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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

KikScore Technology Acquired – Service Will Change on June 28th

Friday, June 1st, 2012

 

Announcement About KikScore’s Future

We are excited to announce that the KikScore technology and certain assets have been acquired.   As of June 28, 2012, the KikScore service will no longer be available to customers.  We recommend that our customers check out the Google Trusted Store product as an alternative to the KikScore service.  In fact, we wrote this post last October that describes how complimentary the KikScore and Google Trusted Store products are for small businesses.  We are very proud of the more than two years that we offered the KikScore service and are so grateful to the 1700+ small business customers that we have served globally.

Back in 2008 this all began at a Fuddruckers in Northern Virginia.  The road from there to today has been filled with great highs, some deep lows, overcoming immense challenges all while dealing with the occasional kicks to the gut that most startups typically experience.   It has been a sincere pleasure for the entire KikScore team to serve so many small businesses and also work to help them be successful through this blog, tweetchats and our December 2011 white paper.  There is still great work to be done for small businesses and that is why we are so excited that an industry leader will be able to build off of the technology, platform and IP that we spent our blood, sweat and tears building, developing and launching.

Now The Very Important Thank Yous

There are so many people that helped us in invaluable ways get to this moment.  That is why it is so important for us to take the time to thank the people that helped us. To the inevitable person that I forget, please forgive me.

