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By Nikki Cabus

5 Trends for Retailers to Keep Customers Smiling (and Spending) in 2022

Read Time 5 Minutes

As retailers wrestle with how to prioritize new projects for the upcoming year and where to spend their budget, PeakActivity took a look forward at 5 important trends you’ll see in 2022 that are sure to make that decision a lot easier.

1 – Make Everything Personal

Consumers know that they are constantly being tracked by technology, which, for many, isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. However, they do expect something in return for their data, and that something is a better customer experience, tailored especially to their needs and preferences. The key to selling in 2022 will depend on the data you collect from customers and how you utilize that data to make every touchpoint more relevant to them.

Companies are investing in learning all there is to know about their customers by setting up testing programs and data aggregation tools that aid the development of business insights. In 2022, retailers will demand access to more holistic data insights to help them make business decisions. Retailers will be looking for tools that allow for better cross-channel attribution to inform the creation of more accurate customer segments, personas, and journeys. Customers will be looking for businesses that use this data to offer more personalized experiences.

 

According to Accenture, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them.

 

2 – Sell, but Sell Softly

Just because someone is looking to buy doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to be sold to. With interactive quizzes to help you find the perfect shade of lipstick, and QR codes to help learn which wine pairs best with grilled salmon, shoppers are more than capable of “selling” to themselves. Technology has created less of a need for salespeople or, at the very least, less of a need for salespeople in the early stages of the buying process. 

Take Sephora, for example. The beauty retailer recently instituted a color-code system for their in-store shopping baskets. Red baskets indicate that the customer is looking for assistance while they shop. Black baskets are for customers looking to shop solo. While the coded baskets are currently a Europe-only program, it’s a great example of a brand digging deep to better understand their customers’ preferences, and creating a simple, yet effective way to help address those preferences … and you should too. 

 

According to American Express, 60% of consumers prefer to use digital self-service channels to answer their questions  (website, mobile app, online chat, voice response).

 

3 – Offer Alternate Payment Options

When was the last time you pulled out a wad of cash to pay for dinner or cover your rent? It’s probably been quite a while. The shift to a cashless society has been a long time coming, but there are other options that are leading to an increase in alternative payment methods (APMs), which is a payment that does not involve cash or a credit card. Bank transfers, direct debits, e-wallets, mobile transfers, prepaid cards, store cards, and now even cryptocurrencies are all samples of APMs. They allow consumers to make quick and easy payments and are especially useful for eCommerce transactions.

Alternate payment methods tap into the consumer’s desire for choice and convenience. As a retailer, you should be prepared to offer an array of payment options at your online checkout, and at the top of that list should be an option to buy now, pay later, which is currently one of the most popular APMs in the marketplace. As a business, you need to be able to offer the latest in payment technology. To forego that offer could result in customers opting to do business with another retailer.

According to technology solutions provider FIS, digital wallets will make up more than 50% of eCommerce transactions by 2024.

 

4 – Commit to Augmented Reality  

The introduction of social distancing during the pandemic certainly did its part in accelerating the adoption of digital tools that reduce the need for physical interaction. Once used exclusively for entertainment and video games, augmented reality (AR) has increasingly been employed by a wide range of industries—from education and health care to retail and real estate. 

One common use is the “try with AR” function where users preview how certain products would look and fit in a determined location by using a smartphone camera and projecting a virtual model of the product over the captured image in real-time. Such technology is already being used by retailers including Warby Parker, Amazon, Target, and IKEA, for example. Ideally, every brand wants its customers to have a personalized experience every time they buy a product or service from them. When it comes to augmented reality, the possibilities for personalization are limitless. These days, customers are looking for convenience and differentiation, which is where augmented reality comes in. After all, you can’t afford for your business to blend into the background. You want it to be at the forefront of the market, and adopting advanced technology, like augmented reality would certainly help put it there.

 

According to Threekit.com, 83.1 million consumers in the U.S. used Augmented Reality monthly in 2020.

