3 Tips to Consider When Starting Your Own Retail Business

Retail Business

Many retailers may underestimate the challenges of starting a retail business. The first few years can be a bit difficult, and while it may seem simple enough to get it started, there are several factors you need to focus on to make the business succeed. You will also have to ensure that you get coverage for your retail store and keep it protected.

On the other hand, the retail business can be pretty lucrative if you go about it the right way from the start. Your commitment and hard work will pay off in the end. Of course, you should also believe in the products you sell to convince consumers that they are worth buying. When times get tough, your loyalty to your products will provide you with the motivation to push forward.

If you are determined to get your retail business started, here are some tips to help you.

 

1. Determine your niche

The first step to take for your startup retail business is to find out what your niche is. You could already have something in mind or maybe pondering as to what would be the most suitable for you. There are some things you can look at to help you come up with the best choice. First, identify the things you love to do and the products you find interesting. Your passion plays a significant role in the success of your business. Think about the possible obstacles your chosen niche may face, so you are ready to face them head-on should they occur. At the same time, consider whether you are willing to take the risk, should these obstacles be more challenging than you thought. Ultimately, you want to earn from your business. If you find that the competition is a bit wary about getting into the type of business you are planning, you may want to rethink your decision. This can signify that your idea may not be as profitable as you imagine. Once you have identified your niche, check out your competitors and see if you can learn something from how they market their products or improve the methods for your business.

 

2. Come up with a budget

Before you even start opening your business, you should have a budget for your business. Because you are just beginning, you should focus on what your startup will cost you. Sad to say, it can be tough to start a business without money. While you may opt to do online selling instead of having a physical store to lessen your costs, you will still need to have the cash to get your retail business on the way. Apart from the usual expenses such as your equipment and payroll (if you have employees), you will need to consider your monthly rental if you decide to have a physical store. Additionally, you should be able to cover the cost of the items you purchase for your store, among others.

 

3. Find your suppliers

It is essential to find suppliers you can trust. They will ultimately be your partners who will provide you with the best merchandise at the most reasonable cost. There are a few things to consider when you choose your supplier. First, they should be able to work around your budget and must provide you with quality items. You should also be able to rely on them to deliver what they promise as scheduled.

Starting a retail business may be tricky, but once you have established yourself, you can expect to reap the rewards of your hard work.

Ready-to-Use Text Message Templates for Businesses

Illistrated SMS marketing concept, with a giant phone sending messages to people

With the pandemic forcing businesses to increase their digital presence, there’s never been more pressure to ‘cut through the noise’ to gain new customers while retaining existing ones. A survey from Esendex shows that 30% of people receive more than five emails from businesses every day, compared to just 6% for text message; and they’re 10% more likely to read messages sent through their phone than via email too.

But how do you catch your customer’s attention and actually get them to engage with you? James Bosley, marketing manager at Esendex, has put together some quick and easy SMS templates that’ll be useful for various teams across your business.

 

Debt collection

It can be time and money intensive chasing customers that have outstanding debt. It’s also a difficult-to-raise topic that must be handled with sensitivity and care. The onus lies with businesses to ensure their customers feel supported while offering various payment options.

Statement/invoice

 

  1. Dear [customer name], your latest statement is now available to view here [link]. Please remember to make the minimum payment of [amount] before [time period], by [method].

First reminder

  1. Hi [customer name]. You have an outstanding balance of [amount]. Please visit [link] to make a payment as soon as possible or call [number] to discuss the matter further. Thank you.

     

  2. Hi [customer name]. Unfortunately, we have not seen any payments for the last [time period] days, we just wanted to make sure everything is ok. Please call [phone number] to update us on your current situation and to avoid any further collections activity. We are open [dates and times]. If you have been in contact with us in the last [time period] days to update us on your situation, please ignore this message
SMS marketing final payment reminder example message

Final reminder

 

  1. Dear [customer name], unfortunately, we have still not received payment for the outstanding sum of [amount]. We urge you to reply to this message within the next [time period] to avoid any legal action that may be taken to recover your debt.
SMS marketing example message of overdue payment

Payment options

 

  1. Dear [customer name],
    Your payment of [amount] is now overdue. We want to give you some options to help.

    Make a part-payment
    Set up a payment plan
    Talk to us
    <once customer replies>
    Thank you [customer name]. Please follow the link to make a secure online payment, or call [phone number] [link].
SMS marketing thank you for payment example message

Thank you

 

  1. Thank you. Your payment of [amount] has been received and will be processed within [time frame]. Your authorisation code for this payment is [number]. If you’d like to turn on payment reminders for your account, reply with ‘remind me’.

Customer satisfaction

One of the most important parts of running a business is ensuring that your customers are kept up-to-date and are happy with the service and/or products you provide. Running regular surveys are a great way to receive feedback and get to the heart of what your customers want.

 

Notifications, reminders and alerts

Deliveries

 

  1. Hey [customer name]. Your [product] from [company name] has been dispatched and should be with you shortly. While you wait, would you like to check out some [product] we think would go well with your [product]? We’ll even throw in a 10% discount for you.
  2. Your parcel is scheduled to be delivered between [time] and [time]. If this is no longer convenient, please reschedule – [link].

Appointment management

 

  1. Hi [customer name], your appointment is at [time] on [date]. Please confirm if you can make it.
    Yes, see you there!
    I need to reschedule
    <if the latter>

    No problem, your current booking is now cancelled. Follow the link to rebook online or text us back if you prefer:
SMS marketing message of an appointment reminder example message

Feedback

 

  1. Do you have any specific feedback about your experience you would like to share with us? Please reply with any comments you wish to share.
  2. Hi [customer name], thank you for your recent enquiry with us. Was your question answered? Y or N.

 

<If customer replies yes>

 

That’s great! Out of 10, what rating would you give the person who spoke to you based on their helpfulness?

Thank you. Finally, would you recommend us to a friend or colleague? Please provide us with a score from 0-10 (0 being definitely not).

  1. We hope you had a good experience with [company name] today. We would love it if you could spare a few minutes to fill out our customer feedback survey [link]. There is an opportunity at the end of the survey to be entered into a prize draw to win [product]. Thank you.

