LeapZipBlog: leap Ray

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23 blogs

Mountain Top Tree Farm in final year of retail sales

December 7, 2018 by leap Ray  

This Christmas season marks the end of an era for Mountain Top Tree Farm in Oakland.

Although the wholesale side of the business will continue with trees, wreaths and garlands, this year will be the last for retail sales of bulk wholeale items like Christmas trees from the farm.

The decision came about partly because of the physical labor involved in running the business, and partly because of the fact that new trees haven’t been planted to replenish the supply, and the trees take eight-to-12 years to mature.

“We’re going to continue to do wholesale, which means shipping our orders out to other people who will sell them,” owner Aleta (DelSignore) Glotfelty explained. “So that part of the business will remain and we’ll still do our wreaths and garlands (such as for Habitat for Humanity, Lions Clubs and fundraisers.) That end we will continue as long as we have trees.”

Glotfelty explained that the tree farm was begun by “Doc” Custer more than 50 years ago.

“He was the veterinarian who owned Pineview Veterinary Hospital and then the state of Maryland approached him to plant trees for conservation, which he did,” she said. “Then as these trees grew, I guess he spoke with other people and they decided to start selling them as wholesle christmas decoration like Christmas trees. That’s how the Christmas tree lot originated. He was also one of the original founders of the Maryland Christmas Tree Growers Association, and that’s been around for 50 years.”

Glotfelty noted she lived in the house on the property adjoining the tree farm, and when Custer decided that the farm was becoming too much for him, he approached her and asked if she wanted to buy it.”

She agreed, and Randy Sisler, who had worked with Custer for many years, continued to manage the farm for her. When he was killed in an accident in 2012, Glotfelty and her partner Carl Robison stepped in to run the farm, along with the help of staff members who had worked there for years.

“They got us into it and that’s how we took it over,” Glotfelty said. “I’ve learned a lot in six years.”

Robison runs the outside part of the farm with the wholesale trees, while Glotfelty manages the inside with the wreaths and garlands and handles all the bookwork. A crew of a dozen women helps with making the decorations. In the field, a crew of about a dozen men is on the seasonal staff.

“I love the people I work with,” Glotfelty said. “They’re all very supportive and helpful, and I appreciate it.”

The farm covers approximately 72 acres, with trees grown on about 60 of them.

“There are thousands of trees,” Glotfelty said. “There’s really no way of counting. This year we are probably looking at moving 2,500 to 3,500 off the farm through wholesale and retail.”

The predominant type of tree is Fraser fir, which is the best suited for growing in this area. Other types are Canaan fir, Norway spruce, a few bue spruce and white pine.

The largest size available from the farm is about a 16- or 18-foot tree.

“But they’re really hard to run through our baler,” Glotfelty said. “The largest one that normally we would sell here would be a 12- to 14-foot.”

Much of the work for the trees begins when the weather breaks in the spring.

“We start by clearing the field, cleaning up all the debris that’s there, mowing, shearing and shaping the trees, fertilizing, and adding spring pesticides,” she said.

Various types of area wildlife enjoy the acres of trees throughout the year, including deer, turkeys, groundhogs and the occasional bear. Some of the smaller crawly varieties take up residence in the trees.

“Before we start cutting branches for our wreaths and garlands, we kind of like to wait until it’s frosted once or twice because they are filled with spiders,” Glotfelty explained. “We do try to wait until some of that stuff dies off.”

On the wholesale end, trees are taken to Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland — within a three- to four-hour radius of the farm. Many are delivered by Robison, but some loads are also picked up by the wholesale customers.

“Some have their own tree farms, but have either depleted their trees or have planted new trees and they’re not ready yet,” Glotfelty said. “Or they bought an existing tree farm that had been neglected for years, so they’re just kind of using our trees as filler until theirs are ready.”

The retail side of the business includes the option for live trees and a fresh-cut lot where customers can choose from trees that are cut daily.

Customers are also invited to walk through the fields to select their own trees.

“You can take the family; you can take your dog,” Glotfelty said. “We provide hand saws, and you cut your own tree and bring it down. We’ll bale it and load it.”

She said the farm has gotten a lot of repeat customers.

“I love it because everybody that comes in is so happy,” she said. “It’s Christmastime, and it’s great. It’s a really nice feeling. I’m really going to miss the retail end. Over the last six years, I’ve seen families come in every year and you remember the little ones, and they grow.”

Glotfelty knows that without customer support, the farm wouldn’t have done so well. She said a lot of tears were shed with her customers over the decision to discontinue retail sales. In fact, she decided to stay open for a year longer than originally planned because of the reaction she got.

“I know how many people have made this a tradition and I hate seeing that tradition go by the wayside,” she said. “I feel badly about that. We so appreciate their patronage over the last 50 years.”

In this final year, the tree farm will be open for retail sales on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It is located at 145 Pineview Drive, behind the veterinary hospital.

Skano Group Interim Report 3rd Quarter 2018

November 30, 2018 by leap Ray  

SKANO GROUP AS UNAUDITED THIRD QUARTER 2018 RESULTS

Consolidated net sales for Q3 2018 were € 3.71 million, being a 9% decrease compared to the same period in 2017. The decline in sales of fibreboards was mainly caused by reduced demand for single family dwellings in Fibreboard’s largest market, Finland. Sales to customers in our other markets showed a slight increase. Furniture wholesale home decor sales were negatively impacted due to weak performance by three of the four key furniture customers. We are working to secure more customers. Furniture retail sales also showed contraction, mainly due to the temporary closure of our best performing shop for total refurbishment caused by the introduction of Skano’s new retail concept.

Skano Group recorded EBITDA of positive € 46 thousand for Q3 2018 (vs € 292 thousand Q3 2017). Total furniture profitability was in line with Q3 2017 profitability, while Fibreboard profitability was substantially reduced due to the higher cost of its main raw material, woodchips. We are now in the process of passing on this cost increase to our customers. Net loss for Q3 2018 was € 211 thousand (Q3 2017: profit of € 14 thousand).

