Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform

Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform in China

Is there a better way to do ecommerce? That’s what investors are asking as they seek out new ventures that could become the next billion-dollar Amazon or Overstock.com.

Many believe that it is too difficult to come up with a brand new ecommerce model. Let’s face it: it seems that all the potential avenues have been exhausted. There’s nothing else. But is that really true? Especially in today’s tech-savvy, highly globalized economy?

Every day, there seems to be a new incarnation of the ecommerce business model. Some platforms will concentrate on Business to Consumer (B2C), while others will hone in on Business to Business (B2B). Startups are looking to add social commerce into their plans as well.

What if you could integrate all of the above? What if you could combine B2B, B2C, and social media?

Such a concept would give merchants, startups, and entrepreneurs, a great opportunity to sell their products to a vast market base both domestically and globally.

Wansecheng: An Innovative Ecommerce Platform in China

The question is: how can such a business model exist and thrive? B2C is constantly evolving and shifting, while B2B is more intricate and multi-layered. Of course, social media is in an entirely different world. When you combine the three for an ecommerce platform, how can it work?

Well, that is what Hangzhou-based company Wansecheng is looking to accomplish. The website has the financial backing of some of the biggest investors in China today.

Wsmall.com, established in 2009, is a website that combines the elements of ecommerce, entrepreneurship, B2B, B2C and social media into one web portal. The ecommerce platform aggregates more than 100,000 small merchants and vendors and provides them with an array of customized services that include branding, digital marketing, and customer service.

There are three primary elements to Wsmall.com:

  • Wansecheng Mall: A global boutique mall for medium- and high-end online clientele.
  • Kale Mao: A membership supermarket with authentic global goods.
  • Wansecheng Business College: An online interactive platform for studying the mix of social activity and entertainment with education for entrepreneurs who are registered members of the Wansecheng Mall.

It’s like one big shopping mall!

The Business Model

Utilizing a B2B2C business model, Wsmall specializes in selling daily consumer goods, foods, baby products, cosmetics and many other items that the consumer is willing to buy online. With the next generation technology in hand, the consumer products meet health and safety standards.

What sets this online venture apart from the rest is the fact that the users retain the rights to their web stores. In other words, they can benefit from maintaining, organizing and designing the digital store as they see fit. They can decide what will give their personal brands a boost.

This aggressive approach to ecommerce is attracting millions of dollars in investments. Wsmall has been raising funds over the last couple of years from some of the biggest investors.

It was reported that global investment giants Warburg Pincus and CICC-Qianhai have invested $100 million into the company. Analysts predict that the company will likely generate even more funds; especially with the company’s vision of the future which is described as “a dream city with the DNA of strong innovation.”

Delivering a speech to a conference on ecommerce, the chairman of the company said, “a wealthy city reshapes the model of B2B2C ecommerce.”

“The core competitiveness of Wansecheng lies in the creation of an online entrepreneurial university town which simplifies the business procedure for average entrepreneurs and enriches their lives, so as to establish an ecommerce platform ecological system that is open, coordinated, sharing, with win-win outcomes, thereby contributing to the mass entrepreneurship, and sustained development of China’s economy and social harmony,”

Pundits like to say that this is Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. With this notion in the forefront of the consumer’s consciousness, it can be pretty daring and even overwhelming to attempt to compete with the online retail juggernaut.

However, if there is one thing that Amazon has taught businesses it’s this: the rules of commerce have been updated to reflect the 21st-century economy. Everything from products, sales channels, distribution centers and marketing are now morphing into something more consumer-friendly than we have ever witnessed.

B2C is a concept that modifies and adapts at a whim to satisfy the consumer. B2B is far more reserved, technical and, as previously mentioned, multi-layered. This is why some may argue that merging the two models is like mixing oil and water: they just don’t go well together.

Wsmall.com is an example of businesses taking an alternative approach. This is having both domestic and foreign investors along with entrepreneurs paying close attention to its development.

Looking Forward …

The latest data suggest that 40 percent of global Internet users have purchased a product online with a desktop or mobile device. This means that there are an estimated one billion online shoppers. It is easy to see that as technology becomes more ubiquitous, the numbers will only grow.

Simply put: it doesn’t matter where you are – South America, Africa or Asia – there will be an ecommerce base, especially with the prevalence of mobile technology. Wsmall has exciting things in store for online consumers in the years to come.