 

5 – Lose Your eCommerce Head  

Many traditional eCommerce sites use a single, monolithic architecture, where the back end and front end are linked, and you can’t optimize one without the other. While these technologies are relatively powerful and give the technical teams control over your platform, the downside of these systems includes significant development costs and long lead times for marketing and business users. In addition, traditional systems are ideally suited for displaying website content. As buyers shift toward newer tech like mobile apps, digital assistants, wearables like smartwatches, and any other device with an internet connection that’s capable of presenting content, businesses need to rapidly shift their technology to match these new purchasing pathways. This is where the concept of headless eCommerce comes into play. 

Headless eCommerce is a separation of the front end and back end of an eCommerce application. This architecture offers businesses freedom of expression to build whatever and whenever they want—in other words—flexibility. The kind of flexibility that allows for ease of optimization or upgrading, as well as staying up to date with the most recent technologies. Ultimately, though, the greatest benefit of choosing a headless eCommerce system, such as RevCommerce is that you’ll then have the ability to give your customers the best user experience possible which, as we all know, is the key to continued success in the eCommerce marketplace. 

Even More Ways To Keep Your Cash Register Ringing

 

The new year usually brings about lots of excitement and unlimited amounts of possibilities, but for retailers, it often has its fair share of unanswered questions and unforeseen challenges. Leverage the above trends and you’ll have a head start to impress your customers and prioritize next year’s budget. Keep reading to get even more trends that retailers are using to keep their cash registers ringing, as they ring in the new year.

Explore all 12 top trends for 2022 here.

 

GUST BLOG by PeakActivity Marketing Team

By Riley Kaminer

PeakActivity launches eCommerce company, RevCommerce

Read Time 3 Minutes

PeakActivity, one of South Florida’s fastest-growing digital strategy and implementation companies, has announced the launch of RevCommerce, a highly customizable eCommerce platform.

Manish Hirapara, PeakActivity’s CEO, initially developed the idea of RevCommerce around his clients’ needs for a better eCommerce platform.

“We launched this platform to help businesses take their eCommerce to the next level,” Hirapara told Tech Hub South Florida. He explained that RevCommerce provides “a fast and flexible way to create a solution for their future,” not just for their current needs.

Andy Boyland, the CEO of RevCommerce, noted that consumers have very high standards for interacting with eCommerce. “Large corporations like Amazon set the bar by which our eCommerce experience is measured,” he said. Boyland explained that the problem for small and medium-sized businesses is that they don’t have the luxury of Amazon’s throngs of developers who work around the clock to perfect their shopping experience.

That’s where RevCommerce steps in. Boyland said the platform provides a “flexible system that offers a best-in-class experience.” RevCommerce works well with other major eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, giving users the ability to make their website as sleek and user-friendly as the biggest competitors.

RevCommerce consists of four main components: a content management system, a product information manager, a digital asset manager, and a cart/checkout feature. These can be used independently or together to create a unique shopping experience for each customer.

The PeakActivity team has future-proofed RevCommerce to protect users from the constantly-evolving nature of the tech landscape. It is easy to integrate any new eCommerce functionality that might come into the market.

Since its launch in May, RevCommerce has already added value to a wide range of customers as varied as an eyehealth retailer and an air filter company.

PeakActivity has experienced a significant amount of growth since the pandemic, when businesses of all shapes and sizes doubled down on their digital footprint. The company made it to the top 10% on the Inc 5000 list of Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies in the US in 2020. “We’re hiring 2-3 new people every week,” said Hirapara. They were also awarded one of the most promising digital marketing service companies in 2021 by CIO Review.

A major challenge that professional services firms like PeakActivity face is how to scale. For Hirapara, the key to success lies in trusting employees: “my advice to founders is to hire smart people and get out of the way.” He said he takes pride in “finding and grooming great leaders, and giving them the opportunity to get better.”

Hirapara said that one of his top professional goals is to help the Florida tech ecosystem flourish. He highlighted the historical origins of the local tech space: “I grew up in Boca when IBM was there,” he said. “It was a highly tech-oriented town. Now we’re seeing a lot of startups there.” 

He explained his ambition “to create an environment in tech here where people can feel like they can take risks, and take advantage of the diversity inherent to our region.” Apart from his role at the helm of PeakActivity, he also plans to accomplish that goal through his work with Tech Hub South Florida as Chair of the CxO Peer Group, among other initiatives.

