E-commerce is a growing market, with more and more Americans making purchases online. This holiday season’s digital sales are predicted to be the largest ever, and increasingly, mobile is opening up a new platform for e-commerce that is set to expand the amount of online shopping Americans participate in by orders of magnitude as the tech is fine tuned. As digital becomes a more pressing concern for businesses both large and small as they try to stay relevant and competitive, making the most out of digital sales funnels through analysis and fine tuning should be something that all business owners take time to pursue. Beware of cart-abandonment. In an article on the subject from the Washington Post, cart abandonment was cited as costing online merchants an estimated four trillion in lost sales in 2014. One suggestion for combating shopping cart abandonment from the article was retargeting, or tracking customers who navigate away from a full cart in order to increase the odds that they will double

The 15% growth reported around Small Business Saturday in the US provides independent business owners with some encouraging news at the kickoff of the busy holiday shopping season. Contrasting with an 11% decline in Black Friday sales, it seems like an indicator that consumer feelings towards small businesses are warm in comparison to attitudes around corporate big box retailers, and that the efforts to promote the day on the part of American Express are beginning to pay increasing dividends as social media and word of mouth have contributed to year over year growth. Not just a US phenomenon. As Small Business Saturday has grown, it is following in the footsteps of other commercial days of significance, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, days where retailers and e-commerce players respectively slash prices in bids to entice high volumes of customers. According to a Forbes article, these shopping season promotions have already been embraced in the UK, and now Small Business Saturday is following suit in the second

Like the lethargy that comes with big meals, or the cringe you get from unwrapping yet another pair of socks, holiday returns are an unpleasant part of the holidays that are largely overshadowed by all the good that come along with them. for business owners, dealing with returns is something that is usually only as bad as you allow it to be. If you are unprepared to handle them, or have not explicitly stated a return policy that your customers can adhere to, the ensuing customer service issues that can occur have the potential to pile up to the point of costing you customer loyalty and vital time that you need to manage your business during your busy season. Ensure that your return policy is clearly accessible to your customers. Your return policy is something that your customers should not have to search for, it should be as clear as possible to avoid confusion and the potential for backlash against your business that can occur when

This week marks the final countdown to a trio of sale days that small business owners have already been preparing for for the past month. Potentially the most significant of these days for many small business owners (particularly those without a stake in the e-commerce bonanza of Cyber Monday) is Small Business Saturday, a day of recognition for small businesses and their contributions to their local economies and culture. Businesses that have been planning promotions for the day are busy gearing up for the busy holiday shopping season to follow, but in particular need to have everything in place beforehand in order to smoothly greet and serve an influx of customers that can greatly exceed the normal volume their businesses are used to. Prepare to follow up. One of the strongest aspects of Small Business Saturday for business owners apart from the potential for sales numbers that are higher than normal is the ability to create the beginnings of a relationship with a much larger number

While your calendar doesn’t have to be in the shape of a whimsical panda, that choice is up to you. What is important is that you lay out the crucial dates that your business needs to juggle in an easy to read format that can allow you to better stay on top of what needs doing. More importantly, it helps prevent dates from sneaking up on you, especially if you are a person who is prone to distraction or if your business environment is more casual. The holidays are expected to be particularly busy this year, and business owners consequently have even more on their plates than usual. Even if you are person who has managed to get things done without a calendar in the past, consider trying out this simple but effective tool. First, add major sales days to your calendar. Review your historical data to determine if there are any non-holiday days that are particularly busy for you, then add on established sales days

  When it comes to offering support for small business customers, the most immediate means of getting into contact with your customers can often be the best. Especially on websites dedicated to e-commerce, having the ability to instantly offer customized guidance and support for those who are visiting is a very powerful tool for preventing lost business as well as increasing customer satisfaction. Customer support is one of the most important areas to pay attention to, since it is the satisfaction of your customers that will drive the word of mouth exposure that many businesses rely on to grow. Towards furthering this goal, having on page chat support on your site can help reduce the number of potential sales that you miss out on as well as provide an convenient means to troubleshoot basic support issues. Maintaining a strong standard of etiquette on a chat client is just as important as any other support channel. When using chat as a support tool, the need to respond in a

The beginning of the school year has begun, and Labor day come and gone. While the last waves of Summer heat are passing by, the Fall is just around the corner and small business owners all across the country should be preparing both mentally and strategically in order to make the most of the sales potential that comes along with the season. With major shopping days coming along fueled by holidays including Halloween, Thanksgiving and the annual bonanza of Black Friday, businesses owners shouldn’t allow these busy days to simply sneak up on them. Here are three jumping off points that business owners can use as fuel to start brainstorming how they can make this year the most profitable one yet. Review market data, segment deeper and evaluate your choices of advertising platforms. The ability of a small business to accurately pinpoint and reach out to its target market makes the difference between a greatly successful marketing campaign and one that loses money or attracts poor

  The cost of commercial real estate can be a serious budget eater for small businesses. Many entrepreneurs choose to adopt a home based business model for this very reason, but for some businesses a brick and mortar office location is a necessity and not a “nice to have”. For these business owners, it seems that the cost  of having physical offices will just have to be worked around. However, that may not always be the case. Shared office space can significantly reduce the costs of having a separate office. It is not uncommon nowadays for two or more small businesses to share a single communal office space. While this can create some extra considerations to be worked around, such as who gets the copier at what time, and who has to refill the coffee maker, provided that you are able to work with the other business in order to arrive at a mutually agreeable division of responsibilities the cost benefits can be a major boon

  The SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard has announced an increase in the average pay of small business employees by 0.2 percent in July. Marketwatch reports that this increase is the first increase in 2014, spurred by a profitable first half of the year for small businesses. An increase in employee pay can have beneficial effects throughout both local and national economies, with more cash going into circulation as consumers are paid more. Ideally, higher paying small business jobs can stimulate a local economy, which in turn leads to growth on the part of the original small business. Should you give your employees a raise? Small businesses that have seen their sales increase leading to a more robust cash flow may choose to re-invest some of that liquid capital into their employee retention efforts. In particular, employees who demonstrate the potential to grow into leadership roles should have efforts made to retain them. An increase in salary is one of the most effective ways of keeping an

  Customers will ultimately dictate the path of a small business as it grows. While a brand can retain the same message and values, odds are good that as time goes on, customer feedback, market changes and the sculpting force of demand will see some products succeed and others either get tweaked or put out of production. Each product on offer deserves to be looked at in its own right. From the bestseller to the least favorite offerings in your business, each product will cost money and time to put out there, so making sure that each is able to pull its own weight is important. Product quality is key to building word of mouth and brand recognition, so sacrificing some products in order to maintain a high standard is often a prudent trade off. Analyze what makes popular products work. A bestseller works for various reasons. On the surface, the quality of the product itself should be considered. If a single product that you offer is

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