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If you’re looking to secure small business funding, you have several options when it comes to securing a loan. One such option is a line of credit. With a business line of credit, you have a type of revolving credit that operates similarly to that of a credit card. Instead of the lump sum you get with a term loan, a line of credit provides your business with a credit limit that can be drawn upon when needed.

How Does It Work?

With a term loan, you have a lump sum that has to be paid back over a fixed period. On a line of credit, the business has access to funds that can be used and then repaid as needed.

For example, if your business has a $100,000 line of credit, it means you can access those funds whenever necessary. You’ll also only have to pay interest on the funds you use. If you use $20,000, you still have an additional $80,000 that can be used, and you only have to pay interest on the $20,000 that was borrowed. Once the funds are repaid, you once again have access to the full credit line of $100,000.

Like any type of loan, some of the details can vary depending on factors that are specific to the lender and borrower. Businesses can find lines of credit that range from as little to $1,000 to as much as a $1,000,000. Interest rates can also vary depending on the lender and the borrower. You may also find variables to the repayment schedule that range from as little as six months to a few years.

What Is It For?

Unlike term loans, once you have secured a line of credit, it can be used for almost any business expense. However, there are things you should consider when deciding whether to use a line of credit to fund your business.

For the most part, a business line of credit is good for having quick access to funding when you need it. If you need to cover your payroll, pay for an unexpected expense or take advantage of a business opportunity, a business line of credit is good for that sort of short-term financing.

If you have a larger expense with less urgency, it is better to look for something like a term loan. Term loans tend to have lower interest than lines of credit, and most lenders will allow you to pay a term loan back over a longer period. With lower interest and more time for repayment, a term loan will be easier for a small business to manage when the loan is large.

What Are the Qualifications?

There was a time when it was much more difficult for small business owners to secure a line of credit. Due to innovations like online lending, there are now more options than ever for securing a line of credit, and this has made it easier for small businesses to obtain this type of funding.

While the exact requirements will depend on the lender, there are some general points that make a business qualified for a line of credit.

You will need to be in business for at least six months. Some banks may even require a few years of operations for a business to qualify.

You are also going to need to demonstrate strong, reliable revenue to get a business line of credit. At a minimum, you would need to prove that your business earns at least $25,000 in annual revenue. However, this figure varies considerably depending on the lender.

You will need to have a personal credit score of at least 500. Your credit score can also have a significant impact on the credit limit and the amount of time you will have to pay back the funds. For that reason, some business owners might want to work on improving their credit score before trying to secure a line of credit.

Securing a Line of Credit

The process of securing a line of credit will vary depending on the lender. If you go with a bank, the requirements will be stricter and they are likely to require more documents. If you go with a short-term lender, the process might be simpler, but you are probably going to pay higher interest while your credit limit will be lower.

Before applying for a business line of credit, you should try to prepare the following:

  • Bank Statements
  • Personal and Business Tax Returns
  • Balance Sheet
  • Profit and Loss Statements
  • Credit Score

When trying to secure a line of credit, it is a good idea to compare several options to find the one that is the best fit for the needs of your business. Take the time to understand the requirements of different lending options and learn about the obligations that come with taking a line of credit from different lenders.

Contributed by Rae, a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, business development, entrepreneurship and writing, of course.

The post Understanding Business Lines of Credit appeared first on Retail Minded.

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There is an undeniable convenience that comes with shopping online – a few clicks of a button and a parcel arrives at your doorstep the next day. The ability to be able to shop 24/7 saves customers time and money, which online merchants can capitalize on and encourage spending by sending discounts direct to customers. However, while shopping online is arguably easier for consumers rather than facing busy in-store lines, fears over the safety of purchasing goods online continue to rise.

Consumers are becoming more security conscious when it comes to shopping online, meaning online retailers cannot afford to rest solely on their features and benefits, and ignore consumer demand for enhanced safety. However, merchants are faced with the challenge of responding to customer demand and maintaining a secured environment, while fighting to attract loyal customers and keep up with the competition.

The reality is customers believe that they should be able to buy what they want, when they want and how they want. In-fact, 50 percent of consumers will abandon a transaction if their preferred payment methods is not offered. Merchants want and need to attract new customers, so they must make it easy for consumers to buy their goods online, by offering the right payment mix and minimizing the risk factor to ensure consumer trust.

Essentially, customers only feel secure online when they recognize the payment methods offered to them. If not, customers will abandon their shopping experience if they feel that the payment method, or even the payment process, is not secure. Online retailers are currently on a slippery slope to security and are struggling to find a balance between providing recognizable payment methods and a seamless shopping experience while adhering to the needs of their range of customers from around the world.

It is essential that consumers feel secure when they do so, to encourage spending. Merchants must tread carefully when choosing which payment methods to offer to their customers because if a customer’s confidence is lost, merchants will ultimately lose out to competitors.

