Article | August 24, 2021
The past 18 months has presented unimaginable challenges for many businesses seeking to stay afloat in times of crisis. But as with any challenge, shifting needs, perceptions and practices develop opportunity, opening doors for product and service differentiation.
Notably, in this time, sustainability has moved its way to the forefront of many minds. Not only has the pandemic forced businesses to re-evaluate commercial models for future resistance, but the constant reminder of issues regarding the climate crisis and ethical practices has magnified the need to think sustainably, too. But in this sense, sustainability is no longer a differentiator between businesses, and instead, an expected value any commercial enterprise must keep at its core.
The solution therefore, lies in the way in which sustainability is injected into every business practice - from manufacture to fulfilment. In this article, Nate Burke, CEO of technology, digital marketing and ecommerce solutions firm Diginius, discusses the latter end of a product's journey, and how sustainability can help businesses gain an edge on the competition.
As it stands, fast and free shipping is proving an attractive offering, often outperforming other cost-saving strategies. Understandably, these deals grab the attention of deal-savvy consumers who want their items delivered quickly and without extra charges on top of their original basket cost.
In fact, how many of us have paused, hesitated or even abandoned an order for the opposite reason? Well, you’re not alone - 64% of all online consumers expect their orders to be shipped for free and within five working days. What’s more, 68% of us will check a returns policy before making purchase. Present major obstacles here, and retailers will be providing an instant turn off in an ultra-competitive sales sphere.
Ultimately, an attractive delivery option can make all the difference in a customer choosing your products over a competitor’s. Unless they have developed long standing brand love, the chances of a customer remaining loyal to an offering which they can get for less and in quicker time elsewhere, are low.
This isn’t to undermine the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility, though. While fast and free shipping is expected, it may not necessarily be the most ethical business model, particularly if it will mean greater emissions for more frequent deliveries, and cost-cutting measures in other areas of the business in order to make up for lost shipping fees.
Global reports state that consumers would be more likely to purchase from companies with an established reputation for sustainability too. This suggests it is just as important for online businesses to focus their efforts on acting ethically, as it is for them to fulfil orders efficiently.
But with the rise of online shopping, which has been propelled by the pandemic with a 48% increase in online spending coming as a result of lockdown restrictions, businesses may be finding themselves weighing up the two. Clearly, there is misalignment between consumer expectations and commercial values here, and choosing between the two will require more than a look at a business’s bottom line.
Sustainability and credibility
It should be noted that today’s consumers are incredibly switched on when it comes to buying from sustainable brands. They can see through the smoke and mirrors or false claims to make informed decisions about the products and services they choose. And more often than not, these decisions are based on a brand’s credibility.
Any business can say they are doing certain things to protect the planet and their people, however, not all can provide sufficient evidence. And as competition increases, these are the businesses that are finding themselves falling behind.
We only need to look to recent examples such as Boohoo for proof. In 2020, the fast fashion giant found itself in hot water when it was revealed it was not following sustainable or ethical business practices. Poor warehouse conditions, less than minimum wage pay and inadequate health and safety standards were just a few of the concerns.
As a result, the company experienced huge losses, with its share price falling by more than a third during the first two days of the scandal coming to light. There is an undeniable perception on sustainability and ethical working practices, and people do not want to support brands that don’t support their economy and their people.
Interestingly however, as a fast fashion retailer, Boohoo is renowned for its speedy shipping and low prices, even offering unlimited next day delivery for a small, one-off yearly cost. Therefore, in this case, it is clear that efficient fulfilment alone is not enough to sustain commercial success. Its ethical responsibility had a larger part to play.
And while the company has attempted to correct its wrongdoings internally and then communicate these through marketing strategies, its tainted reputation is proving difficult to rebuild, suggesting just how important credibility is for a sustainable business.
But that’s not all. When it comes to free and fast shipping, credibility continues to play a significant role in shaping consumers’ perceptions of the service they are going to receive. For larger brands with established reputations, this is less of an issue, but for smaller companies who may be starting their ecommerce journey, it is vital that you appear a reliable, trustworthy and credible enterprise that is going to follow through with its promise of a fast and free delivery.
