Why Small Businesses Need Online Payment Apps

Online payment app usage is surging. There are pros and cons to accepting this payment method.

Cash is no longer king, thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic. Online payment apps and e-commerce are exploding in popularity, requiring small business owners to embrace different payment methods. That’s particularly true of businesses forced to shift from an in-person model to an online one during the pandemic. Small businesses that accept online payment apps have tended to fare better than those that don’t.

“Digital payments have become far more accepted,” David Axler, vice president of banking and tax at Wave, told business.com. “It’s become a part of our daily routine. Digital payments are making it easier for customers to pay now that there’s distance between small businesses and their customers.”

What are online payment apps?

Mobile and online payments are transactions facilitated through a mobile device or the internet. It removes the need to pay with cash or payment cards. Digital payments are also used to send money to friends and family through peer-to-peer payment apps.

Online payment apps are essentially digital wallets that securely store the user’s credit card or debit card information. The customer either uses the mobile app on their phone or selects that app option on the merchant’s website at checkout.

What are the pros and cons of payment apps?

Before you accept mobile payment or digital payment at your business, you need to consider the good and the bad. After all, these online payment apps are easy to use and convenient, but they aren’t void of risk. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of accepting online payment apps in transactions with your customers.

Pros of online payment apps

  • They’re now a widely accepted payment method. Prior to the pandemic, consumers were wary of using an online app or mobile wallet for purchases. Sure, the likes of PayPal and Apple Pay have millions of customers, but digital payment apps hadn’t been adopted by the masses. Then the pandemic struck and everything changed. With people stuck at home, e-commerce and online payments exploded. Consumers who previously scoffed at online payment are now using it in droves. According to a recent report by Accenture, by 2023, digital payments will be responsible for close to 420 billion transactions valued at $7 trillion. By 2030, that will increase to $48 trillion.“It speaks to the comfort level of consumers in paying online,” Axler said. “It used to be not well understood, not routine.”
  • You get paid right away. Unless you’re dealing in cash, you may have to wait a few days to get sales from credit and debit card transactions in your bank account. When you accept online payment apps, you get your money right away. You don’t have to wait for credit card sales to process or for a customer to respond to an invoice. Since cash flow is an important aspect of running a small business, the sooner you get money in your bank account, the better.
  • They speed up checkout. With e-commerce heating up, merchants have to find various ways to close the sale. After all, shopping cart abandonment is a real problem for all types of online merchants. Accepting online payment apps streamlines the checkout process. The quicker and easier it is to purchase something, the less likely a customer is to abandon their online shopping cart. Also, the quicker the checkout, the higher the customer satisfaction rate.

Cons of digital payments

  • There’s high potential for fraud. Online payment apps make it easier to purchase goods and services, but that convenience comes with risk. Scammers often target consumers and businesses using online payment apps. One way is through dummy apps that appear in the online app stores. If downloaded, these apps collect a lot of personal information about the user and use it to commit fraud. Encourage your customers to use well-known payment apps that are available straight from their legitimate vendors.
  • They can get pricey to accept. Online payment apps are linked to a user’s credit card or debit card. When they use the app to pay you, you’ll be charged a transaction fee for credit card payments. The amount you pay depends on the credit card and type of transaction. Card-not-present payments, which is the category online payments fall under, typically cost more for the merchant. Basically, the riskier the payment, the higher rate you pay.“It tends to be the most expensive way to go,” said Andi Gray, president of Strategy Leaders. “Business owners really need to know what they need the payment app for.” If it’s to get paid faster or to lower your number of invoices, she said, you should consider an alternative. If you do accept online payments, she said to get the transaction fee below 3%.
  • They’re harder to manage. Online payments might be more convenient for your customers, but they could be much less convenient on your end. Getting all the transactions from disparate payment apps into one accounting system can be cumbersome and time-consuming.“When you start to accept payments electronically, you don’t have them tied to a particular invoice or particular receipt,” Axler said. However, there is cloud-based business accounting software that will automatically gather all your payments under one dashboard to give you a complete view of your sales.

What are some of the leading digital payment providers?

The online payment market is crowded, with all sorts of companies trying to get in on the shift to a cashless society. But several online payment apps in particular are dominating the market.

  • Apple Pay: Used by roughly 500 million individuals around the world, Apple Pay is among the best-known mobile payment apps. Users input their credit or debit card information into the mobile wallet on their iPhone and can then use Apple Pay in stores and online. Apple Pay uses near-field communication technology, or NFC, to enable contactless payments. There is no fee to accept Apple Pay, but you do pay the transaction fees on credit card and debit card sales.
  • PayPal: With more than 300 million users and 3.7 billion transactions as of the second quarter of 2020, PayPal is a popular online payment app for consumers in the U.S. and abroad. Just like Apple Pay, PayPal is free to use and accept, but you’ll pay the normal rates on credit and debit transactions. PayPal also enables businesses to send invoices through its online platform.
  • Cash App: Formerly known as Square, the company’s Cash App has more than 30 million active users, 7.5 million of whom use it daily. There are limits on the number of sales you can accept monthly.
  • Venmo: Owned by PayPal, this is a popular peer-to-peer payment app that counts 70 million users. There are no fees to use or accept Venmo; like its parent company, it just charges transaction rates as if the payment were via credit or debit card. You get paid instantly when a customer uses Venmo.
  • Zelle: Owned by 10 banks in the U.S. – including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Capital One and U.S. Bank – this online payment app lets you accept payments directly from customers’ bank accounts. This removes the need to wait for a check to clear or to collect and deposit cash. Zelle charges you a fee of 2.5% of the transaction amount, with a maximum fee of $15 and a 25-cent minimum. There is no fee to send money with Zelle.
  • Google Pay: Google Pay was rebranded in 2018 and, as of November 2020, has about 100 million users in 30 countries who use it every month. Google Pay works with Android devices and for anyone with a Gmail account. You can also use it to send and receive business invoices. Payments you accept through the app incur the typical rate for card-not-present transactions.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

How to Launch a Home Delivery Business During COVID-19

Is your business in a position to pivot to making home deliveries?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many retail stores to close, but there is an exciting opportunity for small businesses to pivot to a profitable home delivery model.
  • The Ideal Delivery Model framework introduces three core elements necessary to launch a successful delivery business.
  • The three elements include setting up your online store via an e-commerce platform, making sure you have a smart way to plan and optimize your delivery routes efficiently, and ensuring a smooth delivery experience for both the customer and your business. 

There’s no better time to launch a delivery business. Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced retail businesses to close while consumers are stuck at home under quarantine. The demand for home delivery has never been greater, and small businesses can utilize this new opportunity.

Launching a home delivery business from scratch may seem daunting at first (don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of hard work), but small business entrepreneurs are the toughest breed we know. You’re driven, resilient and resourceful. If anyone can do it, you can.

And it shows: In recent weeks, hundreds of businesses have pivoted out of necessity and launched a delivery service in just a matter of days. The good news is that we live in an age of technology where this is possible. The other good news is that demand for home delivery is growing like never before. 

This article will teach you the basics on how to launch a successful delivery business from scratch. We will cover the most important elements of a delivery business –  what I call the Ideal Delivery Model – and we’ll go over some important considerations that will impact your bottom line. It’s important to pay attention to this even if you’re just starting up because it will make the difference between a profitable business and one that bleeds cash.

By the end of this article, I hope that you will feel confident and inspired to launch your home delivery business. 

The Ideal Delivery Model

The Ideal Delivery Model framework highlights the three core elements of a delivery business: 

  1. Sell: Take orders
  2. Plan: Route planning
  3. Deliver: Drivers and vehicles 

Let’s dive a little deeper into each element. 

Sell: Take orders 

If you haven’t already, the first step is to launch an e-commerce store so you can start selling your product. Because e-commerce has been growing for many years, there is a large ecosystem around it. This means there are many software packages to choose from and lots of literature online to help guide you through it. 

With so many choices out there, you might encounter decision paralysis. So here are some thoughts to help you narrow down your choices. 

The look and feel of your online store is just as important as the aesthetics of a retail store. 

First impressions are important, so ask yourself: What do you stand for? Does your new online shop reflect that? How do you differentiate yourself from all the hundreds of online stores popping up?  

Take a look at your direct competitors’ websites for inspiration. If you already do a lot of online shopping, you should be familiar with some of the leading online stores. Some of them offer great experiences while others do not. Take inspiration from them; take notes on what things you want to replicate and what things you’d rather not repeat. 

Your website is an important part of your product and brand, so make sure you spend time thinking about design, and go with an e-commerce platform that prioritizes aesthetics. Look for beautiful, modern-looking templates so you can get your shop up and running quickly. 