No matter which way you look at it, merchants are fundamentally struggling to get the balance right between customer experience and customer security. With commerce moving towards a customer-centric model, preserving customer trust by providing a seamless checkout process with safe and secure payment methods becomes key and are the ways that business can increase customer loyalty without the fear of losing out to their competitors.

Contributed By Ronnie D’Arienzo, Chief Revenue Officer at PPRO.

The post Exploring the Mindset of the Online Shopper appeared first on Retail Minded.

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An oft-cited remark from Jeff Bezos, the Amazon Founder and CEO, is his famous line, “Your margin is my opportunity.” Many retailers and consumer tech companies have seen opportunity in an industry that has been beset by rising costs and low consumer satisfaction: healthcare.

As America continues to shed retail stores and shift to more balanced retail square footage in this country, retailers have set their sights on new markets and healthcare has become a prime target. Companies from Best Buy to Walgreens to Amazon are all making significant pushes to bring customer experience and access to the forefront of healthcare which will reshape the landscape along the way.

Healthcare represents a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for retailers due to high levels of consumer dissatisfaction, growing costs, and a lack of accessibility for many consumers. With such a large opportunity, and the emphasis successful retailers and consumer tech companies place on customer experience, market leaders see a sizable opportunity to enter this space to fill the void for consumers.

Given the Jeff Bezos mantra, it should come as no surprise that Amazon was one of the first to jump into the fray announcing a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan called Haven that is spearheaded by Dr. Atul Gawande. Haven recently announced its intent to serve 1.2 million employees of Amazon, Berkshire, and JP Morgan, with the intent to “share our innovations and solutions to help others.”

However, Amazon and its partners are not the only ones to pursue the large opportunity. Best Buy announced the acquisition of Great Call, a medical device company, for $800M last year and has announced its intent to expand its focus on electronics to include connected medical devices in the home. The initiative is still in its early stages, but Best Buy is steadily building out its product assortment around health & wellness in select stores as well as doing so online.

Meanwhile, Target has begun to dip its toe in the water selling at-home test kits for medical diagnoses via a partnership with EverlyWell. The company has made nine EverlyWell products available in all 1800 stores.

Perhaps, though, the companies that have gone the furthest so far have been legacy retailers Walgreens and CVS. Walgreens announced a bevy of partnerships to push further into healthcare including with both Humana, to launch new health service offerings in select stores in Kansas, as well as with Microsoft to developed personalized healthcare services. CVS’ acquisition of health insurance company, Aetna, has led to a host of different initiatives from the company as it takes advantage of its newfound vertical integration.

The increasing number of entrants into healthcare in a variety of different forms comes at a time where consumers have increased choice in their healthcare decisions, which many experts believe should result in a more competitive market over time and, thus, reduce medical costs. As consumer choice in healthcare continues to play a larger role, retailers and consumer tech companies are well-positioned to chip away at legacy healthcare businesses that have not had the same focus on customer experience.

For retailers and consumer tech companies, the focus on customer satisfaction is core to their business’ long-term success because of the low barriers of entry in their respective markets. The ability to leverage those strengths to enter a new, large market, coupled with the opportunity to better serve their own customers, is a strategy that will shape many companies over the next five years. The companies that will win will carve out new offerings and create new business models that rely on services, just as much as products, to rein in medical costs while providing greater consumer satisfaction.

Carlos Castelán is the Managing Director of The Navio Group – www.thenaviogroup.com   – in Minneapolis, a business management consulting firm that works with brand name retailers to improve customer experience, increase sales, solve marketing and productivity challenges and help them perform better and succeed in today’s competitive business environment.

The post For Retail And Healthcare, The Future Is Now appeared first on Retail Minded.

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Until the early nineties, retail sales mostly happened through one of two channels- physical outlets, or telephone orders. When NetMarket accepted its first online order fully paid for in 1994, no one may have foreseen the degree of technological advancements that the next two decades would see. By 2010, smartphones weren’t a peculiar object but instead the new norm. These changes, coupled with changing buyer preferences and greater expectations, have given rise to omnichannel retail.

Even with omnichannel retail gaining as much prominence as it has, several retailers big and small struggle to implement it fast enough for it to make a difference to their customers.

Omnichannel retail is all about being present across all retail touchpoints that the customers are likely to use, and allowing them to seamlessly switch between channels and buy from wherever they choose. Here are some tips and solutions to help you solve everyday omnichannel issues and also manage your inventory better.