Image: wsmall.com

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A Recognizable Character Could Help Both Universal and Nintendo (Watch)

If you’re heading to any Universal theme parks over the next few years, you might see a familiar face. Mario, the popular plumber from many Nintendo video games, is headed to Universal theme parks in Orlando, Osaka and Los Angeles.

Universal and Nintendo first announced their partnership over a year ago. But the two popular brands just released a teaser outlining plans for the new theme park attractions. Though the tealer didn’t reveal many specifics, it’s a safe bet that Mario will be a major centerpiece of the new park area. He’s a recognizable face that could draw in visitors and get people excited about the new attractions.

However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be other Nintendo characters or themes mixed in. This partnership also creates a unique opportunity for Nintendo to get more attention for some of its lesser known games. So if the two companies can come up with a way to draw people in using recognizable characters and themes, and then introduce exciting new themes as well, this could be a big win for both sides.

Benefits of Leveraging Brand Recognition

And while your small business likely isn’t partnering with any major theme parks in the near future, the same concept can apply. Using the brand recognition already earned by themes or characters can be a major draw for people. And sometimes, they can even help you introduce new items as well.

Salvation Army Photo via Shutterstock

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64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Automated Email Weekly, New Report Says

64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Email Automation Weekly, New Report Says

A majority (64 percent) of high-performing marketers send automated emails to their contacts at least once per week. And that’s how they generate the maximum number of leads.

The insight comes from the new 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing Report.

Conducted by Cint.com, on behalf of San Francisco-based email marketing and marketing automation software company Autopilot, the study has revealed some more interesting insights.

A Look at Where Marketers are Investing In, and Succeeding With, Email Automation

Here’s are some key highlights:

  • Seventy percent of marketers rank social media as their top performing channel outside of email.
  • Eighty-one percent use data to personalize their marketing, and 54 percent say big data lets them deliver a better customer experience.
  • Seventy-one percent of high-performing marketers have mapped their customer’s journey; 88 percent say it’s driving better customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention.

Why Email Automation Makes Sense for Your Business

A growing number of small businesses are using email automation to nurture leads, foster personalized communication and reach more customers.

It’s also worth noting that email marketing has shown a steady 7 percent year-on-year growth, highlighting its relevance for small business owners.

Luckily, there are some nimble email service providers such as Vero and Mailchimp that can give businesses everything they need to automate email marketing.

The 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing Report was conducted in August 2016. U.S.-based marketing and advertising decision makers aged 25 and over were targeted in multiple industries.

Sixty-one percent of respondents who work in small to mid-sized businesses were interviewed for the study.

Typing Photo via Shutterstock

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IT Company Builds Software Platform for Cloud-ready Companies and Those That Aren’t

Sponsored Post

Intivix is so serious about the Cloud that they developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to access both cloud and on-premise servers.

Business partners Rob Schenk and Dan Gordon, founders of Intivix, an IT company based in San Francisco, are serious about the Cloud. So serious that not only do they offer many cloud-based services to their clients, but they also have funded and developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to get to their files either from on-premise servers or those hosted in the cloud.

The solution, called MyWorkDrive, was designed with simplicity in mind, born out of clients’ frustrations over problems with accessibility.

“I just want to be able to access my work files reliably without a bunch of hassles,” said Gordon in a telephone interview with Small Business Trends, referring to complaints he had received from clients.

In the past, remote access required the use of complex VPNs and error-prone synching software — a problem Schenk and Gordon determined to resolve. Furthermore, other clients didn’t feel comfortable moving all their files to a cloud-only based service like DropBox.

“Clients wanted the flexibility of gaining access to files from anywhere, just as if they were in their office,” he said. “We tested and reviewed many solutions and ended up not finding anything that was the right fit. Platforms were either very expensive, very cumbersome or challenging to maintain.”

Instead of a third-party platform, Schenk and Gordon built MyWorkDrive, a direct and easy way for customers to get to their files from any location, using both desktop and mobile devices (browser-based or the familiar mapped drive mechanism).

“MyWorkDrive natively integrates with the security and permissions of Active Directory that’s already set up for all our customers, so we didn’t have to reinvent that stuff,” Gordon said. “We wanted something very simple, very targeted and tied right into Microsoft Active Directory. That’s where we’re at today.”