Marketing

 

Sending marketing and promotional messages can be a great way to reward loyal, returning customers, while enticing potential customers to make their first purchase.

Welcome message

 

  1. Hi there, welcome to [company name]. You will receive updates on your orders as well as exclusive deals right here in messenger. Is there anything else we can help you with today

    [Give options]

  2. Hooray! Welcome to the [company name] family. You’ll never struggle with [problem] again! We’re always happy to help and love receiving feedback too, which you can submit via our online form here <LINK>. Why not follow us on our social media pages too where you can keep up-to-date with [insert words here].

Flash sale

 

  1. Get FREE shipping on all orders placed today. No minimum required. Shop now: <LINK>.
  2. Hi [customer name], flash sale – for the next 3 hours only! Get 30% off on all [product] before [time].
  3. Hi [customer name], show this text in-store to get an EXTRA 20% off on all [products]. Strictly for this weekend only and while stock lasts.

New products launch

 

  1. Hi [customer name], the wait is over! The NEW LIMITED EDITION [product] has arrived. Hurry and shop now before they sell out [link].
  2. Hey [customer name], we’ve just launched our new [product] range and would like to offer you some exclusive deals. Check out [link].
SMS Marketing example message offering discount

Personalised offer

 

  1. Happy birthday [customer name]. Enjoy [percentage] off site wide on your special day by using the code [code] at the checkout. Valid until [date].
  2. Hi [customer name], we have it on our records that you’ve previously purchased a [product]. We have some similar [products] you might like and would like to offer you an exclusive discount on them using the code [code]. Valid until [date].

Referral programme

 

  1. Love our [products/service]? Recommend us to a friend and you both get [discount] when they [sign up/order] using the code [code]
  2. Will you help us spread the word? Give your friends and family [discount] off their first [insert word here] when they use your personal referral code [code]. You’ll get [discount] when they do!

Business Continuity

 

It’s equally as important to keep in touch with your employees as it is to keep your customers in the loop. Alongside recruitment, businesses can use SMS messaging to notify employees of new or upcoming shifts, and to relay crucial information in times of an emergency.

Business critical communications

Temporary office closure

 

  1. Good morning. Overnight we had a power outage at the [location] branch/store, which we’re working hard to fix. Please log on remotely and await further instruction. We thank you for your patience.
SMS marketing example message of office closure warning

Local emergency

 

  1. ATTENTION! There has been an emergency in [location]. Please confirm your location and status as SAFE or REQUIRE ASSISTANCE by responding to this message with your employee ID number. If you require emergency assistance please dial 999.
  2. ATTENTION! A member of staff in the [location] office has tested positive for Covid-19. If you have been in contact with this person since [date], please inform your line manager. Please visit the NHS website for more information and advice.

Mobilise teams

 

  1. ATTENTION! Mains pipe damage alert at [organisation name] [address] your assistance is required. Please confirm receipt of this message and estimated time of arrival for yourself and your team as soon as possible. For more information, please contact [person in charge] on [phone number] as soon as possible.
SMS marketing example message of a local mains pipe bursting

Shift management

 

  1. We have an available shift this [day] from [time] to [time]. If you are available for this slot please reply directly to this message.
  2. Hello. A [job title] is required this afternoon at our [location] branch/store. If you are available to work, please contact [name] on [phone number]. Thank you.

 

 

Employee surveys

 

  1. Hi [name]. We work hard to ensure we’re an employer of choice and would to hear how you find working at [company name]. Please could you spare a few minutes to fill in this feedback form <LINK>
  2. Hi [name]. [Number] a year, we like to gather feedback from our employees through a short feedback form which you can find here <LINK>. The survey should take no longer than <time> to complete, but will provide us with valuable insights. Please note that you can leave your name, or remain anonymous if you prefer.

 

 

Employee recruitment and onboarding

 

SMS messaging can be used to alert job hunters to new opportunities, set up – or rearrange – interviews, and assist with the onboarding process. With a 95% open rate for SMS, it ensures fast communication between the business and its employees and prospective employees, and is less likely to be missed.

 

Recruitment

 

  1. Hello [Name], we have an exciting job opportunity in the finance sector, based in London. If you are interested please reply MORE INFO to this message or call the team on [Phone number].
  2. Hello [Name]. We can confirm your interview on [date] at [time] with [Interviewer name]. Please attend [Location]. Thank you.

 

Book Staff

 

  1. Hello [Name], [business name] requires extra staff on [date] in [location]. If you’re available to work, please text back or call [phone number]

 

Onboarding

 

  1. Hello [Name], welcome to [company name], we’re excited to have you on board. Your first day will be at our [location] office, please arrive at [time] on [date]. If you have any questions please contact [manager name] on [phone number].

The Most Productive Colour to Paint Your Home Working Space

Home office with blue walls, white floors, and blue / white / grey furniture

The work from home order has now been lifted by the UK government as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions. While this means some of us will be heading back into the office full-time, many businesses have adopted a formal hybrid working model, meaning we can work from home part-time.

This is welcome news for employees who have reported a better work-life balance as a result of home-working over the past 18 months. Many of us feel more productive at home due to the ability to concentrate better.

We may have been working from home for a year and a half now, but it’s never too late to upgrade your home office decoration. The colour of your space can have a big impact on your productivity, mood, and mindset throughout the workday. Here, we discuss the best colours for your home office.

 

Blue for productivity and focus

Blue has so many connotations. Many of us think of rolling sea waves or a bright blue sky. Overwhelmingly, we perceive blue as calming. It’s a grounding colour, which means it works well as a base hue in our home office.

The colour has also been found to be mentally stimulating, leading to productivity benefits. A University of Texas study found that blue-green rooms were the best for productivity gains. This combination of calming and stimulating makes it the perfect colour for a home-working environment.

While we need to remain focused and productive during our workday, a calming influence is also helpful. With 79% of UK employees experiencing stress at work, anything that creates a feeling of serenity is welcomed.

 

Yellow accents for creativity

Is there anything more positive than a bright burst of yellow? The colour is associated with joy, sunny days, and creativity. However, because it’s so attention-grabbing, it can be overwhelming.

Yellow offers many benefits, including stimulating creativity and boosting our mood. It shouldn’t be discounted as a colour in our home office, but we recommend making it an accent colour instead of the main colour of your walls.

