ClearSale and Big Commerce Prep Ecommerce Small Business

ClearSale and Big Commerce Prep Ecommerce Small Business


ClearSale and Big Commerce have come together to help small businesses address fraud as the holiday shopping season fast approaches. And this year, more than any other year, primarily driven by the pandemic, more people are going to be shopping online. This means fraudsters are also going to be just as busy.

In addition to the criminals, small businesses also need to ensure they do not make false declines from legitimate customers. This is especially important because, according to ClearSale, 33% of online shoppers say they will never shop with you again. What is more, 25% will likely get on social media and talk about their negative experience. That’s not good all around.



ClearSale and Big Commerce Partner for Ecommerce Sellers

The false declines might be higher this holiday shopping season for small businesses because there will be first time customers. And because these customers do not have purchase history, false declines are likely to take place, according to Denise Purtzer, ClearSale’s VP of Partnership.

In the release announcing the collaboration with Big Commerce, Purtzer adds, “Fraudulent charges are damaging to a merchant, but many are surprised to hear that false declines are even more damaging. We want to help online retailers walk the line between not declining valid purchases and blocking fraudulent ones.”

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The key, as with most things in life, is finding a balance. ClearSale says it provides a solution that protects your business from fraud, while ensuring you do not turn down good customers. By combining advanced statistical technology along with fraud analysts, you can have a balanced approach to protecting your online sales.

Once you have the right solution in place you can get rid of chargebacks, make quick payment decisions, and increase your approval rates. With this type of security and reliability, you can start selling in more markets while accommodating sales peaks during this upcoming holiday shopping season or any other time of year.

Get More Information

You can get more information in a previously recorded free webinar titled, “Tis the Season for Fraud: How e-commerce merchants can balance fraud prevention and customer experience this holiday shopping season.”

Image: ClearSale




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How to Earn More Positive Reviews for Your Business (In Less Than a Week’s Time)

How to Earn More Positive Reviews for Your Business (In Less Than a Week’s Time)


Times have changed, and your digital presence is arguably more important than your physical store these days. There aren’t the same limitations for online sales as there are with brick and mortar stores, and even small ecommerce businesses can quickly be catapulted to the international stage.

Making your digital presence strong is of the utmost importance, and positive online reviews are one of the most surefire ways to boost your business’s value in the eyes of new consumers.



Aggregating Customer Reviews

Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center has found that aggregating customer reviews next to online product listings boosts sales conversion rates across the board. Interestingly, while products with lower prices saw a conversion rate boost of 190%, which is impressive enough, in the case of higher-priced items, researchers observed a jaw-dropping 380% conversion rate boost.

There’s arguably no other aspect of ecommerce with such a direct positive correlation to customer sales conversion. The numbers speak plainly in that having both positive and numerous reviews is a boon for any business.

Utilize the following strategies for positive review acquisition, and you’ll have a powerful marketing tool that is more valuable than any advertisement could ever hope to be.

Fan Positive Flames

An easy and quick method to build a positive review base is to simply capitalize on your successes. Train your customer service team to take note when you have an especially satisfied customer, and once the issue is fully resolved, reach out about leaving a review.

If you grow your social media presence authentically, then in time you will likely gather what some call “superfans.” These customers strongly identify with your brand and are looking for an avenue to become more involved and deepen their connection. Capitalize on their interest by encouraging them to post online reviews.

When reaching out about leaving a review, ensure your tone is personal and earnest. Insincerity reeks and could potentially flip a positive review to neutral — or worse.

When you can identify customers who are already excited about your product and service, sometimes you just need to hold their hands a bit through the review process. By doing this, their positive energy expands beyond word of mouth into a concrete asset for your business.

Engage via Email

Review acquisition is an art in itself, and email outreach is by far the most effective channel, simply because by the time a customer is ready to leave a review, they’ve already grown used to seeing your brand’s emails in their inbox. Not that this means outreach is simple. It’s an important enough niche that entire agencies specialize in review acquisition experiments and analytics.

