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The Importance of Having Local Business Listings

business listings

The Importance of Having Local Business Listings

In this day and age, it is clear that having a strong online presence is very important for any company. Business owners know that having a functional, informative, and visually attractive website will draw in more customers. The same goes for a strong social media presence. We’re sure that you’re marketing your business on Instagram, Facebook, and so on. However, what people sometimes don’t think about are local business listings sites. In this article, we’ll explain the importance of having local listings and why utilizing such listings would be beneficial for your business.

You’re Easier to Find if Your Name is in the Phonebook

Basically, think about local business listings as a sort of a digital-era phonebook. Nowadays, whenever people need information on a certain kind of business, they’ll most likely look for it online. Local business listings can introduce them to a variety of companies offering the kind of service or product they need, based on the potential customers’ area. For example, people looking for moving companies in New York would find the company Dumbo Moving and Storage Brooklyn, as well as important information such as the company’s working hours, address, link to the company’s website, and its phone number. As a lot of queries also specify the location of the kind of business they’re interested in, having your business on these area-based listings can help you a great deal.

Posting important information on local business listings is not hard to do and it doesn’t take much time. It is an easy way to improve your digital marketing. So, why waste the opportunity to efficiently attract new customers? There’s even a good chance that interested parties will give you a call right away. People often use the internet on their smartphones, so it’s very easy and convenient for them to call you as soon as they find your number on local business listings. And if you receive a phone call, then you’re already halfway to securing new customers.

SEO Benefits

Apart from this obvious advantage that local business listings provide, there are more “under the hood” benefits as well. Namely, they can increase your search engine visibility and overall brand visibility. If you’re paying attention to the keywords you use, then you’ll be pleased to learn that local business listings do the same. They’ll most likely use the same or similar keywords you’ve used, thus generally improving your SEO. These sites usually have significant domain authority. Even if your potential customers don’t find your website while using the specific keyword, they’re likely to find your profile on local business listings.

What’s more, the benefits to your search engine visibility don’t stop there. The people working for the major search engine companies like to compare their data with data found on such sites. If your information is there and it is consistent, search engines will deem your business to be more reliable and trustworthy. And if it’s not, they might think that you’re running a shady business, causing your SEO to degrade.

Local Business Listings Can Improve Your Reputation

The importance of local business listings in terms of your reputation isn’t only related to SEO. Potential customers themselves might think that it’s strange that your company isn’t listed there. They might consider it a red flag, warning them to take their business elsewhere. Even if they’ve already heard of your company, finding another one on local business listings might make them call that company and end their search right there and then.

On the other hand, local business listings also offer user reviews. If your company is not only listed there, with all the up-to-date, relevant information, but it also has a lot of good reviews, that’s often all it takes to secure a customer. While we know that many company owners often fear reviews, if you don’t have faith that you’ll receive good user reviews (in other words, if you’re not sure that you’re providing a quality service and/or products), then you have more pressing matters at hands than thinking about the importance of local business listings. However, if you are good at what you do, then you can expect the positive reviews on such sites to help you significantly. You can even post the same reviews on social media or on your website.

When it comes to your reputation, it is also worth noting that some business listings will include your information without your knowledge. This information could be incorrect. What’s more, your competitors can also use these listings to harm your company (this doesn’t happen often, but it is possible). Setting up your profile by yourself on local business listings will prevent that from happening.

Five Most Important Business Listings

So, utilizing local business listings is easy and can generally only help your business. The only thing to consider is which business listings to use. We’ve prepared a list of the five most important ones to help you out:

-Google My Business

-Yelp for Business Owners

-Yahoo Business Listing

-Bing Places for Business

-Facebook Business

There’s not too much difference between these five listings. They are all free and easy to use and setup. However, Yahoo Business Listing will require you to pay 9.95$ every month to allow you to include pictures, which could be important depending on the type of business you run. They also offer the option of paying 29.99$ every month. Choosing this option is recommended because Yahoo’s employees will then include your business in about 40 other local business listings as well, thus saving you some time.

Facebook Business is also highly recommended because many people are using Facebook to find businesses in their area, even if you are mostly doing business with baby boomers. Unlike other business listings, this one not only makes it easy for potential customers to call you, but it also makes it easy for them to message you, if that’s their preferred way of doing business.

