Business

Get On The Front Page of Google By Improving The Online Presence of Your Small Business

In this day and age, we are lucky to have the internet to use to our advantage. It has evened out the playing field for all small business owners. Instead of just competing against each other, and relying on things like word of mouth, they have a real shot at competing against larger businesses, as long as there is an effective online presence. So here are four ways to help you to improve your online presence as a small business owner. You’ll be glad that you did!

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Use Social Media To Your Advantage

Even just a few years ago, a lot of businesses hadn’t even bought a domain name or set up a website, let alone thought about social media. But now, social media alongside a website is really key. Most internet users are going to be on at least one form of social media. And they are going to use those channels to hear your news and updates, give feedback or ask questions. You need to engage with them on there; social media is a two-way street. Listening, replying and commenting on customer’s posts, is a great way to get business loyalty. Customers aren’t going to stick around to a business that they never hear from.

Make Changes Quickly

With reviews and online articles written about your business, depending on the type of business that it is, you can make decisions based on that kind of feedback. It is much easier for small businesses to make changes than it is for larger corporations who have teams of people that need to sign things off. So get ahead of the game and make changes where possible, and as and when they are needed. Being able to retain customers and listen to what they want is a good way to business success.

Start a Blog

Having a blog running on your main website is a great way to interact with potential new customers, as well as engage with your loyal customers. You can share your products or services, as well as share industry insights. Giving tips and tricks is a good way to improve your online presence as people will be searching online for certain things. If your blog has got the answer, then they’ll reach your site through that and know they’ll know your business’s name. So blogging is more important for small businesses than you might think.

Network with Like-Minded People

You need to be getting yourself out there amongst your peers and attending things like trade shows as much as possible. You need to get to know your peers and competitors. Even better if you can get yourself to the point where you are a resource for your peers, and they consider you to be a thought leader. They are more likely to recommend you or link to you if they know that you offer valuable content for their customers. When you are a small business owner, sharing knowledge will help to earn you plenty of good karma!


How Much Should You Pay for Car Dependability?

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There is nothing worse than having your car break down while you are on the way to someplace you need to be. Perhaps it’s happened to you in the rain, or on your way to a wedding, or at night when you’re in a sketchy part of town. For some, driving an older vehicle is a source of constant anxiety because of the threat of breakdowns and high repair costs.

But not all of us can afford a brand new car. If you need a car to live your life, it’s important to know how to get the most dependable vehicle at your price point, and to consider paying a little more if your needs can’t be met at your current budget. Used cars from dealerships like J.D. Byrider will undergo a lot more scrutiny than the car you see on Craigslist. If dependability is a priority, that may be an important consideration.

Still, reliable cars can be found from many sellers. As a buyer, you just have to know what you need, as well as how to evaluate specific possibilities. Start by researching cars that will fit your purposes. Think about what you need in terms of storage, fuel efficiency, power, and every other characteristic which will have an effect on your life. Choose five or six cars that meet these needs, which are more or less in your price range depending on the seller.

Car Dependability

Some people stop here and immediately start looking for bargains. Pump the breaks! You’re not done. Now you need to start to research the details hidden under the hood of the used cars in your short list. Get on forums and research common problems associated with these vehicles. You might discover that that minivan you wanted was manufactured with a transmission that almost always conks out at 90,000 miles. Or, you might discover that the Jeep you’re interested in will get to 300,000 miles routinely, with only regular maintenance.

Once you’ve found a car that meets your needs as a driver, and sounds like it can be maintained with your income and experience, start looking for deals. Start with a quick search among all area dealerships to find out how many of vehicles of the make and model you are interested in are available in your region. You can just choose the car at the lowest price if you want to have the assurance that results from getting a car from a reputable dealership.

If you want to dig even further, look at internet and print classifieds for listings of the car you’re looking for. Expand your search to 150 miles around your home, or more if you’re willing to travel long and hard for a deal. You’ll find cars this way that aren’t well marketed and have few prospective buyers. You can negotiate a much better price in these circumstances. Just make sure to get the car inspected before you buy it!