 

  1. Use Store Inventory To Fulfill Online Orders: In theory, by converting every store into a fulfillment center for online orders, retailers should be able to deliver products faster to their customers by fulfilling them from the nearest store. At the same time, you don’t want to overstock a store and confuse your employees. As a solution, consider treating inventory as a single entity spread out across multiple locations. The entire catalog of products is consolidated across all stores and warehouse locations.This way, even if an online order cannot be fulfilled from the nearest store, it can be done from the closest store that has the product. Treating all of the inventory as one consolidated unit is key for success.
  2. Place Online Orders From Within The Store: Stores cannot always have every product in the catalog handy, which is disappointing for customers looking for a specific product. It is also possible with apparel that a particular size or color may be out of stock at the store. Instead of losing a sale, omnichannel retail allows you to help the customer place an online order for the product from within the store itself.Arm your sales employees with tablets to help them place orders within large locations. Encourage them to present online ordering as an alternative to customers looking for a specific product that is unavailable.
  3. Evaluate And Adjust Demand And Supply Frequently: Since you’re using every store and warehouse as a fulfillment center, use sales data from the last quarter to see which SKUs perform well in which area. This way, you can redistribute your inventory and stock products most likely to be in demand at every location.
  4. In order to do this, you can analyze past sales data from different channels you sell through. This data can guide you on what products sell better on which channels.

Not just that, you can also identify which products have a higher turnover and thus need to be ordered more frequently than others. These are the products that you need to monitor demand for reorder frequently. One foolproof way to do this is to use automated purchase orders that are raised every time the stock for a product is low. That’s more orders and fewer out-of-stock issues, plus one less thing for you to worry about.

  1. Process Returns In Store: Shipping returns back to a warehouse or fulfillment centre can get expensive, plus a return essentially means that you haven’t really made any money on that transaction. Encourage customers to bring products for returns processing to the nearest store.This way, you save on shipping costs for the returned product, plus you get a chance to understand why the product is being returned. Store employees can identify the cause of concern and cross-sell another product, or help with a replacement on a case-to-case basis.
  2. Use A Robust Inventory Management System: In omnichannel retail, the greatest challenge for a retailer is accurate tracking of inventory movement and order processing across channels. To ensure this happens smoothly, use a good inventory management system that can track inventory across all of your products and sales channels.Doing so allows you to see how your products move from the time they are shipped by your vendor, right until they are sold and delivered to someone, or purchased from one of your stores. Moreover, some systems also allow you to automate when you reorder more stock for a product, making it easier for you to sell better and never run out of stock.

As retailing gets more complex and new channels of sale get added to the roster each day, it is important for retailers to adapt to new technology that can help them manage inventory more accurately. It also helps to automate as much of the inventory management process as possible to avoid human error and they day-to-day hassle of having to make inventory decisions.

Contributed by Mohammed Ali, Founder and CEO of Primaseller—a Multichannel Inventory Management Software that helps sellers manage inventory better and fulfil orders on time, with nifty integrations that make business better. When not running a startup, Ali is often caught lapping up the latest book in fantasy fiction.

The post Managing Inventory In An Omnichannel World: Tips To Help You Sell From More Than One Channel appeared first on Retail Minded.

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Consistently understated, product packaging can be one of the most effective marketing tools available to brands. A mobile advertisement and an effective communicator of brand image, carefully considered and targeted branded packaging can make all the difference to both the customer experience and, subsequently, your sales. With that in mind, today we’re taking a closer look at the power of packaging, detailing the different approaches businesses can take to communicate what their brand is all about.

You’re a legitimate brand

Establishing consistent branding across your packaging is an incredibly effective way of projecting a legitimate brand image. Whether it’s an easily-identifiable color scheme, eye-catching logo or unique packaging style, developing a recognizable brand across all your product packaging reinforces the authenticity of your product and, subsequently, drives consumer familiarity and sales as a result.

According to research conducted by Circle Research, 77% of marketing leaders believe branding is critical to growth. As such, look to develop an established brand identity that allows consumers to become familiar with you and your products or services instantly, therefore reinforcing the legitimacy of your business through the creation of a defined brand image.

You care about your consumers

Packaging is an easy and efficient way of communicating a positive public image that, in turn, can have a major influence on customers’ decisions. Keep your ear to the ground and listen to the preferences of consumers, adapting your packaging accordingly.

With research conducted by BillerudKorsnäs in 2017 stating that 72% of consumers across the globe are willing to pay more for products with packaging that promotes sustainability, it’s becoming increasingly evident that there’s value in listening to a consumer base that’s constantly shifting towards a greater collective environmental consciousness. With this in mind, implement eco-friendly packing as a way of bolstering sales while promoting an ethical public image. From biodegradable cups for catering businesses to recyclable paper bags for retail stores, there’s a variety of options available that meet both the requirements of your brand and the desires of your consumer.

You’re attuned to the latest trends

In recent years, packaging has become caught up in a plethora of social and viral trends. Your brand should look to capitalize on this, proving you’re a current and fashionable brand attuned to all the latest crazes.

