Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

In-store Retail Continues Slump In Fall But With Some Positive Signs

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse September 2017

Retail sales at brick and mortar stores continue to slump moving  into fall. That’s just one of the insights from in-store analytics firm RetailNext’s year over year numbers in the Retail Performance Pulse report for September.

But not all was doom and gloom in the reports as some regions showed more positive numbers than in August.

RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse September 2017

Sales declined by 7.2 percent and traffic by 7.3 percent year over year, the report shows. The numbers also indicate both traffic and transactions peaked earlier in the month. Toward the end of September, sales hit their highest numbers in the brick and mortar stores monitored.  The lowest days for the month were around the Labor Day weekend.

Both sales and traffic were at their lowest points on September 5 with transactions hitting their lowest points on September 3. For returns, the lowest point came on Saturday September 2.

The Retail Performance Pulse report for September also looks at the regional numbers to decipher patterns and trends. The Northeast suffered the biggest decline in a few metrics, most notably sales. Sales in the region dropped about 9.3 percent, the report indicates. While still not positive, those are better numbers than the August drop in sales of 11.5 percent.

The South’s traffic and sales had the smallest declines of any region. The Shopper Yield for the South was up 4.0 percent for September. That’s a big jump from last month’s minus .8 rating.

The Midwest had large increases in several metrics. This is despite the fact the region’s September numbers saw the biggest traffic declines nationally.

Sales (4.3 percent) and traffic (6.1 percent) also decreased for the West in September by 4.3 percent and 6.1 percent respectively. However, those are better than the 8.8 percent and 7.4 percent declines seen for August.

RetailNext analyzed a total of seven million shopping trips nationwide to compile its data for the report.

Image: RetailNext

This article, “In-store Retail Continues Slump In Fall But With Some Positive Signs” was first published on Small Business Trends

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In-store Retail Continues Slum In Fall But With Some Positive Signs

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse September 2017

Retail sales at brick and mortar stores continue to slump moving  into fall. That’s just one of the insights from in-store analytics firm RetailNext’s year over year numbers in the Retail Performance Pulse report for September.

But not all was doom and gloom in the reports as some regions showed more positive numbers than in August.

RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse September 2017

Sales declined by 7.2 percent and traffic by 7.3 percent year over year, the report shows. The numbers also indicate both traffic and transactions peaked earlier in the month. Toward the end of September, sales hit their highest numbers in the brick and mortar stores monitored.  The lowest days for the month were around the Labor Day weekend.

Both sales and traffic were at their lowest points on September 5 with transactions hitting their lowest points on September 3. For returns, the lowest point came on Saturday September 2.

The Retail Performance Pulse report for September also looks at the regional numbers to decipher patterns and trends. The Northeast suffered the biggest decline in a few metrics, most notably sales. Sales in the region dropped about 9.3 percent, the report indicates. While still not positive, those are better numbers than the August drop in sales of 11.5 percent.

The South’s traffic and sales had the smallest declines of any region. The Shopper Yield for the South was up 4.0 percent for September. That’s a big jump from last month’s minus .8 rating.

The Midwest had large increases in several metrics. This is despite the fact the region’s September numbers saw the biggest traffic declines nationally.

Sales (4.3 percent) and traffic (6.1 percent) also decreased for the West in September by 4.3 percent and 6.1 percent respectively. However, those are better than the 8.8 percent and 7.4 percent declines seen for August.

RetailNext analyzed a total of seven million shopping trips nationwide to compile its data for the report.

Image: RetailNext

This article, “In-store Retail Continues Slum In Fall But With Some Positive Signs” was first published on Small Business Trends

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USPS Rate Hike Could Cost Businesses Nickel More on Priority Flat Rate, 50 Cents a Letter

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

USPS Announced New Prices For 2018

The price to send a letter may be going up a penny early next year — making it a full 50 cents for a stamp.

USPS Announced New Prices For 2018

The US Postal Service proposes that increase and a nickel across-the-board hike on Priority Mail Flat Rate packages, too. If the changes are approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the new prices will take effect on Jan. 21, 2018.

For small businesses, postage and shipping costs can account for a significant expense. This, of course, depends on the type of industry you are in.

The changes are minimal but for small businesses that tread a thin line on profit margins on products they have to ship, that nickel could have some impact. If your company offers free shipping, the hike on Priority Mail packages is another cost your company has to absorb.

