Tag Archive | "Businesses"

My Four Failed Businesses And How They Led To Over 10 Years Of Success

I recently posted a message to the members of my Laptop Lifestyle Academy asking them what their most common concerns were when it comes to succeeding with their online business. I received a bunch of replies and one of the repeating themes were issues related to mindset, especially in the face of…

The post My Four Failed Businesses And How They Led To Over 10 Years Of Success appeared first on Yaro.blog.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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My Four Failed Businesses And How They Led To Over 10 Years Of Success

I recently posted a message to the members of my Laptop Lifestyle Academy asking them what their most common concerns were when it comes to succeeding with their online business. I received a bunch of replies and one of the repeating themes were issues related to mindset, especially in the face of…

The post My Four Failed Businesses And How They Led To Over 10 Years Of Success appeared first on Yaro.blog.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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PayPal Here Launches Two New Card Readers, Giving Small Businesses More Ways to Accept Payments

Every customer wants a swift and smooth payment transaction, with little fuss. This holds true regardless of whether they’re buying from a major enterprise or a small business. That goal is certainly possible with PayPal Here’s two new payment card readers.

PayPal recently launched a Chip and Swipe reader and a Chip and Tap reader, both of which will help users and small companies easily conduct credit card transactions anywhere.

The Chip and Swipe reader is an improved version of the company’s previous swipe-style reader. It now comes with support for debit and credit cards with EMV chip technology. Meanwhile, the Chip and Tap reader can process contactless payment options from NFC-supported devices and also accepts EMV-supported cards. The device also comes with a portable charging stand.

Image result for paypal chip and swipe card reader

Both payment readers can easily process transaction choices like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay.

PayPal’s new readers have been designed with portability in mind. The two devices are about the size of a deck of cards, making it possible for small retailers and entrepreneurs to do business in any location—a country fair, the neighborhood cafe—without worrying about wires or having to carry bulky hardware. They can easily connect to any mobile device using Bluetooth technology. The readers also have a user-friendly interface and can now be used for extended periods, thanks to their rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

PayPal is offering the Chip and Swipe reader for $ 24.99 and the Chip and Tap reader for $ 59.99. Both devices will work seamlessly with the PayPal Here. The app is available via the Apple App Store and Google Play.

In a statement, PayPal In-Store’s Chief Chris Gardner stated that the company understands the “challenges small businesses face—including protection from fraudulent transactions and the costs of equipment to run their business—and constantly work to develop products and services that allow them to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment.” Their new and affordable card payment readers are their newest endeavor to help small business.

Gardner also pointed out that small and medium businesses also look for a “one-stop shop” for all their commerce and payment services. After all, these companies don’t have the time to deal with various vendors to manage all these financial activities. PayPal is determined to be the company to handle these demands. Merchants can use PayPal for their online transactions, PayPal Here for their physical processes, and PayPal Working Capital to help finance their expansion.

[Featured image via PayPal]

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Salesforce Offers New AI Features to Small Businesses

Most Corporations have the advantage of unlimited access to all the features a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform offers. Now small businesses can also enjoy this perk as well.

During Salesforce’s yearly Dreamforce conference, the company announced that one of their best performing CRM platforms – the Sales Cloud Lightning Essentials – will be available to all. With this, small businesses will enjoy the same access to features that large enterprises use to grow rapidly and work quicker and smarter. Small companies will also have access to Salesforce’s newest innovations, like Einstein AI, Lightning, and Trailhead.

Essentials Meet the Demands of Small Business

Salesforce knows that to be able to cope with the demands of today’s competitive marketplaces, businesses should be able to easily integrate new technology into their day-to-day operations. This need is underlined by the revelation that 66% of small company heads are handling two or more departments. Meanwhile, only 26% of small businesses have an in-house IT department while the rest either deal with contractors or try to work out IT problems on their own.

Salesforce Essentials can go a long way in easing this burden, as the platform was designed for simplicity and functionality. Small business analyst, Brent Leary, explained that small companies need guidance and a user-friendly platform, especially if they’re new to CRM. Essentials’ simple interface does meet that requirement, with the Trailhead feature providing the necessary assistance needed to develop leads faster and see results more quickly.

New AI Features Great for Small Business

The three key features added to the Sales Cloud Lightning Essentials will definitely make a difference to small businesses.

Trailhead is an interactive, online learning platform that assists users in its implementation. It also gives guidance on topics like how to implement innovation and raise business knowledge.