Unboxing has become one of the most popular video trends of the past decade, with a recent video of an iPhone X unboxing obtaining a staggering 13 million views. As a result, we suggest you implement packaging that has the potential to create a buzz, offering freebies to influencers in an attempt to create a viral stir.

Alternatively, consider personalization wherever possible. A packaging model as simple as the one used by Starbucks, where staff write the name of customers on their products, can generate a hype across social platforms – with consumers posting pictures of their personalized products across Snapchat, Instagram and more. By offering something similar, not only are you proving your brand has one ear to the ground, but you’re also responding to consumer trends that, in turn, can only positively impact your sales.

Packaging has the potential to communicate a lot more about your brand than you may originally perceive. As such, be sure to make considered choices about your packaging solutions, reaping the marketing benefits of this silent salesmen.

Contributed by Elizabeth Raw, who works for R+R Packaging, providers of biodegradable and eco-friendly packaging materials for businesses within a wide variety of industries.

The post The Power of Packaging: What’s it Saying About Your Brand? appeared first on Retail Minded.

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In my search for trends and research in leadership and culture, sometimes I come across some really compelling stories. The underlying theme in both of the following stories is simple: authentic leadership requires personal connection.

The first example is from the coaching career of Tom Landry. The second is from then-CEO of Wyndham Hotels, Stephen Holmes.

Leaders want to inspire others to meet performance objectives. And, leaders develop work passion among followers as well as high performance if those leaders are authentic and connect with the individual people they are trying to inspire. In order to do so, leaders need to BE REAL – that is, they need to demonstrate authentic consideration of their people, have a sense of humor, and create personal connections that last.

Landry: People are Interchangeable Parts of a Winning System

Tom Landry served as the Cowboy’s head coach for 29 years; his accomplishments include 20 straight winning seasons, five NFC titles, and two Super Bowl wins. His players respected Landry and his system – and many indicated that, during their years of playing for Landry, he was distant and more committed to his system than to individual players.

Two examples were shared in the film. First, All-Pro linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson described Landry as focused on the players as interchangeable parts of the system. Henderson believed Landry never knew of his drug addiction or alcohol abuse. Henderson said, “Coach never asked. He wasn’t interested in players’ personal lives.”

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach described a tenuous personal relationship with Landry. Staubach, a Heisman Trophy winner, spend 10 years leading the Cowboys – he was MVP of Super Bowl VI. Staubach relates, with emotion in his voice, a telling demonstration of Landry’s focus on the system and NOT the players: when Staubach retired after the 1979 season, Landry didn’t even shake Roger’s hand.

Landry did soften in his later years. Henderson describes being shocked – and pleasantly surprised – when Landry attended Henderson’s 10-year anniversary of sobriety. At that event, Landry took the podium and praised Henderson not only for his football accomplishments but for the courage and dedication required to beat his addictions.

Certainly, Landry should be celebrated for his team’s accomplishments . . . yet one wonders how much more America’s Team could have accomplished if players felt a personal connection with their head coach.

Wyndham’s Gracious and Welcoming CEO

Stephen Holmes, now the Chairman of the board of Wyndham Hotels, was CEO when this story came to light. Holmes was interviewing a candidate for a key executive position. The evening meal ran long during which it began snowing heavily. They called the car service to take the candidate to his hotel. The car service told them that, due to road conditions, it would take an hour to reach the restaurant. Instead of making the candidate wait for the ride, Holmes offered to take the candidate to his home. The candidate was extremely impressed – and enjoyed meeting Stephen’s family as part of the experience.

Holmes’ calm and friendly approach served him – and Wyndham – very well. People enjoy working for a person who sincerely cares for them, and they loved working for Holmes when he was CEO.

Demonstrate authentic leadership by:

  • Taking time, regularly, to personally connect with staff members.
  • Discuss their families.
  • Find out their hobbies, and their dreams.

You’ve hired smart people with rich lives outside the workplace – connect to the “whole” person.

Be real. Let people know what worries you, what excites you. Laugh with staff members and not at them. Don’t be afraid of making a personal connection.

Contributed by S. Chris Edmonds, Founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. 

The post Authentic Leadership Requires Personal Connections appeared first on Retail Minded.

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A loyalty program is a rewards program that encourages customers to make repeat purchases in exchange for freebies, points rewards and discounts.

We’ve heard a lot of loyalty program success stories from brick and mortar stores.

For example, Red Robin claims to be one of the best burgers of America with astounding sales. In 2018, the F&B establishment boasts of a total revenue of $315.4 million.

Their loyalty program encourages members make a purchase 5 times and get a $20 reward on the next visit. It’s a simple tactic but it gets people in the habit of returning to the restaurant regularly.

Not surprisingly, customers love to get rewards for regularly purchasing from the stores they love. They’re also looking for brands that give them perks and discounts to get more for less.

