Posts Tagged ‘online business’

5 Essentials for Moving Your Business Online

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Online BusinessWhat with the internet getting so big and popular and all, it has reached the point where having a business and having a website is basically synonymous. If you don’t have a website, unless you are a market stall, you don’t have a business…or at least, you are not making the most of it.

So to get your business online, you obviously need a website. This is just the beginning though. Too many businesses phone up the first website company they come across, give them some colour scheme and accept what they are given. They then throw their products in and hit ‘Go Live’. Then they sit back and wait for the orders to start piling up in their inbox.

Unfortunately for them there is so much more to it. They may as well not have bothered if they are not willing to spend a lot more time and energy making it the best it can be. There is just so much competition out there that websites need to be of a high calibre to make any impact or provide any return on investment.

Worthwhile Content

The first and most essential element of all is worthwhile content. You can spend £10,000 on your website design and development but if you don’t invest in providing useful, user friendly, valuable information then it will all have been a waste. Ecommerce sites for example need to not only provide pictures and prices; they need high quality images, good solid descriptions and detailed price breakdowns.

A Unique Online Selling Point

Another essential element is a unique selling point. This is something that makes your business stand out online ahead of your competitors. While your existing business may have one in place, this may not do so well online. Good online selling points are things like ‘Free Shipping’ and ‘Free Returns’.

Security

People are very aware of their vulnerability online. This means that anything that seems unsafe, especially when their credit card details are concerned will make them run a mile. You need your site to look professional, be free of adverts (where possible) or any pop-ups and offer reassuring information like your physical address and a phone number. Furthermore, how are you processing payments? This certainly has to be secure and brings about the issue of payment gateways and which payment service provider is right for you and your customers.

On Page Credit Card Gateway

Sticking with reassuring customers and payments; sending them to an external site to take their card details is a major turn off, so it is essential that you nip this in the bud now by immediately applying an online credit card gateway that can be used from the checkout seamlessly.

SEO Services

Finally, search engine optimisation is not technically essential, but you won’t get much traffic quickly without a professional casting their eye over your site and explaining what you need to do to be as attractive as possible to search engines and your customers.

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Rural Online Business Boost in the Pipeline

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Laptop on Hay BailOnline businesses in rural parts of the country have been rejoicing in the last few weeks as news has emerged that Fujitsu, a global provider of IT services and products, will soon be delivering superfast broad band to the rolling green countryside of the UK. The news comes as a huge relief to small and medium sized businesses who have been struggling to live with the sluggish broadband currently on offer.

The problem is that rural homes and businesses at the moment, for the most part, can only receive FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) broadband which relies on existing cables and infrastructures to deliver a service, and with rural exchanges further from homes than in urban areas, the speeds just never get anywhere near the ‘superfast’ promise current service provides offer.

Fujitsu hopes to use part of a government fund set aside to improve rural broadband, by offering all the local authorities who have the fund at their disposal a single reliable source for this service. They feel that this would help the network be more manageable and avoid there being dozens of fragmented networks patch worked across the country.

If they are successful in their bid for the contract, Fujitsu will use FTTH (fibre to the home) technology and pump fibre optic cabling directly into rural homes, which will offer broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps. They can use the current BT infrastructure to deliver this as BT has been forced to open up to competitors. The only problem is with the price that BT is planning to charge to allow providers to use their poles and existing pipes and cables.

If this does go ahead, and the government really hopes it will, this could open up the rural business sector and allow it to compete with inner city business. There is also the hope that this could give the UK business sector such a big boost that it could help lift the whole of the UK out of its economic slump.

If you are an online business you must be licking your lips. Likewise this will be a major boost for the payment service provider industry. More rural online businesses will mean more ecommerce stores looking for fast reliable payment processing to benefit them and their customers. Or if you are tired of your smoggy inner city commute and queuing outside the local sandwich shop, then the idea that you could move your business, or at least part of your business, to a leafy hillside and not have your online services suffer, may well be something you could do in the near future.

Hooray for Fujitsu!

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What Could An App Do For Your Online Business?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Mobile ApplicationsWith every person and their dog now owning and using a smartphone or tablet PC to access the internet, and with apps (downloadable applications) rapidly becoming the normal way with which people interact with these devices, you must be interested to hear what having one will do for your business…and what not having one will do to your business.

Let’s say you have a nice online business website already, with a good ecommerce store that has some good conversion rates and a secure payment service provider. With more people starting to use tablets and smartphones however, they may stop visiting your website as they would rather use a more user friendly app on their device. If you have a competitor who offers the same thing you do, and they have an app, you could be losing this rapidly growing traffic source with every day that passes.

Keep your customers

Having an app will offer your device using visitors the opportunity to stay with you. When users are already familiar with a company and are happy doing business with them, they will be reluctant to change who they deal with unless they have to, or if it becomes more convenient to use someone else. By advertising the availability of your own app prominently and making it super easy to download from your site, you will ensure that your current users don’t drift away.