Gordon added that, with marketing efforts now in place, many MSPs are beginning to use the product, in addition to all of Intivix’s clients.

A unique feature only available with MyWorkDrive, according to Gordon, lets users double-click on a document right from the web, edit it directly in Office or in Office 365 and save it back to the local or cloud-based server.

“We can open it in Office 365 and conduct searches on the file server, to give people a full experience without them having to install anything on their computer,” he said. “We have a patented connector that they can enable (with no firewall rules or certificates to deal with), and then their server will be available online once we install the software, which takes about 20 minutes.”

Gordon cited one company that has a large file server consisting of eight terabytes of data as an example of MyWorkDrive’s capabilities.

“The company has a lot of staff who have to go out and take a number of photos in the field,” he said. “Being able to access those [photos] from anywhere, with indexed search, along with the ability to upload massive amounts of files from a service at gigabit speed, makes MyWorkDrive a good option for them.”

Pricing for MyWorkDrive ranges from $49.99 per month for up to 20 users to $1,200 for an enterprise license that supports 500 users. The company makes custom pricing available for corporations with a larger user base. In addition, they are actively collaborating with Managed Service Providers around the world to join their partner channel with compelling partner discount and internal use rights.

While MyWorkDrive takes up much of Schenk’s and Gordon’s time, Intivix does offer other cloud-based services, including hosting through Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, as well as migration to Office 365 and Google for Work.

When asked about the risks and problems associated with transitioning clients to the cloud, Gordon takes a measured tone, saying that people get sold on cloud solutions without thinking through all the ramifications.

“We’ve picked up clients who didn’t do proper requirements gathering before they migrated to a cloud solution and have been unhappy with the results.’” he said. “Ultimately, they end up going through a migration with another provider and realize later that it doesn’t support all their requirements like Office 365 Email does. ‘It doesn’t have the Outlook feature that our users want’ they say, for example. In the end, we have worked with clients where we had to redo the migration away from other cloud solutions.”  

Gordon feels that many times, customers simply give in to the hype surrounding the benefits the cloud is supposed to provide, but that fall short when put into practice.

“They don’t really even know or understand what the word ‘cloud’ means,” he said. “They think, ‘It’s going to save me money. It’s going to make my life easier.’ When that doesn’t happen then they have to deal with the ramifications.”

While Gordon asserts that the cloud isn’t right for everyone, he believes certain applications could be beneficial.

“I would say there are targeted cloud applications that make a huge amount of sense for companies,” he said, “but it’s not for everyone at this point.”

He cited Office 365 as an example.

“I think you’ve seen a lot of people moving to Office 365,” he said. “That’s a very targeted solution that makes a lot of sense, that makes emails what the phone used to be.”

Regarding full implementation, however, Gordon said that as long as security and bandwidth aren’t an issue using cloud-based applications can be a useful strategy but can also be a disaster if not well thought through.

He does agree that in five to ten years, the cloud may be more ubiquitous but at this juncture, there are legacy-type businesses whose workflows, training and knowledge levels have not sufficiently advanced to the point where full adoption makes sense. It’s a pragmatic approach that takes into account where his client companies are regarding readiness.

“Companies are biting off more than they can chew in moving to the cloud when all they’re looking for, in many cases, is akin to what they already have,” he said. “That’s why MyWorkDrive isn’t exclusively cloud-based but also incorporates access to on-premise servers. It’s a solution that can accommodate everyone. It allows companies space to move to the cloud at their own pace.”

MyWorkDrive invites all Managed Services Providers around the globe to explore their solution as a simple pathway to creating additional cloud recurring revenue by participating in their partner channel. Sign up today.

Image: Intivix

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How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store

How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store

You’ve got an angry—no, downright irate—customer in your store. They’re causing a ruckus and clearly making your other customers uncomfortable. What can you do to keep things from spiraling out of control?

How to Deal With an Angry Customer

Plan Ahead

Before this situation ever happens, plan ahead for how to handle it. If your retail store is in an area with a security presence, such as a shopping center, have the phone number for security at the checkout counter or on speed dial, along with the phone number for local police or sheriff.

Train your salespeople to be observant. By greeting customers as they come into the store and keeping an eye on the entire store, they can often spot someone who’s becoming upset. For example, if a long line is forming at the checkout counter, an angry customer might start off by looking angrily at his watch, then start sighing loudly, then pacing and muttering to himself. Reaching out to him with a proactive, “Thank you for your patience today; I’ll be with you as soon as I can,” can help.