Look hard for the car you want, and make sure that the car you choose will meet your needs and be within your ability to maintain. This way you’ll save money and get exactly what you’re looking for.


Turn Your Hobby into a Business

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Whether you love spending your spare time crafting, writing or baking, there is no reason why you could not turn your favorite hobby into an exciting business venture. Of course, it won’t be easy, but if you love doing your own thing and you’re willing to work hard and take a risk or two, there is every chance you can turn your hobby into a successful business.

Sound good? Check out these quick tips to get you started:

Have a Goal in Mind

Do you want to make your hobby a full-time business or would you be happy with a side-gig that covers your expenses and leave you with a few dollars to spare? Both are good options, but you need to decide which route you want to take if you’re going to effectively plan your new business.

Workout How to Make Your Hobby Pay

Next, you will need to spend some time thinking about all the ways you might be able to make money from your hobby. For example, if you love to bake you could make money by selling your cakes, writing recipes or even teaching others how to cook. You need to work out which methods you’ll enjoy most and which are most likely to be lucrative if you want to be successful.

Assess Your Skill Levels

If you’re serious about making a living out of your hobby, the brutal truth is that you’re going to have to be pretty good at it first. So, if you love painting, but your skills aren’t quite there yet, you might want to invest in a few courses before you launch your new venture.

Create a Business Plan

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Every successful businessperson has first created their own business plan, where they’ve evaluated the market for their niche and calculate what they will need to do to make a profit. If you skip this step, your business will probably be all over the place, and you’ll have a tougher time making it a success.

Secure Finances

If you’re serious about launching a hobby-based business, you’re going to need to invest in infinitely more supplies (in most cases) than you would for a personal project. Not only will you need to buy raw materials, but you’ll need to set up a website and advertise your wares, which means that you’re going to need money. If you’ve written a solid business plan, you may be able to use it to secure a business loan. If that doesn’t work out, there are lots of banks that offer quick small personal loans, which you can use to invest in your business. Alternatively, if you have any savings, you could divert them into setting up your new hobby business.

Adopt an Entrepreneurial Mindset

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Once you’ve worked out what you want to so and you’ve secured the finances to do it, it’s time to put on your game face and start thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. You might be used to picking up and putting down your hobby when you feel like it, but if you want to make a go of your business, you’ll need to dedicate a solid amount of time every day to your hobby and the tasks that come with growing a new business. You can’t rest on your laurels!


Business: Avoiding Costs Before All Is Lost

Keeping costs low in business is possibly one of the hardest aspects of running any company, whether it’s a large enterprise or a small, local firm. Watching those overheads and ensuring that your business’ expenditures don’t exceed its profits is a stressful and nerve-wracking chore. It can seem almost impossible to think of every potential cost your business might face over a coming month, as there’s always room for variation. Is there any possible way to reduce this headache and give your company a more comfortable profit margin?

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Well, the key to improving your situation from one in which you “only just” break even is to focus more on reducing the existing costs your company faces, rather than simply searching endlessly for new profitable avenues. You might find that your business is wasting an astronomical amount of money every month on unnecessary expenses which could easily be cut out of your operations to increase profit and make financial management far easier. If you’re unsure as to what your business could possibly be doing to reduce costs, here are just a few ideas.

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Green solutions.

This might have been the last thing you expected in terms of a solution to lowering business costs and ensuring the success of your company, but environmental solutions could help your business thrive on numerous levels. For example, going paperless will save your business a lot of money as well as saving the planet, but it’ll also make organising and transferring data far easier than using outdated physical-based forms of information. Better still, information is far safer in a digital environment wherein it can be duplicated and backed up than a vulnerable piece of paper in a filing cabinet which could be lost or damaged.

There’s no denying that green solutions reduce costs, but they also make things easier for your business. Turning off light switches and equipment when they’re not being used and even insulting your walls could also save your business money on energy bills every month as well as saving the environment. In addition, you’ll be impressing consumers with your ethical values, which will only increase customer interest and profits. You’ll be making money, if anything.

