, Mercedes-Benz, recently established a new USA corporate headquarters in the vibrant city. Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Dietmar Exler said, “All the stars are aligned. Our new Atlanta headquarters marks a high point for Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. market, not just in terms of being the leading luxury brand in the U.S. for the past two years, but also in terms of this building which is designed from the inside out to enable a creative, innovative and empowered workforce more representative of a startup than a conventional corporation.” Before Mercedes-Benz relocated to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter area, the city and the state began rolling out the red carpet to help make the company’s relocation go as smoothly as possible, even renaming Barfield Road in front of the headquarters to Mercedes-Benz Drive. But the luxury auto maker isn’t the only famous employer to recently call Sandy Springs home.

Inspire Brands, the company that manages familiar restaurants Buffalo Wild Wings,  Arby’s and R Taco, has announced that it will create 1,100 jobs and invest $32M dollars in the next six years to establish its home in the business-eager community. Inspire’s Global Support Center is expected to open in 2019 and serve as the hub for the company and restaurant brands. “We have focused on creating an environment, the infrastructure and amenities to attract top talent and keep them here with unequaled access to our work and play lifestyle,” said Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul. “It is especially satisfying to watch companies like Inspire Brands thrive and grow within our community.”

Edible Arrangements, creators of the edible fresh fruit floral-like arrangements, has announced plans to relocate the company’s corporate headquarters from Wallingford, Connecticut, to Sandy Springs. Edible Arrangements opened an Atlanta office as a second headquarters in March 2018 to “take advantage of the more centralized location, access to major transportation hubs and other resources for many of the services that were previously handled out of Wallingford,” according to a company press release. The company employs roughly 130 workers and hopes to complete the move to metro Atlanta by the end of 2018. Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said Edible Arrangements’ decision shows the city is “among the nation’s most desirable locations for corporate and regional headquarters. Our deep, talented labor pool, access to world class, world reachable transportation and superb quality of life all make Sandy Springs a perfect spot for major businesses to call home.”

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) recently relocated its headquarters near the City Springs development, the new epicenter of the city.  Located adjacent to the new Performing Arts Center, the unique, vibrant, walkable City Center area is now the heart of Sandy Springs.  “Junction is exceeding our growth expectations, necessitating the opening of the new office. The site is centrally located for easy access to Buckhead, Downtown Atlanta or North Alpharetta which helps our team better position Junction to meet the demands of its growing list of clients,” said Julie Gareleck, founder and CEO. With all this expansion, the City has rebranded itself and is creating a new and vibrant community for its residents and its growing list of corporations.

Be Responsible with Investment Dollars that Come from Playing the Funding Game

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Good news for those energetic and enthusiastic dreamers looking to embark on a journey of growing an existing business or those looking to break away from the regular paycheck world. Lending institutions are approving business financing requests at a higher rate than ever before. According to the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™, the June 2018 loan approval percentage rose two-tenths of a percent from May’s figure of 25.9 percent, the highest since 2015. The trend credits the continued strength of the overall economy and emerging optimism among entrepreneurs for its performance, according to a National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) survey.

While new businesses continue to look to personal and family savings for their initial funding, a growing number of businesses are taking advantage of an expanding menu of financial sources. Angel investors, venture capitalists and online lenders are busy investing in high-growth and high-risk opportunities. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers “MoneyTree Report” indicates that the U.S. market experienced a record second quarter in 2018 for venture capital funding activity. “Times are unusually good for Main Street businesses and their lenders now,” said William Phelan, president of PayNet, Inc. “The combination of record-high credit demand and low credit risk for main street businesses signals that higher profitability is in store for commercial lenders — especially those with technology systems currently in place that can minimize costs.”

One historic constant of business financing remains the fact that starting or growing a business requires cash; lots and lots of it.  Acquiring the necessary capital to get the shelves stocked, the doors open, and enough sales to get the revenue flowing, remains the most difficult aspect of startups and the number one reason small business startups fail. Most new businesses will remain dependent upon infusions of cash for at least 12 to 18 months until revenues from business activities catch up to startup costs. Any new or expanding venture requires funding sources significant enough to sustain the operations until revenues begin to flow.

While most organizations are applying their investors’ participation responsibly, there are reports that an increasing percentage of companies are squandering what first appears to be easy money. Some are utilizing it in bad faith and spending it like it’s their own. However, seemingly easy money comes with increased responsibility and a need for additional layers of accountability to ensure that investor capital is not squandered.

