Protect Your Customers from Package Theft, Adopt These 5 Strategies (INFOGRAPHIC)

5 Ways to Prevent Package Theft (INFOGRAPHIC)

Small businesses beware! Package thieves are on the prowl.

Package theft, a common problem around the holiday season, is an issue all year long. Worse yet, a large number of consumers (61 percent) feel online retailers are not doing enough to prevent the nuisance. That’s bad news if customers stop buying from your website fearing they’ll never see their purchase

Data released by packaging solutions provider Shorr Packaging offers insights into the challenges faced by consumers because of thefts.

Package Theft a Recurrent Problem

The report found 31 percent of respondents have personally experienced package theft. It also revealed how seriously consumers take package theft. Fifty three percent of respondents said they have changed their plans to be at home for a package.

Worse still, 41 percent of respondents revealed they have avoided purchasing certain items online to prevent package theft.

Tips to Prevent Package Theft

Use Discreet Boxes

Many consumers believe discreet boxes can help address the problem to a certain extent. They prefer such boxes as they don’t indicate what’s inside.

Forty seven percent of respondents, in fact, purchase items from online stores to be delivered because they have discreet boxes. Interestingly, 37 percent of respondents said they are willing to pay extra for an item delivered in a more discreet box.

Ship It to a Secure Location

Another simple solution is to go for package pick-up services such as UPS Access Point. With more than 22,000 locations across Europe and North America, UPS Access Point offers alternate delivery spots.

Seventy one percent of consumers said they’d be open to trying such services.

Use GPS Tracking

Tracking boxes with GPS can also deter thieves from targeting packages.

Use Different Size Boxes

Many consumers feel the size of the box puts it more at risk. Using different size boxes can therefore solve the problem.

Offer Package Theft Insurance

Finally, consumers say they are open to paying extra for an item if the company offered theft insurance (53 percent). Although it would not deter thieves from going after your package, it would help you win your customers’ confidence.

For the report, Illinois-based Shorr Packaging surveyed 1,000 people across the United States.

Check out the infographic below for more information:

5 Ways to Prevent Package Theft (INFOGRAPHIC)

Image: Shorr Packaging Corp.

This article, “Protect Your Customers from Package Theft, Adopt These 5 Strategies (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

Protect Your Customers from Package Theft, Adopt These 5 Strategies (INFOGRAPHIC)

Vistaprint Gets New Brick and Mortar Store in Toronto

Inside the New Vistaprint Brick and Mortar Store in Toronto

Almost 20 years after Vistaprint (NASDAQ:CMPR) began providing small business owners with professional marketing services and products, the customized marketing materials specialist has opened its first ever bricks and mortar store.

Vistaprint’s retail space is located in downtown Toronto. The Vistaprint Studio enables customers to physically feel and touch Vistaprint’s products. Small business owners can also benefit from marketing advice and getting one-to-one assistance and support in Vistaprint’s first ever physical store.

The Vistaprint Studio was born out of customer demand for more personal, face-to-face interaction with Vistaprint staff and products.

The company listened to its customers’ requirements and desires to have a location where they can enjoy an engaging, personalized experience in-store.

Lauren Zirilli, senior director of omni channel strategy at Vistaprint told Small Business Trends that the studio in Toronto is designed to be an extension of Vistaprint’s online experience.

Inside the New Vistaprint Brick and Mortar Store

“Customers can work seamlessly between the two, whether in store or online. Some offerings are unique to the store, including the ability to touch and feel products, interact with a VP Coach, or receive real-time, one to one, complimentary graphic design services,” said Zirilli.

At the Vistaprint Studio, customers can get their hands on exclusive services they won’t be able to find anywhere else. One exclusive service includes free graphic design, where visitors can get graphic design support, delivered face-to-face by Vistaprint coaches.

Such complimentary real-time, one-on-one design services would typically cost business owners close to $100 per hour.

New technologies, such as an interactive touchscreen logo maker, are also available to play with and experience at the new Vistaprint store in Toronto. Such technologies are designed to empower local businesses in creating more effective marketing materials, such as the innovative touchscreen logo maker.

Businesses visiting the store can see and feel Vistaprint products, including banners, business cards, shirts and postcards. They can even create their own paper sample kit to take home.

Customers can also work with a Vistaprint graphic designer at the store and see their ideas come to life.

Throughout the year, Vistaprint will also be offering unique workshops in its Studio, aimed at helping advance the local business community further.