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Address problems before they become problems.

It’s so easy to become complacent about issues until they’re visible and no longer hypothetical. This is why so many businesses fail. Costs are poured into issues which could easily be avoided, and your business could fall into this trap too if it fails to prepare for potential hazards when the warning signs are glaringly obvious. There are ways of communicating with your employees on a widespread basis about emergencies both external and internal to the company, but you could head here for a better explanation if you’re still unsure. The point is that you should be ensuring the company acts as one combined entity in the face of danger both certain or potential, as you’ll be able to better avoid problems if everybody is on board with the solution.

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Complete online marketing.

If you’re using traditional methods of marketing, it might be time to ditch them entirely in favour for online marketing. Perhaps you’ve dabbled in both old and new promotional methods and you think it sounds a little risky to cut out one altogether, but it’s actually the most sensible decision you could make. Not only would you be reducing printing costs involved with flyers or the costs involved with renting a billboard, but you’d be focusing on the platform where all your customers actually browse for goods and services: the internet.


Time To Give Back To Your Customers!

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Your customers are more important to your business than any of its staff, managers, or investors. After all, if there wasn’t anyone buying your products, your business wouldn’t be able to survive for long! If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a loyal customer base for some time, then you should be making an effort to reward them, and keep them coming back again and again. Here are a few ideas to consider…

Launch an Early-Access Program

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One of the best ways to reward loyal customers is giving them something that the rest of your customer base can’t access. This could mean giving them a product that’s still in the works, and hasn’t been sampled by anyone else. You could give them access to a service that hasn’t gone public yet. Many tech and software companies, most notably Google, will reach out to their loyal customers and offer them beta testing spots. Whatever your niche is, there’s probably some practical way for you to launch an early-access program. The simple act of making your existing customers feel like they’re part of something exclusive can be incredibly helpful in kindling more trust and loyalty with your target audience at large.

Offer a Referral Reward

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A lot of small business owners recognise the benefits of referrals programs, but think that they’re just too expensive to be financially feasible. In reality, referrals don’t have to cost a fortune. Try simply giving your customers a little discount, or a piece of company merch to show your loyal customers how much you appreciate them. All you really need is a free gift certificate template, a platform for distributing it, and a solid plan for broadcasting your referrals deal through social media and your website. Depending on how practical a rewards program is for your business, you may even want to formulate one that’s structured into tiers. This will give you a better plan for rewarding your loyal customers on an ongoing basis, and ensuring your existing customer base stays close and loyal to you. Just make sure that you set clear rules and guidelines for your program. If people are confused by it and cut off from rewards they thought they were expecting, it will only turn people against you!

Ask for Feedback

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Although this isn’t really a tangible gift, it’s still a great way to reward customers for their years of loyalty. Everyone likes being asked for their opinion, and as fans of your brand, your existing customer base will be bursting with informed opinions, which could be extremely handy when you’re coming up with a new service to launch, a new product to introduce, or a new marketing ploy to include in your materials. Send out a survey to your most loyal buyers, and ask for their opinion on the way you’re conducting business. Right off the bat, you should be making it clear that they’re being asked because you value them most. Once you get their input, set out plans to take it seriously, and act on your findings.

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Your customers are the lifeblood of your business – give something back!


Small Business? How To Structure Your Company For Success!

When you run a business, your job is to streamline everything you do to maximize your productivity and efficiency. In short, you need to run your company like a well-oiled machine to be successful in your industry. Sadly, a lot of entrepreneurs forget such a vital step in their growth plans!

From day one, your company should be structured in such a way that it will foster efficiency. It must also have the right processes in place to deal with various aspects, such as procurement and human resources. If you run a small business, today’s article is for you! Keep reading to learn more on how you can structure your company for success.

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Give an employee manual to new hires

Once you’ve offered someone a job at your company, you should help them familiarize themselves with their new working environment. It’s also important that they know how your business operates and what to do if there are any problems.