Ryan Chaffin, founder of KAHA, breaks email-based review requests down into three types of methods. “An email blast is when you simply email your entire email list and ask for reviews,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “Personal emails are when you reach out to customers individually with a personalized email and ask for reviews. Automated email sequences are our favorite because you can reach out to your entire email list while making the emails feel personal, which increases the odds of getting more real reviews from happy customers.”

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It’s a deep game, and each of these methods can be fine-tuned over time to best fit your business’s needs. Once you have a winning formula, they require little in terms of time and upkeep.

With an effective email workflow supplemented by outstanding customer service, your business has the necessary tools in its hands. From there, the only obstacle is time.

Persist and Respond

Sometimes the process is a bit like having to jiggle a key to unlock an old door. Apply too much force, and you might snap the key outright, but without enough pressure you’ll never move the deadbolt. It requires a little patience and a combination of techniques until you finally find that sweet spot to pop it open, and once you do, it all becomes more natural.

Having a framework in place for your review acquisition experimentation processes can mean the difference between growth and stagnation. It helps avoid your outreach coming across as overbearing and gives you the time necessary to observe what’s working. Once you’ve identified your most effective tactics, the plan can then be further improved upon with new insights.

One parameter worth experimenting with is the lag time between order fulfillment and outreach. “In most cases, it’s a good idea to ask for a review 3-5 days after the transaction has taken place,” suggests marketing thought leader Neil Patel “This will give them the chance to engage with your offering and come up with an honest opinion, in terms of how good it is and if they’d feel comfortable recommending it to other people.”

Patel goes on to elaborate on how split testing different aspects of your emails, and tracking the different results, can ultimately lead to an overall more effective process. When a customer does leave a review, don’t leave them out in the cold. Respond to them warmly, so this kind of behavior is recognized and affirmed, increasing the likelihood they (and potentially others) will leave a review again. And replying to negative reviews can help protect your reputation, while also paving the way towards fixing a bad customer experience.

As with so much else in the business world, persistence pays dividends. While these techniques can certainly work for you within weeks, the true rewards will be reaped in the many prosperous months to follow.

Show Your Strength

Once you have glowing reviews at an impressive and trusted industry level, don’t be shy with them. These are just as impactful as any photo could be, and they should be an integral part of everything from pitch emails to point of purchase displays.

By showing that it’s not just you standing by your products, but your past customers as well, you exude confidence that all customers seek when considering their next purchase.

Image: Depositphotos.com




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OhWaiter Releases SMS Restaurant Ordering and Payment Service

OhWaiter Releases SMS Restaurant Ordering and Payment Service


Do you want to remove more points of contact in your restaurant? Well, OhWaiter lets your customers use their own smartphones to place an order, make a request, and pay. Better yet, you can use it in hotels, stadiums, bars, and other hospitality venues for $149 per month per property.

What makes OhWaiter so easy and accessible is it uses text message (SMS) alerts without downloading an app. This is yet another pain point this service removes for customers because they don’t have to add another app on their device.



OhWaiter Ordering and Payment Service

What exactly is OhWaiter? It is a service that enables restaurants, hotels and other businesses to provide full service to their customers via text message alerts.

According to founder and LA-based restaurateur, Jonathan Chu, the reason he founded the company was to, “… Help improve the guest dining experience and operator efficiencies.” However, the pandemic added more value to the platform.

In the press release, Chu said, “We created OhWaiter because we not only saw a service need for busy restaurants but during COVID19, it’s especially important for restaurants to offer exceptional service while maintaining physical distancing and contactless customer service”

How Does it Work

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When your business orders the service from OhWaiter, you get:

  • Up to two tablets per location
  • A phone number for text messages
  • A tablet to view and respond to guest messages
  • A handbook and helpline for any customer questions

When a customer wants to order something, they use the number OhWaiter provides to text the message. The staff then uses one of the tablets to communicate with the customers about their orders.

Is OhWaiter for You?

If you are in the hospitality industry, the answer is a definite yes. Why, because it is not expensive, it is easy to use and customers don’t have to use another device.

At a time when people want to limit their point of contact, OhWaiter offers a solution with zero points of contact. Moreover, it has a great feature that doesn’t allow the staff to text your guests. The platform has pre-programmed responses to ensure the privacy and safety of your guests and simplify the communication.

