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These 3 Things are the Biggest Online Holiday Season Pains for Retailers

Speed, cost, and seasonal increase in volume are the biggest holiday shopping season pain points for retailers. This according to a new survey by Simplr, which looked at the pulse of small-medium sized e-commerce retailers handling customer service inquiries to determine how businesses were getting ready for the holiday shopping season. The survey also identified opportunities and challenges facing online retailers. Many of today’s retailers are small businesses who have a brick and mortar and online presence. Addressing the customer service needs for both segments is equally important, but handling customers who may be on the other side of the world requires different tool sets. In an emailed press release, Eng Tan, CEO of Simplr, said the survey wanted to understand how businesses approached the holidays, especially the growing contingency of businesses online. Tan adds, “Our goal with this survey was to obtain data around the pain points and opportunities that small-medium sized businesses are seeing, particularly around areas that customer support touches, that can be leveraged to better understand the challenges they are seeing and how services like Simplr or others in the ecosystem can step in to help.” More Online Holiday Season Retail Pain Points When you are able to identify the pain points of your business, you can remove them. This will make your company more efficient, especially during the upcoming busy holiday shopping season. The survey reveals the holiday season can start in October or November, with 35% stating it is the former and 37% the latter. The fluctuation can be responsible for having too much inventory or missing on sale opportunities because it is too low. This is pointed out by another survey question regarding when the holiday shopping season ends for businesses. Forty-eight percent said in December, while an almost equal number or 47% said January. Simplr says it is important to ramp up for the holiday season as early as possible because staying competitive means being ready. When it comes to the most time-consuming actions for an online business 62% said it was fulfilling orders, followed by 48% who said processing online orders. Another…

SCORE Tells Small Businesses to Prepare for Another Busy Holiday Shopping Season

The revenues for Thanksgiving week in 2017 was up by 33% from 2016. And according to SCORE, small businesses better be ready for another busy holiday shopping season in 2018. The organization, which mentors small business owners, is bullish on the 2018 season, predicting sales will remain strong. This optimism is driven by a continuing trend toward e-commerce from data SCORE compiled. The data is in an infographic titled, “Prepare Your Small Business for the Holiday Season.” For small businesses, this is great news, but owners have to get ready ahead of time to address the rush. Running out inventory or not being able to serve your customers might be the last time you see them. 2017 Numbers According to SCORE, in 2017 consumer spending was particularly heavy around Thanksgiving week. This resulted in 43% of Americans shopping or dining at independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday. The total revenue for Small Business Saturday was $2.4 billion, which is quite high considering the event was only created in 2010.  The top spot went to Cyber Monday with $6.6B, followed by Black Friday at $5B, and Thanksgiving Day at $2.9B rounding out the top three spots. The biggest winner during this time in 2017 was e-commerce sales, which was up by 17.8%, with mobile going up by a whopping 40% over the previous year. This didn’t bode well for foot traffic in retail stores as it fell by 7.5%. Prepare for the Holiday Season: Getting Ready for the 2018 Rush The good news for small businesses is, they now have more ways to generate revenue. With the right strategy, a business can deliver product and services to customers around the world no matter how small they are. SCORE has some tips to make this possible, and as expected it all starts by beefing up the digital presence. As mentioned earlier, mobile commerce was up by an impressive 40% in 2017. SCORE says you have to make sure your mobile site is optimized with quick load times. With conversion rates falling 20% for every second a mobile page load time is delayed;…