“I’ve been in or around the emerging business market for nearly 20 years and I have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly as it relates to funding,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction).  “My advice to those start-ups who have been successfully raising money is to treat every penny as though it was your last and focus your spending on monetizing the business first.”

“The moment when you look in your bank account and see hundreds of thousands of dollars that you are in control of is a moment you never really forget. You can’t help but think about how you haven’t been paid in years, how maxed out your credit cards are, and how the hard part is over,” says G. Krista Morgan, cofounder and CEO of P2Binvestor.“We took a little time to celebrate, then poured all our resources back into building the right infrastructure and developed technology to meet demand on our investment platform. We started building out all this infrastructure to manage the client accounts we were sure would come eventually. But they didn’t. The good news is that we learned fast and started cutting back early enough to give ourselves more time to fix the problem. We took away every luxury and focused on the core of what we needed to do, which was to figure out our target market and start selling.” Krista’s advice to others experiencing the newly found cash: “Stop—breathe—and get to revenue. Spend money once you start making money.”

“Spending responsibility, while a good rule of thumb, is oft forgotten when entrepreneurs have the funding in their hands. There is no such thing as “free money” yet I see entrepreneurs wasting dollars that could fuel the company,” comments Gareleck.  “I bootstrapped the start-up on my business nearly 10 years ago.  If others could treat this funding as if it’s their own money, I think we’d see a rise in responsibly run emerging companies.”

For help on developing a strategic approach to spending investment capital wisely, contact Junction Creative Solutions at 678-686-1125.

Passion is Our Purpose and It’s Fueling Our Business

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John Mackey, as co-CEO of Whole Foods, once said of entrepreneurs, “Though they want to make money — start businesses out of passion.” He went on to say: “Physicians make money, but their mission is to heal; teachers make money, but their desire is to educate; and architects make money, but they yearn to build.” Looking at the day to day, quarter to quarter postings of profitability statistics constantly ticking across the bottom of our video screens, one would be hesitant to extoll business intentions to be anything other than making a profit. The truth, however, is that the most profitable businesses began as a dream; a vision to create something non-existent; a goal to provide a solution to the yet unsolved; a passion to fulfill a very personal need.

It’s not that a profit motive is undesirable or misguided. Without profit, even the most well-intentioned business is unsustainable over time. Perhaps it is more of a chicken or egg thing. What comes first? In today’s most competitive environments customers want to be appreciated for being more than a source of revenue. They are looking to businesses to focus as much on delivering value and fulfilling a purpose as they do on profitability.

As we look at some businesses, it is easy to recognize that intentions can be misguided. “Many entrepreneurs enter into business thinking ‘I am going to get rich quick or I am going to take advantage of a gap in the industry and over-price customers for work,’” says Julie Gareleck, founder and CEO of Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). “Financially motivated organizations tend to be here today in good economic times and gone in tomorrow’s economic down-turn. Purpose and value must be foundational to a company’s vision and must align with the organization’s financial goals for profitability.”

The Junction team of experienced professionals is passionately focused on partnering with clients to create value. “Whether developing a complex comprehensive strategy or executing digital solutions, it’s all about our customers, and the process of providing quality work. It is the differentiator in our business,” says Gareleck. “We don’t take on clients just to take on clients. We invest our time and energy into clients that want our help and want to partner with us to achieve something greater.  It is a model for success that we have proven over and over.”

“When you believe in something the force of your convictions will spark other people’s interest and motivate them to help you achieve your goals. This is essential to success.”- Richard Branson.

To learn more about Junction’s passion for helping others to achieve success, call 678-686-1125.

Junction Taking a Page from Its Own Playbook As It Expands Its Team

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There are a multitude of skill sets required to successfully achieve a business owner’s vision, each practiced daily and each with its own level of importance.  Perhaps the most important of these skills is hiring, onboarding and motivating the right people who will be instrumental in achieving the vision.  American author and lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth, Jim Collins said, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

At Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), we share the idea that hiring great people impacts virtually every aspect of an organization, from company culture and values to the ability to innovate, adapt, and remain focused on achieving the vision. Building a team of qualified associates makes it possible for a business to differentiate itself from the competition, establish a credible brand, and deliver a superior customer experience.

