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Why online businesses are actually building brick and mortar stores

Why online businesses are actually building brick and mortar stores

Think online stores are the dominant form of retail today? A new study suggests you may want to think again. According to the Commonwealth Bank Retail Insights Report, more online retail businesses are building physical stores — because it’s actually not online stores or physical storefronts picking up speed, but businesses who do both in an omnichannel effort.

According to the report, 18 percent of internet-based retailers plan to open a physical storefront in the next year. That will mean that over 75 percent of retailers still have a physical location for customers to visit.

Even businesses with a large online presence are picking up on the trend — Amazon, for example, is opening several physical locations around the U.S.

So why are successful online businesses like Amazon opening physical storefronts? The omnichannel shopping experience combines the best of both worlds, mixing the ease of online shopping with the ability to actually see products in person.

“Brick and mortar and multi-channel retailers are doing more as customer preferences evolve,” said Jerry Macey, the national retail manager for Commonwealth Bank. “At the same time, emboldened digital retailers are opening physical stores to complement and drive further online sales.”

At the same time, online sales are expected to rise this year. According to the report, retailers estimate an average of 24 percent growth in web-based sales in the next year. About 35 percent of those will come from customers shopping with a smartphone, the report says. To keep up with that trend, almost half of retailers are expecting to increase their technology budgets. Next to technology, retailers plan to spend more on loyalty programs and social media expansion. Many businesses are also planning to expand their efforts to create a personalized customer experience, the report indicates.

For the businesses predicting a fall in sales, 95 percent of them attribute the estimated decline to the economy, not business practices.

The study also shows that 38 percent of sales are generated online, which means physical retail stores still have a pretty significant pull.

So what does all that data mean for creative businesses like photographers, graphic artists and printers? While physical locations still sell the most, many customers are looking for the convenience of shopping with a businesses that utilizes both channels. Picking out prints may be more convenient online, but picking prints up in person rather than pay the shipping fees may be more ideal for some customers, for example.

While online presence is important, physical stores continue to have the most pull. Omnichannel businesses successfully pull off both operations — and several online retailers are making the move by adding physical locations in hopes the storefront will also boost online sales. According to the latest study by the Commonwealth Bank, omnichannel seems to be an ideal way for many businesses to expand.

5 Consumer-Driven Retail Trends That Creative Businesses Need to Know

5 Consumer-Driven Retail Trends That Creative Businesses Need to Know

Photography is as much of a retail business as it is a service-oriented one — but keeping up in both industries can be difficult for photographers, graphic artists and photo printers to tackle. Yet, following the latest industry trends can help creative businesses keep a competitive edge. So what are the biggest retail trends that creative business owners need to know? A study from Bazaar Voice breaks it down — here’s how those retail trends can apply to creative businesses.

Shopping is becoming more social.

It’s no secret that social media is the new word-of-mouth marketing, but now consumers are even more likely to purchase products from brands that have a reputable social presence. Bazaar Voice says it’s not enough to just have one word-of-mouth method — social media, emails, customer-generated views, Q&As and product suggestions all work together to drive additional sales.

Millennials have the most spending power.

By 2017, millennials will have the most spending power compared to other generations, according to Bazaar Voice. That means those born between 1978 and 1995 will play a big role in retail sales. This age group tends to be influenced more by social media, while being a bit wary of traditional marketing — and they’re also more likely to buy from a brand that supports a non-profit cause.

Mobile is now a huge medium.

Shopping via smartphone is no longer an up-and-coming medium. Smartphone traffic now makes up a significant chunk of website traffic, from visiting social media to completing purchases entirely via smartphone. That means creative businesses need to make sure that their websites are mobile-friendly, otherwise, they’re inaccessible to a good percentage of visitors.

Shopping isn’t a one-channel experience anymore.

Shopping isn’t an either-or anymore. Consumers that shop in brick-and-motor locations often research reviews online before heading out in person. And even consumers that end up buying online look at the product in stores first. The most successful retailers blend the experiences seamlessly, so consumers can easily shop both ways, from in-store apps to consistent pricing between the physical and online stores.

Online data is enhancing targeted marketing.

The web is changing retail — but it’s also giving businesses more details about their consumers.  Those details are becoming essential to effective marketing. With in-store apps and loyalty programs, businesses can even track their consumer’s habits in-store. That information in turn can help to target advertising to a customer’s interests. While technology is making access to the information easy, analyzing that information and using it effectively is the bigger challenge.

Photographers, graphic artists and photo printers provide both a service and a physical product — which means many of the trends changing retail today apply to these creative businesses as well. From social shopping and millennial consumers, understanding retail trends like the rise of mobile, omni-channel shopping and online data can help creative businesses maintain a competitive edge.

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4 steps to getting accurate colour from your HP Designjet Printer

4 steps to getting accurate colour from your HP Designjet Printer

Digital photography and graphics work has made many things simpler, but there’s a problem: viewing graphics on a backlit screen is much different than viewing them on paper. Without the right printer settings, the printed colors can be drastically different than what you expect. Here are four things you need to try if the colors from your HP Designjet printer aren’t what you expected.

1. Calibrate the monitor

Don’t blame the printer just yet — it could be your monitor. The factory defaults aren’t always the best viewing conditions and can sometimes lead to big color differences between prints and the screen, and calibrating your monitor can make a big difference. Both PCs and Macs come with tools to help calibrate your monitor. For the most advanced needs, physical color collaboration tools take out the guesswork.

2. Calibrate the printer

Different conditions and even different ink cartridges affect the way that the colors look in your final prints. Printer calibration ensures that the printer is getting accurate colors. Calibration isn’t a one-and-done deal though — along with calibrating when you change the ink or paper type, you should calibrate for environmental changes (like the change to summer humidity) and whenever your printer hasn’t been used for awhile. Thankfully, color calibration from a Designjet is very simple — you print out a test sheet, let it dry, then scan it. (You can find the exact steps from HP here)

3. Select the “Printer Manage Colors” option

Once everything is calibrated, you should tell your computer that you want your printer to manage the colors, and you should do this both in the driver settings by accessing the printer from your computer’s control panel, and in the application you are using to print. First make sure the the “Printer manage colors” option is checked inside your printer settings — the exact location depends on the computer that you are using, but you can usually find it in the color tab.

Next, find that option in the program you are printing from. To do that, go to print, then hit “Advanced.” In some applications, you’ll check the box that says “let the printer manage colors” while in others you’ll select “printer manages colors” from the color handling drop down menu. In Photoshop, you don’t even have to click on the advanced tab to select the printer from the color management drop down menu.

Click to download an overview of these steps.

4. Choose the correct rendering

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you let your printer know what you’re printing so it knows how to handle the colors. In the same window that you used to select the printer color management, look for an option that says “rendering” or “rendering intent.” Then, select the correct option based on what type of document you are working with:

•    Perpetual: Photographs
•    Relative Colorimetric: Line art and logo graphs
•    Absolute Colorimetric: To simulate paper
•    Saturation: For business graphics, such as charts

Getting accurate colors from screen to print is tricky, but not impossible. With a color calibrated screen and printer, simply tell the computer what type of graphic you are printing and to let the printer manage the colors.

8 Photography & Graphics Trends To Watch For in 2016-2017

8 Photography & Graphics Trends To Watch For in 2016-2017

Photography itself may be trendier than ever before, but there’s a few noticeable similarities within the genre as well, popping up in advertising, fine art and even Instagram. And who better to pick out the trends than stock photography companies? Both Stocksy and Shutterstock honed in on some of the biggest photography trends this year, from pattern to color. Whether you want to shoot on-trend images this year or stand out from the crowd, here are eight popular trends from the most in-demand images on photo sites.

Patterns

That old patterned Hawaiian shirt isn’t reserved for your weird uncle — pattern is in. Okay, so maybe not the Hawaiian pattern, but using repetition in images is a big trend this year. From the stripped light coming through a set of blinds to the repetition of the leaves of a fern, pattern has always added an interesting compositional element, but it’s even bigger this year.

Film

Why add an Instagram film preset when you can shoot with actual film? Many photographers have stuck with the medium — or shoot it alongside digital — and now publications and advertising agencies are picking up on the trend.

Flash

Flash has always been a powerful tool, but just like the old film looks are coming back, Stocksy seems to think the obvious flash look is returning too. While professional shooters shouldn’t forget how to properly blend the flash and the ambient light anytime soon, an obvious flash seems to have the appeal of some vintage film filters in stock images.

Flat lay

Flat lay, or laying a bunch of objects flat, is a growing trend for still life photography. Flat lay allows the view to see a spread from directly above. If you really want to be trendy, look for ways to create a pattern in your flat lay photo.

Metallic colors

Photography trends often take hints from fashion — and the recent popularity in metallic prints for accessories and apparel have certainly taken on a photographic appeal. Metallics are a bit unusual as far as visual art colors, but the light-catching colors are catching on.

Watercolor

Watercolor graphics are picking up speed for social media graphics and even logos. Watercolors are light, feminine and even evocative. They’re popular for natural scenes, but the expressive, flowing medium can be found in a number of different types of designs.

Color

Metallic color, watercolor — okay, color is trendy this year. But it’s unusual color that you don’t see everyday that’s trending. Think light leaks, colorful infrared, and color exaggerated film.

Black and white

Has black and white ever not been a trend? While the introduction of color film and even color sensors hasn’t squashed the medium, black and white is becoming even more common in advertising. When the color is removed, the subject really pops.

With the abundance of images out there thanks to the smartphone camera, the out-of-the-ordinary looks are becoming trendy for photography and graphics. Looks that go beyond the average Instagram filter — like using actual film or an obvious flash — are becoming much more popular this year, according to stock photo sites.

What do you think? What’s your favorite emerging trend in photography — and which one will you be skipping out on?