The Best Cyber Monday Deals for Small Business 2018

Cyber Monday 2018 slated for November 26. For small businesses, there are plenty of sales and deals to be had on the products you need to buy for the holidays or those you may use on a daily basis. Whether you’re looking for employee gifts, new office supplies or updated tech for your own personal use, you can find plenty of opportunities to buy products online at discounted prices. 2018 Cyber Monday Deals Are Available from these Brands Here are some of the sales that may interest small businesses this Cyber Monday. Amazon There’s a week’s worth of deals on Amazon this holiday season. The ecommerce giant normally hosts a series of flash sales throughout the weekend on everything from computers and tech to books and apparel. You can sign up for alerts on specific products or use Alexa connected products to voice search throughout the week. eBay From tech to furniture to small appliances for the office kitchen, you can find tons of deals on eBay. The company’s Cyber Monday sale lets you save on tons of essentials or business upgrades. And you can sign up for their card to earn points on purchases. Microsoft Microsoft’s online store hosts a Cyber Monday sale each year. Find deals on everything from computers to headphones and audio equipment. Sales usually extend for the whole weekend, not just Monday. Dell For laptops, desktops and tech accessories, Dell offers a variety of online deals every year. You can sign up for email alerts or Dell Advantage to get early access to these exclusive offers. HP HP is offering a full week of deals starting on Cyber Monday. These include printers, computers and accessories. In addition to the product discounts, the sale also includes free shipping. Newegg If you need any computer parts, software or tech accessories, Newegg hosts a Cyber Monday sale each years with tons of discounts from sellers. Browse the sale section of the site or search for specific products you may need. Office Depot Office Depot and Office Max are offering a number of online deals this season to complement the…

The Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business 2018

Black Friday 2018 — November 23 this year — may seem primarily like a say to save on consumer goods. But small businesses too can benefit. There will be plenty of in-store and online sales at retailers around the country. You can find deals on holiday gifts for your employees, new tech for your home office or furniture and appliances to give your facility an upgrade. Here are some of the sales that may be of interest to small business owners this Black Friday. 2018 Black Friday Deals Are Available from these Brands Office Depot For computers, printers, furniture and office supplies, Office Depot is offering sales throughout the month and on Black Friday. You can sign up online to receive information about specific sales or get early access to discounts. Staples This year, Staples is offering Black Friday deals on new technology, office furniture and shipping supplies. The office supply chain will offer exclusive in-store deals on Black Friday along with online deals the rest of the weekend, so you can stock up for the new year. Amazon Amazon always offers a huge variety of discounts for Black Friday, so you can stock up for various aspects of your business operations. Amazon Echo, Fire and Kindle products are at the forefront of the company’s early ads. But you can also expect some lightning deals on everything from TVs to vacuum cleaners. Best Buy As usual, Best Buy will offer doorbuster and in-store deals throughout the day on Black Friday and on Thanksgiving. Laptops, TVs and smartphones are all at the forefront of early ads and reports. Microsoft Microsoft hasn’t yet released details about the exact discounts it will offer in Microsoft Stores this Black Friday. But the tech giant does plan on carrying on its tradition of annual sales for computers, tablets, smartphones and tech accessories. HP HP’s Black Friday deals this year start on Thanksgiving and extend through the following day. Expect discounts on printers, computers and tech accessories that you can use to outfit a home office or replace some outdated tech. Walmart Walmart offers pretty consistent…

Receive Exciting Tips for Building a Better eCommerce Site in This Free eBook

Sponsored Post Are you making as much from your ecommerce website as you should? A new FREE ebook, “How to Build a Better Ecommerce Website” from the internet advertising platform Criteo could help to answer that question. The ebook walks you through four important steps to maximize your ecommerce site’s impact. Can you really afford NOT to check out information that could bring you more customers online and improve your bottom line? Get your free copy of the ebook “How to Build a Better Ecommerce Website” today: Download It! Whether your ecommerce website is a stand alone business or part of a larger operation, it represents a significant investment. You may have paid a web designer to build the site or a developer to modify an existing ecommerce platform. There are domain name and hosting fees, of course. You may have also paid for pay per click or other online advertising to get the initial traffic trickling in. Then there’s the hours of time — spent by you or your team — creating social media campaigns  and content marketing pieces to engage and convert your audience into paying customers. So if, after everything else, your sales remain anemic and your shopping carts are empty — or being abandoned before checkout — all this effort and expense is in vain. Fortunately, creating an effective ecommerce business is very doable with the right knowledge. In this new ebook you’ll learn: How to audit an ecommerce site to find opportunities for improvement How to SEO an ecommerce website to improve search engine ranking How to review your ecommerce site’s responsive template Best practices to optimize your site for better conversions Of course, you may already be doing great in sales on your ecommerce site. But could you be doing better? The world of ecommerce is becoming a very competitive place. Not only are there many other smaller merchants like you. But there are the big guys as well: Amazon, Ebay and more. So how can you stand out in this crowd and attract more customers and a growing revenue stream? By downloading this…