“Junction, for nearly a decade, remains focused on building a team of talented professionals to not only drive our business but also our clients forward,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). “As Junction’s portfolio continues to expand, the need for qualified people with the skills to manage and execute multi-faceted, integrated strategies and solutions has been a critical area of focus.”

Susan Lynam, a former Account Manager for a Global Healthcare Company and an entrepreneur, has enabled Junction to improve its internal and external processes to better serve our clients.  With nearly 2 decades of expertise in business management, logistics, and operations, Junction is excited to have Susan as a valuable member of the team. “Susan’s insights and experience have made a significant impact on our business in the last year.  Her professionalism and positive approach to problem-solving have made her an asset to our team,” comments Julie.

Kai Weber, a marketing veteran, has successfully built corporate marketing teams and managed complex marketing initiatives for a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley.  Kai, as a Strategic Account Manager, will be focused on new client acquisition and account management.  In her role, she will work to expand opportunities for Junction and contribute to the growth of the firm. “Kai brings a unique viewpoint to Junction’s team. In her previous roles, she was the client working with agencies.  This insight will help Junction provide an unmatched client experience.”

Growth, while positive, can have its own challenges.  As purveyors of strategy, Junction is taking a page from its own playbook. “As we grow our team, we have to be sure that we have the right folks in the right seats to drive this business forward.  In an environment with a multi-generational, technology focused mindset, finding top talent is especially difficult although not impossible.”

The Systems Behind the Growth of eCommerce are Evolving

Years ago, much of the Tech industry’s efforts focused on developing packaged software for business applications purchased by copy, or multiple license copies, and installed on organizations’ in-house computer systems. The process of upgrading to newer versions and updating in-house systems proved to be a disruptive process, fraught with frequent costs associated with the purchase of newer versions, and inconvenient installation down-times that generated unwelcome barriers to a company’s ability to be agile and responsive to constantly changing competitive environments. Today much of the interest and capital investment in the software industry is occurring in Software as a Service.

Software as a Service (SaaS), a software delivery model purchased through a license arrangement and accessed by the user through the web based internet cloud, promised to resolve many of the complexities of on-premise applications. Today the SaaS delivery model is the preferred method for office and messaging software, management software, virtualization, infrastructure, platform and desktop software.

Gartner projects the SaaS market will grow 19% this year following a 20% increase in 2017. New and Mature software firms are reinventing and disrupting the industry. The move to cloud-based SaaS subscription software has made software more affordable and accessible, but many of the challenges of customer usability remain.  A recent survey of over 500 business and IT executives by TrackVia revealed that a lack of customization, mobility functionality, limited integration and compatibility was having a negative effect on the growth of businesses across the spectrum of commerce.

A new generation of SaaS application platforms is taking aim at the enterprise software paradigm by promising to simplify and speed up application creation, configuration, integration and deployment for enterprise software. These new low-code platforms are predicted to grow from $3 billion today to $15 billion by 2020 according to the technology analyst firm, Forrester Research. The traditional enterprise software market is struggling to keep up with businesses’ growing demand for faster, more agile and mobile solutions.

The greatest challenge is with slow application development and deployment, too little customization, and difficult integrations with other applications. According to recent research, current software solutions still don’t address businesses’ top priorities or pain points. In fact, today’s slow and inflexible enterprise software often hold businesses back by forcing companies to change operations and processes, which negatively affects enterprise agility and growth.

“While this migration to the ‘cloud’ in the form of SaaS addressed some of the distribution and financing hurdles associated with enterprise software, it failed to fully address the more fundamental end-user challenges,” says Julie Gareleck, CEO of Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). While eCommerce is expected to reach $4 trillion by 2020, the systems behind eCommerce are evolving as users demand the ability to transact in real-time with their customers.

Junction recognized the need to provide Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to its clients. “As online purchase behavior shifts, it’s critical to understand the purchase path. Junction invested in developing a Custom SaaS Platform that its clients are able to customize and white label as their own system,” said Gareleck. “Benefits for our clients include a cost-effective approach to an otherwise costly platform and improved time to market. Our experienced team of developers and designers is able to roll out custom solutions in 3-5 months as opposed to lengthy development cycles of 12-18 months.”

Having a partner who understand trends in technology and who has the capability and agility to modify a system to meet customer demand is critical to developing a successful SaaS strategic engagement. The fatal mistake that many entrepreneurs make is assuming that once the site is live, the work is done. The reality is that the process takes consistent, ongoing effort to ensure that the technology works as the client’s business scales.