Having said that, how do you create your own loyalty program? How do you identify if your business is ready to start? 

Here’s how to know if a loyalty program fits with your business:

1. Does your business rely on repeat purchases?

The point of a loyalty program is to reward customers for repeat purchases.

If you sell items that customers buy often like food, clothes and makeup, then a loyalty program is fit for your business model. However, if you sell items that are bought yearly such as cars, laptops or other items that aren’t easily replaced, then having a loyalty program doesn’t seem beneficial.

For example, customers of Panera – a bakery cafe – use the loyalty program app because they regularly buy bread and coffee for breakfast.

2. Can you maintain the cost of the rewards?

A good loyalty program has a lot of cool rewards and offerings, which costs money.

Once you offer a rewards like prizes, freebies and discounts — make sure it fits your budget. You have to be ready to give the freebie to most of your users.

Pizza Hut’s UK loyalty program rewards customers with a medium slice pizza once they’ve spent about £70. This lets them profit from their customers in spite of the freebie.

3. Is it for the long-term?

It’s no secret that customers love to collect points and hoard them for a long period of time.

People love to collect points in the hope of receiving a bigger reward in the future.

Having said that, a loyalty program isn’t easily terminated. If you decide that it’s time to let it go, a lot of your members will feel betrayed and disappointed. In fact, ASOS customers felt disappointed after the brand ended their A-list loyalty scheme.

When you gonna come back with the better rewards you said about when you ended Asos A list??? @ASOS_HeretoHelp @asos

— Jess Higgins (@JebzHigg) December 13, 2018

The worst day of my life was when ASOS got rid of A List

— Jack Wetherill (@JackWetherill) April 28, 2019

https://twitter.com/WhatKatySaid/status/1074572605225615360

Still don't understand why they scrapped that loyalty scheme!

— Stephen Davis (@SteveyD) December 17, 2018

Having said that, a loyalty program must be something that you can commit and maintain for a long time.

How to get started with a loyalty program

Once you’ve decided to create a loyalty program, how do you get started? Here are the steps that you need to follow:

1. Pick your rewards

Think about the rewards of your loyalty program.

As we’ve said previously, it has to be something that you can afford and maintain.

For example, Nordstrom’s rewards program is based on a customer’s spending level.

It’s a win-win situation for the business because it encourages customers to spend more to qualify for better rewards. And while these rewards would cost Nordstrom, they also make more sales.

2. Create your own loyalty program

Next, create your own loyalty program.

We recommend using CandyBar which allows users to create a digital punch card loyalty program.

All you need to do is create a free account, choose your rewards and set up the cashier page in your store. Afterwards, set up the web page that customers will use to check in.

3. Encourage customers to enroll

Obviously, you have to increase membership and encourage people to join.

Promote the program in your website, social media pages, physical stores and encourage your staff to promote. Don’t forget to make the sign-up process quick and easy for customers.

For example, Sephora’s Beauty Pass rewards program has a fast and easy registration process.

Simply provide your basic information or connect with Google.

4. Keep it interesting

Keep your loyalty program fresh and interesting by rewarding customers for a variety of brand-related actions like watching your videos, liking your social media pages and referring customers.

This keeps your loyalty program interesting and builds the habit of checking out the app or your social media pages for promos and offerings.

For example, Frank Body – an Australian skincare company – has a loyalty program called ‘Hotel Pink’. They let customers earn more points by interacting with the brand by leaving reviews, posting user-generated content and sharing promos on Facebook or Twitter.

5. Explore partnerships with companies

Another way to make the loyalty program more appealing is to partner with businesses.

Increase the value of your points by exploring partnerships with brands related to your products and services. Co-branding is one way to expand your customer base, get discovered by new customers and add variety to your reward offerings.

For example, Nike’s loyalty program has partnerships with Classpass, Apple and Headspace.

By purchasing Nike’s products, customers can earn four months of Apple music or earn fitness class credits from Classpass. Headspace – a guided meditation app – ships exclusive playlists for exercises and guided runs for Nike’s customers.

Takeaway

Here’s a recap of what we’ve learned:

  • Before you start your own referral program ensure that it fits your business model and that you can maintain the cost for your rewards. Once you get started, there’s no turning back so think about whether you can sustain it for a long period of time.
  • You can create different tiers of rewards and provide better freebies in exchange for more purchases. This ensures that you will profit in the long-run. You can also keep your program interesting by exploring partnerships and rewarding customer behavior.

How do you get started? Candybar is a no-brainer solution because you only need to create an account to start your own loyalty program. You can sign-up for a free trial here.

The post How To Identify If Your Business Is Ready For A Loyalty Program appeared first on Retail Minded.

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Successful ecommerce isn’t just for selling running shoes or books. In fact, there is a growing B2B ecommerce market where businesses get the supplies they need to operate efficiently.

