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Amazon Prime Day Has Generated $50,000 in Small Business Sales, Created 900,000 Jobs

When Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) introduced Prime Day in 2015, the goal was to increase sales at one of the slowest shopping times of the season. But the event has done much more than that because according to the company, it has also created 900,000 jobs in the countries that participate in Prime Day. Prime Day Creates Small Business Jobs Amazon says thousands of small and medium-sized businesses have reported more than $50,000 in sales during Prime Day 2017. Overall they sold 40 million items, which was double the number for 2016. This, in turn, has led to the creation of these jobs in their communities. In a press release, Nicholas Denissen, Vice President of Marketplace Business for Amazon, explained the reach Prime Day has, and its impact on small businesses as it allows them to compete with larger brands. Denissen said, “Prime Day helps SMBs reach more than 100 million paid Prime members around the world and provides an opportunity for the smallest of businesses to sell right alongside the biggest household brands.” Small Businesses on Amazon Small businesses have been thriving on Amazon. While large brands have a great presence on Amazon too, the company has created a small business-friendly environment in which almost anyone can start a business with little capital. According to the company’s Small Business Impact Report, there were more than 20,000 small and medium sized businesses exceeding the $1 million sales mark in 2017. In fact, the company says of all the purchases on the site, half the items come from small to medium sized businesses. In addition to providing the platform, Amazon also made more than $1 billions in loans to U.S-based small and medium sized businesses through the Amazon Lending Program, the company said. Update on Amazon Prime Day 2018 Unfortunately, the cost the participate in Amazon’s special sales day is going up. When Prime Day was first introduced, there were no fees for participating in the event. In 2017, Amazon charged sellers $500, and this year the cost has risen to $750 per Lightning Deal. While Lightning Deals throughout the year are…

5 Tips to Attract Millennial Parents and Why You Need These Customers

If you’re an online or off-line retailer, why are millennial parents such important customers for you? The short answer is, “Because there are so many of them.” Half of all children in the U.S. have millennial parents, according to The National Retail Federation’s Spring Consumer View. Every year, more than 1 million millennial women have children. Millennials hold the majority of the purse strings for the $1 trillion-plus American parents spend on their children each year. But sheer volume isn’t the only reason millennial parents matter as retail consumers. They’re also better educated and more affluent than the average American. According to the National Retail Federation, four in 10 millennial parents have graduate degrees (more than twice the 19% of parents overall who have graduate degrees). Nearly seven in 10 have a household income above the national median of $59,000 a year (compared to 53% of parents overall). The majority (80%) of millennial parents are in their 30s — a time when people traditionally make many big purchases, such as buying a home, major appliances, cars, furniture and more. Millennials are showing strong consumer confidence, the National Retail Federation reports, and most of them are optimistic about their futures. All of this makes millennials a desirable target market for retailers of all sizes. In this blog post, I’ll explain how to attract millennial parents as customers, and what you can do to earn their lasting loyalty. How to Attract Millennial Parents as Customers 1. Provide great service. Millennial parents are twice as likely as parents in general to rethink a purchase if they don’t get good customer service. In fact, this demographic rates customer service as more important than convenience or selection when it comes to evaluating retailers. 2. Make it mobile. As you might expect, millennial parents rely on their smartphones as shopping assistants at every step of their shopping journey, from researching and finding stores to comparing prices and making a purchase. The National Retail Federation says 78% use their phones to research products (compared with 58% of other parents), 75% use phones to check prices or availability…