Meanwhile, Einstein is showing small businesses the practical aspects of artificial intelligence. In an interview, Salesforce’s Senior Product Director of Marketing, Eric Bernsley, explained that while most have a lot of questions about AI, they don’t want big, vague concepts. They want to see how AI can help businesses get more done.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners know that manually inputting data is time-consuming and leaves little time for a company to identify or pursue new opportunities. But with Einstein, basic sales activities can be automated or records kept up-to-date. It can also help with predictive lead scoring or look at areas connected to possible leads.

Since Essentials is built on Salesforce’s Lightning framework, small businesses will be able to enjoy a smooth transition of their workflow on any device due to the system’s intuitive design. And when Essentials is combined with other Salesforce Apps, small businesses can eventually manage their whole sales conversation – accounts, leads to contacts – on any device, whether from the office or out in the field.

More importantly, all of Essentials’ features are scalable, meaning they’re flexible and can meet the CRM needs of any company, regardless of the size. And since Essentials is also built on a global platform, upgrading can be done anytime, something that will be beneficial to small companies.

[Featured Image via Salesforce]

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How Cloud-Based ERP Can Benefit Small Businesses

There’s no question that small businesses have greatly benefited from today’s technology. Ten years ago, many companies would not have considered placing their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems on a public cloud platform. But now it’s a route that more businesses are taking.

Understanding Cloud ERP

Cloud-based computing utilizes the Internet to administer shared computing resources, like disk storage, memory, and processing power to run numerous software applications. Meanwhile, cloud ERP is software that is accessed via the cloud. It uses the Internet to connect to servers that are hosted away from a company’s premises. This is in direct contrast to traditional ERP and business productivity software that is generally housed in the company’s headquarters.

Benefits of Using Cloud ERP for Small Businesses

Image via AgileTech

Numerous businesses have turned to ERP solutions to automate their businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular have discovered that cloud-based ERP provides multiple benefits.

  • It’s more secure: While some companies are admittedly still worried that cloud ERP can render their data vulnerable, more and more companies are placing their trust in cloud security. This is because companies have strict security requirements, which puts cloud ERP providers under pressure to ensure that their technology is always secure.
  • It boosts productivity: Small businesses are often concerned that moving to a new technology will disrupt their work. But moving to a cloud-based platform is just a temporary inconvenience and will actually boost productivity in the long run. Cloud ERP is user-friendly and makes it easier for employees to collaborate in real-time. It also eliminates the need to get in touch with other employees just to ask for a single file since everything is accessible. And the less time is wasted on simple processes, the more time is afforded for innovation and improvement.
  • Data flow is centralized: Small businesses often develop problems once they start growing and find that the various departments and their data are housed in different areas. For instance, inventory data is kept in one software program while financial information is saved in another. Cloud ERP ensures that every relevant data is in one area, giving all authorized users access to important files and data easily and quickly.
  • It’s affordable: When it comes to capital outlay, cloud-based programs and data storage cost less compared to implementation and maintenance of an IT system housed on company premises. This holds true even when taking into account the monthly service fee that a company would pay a cloud provider. By doing away with the yearly maintenance fees and just charging per month or per user, cloud ERP becomes more affordable than systems that demand expensive licenses and need constant software and hardware upgrades.
  • Businesses become more flexible: Cloud ERP provides the accessibility, mobility, and flexibility that conventional ERPs lack. Since cloud-based ERP is managed offsite and on a system that’s always available, management will find that ordering and delegating tasks become simpler and easier.

How to Ensure Cloud ERP Works

Using a new system in your business is admittedly tricky. To ensure that integrating a cloud-based solution will have a positive outcome, companies should start with a dry run before going live. This process includes testing the new cloud ERP system with select employees first and ensuring that they are well trained in using the new system. This will lessen any problems that might appear once there’s a change in the infrastructure of the IT system. It also has the dual purpose of revealing which staff members will be free to manage other tasks. Company resources can then be reassigned or internal teams moved to maximize their potential.

Small businesses that are considering using cloud ERP will need a reliable cloud provider and the know-how to optimize the technology’s best features. Once the transition to the cloud is successful, a company can enjoy higher productivity, enhanced business processes, and more success.

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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Packing Robots: The Future of Warehouse Operations for eCommerce Businesses

Automation has always provided immeasurable benefits to businesses and economies alike. It paved the way for the industrial revolution and the rapid rise of production plants. These days, a new type of automation is making its presence felt – intelligent warehouse robots. These robots have started changing the way warehouses and eCommerce does their business.

Robots are already being used in a lot of warehouses. Their tasks are usually to bring boxes or shelves of products to an employee who will then pack the orders into boxes in preparation for shipping. So far, the intricacy of sorting through tens of thousands of products has made the idea of using robots for packing orders unrealistic. However, that might soon change, as reports have indicated that the newer warehouse robots are now more flexible.