DIVISIONAL REVIEW OF THIRD QUARTER 2018

Fibreboard sales in Q3 2018 were € 2.92 million, which is 8% less than same period in 2017. We sold our products to customers in 29 countries. The sales decline in Finland outweighed the growth from the other countries, thus resulting in sales decline for Q3. Market statistics from AC Nielsen shows us having a steady market share of about 72% in the Finnish fibreboard market, thus the sales decline is due to a change in the housing industry in Finland with consumers moving into cities to live in apartments, instead of following the traditional way of building their own houses. Gross margin in Fibreboard were negatively impacted by the higher woodchip prices. Overhead costs were reduced, thus softening the negative impact on EBITDA, which ended up being € 141 thousand for Q3 2018 (Q3 2017 EBITDA was € 374 thousand).

Furniture wholesale sales in Q3 2018 were € 630 thousand, 12% down on same period last year. Total sales to our two main markets, Russia and Finland, were € 402 thousand (down € 91 thousand from Q3 2017). Sales to Skano’s own retail chain increased by 12% up to € 177 thousand compared to same period last year (Q3 2017: € 158 thousand). EBITDA for furniture wholesale for Q3 2018 was negative € 31 thousand (Q3 2017 EBITDA was negative € 74 thousand), reflecting the increased profitability achieved by ending our own kiln operations last Spring and instead now sourcing dried and cut material.

Furniture retail sales in Q3 2018 were € 333 thousand, down 11% (€ 41 thousand) from same period last year. Shops in all three Baltic markets experienced sales slowdown, and especially our best-selling shop in Tallinn which was temporarily closed due to extensive refurbishing as a result of introducing Skano’s new retail concept. EBITDA for furniture retail for Q3 2018 was negative € 50 thousand (Q3 2017 EBITDA was negative € 3 thousand), reflecting the weak sales in Q3.

Total Furniture operations of Skano (wholesale and retail) EBITDA for 2018 third quarter were negative € 81 thousand (Q3 2017 EBITDA was negative € 77 thousand).

BALANCE SHEET

As of 30.09.2018 the total assets of Skano Group AS were € 11.0 million (30.09.2017: € 11.9 million). The liabilities of the company as of 30.09.2018 were € 7.7 million (30.09.2017: € 7.9 million), of which Skano has borrowings of € 4.9 million as at 30.09.2018 (30.09.2017: € 5.3 million).

Receivables and prepayments amounted to € 1.6 million as at 30.09.2018 (30.09.2017: € 1.8 million). Inventories were € 2.4 million as of 30.09.2018 (30.09.2017: € 2.5 million). Property, plant and intangibles were € 7.0 million as of 30.09.2018 (€ 7.3 million as of 30.09.2017).

OUTLOOK

In Fibreboard, we are pushing for sales of our various applications which have more global reach than our traditional sales of windboards and insulation boards sold mainly in our traditional markets of Finland, Russia and Estonia. We are in process of implementing the annual price increases, thus aiming to alleviate the negative impact experienced from the higher cost of woodchips, our main raw material. Our marketing activities are focusing on the positive aspects of using our boards, made from fresh woodchips from spruce, compared to competing synthetic materials.

In Furniture, we expect improved retail performance with the introduction of the new shop concept. This has been rolled out in our best-selling shop in Tallinn as well as in our newly opened shop in the Decco centre in Riga and will next be rolled out in our Vilnius and Tartu shops. We are exiting our other Riga shop end of November, and also look to divest of our second shop in Tallinn due to its poor profitability. In wholesale dropshippers we are in negotiations to take over certain European customers from our Finnish distributor, which should help expand our customer base and have potential to secure more sales of our furniture.

ASDA set to lift the grocery crown this Christmas

November 29, 2018 by leap Ray  

For the Big 4 supermarkets, the retail climate has rarely been more competitive as they look to claw back market share from the discounters and fend off contention from online specialists.

With the big day now only five weeks away, GlobalData is laying down the scores of how each of them is set to perform over the crucial trading period.

Tesco will underperform this Christmas compared to the rest of its prosperous 2018

The UK’s biggest dropshipping uk retailer will enter the Christmas period with high hopes, following 11 consecutive periods of l-f-l growth at a time of ‘accelerated experimentation’ for the retailer. But although Tesco can flex its size to ensure that Christmas 2018 won’t be woeful, it is unlikely to shine when compared to the other major supermarkets.

It is improbable that its Tesco Finest brand – which was a big assistance to Tesco’s overall l-f-l sales growth of 1.9% last year – will attract the same number of new shoppers as it did last year, as the other grocers continue to develop and push their premium own-brand ranges. And for those Tesco customers who felt the ‘bleached turkey’ debacle of 2017 first-hand, returning to Tesco for their main food shop seems unlikely at best.

Conclusion: Tesco has nothing to worry about, but then again has nothing to worry the others; just like its advert, ‘lacklustre’ is the word that springs to mind. Score: 4/10

Sainsbury’s should gain new customers through premium offer and integration with Argos

Sainsbury’s struggled to keep up with rivals through 2018 after suffering from low availability across ranges, but can expect a better Christmas this year than last; none of the other grocers have the ‘ace in the hole’ that the impressive (and progressively digitally-focused) Argos has evolved into.

The key to success for Sainsbury’s over the next four to six weeks will be to absorb Morrisons or Tesco shoppers that are looking for a bump in quality at Christmas time – Sainsbury’s will need to give them the products and store environment that will encourage them to switch to them instead of premium rivals.