Pretty much all e-commerce platforms have free trials, so sign up for at least two and then start browsing through the various templates any of these platforms have available. Pick one you like and that reflects your branding well. Then choose a name for your store and start uploading your products to sell. You can do all of this in just a few days, even if you’re an e-commerce first-timer.

Plan: Route planning

Once you have your e-commerce store set up and you-re collecting orders, the second step of your Ideal Delivery Model is to come up with an efficient plan for your delivery routes. The goal is to deliver your product to your customers in an organized and efficient way. 

I realize “organized” and “efficient” are subjective, so here’s something indisputable: You want to make sure your routes are the most cost-effective for your business. How do you go about doing that? 

Many people think Google Maps can help you do this, but that’s not quite right. Google Maps is amazing at helping people find the shortest distance or fastest time from one point to another. 

But when it comes to planning delivery routes for a business, the key to efficient route planning is to sequence orders so you deliver as many goods as possible in little time. If you have multiple drivers, you’ll need to decide how to split the load in the most efficient way. 

Poorly planned routes – or worse, not planned at all – can lead to a lot of wasted drive time and fuel, resulting in extremely thin margins and potentially even a money-losing business. It’s really important to keep this in mind.

Here’s an image to illustrate the importance of good route planning.

Scaling Up: Route optimization

If your delivery business is just starting out, and you have just a handful of orders, you can resort to manual route planning. Google Maps is the most commonly used free tool, and it can help you in a pinch. You’ll need to plot the addresses into the software, and then eyeball the map so you can manually move the stops around until it looks like you have the most efficient route. 

Most businesses start to feel overwhelmed and bottlenecked with manual route planning when they start dealing with more than 25 orders in a day. This is when route optimization software is recommended. Routing software can help you sequence the stops in the optimal order, and account for a range of complexities like delivery time windows, vehicle capacities and driver schedules. 

Again, do your research, try out at least two route optimization software packages and see which one suits your tastes and business needs best. My only strong recommendation is that you adopt routing technology sooner rather than later.  

Manual route planning is an epic waste of time and resources, and you don’t want to be left scrambling when your delivery business gains some traction. 

If you feel reluctant about having to adopt yet another piece of software, I can assure you that you’ll have a big return on your time investment right away. Good route optimization software should only take roughly 30 minutes to set up (depending on your familiarity with software in general) and will result in immediate ROI.

Deliver: Drivers and vehicles

The last piece to the puzzle is to do the deliveries. Now that you’ve created the perfect route plan, it needs to be executed. If you’re starting off with your first delivery runs, I would recommend that you do the deliveries yourself. This way you get to experience what it’s like, and when you hire and train drivers, you’ll know what to teach them. 

After a few rounds of deliveries, and the order volumes are growing beyond your ability to handle by yourself, it would make sense to hire delivery drivers or get external contractors to help you out. 

There are many places you can look for delivery drivers, such as your local classifieds or Craigslist, or job sites like Indeed – which also published a helpful article on “How to Hire a Delivery Driver.” 

Double-check with your insurance provider if you’re using your personal vehicle, as it typically requires you to be on a commercial-use insurance plan in case something happens on the job. 

Scaling Up: The delivery experience

From the customers’ perspective, the delivery experience is very important. Your delivery fleet and drivers are an extension of your brand. In fact, the delivery experience is the only touch point your customer has with your company – aside from your e-commerce website. This is your chance to leave a good impression! 

In the age of social distancing, contactless delivery has become the new norm. You simply leave the package in front of the door, knock and you walk away. If you are delivering perishables, make sure you wait from a distance to ensure that they’ve received your package. You can also send an SMS to notify the customer that you’ve left the package. This additional touch adds to a nice customer experience. 

I recently had a conversation with an entrepreneur who pivoted his business to launch a meat delivery service. He told me a sad story of a delivery he had made to a customer by leaving it in front of their door. But the customer didn’t know it was delivered and only discovered it a few hours later, at which point, the meat had gone bad. Needless to say, it was a horrible customer experience. 

Such incidents reflect poorly on your brand and are a very simple thing to avoid. To go above and beyond, you can even send them a heads up that the delivery is on the way and expect to be there in 15 minutes. This way, the recipient can be ready to receive the package. If the package hasn’t been delivered yet, the customer can at least inquire about it. Half of good customer support is simply transparent over-communication. 

The final piece of advice for making contactless deliveries is to quickly snap a photo as you leave it at the door. You will inevitably experience disputes where the customer tells you that they never received the package, while your driver swears that they delivered it and left it at the door. A photo as proof of delivery will simplify these disputes greatly.

Aside from using it in case of disputes, taking a photo is another opportunity to delight your customer; you can send the photo to them right after you made the delivery. You’ll notify them of the delivery and show them where the package while avoiding room for disputes in the future. Also, having them receive the package quickly reduces the risk of it being stolen. 

As a bonus, the delivery experience is also an opportunity to add a personal touch to really go the extra mile. Some delivery companies include a handwritten note and a piece of chocolate to sweeten the package. 

I ordered lunch delivery from a restaurant a few weeks ago. As I was unpacking the food, I noticed an envelope in the bag that had a note written on it: “Hope you stay safe and healthy.” Inside the envelope was a mask. I got some warm and fuzzy feelings and immediately told my wife about it. A little human touch goes a long way, especially in the age of isolation. It will reflect well on your brand, and can also lead to positive word-of-mouth. 

In conclusion

The Ideal Delivery Model framework gives you an overview of the important elements operationally – but also economically – to help you launch a successful and profitable delivery business from scratch. 

With everyone stuck at home, now is the time to launch a home delivery business. I’ve seen newly pivoted home delivery businesses reaching more than 200 orders a day within just a week of operations. That’s how much appetite the market has for home delivery services, especially when it comes to essentials like hot food, meal kits and groceries. 

I hope by now you’re feeling more confident that home delivery is something you can do. Being a small business owner, you’re already used to dealing with curveballs and thinking on your toes. Approach this challenge with the same open-mindedness as you did when you first started your own business. The key is starting simple, launching quickly, testing the market for your product and scaling up from there. 

You’ll gain confidence as you hit your milestones, from setting up your first e-commerce website to making that first successful home delivery to your customer’s doorstep. 

By giving your customers a delightful, holistic, end-to-end delivery experience, you’ll be sure to gain happy and repeat evangelists who will spread the word for you and help your delivery business grow.

Look for the second installment from Marc Kuo on how to scale your operations and better handle your logistics in “Scaling Up: The Economics of Your Home Delivery Business.” 

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

Marketing Funnels Explained: Why They Matter & How to Build Yours

Marketing funnels are roadmaps companies use to plan the journey of how someone becomes a customer.

By building out your own marketing funnel, you can uncover: 

  • The stage at which most people drop off
  • Which marketing efforts map to each stage a customer is at 
  • The marketing tactics to double down on and where to pull back
  • How to thoughtfully grow your business 

What is a marketing funnel? 

A marketing funnel visually represents the journey a person takes from the moment they have any interaction with your brand—like reading a blog post—to the moment they make a purchase. Marketing funnels include different stages that correspond to different points in that journey. 

The widest part of the funnel captures the biggest group of people who might be interested in what you sell. As you engage with these folks through marketing activities or direct communication, they move down the funnel until they either drop off or buy your product. 

A more simplified funnel might include awareness, consideration, and conversion. A more segmented funnel might include awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase. Others add on an inverse funnel that maps loyalty and advocacy. It’s up to you how you segment your marketing funnel: go the simple route with three sections or chop it up into 10, whatever works best for you.

For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to focus on three distinct phases: acquire, consider, and convert, as well as post-purchase loyalty. This will cover your top of funnel (ToFu), middle of funnel (MoFu), and bottom of funnel (BoFu).

Why ecommerce businesses need marketing funnels

📈 Funnels encourage more meaningful growth. Funnels give you a clearer way to organize marketing tactics and make it easier to understand which tactics work for each stage of the funnel. For example, you might learn that TikTok videos work wonders to increase awareness about your business, but they do little to drive actual conversions. This allows for more strategic growth: you’ll double down on what works and pull back on what doesn’t. 

❤️ Develop better customer relationships. Who are you marketing to? What do they like? What types of marketing do they respond well to? Establishing a funnel helps you better understand your target audience and what they need to feel excited about making a purchase from you. 

💵 Master your purchase cycle. How long inventory takes to sell depends on your average order value. If you sell heirloom quality diamond necklaces for $15,000 a pop, they’ll take longer to sell than a piece of costume jewelry that retails for $39. But how many weeks does it actually take, on average, for the costly and affordable items to sell? Once you have those numbers, the marketing funnel gives you insight into where to put your money (and when) in order to get those products to sell within the average timeline. 

