Why a Chamber of Commerce app is necessary for local businesses

Is a Chamber of Commerce app necessary?

If your goal is to gain more members and help community members build awareness for their business then the answer would be yes a Chamber of Commerce app is necessary. Although there are many benefits to an app, keep in mind it does require a decent amount of money to develop and maintain.

Local businesses will have a great local platform to advertise and market themselves and the community will find it easy to locate a service or product that they need. It can also provide many other tools for local businesses while they are on-the-go.

What features should a Chamber of Commerce app have?

The key component of the app must be about helping local businesses. All the functions and features of the app must make it easy for all users to create, manage, promote, and communicate. The user experience and design is very important for every app and must be taken seriously.

1. Business sign up which would include asking for the following information • Name • Phone number • Business Address • Business logo • Business type (plumbing, roofing, salon, etc) • Company description and/or marketing tag line

2. Add, edit, and delete options. The businesses and Chamber of Commerce should have the ability to not only add but change and remove a locally registered business.

3. The dashboard page would have a list of all the businesses in alphabetical order that the user can browse through. It could list everything the company filled out during sign up except for the description. The only additional piece would be a communication icon such as a call button.

4. The full business details page would have a more detailed description of the business. Once a user taps on the business from the list they would come here. They would see everything including a full description like how long they have been in business, more information about the services they offer, and more. There could also be more communication icons if needed.

5. The categories list would allow users to find a business based on a particular category. A business can attach these categories to their business. They can choose multiple if it fits. For example, a paving company may also have a team that does roofing.

6. The events page will show a list of local events which can be listed by date or by location.

7. An advanced search would allow users to not just type in a category that they are looking for but also search based on their location, a phone number, address, and a name. They can even filter by things such as price.

8. A list of favorites provides users the ability to save a business they like and would prefer to use again in the future or just to save for later use. A user simply needs to tap on the favorite icon within the business preview details to save it.

9. A list of local deals for which businesses who have specials, discounts, and/or loyalty programs can be listed here. This is a key feature to help people join and use the app if they are able to get discounts on a particular service.

10. A detailed backend is needed to manage the Chamber of Commerce app. It would include managing all businesses and their details, the ads, and plans. Full analytics are also needed to provide reports of all the usage.

How can the Chamber of Commerce app be easy to use?

Everything should be 1-click options. From the businesses list on the dashboard, each business should have a call button the user can just click and it calls. Directions would also be the same way. Users always want a quick and easy way to get in touch with the business as well as find out how to get there. The user experience is very important to keep users coming back and using the app. The quicker and easier it is, the more they will use it.

How will this benefit the Chamber of Commerce?

App development costs, as well as, the cost of app maintenance can seem a little scary at first. There are different methods to use when trying to market your app to earn your money back as well as additional revenue. Plus it just means more exposure as well as finding more people to be members.

1. Offer plans

Any business who wishes to be listed should be able to for a fee. There can be a basic plan which simply allows them to be listed with the general details mentioned for sign up. This should the most affordable option and could be called the bronze plan. For example, they pay $5 a month just to be listed.

The next tier which could be called the gold plan would be more expensive but they could be listed as a featured business at the top of the list ensuring users see that business first. This should be significantly more than the bronze plan. It could be $50 a day to be listed or charge by monthly increments of anywhere between $1,500 to $2,500.

The final most expensive tier could be called the platinum plan for which they would not only be featured but also be allowed to add more details such as images and videos. Storing videos and images can be costly so the cost of this should be somewhere around $4,000 a month.

These are example amounts but remember you can’t have everyone be a featured business so there has to be a significant price difference.

2. Ad banners

You can have an area in your app which shows ad banners which any business can use to advertise throughout the app. This can be done along with the first option or solo allowing for businesses to post completely free in the app, and just pay to have their ad shown as a banner instead of a featured list.

3. Chamber exposure The Chamber of Commerce app is a huge incentive to receive exposure. Potential members can easily find and use the app. This can increase the number of members you have earning you more revenue through the channels mentioned earlier. It doesn’t even have to just be residents but also tourists as well.

4. Get more members Through exposure, you will see more members join the Chamber. They will find you easier on their mobile device and add their business to the listing or find a business which can then turn them into actual Chamber of Commerce members.

How does a Chamber of Commerce app help the members?

1. Increased exposure Many searches are now done on a mobile device versus a website on the computer. To make sure you can properly be found, businesses would also receive a great deal of exposure which could increase their customer base.