The Vistaprint Studio is located on 720 King Street West in downtown Toronto. The Studio operates six days a week, from Monday to Saturday.

You can find out more about the first Vistaprint bricks and mortar store on the Vistaprint website.

Images: Vistaprint

This article, “Vistaprint Gets New Brick and Mortar Store in Toronto” was first published on Small Business Trends

Vistaprint Gets New Brick and Mortar Store in Toronto

7 Ways You Can Grow Your Business By Tracking Your Time

Here Are 7 Great Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

I get asked all the time, what are your reasons to track your time? William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Not exactly correct English — but you know what’s being said.

As a business owner, it’s easy to relate to that statement. Before starting to track time, you can waste huge chunks of valuable time — maybe scrolling through my social media feeds and binge-watching Netflix. The result? You won’t be as productive, which means making less money.

However, small business owners and the average 9-to-5 person also struggle with time management.

Thankfully, there are numerous time tracking tools that can help get with solving this problem. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who haven’t taken advantage of these tools because they still think that time tracking is a waste-of-time.

Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

Here are 7 Reasons Why Everyone Should Track Their Time

Here Are 7 Great Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

1. Discover How You Spend Your Days

How many times have you looked at the clock only to ask, “Where did today go?” Well, by tracking your time, you can finally answer that age-old question with clear, direct accuracy.

By recording your daily routine for a week or so, you can determine when you’re most productive and identify the time-waster, such as social media, email, or blankly staring at the wall. When you eliminate extraneous interruptions and activities, you will be able to sort your tasks, and increase your productivity and focus on the tasks that are most important.

Here Are 7 Great Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

2. Allows You to Identify Areas that Need Improvement

After you start tracking your time, you will be able to see the various areas where you need improvement. Seeing areas where you need improvement goes beyond eliminating those time wasters which were just mentioned.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer and you discover that you’re spending too much time on thumbnail logos, then you can determine what you believe is the appropriate amount of time you should be spending. It may be that you’re giving the client too many options. Instead of developing ten different options, offer only three or four and then make any changes from there.

Here Are 7 Great Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

3. Helps You Bill Correctly

Would you rather prefer to be paid by the hour for your expertise or by a fixed rate for the finished product?

If you charge by the hour, then the client needs to know how many hours it will take it will take to finish the project. If you charge by the project, the client still needs to know how to calculate the amount of time it will take for you to complete the project as well. Time tracking previous projects can help you create more accurate estimates.

Remember, clients aren’t too keen on paying for work that they believe could have been done faster. Time tracking tools provide documentation that shows how exactly you spent your time on the project. This not only addresses any concerns that the client has regarding the invoice, it also puts an end to time theft, since you’re able to bill the client fairly — there is no guessing for those times and projects that you forgot to write down.

Here Are 7 Great Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

4. Forecast More Accurately

We’ve all been guilty of setting unrealistic deadlines and budgets for a new project. Here’s the thing, after you and your employees have tracked your time on a previous project from start to finish, you’ll have a basis for future projections. This allows you to create more accurate estimations on how much time and money a project is going to take, as well as set reasonable deadlines.

Having this knowledge readily available will also allow you to take-on new projects with confidence since you can be certain that projects won’t overlap nor will you or your employees get overwhelmed.

5. Forces You to Single-Task

It’s been proven that we’re just not capable of multitasking. In fact, the entire concept of multitasking is a myth. Instead of doing several things at the same time, you’re actually cycling through these tasks quickly.

“When you’re time-tracking, you’re aware that each increment of time — be it 15 minutes or an hour — is being logged. This means that you give each task its due time for the simple fact that you want to be able to log it accurately,” writes Jeremy Anderberg. “If you’re spending mere minutes on a variety of tasks, your log will be a mess. But there’s a certain pride that comes with being able to mark down a full hour or two on a single important item.”

Eventually, you’ll be able to grow and appreciate your ability to focus. There won’t be a need to multi-task. “You’ll learn to block off 30 or 60 minutes per day to these simple to-dos. You will get them all out of the way in one fell swoop.”

Here Are 7 Great Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

6. Creates a Daily Routine and Habits

Tracking your time gives you the opportunity to create daily routines and habits. This will ultimately help you battle procrastination and help you be able to get the most out of your time.

Daily routines and habits can also keep you healthy, happy, and productive. These routines can also improve your chances of becoming a successful “Unicorn,” like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Drew Houston, and Julia Hartz.