How business stage impacts your marketing funnel

Your marketing funnel will grow and develop over time based on cultural trends, the products you sell, and the stage your business is at. It’s an evolving model. Like a house, you’d never build one and just let it stand—a structure requires maintenance, care, and attention in order to thrive. 

Brand awareness and revenue are the two main factors that differentiate the marketing funnel for an established business versus one that’s just starting out. 

The level of brand awareness your business has determines how easy it is to attract new customers. If you have high brand awareness, you’ll spend less money on the awareness and acquisition leg of the funnel and more on consideration and conversion. Lower brand awareness means you’ll need to drive hype and spread the word earlier on, meaning that your time and resources will go toward getting new eyes on your products.

The amount of money you bring in determines how much you can spend on marketing activities. The more revenue you bring in, the more you have to spend on paid acquisition and acquiring new inventory. If you’re just starting out and have little to spend on marketing, your tactics will look different. Think: more email marketing, organic blog posts, and social media.

How to develop a marketing funnel 

Together, we’ll build the marketing funnel that makes the most sense for your business. We dive into the tactics for acquisition and awareness, consideration, conversion, and the inverse side of the funnel—loyalty.

Get to know your target audience 

The first step, Amanda says, is to understand who your customer and target audience is. If you haven’t yet established a target audience, she recommends doing a customer persona analysis. 

You can gather the quantitative data for an analysis like that via Google Analytics or through a third-party data platform. You’ll want to look for data points like geography and demographics that better pinpoint who your customers are. 

Gathering qualitative data as well will give you a richer insight into your target audience. You’ll get this information by having one-on-one conversations with the people who have already purchased your product. 

Then, you’ll start to make inferences from that data. What you learn will inform the channels and style of marketing you’ll use. For example, if you sell primarily to teenage girls between the ages of 15 to 20, chances are you’re not going to have to do LinkedIn ads. 

Hopefully, this exploration will help you understand what your audience’s buying process looks like and the platforms they most often frequent. 

Here’s a list of the different activities you can do to uncover your target audience: 

  • Look at cumulative purchase history across all customers. 
  • Use digital analytics tools to gather quantitative information.
  • Run an online survey through a tool like SurveyMonkey.
  • Conduct one-on-one interviews with past customers.
  • Do industry research to explore consumer trends and behavior. 
  • Complete a competitive analysis by looking at competitors’ audiences.

From this information, create buyer personas that detail the common characteristics of the main types of customers that frequent your shop. 

Establish average order value and a consideration timeline

Your average order value (AOV) is the average value of your customers’ purchases. For example, if your shop’s revenue is $2,000 and you’ve had 100 orders, your AOV is $20. 

AOV determines how much focus you put on each part of your marketing funnel. If you sell fine jewelry and your AOV is $1,000, the consideration phase of your funnel is going to be much longer than a shop that has an AOV of $20. Chances are a customer is going to think longer about making that large purchase than they would a smaller one.

We can think about how this relates to the marketing funnel in this way: 

  • High AOV = Long consideration timeline. You’ll want to spend more energy and money on developing content that nurtures people throughout the consideration phase. 
  • Low AOV = Short consideration timeline. You’ll focus more on acquiring new customers and spend your marketing dollars there. 

Amanda notes that this model helps differentiate where you place your budget and the emphasis you put on the different parts of your funnel. 

Phase 1: Acquisition and awareness 

The broadest part of the funnel represents anyone who hears about your product and business. This might be through your own marketing efforts, a recommendation from a friend, a roundup article on Google, or a social media post. These folks are aware your business exists and may or may not have a need for one or more of your products. 

The strategy for each stage of your funnel depends on your target audience and AOV. But, there are a couple of activities that generally make sense for acquisition and awareness. Yes, you can run paid ads, but developing organic content and working with influencers for this stage in the funnel sets you up for longer term success. 

Contributing to a blog on your site not only helps you get traffic via SEO, it further nurtures customers who want to learn more about your products, your business, or your industry in general. 

A presence on social media does similar good. It allows prospects to learn more about your products, get a sense of your brand’s personality and voice, and engage with you by asking questions, posting comments, or sharing content with friends. 

Sometimes you fail to get traffic. Sometimes you succeed with traffic but fail to get conversions. You have to put both of them together in order to grow and grow profitably.John Hart, VP of Operations & Ecommerce for Peepers

Inviting someone to join your email list is another great way to engage with consumers and teach them more about your products. Many businesses offer a discount code to convince people to join; others simply promise compelling content. Whatever you decide, providing the option to subscribe gives you a way to stay in touch with someone, even if they haven’t made a purchase yet. 

When you need to expand your reach further, try partnering with micro-influencers. 

“What I really recommend to brands right now,” Amanda told us, “is to work with micro-influencers or use the audience that they already have built out, because it’s getting very expensive to acquire new audiences through paid search and social platforms.” 

Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers on social media. “If your brand is in line with that micro-influencer,” Amanda says, “chances are their followers are also going to be in line with your business.”

⚠️ Choose your acquisition tactics carefully 

Though we’re talking about awareness and acquisition right now, the methods you use to drive traffic to your site should target prospects that will eventually convert. For example, you might drive a lot of traffic to your website via a podcast. But the listeners aren’t in your target audience, and while they’re curious about your product, they never actually convert. 

Peepers, a brand that sells trendy eyeglasses, ran into a similar issue. The business, like many other ecommerce stores, is trying to diversify how it’s finding customers and getting traffic to its store. The team experimented with some nontraditional routes, and though they had great ads and strong content, they drove traffic—but not conversions.

As John Hart, Peepers’ VP of Operations & Ecommerce told us, “Sometimes you fail to get traffic. Sometimes you succeed with traffic but fail to get conversions. You have to put both of them together in order to grow and grow profitably.”

Phase 2: Consideration 

Consideration is all about developing and nurturing the relationships you have with the people you acquired during the awareness phase. When a prospect reaches the consideration stage, they’ve identified a need for your product. They might need it to solve a problem, spark joy, or give as a gift. When someone reaches this stage, they’re aware of your business, what you do, and the types of products you sell. They might be on an email list or follow you on social media. 

Amanda cites email marketing as the best tactic for prospects in the consideration stage of the marketing funnel. The benefit? These individuals have already bought into your brand at some level because they’re on your email list. 

“You can develop a strong personal story with email marketing,” says Amanda. “You can do quite a bit of brand building in someone’s personal inbox.”

⚠️ Don’t leave consideration out in the cold

It’s easy to ignore consideration and focus on the bookends of the funnel—awareness and conversion. Amanda warns that though some customers will convert right after you acquire them, oftentimes they need more pull to actually make a purchase. 

Phase 3: Convert 

This is the big moment—you’ve posted some great social media content, sent emails that were on point, maybe even worked with an influencer or two. Now, it’s time to drive home your product benefits, business ethos, and unique value props to get that prospect to make a purchase. 

If you don’t have a lot of money, run ads at the purchase stage to get the most revenue for your ad spend.Amanda Tallon, Account Strategist at Shoelace

Two tactics are particularly effective at this stage:

💬 Customer conversations. A customer will likely reach out to you only when they’re actively looking to make a purchase. They’ll look to you to remove any obstacles in their path. Questions might include product clarifications (Can I see a photo of the earrings on?), shipping concerns (Will you ship to Canada from England?), or custom requests (Can you make this in blue?). Speaking directly to a customer builds trust, gives them a sense of who you are and what you’re like to work with, and can quell any remaining concerns they have.

📰 Paid ads. “You can run paid ads at any stage of your marketing funnel,” says Amanda. “But if you don’t have a lot of money, run ads at the purchase stage to get the most revenue for your ad spend.” Paid ads can go farther at this stage in the funnel because prospects already know who you are, what you do, and the products you sell. Ads serve as reminders and should include copy that drives home the things that make your products and brand better than any of the other choices out there.

The inverted funnel: inspire loyalty and get customers to return 

Enticing past customers to return is one of, if not the most, cost effective way to increase your average order value. “It can get really expensive for a business to acquire a new customer. The best case scenario is for a customer to return and make a second, third, fourth, etc., purchase and increase their lifetime value,” says Amanda. 

The Peepers team thinks about driving repeat sales at every point in their business plan, starting with product development. The team creates products with great designs that set them apart from competitors, uses high quality materials, and sells items at a very competitive price point.

“The next step of that, and something that we’ve tried to be even more focused on,” John says, “is delivering the best possible customer experience.” 

Aside from delivering top-notch customer service, here are three marketing activities we recommend for the loyalty section of the funnel. 