If you’re looking to benefit from the mood and creativity-boosting effects of yellow, use it in your decorations or accessories. You could have a sunny yellow notebook on your desk for your creative ideas. Yellow flowers – whether real or fake – on your desk will allow you to take advantage of the colour’s properties as well as the stress-busting benefits of plants in your office.

 

Golds and silvers for a successful mindset

It’s no surprise that we associate gold and silver with wealth and success, because we most often see these colours in jewellery and decorations. While it might seem a bit decedent to kit your office out in these colours, their associations with success might just give you the boost you’re looking for.

Gold in particular can remind you of your successes. Think about it; what comes to mind when you hear “gold medal”? Exactly.

If opulent gold isn’t your usual style, you can incorporate this colour into your home office in subtle ways, like a gold vase for your flowers or gold photo frames.

 

Things to consider

Now that you know some of the most productive colours to include in your home office, it’s good to know how to incorporate them. Blue or green are great as a base colour but stick to muted shades. Pale blues and greens, like Cumulus Y354 from Tikkurila, suit everyone.

When it comes to colours to avoid, red isn’t a good colour for your home office. While it’s well-established as a power colour, it’s not necessarily a good colour for a working environment. Not only does it inspire feelings of frustration and anger but it can also increase your heart rate and induce feelings of stress. Some see this as a benefit, especially if your job is high-energy, but in the day to day, it can have a negative effect.

 

Many of us have spent a sizeable chunk of time in our home offices over the past 18 months. While many will be heading back into the office full time, some of us will be able to continue our home-working either in a full-time or part-time capacity. It’s never too late to redecorate your home office, so why not incorporate some of these productivity and mood-boosting colours?

Bridging the Gap Between Online and Offline Retail

laptop computer on wood table with supermarket aisle blurred background online shopping concept

Historically, retail has shifted from offline to online. Argos, for example, was famous for its in-store catalogue experience before branching out to become one of the most successful e-commerce brands in the UK.

As shopping online became more popular, we began to see online-only retail pop up, such as market leaders ASOS and Amazon. But what about when the shift happens the other way around, and online stores go physical?

In this article, we’ll discuss how pop-up shops are allowing online brands to reach customers in person. We’ll also explore some of the most successful online shop pop-ups.

 

The popularity of pop-up shops

Pop-up shops brought £2.3 billion to the UK economy annually prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We could see this rise again with most restrictions eased. 80% of global retailers who have opened a pop-up shop said it was successful, with 58% saying they would do it again.

While the pandemic put a pin in pop-ups, there were still some successes. In April 2020, Tesco opened up a pop-up supermarket for NHS staff at the Nightingale Hospital so they could access essentials. Similarly, Costcutter opened up pop-up shops in 20 NHS hospitals.

Pop-ups can come in many forms, from hired event venues to empty stores – and even storage containers! Superdry perfectly captured its vintage-inspired brand through its pop-up store housed in a branded storage container.

 

Online retail goes offline

Many big-name brands, including Primark, Louis Vuitton, and Disney, have seen success through pop-up shops despite having flagship stores across the UK. We’ve also seen traditionally online-only retailers use pop-up stores as a way to connect with customers in person.

Pop-up stores offer online brands the opportunity to build brand awareness – many brands cited this as the main reason for launching a pop-up shop. Online stores can achieve more sales, better market visibility, and even social media engagement if the pop-ups are interesting enough.

Below, we take a look at a couple of successful examples of pop-up shops launched by online-only brands.

 

Depop-up shop labelled a success

London-born shopping app Depop was founded in 2011 and is partly credited for the rise in consumers buying and selling second-hand clothes online. The company exists online only, with no physical stores, but it launched a live pop-up event in 2019 that “brought the app experience to life”.

The event not only saw vendors selling unique second-hand clothing, but it also incorporated talks, DJ sets, and DIY workshops. The talks centred around how the brand’s primarily young female audience could make the most of its features, with panel discussions including “How to Build an Empire From Your Bedroom”. The brand prides itself on users recycling one-of-a-kind items, and many of its other talks focused on this and sustainability.

Maria Raga, Depop’s CEO, said: “This event is an opportunity for us to showcase the creativity that takes place on our app and to surround them with other inspirational creatives from the fashion, art, music, and design worlds.”

 

Amazon pops up to say hello

If there’s one online-only store that comes to mind for everyone, it’s Amazon. The online marketplace has grown exponentially since it started as a virtual bookstore, expanding to sell almost anything you could imagine.

The company has run a number of pop-up shops, with regular events across the USA. In a similar vein to Depop, the company hosted five days of pop-up fashion events in London, which featured more than just a retail experience. The fashion and beauty events included DJ sets, makeovers, and styling sessions with Amazon Fashion stylists. Additional days included yoga sessions with author Ella Mills and acoustic sessions with musicians Tom Grennan and Nao.

The brand also has themed pop-up stores that allow customers to examine items that they might not want to purchase online without testing out first, such as beds and hardware.

 

Our shopping experience has pivoted largely to online shopping, and we’re seeing this through the closing down of many established high street retailers. This doesn’t mean in-person shopping is dead, though. Online retailers are now bridging the gap and offering unique offline experiences at an affordable price. While many are hiring dormant stores, we’re seeing more mobile pop-ups emerge, allowing these retailers to be flexible and reach more consumers through these new means.

How to Choose the Right Link Building Agency

Man working at laptop on graphs

Outsourcing to link-building agencies is an excellent option for businesses that lack the in-house expertise and knowledge needed to implement relevant campaigns. However, choosing the right one isn’t always as simple as it sounds. After all, for every legitimate firm, there are always a few that practice Blackhat techniques like deception, ghosting, and spamming, to name a few. And you could end up getting the exact opposite of the desired outcome if you partner with one of them. Therefore, you must select a suitable link building agency like Ocere. In this guide, we’ll cover a few things that you’ll need to consider before you commit to a firm. If you want to know more, keep on reading.