The brilliant thing about an employee manual is that it defines that information and much more! New hires can also learn about things like benefits and perks, your company’s mission, and even ways to improve their skills using employer-sponsored training programs.

Create an organizational chart

As your business grows, you need to know what everyone does – especially if you are no longer directly involved in the hiring process. An organizational chart is useful for both managers and employees. The former will know who to contact with any queries, and the latter can learn more about the roles and responsibilities of their peers.

If you’re not familiar with them, Pingboard talks about organizational charts in great detail and explains some examples of how they can be useful to a company.

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Define some standard operational procedures

You will no doubt want your staff to perform their duties in a concise and consistent manner. But, how can you make that happen? Well, one way is to define some standard operational procedures! This is where you have internal documents for each team or department that dictates how certain processes get carried out.

They are useful for small businesses in so many ways. For example, they can get used as part of a training program for new staff. Plus, they help to reduce errors and confusion in the workplace, especially among new team members.

Managers can also refer to those procedures to ensure their teams are following the right instructions as part of their work. As such, they can be useful for things like setting KPI (key performance indicator) targets.

Ensure managers foster creativity among the workforce

Last, but not least, it’s no secret that there is often more than one way to complete a task. Just because the way you’ve been doing things has become the de-facto standard doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient method!

Your workforce should get actively encouraged to be creative with their work. Doing so often means they can find better ways of arriving at solutions to problems they face in their daily work.

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Bend Over Backwards: Three Simple Ways To Make Your Business More Flexible

The world is constantly changing. This state of never ending change can be pretty overwhelming for a lot of small startups since it can make it hard for them to figure out their place in it all. The truth is, unlike businesses of the past, these days startups need to be willing to be flexible and move with all of the changes and developments that are now a natural part of the modern business landscape. If you’re not able to do this, then you’re pretty much guaranteed to fall behind your competitors. With that in mind, here some ways that you can make sure that your business is as flexible as possible.

Be ready to adjust your marketing methods
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Marketing has never been particularly simple or easy for any business. Even before the rise of things like digital and viral marketing, there was a certain art to it. But now, thanks to the pace of the modern world, you’ve got to be ready to adjust and adapt your marketing methods in an instant depending on the current climate. You might have relied on traditional advertising techniques until now, but it might be time to switch to content based digital marketing like blog posts or videos. Then you should be ready to adjust your marketing again based on the needs of your customers. Staying as informed as possible as to the most recent developments in technology and culture is the only way to ensure this.

Give customers different ways to shop

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Once upon a time, if a customer wanted to buy your product then they had to visit a brick and mortar store and do it in person. Now, thanks to the internet, people can find almost any product they need from the comfort of their own homes. Because of this many customers are far less likely to engage with a business that limits their shopping options. If you don’t have an e-commerce store, then you’re setting yourself up for a significant disadvantage. But you shouldn’t just stop there, think about other ways to be flexible with the way your customers purchase your products. Things like Vyze consumer financing solutions allow you to offer a much more flexible payment arrangement for your customers. By being able to provide as many different ways to shop as possible, your customers are never going to be left unable or unwilling to engage with your business.

Listen to your employees

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One of the biggest mistakes that many business owners make is that they assume that, because they have a top-down view of the entire business, their perspective and input is the only one that matters. In fact, there are plenty of things that you can miss from this perspective, not to mention the fact that you’re just one person. Make sure that you’re listening to your employees and taking note of the things that they have to say. You might be able to see everything all at once, but your employees are the ones who get up close with the little details of your business every day. Your employees are likely to be able to offer details and suggestions that you would never have noticed. You should always be open to new information like this and be ready to make changes within your business based on that information.


Why Start Your Own Business?

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you’ll have heard a thousand reasons why NOT to go into business. It’s risky. It’s hard to make any money. You’ll have no time. You’ll go bankrupt.

But for all those negatives, entrepreneurship has is allures. It promises a life of untold wealth and satisfaction that simply isn’t possible going through the regular career channels.