Rise of the Warehouse Robots

It comes as no surprise that Amazon is leading the charge in the use of robots in their warehouses. After all, the eCommerce giant prides itself on its fast and efficient delivery system, something that robotic automation undoubtedly helped with. Amazon started using robots from Kiva Systems in 2011 before buying the company a year later. Now there are more than 15,000 Kiva robots in Amazon’s warehouses, where they are used to bring products to an employee for picking and packing. This significantly cuts down the time an employee would take to navigate the warehouse and look for the product.

Kiva Systems, which is now known as Amazon Robotics, paved the way for companies like Fetch Robotics and GreyOrange to develop their own line of warehouse robots. The former developed the Fetch and Freight system, with the Fetch robots picking items from a shelf while the Freight component moves the product through the warehouse. Meanwhile, GreyOrange developed a Butler robot that helped merchants like Flipkart and Jabong run their operations smoothly by moving through their warehouses to collect high-volume and high-mix orders set to be shipped.

Advantages of Robotics

A 2015 report on the rise of the warehouse automation market discussed the growth of eCommerce and its effects, particularly on the workforce. Picking and packing robots can provide a distinct advantage to retailers. Unlike their human counterparts, companies don’t have to provide sick days, vacation leaves, health insurance or lunch breaks to robots. No training is required for robots and they can be utilized 24/7, a feature that comes in handy during busy holiday seasons. Instead of having to hire extra warehouse workers to cope with massive orders, robots can pick up the bulk of the work while substantially reducing costs. Plus, it requires minimal human interaction.

Analysts have also projected that robots will cost the company less in the long run. For instance, one of the more advanced Fetch warehouse robots is priced anywhere from $ 35,000 to $ 100,000. However, that price will certainly go down as more units are sold. It’s estimated that in about five years, one robot will be less expensive to maintain that an employee with a $ 15 minimum wage and benefits.

Fears About Robots

The price of fully automating a warehouse is a major stumbling block, especially for small retailers or medium-sized businesses. Companies would also have to deal with the fall-out and anger from employee groups and labor unions who are worried that warehouse robots will cost them their jobs.

Robotics and the Future of eCommerce

Automation will undoubtedly play a big part in companies getting a competitive boost in a bustling market. Consumers are getting more demanding, making speed a key consideration in eCommerce. This means that companies need to figure out how to cut down their shipping time and ensure that customers receive their orders as soon as possible. Amazon’s claim of same day delivery has also put pressure on itself and other companies, as well as raising expectations among consumers.

The emergence of newer and smarter warehouse robots can cut down on the time and effort needed to pick orders, pack and ship parcels, scan and update inventory, arrange existing items on shelves or add new ones and complete other tasks.

Robotics companies are already working to meet the demands of eCommerce. One mystery retailer has been reported to have invested in a picking robot from robotics company Kuka while RightHand Robotics has begun testing the capabilities of its picking robots at another unnamed retailer’s warehouse. Meanwhile, Amazon continues to pour money into robotics – hosting robotic competitions and funding research – in a bid to further develop this technology. If the company continues this course, experts predict that it might accomplish full automation in less than a year.

When picking and packing robots are finally utilized, companies like Amazon can cut down the cost and time of fulfilling orders by 1/5, thereby push their profits higher. However, it might also push out an immense number of the human employees out of the workforce, further fueling the disdain and anger people feel against the use of these machines.

[Image via YouTube]

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How Social Media Is Changing the Way Businesses Conduct Customer Service

Social media has become more than just a networking platform. They’ve become an ecosystem where friends, family, consumers, and brands interact with one another at lightning speed. In this age of hyper connectivity, brands are slowly realizing the potential of social media when it comes to providing customer service.

According to a study by Lithium Technologies, 70% of Twitter users expect a response from brands they interact with online. The same study also revealed that 50% of those users expect the response within the first hour. The need for a prompt response to customer inquiries has skyrocketed over the past few years and brands need to step up their game.

Today, consumers are quick to share their sentiments—whether it be negative or positive—on social media. Brands need to develop a more agile strategy that allows them to moderate these comments without damaging their reputation.

Image result for social media customer service

Because customer support through social media is still an emerging trend, not a lot of brands have expertise on the topic. Consumers, however, understand the power of social media and they use public posts as leverage in order to get the response they deserve.

Once unanswered questions and unaddressed concerns queue up on a brand’s social media page, their reputation is sure to take a hit. This shows the explicit need for brands to quickly allocate energy and resources in improving how they provide customer support through various social media channels.

Negative consumer sentiments shared online can hurt a brand’s online credibility. What makes them even more dangerous is their viral element. Each post has the ability to reach millions of existing and potential customers, giving brands often undeserved bad publicity.