Conclusion: Sainsbury’s will be fine, as long as it presents its ‘premiumised’ offer in an appealing way instore and ensures stock is available. Just as it declares in its advert, Sainsbury’s will only get what it gives. Score: 5/10

Morrisons can leverage its supply chain to beat competitors on price

Morrisons has had a good 2018, albeit with sales growth distended by its blooming wholesale christmas decorations business. To capitalise this Christmas, Morrisons should push its progressive ranges, such as ‘Naturally Wonky’ – appealing to a growing consumer base that prioritises the ethicality and environmental impact of products over price.

The grocer can also use its malleable, vertically-integrated supply chain to undercut competitors on price across key ranges.

Conclusion: Morrisons will have a good Christmas, particularly if it can make the most of having greater price control. Score: 7/10

ASDA’s burgeoning non-food offer will help drive footfall in key locations

Following a challenging 2017, ASDA has turned its fortunes around this year and its impressive results over the first three quarters (with Q3 seeing its sixth consecutive period of l-f-l growth) means the EDLP grocer is widely tipped to take the 2018 crown.

And the consumer data concurs. GlobalData’s weekly Christmas tracker shows that ASDA is set to outperform in Q4, overtaking potential ‘bride-to-be’ Sainsbury’s in three categories and knocking Tesco from its well-established pole position in two more (see Table 1).

Conclusion: To make the most of this Christmas, ASDA needs to offer something other than low prices to its customer base. Exclusive products, such as its cheese-based advent calendar, and cross-sector multibuy deals will help ASDA stay unique and keep price-rivals Aldi and Lidl at bay. If it can achieve this, it will be set for a merry Christmas indeed.

Electricity market regulator says spot price spike probe will take time

November 23, 2018 by leap Ray  

Market regulator the Electricity Authority is keeping schtum on how it might act to reduce market jitters arising from its investigation into a complaint that generation-retailers are abusing their market power to push up wholesale clothing suppliers spot prices.In its latest update on the claim by a group of independent electricity retailers, the EA said it understood the complaint and the EA's investigation may "cause uncertainty" in the market and that it was considering ways to reduce this effect "as soon as practicable".

The claim of "an undesirable trading situation" (UTS) was received by the EA on November 8.But in response to a Herald inquiry as to what those ways could be, the EA said it would "provide updates as and when we can".ADVERTISEMENTAdvertise with NZME.In a written response it said that it recognised its wide-ranging powers to correct a UTS could cause uncertainty for market participants.But there was a lot of data to gather and analyse to ensure a robust decision.The joint claim by independent retailers Electric Kiwi, Flick Energy, Pulse Energy, Switch Utilities and Vector challenges the EA's explanation for a big spike in wholesale spot prices as being due to a combination of low hydro lake levels and a supply-limiting fault at the Pohokura gas field, the country's biggest.

The ongoing Pohokura problem has caused generators to use more expensive forms of energy to generate electricity, which they say has forced up spot prices since September 15. The explanation has been backed by the EA.The group wants the EA to reconsider its view.The complainants claim the atypically high spot prices appear to be "partly attributable to the coordinated exercise of market power and a blatant disregard for disclosure obligations".

The result had been an undermining of confidence in the wholesale dropshipping market that threatened the viability and competitiveness of independent electricity retailing for major users of wholesale electricity, the group said."The current conditions provide gentailers with an opportunity to strategically increase their offers, thereby driving up spot prices, and to attribute those increases to water and gas shortages.

"The group acknowledged the supply squeeze could be expected to drive up spot prices significantly "but it is difficult to see how they could have driven them to the unprecedented levels seen in the last month".The EA said its investigation was different from previous UTS probes because the alleged events spanned two months and may be ongoing. Other investigations had been into acute events which lasted just hours."For these reasons we anticipate that it may take some time to investigate the claims fully."The claimants say they represent 86 per cent of household and industrial customers not served by vertically integrated retailers - gentailers. Vector is the country's largest network company, majority owned by consumer energy trust Entrust.The complaint comes as the Government conducts a major review of New Zealand electricity prices. The panel heading the review recently published its first report on its findings.

Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie said that report highlighted legitimate concerns that consumers were not yet benefitting from real competition or technology advancement.Noting the top five gentailers in New Zealand now made up more than 90 per cent of the retail market, Mackenzie said the first report raised concerns about the wholesale electricity contract market and the market dominance of vertically-integrated companies which owned both generating and retailing operations.

A recent report by Auckland University economist Dr Stephen Poletti concluded that in the seven years from 2010 to 2016, power generators pocketed an extra $5.4 billion in profits over and above what they would have if the wholesale electricity market "was truly competitive".Poletti's report was partly funded by Vector.It noted New Zealand's electricity market is one of the least regulated in the world."The extent of market power in the ... wholesale market is clearly a controversial topic...it is timely to re-examine this issue," said the report.

How to make Internet Marketing Work for You

November 19, 2018 by leap Ray  

The Internet is a medium to reach out to your potential customers, clients and prospects nevertheless do have lots of downsides. Until recently it was a faceless environment when dealing with customers, the increasing use of video provides us with a huge benefit. Successful promotion is about creating a relationship; which is much simpler when they could see and listen to you.

You might be rather comfortable online, but some individuals are undecided about doing wholesale hair vendors business with you over the web and you have to convince them to trust you before they will purchase from you

These are the marketing Fundamentals you can use to Make Sure That Your Internet marketing really works for you:

History

People want to know so in the Event That You’ve been in business for any length of time this may add authenticity to you and your business, you are not going to disappear

Statistics

Use statistics to provide you more credibility by a record number of clients served, money saved, profits made, and so on.

Testimonials

Do not overestimate the value of these and get them out of your clients and Clients saying you or they have been assisted by your products. Get specialists to endorse and to validate your products and services and if proper get actors who you either’rent’ to your marketing, feature in your occasions or use from the institution

Demonstrations

With the use of internet video and’how To’ DVDs offline and it very eases to show a presentation of your product both on. You can also demo an eBook by printing it out and talking through what it includes live on screen

Camtasia is free software that allows you to make a screen capture video at which you can demonstrate your site offering a demonstration of how easy it’s to get your ebook or talking through the sales letter. This is excellent in markets which are not believed’savvy’

What proof your service or product functions than by demonstrating an example of before and afterward. Goods and many markets lend themselves and it is extremely powerful.

