Take Your Business Online: 3 Tips from Up and Coming E-Retailers

  • By creekmoremarketing
  • 31 Jul, 2015

The best retail stores have a recipe for success that combines unmatched customer service with a product mix built to meet consumer needs. But why limit the customer experience to in-store visitors? A 2013 study by eMarketer estimates U.S. consumers spent $37.44 billion on retail purchases made via smartphones and tablets. More than sales, your Web prospects offer valuable insight into future marketing strategies. Taking an offline and online approach to leverage the customer experience can catapult your retail business to greater success.

Low-Cost Visibility

Customers seek instant access to wants and needs, be it a drive or click away. A study by Accenture confirms that  88 percent of shoppers look online for products  before deciding to go into a physical store to make a purchase. Not providing consumers with multiple purchasing platforms narrows the window of prospective buyers. Expand your reach without destroying your budget by adding an online shopping experience. In an instant gratification-driven market, transaction ease is key to profitability, regardless of the product. For example, mattress manufacturer Casper takes a digital approach to a once retail-only shopping experience. Rather than limiting mattress sales to in-store-only purchases, Casper expands its reach nationally with a hassle-free solution to bed buying. The appeal of online ordering and fast shipping is enhanced with cost-reduced options made possible, in part, by overhead cost savings.

Get Started Tip:  User-friendly website builders like  Weebly  provide easy shopping cart options that enable fast product uploads. To save time, the program templates are automatically optimized for mobile use.


Build your Brand

Becoming a household name, or even a neighborhood favorite, takes knowing your customer. An e-commerce platform acts as a testing ground for new products and marketing strategies to help you gather valuable insight into consumer needs. More than demographics, it’s imperative to mine personal data including customer likes, dislikes, life stage, and social interests. Take e-commerce giant Wayfair for example. According to Forbes, the company constantly probes and processes information about its customers to interact with them, anticipate their wishful thinking, personalize their home pages and turn search into a form of entertainment. The  Web-only furniture and home decor retailer  hit record numbers with a reported $1 billion in web sales in 2013. Powered by educated consumer observations, the company has expanded their brand portfolio to include Joss & Main, a flash sales site for upscale home goods.

Get Started Tip:  Use your e-commerce site to pinpoint your market. Web-based tools like Get Satisfaction enable small businesses to build online communities and provide a more social support experience to improve customer loyalty.


The Customer Experience

Adding an e-commerce platform doesn’t mean abandoning the brick-and-mortar strategy. Omni-channel retailing isn’t about creating one-way streets. It’s about connecting the cloud with physical space and streamlining the customer experience. Consider the strategy behind Warby Parker. An online retailer that offers $95 single-vision frames in 27 proprietary styles.  A simple concept that has grown  into a growing number of online sales. To enhance the customer experience, full service retail stores have opened New York City, Boston and Los Angeles. Complete with a photo booth that emails visitors their images and a tablet-based checkout, consumers can expect the same modern and engaged feel within Warby Parker’s physical store locations.

Get Started Tip:  More than meeting customers on their own terms and in their preferred platforms, your company culture should transcend across all platforms. Incorporate digital strategies in-store and promote online community by engaging in social media.

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager
KSBDC

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By Robbi Meisel 04 May, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky., (May 4, 2017) - Kentucky’s small businesses were celebrated recently in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort during Kentucky Celebrates Small Business. The Kentucky Small Business Development Center and the Kentucky District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration presented the awards ceremony.

Acknowledging the importance of National Small Business Week in the state, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton recognized the contributions that Kentucky’s small businesses and entrepreneurs make to the state.

“Small business is the backbone of the American economy,” Hampton said. “As you’ve seen over the last several months, Kentucky is experiencing an unparalleled renaissance of economic growth, and it’s only going to continue as we nurture a climate for small business to thrive.”

WLEX-18 chief meteorologist Bill Meck served as emcee, and Connie Meck, from the Sign Language Network of Kentucky, provided interpretation for the event.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center presented Kentucky Pacesetter awards to 10 businesses. The winners were chosen based on how they are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape by introducing innovative products, increasing sales and/or production, boosting employment and serving their communities.

This year’s Kentucky Pacesetters are Bluegrass Electrical Consultants Inc., Burlington; Doc Lane’s Veterinary Pharmacy LLC, Lexington; Imperial Fisheries LLC, Middlesboro; Limestone Branch Distillery, Lebanon; Oscarware Inc., Bonnieville; The Miller House Restaurant, Owensboro; Two Rivers Fisheries Inc., Wickliffe; Universal Compressor Solutions LLC, Mayfield; Verbal Behavior Consulting Inc., Lexington and Victory CNC Plasma, Owensboro.