For more information on how the Junction team is experienced and adept at building and fully implementing smart and customizable digital platforms, call 678.686.1125.

Know Where You’re Going. Not Every Road Will Get You There

Perhaps one of the most used but underutilized terms in business is strategy. Add to the word planning, and the phrase tops the chart of importance in business success. It seems so simple and is unarguably a truly great example of common sense. Knowing where you want to go, mapping out a route and preparing to overcome the inevitable obstructions that may impede your progress along the way, seems like a true “no-brainer.” Having a clear vision is critical to starting and growing a business and while many celebrate the importance of the visionary in the start-up process, developing a clear and concise strategic plan to map the road to business growth and sustainability is often the most under-engaged promise. The fact that 50 percent of all new business ventures fail within the first three to five years is a testament of many of those businesses adhering to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland fantasy strategy: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

“While most business owners agree that strategic planning can provide a roadmap to drive their business growth, long-term survival and profitability, many fail to devote the necessary time, energy and resources to do it right, if at all.” Taking the time and making the investment to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for success involves establishing your value proposition; identifying and focusing on a market of customers; establishing a mission; setting forth a goal; enumerating your objectives; engaging the plan of action; measuring its progress and adjusting the plan along the way to address changes to original assumptions.

In this fast paced, technology driven world of commerce, competition is agile and refined, and the marketplace dynamic. While change has always been inevitable, today change is occurring at warp speed. Staying focused and tuned into the competitive environment is critical to survival and sustainability. Look to your competition to define what they are doing right, emulate their most successful actions and focus your strengths on doing those things your competition is unable or unwilling to do to meet the expectations of a new tech savvy consumer. The more specific the plan, the more likely it will be successful.

Many new ventures freely invest in infrastructure and tools of production. Far too few invest in the human talent necessary to meet the demands of growth. Some organizations fail to hire qualified employees to connect directly with their customers. The strategy should be to acquire people who are motivated and inspired to share the organization’s vision and who are dedicated to follow the path to accomplishment. Imagine if a restaurant were to purchase top of the line equipment but hesitate to effectively invest in the culinary and hospitality talent needed to produce an appetizing experience for customers. Don’t go cheap on attracting and inspiring the talent necessary to transition your vision into a reality.

A strategic plan should be a living, well-worn document. Its focus should be on where you want the business to be over time. Establish short term benchmarks of progress every 12 months to 24 months and long term, five year goals.  Be proactive; evaluate the strategies’ effectiveness over time. Support those efforts that are working and abandon those that fall short. Anticipate the failures, they are inevitable. Expecting them will make it easier to offset the negative impact they have on achieving the vision. Be mindful that there are forces in the business world that are beyond our control that may derail even the most insightful plan. Don’t overreact and make major changes based on any one day, month or quarter of events. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Never forget that the competition is always watching your progress and maneuvering to obstruct your mission.

In a recent Inc. Magazine/Kauffman Foundation study, researchers found that five to eight years after appearing on the list, roughly two-thirds of the companies that made the Inc. 5000 list had shrunk in size, gone out of business, or been disadvantageously sold. Resolve not to be one of them.

To learn more about preparing a strategy that seeks to innovate product offerings and processes and take advantage of new opportunities to grow and sustain viability, profitability and long term growth, contact the experienced team of business development specialists at Junction Creative Solutions at 678.686.1125.

Face to Face Networking in a Digital World

Much has been experienced and touted about how technology has disrupted, in a positive way, the flow of information between marketers and customers. The impact digital media has had on the speed and ease of making connections has revolutionized the entire process of marketing. The “old school” social interactions once thought to be critical to forming loyal and extended relationships were lost to all the pervasive hyperbole over the advantages of high-tech anything. Fast, efficient and user friendly web based social networks have demonstrated how technology can truly revolutionize communal conversations.

Data from these digital networks can be quickly gathered, evaluated and utilized to enhance the understanding of the conversations and allows for quick and free flowing interactions. However, making personal, face to face group encounters are proving to be powerful, albeit, old school methods that can contribute to long lasting relationships that enhance long term growth and stability in an organization.

While entrepreneurs typically tend to take a path of independence, there are times that long term stability and growth require a strategy of building relationships over time that is essential to marketing your business. In a sometimes too familiar proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others.”