Nominal increases on mail could impact small businesses that use the mail to communicate with customers for billing, invoicing or even marketing.

The USPS said in the release, “While Mailing Services price increases are limited based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Shipping Services prices are adjusted strategically, according to market conditions and the need to maintain affordable services for customers.”

Check out the full list of proposed changes to mailing and shipping rates from USPS:

Mailing Services Price Changes

The cost of a letter would go up to 50 cents, from the current 49-cent price. That’s the cost for a 1-ounce letter. Each additional ounce will still cost 21 cents.

Metered letters will go up from 46 cents to 47 cents. Postcards will increase from 34 cents to 35 cents.

There is no proposed increase for outbound international letters. They’ll still cost $1.15 for a single ounce.

Domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Retail Price Changes

The proposed changes from USPS also include a flat nickel rate increase on Priority Mail Flat Rate packages. Flat Rate packages allow you to ship anything that fits inside a specified size box (provided by the Post Office), for a fixed price.

If they’re approved, the new cost to ship a Small Flat Rate Box will be $7.20. It will cost $13.65 to ship a Medium Flat Rate Box.

Large Flat Rate Box rates will go up to $18.90. While prices for a Large Flat Rate Box bound for a U.S. Army, Air Force or Navy installation will go up to $17.40.

These prices also affect special envelope packages.

Regular Flat Rate Envelopes will cost $6.70. A Legal Flat Rate Envelope will cost an even $7 and Padded Flat Rate Envelopes will be $7.25 to send.

If you want to look at the price filing and the proposed changes with the Postal Regulatory Commission, you can do so here.

USPS Van Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “USPS Rate Hike Could Cost Businesses Nickel More on Priority Flat Rate, 50 Cents a Letter” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Mathematical Corporation Leverages Technology for Competitive Advantage

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

The Mathematical Corporation Leverages Technology for Competitive AdvantageIf you ever wondered where business’ obsession with technology is taking us, The Mathematical Corporation: Where Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Achieve the Impossible might give you a clue. The book focuses on a particular type of organization, the “mathematical corporation”, as an example of the kind of businesses that you could see in the very near future.

What is The Mathematical Corporation About?

In the book, a “mathematical organization” is an organization that leverages both human labor and machines to achieve its objectives. This type of organization is able to sort through huge amounts of data to do amazing things, like personalize loyalty cards for every single customer or predict the effectiveness of a movie by analyzing the moods of audience members through previews.

Achieving these kinds of astounding feats requires a new way of working. In the future, robots, AI and Big Data will play a greater role in the workforce, shifting the kind of work available for humans. As robots are used in more industries (ranging from transportation to law), human labor will focus on capabilities that are unique to humans. These capabilities include insight, creativity, reasoning and culture. Combining the strengths of humans and machines allows humans to tap into an unprecedented level of knowledge.

Arriving at this point where humans and machines work harmoniously together requires a new form of leadership. That leadership, the book says, must be capable of “flipping the switch”. That “switch” involves viewing labor in a whole new light. Instead of focusing exclusively on automation or human labor, leaders that “flip the switch” employ a hybrid approach. This approach uses both machines and human labor as the situation requires it.  Identifying the situations that require human labor, machines, or both is a key aspect of this book. Learning how to adapt your workplace for these kinds of situations is the other.

Authors Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern are experts in the fields of big data, computer science and innovation. Josh Sullivan is the senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, a consultant in analytics and digital solutions. Angela Zutavern also works at Booz Allen Hamilton, as the vice president.

What Was Best About The Mathematical Corporation?

The Mathematical Corporation offers an exhilarating and proactive view of the world in the future. It chooses to focus on what humans can do instead of what they can’t. It focuses particularly on what leaders should do, which is unique in a book on this topic This makes it easier for a business owner who may not feel technically ready for the future. As the book points out repeatedly, it isn’t the technology that will help your business thrive in the future, it’s a leader’s ability to lead that will set the stage.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

The Mathematical Corporation is not specifically targeted to small or medium-sized businesses.The book’s examples come from well-established and large organizations, like Merck and the FDA, with the budget and labor to turn the book’s content into reality. Owners of smaller businesses can get some benefit from this book however, particularly in the revolutionary new way the authors describe leadership of the future. While the book may not give a step-by-step roadmap to innovation, it offers a revolutionary new way of using technology that can offer a decisive competitive advantage as we move further into the 21st Century.