2. Higher searchability The app provides an easy way for people to find local businesses as well. It’s not just a mobile-friendly version of your website but also an actual listing where more people are likely to search. People won’t be searching for your business name unless they already know you.

3. Stay connected Having an app provides a way for members to feel more connected to their chamber and to always be on top of any information they need to know.

Imagine having 1,000,000 chamber members added all because some time and money went into creating a Chamber of Commerce app. Many members have created their own individual apps but this will become a unique concentrated effort to organize together for the benefit of all. If you are ready to get your app in the Android and iOS market then contact SDI at team@sdi.la or Rob LaPointe at 408.802.2885 for more information about app development.

Mobile app maintenance costs and why it’s important

Is app maintenance important?

App maintenance is very important and every app on the store needs it to survive. Things such as new OS releases, new device releases, design popularity changes, and functional needs are some of the reasons why you should have an app maintenance plan before you even start development.

People often think that all you have to do is build the app, complete the app store submission and you’re done. If the app was built properly then nothing more will ever have to be done. This is all wrong. It does not matter how well a mobile app is built, there is always work to be done to maintain it.

Think of it this way, a person that goes to the gym and eats right to get to their goal physique doesn’t stop working out or eating healthy once they reach their goal. In order to maintain their optimal physique, they have to constantly do maintenance through continual exercise and eating healthy. If they stop doing anything they won’t stay in shape anymore. The same goes for mobile apps.

What does mobile app maintenance include?

1. Keep up with the latest of iOS and Android Technology is always improving which means that both platforms have new versions that come out. iOS 10 is a great example because that release had a lot of big changes for which app owners needed to make updates. Generally, they come out with new versions every year. Once they do, a common issue that happens is certain app features just stop functioning. It’s the same as updating your computer. As your computer gets older it has a harder time keeping up with the latest updates and tends to slow down.

You should always stay proactive about your maintenance. iOS and Android release these new versions to developers first before they release it to the public. This is the opportunity to work out any issues that may arise with the release. Do not wait until after the new version is released to have your development team work on the app. Your users will already be facing issues and you will receive a lot of angry feedback.

2. Updating the design (UI) Chances are you are going to change your mind about design pieces. You want to do this because the User Interface is just as important as the functionalities. Like anything else, what’s popular in design always changes. You’re going to get new ideas to make look more modern and fresh.

The other side of this is the necessity of making design changes based on new mobile devices being released. As you have probably seen, there are many different devices out there and both iOS and Android come out with new phones which have different screen sizes. This can have a huge impact on how a user sees your app. Buttons may look off or even cut off. Just look at the iPhone X, XS Max, and XR and how the screen size changed but also having the screen surround the speaker at the top. iOS apps had to be updated in order to look correct otherwise items would be blocked.

3. Update the functions This generally happens along with design updates as well. The user experience (UX) is the most important item to maintain. Generally, after you receive your first round of feedback from users you will have a good idea of what they like and don’t like. It’s wise to let your users determine what changes to make because they are the source of your profits.

Through the use of app analytics, you can see what people use most. Approximately 45% of features within apps are not used at all and almost 20% are only used a little. Your analytics can help you decide what to remove as well. This is going to spark a version 2 conversation where you will change, add, and/or remove features.

However, you want to be careful because too many drastic changes can have a negative effect. Small gradual changes ease users into those changes better. Make sure that the features you want to adjust are really what users want and not just for you and your circle of friends.

Also, talk to your developers about software libraries. If your app developers are using that then that should also be regularly maintained and your team should know what to do and when allowing you to have a proper maintenance plan to keep your app running smoothly.

Keep in mind that if you want to keep your app relevant and useful it should be updated about once a year. A good time to do that is when you receive notice that a new OS version is coming out. Doing everything together can save time and effort.

How much does it cost to maintain an app?

It’s not just the cost of developing an app but the cost of maintaining it as well. You need to be prepared before jumping into app development blindly. Of course, the cost of app maintenance does vary from app to app just like the design and development costs do. On average, app maintenance will cost you around 20% of your original app development costs.

For example, if your app costs $10,000 to develop then your app maintenance cost would be about $2,000 a year. Of course, this depends on the number of operating systems. If you have a native Android and iOS app, maintenance could be a little more. To break it down monthly the average app owner will need to spend somewhere between $250 and $500 a month initially to keep the app functioning perfectly.

