Business

Green Lights: Signs That Your Blog Could Start Making Money

Anyone who starts a blog probably does so with the knowledge that it could turn into a money spinning opportunity. Online advertising, ecommerce opportunities, and a lot more besides are all common knowledge these days.

That said, the first few months of starting a blog are always a little difficult, and making a dime or two can seem a long way off. And, despite what you hear, there are no quick fixes for getting rich with a blog, especially when it’s new. The big question for bloggers is; when is a blog ready to make money?

The good news is there are clear green lights that will arise once your blog is finally in a place where you can start earning – and we’re going to go through some of them with you today.

There is a genuine interest in what your blog is about

The golden rule of blogging is to write about your audience’s interests. Sure, you need to love what you are doing, too, but if your speciality is too niche, you will struggle to get visitors – therefore things like Google’s Adsense or Amazon affiliation will earn you next to nothing. So, make sure that your chosen topic has some popularity, but also offers something interesting and original to say.

You have a substantial amount of visitors

If you are struggling to get traffic, your blog will not be an attractive proposition to anyone, and it will be difficult to attract advertising prospects. So, until your blog has excellent ‘viewing figures’ – including thing as like bounce rate and time spent on page – you probably aren’t going to earn anything like real money.

You have a good email list

Building an email list is the single most important thing you can do when it comes to blogging. It gives you instant access to people that are already interested in what you have to say – all you need to focus on is giving them more of what they want. With your email list, you can encourage people to visit your site, introduce them to products or services, and even use it to help you sell more affiliate products.

You have a high-quality website

Be careful to ensure your blog is hosted on an excellent website. User experience is becoming more important than ever these days, and a poor quality site that looks dated and is hard to use won’t do you any favors. These days, it’s possible to create a marketplace website without coding at all. Drag and drop templates seem to be becoming more popular as times go by, and services are certainly far better than they used to be – so take a look around and see what you can find, to give your blog the home it deserves.

You promote your content (with success)

Even the best bloggers in the world need to promote their content, so unless you are doing so – and having success – you won’t be able to give up the day job just yet. Spreading the word on social media, and creating shareable posts and interesting info will help your blog grow.

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Business

They Took Our Jobs! The Rise Of The Machines Is Finally Here

Almost every science fiction movie of the last ten years has referenced or focused on the concept of labor becoming obsolete. Instead, jobs and activities that used to be controlled and completed by humans will be passed onto software, machinery, and robotics. There was a time when we believed that this future would never come to pass. Yet, it’s becoming clear we are moving slowly towards it. Indeed, Elon Musk has suggested that the labor market as we know it could come to an end by 2030. It seems that we may well be at the beginning of the end for job security. Many people have even suggested that due to this shift we are going to need a permanent income for everyone. It might seem like the rise of the machines is still quite some years away but are there already signs of this now. And, what impact has it had on the workplace?

Automation Everywhere

The first sign of this new future is the rise of automation. It’s everywhere you look, present in most industries. It’s become particularly important in the role of customers service. These days it’s quite rare for businesses to hire a full team of staff to answer the calls. Instead, they use a telephone answering service. It’s cheaper and cuts the overhead costs for the company right down without the business owner even having to try. If you ring up a customer service hotline this year, it’s likely that you will be greeted with a form of software such as this. You might speak to an employee eventually, but you’ll pass through a string of automated processes first. Is it the only area where automation has become more relevant?

No, automation has even entered creative industries too. Developers have quietly been shopping around software that can write screenplays, songs, and music from scratch. It does this by running millions of different piece of popular media, analyzing them and then printing out what will be successful and popular. It’s quite possible that the next mega-blockbuster won’t have a writer behind it but a single piece of software.

Lost Jobs

There has certainly been evidence of machines replacing employees, and this has been happening for quite some time. The most recent report of this emerged from the fast food and restaurant industry. It emerged that many popular food services in America are now using robotics to make and cook the food. It was also widely reported that several fast food outlets were considering introducing robotics to service it. It is unclear how far away this development is. But anyone who has ever worked in Mcdonalds will tell you it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Clear Benefits

Of course, the major benefit here will be for business owners. A business world without labor costs would be a remarkable place. One that would make it even easier for new company owners to start up their business. Arguably this will be beneficial as it’s clear that won’t be as many options working for someone else in the future.