Explain to your salespeople how to handle irate customers using the tips below.

Engage With the Customer

Remain calm. It’s natural to get defensive when someone is angry at us, but calm is your best tool in this situation. Raising your voice, arguing or being sarcastic will just escalate the situation.

Use the customer’s name. Find out the person’s name and use it while talking to them: “Mr. Wilson, can you explain the problem to me so I can help?”

Listen. By the time a customer is exploding with rage, the actual problem that sparked the anger is not the primary issue on their minds. Let the customer explain what they are angry about. Don’t interrupt, no matter how irrelevant it seems. You need to let them get their emotions out before they can be rational.

While you are listening, watch your body language. Look the customer in the eye. Don’t put on a defensive posture, such as crossing your arms. Use an open stance; this shows you’re willing to listen. Don’t fidget, show impatience, roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows or sigh.

Once the customer is finished talking, express understanding, focusing on the feelings first and the actual problem second: “I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated by X.”

Next, take a “we’re in this together” approach to the actual problem. Enlist the angry customer to work with you to find a solution: “Let’s come up with a solution you’ll be happy with.”

Getting Physical

If you’re worried the customer is going to become physically aggressive or violent:

Never touch an angry customer. You may be tempted to reach out and pat the person on the shoulder or lightly touch his or her arm. That could make them even angrier or put you at risk.

Put something between yourself and the customer, such as the checkout counter or a desk. If you can’t put a physical barrier between the two of you, leave several feet of space. Getting too close to an angry customer can make him or her feel threatened.

Take the angry customer aside. Ask the customer to follow you to another part of the store to discuss the problem. If the customer is someone who thrives on the drama of being the center of attention, getting away from other customers can help deflate them.

Remind the person of the presence of other customers. “Sir, I understand that you’re upset, but you are upsetting my other customers. Can we please discuss this calmly?”

Remain confident and in control. It’s important to put limits on the situation. Remind the customer that you want to help resolve the issue but in order to do that, you need them to calm down.

Get Them Out

If none of the above tactics work, calmly ask the customer to leave. Then move toward the store exit. Chances are, he or she will follow you—if only to continue yelling at you. Keep moving until you get the person outside. Stay outside and wait until he or she is out of view to go back inside.

If the customer refuses to leave, tell them calmly, “Sir, if you won’t leave the store, I’m going to have to call security/the police.” Often, this is enough to snap a person back to reality.

Ounce of Prevention

The best approach to customer rage is to prevent it in the first place. By making sure that your store is adequately staffed; that you and your employees are alert to what’s going on inside the store; and that you always provide friendly, efficient service, you’ll have a safer, more pleasant environment.

How have you dealt with an enraged customer in your store? How did you handle it?

Customer is Angry Photo via Shutterstock

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Facebook Unveils New Community Help, Safety Check, Donation and Non-Profit Partnership Tools

The new Facebook features for November 2016 include community help, safety check, an expanded fundraiser features, and nonprofit partnerships.

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) recently unveiled some new tools as part of its Live feature at the social network’s first Social Good Forum held on 17 November in New York.

The new tools include community help, safety check, an expanded fundraiser features, and nonprofit partnerships.

New Facebook Features for November 2016

Naomi Gleit, VP Social Good at Facebook, said the new tools are designed to “empower our community to do more good in the world and help keep them safe.”

Gleit detailed the updates and new features in a post on the official Facebook News blog:

  • Community Help, a new feature that lets you ask for or offer help, including shelter, food and supplies after a natural disaster
  • Safety Check, a simple way to let friends and family know you’re okay during a crisis, will now be triggered entirely by our community, not Facebook
  • Expanding Fundraisers so people can raise money for more than 750,000 nonprofits and add a donate button to Live videos and posts
  • Nonprofit partnerships with Movember this month and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Giving Tuesday

Mark Zuckerberg added in a related video post that ultimately the motivation for creating these tools is threefold. It is to try to prevent bad things from happening. It is to try to help out when something bad is happening. And finally, it is to provide ongoing help after something bad has happened.

Small businesses can leverage Facebook’s new tools to do more social good themselves, including fundraise on behalf of U.S.-based 501(c)3 nonprofits to help out those in need, donate or collect donations for worthy causes like women’s health, and more.

