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How To Grow Your Business After COVID-19

business

How To Grow Your Business After COVID-19

COVID-19 has upset economic forecasts and forced many companies worldwide to rethink their business strategy plan for the future. Finding success during this unprecedented time has been a painful process for many companies. Although the pandemic has brought new hurdles to businesses across the globe, it has also created loads of opportunities for retailers. A change in consumer behavior means more people are turning to online marketplaces for their shopping, which has redefined the position of ecommerce and online businesses in the retail sector. But this positive trend isn’t an assurance for future success. You need to develop a plan that intends the growth of your ecommerce business, in a post-pandemic context. Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Revise Your Current Marketing Strategy

Assess your current messaging process to establish whether you’re relaying the right message and positioning your business in the right way to succeed after the pandemic. This step will help you identify and get rid of marketing materials that don’t resonate with the current economic and social situation. Shun sending emails, updating on social media, or engaging in any marketing campaign that may seem insensitive.

Adjust your brand’s messaging to be in line with the unique needs and demands of your customers. Your message should show to both existing and potential customers the value they’ll get from buying your products or services. Offer appropriate, concise, and meaningful communication. Be sure to address the COVID-19 impacts, and the steps that you’re taking to bounce back big time. If you’re thinking about marketing your products to overseas consumers, consider entering a strategic partnership with a professional globalization partner. Optimizing your Global PEO strategy will always benefit your business’s revenues and will help you smoothly navigate your workforce abroad right after the pandemic.

2. Provide Unparalleled Digital Customer Experience

In a rapidly expanding ecommerce landscape where many sellers are providing the same products and services, offering better digital customer experience can set your business apart from your competitors. Some of the things that can help you deliver unrivaled digital customer experience include a smart and user-friendly interface, excellent support, efficient payment options, and the right technology infrastructure.

Poor networks and lack of strong data protection measures can easily damage an otherwise well-built customer experience. Websites and payment portals with poor loading speeds will drive customers away. Consumers will also avoid companies that are vulnerable to hacking and security breaches. So laying a solid foundational infrastructure for your ecommerce business can help it grow in leaps and bounds in the future.

3. Optimize Your Website and Incorporate Live Chat

Ensure your website is as responsive as possible and accessible on a wide array of devices. Enhance your website’s speed and ensure it’s extremely easy to use no matter the device the user is using to view it. Around 48 percent of people use mobile devices to search for product information and to shop. On top of that, 47 percent of digital shoppers prefer a site with a load speed of below two seconds. Avoid driving leads to competitors by creating a highly responsive and user-friendly site.

When a consumer is gathering product information while shopping, they expect answers to their questions right away. If they can’t get a quick response, they’re likely to move on to another online store. Live chat is almost equivalent to in-store customer service due to its ability to bring the advantages of human interactions. It adds a human touch to digital shopping. Most importantly, it can be done remotely.

4. Build Reliable and Diversified Supply Chains

The pandemic has demonstrated that the global economy relies extremely on supply chains, which are susceptible to disruption. With the increasing attention to digital customer experiences, ecommerce and online businesses must invest time and effort into consistently delivering products to consumers if they want to survive after COVID-19. Supply chain interruption can result in shipping and manufacturing setbacks if a company lacks a flexible plan to address ongoing demand.

In addition to investing in excellent network uptime, ecommerce businesses should look for multiple options for obtaining materials and labor. The best way to do this is nurturing relationships with a variety of suppliers, all of whom should have the capacity to comply with the intricate compliance requirements of different sectors. A globalization partner can also connect you with the best local vendors who’ll help you reliably deliver your products to your global customers.

5. Prepare for Capacity Growth

Invest in adequate technology infrastructures, such as servers and bandwidth, to help you deal with more ecommerce traffic. Do a thorough review of your past performances, revised marketing strategy, and latest ecommerce trends to gauge the amount of traffic you’re likely to attract. This information will be important in a proper estimation of demand and building the right capacity to exploit it.

Adopting cloud computing can help your business provide the best digital customer experience and react to ecommerce trends rapidly. It’s easy to upscale or downscale cloud computing capacity to handle growing demand quickly and effectively. For better control and flexibility, you can invest in a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

6. Be Transparent with Pricing and Consider Lowering Delivery Charges

Post-COVID-19, customer loyalty will be extremely crucial for your company. Consumers share their experiences, both positive and negative, on social media, and review sites. Negative reviews can have a major negative impact on your profits margin. Avoid concealing extra fees or details that may come as an undesirable surprise during the final stages of finalizing a purchase.  Be transparent from the initial stages to keep customers pleased and loyal.