5 Steps to a Successful Retail Referral Program

Whether you own a retail store or an e-commerce website, getting referrals from your existing customers is one of the most effective marketing weapons in your arsenal. Are you doing everything you can to harness the power of retail referrals? Here are five steps to help you get started. Starting a Retail Referral Program Step 1: Be Referral-Worthy Of course, you can’t hope to get referrals unless you start by delivering exceptional products and customer service — with an emphasis on the latter. You may sell the same products as your competitors, but memorable customer service can make the difference in where shoppers decide to buy. Think about the last time a retailer went out of their way to help you during the purchasing process. What did they do that made you remember, talk about, and share the experience? That’s the type of customer service experience you want to deliver. Step 2: Find your Best Customers The customers who are most loyal to your retail store or e-commerce website are your best bets for generating referrals. Use your customer loyalty program, purchase records or other customer data to identify these people so you can reach out to them. You may already know who some of your best customers are simply from seeing them in the store over and over. And if you have customers who always have good things to say about your business, either in person or online, put them on the potential referral list as well. Step 3: Decide on your Retail Referral Incentives What types of referral incentives should you offer? What you sell and your target customer base will help determine the referral incentives that are most effective. For example, if you sell lower-priced products, a smaller incentive (such as $10 off the next purchase) could be all it takes to earn a referral. On the other hand, if you sell luxury items or products that require a significant investment, you will need to offer a proportionately bigger referral incentive. Otherwise, your customers may not feel it’s worth their while to make a recommendation for your…

Want a Thriving Ecommerce Business? Focus on the Pros and Cons of an eBay Store!

Since its launch back in 1995, eBay has become one of the top destinations for people looking to sell everything from rare collectibles to electronics to clothing. But there’s a difference between just selling a few spare items and creating an actual business on the platform. It is possible to start an ongoing business using eBay as your primary marketplace. But as with anything, there are pros and cons to consider before jumping in. Danna Crawford, eBay selling coach and founder of Power Selling Mom said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “I feel every business can benefit from opening up an eBay store. Bringing your wares to the world’s largest online marketplace can not only increase exposure for your business but it can help build your brand. It can be a bit of a learning curve getting started but the rewards are grand!” Pros and Cons of an eBay Store Here are some pros and cons to consider about eBay before using it to start your very own ecommerce business. Pros of Selling on eBay Built-in Base of Shoppers With 171 million active users in the first quarter of 2018, eBay is one of the most popular ecommerce destinations online today. So you don’t need to spend tons of time or money marketing your business — those shoppers are already browsing eBay for a variety of different items. Community Features To grow your shop and learn the tips and tricks of operating a successful eBay business, the site offers community features like discussion boards and question and answer forums. So you can learn directly from other sellers who have found success on the platform. Crawford says, “eBay is more than just a marketplace, it is a community of people helping people and working together!” Easy Set Up As opposed to building your own site from the ground up, setting up a storefront on eBay is relatively quick and easy. You need to sign up for an account and purchase a store subscription. Then you can personalize your storefront with a few clicks and start adding products right…

Selling to Walmart Doesn’t Have to Be Hard, 3 Tips From the Retailer’s Annual Open Call Event

Over 450 small businesses met buyers head on at Walmart’s fifth annual Open Call event recently. More than 100 entrepreneurs pitching their American-made products for sale with the retail giant were rewarded by getting to move onto the next step in the process.  A few exceptional pitches landed businesses a deal on the spot. Small Business Trends spoke with Tiffany Wilson Director of Communications at Walmart about who some of them were and what they did to be successful. “It’s a really exciting opportunity for American entrepreneurs to come to Walmart’s home office and potentially get their products into the hands of millions of customers,” she said. This is the fifth year of the event that lasts one day. Tips on How to Become a Walmart Vendor Have A Tight Pitch Getting a deal is the Holy Grail for these small businesses and that’s just what Cotton Babies from Fenton, MO did. The company will be selling their cloth diaper buckets in 100 stores in the spring. Wilson says they got a deal on the spot partially because they had taken the time to prepare a good tight pitch. “These are only about 30 minutes,” she said. “Each company had to talk about their product and why it’s special and why it works well for Walmart customers to get the buyer’s attention.” An elevator pitch works in these tight quarters. These stress the key points and list value and product benefits without the fluff.  Have a Passionate and Engaging Approach The Honey Pot Company LLC, from Atlanta, GA also got a deal on the spot. These makers of a feminine hygiene product that’s toxin and chemical free landed themselves in 1000 Walmart stores. Wilson says one of the big draws for these big winners was their enthusiasm. “What they all had in common was we saw brands, products and people that we thought potential customers want to engage with.” Developing a narrative that tells the story of your brand helps. Remember here that speaking too fast can stifle your points. This kind of personable approach works best with a conversational clear…

How to Make the Most of Independent Retailer Month for Your Business and Community

