• Home
  • About
  • Archives
  • Authors
  • Contact
  • Polls
  • Small Biz Interviews

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Style V. Substance: Which Matters More?

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Remember back in high school, when the guys with the coolest cars got the dates (at least that’s how I justify my lack of dates back then)?  Then you flash forward 15 years later, and those “cool car” guys haven’t moved out of their parents’ basements (and still drive the same cars that they did in high school).  While the guys who had nothing better to do than study (as they weren’t going out on dates) now have good jobs.  It plays out with regularity with every generation — style wins the battle, but substance wins the war.

While substance is the valued trait at work and in our personal lives (or at least it should be), it seems with buying decisions we lose all grip on reality and defer to the “better looking” product or service.  Why am I going with this and why does it matter?  This shallowness really impacts small business and could be a security threat for online shoppers.

For small businesses that want to have an online presence, but can’t afford a top-line web designer, the choice is often to go with a standard design template.  So if you’re selling the same product, but your site doesn’t have the same pizazz as a competitor’s, and all other things are equal (like pricing and product), we as buyers will go with the “cooler” site. 

Why?  Because it conveys legitimacy.  If someone spends a lot on a site, they must have a lot of money because the site is successful, and therefore safe. 

And here is where the security threat comes in.  Just because a site looks better, doesn’t mean it’s safe.  In fact, those same “cool guys” from high school (that are living in their parents’ basements) have plenty of time to dedicate creating fraudulent/less trustworthy sites than a successful offline business person.  So once again, we go with what looks better, and don’t take the time on the businesses with substance. 

What’s the solution?  Well, this is KikScore.com’s blog, so you probably have a guess what I think is the answer.  But I’m open to other suggestions.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Build Trust With Customers by Providing Feedback Tools

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

As KikScore continues to grow and add customers, our team is more active in social media sites.  In anticipation of a large partner release, we are working to ensure staff support and processes in place to respond to customer inquiries and issues.

Providing an avenue for your customers to sing your praises and also to vent when needed helps to build trust in your brand and confidence in your customers.  With social media continuing to rise, consumers savor the ability to have a voice in a variety of platforms, and they can yell loudly.  To build trust and loyalty in your customer base, you have to listen and react in a timely and professional manner .

Being a mom, I could relate to the outrage set forth by moms across the country on this Motrin add.  Motrin could have quickly regained confidence and trust in its consumer base by reacting to this outrage in a much more professional  and empathetic manner.

As a small business, creating an avenue for clear communication with your customers on good and bad topics will not only build trust, but also instill loyalty which creates new customers and reduces abandoned shopping carts.  Be an advocate for your customers and they will yell loudly on social media platforms that your business is the business to connect with.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Pricing in Trust: Baseball Tix and Lessons to be Applied

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

This week I’m spending time back home in the lovely state of Minnesota.  In addition to spending time at my parents’ lake place, I had the opportunity to visit the Minnesota Twins new baseball park.  Because it is the first year in existence, tickets are hard to come by.  In such situations, you ask yourself a question.  Do I go to StubHub.com or do I buy from a scalper on the street.

Now the benefits from buying from a scalper is that you can be spontaneous, negotiate a bit, and also avoid paying any “service” fees tacked on by StubHub.  So, with these advantages, why did i go with StubHub?  One simply reason: trust. 

A few years back, i thought i scored some great seats, only to learn that my tickets were fake.  So from that point on, I’ve been pretty wary of scalpers — opting for the certainty of getting legit tickets (and paying more for that certainty).  It seems that the same could be said for other businesses.  Competing solely on price is a war of attrition.  But if your service or site provides additional safety or features surrounding trust (or giving greater security that the shopper will get what he thinks he’s paying for), you can command a premium for identical goods. 

I’m sue there were other business lessons to be drawn from my baseball experience, but after 4 beers, this was the most obvious one for me to conclude.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Is a Start Up the Same as Gambling? I Hope Not

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

This week I’m in the city of New Orleans for a conference.  I’ve never been before and it has been eye-opening.  As with anything, there are pluses and minuses.  The minuses — the weather and 3 inch long cockroaches.  In fact I just left a fancy dinner, barely eating my food because one NO’s finest cockroaches scurried across my table. 

The upside to N.O.?  First, if I lived here, I would lose a lot of weight — as I don’t eat sea food.  The second: they have a great casino dowtown.  Last night I played blackjack for 2 hours, and I was thinking about joining a poker game. 

