Peer-To-Peer Service Marketplaces – How to Ensure Loyalty among Users to Beat Competition

Peer-To-Peer Service Marketplaces – How to Ensure Loyalty among Users to Beat Competition

Planning to start an online business in 2017? All you need is an internet connection, a computer, few technical skills, a robust software solution to launch your online platform; and it’s done.

The rise of peer-to-peer marketplaces catering to service industry has rejuvenated the idea of launching a startup with minimal input – so minimal that all a P2P marketplace owner has to do is offer a robust & reliable online platform to connect service seekers with service providers. They just act as a bridge connecting both ends and earn commission on each transaction.

Following are some of the most popular peer-to-peer service marketplace ideas that entrepreneurs can launch right now.

● Online professional search marketplace
● Online caregiver marketplace
● Online travel activity marketplace
● On-demand services marketplace
● Online Writer’s marketplace

However, like with any lucrative business idea, the mushrooming of competitors is an issue that has to be dealt with.

Consider this, you launch an online handyman search marketplace, where you connect professionals like plumbers, electricians, gardeners with prospective users looking to hire them. However, there are already many other players offering the same service. So how would you convince service seekers as well as service providers to use your platform and not the competitor’s? The most obvious answer would be to build a superior marketplace, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds.

The first and the foremost thing that comes to mind when we talk about surpassing the competition is to offer a better service. You just have to offer a better product to both service seekers and service providers and they will surely flock towards you. But for that, you need to find out what features will entice your target audiences to ditch the competition. Let’s find that out.

Features for Service Providers

Service Provider Dashboard

When you open a P2P marketplace, you ought to provide service providers with a dedicated section where they can manage each and every detail of their profile and activities. Most of the service based marketplaces only focus on service seekers and offer a dedicated section only for them.

Dedicated section for writers

Dedicated section for writers in an online writer’s marketplace

Analytics and Reports

Analytics has become a crucial tool for online businesses as it allows them to analyze what is working and what is not on their website, so that they can make more informed decisions. However, some software solutions restrict it to just marketplace owners and do not offer any form of analytics and reports to service providers. This is not ideal in the current market dynamics and a marketplace offering this feature will surely stand out.

Analytics for tasker

Analytics for tasker in online professional marketplace

Easy Listing Management

Every service provider wants full control of their listings, be it a product or any form of service. Often, service providers need to make some changes to their listing, therefore, having full control over modification of listing becomes an essential feature. Having such an option in your service marketplace will surely give you an edge over the competition.

Easy management of restaurants

Easy management of restaurants in online food ordering and delivery marketplace

Lower Commission Rates

As mentioned earlier, P2P service marketplaces charge a commission from sellers on every transaction. This is how they make money. But if you offer lower commission rate as compared to your competitors then it will obviously result in service providers preferring your marketplace.

Lucrative User Acquisition Strategy

It is a known fact that service providers prefer those marketplaces which have ample user base. This is why most of the early stage marketplaces employ lucrative user acquisition strategy to increase user base. This can be in the form of discounts or credits. Once the service seekers start using your platform, you can easily attract service providers to partner with you.

Related Read: Most Popular Business Ideas of the Online Service Sector

Now that we have taken into account essential features aimed at service providers, let us take a closer look at features aimed at service seekers as well.

Features for Service Seekers

Mobile Compatibility

In the current market dynamics having a website is not enough. Service seekers want mobility which is why your marketplace must be mobile friendly, allowing them to connect with service providers on the go. The same is also applicable for service providers.

Online responsive design

Responsive design of an online on-demand service marketplace

Easy Search

If service seekers find it difficult to seek relevant service providers as per their requirements, they probably would jump ship to another marketplace. This is why you must have robust search functionality with advanced filters and Geo-location enabled that would make the process of finding service providers a walk in the park.

Robust search functionality

Robust search functionality with filters in an online caregiver marketplace

Reviews and Ratings

Most service seekers finalize a service provider only after going through reviews and ratings provided by other users. It is one of the most crucial aspects of any online marketplace. Studies have shown that consumers often prefer marketplaces which have reviews from other users as compared to one without this option.

Review and rating section

Review and rating section in an online food ordering marketplace

Related Read: How Online Reviews Help Improve Conversion Rate of Your Website

Messaging System

P2P marketplaces offer a bridge to connect service seekers and service providers. However, that connection is incomplete without a messaging system. It is necessary for every P2P marketplace to have an inbuilt messaging system using which service seekers can directly contact service providers and rectify any queries if need be.

Inbuilt messaging system

In-built messaging system in an online on-demand service marketplace

Secure Online Payments

One of the reasons why such marketplaces have become popular is the advancements in secure online transactions. Make sure that the software solution you choose for your online p2p service marketplace incorporates best practices when it comes to security. Additionally also ensure that it offers multiple payment options for service seekers.

Also read: Best Security Tips from Pro Developers to Protect Website from Hackers

Build Trust and Reputation

In the end, it all boils down to your marketing plan to capture the attention of service seekers. Make sure you are able to develop trust and reputation among the masses, which will entice consumers to use your platform as compared to the competition.

Conclusion

In the current scenario of high competition where multiple marketplaces are catering to the same populace, offering certain exclusive features can surely tilt the bar in your favor. If you manage to entice a substantial amount to service seekers and service providers, by offering the features mentioned in this post, it will create a ripple effect, which will pull more users towards your marketplace and increase loyalty.

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Online Food Ordering Services Now Available On Facebook

Online Food Ordering Services Now Available On Facebook

To boost the engagement of online food ordering websites and to ease the process of food ordering, Facebook has released a feature where users can just order food online directly via Facebook app.

Till now users resorted to Facebook for searching where to eat, the ratings and review of a particular restaurant and finalizing the restaurant after which they would shift to an online food ordering app and order food. Now with the release of this feature, by selecting the “order food” category, people will now be able to browse nearby restaurants, favorite restaurants and search for restaurants according to the cuisine. They can also filter their choice according to pick-up or delivery, prices, open or closed, etc. After users select the restaurant, they are redirected to the delivery or restaurant’s’ website.

Facebook has currently partnered with Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, Zuppler, EatStreet, Slice, and Olo, as well as direct partnership with restaurants like Papa John’s, Wingstop, Panera, Jack in the Box, TGI Friday’s, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, Chipotle, Five Guys and Jimmy John’s.

Also read: – What makes online food ordering marketplace a Good business idea

Marketers of food ordering website will get a huge advantage with this feature as it will allow their customers to easily order the food. Now marketers have got a direct access to connect with the Facebook’s audience. Facebook released this feature; just a few days after Snapchat released the context card feature where users can easily book table and cab directly through Snapchat. It seems as if between the Tug of war of Social media Giants, the users are getting all the advantages.

101 Actionable Ecommerce Tips from Experts on Running an Online Marketplace

101 Actionable Ecommerce Tips from Experts on Running an Online Marketplace

The startup ecosystem is favorable for young, ambitious and gritty entrepreneurs globally, so we see different eCommerce setups quite frequently these days. Being a new entrepreneur is exciting because everything is new.

However, sometimes, new entrepreneurs get a little too excited about the wrong things. For a new ecommerce marketplace getting everything right is highly crucial because even a small misstep can create a huge hurdle at a later stage. This is why one needs to tread its step carefully from the beginning itself. Most of the entrepreneurs believe that to launch and run a successful marketplacejust involves offering low priced products in a feature rich marketplace.

There are dozens of ways to scale up. While some businesses focus on high ticket items, others focus on dominating hyper-specific product categories; neither is necessarily right or wrong. But the key areas remain alike for all. To ensure that your end project is successful, have a look at following 101 ecommerce tips for new entrepreneurs, and get on the right track from the beginning.

We have divided 101 actionable ecommerce tips into four sections as follows:

Before launch

1. Don’t rush the launch

Whether it is B2B or B2C, experimentation is the driving force behind all the breakthroughs. Success in the ecommerce field doesn’t rely on luck- it is about being courageous enough to try as many growth hacking experiments as possible. Building a culture of experimentation into the DNA of the business takes time and effort but once it gets done, you will avail the following benefits:

  • It provides the possibility of determining what may be the best for target customers.
  • You may get something exceptional as an end product which multiplies your revenue.

