An analysis of five major retail chains that are closing a lot of their stores by the end of this month reveals they all had many inaccurate online store listings. (A store listing is any online directory, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. or social and review-oriented site, like Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. with information for a local business, such as name, address, phone number, hours, and more.) The study, by Uberall, Inc., the location marketing solution for businesses competing to attract and win local brick-and-mortar customers, of Toys “R” Us, Dressbarn, Family Dollar, Office Depot, and Payless has lessons for small businesses.
51% of failing store listings are inaccurate
Uberall discovered that the listings of these five retailers’ 46% featured missing information (e.g., no phone number, no hours, etc.), while 51% were incorrect (e.g., misspelled name, wrong address, etc.). Only 3% of the listings were completely accurate.
“Building high-quality online listings should be a top priority for retailers,” says Florian Huebner, Founder & Co-CEO of Uberall. “Brick-and-mortar customers and prospects rely on online information during their shopping journey. If they are doing a ‘Near Me’ search, for example, any missing or inaccurate information slows foot traffic and sales. It ultimately makes online discovery harder, hurting revenue. The closing locations we examined were plagued by low-quality listings, which likely contributed to their struggles.”
“It’s possible that these major retailers could have been struggling, in part, due to a lack of more sophisticated location marketing, which would have improved listing accuracy,” said Huebner. “Without standardized and correct information online, especially basic information such as hours and addresses, it makes it very difficult to increase foot traffic to a brick-and-mortar location. Also, an inaccurate listing doesn’t just hurt revenue by creating challenges for store discovery. If a shopper visits a store based on incorrect hours, it becomes a broader reputation issue that can kill customer loyalty across the board—not just for a single store.”
You should immediately check your online listings to make sure they’re up-to-date and accurate.
Technology, says Google, has made it easier than ever for American small businesses to find new customers abroad. As an example, they cite Strider Bikes in South Dakota which has sold more than 2.5 million bikes to customers in 78 countries, and their international sales account for over half of the company’s business. Through products and tools like Google Ads, YouTube and Market Finder, small businesses like Strider Bikes are finding new markets and building relationships with customers around the world.
Yet, Google says, a majority of small businesses currently do not export their products, and many that do export continue to find it a difficult process. There is a strong international opportunity for American small businesses, and technology can play a critical role in helping them to overcome the challenges they face as they begin the export process.
To gain a better understanding, Google commissioned a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brunswick Research on small business exports. The report, Growing Small Business Exports: How Technology Strengthens American Trade show small business exports support more than six million jobs across all 50 states, and add over $540 billion annually to the American economy. If policymakers and the business community can help small companies overcome some of the challenges of exporting—like language barriers, customs issues and payment challenges—the report indicates nearly 900,000 additional jobs in the U.S. could be created.
Technology is key
According to the survey 70% of small businesses aren’t aware of digital tools, such as translation services, digital marketing and advertising and online payment platforms, that could help them go global.
There’s more information here.
It came as no surprise to me that Americans log longer hours at work than our global peers, making the opportunity for automation of mundane workplace tasks more needed than ever. Recently, released its report on The State of Automation in the Workplace to understand this key trend in the future of work and workers’ relationship with technology.
“The future of software lies in allowing teams to collaborate, facilitate transparency and automate mundane tasks so people can see the full picture of their workflow, ” says Matt Burns, head of Customer Success at monday.com.
Repealing the repetition
We’re wasting our true skills at work with tedious tasks—54% of the workforce believes they would save 5 hours+ from tools that automate tasks.
Burnt (out) to a crisp
The mundanity takes a toll—57% of workers have started feeling burnt out.
Everything is distracting
Technology, notifications and pings are one of the biggest culprits of work distractions. But so are our colleagues.
Make time to create
With more focus on productivity and output, workers are feeling a lapse in creativity and opportunity to show meaningful work.
Guest post by Jono Bacon, a leading community and management strategy consultant, speaker, and author. He is the founder of Jono Bacon Consulting, which provides community and management strategy, execution, and coaching. He’s the author of People Powered: How Communities Can Supercharge Your Business, Brand, and Team. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Remote working seems to be all the buzz. Apparently, 70% of professionals already work from home at least once a week. It seems to make sense: technology, connectivity, and culture seem to be setting the world up more and more for remote working. Oh, and home-brewed coffee is better than ever too.
Here’s the stark truth: remote working is not a panacea. Sure, it seems like hanging around at home in your jimjams, listening to your antisocial music, and sipping on buckets of coffee is perfect, but it isn’t for everyone.
Some people need the structure of an office. Some people need the social element of an office. Some people need to get out the house. Some people lack the discipline to stay focused at home.
Remote working is like a muscle: it can bring enormous strength and capabilities IF you train and maintain it. If you don’t, your results are going to vary.