Here Are 7 Great Reasons to Start Tracking Your Time

7. Helps You Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is important to your personal health and productivity, along with the health and productivity of your family and community. “After all, people need time and energy to participate in family life, democracy, and community activities,” says Shawn M. Burn, Ph.D. “They also need time outside of work for rejuvenation, and to develop and nurture friendships and their ‘non-work selves.’”

Once you’re tracked your time, you will notice that you now have free time. This equals time to spend with your friends or family.  It allows you to do more things that you actually enjoy.

When you achieve a healthy work-life balance, you can remain healthy. Both mentally and physically. It helps you stay productive, motivated, and you will be much better able to avoid getting burned out.

Images: Due.com

This article, “7 Ways You Can Grow Your Business By Tracking Your Time” was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Ways You Can Grow Your Business By Tracking Your Time

YouTube Introduces Heatmaps for Virtual Reality Videos

New: YouTube Heatmaps for Virtual Reality Videos and 360-Degree Videos

YouTube recently introduced heatmaps for virtual reality (VR) videos with over 1,000 views. The Google-owned video site said the heatmaps will give you specific insight into how your viewers are engaging with videos created in VR.

YouTube Heatmaps for Virtual Reality and 360-Degree Videos

“With heatmaps, you’ll be able to see exactly what parts of your video are catching a viewer’s attention and how long they’re looking at a specific part of the video,” wrote Frank Rodriguez, a Product Manager at YouTube, in a post announcing the new tool on the YouTube Creators Blog.

Small businesses looking to share new and unique experiences with their audience can take advantage of the emerging VR technology and start creating immersive videos in VR their audience will appreciate.

Check out this video on how to make a simple VR/360-degree video from your smartphone for YouTube:

Tips for Creating Immersive Videos in VR

For those businesses that want to go all in on VR and hone their skills, YouTube says it’s helpful to know how your viewers interact with these videos. The video-sharing site used its new heatmaps tool to conduct some early research on what makes an engaging VR video.

Apparently, people spend 75 percent of their time looking straight ahead (within the front 90 degrees) of a VR video. So when creating videos in VR, spend significant time on what’s in front of the viewer.

While a lot of time is spent focusing on what’s in front, people view more of the full 360-degree space with almost 20 percent of views actually being behind them. The more engaging the full scene is, the more likely viewers will want to explore the full 360-degree view, said Rodriguez. So don’t forget to use markers and animations to draw attention to different parts of the scene.

The context in which people are viewing VR videos matters too, added Rodriguez. Some might be watching on a mobile and portable Cardboard, while others are watching on a desktop computer. Make sure to give your viewers a few seconds before jumping into the action.

Small Business VR Adoption Is Growing

It’s worth mentioning it is still early days in VR. Only five percent of people in North America own a virtual reality headset overall. But VR adoption is growing — albeit slowly. Small businesses are already utilizing the technology to hold VR conferencing and also immerse customers in VR business events.

YouTube said it’s also launching its first ever VR intensive program at YouTube Space LA called the VR Creator Lab. Applications opened Friday, June 16, 2017.

Image: YouTube

This article, “YouTube Introduces Heatmaps for Virtual Reality Videos” was first published on Small Business Trends

YouTube Introduces Heatmaps for Virtual Reality Videos

UPS and Martha Stewart Talk Growing Global and Exporting Your Brand – #Gateway17

UPS and Martha Stewart Talk Global Expansion and Exporting Your Brand

What do CEO and Chairman of UPS David Abney and style-maven Martha Stewart have in common? They both think that growing globally is a great way to expand a business.

Global Expansion Tips

Both spoke at the Gateway ‘17 event in Detroit today, sharing their thoughts on opportunities for small businesses in China and beyond.

First, Abney gave his talk on the opportunities and challenges of selling products overseas, a topic he’s qualified to address since UPS ships to countries around the world, including China. In fact, before he was named Chairman and CEO, Abney served as the President of UPS International, where he often reminded employees and clients about the power of thinking beyond just the U.S.

UPS and Martha Stewart Talk Global Expansion and Exporting Your Brand

Like others at the conference, Abney stressed the importance of gaining an understanding of your customers before selling to global markets.

“To sell around the world, you must go native,” he said.

By this, Abney means that you need to really understand the customs and preferences of the people you’re selling to.

He offered an example of one of the first times UPS sent a flight to China. The company was so excited and wanted to make it special. So they had a dragon painted on the side of the plane. But the dragon was facing backwards (in the wrong direction) on the plane. It’s something the team would have known had they consulted anyone from China, or someone familiar enough with the culture to understand the importance of the direction the dragon was facing.