  1. Two Intros Help Make the KikScore Sale Possible:  Even before the stories of the introduction, two occurrences had to happen for us to get to today and for the sale of KikScore to become a reality.  First, I went to my good friend’s wedding in beautiful Montana a few years back and secondly, I made the choice to attend Ohio State back in the late 90s for graduate school. Those two seemingly random events led to two separate, but critical introductions by Eric Liaw (who I met at our mutual friend’s Zeno’s wedding while roasting marshmallows at the rehearsal dinner in Montana) and Anuj Goswami (fellow OSU grad and Browns fan!) to the necessary stakeholders to make this deal come together.  Even more importantly is the lesson learned from this: when people call you, return their calls….but maybe wait a bit!  I took a little extra time to call Anuj back (ok 3 weeks!), but on a ride home from the Reston Town Center to DC on a cold Friday afternoon in February I finally returned Anuj’s call that quite randomly turned into the catalyst to bridging Eric’s introduction with an introduction Anuj would make within hours of our call.  That one returned call to Anuj and his initiative set us off to the races to get this deal done!  So a major set of thanks to Eric and Anuj for those crucial introductions at just the right time. 
  2. KikScore’s Team: Frankly, I will never look at Denver the same way because that time zone difference with our headquarters in DC and 10:30pm team calls just about killed me.  Somehow and someway over the years, we mastered the DC and Denver teams working together seamlessly.  To that end, Travis Valentine, our CTO, worked every minute he could to help get us to where we could be in this position where we are at today.  Without his tireless and amazing efforts, dedication and willingness just to get things done, we would never be making this announcement.   We, along with our team, accomplished so many things that we are all proud of here.  Our team was filled out by Mike Collins (product lead and resident Packers fan), Mike Mauseth (one of the original co-founders and Fudruckers guys and one person with a crazier sense of humor than me), Joel Springer (the creative visionary behind the KikScore look and feel), Mike Britti (Mr. 30,000 foot), Kristen Hillier (our scoring model whiz), and Woody Jones.  We also must thank Sergey Kliuev our always available surge capacity developer in the Ukraine who was so great helping us with our partner integrations.  It is awesome to have the technology the team built get recognized and acquired by a global technology leader.
  3. Killer Guidance from Our Key Advisor:  Tom Lewis was nothing short of a savior to the KikScore team and especially me.  As a founding member of the fantastic Founder Corps group, Tom provided continual strategic, product and partner guidance over the last year.  Simply, without Tom’s guidance, support and introductions, there is no way we would have gotten as far as we did and had been in as many strategic discussions as we have been over the last few months.  Every founding team and CEO should wish to have a mentor/advisor as accessible and strategic as Tom.  Also there is another advisor I cannot really name due to certain sensitivities, but he knows who he is, and this is a special thanks to him.  Again Tom was instrumental in making that introduction as well last year!  Tom Lewis what can I say…..just phenomenal.
  4. Community/Evangelist Support:  The overall small business community has been tremendously supportive of KikScore and our mission over the last two years.  We had some fantastic folks that tirelessly helped us and so we want to recognize and thank each of them. They are: Anita Campbell (for all the mega shoutouts and support); Ramon Ray (thanks for the infectious energy and coverage of our growth); Ivana Taylor (for all the help and chats); Tai Goodwin (for inviting us to guest host the prestigious #SmallBizChat); John “ColderIce” Lawson (the amazing support and you always making us laugh); Tinu Abayomi-Paul (your unending good wishes) Jill Foster (the Dupont Circle/neighborly love); Laurie McCabe (for the SmallBizInfluencer nominations and interview); Shonali Burke (our early PR guru) and Howard Lewinter (for your guidance and stories).  Sadly, somehow three of these folks are also Steelers fans.  It is a tribute to them that they still talk to me since I am a Browns fan…….
  5. Friends’ Direct Support, Help & Guidance: The space here and the time cannot do enough justice to the friends who supported us, made key introductions, helped with creating amazing pitch decks, gave us strategic guidance and also just provided huge amounts of moral support along the way. They included:  Shashi Bellamkonda (our #1 evangalist and my close confidant on our daily rides home); Jason Knaut (the best strategic/ex-investment banker/ex-corp dev guy any entrepreneur would want on their side); Harry Lalor (for listening to all my stories and the fantastic support); Ntoh Etta (for keeping us focused and helping with diligence); Eric Akunda (giving strategic guidance and helping keep things in perspective); Roy Dunbar (for being so generous and opening up his huge network to us with multiple introductions); Jake Lebowitz (for helping support me get the sale closed); Atul Rustgi (great strategic guidance as the clock wound down – though I am still surprised that a UMichigan guy would help out a Buckeye!); Elvis Oxley (for always thinking about connecting KikScore to every new person you met); Bobby Turnage (see this post on leadership on how he helped); and Miles Reidy and Dick LeFave (for each of them ironically on the same day in 2011 telling me to just go “all in” with my entrepreneurial drive and pushing me to succeed).  I cant thank each of you enough for the incredible help and inspiration you each provided.
  6. Wise Counsel:  At KikScore we were lucky to have great lawyers help us on this deal.  Mike Hardy from Rosenberg, Martin & Greenberg, LLC in Baltimore, who I pulled too many all-nighters working with at White & Case, served as our lead corporate counsel and gave us great legal and non-legal guidance throughout the process of documenting and finalizing the sale of the KikScore technology.  Also Rick Holzer and Chirag Patel from HolzerIPLaw in Denver have been great over the years serving as our IP and patent counsel through the long patent process for the KikScore technology.
  7. KikScore Customers: Without our customers we would have been nothing.  We are so thankful for all the small business customers that gave us a chance, used our product, told their friends and evangelized KikScore.  It was great to get to know so many of our customers as well through our interview series on this blog.  Thanks to our customers for making this all possible.  And I would be remiss not to send out a very special thank you to Paybaq’s Brian Esposito for being such a fantastic customer advocate for KikScore after nearly leaving us!  We are so glad we won you back.
  8. Lastly & Most Importantly the KikScore Families: There is just not enough that any of the team can say about our spouses, kids, parents and siblings for being there and supporting each of us along the way.  No one really can quantify the level of patience and understanding that each or our families had to go through when you have a startup with 10:30pm team calls, late night customer escalations and weekend after weekend of saying I just need to spend time getting things done.  So for each and every family member we THANK YOU! Now specifically for Rebecca, my wife, I cant thank her enough for her unending patience for the entire KikScore experience and the major impact it had on our lives……though the great thing now is that the 24/7 defacto Customer Service Level Agreement I have had to abide by since she was a KikScore customer now expires on June 28th!  Seriously, thank you Rebecca so much for the amazing support, help, guidance and trying to help me balance some crazy form of work-startup-family balance especially today as you are now 8+ months expecting!  I could not have done this without your support.  I am sure that many of the same tremendous thanks could be said for Travis and his wife Sarah and the rest of the team and each of their respective spouses.  Thanks so much to each and every one of them.

On a personal note I look forward to moving on to my next gig….and oh yes it will be another startup launching this summer.  I am really excited for it. Finally, I am thankful for trusting my gut instinct.  Countless times so many of the people that I have thanked above either validated my gut thinking or told me I was way crazy so I luckily modified course a bit.  The one thing that no one could convince me to do was giving up on our goal of getting KikScore this far.  My gut always told me to push on in this journey to get to the end we all wanted to get to.  I am therefore incredibly thankful that I both trusted that instinct while also having the team, advisors, friends, the community, evangelists, customers, counsel and especially the family to get KikScore to today’s announcement.

 

 

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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

News Roundup: Inc. Magazine & SmallBiz Technology Talking About KikScore

Monday, April 9th, 2012

We just wanted to send a special shout out to our friends at one of the best magazines around, Inc Magazine (see our previous post on our love for Inc. Magazine), and Ramon Ray's SmallBiz Technology Blog.  Over the last few weeks, both of these great websites not only mentioned KikScore but used us as important data points for both How to Build a Website that Inspires Trust and also Managing Your Online Reputation and Taking Steps to Protect it.

The Inc. Magazine post discusses the important concept of making sure your business website conveys trust and credibility.  If you remember, we actually were the guest host for #SmallBizChat on that very topic last year so feel free to check out our presentation and tips that was rated one of the top 10 tweetchats of all of 2011. Thanks to Jon Gelberg for mentioning us in the article.  We really appreciate it.

The SmallBiz Technology article discusses the increasingly important issue of how do businesses manage their reputation in a comprehensive way from what is said on third party sites and then taking the best reputational information and making sure that makes it onto the small business' website.  Just like so many of the great articles on Ramon Ray's blog, the article discusses how there is a real need for a 360 degree solution for small businesses so they can collect and use reputational information from across the internet (Yelp, Google feedback, Facebook posts, Tweets etc) to get more business from their websites.  We are really honored to be mentioned as a product that helps deliver part of that 360 degree reputation management solution to small businesses.

Thanks to both of these great websites for covering and discussing KikScore.

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Thanks Fox Business For Covering KikScore As Their Featured Business of the Day

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

We were really excited that our friends on Twitter nominated us to Fox Business Channel to be featured as their Business of the Day last week.  Special thanks to Kate Rogers the fantastic Fox Business Network Online, Small Business reporter that interviewed and then featured KikScore.  Here is her article: Grading Small Businesses to Close Sales.  Fox Small Business is doing a great job profiling small businesses.  Just follow the hashtag #mysbc on Twitter to see other great businesses that they are profiling and nominate your favorite ones.  We nominated a bunch last week!

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Untapped Potential in and around the Capital: How the GWR can catch up to Silicon Valley

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

When it comes to entrepreneurial success in technology, everyone thinks of Silicon Valley. The irony here is that, in spite of its highly entrepreneurial and technology-savvy environment, the Greater Washington Region (GWR) has not been able to catch up with Silicon Valley. This issue has perplexed many people in the GWR and spurred them to try and bridge this entrepreneurial gap. However, some things are not so easy to solve, and this conundrum has many different angles to it. Luckily, Amplifier Ventures’ own Jonathan Aberman, who is also co-chair of Startup Virginia and president of FounderCorps, has developed a report on the GWR and how it fares in surpassing Silicon Valley as the center of technology entrepreneurship.

Another Way

As Aberman discusses, businesses within the GWR have tried to understand why Silicon Valley remains at the helm of technology entrepreneurship. Like most of us, these businesses have looked towards the everlasting concept: To defeat your opponent, you must become your opponent. Such thoughts have led many to consider one of two options on how the GWR can become the new Silicon Valley:

1)      We can mimic Silicon Valley’s infrastructure by fostering particular aspects of its entrepreneurial demographic such as its capital and workforce.

2)      We can adopt the cultural mentality of Silicon Valley by creating a greater sense of connection and support amongst the entrepreneurial community.

Although these are good ideas, Aberman sees fault in how the supporters of these theories are viewing the issue at hand. No two people are alike, so we can hardly expect that two separate regions can be the same. Aberman feels that we cannot look for patterns that contribute to Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial success just so we can copy it. Rather, he believes we must utilize these observed patterns in a way that caters to the GWR’s own unique infrastructure and culture. This being said, Aberman proposes that the GWR’s solution to overtaking Silicon Valley lies in mergers and acquisitions.

The Hard Facts

Of course, nothing changes if a proposal has no foundation. That is why Aberman has provided a convincing series of facts regarding M&A in both the GWR and Silicon Valley. Aberman examines the Financials, Healthcare, High Technology, Industrials, Media and Entertainment, and Telecommunications industry sectors of both regions from 2007 to 2011 in order to find substantive evidence to his claim.

Across these technology-intensive sectors, two particular points stick out. First of these is the difference in the amount of each regions’ local acquisitions. Of the acquired Silicon Valley companies between 2007 and 2011, approximately 45% were bought up by local firms. On the other hand, only around 37% of GWR companies were acquired by firms in the same region. The second point that deserves attention is the diversity of acquisitions among the various sectors. Silicon Valley saw around 64% of its acquisitions in High Technology. Although this is the same sector that the GWR had the majority of its acquisitions in, it was only around 37%. This means that, despite both regions focusing on High Technology, the GWR was much more diversified amongst the sectors.

What does it Mean?

From the differences in local acquisitions and the amount of diversity across the sectors, Aberman demonstrates his opinion of the issue at hand. By experiencing almost half of its acquisitions locally, Silicon Valley is essentially recycling its own resources. Beneficial assets such as innovative ideas, patents, and knowledgeable workers are not leaving Silicon Valley, but staying together. This consolidation allows for acquiring companies to gain valuable products and services from others with the same regional mindset, ensuring that the acquisition itself will be smoother.

On the other hand, Aberman explains that Silicon Valley’s inclination towards High Technology provides yet another reason that the GWR has trouble catching up. By focusing so much more on High Technology than any other sector, entrepreneurs within Silicon Valley can quickly create startup companies, sell them, and begin again. In the GWR’s case, focusing more evenly on the various sectors means that there are less companies that are looking to acquire startups, therefore causing a slower creation and acquisition cycle.

Putting it all Together

From these two points, Aberman surmises that businesses in the GWR are not catering enough to their own region. Entrepreneurs in the GWR need to focus more on what local businesses are demanding. By doing so, the likelihood of companies being created and bought will increase and the cycle will speed up. Although such a process will take a large deal of time and effort, Aberman offers a far more feasible solution that past ideas which proposed a simple copy and paste method.

If anyone is interested in gaining a better understanding of this issue, contact info@startupva.org and request a copy of “Merger and Acquisition Trends in Silicon Valley and the Greater Washington Region: 2006 – 2011.”

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Some Recent Highlights of KikScore Making News

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

We just wanted to highlight a bit of the coverage we have received recently and send out a special thank you to those great folks that took the time to cover KikScore.  As you all know we are a bootstrapped startup so we do not have any real budget for PR so all of our PR efforts are self-generated and the coverage has been really organic.  In all honestly it has been pretty cool to see our efforts get recognized by some of the most respected sites in our industry.  Now that I think of it,  I will follow up with a blog post in the near future on how startups and small businesses can generate their own PR and increase their chances of being covered.  I think there are some nice lessons learned and some tips from our own experience and I will be happy to pass that along to the community.

Here is some of the coverage:

1. How to Give Online Shoppers Confidence in Your Website at SmallBiz Trends.   Special thanks to the always awesome and fabulous Anita Campbell for this fantastic piece that covered us.

2. Trust is Critical When You Date, Bungee Jump and Sell Online on Business Insider.  We have to give a special thanks to the man who has endless energy, passion and drive for all things small business, Ramon Ray for this write up.

3. KikScore Named Best of 2011 SmallBizChat Interviews by the SmallBiz Lady.  Melinda Emerson who moderates that super informative #SmallBizChat every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm named KikScore as one of the top 10 chats of all of 2011 and put us in the same company as Anita, Guy Kawasaki, Tai Goodwin and Pierre Dubois who also made this prestigious list.

4. KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds Information Sharing Leads to More Trust at the fast growing startup blog TechCocktail.  We have to send a special shout out to Frank Gruber, Jen Consolvo and Shashi B at DC-based TechCocktail for this great write up.

5. Launch Story: From Business Affairs & Legal Executive to Ecommerce CEO at one of our favorite sites Launch While Working.  Thanks to the amazing Tai Goodwin for this write up and for all the support she has given KikScore.  Please make sure you look out for her book that every person who works in Corporate America should buy and then read – The Employedpreneur Plan: How to Launch Your Business Without Quitting Your Day Job.

We hope to keep up this pace of having KikScore in the news, but for this go around we send out our incredible gratitude and thanks to the great bloggers and websites that covered KikScore over the last few weeks.

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Shoppers Trust Businesses Who Share More Information – KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

We are excited to announce our first KikScore Online Trust Survey.  Since we are a business that serves the small business community we wanted to learn first hand what shoppers and website visitors are saying about their browsing experience, especially how it relates to small business websites. The KikScore Online Trust Survey provides an overview for small businesses, shoppers and the greater community about trust and reliability trends. It especially focuses on how consumers approach the trust and credibility issue as they perform local searches for small businesses in various search engines.

The Context and Background for the KikScore Online Trust Survey

Really since the inception of the internet, small businesses have faced the constant challenge of proving that they are trustworthy and reliable online businesses and website visitors should trust them.  Lacking the large marketing budgets and brand names, small businesses face the battle of demonstrating to website visitors that they are legitimate and trustworthy businesses.  This online trust challenge has resulted in billions of dollars in losses for small businesses.

Recently, to add to this challenge that small businesses face is the rise of local search.  As more consumers perform local searches on Google and Bing, search results are returning more and more small local businesses.  Website visitors have the increasing opportunity to visit small business websites of plumbers, realtors, contractors, lawyers and local stores such as dry cleaners and transact on many online small business websites.

We set out to study what are the trends for shoppers as well as small businesses for demonstrating trust through both local search and online shopping.

The KikScore Online Trust Survey & Report Findings

Here are some of the key findings from our report:

  1. The fear of being defrauded or a victim of an online scam has led more than 90% of consumers that shop online not to complete a transaction;
  2. 87% of website visitors feel safer buying from websites that feature information about the business and the track record of the business;
  3. 85% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to hire a small business service provider that has a trust seal on their website;
  4. Over 60% of website visitors are more likely to buy from a website that posts information and details about the management of an online business; and
  5. More than 90% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to trust a service business that posts information on their website about their business history and track record.


Key Implication from the Online Trust Survey for Small Businesses – More Information Means More Sales

The main takeaway from the Survey is that website visitors want to know who is “behind the online business” and information about the business itself.  Further, the data indicates that one way to combat the online trust challenge for small businesses is to address the information asymmetry that exists between website visitors and small businesses.  The recurring theme through the data from the report is that local searchers and shoppers want transparency through reputational information when they reach a small business website. This finding tends to makes sense from a layperson’s psychological approach to approaching something unknown.  From a human relations perspective, once a person finds out more information about a previously unknown subject/person, that person then can make a much better assessment about the credibility and trustworthiness of that subject/person.  The same approach generally holds true for a website visitor to an unfamiliar online business.

From this key finding, the KikScore Report provided these following recommendations for small business to act on to start addressing the information asymmetry:

  1. Start providing key information about your small business on your website;
  2. Important information to provide can include, details about the management team, financial history, location information, website history and security information, customer service and privacy policies, certification and awards and introductory videos;
  3. Display real customer feedback and testimonials about a shopping experience or your customer’s experience hiring your small business to provide a service; and
  4. Using and displaying a trust seal(s) that help you show website visitors that your business has been validated and provides information about the reputation of your small business.

The important point for small businesses from this report is to use these four steps outlined immediately above as a way to use information about your own business, your management team, your own track record and make that transparent to website visitors.  These steps will help small businesses address the online trust challenge and directly help balance the information asymmetry between website visitors and small online businesses.

Case Study: PaybaQ Proves the Importance of Displaying Reputational Information

As a part of the Report, KikScore included a case study from a small business that had already implemented the recommendations above to provide an illustration of how one small business owner successfully tackled the online trust challenge.  The case study is of Brian J. Esposito the CEO and founder of PaybaQ.

Shortly after launching PaybaQ, a peer-to-peer lending site, Mr. Esposito faced low signups, abandoned shopping carts and abandoned registrations.  Mr. Esposito, being a prior Inc5000 listed business owner, sought to use his own reputation as a way to show website visitors his website was trustworthy and reliable.  After Mr. Esposito signed up for KikScore and started using the KikScore Confidence Badge to provide more information about his track record as a business owner and also offer a way to provide feedback, PaybaQ experienced a 20% increase in conversions.

As seen from the increase in PaybaQ’s conversions after using the KikScore Confidence Badge to display reputational information about the business owner, management team, website and policies, information transparency is the fundamental method for small businesses to demonstrate trustworthiness and achieve success online.  Mr. Esposito noted: “Immediate access to information and transparency into any company is crucial, especially startup small businesses.  Implementing a seamless solutions on PaybaQ.com gives my potential users exactly what they need, a quick snapshot of my company, team members, and even myself.  This tool helps show browsers who find our site through Google and Bing that they are on a safe credible site that they can trust.”

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Mobile Shopping is Going Viral this Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

With only 11 shopping days left until Christmas, shoppers need all the help they can get this holiday season while trying to find the best deal on the perfect gift for their loved one.  This year more shoppers than ever before are using their smartphones to find the best deals while they are in stores around the country and even at home and work.

Pricegrabber just released these survey results last week of 3,574 online consumers in the United States.  According to these results, 39% of all respondents have a shopping-related application on their smartphone.  Out of the respondents with a shopping application on their phone, 56% indicated that they have these applications on their phone because they believe they get the best prices using mobile shopping applications.

These numbers show a staggering increase from just 1 year ago when I wrote this KikScore blog post that talked about a Wall Street Journal article that indicated that only 5.6% of consumers used a mobile phone to price compare while on the go.  The WSJ article referenced in the aforementioned blog post also says that only .1% of consumers used a mobile phone in this way in 2009.  As you can see from these numbers consumers are continuing to increase their use of smartphone mobile shopping applications at an exponential rate!

So, what are merchants across the Unites States doing in response to these legions of mobile smartphone shoppers?  Unfortunately, the answer is still “not very much” at this time.  Again, like I mentioned in my blog post last year, I still cannot walk into a Best Buy, use my smartphone to find a better price on an item online and get the store to match this price.  Many bricks and mortar stores are still having a problem reacting to this new wave of technological advancement in the pocket of the U.S. consumer.

According to this article in the Chicago Tribune, some retailers like Macy’s and J.C. Penney are starting to react to these mobile shoppers by streamlining their mobile websites, creating custom shopping applications, and increasing the speed and efficiency of their sites.  In my mind, however, this is just the very basic levels of catering to the mobile shopping consumer and great strides will need to be made in the coming years in order for this new bread of consumer to be on the same page with these large retailers in the U.S.

Have you had a positive or negative experience while using a smartphone with a mobile shopping application at a retailer?

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SmartCEO Magazine & Ecommerce for Beginners Features KikScore

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011


We just wanted to take this opportunity to send a shoutout to two great publications that featured KikScore recently.  We had the honor of being featured in Rachel Cieri’s article in SmartCEO in October called Good, Bad and Uncertain – As the Internet Changes So Does E-commerce.  We were able to give our feedback and some lessons learned to SmartCEO magazine and Rachel on our experience at KikScore being an e-commerce company and also serving small businesses.

Also a special thank you to JP Jones at the Ecommerce for Beginners Blog.  JP did an awesome interview of KikScore where she allowed us to tell the in-depth story behind KikScore, the biggest obstacles we have overcome, marketing tips for small business, how we handle customer service and so much more.  Check out our interview and so many other small business interviews on the Ecommerce for Beginners Blog.  We recommend JP’s blog for regular reading for all small businesses!

Many thanks again to JP and Rachel for showcasing KikScore.