You’ll Have More Spare Time

Entrepreneurs famously have no spare time. They’re working all hours of the day to get the job done and to deliver a product. But that characterisation usually only applies for the first few years of business. After a certain amount of time, entrepreneurs can sit back and relax, leaving the heavy lifting to all the people they have employed over the years. That’s not to say that you’ll be working four-hour work weeks. But you will have more time than you would have had had you gone down a conventional career path. Of course, the amount of time you put into your business is your choice as an entrepreneur. After all, you are the owner.

Your Posterity

If you choose a regular career, like a doctor or a software programmer, you’ll make a fair bit of money. But when all’s said and done, you won’t have anything left – apart from an inheritance – that you can pass on to your kids. If you’re the sort of person who wants a dynasty, then having a profitable business to your name is the way to go. You can pass on your business to your children, and they can enjoy the life of luxury you have.

Financial Independence

If we’re honest, the biggest reason people go into business for themselves is financial independence. Rather than having to scrabble around for years earning a poxy salary, entrepreneurs can simply find a business broker, sell their business and make off with millions of dollars. How you define “financial independence” is up to you of course. But usually, it means having a retirement hoard, an unlimited supply of money in your bank account or having lots of stock options and enough money to put the kids through college, debt-free.

It’s worth noting that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can certainly help.

To Change The World

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Changing the world is a noble cause. But how do you do it? For many people, changing the world involves starting a business. Many businesses will fall short. But if you’re a visionary, you really can make a difference. Where would the world be today without the entrepreneurial genius of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk? We’d probably still be stuck in the 1970s.

You Want Recognition

Most people swim through life, never really thinking about their legacy and the lasting impact they will have on the world once they’re gone. But for some people, the thought of leaving Earth without a trace is unbearable. As a result, many start a business to gain recognition in their industry and hopefully become one of the greats. This shouldn’t be the only reason you start a business, but it can be motivating nonetheless.


Dividing Business Interests After a Divorce

Sorting out the family business after a divorce can be messy and complicated; especially if the relationship between you and your former partner has debilitated to the extent that you’re no longer on speaking terms. Due to this, dividing your business interests can be tough if you’re going through a divorce. Here’s where to start and what your options are.

Financial Settlements and Your Business

According to the law, any business interest and the value it contains is classed as a ‘matrimonial asset’ that needs to be divided in the case of divorce or dissolution in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, the rules are different and a business is only classified as ‘matrimonial property’ if they were set up or acquired after you were married (or became civil partners). If the business pre-dates this, then any increase of the value while you were married or civil partners can be counted as ‘matrimonial property’.

The rules surrounding this are both complicated and, depending on individual circumstances, can be unclear. So it’s worth considering expert advice from specialists like Withers.

How is my Business Valued?

To ensure both parties are granted an equal settlement, the business must be valued (this counts for if you own it outright or have a significant shareholding).

If you both own a share then other of you can instruct a valuation. If it’s only owned by one party, then that party must ask for the valuation. If the business is privately owned, then the valuation process may be lengthy as it will depend on:

– How the business is structured: are you a sole trader, in a partnership with someone outside the marriage, or a limited company?
– How much doe the company earn and what future profits are expected?
– Does it own any additional assets e.g. property or stocks?

Again, before valuing the business, it’s worth consulting legal advice, as the process can be both lengthy and expensive.

How Do the Courts View This?

Again, each situation is taken on a case by case basis considering the individual circumstances. However, as a general rule, the courts tend to leave the business with the registered business owner and compensate the other party with a larger share of assets. In the majority of cases, this is something that the couple also wants, making the process simple.

However, they can be flexible, dividing income or shares instead.

To conclude, splitting a business as part of a divorce is both lengthy and expensive. The courts are flexible with their options, but you should always consult legal advice on the valuation and your options before you begin.

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Common Problems With Poor Performing Ecommerce Sites

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The ecommerce industry is still young in relative terms, but let’s beat around the bush – it’s been around long enough to iron out many of the kinks that plagued the industry in its early days. Sadly, when you take a look at the vast majority of online retailers, it’s clear that many of these simple issues are still in existence.