“We’re inspired by how much good comes from connecting on Facebook but we know we can do more,” Gleit stressed in the Newsroom post.

Image: Facebook

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My Favorite Business Model for a Breakthrough Digital Business

a business model and a breakthrough

It was the end of 2008. Something you might remember about that year — in October, the markets took a nasty fall and the global economy melted down.

I was the sole breadwinner for my family. The company I worked for was going through round after round of layoffs. The well-paying, secure job I’d had for five years looked likely to evaporate underneath me.

I had some savings, but not a ton. I had a mortgage and preschool for my three-year-old to pay for, as well as silly habits like buying groceries and having health insurance for my family.

I had been noodling around with business ideas, but I hadn’t gotten serious.

In the final few months of 2008, I had to get serious. Early in 2009, I took the leap. Here’s how I did it.

My year of living dangerously

In 2009, I felt a lot like a chicken trying to cross an eight-lane highway. It was theoretically possible, but there was a non-optimal level of stress involved.

The first thing I did was hang out my shingle as a freelance copywriter.

In a lot of ways, it was wonderful. I worked on fascinating projects that I cared about. I had lovely clients who actually listened to me. I was able to implement content strategy (which I learned, incidentally, mainly from Copyblogger), instead of sitting in endless meetings talking about it.

The main downside for me was the “you don’t kill, you don’t eat” freelance model, in which I was endlessly having to close new clients in order to keep my revenue going.

I know people who are masters of this. I was not one of them.

But it worked, more or less. I was supporting my family.

Growing the audience

One thing I’m so grateful for about that time: I had started growing my audience well before I needed clients. My original intent had been to find another job — I figured a blog would help me stand out with prospective employers.

As it turned out, I was functionally unemployable, but the blog was an amazing resource. It didn’t have zillions of readers or email subscribers — but it had enough.

(By the way, I launched an email list with a simple autoresponder before I even had that site up, which I recommend if you’re starting from scratch today. You want to capture every drop of attention you can.)

By the time I went out on my own, that blog had already started to pull a small audience together. It also connected me with like-minded people for projects, support, expertise, and eventually business partnerships.

The email list allowed me to put offers in front of potential customers — and discover what worked and what didn’t.

Finding stability

2009 was a year of hustle, and trying out all kinds of business models.

I tried freelancing, which sort of worked. I tried some content strategy consulting (we called it something else then), which also sort of worked. I put together a few simple information products with friends. I had some affiliate offers going.

My friend Gary, a business coach who talked me down from Mount Freakout about a thousand times that year, had been on my case to launch an online course with a membership component. I told him I’d get it done that year.

It was not pretty. Building the site was complicated, and I needed to hire someone to put together a variety of puzzle pieces that came from entirely different puzzles. It was fairly expensive to build. But I got it launched — in mid-December, since I’d promised Gary I’d do it that year. (Accountability is a useful thing.)

I called that site The Remarkable Marketing Blueprint, and it changed everything.

(There are still lovely and successful folks out there who identify themselves as “The Remarkables.” That makes me deeply happy.)

I launched the Blueprint at a pretty modest monthly fee. The checkout system was a PayPal nightmare, and I’m lucky it worked at all. The membership management tools were primitive, with lousy security. (Remind me to tell you about the week that Russian hackers kept putting porn into my member library. Fun times.)

That’s why I’m a bit emphatic about how much easier the Rainmaker Platform makes things. Trust me, the early tools were not so user-friendly.

But they got the job done. People bought the course. They benefited from the course.

After a short time, I relaunched the Blueprint (Gary was bugging me again) at a higher price. And that launch went even better.

I didn’t become a millionaire. But I had momentum and steady revenue. I was helping people with their problems, and in turn, I was making a reasonable living. I had a business that worked.

If you think that would be an amazing feeling … you’re absolutely right.

Come to the free webinar

Building an online course or membership community is a great business model — but it’s not a guaranteed home run. You can set yourself up for failure, or set yourself up for success.

Brian Clark’s original Teaching Sells was the course that taught me how to set the Blueprint up for success. How to structure it, how to make it marketable, how to position it, how to get the content created, how to launch it, and how to run it.

Teaching Sells isn’t on the market anymore, but Brian Clark still teaches folks how to build online courses — only these days, it’s a much more streamlined process.

Brian’s holding a free webinar on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time that will get you started.