You often hear that starting a new business is a gamble.  Well I certainly hope that’s not the case.  I get the point that starting a business involves risk, but risk doesn’t equate to risk for me (so long as it’s a calculate risk).  Last night, as I was playing cards, it seemed pretty clear that most of what was happening was pure chance — no strategy.  I mean, you could have a betting strategy, but if you followed it perfectly, it still gets you to a coin-flip chance of winning. 

I don’t envision the same type of discipline (or lack thereof) with starting a small business.  Sure, you still may go bust, but that doesn’t mean strategy was essentially pointless.  With a business, a good team and idea should get you a better than toss-up chance to succeed.  Whether you recognize if you have a good team or idea is another story.  By the way, I lost $100 last night…so I hope I’m a better business person than gambler.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

When Virtual and Real Worlds Collide

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Last night the real and virtual worlds kep colliding.  How did it start?  With a happy hour.  Which is always a nice way for the evening to start.  My good friend from my old workplace was in town.  He was there for a conference and met with some of the attendees after the first day. 

Here comes the first collision.  I didn’t get a call from my friend that he was in town…instead he tweeted me the location.  My wife and I showed up. 

The second collision was that most of the happy hour attendees knew each other from social media.  When I was asked how I was connected to the happy hour, my answer of being a former co-worker of the organizer seemed so antiquated.

I’m having a very nice time at the happy hour — talking technology, KikScore, other businesses (like BumperTunes.com).  At the end, as I was leaving, I realized that I knew the Twitter handles of people instead of their actual names. 

As we decide to go to dinner after the happy hour, we of course jump on our available smartphones and make a reservation on OpenTable.  We go to dinner and my buddy proceeds to take pictures of the food and outline what his Yelp review i going to be of the establishment. 

At the end of the night, we said goodbye and then my friend thanked us on Facebook and Twitter.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Elevator Pitching: Better than it Sounds

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

We’ve been talking to a lot of folks about KikScore these days: potential partners, press, associations and investment types.  They all want two things: (a) a “deck” — i.e. Power Point presentation; and (b) and “Elevator Pitch”  that they can carry back to others.  I’ve already made clear my general dislike for Power Point, but I think the Elevator Pitch is a good thing.  Why?  Well let me list the reasons:

1.  It forces you to think differently about your product.  When you’re working on a service or product, it’s all about adding features.  You’re constantly expanding the functionality in an effort to be the “best” or provide a more bundled solution.  The goal is to make sure customers can’t live without you and won’t stray for some piece of functionality that they may want from another source.  The Elevator Pitch makes you get away from listing out features and functionality.  Instead it makes you describe what problem you’re actually solving.  And if you’re not solving a problem, and this problem isn’t evident from the short pitch, you probably don’t have a very compelling service or product.

2.  Helps you with Messaging.  You’ve got to describe your service in a way that is free from industry buzz words or meaningless technical jargon.  The Elevator Pitch requires a generalist message.  For it to work, you’ve got to be clear, concise and persuasive.  We’ve already thought of some new marketing hooks while putting together our 2 lines of description on our service.

3.  Makes you think of what’s important to others.  You’re so involved in creating the product and serving customers, you sometimes forget what’s important to others (e.g. “what’s your business model”, “is it scalable”).  The pitch makes you think of things that you normally don’t consdier day to day.

Now the only question is how long really is an elevator ride.  Do you have any advice on the Elevator Pitch?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

The Need for "Holistic" Security

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

After seeing the title of this post, I know you’re thinking I’m now into yoga or alternative medicine.  When I’m saying “holistic” security, it’s meant more in terms of taking a more global view of security…not making sure you bring a gun while shopping at Whole Foods. 

Here’s an example of what I mean: I’m sitting in a Starbucks yesterday doing some work.  I drop my computer bag and walk over to make an order.  Even though I’m only 15 feet away from my computer, and I can see it the entire time, I get nervous about someone stealing it.  So I get out of the line, grab my computer and stand back in line with my Dell laptop (and my iPad…because I’m a big nerd).  What strikes me about this is how concerned we are about the physical security of property, but are more cavalier with online/non-physical security — e.g. we go to countless sites with dodgy security and no idea who the site owners are. 

This is crazy.  I mean a lot more negative things can happen to me from online security issues than someone stealing my laptop (let’s not talk about anyone stealing my iPad…i couldn’t bear the thought).  My identity, my credit, my bank accounts can all be compromised with an online issue.  With the physcial security issue, all they get is a laptop that is encrypted and can be remotely zapped to prevent any compromise of data. 

I know this sounds like a set up for a sales pitch on KikScore, and I guess it is a bit, but the main point is that being “protected” or “safe” should also consider online activities.