Try out a direct-mail campaign. The Peepers team sends direct mail to drive more traffic to their website. There’s so much to experiment with here. Send a postcard with a unique coupon code, a fun branded sticker set, a handwritten note—sky’s the limit. 

Ask for user generated content. After a customer makes a purchase, Amanda recommends sending an email asking for a photo of their purchase and a review. After customers provide the content, you could send a discount code to use on their next purchase. This gives you new content for the awareness stage of the funnel, brings people back to the website, and prompts them to use their discount code. 

Create a loyalty program. Another way to encourage repeat customers is through loyalty programs. Loyalty programs reward customers for making repeat purchases. Girlfriend Collective runs a loyalty program that offers perks based on the lifetime value of a customer. As a customer spends over time, they unlock benefits like free shipping and returns and early access to sales.

Tracking attribution through data and surveys

Now that you’ve completed your marketing funnel, the final step is to ensure that you know exactly where your traffic actually comes from. This tells you where to double down on efforts and where you can pull back.

Because analytics tools don’t take into consideration content that’s nurtured customers to the point of purchase, relying on them solely for attribution doesn’t provide the full picture. To solve for this gap, Amanda recommends setting up post-purchase surveys.

One client, she recalls, was ready to give up on TikTok as a marketing channel after both the platform and Google Analytics showed few conversions. But when they ran a post-purchase survey, TikTok was the third leading platform for new purchasers. 

“We thought the average order value was significantly lower than other channels in the business in general, and it was the second highest,” Amanda says. “So after that, we doubled down on our TikTok ad spend and realized that it was opening up an entirely new market for us.”

If you run a post-purchase survey, include the question, “How did you find out about us?” Be sure to leave a comment box alongside an “Other” option so that respondents can provide an accurate response. 

Unlock new opportunities with a marketing funnel

For some, the journey to becoming a customer is short and direct. For others, it’s a meandering path that winds through many obstacles before they finally commit.

The marketing funnel, while a clear framework for marketing activities, won’t be a true depiction of many customers’ journey. That’s to be expected: some customers will flow through acquisition, consideration, and conversion. Others will bounce back and forth before committing. 

Ultimately, marketing funnels help you clearly map your marketing efforts for any person, from raving fans to newcomers.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

The Basics of Building an Integrated Marketing Strategy

Imagine seeing a billboard advertising a car rental company. The billboard has a red and blue color scheme, and it sports the slogan “Car Rentals Done Right!” You remember the brand name, so later when you get home, you visit the rental car company’s website. The site has an orange and yellow color scheme, and it uses a slightly different slogan: “Do Your Car Renting Right!” You might be asking yourself if this is even the same company.

What you have just experienced is a disjointed brand experience. This hypothetical car rental company gave you a different look and a different message on different marketing channels. As a small business owner, it’s probably in your best interests to avoid such customer confusion. You do this by employing consistent messaging throughout all your marketing efforts. This is known as integrated marketing communications.

What is integrated marketing?

Integrated marketing is the principle of creating consistent messages across all of your marketing communication channels. Companies with an integrated marketing strategy strive to show customers the same visual aesthetic, the same slogans, the same promotions, and the same overall tone across multiple channels. Whether these customers engage with your product via a digital ad, a billboard, or an in-store experience, they’ll see a unified look and feel.

Benefits of integrated marketing

Successful integrated marketing campaigns can yield a wide range of benefits for both small businesses and large corporations. These advantages include:

  • Increased brand awarenessAs a marketer, you want that customer to receive a consistent message that they can rapidly associate with your brand.
  • Multiple opportunities to connect. When your target audience encounters your company across multiple channels, you get multiple chances to deliver the same consistent message.
  • Cost savings. Integrated marketing helps stretch your digital marketing budget. Because you will use very similar creative across multiple marketing channels, it’s like getting several campaigns for the price of one. 
  • Streamlined management. To thrive in the digital commerce economy, many companies embrace omnichannel marketing—which involves a presence on everything from TV to social media platforms to Google Ads. An integrated marketing strategy helps your marketing team manage all these platforms and channels because you’ll be using the same slogan, color scheme, and sales promotions on all platforms.

How to create an integrated marketing strategy

At a high level, creating an integrated marketing strategy is a three-part process: 

  1. Establish creative direction. This is the look and feel of your brand or the big idea behind a singular campaign. It includes color, typography, and voice. As your marketing team selects each of these components, think about whether they can adequately manifest on all of your platforms. For instance, if you choose a special font to represent your brand name, make sure you have a plan to replicate that font anywhere your brand appears. If you render it on a website using HTML5 code, make sure the font is supported on all the platforms you’re using. 
  2. Define channel strategies. This involves determining specific creative executions for each channel, and your plan for distributing the creative across channels. Your design team may work on a revamped look for your company website, or develop a new landing page for your integrated campaign. Your social media team may develop assets for Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, each with their own twist on the program or campaign. Your performance marketing team might develop ad copy variations for Google ads. No matter how many channels you use, they must all work toward the same goal: presenting your brand image in a consistent way across all platforms.
  3. Coordinate your launch. With all teams in place, and each team united in its integrated marketing strategy, it is time to launch your campaign. Your new creative hits your website, your social channels, and your ads. Launching isn’t as simple as flipping a switch, but it should look that way to your customers. 

Final thoughts: Consistency rules

Very few customers consciously judge a company based on the consistency of its marketing efforts. Subconsciously, however, your marketing coordination (or lack thereof) sends a lot of subtextual messages to your audience. 

You probably wouldn’t trust your business to a bank or a wireless company whose ads all seemed different and who had multiple slogans and color schemes. Why, then, if your ad campaigns were equally disorganized, would a customer put that kind of trust in you? Today’s small business owners can’t afford such a risk. They create integrated marketing campaigns with a consistent brand image, giving customers tacit permission to trust them and do business with them.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

What Is Digital Commerce? Learn How Digital Commerce Works

Since the days of the dot-com boom, online retail has gradually come to represent a significant portion of the global marketplace. By 2023, ecommerce will comprise nearly a quarter of global retail sales. But digital commerce encompasses so much more than the simple click of a button or researching a product online before making a purchase at a physical store.

What is digital commerce?

Digital commerce is the end-to-end process of selling goods and services through digital channels. The term encompasses not only the transactions that happen online but also everything that happens before and after. This includes processes like customer research and marketing, data analytics, and even logistics.

Digital commerce vs. ecommerce

Ecommerce is the selling of goods and services online, usually through a website set up and dedicated to those transactions—a customer purchases a product on a website and the website ships that product. Ecommerce is just one part of the customer buying journey, and therefore one part of the entire world of digital commerce.

Digital commerce includes all of the processes and technologies that contribute to a customer’s movement down the marketing funnel, from acquisition to retention. Think SEO optimization to help an ecommerce site rank on Google, retargeted advertising to market products to users after they’ve visited (and left) your website, payment technologies, and the logistical engineering that gets a product from the warehouse to the customer’s house faster and more efficiently. 

Digital commerce also encompasses the next generation of ecommerce, expanding the customer journey and buying experience beyond the click to purchase and into the world of augmented reality (AR) shopping, digital shopping assistants, and more.

How does digital commerce work?

Digital commerce begins the first time a customer encounters a brand or product online. They might see an ad on their social media feed, the brand’s domain name in their Google search results, or a product listing on a retail aggregator.  

Imagine a customer shopping on Amazon, for example. Their site relies on a complex algorithm to show customers individualized search pages for any given item. The order in which items appear might be entirely different from one customer to the next, depending on records of past purchases, geographic location, and any number of other variables.

Every purchase automatically informs marketing for the next—analytics are used to better inform how products are advertised, presented on a website, and even how support and customer inquiries are handled. In this sense, digital commerce is less about the process of getting purchases from point A to point B and more about how information is collected and leveraged to continually optimize the online shopping experience.

Innovations in digital commerce

Much like the internet, digital commerce evolves constantly. Some trends in the industry include:

  • Personalization. Cookies—little bits of code that enable websites to “remember” its users and thus personalize content for them—revolutionized the customer experience online. Today, customers expect an individualized experience, and 88% say they’re more likely to make a purchase from brands that provide customized experiences.
  • Interactive products. Digital retailers have begun to incorporate augmented and virtual reality as additional touchpoints throughout the customer journey. For example, online clothing retailers might use AR to create digital fitting rooms, where customers can try on clothing virtually.  
  • Inventory control. Inventory remains a huge expense for digital retailers—a problem that technology has worked hard to solve. Today, large retailers like Target and Walmart use sophisticated programming to identify product inventories in brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, allowing them to utilize store supplies to fulfill online customer orders. This eliminates the need for separate in-store and warehouse inventories, which can result in expensive overhead. Alternatively, huge digital commerce retailers like Alibaba Express cut out the middle man by connecting consumers directly with suppliers, eliminating the need for significant warehousing.
  • Integrated marketing. Digital commerce—with its myriad channels—has created fragmentation in the customer experience. Integrated marketing is one possible antidote to this challenge: By unifying marketing creative across all customer touchpoints, brands can achieve a cohesive experience that creates better recognition and affinity in a scattered digital world.  