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Business

Costly HR Mistakes It’s Best To Avoid

Your staff members are your company’s most valuable asset. Failure to see them that way can be a costly mistake, with regular hiring and training costing company resources, and even the legal fees that can be resultant of poor human resources. It’s critical for the success of any business to treat staff well, and failure to do so can put your business in dire straits. Here are some common mistakes you could be making with your company’s human resources.

Expecting too much

Your staff are human beings, they have good days and bad days, and they have strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone else. Treating them as machines with constant high expectations can put unnecessary stress on your employees, leading to poor staff satisfaction, low efficiency, and even valued members of the team moving on to new employment. Remember your staff members are only human, they make mistakes, and be sympathetic to their difficulties – you were in their position once after all.

Not having an employee handbook

An employee handbook is a crucial part of any employee/employer relationship. It should lay out the expectations on both sides in more detail than a contract of employment. This means that a worker has their standards and expectations laid out of them. It also enables them to find out information about holiday leave, grievance policies, and notice periods, so you’re all on the same page. Not having an employee handbook is doing a huge disservice to your staff, but also making your life as an employer more difficult too.

Not giving feedback enough

Your staff are living organisms – they grow with their environment, take on criticisms and thanks, and adjust accordingly. Failing to give constructive feedback is not only unfair on the staff, but it also means you’re not getting the most out of your employee. Most staff want to be great at their job, either for general satisfaction or for the hope of promotion. Feedback allows them to improve on their shortcomings, and feel pride in what they’re doing well.

Ignoring employment laws

All employment laws are relevant to you, and ignoring them can lead to legal trouble of varying degrees of severity. Seek out HR consultants near you to ensure you’re complying with employment law to the letter – ignorance as an employer can be a very costly mistake. And remember that laws differ for companies of different sizes, so it’s important you’re well read on the subject and have a competent advisor.

Keeping poor records

Employment records are crucial if any problems come to light, and well-kept records can keep your company from getting in serious trouble if someone has a case against you. It’s also crucial for taxation, immigration control, and leave of absence records. Failure to keep your company records up to date can result in large fines, so it’s worth spending a bit of time on it.

Avoiding costly human resource mistakes is just about being prepared and treating your staff well. They’re a costly asset for your business, but when treated properly they can become your best asset too.

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Business

Are You Doing Enough To Look After Your Team?

As an employer, you owe your team more than just pay in return for their services. As well as benefits and provisions, you have a responsibility for their well-being. Quite a few employers don’t take that responsibility perhaps as serious as they should. Yet those that do reap the rewards. Those rewards include a workplace that has fewer incidents interrupting the workflow and a more engaged, happier, and healthier workforce. If you’re wondering how you could do more to look after your staff, then keep reading.

Shutdown conflict early

Unfortunately, one of the greatest sources of stress and a negative atmosphere in the workplace comes down to how individuals treat one another. This includes you. If your business is prone to seeing fights, side-taking, and even rumours circulating, you’re dealing with a hostile work environment. In that environment, people feel much less invested in the success of the team and their own work. It can also lead to severe emotional trauma if it goes on at an extended rate. You should take a proactive approach to sorting conflict. First, make sure you have a no-tolerance policy on any kind of bullying and harassment. When conflicts start, talk individually to begin with, then as a group identifying the source of strife. Team building exercises are a good way to lessen the risk of conflicts when not directly dealing with one. When team members see one another as human beings, it makes them a lot less likely to start trouble with them. Naturally, sometimes you just have to be able to identify a toxic influence on the workplace. While you should do work to help them address their problems and behaviour, don’t feel like you have to keep them around if they fail to reach your standards.

Make sure people don’t have too much on their plate

Another common source of stress is down to the work itself. Particularly, you need to keep an eye on just how much work is being assigned to the individual. If someone believes they have more than they can handle, it’s as likely they will try to cope even if they know they can’t. Look at processes and see whether they can be outsourced or given to someone else, or if you have the tools and software to make those processes easier and less time consuming. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the amount of overtime your team is doing as well. While it might be a good way for them to make some extra money and for you to get extra work done, impacting their work-life balance too often will cause them problems down the line.