Learn more about RevCommerce on their website.

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | PeakActivity

Read Time 3 Minutes

Business: PeakActivity partners with enterprises to deliver digital marketing and technology tailored to create outcomes that matter the most to growing their businesses.

Headquarters: Boynton Beach

Management team: Manish Hirapara, CEO; Scott Earnest, COO;  Paresh Hirapara, CTO; Daryl Long, Creative and User Experience; Alison Riveira, eCommerce and Optimization; Scott Townsend, Partnerships and  Business Development; Robin Dimond, Social Commerce.

Team members: about 100 (including contractors)

Website: peakactivity.com

 

For the past four years, CEO Manish Hirapara and his team have been building PeakActivity into a technology solutions provider that now employs about 100 people. The Boynton Beach-based company was recently honored  as a top Florida Company to Watch by GrowFL, a statewide economic development initiative to support growing second-stage businesses.

“PeakActivity is a collective of great individuals  – dreamers, thinkers, marketers, designers, technologists – and our goal is we want our customers to take advantage of the digital economy,” Hirapara explains. “We do that by partnering with them and figuring out how to create outcomes that will impact their business in a positive way, oftentimes when it comes to revenue growth.”

How does the company do that? Four ways, said Hirapara.

PeakActivitiy partners with clients to help them acquire top talent. Its digital marketing services enable clients to acquire new customers. The company helps these customers create custom technology solutions, such as for e-commerce, that help them differentiate themselves from the competition. And last but not least, PeakActivity helps them optimize their path to growing revenue. “It’s how we work with the team to uncover the big ideas that are hidden below the surface and figure out how to bring these ideas to bear,” Hirapara said.

Today, PeakActivity is nearing $10 million in revenue, 10X growth from where it was just three years ago. Its client base includes City Furniture, TherapeuticsMD, Tyco, which is part of Johnson Controls, and Total Wine & More, among others.

 “We are over 100 team members now; that is what I am most proud of. It’s a great group of people, and we are really able to create a culture that is embracing and transformative both for our community and our customers,” said Hirapara.

PeakActivity nourishes the culture by giving its team members – Hirapapa calls them Peaksters – high-level challenges, and recognizing them for how they have made a difference for their community or their customers, he said. “’I’m a huge believer that culture is the difference between good companies and great companies.”

PeakActivity hires its Peaksters straight out of the universities and into its internships or as new hires. It also hires veterans who have solid experience in large enterprises and want to apply their skills more broadly, said Hirapapa, who worked in senior roles at Office Depot before founding PeakActivity.

“We are looking for elite talent who are … joining the family and signing up for the mission more so than being here to collect a paycheck.”

In 2020, PeakActivity will create its own set of e-commerce solutions, said Hirapara.

“None of our customers should ever feel like they don’t have the knowledge or the wherewithal to compete with an Amazon or a Netflix or a Facebook. They may not have the financial resources but it shouldn’t be a barrier to entry. We create tech solutions that match what the big guys have and provide them to the masses. We will continue to develop our own software and methodologies and bring them to market and make ourselves as much of a software product company as we are a consulting company.”

To give back to the community, PeakActivity Cares is a way for the team to share their products, services, labor, and donations to multiple philanthropic causes. The American Heart Association, Habitat for Humanity and Kids in Distress are just a few of charities PeakActivity’s team has helped.

Photo at top of post, from left: PeakActivity team members Scott Townsend, Robin Dimond, Alison Riveira, and Manish Hirapara at the GrowFL awards ceremony in 2019. PeakActivity was named to Florida Companies to Watch, a statewide program honoring 50 top companies. 

By Nancy Dahlberg

Dedicated IT and PeakActivity named Florida Companies to Watch

Read Time 4 Minutes

Dedicated IT and PeakActivity were selected from more than 500 nominations as premier Florida companies expected to see significant growth over the next several years.

Grow FL Executive Director, Tom O’Neal

The tech companies, both based in Palm Beach County, were named to Florida Companies to Watch, a statewide program honoring 50 top companies. Their management teams, competitive market positions and strong community involvement were among factors that put the companies in contention for the award.