So, if your ecommerce business is struggling to compete with your rivals, or make enough sales to survive, perhaps it’s time to go back to school. The chances are that you are making some standard errors that are causing immense problems for yourself and your ecommerce business – and we intend to fix them for you today. Read on to find out more.

Poor website performance

Load speed times, terrible bounce rates, poor conversions – all of them are apparent on many ecommerce sites to this day. With the modern consumer savvier about websites than ever before, there is no room at the table for poor performing sites – let alone reason for their existence. Great brands sell a lot of products because they get the basics right, and the basics in the case of an ecommerce business are its website – the auto dealer’s forecourt of the online retail world.

Put simply, if your business is not represented well online, no one will buy from you. Invest in a web designer to create a platform that your customers will actually use, and focus on their experience. Use your analytics to find out which pages are leaking customers, and improve them so you can plug those gaps. And bear in mind that a website is never truly finished – it’s an ongoing process that needs constant tweaks and updates as time goes by.

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Poor product pages

There are many other ecommerce businesses out there who are killing it selling the exact same products as you. And part of the reason why is because they put a lot of effort into their product pages. First and foremost, your products need SEO if you want online consumers to find them. Once they are on the page, they want to see razor sharp images of that product, to see what they are really like. And they also want to read benefits-driven copy that sings from their screens, to compel them to make that purchase right away. Far too many product pages are filled with generic product descriptions and drab, boring copy, If you want to inspire someone to buy, you need to start making more of an effort.

However, even when you get all the above right, you will still struggle to make sales if your customer doesn’t know what to do next. It’s vital that you provide everything they need to check out straight away, or, perhaps, look at an alternative product that matches their needs. The best ecommerce businesses realize this and use algorithms to display similar products that visitors might be interested in. Fix all these product page issues, and you should see sales starting to improve almost immediately.

Poor checkout process

When you buy something online, how much time do you want to spend doing it? In super quick time and as easy as possible, right? Well, the chances are that your customers feel the same way. And that makes the fact that so many ecommerce businesses put as many roadblocks in the way of their clients so frustrating. Far too many checkout processes take a long time to go through, and there is simply no need. A name, address, and card number is pretty much all you need. And demanding a customer signs up for an account might only scare them away – save that stuff for later.

You also need to give customers payment options. While most people will want to pay by debit or credit card, others might want to use PayPal. And with 2017 set to be a big year for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, perhaps you ought to consider looking into the future of payments, too.

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Poor partner choices

The vast majority of ecommerce businesses rely on other companies to provide a service to their customers. Take drop shipping, as the perfect example. Drop shipping is all about the third party you use to ship and create products. You are, essentially, acting as a middleman, selling the product direct to customers and taking a slice of the sales after your wholesale purchase costs and the shipping.

However, as any good drop shipping guide will tell you, you have to choose your suppliers and delivery agents with care. You have to ensure that you are happy with the companies you are dealing with. And, of course, that they can create or ship the products within the right timeframes to match your business needs. Also, because of the small margins involved, you’ll need to make sure you can get the best possible deal from both providers of the product and the shipping company, or you won’t attract custom in the first place – your prices will be too high.

Poor delivery

While we’re on the subject, there are two aspects of delivery that your customers will hate. The first is obscure charges when they check out. You’ll need to make these clear and add them onto their bill at an earlier stage of a process. The simple fact is that if a customer thinks he’s buying a $40 item all the way through the buying process when they find out there’s $10 delivery on top, they aren’t going to be happy. It’s one of the biggest contributors to shopping cart abandonment out there, so make sure they are aware of the delivery costs right from the start.

The second issue is the way the products are delivered. As we mentioned above, you need to use a delivery company that you can rely on to deliver your products in a timely fashion. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be super quick, as some customers will be happy to wait for particular types of products, But you do need to deliver on time and when you say you will. Tracking systems can help, of course, but, ultimately, it’s choosing the best delivery service possible that counts.


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