Nashville Wraps reaches thousands of retail establishments, from the neighborhood café to the surprisingly large department store customer. With a variety of customers comes our unique ability to predict trends for all of us to use. We are happy to share these insights with you.
What a simple question, but there is rarely a simple answer. The proliferation of ecommerce has increased the competition for nearly all businesses who are merchants. Amazon has told us that their mission is simple: “We just want to sell everything to everybody.” While Amazon may be getting closer to that goal, small and mid-sized retailers also have to make money somehow. Promotional benefits like Free Shipping sound good, but are taking a big bite out of profits. Amazon’s Prime membership rate doubling is a “prime” example of this.
Many businesses feel the influence of cheap competitors. We feel it as well, but in our case it is usually the Chinese selling cheap imports. When I was growing up I tinkered with old cars (still do). I remember a sign at the neighborhood auto parts store:”The sweetness of low price fades quickly with the bitterness of poor quality.” Our customers and your customers are a more educated, more ecommerce-experienced group, and they want it right the first time. So quality and service will win in the long run as long as price is fair.
Retail business is like any business in that you have to keep the customer satisfied, and keep them coming back. It’s a different recipe for different businesses, but if you get it right, then you will have a growing business in 2014 and beyond.
Sales and Growth Trends
For us, the number of new customers in the first half of 2014 is up slightly. Everything else being equal, that would indicate a slightly positive bump from 2013. Business from trade shows is up, and that speaks well to people getting out and finding new ideas.
The second part of the equation is order frequency, which is considerably up. We feel this means that businesses are watching their inventories a bit closer to the bone, but for us this could also mean that our customers have more confidence in our ability to deliver products with less concern for back orders (we have reduced our back orders by over 70% in the past 2 years). We would rather have two small orders than one big one anyway!
Products and Design Trends
It’s like the old railroad signs: Stop, Look and Listen! Get out of the store and go to the trade shows. See which interesting products are collecting the crowds. Get an overview of the trends and apply them to your business!
Nashville Wraps is still seeing a significant increase in paper over plastic packaging. While we continue to say plastics are the much smarter choice for the environment provided they are recycled, our message often falls on deaf ears, especially in areas where there are bag bans.
Good design and attractive colors that create a good impression motivate people to buy. We are seeing versatile designs doing well, as opposed to dedicated designs for special occasions. For example, our Chevron and Geo Graphics (shown at right) designs are popular because they can be dressed with many different looks. Solid colors especially with matte finishes are also versatile and popular.
Nashville Wraps has been growing in business since 1976. We have seen thousand of business come, thousands go and thousands remain even today. We have survived 18% interest, gas shortages, strikes, wars, attacks, and tornados. But one thing happens every year: the holidays come in November/December!
Holidays are a festive time, and Wraps strives to create the looks that set our customers apart from the big box stores. This year is no exception. The market has both a respect and a desire for products made in the USA. They are often harder to find, but still sought after. Our government has made it difficult to be a manufacturer in the USA despite political snapshots that would have the appearance of being supportive of business.
Nashville Wraps will continue to develop great-looking packaging, open new product markets, deliver what we sell and make as much of it in the USA as possible. So we are looking forward to another great Holiday season. Do your homework and you will too.
Getting the Goods There
One last thing to mention, because it affects all of us, is the rapidly-changing parcel delivery service in the US. More ecommerce equals more parcel deliveries. Products are being shipped to homes and business that were not typically shipped before, and the increase in volume is causing a mild panic for shippers. Rates are sure to go up, and already have by nearly 8% this year, but there is more to come in 2015 as parcels are shipped based on dimensional weights (charge by the space they take up in the delivery van).
From toothbrushes to toilet paper, people are ordering online via convenient point of purchase mobile apps. You run out of something, grab your smart phone and order it on the spot – no more grocery lists. But it all comes in the same delivery van, and much of it takes up a lot of space. So FedEx will be lowering the size limits for what will be charged as “dimensional” rates and deliveries will be going up for sure on many products.
This will leave many suppliers and retailers reconsidering options for their free shipping promotions, including Nashville Wraps.
President, Nashville Wraps