Some items you need to keep in mind when taking the cost of app maintenance into account are:

1. Hosting In order for your app to actually work you need to pay to have your app’s database and backend hosted. There are multiple hosting options such as a cloud-based environment. Cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) tend to be less expensive as you only pay for what you use and there is way less set up and maintenance cost of the server itself. You want to speak with your app development company about this ahead of time to understand the approximate cost.

2. Analytics In order to understand what your users are doing so you can make the right change decisions you need to track your user’s usage and receive reports which provide you answers. Tools like Google Analytics provide a lot of information to help you make better decisions. You can find free tools but you may want some more advanced tools to provide other information. It’s also the cost in time because you will need someone to spend time implementing this and monitoring everything.

You will also want analytics for performance issues such as crashes, glitches, and other bugs. You will have to fix these over time as they do happen for various reasons beyond just new OS version releases.

3. Bugs and Updates Updates will always be necessary with any technology. You will notice that pretty much all the apps you have on your phone have had updates. Just go to the store and look in the description and you will see the updates mentioned there. The cost of these updates depends on a lot of factors.

If you only have 1 bug that requires a quick fix in the line of code, it will cost you about $50. If you need to update an entire functional aspect that could take a couple weeks to fix, then you’re looking at more like $1,000-$2,000. Although it can be much more depending on the size of the app and how deep-rooted that function is. It’s better to have an app development company who offers maintenance free for 6 months so any bugs that appear can be made at no cost to you.

4. Third party If you are using anything in your app that comes from someone else there could be a monthly cost to it. For example, a licensed technology that you use will have a fee you must pay. This is something you should discuss in the beginning to find a way around it.

5. Customer support If you want to truly be successful you need to listen to your users. As soon as you see a complaint, address it. As angry as someone is, their attitude changes the moment they hear a response. They want to be heard more than anything else. Many of the most successful apps have great response teams to complaints.

Investing in this is worth it as those people you responded to are more than likely to tell their friend and family. Having someone dedicated to responding to users is the key to great reviews. This will obviously be an ongoing cost to you as well. It’s not that much as it can be added on to the marketing efforts you are already putting forward.

6. Marketing Of course, there are user engagement and marketing activities you want to take on to help you get and keep users. Many app owners drop the ball on this which is a mistake. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to market your app. There are many free things you can do, but putting in a little investment can really get your name out there. If you do this yourself, the cost is mostly on time.

Often times the list of activities is too great and they hand it off to the company they hired to do the development if that company offers that service like SDI does. You could spend anywhere from $100 to $250,000 on marketing depending on the activities you need and what your budget is. A great marketing team can tailor a marketing strategy that is specific to your app and budget.

How to reduce app maintenance and development costs? The best way to keep your initial costs low is to start small. Many people make the mistake of trying to put every idea they have into the app. This can be very costly for all 3 phases (design, development, and maintenance). It’s better to start with a simplified version but still focusing solely on the key feature. That feature should be the one that solves a problem. It would be the reason you wanted to build the app in the first place.

You may also want to pick an OS to start with first. Whether you should start with iOS or Android depends on many factors. Your app development company should discuss this with you to help you decide which one you should start with.

Picking either of those options could cut your initial costs by about 55% and it makes the costs later on smaller as well. You can release multiple versions each with a small change and/or improvement. It takes less time and money to do little changes than trying to do everything at once. This also helps with investment opportunities because it gives you time and a minimum viable product to increase investor engagement.

Of course, you can do all of these maintenance tasks yourself. Hiring a dedicated person versus doing it yourself can have a huge cost difference but it’s almost impossible to do all this yourself and most people just aren’t able to do it themselves, they need a team.

The best solution to encompass all of these is to discuss a maintenance plan with your mobile app development team. This team will be able to provide you with any app maintenance that your app will require. Discuss these options and the costs associated with them ahead of time so you know the full scope cost and not just the cost of app development. You don’t want to waste your time with development if you aren’t going to maintain the app.

In the end, it’s not just about developing the app, but having a proper app maintenance plan in place. Fixing bugs, making updates and improvements, and customer attention is key to user loyalty. Remember even small things can change a negative into a positive. Talk to Sakshi Sharma at sakshi@sdi.la or 408.621.8481 to discuss your app idea and learn about the costs of development and maintenance.

The importance of data security and HIPAA compliance

What is data security?

Data security is the process of protecting all data from any breaches, corruption, and any other unauthorized access. It can include the use of data encryption, data masking, data erasure, and data backups to help keep the data secure.