Image: Depositphotos.com




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How Small Retailers Can Plan for a Safe Post-Coronavirus Reopening

How Small Retailers Can Plan for a Safe Post-Coronavirus Reopening


For most of 2020, small businesses all across the US have had their hands full trying to stay afloat amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For some, it has meant slashing costs to the bone and putting their operations in hibernation with the hopes of a resumption when the crisis abates. For others, it has meant doubling down on online sales and work-from-home strategies, often by standing up new digital operations in a big hurry.

That said, as much of the nation begins to take tentative steps towards reopening local economies, small retail businesses face a new challenge: figuring out how to reopen safely and do business in what is being called the ‘new normal’. The trouble with that is the fact that there’s no single, unified strategy for them to follow. With the federal government offering little more than vague guidelines (that some states have all but disregarded already), making sure to get things right when reopening can make or break an already ailing business.



Safe COVID Reopening for Small Retailers

The best course of action is to study all of the available resources and adopt a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach that covers all the bases and keeps customers and employees as safe as possible. To help, here’s a guide to developing a reopening plan that does that.

Study Local Requirements

The first step for small retail businesses as they develop a reopening plan is to find out exactly what local authorities require them to do in terms of safety. In some areas, where the infection rate has remained low, there may not be too many hard and fast requirements to follow. In other places, local officials are calling for maximum caution and have issued lengthy guidelines for businesses to adhere to.

The US Chamber of Commerce has prepared an interactive map that should point small retail business owners in the right direction to find out what their municipality requires them to do. Whatever the local requirements, they should serve as a baseline to help business owners begin their draft planning. By making sure that all required steps are part of the plan, they’ll also make sure not to run afoul of local licensure requirements, and protect their business from liability upon reopening.

Secure Protective Equipment for Employees

Since providing store employees with the right equipment to keep them safe and healthy as they return to work is an absolute must, procuring an adequate supply of what’s needed is the next step. Once again, some states are helping small businesses with this all-important process by offering free or subsidized equipment on an as-needed basis. Most states with such programs require small businesses to sign up online, and the sooner the better. Even after months of lead time, certain kinds of PPE are still in short supply.

In some cases, it’s possible to purchase things like N95 or washable cloth masks on the open market. But small businesses often lack the clout to do so at a sustainable cost. The good news is, some small business cooperatives are stepping up to help secure supplies through collective bidding. In the long run, this option might be the best one for most small businesses to pursue. Finding a way to secure a private supply of PPE is going to be critical once government programs cease, so getting it done now could save plenty of headaches later.

Consider Reorganization

In most locales, businesses that reopen are still going to have to abide by social distancing guidelines for the foreseeable future. In the small retail footprint of a typical small business, that’s no easy feat. With limited space to display products to begin with, this means some amount of reorganization is the order of the day. The first step to doing this is to examine sales data to determine which products are most vital to the business’s bottom line. The identified products should be guaranteed retail space, while all others displayed on a more limited basis.

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If space is in especially short supply, consider moving any back stock to an offsite location (home, storage unit) to open up as much retail floor space as possible. Then look at the historical sales trends for each essential product and plan to stock enough to cover approximately 20% of that volume. With foot traffic reduced, this is a decent starting point that should keep most products on shelves without wasting space. Along the way, make sure to leave enough room to give customers a wide berth to maintain social distancing as they shop.

Address Sanitation and Environmental Quality

With product displays all set, the next step is to figure out how to effectively sanitize the store on an ongoing basis and make sure its environmental quality is as safe as possible. Of course, the core component of doing this is to put stepped-up cleaning protocols in place using the CDC’s guidance as a basis for the plan. But with so much still unknown about the coronavirus’s transmission vectors, small businesses shouldn’t stop there.

First, they should take steps to sanitize their store’s air conditioning units and find ways to increase the outside air circulation as much as possible. This might require raising the store’s temperature a bit and leaving some doors or windows open, preferably with strategically placed fans bringing in air from outside. While this is hardly the most efficient thing to do, there’s enough uncertainty surrounding the role of HVAC systems in spreading coronavirus that small businesses shouldn’t take chances. As an alternative, businesses should explore installing a UV light sterilization system in their HVAC equipment. With studies showing UV light to be effective at killing coronavirus, it’s a cost-effective way to build in some extra protection without sacrificing energy efficiency.