I have worked from home for the vast majority of my career. I love it. I am more productive, happier, and empowered when I work from home. I don’t dislike working in an office, and I enjoy the social element, but I am more in my “zone” when I work from home. I also love blisteringly heavy metal, which can pose a problem when the office doesn’t want to listen to After The Burial.
I have learned how I need to manage remote work, using the right balance of work routine, travel, and other elements, and here are five of my recommendations:
Remote work really is a muscle that needs to be trained. Just like building actual muscle, there needs to be a clear routine and a healthy dollop of discipline mixed in.
Always get dressed (no jimjams). Set your start and end time for your day (I work 9am – 6pm most days). Choose your lunch break (mine is 12pm). Choose your morning ritual (mine is email followed by a full review of my client needs). Decide where your main workplace will be (mine is my home office). Decide when you will exercise each day (I do it at 5pm most days).
Design a realistic routine and do it for 66 days. It takes this long to build a habit. Try not to deviate from the routine. The more you stick the routine, the less work it will seem further down the line. By the end of the 66 days it will feel natural and you won’t have to think about it.
Here’s the deal though, we don’t live in a vacuum. We all have waves.
A wave is when you need a change of routine to mix things up. For example, in summertime I generally want more sunlight. I will often work outside in the garden. Near the holidays I get more distracted, so I need more structure in my day. Sometimes I just need more human contact, so I will work from coffee shops for a few weeks. Sometimes I just fancy working in the kitchen or on the couch. You need to learn your waves and listen to your body. Build your habit first, and then modify it as you learn your waves.
Not everyone knows how to do remote working, and if your company is less familiar with remote working, you especially need to set expectations with colleagues.
This can be pretty simple: when you have designed your routine, communicate it clearly to your management and team. Let them know how they can get hold of you, how to contact you in an emergency, and how you will be collaborating while at home.
The communication component here is critical. There are some remote workers who are scared to leave their computer for fear someone will send them a message while they are away (and they are worried people may think they are just eating Cheetos and watching Netflix).
You need time away. You need to eat lunch without one eye on your computer. You are not a 911 emergency responder. Set expectations that sometimes you may not be immediately responsive, but you will get back to them as soon as possible.
Similarly, set expectations on your general availability. For example, I set expectations with clients that I generally work from 9am – 6pm every day. Sure, if a client needs something urgently, I am more than happy to respond outside of those hours, but as a general rule I am usually working between those hours. This is necessary for a balanced life.
We all get distracted. It is human nature. It could be your young kid getting home and wanting to play Rescue Bots. It could be checking Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to ensure you don’t miss any unwanted political opinions or photos of people’s lunches. It could be that there is something else going on your life that is taking your attention (such as an upcoming wedding, event, or big trip).
You need to learn what distracts you and how to manage it. For example, I know I get distracted by my email and Twitter. I check it religiously and every check gets me out of the zone of what I am working on. I also get distracted by grabbing coffee and water, which then may turn into a snack and a YouTube video.
The digital distractions have a simple solution: lock them out. Close down the tabs until you complete what you are doing. I do this all the time with big chunks of work: I lock out the distractions until I am done. It requires discipline, but all of this does.
The human elements are tougher. If you have a family you need to make it clear that when you are work, you need to be generally left alone. This is why a home office is so important: you need to set boundaries that mum or dad is working. Come in if there is emergency, but otherwise they need to be left alone.
There are all kinds of opportunities for locking these distractions out. Put your phone on silent. Set yourself as away. Move to a different room (or building) where the distraction isn’t there. Again, be honest in what distracts you and manage it. If you don’t, you will always be at their mercy.
Some roles are more attuned to remote working than others. For example, I have seen great work from engineering, quality assurance, support, security, and other teams (typically more focused on digital collaboration). Other teams such as design or marketing often struggle more in remote environments (as they are often more tactile).
With any team though, having strong relationship is critical, and in-person discussion, collaboration, and socializing is essential to this. So many of our senses (such as body language) are removed in a digital environment, and these play a key role in how we build trust and relationships.
This is especially important if (a) you are new to a company and need to build these relationships, (b) are new to a role and need to build relationships with your team, or (c) are in a leadership position where building buy-in and engagement is a key part of your job.
The solution? A sensible mix of remote and in-person time. If your company is nearby, work from home part of the week and at the office part of the week. If your company is further away, schedule regular trips to the office (and set expectations with your management that you need this). For example, when I worked at XPRIZE I flew to LA every few weeks for a few days. When I worked at Canonical (who were based in London), we had sprints every three months.
The crux of everything in this article is about building a capability and developing a remote working muscle. This is as simple as building a routine, sticking to it, and having an honest view of your “waves” and distractions and how to manage them.