Final thoughts

Digital commerce essentially amplifies the ecommerce business model by expanding its opportunities for value and revenue generation. By leveraging technologies that range from first-party cookies and personalization to AR, brands can create a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

How Financial Planning Can Help You Achieve Your Business Growth Goals

In-demand products and smart marketing are integral to the success of your online store, but the most successful business owners know if the math doesn’t work, their business won’t work. Thorough financial planning lays the foundation for growing a business that goes the distance.

In fact, our data shows high-growth stores, or businesses with outsized levels of year-over-year growth, are more likely than their peers to put together a financial plan. While this foresight can be invaluable further down the road, especially during times of economic uncertainty, every business owner can and should create a financial plan to help grow their business.

A detailed financial plan can reveal opportunities that other businesses might overlook, but it can also highlight potential limitations that can and should factor into a business’ growth plans.

Here, we’ll take a look at what financial planning entails and how it can help you grow your online business. We’ll examine exactly what financial planning is, how to go about conducting it, and other important considerations for merchants of all types and sizes.

What is financial planning?

Financial planning is the process of documenting a person’s or business’ current financial situation and identifying financial goals and how the person or business will achieve them.

A financial plan itself is a document that serves as a roadmap for a person’s or business’ financial growth. It shows where a person or company is currently, where they want to go, and how they intend to get there.

Some people mistake financial plans for budgets. However, the two terms are not interchangeable. Financial plans include budgets but also include other important information, like detailed, itemized breakdowns of a person’s or business’ assets, cash flow, income and revenue forecasts, typical expenditures, and other data that create an overall picture of an individual’s or business’ financial health.

Financial plans also typically include longer-term objectives, such as specific growth goals, as well as potential obstacles that must be overcome to achieve those goals.

Individual versus business financial plans

It’s worth noting that, while most financial plans include much of the same information, there are many differences between financial plans for individuals and for businesses. This is because an individual’s financial objectives are likely very different from those of a growing company.

For example, an individual’s financial plan will typically include a retirement plan, a strategy for making investments, and an estate plan. Similarly, an individual’s financial goals will more likely focus on achieving a minimum annual income, reducing their tax liabilities, and securing their estate for their children.

Conversely, a business’ financial plan is more likely to include goals such as hiring additional staff, purchasing additional inventory, diversifying into new product lines, and expanding to a brick-and-mortar location. These goals are radically different from those of our hypothetical individual above, which means an entirely different strategy—and financial plan—will be necessary to realize those objectives.

Does my business need a financial plan?

Not every business needs a financial plan—but every business can benefit from one.

Creating a financial plan forces you to consider not just where you are right now but also where you want to be and how you want to get there. Most businesses don’t grow accidentally; growth is usually the result of hard work. But without specific goals in mind, you could work hard and still fail to achieve your objectives because your efforts may not be focused on the things that can help grow your business.

For example, many online retailers aspire to open a brick-and-mortar location. But aspirations will only get you so far. By creating a solid financial plan with a specific, tangible goal—such as opening a physical location—you can calculate how much you’ll need to sell to meet your current financial obligations and establish the funds necessary to open that store.

The same principle applies to almost any growth goal for an online merchant. Launching a major marketing campaign, hiring additional staff, expanding into new product lines or service areas—all of these goals become much easier to visualize and achieve when you have a detailed plan of action to back them up.

How do I create a financial plan for my business?

If you’re considering applying for business financing, such as a loan, the lender will likely expect to see a detailed financial plan before making a decision. If this applies to you, it may be worth consulting a licensed financial professional before submitting any loan paperwork. However, you can also prepare your own financial plan to serve as a roadmap for success.

Regardless of the type of business you have (or plan to launch), there are three major components you’ll need to create a solid financial plan:

  1. A balance sheet
  2. A cash flow projection
  3. An income statement

Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

Balance sheets

In a financial plan for businesses, the balance sheet is a statement that outlines all of a business’ assets, liabilities, and any equity the owner holds.

For most merchants and business owners, assets typically fall into two categories: current and fixed. Current assets include the amount of cash a business has available as well as money owed to the business, such as outstanding invoices (also referred to as accounts receivable). Fixed assets are tangible things that a business owns, such as land, property, and equipment. There is a third category of assets known as intangible assets, which refers to copyrights, patents, and intellectual property.

Liabilities are debts that a business owes. This includes any money owed to entities such as suppliers and vendors, employee compensation, and, in some cases, unpaid tax obligations.

Equity is the value of your business’ assets after subtracting its liabilities. Business equity also includes shares or stock options, though this probably won’t apply for most merchants.

Cash flow projections

As its name implies, a cash flow projection is a forecast of how much money flows into and out of your business. Cash flow projections are one of the most reliable indicators of whether your business can afford to repay a loan, for example, so they’re a vital part of any financial plan.

This should not be confused with a cash flow statement. Cash flow projections focus exclusively on how much money is expected to come into and out of your business during a specific time period in the future. Conversely, cash flow statements focus exclusively on how much money actually moved into and out of your business during a specified time period in the past.

Cash flow projections typically focus on three main elements:

  1. Cash revenues
  2. Cash disbursements
  3. A reconciliation of cash revenues to cash disbursements

For most merchants, cash revenues mean how much money your business brings in on a monthly basis. Despite the potentially misleading name, cash revenues should include payments made to your business by credit or debit card, but only if those card payments are likely to be processed and deposited in your bank account within the specified time period.

Cash disbursements are your monthly expenses. This should focus on regularly recurring expenses you pay most months, not one-off payments. This includes everything from lunches paid for with petty cash and office supplies to employee payroll costs and commercial rent (if applicable).

Reconciliations of cash revenues to cash disbursements are calculated by subtracting cash disbursements from cash revenues. This should include any balances left over from the previous month; this balance should be added to your cash revenues total.

Income statements

An income statement is an itemized outline of a business’ expenses, revenues, and profits for a specified period.

Most established businesses create income statements either quarterly or annually, but many new businesses create income statements on a monthly basis. This is because it often can take time for these figures to stabilize as a business matures in its first year or so, and monthly statements offer a truer picture of a business’s financial health during that time.

Income statements typically include the following information:

  • Revenue. The amount of money a business brings in based on goods sold or services provided.
  • Expenses. This should include direct expenses, such as your salary, employee payroll, equipment costs, and materials, as well as general and administrative expenses, such as accounting fees, advertising costs, bank charges, insurance, and rent (if applicable).
  • Total income. This is calculated as your revenue minus expenses before income taxes are subtracted.
  • Income taxes. This includes both state and federal taxes.
  • Net income. This is your total income once expenses and taxes have been subtracted.

How can financial planning help me achieve my goals?

As we mentioned earlier, preparing a financial plan can be a helpful tool in demonstrating your creditworthiness to prospective lenders when seeking business financing. But even if you’re not looking to take out a loan to grow your business, sound financial planning can still help you visualize the true financial health of your business and begin working toward tangible, specific growth goals.

Whether you’re hoping to diversify your business with new product lines, expand into a brick-and-mortar location, or hire additional staff, a solid financial plan can help you identify what’s realistic based on the historical performance of your business or projections based on actual data.

Many business owners fail to realize their goals because they don’t proactively prepare and plan to expand. Even businesses that are doing well can fall into the trap of waiting for growth to just “happen” when in reality it often takes a sustained, deliberate effort to grow a business. This is especially true in uncertain economic conditions.

Almost every business owner has experienced the anxiety that comes with preparing to expand and grow. But financial planning can be a shot in the arm that can give you the confidence you need to pursue opportunities you may not have considered otherwise.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

Budgeting for a Small Business: Make Your Money Work for You

You face many daunting challenges when you’re a business owner, but budgeting for a small business may be the most intimidating. Figuring out what you need to include and estimating the correct financial information is overwhelming enough, let alone organizing it into an orderly budget.

But budgeting for a small business shouldn’t scare you. In fact, it should empower you.

Having a budget is crucial to creating a successful and sustainable business, and it isn’t as complicated as you might imagine. Stick with us as we break down why you should have one and how to navigate budgeting for a small business so that you always know where your money is going.

Why budgeting for a small business is important

Before we get started, you may be curious why budgeting is so essential, especially when your business is small or just getting started.