Don’t make every task do or die

There’s also a real issue of prioritising in a lot of workplaces. If you stress the importance of every task you delegate, it’s going to make it a lot harder for people to figure out which to tackle first. Not only does this make them feel like they’re dealing with too much, but it also confuses communication and makes them a lot less productive and efficient. You also need to take more serious what exactly you’re asking them to do. Employees might succumb to employer pressure on things like attending social events or donating to charity. Make sure you’re not inadvertently abusing more authority than you have a right to. It’s alright to incentivise, but not to pressure.

Operate an open door policy

The truth is that a lot of the problems above can be handled a lot better if people are simply willing to talk about it. But in most workplaces, there is an invisible barrier between the employer and the rest of the team. If you haven’t noticed it yet, that might be because you have taken the first step to break it down. The onus of opening the lines of communication is always on the employer. Don’t just make it clear that you’re willing to talk. Take a moment in team meetings to address common problems. From burnout and overwhelming demands to stress and mental health. Broach the topic broadly, inviting anyone to talk more in depth with you if those factors are impacting their satisfaction at work.

Lend a hand in a pinch

Sometimes, it’s simply too late to identify and deal with a problem before it becomes a major crisis for the employee and the business alike. If you’ve been unable to identify a problem, it might grow the point that it becomes a full-blown crisis. Medical costs, work stress, and familial issues can all drastically impact an employer’s ability to give their job the focus and attention it deserves. Rather than letting them struggle to deal with it themselves, an employee should be able to lend a hand. By implementing benefits like critical incident stress management services, you can use the advisors and counsellors as your disposal to deal with these crises in the timeliest fashion possible. Otherwise, many of your employees might find the stresses of life making them entirely unfit to continue working, which benefits neither them nor you.

Show your care in the environment

Naturally, there’s a link between the physical and the mental that goes a long way in making sure that people are fit to work. There might be some aspects of the physical working conditions that seem negligible to you, but do harm over the long term that can contribute to the dangers of stress. For instance, repetitive strain injury caused by poor posture and little activity. Or the impact of how too much contact with a computer screen with little lighting and not only cause headaches and eyestrain but lead to a lack of sleep. Make sure you’re doing what you can to create a healthier working environment for your staff.

You want to do everything you can to make sure that employees are healthy, comfortable, and engaged at the workplace. To that end, you need to establish the right culture. It’s one of open communication, problem-solving, and paying attention to the risks. Do that and your business will immediately see the benefits.

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Business

Is Your Product “Good Enough”?

The term “good enough” comes from the world of software design. It’s the idea that most products will do what the customer wants them to do, even if they don’t have all the features the software developer would like.

Although the term has been around for a long time, the notion has been gaining traction in recent years. Technology, especially software, has developed dramatically, and this means that there are now a lot more features that most software developer companies can pack into their products. Although these opportunities are exciting, many people in business, as well as customers themselves, are now concluding that many software packages are over-engineered and it’s causing developers to rethink their approach.

This notion that products could be “over-engineered2goes against most developer’s intuition. They have been trained from a very early age to strive for perfection: but striving for perfection can just be another way of delaying and procrastinating, and not actually getting anything done.

As a result, more and more businesses are jumping on the “good enough” bandwagon. They’re ditching features left, right and center, and looking for ways to deliver products that customers will love, even if they don’t have world-beating functionality.

Google is perhaps the best example of a company that has mastered this particular art. Every month, it introduces new services and products. Often these products remain in beta for years as they are slowly developed over time. Google Maps, for instance, began as a very basic map service. In fact, compared to Apple’s offering, what Google offered was laughably simple. The first versions weren’t even integrated with GPS. But as the number of users grew, Google added more features and detail. It then integrated the app with satellite navigation and allowed businesses to connect with their customers through it. Over time, what was once “good enough” became a market leader, precisely because it identified a niche early on.

Google made use of tools for test management, making incremental improvements to its software over an extended period of time. Sometimes that software failed, (like Google Reader), but often it was highly successful, going on to be the go-to platform for customers and businesses.