This may be through clear contact details for consumers to get in touch with queries, customer reviews, business information and responsive and helpful customer service via email, live chat, direct messaging or phone calls, for example.
A balancing act
Of course, building credibility will not solve every issue for a business, but it is a place to start. It is also a common denominator for sustainability and fulfilment and can help businesses differentiate themselves from the competition.
However, the misalignment between attractive cost saving deals and sustainable business practices can cause confusion. Often, lower delivery fees and fast shipping incentives, particularly for items that are already low in price, can set off alarm bells and leave customers questioning the ethical impact of their purchase. Alternatively, high fees and long delays can send customers looking elsewhere - both are bad for business.
Instead, businesses need to find a balance. Find the point at which free and fast shipping can be offered without impacting profit margins, and therefore, the sustained success of the business. For example, ASOS offers free delivery for orders over £35. While the majority of its customers are likely to spend this amount anyway, those that are not are enticed to do so, generating greater income for the business and an attractive deal for the customer. And in the minds of customers, the reasonable threshold amount helps justify the cost saving as a sustainable offer, rather than something that will put the business out of pocket and force them to act unethically elsewhere to make back lost earnings.
The threshold will be different for every business, but through the use of data and analytics tools, the amount that is best for your business can quite easily be found. These tools can also help centralise activity, from sourcing and manufacture to product marketing and post purchase service. With this in place, processes can become much more streamlined, which can in turn, increase the efficiency of order fulfilment. If things are delayed, for instance in the case of pandemic disruption, email updates can be automated, ensuring you are also providing high quality customer service.
With all this in place, not only will a business be sustainable and efficient, but its credibility will only go from strength to strength, too.
Article | June 2, 2021
Tracking your business expenses may seem tedious, but it’s a key part of effective money management. Small business expense tracking doesn’t just give you a better idea of your business’s overall financial health, it also helps you prepare for tax season.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s how to learn more about the importance of tracking your expenses—and how to do it right.
Article | July 6, 2021
With the emergence of COVID-19, social media became a powerful platform for small businesses to connect directly with an audience and thus, build brand awareness, direct sales, reaching the target audience, and cultivate customer relationships. As a result, social media strategy for small businesses is in high demand.
According to the most recent data, there will be 4.33 billion social media users worldwide at the start of 2021, accounting for more than 55% of the total global population. With more than 70% of the US population having a social media account, these platforms and services have risen to prominence as some of the most popular online activities in recent decades. As a result, the number of social network users in the United States will reach 243 million by 2025. Furthermore, the world spends more than 10 billion hours per day on social media platforms, equating nearly 1.2 million years of human existence.
The statistics states that maximum people spend most of their time on social media apps; thus it is a powerful platform of marketing for small businesses.
What is a social media strategy for small businesses?
A social media strategy enlists everything you want to do and achieve on your preferred social media platform. It contains information about your goals, what you intend to post, and how you intend to measure the success of your goals. Social media strategy requires setting social media goals and objectives.
A smart social media strategy helps you build brand awareness, connect directly with customers, increase revenue, and build relationships with your audience. The more detailed your social media plan, the more effective it will be.
The primary goal of social media strategy is to create a systematic plan for maximizing engagement and interactions across social media platforms to achieve a company's goals.
Why do you need a social media strategy for your small business?
Trying to build a strong brand on social media is not a piece of cake. It demands a well-defined strategy that will help you to build a strong and organic presence online. Having a well-built social media strategy helps you save time. Social media is a crucial part of an inbound marketing strategy and requires a lot of effort. At one point in time, social media was just an option for small businesses, but 2020 has made it essential. Social media strategy enables targeting your audience more effectively and will also help you stay ahead of the competition.
To taste success, small businesses should have a social media strategy in place. According to the study, 53% of customers who follow a company on social media are more likely to be loyal to them specifically.
There are several social media channels available such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. From a social media marketing perspective, Facebook is the most used social platform and can be one of the best social media channels for small businesses. However, having a dynamic social media strategy for small businesses is extremely beneficial for its success.
Set social SMART goals
It is easy to start using social media for business, but before that, it is important to create a social media plan that ensures all social efforts support specific business goals. Be clear on your goals for making social media plan. Hence, create smart goals with a SMART framework.