Attract new customers

If you make sure your app is good enough, you should hopefully attract new customers too. For example, if what you offer on your website is notoriously difficult to sell and you find a way with your app to convey its benefits with ease, you may get a whole host of new people flocking to buy your app and your products. There are countless development companies online who can help you build a sparkling app that does exactly what you want, or you can even try making one yourself using one of many DIY tools available. But make sure you test it to death to ensure that everyone who uses it does so with ease.

Take business forward

What an app could do for your business is take it in a whole new direction. It is possible for a new app to attract them more sales and payment processing than a regular website. This might be down to having too much search engine competition or if a website is faulty, but with a new app it can be like a fresh start and allow a business to leapfrog all of this other competition.

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Has There Ever Been a Better Time to Start Doing Business Online?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Other than during the initial cyber bubble in the 90’s, no.

So far in 2011 UK consumers have spent a whopping £10 billion online. The figures of approximately £4.9 billion spent in February alone are up 20% on the same month in 2010. This is a strong indicator for anyone who had been thinking about moving their business online that now is the time to get on with it.

The figures for e-retailers have never been rosier with the equivalent of £79 per person being spent in the UK online in February and with a wealth of assistance available to all kinds of businesses to make the most of what they have to offer by utilising online opportunities. But why is it that consumers are now spending more online than ever before?

Trust

One of the major factors that have given online shopping such a boost is that people trust online stores more now. With more investment in user experience design by websites people find them easier to use. With more recognisable security measures people feel safer, and just through peoples gradual increase in trust as their orders have made it to their homes unhindered and because they haven’t seen their credit card details sold to third parties. In fact the reliability of payment gateways for e-commerce sites and evolving money transfer services mean that the security of online purchasing has dramatically improved in recent years. Trust really is a huge factor and if you can get your customers to trust your site, you will have won half the battle.

Strong Adoption

The UK stands out when compared to our neighbours France and Germany as we spend more online than they do combined and 10x as much as people spend online in Italy and Spain. The UK has evidently adopted online retail with a passion and thanks to strong links in other media, in-store promotions and investment in internet marketing the trend looks set to continue. If you get your own online store set up, you can be certain that there are customers out there who will pay you a visit if you have your marketing in place.

Cheaper

Of course one of the big reasons why people shop online more now than ever before is the fact that it is simply cheaper. With less over heads an online store can charge less for the same items that a high street store would have to charge. Plus with most major supermarkets offering a free home delivery service people can strap on their lazy slippers and save money on petrol, bus fares and shoe leather by not having to go to the shops at all.

Your online future is bright so what are you waiting for?

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Should You Use A Smartphone To Run Your Online Business?

Monday, January 10th, 2011

If you run an online business, or are at least trying to run an online business, you must have felt the urge to buy a smartphone such as the new Nexus S by now. Being able to check your emails, calculate your tax return, call your clients, shop for merchandise and perform thousands of other tasks all from the palm of your hand is, indeed, handy.

There are advantages to be had from working with a smartphone. Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and RIM’s Blackberry are all fantastic business tools, but for small online businesses, especially those with just one or maybe two employees, they can be a recipe for disaster.

Security Risk

With the opportunity to cram a ton of information, including all your passwords for email accounts and potentially information about your company’s business merchant account etc, onto your smartphone, losing it is a disaster. Imagine leaving your briefcase with the keys to your office in it, along with your every conversation by email and text message, links to all your favourite websites and pictures of your kids too.

To be safe, you need to have a separate work and personal phone. Plus you should purge your phone at least every week to keep it clear of too many emails, and you should never save your passwords, no matter how annoying it is to type them in every time. Having a password to access your phone is a good idea too.

Signal + Battery Power

All the power of your super smart phone can be brought crashing down by a simple tunnel. You don’t want to be on a crucial call only to lose signal or power. This not only looks unprofessional to clients, it can even cause you to lose business and sales if your business requires a response from you via your phone.

Restricting the use of your smartphone as a main point of contact to periods when it is just unavoidable will save you from any of this. People will trust you more if you call them from a landline anyway and you will be in a better position to use a computer while on the phone too.

Concentrate Less

Having all your business calls and emails coming through your palm sized unit can force you to have your nose in your phone all the time. This is not only uncomfortable; it is annoying for your friends and family and does not paint a good impression for clients.

The answer is no! Having a proper station from which to run your online business will always be much more efficient and comfortable than using just a smartphone. Smartphones are great devices and can really help your business, but restricting yourself to one portal is madness.

As a leading payment service provider, we at Lancore know a thing or two about security and the smartphone route of business simply isn’t secure as your primary means of running your companies comings and goings.

