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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

How Do You Judge A Website?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Let’s assume that you are shopping from a website that doesn’t use our KikScore service.  Why?  I don’t know…maybe you like to live dangerously.  How do you judge website (and the corresponding business)?  I don’t know about you, but it’s very similar to judging a book by a cover.  I mean, it is a marketing tool, so you are supposed to make decisions on the information and images that it provides.  But in making your surface-level decisions, here are some tips in helping you form a better non-kikscore shopping experience:

1.  Contact information:  A warning sign for a less than robust shopping experience would be the lack of contact information (outside a email address).  A phone number isn’t necessarily a guarantee of a great company, but knowing a mailing address, twitter info and other pieces of contact information is a good indicator that a company is interested in being having satisfied customers.

2.  Management Bios —  A site that provides actual names and backgrounds of its management team is another indication that it is trying to be transparent (and reachable).  Looking at the experience of the management team should give you an indication of prior achievement in business and, relatedly, an understanding of being trustworthy in business (at least it’s more of an indication than a faceless corporate or product name).

3.  Privacy Policy:  A privacy policy is a voluntary commitment, but it is an commitment and clear indication of what a company will do with your information post-transaction. 

4.  Look and Feel of the Site:  A sharp looking site with a minimum number of typos is a commitment.  Serious and professional business people will take the time to convey the right image and message.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

KikScore Interviews Zadyball Creator Alayna Slinker

Monday, May 10th, 2010

While recently shopping for a unique baby gift for a friend’s newest arrival, I stumbled upon Zadyball – a unique toy that combines the things babies love best: putting soft stuff in their mouth and having a snuggle buddy.  If only I’d found this when my daughter was that small!  Zadyball is a small company that is doing wonders for moms and babies around the globe!  We are very thankful that Alayna took the time to  share the exciting Zadyball journey with KikScore.

1. Tell us about Zadyball and who you focus on serving?

A Zadyball is a handcrafted toy designed with babies in mind. They are soft to hold and cuddle, and have lots of knotted fabric strings to grab and rub. Zadyball is easy for young babies to hold on to, and it quickly becomes a favorite!

I made the first Zadyball in 2004 when my son was about 6 months old. He had a stuffed animal with a knotted string for a tail. He loved playing with the string, and would rub it to help him fall asleep. Since the string was his favorite part of the toy, I decided to make a toy for him with lots of strings for him to play with.

He loved that ball SO much and took it with him everywhere we went, and refused to sleep without it.

We got comments on it all the time, usually to the effect of “what is that thing?” And, after I explained it, many people said “hey, my kid would like that too!” So, I decided to start making them for my friends and giving them as gifts at baby showers. Other shower guests started offering to buy them from me, and I eventually started selling them online and in small stores all over the world.

Our focus is to bring a little bit of happiness to the lives of babies and their families.

2. Where will Zadyball focus most of its energy in 2010?

This year, I’ve been focusing on giving the website a bit of a “facelift”. I’ve been working on improving the product images as well as optimizing the website for search engines.

3. If you had 2 lessons learned from your business that you could pass on to others about having an online business, what are those?

One thing that I’ve learned is that quality pictures are CRUCIAL to online sales. In a “real” store, people can use all five senses to view a product. They can pick it up, shake it, feel it, throw it, even smell and taste it if they really want to. But, the only sense that is available when buying online is SIGHT. So, what they are seeing had better look good!

The second thing I’ve learned is how important it is to be unique. When shopping online, buyers can view products from all over the world side-by-side. You have to be one of a kind in order to stand out.

4. If your business/store could be any movie or movie character, what movie/movie character would it be and why?

Well, I think that to run my business, I’d like to be like Elasta-Girl from The Incredibles. I have to be flexible in order to make everything work. And I couldn’t do it without my family by my side – with all their super strengths!

5. If Zadyball could have a dream spokesperson for your company who would it be and why?

A fabulously stylish mom who wants to have fantastic toys for her children.  Someone who people can relate to.