A large number of regular online shoppers end up making more purchases when shipping is free or considerably low. Lowering or doing away with delivery charges could result in a significant uptick in sales. If your current profit margins can’t accommodate this, consider value addition. You can give a discounted delivery on purchases exceeding a specific value.

Conclusion

The high ecommerce demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to become permanent even after brick-mortar stores resume operation, especially if it follows the normal trends of online shopping habits. Companies that adapt quickly will stand a better chance at growing their businesses and expanding their profit margins by exploiting this great opportunity. The above 6 tips will help them grow their businesses even in post-pandemic circumstances.

data

What Do Consumers Want Now? The Data Knows.

Businesses seem to know more about you than you know about yourself.

Sign up for or log into any social media platform and you will encounter suggested buying options based on your personal interests or previous buying history.

There’s a reason for that. The market is a consumers’ market. Any company that wants the chance of long-term sustainability must know as much detailed information as possible about their ideal client or consumer, says Janét Aizenstros, Chairwoman & CEO of Ahava Digital Group (www.ahavadigital.com), a women-led digital consultancy that serves Fortune and multinational media companies in 15 locations globally using data and technology.

And it’s not just the business sector. Government agencies, political parties and private equity investors make decisions every day based on what data reveals to them about a person’s income, financial and buying habits, credit history, political identification, demographics, personal values, lifestyle, emotional sentiments, voting history, opinions and modeled behavior.

“Without good, verified data, decision-makers would have to rely on guesswork as they introduce products and services, plan an election campaign, or determine whether a community needs their next real estate project,” says Aizenstros, whose company gathers and provides ethically verified data to Fortune corporations seeking to nurture relationships with women consumers.

“Guesswork obviously is not the best approach, especially when millions of dollars are involved.” 

How do businesses use verified data to make short-term and long-term decisions for their consumers’ needs?

“Ideally, personal milestones change a person’s buying habits,” Aizenstros says. “Examples are highlights of becoming a new parent, moving to a new home, or getting married. If a business knows you’ve just had a baby, then they know you need car seats, toys, diapers and a host of other products they can market to you.”

Consumer data carries great value to businesses, but only if it’s verified, refreshed frequently and keeps up with data and privacy legislation changes by data being ethically-sourced, Aizenstros says.

Here are a few ways data is used to keep the economy, and the world in general, humming along:

Auto industryCar dealers need a good understanding of their potential customers’ income and what vehicles they might prefer based on lifestyle. GM, Ford, and others draw insights from consumer financial data and lifestyle data as they plan and implement marketing campaigns for new models.

Fashion industry. The fashion industry’s new focus is sustainability to capture the growing trend of fashionistas. The retail industry pre-COVID relied more on the human experience than the ecommerce experience for their consumers to make decisions. But now Estée Lauder, for example, has accelerated its focus on e-commerce because of the pandemic’s disruption to brick-and-mortar stores. With verified and predictive consumer data, fashion brands can quickly measure how customers react to ideas and make prompt adjustments accordingly.

Real estate. Real estate developers are always trying to figure out which areas of a community to focus on for their next investment. If they are slow to identify trends, they could miss out on making money. Data helps them monitor, for example, which areas of a city are showing a growing trend in mortgages and credit history.

Financial institutions. Financial institutions use data in such areas as credit-risk assessments or to send targeted offers of investment products to consumers.

“The reason obtaining ethically-sourced, verified data is so important to corporations is that they want to maximize their ad spend by diminishing their burn-and-churn rates,” Aizenstros says. “They need to know who their ideal client is and what they exactly want so the business can maximize their marketing investment by more than 90%.”

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Janét Aizenstros is Chairwoman & CEO of Ahava Group Global (www.ahavagroup.co), a modern media parent company that serves Fortune and multinational media companies in 15 locations globally. Her background includes roles in finance at TD Canada Trust, Canon, and Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls, along with management consulting in a broad range of functions, such as supply chain operations and data analysis. Aizenstros is a signatory with the United Nations Business Action Hub for the United Nations Global Compact program. She is an award-winning businesswoman with several leadership awards such as the Top 40 under 40, the Top 10 Inspiring Women in Canada, and 2019 Conscious Company Media’s Top 22 Business Leaders.

move fast

The Fallacy of Move Fast and Break Things

Ever since Mark Zuckerburg uttered the phrase “move fast and break things,” it has become the motto of many development teams. Companies wanting to be the next unicorn decided this must be the way to operate. The race was on to release more, ship faster, never stop. If moving slowly and methodically wasn’t working, doing more had to be the key to success.