A business budget is something that you regularly update, giving you the best overview of how your brand’s future finances should look. You fill it with your day-to-day expenses, future income, and upcoming investment, and it will help you better prepare to meet your long-term goals.

Some examples of what a business budget can help with include:

  • Spotting opportunities to increase your revenue
  • Identifying areas to cut spending
  • Predicting slow months to avoid debt
  • Reinvesting untouched funds
  • Making your business profitable
  • Keeping your financials in order for possible loans or investors

In short, having a budget for a business helps you make better informed financial decisions. It means you’re knowledgeable in areas where you spend and highlights opportunities where you could grow.

According to a 2021 study, just 54% of small businesses have an official budget—that’s almost half of all small businesses going without a tool that helps evaluate their performance and properly plan their future.

Now that you know why a budget is important, follow the steps below to produce a budget that will help you stay on top of your finances and keep your business solid and stable.

1. Add all your revenue sources

The first step in preparing a budget for a company is examining all your sources of income. This lets you see what money is flowing in every month.

If you run an online store and that’s your only revenue source, then all you need are those sales numbers. However, depending on your business model, you may need to factor in things like:

  • Sale from trade shows
  • Sales from a brick-and-mortar store
  • Consulting fees
  • Freelance projects

After identifying all income, it’s time to work out your monthly revenue. Remember that you want to calculate your revenue numbers—you don’t need to calculate profit at this stage.

Ideally, you’ll tally income from over the previous 12 months or as far back as is possible, but you can always make informed estimations if your business is newer. The longer you’ve been in business, the more you have to look back over, and the easier it is for you to start identifying trends and patterns. For example, spotting seasonal changes resulting in slower months. Knowing this means you can better prepare for those times.

2. Figure out your fixed costs

a mids hot of a woman's handholding a calculator with one hand and writing notes with the other handWith your revenue worked out, you have a top line figure. Now it’s time to factor in your fixed costs.

Your fixed costs are your business’s recurring expenses. These might be weekly, monthly, or yearly expenses, so it’s important to identify them all carefully—this is why looking back for a full 12 months can be beneficial. Suppose you have a business money management account. In that case, you’ll have good separation between your personal and business accounts. It will be simple to scroll back through your transactions to identify any regular payments you make.

Some examples include:

  • Rent
  • Internet and phone
  • Supplies
  • Insurance
  • Payroll
  • Website hosting

If your business is new, you’ll want to use projected costs, such as your monthly rent going forward, your expected utility bills, and so on.

Once you’ve got all your fixed costs, add them together and you’ll have your total monthly fixed cost expenses.

3. Factor in variable costs

An overhead shot showing an ipad, Shopify Balance card, and open note book amongst flower potsAfter tallying up your fixed costs, you should now think about variable expenses. As the name implies, these are recurring costs, but the amount isn’t fixed and can fluctuate month to month, depending on many factors.

  • Variable costs could include:
  • Materials
  • Shipping and delivery costs
  • Utilities
  • Travel costs
  • Freelancers
  • Marketing costs
  • Training courses and professional development

As you note your variable costs, you might start identifying costs that you could easily cut during slower months, when it makes sense to reduce spending. On the flip side, you’ll also get a good idea of the ideal time to increase variable spending to invest in your business. Training courses and marketing costs are good examples of these.

4. Consider upcoming one-time spends and investments

The next category of expenses for a business budget is those things that happen infrequently, but still need to be accounted for.

Items in this category could be new hardware such as laptops or label makers—these aren’t going to be items you buy every six months but will likely pop up every couple of years. And when you consider these one-time spends are often for things crucial to the running of your business, you’ll quickly realize why it’s essential to budget for them.

5. Have a contingency fund

Hands in the foreground cont cash, while in the background a woman uses a calculator and makes notesThis step goes hand-in-hand with the one above—budgeting for unexpected costs should not be left out.

Running a business is complex, and there are many aspects to consider. It’s also totally understandable—and likely—that an unexpected cost will arise. Maybe an important piece of machinery unexpectedly breaks down during your busiest period, or perhaps an accident puts your van out of commission.

These types of unpredictable events are stressful enough on their own, but having money budgeted for and set aside for them will go a way to alleviating the stress.

When your business isn’t at the stage where it’s feasible to have a sum of money in an emergency fund just waiting, other services can help. However, a solid contingency fund offers a little more protection and comfort.

6. Do the math and find your profit margin

Once you’ve noted all your income and various expenses, you now need to put everything together and create your profit and loss statement.

First, add all your income streams together, then add up your different expenses. You should end up with two numbers. Next, subtract your total expenses from your total revenue and you’ll have either a positive number, meaning your business turned a profit, or a negative number, which is a loss.

Here’s an example of a small business budget:

Expenses:

Fixed costs

Internet: $65
Shopify plan: $29
Insurance: $50
Bank fees: $20
Accountant and tax adviser: $100

Total fixed costs: $264

Variable expenses

Freelancer wages: $500
Travel: $100
Trade show event registration: $300
Marketing: $500
Raw materials: $750
Shipping: $300
Printing supplies: $120

Total variable expenses: $2,570

One-time spends

New label maker: $150
New office chair: $200
Free samples for trade show: $120

Total one-time expenses: $470

Total expenses: $3304

Total income ($4,500) – Total expenses ($3,304) = Total net income ($1,196)

If you see loss, don’t be disheartened. Not all small businesses are profitable every month. By making a business budget, you’ve put yourself in a position to examine all your finances better. Perhaps now you can spot areas where you can cut back costs and see where you drive the most income and invest more resources into those areas.

For businesses that are turning a high profit, study your business budget to find areas where you can make investments to streamline and scale. Perhaps this is training courses or new software, or maybe it’s marketing or research and development of new products.

7. Set your budget for the coming months

A man wearing glasses works at a laptop on a bench in a workshop

With all of that work done, you now have something that accurately documents your business finances. While this is incredibly helpful and can help inform sound financial decision making, a good budget is future facing and should help you plan future investments—or avoid them.

Although it’s impossible to know precisely what your future income and expenses will be, you’ll be able to make relatively accurate estimates if you’ve tracked previous years and months. If your business is new, start by making conservative, educated guesses. You can revise and refine your budget to become more accurate with time.

Spend some time creating your future-focused budget document using the historical profit and loss statement you created with the steps above, including all your revenue and expenses.

Consider things like when key pieces of equipment or hardware were last purchased and budget for buying new items or paying to get them professionally serviced.

Take a look at the trends and patterns you saw last year and make plans in your budget accordingly. For example, if you sell children’s backpacks, you might see that the back-to-school season is one of your busiest periods. You can use that information to decide if you want to hire more staff during this period, increase your marketing budget, or extend your business hours.

Don’t stop now—keep up with your budget

If you’ve completed all these steps, you should now have a comprehensive future-focused budget, built from your historical financial data.

But don’t stop there!

A business budget isn’t a set-and-forget type of thing. It needs to be kept up to date and as accurate as possible for it to be of any use. As a business owner, you probably have a million other things that also need your attention, so find a budgeting system that works for you.

If you’re a new business owner or have time but not money to invest in your budget, set aside dedicated time each week to keep your budget updated. Create folders and processes for anything related to your budget, so you don’t waste time looking for lost receipts or sales data.

If you want to invest a small amount of money, pay for an accounting software subscription. This will integrate with your online store and can be set up to automatically track your incoming and outgoing.

Finally, for many small business owners, using an accountant can be worth the investment so they can manage your budget and let you know things such as when spending is on track and what you need to set aside for business taxes.

Conclusion

Constructing a business budget can be intimidating, but as you’ve just discovered, it isn’t as hard as you may think.

Putting in a bit of time will produce a document that reveals your revenue and spending patterns. And using what you find, you’ll be in a better position to keep your debt to a minimum, maximize your profits, and protect your small business from whatever challenges may arise.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

12 Types of Marketing: A Guide to Different Marketing Strategies

Social media stories. Video marketing. And the instantly recognizable TV commercial. These are different types of marketing with shared goals: to engage, inform, and attract customers to a business’s products or services. Marketing refers to any of the activities companies engage in to promote or sell products and includes operations such as market research, content production, and advertising. In 2021 alone, both digital and non-digital advertising generated more than $200 billion in revenue. 

A core part of marketing includes researching and collecting data to effectively target and retain potential customers, plus increasing a company’s sales. Without such efforts, businesses would have a difficult time reaching consumers and promoting a product or service. Since marketing takes many forms, determining which is the most effective type comes down to the business model, desired demographic, and budget.

5 types of traditional marketing

Companies often rely on traditional marketing methods, like TV ads and billboards, that work in tandem with digital marketing to reach a wide audience. 