Digital technology is an integral part of our everyday life. All businesses in this digital era deal with some kind of data. Starting from banking giants dealing with substantial volumes of personal as well as financial data to the individual businesses storing the contact details of their customers, data plays a very significant role.

Apart from the multiple advantages of digitalization, cyber attacks and threats are very real, which means, serious efforts need to be taken to secure all data. The objective of data security is to protect the data that an organization or business collects, stores, creates, receives and transmits. Irrespective of the device, technology or process that is used to manage the data collected, it must be protected.

Data security is also essential for any business, irrespective of its size and their operations because businesses mostly rely on data storage and transactions to accomplish their business objectives. The usage of digital data and technologies like AI has changed the world and increased business profitability and efficiency. However, with that comes more security risks that could devastate a company. The priority of shielding data from security threats is more important today than it has ever been.

Why is data security Important?

Data security is crucial for most of the companies and businesses since the entire business operations revolve around this cycle. Critical information like client details, bank details, account details, personal files, etc. has to be well protected because if it gets into the wrong hands, it can be misused easily. Such information is hard to replace and potentially dangerous. By securing such data or information, one can protect the files and avoid facing any difficulties. Even something like a simple website should be protected correctly from malware and viruses.

Your reputation may be affected – You work very hard with an objective to establish a trustworthy business brand, but when a data breach occurs, that reputation that you have built may be affected. This is because your business also has confidential information of customers and clients, and once data is lost, so is the trust. You may find it difficult to retain current clients and onboard new ones.

Threats are on the rise – The most important reason why data security is important is because of the increasing threats and cyber crimes. Without securing your data, you cannot expect to run a business or even go on as a home PC user. This is because of the emergence of multiple mobile devices, internet, and cloud computing, etc. Every device and system is vulnerable no matter how big or small.

It’s expensive and complicated to fix – Businesses could recover from the dent in the reputation but rebounding from the technical aspects of data breaches can be tough and potentially dangerous. It is highly difficult to fix such problems without spending a great deal of time and money.

How can my business secure data?

Securing the stored data involves preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing it. Data security is also about preventing accidental or intentional destruction, infection or corruption of information.

Here are some ways to secure your data:

Data Encryption – Data encryption isn’t just for technology geeks since modern tools have made it possible for anyone to encrypt emails and other information. Converting the data into a code that cannot be easily read without a key that unlocks it.

Data Masking – Data masking is actually a method of formulating a structurally similar but inauthentic version of an organization’s data that can be used for purposes such as software testing and user training. The purpose is to protect the actual data while having a functional substitute for occasions when the real data is not required.

Data Erasure – The process of this data security measure is aimed at ensuring that data which is no longer being used be completely removed. It is removed in a way that the data can no longer be recovered especially by unauthorized people.

Data Backup – One of the most common and basic, yet often overlooked, data security process is backing up your data. Basically, this creates a duplicate copy of the data you have so that if a device is lost, stolen, or compromised, you never lose your important information. It’s advisable to create a backup on a different device, such as an external hard drive, so that you can easily recover your information when the original device becomes corrupted.

Augmenting HIPAA Technical Safeguards for Increased Data Security One business that has taken serious steps with regards to data security is healthcare. Network and data security breaches are awful concerns that could affect the goodwill of any organization. It becomes very serious for healthcare organizations when they are exposed to these threats. Recent cases of ransomware attacks show that healthcare organizations must create comprehensive data security measures.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a holistic approach to healthcare security and aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare data management and security system. Over time, several rules were added to HIPAA focusing on the protection of sensitive data. HIPAA is designed to be flexible and comprehensive to cover the variety of uses and disclosures of data which has created a great change in the way the processes have been handled over time. In a nutshell, HIPAA does the following:

-Offers the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for millions of American workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs.

-Decreases health care fraud and abuse; Helps in abiding to industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes.

-Ensures the protection and confidential handling of protected health information.

Additionally, HIPAA compliance can help and assist entities in responding to potential attacks, and working to recover from such incidents.

Healthcare is just one example of a business that has made serious strides in making sure their patient’s data is not only protected but also prepared in the case that a security breach does happen. Most of the businesses overestimate their ability to handle data loss when a breach occurs. For instance, companies believe that they are well prepared to overcome these threats, but they forget that the majority of data breaches do not occur the way they might think.

If you want to learn more about what you might need in terms of a data security system, contact a company like SDI who can provide complete data protection for your business and maintain it over time. Contact us today and find out how we can keep your data safe from day one at: +1.408.802.2885 / +1.408.621.8481 or email team@sdi.la.