Why Read The Mathematical Corporation?

As discussed above, The Mathematical Corporation discusses how modern technology can be leveraged in the present for a competitive advantage. A lot of books discuss business innovation, but they tend to focus on the technical details. This book focuses on innovation from a leader’s point of view — a leader who may not know (or need to know) the technical details. Yes, you can collect more details about your customers (their location, their comments, etc.), but where is all of that going? The Mathematical Corporation starts a conversation around the answers. It shows readers that the primary focus of a leader going into the future is not on technology or data. It is the application of that technology that matters more than ever. It is the application of technology that will drive your organization forward in an uncertain future.

This article, “The Mathematical Corporation Leverages Technology for Competitive Advantage” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Attend This Facebook Live Event to Give Your Local Marketing a Boost

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

How to Post a Job on Facebook: A Quick Step-by-Step Guide

What’s the one big secret to local marketing success?

To answer that question, you’ll need some input from an expert. And you can get just that with an upcoming Facebook Live event, “One BIG Secret to Local Marketing – with Rev Ciancio of Yext.”

The event takes place October 18 from 1 – 1:30 PM EST. During the event, Ciancio will provide insights and practical pointers for small businesses looking to boost their local marketing efforts. And guests can even ask questions.

This is just one of several upcoming events that could help your small business in a big way. See more in the Featured Events section and list below.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

FACEBOOK LIVE Event: "One BIG Secret to Local Marketing - with Rev Ciancio of Yext"FACEBOOK LIVE Event: “One BIG Secret to Local Marketing – with Rev Ciancio of Yext”
October 18, 2017, Online, Facebook.com/smallbusinesstrends/

Join us on October 18th from 1 – 1:30 PM EST as we put Rev Ciancio of Yext on the “hot seat” for insights in local listings and marketing for local businesses. Rev is plain spoken and a former business owner himself, and is full of practical pointers and advice. Get to know Rev by joining us for this fast-paced, relaxed and informative live session – bring your questions!


Rule Breaker Awards Ceremony Rule Breaker Awards Ceremony
October 24, 2017, Scottsdale, Ariz.

On October 24, 2017 at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Rule Breaker Awards will honor and celebrate those entrepreneurs who have succeeded by doing it their way in a ceremony featuring the Rule Breaker of the Year and Rule Breaker Award winners.


NextConNextCon
October 23, 2017, Scottsdale, Ariz.

At NextCon, you’ll gain:

– Proven techniques to garner higher customer satisfaction.
– Insider strategies from leading experts to help you provide amazing customer service.
– Methods of engaging your employees to better deliver on your customer experience.
– Hands-on training with Nextiva’s technology and products so you can take advantage of tools you already have, or learn about new ones.


Dreamforce 2017: Blaze Your Trail!Dreamforce 2017: Blaze Your Trail!
November 06, 2017, San Francisco, Calif.

Discover an entire world of innovation at the Dreamforce event. Four days of transforming your career, innovating, giving back, having a ball, and connecting with your community of fellow Trailblazers — all at the largest software conference in the world. Sound amazing? It is. With 2,700+ sessions to help every role in every industry succeed, the opportunity to get hands-on with the latest product innovations, and 170,000 Trailblazers to learn from, Dreamforce is a must-attend event – register for a free Expo+ pass today!


Sales World 2017Sales World 2017
November 08, 2017, Online

Sales World 2017 takes place November 8th to 9th, 2017, Online; Live and On Demand. It is the largest Sales Industry Event in the World and will be attended by over 10,000 Sales Professionals. It’s the one sales event you can’t afford to miss!


DIGIMARCON WORLD 2017 - Digital Marketing ConferenceDIGIMARCON WORLD 2017 – Digital Marketing Conference
November 14, 2017, Online

DIGIMARCON WORLD 2017 Digital Marketing Conference takes place November 14th to 16th, 2017. Whether your goal is to reinforce customer loyalty, improve lead generation, increase sales, or drive stronger consumer engagement, DIGIMARCON WORLD 2017’s agenda will help attendees enhance their marketing efforts. Sessions will focus on building traffic, expanding brand awareness, improving customer service and gaining insight into today’s latest digital tools.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Facebook Like photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Attend This Facebook Live Event to Give Your Local Marketing a Boost” was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Ways to Update Your Marketing with New Trends and Technology

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Members of the Young Entrepreneur Council offer advice on how to manage freelancers who specialize in the technology field

New technology, trends and techniques are likely to have an impact on how you do business in 2018. These changes can vary depending on your business or industry. But members of the online small business community have lots of experience updating their online marketing and other operations. Here are some tips to help your small business do the same.