 

 

1. Alignment

Alignment is one of the essential things you need to expect from the chosen agency. They need to align with the goals of the business. Only by defining and understanding your link-building objectives can they reach a favourable outcome. Moreover, they need to know your definition of success, specifically the metrics you’ll use like domain authority, social shares, and referral traffic. So, before anything else, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do the strategies of the agency make sense and can help your company achieve its goals?
  • Is the expected timeframe reasonable?
  • Are your objectives aligned with their methodologies?

 

2. Transparency

A reputable link-building company will always be transparent with its clients. After all, there are very few secrets when it comes to the strategies used in search engine optimisation or SEO. However, if they fail to respond to reasonable inquiries about their workflows or processes, it’s usually a sign that you should look for another agency. Additionally, you’ll want to walk away if they make unrealistic and exaggerated claims about their services. This is because they’re either using questionable practices or are not as good as they make themselves appear to be.

 

 

3. Roadmap 

Once an agency has a good idea of your goals for the business, they’ll create a roadmap that will indicate how they plan to meet your expectations. However, if they take too long to respond or can’t give you an answer at all, it could be a warning sign. When you get right down to it, how will you achieve the desired outcome if they can’t map out the process for you? In these cases, it’s usually a good idea to seek out other options.

 

 

4. Price

Cost matters in the procurement of any goods or services, and link-building isn’t an exception. No matter how good an agency is, if it’s going to cost you a small fortune to gain access to their expertise, you won’t see any returns on your investment. One way to get around this challenge is to collect a few options and compare each one’s services and fees against the other. In this way, you’ll find one that won’t just fit your needs but also your budget.

 

 

5. Reviews

These days, many turn to online reviews for any products and services they need. They’re a better source of objective insight than the companies behind them when all’s said and done. If you want to find a credible agency, you’ll want to do the same thing and look for feedback and testimonials from past and present clients of the chosen companies. Reading through customer experience might appear to be a tedious endeavour. But doing so can give you what you need to make a better-informed decision and, in turn, help you avoid choosing the wrong companies while knowing where the right ones are.

 

 

6. Turnover

Few people realise the difficulty of building links, especially with an unmotivated and disengaged staff. If the agency has a high turnover rate, it poses a problem to its operations and clients. In addition, they won’t likely be able to deliver results if they’re unable to maintain positive internal relationships amongst their teams. So ,make sure that you keep this in mind before committing to any firm.

 

 

Conclusion

Selecting a company for your link-building needs might be a tricky affair, but it isn’t difficult. By considering the abovementioned factors, you’ll be able to choose one that can generate the links your company needs to establish awareness of its brand, maintain authority, and generate leads and conversions.

7 Ways Entrepreneurs Grow Their Organizations

Woman with a small textile business using the phone and laptop to grow her business

Are you an entrepreneur who wants to expand your business, having already survived those first few crucial months of operation? If so, it’s important to realize that the same set of skills that got you this far might not be what’s needed to move to the next phase of growth. Startups have one goal, in most cases, and that’s to endure the first year of existence without falling prey to competitors, a lax economy, and negligible profits.

From there on out, phase two begins, and navigating the waters of early growth can be much more challenging than anything you encountered during that initial year of existence. What does it take to build a customer base, create effective systems for long-term expansion, craft marketing campaigns that work, satisfy the customers you’ve already acquired, use the reams of data at your disposal, and learn to face off against experienced competitors without falling back? Here are some of the most workable tactics for not only doing all of the above, but doing it in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

 

Create a Time Budget

Financial budgets are all-important components of any successful enterprise. If you made it this far, you likely have one that works. But far too many owners struggle through phase two (early growth) because they lack a detailed, day by day time budget. Begin by making a list of every must-do task for each day and list the amount of time it takes next to each one. Then, arrange the items based on your best guess for where it should occur in the overall order. Test out this daily time budget and fine-tune it over perhaps a week or two. Then, do the same thing with weekly chores, making sure to place them into the day schedules where they belong.

 

Use Fleet Management Systems

If your business uses vehicles for any transport function, including customer delivery and branch to branch cargo shipping, installing fleet tracking software is one of the simplest, least costly solutions for boosting profits and ramping up efficiency. The key to the whole effort is getting real-time business insights via live GPS tracking of every vehicle in the fleet. In the digital age, it’s safe to assume that all your competitors use fleet tracking, so even if you prefer the old way of using radio controlled (non-digital) techniques, growing your organization will be that much tougher.

 

Automate Key Marketing Tasks

To save time, automate as many marketing and promotion strategies as possible. Of course, there’s still a need for personal customer contact in certain instances, but things like welcome messages (new customer emails), special offers for frequent buyers, requests for feedback after purchases, and dozens of others can be set to auto pilot if you select a capable software product and hire an IT pro to install and optimize it.

 

Focus On Supporting Customers

So many owners talk the talk about making customer support job one, but few follow through on the hype. For growing entities that are just out of the startup phase, paying careful attention to customer needs is essential. This is one of the few areas of operations that pays guaranteed, long-term dividends.

By making sure all customer’s questions are answered and complaints resolved, you’ll be learning the fine art of dealing with the very people who look to your organization for their needs.

 

Don’t Fear Data

Once any organization begins to grow, there are huge amounts of data available like customer analytics, marketing test results, return on investment, expenditure efficiency, and many more. This ocean of information is one of the core features of working in the digital era. Keep in mind that you don’t need to crunch every number or analyze each piece of data that comes to you. Focus on several areas that impact your particular niche and learn how to use the numbers to your advantage. Most of all, don’t fall into the trap of being intimidated by masses of data or the temptation will be to just ignore all of it and miss potentially valuable insights.

 

Use Multiple Channels

Though it can seem overwhelming at first, do your best to promote and market in several channels. For example, today’s e-commerce consumers tend to use more than one channel for buying. Make sure your organization is there for prospective customers when they want to engage you via live chat, on social media, through email, with text messages, or over the phone. This omni channel strategy is simply a smart way to be where your customers are. Think of the modern adult who typically orders food and personal services on a smartphone or tablet, makes large purchases from a home-based desktop computer, orders an e-book during a text conversation with a friend, or check their social media comments for suggestions about the latest shoe styles.