Since indoor environments pose so many issues under these circumstances, small businesses should also consider seeking permission for outdoor storefront displays. They’re far safer for customers and provide some much-needed extra space to keep indoor spaces clean and socially-distanced. In most locations, officials are making provisions for businesses to use outdoor spaces temporarily. Although the moves are aimed at restaurants, other retailers can secure the needed permissions just the same.

Don’t Take Chances

Although it’s tempting to speed up the process on the way to a reopening, small retail businesses must think through every step before they do so. This is not only due to the possible legal ramifications of failing to abide by local reopening guidelines but also due to the very real possibility that any health issues traced back to their location could mean the end of their business. After fighting so hard to get through the closures, that would be an ignominious way to go out.

The most important thing for small retail businesses to do before reopening is to make sure nothing’s been overlooked. From regimented cleaning to adapted sales practices, they’ll only get one chance to get things right. And getting it right will also go a long way toward convincing wary customers that it’s safe to go shopping again. And in the end, that’s going to be the make-or-break factor in a small retailer’s survival – so it’s worth as much preparatory work and time as is needed.

Image: Depositphotos.com




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10 Tips for Sellers to Prepare for Amazon Prime Day in 2020

10 Tips for Sellers to Prepare for Amazon Prime Day in 2020


If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Amazon Prime Day is being rescheduled to the fourth quarter from its usual July date due to the pandemic.

A date for Amazon Prime Day 2020 hasn’t been formally announced just yet, so that means there’s still time fo get ready for the day if you’re a small business seller on Amazon.

And Prime Day is definitely not one that small business Amazon sellers can afford to ignore, this year or any year, for that matter.

Back in 2018, small business sellers tallied more than $1 billion in sales and that number was even higher last year.



Small Business Seller Tips for Amazon Prime Day 2020

We contacted some Amazon selling experts for their advice on how to approach this unique Prime Day in 2020. With ecommerce sales through the roof this year, despite the downturn in business for many, Prime Day 2020 could potentially be the biggest one yet.

Here are some key tips to consider ahead of Prime Day 2020:

Keep An Eye On COVID Stats

The restrictions are different across states. If you’re selling on Amazon you even need to consider any international limitations. Your best bet to be ready for Amazon prime day is to monitor COVID 19 status.

Supply chains all over the world can be affected.

Here’s a link that can help you to stay on top of developments.  

Pick An Event

With Prime Day being pushed back, sellers need to decide between several events that come close together. Dan DeGrandpre, the CEO and Co-Founder of  DealNews.com,explains.

The biggest challenge for the fourth quarter of 2020 is sellers have to decide between Prime Day in October, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November. Or, the Christmas shopping season in December,” he writes.

He suggests that  if you can only pick one, sellers should choose Prime Day for the best sales.

Consider the Competition

“If Amazon decides not to do Prime Day in October and rolls it to early November, then there’s even more reason to bet on Prime Day,” DeGrandpre  says.

He reasons that if Prime Day falls in November, the competition will cut into sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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Put Together Lightning Deals

Like the name suggests, these appear on the Amazon deals page. However, they only last a few hours. These are easy to create since Amazon suggests products to you.

Have Packaging Ready

You should have your physical products packaged and ready to send for Prime Day. 

“The last thing you want to do is not be ready for consumers to receive their items,” writes Matthew Dailly, Managing Director, Tiger Financial. “That could result in a surge of negative feedback and attention.”

 Now is the time to check your inventory. Here’s a list of the best inventory management software that helps. Remember to consider your  Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) numbers.

Offer Coupons

 Coupons attract customers. You’ll need to remember that these become active two days after you create them. That means you should plan accordingly.

Use PPC

Troy DeVille from Core Mountaineering suggests using some proven marketing techniques.

“If you’re already running PPC and you plan on still using it remember cost per click will go up,” he says.