Pay Attention to the Key Drivers of the Coming Digital Transformation

Technology is constantly transforming the methods businesses use to run their everyday operations. So if you want to keep up, you have to pay attention to the factors that drive that change. This post by Blair Evan Ball of Prepare 1 includes a rundown of some of those key drivers.

Don’t Believe These Myths About Video Social Media Marketing

Video has become a huge part of the social media strategy for a lot of businesses. But you can’t believe everything you hear about video social media marketing. In this Marketing Land post, Jordan Kasteler debunks some common myths about using video on social media.

Learn These Trends Regarding the Future of Content and SEO

Content marketing and SEO are two concepts that constantly change due to evolving trends, tools and technology. To learn more about the trends that could impact the future of content and SEO, check out this Content Marketing Institute post by Andy Betts.

Use These Techniques to Grow Your Business in 2018

Looking forward to 2018, you’ll need to grow your business in ways that are going to resonate with modern consumers. This post by Valentine Belonwu on Just Money Web includes some key tips for growing a business in 2018. And BizSugar members share thoughts on the post too.

Steer Clear of These Content Marketing Best Practices

There are some common tips and best practices for content marketers that might actually do more harm to your business than good. To avoid any negative impact from those marketing myths, check out the list and explanations in this post by Neil Patel.

Remember These Three Essentials for New Websites

A website is an essential part of any online marketing strategy. And there are some essential ingredients that go into making an effective website, as Ivan Widjaya of Noobpreneur reviews in this post.

Keep Your Core Values in Mind

As technology and trends change, your methods are likely to change as well. But one thing that shouldn’t change is your business’s core values. This Strella Social Media post by Rachel Strella includes a discussion on seeking clarity regarding those values. And members of the BizSugar community chime in here.

Improve Page Speed for More Traffic and Conversions

No matter what kind of fancy online marketing methods you use, all of your efforts can be derailed if your site loads too slowly. That’s why improving page speed can lead to more traffic and conversions for your small business. Jeremy Knauff elaborates in this Search Engine Journal post.

Follow This Legal Guide for Bloggers

There’s more to blogging than just throwing a few quick posts together. You need to consider legal issues like copyright and fair use images. This Process Street post by Ben Mulholland includes a guide you can use to navigate these legal issues for bloggers.

Use These Business Tools for Entrepreneurs

The tools you use to run your business can make a big difference in how you reach customers. The tools listed in this post by Vartika Kashyap on Onaplatterofgold.com can go a long way for your business. You can also see commentary on the post over on BizSugar.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Discussing the Latest Trends photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Ways to Update Your Marketing with New Trends and Technology” was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Insider Tips for Women Owned Small Businesses Seeking Federal Government Contracts

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Federal Contract Tips for Women Owned Businesses

The federal government is awarding more contracts to women owned small businesses than ever before. There’s still a long way to go. But for women who haven’t ever considered doing business with the federal government, it might be a good time to reconsider.

Federal Contract Tips for Women Owned Businesses

In fact, there are some opportunities for government contracts that are meant specifically for women owned small businesses. Here are some tips for women business owners looking to navigate the world of government contracting.

Consider if the Federal Government Would Be an Ideal Customer

Government contracting isn’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the opportunity without at least exploring whether your products or services might work for some government agencies. Every government agency needs to purchase all of its supplies, materials and services from somewhere. So consider if what your business sells could be a good fit for any of those agencies or offices.

Lourdes Martin-Rosa, President of Government Business Solutions and American Express OPEN Advisor for Government Contracting said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “The only thing the federal government really manufactures is money. So if they’re going to purchase anything, whether it’s zippers or furniture, it’s going to come from a private entity. And hopefully in most cases that’s a U.S. business.”

Register with the System for Award Management

Before you’re able to apply for any government contracts, you need to register your business. To do that, visit the System for Award Management and create a profile for your small business. Complete the entire process so that government agencies can find your business when looking for contractors to do business with.

