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eCommerce is not any recent-year phenomenon like the iPad or Facebook. It has been around for decades. In fact, history says that eCommerce transactions have been happening ever since the late 90s. However, their role and preview was limited to a very tiny user group consisting mainly of the government, tech lobbyists and IT enterprises.

But today, eCommerce is a massive industry with its own identity. At least one-third of the consumer goods we own have been home delivered by an online store.

What is eCommerce?

Common knowledge, yet so many seem confused about this term. eCommerce is the use of Internet and its network prowess of any commercial transaction. If you thought online shopping is only for of eCommerce, you are wrong.

eCommerce includes a variety of other transactions like online banking, ticket booking, B2B selling and buying, etc. In other words, any monetary or business transaction completed with the help of Internet is referred to as eCommerce.

The beginnings of eCommerce

As we said before, eCommerce dates back to the 90s. But they were miniatures of the real eCommerce process and were short-lived. The real beginning of eCommerce happened with Amazon. Launched in 1995 as an online bookstore, Amazon rapidly grew becoming an everything store. Today

Why is eCommerce so popular amidst vendors?

A handful of reasons why eCommerce has become popular than it was ever imagined to be:

  1. Breaks all distance barriers. You can reach for products and customers anywhere in the world.
  2. The costs are fractional compared to the costs of running a physical store
  3. The profit margin is higher since there is high business flexibility
  4. Inventory management is easier since distribution centers can be located close to customer-centric regions
  5. Digital advertising helps cut costs further compared to tangible marketing campaigns

What are the risks involved in eCommerce?

While eCommerce opens up the world for business, it is also accompanied by a range of risks that online store owners must seek protection against.

The biggest risks involved in the eCommerce business are: earning customer trust, maintaining cash flow, logistics and timely delivery.

Winning customer trust is easily said than done. The first time a customer logs into your online store, they’ll have three questions in their mind:

  • Is this store trustworthy?
  • Are the products of good quality?
  • Will my credit card information be handled with confidentiality?

No matter how great your brand name is, if you convince your customers of these three questions, you are saved.

Once customers trust your brand, there will regular orders and the risk of cash flow will slowly deplete. However, maintaining a sturdy infrastructure for logistics. Apart from owned delivery network, you may also want to set up third-party enabled delivery networks to handle peak season order fulfillment.

Further, as a wannabe noted brand in eCommerce you might also want to secure things at your customer’s end. Here are some common customer abuse instances you must stay aware and protected against.

Common forms of customer abuse in eCommerce

  • Identity theft

Identity theft is recognized as an illegal offence in most countries. Despite the legal implications, it continues to rise as a major customer abuse form that is threatening the growth of eCommerce. In identity theft, sensitive information about an individual is either stolen or faked for malicious purposes.

  • Credit information stealing

VISA found in its survey, that almost 74% of online customers pay for their shopping bills using credit cards.

Now imagine the tragedy if this vital information is either lost or stolen by unauthorized process? The customer will become liable for bill charges that he never made in the first place. Not to mention the exorbitant interest costs that will leave the customer drained of finances. Furthermore, it will hurt the public image of the eCommerce store from where such information was lost in the first place.

eBay, Target, Home Spot, are some online stores where such instances have happened in the past.

  • Over charging

“Almost 56% of online shoppers abandon costs when they are presented with unexpected costs.”~ Statistia

Unexpected costs are huge turn offs in online shopping. Not only does it take away the trust placed in the store but also makes the customer wary of logging into the store again.

Online stores with clear and transparent pricing systems tend to be favorites for customers. This includes costs for delivery as well as gift packing, scheduled delivery, etc.

  • A messed returns policy

I don’t want to shop from that store because they won’t entertain returns.” How many of us would have felt the same while browsing things online? Unlike in brick & mortar stores, in online shopping there is no facility for the customer to trial a product before deciding to buy it. Hence, when a change is required, a clear cut returns policy goes a long way in ensuring customer satisfaction. Without it, the store will fail to sustain the customer it has painstakingly won.

How to be a reliable eCommerce brand?

  • Security

The fanfare for online shopping has increased thanks to the advent of cyber security measures like SSL certificate (Secured Sockets Layer). HTTPS enabled websites make customers feel at ease. There is a reasonable amount of assurance that their private information will not be leaked or made available in the hands of unauthorized personnel.

  • Customer-friendly

Amazon is counted as the top-ranking online store in the world due to its customer-centric approach. They do small things which go a long way in impressing customer and being engaged to the brand. Wooing customers with small acts of attention like customized delivery, quick returns, etc. help build an impressive brand image.