Here’s another helpful tip. Setting up automatic campaigns helps you to find the latest keyword trends.

Optimize Listings

Optimizing your product listings is extremely important. Revamping the titles and descriptions to engage your buyers can make a big difference. Make sure that your brand voice comes through on these pages.

Tracking your competition to see which keywords they’re listing for is a good place to start.

Bump Up Sponsored Ad Spend

Now is a good time to increase your spend on Amazon sponsored ads. Make sure to pick the search terms that have a high volume and relate to your goods and services.

Two notes of caution here. You need to track your spend to make sure you’re staying within your budget. And you need to make sure you have enough inventory.

Diversify Marketing

 DeGrandpre  has the last word on how to cover all the bases if Amazon bumps Prime Day to November.

“Go back to your playbook from March when Amazon closed down FBA,” he says. “Plan for FBM and list on other marketplaces. Use non-Amazon marketing like Google campaigns, sponsored products on Walmart, and sponsored placements on DealNews”.

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Adobe Spark Releases Guide for Restaurants to Go Touchless

Adobe Spark Releases Guide for Restaurants to Go Touchless


It’s never been easier to upgrade your business to include “contactless” transactions. Adobe Spark has released a comprehensive guide that covers everything small business owners and marketers need to implement QR (that square block of black and white symbols that is programmed to carry your info) and other touchless technologies.

Spark is offering a free trial and will be unveiling new templates. These templates make it easy for users to create vibrant in-store signage, mobile menus and social graphics. Communication between customers and staff will remain efficient, while following contact-free business protocols.



Adobe Spark Contactless Menus for Restaurants

Even before the pandemic, technology was propelling us towards contactless business exchanges. We were getting familiar with using technology for daily tasks such as depositing a check or paying for groceries, said Erica Lenkert.

Lenkert wrote “How to Go Contactless with Your Business for Adobe Spark”. Check it out.

“The first step in taking your business contactless is to consider what options you need to create the most successful interactions with your customers, then implement technology to support it,” Lenker explained. “How much technology you need depends on your company and its scope.”

Lenker gave some examples of varying technology needs.

  1. A small neighborhood deli – posts their menu on their website, takes orders and credit card information over the phone, and creates a pick-up area for customers.
  2. Dine-in Restaurant or larger deli – needs more automation for a smoother experience.

How to Pick the Best Approach for Your Business

A contactless menu can be as simple as a website listing or social media image, or as fancy as a customer app. Whether customers place a phone or on-premise order, they’ll be able to access your information through their own technology.

For on-premise interactions, customers are engaged through the help of a QR code. The code is easily programmed to carry your information, such as menus, coupons and more.

QR code generators include Kaywa (fee based), QR code generator (free), Flowcode (free for the first 20 codes generated) and ecommerce website Shopify (free).

“Consider what contactless options you need to create the most successful interactions with your customers, then implement the technology to support it,” Lenker said. “It will create a safer work environment for your team and your customers.”

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Going contactless will streamline operations and keep a small business at the forefront of a business trend that is here to stay, she said.

Where Else Adobe Spark Can Help

Digital Menu Design Tips

Implementing Touchless Payment Options

Streamlining the Pick-up Process for Contactless Pick-Up

Evolving to Contactless Protocols Can Save Money

“The restaurant and other retail industries are being forced to evolve at lightning speed in order to survive, thrive and provide a safe experience for staff and customers,” Lenker said. “There are other benefits to these protocols, which will continue long after the pandemic is behind us.”

“Consider the waste-minimizing benefits of offering digital menus, which means fewer printing costs,” she added. “Cashless payment systems can introduce accounting efficiencies to help you make more data-driven decisions.”

You Go Contactless, Now What? Advertise!

Lenker said that small businesses should definitely advertise their new operating model in order to inform customers and in many cases, entice folks back in.

“That could mean sharing your protocols over Instagram Stories and linking to your new digital menu, posting beautiful imagery of your offerings and behind-the-scenes peeks of your set-up to show how you’re taking safety seriously, or even creating special deals and incentives to lure customers back in,” Lenker said. “Spark has templates ready to go to help you promote your new offering, so all you have to do is put your own spin on them.”

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