6. How do the folks at Zadyball let loose after a busy day working?

In addition to running my business, I am a full-time mother of three, so I don’t have a lot of down-time.  Most often, my work is done while they are sleeping. But, my best times are spent just hanging out with my favorite people – my little munchkins, and my wonderful husband.

7. Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

Never become complaisant. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your business and your product. And listen to your customers – they are the best source for great ideas!

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Sometimes the Best Security is Common Sense

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

This past weekend I spent a lot of time online researching software.  Sounds pretty uneventful (even a bit nerdy).  But unfortunately, I was doing the research after I purchased it and attempted to load it on my computer.  At that point McAfee warned me that many users have indicated that the software (that I paid $70 for) was malware/spyware.  Then and only then did I have the bright idea to research the service.  Wouldn’t you know it, I just paid $70 to infect my home computer.  I’m not stupid (not always), so why did I do this?  Because a friend recommended the software — and he seemed savvy, so I blindly bought without researching the service or the company. 

A recent posting by PC World shows that I’m not alone.  Routinely consumers share sensitive personal information on social media sites, in blog posts and responding to phishing scams.  In fact almost 40% of surveyed users indicated that they have posted their full birth dates (including year) on a social media site.  At the same time I bet most of these people shred their bills and sensitive mail.  Why even bother…you’re basically emailing fraudsters the keys to your house when you provide personal identifying information online.  In fact, that’s happened too, where people have been robbed by FaceBook “friends” after indicating that they are going on vacation. 

Without revealing any sensitive information about yourself, please share any unintentional disclosures you have made online.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

What Sells a Product: Marketing or Functionality?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

In both my day job and with KikScore, there is a raging debate…what really drives consumers to buy your product or service?  If you talk with the product team, it’s the features and capabilities of your product.  Customers are stunned by the available features of your product and must have it.  The sheer elegance of this service makes your product a customer priority.

On the other hand, the sales team is convinced it can sell “ice to an Eskimo”…that regardless of the product, through persuasiveness, a salesperson can convince a shopper to become a customer.   Don’t even get me started on the branding team…they literally believe that the choice of font will dictate the annual revenues.  They may be right, but it’s only for really cool fonts.

Who’s right?  This is an important question, as it really dictates how resources are allocated.  For KikScore, we’ve been working hard on product features and new services.  Sounds like a good idea, but that means we are not applying time and money towards marketing and sales/creating new channel relationships. 

There really is no way to find out the right balance.  Successful products magically seem to have great features, slick marketing and a very solid sales team.  Is it a chicken and egg scenario?  Or do all of these need to exist before your product takes off?

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Diary of a Startup: Staying in Touch

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

KikScore is made up of 7 team members.  We are on 2 different time zones.  Several of our members travel regularly for their day jobs.  One of us has a consulting business that requires odd-hour projects.  All of this adds up to difficulty in scheduling time to talk. 

And by “talk” I mean talking about the direction of the business as a whole.  Because we have side calls with partners, channels and customers.  We also have subset discussion focused on marketing and technology.  Not that this is unique to KikScore, but I would say that 50% of our time is not spent on plotting strategy.  Instead we focus on delivering product and satisfying partner/customer requests. 

One of the things I worry about is staying “in touch”.  Talking isn’t enough.  As I describe above, the KikScore team talks a lot, but we need more time to think together.  While most of us are in one city, it doesn’t mean we sit down each week and just talk about general direction.  We are so busy with opportunities, we’re focused on getting through the day.  So how do you preserve the connection that first brought you together?  I have no idea.  We’re trying to use Skype and get together for lunches related solely to strategy, but as we work on more projects, those lunches are turning into project status meetings.  It’s a challenge.

I throw this out to the readers…any suggestions in rekindling our long conversations on strategy?