As we said before, the eCommerce industry is not an easy one to crack with so many risks involved. But with some amount of customer-oriented approach from the store;s part, it is always possible to create a reliable brand image. A recognized brand image is the quickest way to increase your sales.



 
  


Moving goods on a pallet is arguably the safest way you can possibly transport your products. Whether you are an individual or a business, pallets allow you to pack everything together tight whether you are sending them to the next town or another country.

Because of the fact that there are very few limitations on what can be sent by pallet, ground shipping in bulk has a big advantage. Your stock can easily be sent and received. How you cover it is always important for both safety and circulation. There are four big reasons why you should consider shrink-wrapping, let’s take a look.

Keeps everything fresh

If you are moving produce or fresh goods then shrink-wrap is the perfect solution. Because it is air tight, using it will keep in the refrigeration as well as stop the arrival of any critters. This can have the added bonus of stopping any bruising or ruining of food because, if packed correctly, it won’t be moving about in the pallets.

Prevent box tears

Whatever you are sending, keeping them well sealed and in good condition has to be the number one priority. Whether they are small items or large, you can’t risk losing anything to a bumpy road or poor packing. Using a tough and durable material like shrink-wrap keeps your boxes protected and reduces the risk of losing items due to contaminants.

No more sliding packages

Due to how pallets are, they are loaded horizontally – usually with a forklift. Accidents are rare but they can happen. One example is that the prongs of the forklift are incorrectly placed and this can be a risk. Thanks to the strength of shrink-wrap, your items will be tight together and weight is distributed evenly so there is no sliding.

No spillages

Pallet deliverycan be used for a multitude of things but if your items are being sent to the Amazon Fulfilment distribution centre or a warehouse, you have to ensure that they arrive in top condition. Whether you think your facilities are well maintained or not, wetter seasons can cause issues and while in transit you need to ensure that no water seeps in. Using shrink-wrap is an great way of keeping all liquids out.

How do you shrink-wrap a pallet?

Once you’ve decided to use shrink-wrapping to protect your pallet, you have two main options when it comes to how to do it.

  • Heat shrink bag – Make sure it’s snug over the items and pallet and tuck any excess around the corners and edges of the pallet. Then you just use a heat or shrink gun, using a slow back-and-forth motion and then inspect to check it’s properly worked.
  • Manually applied film – PVC is usually the choice here as it is more common and cheaper than polyolefin. You begin at the bottom, starting slow until the base is strong before building up to the top – potentially heating at the end to finish the job.

Article Contributed By Steven D. Goldstein

No one enjoys working with a coworker with a poor attitude. Oftentimes, these employees are the first to be let go, with managers fearing that their demeanor may infect the rest of the team.

However, sometimes these less-than-positive employees have insights that can dramatically improve your business. Their anger may come from legitimate grievances that, if addressed, will lead to greater creativity and productivity in the workplace. As a leader and corporate advisor, I’ve seen numerous examples of successful turnarounds borne of employee frustration.

When dealing with this kind of worker, ask yourself:

Are they angry because much of their job is tedious, inefficient work that is sucking up their time, energy and motivation?

Everyone has parts of their job that they don’t like, but sometimes the minutia of a job can overwhelm a person. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a team member frustrated because she has  to put more hours into a status update for her boss than she can into actually making progress on a project. If your employees are consistently having to divert their efforts into tedious work, they are going to become frustrated and will drag drown the productivity and morale of an entire team. If an employee doesn’t feel like his time is being utilized, he will become angry.

So how do you combat a problem like this? Ask yourself, can the work be paired down? Can status updates be briefer or less frequent? Can meetings go from an hour to a half hour? Can tedious work be split up? Remember: billionaire Mark Cuban was once a frustrated tech company employee who got fed up with poor work policies and struck out on his own. Don’t underestimate the importance of fixing this problem, or you may never know the real talent that exists within your team. 

Are they angry because their goals aren’t clear, or because they aren’t empowered to reach them?

It is impossible to keep a good attitude when you’re chasing a series of ever-shifting goals, or you’re not given the right information or tools to achieve them. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen employees trying to rally a team together, only to be impeded by endless trips to supervisors to ask for approval, or being forced to iron out every detail before they’re allowed to execute a single aspect of a plan. This just amplifies how long it takes to get things done.  If there’s one credo I could offer to nearly every business, it’s that you’re not moving fast enough!

Even worse, and more demoralizing, is when a goal is clearly outside of the employee’s ability to achieve it. Employees need achievable goals, as well as “blue sky” goals, in order to feel like their work is purposeful, and reachable. If they are unclear (say, for example, if they’re judged on 20 different metrics) they’ll have no idea how to proceed, what’s really important, and will likely grow angry with their boss or the company itself.

Are they angry because they lack adequate incentives?

One of the number one reasons employees check out at the office is that they feel that their work is unimportant, or they don’t feel that they have an incentive to achieve more.

In most companies, money is the incentive, either in the form of a higher salary, a bonus, and in some cases, stock options. And while that can definitely help some people, it doesn’t solve the innate problem of a team member needing to feel valued. If they are paid well, but are constantly undermined by their manager and increasingly byzantine rules and regulations, how long will that money keep them? This is particularly true with Millennials, who are not swayed by the typical perks and benefits many companies used as incentive for past generations.

In particular, they want to see what good they are doing. In my new book Why Are There Snowblowers in Miami?, I spoke with Claes Landberg, general manager of YOTEL in New York City, who told me about when he was just starting out working at managing a small restaurant in Stockholm:

“…My dishwasher was talking about what a failure he was in life, because he was only a dishwasher. So the next day I decided to do an experiment…I decided not to have him do the dishes for lunch.  He looked at me like I had three heads, but did what I said.  And then we start lunch, and the restaurant fills up quickly, and I hear the chef and everybody starting yelling ‘Hey, I need plates, I need plates!’ But we’ve run out. So I stop things and I say to them…we are closing down the restaurant. We can’t stay open because we don’t have plates to serve our guests, which means none of you have jobs anymore. And I turn to the dishwasher and I tell him, ‘this is how important you are. Everyone in this room—and their families—depend on you doing your job and doing it well.’ I’ve never seen anyone wash dishes the way he did after that.”

While it’s a rather extreme example, it fundamentally showed him and his team the value of his work. Find ways for your employees to see firsthand the value they’re creating, reward them both publicly and financially, and you’ll have highly motivated workers who will step up to the plate every time.

Author Bio:

Steven D. Goldstein has thirty-five years of experience working as an operating executive at both global Fortune 500 corporations (including as Chairman and CEO of American Express Bank), midsize companies, as well as advising private equity firms with their portfolio companies. He currently serves as Chairman of US Auto Sales, as Senior Advisor to Milestone Partners and as Senior Advisor to Alvarez and Marsal.


Unlike Google Adwords, Facebook lets you target advertisements based on demographics. It is possible to target your ads based on factors like the age, location and gender of the user. This makes it an attractive medium for B2C businesses to promote their wares. Things are slightly different for B2B where you do not target consumers by their demographics. In this article, we will take a look at the several parameters to consider while using Facebook as an advertising medium for your B2B product.

Identifying the Target 

In a B2B setup, the age or gender of the target is irrelevant. What however is relevant is the industry that a person works in, and their designation. A business that manufactures ball bearings might want to reach out to the procurement managers at companies that make products like blenders, washing machines, bicycles and pumps. Facebook permits such precise targeting through the ‘Detailed Targeting’ feature. This feature lets advertisers pick their audience based on a multitude of factors such as their education, relationships, job profile, and hobbies. A B2B advertiser may be interested in navigating to Demographics -> Work and targeting the recipient by their employer, job title and industry.

Designing the Landing Page 

Marketers often make the mistake of focusing primarily on the targeting and spending little time tweaking the landing page to fit the medium you are advertising on. A procurement manager searching for ‘ball bearing suppliers’ on Google has an intent. The landing page for your Adwords ad would need to focus on capturing the lead by demonstrating your authority in the ball bearing industry. On Facebook however, marketers do not have the benefit of receiving such ‘pre-warmed’ leads. The landing page here should thus focus on building a relationship for future engagement.

Let us take the example of a ball bearing supplier reaching out to procurement manager at a bicycle manufacturer. A Facebook ad here would focus on rich media content that would focus on bicycles and their reliance on ball bearings. The idea is to make them aware of your brand and what you do for their industry. Capturing a lead at this stage is ideal, but the conversions are going to be typically lower than what you would find on Adwords.

Retargeting 

Retargeting is an extremely crucial part of Facebook advertising. It lets marketers target the audience with more branding down the line. Since Facebook does not have the advantage of getting pre-warmed audiences, retargeting helps tackle this problem through branding. This will get your recipients warm up to your brand and offering. Facebook lets you to set up dynamic ads that render retargeting messages based on what action you previously took. This guide on Shopify provides a detailed tutorial on how to achieve this.

Setting Up Call To Action 

Call-to-Actions (CTA) are a critical component of digital advertising. On Facebook, it is possible to choose from a variety of various options like ‘Apply Now’, ‘Book Now’, ‘Contact Us’, ‘Download’, ‘Learn More’, ‘Request Time’, ‘See Menu’, ‘Shop Now’, ‘Sign Up’ and ‘Watch More’. A lot of these CTAs are targeted at consumer-facing businesses in the ecommerce, travel and food industry and may thus not be relevant to a B2B marketer. The options that work the best for B2B marketers are however ‘Download’, ‘Learn More’ and ‘Watch More’.

‘Watch More’ is used for rich media advertisements that are specifically targeted to spread awareness of your brand using videos. Marketers are more often inclined to build interest through survey reports, whitepapers and by building useful software tools to bait the target. For such campaigns, ‘Download’ and ‘Learn More’ are quite effective.

Measuring Performance 

It may be tempting to measure the performance of your ad campaigns in terms of the number of clicks or leads generated. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of Facebook advertising for B2B is not captured well by either of these metrics. As noted earlier, the objective for a B2B marketer is to build awareness and warm the leads over time.

The performance needs to be thus studied over two steps. In the first step, measure your engagement through metrics like Post Reactions (that includes likes, clicks, shares, etc.) that is offered on your Facebook Reports dashboard. In the second step, measure the performance of your retargeting campaigns through the number of leads generated.

The B2B sales and marketing cycle can often be excruciatingly long and it is very unlikely for a target to respond to a ‘Buy now’ button. Your ad campaign needs to acknowledge this reality and warm up to the target over a period of time instead of working on instant results.


16Feb

How to Make Your Startup into a Brand?

Posted by Pamela Swift in Branding

Article Contributed by Dan Razak

Once your business becomes a brand, all your marketing efforts get much simpler. Instead hunting for attention, people start looking for your new products and even begin anticipating their release as soon as it gets announced. However, a new company has a long way to go from making its first branding steps to becoming a full-fledged brand. With this in mind, and without further ado, here are few tips to start making your business into a strong brand.

Take a Stand

They say that no publicity is bad publicity and although this attitude can be controversial, there is some truth to it. As long as this ‘bad’ publicity is related to some community-relevant topic and not your way of doing business, you are fine. You see, by being always politically correct you are bound to remain unnoticed, but by taking a stand, you are bound to evoke strong emotions in people in your surroundings. Sure, those criticizing will be loud and aggressive, but this can also inspire those who feel the same as you do to stand by your side. Like the great Winston Churchill once said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Coming Up with a Great Name

Another thing you need to think about is the name of your company. Sure, picking something that sounds good and is currently unused is never easy, but it is something you will have to think about sooner or later. The reason why business name ideas carry so much weight is because they come to stand on your logo and every product you produce, therefore also becoming the name of your company. Furthermore, you should look if the same name can be used for your domain, as well. While you are at it (and if your funds allow it) it might also be worth your while to purchase few most common mispronunciations and misspellings of your company, just so you can ensure people looking for you can find you.

Local or Global Campaign

Well, this question in particular is something that mostly depends on your competition. You see, if you decide to start producing and distributing soft drinks, it would be absurd to assume that you can compete with giants like Coca Cola. In this case, it would be best for you to start with a smaller regional campaign and try to build up a loyal customer base founded on local-patriotism. On the other hand, if the industry is fairly new or growing, it’s free-for-all and you can try and make a name for yourself on a global level.

Brand Ambassadors

Finally, you need to find a way to turn your loyal customers into brand ambassadors. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Every person content with your products is bound to make a mention of it to at least some of their friends or relatives. In this way, your business gets a word of the mouth endorsement which is by far the most credible support you can receive. In other words, instead of paying influencers to use your product or service, you should make it so great that ordinary users feel the need to brag about it.

Conclusion

No matter how you do it, a real brand is not something you can just build overnight. It is all about making a strong relationship with your clients and this takes time. The key thing here is trust. When they decide to pay you for your services or product, they trust that your performance/quality will meet their expectations. By meeting these expectations, you have made the first move towards creating this bond. What you need to do next is strengthen it with the aid of some spot-on marketing and there you have it.

Dan Radak is a marketing professional with ten years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.



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