2. Experiment like your business depends on it

Make yourself unique, it will help you stand out of the competition. Experiment with your business as well as revenue model.

Business Experimentation

3. Innovation is the key to success

With growing competition, lack of innovation may leave your business unable to diversify and compete. Being a broad spectrum term, the meaning of innovation can be:

  • Improving initial business processes to increase productivity
  • Improving products and services to meet the changing demands of customers

Benefits of Innovation:

  • Improve overall productivity and profitability
  • Improve brand recognition and relationships with partner
  • Provide a sense of autonomy that boosts job satisfaction among employees

4. Start building relationships with relevant influencers

Influencers are the best way to leverage word of mouth publicity. You can connect with their audiences as trusted peers. Their knowledge, opinions, and most importantly authenticity can convert your one-time customers into loyal customers. Benefits of having a relationship with relevant influencers:

  • Builds trusts and credibility
  • Influencers help in driving quicker customer retentions
  • It boosts your SEO and increases brand awareness
Start building relationships with relevant influencers

Image Credits: B2C Blog

5. Find an ecommerce brand to look up to

Select a brand that you can idealize or see as an inspiration, not like a fierce competitor. This brand should be like an ecommerce force that makes success harder for everyone else in the market. Then examine the strategies adopted by this brand to become a market leader. From CMS to selling techniques, learn everything about it. Benefits:

  • You will start addressing pain points proactively
  • You can adopt testified features and strategies
  • You get access to more customer’s insights

6. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors

Identify your competitors and analyze their past and current strategies. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Know their preferred social media channels, how they distribute/deliver, what their media activities are. Benefits:

  • You can turn their drawbacks into your advantages
  • You get to know about a newer side of your target audience.
  • You can do modifications in your business model and can make your product better than them
  • You get to know where you stand at the moment when it comes to technology, strategies and other business related things.
Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors

7. Find a readymade solution that can grow with you

When your business is in its budding stage, you are a bit short on time and money. Therefore, choosing a readymade solution for setting up an online business is the wisest decision. Benefits:

  • Readymade solution is more economical than custom solution.
  • Buying and implementing a readymade solution takes less time.
  • It fulfills all the basic and generic needs of an ecommerce website.

8. Ensure minimal downtime

If your ecommerce marketplace faces downtime, then you are literally losing sales. On July 16, 2018, Amazon website crashed for sometime, which led to a loss of $72 million-$92 million. Here’s how you can decrease the risk of system downtime:

  • Properly monitor your infrastructure
  • Visualize metrics
  • Set up alerts
We will be back shortly

9. Decide the demographics that you want to serve

The best part about ecommerce marketplaces is that you can easily serve across the globe without any hassle. For effective management, it is crucial to decide at an initial stage which demographics you want to serve.

10. Find a niche with good growth prospects

Ecommerce covers numerous categories, but rather than going all out, find a niche with maximum growth prospects in the region/state/nation you want to operate.

Find a niche with good growth prospects

11. Map your target user base

It is necessary that before launching an ecommerce website you map your target user base, allowing you to focus on them more easily at a later stage.

12. Partner with a specialist logistics service provider

Although you can initially make use of courier services yet finding a logistics service provider in advance is a good option. These companies make CODs possible whereas courier services don’t facilitate CODs.

13. Test multiple revenue models (subscription or commission)

The best thing about ecommerce is that you can opt for more than one revenue streams and have scope for experimentation. Hence, testing various revenue models can help you choose the best.

Suggested Read: 101 Actionable Best Tips: How To Make Your Website Sell

Design and Development

14. Ensure that your website is mobile friendly

Nowadays, people browse websites from a multitude of devices and usage on a smartphone is increasing day by day. This is why your website must be mobile friendly and incorporate responsive design.

15. Make your website visually appealing

In the current times, a visually appealing design has become a crucial part of any website. If your website has an engaging design, then you already have won half the ecommerce battle.

Make your website visually appealing

Image Credits: Neil Patel Blog

16. Create native mobile apps

With more and more users shopping on the smartphones, having a native mobile app has become essential for every ecommerce brand. This helps in offering a more immersive experience to the shopper.

17. Be specific with your product categories so customers can easily find exact products

If your ecommerce store offers thousands of products across dozens of categories, it is crucial for you to specify each and every category prominently, to make it easier for consumers to find the relevant product.

18. Have a killer navigation

Navigation is one of the key aspects of an ecommerce website having literally thousands of product pages. Without a good navigation, most of your customers will feel like standing in a maze unable to find their way.

Killer navigation

19. Use consumer friendly URLs

Many webmasters ignore the importance of URLs for ecommerce websites. Having a clean URL that denotes the web page properly is essential for ranking benefit as well as to offer optimum user experience.

Use consumer friendly URLs

Image Credits: MOZ

20. Ensure you have a robust search feature to streamline the results

Other than navigation, the one thing that makes it easy for customers to find relevant products is a search function. This is why your website needs a robust search functionality (with features like search-filters, autocomplete suggestions, etc.) to ensure consumers face no trouble while searching for products.

21. Optimize your web pages to rank higher on search engine result pages

To ensure that your webpages, product categories rank prominently in the SERPs for target search terms, you will require help of SEO.

22. Use a product page design that compels people to buy

A visually unappealing product page will most definitely hinder buying decision of a potential customer. To maintain a good rate of conversion, design a clean and visually pleasing product page.

23. Optimize your product images

The biggest hindrance that ecommerce websites have is that consumers cannot feel the product before making the purchase, which is why image optimization is crucial for an ecommerce marketplace.

24. Incorporate product videos

Having a product video embedded into product page also makes a huge difference as it is more engaging and offers better information about the product.

25. Pick the right payment gateways

To ensure compatibility and secure payments, you must choose a payment gateway that is popular among the masses and is looked upon as a secure system. It helps in garnering trust among the consumers.

26. Add multiple payment options

Having just a single option for payment is not consumer friendly and it is always advised to go for as much payment options as possible. What if a consumer wants to buy something and their preferred mode of payment is not eligible on your website. You just lose a sale.

27. Optimize your store for niche keywords

By optimizing web pages for niche keywords you not only help a web page rank better on the SERPbut also ensure more relevant results when it comes to on site search.

28. Create a FAQs page

An ecommerce marketplace or any website for that matter should have an FAQ page where they answer all the common queries of the visitors. This will not only enhance consumer experience but also reduce the number of support emails.

29. Incorporate help chat

For complex queries, like information about a particular product or any other website features, an ecommerce store must have a help chat allowing faster redressal system.

Incorporate help chat

Image Credits: ECN

30. Integrate product reviews and ratings

An ecommerce marketplace nowadays is incomplete without reviews and ratings. They have become an integral part of an ecommerce website with most of the buying decisions being taken in the light of third party reviews.

31. Have multilingual and multi-currency support

If you are selling globally to an audience spread across multiple countries then you must integrate multilingual and multicurrency support.

32. Use CTAs to increase conversions

CTAs (call to action) are an effective tool to increase conversions and enticing visitors into buying products.

33. Use color psychology while designing

While red is often used by websites in the food sector, blue is generally associated with the service industry. Use color psychology across your website design allowing your customers to build a visual association easily.

Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s famous “wheel of emotions”

34. Offer social login

Using social media credentials streamlines the login and signup process resulting in faster checkouts and bypassing the boring account creation process. First time users prefer to use social login for their online purchase, so don’t forget to add this option.

35. Make the signup process as minimalistic as possible

Other than social login, you must minimize the signup process requiring only essential details.

Make the signup process as minimalistic as possible

36. Offer the option to purchase without registration

You should also have an option for visitors to purchase products without the need for creating an account. It is not only user-friendly but also highlights your ecommerce brand as consumer centric. Offer guest check-out.

37. Add favorites and wish-list option to save products for later

One way to reduce cart abandonment and ensure consumers purchase the product at a later stage, is to have a wish list or save products for making the option (to buy products later) available.

Favourite List

38. Simplify the shopping experience

Minimize the number of steps required to make a purchase. It is all about convenience and speed, which has made ecommerce popular among the masses so simplifying the whole shopping experience is a must.