Of course, these five sites are just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t stop there and try to include your business in as many local business listings as possible (even if you’ve paid for Yahoo Business’ 29.99$ option). Taking the time to do so means that you’ll have less time to dedicate to running your business, but in the long run – it’s definitely worth it.

e-commerce

Shipping Solutions Keep Pace with E-Commerce’s Global Reach

I recently came across a study in which 80 percent of executives from leading U.S. e-commerce companies said they considered expansion to international markets “critical” to future growth.  The survey also revealed that Canada, Western Europe and Asia account for most international sales from U.S. websites, followed by China and Japan.  

These findings are indicative of the “no-turning-back” mentality taking place among retailers, as the reality of the growing global e-commerce marketplace takes hold. U.S. retailers now look beyond their borders and see a world in which 80 percent of B2C e-commerce sales are taking place outside of North America, and in which consumers are increasingly open to shopping across borders.

International e-commerce sales have become so pervasive in fact, almost 60 percent of shoppers say they made an international purchase in the past six months. That number jumps to almost 63 percent for European consumers, and 58 percent for Asia-Pacific shoppers.

This is especially true within the lucrative U.S./Canada trade relationship, with as much as one-third of Canadian e-commerce purchases going to U.S. sites, and more than 60 percent of Canadians having made an international purchase in the last six months. 

Today consumers across the globe, including in emerging and developing countries, have unprecedented access to brands and product selections online. Consider, for example, that 75 percent of online shoppers in India and 61 percent of shoppers in Nigeria have made international purchases. It’s no wonder then the value of retail e-commerce is surging and projected to be valued at almost $5 trillion by 2021, just two years from now.

For smart retailers, the customers are there. The challenge is to connect with consumers in a way that aligns with their local customs and expectations to localize transactions and fine-tune the customer experience. And, since ensuring seamless deliveries is an important part of any customer experience, it’s essential to understand that international logistics resources are possible today that were unthinkable just a few years ago.

Meeting customer expectations – in every country

In thinking about satisfying expectations, a retailer will come to understand that the world’s consumers essentially want the same things when shopping online:  

  • Consistent inventory across all channels
  • Detailed product information 
  • Site navigation in their native languages
  • Prices listed in local currencies
  • Online payment/currency-conversion capability
  • Access to rebates and other savings incentives
  • Fast delivery – what they want, delivered when they want it.

A retailer must dedicate time to market research as a way to understand consumer preferences and dislikes.  You need to make sure there’s demand for your product, determine who your competitors are, and then find your competitive advantage. A good logistics strategy will be an integral part of that competitive advantage because seamless, on-time deliveries – and hassle-free returns – are among the most important deliverables for consumers all over the world.  

PriceWaterhouse Cooper’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey asked consumers in 27 countries about their shipment expectations. Among the more interesting findings, is the impact mega-retailers including Amazon, Alibaba and Net-a-Porter have had in defining global consumer expectations. Global consumer expectations include free shipping (72 percent), free return shipping (65 percent), package tracking (54 percent) and same-day delivery (50 percent).

To accommodate these globally-shared expectations, international retailers are building logistics strategies that create the “look and feel” of a domestic delivery – despite being an ocean or a continent away.  Italian customers don’t really care if customs delays affected a shipment leaving the United States, or that bad weather over the Atlantic forced a shipment to be re-routed. They just want their packages delivered on time, as promised. Every time.

Behind the scenes, logistics providers are working to expand their international footprints, to ensure capabilities are in place to help businesses meet their delivery promises.  For example, my company recently announced a $1B investment in the future, including a new national hub set to open in Toronto in 2021.  You’ll find similar developments happening around the world.

Technology and innovation are also allowing logistics companies to provide levels of service that were unthinkable as recently as a few years ago. Some of those solutions include: 

-Customized solutions. Shipping companies can support a retailer by providing a wide range of options to build the best solution for a particular customer’s needs. Shippers have traditionally been bound by rigid carrier schedules; today, a solution can meet a specific need. For example, a shipment traveling from southern California to Ontario would benefit from direct linehaul service to the border, followed by induction into a Canadian distribution center. The direct linehaul could conceivably shave two to three days from a “traditional” Canada-bound schedule.

-Different modes of transportation. Hybrid solutions might integrate ground service with a rail or air component, depending on a particular situation. In fact, 2018 was a particularly strong year for intermodal volume on U.S. railroad, according to the Journal of Commerce.