For brands to come across as more responsive and approachable to consumers, they need to have a community manager who can focus on providing prompt and adequate responses to customer inquiries.

Aside from responding to messages being sent in by customers, community managers also play a key role in establishing a better relationship between brands and their target audience. They are also responsible for developing a more relevant tone that resonates with customers.

Once a brand figures out the right tone to use on social media, they can easily communicate with their audience in a more organic way. This tone helps brands stay consistent to the image they want to project to their target audience.

Staying on top of customer support requests are made easier by automation tools that can be integrated into social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Chatbots can perform basic inquiry ticketing to help community managers address the most urgent inquiries first. Both social media sites are already conducting experiments and studies that can further improve the reliability of chatbots.

Image result for social media customer service chatbots personality

Using sophisticated machine learning and AI technology, these chatbots are also being trained to engage in more natural-sounding conversations with customers. The better these chatbots perform, the more they’ll be able to help brands increase customer satisfaction.

Given the cutting-edge tools and accessibility of websites like Facebook and Twitter, providing customer support through social media has never been easier. The rising trend in customer support through these platforms is bound to change the way brands establish a relationship with their customers and target audience. When used properly, social media can help brands give customers a more pleasurable experience with their products or services.

Social media is becoming one of the most accessible channels for conversations between brands and consumers. Whether brands are ready for it or not, social media will become a place where consumers will express their thoughts and grievances regarding their experience.

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Three ways local businesses can survive the on-demand threat

How worried should brick-and-mortar businesses be about companies like Amazon? Columnist Adam Dorfman weighs in with some thoughts on how local players can stay competitive.

The post Three ways local businesses can survive the on-demand threat appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Posts for small businesses moves to Google My Business

Google has moved the management location of Google Posts and the company hopes to expand Posts to more businesses and organizations.

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How Facebook AI Chatbots Benefit E-Commerce Businesses

Facebook continues to develop AI chatbots to aid e-commerce and retail companies grow their businesses at a minimum cost to tech innovations.

Chatbots are certainly not new. People who dial 1-800 numbers have talked to these smart assistants at one point or another. However, innovations in this technology have made chatbots more interactive and responsive.

Then Facebook came in and changed the layout of the land.

David Marcus, Vice President of Messaging Products at Facebook, revealed that there are now 11,000 chatbots on Facebook reaching almost a billion users. Facebook M, the company’s text-based virtual assistant feature, has been modified to make the AI better.

“M will make automated suggestions based on chat intent,” he wrote last month. “These suggestions will help you get more from your Messenger experience by shortening the distance between what you need to do and getting it done.”

Facebook also introduced more changes to the Messenger which will further aid small businesses in improving customer experience and reaching their target clients. Among the changes are:

  • Smart Replies for Pages – This feature allows small businesses to interact with their customers even if they are too busy managing their day-to-day operations. They can also customize the API to ensure predetermined answers to the most frequently asked questions.
  • Hand-Over Protocol – This feature will allow businesses to manage and even expand their services. With the help of developers, they can create a bot that handles customer service, or another bot which handles orders.
  • Parametric Messenger Codes – This allows businesses to create quick response codes to compartmentalize services. In the future, this bot can be used to utilize the mobile phone camera instead of the price scanner.

Meanwhile, the ability to accept bills payment without bouncing users to an external website has already been rolled out by Facebook last year.

Facebook Messenger is free to use, along with the reach of the social media giant (with nearly 2 billion accounts), and that makes it a perfect option for e-commerce businesses. Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the company are even making it easier for small businesses to embed the conversational tool into their websites.

The potential for Facebook AI chatbots in e-commerce is huge. For instance, they can be customized to fit the goals of the particular business, whether it means promoting the brand, reaching targeted consumers, raising awareness during a product launch, or generating automatic replies to queries. All of these will hopefully influence the decision of the potential customer to order a product, thereby successfully affecting retail conversion.

After the conversion, customer support can also be delegated to these smart assistants so businesses don’t have to hire new people to accept complaints, answer queries, or render post-purchase services.

Facebook AI chatbots also extend beyond the business-customer dynamics. In forging partnerships with other businesses, for instance, these tools can serve as the “advanced party” and give the potential investor the necessary due diligence even before making initial contact.

The success of Siri or Amazon Alexa to assist users in their daily tasks highlights the potentials of AI chatbots in e-commerce. And this will only grow as developers perfect the technology and more people recognize their importance. A study by Oracle last year revealed that 80% of the 800 businesses that participated in the survey believe that they will use AI chatbots by 2020.

A similar study by Gartner, an IT research and advisory company, forecast that nearly 90% of interactions between customers and businesses in three years’ time will be handled by AI chatbots.

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