In our business, we use video to show to confirm emails when registering to our email lists, when demonstrating how to utilize our Membership website and examples of results in a number of our eBook markets

Credentials

What credentials do you have on your market? They don’t need to be academic, but may accomplishments, awards, membership.

Neil Travers, my business partner and I, are CIPD qualified that is a coaching qualification we attained while working in the Bank. This is’evidence’ of our ability to conduct workshops that are designed to assist the learning and intake and keeping of information from attendees and gives us credibility in their thoughts

Publicity

Reprints of articles about you from the press, or your own articles being printed in the websites that give weight are valuable for you. Prove your market that you are in demand, and also have standing as a professional.

Celebrity Spokesperson

To be used with care. It can be effective but can also backfire when the marketplace recalls the advert and the actress, but not exactly what it was marketing

Guarantee

If you can’t guarantee that the product you’re promoting then find something different to sell you could guarantee. Nothing gives reassurance to prospects than a real, very superior guarantee.

Access

On your site have your whole contact detail if possible since this can provide a boost to your client confidence in your organization and you. Applying an email contact is an email, telephone and your worst and handle the ideal. Because it makes people suspicious, never provide a PO Box as your address

The Personal Touch

Becoming visible in the chinese wholesale business is a confidence booster for them. Add’YOU’ at the form of photos, audio and video all bring ahead you on your client’s mind and makes them feel like they know you

Make A Damaging Admission

No matter will have a disadvantage someplace. Admit up it and honestly comment about that truth

Answer questions and objections up front and when they are asked by a client via email or your telephone. Our office can be called by people throughout the week and email at any time with questions and that causes them to feel secure to buy from us

Excess

 

Utilize a mix of as a number of the examples previously in your advertising! What may look for you might not be sufficient to conquer some people’s skepticism!

7 Marketing Mistakes That Can Cost Companies Millions

November 14, 2018 by leap Ray  

When it comes to running a wholesale sunglasses business, many parts of the process seem to be black and white while others are much harder to measure. One component that has historically fallen into the latter category is marketing. Because of the lack of analytics in the early days of marketing, analyzing the tangible impact of a company’s branding efforts has been an elusive task.

Yet, with technological advances in recent years, the ability to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns has never been easier. Despite this, companies continue to approach marketing with the outdated mindset of the past, leaving money on the table in the process. Couple this with the fact that global media spend is projected to surpass $2.1 trillion dollars in 2019, up from $1.6 trillion in 2014, and there are plenty of reasons to address these issues.

Let’s look at seven common marketing mistakes that are costing businesses millions, and how to correct them.

1. Focusing only on macro influencers

If you have been paying attention to the marketing landscape over the past few years, it’s clear that social media-based influencer marketing is on a meteoric rise. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by eMarketer, 84% of marketers claimed they would run at least one influencer marketing program in the coming year. As with most novel concepts in business, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and mistake large numbers for real results, and influencer marketing is no different.

When it comes to partnering with influencers, your brand doesn’t need to throw its budget at the Kardashians or other macro-influencers with millions of followers. On average these famous influencers are much more expensive and yield lower engagementrates relative to more niche influencers.

Instead, it’s wise to spend your budget on a variety of influencers, as your brand may resonate more with micro-influencers on YouTube and Twitter than it does with macro-influencers on Instagram or Pinterest. Experimentation and measurement is key.

2. Failing to keep up with technology

As a business owner, keeping up with technology can be yet another tedious chore to check off your list. However, in today’s competitive marketplace, staying current with trends is absolutely essential to not only staying ahead of your competition, but also simply surviving.

Nearly every day there is another innovation, whether it be a Chrome extension, mobile app or new analytics platform, that can help catapult your marketing to the next level . In order to discover them, you just have to be attentive. A great way to keep up with technology in the marketing world is to follow tech thought leaders on social media and subscribe to the newsletters of publications such as Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Today and other trusted companies..

3. Not optimizing for mobile

From 2011 to 2017, the total percentage of Americans who own a smartphone increased from 35% to 77%, according to Pew Research Center. The rise of mobile in both browsing and buying goods online helps explain why Google is now giving SEO priority to websites optimized for mobile experiences.

With search engines and everyday consumers alike now craving stellar user experiences on their mobile devices, brands that act on this marketing trend will inevitably gain momentum over their competitors, and those that do not will fall behind.

4. Lack of reliable tracking

A 2014 study from Experian discovered the average company loses a whopping 12% of its annual revenue by relying on inaccurate or misconstrued data. No matter how much money your business is reeling in per year, 12% is significant.

“Generally, companies lose money on consumer data when it's not aggregated properly. When the information is too disparate and unintegrated, it becomes very difficult to identify any meaningful opportunity to act upon it," explains Richard Van Staten, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Quantam Solutions, a business and information technology solutions provider.

While it can be easy to turn a blind eye to items on your checklist like upgrading your information systems, your company will ultimately sink or swim based on the reliability of its data.

It’s critical to have reliable, up-to-date data and tech systems in place. Whether you choose Hubspot, Google Analytics or another service, it’s important to remember to measure every action you possibly can. From checking the Insights tab on Facebook to seeing who makes up your core audience, keeping an eye on your analytics at all times will ensure you’re making the most informed decisions you can.

5. Content isn't visually appealing

Did you know the human brain processes images 60,000 times fasterthan plain text? Additionally, approximately 90% of all of the information transmitted into and through the brain is visual. It’s no wonder that video is projected to make up 80% of all online marketing content by 2019.

If your business wants to maintain relevance, it’s essential to remain cognizant of these trends when crafting your content strategy. Make sure your content is visual, including graphics, images and videos.