1. Outdoor marketing 

Outdoor marketing is any type of marketing that takes place outside of the consumer’s home—and outside of the digital realm. This form of marketing relies on high visibility within the public realm and may include billboards, flyers, shop signs, transit vehicles, bench ads, or even stickers—all designed to draw attention to a particular business or service. 

2. Print marketing

This form of marketing is the distribution of advertising in magazines, newspapers, and brochures. This method can help gain attention for a business at either the local or national level. Print ads in a local newspaper, for example, can help promote services throughout a community, while an advertisement in a nationally distributed magazine can garner brand awareness more broadly, across multiple markets. 

3. Event marketing

Event marketing is a marketing strategy specifically designed for conferences, professional seminars, trade shows, or other industry events. With event marketing, business representatives set up booths or promotional hubs to maximize their exposure, generate leads, and increase their potential client base. This approach involves direct face-to-face interaction, effectively connecting customers with a brand or service to build a solid, long-term relationship. 

4. Direct mail marketing

With direct mail marketing, businesses send advertising materials directly to the customer’s home. Effective mailings often contain a call to action (CTA) or an incentive like coupons and discounts to encourage potential customers to become actual customers. Direct mail marketing recipients may have previously expressed interest in the business, or simply been part of a community mailing effort by a local business. 

5. Television and radio marketing

While TV and radio have evolved to meet the demands of the streaming era, TV and radio commercials are still highly influential and effective marketing methods. The costs for television ads can vary depending on network and time slot but can be expensive—even for a few seconds of airtime (over $6 million for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl). The same goes for radio stations, where pricing for a spot may differ depending on the broadcast location. 

With the possibility of thousands (or millions) of dollars on the line, TV and radio advertisers must get creative and maximize their time to captivate their target audience. That may mean using punchy, emotional, funny, or otherwise memorable content to quickly grab and hold the viewer’s attention—increasing the likelihood of gaining a new customer (or at least piquing interest in researching the business). 

7 types of digital marketing

Digital marketing is an entirely different beast than traditional marketing, though with the same goals in mind: customer acquisition and retention. Digital marketing appears in a variety of forms across the internet—from pop-ups to YouTube commercials to targeted ads. 

1. Search engine marketing

There are two main types of search engine marketing tactics businesses employ to increase traffic: paid and organic. Both are effective in their own right, providing a company with two distinct ways to reach its audience. 

  • Paid. Paid search engine marketing (SEM) places sponsored advertisements on the search engine results page (SERP), increasing the likelihood that users will be targeted by those ads compared to finding them organically. 
  • Organic. Organic search engine optimization (SEO) relies on an understanding of internet traffic patterns and targeted keywords to increase a company’s ability to reach users in a more natural way. SEO uses these terms to help improve a website’s ranking, which in turn increases visibility and attracts more customers.

2. Email marketing

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that targets groups of current or potential customers. Similar to direct mail marketing, email marketing delivers promotional materials straight to a person’s inbox. These materials take the form of sale solicitations, coupons, promo offers, and donation requests. 

3. Content marketing

Content marketing is a type of marketing that relies on produced content to not only entertain audiences, but also drive engagement, promote a brand, or build customer loyalty. Creating valuable content is an effective form of inbound marketing, which draws viewers to a brand rather than aggressively chasing after their attention. 

  • Podcasts. Podcasts are audio-only content that can help bring awareness to a particular person or service. For instance, a business analyst with a weekly podcast series may give away advice on their platform to capture audience loyalty. In turn, this could lead to paid speaking engagements, teaching offers, or other lucrative activities for the podcast host. 
  • Infographics. Infographics combine visuals and data to educate an audience about a specific service or product. This data-rich content provides user-friendly information alongside graphics, which come in various forms including flow charts and step-by-step breakdowns. Together, they make it easy for viewers to absorb and retain information. 
  • Video. Unlike podcasts and infographics, video content incorporates audio with visuals to create a compelling CTA. Video marketing can attract users to certain social media platforms, websites, or product pages. 

4. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a popular marketing strategy for any business with—or looking to build—an online presence. Social media marketing strategies include both organic and paid methods to recruit new customers and reach out to existing ones. 

  • Organic. Organic social media marketing involves free posts on social media sites that use photos, videos, captions, and hashtags to reach an audience. These posts may appear on sites like Twitter or Instagram, but are subject to the platform’s algorithm and come with no guarantees of reaching a targeted number of viewers. 
  • Paid. Brands or companies can pay certain social media platforms to bypass the free algorithmic limitations and promote their advertising content. Paid social media posts have a higher chance of reaching a larger viewership by extending beyond the business’s own follower pool. 

5. Performance marketing

Performance marketing, sometimes called affiliate marketing, relies on advertising through a third party to convert customer interest into a definable action, specifically, a purchase. The name derives from the affiliates that promote the product or service, and only earn a commission if their strategies result in a buy. This is a low-risk, trackable strategy for brands, which only pays advertisers if they are making money themselves.

6. Influencer marketing

An influencer marketing strategy involves companies paying an external content creator or otherwise influential person (often with a substantial social media following) to promote a certain product or brand. Influencers usually get paid per post or promo, with the goal of driving engagement or increasing a company’s conversion rate. Influencers may also participate in affiliate marketing, although they are not guaranteed payment unless their strategies result in a sale. 

7. Acquisition marketing

Acquisition marketing is a strategy specifically designed to attract new customers, converting strangers to the brand into qualified leads. Focusing on the top of the sales funnel, acquisition marketers focus less on retention and are more concerned about attention. Companies can use tactics such as SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing to increase customer acquisition rates. 

What is brand marketing?

Brand marketing spans both traditional and digital marketing, and extends beyond the basic awareness-to-conversion funnel to establish a lasting relationship between the consumer and the brand itself. Brand marketers research their customers to build buyer personas, around which they can create messaging that establishes a connection between the business and the customer. This relationship and trust built with the customer help make items or images associated with the brand more readily recognizable (think the Apple logo or Nike swoosh). High visibility and recognition are two effective ways to remind customers about your products. 

Final thoughts

Marketing is a complex field that requires research, analytics, and strategy to determine the best way to reach an audience. The right marketing strategy depends on a number of factors, such as company size, budget, and ultimate goals. For instance, direct mail marketing may be more successful in older, tight-knit communities, whereas younger audiences may be more receptive to punchy social media campaigns and trendy video content. With so many marketing avenues to choose from, every company has ample opportunity to embrace the strategies that might be the best fit based on short- and long-term goals, target demographic, and available financial resources.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

How to Conduct a Successful Marketing Experiment

Imagine a small business concurrently running two sales. One sale trumpets: “Buy one, get one 50% off!” A second sale offers, “Get 25% off when you buy two!” These two sales represent the same amount of savings. A customer purchasing two units would end up saving 25% on each unit. No matter which offer a potential customer chooses, the business’s bottom line remains the same.

However, when the business tests these two promotions, it notes a trend. The first sales pitch, which mentions getting a product for 50% off, is drawing more customers than the second pitch, which mentions 25% off two products. The company chooses to ditch the second marketing campaign and go all-in on the first one. Effectively, the company has just run a marketing experiment.

What are marketing experiments?

Marketing experiments are a form of market research whereby businesses test different material and/or means of communication (such as sales pitches, calls to action, social media posts, and email marketing campaigns) to see which ones yield the best results. 

For instance, a company might run two concurrent ad campaigns: one on Instagram and one on TikTok. The creative is the same, but the platforms are different. The company wants to gain insight into which platform drives more traffic to the company’s website. If the company sees a difference with statistical significance, it may choose to fully commit more budget to the platform that produced a higher yield.

This marketing experiment, where two outreach approaches are compared side by side, combines active marketing campaigns with market research. Insights gleaned from the research will inform marketing strategies for future campaigns.

How to conduct a successful marketing experiment

A typical marketing experiment involves five steps that span planning, execution, and analysis. Here are the steps, as they apply to a hypothetical shoe company running an A/B email marketing campaign. A/B tests are where two (or more) different versions of a messaging or UI element (for example, the placement of an “add to cart” button on a page, or using “buy now” instead of “add to cart”) are sent to two randomized groups of users to see which version performs better.