39. Reduce friction at checkout

Use best practices like saving payment option and delivery address for later use. This reduces the friction at the checkout stage and ensures faster order processing.

40. Make sure users can easily track their order

One key feature of a customer-focused ecommerce website is the ability to track orders. By giving consumers this option, you tend to keep them in the loop about the expected time of order delivery.

41. Offer trust indicators on shopping cart page, as well as payment page

Many consumers, are wary of sharing payment details over the internet, which is why you must include trust indicators on shopping cart page as well as check out page. This will highlight the fact that all the information provided by the consumers is safe and secure.

Secure Payment

42. Ensure that the page load speed is not too low

If a particular page on your website takes too long to load, then you potentially lose a sale. Not only that, even Google has started to penalize websites which take too long to load. It’s one of the most commonly ignored web design practices.

Ensure that the page load speed is not too low

43. Always stay up to date with the latest technology

New technologies are emerging at a faster rate, making core process redundant. An ecommerce website using outdated technology somehow forces consumers to move to other platforms.

44. Include a blog on your ecommerce website

Having a blog on your ecommerce website helps you bring in more traffic organically. It’s beneficial from both search engine ranking and engagement viewpoint.

Include a blog on your ecommerce website

45. Create a proper sitemap page

Your consumers might not find a sitemap useful but for search engine robots, a site map is an essential feature to index all links on your ecommerce website.

46. Do user testing to collect feedbacks

It often happens that a feature introduced by ecommerce website does not get sufficient traction among the consumers. To avoid this state, you must take feedback from users on key features of your store.

47. Test absolutely everything before making it public

Before making anything public, you must test each and every aspect thoroughly. It is always advised to delay the launch rather than launching a half-baked feature that does not function as per expectations.

Suggested Read: What Startups Can Learn from Grubhub’s Success Story?

Marketing

48. Make marketing your main focus

No matter how good your product is, if you do not market it correctly, you may as well sit around with your eyes blindfolded. This is why you must lay all your focus on marketing your ecommerce marketplace.

Make marketing your main focus

49. Be on multiple social media platforms

Social media is essential for any type of business to engage with the audience. Having a presence on multiple social media platforms not only allows ecommerce marketplaces to address their consumers as well as drives traffic to them.

50. Create unique content

In this era of competition, creating unique content has become paramount in having a unique identity. Top ecommerce marketplaces go the extra length to ensure their unique content goes viral and bring in more traffic.

51. Increase brand awareness

There is no point in having consumer centric features if the consumers do not know about your brand. By increasing your brand awareness you can easily create a niche and leverage upon it to increase your market share.

52. Create a catchy logo

Most of the big online brands, are easily identifiable with their logos. Your logo is both your asset and identity, which is why an ecommerce marketplace must invest in developing a catchy logo that can be easily associated with for a long-term.

Create a Catchy Logo

53. Talk to your customers and get to know their needs

It is crucial for any ecommerce marketplace to engage with their customers in order to find out their needs. Besides various benefits of user reviews, it will help you in pushing features and services that are essential for the consumers.

54. Think of ways to put your customer on a pedestal

If you treat your customers right, then they will keep on coming back. Show them that you appreciate their loyalty, by sending emails, thanking them for being a loyal customer.

55. Learn to recover abandoned carts

Almost two-thirds of the online shoppers abandon the cart and 63% of it is recoverable. This is why incorporating strategies to recover those abandoned carts makes complete sense if you want to boost revenue.

Recover abandoned carts

56. Increase your average order value of the cart

Rather than spending revenue on acquiring new customers, it is more beneficial if you introduce strategies to increase average order value of the cart.

57. Make sure you have upsell and cross sell offers

By incorporating upsell and cross sell offers you not only increase the average order value but in turn increase sales of the website.

58. Market your store beyond ads

There is no denying the fact that ads will be one of the biggest traffic sources for your ecommerce marketplace. But you need to think beyond ads and invest in SEO, social media, email marketing as well as influencer marketing.

59. Always have retargeting ads running

Most of the ecommerce websites face one issue i.e. visitors show interest in a particular product, but do not buy it. All they need is enticing and that can be done by retargeting ads.

60. Add your discount codes to a discount code site

Discounts have become one of the key aspects of an ecommerce website in acquiring new users as well as retaining existing ones. Adding discount codes to discount code website offers you another channel to drive traffic to your website.

61. Create a loyalty program

By creating a loyalty program you can easily retain your customers. The main goal here is to encourage repeat purchases and build a habit among consumers.

Loyalty program

62. Build out your email list

Email marketing is an effective way to market your products to leads and customers. By encouraging visitors to offer their emails for updates you can easily build an email list.

63. Occasionally send a newsletter

Sending an occasional newsletter to subscribed customers is always helpful to engage with them and keeping them updated with the latest offerings of your marketplace.

64. Include a membership program

Most of the ecommerce marketplaces have started membership programs that include some premium services like same day delivery and early bird discounts. This helps in keeping the customer loyal to your platform.

65. Have an affiliate program

This type of marketing has become highly popular in driving huge chunks of traffic towards a website. The affiliates market your products to their traffic and redirect interested buyers to your website.

Have an affiliate program

66. Think like a customer and a seller

Most of the ecommerce marketplace owners forget that it is the sellers as well as customers that drive the growth of a marketplace. Don’t forget this and introduce features that are essential for them to make the website more usable.

67. Set SMART goals

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timed. Whatever your end goal be, it should include all these features allowing you to achieve it easily.

Set smart goals

68. Don’t hesitate on going all out

There are instances where ecommerce marketplaces having a gradual growth, suddenly see themselves looking at a slump. This is because they hesitate to invest in marketing themselves and let the competition capture the market.

69. Always have a marketing strategy aimed at the future

In the current age of competition, it is always advised to have a marketing strategy in place for at least six months in future. If you do not plan ahead the market will outgrow you and the business will move towards a competitor.

70. Have variable commission rates based on categories

In order to attain maximum revenues from commission based model, you must have variable rates based on categories. For popular categories, you can have higher commission rate while for slow moving categories you can keep the rates minimal.

Suggested Read: How to build user friendly mobile website? 10 Super Tips from experts

Miscellaneous

71. Offer free shipping

People do not like to pay for shipping, which is why most of the popular ecommerce websites offer free shipping. You can also add a threshold above which all the orders will be shipped for free thus increasing your average order value.

Free shipping

72. Include estimated delivery time during checkout

It is crucial that you highlight the estimated delivery time before the customer makes the payment during checkout. This way you offer transparency and ensure that the customer does not argue about the delivery date later on.

73. Offer great customer support

Nothing can beat a great customer support. The whole business of Amazon is built around offering good customer support services. Why many online marketplaces fail has a lot to do with their customer support as they fail to build user base and never turn profitable.

Offer great customer support

74. Do not ignore disgruntled customers

Even if any consumer is facing issue with your website and is not happy with your service, rather than ignoring them, you must acknowledge their disgruntlement and offer them a solution.

75. Offer multiple post-sales support options

Having a plain “contact us” page for post-sales support services is not a good practice. Rather you must have multiple channels where consumers and sellers can reach out to you for their queries. This can be in the form of phone, email, and chat.

76. Have a clear return and refund policy

Nobody likes a business that has vague or unclear policies. Returns and refunds are an integral part of an ecommerce website, so define a clear cut and consumer friendly policy for returns/refunds.

Have a clear return and refund policy

77. Add a flash sale section for slow-moving products

There will be times when some of the products on your marketplace will not sell properly. The best way to sell these slow moving products is to add a flash sale section.

Flash sale

78. Incorporate a daily deals section

A daily deals section encourages consumers to visit a website on a daily basis. Add this section on your site to get regular direct traffic.

79. Add option for gift cards

Nowadays people prefer to send a gift card to their friends and family using which they can shop online. Having such a feature will enable you to capture this market.

Add option for gift cards

80. Let consumers report fake products and sellers

One major issue with ecommerce is that sometimes it gets difficult to differentiate between original and fake products. To ensure that your marketplace does not house counterfeit products you should add a reporting option using which users can report fake products allowing you to delist them.

81. Automate core processes for efficiency

An ecommerce marketplace has several components working in conjunction and sometimes it gets difficult to manage each and every one of them. This is why it is advised to automate as many processes as possible as it would also allow you to attain efficiency.