While plain text is still extremely powerful, particularly when it comes to long-form content, video helps make a lasting impact on your viewers.

6. Not creating evergreen content

The fast pace of the digital world has given many entrepreneurs the false impression that creating timely content, is more important than being thorough and providing value. The more helpful your content is, the more likely visitors are to spend time reading, commenting and sharing it. Additionally, if your content is evergreen , meaning that it has the potential to stay relevant for a very long time , it has a longer shelf life and greater opportunity to drive leads and sales for your business.

“[Trending articles will] only drive traffic for a few days, and then you’re back to the cycle of trying to find more viral topics. Instead, evergreen content is the way to go. In fact, it has driven the majority of my traffic,” shares digital marketing expert Neil Patel.

With over 3.5 billion Google searches and 2 million blog posts being published every single day, taking precautions to make sure your content stays pertinent for as long as possible is key.

7. Only focusing on customer acquisition

According to the book Marketing Metrics, the probability of successfully selling to a new customer falls somewhere between 5-20% while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%. This leads to an excessive amount of budget being spent trying to reach new customers and less budget on making sure your current customers are satisfied and keep coming back.

"There’s often more money to be made in expanding offerings to your existing customer base than there is in new business developments," says Van Staten. Spending majority of your budget on customer acquisition versus customer retention is yet another costly mistake many entrepreneurs make.

 

While acquiring new customers is, of course, paramount to ecommerce drop shipping business growth, it’s also important to nurture existing customers who helped get your business to where it is today.

Resellers on Amazon Can Damage a Brand

November 9, 2018 by leap Ray  

Selling on Amazon can generate revenue, reinforce your brand’s reputation, and expose your product to 8 million U.S. visitors per day. Using the Amazon marketplace, the opportunity for success is unparalleled. Moreover, through intelligent merchandising and the use of its tools, Amazon can serve as a customer acquisition channel for your brand.

However, resellers on Amazon can easily damage a brand’s reputation.

When I first began to sell on Amazon in the early 2000s, I aimed to acquire loyal customers. Protecting my brand was a top priority. It required careful and aggressive control of distributors and resellers. Although they are a brand’s customers, distributors and resellers will be competitors if you allow them to list your product on Amazon. They can also hurt your brand if unchecked.

Many brands allow product brokers and sales agents to manage their dropship home decor business on Amazon. Although brokers are valuable in brick-and-mortar retail, that value doesn’t transfer to online marketplaces. It’s up to the brand to protect its personality, copy, and imagery.

Brokers and Sales Agents

In the consumer products ecosystem, many brands use brokers as sales agents. These brokers do not take title to the inventory. They perform only basic marketing functions. Their primary purpose is to connect the brand with decisionmakers in brick-and-mortar companies, distributors, and other wholesalers. They are compensated on a percentage of sales generated by the accounts they set up and manage.

Brokers are used quite often in the electronics, kitchen appliance, food, and beauty channels. They allow a brand to have greater access and coverage in multistore chains.

However, ecommerce requires a different approach. Brokers are not necessary. When a brand is selling online, it should control who sells its products, on which channel, and how they represent the brand. It is no different than selecting brick-and-mortar retailers to sell its products.

My company consults with brands on selling through ecommerce channels, including Amazon. After sales growth, the leading problem for our clients is to remove unauthorized resellers. However, a broker is not motived to remove those sellers on Amazon if it’s also representing them. If distributors and wholesalers stop selling the brand to the resellers, the broker reduces its compensation.

There is a conflict of interest.

Success on Amazon

Success on Amazon involves more than just listing your products. True success requires an understanding of Amazon’s search algorithm. The skill is not easily learned. In my experience, brick-and-mortar sellers do not typically possess it.

The first step is knowing how consumers search for products on Amazon. Then, a seller must construct the proper pages using Amazon’s tools as well as those from third-party companies. Optimized pages, Amazon marketing campaigns, review management, and optimized storefronts are some of the basic skills that are honed over time.

My company has multiple clients that have allowed third parties to control their Amazon listings. Some clients are huge national brands. They complain about resellers who are not playing by the rules and are causing harm to their brand’s reputation.

They come to us to solve the problem. Amazon’s Brand Registry can only do so much. It is designed to protect intellectual property and prevent fraud. However, approved resellers do not violate Amazon’s terms. It’s up to the brands to control those sellers via enforceable agreements.

Severing broker relationships on ecommerce marketplaces can restore the brand’s integrity and reduce its competition on Amazon.

 

See Also: how to start drop shipping on amazon

E-Commerce Entrepreneurship

November 6, 2018 by leap Ray  

5 Impactful Areas to Focus for Successful E-Commerce Entrepreneurship

With a massive customer base opting to go online for wholesale clothing nyc shopping, the e-commerce industry is only going to witness an upward trajectory for a long time to come. For aspiring e-commerce entrepreneurs, this unprecedented opportunity for success and sustainability is exciting, promising, and fascinating.

In its 2017 report, A Look At The Evolving E-Commerce Landscape, Nielsen drew an interesting comparison between FMCG and e-commerce retail. The report said the FMCG sector is growing at a rate of just 4%, with signs of a further slowdown. Retail e-commerce, on the other hand, is expected to grow by 20%, which will be a $4 trillion market by 2020. Clearly, there is a paradigm shift in consumer habits and preferences, which is opening the floodgates for more and more e-commerce companies.

Having said that, this profound potential is also paving way for a fierce competition among new e-retailers. They are finding innovative ways, using the latest technologies, and revisiting their strategies in an attempt to outsmart each other. The e-commerce market has grown so huge that it’s got something for everyone. The need, however, is to move with the right approach.

So, how prepared are you to become a successful e-commerce entrepreneur?