 

Don’t Be Intimidated by Major Competitors

No matter what field you do business in, you’re bound to face competitors who are larger, more experienced, and have vast resources they can deploy whenever needed. Every new entrant into a commercial niche must deal with the very same challenge. The good news is that new players have a couple of unique advantages the established organizations don’t possess. First, consumers are willing to give a new name a chance. The fact that your entity is a fresh face in the crowd is intriguing to many customers who are eager to try your products and services, out of curiosity if nothing else. Second, if you build a powerful website and work the e-commerce angle diligently, you stand the chance of outpacing many traditional businesses who have not yet fully embraced digital marketing.

The Great Digital Overhaul(age)

Blaack HGV with green tech bianry code on it

Digitalisation has transformed every sector in recent years. The implementation of technologies like artificial intelligence and automation have streamlined processes, improved data accuracy, and allowed businesses in every industry to become more efficient.

One sector that has been slow in its adoption of technology is logistics and haulage. In a pre-pandemic PwC survey, only 28% of transport and logistics providers rated themselves as digitally advanced.

However, digitisation is picking up in the sector. In its whitepaper, Using Digital to Drive Your Transport Business Forward, Mandata found that digital adoption is a priority for two-thirds of hauliers in 2021.

Here, we discuss how digital technologies are transforming the logistics sector in 2021 and beyond.

Back-office digitisation increases productivity

When we think of innovative technologies, we might focus on virtual assistants and robotics, but sometimes the best digital solutions are the less glamorous ones. For many years, hauliers and logistics firms relied on manual or paper-based processes to manage planning, jobs, and invoices.

Gone are the days of using spreadsheets, or even easily misplaced sheets of paper, to carry out your operations. Now, transport management software allows you to manage your processes, from order right through to invoice, in one fully integrated system. Not only does this allow you to be more time-efficient, because it eliminates duplicate data entry, but it also offers real-time visibility on reporting or job status updates for key stakeholders like customers and colleagues.

 

Route planning software makes journeys more efficient

In days gone by, your drivers’ deliveries could be impacted by a poor route choice or unexpected traffic. One late delivery can have a knock-on effect on the rest of the day’s deliveries, which can impact profit made on each job, your customer satisfaction, and potentially your customer retention rate.

Route inefficiencies can also cost your business a lot of money – and in a sector with already razor-thin margins, this is the last thing you need.

With real-time status updates and ETAs available, your transport planners will be able to see if there’s anything holding up your drivers and, if necessary, divert them. A live arrivals board will allow you to easily spot any journeys encountering issues and view delivery countdowns.

 

Mobile apps for drivers improve accuracy

Drivers are also benefitting from the technological innovations driving change in the sector. In recent times, many planners would send their drivers a list of jobs via WhatsApp, SMS or even phone calls, which was difficult to track and follow. Prior to that, many relied on paper sheets handed to them at the start of the workday. Paper proof of deliveries also presented a lot of issues for drivers.

Mobile apps for drivers are making their day-to-day tasks easier, allowing them to carry out essential parts of their work in one place and paper-free. They can access their jobs for the day within the app and update them when they’re complete.

One of the most powerful tools for hauliers in these apps is electronic proof of delivery (ePOD). Paper-based PODs were the standard until recent years, but they were prone to being misplaced, lost, or even illegible. Electronic PODs allow drivers to easily capture confirmation of their delivery, whether that’s via a photo or a digital signature. The ePOD will automatically match back to the correct job and when the jobs are ready to be invoiced, the ePODs will automatically be attached. This results in less duplication of work while also providing the ability to complete invoicing in a few clicks, cutting down on hours of manual work.

Many sectors have reaped the benefits of digital innovation, but until recently, haulage and logistics companies have been left behind. We know the industry struggled with the impact of COVID-19, with 73% of hauliers reporting that their cash flow significantly reduced in the first UK lockdown. However, we’ve also seen priorities change as a result of these extraordinary circumstances, as many hauliers are choosing to focus on digital adoption this year.

How to Start an Amazon FBA Business

Amazon Packages

Written by the AMZScout Amazon Expert Team. AMZScout is one of the top Amazon research tools for online sellers.

Amazon FBA is the globe’s largest online retailer, with operations in the US, UK, and countless other countries. The process of collecting, packaging, and delivering orders, as well as taking care of returns and replacements, is known as fulfillment. Customers are delighted with effective and dependable eCommerce fulfillment. Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) allows sellers to send their products to Amazon fulfillment centers, where Amazon will store, pack, deliver, and offer customer service for them.

The main objective of FBA is to eliminate shipping from your to-do list. Amazon will manage shipping, tracking, returns, and refunds so that you can focus on selling. You might be wondering how they obtain your goods.

First, you must purchase and mail the items to Amazon. They provide storage space as well as warehouse management services. When you place an order with Amazon, it is picked, packed, sent, and tracked. They’re also in charge of client service.

Despite the high fees that are charged for FBA, it is an excellent service. It is definitely worth the investment because you receive the following:

  • Reliable customer support service.
  • Inclusion of fulfillment and transit fees.
  • Can start selling all over the globe.

 

The Benefits of FBA

Amazon FBA is one of the best options for beginning your online business. There are numerous advantages to Amazon FBA. We have categorized these advantages into different categories to make things more understandable:

 

1. Delivery

The major benefit of FBA is that it allows you to deliver your items to your clients at a lesser cost. Amazon-fulfilled items are less expensive to ship because Amazon negotiates huge discounts with all of the major shipping companies. Your fulfillment rates will reflect a portion of that discount, allowing you to generate more profit per purchase than if you sent products yourself. You won’t have to pay for shipping goods or have to pay someone to pack everything for you.

The best part is that you won’t have to pay extra for Amazon Prime members’ two-day shipping. If you want to send to overseas consumers, Amazon also has an export program that takes care of customs restrictions and shipping procedures.

 

2. More Room for Storage

Another benefit of FBA is that you won’t have to rent a warehouse or transform your basement into an Amazon storage facility. Amazon will store your items safely and out of the way. Amazon will take care of your inventory, no matter how tiny it is. While there is a price for the service, it is far less than the cost of signing a lease and paying workers to maintain your inventory.

If your inventory is performing well and your items are flying off the shelves, you’ll be able to secure limitless storage space at an Amazon warehouse. This can assist you in improving your offers and increasing the amount of merchandise you sell. For slow-moving items, Amazon’s FBA inventory management system can assist you in tracking surplus inventory and determining how long it has been taking up space.