See if Your Business Qualifies for Set-Asides

There are also set-asides in select areas where women owned small businesses are supposed to get priority. But it’s not in every industry. You can see the list of set-asides for women owned small businesses online to see if your business might qualify in one of these areas. If it does, it could give you an advantage when applying for contracts in that area.

Self Certify as a Woman Owned Small Business with the SBA

If your business does qualify for any of these set-asides, you’ll need to register as a women-owned small business. This is a self-certification process that you can complete online through a portal provided by the SBA.

Receive Bid Notifications

From there, you have to actually bid on contracts. Those bids come up for different agencies at different times. So you’ll want to constantly be on the lookout for anything that might be relevant to your business. You can also sign up for notifications so you’ll be the first to know when new bids come up in your industry.

Study Procurement Forecasts

But you don’t have to wait until each bid is actually posted in order to get your business ready. Each federal agency provides something called a procurement forecast on its website. This is basically a list of products and services that it plans on utilizing in the near future. So you can look up those procurement forecasts for the agencies you’d like to gain contracts with to give your business a better chance of being ready when those bids are posted.

Attend Government Contracting Events

As with basically any aspect of growing a business, education and networking can go a long way when it comes to government contracting. And there are plenty of events out there that can help. OPEN Forum, for instance, hosts educational events for small businesses looking to make the most of government contracting. Through these events, you can access valuable resources to learn more about getting government contracts, as well as network with others in your industry and meet actual government buyers.

Find a Strategic Teaming Partner

Even if your business is in an industry that sets aside a portion of its government contracts to women owned small businesses, those contracts only have to actually go to women owned businesses if there are at least two such businesses that apply. So if you apply for contracts where you’re the only one, those set-asides won’t benefit your business. But Martin-Rosa recommends networking with other women in your industry who are interested in government contracts so you can apply for some of the same ones in order to help each other’s chances of securing those contracts.

Research the Agency’s Mission

Each government agency has its own mission and goals. So when applying for contracts, it helps to tailor your bid to the specific agency, rather than utilizing a one-size-fits-all approach. Before submitting a bid, do some research on the agency’s mission so you can make it as appealing as possible.

Keep At It

Government contracting isn’t an easy process. The government is supposed to allocate about a quarter of its contracts to small businesses in the U.S. And about 5 percent is meant to go to women owned small businesses. But the government doesn’t always meet those goals. So it’s important to keep going and improve your strategy over time.

Capitol Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Insider Tips for Women Owned Small Businesses Seeking Federal Government Contracts” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Beached Whale: Staying Afloat in a Sea of Innovation

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Beached Whale: Staying Afloat in a Sea of InnovationAs a business owner, you understand disruptive change is the new norm. Businesses can no longer rest on their laurels, assured their customers or competitors will remain in the same place. Competition has gone global and customers can now literally leave with a click. To complicate matters even further, businesses have to keep up with an ever-increasing array of technology just to stay relevant. Beached Whale: Learning to Swim in the New Ocean is an urgent call-to-action for business leaders to shape up for the new digital world or risk losing it all.

What is Beached Whale About?

Dr. Daren Martin uses the analogy of a stranded denizen of the deep in his book Beached Whale as a metaphor for businesses that have a work culture that stifles innovation. Business owners need to realize that a “beached whale” business can’t work in this fast-paced economy, Martin explains. Businesses can no longer rely on controlling the message. Customers will get involved, whether you like it or not. If a customer or supplier has a horrible experience with your business, they can literally tell the world with a click about it. Competitors will get involved too. If your product or service takes months to release, another company can create it faster. If a customer finds a coupon from your competitor, they can leave your business with a click.

It can be a scary world if you are a “beached whale business”.

“Beached whale” businesses don’t start off that way. They become “beached whales” as a result of success. As a business grows and develops, leaders and their workers naturally create (official and unofficial) rules to maintain that success. This is perfectly fine. The problem occurs when a business’ workers get mentally “stuck” in these rules and ways of doing business. They stop going the extra mile because they believe the future will remain the same. The focus is on stability, not innovation.

The problem is, the future we’re facing is not predictable.

Beached Whale was written to help business leaders recognize the signs of a “beached whale” business so they can see ahead of time before it’s too late. Trying to innovate at that point will take more effort than moving a beached whale back into the ocean.

Martin is an author, speaker and consultant with a Ph.D. in Psychology. Growing up in Louisiana, he spent the majority of his time in Asia. And while pursuing his Master’s degree in psychology, he started a business which he maintained for 20 years. After selling that business to a Fortune 500 company, Martin began dedicating his time to sharing the information he has learned with others.