Just like other types of businesses in this digital age, your B2B ecommerce website cannot operate properly without an efficient online marketing strategy. Today, 67% of the B2B buyer’s journey is completed digitally, so it is obvious that online marketing plays a major role in generating and converting B2B leads.

Developing a B2B marketing strategy is crucial for B2B ecommerce. In addition, there are a number of tools you can use to attract new clients, maximize customer retention, nurture loyalty, and optimize purchasing experience across the board.

In this article, we will list a number of effective marketing strategies you can use to boost your B2B ecommerce website, and ultimately, your sales.

Loyalty programs

Customer loyalty programs represent an important B2B ecommerce marketing strategy. B2B purchasers are always on the lookout for long-term partnerships, which is a great starting position for any kind of customer loyalty program. And since B2B clients usually order in bulk, B2B loyalty programs offer a greater lifetime value.

However, B2B loyalty programs need a thoroughly planned strategy, as the B2B industry utilizes more personalized customer engagement strategies and unique value propositions that depend on each individual customer’s needs. Consequently, before approaching business clients with a loyalty program, you need to access each of your customers’ incentives.

Here are a few ways to do it:

–          referral programs – give bonuses to clients that bring new opportunities for your company

–          tier incentives – reward repeat customers when they increase their purchase volumes and encourage them to advance to even higher tiers

–          partnerships with third parties and resellers – create loyalty programs for your resellers in order to build a strong distribution network, reach out to more customers, and increase brand exposure

Invest in SEO

A powerful ecommerce SEO strategy is fundamental for your B2B ecommerce website regardless of the type of products you sell. Why?

Because as much as 62% of B2B purchasers say that an internet search is one of the first three resources they turn to when making a purchase.

Moreover, 71% of such searches begin with generic non-brand keywords rather than searching for the name of a business. On average, twelve searches will be performed before a user actively engages with an ecommerce website.

At some part of their buyer’s journey, your prospect will complete a non-brand search to learn about different purchasing options. If your ecommerce website doesn’t appear in the results, then you have just handed another potential sale to your competition on a silver platter.

Although a complex and ever-evolving marketing strategy, SEO primarily consists of two components:

–          on-site SEO – track keywords that communicate the concepts relevant to your industry and your business to help search engines include you in users’ searches

–          off-site SEO – engage in link building to improve your website’s authority as a broadly recognized leader in the industry

Gmail ads

Gmail has its own, native, mail-based ads. When you run a high ROI Gmail ad campaign, you can deliver display-network style ads directly into a user’s Gmail inbox.

A Gmail ad campaign combines the efficiency of email marketing with the targeting features of Google AdWords. Besides generating low-cost opportunities, Gmail ads enable you to turn prospects into brand ambassadors. Prospects can save and forward emails with interesting offers to their family and friends.

Moreover, Gmail ads offer a much lower cost per click than the competitive B2B keywords usually used for targeting. Not only is Gmail great for lead generation, but it also drives brand awareness.

Gmail ads are targeted ads specific to account activity and appear within the promotions tab of any inbox. They are extremely easy to set up through your existing AdWords account that has a linked payment system.

Amazon ads

Amazon ads are also a great way to boost your ecommerce sales. There are three different types of Amazon ads you can use to maximize your conversions:

–          headline search ads

–          sponsored product ads

–          product display ads

Headline search ads

These ads are shown above the search results due to keyword targeting. You can promote one to three products at a time. These ads use links and captivating headlines to lead potential clients to specific landing pages.

This type of ads allows you to clearly communicate with your audience. Find out what is your unique selling proposition and then present it to your audience.

Sponsored product ads

This type of Amazon ads uses the well-known PPC method, allowing you to advertise your products in the search results and drive Amazon clients toward the specific products you promote on your website.

For sponsored product ads, automated targeting is your best option, as it allows Amazon’s search algorithms to recommend potential keywords for your niche products.

Product display ads

Instead of being based on keyword targeting, these ads are interest- and product-oriented, driving customers to the product page. They are also based on the cost-per-click method.

For product display ads, start by choosing a number of products similar to your own. This will allow your ads to target customers who are already interested in that type of product.

LinkedIn

In the past few years, LinkedIn has grown into the best social media platform for B2B marketing. With over 500 million professionals on LinkedIn, B2B marketers can engage with influencers, decision makers, and industry leaders.

Everything starts with creating a LinkedIn company page. Next, you need to ensure that your content reveals how your product can help businesses. In other words, sales-centric is not an option.

Instead, the content should be organized in the following way:

–          50% about your brand

–          25% about the sector you operate in

–          25% about the themes and problems that trouble you personally so that people can see you are still a human

From text ads and LinkedIn video ads to sponsored InMail, LinkedIn offers a broad range of advertising opportunities, all accessible via the LinkedIn Campaign Manager. LinkedIn automation tool can be used here to streamline the process and enable you to use the auto-mailing system, target contacts, and send personal invitations.