July is much more than the month we celebrate our nation’s independence — it’s also the month when small retailers around the country celebrate their independence through Independent Retailer Month. This shop-local campaign got its start in 2011. That’s when Tom Shay of Profits Plus and Kerry Bannigan of Nolcha Shows, who had separately launched promotions to advance the success of independent retailers, came together to create a global campaign they dubbed Independent Retailer Month. The goal of Independent Retailer Month is to highlight the critical role small, local merchants play in the community and the national economy. The month-long celebration encourages consumers to shop local and celebrate indie retailers, with the goal of creating more sustainable cities, towns and communities. According to the organization’s website, if every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, more than $9.3 billion would be directly returned to local economies. How can your Community Get Involved with Independent Retailer Month? There’s still time to promote Independent Retailer Month in your community. Start by talking to other retailers in your area to see if they have plans for the event. Then, talk to community leaders and business organizations to coordinate your efforts. Here are some ways that your local community leaders, such as local politicians or the Chamber of Commerce, can help: Make announcements about Independent Retailer Month Promote Independent Retailer Month to local media outlets. The organization has some statistics about the benefits of independent retail businesses that can be used to generate interest. Honor one local retailer as the Independent Retailer of the Year Create a promotional page on their websites listing local independent retailers Put up banners or street flags in local retail districts celebrating Independent Retailer Month How can your Business Benefit from Independent Retailer Month? Even if your community doesn’t have the time or resources to wholeheartedly promote Independent Retailer Month, your retail store can still benefit from it. Here are a few ideas: Visit the Independent Retailer Month website to download resources you can use…

Could Mastercard Smart Mirror Boost Retail Sales for Your Small Business?

Removing the pain point of the payment process is one of the best ways to improve the customer experience for small and large retailers. The new Mastercard Smart Mirror will be the first of its kind to include a payment function while the customer is trying different outfits using Augmented Reality (AR). This Smart Mirror is a fully integrated solution which gives the customer access to the store’s online and store inventory to deliver a personalized experience. Using a card with a chip, a smartphone, a watch or digital wallet, the customer can check out with Masterpass. Even though the technology is currently being deployed by large brands such as Levis, it can also be used by small clothing retailers. This will give owners more time to focus on customer service instead of dealing with the checkout process. The technology will also allow small businesses to compete with large online retailers by providing new innovative technologies. As reported on The Industry, Mike Cowen, head of digital payments, Mastercard UK, explained how Augmented Reality is changing the way consumers are shopping and helping small retailers. Cowen said, “Augmented and virtual reality is transforming how we shop. And while high streets are being challenged by the popularity of online shopping, these technologies allow retailers to fight back by giving the public the digital convenience they demand. We are working closely with these brands to deliver new and safer ways to pay to provide a more personal and speedy experience for shoppers.” The Industry reported Mastercard (NYSE: MA) expects the Smart Mirrors to reduce the time in changing rooms by 40% and get rid of checkout lines while delivering a more personalized shopping experience. Mastercard Smart Mirror Features In addition to letting you pay for the clothes you select, the mirror has an interactive menu which lets you adjust the lighting in the fitting room and change the language before you start trying your items. When it comes to the clothes, you can see them in different colors and sizes. You can also ask for recommendations based on previously viewed items and have…

Cracking the Code on Loyalty Programs: 5 Ways to Improve What You Offer Customers

How well is your retail store’s loyalty program working for you? What can you do to make your shoppers more loyal? Two recent studies have some valuable insights. Here’s what you need to know about trends in loyalty programs, why loyalty programs matter, and how to improve yours. Loyalty program benefits A good loyalty program has many benefits for businesses. According to The Loyalty Report 2018 by Bond: 77% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands. 70% of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a business with a good loyalty program. 63% of consumers say they change their spending habits to make the most of their loyalty benefits. Loyalty programs can not only make shoppers more loyal, but also improve positive word-of-mouth for your store, and get shoppers to spend more at your business. Loyalty Program Trends First, the good news: The future of loyalty looks promising, according to Oracle’s report Retail 2018: The Loyalty Divide. More than 4 in 10 consumers aged 18 to 34 say they are more loyal to brands than they were five years ago. What’s more, local retailers have an edge when it comes to loyalty: a whopping 82% of consumers say the most important factor in loyalty is store proximity. Now, the bad news: Oracle found a discrepancy between how retailers and consumers view loyalty programs. More than half (58%) of retailers believe their loyalty program offers are mostly relevant to consumers. However, just 32% of consumers feel the same way. The biggest problem Oracle found is that retailers are still measuring the results of the loyalty programs in purely transactional terms. For example, retailers tend to measure the success of their loyalty programs by things such as frequency of transactions, frequency of visits or loyalty card membership. Consumers, however, are also expressing their loyalty through social media word-of-mouth, and businesses are failing to include social media advocacy as a yardstick of their loyalty programs’ success. How to Improve Your Loyalty Program What can you do to improve your store’s loyalty program? Here are five steps…

