April 30, 2018

The Shopper of the Future, Do You Want to Start a Restaurant? Get a Logo for Less and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know (SmallBizDaily) »

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13 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

Look for a special Small Business Week Edition of Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know later this week.

1—The Rise of Smart Speakers

Smart speakers are changing consumer behaviors and shopping habits. Did you know that 35% of smart speaker owners have used their devices to shop for products like groceries or electronics? And that among Echo users, 17% use their device to order from Amazon, make purchases 6% more frequently, and spend 10% more overall?

This activity is already impacting your small business—and affecting your search engine results. 

2—The Shopper of the Future

Euclid recently released a survey showing consumers, particularly millennials, increasingly expect an “Amazon-like” experience when shopping in-store. Which means retailers need to develop engaging, convenient experiences to meet changing demands.

Euclid’s The Store of the Past Meets the Shopper of the Future: Can Retailers Meet Modern Consumer Expectations? report found shoppers were increasingly open to a variety of shopping channels, appreciating the unique attributes of both in-store and online models. Millennials are the most channel-agnostic, seamlessly switching between buying online (52%) and in physical stores (59%) weekly, with nearly one in three shopping via convenient subscription services.

Pop-up stores were popular with consumers—30% say competitive pricing was its  most appealing feature, and another 28% like the convenience and location.

Millennials gravitated toward two different ways of shopping. When in “get-in and get-out” mode, convenience was their primary goal, with 47% saying they frequently buy online and pickup in-store (more than 40% of the time), compared to 30% of Gen Xers and just 14% of baby boomers. However, millennials also viewed shopping as an immersive, social activity focused more on the experience than the product they take home, with 25% preferring shopping as an activity shared with friends and family. Only 19% of Gen Xers and 20% of boomers feel the same.

All demographics surveyed disliked “over-marketing,” with more than half of consumers willing to unsubscribe from a retailer’s mailing list for too many emails, and 40% ready to unsubscribe if they received irrelevant recommendations. Millennials are especially skeptical of advertising, with only 31% saying seeing an ad motivates them to visit a physical store.

“This is sink-or-swim time for physical retailers,” says Brent Franson, CEO of Euclid. “Over-marketing is a huge turn-off to most consumers. New buying models are winning over millennials and others who value modern shopping channels. And shoppers want from physical stores what they get from Amazon: a frictionless buying experience. The question is, will brick-and-mortar retailers deliver? They’re certainly positioned to do that, if they shape the store experience to align with consumers’ high expectations for convenience.”

3—Shopify vs. Amazon: Which is Best for Your Business?

E-commerce sales are still on the rise. 2017 revenues topped $450 billion, up 16% from 2016. And small businesses are continuing to find ways to expand their businesses and sales using e-commerce platforms and marketplaces.

Fiverr took a look at businesses in its marketplace that have built storefronts and found:
Most small businesses choose to build a storefront with Shopify (49%) or create a product page on Amazon (50%), but rarely do both (only 4%).

Those that go the Amazon route are looking for eye-catching images and snappy copywriting while Shopify users are looking for SEO, web development and digital marketing.

4—Small Business Almanac Tracks Consumer Spending Trends at Local Businesses

Womply, a leader in front office software for SMBs, just launched the Small Business Almanac, a comprehensive index of revenue patterns at small businesses in all 50 states and across nearly 20 major industry categories, including restaurants, automotive services, lodging businesses, and independent retailers and wholesalers.

“Our Small Business Almanac is the most powerful and useful tool to illustrate how sales are flowing on Main Street,” says Toby Scammell, Womply’s founder.

Womply’s database curates billions of transactions for millions of American small businesses. The Almanac enables anyone to query that database and see an aggregate view of:

  • Average daily & monthly transaction revenue for businesses in a selected state and/or industry category.
  • The distribution of transaction revenue over the days of the week and months of the year.
  • Full-year transaction trends for the trailing 12-month period.
  • Year-over-year changes in revenue, beginning with the first quarter of 2018.