How companies use technologies like sales CRM software to sell services and products

What are the best sales CRM software options out there?

Technology has become a necessity to help any business run properly. Companies of all types are using websites, mobile apps, social media, television, and more to help them sell their services and/or products. There is no shortage of technology solutions to tackle business problems and help streamline all operations.

eCommerce companies, for example, used to fulfill product orders by sending orders to their employees in the warehouse who then manually pick, pack, and ship out to the customers within the same country. Now we have fulfillment technologies like Amazon FBA which can fulfill your customer orders much quicker and globally. Much like the technology for warehousing, there are some amazing sales CRM software options for sales and marketing teams to increase their revenue.

The Sales Team Most companies have a sales team and a marketing team who focus on creating awareness and engage customers. The sales team spends a great deal of time sending emails, making calls, posting on social media, blogging, and more to get more customers. All of these tasks are often very repetitive and don’t usually provide customized information to their recipients.

That is a thing of the past because now sales and marketing teams use unique sales CRM software for sales teams. These create automatic processes that truly engage the sales team and potential customers. When businesses decide to create these processes to automate engagement such as sending emails about reminders, new releases, pricing exclusives, and any other updates it frees up the sales team. Their time can be better spent engaging potential customers who are actually active and let the software drive other additional opportunities.

There are massive amounts of data that provide sales teams with details that can help them close deals. However, a lot of companies aren’t using all this data which means they are missing out on potential sales and therefore revenue. Companies who are using the right sales CRM software to leverage customer data surpass their competition by more than 80%. If you decide not to use a CRM over 75% of your leads end up going nowhere while using a CRM tends to show a 60% increase in sales.

What Are Some Sales CRM Software Options? Let’s take a look at some different software options that can help increase your bottom line.

1. Salesforce Sales Cloud

This automation software is cloud-based. There are various lead management tools that provide you access to contact information and lets you score and assign leads. Everything is clear and in one place to make the pipeline easy to use. Their tools can be customized to your business as there is no shortage of functions you can use.

Pro’s – They provide mobile apps to access all the details on the go. It’s very easy to view all the data in the pipeline. They have high-quality communication tools, alerts and reminders, and lots of integration options.

Con’s – They are expensive in comparison to other companies and their customer service can definitely be better in responding to customer issues.

2. Freshsales

This solution allows your team to manage the entire pipeline process including assigning leads, track user behaviors, scheduling, and all communication in a very easy to use way. It’s also easy to figure out how to use as the learning curve is fairly small.

Pro’s – There is an endless number of integrations and customizations that companies can make to work in a way that fits your business best. You can easily attach documents to a specific client, communicate easily, and provides a unique marketing automation integration.

Con’s – It can be a bit complex so users may find it difficult when learning how to use it. Having users figure out how to use it on their own can be frustrating but they do have a decent support staff to help. It could also use some more data details tracking with regards to leads. It covers all the main points but could go a little deeper.

3. Pipedrive

This is also a cloud-based sales CRM software that helps the sales team keep track of every detail in the pipeline, create reports, and even determine what they need to change and do in the future. It makes interacting with your customers a breeze. It’s also very customizable so it can work uniquely with your business needs.

Pro’s – Pipedrive uses a drag and drop feature making it easy to add information and move things around. Tracking appointments and scheduling are very easy and detailed so you don’t miss a thing. Works great on mobile so you can access details and make calls on the go. Collaboration tools are also really useful allowing multiple people to work on the same thing.

Con’s – The reports could be more detailed and provide easier viewing capabilities. Also, searching can be quite difficult as there need to be more complex functions to allow for better search capabilities.

4. HubSpot CRM

Another cloud-based sales CRM software that gives users the ability to prioritize which leads are most import through their lead scoring and management system. An important component of HubSpot CRM is that it uses machine learning to send emails at a time when people are more likely to buy.

Pro’s – There are options to do multiple integrations, the lead management pipeline is very specific, and provides real-time visibility. There are very detailed manager monitoring tools so that they can see and easily manage the sales team and customers. It’s pretty easy to set up and they provide tutorial videos to help.

Con’s – The analytics could be more detailed as they are a little general. Although they do have a mobile app, it doesn’t provide enough functionality that would make things even easier on users.

5. NetSuite

This sales CMS software comes from Oracle and is well known especially because its great for any size business. It helps you analyze every single aspect of your leads and how to turn them into customers. The sales forecasting and e-commerce pieces really lend to this technology.