Networks are usually local in focus and may be traditional groups like the Chamber of Commerce or Business Networks International (BNI) that conduct regular seminars and events to promote comradery and unity in a common purpose. Others are locally formed independent groups with a common thread of business purpose. The goal is to develop a personal relationship of trust among members so they will refer business to one another. Results are not immediate and take practiced effort over extended periods of time but can produce significant opportunities for business growth.

To discover networks that will work best for your organization, reach out to other individuals in industries or organizations that are the same or are those that compliment your own. It can be beneficial to participate in more than one group. Be prepared to share your knowledge and expertise. It should be an environment where giving more gets you more. Focus on your reputation for knowledge, performance and commitment to deliver on your brands promise.  Invest as much time developing a referral strategy as you do to formulate your marketing strategy and utilize the social media and technology tools to reach out to new contacts and stay in touch with existing ones. Initiate and maintain referrals on social media platforms, emails and follow-up phone calls. Staying connected with existing members of the group will build an inventory of influence that can be harvested long term.

“It’s hard to say exactly what it is about face-to-face contact that makes deals happen, but whatever it is, it hasn’t yet been duplicated by technology.”- Paul Graham.

Technology Changes Coming for Popular eCommerce Platform

For nearly 25 years, buying and selling over the internet has revolutionized the retail industry. Ecommerce, in the early years, was largely limited to B2B transactions but has grown to threaten traditional brick and mortar retailing all across the industry spectrum. Today, almost everyone in the United States has made a purchase on the internet and 80 percent of consumers have made a purchase within the last 30 days. Once considered a novel, passing threat, online sales were positioned to surpass $2 trillion dollars by the end of 2017 as consumers continue to make eCommerce a way of life. Some reports predict eCommerce will reach $4 trillion dollars by the year 2020.

The explosion of online stores has been the result of the availability of digital platforms that are easy to develop, user friendly, economical to build and efficient to operate. One such platform, Magento, became very popular among small to modest sized internet retailers when it was first introduced.  Built and developed as a flexible platform that permitted users to create stores with a variety of functions, it featured pre-made extensions that made changes or modifications easier to implement.  Unfortunately, the focus on flexibility left many users wanting options when it came to performance optimization, mobile-responsiveness and expanded administrative capabilities. Technology advancements and the demand for higher performance and increased user-friendly options spawned Magento 2.0.

Introduced in 2015, Magento 2.0 promises to address many of the short comings of its previous version.  Compared to its predecessor 2.0 will run, on average, 20 percent faster resulting in more sales and increases in website search engine optimization. The checkout process is more streamlined allowing customers to navigate quicker through the purchase decision to checkout. Additional extensions and better administrative interface help reduce time spent managing the online store. With more and more consumers utilizing their mobile devices to complete their shopping, version 2.0 has an improved look and functionality on mobile devices. Most important, Magento 2.0 promises to grow its capabilities as the online store grows.

Change is never easy, and many online retailers are reluctant to migrate from their current version to a newer version of the platform. Fear of disrupting their online business is the most common concern among retailers considering an update, but costs of maintaining older versions can soon eat away at initial apprehensions. With immediate improvements in scalability, usability, security and better consumer experience, making the move sooner rather than later may prove to be the best option. In addition, Magento has announced that they will stop supporting the 1.9 version or below in November 2018.

What does this mean?  For those eTailers on previous versions, it will require a complete redesign and development of the website to the Magento 2.0 platform. It’s not a standard upgrade. “Clients are coming to us asking when they need to move to Magento 2.0,” commented Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction. “If a client doesn’t want to move to the latest platform, they run the risk of having issues that can’t be resolved. If the shopping cart breaks, there is no supported fix from Magento. We encourage our clients to begin planning for the migration so that they can continue to operate the business without interruption.”

The other important consideration for the migration to Magento 2.0 is selecting a responsible partner to assist with the migration. “We have been working with Magento 2.0 since it was released. We are now starting to see firms quote outrageous prices for this conversion as they take advantage of Magento’s platform upgrade. We’ve had many clients question why our pricing is more competitive than others.  Our experience in the industry over the last 2 decades and our Magento expertise enables us to provide our clients with pricing that reflects the work required to complete their goals and objectives.”

For more information on upgrading and how Junction Creative Solutions can help you navigate to a platform designed to enhance the growth and sustainability of your online store, contact info@junction-creative.com.