I’m done preaching.  Any thoughts?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Do You Need To Travel To Succeed in Business?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

If you work for a big company, travel seems less like a luxury and more like a nuisance.  Sure, everyone talks about the need for “belt tightening”, but even through the most severe economic crisis we’ve faced in years, I traveled more for my day job than ever before.  How could this be?  The rationale is that during the difficult economic conditions, retaining customers is the highest priority (so off we went, visiting customers). 

I’m about to do a three week stint, traveling to the East Coast, the Midwest and the South.  The trips are all important, but if this were on my own nickel, I’m not sure if they would be necessary.  Which brings me to my point…I do have a point.  For small/start-up businesses, the math involving the cost of a trip and the benefit from it becomes crystal clear.  There are no meet-and-greet trips when  you’re financing the trip.  You only go when there is a contract to sign or an important relationship to forge.  Otherwise, conference calls and webinars work just fine.

Shouldn’t that be how large companies also opertate?  If I the travel budget were more tied to executive pay, I guarantee that there would be a higher scrutiny of costs and need for a trip.  Of course nothing can substitute a face-to-face meeting, but do you need a perfect substitute?  What if I can only do webinars with a customer, but give him a 5% break on his bill?  Would that engender more good will and customer loyalty than a steak dinner and forced conversation?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Ahoy, Matey! Pirates and Business

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

If you open your eyes and mind, it’s amazing where you can find business lessons in everyday life.  The book I am reading, Michael Crichton’s final novel: Pirate Latitudes takes the concept of war from the pirate’s view.  There are a good number of similarities to small business and overtaking your competition to be learned from it.  To come up with a new business idea, it doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘new’ but ‘better’ is critical to success.

Here’s some lessons that the privateers (often mistaken for pirates) of long ago still apply…

Build a good team – When Captain Hunter came up with his risky idea of attempting capture of a Spanish treasure ship in a far off, dangerous and assumed well protected island, he needed a strong team to accomplish the quest. Building the right team for business success can be tricky, but you can’t do it alone.   Delegate responsibilities that foster team member’s strengths.

Create a more comprehensive solution – After overtaking the treasure ship, the privateers are stalked by a Spanish warship that is more heavily armed with both men and weaponry. The weakened privateers come up with a risky yet tactical solution to attempt to take down the larger ship. Creativity and doing something different with your current resources is a strong business sense. KikScore wasn’t the first trust seal out there, but it is different and more comprehensive than the competition

Overtake the competition – I’m not finished reading Pirate Latitudes yet, so I’m only theorizing here… but based upon the creativity noted above and their zeal to secure the stolen treasure, I have confidence the privateers will conquer the larger warship and bring home the gold.  Obviously in business, war is not the best option, yet clever advertising and getting your business message out there can overtake the competition.   A strong and consistent approach helps.

Pirates and privateers are mysterious, resourceful and have a rather catchy form of conversation.

How is your business pirating through the marketplace?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Business Roadblocks — Is Growth Our Own Worst Enemy?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

One of the reasons I enjoy being part of the KikScore is the fact that it is our own business.  Sure we have meetings and on big decisions we need to get a majority vote, but generally I can do whatever is in the best interest of the company. 

The flip is true for my day job.  No decision can simply be made.  I must first draft a compelling email, then create an attractive power-point presentation, and finally convince our legal/compliance department that I’m not the anti-christ (which is harder than you may think).  I would say that despite having a full-time job dedicated to creating new opportunities,  I spend less than 50% of time actually doing it.  The rest is overcoming internal process.

So is that what is really meant when we say that small businesses are “nimble”?  Is it that they don’t have internal machinations dedicated solely to preventing risk or is it because entrepreneurs are able to make quick decisions (and why they are their own bosses in the first place)? 

A better question is: can you ever avoid creating your own business roadblocks?  Every small company that is successful eventually becomes a larger one.  At that point, the larger company has a business to actually protect and risk takes on new meaning.  Certainly a small business doesn’t fret about risk as much, because they are “judgment proof” — meaning that if they are ever sued, the business simply packs it up and the owners move onto something else.  With a larger business, it can actually pay a judgment and risk means something (at least to the shareholders).  Perfect example is my day job.  10 years ago, it was a start-up with 3 employees.  Decisions were fast and the business grew faster.  Now we are part of a larger organization and our growth is a fraction of what it used to be.  On the other hand, we’re very profitable now (and were not in the beginning).  So risk means something to us.

What do you think…is there a way to avoid this?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

  • Share/Bookmark