Click the button below for easy (and free!) registration.

Free Webinar:

How to Develop an Irresistible Online Course People Will Line Up to Buy (and Then Actually Use)

I love this model for so many reasons.

  • I won’t say it was easy, but it was doable.
  • It supported me and my family when we really needed it.
  • It provided steady, predictable revenue so I could catch my breath and actually plan something.
  • It was conducive to my commitment to be a good parent and spouse as well as a capable businessperson.
  • It connected me with wonderful customers, who became friends, and who went into the world and did amazing things.
  • And it opened doors to other possibilities — the business stage that Brian Clark calls “Acceleration.”

It’s a model that works if you know how to do something really well. It’s also a model that works if you don’t have your own particular area of expertise, but you partner with someone who does. (You set the course up and run it; they provide the content and expert authority. These can be remarkably productive businesses.)

Even though we’ve been business partners for years now, I always make a point of listening to what Brian has to say about online courses. He always has new insights and points of clarity that I learn from.

So I’ll be there … and if you have any interest at all in this model, I recommend you check it out as well. You can just click the button to get registered.

Free Webinar:

How to Develop an Irresistible Online Course People Will Line Up to Buy (and Then Actually Use)

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Spotlight: Ships-a-Lot Helps Ecommerce Businesses Fulfill Orders

Ships-a-lot is an ecommerce order fulfillment service company that helps small businesses. Find out how in this week's Small Biz Spotlight.

Order fulfillment is an incredibly important part of running an ecommerce business. But it’s not always easy. That’s where Ships-a-Lot comes in.

The company was born out of the needs of another ecommerce company. And now it provides fulfillment services for a variety of different ecommerce businesses. You can read more about the business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides ecommerce fulfillment services.

Co-founder Zach Zitney told Small Business Trends, “We are an ecommerce fulfillment center that works with fast growing ecommerce stores to reduce their shipping costs and fulfillment expenses.”

Business Niche

Focusing on the customer experience.

Zitney says, “We work closely with each client and make ourselves available to them at all times to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction not only for our clients but for our clients customers.”

ships-a-lot

How the Business Got Started

From the needs of another business.

Zitney explains, “Ships-a-Lot was started by 3 entrepreneurs who were working on another ecommerce business (JerkyXP.com). As that business grew we needed to either outsource our order fulfillment or figure out how to do it ourselves. After finding that there were very few fulfillment centers that utilized new age warehouse management technology, we decided to start our own fulfillment center.”

Biggest Win

Working with high level Shopify Plus stores.

Zitney says, “These stores ship 10’s of thousands of orders per month. Through simple email outreach we were in contact with these stores and since we knew how to approach ecommerce owners we hit a soft spot with them when it came to order fulfillment. Working with high level Shopify stores meant that we were able to add validation that Ships-a-Lot was the new age of order fulfillment.”

Biggest Risk

Taking on their first big client.

Zitney says, “We knew we had everything in place to make it work flawlessly but as always with the first time doing something there are chances it might not work as planned. In our case we had everything in place to handle it, thus validating that we could handle 100x the order volume. If this would have gone bad we would have ruined are credibility as a fulfillment center and quite possibly been responsible for the losing of our clients customers. In the end it proved that we could continue to bring on larger and larger companies with zero flaws.”

shipsalot

Favorite Team Snack

Pizza and crazy bread.

Company Mascot

A dog CEO.

Zitney explains, “Our CEO is a dog and has over 80,000 followers on Twitter.” (@JackTheCEO)

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Ships-a-Lot; Top Image: From left to right: @JackTheCEO Company mascot and CEO (Yorkie), Max Zitney Co Founder, Zach Lukaszek Co Founder, Maurice Clarett Local Business Colleague, Youngstown entrepreneur and former Ohio State football player, Lance Propst Warehouse Manager and operations, Zach Zitney Co Founder

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4 Mobile Marketing Trends to Focus on in 2017

Creative marketing can set your business apart from the pack, so it’s wise to stay up on the latest mobile marketing trends for 2017.

As we begin our descent to the end of 2016, it’s vital for small businesses to look ahead to 2017 and beyond. Creative marketing can set your business apart from the pack, so it’s wise to stay updated on new approaches and trends.