82. Have a vendor management system in place

Marketplace owners do not always sell themselves, rather they have sellers on their platform. In order to ensure you easily manage all these sellers, you must have a robust vendor management system built right into your platform.

83. Focus more on returning users rather than one time buyers

Returning users offer more to an ecommerce marketplace than one time buyers, which is why you must focus on the former more than the latter.

84. Sell the experience and not the product

In the current market dynamics where multiple marketplaces sell the same product, it is all about the experience, which keeps consumers glued to a particular marketplace.

85. Don’t pocket the profits during the early days

Success and failure of an ecommerce marketplace are not evident during the early days, which is why you must avoid pocketing any profits and invest in other aspects of the business as much as possible.

86. Keep your prices competitive

If you are selling a product at $40 and your competitor is selling at $35, then the consumer will most definitely go to the competition, which is why you must always keep your prices competitive.

Offer competitive pricing

87. Focus on building customer’s trust

If you manage to win the trust of the customer, then you have managed to win that customer for the entirety. While shopping online consumers tend to only shop from websites they trust.

88. Create urgency and scarcity to sell better

One unique strategy to sell products more effectively on your website is to create a sense of scarcity and urgency among the buyers. Like showcasing only 5 items left or limited time offer.

89. Convey value proposition of the product

By creating value proposition of the product and conveying it to the consumers you can easily sell it at a premium without any hassle. This is highly effective when you have exclusive products on your website.

90. Include a section on product page where users can ask and answer queries about the product

Consumers usually have several queries before purchasing a product, and the best way to deal with it is to have a Q&A section on the product page itself where users can rectify their queries and help each other in making an informed decision.

91. Use recommended and suggested products to increase sales

One of the easiest ways to increase the average order value of the cart is to have a dedicated section of recommended and suggested products based on current page, visitors browser history etc.

Use recommended and suggested products to increase sales

92. Encourage sharing products page on social media

One way to maximize your product reach on social media is to encourage visitors to share products on social media. By putting sharing button on the product page you can easily reach more buyers.

93. Use AI and big data to understand user behavior

By understanding user behaviors and their shopping habits you can better target them and hence increase revenues. This can be easily done using AI and big data analytics.

Artificial intelligence

94. Use analytics to guide decision making

Choosing a platform with built in analytics can offer you insightful information about what is working and what is not. This way you can easily make an informed decision.

95. Incorporate a referral program

Having a referral program is highly beneficial as it allows you to grow your traffic at a faster rate. By encouraging your existing customer to refer their friends and family you tend to also build a connected community.

96. Outsource your weaknesses

There will be times when you will not be able to manage certain aspects of your ecommerce marketplace like marketing. The best option would be to outsource such jobs to experts and focus on other things of your website.

97. Include unique products

When you and your competitors are basically selling the same products it all comes down to exclusive products as they can turn into a cash cow. This is why you must also have an exclusive products strategy in place.

98. Go for gradual expansion

Besides many mistakes that early stage ecommerce marketplaces make, one is to expand too quickly presuming a good response, but end up wasting lots of resources. Best practice would be to go for gradual expansion allowing you to manage your resources properly.

99. Invest in future technologies

It is all about staying ahead of the game, which is why you must invest in future technologies that would offer you an edge over the competition.

100. Continue evolving with changing market dynamics

Nothing in this technological era remains static, with new features coming to the market every now and then. This is why it is advised to continue evolving with the changing market dynamics and introduce new features as per the demand.

101. Just start. right now

There has not been a better time to jump in the ecommerce arena as the global ecommerce market is maturing with people preferring online shopping over traditional retail.

Launching an online business has become easy, thanks to the Internet and with ecommerce coming to the forefront, it has become one of the most lucrative business ideas. These 101 actionable ecommerce tips not only help aspiring entrepreneurs in launching and managing a successful marketplace but also offer useful insights to existing players to grow their marketplace further. Keep these expert’s advice in mind and start reviewing your own metric to build one of the most successful ecommerce marketplaces.

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Security Measures Online Businesses Should Take to Keep User Data Safe

Security Measures Online Businesses Should Take to Keep User Data Safe

Security is one of the top-most concerns for consumers as well as businesses. In the age of the internet, where businesses are moving their operations online, cyber-security has become one of the top priorities among the populace. The year 2017 has been riddled with instances of data breaches and cyber-security attacks that have shaken up online businesses to the core. Let us take a closer look at them:

  • Education platform Edmodo was breached in May by a hacker who exposed 77 million accounts and put the database for sale on the dark web.
  • Wonga, the payday loans company, was hacked in April affecting more than one-quarter of a million lenders.
  • Font-sharing site DaFont was also breached by a hacker in May with usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords of 699,000 user accounts being stolen.
  • WannaCry ransomware has plagued thousands in massive global cyber-attacks.
  • Tax and auditing giant Deloitte was hit by a cyber-attack, resulting in the theft of confidential documents and emails.
  • HBO faced data breach which resulted in 1.5TB of confidential data getting leaked.
  • Credit rating agency Equifax was hit by the mother of all hacks recently with more than 143 million consumers getting affected, which involved highly sensitive and personal information.
  • Last year, Yahoo admitted that it had been hacked few years ago, leaking account details of over one billion users, making it one of the biggest breaches of all time. Later, Yahoo admitted that the hack was more widespread and all its three billion accounts were actually accessed.

These are just some of the many online security breaches that happened in 2017 alone. With every passing year, these instances are not only growing in number but also in size. The bigger issue is that these data breaches not only result in user data getting leaked, but it also tarnishes the image of the business, which can even result in millions of dollars’ worth losses as well as corresponding lawsuits. This brings in the need for toughened security architecture to ensure that your online business is safe from unauthorized access.

Taking Strict Security Measures Is a Critical Business Practice in the Ecommerce Sector

Consider this, you launch an online business; pour in thousands of dollar, creating a robust website with all the necessary features. Go on a massive marketing splurge to rope in consumers to your platform. Soon you see growing numbers with your revenue rising substantially. While doing all of this, you never take security of your online business seriously (as many startups nowadays do). One day you are stuck with a massive data breach, with all the information of your users getting leaked. This results in your consumers losing faith in you, and moving to some competitor who offers them a secure environment.

This can happen to anyone and yet with ecommerce becoming so popular we are still not giving security the importance that it needs. Let us take a closer look at the practices that entrepreneurs should keep in mind to make their online businesses secure.

1. Urge users to change passwords after a given time.

It is often said that any entity is as secure as its weakest link and when it comes to user driven online businesses, many of the data breaches happen due to lackluster approach of users towards security who use the service. The best practice in that aspect is to urge users to change their password every few months. You can also incorporate two factor authentications for to ensure better security.

2. Monitor all traffic coming to your website

If proper monitoring of all the traffic is done on a regular basis, then it becomes easy for online businesses to ward off any type of snooping.  You can include a network analysis tool with your online platform and track all the traffic. This will also help you identify any unusual traffic coming to your website and block any form of unauthorized access.

Suggested ReadBest Security Tips from Pro Developers to Protect Website from Hackers

3. Provide a secure payment gateway

One of the biggest concerns of online users comes into play when they are making online transactions. To build trust among consumers and to ensure that all transactions happen in a secure environment, you must include a secure payment gateway. We at FATbit provide options in all our software solutions to include a secure payment gateway as well as multiple payment options.

4. Use HTTPS across the website

It has become customary for online businesses nowadays, especially ecommerce, to use https across their website. This keeps all the information safe from unauthorized access as all the information is sent in an encrypted form over a secure socket layer. It offers added benefits like confidentiality, integrity and identity to the users.

5. Conduct risk assessment

There are several security areas that are often overlooked by online business owners. In fact, the whole notion of using ready to launch software solutions is that one does not have to deal with technical knowledge. However, this does not mean that online business owners should not stay updated with the areas that are prone to risk. This would help them incorporate certain systems to prevent online fraud. By conducting risk assessment of your online business, it becomes easy for website owners to prevent any unwanted data breaches.