“Kentucky has so many outstanding small businesses and entrepreneurs offering amazing products and services. They are critical to Kentucky’s economy and quality of life. We cannot thank them enough or celebrate them enough, but it’s great to try,” said Becky Naugle, KSBDC state director.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has recognized outstanding small businesses each year since 1963. The Small Business Person of the Year winner from each state was acknowledged at both regional and national levels. The 2017 Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year is Debra Dudley, co-founder and president of Oscarware Inc. in Bonnieville. She is also the runner-up U.S. National Small Business Person of the Year.

“I’m so happy, so grateful for this honor,” Dudley said. “It’s not an award I’m just going to put on my desk. To me it’s a reward for the hard work we’ve done in the 28 years we’ve been in business.”

The 2017 Kentucky Small Business Administration award winners are:

Kentucky Small Business Media Advocate of the Year: Tim Preston, editor of Grayson Journal-Enquirer and Olive Hill Times, Grayson.

Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year: Robert Brandon Feltner, business banking officer at Citizens Bank of Kentucky, Prestonsburg.

Kentucky Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year: El Kentubano LLC, Frankfort. Luis David Fuentes is the owner and publisher.

Kentucky Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year: Land Shark Shredding LLC, Bowling Green. Don Gerard is the president and CEO.

Kentucky Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year: Puzzles Academy and Puzzles Fun Dome, Louisville. Kimberly Stevenson is the president.

Kentucky Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Josh Barrett, owner and operator of Josh Barrett and Associates, Richmond.

“All of us owe a deep debt of gratitude to the entrepreneurs of Kentucky who do so much to make our Commonwealth a prosperous and happy place,” said Ralph Ross, district director of the Kentucky office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

 

Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104

 

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

By Robbi Meisel 21 Mar, 2017
WASHINGTON – Kentucky businesses and residents affected by severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, winds and hail from Feb. 28 through March 1, 2017 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA Administrator Linda E. McMahon announced today.

McMahon made the loans available in response to a letter on March 16 from Michael E. Dossett, Authorized Representative of Gov. Matthew Bevin, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA. The declaration covers Estill County and the adjacent counties of Clark, Jackson, Lee, Madison and Powell in Kentucky.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Kentucky with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said McMahon. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

SBA’s customer service representatives will be available at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications.

The Center is located in the following community and is open as indicated:
Estill County
Estill Development Alliance
177 Broadway Street
Irvine, Kentucky 40336

Opening: Thursday, March 23
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Days: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Closed: Sunday, March 26
Closing: Thursday, March 30, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may now include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 3.15 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela .

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster . Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is May 19, 2017 . The deadline for economic injury applications is Dec. 20, 2017.

For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit their website at www.sba.gov/disaster .
By Robbi Meisel 27 Feb, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Feb. 14, 2017) – Kentucky Small Business Development Center is seeking nominations for the 2017 Pacesetter Awards. The recognition program was created to honor high performing, second-stage businesses that are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15.

KSBDC encourages small businesses that meet the following minimum qualifications to apply:

         ·  Privately held

         · In business for three or more years

         · Employ six or more full-time employees, including the owner

         ·  Annual sales meet or exceed $500,000

         · Located and headquartered in Kentucky

         ·Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow evidenced by the judging criteria.

Pacesetters will be selected based on two or more of the following criteria:

         · Growth in the number of employees

         ·Increase in sales and/or unit volume

         · Innovativeness of the product or service

         ·Response to adversity

         ·Employee engagement and commitment

         ·Contributions by the nominee to aid community-oriented projects

Pacesetters will be recognized at the Kentucky Celebrates Small Business event held at the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort during the first week of May. Each honoree will receive an award inscribed with the business’s name and a promotional video for their own use that highlights the business. In addition, KSBDC will send a customized press release announcing the award to local media and trade associations. Honorees are given the rights to use the Kentucky Pacesetter logo and event photographs in promoting their business.

Anyone may submit nominations, including third parties associated with an eligible second-stage business. A business may self-nominate by completing the required form. Winners will be notified by March 27. Full nomination requirements and the application are online at https://www.ksbdc.org/kentucky-pacesetters1 .

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

 

Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104

 

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

 

 

 

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