-Expedited service. For shipments to Europe, Asia, Latin America, or even across North America, a retailer can take advantage of unprecedented expedited air solutions. We used to think of “expedited” as a solution reserved for extreme emergencies, but today, retailers increasingly rely on expedited air solutions because of its guaranteed, anywhere/anytime capabilities.

-Cross-border expertise. Efficiencies in customs management now make it possible for shipments to move swiftly across international borders. Experienced providers will ensure maximum efficiency in the clearance process, including assignment of the proper tariff classification code. Getting the tariff classification correct is important because an incorrect classification will delay a shipment, and shippers might pay a higher rate of duty. A report by the Auditor General of Canada found 20 percent of shipments arrive at the border with an improper code assigned! And since tariff classification is used to determine eligibility for free trade agreement benefits, an incorrect classification could cause the shipper to miss out on those savings as well.

E-commerce truly is the engine of future retail growth. And thanks to innovations in transportation efficiency, your access to the world’s customers has never been easier.

It’s All About Relationship with Freight Brokers. Here’s Why.

Several moving parts exist to make the transportation and logistics industry succeed. From truck drivers and innovative technology companies, to shippers, carriers, and freight brokers, each part of the marketplace helps create smoother transfer of goods while improving efficiencies across the board. When it comes to freight brokers – the licensed intermediaries who work to connect carriers and manufacturers – the ability to run a successful operation relies on a foundation of business relationships. Freight brokers must take the time to cultivate their partnerships and connections from day one to ensure they have what they need to sustain a viable business.

Understanding the Freight Brokerage Business

Recent statistics estimate the total number of freight brokers working in the United States to be slightly more than 17,000. Some work independently under their own business structure while others are employed by large brokerage firms. In either scenario, licensed brokers have to go through distinct steps to ensure they are operating within current federal laws. The most important part of the licensing process is registration and obtaining motor carrier authority through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Along with this requirement, freight brokers must also go through formal training at a freight broker training school to learn what is necessary to become effective in the field. The licensing regulations also require brokers to hold a bond or a trust, with the most common choice being a freight broker bond. Obtaining a freight broker bond is one of the first situations where a strong relationship is necessary.

A bond is a form of credit extended to the broker, based on their financial track record and credit history. If a claim is made against the bond because the broker has engaged in business practices outside the lines of federal regulations, the claim amount is paid from the bond on behalf of the broker. This structure means that the surety company offering the bond must trust that the freight broker is a good candidate for the bond, meaning there will be minimal claims in the future. Maintaining a relationship with the surety company is beneficial when bonds renew, and it can be helpful when claims arise.

Relationships and Cash Flow Help

Business relationships are also a crucial aspect of a freight broker’s business when it comes to financial partners. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders exist to help small businesses fund large projects, expansion, or to cover cash flow when the need arises. However, without a relationship with certain lenders or finance companies, freight brokers may find themselves in a hard to navigate position.

For some freight brokers, cash flow can become tight when customers are slow to pay or when business slows down. The business still has overhead to pay, and there may be a need for increased marketing or advertising to entice new customers to connect. Each of these issues requires available capital. A relationship with a finance company, such as an invoice factoring, small business loan, or line of credit lender can make all the difference in getting through a dry spell or a time of high growth.

Keeping Customers Satisfied

Finally, relationships are essential to freight brokers when it comes to working with their customers. Although the size of the freight brokerage market is small compared to other facets of the transportation or logistics industry, competition grows each day. The barriers to entry to start a brokerage business are minimal, as are start-up costs, and so many with industry experience join the ranks of freight brokers consistently year over year. The increased number of licensed brokers can make it challenging for seasoned professionals to keep the upper hand on competitors.

Maintaining strong working relationships with customers, business connections, and networking partners are necessary to keep ahead of the competition. When other professionals in the industry know that a particular broker is known for delivering on his or her promise to shippers and carriers, they are likely to stay busy with work. Similarly, having processes in place for clear communication and managing issues when they come about helps strengthen relationships over time.

Being in the freight brokerage market can offer a lucrative career path for those with a passion for moving freight efficiently. However, healthy relationships are a must throughout nearly every aspect of the business. Brokers need to ensure they have built up and can maintain good connections with their surety company, finance partners, and of course, their customers and business partners, if they want to be successful now and in the future.

 

Eric Weisbrot is the Chief Marketing Officer of JW Surety Bonds. With years of experience in the surety industry under several different roles within the company, he is also a contributing author to the surety bond blog.