“These stand-out companies are all led by entrepreneurs and have demonstrated their capacity and intent to grow,” said Dr. Tom O’Neal, executive director of GrowFL, a statewide economic development organization focused on second-stage companies.  “They also all have critical intellectual property or a niche position that gives them a competitive edge in their markets.”

Dedicated IT Founder & CEO, Adam Steinhoff

Dedicated IT, based in Palm Beach Gardens and founded by Adam Steinhoff, is an IT services company specializing in serving small and mid-sized businesses to enterprises. It focuses on select industries, in order to make its sales and marketing efforts as impactful as possible while bringing deeper knowledge and more efficiency to clients it services. In the past year, the company has aggressively expanded its sales and marketing efforts beyond Florida.

Dedicated IT was founded in 2002, and it would be easy to rest on its laurels. Not Dedicated IT. In the past year, the company launched a sales and internship program in partnership with UCF. It has centralized its service desk, allowing for better training when on boarding new employees, resulting in work efficiencies and “all while improving our customer service,” said Steinhoff. The company has also decided to partner with just a core group of vendors to increase efficiencies and improve service. “Because of this, we have been nationally recognized by Microsoft and Cisco as staple vendors who are going viral with our growth.”

Today, Dedicated IT has 39 employees, with plans to add 19 through acquisitions and another 12 in the next year. During the hiring process, Dedicated IT looks for specific values in candidates – optimism, relentlessness, charisma, passion and a thirst for growth.

Revenues increased by 30% in the past year and the company has clients in 48 states. Dedicated IT’s goal, said Steinhoff, is to be generating $100 million in revenue by 2025.

PeakActivity Founder & CEO, Manish Hirapara

PeakActivity is a technology solutions firm that partners with enterprises to drive digital results, said Scott Townsend, vice president of PeakActivity. Founded in early 2016 and based in Boyton Beach, PeakActivity has 75 employees and its CEO is Manish Hirapara.

Clients include City Furniture, Total Wine and More and Johnson Controls. PeakActivity is taking the furniture retailer off of its legacy e-commerce platform and putting it onto a next generation e-commerce system built by PeakActivity. The team built out Total Wine and More’s technology innovation center in Boynton Beach and now is helping the company develop mobile and cloud solutions for their customers. For Johnson Controls, which was previously all B2B, “we put together an e-commerce strategy for them and we provided a team of e-commerce experts. We have started building all their direct-to-consumer websites globally,” Townsend said.

PeakActivity closed 2017 with 7 employees and $1 million in revenue. In 2018 it surpassed $5 million in revenue with approximately 40 team members. “We are currently on pace to exceed $8 million and grow to over 75 team members in 2019,” Townsend said.

“We developed and are about to deploy a next-generation e-commerce platform solution as well as a mobile app solution. We are building out some pretty cool technologies and we are continuing to on-board great clients,” Townsend said.

Palm Beach Tech President & CEO, Joe Russo

“We were proud to nominate Dedicated IT and PeakActivity, both of which have grown their high quality teams exponentially over the past years here in the Palm Beaches,” said Joe Russo, President and CEO of Palm Beach Tech Association.

The 50 companies named the 2019 Florida Companies to Watch generated nearly $1 billion in revenue and added over 900 jobs between 2015 and 2018. Together, the companies project a 35 percent increase in revenue and 37 percent increase in job growth in 2019 compared to 2018.

 “This list recognizes second-stage Florida companies with passionate leaders who are making a difference in growing and diversifying our economy,” said Jennifer Barrows, GrowFL Chairman of the GrowFL Advisory Board and Business Development Executive with WithumSmith+Brown, PC.  Second-stage companies are defined as those with 6 to 150 full-time employees and between $750,000 and $100 million in annual revenue, she said.

Dedicated IT, PeakActivity and the other companies named to the list will be officially recognized November 14, 2019 at a special ceremony at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando. Florida Companies to Watch is a statewide program managed by economic development organization GrowFL, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation.  

5 Trends for Retailers to Keep Customers Smiling (and Spending) in 2022
PeakActivity launches eCommerce company, RevCommerce
Member Spotlight | PeakActivity
Dedicated IT and PeakActivity named Florida Companies to Watch