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

How the NFL Draft Can Help You With Online Trust

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

This is one of my favorite times of the year for sports.  The time of hope, promise and turnaround.  That means it is time for the NFL Draft!  My team, the Cleveland Browns, always enters this part of the year and the draft with hopes of getting the amazing college football prospect that will revitalize the team, give us a winning season for once and hopefully (yeah right) a trip to the Super Bowl.  The issue is that you never know if a player your team picks in the draft is going to turn out like you hoped and will deliver on all of the expectations you have built up for them or turn out to be a bust.  Or worse yet, that player ends up breaking the law and not only is he a bust, but he then becomes a shame to the team and the city.  In many ways this is similar to the issue of figuring out who you can trust online for doing business and for online shopping.

In the NFL Draft process, the teams that do the best job are the ones that do the most diligence on the college football prospects.  These are just some of the things that NFL teams and scouts do in the diligence and research process before selecting a player in the draft:

1) Conduct extensive background checks;

2) Put players through multiple interviews and give them tests;

3) Review, analyze and dissect a player’s past performances in college games and;

4) Talk to their coaches, teachers and other experts.

That is all done before draft day and before a player is selected.  And its all done on hundreds of players.  The interesting thing is what NFL teams are looking for in college players is very  similar to what shoppers look for before buying online: 1) a track record of success; 2) good character; 3) reliability and trustworthiness; 4) the ability to deliver and meet expectations and 5) someone you can depend on and that can be your “go to” person.

All of these traits are exactly what people look for for in businesses that operate online as indications of whether you can trust that business.  The commonality between the NFL teams that put players through these tests and online shoppers is: Information!  Information is king.  It is not only having access to that information but it is also having the right information about trustworthiness and reliability to make an informed decision about buying from an online store or selecting a contractor or consultant online that you have come across online.

So next time you are out looking to buy online or select a contractor, be like an NFL scout and look for these types of information. That will help you stay safe when you are shopping online.  Also businesses that have a KikScore seal certainly help shoppers get much of this trust and reliability information.  But just make sure you end up selecting the next Tom Brady and not Ryan Leaf when you decide to do business online!

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Business Lessons from the NFL Draft

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

First off, let me admit.  This isn’t going to be a highly researched blog post.  Not a shocker, as I love to write about whatever I’m watching on TV.  And what I’m watching is the NFL draft.  Specifically, I”m watching my Minnesota Vikings passing up on selecting Jimmy Clausen in the first round — trading their position in the draft to the Detroit Lions.  This leads to no pick in the first round.  About an hour ago, I was climbing the walls, as the Vikings need a quarterback, and Jimmy Clausen (though he’s from Notre Dame) is a good player. 

An hour has passed and I’m no longer doubting the wisdom of my team, as the first round is over and Jimmy Clausen hasn’t been picked and when the second round starts up tomorrow, the Vikings get to pick the second player of the day.  The Vikings showed patience and they’ll pick up the player they need (hopefully) and also gain picks from Detroit.  So, in watching the first round of the draft, I’ve taken away a few business lessons for KikScore:

1.  Patience generally pays off — ok, I’m being a bit influenced on Michael Lewis’ Moneyball on this — generally reputations are overrated, and role players are interchangeable.  Let others’ impatience work to your advantage and squeeze your competitors as hard as possible when they don’t realize the actual market value of an asset.

2.  Quantity beats Quality — at least in terms of talent selection.  Put another way, would you rather have one A student or three B+ students.  I’ll take the several B students — as there are too many D students out there that you may wind up with.

3.  Position is Key — If you really need a project manager, coming across a great salesperson doesn’t really help you. Draft for you business based on need.

I think that’s the best I can do for business lessons from the draft.  If you haven any suggestions, shoot them on over.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Has the Recession Led to an Increase of Online Fraud?

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Unemployment is officially around 10% (and there are estimates that the real unemployment is likely 20%).  It is likely that we’ll see this high level of unemployment for the next few years.  Does the recession and unemployment pose a threat to online security?