Martin is also the author of “A Company of Owners: Maximizing Employee Engagement“, another book reviewed on Small Business Trends.

What Was Best About Beached Whale?

Many books on the topic of business innovation and culture can get rather detailed (and boring in some cases), but Martin’s books always offer a unique and creative spin. Unlike other books on the topic, you won’t find complicated models or diagrams. But you will find illustrations of hand-drawn whales (OK, lots of whales) and text in digestible chunks on the right page. This unique setup makes for a quick, but effective read. Martin managed to take a metaphor, illustrations, and his knowledge and turn it into a powerful call-to-action.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

The downside of a book like Beached Whale is that it won’t give you a straightforward plan or model for innovation. Beached Whale is principle-based. The book will identify some of the principles that should be present in an innovative work culture, but it doesn’t provide a way for readers to go there. That doesn’t seem to be the point, however. The point of “Beached Whale” is to give you an overview of the mindset and workplace culture you should strive for in the future.

Why Read Beached Whale?

Beached Whale is best suited for the business leader who is starting to feel overwhelmed by innovation. He or she might have read a few books about it and come away asking “How do I avoid falling behind?” Beached Whale offers a cleverly illustrated answer to that question. The book does away with all of those complicated questions and focuses on the key issue on the radar of every business expert, workplace culture. If you want the first steps to creating an innovative workplace, this book can be a starting point. It covers a broad array of issues within the topic of workplace culture in digestible chunks of knowledge that can get you started on the right path.

This article, “Beached Whale: Staying Afloat in a Sea of Innovation” was first published on Small Business Trends

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What’s Your Number 1 Reason to Attend Business Conferences?

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Do you enjoy attending business conferences on behalf of your small business?

The first time you went, you were probably excited. Then you go to one or two and you start to find the reasons to not go to future conferences. Or maybe you like the first experience and make them regular parts of your agenda.

Whatever your experiences have been with business conferences in the past, we want to know this week WHY you’re going to these events.

Even if you dread going, sometimes your presence is absolutely necessary.

You might find them motivating. Or perhaps you enjoy networking with small business owners just like you.

Your business could be in a little rut, too, and needs some inspiration. The right business conference is a great place to find it.

If you’re a leader in your industry, a business conference is an excellent place to spread your influence. Some might even pay you to speak at them.

And then, let’s be honest, a trip to a business conference is a chance to get away from the office for a few days. It’s a cleverly disguised working vacation.

Tell us your approach and the reason you attend business conferences in this week’s poll question.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Business Conference Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What’s Your Number 1 Reason to Attend Business Conferences?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Shopify Adds Google Autocomplete, eCommerce Sales Zones Emerge

Friday, October 13th, 2017

If you run an ecommerce shop, your goal should be to make the buying process as easy as possible for shoppers. And a new feature from Shopify should help merchants do just that, by offering autocompleting forms to save people time in the checkout process.

Additionally, some ecommerce merchants are making the process easier for buyers by meeting them in person. And a new concept, safe zones, could help merchants navigate this process safely.

Read about these headlines and more below in the weekly Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Retail Trends

Shopify Adds Google Autocomplete to Speed Up Checkouts — Especially on Mobile

Abandoned shopping carts are a huge problem for online merchants. And one of the biggest offenders is the form customers have to fill out when they check out. Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) is getting rid of this problem by making Google Autocomplete available for its merchants.

Ecommerce Safe Zones Popping Up Around the U.S.

If your fledgling ecommerce business sells to a local clientele — through sites like Facebook or Craigslist — you’ve no doubt worried about your safety when meeting a buyer. Reports of crimes associated with these meet-up transactions should create a healthy skepticism of conducting business this way.

Economy

2017 May Be a Record Year for Small Business Transactions, says BizBuySell Report

This is shaping up to be a record year for small business transactions. According to the latest BizBuySell Insights Report, there were a total of 2,589 closed transactions (small businesses that were bought and sold) in the second quarter. This was followed by 2,368 and 2,534 closed transactions in the first quarter of 2017.

Small Business Optimism Drops, But Not For Long, Says NFIB

The optimism coursing through many small businesses earlier this year is not as easy to detect right now. According to the September NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism report, the dip in sentiment is fueled by a large drop in expected sales.