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Congrats to Our Longtime Customer PaybaQ on 2011 W3 Award for Their Innovative & Unique Website

Monday, October 24th, 2011


Over the weekend we found out that our long time customer, PaybaQ won a very prestigious W3 Award for outstanding website design.  Paybaq was selected by W3 from over 3,000 entries. The founder of Brian Esposito has been a longtime KikScore customer and proudly displays his KikScore seal on PaybaQ’s website.  PaybaQ is a new age micolending site that has been growing fast and is getting a lot of attention. His KikScore seal has actually helped him increase registrations and sales on his award winning site over 20%.

To find out a little more about PaybaQ, Brian and his CTO Peter Hermsen told us their small business story just last month in one of our most highly read interviews on this blog!  They are clearly on a roll and this great award is just one further step in the growth and development of PaybaQ. Here are the details on the award that PaybaQ received.

Congrats Brian and team.  Keep it up!

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Online Trust Gets More Validated – Google Introduces Trusted Stores

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Google just announced a program called Google Trusted Stores. That means that Google has officially joined the trust seal party (see post at DIY Marketers site on the range of trust seal options).  From the information that is available from Google along with the 50 second video on Google Trusted Stores, it looks like Google has seen the same issue many folks see shopping online and are trying now to help address that.  Which stores, especially which small business stores, can you trust when you want to buy online?  The data about shoppers online trust concerns is convincing that there is still a concern that shoppers have when buying on the internet and to top that off 7 out of 10 shopping carts are abandoned.

So Google’s Trusted Stores appears to do the following items:

1. Trust By Association with Google – This service puts Google’s name on your store website – another trust by association for small businesses.  You trust Google so you should trust our store.

2. Google Tracks Product Shipping Timing – Google validates on time shipping for online stores – Does a store have a “high percentage of orders with on time shipping” and “low average days for product to ship.”

3. Google Tracks Customer Service Issues – Google will check to see are there a “high percentage of issues resolved quickly” and is there a “low number of customers needing assistance with an issue.”

4. $1,000 Purchase Protection - Google is going to offer to mediate if a dispute arises between a shopper and a Google Trusted Store and also the shopper will have the opportunity to opt-into getting purchase protection of up to $1,000 (in lifetime claims).

So what is new about what Google is doing in the trust seal space?  They are essentially monitoring, tracking and then in some manner validating shipping, delivery and customer service issues with a online store owners.  These are very important areas for shoppers and website visitors to find out information about prior to a sale, but there are still some areas that are missing as a part of the trust calculation.

Franky, Google looks to be focused on shipping and customer service issues, but does not really cover some other items that are important to the trust calculation for shoppers and these include:

1. Who is behind the website?

2. Where is the website hosted, is it in a country that has a high incidence of fraud?

3. Who is behind the business that runs the website?

4. Who manages the business and do they have a trackrecord of financial reliability or a propensity for committing fraud?

5. Does the business owner or business have any liens or judgements pending against them?

Incidentally, a lot of these questions are actually answered by sites that have a KikScore seal on their site.  So that also helps answer how is KikScore different than the Google Trusted Stores.  If you use KikScore, shoppers at online stores get a look into who is behind the business, the management, website history, customer feedback along with a dynamic and real-time trust score that gives shoppers an indication about whether level of trustworthiness for website owner. Here is an example of two customers: PaybaQ.com and Hand Law Offices.  So if store owners decide to become a Google Trusted Store, they should still look at using the KikScore seal to provide important elements of transparency to website visitors about themselves, their business and track record of success.

Interestingly, Google appears to be focusing on online stores, but small business of all types from lawyers, doctors, contractors, plumbers, bloggers etc can use a trust badge for their website so they can demonstrate that their service business is trustworthy (see Hand Law Office example above).  This is even more important with the increase in local search driving website visitors to new local service provider websites where they currently get little, if any, information about the local service provider beyond what may be on that service provider’s “About Us” page, if they even have one. We at KikScore offer a confidence badge for these types of non-ecommerce stores so that when website visitors locate and visit these small business websites the website visitors can make a determination whether these local businesses are trustworthy and have a track record of reliability too.

All in all an exciting day for our industry.

Please tell us how are you increasing your customer’s trust.

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