1st-quarter results: Revenue in the 1st quarter was generally higher compared to the first three months of 2017. Key small business revenue metrics for Q1 include:

  • Average monthly revenue for all small businesses was up 7% year-over-year to $48,461.
  • Restaurants were up 11% to $53,628.
  • Local retailers and wholesalers were up 3% to $48,665.
  • Automotive services businesses were up 3% to $32,090.
  • Lodging businesses were up 1%to $97,271.

“In the past, small businesses have had to fly blind as it relates to benchmarking their sales against other businesses in their industry or region,” Scammell says. “Our purpose in launching the Small Business Almanac is to help entrepreneurs put their business performance into context and illuminate how consumers are spending at local businesses in general.”

Data will be updated on a quarterly basis.

5—Do You Want to Start a Restaurant?

Owning a restaurant is a dream for many. What do you need to know? Bid-on-Equipment tells all in the infographic below. [Expired link removed]

6—Need a Logo for Less?

Check out Logomaster.ai, a DIY logo maker for startups. They’ve built an AI tool that generates logo packages on demand. By discovering the underlying attributes of different fonts, icons and shapes, they say they’ve defined principles that make the best logos using deep learning technology.

While hiring a designer to design a logo can cost upwards of $500, Logomaster prices start at just $20!

And while all logos have been designed by AI up to now, they’re launching an option to have your logos retouched and refined by their human design team.

7—Why People Don’t Fill Out Online Forms

Businesses rely on online forms, but customers often abandon forms instead of completing them. Over 80% of people surveyed by The Manifest say they abandoned at least one online form recently, with 29% citing security concerns and more 27% quitting forms that are too long.

People are also likely to abandon online forms that aren’t mobile-friendly. Only 3% of people prefer to fill out online forms on a mobile device, compared to 84% who prefer a laptop or desktop computer and 13% who prefer a physical copy.

According to the survey, when someone abandons an online form, they are unlikely to return. Nearly 70% choose to abandon the process entirely, compared to 20% who follow up with the company later.

The survey suggests a major challenge for businesses that rely on online forms to sell products or gather leads. But, the survey suggests there are key opportunities for businesses to improve their online forms, by eliminating extraneous questions, improving security, and considering online forms an extension of their overall customer service effort.

Additionally, 19% will complete an online form if a company contacts them through email or a phone call. Despite this opportunity to win conversions, 11% receive no follow up contact after filling out an online form, suggesting a missed opportunity for businesses.

When people return to a previously abandoned online form, it’s typically because they need access to a resource they can’t obtain any other way (30%). An additional 20% of people are willing to return in exchange for an incentive, such as entry into a contest.

As part of implementing best practices in online form design, businesses should also test changes to their online forms with their target audiences. Over time, testing can yield higher conversions by revealing audience preferences for online form design.

8—Can Marketing Advice Feed the Hungry?

Many small businesses want to give back—and half already do. But with little resources to spare, it can be heart-wrenching for a business owner to choose whether to funnel them back into the business, or to help those around them.

Small business marketing expert Qamar Zaman wants to help remedy this situation. On his Coffee with Q, Zaman offers free, actionable marketing advice to an entrepreneur each week—in exchange for them sponsoring a child through a program known as “Project IQ”, where an underprivileged child receives a monthly box that contains both mental and physical nourishment. For context, there are 15 million children living below the poverty line in America.

Here’s how it works:

  • Coffee with Q allows small businesses o get free consulting, freeing up resources for community engagement.
  • Each child is supported through Project IQ with both a food stipend and materials that allow them to grow mentally—fostering the next community of leaders.
  • The mutual relationship of a small business sponsor and a local beneficiary brings communities closer together—creating a ripple effect that helps them thrive.

9—Your Reaction to a Data Breach Matters

Last November Bospar surveyed Americans about how they wanted companies to respond to a crisis. They said:

  • Within 24 hours: 60%
  • With the promise of independent investigation: 47%
  • With an apology: 38%
  • With the promise that this will never happen again: 29%
  • With simple language: 29%

Curtis Sparrer principal of Bospar PR and author of Public Relations Crisis Management: Are You Prepared?points out that Under Armour reacted the right during its latest data breach.

Sparrer says, “Under Armour did everything Facebook failed to do in its latest PR disaster: Under Armour quickly notified the people impacted and the public at large. It was smart for Under Armour to contact their customers through in-app messaging and provide a FAQ. They contacted a data security firm to assist in its investigation. They clearly thought through the entire customer journey during a crisis—something tech giants should do as well.”

Quick Takes

10—Small Businesses Embrace Amazon

According to a new joint Insureon-Manta poll, 68% of small business respondents who sell products online say Amazon has positively impacted their sales, and 24% use Amazon as a sales channel. Check out the full survey results.

11—How to Make Money on Fiverr

If you do business with Fiverr (or want to) check out this comprehensive guide. It should help you boost your Fiverr revenue immediately.

12—Is it Your Time to Shine?

Submissions for the 2018 eBay SHINE Awards are now open. In its third year, the SHINE Awards highlight the role sellers play in powering eBay’s marketplace. This year, eBay’s SHINE categories include: Global Business, Woman or Minority-Owned, Everyday Hero, Young Entrepreneur, and Click-and-Mortar Business Owner.

Applications will be accepted through May 10, 2018. A judging committee will narrow the pool to three finalists in each of the five categories, and the winner will be decided by the eBay community and announced at eBay Open (July 24-26).

Tech Tools

13—Launch an Online Store Within 30 Days

Empowering businesses to quickly and efficiently deliver engaging online experiences, Oracle NetSuite recently announced a new ecommerce product and implementation solution, SuiteSuccess for SuiteCommerce, which is designed to enable businesses to launch a sophisticated online store within 30 days.

The new commerce solution provides themes, accelerated deployment, drag and drop site management tools and plugins to extend site capabilities. In addition, ecommerce is integrated with the NetSuite platform so businesses gain the advantage of having a single source of real-time order, customer and inventory information to create seamless omnichannel brand experiences and streamline business processes.

The SuiteSuccess for SuiteCommerce is:

Full-featured SaaS e-commerce: It supports B2C and B2B ecommerce on the same platform. To help businesses further increase engagement, a selection of themes optimized for performance, engagement and conversion are available. All themes are fully responsive to provide a consistent experience no matter how shoppers browse the store.

Easy-to-implement: Rapid site implementation enables faster time to value, increased business efficiency and greater customer satisfaction. You get a B2C or B2B online store with commerce reports, dashboards and KPIs within 30 days.

Easy-to-manage: Drag-and-drop site management tools allow non-technical users to edit pages and manage content. This gives business users the ability to update the look and feel of your site without the help of a developer. In addition, users can easily complete multiple changes to the site and then schedule them for future deployment based on business needs.

Easy-to-extend: Business users can quickly and easily expand the capabilities of their stores with extensions. Extensions are designed to upgrade seamlessly with each release, allowing customers to enhance their site in a way that’s maintainable. To support developers, the NetSuite Commerce Extension Framework provides an API that makes it easy for developers to create their own extensions.

Verticals: To deliver faster time to value, increased efficiency and provide the flexibility to foster growth and customer success, NetSuite is introducing 14 new editions of SuiteSuccess. The new SuiteSuccess editions include:

  • Starter: Designed for small and rapidly growing companies.
  • Commerce: Designed for retailers and other commerce-focused businesses.
  • Technology Services: Designed for technology services provider.
  • Consulting Services and Consulting Services Emerging: Two new editions designed for consulting services organizations at different stages of growth.
  • Manufacturing and Manufacturing Emerging: Two new editions designed to support manufacturers at different stages of growth.
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturer: Designed for food and beverage manufacturers specific needs, including features for demand planning, tracking and traceability.
  • Media: Designed specifically for media companies.
  • Publishing: Designed for publishing companies’ needs, including manage subscribers, advertisers and staff.
  • Advertising: Designed for advertising companies.
  • OneWorld, Administrator and Accounting: Three new editions for existing NetSuite customers are designed to support global growth, enhance the capabilities and knowledge of NetSuite administrators and ensure accounting features within NetSuite are being maximized.

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