Pinterest Opens Shop the Look Feature to Small Businesses Letting Them Sell from their Pins

When Pinterest announced Shop the Look Pins in 2017, it was only available to large brands. The company just announced the feature is now open to small businesses and influencers with a business account. The decision for wider availability of Shop the Look Pins was based in part on the way users discover a new brand or product on Pinterest, which is from a business account. And with 93% of Pinterest users stating they use the platform when they are planning a purchase, it only makes sense to make the feature available to more businesses. For small business owners, it now means they can use the free product tagging tool to directly link users to their website and/or product page to make a purchase. Making the products users see on Pinterest available right away without having to go through a third-party app removes yet another pain point in the conversion process. Shop the Look Pins When Shop the Look Pins were first announced, big brands such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Target, Wayfair, and others had to go through Pinterest Marketing Partners Olapic and Curalate to access the feature. The new open policy is much easier than originally designed because it allows influencers and small businesses to manually tag the items they want to highlight with the Shop the Look Pins. This is made possible with a self-serve tool available to business accounts. The pins with Shop the Look have a dot which points out the product being displayed. This can be the different clothing a model might be wearing or an image of a room with home decors. You will be able to create shoppable looks using items from your business to inspire your audience and also allow them to make a purchase if they like what they see. Small Business and Pinterest Pinterest has 250 million monthly users, and there are 1.5 million businesses using the platform to get their attention. Many of these businesses are small companies connecting with their customers organically as well as using targeted advertising to reach the right audience. While almost any industry can use…

November Online Sales Will Eclipse December Totals This Year, Report Says

An analysis of online order data conducted by James and James eCommerce Fulfilment reveals that online retail sales in November will overtake December this year, while Christmas Day will grow as an important shopping day. 2018 Holidays Sales Forecast The newly released infographic reveals that this year’s Christmas day will be one of the biggest shopping days alongside Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Green Monday. But November online sales could grow nearly 60 percent year-on-year since Black Friday to Cyber Monday deals are spread out throughout the month. This essentially makes November a bigger shopping month compared to December. You can also expect a spike in online purchases on Friday Dec. 21 that could be fueled by panic as it is the last day for guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery. And while the long Black Friday and Cyber Monday period is good news for online retailers, James and James co-founder James Hyde agrees that the spike in orders can be a headache to retailers. “Not only do they now have to prepare for all of the key shopping dates in November, they have to run their operations at full capacity throughout the festive break and into January, as consumers’ appetite for mobile shopping deals – and the returns this creates – grows.” What this essentially means is that you need to be ready by November. You need to have plenty of products in stock, review your operations to ensure things run smoothly and you could as well take the stress out of peak season by letting someone else handle storage, pick and pack and returns. You also need to decide when you will offer your deals. Do you want to run with the herd and offer Black Friday to Cyber Monday promotions? Or do you want to try something different? Below is the complete James and James infographic. Image:James and James eCommerce Fulfilment This article, “November Online Sales Will Eclipse December Totals This Year, Report Says” was first published on Small Business Trends

Womply Debuts a CRM for Mom and Pop Businesses

The Womply CRM has been launched as the first customer relationship management (CRM) solution designed specifically for American small businesses. Womply says it designed its CRM to solve the customer-facing challenges of small businesses without the complexities of traditional CRM solutions used by large enterprises. According to Womply Founder Toby Scammell, this means working out of the box without wasting time and needing technical expertise. These are critically important factors for mom and pop shops who need to capitalize on the benefits CRM offers, but who don’t have the resources, expertise or time to implement complex solutions. In an emailed press release to Small Business Trends, Scammell says these small shops can’t use traditional CRM system. He adds, “Small businesses don’t have effective ways to collect customer information, which means they don’t know their customers and can’t keep them engaged after they leave. It’s time for small businesses to get the significant benefits of CRM, which large companies and online businesses have enjoyed for decades.” Womply CRM The company says Womply CRM can be used by customer-facing small businesses like restaurants, salons, retailers, auto shops, medical offices, dental offices and more. The new CRM platform will collect valuable information about each of your customers so you can get to know them better, create personalized marketing campaigns, and form long-term relationships. Womply CRM can create and update customer records automatically from its database of 200 million consumers in the United States. Once your customers have been identified properly, the CRM will connect transaction histories to their profiles. These profiles can then be segmented by who’s new, who’s loyal, who spends the most, and more. You can even send personalized marketing messages to them with special offers and new promotions. During every level of engagement, the Womply CRM system collects feedback from your customers by text or email. This information is also analyzed to generate additional insights into what customers like or don’t like. This lets you make improvements to the product and services a business provides. Affordability of CRM During the early days of CRM, the technology was used by large enterprises.…

Amazon Set to Sell Live Christmas Trees Benefiting Local Growers

Market giant Amazon will sell and deliver multiple kinds of full-size live Christmas trees, a company spokesperson announced Wednesday. Some of the trees will even be shipped in only two days’ time for members with a yearly subscription program, an Amazon spokesperson said Wednesday,  according to CNN Money. Not only will  Amazon sell and deliver live trees between two and seven feet in height, but the company will also offer a choice of Black Hills Spruce, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir and Norfolk Island Pine for buying customers, CNN reported. “We see their entry into the market as offering consumers another option to purchase a real tree to make their Christmas special, better for the environment and support local Christmas tree growers,” National  Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) executive director Tim O’Connor told CNN, welcoming the announcement. “More options for consumers to purchase a real tree are better for everyone,” O’Connor added. Amazon sold midget trees — under three feet — in 2017, but has never sold full-size trees. It sells artificial Christmas trees in addition to live trees. There are roughly 350 million Christmas trees growing on tree farms in the U.S. Americans purchased 27.4 million live Christmas trees and 18.6 million fake trees in 2016,  according to NCTA. Americans spent $1.32 billion on live Christmas trees in 2015,  according to Market Watch. The cost of a real Christmas tree has  more than doubled since 2008. The company will also offer  Christmas wreaths, garlands and flowers in addition to Christmas trees. Republished by permission. Original here. Photo via Shutterstock This article, “Amazon Set to Sell Live Christmas Trees Benefiting Local Growers” was first published on Small Business Trends

What is Customer IQ and How Can it Help Your Business?

The customer IQ of your business is an indicator of whether you know what to deliver and to whom across your customer base. The more you know about your customers, the greater your chances of delivering on what they want. A new report (PDF) by Clutch titled, “What is Your Customer IQ? Understanding and Increasing Customer Equity” makes the case for why customer equity is more important than brand equity. According to the report, building customer equity entails delivering on the best experience possible, not once or twice, but every time. This Clutch says will ensure long-term customer relationships and in turn retention. However, it goes on to say, “Customer equity is essentially the amount of times a company can miss the mark and by how far they can miss before a customer leaves you.” By being aware of what you have missed, you will avoid the mistakes which will lead to customer attrition. Because as the report points out, 51% of customers will never do business with a company after just one negative experience. Therefore each experience must be delivered at 100% because being underappreciated is the number one reason customer jump ship to another provider for products and services. For small business owners, improving their customer IQ is more important than ever because the competition is not just the store next door. With eCommerce, it can come from any business around the world. But this also means you can also increase your customer base if you identify who they are and what they want, which means improving your customer IQ and equity. Customer IQ and Customer Equity Clutch defines customer IQ as “The indicator of whether the company knows what to deliver and to whom across their customer base, which is the true indicator of trending future value, whether up or down.” Customer IQ allows businesses to know their customer so they can execute on their demands and needs with a clear understanding of what they are looking for. This is made possible by embracing the available technology in today’s digital ecosystem and putting the customer at the…

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