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How Important Is Twitter To Your Online Business?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

It all depends on you really…

A recent survey in the US, found that currently, 8% of online Americans use Twitter. The report produced by the Pew Internet & American Life Project is the latest in a line of interesting stats coming out of Twitter this year. This survey of 2,257 US adults carried out in September 2010 highlights (despite the relatively small sample size) the 8% that use it, but more importantly highlights the large amount of people that use it, but only very occasionally.

For a payment service provider such as Lancore, respect in the market is vital and as such social media interaction can allow us to develop alongside potential users of our money transfer services. This same basic model can be extremely useful for the vast majority of online businesses (big and small) in creating the kind of interaction that promotes them in this multi-million user marketplace.

While the US may be seeing a relatively lower than expected usage statistic, but no less impressive, the fact is that the rest of the world makes up the majority of new users. With overall user numbers skyrocketing up to 105million+ since 2006, you can take your finger off the ‘delete twitter account’ button for now. Stats released by Twitter at their developer’s conference back in April should convince you that Twitter is a valuable place to post your information:

  • 300, 000 users added per day
  • 180 million unique visitors daily
  • 3 billion requests a day – meaning a lot of tweets are read
  • 55 million Tweets posted daily
  • 600 million queries on its search engine daily

These stats should give you an idea of just how popular Twitter is. Now the question was: How important is Twitter to you online business? The answer, as I said, depends on you. Basically if you are able to post regularly, provide good unique content or at least link to or re-tweet relevant content for you business, you will eventually grow you followers. With enough followers you business will have a handy platform from which to speak to your customers through a popular and easy to use medium.

Twitter Analytics is a new dashboard coming around the end of 2010. This will give you access to valuable information on your users that can help you track: who has re-tweeted your posts, how often they have re-tweeted and any mentions, follows and un-follows. You can also track the success of an individual tweet which would come in very handy so you can work out what kinds of information your business is putting out there, is being gobbled up by your users.

Twitter is a steadily growing social medium. Online businesses might sit and look at the stats here and there and question whether or not to start a Twitter account or to delete the one they have due to lack of inquiries from that source. The fact is that you may just be ‘tweeting’ the wrong sort of thing. Using Twitter Analytics can help your business optimise your tweets so that you can tap into the billions of tweets being read every day around the world.

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How Moving Online Will Ensure You Make It through These Tough Times

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Lancore could well be your financial saviour.

If you think BP had a tough time, look at some ‘brick and mortar’ businesses in your area which have gone bust. While BP has recently come out of their oil spill disaster and is now back in profit despite the terrible press they received, most businesses aren’t so lucky. BP of course has incredibly deep pockets and a product that many people can’t live without.

If you don’t have a few billion saved up somewhere and your product isn’t quite as desirable as oil, you may be concerned about how your business will fair in the next few years. Well, one way to give yourself a real chance of staying in profit in the future (while your competitors fall by the wayside) is to move online.

Customer Retention

With a great website and a strong brand you can ensure that all your customers can stay in touch with you even if they don’t feel like going down the high street. Lancore can ensure that their payment experience is second to none and that you will be able to keep track of all their online credit card processing with ease. Being able to retain the customers you do have is key to staying afloat. Get your website sorted and get the word out about it.

International Appeal

With half the world online now and people less worried about buying products from overseas, being able to sell your products to anyone in the world is of great benefit. This is another facet of ecommerce that Lancore is good at as we have international coverage and can let you take payments from anywhere in the world and in a wide range of currencies. You can also translate your website automatically into lots of languages with a few simple plugins, turning your business from a local one into a multinational one in no time at all.

Solid Foundation

Having a website for your business with solid payment gateways gives yourself a excellent chance of survival. It is actually not uncommon for online sales to overtake those from your shop (or equivalent). This means that if you need to free up some collateral you can move your business to run entirely online and sell your physical assets. It may sound drastic now, but when you see your regular report from Lancore and compare it to the takings from your shop, you may begin to understand.

Keep your business alive…get online now!

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What Does Google Suing the US Government Have to Do With Your Business?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Google LawsuitIn a bold move, Google has decided to sue the US Government because they feel they were unfairly excluded from a $58m contract to over haul their email systems. The law suit says that Google feels the terms of the contract make it impossible for them to offer their products; despite the fact it was told there would be “full and open competition “ and its ‘Google Apps’ could provide an equal if not better service. Google was supposedly told that only Microsoft’s business software could be used. Google had produced a special version of its apps for government systems to address all the security issues, but the Department for the Interior claimed the product did not comply with their security requirements.

Google is not happy.

But what does all this have to with you and your business?

Cost

One of the major arguments Google has lead with, after the apparent favouring of Microsoft, is that their system would cost a lot less than that of Microsoft. With 88,000 staff the Department for the Interior, a few dollars saved on each unit could make a big difference. This saving could then be passed on to citizens and businesses. Also, you may well have a business that interacts regularly with the Department of the Interior, so you may be forced to take up a compatible, more costly system to stay in business.