6. Update your software solution with latest vulnerability fixes regularly

Every other day, there is some form of vulnerability or exploits that come to the forefront. This year, there have been more than a half a dozen major exploits which affected online businesses as well as users. Wannacry ransomware attack was one such example due to a major exploit that affected several online businesses. This is why it is always advised to update your software solution with latest vulnerability fixes to ensure that your platform is secure with all the security fixes. We at FATbit regularly update all our products to ensure added security for businesses.

7. Invest in software solution built on secure architecture

As most online businesses opt for ready-made software solutions, it becomes essential for them to choose the one which focuses on security. This is why all the software solutions offering by FATbit technologies are built on a secure architecture. In addition, we use best practices while developing these platforms which offer them added security. Our solutions have stood the test of time and have come out with flying colors as the most secure ready-made software solutions for launching an online business.

Conclusion

In the current market dynamics, online businesses must start to take their security very seriously. Investing in a ready-made solution which offers a secure architecture and ensures that user data is not compromised is highly crucial. The bottom line is that no matter how much security you put in, there is no such thing as perfect security. The least we can do is ensure that all security checks as mentioned in this post are in place. Lastly, as a popular saying goes, “prevention is always better than cure”

5 Technologies That Will Drive Entrepreneurship In 2019 & Next Few Years

5 Technologies That Will Drive Entrepreneurship In 2019 & Next Few Years

The early 20th century was all about science, when the most renowned names – Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Max Plank, Edwin Schrödinger, Neil Bohr, and others – were all scientists.

Fast forward 100 years to early 21st century and it all seems to be about technology where the most popular names are all tech entrepreneurs – Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jack Ma, and so on.

We are living in the era of entrepreneurship, and the growth of entrepreneurship produces new jobs and creates new opportunities to improve infrastructure for better quality of services and life; thus, is in the best interest of every country’s economic growth.

As a matter of fact, in past few years, many governments have launched initiatives to support entrepreneurship in their respective countries. While such initiatives are a very welcoming change, policymakers & entrepreneurs also need to be aware of the technologies that will create the most opportunities in future.

Here are 5 technologies that are currently piloting the growth of entrepreneurship and creating new industries altogether along the way.

Internet of Things (IoT)

What used to be science fiction a few decades ago, even a few years ago, has now turned into reality with the internet of things (IoT).

Smart refrigerators that know whenever you are running out of milk and order the usual quantity from nearby store; smart grills that let you know when your food is cooked the right amount; smart homes that turn on lights, AC, TV with your favorite channel just before you return from office; and so on.

IoT

There are thousands of ways in which the IoTs have made our lives easier, and there are thousands of more ways in which they still could. The sheer amount of opportunities this technology offers is also reflected in the fact that IoT startups funding is on constant rise. And it is estimated that the IoT sector will receive about $4.8 trillion in investment over the next 5 years.

Suggested Read: How to Use Big Data in Content Marketing for Improved Results

Wearable

From portable to pocket-able and now to wearable, technology has taken giant leaps in recent decades to become an inseparable part of our life, or should we say ‘of our body’.

In past couple of years, there have been many incidences when wearable devices have saved people’s life (specifically, by alerting them of their abnormal heart rate). Besides healthcare monitoring, wearables are extensively used for safety & tracking purposes. But the most exciting uses of wearables appear when they are coupled with other emerging technologies like AR/VR & Neuroscience.

Wearable Devices

VR headsets are already commonplace (at least on the internet). Smart glasses are also on their way out of the research labs. And with Neuroscience, it seems like there’s a whole new dimension of wearable technology applications.

Today, there are various neurotechnology based wearable devices that help people reduce stress, improve memory, improve sleep, enhance cognitive abilities, control physical objects (only IoTs though), and so on. And for the most part, we have only begun; there is a whole new world of opportunities to explore in the field.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In 2001, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence gave us sneak peeks into the future of artificial intelligence & robotics. Now, 16 years later, we may not have reached the point where the movie’s plot was based (much to Elon Musk’s relief), but AI as a technology has gone through some major improvements.

Credits: Warner Bros.

Primarily based on machine learning, AI is already making our lives easier & exciting – whether it is through Tesla’s self-driving smart cars, Apple’s Siri, or through home assistants by Amazon, Google, & now Apple.

Besides these, AI is being extensively used for fraud detection, for personalizing shopping experience & customer support in the ecommerce sector, and so on.

The development in the AI arena, though, is actually driven by hundreds of startups, which are collectively exploring what we can do with this futuristic technology. And it is evident in the number of AI-based startups which had been acquired by tech giants in past few years (as shown in the chart below).

AI Startups

Source: CB Insights

Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR/AR)

AR & VR have been around for quite some time now, but in past couple of years, these technologies have significantly narrowed down the difference between the real & the virtual world.

VR games & movies are already transforming the entertainment industry. Use of AR by home décor retailers (online & offline), museums, etc. is also in quick adoption. And during Google’s May 2017 Keynote, we saw how AR can be helpful in day-to-day life through Google Lens. Moreover, a month later (June 2017), Apple also launched its ARKit that will make AR experiences mainstream by enabling it on every iOS 11 device (so people can turn their worktable into battlefields).

With iOS 11 already out, developers have started to explore the massive potential of the ARKit. And there’s no denying the fact, it will continue to persuade developers to create more innovative AR based apps, thus, create new startups; while also revolutionizing the whole smartphone experience in the process.

https-blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.comuploadscardimage4984183faa82af-2ab7-497e-b175-8bff8bce18db

Drones

Tesla Motors is currently in the limelight for being on the verge of revolutionizing the transportation industry with better & affordable electric cars. However, an entirely different & probably even bigger transportation revolution is also in the happening – drones.

Drones

Today, drones are being extensively used for good deliveries across the globe. Its other applications include firefighting, search & rescue operations, agriculture, filming remote locations – all of which previously required helicopters/cranes and considerably more human efforts. Plus, in past few months, there also have been some rapid developments in the area of flying cars (such as EHANG 184) for personal transportation, which are essentially based on the drone technology.

Considering drone’s wide array of commercial applications, analysts have predicted its market will grow more than 5 times in next five years (from $5.2 billion in 2016 to $27.1 billion in 2021).

Besides commercial uses, drones are also popular among masses for leisure activities, especially photography. Being relatively affordable & easily accessible, drones qualify for everything a product needs for mass adoption.

The drones are coming, and entrepreneurs will leave no stone unturned to capitalize on this technology.

Conclusion

Many of the above mentioned technologies have already been around for a few years now, but for the most part, they are still in their nascent stage; therefore, far from being perfect. These imperfections, on their own, resonate of the bundle of opportunities these sectors have to offer to the current & the future generations of entrepreneurs.

So, it is imperative that entrepreneurs, as well as the governing authorities promoting the startup growth in their respective countries, pay heed to these areas of opportunities and start capitalizing on them.

3 Smart Ways to Use Social Media for Knowledge Sharing

3 Smart Ways to Use Social Media for Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge management has become one of the most essential aspects when it comes to sharing information, both internally and externally. Not only it helps in establishing an organized internal system, but is also a great way of winning over customers. But, knowledge sharing is no longer restricted to a website these days, as customers demand on the go access to information.And what better platform you can find for that than social media?

Knowledge management is crucial in:

  • Helping employees understand the processes in their work environment, and
  • Effectively dealing with customers’ doubts and issues

One of the ways of sharing knowledge with almost no effort is through cloud-based knowledge base software, combined with effective social media strategies – a practice that has gained significant adoption lately.

Read on and find out more about some of the best ways of sharing knowledge using social media.

#1 Share Relevant Knowledge

Social networks can be a great way of sharing knowledge but only if you have clear idea on what information you should share and with whom should you share it. First of all, you should make a difference between:

  • Internal knowledge base, which is relevant to your employees, and
  • External knowledge base that should provide relevant information to the public

These bases are usually written and formatted in different ways. On one hand, public knowledge base should rely on simple and understandable language without technical terms or professional jargons. On the other hand, internal knowledge should be quite the opposite – its primary goal should be to help employees to perform their duties effectively and not run from pillar to post, searching for relevant information.

This is why it’s so important to make a difference and realize where you should share what type of information. If you share the internal knowledge base with the public, you won’t see any results – or at least not the positive ones. Same goes for sharing external knowledge-base with your employees.