Google’s strategy all along was to create minimum viable products – as they are known in the industry. It made products that offered the bare minimum to keep customers happy and did it very well. Once the products were used and tested, it then added new functions, at each stage offering customers more usability. Google Mail went from a very simple, if intuitive, email service to the best in the world, thanks to the numerous additions, including things like AI sorting of emails into primary, social, promotion and spam.

Google also placed a lot of emphasis on consumer feedback. What they they thought about their own products internally wasn’t important. Instead, they went out into the community and asked customers about the features that they would like to see. Customers soon responded, and Google implemented the ones that were the most urgent.

The bottom line for entrepreneurs is to understand that even the largest companies have tradeoffs during their stages of development. Google’s products have always been a work in progress, and so should yours.

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Business

5 Golden Rules For Taking Payments Online

If you are selling anything – products or services – online, you are more than likely aware of how challenging it can be. There are hundreds and thousands of different services to choose from before you even get started – and plenty of pitfalls on the way that can stop you in your tracks.

However, the good news is that as long as you follow the basic rules of selling online, there is no reason why you can’t be a successful online business. Here are those five golden rules – let’s take a closer look.

Security first

Always think about safety when you are selling anything on the web. Not only will it help you avoid attack from hackers, but online consumers will trust your website. The chances are that the vast majority of customers will have no idea who you are – and without great security in place, they will prefer to buy from another source. You put a lot of work into attracting customers to your website – don’t blow it by failing to invest in security for payments.

Multiple choice

Consumers all have their preferred method of making payments. So, it makes sense for online retailers to offer as many solutions as possible. You will, of course, already have the necessary credit and debit card payment options. But also think about PayPal and adding Amex to your offer. Even things like Bitcoin payments are becoming more popular. If you study your target demographic, you should find some interesting options – it is vital that you give your customers that all-important choice.

Avoid signups

Getting sign ups should be a priority for your online venture, as it’s an excellent way to market directly to your customers. However, the payment stage is not the right time to do this. For the average customer, all they want to do is pay for the product, and get back to their day. Securing that sale has to take priority over everything else. So, consider other tactics for building your email list and ensure you get those sales.

Use the right merchant account

There are many merchant providers, and each of them has their pros and cons. But – needless to say – all of them cost money. It is worth spending a lot of time researching with a calculator to ensure you are getting the best deal for your business. Even a slightly higher percentage point on each transaction can have a massive impact on your annual profits, so think carefully before making your choice. Bear in mind that you will need to shop around even more if you run a business in a ‘risky’ industry. High risk credit card processing tends to cost more than standard retail merchant accounts, so, again, scour around for the best deal.

Be clear and concise

Finally, whatever you sell online, make sure your customers can buy it easily. Everything – from browsing products to the ordering process – should be smooth, easy, and obvious. Make sure there are clear calls to action in place, telling your customers what they need to do next. You should see your sales start to increase almost immediately.

Any more tips to add? Let us know about them in the comments section below!

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Business

Is It Possible To Double Your Cashflow In A Month? You Bet It Is!

When you first start out in business, you soon learn about the importance of cash flow. While you may have thought, in your naivety, before you started your business that what mattered in business was profit, you soon discovered that this wasn’t always the case. Sure, you might have been in the black for the year as a whole. But there were times during that first year when you dipped precariously close to the red and ran out of cash. As a result, you risked not being able to pay your suppliers, your colleagues and even yourself.

Cash flow, therefore, became your new focus. It was the thing that you realized that you had to focus on if you were going to avoid another disaster. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to improve the rate at which money flows into your business. Let’s take a look.

Reduce Your “Days Sales Outstanding”

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Days sales outstanding” or DSO is a technical piece of jargon used all the time in the business world. It’s just shorthand for the amount of time you’re waiting for your customers to pay you. For many small businesses, DSO is large, meaning that at points during the month, they start running out of cash.

Small businesses often feel intimidated by their larger clients and are sometimes hesitant to demand payment quickly. But when a service has been delivered as specified, it’s time for the client to pay up. Take a look at your current payment arrangements with your customers. How long do they have to pay right now? If you currently offer a three-week window for payment to be made, try reducing this to two weeks for all new clients. Even if customers don’t stick to the two-week payment schedule, cutting down the window often still means that businesses get paid faster.