Pro’s – It’s very efficient when handling all projects inside the business. It gathers all the information from customers and every other department in the company to provide the sales team what they need for negotiations.

Con’s – This is a pretty extensive CMS but it tends to run a little slow and can take a bit of time to learn how to use it. The processes to do tasks can be more complex than other options out there.

6. Infusionsoft

This is a great tool to not only automate your sales but also your other business and marketing processes. It helps everything work together to deliver the right information to the right person automatically and with customizable options.

Pro’s – There are many options when it comes to customer engagement and you can use the pieces that work best for you. They also provide many different partner apps giving you a truly well-rounded tool to reach as many people as possible.

Con’s – Tech support definitely needs to be improved. The search functionality when trying to find old email campaigns can be a bit difficult and they don’t have an internal chat feature to help with communication.

7. Zoho CRM

Within this system, it manages everything within the organization from sales to inventory management. It is the one system that provides just about every piece you can need within your business such as all communication tools, mobile needs, tracking, and automation.

Pro’s – You can literally create a workflow for not only clients but also potential customers. They provide an extensive webinar to help you communicate and allows you to integrate different modules depending on what your requirements are.

Con’s – It’s needs better tutorials on how to use the system. They also need a better help team to assist in implementing tools and modules.

Many sales CRM software brands provide some sort of free trial that allows you to test it out and see if it works for you. Check out the tools and put some data in it to see how it works to determine if it’s worth going forward with. Do you like how the interface works and how easy it is to track all the data? Was it easy to use? Answer those questions to determine if its the right choice.

The technology of today will automate processes within your business and can be integrated with your existing website, mobile apps, and social media to help you increase sales and pump up those profits. SDI offers integration services for SMB marketplace customers who are looking to improve their business operations to increase profits. Contact one of our experts Rob LaPointe today at rob@sdi.la or 408.802.2885 to improve your business.

How to achieve scalability and reliability for your business

What is scalability?

This is important for almost any entrepreneur who wants to improve their business or start a new one. The whole point of scalability is to increase profits while keeping costs down. It seems simple enough, but there is a lot you need to consider to ensure you are doing it the right way for your business.

Is my business scalable?

It’s all about choosing the right business model. Think about your answers to the following 2 questions. Do you hire more people for every department whenever your sales increase? Do you have to spend more on your business to produce more output? If the answer to these questions is yes then you definitely aren’t scalable which means your business model should change. You don’t want to spend more money every time you want to expand.

How to scale my business?

To have proper scalability and reliability for your business start with the exponential growth model. Imagine for a second that your business is growing and your profits are increasing but your costs remain the same. This doesn’t happen right away, it does take time to get to this point but over time you will.

If you are just starting the business it can help you get investors as well. Scalability is much more attractive especially since the focus is always on what the profit margins will be. Many large companies like Google use this model and have done a great job of implementing it.

It’s important to invest in technology to help you achieve this level of success. For example one of the largest costs to any retail business is the fulfillment process. Consumers expect fast and free shipping. Omnichannel fulfillment services is the way to go to save you a lot of money and time. Depending on what business you are in there is a technology that can make things a lot smoother. It can be a ready-made or custom software made just for your business.

You want technology that will help you increase your output. Getting products to customers faster, automated warehousing tools to help you store, pack, and ship efficiently so you can accept more orders than before, and of course marketing technology that convinces potential customers to actually buy.

What is something I can use to achieve scalability for my business?

Automation is going to be a lifesaver. Many parts of your business can be switched over to automated software. Look at every part of your business and analyze every employee and system you currently use or want to use. You will find many areas where you can use these automation tools.

Whether it is something you will be implementing into an already existing business or a new one there is a cost associated with doing this. Once you are all set up and running you will see very little cost increases as your need for personnel and other office expenses will be less necessary.

How to scale my eCommerce business?

Although scaling can help most businesses, it’s incredibly beneficial to eCommerce businesses. About 60% of online shoppers won’t complete their purchases if taxes and shipping prices are too high. Over 50% of online shoppers take delivery speed into account when deciding to go through with the purchase. Almost 40% said if they faced poor delivery services they won’t shop with that retailer again and about 25% have canceled orders because delivery speed was too slow.

Although scaling can be quite difficult in eCommerce due to all the logistics requirements and implementation complexities, it’s worth it. There are some things you should do in order to be successful and grow.