Fiverr Service Assists Small Businesses in Search of Freelance Product Photographers

Selling your products online as a small business means having to take photographs of the items so you can post them. The new Fiverr still Product Photography Pro service now lets you hire the best talent from around the world so you won’t have to do it. Find a Product Photographer on Fiverr For freelancers who specialize in taking still product photography, it means a place on Fiverr Pro to promote their services. For small businesses who want an affordable service for getting high-quality images on their eCommerce pages or offline advertising such as flyers, it will make it much easier to find photographers with this specific talent quickly and easily. The company said it is launching this category with the Fiverr Pro seller service by bringing in highly experienced photographers from around the world. Yoav Hornung, Video and Animation Category Manager at Fiverr, writes on the company’s official The Do List blog, he said, “Within the Product Photography category, there are photographers who have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands including Hugo Boss, Tom Ford, Anthropologie, The Body Shop, Bentley, Jimmy Choo, Red Bull and more.” Buyers can also use other Pros specializing in different types of photography including lifestyle, commercial still-life, 360°, white background studio setting and more. Photography services so far fall into 10 basic categories: beauty and health, apparel, electronics, shoes, food, kid and toys, pet supplies, sports and outdoors, jewelry, and home and kitchen. Quality Images for Your Digital Presence Your small business probably has a website, eCommerce, and social media channels. A common issue with all of these outlets is the need for quality images — including of the products and services you offer. If the images are of low quality, there is a great chance your customers will go elsewhere. Certainly, you could take your own pictures with your smartphone or digital camera, and possibly improve the quality with any of a number of different free and premium desktop photo editing tools. But is this your best option? Specialization Although taking a picture of shoes or food may seem the same, they are quite different.…

Retail Trends Revealed: How to Prepare for Shoppers of the Future

Consumer expectations of retail continue to change. How can your retail store stay one step ahead of what customers want? A new Euclid study surveyed 1,500 U.S. consumers about their shopping habits to better understand just what it will take. The Store of the Past Meets the Shopper of the Future: Can retailers adapt to modern consumer expectations? polled millennial, Generation X and baby boomer consumers and found three significant emerging trends. Retail Shopping Trends Trend 1: New buying models are shifting how people think about stores Newer concepts such as monthly subscription boxes and pop-up shops are being embraced. Consumers who are more open to new experiences are most likely to show interest in these trends. Half of consumers who subscribe to monthly subscription boxes say they’d likely check out a pop-up shop. Among consumers who shop online at least once a week, 38% say they’d likely check out a pop-up. And 29% of shoppers who prefer traditional brick-and-mortar shopping say they likely would check out a pop-up. The report identifies the pop-up shop concept, in particular, as a “rising star.” Why are pop-ups so popular? Fear of missing out (FOMO) prompts shoppers to hurry into the pop-up shop before it’s gone. Pop-up shops offer new experiences, particularly important for younger consumers who seek entertainment from shopping. There are several ways to approach the pop-up concept. You can hold your own pop-up shop in a novel location, invite a complementary business to do a pop-up shop in your store, or have a special pop-up in your store spotlighting one of your most popular brands. Trend 2: Traditional marketing methods turn millennials off More than half (53%) of baby boomers and 40% of Generation X consumers say an ad featuring a specific item they want would get them to make a trip to a physical store. By contrast, less than one-third of millennials say the same. Not only are millennials unmoved by advertising, they’re irritated by over-emailing. Both Generation X and baby boomer consumers say getting too many emails from retailers is a major turnoff, and they’re likely to unsubscribe.…

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