  1. Determine what you want to learn. Our hypothetical shoe company has decided it wants to test different email marketing messages about a promotion to see which version has the highest open rate. 
  2. Establish your experiment parameters. Now the shoe company’s marketing team gets into specifics. It will conduct an A/B marketing test based on email subject lines. Half of its mailing list will get a message with a subject line that reads “Surprise! Our Biggest Sale of the Year!” The other half of its mailing list will get a message with the subject line “Exclusive Limited Sale: 48 Hours Only!” Recipients will be divided into two groups: those who have bought from the brand before, and those who haven’t. Half of each group will receive one message; half will receive the other. The contents of the email will be the same, and use both “biggest” and “limited time only” language. 
  3. Deploy the experiment. Our shoe brand sends these emails out the day the sale launches. 
  4. Collect data. As the marketing experiment progresses, the marketing team monitors the open rates among the recipient groups: previous buyers who received the “biggest” email, previous buyers who received the “limited” email, prospective customers who received the “biggest” email, and prospective customers who received the “limited” email. 
  5. Analyze the results. Once the sale concludes, the brand evaluates its data and learns that customers who were informed about an expiring sale (“48 Hours Only!”) opened the email at a 7% higher rate than those who received the “biggest” message. The company decides this is a statistically significant result, and it resolves to mention “expiring” sales more often in its future marketing campaigns.

Common marketing experiments

Companies use marketing experiments to study nearly all components of their marketing strategies. These experiments include:

  • Ad copy. Companies invested in digital marketing may run marketing experiments with different advertising content. They experiment with headlines and calls to action to see what drives more clicks.
  • Website landing pages. Companies sometimes show different website landing pages to different customers, studying whether landing page content can affect customer conversion rates.
  • Social media influencers. The role of influencers has surged on social media. Companies can conduct a simple marketing test by paying multiple influencers to offer a referral code or exclusive link to their audiences. The influencer who drives more traffic to the website (and more sales) can prove they are worthy of an ongoing partnership with the company.
  • Automation as part of the customer experience. Many of today’s online sales platforms offer automated chatbots that can handle basic customer requests. Companies can conduct a marketing experiment by letting some website visitors interact with these chatbots while other website visitors interact with human representatives. They can analyze if using cost-saving automation impacts sales outcomes.
  • Email subject lines and preview text. A basic subject line test focuses on email open rates: Companies want to see what types of subject lines inspire more people to open messages. These tests can go further by linking subject lines and preview text to click-through rates and, ultimately, conversion rates.
  • User experience. Ecommerce vendors often experiment with the user experience (UX) of the checkout flow on their website. Shopify offers many resources in this department, handling the checkout UX so that small business owners can focus on other areas of their company.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M

Guide to Small Business Marketing: 10 SMB Marketing Tips and Strategies

Imagine two online retailers. One makes custom greeting cards by hand using a mixture of woodcuts, watercolor, and calligraphy. Their prices are remarkably fair for what they offer, and their customers adore their work. However, this retailer has no marketing plan and relies on word of mouth to let people know about their cards. The second seller buys premade cards in bulk and sells them at a 50% markup on eBay. There is no personalization, and the price is relatively high compared to similar generic cards on the market. However, this second seller has gone all-in on their marketing efforts, using digital marketing tools, social media posts, and an email list to reach potential customers for their cards. Which business do you imagine makes more sales?

Many small businesses either thrive or perish based on their ability to attract attention. A business with an excellent product but no marketing plan could flop, while a rival with a mediocre product could hang on due to exemplary marketing efforts. 

What is small business marketing?

No matter how big or small your business, the core principles of marketing are the same. Of course, a small business tends to have fewer resources and smaller budgets than a corporate behemoth.

A small business marketing plan can include any and all of the following components:

  • Brand strategy. This answers the questions: What is your company’s identity, who does it exist for, and what makes it different from competitors? This is the foundation of all marketing efforts, as it defines your company relative to the market. 
  • Content. This is what your company wants to say about itself, its products, and perhaps the world. Content can take many forms: from an Instagram post to a blog post to a billboard. 
  • Advertising. This is one of the ways you get your brand and your content out into the world. It could include bidding on strategic keywords in a search engine marketing strategy, promoting social media posts to reach new audiences, or paying for a pre-roll ad slot on a podcast.  
  • Social selling. Small business owners can build a network and a trusting relationship among an existing or prospective customer base by using social selling techniques. Rather than pushing products to customers, you focus on building a trusting relationship with your customers, which may eventually lead to sales. You do this primarily by facilitating discussions and interactions with you (and by extension, your brand) over social media or through casual social gatherings. 
  • Public relations campaigns. This is an effort to get your company or product mentioned in the media. You might send a press release to hopefully inspire a news outlet to cover your business and perhaps conduct an interview with you or members of your team. News interest in your brand can come from a variety of sources beyond a press release, however, such as a campaign going viral, for example. 
  • Customer acquisition. Customer acquisition is the bottom of the marketing funnel—you know who your customers are, they’re interested in you, and you just have to get them over the finish line to make a purchase. For an ecommerce business, you can optimize your product page for sales, making sure the important purchasing information is clearly visible with clear images and a prominent purchasing button. You could use A/B testing, where you give two sets of customers two different page designs or messages to see which performs better. You can make sure your checkout flow is easy, seamless, and safe—customers have multiple options for payment, including things like Shop Pay or Apple Pay, so customers don’t have to input their credit card information. 
  • Customer retention. Once you have your customer, retention is the act of keeping them as customers—by having them ideally buy your product or service again and again. Marketers use reengagement efforts, like an email newsletter or push notifications. These act as reminders to customers that your company exists and often include a call to action, such as acting on a current sale. You can also improve the interactions your customers have with your company by improving your customer service—reducing response times to queries or ensuring that customers get to speak with a human and not a robot. The ultimate goal of a small business’s marketing efforts is gaining new customers—ideally customers who will remain loyal for many years.

How to effectively market your small business

When you’re ready to launch a marketing campaign for your small business, it will help to orient your efforts around six main tasks:

  1. Describe your goods and services in your own terms. Begin your marketing efforts by writing up descriptions of the products or services that you offer. Think about what value they bring to your target audience or what problems they solve. Brainstorm what makes your offerings so great, and write about them earnestly. This will provide a framework for how you will market your product to the public.
  2. Assess the competition. Unless you have invented a product from scratch, there’s a good chance you’ll have competitors. Take note of how they market their goods. Are they mostly using digital marketingtools? Have they dug into social media marketing? Do they engage in influencer marketing, where a famous online celebrity endorses their products? What language do they use to describe their products? Pay equal attention to what they’re selling and how they’re selling it.
  3. Determine your unique sales proposition. A unique sales proposition, or USP, is the trait that your business has that makes it stand out from the pack. Now that you know your competition, decide how you will differentiate yourself in the eyes of your target audience. Perhaps you will beat your competitors on price, or on product quality.
  4. Set your marketing budget. Lay out all of the expenses associated with your marketing plan, and consider how to best allocate your dollars across them. You’ll likely need people and tools, plus an advertising budget. You might also want to allocate free products for influencers, or budget to have a presence at a live event. 
  5. Plan and begin your campaigns. Having established a budget and marketing plan, it’s time for you to plan and launch your campaigns. Depending on your budget, you can make these campaigns diverse, with a mix of paid digital advertising (web-based ads, paid social media posts, influencer marketing), traditional advertising (radio, TV, print ads, billboards), social selling (person-to-person engagement on social media platforms), and content marketing (blog posts, podcasts, explainer videos). 
  6. Track results and make adjustments. Not every marketing effort succeeds. Stand at the ready as you see which marketing messages land—and which don’t—and which channels work best. Marketing is not a “set it and forget it” proposition. It requires continual monitoring and adjustments as you learn more about your target audience, its media consumption, and its spending habits.

3 strategies for small business marketing

Small business marketers face challenges that do not apply to big businesses. Use these four strategies to navigate the unique waters of a small business marketing campaign.

  1. Use content marketing to build organic web traffic. Content marketing requires a lot of work up front, but once you invest in creating a great piece of content, it can live on forever. You can build up a following on YouTube by creating genuinely useful videos about your product or industry that would interest your target audience. Blog posts that answer questions people are searching on Google can bring organic inbound traffic to your website. 
  2. Word of mouth is your friend. When you’re starting out and don’t have a lot of customers, call on your loved ones to get the word out about what you do. Word of mouth marketing relies on organic conversations and engagement with or about your company, such as those that happen on social media (likely your main driver of word of mouth) or those that happen in real-life interactions. According to Nielson, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, so you can take advantage of this by building your social media presence, starting a hashtag campaign around your brand, or having friends act as ambassadors for your company.
  3. Create a unified image for your brand. Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional brand consultant, you can still use your internal resources to create a unified look for your company. This includes a logo, a color scheme, a font set, a slogan, and a fixed description for your offerings. In addition to creating an aura of professionalism, this process will help you with integrated marketing efforts, where the goal is to have a consistent look and message across all of your marketing channels.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, and more.
With a successful track record of over 20,000 clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us: 

www.shopshipshake.co.za

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:https://bit.ly/3ks0m1M