If you are aiming to build a winning e-commerce business model, focusing on the following critical areas will give you a guaranteed success:

1. Identify and Understand Your Target Audience

Before diving into the abyss of the e-commerce world, you need to fully understand what your target audience is. Unless you have a clear understanding of your own value propositions and target market, how will you strategize to reach them? Different audiences need different marketing styles, which mean it’s easy to lose sight of basics inherent to every strategy. If you are unsure of your audience, you will fail to get right messages that connect with them because you are unaware of who will consume your products or services.

To get into the specifics of defining your target audience, a good strategy is to create buyer personas. HubSpot defines a buyer persona as “a generalized representation of an ideal customer”. By creating a generic profile of buyer persona, you can easily map out their pain points, which in turn will give you an indication of how your product or service can solve those problems. By connecting the benefits of your product or service to their pain points, you will be able to align your message with their motivations. It will eventually help you tailor your marketing efforts and connect with your audience to meet their needs and address their concerns.

2. Have a Strong Social Media Presence

The evolving transformation of social media has become a highly impactful area as far as e-commerce is concerned. Initially, from connecting people to people, social media has traveled all the way to play a deciding role in every business. With a sharp growth in internet and smartphone usage, people have embraced social media like never before. They are using various social networks for all the practical purposes. It’s high time for your brand to have a profound social media presence. The idea is to make sure you are always visible to your prospects. Whenever a demand arises in your own niche, your brand will automatically become a preferred choice.

Today, social media is a crucial ingredient for reaching out to your target audience. It’s helping businesses create interest in their products or services well before they are ready to purchase. According to a recent report, 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Also, 4 out of 10 social media users have purchased an item online when it was shared with them on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Another study suggests that 55% of B2B buyerssearch for product/vendor information on social media.

It is clear from these facts and figures that social media is an influencing factor in consumers’ buying decisions. So, to leverage the maximum potential of various social channels, you need to create compelling content for every stage of the buyers’ journey. You need to post positive customer reviews, feedback, and testimonials to boost e-commerce conversion. To sum it all up, an active presence on social media enhances your brand perception and increases overall sales.

3. Put the Focus on Customer Experience (CX)

Customer experience plays a vital role, especially in the e-commerce segment. As a matter of fact, the biggest drawback of any e-commerce business is its inability to let its customers touch, feel, smell, and see the products before arriving at a purchasing decision. Thus a great customer experience can mitigate this challenge. For example, offer them appropriate pricing, provide free shipping, and simplify the wholesale laptops shopping cart. Also, a great web design for easy navigation and optimizing your e-commerce site will go a long way in enhancing customer experience.

To build a successful, profitable, and sustainable e-commerce business, you have to invest in your customers before they enter the buying cycle. The genuine investment in your customers begins with understanding each of their touchpoints. A touchpoint refers to an interaction your prospects have with your brand. These interactions can take any form, like visiting your website, a live chat with your customer reps, the condition of items they receive, or a follow-up on your part. So, making all these points of contact smooth enhances customer experience.

Another way to improve the CX is creating a seamless omnichannel experience. Today, omnichannel isn’t just utilizing technology or a conversion strategy. It’s more broadly the brand experience that a customer has with you across various platforms and channels, at every step of the way.

4. Create a Seamless Transaction and Checkout Process

Mishandling your customer transactions could be a big speed bump in your e-commerce sales. From a security point of view, many customers are wary of providing their personal information to online companies. Unless the consumers are convinced of the secure transaction as well as more payment options, your conversion funnel is yet to provide the desired results. Many small and major e-commerce firms have already been hacked, while some of the world’s largest corporations have fallen victims of cybercriminals. You have to allay the fears of your consumers regarding their sensitive financial details ending up in wrong hands.

Another key area to focus is to make a seamless checkout process. A relatively lengthy or confusing checkout process can make customers abandon their carts. An effective checkout, on the other hand, involves a minimal number of steps. It guides your prospects through a straightforward and hassle-free transaction. The fact is too many fields to fill during the checkout process will eat up your users’ time, which in turn will negatively impact your sales. Furthermore, you can use tactically placed CTA (call-to-action) buttons that can effectively guide your customers through the checkout process.

5. Stay on Top of SEO

Owing to the massive explosion of e-commerce ecosystem, a flurry of businesses is entering in this increasingly crowded place. Since your brand is also competing with hundreds of other e-commerce companies, it is pertinent for you to stand apart from your competitors. Therefore, you have to stay on top of SEO in order to rank higher on search engine results. An aggressive SEO strategy leads to the maximization of your company’s profitability.

 

A higher search engine ranking determines how fast your customers find you. No visibility means there are very few customers who actually know you, which eventually leads to lower sales and lower growth. SEO is also one of the most cost-effective ways of driving traffic to any website. For that, it is important to optimize your site for keywords and images. So, targeting the right keywords can bring your products up during customer searches.

How Vulnerable Is Your E-Business to Employee-Assisted Fraud

October 31, 2018 by leap Ray  

How Vulnerable Is Your E-Business to Employee-Assisted Fraud?

We made it. The holiday shopping season is here once again!

This is a great opportunity for you as an e-commerce retailer. If you're like many other merchants out there, the run-up to Christmas is one of the most profitable, and busiest, times of the year. You may need some extra help to handle the surge in traffic and maximize your return. That means hiring seasonal employees.

Plenty of different wholesale cell phones distributors businesses will feel the need to bring on additional staff -- from those in the travel sector to shipping and even dining. However, retail is going to experience the biggest holiday hiring bump, and wages for temporary workers in the retail sector are expected to surge 54 percent over last year. It's all part of the booming economy and tight labor market, and those conditions have been forcing recruiters to start hunting for help earlier this year, too.

Hourly wages for seasonal workers will rise an incredible 32 percent compared with last year, based on a recent survey. The average seasonal employee in the U.S. can expect to make US$15.40 per hour during the 2018 holiday rush, up from just $11.70 last year.

The scarce labor market could force many businesses to compete for less-qualified candidates, though, which could have the effect of further exposing retailers to a key threat source: employee-assisted fraud.

When you think of employee-assisted (or occupational) fraud, you probably get the image of a retail worker sneaking merchandise out the back door of a shop or pocketing cash from the till. Employee-assisted fraud is not just a problem for brick-and-mortar sellers, however. It can impact any business that takes on seasonal workers, including e-commerce retailers.

Employee Theft and Fraud Worsening

Employee theft is now the fastest-growing crime in the U.S., according to the FBI. Looking at employee theft overall, the average company will lose roughly 5 percent of annual revenue to employee fraud.

Losses are even higher for companies with fewer than 100 employees. Despite the risk, though, fewer than 20 percent of all small businesses have a system in place to report suspicious activity by employees, compared to 70 percent of larger companies.

Let's assume you already take occupational fraud seriously. That's great. Still, what you may not know is that employee-assisted fraud tends to jump an estimated 20 percent during the holiday season.

Anyone who hires additional staff during the holidays could face a sudden uptick in occupational fraud -- and really, it shouldn't be that surprising. When you recruit seasonal workers, you're entrusting your business to a group of people who may not have the same interest in the organization's long-term success as a permanent employee.

So we know it's a problem. The real question: How are they doing it?

Organized Retail Crime and Your Employees

Of course, you probably won't have to worry about seasonal employees involved in corporate espionage or anything elaborate like that. The most professional threat you're likely to encounter is accidentally inviting organized retail crime, or ORC, into the business.

Organized retail crime involves a professional group who carry out a coordinated criminal attack against a retailer. While we usually think of it in terms of brick-and-mortar locations, ORC can still occur in the e-commerce environment if the thieves have cooperation from someone within the business.

For example, 40 percent of retailers of retailers experienced cargo theft last year. An ORC group could work with someone inside your business to coordinate and steal merchandise. ORC cost the average business $726,351 per every $1 billion in sales during that same period.

You should know that groups of organized, professional thieves can affect your business. Don't take this as justification to mistrust your employees and assume the worst, though. When it does occur, employee-assisted fraud is more likely to take a simple, more innocuous form.

Occupational Fraud Is Primarily an Amateur Effort

Workers you bring on as seasonal help probably will not work in high-level positions within the company. They're in positions of lower authority. However, they tend to have more direct interaction with both customers and cash, and those conditions can enable fraud. This speaks to an important distinction when looking at occupational fraud among seasonal employees: It's mostly amateur fraudsters.

Eighty-six percent of people who committed fraud had no previous fraud activity, based on recent research. There are three primary reasons that explain why an otherwise-honest employee might commit fraud:

Opportunity: Many cases of employee-enabled fraud are primarily crimes of opportunity. Workers who do not feel they have any personal stake in the company's well being will see an opening and take it. Considering that most of your seasonal hires will not be sticking around once the holiday season wraps up, this could be a serious concern.

Financial Trouble: Pressures on one's personal finances can lead individuals to commit fraud out of desperation. There are many potential triggers, including debt, substance abuse problems and illness, just to name a few.

Attitude: Employees who feel they've been mistreated by the company may try to "get even" through fraud. For example, an individual may be passed over for a promotion, and see fraud as a way to get what is rightfully hers. This easily could happen with a seasonal employee who is turned down for a permanent position.

Return fraud is an example of a common occupational scheme. A customer knows someone within the company and goes to that person to request a return. The employee knows the item in question is not eligible, but processes the return anyway.

The "customer is always right" mantra has helped foster an environment of lax standards for product returns in general. This makes it easier for a customer to commit return fraud with help from within your company.

5 Tips to Minimize Occupational Fraud

This holiday season, you're facing the threat of ORC infiltration, plus the opportunism, desperation and resentment that are three primary triggers of employee-enabled fraud. That points to one very simple question: What can you do about it?

Fortunately, there is a solution. Here are five simple suggestions you can adopt that might help cut back on your exposure before and after the holidays:

1. Know Your Employee: Some may see this as excessive, but performing a background check on short-term workers easily can identify anyone who might have been busted for retail crime. A simple background check before you hire any temporary workers can limit your risk of encountering organized retail crime.

2. Recognize Your Employees: You should aim to align individual employees' responsibilities -- and their pay -- with their ability. Overlooking this very basic concept can lead to division and resentment within your team. Make a conscious effort to recognize your permanent and seasonal employees for their accomplishments and good work, and compensate them accordingly.

3. Embody an Ethical Culture: Setting the tone of your business culture in terms of ethics starts at the top. You need to embody the workplace culture you expect from your employees to gain their trust and respect. This sensibility will trickle down to management, and then through to your other workers. You can start by creating a written ethics policy, so that everyone understands what is expected.

4. Enable Employees to Report Fraud: Your employees are in a better position than you to notice abuse and fraud by their coworkers. Do you have a way for employees to anonymously report that information? A lot of people would be hesitant to step forward publicly, but could be much more inclined to do so if they can keep their identity secret.

5. Mandate Purchase Orders: Requiring purchase orders for any items bought by the company can prevent abuse by both seasonal and permanent employees. You should verify all vendors before authorizing an order, and mandate price comparisons as part of the purchasing process.

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All Fraud Is Connected

Of course, being prepped against employee-assisted fraud goes hand-in-hand with protection against other threats. For example, let's take a look atchargebacks. These are forced payment reversals resulting from disputed payment card transactions. In all, chargebacks are projected to cost retailers $30 billion a year by 2020, and most of it will be caused by "friendly fraud," or unsubstantiated chargeback claims.

Friendly fraud, return fraud, occupation fraud -- these are all interconnected threats. Employees can try to enable unsubstantiated returns, and you can put measures in place to try and prevent that from happening. However, if employee-assisted return fraud is off the table, the buyer might turn to friendly fraud instead.

You see, fraud is like the hydra: You cut-off one head, and three more take its place. Trying to stop one threat, without taking others into account, can enable fraud rather than prevent it.

It's best to think about all fraud threats as an interconnected problem. Rather than adopting compartmentalized responses to a bunch of different threat sources, you should think of your approach to fraud prevention as a comprehensive strategy.

A Comprehensive Strategy Works Best

The best way to take on fraud is with a host of tools and policies all working together. If you can't separate employee-assisted fraud from external criminal fraud, for example, you end up with skewed data, leading you to try and fix nonexistent problems, while leaving real problems unaddressed.

While the holiday season is high-time for fraud risk, it's really a year-round issue. Fraud doesn't vanish once the decorations are boxed-up and you've said goodbye to your seasonal workforce. It morphs and adapts, with the post-holiday season being the peak months for friendly fraud.

 

Hiring seasonal employees to help with the surge of holiday shoppers does increase your risk for fraud. Adopting the practices mentioned earlier will help you minimize your exposure. However, the best response is to make multilayer fraud mitigation a year-round priority.

Growing Your Audience with Custom Content

October 26, 2018 by leap Ray  

Providing Value and Growing Your Audience with Custom Content

Copywriting—or content creation—is one of the most popular freelance career choices these days for a variety of reasons. The goal of such writing is to create promotional materials that will attract ideal prospects, which every wholesale fashion jewelry business needs so demand for such services is only going upward.

You can notice this by looking at any website for a minute. The internet nowadays is filled with custom content created by freelance copywriters, aimed directly at driving marketing efforts. Still, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about copywriting on a global level.

The Truth about Freelance Copywriting

Let’s clear it up by discussing the truth about freelance content creation.

1. Copywriting is here to stay

‘’Seeing how popular it has become, we can say without second thoughts – copywriting is not going away any time soon.’’ – states Quentin Peers, copywriter for Essay Writing Land.

This cannot be truer. While social media is undoubtedly one of the fiercest marketing platforms of today, marketers cannot base their strategies entirely on social media posts. Focusing on just one thing is the greatest mistake you can make in today’s world, since when it comes to technology – the sky is your limit.

One great addition to any marketing strategy is to inspire the audience by using copywriting and crafting custom content. Ideally, this should help the marketer convince prospects to take some action like subscribing to an email list, as well as allow them to reach out with new information and deals. It’s also important for most businesses to have loyal, repeat visitors to their website—and crafting interesting custom content that provides value for readers is one of the best marketing strategies.

2. Copywriting lets you connect to others

In years past, people were only interested in what a company had to say when a new product or service was introduced. The web and social media have changed things. People want to build relationships and feel some connection with the companies they do business with. A person who wants to attract more clients definitely needs to build relationships, which cannot be done without quality content creation.

Whether it is website content or a quality email strategy, copywriting is still the best way to connect to others. Content was and remains a king, which makes this career path one of the top trends in business and marketing online.

3. Copywriting gives people what they want

That’s why the internet is filled with content – to make people happy and convince them to take action. Whether it is to inform them, entertain them, or sell them a product or service, compelling content creation is the way to go.

Copywriting is in such high demand because of its versatility and use in giving people what they want. Whether it is website content, webinars, or e-books, almost all selling online goes through copywriting.

4. Copywriting changes daily

At this point, copywriting has been through many big changes. Starting from print, TV and radio advertisement in the 20th century, to digital marketing that rose in the early 2000s – copywriting is constantly changing. Nowadays, companies and agencies spend over 30 percent of the budget on digital marketing, a rate that is only expected to go upward. Naturally, copywriting will be in higher demand as a result of it, which means that more changes are about to come.

In other words, copywriting is much different now than it was in the past. Firstly, it is now based on the target audience and focused on niche marketing. Secondly, the people who do copywriting have to be experts in order to create industry-specific, relevant, and valuable content that will actually work. And finally, the biggest shift arises with the introduction of SEO, which is now an essential element in copywriting.

What Lies Ahead?

We’ve established the importance and value of content creation, but we also need to look at how content demand will evolve in the future. Staying ahead of the curve is essential in this technology-driven world, especially for those who decided to pursue the career of a copywriter or use its magic to promote their business.

Thanks to social networks, search engine optimization, and mobile use, marketing has been fully revolutionized. This means that copywriters are needed more than ever, but in the capacity of experts who are nimble and savvy in embracing the future changes.

Now, let’s take a quick look at the anticipated ways technology will change the world of content creation.

No Room for Bad Writing and Mistakes

Looking ahead to the future of content creation—or even the present, really—there is no room for poor writing or grammar and spelling mistakes. Those things were never “acceptable” per se, but it was easier to forgive mistakes in the early days of the internet. However, with software getting more advanced and sophisticated in terms of detecting errors, online copy that contains mistakes and is poorly written is very unlikely to ever be accepted again. Whether you use Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or some other writing software, spell checking, and basic grammar checking are fairly universal, so there’s no excuse to make those mistakes anymore.

You can also find a variety of online editing services on the web, as well as tools and sites for detecting such errors.

More Formulas and Algorithms

Technology makes it much easier to test online copy, and not only in terms of mistakes or quality. As you probably know already, many tools nowadays tell us what is more appealing and relevant to the audience, and keywords are an important focus for strong SEO in content creation.

Right now, you can write your fair share of content and use all kinds of tools to make sure it fits the highest possible standards: test for accuracy, test for SEO, as well as use tools to guide you throughout the entire writing process with the help of algorithms and formulas.

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Reused Old Content

You don’t always have to start from scratch and reinvent the proverbial wheel. Refreshing the old content is equally important as making new content. SEO practices often promote reused old content, which means that soon enough, copywriters will start grasping this idea in order to attract the target audience.

 

Copywriters aren’t just asked to write new copy. As time passes, more and more website owners and marketers choose to revamp the old content and optimize it with the current keywords in the industry. Updating and optimizing existing content can be an entire freelance content career of its own. This strategy is called repurposing and it will continue to grow for some time.