These companies would cherry-pick statistics from reports like the Accelerate: State of DevOps Report. The 2019 report showed elite companies have 46x more frequent code deployments than low-performing teams and a 2,555x faster lead time to move from code commit to deploy to support their initiatives to move faster.

The problem is moving fast doesn’t work across industries or for all teams. And to effectively move fast, you need processes in place to support the velocity. The consequences of moving too fast and not being able to fix things when they break are high.

How we got here

What has gotten us to the point where we are moving too fast? In short, we have. How do you feel when it takes months or a week for a PR to be resolved compared to hours or days?  As consumers and end-users of software, our expectations are continually rising. We have to ship quickly because that is what we as consumers expect. As customers, we are pushing companies, which in turn pushes their employees to meet the increasing expectations.

What are the consequences when you try to move fast and not just break things, but fail?

-It takes longer to resolve incidents

-You lose customer confidence and sales

-Employees burnout and you have a high turnover rate

Let’s go back to the stats from the Accelerate: State of DevOps Report. Yes, elite teams ship faster. But, their changes are 1/7 as likely to fail and they recover from incidents 2,604x faster than low-performing teams. It’s not just about moving fast and breaking things; it is about having the right systems and processes in place to support this way of working.

Setting yourself up for success

You need two things to effectively move fast: a culture of psychological safety and smart investments in tooling. Employees need to feel empowered to speak up if things are moving too fast, if they are concerned about why a feature is being built, and to identify gaps in the processes. They need to feel they won’t be blamed when something breaks. Building this requires empathy, open communication, and teamwork.  This psychological safety is the foundation of being able to move quickly and quickly recover when things break.

Next up is selecting the right tooling and processes. Invest in tools that make things easier. Tools should be useful, usable, and change the underlying problems, not create more.

Think about the tools in place to quickly resolve incidents when something fails.

-Observability and monitoring tools to identify and notify when things go wrong

-Incident management tools to route, track, and escalate issues

-Feature management tools to enable circuit breakers and load shedding to turn off features quickly.

The culture and tools are part of the equation; the final piece is having the right processes in place to effectively use the tools and support the people.

What are some processes you can implement to enable safety at speed?

-Schedule chaos days to understand how things break and know how to fix them

-Release features via targeted rollouts, betas, or canary launches

-Test code in production without exposing it to all users

-Configure operational feature flags to dynamically change logging levels when an incident occurs

-Run experiments to gather feedback and ensure features are moving in the right direction before a release

You should attempt to move fast, you should try to break things—but only when you have the right protections and processes in place. Using a combination of the right tools and processes, you can deliver more value faster without sacrificing quality or your employees’ health.

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Dawn Parzych is a developer advocate at LaunchDarkly, the feature management platform that software teams use to build better software, faster with less risk. Development teams use feature management as a best practice to separate code deployments from feature releases. With LaunchDarkly teams control their entire feature lifecycles from concept to launch to value. Learn more at https://launchdarkly.com.

What Is Your Definition Of Success? 5 Tips To Find It.

While building and maintaining a thriving business may not be easy, experts in entrepreneurial endeavors say that building a personal brand first is key. In fact, some studies show that today’s consumers trust big brands less and prefer buying from a person they view as authentic and relatable. But before building a personal brand, it’s important for an entrepreneur to define what constitutes their own brand of success, says Ngan Nguyen (www.nganhnguyen.com), an intuitive strategist and author of Self-Defined Success: You Have Everything It Takes.

“Fulfillment and extraordinary results only come when you strive to achieve your authentic success,” Nguyen says. “The key is figuring out what that is and navigating that path. The good news is that we each already have everything it takes to navigate that path. It is essential, because we each have unique gifts, passions, and talents that can create amazing impact in the world and differentiate ourselves and our businesses.”

Nguyen offers five ways to define your own brand of success that can lead to running a successful business:

Get unstuck by unleashing your inner self. “We feel stuck when there is a lack of clarity and the path in front of us is not aligned with our authenticity,” Nguyen says. “Stagnancy and negative happenings force us to look inside ourselves at who we really are and what we really want. Detail those things, and now you’ll have the blueprint to create change and growth. Getting clear on this enables us to lead ourselves and our business to forge ahead on a new path.”