Customer satisfaction metrics

Any for-profit business needs to be customer-centric. However, for every complaint a customer sends your way, there is a multitude of customers that will choose to remain silent. Those are the people you will likely ignore, and then lose them if you don’t plan everything in advance. Besides losing customers and income, low client satisfaction will also harm your brand image.

This is where customer satisfaction metrics enter the stage:

–          customer effort score – measures user-friendliness by asking customers how much effort they needed to use a product or service, and evaluate how likely they are to continue using it

–          net promoter score – basically a growth indicator, it lets you measure the loyalty of your customers, how satisfied they are with your product, and how likely they are to recommend your ecommerce website to others

–          customer satisfaction score – directly tracks your clients’ satisfaction with particular aspects of your ecommerce business; best suited for the onboarding process to track its effectiveness

These metrics are measured through surveys that can be sent during different stages of the customer lifecycle.

Bonus tip

Lastly, we want to share a pro tip with you, which is to track ecommerce sales with Google Analytics.

That way, you can easily:

–          see the number of transactions and income your ecommerce website generates

–          keep track of the performance of your sales and revenue

–          make information-based decisions to generate more sales and revenue on your ecommerce website

The post Effective Strategies for Boosting Your B2B Ecommerce Website appeared first on Retail Minded.

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Since the earliest days of the great American experiment, the connection with our cousins ‘across the pond’ has held strong. Through conflict and competition, booms and busts, there’s little denying that we feel a closer affinity than the expansive Atlantic Ocean would suggest. America sneezes and Britain catches a cold, fashions made on London catwalks storm the streets of Manhattan. And yet, despite this connection, retailers who consider American and British consumers as a homogeneous group risk costly errors – both from a marketing as well as a reputational perspective.

Trust, security and the impact of a hack or breach on a consumer-facing brand really brings out the psychological differences (and some similarities) between the two nations. And they have serious implications for businesses and retailers operating across both sides of the ocean that should make their way into any crisis or risk mitigation planning.

Our study of over 4000 consumers in the US and UK demonstrated that American consumers tend to be slower to initially put their trust in a brand’s handling of their data but that trust, once earned, is longer lasting. Only a fifth (21%) claim they will stop spending with a brand forever in the aftermath of a breach. This is in stark contrast to the Brits who have had their attention fixed on data security since the introduction of the GDPR last year. 41% of British consumers claimed they would stop spending with a business or brand forever following a security breach, suggesting that the cost of a breach is much higher and carries longer-term revenue impact for brands operating there.

If their ire is quicker to dissipate, so too is the speed with which Americans react to breaches – 62% stop spending for at least a few months, inflicting a significant albeit short-term revenue blow to businesses. Only 44% of Brits said the same.

However, the Brits are more skittish than their American cousins – almost a third (31%) of UK consumers stated that they spend less with brands they perceive to have insecure data practices. Just 18% of US respondents agreed that perception of risk alone is enough to impact their spending habits.

Looking at trust in businesses and brands, 55% of UK respondents felt they could trust a local store with their data more than a national company. In contrast, the reverse was true in the US with only 47% of respondents feeling they could trust a local company more than a national chain. Some similarities however transcended cultural differences – the retail and travel industries are viewed as potentially insecure on both sides of the pond. 19% of Americans and 40% of Brits see retail as a risky business when it comes to their personal data; 16% of Americans and 35% of Brits see the travel sector as the most insecure.

With 44% of Americans and 38% of Brits claiming to have been a victim of a security breach, there is a risk that ‘data breach fatigue’ is starting to set in on both sides of The Atlantic. Unfortunately, large-scale data breaches that expose personal information occur so frequently that consumers have come to expect such failures and have become ‘numb’ to the effects of these breaches. This means they are less motivated to protect themselves, whilst trust erodes between businesses and their customers.

Similarities between the countries and small differences in measurable responses such as spending habits, customer and brand loyalty and concern over providing personal data are apparent. But there are some clear contrasts between the two regions that retailers and direct-to-consumer organisations should acknowledge and mitigate against. We share a language and heritage but that doesn’t guarantee effective communication with consumers; it’s also crucial to understand cultural dialect and disparities. If cultural preferences are misunderstood or disregarded, businesses risk offending or alienating valued customers, needlessly and negatively impacting their bottom line.

Contributed by James Barham, CEO, PCI Pal. 

The post Psychological Differences Between Americans and Brits Can Cost Brands Significantly When It Comes To Security appeared first on Retail Minded.

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Investing in the right tools heavily affects efficiency and productivity for any business. You need the right tools in order to succeed if you are planning to start a website or an online business in 2019. There are a wide variety of tools available in the market today. Optimizing your e-commerce site for conversion is essential after starting your business, lest you want to risk falling behind. These tools will help your overall e-commerce strategy.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of ecommerce tools these days. Setting up your ecommerce store can be a confusing task from start to finish. Whether it’s a shopping cart software or marketing automation tools, it’s easy to get lost in the details. Knowing beforehand which tools are actually helpful and which are more trouble than they’re worth can be difficult. There are several categories of ecommerce apps. However, it is beyond the scope of this blog to talk about all the many types of e-commerce tools, so we will be going over some of the ones that stand out.

 

Accounting & HR
  • QuickBooks

QuickBooks is a simple enough tool to use for your business accounting needs. As a businessperson, you need to be on top of your finances at all times.

QuickBooks offers a variety of services. It can provide analytics to manage revenue, expenses, profits etc. for small businesses. It can also run payroll for your employees, and pay and manage your bills. One of their most helpful tools is their invoicing software, which basically ensures that you get paid quickly and on time.

Website Platform

Once you have a product or service you want to sell, the next step would be to design a website. Various platforms offer feature packed e-commerce design themes.

  • Magento

Magento is an open source, free to use platform, where you only have to pay to host your website. If your plan is to build a scalable, long-term business, then you might consider Magento as a good option. It offers more than 500 add-ons, both paid and free, on a robust framework. You can keep the price low by only using the free or most essential extensions based on your needs. You also get multisite-multiuser features under a single account with Magento. The drag and drop feature lets you build your website with flexibility. There are lots of other features with Magento which will help you maximize the output of your e-commerce business.

Marketing Tool

The next item on the agenda once you have your website up is to market your product through various digital platforms. You also need to make sure you’re targeting the right audience. A variety of tools can be used to market your product.

Even when you have a website, it’s very difficult to get traffic to any new website. You have to resort to paid traffic. Many marketing platforms allow you to run your ads in order to get traffic into your website. You could even use several different ones to generate more traffic for your business.

  • Google Adwords

Google Adwords is one of the most popular platforms to market your e-commerce product. Google is, without doubt, the largest search engine. People search for everything on Google these days, and Google provides. This includes your target customers, who search for products on Google as well. It’s likely that your site will not rank on Google search in the beginning, this is where Google Ads comes in. Google Adwords allows you more control over the keywords that you target based on what the user is searching. It allows you to optimize your ad campaigns using different keyword modifiers. Adwords even offers you free credit to start with.

Marketing & Analytics
  • Hootsuite

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool when you’re starting out. In fact, these days it’s probably going to be your main marketing tool. It can help you reach millions of people if used right, and it’s free and easy to use.

Social media can sometimes get hard to manage when you’re having to do it over several platforms. Hootsuite is a great tool to help you manage your social media content on multiple channels. It can also help you find new content to post on your feed. It also allows you to schedule posts on all your social media accounts as well as respond to your followers.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • SEMrush.com

SEMrush is one of the best SEO keyword research tool and is essential for search engine marketers. Using this tool, you can check which keywords or phrases are bringing the most traffic to your site, as well as those who are competing for your keywords. It also provides an estimate as to how much this organic traffic would have cost had it been paid.

Another one of its many features is that it not only provides you a summary of the traffic on your website, it also notifies you of any penalties that have been incurred.

 

A Better Solution?

 Syncoria is a full-service digital agency based in Toronto. Since 2004, their team of local and offshore technology integrators has consistently delivered integrated digital solutions to small and medium B2B businesses across Canada.

They have the experience of working with large enterprises and small businesses alike. They tailor solutions to your specific needs and help you achieve your business goals. With the help of Odoo, their ready partner, they provide customized solutions to transform and optimize your business process.

  • Odoo

With an integrated e-commerce platform, Odoo allows you to easily maintain inventory and sales via automatic stock adjustments and reporting. Why have a separate app for each detail when you can have an all-encompassing umbrella app for all your specific needs.

Odoo also integrates all your different apps for billing and accounting, reporting and analytics, as well as your inventory system, all into one to provide an all-in-one, out-of-the-box solution to all your ecommerce needs. In fact, Odoo’s unique value proposition is to be user-friendly and fully integrated at the same time. What’s more, you get to pick and choose only the apps you want, meaning your package is entirely customizable.

Henry is the digital operation at Syncoria, a Canadian based business transformation solution.Their local team consists of business analysts, solutions architects, project managers, delivery managers, and quality assurance engineers, all of whom are trained experts in Odoo. They claim to reach successful implementation every time through an iterative and transparent process. For a free assessment, call +1 (416) 628-5522, or send them an email at odoo@syncoria.com.

The post Simple Tools to Help Grow Your E-commerce Business appeared first on Retail Minded.

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