 

3. Customer Service Assistance

Customer service can feel like a full-time job at times. As a result, customer service management is one of Amazon FBA’s top features. Customers can contact Amazon’s customer-service professionals rather than coming to you with every concern. This not only saves you time but also provides the consumer with more options. Amazon is available via email, chat, and phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so your customers can obtain support whenever they need it. You won’t have to work any late-night shifts answering queries and making sure that your customers are satisfied.

 

Start an Amazon FBA Business

To get your FBA business up and running, all you have to do is follow Amazon’s instructions.

Step 1: Choose a product.

The most difficult (and time-consuming) stage in this process is deciding on your first product. Not to put too much pressure on you, but picking the correct product to launch can make or break your company. Okay, it probably won’t break it, but if your initial product has little or no demand, is in a fiercely competitive industry, or is prohibitively costly to buy in quantity, you might not realize the profits that you expected.

For a good result, follow the procedure below:

  • Pick a specific market based on your passions.
  • Carry out market research.
  • Avoid competing with well-known brands or items that have been around for a long time.
  • Flip things from retail stores that are on discount or in quantity.

 

Step 2: Find a new product to sell.

You’re undoubtedly happy that you have selected your FBA business’s first product, but don’t get too comfortable. The next stage is to find out where you’re going to obtain your product, which takes almost as long as choosing the item. The following steps can help:

  • Find a vendor.
  • Send out your product.

 

Step 3: Promote your product as much as possible.

You’ve chosen a product, sorted out where you’ll obtain it from, and now it’s time to start spreading the news about your awesome product that you’re thrilled to sell on Amazon. While having it listed on Amazon will bring it a decent amount of traffic, there are still a few things to consider when developing your product’s description and promoting it.

Some of these tasks are:

  • Make your product description more effective.
  • Look for simple strategies to promote yourself.
  • Collect a large number of product reviews.
  • Do not establish a brand-new website or blog right away.

 

At the beginning of an FBA business, there is a need for some upfront payment. However, the effort required will be far less than that required to start a typical eCommerce business. The easiest part is getting your company off the ground. The most challenging step is figuring out how to expand your FBA business. Utilize the available resources and follow the proper procedures as you go.

77% of the UK Experience This Work-Related Syndrome

In the background a woman is sitting at her desk, and in the forground a post-it note saying

You may read the phrase “imposter syndrome” and be surprised that there’s a term for something you feel without realising it’s a common thing. Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough for the career you have? Do you doubt yourself and feel like an imposter in the workplace? Do you have a nagging feeling that you’re winging it? You’re not alone. A huge 77 per cent of the UK experiences imposter syndrome.

Signs of imposter syndrome include:

  • Doubting yourself
  • Being unable to accurately assess your competence and skills
  • Attributing your success to external factors
  • Criticising your job performance
  • Being afraid of disappointing

 

Has the pandemic made imposter syndrome worse?

Interestingly, research has found that working from home can mitigate these feelings. According to the University of Nottingham, there was a 75 per cent decrease in feelings of imposter syndrome in 2020 compared to the year before, when we were in the physical office.

Associate Professor Dr. Terri Simpkin, from the University of Nottingham, commented: “Imposter Phenomenon is related to context. If the context changes, so can experiences of Imposterism. It’s socially constructed, so change the social circumstances and the experience may change too.”

This may not be the case for everyone, however, and some workers may have experienced intensified feelings of self-doubt combined with feeling deflated and isolated when working from home. Working remotely for significant periods of time can impact company culture, social integration, and being in the general swing of it all. You might feel out of the funk and start to doubt your skills when you’re out of the swing of things.

 

Overcoming imposter syndrome

If your feelings of imposter syndrome have subsided, you might be worried about them flaring up again upon return to the office following Boris Johnson’s roadmap to normality. We’ve got some tips to help you overcome imposter syndrome when you get back to the office while donning your smartest work suits!

 

Facts over feelings

We can be prone to letting emotions override logic. Focusing on facts over feelings can apply well to many different areas of our lives, but particularly imposter syndrome. When you perform well, are given praise, or are generally getting things done, congratulate yourself for your achievements that you’ve worked hard for. Due to your competence, you’ve succeeded, not because of luck or a fluke. Occasionally, there’ll be times where things don’t go to plan for everyone, and that can be disappointing. But when you perform well, don’t gloss over the moments or downplay it.

Try not to make assumptions about how other people feel about you, for example assuming your boss thinks you’re rubbish at your job. You are projecting your own misconceptions about yourself onto others.

 

We’ve all got to start somewhere

If you’re doing something new at work or are given a new responsibility, don’t put pressure on yourself to master it first time. Everyone has to start somewhere and learn.

Whenever we start a new job or try something new, we want to master it on the first try. Needing additional guidance can make us feel like we’re weak, especially if there was an audience. Clearly, it’s unfair to put that kind of pressure on ourselves, which is why it’s important for us to flip the script.  

Instead of feeling as though we need to prove our worth, we need to remember that we all have to start somewhere. We all try and fail before we succeed. There’s nothing worse or more flawed about ourselves than there is about anyone else. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like you’re not learning fast enough.

 

Talk to your colleagues

If you have friends you feel comfortable opening up to at work, confide in a colleague. If not, speak to your friends outside of work. Chances are, saying your thoughts out loud may help you realise how wrong you are when there’s no evidence of you underperforming at work. Plus, others may be going through the same thing – being honest and open about your feelings to those close to you can have tremendous benefits on your wellbeing and theirs.

 

Take a break from social media

Returning to the office? Cue an influx of LinkedIn posts as workers race to post optimistic and motivational posts about getting an ounce of normality back. Like all social media, LinkedIn can be tough on us if we’re feeling down. People only posts their best and highest achievements rather than the times they’ve failed on a huge project or are struggling to keep up with their workload.

Avoid putting pressure on yourself and take a break from social media, including LinkedIn – unless your job relies on it. Ease yourself back into it when you’ve settled back into office life and you feel ready to see what other people are posting about.

Look at what you’ve accomplished so far in your career and be grateful for all you’ve achieved. Overcome feelings of fear and anxiety and recognise your successes. Sometimes, this might be difficult. But with 77 per cent of the UK experiencing imposter syndrome, you can take comfort in the fact that the majority of people around you also experience this totally normal feeling. You are not alone, and you are not an imposter.

How To Effectively Hire Creatives To Plug Into Your Expanding Project Needs

Four fingers with faces on them, each with a speech bubble saying

As the demands for your company grow and your work needs expand, you may consider opening up your employee and contract work to people from all around the world. When hiring creatives to meet your increasing demand for content, it takes the prospect more than just simply understanding how to be creative.

 

They should also understand the potential audience, the region that audience lives in, and the types of idioms, slang, and images that the audience will understand. These points are especially critical while working with individuals in remote and virtual capacities.

 

As we all know, the benefits of working virtually allow for individuals to collaborate and work together, often from different parts of the world and at other times of the day. Therefore, when screening potential contractors and employees, especially when considering hiring international employees, you should first set up a formal screening process.

 

Between language barriers and different idiomatic expressions, native English speakers will speak and spell words differently depending on their nation of origin. These variances can create confusion or misunderstandings, so establishing clear screening procedures is crucial whether hiring for creative projects, marketing,  logistics, or otherwise.

 

Regional Understanding And Interests Are Critical

 

In creative industries, having a regional understanding is critical in crafting the right message and tone for your project in creative industries. The only way to guarantee that your newly hired individual(s) can match that tone and intonation is through proper pre-hiring screening.

 

For your Human Resources (HR) department to conduct a screening that matches your exact needs, you should establish a screening process that includes:

  • Understanding the idiom of the area they apply
  • Video chat or pre-recorded answers
  • Virtual skills
  • And working a paid trial to determine comprehension and feasibility

 

When hiring a creative position for content needs (such as copywriter, content marketer, or technical writer), a simple writing test that emphasizes the type of terms and “slang” needed for your readership should be a simple first question to answer.

 

It takes more than just understanding how differences in spelling may be in different regions of the world to be an effective marketing and technical writer. For example, the difference between American and English words, such as “behavior” (American) and “behaviour” (English), can impact both readership and your SEO strategy based on search results your prospects may be querying.

 

These differences may seem trivial at first glance, but to readers and SERPs alike, they can profoundly affect the outcomes of searches and understanding of the content you’re trying to promote. Other creative positions such as photography and graphic arts have less impact based on regionality. However, even during the hiring process, these positions should still come with a pre-screening process.

 

The possible impact on your content may not be as detrimental as having words and sentences written for a different audience than your target. However, it could still have some impact, either positively or negatively.

 

With visual creatives, taking a picture of a couple in front of a building or landmark that is exotic or well-known may be distracting for your audience. For example, if you’re writing content for a traditional brick-and-mortar shop in Austin, Texas, but the images you’re trying to use are of a couple in Paris, France, the disconnection may be too distracting for your readers.

 

Whereas with creatives such as copywriting, it’s crucial that they pass a regional language comprehension “test,” with visual creatives, it’s more critical for them to understand the region that pictures must be sourced. A good alternative is to have visual creatives use neutral, evergreen backdrops for their photos, which can be resourced for multiple regions and areas.

 

As your business grows, your employee and contractor needs will expand with those demands. How your organization hires out for those expanding roles can be a delicate balancing act of finding qualified applicants and individuals that can meet your creative content needs specific to your audience.

 

The balancing act between qualified individuals and those that can provide content specific to your audience is one of the benefits of working with a decentralized, remote workforce. But to do so effectively, you need to build in some safeguards during the screening process that will help you evaluate the talent so that you can plug them into the roles you need for each project you have.

3 Ways to Make Graduates Notice Your Company

Young graduate using a laptop and smart phone to find a new job

When the final exams have been graded and the mortarboard has been thrown in celebration, there’s only one thing on most graduate’s minds: what’s next? Entering the workforce after graduating from university can be an overwhelming experience. However, many graduates have a good idea of what they want in a job – even if they don’t know what job they want yet. From an employer’s point of view, it can sometimes be easy to assume that graduate students will be eager to join your company. However, this isn’t always the case. If you have a business that you believe in and you know would be a great place for a recent graduate to grow, you need to ensure that the roles that you’re offering appeal to them.

There are many ways to make sure your company has a lot to offer for recent graduates. The key is knowing what graduates are looking for in their first job and making sure you offer greater opportunities for progression than your competitors. What’s more, you need to ensure that you can fulfil your promises. With 32 per cent of graduates planning to stay in their first job for two to five years and 31 per cent saying they don’t know how long they will stay, there are plenty of opportunities to train and retain new talent if you know how to ensure that graduates stick with your business.

Although your rate of pay is important, there are many other things that graduates look for when on the hunt for their first role. Let’s take a look at the most important factors.

 

Training and development

Room for development is a very important factor for many recent graduates. So, when advertising a new role, be sure to highlight any development opportunities. In one survey, “information about training and development” was cited as the second most important thing that graduates wanted to see from employers before applying to a role. Clearly, most graduates are thinking long-term at this point in their careers. It’s not necessarily all about how much they can earn right now, but how much they can learn and progress in the future. This way, they’ll be able to reach their dream role (and salary) someday soon.

If you’re advertising entry-level positions, include your company’s training opportunities in the job description. No graduate is done with their vocational training and education yet, so this is a very important factor for you to include. As well as training days, be sure to highlight any development opportunities that candidates won’t be able to access elsewhere. If your company is in the engineering sector, for example, getting hands-on experience and working with equipment such as hydraulic cylinders or piston rings will be valuable to recent graduates.

 

Fast-track progression schemes

If fast development is something you can offer candidates, consider setting up a specific scheme for recent graduates. Many graduates are drawn to grad schemes due to the promise of professional development as well as short term financial security. Setting up a grad scheme or fast-track programme will bring endless benefits to your company. By investing in young talent, you’ll secure the future of your workforce, introduce a new wave of innovation and creativity, and enjoy high financial returns on your investment.

 

Work-life balance

As well as career progression and development, graduates also want a healthy work-life balance. When searching for new employees, this is something to highlight in your job advertisement. The world of work may seem daunting for many young graduates. So, by offering a role within a company that has a positive culture, supportive community, and a good work-life balance, you will make your roles stand out against your competitors. This doesn’t just mean flexible working and holidays. It’s also about creating a positive environment in which employees will be able to get stuck into a wide variety of tasks that will keep them engaged and motivated.

There are so many ways that you can turn your company into the best possible environment for recent graduates. Whatever sector you work in, make sure that new and potential employees know that you have their best interests at heart and you’re as invested in their futures as they are.

Failing Gender Inclusivity in the UK’s Most Successful Industries

Eight office employees standing talking toeach other. They are of different backgrounds and genders

It’s no secret that a diverse workforce helps create a successful business—so why are so many organisations in the UK not gender-diverse? A government-backed review found that there is “little sign of change” in the underrepresentation of women in senior roles in business.

Companies that promote a positive culture attract and retain the top talent in the job market. By promoting inclusive policies, there will be many benefits beyond attracting top talent from a diverse candidate pool. This includes eliminating offensive and closeminded decision-making, providing a fresh perspective on something that everyone else is looking at in the same way, providing a better platform for innovation and creativity, and an improved customer experience.

Employees must feel comfortable reaching their potential, which should be supported by diverse and inclusive policies. Sadly, not all companies do that. Jaguar faced an employment tribunal following a genderfluid employee receiving abuse and a lack of support at work.

Although the Equality Act 2010 was introduced to set a minimum standard, a genuine diversity policy goes beyond legal compliance and adds true value to a company while driving workforce wellbeing. Research has found that organisations that lead the way on gender inclusivity also lead on performance and profitability in comparison to their competitors.

Here, we take a look at two of the most male-dominated industries, accounting and tech. We’ll cover what the statistics look like in terms of gender inclusivity and how we can overcome them.

 

Women are rising in the ranks, but things still aren’t perfect

In 2019, the share of women on the boards of big UK companies reached an all-time high of 30%. Although it is positive to see that we are making progress and record numbers are being achieved, there is still a long way to go before there is gender equality, both on the board and in the workforce.

While yes, the proportion of women on the board has reached record numbers, there are industries that are lacking in terms of what is acceptable.

 

Accounting for the low numbers

The Big Four accounting firms are the largest companies in the accounting industry which have innovated the way we invest and how we work. The Telegraph reported shocking diversity statistics—with only 11 black partners of around 3,000 in total. It’s important we look at gender statistics, too.

61.3% of all accountants and auditors are women. This is up from 39% in 1983, which at that time was considered a large statistic. While this is brilliant, only nine of the 3,000 partners are women. Almost every lead auditor of these companies appears to be a white man.

Rachel Reeves, chair of the House of Commons business committee, commented: “If the audit industry thinks it is delivering the highest possible standards when it is missing out on the talents of half the population, then it needs to think again.”

PwC had the highest number of audits of FTSE 100 companies, although none that were audited were led by women or people of colour. The underrepresentation of women in these senior roles has been a key driver of the gender pay gap. The accounting firm revealed the median gap between men and women workers was 18%. While white men dominate leading roles, there is only so far a business can go before it plateaus due to a lack of diversity and different ways of thinking.

 

Women in tech

The state of women in tech is a sad affair. Despite global conversations about gender diversity in tech, women are still underrepresented, underpaid, and often discriminated against. For the tech industry to truly flourish, diversity and inclusivity are crucial so that innovative and creative products and services can be designed, taking everyone in society into consideration and not only one domineering demographic.

For example, Fitbit’s period tracker feature was incorrect, only allowing women to log their menstrual cycle if it lasted for 10 days or less. If more women were involved in the design, this catastrophic mistake wouldn’t have happened and alienated many of its customers. Despite this, women remain widely underrepresented in tech.

In the UK, female employees account for 19% of the tech workforce. This figure is even smaller for black and Hispanic women at 3% and Asian women make up just 5%. There is less inspiration for women looking to pursue tech careers. This is driven by a shockingly low number of role models talked about in the media, combined with ceilings placed over women when they’re either trying to enter the industry or progress. Others point to the lack of girls taking STEM subjects in school and higher education due to the social bias that encourages boys to choose these subjects.

 

Diversify the board

The culture of promotion that enables the exclusion of qualified female candidates could be a reason why women are underrepresented. These candidates may not be part of the social networks that board members and chief executive officers use when considering a candidate. Board members typically play it safe and hire or promote similar candidates. As there are significantly fewer females in senior roles initially, the same white male professionals are picked over and over. If executives improve their recruitment methods and increase the pool of potential candidates by seeking diverse workers, they will better utilise the talent pool.

Implementing legislation that requires companies to appoint a minimum number of executives with different attributes can help tackle this issue. This has been successfully used in Norway since 2008 to improve gender diversity in the boardroom, with at least 40% of directorship positions required to be filled by women. Spain and France are also looking at introducing similar mandatory requirements for gender diversity, which is something the UK could look at.

 

Diversity training

It’s important to remember that sexism and misogyny in the workplace must also be combatted to create a safe and inclusive environment. Sexism isn’t always overt with blatant remarks and aggression. It can be covert and displayed through microaggressions and prejudice. This can be just as damaging for women in the workplace, who may feel uncomfortable raising the issue. Addressing the way people think can be done through inclusivity and diversity training at work so colleagues know what isn’t acceptable and how their behaviours and words can actually be offensive. People need to be called out on their biases and learn to become better. In the 21st century, there is no excuse for covert sexism and microaggressions.

Creating targeted training for emerging leaders who could potentially serve as directors in the future could help those with the potential to grow and progress for roles in the future. This makes them feel involved, rather than being ignored and feeling forced to move jobs to seek better opportunities. Although there has been some progression over the decades, there is a long way to go and the conversation isn’t ready to end yet. With pressure from the public and workforce, things could change.

It’s important for industries to learn to be inclusive, not just to generate more profit but to encourage others to follow suit in helping create a new normal in the world of work. The business will stagnate when everyone thinks the same way and is limited by their own experiences. Employing workers from diverse backgrounds and demographics will add new perspectives—an invaluable resource for companies. Sectors should take a look at what the Top 50 Inclusive Companies are doing to adopt a culture of inclusivity and diversity.