#2 Inform Customers about New/Upcoming Products

Social media nowadays represent a crowded arena of numerous businesses promoting their products and services. Not all of them manage to do it efficiently, but those who do, are definitely aware that this promotion is actually an important part of their knowledge base.

This means that you should make some effort and create thorough, informative, and engaging content explaining your new products. This way, you will attract a lot of attention since customers tend to pay attention to brands that offer valuable information and proactive support. Some engaging ideas that you can include in this external product knowledge base may actually be the crucial parts of your internal knowledge base, as well. For instance, you can:

  • Let the public know if your product design and production process are ecologically safe
  • Share the video of production process, if you find that it could be interesting
  • Create an amusing audio or visual guide to the new product, or even the history of the idea turning into a real product

It’s important for you to realize that knowledge base, especially the external one, does not always have to come in the form of articles or wiki solutions. It can also appear as any content that actually provides the educational value both to your potential customers and the loyal ones. Evenyourreplies to customers’queries/feedback on social media can be the part of your knowledge base if your answers are detailed, thorough, and helpful.

Related Read: Upgrade Your Facebook Marketing Game with These Latest Techniques

#3 Improve Employees’ Skills through Internal Knowledge Base

Apart from being a great means of reaching out to customers and sharing the external knowledge base with them, social media can also be an awesome way of presenting the internal knowledge base (or at least the most important information in it) to the employees.

Sometimes, the conventional solutions for sharing knowledge can seem uninteresting to your employees, which means that they’ll avoid it rather than learn from it. This is precisely when you should use the social networks to create a bridge between the employees and the information they need to know.

You can use social networks to create closed and private groups of different sectors of your business and let the employees interact by asking questions, exchanging information, uploading files with the necessary information, and so on. This way, you will make them adopt the information from the knowledge base in a more interesting and definitely practical way, making them proactive and willing to learn more.

The Best Way of Sharing Knowledge on Social Media

One of the best solutions when it comes to sharing a knowledge base on social media is the usage of Cloud-based knowledge base management software. This type of software has become one of the most attractive knowledge management options lately since it both positively influences the problem-solving skills and increases the amount of relevant data that employees and public process. In addition to this, it’s a time-saving solution, and it lets you organize the information in a simple, easily understandable way.

19 Useful Tools & Resources to Make Your Startup Smarter in 2019

19 Useful Tools & Resources to Make Your Startup Smarter in 2019

Whenever an aspiring entrepreneur decides to start a business, the first concern that comes in his mind is how to keep the cost to a minimum. Launching an online business isn’t all about just getting a website built and taking it online. There are several other procedures & unavoidable costs such as registering the domain, getting a server, business name registration, etc. However, there are other operational costs that can be minimized with the help of technology to keep the budget within the limit.

There are many tools& resources for startups that not only help in minimizing the cost, but also save time & make your business look & operate smartly. From recruiting to project management, CRM to email marketing, and every other critical element involved in running& growing a startup, today, there’s a tool for everything.

The only problem is your unawareness of these tools that can help you accomplish the same tedious, mundane tasks in no time and with minimal effort. So, let’s explore some of the best tools & resources for startups.

1. The Name App

The Name App

To have a unique and easy to remember business name is important for brand recall.This particular tool saves you the struggle of finding the right domain name for your startup. What’s more, it also helps you in checking the availability of the username and in deciding social media profile names that resonate with your business. Simply login to The Name App’s official website or download it on your Apple device’s App Store (Sorry, Android Users, you’ll need to make do with the website for now).

2. GrowthHacker.tv

Hey Hombre

GrowthHacker.tv is a place where you can watch interviews of successful growth hackers and entrepreneurs who have made a mark in the digital world. The interview videos keep on playing on the website in a loop, which is accessible to visitors for free. But if you want to access a past video recording, then you would need to signup, which is paid. But wait, that’s not all. If you are visiting the website for the first time, you might get a promo code to access site’s content as a premium member for a week.

Also Read: 9 Growth Hacking Tips & Tools for Startups & Ecommerce Businesses

3. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Service

Amazon Web Services, commonly known as AWS, is a web hosting service offered by the ecommerce mogul Amazon. Probably, one of the most dependable web hosting service available presently, AWS is scalable, flexible and currently offers over 90 services including database storage, content delivery, and other features & functionalities.

4.MailChimp

Mailchimp

To run a successful email marketing campaign and to keep your audience updated about offers, you need an efficient newsletter service. This is where MailChimp comes into the picture. MailChimp is a name that probably needs no introduction to the tech world. The good news, MailChimp offers a free startup package with all the basics features. Paid services begin from $10 per month. Alternatively, you can also take a look at ActiveCampaign and see which one of these suits you prefer.

5. Aytm

Aytm

There are plenty of survey tools available in the market today. What sets Aytm apart from all those tools is the fact that it not only helps you in creating a survey form, but also helps you in reaching out to the right audience that will be interested in taking these surveys. A Quick tip: keep your questions open ended to get better insights.

6. Glasshat

GlassHat

Glasshat comes across as a super-efficient SEO tool that helps startup owners in planning their SEO and other digital marketing activities. This tool prepares a list of activities and also educates new entrepreneurs why a particular activity is important for their startup. While using Glasshat, it would be a good idea to add the Yoast SEO Plugin to your WordPress website so that you can mend your web content as per SEO guidelines.

7. Asana

Asana

Asana is a web & mobile based project management tool that was built for improving workflow at Facebook. Eventually, and inevitably, the efficiency of Asana made it a prominent name among almost all startup owners across the world. This project management software allows users to assign tasks as per their status, add assignees & get activity feed, view log reports, and a lot more. If you want explore further, we recommend Trello, an equally efficient project management system

8. StockSnap.io

Popular categories

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this is why all businesses know the importance of using high quality images to create better engagement. StockSnap, as the name suggests, is a website from where you can get high resolution stock images. The website offers all these images absolutely free of cost. However, if you are looking for more options to get stock images and don’t mind paying a reasonable amount for the same, ShutterStock is the name you can always trust.

Related Read: 21 Creative Tools for Video Storytelling & Brand Marketing

9. Wave

Wave

Wave is a free online accounting tool for startups and small businesses. The website helps you track all your expenses and incomes, and also helps you with your taxes when the time comes – thus, can help you save a lot of time & effort, usually involved in these procedures. As the screenshot above depicts, this resource is quite reliable for having received media coverage from prominent players such as Forbes, CNBC, Bloomberg, PCMag.com and Inc.

10. Recruiterflow

Recruiterflow

Whether you designate people for human resources, or you decide to handle it on your own, you want the whole process to be easily manageable, and hence, Recruiterflow. Recruiterflow is efficient recruiting software to help startups manage all their activities and planning revolving around the human resource department. It helps you automate your outreach and coordinate with your candidates, as well as streamlines your appointments to keep things running seamlessly.

11. Freshdesk

Freshdesk

Freshdesk is the answer to all your questions pertaining to customer support. From ticketing to tracking to FAQs, Freshdesk can help you sail through the ocean of customer support without breaking a sweat. Freshdesk offers startups a 30-day free trial, without having to enter the credit details. It’s other top features include multichannel helpdesk, automation, reports & analytics and a bunch of team specific products, such as for sales, admin, etc.

12. Hootsuite

Hootsuite

This list wouldn’t be complete without Hootsuite, the most popular social media marketing management tool among startups. This nifty tool can help you manage over 35 most popular social media networks from just one dashboard. With Hootsuite included in your social media marketing mix, there’s no more clutter and missed out opportunities from social networks. Hootsuite saves the day, everyday

13. Optimizely

Optimizely

Conversion Rate is one aspect that each and every business depends on. We all know how important A/B testing is to ensure your ecommerce startup (or any business for that matter) is able to covert efficiently, and hence, Optimizely. The name is synonymous to A/B testing in the business world and helps you in fine tuning your webpages to ensure high conversion rate.

14. BetaList

Discover tomorrow

Beta List is a prelaunch traction system that lets you list your startup before launching it, absolutely free of cost. Free submission entails a waiting period of two months after submission, while getting listed within a couple of days simply needs a nominal fee of $99. The prime benefit of this platform is that you get to showcase your startup idea in the community of business enthusiasts and get valuable feedback from them.