Competition

One of the main things Google is doing this for, (and let’s just agree that they don’t need the money) is to stand up for fairness. If Google really does have a superior product, and the agency just chose not to bother changing their provider or something, surely this is setting a bad example for all business ethics across the country. If the government doesn’t need to be fair, why does any business need to be fair? Google is standing up for your rights as much as their own.

Certainly, a level playing field is something that Lancore strongly agree with. We strive to provide the highest quality of online credit card processing to all our clients with the most secure payment gateways. How fair would it be if we reserved a better service for ‘privileged’ customers? Allowing a business to have unfair benefits within an industry is something that has cropped up in legal battles for Google and Microsoft in the past.

Customers

The real story here is not Google suing the US government, its Google’s immortal battle with Microsoft. This battle holds no bars, has no rules and is only after one thing above all: more customers. If Microsoft is seen to win in this situation, some customers (88,000 in fact) will use this at work, and then will probably use them at home and show them to their friends. If Google can use every weapon in their legal arsenal to get those customers, it will.

Would your business choose Microsoft or Google? Do you know what your customers prefer? Knowing your customers and if they prefer one system over another could well be a key to more sales.

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Top 3 Ways Lancore Will Affect Your Online Business?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Business SuccessWhen you open an online business or make the wise decision to move your business online, you will need a partner who knows how to handle your money in a fast, reliable and professional manner which allows you to relax safe in the knowledge that all the hard background work is being done for you. That way you can focus on what you started a business for in the first place.

Working with Lancore by your side, you will open up a host of opportunities which would be impossible to manage on your own:

Increase Your Sales

Lancore’s global payment gateways are part of a cutting edge system which links your business to countless banks around the world. If you thought you were making money, just wait until you have orders coming from all four corners of the planet. That’s over 6 billion potential customers and with the world going online and mobile, the opportunities which having a strong payment gateway provides are too good to miss.

With solutions for every kind of online payment for every kind of business from small one man operations all the way to large ecommerce companies, you will give your business a huge boost and maximize your profits in no time at all, by getting in touch with Lancore.

Open You Up To New Markets

Having a business can be an extremely rewarding endeavour but how often have you wished you could spread your empire further afield. Lancore can help you spread your operation not just to the outskirts of your town, but all the way around the world. The relationship Lancore has built with international banks has given them the tools to give your business global reach. Multi currency transactions are just part and parcel of Lancore’s services.

Secure Your Money

Dealing with countless banks and customers transactions can be a struggle for even the most accomplished businessman. What Lancore promises, is to provide you with the most secure, most reliable financial money transfer services available online. Their servers are the Fort Knox of online security with multilayered encrypted data to ensure that when you join forces with Lancore, you will be sure that your future is safe.

The bottom line is that Lancore’s range of services will help you make more money for your business. Their innovation and technical prowess shines through starting with their customer service all the way through to their final product.

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How to Get Your Online Business on Twitter and Why?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Social NetworkingYou may have one of the best websites in the business, with all the latest Flash functionalities and interactive charts rinsed through your site, but if you don’t have an active Twitter account for your business you are already missing out on a significant number of potential customers.

Why Get Twittering?

Twitter has approximately 75 million users worldwide. While this is some way behind Facebook’s over 400 million users, 75 million potential customers is not to be sniffed at.

Once you have an account you can directly interact with your customers and provide them with direct links to deals, promotions and offers.

By providing unique and interesting insight into your products and services and not just doling out offers, your customers will feel more involved with your products, even if they haven’t purchased them yet.

Twitter has just updated its format, allowing you to not only post tweets, but to post videos and images and other interactive content thanks to their partnership with the likes of YouTube, DailyBooth, TwitVid and USTREAM. This provides you with an incredibly immediate and direct way to provide compelling content for your potential customers. The new format will also entice more people that don’t even intend to Tweet messages to sign up with Twitter just to be part of the relentless newsfeed.

How to Get Twittering?

So first things first, you need an account. Go to www.twitter.com and Sign Up. Add a picture and select a user name. Either make the account personal or have it as a company account. I would suggest having more than one account and more than one person tweeting about different facets of the company, as well as a company one handing out offers and promotional stuff.

Next, use Twitter Search to find out who is talking about your company or your name and other words related to your industry. Build up a following and become a follower. A good balance usually works best.

And you’re off! As explained above, try to have a good mix of company sales info and personal inner office info and personal stories from employees. People like to feel emotionally attached to a brand and by showing off your happy and involved staff you will help people to view your company in a more appealing light.

With Twitter and other social networking functions incorporated into your site, as well as a good solid payment service provider, business merchant account and reliable payment gateways, you will be able to use your new Twitter account to encourage sales from some places in the world you never even considered.

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