1. Marketing No matter what you should be getting your name out there and it doesn’t matter if you have been selling products for a while or are just starting. You should always be marketing yourself. You should have a strong digital presence with a profile on every social platform. You should focus a lot on SEO. Make sure you offer special incentives which make your customers want to complete their purchase. All of these items can be done automatically as well through various programs saving you a lot of time.

2. Order Fulfillment Order fulfillment is simply the storing of inventory, selecting and packing the items, delivering it to the consumers, and returns of the goods. Each of those components has multiple variants that can happen which makes this such a complex system. You can choose to do this in-house or through a third-party company. This is for both B2C and B2B. Getting this process right has never been more important than it is now.

If you are or considering doing manual fulfillment of orders, stop. That is a waste of time and resources. The entire process from start to finish can be done automatically. There are services that literally do everything from storing your goods, then does all the work to send it out to the customer who made an order and deal with returns. Amazon fulfillment is a pretty well-known one that many brands use. This is the best way the scale your eCommerce business. Make sure you use a company who can do the fulfillment but also the marketing and customer support as well.

How do I create the right fulfillment strategy? You must thoroughly plan this out to ensure you put the correct systems and infrastructure in place. Keep the following in mind:

Location Think about where you are going to store everything and how you will meet customer expectations. Think about where most of your customers will come from to help you decide the best places to be located to save you money on the distance your package travels. You should consider urban fulfillment centers because it’s more affordable. This will allow you to ship faster and cheaper to major cities.

Software Services There are a large number of software services out there which allows you to integrate it with your system online. It can automatically manage all of your channels with a very low amount of human interaction. It also keeps track of all inventory and when something needs to be replenished.

Shipping It can definitely get expensive to offer it for free but you can take the average shipping cost and work it into the price of the item and offer free shipping. Another option is to have a minimum amount ordered to get free shipping. The key really is to have the option for them to get free shipping and for it to be 2 days. You will see your purchase rate increase with this especially since many customers use this as a deciding factor.

Shipping Models Finding the right model for your company should be based on the types of products you sell, how many orders you get, how you want everything to be managed, and more.

In-House If you decide to do it in-house you do everything yourself with no third-party providers involved. If you are a very small company just starting out this is probably the way to go. Yes, you have complete control over everything and it can be less expensive for a smaller company. The problem is if you start out this way it makes it very difficult to grow without spending a lot of money on personnel and other items to help you get everything out. It can also take up a lot of time doing all the prep, packing, and shipping and eventually you will need to get some software help.

Third-Party If you decide on the third-party route you save a lot of time by handing off all the responsibilities to someone else who has the proper experience to execute all your needs. Every company has its own unique services so pick one that works best for you. This helps you allow for more orders to increase profits, decrease investment, and save time. However, sometimes things are out of your control and go wrong. It can decrease customer satisfaction so you do need to be aware of what is going on at all times.

Dropshipping You can also avoid warehousing all together by doing drop shipping. You don’t ever see the product but instead just have it shipped directly from the manufacturer. It’s incredibly easy to do and requires very little money or development on your end. This really allows you to focus on customer relationships and marketing versus logistics. The biggest problem is that you have no control over anything including the product itself as you can’t do anything special for customers, the quality could be lower, and you don’t really stand out as a brand.

3. Customer Service It’s a statistical fact that the more you sell the more complaints you will have. You need to be prepared to deal with customer complaints. Customers who feel that their problem is being listened to and helped tend to refrain from writing negative reviews. If you can help them, it will satisfy them and could keep them coming back. You can use tools like Chatbots to help with customer service complaints and even just simple customer questions. It also helps with scaling in that it can take on higher volumes of complaints and questions without you having to hire additional people.

All of these factors lead to scalability and reliability of your company. It’s all about putting the right system in place. The best people to talk to about your business and how you can properly scale it is companies like SDI who specialize in implementing technology that will allow your business to scale.

How omnichannel fulfillment services can increase your retail sales

Why should I use omnichannel fulfillment services?

-Increased online orders -Increased sales -Better warehouse management -Better customer service -Decreased shipping costs -Faster order fulfillment -And more

If you have or are starting an eCommerce business chances are your main goal is to increase sales. You spent money and time creating an eCommerce website so you want those sales. Although that is the ultimate goal for just about any business, there is a lot more you should be taking into account besides just marketing to get more customers.

Online sales are expected to increase by approximately 14% each year. It will account for about 15% of retail sales. That number is just going to increase taking over the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience. What customers expect their online shopping experience to be has changed over the years. In order to make sure your profits are in the green and you can provide great customer service through improved logistics.