Frisco, Texas is the Fastest Growing City in the U.S. for Business

Thinking of opening a small business in a new city? Maybe you want to expand your business to a new, rapidly growing city. Well, Frisco in Texas is the city with the fastest local economic growth in the U.S., according to an in-depth study of 2017’s Fastest-Growing Cities in America.

Local Marketing

What is the Amazon Local Associates Program and How Can It Help Your Small Business?

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has just expanded its Associates program with a new addition called Local Associates. With this initiative, small local businesses and individuals can increase their revenue by making recommendations of items sold on Amazon.

Small Businesses Can Now Advertise on Spotify with New Ad Studio Launch

Do you want to create and manage a Spotify ad campaign for your small business? With the new self-serve advertising platform called Spotify Ad Studio, you can. Described by the company as the industry’s first self-serve audio platform, you now have access to a powerful tool to reach potential new customers. Spotify Ad Studio was just launched in the US in beta mode.

Marketing Tips

Small Business Favorite GetResponse Announces $30M Investment in U.S.

A direct marketing platform already very popular among U.S. small businesses is expanding its business domestically with a huge new investment. GetResponse, the European-based online marketing platform, is increasing its U.S. operations with a big investment and a new Boston office to better serve American small businesses.

This One Thing on Your About Page Can Boost Conversions by 300 Percent (Infographic)

If you’re missing a call-to-action in your about us page, you’re missing out on several leads. That’s according to data presented by digital marketing company Siege Media. Data shows adding a call-to-action towards the bottom of your about us page can increase conversions by 300 percent.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: The Lost Cajun Brings Unique Food, Atmosphere to a New Location

Cajun restaurants might be all the rage in Louisiana. But they’re not nearly as common in the mountains of Colorado. So when the founders of The Lost Cajun moved across the country from their home in Louisiana, they realized there was an opportunity to bring their favorite foods to a new market. Read more about this business and its growth in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

Small Business Operations

There May Be 56 Million Business Meetings in America Today (INFOGRAPHIC)

If you are working, there is a good chance you are part of the up to 56 million meetings taking place today. And as the new infographic from Cincinnati Bell Inc. (CBTS) indicates, you also might be part of the 76 percent that thinks they are unnecessary meetings. This brings us to the title of the CBTS infographic, “How to Master Meetings.”

FedEx Office Expands Same Day Delivery to 1,800 American Cities

FedEx Office (NYSE:FDX) has expanded its same-day delivery service, FedEx SameDay City, to 1,800 cities across the U.S — from Seattle to Miami and from San Diego to Boston. The service is now available to more than 34 million people in over 30 markets nationwide.

Social Media

Snapchat Adds Context Cards and How Can They Help Your Small Business?

With the new Context Cards on Snapchat (NYSE:SNAP), you can now get everything from contact information to Uber rides, book a table through Resy, and more. The goal of Context Cards is to deliver more information on the Snaps you are watching.

Technology Trends

Cortana Now Works in Skype, Small Businesses Have Virtual Assistant for Chat

Have you ever been in the middle of a chat on Skype and suddenly needed to find out more about a competitor’s product, or what time your favorite restaurant closes. Well, with the new integration of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) virtual assistant Cortana with Skype, you won’t have to interrupt the conversation to find out.

Half of All Small Businesses Use WiFi Technology Almost a Decade Old

Small businesses are using older WiFi that doesn’t fit their needs on several fronts. A new Linksys sponsored survey says half of the small businesses polled are using WiFi technology that’s over eight years old. Beyond not being able to keep up with mobile expansion, business owners are concerned over the lags in security and speed.

Report: 5 Small Business “Sins” Potentially Leading to a Data Breach

It seems incredible, but people in organizations still use weak passwords like “12345,” bearing in mind the security threat in today’s digital ecosystem. This is one of the data points the 2017 edition of the annual BeyondTrust research report revealed.

AIM  Shuts Down After 20 Years Without Ever Making a Dent in the Business Market

Get ready for one final good-bye from a familiar voice. After 20 years, when people needed to get off the phone to go online, AOL Instant Messenger was there. Now it’s leaving for good before the end of the year. Oath (NYSE:VZ), the Verizon-owned company that controls AOL, announced last week that AIM will shut down on December 15.

Image: Shopify

This article, “Shopify Adds Google Autocomplete, eCommerce Sales Zones Emerge” was first published on Small Business Trends

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