I see the world in a fairly specific way: everything we do has the opportunity to be refined and improved. For example, I have been public speaking now for over 15 years, but I am always discovering new ways to improve, and new mistakes to fix.
There is a thrill in the discovery of new ways to get better, and to see every stumbling block and mistake as an “aha!” moment to kick ass in new and different ways. It is no different with remote working: look for patterns that help to unlock ways in which you can make your remote working time more efficient, more comfortable, and more fun.
…but don’t go crazy over it. There are some people who obsesses every minute of their day about how to get better. They beat themselves up constantly for “not doing well enough”, “not getting more done”, and not meeting their internal unrealistic view of perfection.
We are humans. We are animals, and we are not robots. Always strive to improve but be realistic that not everything will be perfect. You are going to have some off-days or off-weeks. You are going to struggle at times with stress and burnout. You are going to handle a situation poorly remotely that would have been easier in the office. Learn from these moments but don’t obsess over them. Life is too damn short.
The global e-commerce industry is growing according to a new study—the Global Seller Index Q 3, a bi-annual global report from cross-border payment leader Payoneer. And the U.S. holds the #2 spot of top 10 countries by international sales volume, with year over year growth spiking up to 49%, much higher than #1 country China’s 33% increase.
Insight from the report
Read more about it in their blog post.
Need a pubic relations expert? Check out the new Pro-only Public Relations category on Fiverr. Fiverr explains on their : “As a Pro-only category, businesses now have access to vetted experienced professional freelancers that offer high-quality services to meet their communications needs, including strategy and planning, press release pitching, crisis communications planning, and many more. Businesses can now access high-quality Public Relations professionals from across the globe save time, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their business.”
During the busy holiday shopping season, shipping can be a common pain point for small business owners. According to a recent survey commissioned by Scotch Brand, 54% of small business owners spend more time on shipping-related tasks during the holidays than the rest of the year.
Scotch Brand and TaskRabbit teamed up to award more than 250 small businesses across the country shipping help through the Scotch Brand ‘Getting Ship Done’ Contest. Though the contest is now closed (winners will receive Scotch Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls and a TaskRabbit code to redeem for Tasker support with packing and shipping starting during the busiest shipping week of the year, December 16).
They also conducted a survey of small business owners and discovered:
Small business owners are always looking for solutions to help them control their cash flow. Check out Bento For Business, a leader in the B2B Payments market. Bento for Business gives SMBs control and clear visibility into all your expenses using three different methods.
Bento for Business says it focuses on helping “traditional American SMBs in such sectors as construction, fleet management, and nonprofits.” The company says its card controls are the most comprehensive in the industry and using Bento Pay you can pay another business, using their email address. Plus, it provides 24/7 American-based live customer support.
Wouldn’t it help you to know which marketing campaigns and search keywords are driving valuable phone calls? CallRail’s easy-to-use cloud platform can help by providing call tracking and analytics services for small businesses and the marketing agencies that serve them.
You can use the call analytics to optimize your advertising campaigns, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction.
CallRail was recently named as one of the top 10 fastest-growing companies in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Need help figuring out the right retirement savings option for your business and your employees? Check out the newly launched Retirement Savings Selector Tool for Small Businesses from Millennium Trust Company, LLC (“Millennium Trust”), a leading provider of retirement and institutional services.
The Retirement Savings Selector Tool for Small Businesses was created in conjunction with Millennium Trust’s Workplace Savings Solutions to help small businesses identify a retirement savings option that may be a fit for their business by answering a few questions. The results of the tool are determined based on factors such as how many employees the business has and how much the employer would like to contribute to the account.
“The Retirement Savings Selector Tool for Small Businesses is a completely agnostic resource,” says vice president of Workplace Savings Solutions, Kevin Boyles. “We want to help businesses understand their workplace savings options, even if that leads them to something, we are unable to directly support.”
According to the 2018 Millennium Trust Small Business Retirement Survey, 45% of small businesses surveyed did not research a retirement savings option, and those who did research ultimately chose not to offer anything. This may often be due to perceived misconceptions related to size, cost and complexity, which are often associated with the assumption that a 401(k) plan is the only option.
“Many employers are aware that offering a retirement savings option would be beneficial to their employees,” adds Boyles. “But, despite this interest in offering a retirement savings benefit, there is a significant lack of education surrounding alternative options, like SIMPLE, SEP and Payroll Deducted IRAs. This is why we developed the Retirement Savings Selector Tool to serve as an easy start to understanding what may be right for a small business and its employees.”
The Retirement Savings Selector Tool for Small Businesses generates which retirement savings option may be the best fit and lays out comparisons of each plan for small businesses to explore further.
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This content was originally published here.
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