There have been a few articles linking the recession to an increase of online fraud.  Most of them are anecdotal (citing some instances of shoppers being scammed online), or bad math (saying that claims of online crime have gone up in 2008 and 2009 — forgetting that online shopping grew in those years as well).

The logic makes sense — that desperate times bring out the worst in people.  Cutting in favor of the argument is that it has never been easier to set up a website and start a (fraudulent) business.  The other way to look at it is that with individuals becoming more savvy online, fraudsters will have to be more sophisticated in their criminal activities (making it more unlikely that the newly unemployed just start committing online fraud).

Right now the jury seems to be out, but feel free to share your thoughts (or some conclusive studies on the link between online fraud and the recession).

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

My Business is Hooked on the Internet (and Mad at Windows 7).

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

The other day I purchased a new computer (from the good folks at Dell…though they never hooked me up with a discount that I pleaded for on Twitter).  Love the computer and the new Windows 7 operating system.  I spend most of last weekend converting files and uploading all my computers to Windows 7.  All was right with the world. 

Then my home wireless network disappeared.  I couldn’t find it on my iphone or any of my computers.  Turns out that a lot of people that upgrade to Windows 7 have this same problem with their home network.  Since I’m not a full-blown technologist, I wasted most of Monday trying to trouble-shoot.  No success.  So I break down and call Geek Squad.  They are coming over tomorrow to fix. 

Besides being a pain, in the last couple of days, I’ve realized how much my business (personal and KikScore) relies on the ready availability of the Internet.  I can get by on certain things with my phone, but to really run a business, you need a computer hooked up to the Internet.  Which is really the opposite of how it used to be.  Back in the day, the Internet was a diversion to work…now it’s essential for business.  It’s more like a utility.

While it’s been an interesting social experiment — i’m ready for the return of my normal life.  I’ve got a lot riding on you Geek Squad.  Don’t let me (or my business) down.  As for you, Windows 7…you’ve got a lot of ground to make up.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

How Did My Credit Card Go To Europe Before I Could?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

A few weeks ago, I’m standing in line at Chipotle, ready to pay.  The cashier runs my card several times, each indicating a decline.  It’s getting embarrassing because not only am I holding up the line, but my friends now think I can’t afford a $6 burrito. 

In a twist of fate, I actually had cash on hand, so I paid and returned to my seat in shame.  Let me reassure everyone that I can afford a $6 burrito…in fact I can afford up to seven $6 burritos (hopefully I’ve laid that terrible rumor to rest).  The lunch banter steers away from me (which is always painful), so I’m sitting there pretending to listen while I try to remember if I paid my credit card bill.  I secretly used my iPhone and logged into my credit card site.  Everything looks good.  What the hell is going on?!

I then spend the entire Saturday working my way through several unhelpful menus and operators — and I finally reach someone from the fraud department.  I must answer a battery of questions to prove I’m truly Dojo Mike.  Then the gentlemen says “let me run through a few recent transactions”

Me: Ok

Credit Card:  Did you recently purchase $40 at [online company withheld]

Me: Yep

Credit Card:  How about $7,000 in Milan?

Me: Italy?

CC: Yes.

Me: Uh no.

Appears that I had made an online purchase that wasn’t secure.  Now a couple copies of my credit card were on an extended European vacation — spending a lot of time (and money) in Italy.  I had to cancel the card and put fraud alerts on my credit report for all three credit bureaus.  I’m also “encouraged” by the credit card company to monitor my bank accounts and online investments. 

I know online shopping is very convenient, but when security comes into question, the ill-prepared businesses can cause their shoppers quite a few headaches (and liabilities).  Clearly this is related to KikScore (as all online sites should use it to help prevent similar issues for their customers), but this truly did happen to me — and I’ll never shop at that online store again.  I’m also jealous that my credit card was able to enjoy Italy before me.

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