Make Immediate Payment Possible

When clients don’t pay on time, it’s not because they’re trying to torture you or that they don’t have any money. It’s usually because they are lazy and can’t be bothered to go through the hassle of setting up a payment. After all, it takes a long time. This is why it’s so important for small businesses to make use of merchant services. Merchant services allow them to accept credit card payments in person, online or through their digital invoices. Some companies, like Wave Accounting, have found that including an immediate payment option speeds up client payments by an average of three days.

Do A Credit Check

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Occasionally you’ll get a client who doesn’t want to pay up front in cash. Instead, they want to pay you in a series of installments. When a client asks to do this, it’s a good idea to have a credit check done on them by a third party credit check agency. You want to find out whether the client actually has the means to pay you, in the long run; otherwise, you risk not getting paid for the services rendered. When payments are late, or not paid at all, your cash flow will suffer.

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Business

Online Resources You Should Use For Business Advice And Inspiration

Many people have dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Buy the world of business can be tough, and you’ll need to do a lot of work before you even think of starting a business. You can’t just rush into it. You’ll need to educate yourself all about business and make sure you know what you’re doing.

A lot of business knowledge comes from running one yourself. But you can still learn a lot before you make your way into the world of business. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to learn thanks to the help of online resources. You can gain all kinds of knowledge and set yourself up for success before you execute your business plan. Here are some of the resources entrepreneurs should be using.

Blogs

The first place to look is business-related blogs. There are a wealth of these all over the internet, and you can learn a lot from them. Blogs are often written by experienced business people with plenty of expertise in the field.

Blogs can help you before you even start your business. For instance, you can read articles on how to write a business plan or how to raise funding for your company. As you continue through your business venture, you can keep using blogs to learn about other aspects. You can get advice on things like marketing, financial management, and hiring.

No matter what kind of expertise you’re looking for, a simple Google search can help you find a useful blog. Read up on plenty of these as they can often help you with tips and guides for your business.

eBooks

Short blog articles are fantastic for learning the basics of business. But eBooks can give you much more in-depth knowledge into different areas. Much like blogs, you can find eBooks for any business question or concern you may have.

Look into the best free eBooks for business. Many of these can help you develop your startup and become a successful business leader. A lot of entrepreneurs also advocate self-help eBooks. They can help you develop the right attitude for creating a successful business venture.

Of course, many of these are also available in regular book form. It’s worth checking out the business section of your local library. But eBooks are beneficial in the sense that you can read them from anywhere, and many are free. You might want to check out a few on your smartphone in your spare time.

Seminars

Experienced entrepreneurs often give talks which can help aspiring entrepreneurs. These often come in the form of public seminars which are open to the public. Check out universities and colleges in your area to see if any talks on business are being held.

You can also turn to the web for these. For instance, you can find recordings of seminars given at conferences and events on YouTube. Alternatively, you could check out TED Talks. They provide recordings of all their talks for free on their website. You can find many business-related talks from experienced entrepreneurs. There are also plenty which can help you with self-motivation.

Interviews

Want to know how to run a successful business? Get inspiration from those with experience! You can use the internet to find interviews with many successful people. You can pick up some wisdom and learn more about how they made it in their field.

There are websites full of business interviews. You could also look around on YouTube for interviews with entrepreneurs. It can help to list names of many successful people in your desired business field. Search for interviews with them on Google and YouTube, and you might be able to get an insight into how they worked their way towards success.

Podcasts

When it comes to audio, podcasts are the best resource to use. Podcasting has become a huge trend, and there are interesting ones available for all fields- including business. These are often hosted by professionals who can give valuable insight into different business topics. Podcasts also feature guests, which are often brought on for extended interviews.

Look into some of the best podcasts for business-savvy listeners and start listening. You can download podcasts or stream them directly. The majority of podcasts are free, making them an excellent source of business information.

The length of podcasts can make them hard to listen to all the way through. But they make for great listening while you’re exercising or commuting. Check out episodes from various podcasts and start soaking up a wealth of valuable entrepreneurial tips.

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Business

 Essential Tips to Successfully Brand Your Blog

If you already have a blog, or perhaps are just in the planning stages of launching your own site, you might be wondering what it is that sets those amazingly popular blogs apart from the others out there, which seem to go largely unnoticed.

While there isn’t one surefire answer that’s going to guarantee your blog is a huge hit, there is something that’s important, and that’s branding. If you find yourself pondering one of the elements that all great blogs seem to have in common, it’s probably that they have a distinct brand and that’s what the entire site concept is built around.

When you brand your blog, it’s going to not only help you be more appealing to readers, but it can also help you when you’re at a loss regarding content creation.

So how do you get started or make the necessary changes to an existing blog to give it a strong identity and sense of branding?

Look Inward First

For your blog to truly be branded and have an identity of its own, it’s best for it to be based on a concept or topic you have experience in or feel passionate about. Once you have that, you can then start building your blog and looking for ways to monetize it. For example, if you’re passionate about travel, try to build the brand of your blog around that, and if you have particular travel interests, such as traveling on a budget or traveling with young children, even better. As well as being interested in the topic, it can be advantageous to have some experience in it, otherwise finding the inspiration you need to write day in and day out is going to be difficult.

Be Thoughtful When Choosing a Domain Name

If you feel extremely enthusiastic about starting your blog, and you’re ready to dive in head first, you may not give your actual domain name the time and consideration it deserves, but that can be a mistake. The domain you go with is one of the primary components of your overall brand. In his guide to how to start your own blog, guru Neil Patel says the name you go with doesn’t have to describe what you’re blogging about, as long as it’s suggestive of what you’re covering. You want the domain name to be simple, appealing and easy to remember if at all possible

Include a Tagline

A tagline is a must-have if you want your blog to have a strong, definitive personality. Think about your keywords as well as the general focus when you’re creating a tagline, and if you can, infuse some elements of your personality or some humor into it. It’ll give your readers something to remember you by, even when they’re bombarded with so many other blogs.

As a final tip, be consistent with your overall design. Try to keep a sleek color palette and choose a theme that you feel will work for a long time to come. Eventually, your theme, layout, and design can become synonymous with the brand of your blog, which is important as you work to cultivate a loyal following.

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Business

6 Ways High Street Shops Can Influence Your Website Design

Working on a new website for your business? If so, there is a lot of inspiration you can take from physical retail outlets and high street stores. There are plenty of similarities between a successful store and a profitable website. We’re going to go through some of the most important factors with you today.

They look clean, tidy and welcoming

When you walk into a successful and popular high street store, they look clean and tidy. There is no clutter anywhere, and they have a clear definition of sections and product areas. You have to treat your website the same, to make it easy for your customers to focus in on the information they need. Avoid busy and cluttered design that makes it hard for people to see what you do straight away. You only have a few seconds to make an impression – it’s vital that you make them count.

It’s easy to find things

It’s simple to find what you’re looking for in a high street store. Signage will point you to the right department, and it’s clear to everyone where they need to go. Make sure the same can be said about your online presence with clear and obvious navigation. Signpost anything that your customers might want to see. Consider everything from your best selling products to your different services and departments.

It’s up to date

When you walk into an offline shop, you will notice if things look dated or aren’t being looked after properly. It’s the same principle for an online store or ecommerce site. You should look to refresh your site with the help of a Website Design Company every so often. If it looks just like it did 3-4 years ago, it’s unlikely to fit with current trends.

It’s helpful

In a physical store, you have lots of employees to help give your customers vital information and a lot of help about products and services. You don’t have that online, of course. But, you do have lots of tools to help, such as blogs, product descriptions, and FAQ pages. Make sure you give your customers everything they need in the form of helpful blog posts and preempt all their questions.

It’s in a good location

The location is critical to the success of any retail outlet. The closer a shop is to the high street, the more footfall it will see from passing trade. You have to take this concept to your online store, too – through using SEO. SEO can get you that high street location, and pull in visitors who are looking for the products you sell.

It’s easy to pay

Finally, successful stores understand that they have to make it easy for their customers to pay and leave. Of course, there will be times when the queues go crazy – especially over the Christmas period. But, good stores offer a variety of payment options these days. The will all have the sales desk, of course, but some may have handheld terminals to use on the shop floor. There are self-pay terminals, too, of course. Think about this when you design your site and give people several ways to pay for your products. Don’t just take cards, but also think about using PayPal or similar services.

Image Credit: Matthew Dixon

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