Act on your new authenticity. “Our full potential comes out when we are fully committed to creating a result that fully expresses who we are and what we love,” Nguyen says. “Without that clarity and without acting upon our newly discovered authentic selves, there will always be a bit of reservation. And with that reservation comes lackluster results that are not a reflection of our true potential.”

Keep the vision in mind. Nguyen says much of our untapped potential lies in unused intelligence. “Leaders who leverage their vision can effectively navigate a path to success in a competitive marketplace,” Nguyen says. “Any vision that we can imagine, this infinite intelligence knows how to bring about. The question is how we go about influencing our subconscious in the right way so that it serves us. We do this by holding and keeping an image of a life we desire, and feeding it through repetition long enough that our mind goes to work to aid us in creating it.”

Make your passion your fuel. “The power to create extraordinary results requires this critical ingredient,” Nguyen says. “Passion is contagious, ignites the heart, and motivates the team. It energizes and sparks the pull forward through all barriers, uncertainty, and challenges.”

Have the will to make decisions that move toward your dream. Nguyen says the difference between those who make their dreams happen and those who don’t isn’t always a matter of intelligence but often is a matter of consistent will in decision-making.

“You must have the intention to keep moving forward,” Nguyen says. “There is an energy shift that is experienced in the decision-making process, where a desire goes from wanting to being because you’ve concluded that the dream must come true no matter what.”

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Ngan Nguyen (www.nganhnguyen.com) is the author of Self-Defined Success: You Have Everything It Takes, and the founder/CEO of Cintamani Group, an executive coaching and consulting firm. Nguyen coaches on leadership and empowers entrepreneurs as an intuitive strategist. With over a decade of business strategy experience as an advisor to Fortune 100 companies, Nguyen is also a certified master-level intelligent leadership executive coach with John Mattone and was an analyst for McKinsey & Company. Nguyen graduated with a double honors degree in biochemistry-biophysics and bioengineering from Oregon State University and completed a research fellowship at MIT in nanotechnology.

JONES ACT REPEAL WOULD BOOST U.S. ECONOMY: STUDY

A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that repeal of the Jones Act would produce economic gains for the U.S. of up to $64 billion.

The Jones Act mandates that all cargo shipped between U.S. ports be transported on ships built in the U.S. and bearing the U.S. flag, as well as owned and crewed by Americans. But by eliminating foreign competition, the law significantly increases the cost of shipping between American ports, argues LIBRE Initiative President Daniel Garza.

“First signed into law nearly a century ago, the Jones Act raises costs for every American consumer–particularly those in areas that are relatively isolated and which depend heavily on shipborne commerce,” Garza says. “It also hurts the competitiveness of exports, undermining job growth. This study by the OECD shows that not only will repealing this outdated law boost our economy, it will even increase the competitiveness and economic output of the shipbuilding sector–the very industry the law is supposed to be helping.”

Reform would introduce competition that would force a reduction in the cost of U.S.-built ships, potentially leading to an increase in demand of 70 percent–expanding the size of the shipbuilding sector from $841 million to $1.43 billion, states the OECD report. “It’s far past time for Congress to repeal this outdated law,” Garza says. “Doing so will help American consumers and producers. What are we waiting for?”

OPEI/Harris Poll Reveals Consumers Assume Fuel Safety at the Pump

For the last six years in a row, research has confirmed consumers at the gas pump are simply unaware of exactly what kind of fuel is being purchased, along with the potential risks at hand to small engine products such as snowmobiles, golf cars, and transport motor vehicles, according to findings discovered in a study by Harris Poll and Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

“Higher ethanol blends, like E15, E30, and E85, are illegal to use in most outdoor power equipment and can damage or destroy it, and invalidate manufacturer’s warranties in many cases,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI in response to a recent poll revealing consumers are simply confused when at the pump.

The survey revealed that 61 percent of American consumers assume fuel safety while only 20 percent state they actually notice the ethanol content.

“Unsurprisingly, the latest findings only further reinforce the notion that year-round sales of E15 will needlessly introduce additional confusion into the marketplace,” said National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich. “We need the government to eliminate barriers for boaters to enjoy a day on our nation’s waterways, not create additional risks that jeopardize their safety. We stand ready to work with both lawmakers and the broader industry to identify policy solutions that protect consumers and their families from the dangers of misfuelling.”

The below infographic provided by OPEI outlines tips for consumers to consider when selecting fuel options: