Are E-commerce Businesses Ready For Christmas?

At this time of the year, it seems like an overwhelming and impossible task to run a successful online retail business. Not only is the traditional Christmas rush almost upon us, but more recent innovations like Cyber Monday also affect a huge section of the online retail market.

Of course, the biggest of these is Black Friday, the American shopping event that suddenly exploded in popularity in the UK a couple of years ago, with fairly chaotic results all round. Retailers and supermarkets attempted to copy the US-style early morning opening times, facing crowds of desperate bargain hunters looking for cheap deals. With widespread chaos and disappointment on both sides, there was a noticeable shift in how Black Friday was handled in 2015, which has continued this year.

For one thing, online retailers are really taking the lead while physical shops reign in the hysteria. It’s easier to drop prices across a website than a high street store, and certainly less destructive when unexpected hordes of customers arrive to snatch those special offers. For another, Christmas is still by far the most profitable feature of the season for retailers, so marketing efforts remain focused on this.

Recent research in the UK by ChannelAdvisor showed that 47% of online businesses in the retail sector were anticipating better sales this year than they experienced last year over the Christmas period. Almost as many retailers said they had been planning their winter promotions since the summer, with many actually starting as early as January.

The research also showed that many retailers are making more use of technology and different sales channels than ever before. More than half of respondents have a mobile application for their customers to buy through, and even more used social media to advertise. This all stems from customers’ standards always getting higher, so companies need to keep up in order to remain competitive. Only time will really tell which online retailers are truly prepared for the trials of December and January, so it will be interesting to find out later which ones see the most success.

23Oct/16
How to choose your business name

How to choose your business name

One of the first ways your potential customers will see and interact with your business is through its name. A simple name can convey so much meaning instantly, and eventually it can potentially hold a huge amount of power over your entire customer base. You might feel a lot of pressure to choose wisely, so what factors should you consider?

Does the name convey your brand’s values? Think about what it will immediately bring to your customers’ minds, and whether that image matches up to how you want your brand to be perceived.

Is the name too outside-of-the-box? There is something to be said for being unique, but that doesn’t automatically make a name memorable or meaningful. A random name can be confusing and make it harder for you to explain what you offer.

Is the name too generic? On the other side of the coin, you may benefit from explaining what your business does right there in the name, but this could mean you’re making it harder to carve out your unique identity, especially online. Try combining a unique name with a mention of your product or service, rather than just choosing one or the other. Continue reading

15Sep/16
Choosing the best business bank account

Choosing the best business bank account

It’s hard to choose the right suppliers when it comes to basically any aspect of your business, but a bank can be one of the most important since your decision is potentially going to impact every single transaction your business makes. There are, of course, an overwhelming number of options on the market and jumping into the first agreement you see could well be a bad idea.

Instead, it’s worth looking at some of the options out there and considering expert opinions from financial advisor’s (like the recommendations from these professionals) before making your choice. Here are some of the key points to remember.

1) Choose an actual business account

Probably the worst thing you can do is try to use a personal account to run your business finances. It will not work out as the best deal or the most practical solution. Go for one that’s designed for people in your situation.

2) Look for free trials

Even on paid accounts, you should be able to get a good trial period and enjoy free banking for 12 months or even longer. Continue reading

Confidential Shredding

Choosing the correct waste management solutions for your business

Waste management can quickly become a complicated issue for business owners. If you’re leading a new start-up, you might have to adapt quickly to make sure your actions are compliant with regulations, cost effective and environmentally friendly. Many comprehensive waste management companies such as Green Plan-it in the Midlands offer a variety of recycling solutions for dealing with each type of waste typically produced by businesses, so ideally you will be able to find an all-in-one solution that’s suitable for you. Each waste stream can be dealt with as follows.

General Waste

Almost every single business will create a certain amount of general waste that needs to be collected regularly and disposed of. Having said that, you may be able to recycle a higher proportion of that waste than you originally thought, minimising the amount that goes to landfill sites. Commercial waste collection companies sometimes offer free audits and consultations to help you do more of this.

General Recycling

Once you are able to identify materials that can easily be recycled, you should have a system in place within your business to ensure all employees can help organise your commercial waste properly. Non-confidential papers can be recycled along with card, plastic, glass and many types of metal. These may be sorted on-site, or collected together to be sorted later. Continue reading

CCTV system

Improving your office or warehouse security

Security is a major concern for all of us in our day-to-day lives. We may spend a lot of time preoccupied with our personal security when it comes to protecting our homes, finances and so on, and rightly so. However, business security can be even more important and sensitive, since you may be responsible for the safety and security of your employees and your customers as well as looking after your own interests.

Despite this, many business owners still fail to install proper security measures, and may forget about easy things that can be done to increase security at an office, warehouse, factory or any other workplace. Here are some ideas you may want to look at in detail.

1) CCTV system

Modern camera systems overlooking the exterior and interior of your building are an essential security measure in most cases. They can act as a deterrent as well as offering invaluable insights into any security breaches you do experience. Remote viewing is a great benefit, especially if you can view the live feed from a mobile app. Continue reading

Risk Assessment and Management

Health and safety is something of a nightmare for many business owners, and as a new business the last thing you want is to get tangled up in red tape. Some people have a certain perception of risk assessment practices as overly cautious and more of a burden than anything else. However, getting professional consultation on UK health and safety issues is vital across many different industries, and you can’t afford to get this wrong when you’re just starting out. Here are some of the different areas you might need to consider depending on your niche.

Construction

In the construction industry, health and safety is obviously an issue due to the involvement of heavy machinery, working in potentially unsafe buildings and so on. However, risk assessment in this field should go far beyond the obvious. Hazardous chemicals used on sites such as paint and substances used to treat wood or metal can have devastating long term health effects. Cancer rates within construction are particularly high, which has largely been attributed to asbestos but is also closely linked to fumes from paint and petrol. Excessive noise and vibration must also be assessed formally as these pose a high risk. Continue reading