15. SemRush

All in one marketing tool

SemRush is an all in one marketing toolkit that helps startup owners in carrying out their competitor research easily and effectively. SemRush’s other prominent services include technical SEO audit of your website, semantic core collection, ideas for generating organic traffic, and so on. From ecommerce moguls like Amazon to the Entertainment Conglomerates like Disney, many prominent names have trust in SemRush.

16. AngelList

Angellist

AngelList is a platform that every startup must know about. Not only does it help startups connecting with potential investors, but also helps them find experienced professionals who would be interested in working for them. Unlike other job portals, on AngelList, professionals & startups require no middle man to connect. On the other end, it is also a good platform for investors to explore potential startups they would be interested back financially.

Suggested Read: A Fundraising Guide for Startups to Find the Right Investor

17. Google Docs/Sheets/Slides/Forms

Googledocs

A Free alternative to the MS Office suite, the office tools offered by Google help startup owners to create and share word documents, excel sheets, presentations and forms, and share them with their team members without having to send the edited files again and again. Its accessibility options further ensure only selected people can view the files, and you can also see who made what change to the file, as well as the entire edit history.

18. Hemingway

Hemingway

Hemingway is an online word editor that lets you analyze the readability of your content. It also tells you the changes you should make to your content to make it more readable by telling you which sentence needs what kind of fix. Grammarly also does the same with its paid version. The added advantage of Grammarly’s paid version is that it also verifies the originality of the content with its plagiarism checker.

19. Canva

Canva is an online graphic design tool used for generating social posts, blog graphics, Twitter headers, Facebook ads and the likes. The website holds a library of around a million fonts, photos, as well as icons. Users can select a design template or opt to create one from scratch using drag-and-drop features. Uploading, adding and creating images is quite an easy task with Canva. The basic account is free of cost. Additional graphics and photos uploaded by freelance designers can be used for just $1 each.

Conclusion

We have curated this list after a thorough research, and each name in this list has been selected after much care and consideration. All these tools & resources are beneficial for startups and small businesses in keeping their operations seamless, easy and more efficient. Use them wisely, and you can easily propel your business to better prospects and better sustainability for years. Good luck!

And in case, you think we missed any useful tool that your startup uses, feel free to mention in the comment section below and make this blog post more resourceful for other readers.

Tap into Customers’ Needs to Find a Solid USP for Your Online Food Ordering Startup

Tap into Customers’ Needs to Find a Solid USP for Your Online Food Ordering Startup

The increasing popularity of technology has led businesses to become more tech-savvy, which has resulted in brands shifting their business to the online world. As more and more businesses are shifting to the online world, the competition of acquiring more and more customers has become fierce.

The Food & Beverage industry is going through the same transition. In order to survive and make profit, an online food ordering business must have a competitive edge over others. Therefore, creating a unique selling proposition (USP) is essential to succeed for an online food ordering business.

The best approach to create a USP for your business is to build it around the pain points of your customers. According to a research conducted by Alphawise, following are the major hurdles that keep customers from ordering food online.

Reason for not food ordering

Based on this study, here in this post, we have mentioned how these major pain points of customers can be effectively used to build USP, without incurring any loss, to ensure success of your online food ordering startup.

Affordable Delivery Charges

Customers would rather prefer dining in or pick-up meals instead of paying high prices for delivery. The key driver of any food ordering website is to provide customers the convenience of getting food delivered at their doorstep without having to pay too much for the delivery.

How to implement

If you want to attract customers by low delivery charges and do not want to incur losses in the process, make sure you save on the operational cost. It can only be reduced when the time and resources are used optimally. The entire process of picking up the food and delivering to the destination needs to be streamlined perfectly to make sure that there are no extra resources consumed in the process.

The backend systems/apps for restaurant ordering & delivery should be in perfect sync (for notifying customers/delivery boys & tracking orders) to ensure the minimum consumption of time & resources.

Flexible Delivery Options

Customers have grown used to ordering food online, and now they want flexibility in getting the food delivered as per their needs. Providing customers the option to get their food delivered according to their requirement can be a very effective technique to grab their attention & retain them.

How to Implement

Allow customers to order food according to their schedule through the pre-order feature.Some customers would want to schedule their food delivery on a specific time. Restaurants can be notified of the scheduled food orders well before the expected delivery time & prepare meals accordingly, so that customers get their orders perfectly on time.

Also, allowing customers to order through the website but pick up from the outlet. It gives customers more convenience to order food online. Adding such features to the online food ordering system will make it a scalable venture.

Quicker Deliveries

We live in the “I want it now” era. Customers nowadays prefer immediacy in their online purchases, especially when it comes to food. Most customers would rather just dine in instead of waiting for an hour-long (or maybe even longer) delivery. For that reason, the minimum order time that most food ordering websites offer is 45-60 minutes, which is one of the biggest pain points of the customers.

How to implement

The easiest way to implement this is as soon as the customer places the orders make sure the notification is sent to the restaurant. The faster will the food be prepared, the faster will it be delivered. Aim for a 15-30 minutes delivery time frame, which already many food delivery services and cloud kitchen startups like swiggy are offering. Also, advise restaurants to prepare more of popular food orders in advance so that a big portion of orders can be shipped out to customers instantly.

Pro Tip: Make sure the quality of food is intact that means the food should be hot and presentable when the food is delivered to the customer.

Customer Convenience

The key reason for which customers order food online is convenience. In a few clicks, customers can browse the list of restaurants in their area, check the menu and order food. Food ordering websites should strive to create an experience that is convenient for customers to use.

How to implement

Best way to attract customers is to provide an easy navigation on the website. Customers do not want to be stuck in the maze of ordering food online which is why websites should prefer to keep the navigation as simple as possible. Additionally, food ordering marketplaces can now tie up with Facebook to allow customers to order food directly through the app.

Apart from that, regular customers should be given the option to save their favorite order on the website so that next time the order can be placed quickly. To further quicken the process of ordering customer should be given the option to save their payment details on the website. The important thing to note is that customers will only save this detail if they have trust on the website. Hence businesses should follow proper security measures to keep user data safe.

Diverse Menu

Customers mostly choose their favorite online food ordering website on the basis of diversity in food cuisines. Some people search for a restaurant in their area which offers a particular cuisine. If a food ordering website has limited restaurant tie-ups it will lead to limited cuisines. In that case, customers will prefer some other food ordering website rather than yours.

How to implement

Make sure you spread the word about your business across the market and make tie-ups with most of the restaurants. Make links with restaurants that offer different cuisines. To implement this you have to do the groundwork and tie up with maximum restaurants in the market you are serving. Building your food ordering website with a readymade script that offers an array of marketing features is a good starting point in that context. Besides working on the customer needs it is equally important to practice digital marketing for restaurants to make a strong online presence.

Final Thoughts

It is clear from above discussion that building a food ordering startup by keeping in mind the pain points of customers will help you create an effective USP for your business. The role of the unique selling proposition isn’t only to distinguish your business from others to attract customers, but also to give your business a mission, as to how your food ordering startup would play its unique part to enhance the customer experience. And it is only by perceiving USP in that manner will you be able to implement it effectively and stand out from the competition.

How Online Travel Startups Can Enhance Customer Experience with Latest Tech

How Online Travel Startups Can Enhance Customer Experience with Latest Tech

Customers have grown used to the convenience and speed with which they can now make their travel bookings online. So, the current times have been calling for something else; something more; something that can deliver a better customer experience and keep your customers coming back for more.

As a matter of fact, many online travel booking business owners have been brainstorming on how to spice things up for their customers. And thankfully, recent technological developments have brought along copious amounts of options with which business owners can overcome this concern.

From AI to VR/AR, technology has equipped businesses with the right set of tools to enhance their offerings. So, it’s about time that OTAs (and online travel booking businesses) start learning how they can use latest technology to deliver better customer experience.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Today, virtual reality needs no introduction. But for the uninitiated, virtual reality, or simply VR, is a computer generated simulation that offers a “real-life” experience to the users. If you know Oculus or Samsung Gear, you know VR.