If you focused heavily on your brick-and-mortar business you’re going to face some serious problems. The rise in store closures is at an all-time high. Adding a proper eCommerce website to your company is going to save it but only if you do it the right way. Before we jump right into everything let’s see some options for how you can save on your basic shipping options.

How to save on shipping costs

Any retailer with an online store must create a proper delivery system that not only satisfies your customers but also streamlines your process to lower costs. There has been a huge shift to have free and fast shipping. This can be very expensive and cut into your eCommerce profits.

Amazon for example markets free 2-day shipping which many are happy to have. The reality is it’s not really free. You have to pay a yearly subscription to get that benefit. Of course, for smaller online companies charging $120 a year probably won’t get you many customers. However, having it as an option for let’s say $15 a year is much more enticing especially for those who will buy things regularly. Make sure the price you set matches what you offer.

Offering free shipping on a minimum amount purchase is also pretty common and does work for many eCommerce websites. 2-day shipping is more expensive so giving this out for free isn’t the best idea. 5-7 days is a more affordable option, but that also makes your customers feel like they have to wait too long for their items.

1. Negotiate with the shipping company on costs. The more you ship the bigger the discounts will be.

2. You should also try using region-specific shipping companies because often times you can get better rates with them versus the national/global companies.

3. Look for partners of these companies who offer other significant discounts even on express shipping.

4. The packaging you use makes a big difference. Cut back on the size and weight to help you save.

5. Ask about the cost of shipping supplies. You may be surprised to find out that you can actually get supplies for free. Again, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.

6. If you are looking to have insurance on your shipped items, you will most likely get a better deal if you do it through a third party versus the shipping carrier.

7. Having an automated system to take care of shipping can save you a lot in the long run. It will cost you more in the initial phases but it will be worth it. This includes doing all your shipping online.

8. Offer store pick-up. Customers should have the option to pick it up in the store if it’s available. Many times people don’t mind popping in and grabbing the item. Having to wander around trying to find what you’re looking for, then having to wait in line to check out can be more time-consuming. The convenience of ordering online and then picking it up in the store is very appealing.

Although these are great options, to truly become relevant and provide the best service you can, it’s all about omnichannel fulfillment services. It will save you money on inventory management, customer service, and more.

Omnichannel fulfillment services

Omnichannel fulfillment services offer one of the best options for eCommerce as it provides internalized commercial transactions. This increases the number of sales because it is faster and easier. It’s a solution for not only online orders but even brick-and-mortar. This helps everyone and keeps your company at the forefront of the shopping experience. It essentially resolves the difficulties companies face with a larger number of orders.

How does omnichannel fulfillment service work?

It uses an automated system which manages the entire buying process. You use 1 streamlined system to manage every single step of the customers buying products. Your business will be provided with a simple way to do the following:

1. Customer Service – From the beginning to get a customer to make a purchase all the way to services provided after the customer has bought the product can be done very simply and cost-effectively.

2. Warehousing – You’ll be able to manage every piece of inventory, the warehousing, and check any merchandise/inventory.

3. Orders – Manage the entire ordering process from adding items to the cart to order confirmation.

4. Packing – The items will be grabbed then put in boxes and labeled so they are ready to be shipped.

5. Shipping – Pick up, on-time delivery, returns, and payments can be done with very little effort.

Every part of the chain works together seamlessly. Even better is how automated this entire flow is to help keep your efforts and costs minimal. Over 80% of the businesses who have implemented this have seen an increase in their sales.

Customers receive numerous benefits from this as well. They have the ability to find products, make price comparisons, purchase and receive the products they want through various channels in a very quick and easy way. This gives customers today what they want.

Although Omnichannel fulfillment services have become a huge trend, the reality is that the majority of retailers have not incorporated this. For the ones who have, many of them have not fully figured out and mastered what these services can really do. Many eCommerce businesses end up spending too much on all their logistics such as shipping and handling and don’t even realize it. This is a big part of what eats up profits.

Trying to figure out all of these logistics and satisfy the demands of customers can be time consuming and expensive. It’s not something you need to figure out on your own. Omnichannel fulfillment services are worth it as it helps improve customer relations and logistics. It has been proven to help the businesses who have implemented it. If you could improve your sales not only through proper marketing but also through lower costs and streamlining the way your business runs wouldn’t it be worth it?

To help you get started on a better retail experience for both you and your customers the first step is to speak to companies like SDI who specialize in improving brick-and-mortar businesses by developing powerful eCommerce companies with more sales and better customer care.