A SMART goal is defined as specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. You can keep your efforts focused and effective by setting these goals for social media marketing tips.
Specific: Be specific with your goals and objectives to set your strategies and determine which channel will assist you in achieving them. The goals of each business owner differ; some want to connect with customers, while others want to increase conversations or traffic to their website.
Measurable: Your goals need to be measurable to determine the effectiveness of your strategies. Each social media network has a set of metrics that businesses can use to gauge their efforts. However, few tools like Google Analytics help to track engagement and conversion metrics.
Achievable: Your goals need to be achievable by your business.
Relevant: Your goals need to be relevant to the objectives of your business.
Time-bound: Your objective must be time-bound. But determining the best time frame can be difficult. Set a quarterly goal to ensure you don't waste time on ineffective strategies for too long. Evaluation will be simpler and more frequent.
Setting a SMART goal is an essential social media strategy for small businesses. For 2021 and beyond, SMART goals are the most popular and long-lasting goal-setting frameworks in the industry.
Hand-pick the right social media platforms
Choosing the right social media platforms among over 100 platforms available is a bit tricky. How do you know which is the right one for your business? If you try to use multiple channels at the same time, your chances of success will decrease, and it will be difficult to deliver a consistent experience across all platforms, especially for small businesses with limited resources.
All social media platforms have advantages and disadvantages; you must be cautious when choosing the right network, keeping in mind your target audience and where your current customers are most active. Choose the platforms that make the most sense for the nature of your business.
Pay attention to trends of social media
It is a good practice to pay attention to trends in social media because they change all the time, so you will be aware of what people are looking for in social media platforms when they are active. As a result, you will be able to create content that is relevant to the search. It is critical to monitor social media trends and keep your social media strategy up to date to achieve your business goals.
Keep in mind your current audience’s needs so that you can change your strategy accordingly. Customer’s tastes, behavior, and likings are dynamic, and you will know it only when you keep track of social media trends. If small business owners want to take advantage of social media platforms, they will have to pay attention to the social media trends.
Track and measure your social media goals
Tracking and measuring the performance and progress of your social media goals is important once you implement your social media strategies. Consistency is essential for the success of social media strategy for small businesses.
There are analytic tools such as Google Analytics that give you information about the metrics. Social media goals determine your metrics. Social media metrics give you a clear picture of how well your social media strategy is performing.
Once you know how your strategy is working, you can find ways to improve it further. When you have determined your goals and social media metrics, you can choose the right social media tools to help you manage your accounts, monitor engagement, and advertise on social platforms. To track and measure your social media goals is one of the important social media marketing tips.
Schedule social media calendar for small business
A small business owner needs to be consistent in their presence on social media. Now the question is, how do you do this? When you have a long list of things-to-do, you can schedule posts in advance by making use of technology and tools. By using tools, schedule a social media calendar for small businesses to post them automatically at the right time.
This will give you consistency as well as save time. It is of utmost importance that your social media plan for small businesses include certain fixed days every month or a fixed few hours every week to schedule your social posts. It gives you ample time to concentrate on other aspects on different platforms for real-time engagement when you plan it well. This is an effortless social media strategy for small businesses.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which social media is best for small businesses?
The most common social media platforms used by small businesses include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Social media is easy for small business owners because it is cost-effective. Among all these, LinkedIn is considered best for small businesses to connect with other businesses and professionals.
Why is social media good for small businesses?
Social media helps you build brand awareness, connect with current customers, and increases your customer base. Social media platform gives you a better understanding of your customers.
What are the five benefits of social media?
The benefits of using social media are endless. A few benefits to pen down are it helps to build relationships, increases visibility, helps connect with wider audiences anytime, anywhere, reduces marketing costs, and provides better search engine rankings.
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"text": "The benefits of using social media are endless. A few benefits to pen down are it helps to build relationships, increases visibility, helps connect with wider audiences anytime, anywhere, reduces marketing costs, and provides better search engine rankings."
Article | February 20, 2020
Building a small business is no easy feat, especially if you are a novice. From marketing to financial management, many aspects require your attention. To make things easier, invest in your training. Through a variety of training programs, including those mentioned below, you can improve your knowledge and skills. In turn, this will increase the chances that your small business will be profitable.