The above definition (creating real-life like virtual experiences) in itself gives cues on how the technology can be used by travel industry businesses. Travel booking startups can start offering virtual tours of the destinations they are selling packages for. Through these tours, visitors can get an idea of how the real life experience is going to be. A glimpse of what they can expect is a sure way to entice them and want to seal the deal.

The mobile app of your booking startup is ideal to implement this feature (as there is already a multitude of VR devices for mobile). Other than that, you can also offer virtual tours on the desktop website.

Augmented Reality (AR)

If you think AR is great only for Pokémon Go, the world has come past all of it. As a matter of fact, the world of technology has started exploring AR for its more extensive uses, with many applications for travelling & exploring. How? Well, that quite interesting to know.

  • Many museums and galleries have already started offering AR experience to their visitors. You should definitely embed such features and provide it as a value added service to your customers. Also, you can (and should) exclusively suggest your customers the places where such AR experience is offered.
Meuseum AR

AR technology being used at a Museum (Source: Wikipedia)

  • Real time AR based navigation, where users can find the directions by simply pointing the mobile camera on the road, not only helps them in finding the desired location easily, but also improve the user experience of your service by miles.
Maps AR

AR based navigation feature (Source: AppleApple.top)

Related Read: Business Model & Essential Website Feature Analysis for Online Travel Booking Platforms

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is no new concept, and yet, there are many ways in which its uses are yet to be realized and utilized. IoT is immensely useful for online travel agencies/booking marketplaces to offer their customers a more seamless experience once they have reached the destination.

First off, you can offer virtual keycards that work in tandem with the package bought. This keycard should contain information about what facilities the customer can avail in the package, and thus, the access will only require the customer to scan the code and that’s that. From self-check-in to unlocking the room, IoT can work wonders for customers by making things more streamlined.

Speaking of streamlined experience, IoT also includes using wearable technology such as Pebble Watch, so that customers can get “handy” navigation without having to hold their smartphones/tablets in their hand all the time. And then there comes the problem of luggage handling, this is where Smart Suitcase comes into play.

Pebble Wrist

Pebble wrist watch navigation (Source: Pocketnow)

As a travel booking agency, what you can do is integrate an ecommerce module and sell such merchandise on your website. Besides offering customers a better experience, it will also add an additional revenue channel for your business.

Suggested Read: Maximize Earnings of Your Travel Booking Marketplace with These Proven Revenue Sources

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Traveling brings along lots of questions. And more often than not, most of the travelers share common queries.Online travel agencies can integrate AI technology based Chatbots with their websites, where customers can get their FAQs answered quickly.

These are the questions whose answers don’t change, and you need to answer a lot of people at the same time for the same questions. In this case, you don’t need to employ skilled human resources,thus saving plenty of money. These Chatbots are capable of answering the travel related queries of potential customers.Including the FAQs in chat based queries by using a Multiple Choice Question format will help your potential customers get to the right answers more quickly.

The fact of the matter is, Chatbots are becoming the new norm in the ecommerce sector, and it makes perfect sense for travel booking startups to include this feature among their offerings to provide an enhanced user experience.

Snapchat Heat-map

Last but not the least, being an innovative social media platform, Snapchat has continuously introduced many new cool features(tech-based or otherwise) that can be easily & effectively used by travel industry businesses. One of such features is Snap Map, a heat map that tells you where your friends are, the bigger the heat map, the more action an event is getting.  Online travel agencies can use Snap Map by purchasing location tags of a particular location to get useful customer data and to notify their potential customers the special tourist attractions or the “must visit” places of a particular destination.

Conclusion

Keeping the above discussion in mind, we can’t emphasize enough on the importance of incorporating latest technology with online travel sector – one of the fastest growing ecommerce business models.Online consumers have already moved on from quick websites and quick bookings. The times have changed and they expect you to give them unprecedented experience. Giving them a virtual tour of places they plan to go to, giving them the added touch of augmented reality once they reach there, giving them a seamless experience and making things really easy for them is the way to go.

Search Engine vs Social Media – Which Marketing Channel Small Startups Should Focus On?

Search Engine vs Social Media – Which Marketing Channel Small Startups Should Focus On?

Search Engine & Social Media– The two marketing channels pave two different roads for marketers that promise more traffic than all the others. Entrepreneurs of small to medium sized ecommerce startups, with their very limited budget, often find themselves pondering over the question that which of these two marketing techniques (SEM or SMM) they should focus on to get the best results.

For established enterprises, with a gigantic amount of capital under their belt, the game of online marketing is much simpler. If we have to put it in one line – they use search engines as their primary traffic factory, and use social media for branding and to boost their seasonal sales & promotional offers.

For instance, consider this – whenever you google any product you want to buy online, you see a bunch of sponsored results from all the ecommerce giants like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Flipkart, etc., (depending on your geographic location).

Google Iphone 8

Small Ecommerce Business Should Use Social Media as Their Prime Marketing Channel

It’s not that landing among these results is impossible for new ecommerce players, but the bids for such popular product keywords (in Google AdWords PPC) is so high that even a single ad can cost you a fortune.

In that regard, social media serves as a viable medium for small businesses to promote their brand, reach thousands of potential customers, and bring traffic to their website in a much economical manner (since social media ads are not primarily keyword-based).

However, it is not to say that new ecommerce players should ignore search engines altogether. Search engine marketing (SEO & PPC) hold importance for businesses of all sizes and industry, all the times; therefore, should always be in your digital marketing mix. But considering your ecommerce startup is on a tight marketing budget, your focus should be on social media to get the optimum outcomes.

To help small ecommerce startups benefit the most from these two big marketing channels, in the following sections, we will briefly cover some actionable SEM & SMM tips specially designed for them.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

  • Create business page on social networks that are relevant to your business. For instance, as an online apparel store, go for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, &Pinterest
  • Regularly share engaging posts, such as about latest trends in your industry or funny (if relevant to your business) post with images and videos
  • Run ads frequently on all social media platforms. Make sure your demographic targeting (such as age, sex, region, device, etc.) is well-planned
  • You can manage your Facebook & Instagram ads from one place. But don’t forget to make use of the latest marketing features that Facebook offers
  • For lifestyle, food, & travel industry ecommerce startups, Snapchat marketing is also very effective and can help in attracting lots of potential customers
  • Also stay active on Twitter – both, as a business & user. Twitter trends can help you decide what you should share with customers on other social networks
  • If you have a blog for your ecommerce store, share your posts more than once (after a few days break) to ensure that it reaches maximum audience
  • Keep a check on the analytics of all social media channels to decide the optimum time, frequency, & content of your posts

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

  • Create Google My Business account & add complete business information (such as phone, website, email, images, if possible). If you think other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo are also popular in your target region, go ahead and make business account on them as well
  • Do On-page SEO – such as optimizing URL structure of product & category pages, submitting sitemap, robot.txt file, 301 redirections, canonical tags, etc. (read in detail here)
  • Do Off-page SEO – such as interlinking all your social media profiles with website, writing articles for free 3rd party blogs and getting valuable backlinks
  • Do an extensive keyword research & try to find the gaps in keywords covered by your competitors and run PPC ads for them.
  • In case, you don’t come up with overlooked keywords, run your PPC campaign for keywords with low competition, as it won’t cost your much
  • Create a blog & update it regularly with informational & promotional posts. Don’t miss out on including relevant keywords in your content, do optimum interlinking, and use graphics
  • List your business on all high-authority local business listing sites (especially if you are targeting a specified region with your business)
  • Encourage happy customers to leave reviews & rating on your 3rd party website business listings

As mentioned earlier, all the above-mentioned tips are especially recommended for small to medium sized ecommerce startups, and their execution doesn’t require much capital or technical expertise. If however, you lack the first-hand experience, don’t feel confident or simply don’t have much time to incorporate these practices yourself, it is always a good decision to take help of a reputed marketing agency.

Conclusion

Unlike Robert Frost (the poet mentioned in the beginning), luckily for entrepreneurs, there’s no such obligation that they can’t use both roads – search engine & social media. They can take advantage of both channels at once, but only if used strategically as per the available budget & resources. The bottom line is that they should primarily focus on acquiring customers through social media, while also not leaving the search engines behind.

As a successful small to medium sized ecommerce business, if you have additional suggestions for startups in regard to social & search engine marketing, we would love to hear them. Feel free to write them in the comments.