The amount of consumers accessing the web via mobile devices now outweighs desktop users. These days, it’s not enough to just be “mobile friendly.” Here are four ways your small business should be utilizing mobile marketing in the upcoming year.

Mobile Marketing Trends for 2017

Mobile Search

One of the most important factors is that your business is visible via mobile search. Confirm that your website is responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts to the device being viewed on. This will help your rank with Google and ensure you don’t lose customers over poor functionality.

Your next course of action involves identifying key mobile word searches for your industry. What questions are potential customers typing into their mobile searches that your product or service can fulfill?

Once you identify the search questions, you can determine how to deliver the content-based solution.

Mobile Payments

Consumers are more comfortable than ever using mobile payment options. Make sure your business is set up to accept mobile pay for your goods and services. “Buy” buttons already exist on various platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Imagine you’re in the market for a new coffeemaker. You’ve done some online research and think you’ve landed on a pretty great Cuisinart, but you’re not totally convinced.

Later, while scrolling Facebook … what do you notice? A Cuisinart ad directly on your Facebook news feed! Not only is it an ad, it’s an ad showcasing the very model you were just researching. Directly on that ad, there’s a “Buy” button that will quickly and conveniently have you well on your way to coffee heaven.

Instead of sending you to another site for payment, you’re able to purchase directly from your news feed effortlessly. Because consumers don’t have to go through multiple steps to make a purchase and the potential for distractions or hesitation is decreased, sales increase. As awareness goes up and retailers begin using these buttons more often, this tool could really take flight in 2017.

Mobile Apps

A recent Gallup poll indicates that 72 percent of Americans check their phones at least once an hour. The overwhelming majority of that time, up to 90 percent, is using apps. If your business doesn’t currently have a mobile app, now is the time!

Apps increase engagement, provides your business with customer data and increases the ways in which you are able to connect with your audience. Mobile app development can be done inexpensively and stands to benefit even the smallest companies by growing awareness of your brand. 

Mobile-Only Social

We all know how big social platforms are, but mobile-only social apps continue to rise in popularity. Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram and others should be part of your mobile marketing strategy. Make sure you’re always monitoring your social channels (either live or via social listening tools) and tailoring your message accordingly.

Don’t post the same content at the same time across all platforms. This leads to message fatigue and is the quickest way to lose subscribers. Connect with your followers by posting in-the-moment pictures and video that reflects your brand philosophy, experiences and attitude.

Marketing trends will come and go, but to capitalize on growth, you must stay current. Mobile will continue to expand in pervasiveness, so be sure your business is well supported.

Mobile Phone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “4 Mobile Marketing Trends to Focus on in 2017” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Instagram Introduces Two New Features that Borrow From Periscope and Snapchat

Two new Instagram features for November 2016 borrow functionality from other social platforms: live video and disappearing photos and videos.

Instagram is putting the popular ephemeral spin on video streaming and private messaging.

Taking a page out of the books of Snapchat and Periscope, the app is introducing two new features: live video and disappearing photos and videos for groups and friends in Instagram Direct.

The New Instagram Features for November 2016

Built on the existing “Stories” feature, Live video allows users to broadcast videos to friends and family in real-time. Once they are done, the live story disappears from the app.

The other feature is disappearing photos and videos from groups and friends in Instagram Direct. This feature works pretty much the same way as Snapchat. Users can draw on the disappearing photos and add text. The photos and videos disappear from the recipients’ inboxes after they have seen them.

Instagram’s head of product Kevin Weil said the goal of both live streaming and private disappearing photos were all about broadening the scope of the service. “Instagram should be a platform for all your moments,” he told Variety, arguing that Instagram had over the past few years turned into a highly curated service for people’s best photos, and that these new additions would allow for more intimate and less polished experiences.

But it’s evident that these new updates are sending a clear message: Instagram wants to take on Snapchat. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time it has been “inspired” by its competitor.

Earlier this year, Instagram launched Stories, a feature that makes the app less like the old Instagram and more like Snapchat.

This time, the stakes are higher because Snapchat doesn’t have live video yet, and Instagram is pushing Stories in a big way. The company said over 100 million use Stories every day.

It will be interesting to see how Snapchat responds to this move.

Image: Instagram

This article, “Instagram Introduces Two New Features that Borrow From Periscope and Snapchat” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Looking For More Awesome Small Business Tidbits and News? Follow Cusp Creative On Twitter @cuspcreative Cheers!!