For this reason, Abney said, it’s very important for businesses to immerse themselves and do lots of research when breaking into new markets.

Of course, you also need to understand the logistics and practical processes of selling overseas, which companies like UPS can help with.

For her part, Stewart also shared some tips for small business owners based on her years of experience.

The lifestyle mogul has recently started exporting her various product lines to China and other international markets, a move that has made her businesses even more profitable than previously imagined.

Of course, it’s not as easy as just saying you want to export. Stewart also stressed the importance of knowing the markets you plan on entering.

For example, her line of sheets is something that appeals to Chinese consumers due to the quality. But they don’t usually have access to the same size washers and dryers as American consumers do. So the company had to make a small adjustment to make sure the products would be practical specifically for Chinese consumers.

“It’s just about making smaller versions of luxurious things,” Stewart said.

In addition, Stewart spoke about the amazing power the internet and social media give small makers and small business owners to reach people around the world. Stewart has made great use of social media for her businesses. And she thinks that things like livestreaming, podcasting and online video offer unique ways for businesses to build a great deal of recognition when breaking into new markets.

Stewart also applauded Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, whose company sponsored the event, for choosing to host in Detroit, which she called a “hotbed of American makers.”

Gateway ‘17 is a conference for small businesses looking to expand by marketing to Chinese consumers. The event began June 20 and carries on through June 21 at Cobo Center, Detroit.

Images: Small Business Trends/Annie Pilon

This article, “UPS and Martha Stewart Talk Growing Global and Exporting Your Brand – #Gateway17” was first published on Small Business Trends

UPS and Martha Stewart Talk Growing Global and Exporting Your Brand – #Gateway17

China Needs Your Small Business Products – #Gateway17

China Needs Your Small Business Products: Business Opportunities in China

China is the next big frontier for small businesses, according to a Keynote from Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba, at Gateway ‘17 at Detroit’s Cobo Center today.

When the internet was booming in the mid ‘90’s, Ma did a search for “beer and China” and found no results. That’s when he first realized there was a gap in the market — eCommerce products for Chinese consumers.

After a series of failures, including rejections from colleges, being turned down for a job as a police officer and even being the only one out of 24 applicants to be turned down for a job at KFC, Ma decided that he was destined to go into business for himself. So he turned to that idea of creating an eCommerce solution to serve Chinese customers.

China Needs Your Small Business Products: Business Opportunities in China

Even then, there were a lot of doubters. China didn’t have the credit card services or logistics that made eCommerce a good fit in other markets. But Ma really believed that it was something Chinese consumers wanted and that if he started right away, he and his team could make it happen eventually.

“If we do not succeed, someone else will,” he said.

So he built a team, attempted to gain some startup capital, and eventually started with about $50,000.

There were plenty of failures along the way. But those failures turned into lessons Ma has been able to share with other business owners. One of the most important lessons, which specifically relates to businesses looking to break into new markets like China, is to really understand the needs of your customers above all else.

“Investors may not like us. But if our customers like us, we can survive,” Ma said.

So for the businesses looking to explore opportunities within the growing Chinese market, capturing customer interest can make the difference between success and failure, Ma explained. You might have a great product that people in the U.S. love, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to automatically be a hit in China. But you may also just need to find the right partner or make a small tweak to your offering that can open up a whole new world of possibilities for your small business.

Business Opportunities in China

And there’s plenty of opportunity and demand. According to Ma, the Chinese middle class is currently at about 300 million people. And there are plenty of products, ranging from sneakers to baby food and even live lobsters, that consumers want to spend their disposable income on when given the opportunity.

Overall, Ma says that it’s important for businesses to be open to new possibilities, especially in the age of the internet. And he thinks small businesses are going to be at the forefront of changes in China and around the world over the next 30 years.

“The world is shifting from standardization to personalization,” he said.

So the companies that provide products created for a specific market are those likely to succeed. And small businesses are poised to do just that.

Gateway ‘17 is an event aimed at helping entrepreneurs learn about the growing opportunities for selling to Chinese consumers. The event drew 3,000 registered attendees over June 21 and 22 to downtown Detroit.

Shanghai Photo via Shutterstock

Jack Ma photo: Small Business Trends/Annie Pilon

This article, “China Needs Your Small Business Products – #Gateway17” was first published on Small Business Trends

China Needs Your Small Business Products – #Gateway17

Alibaba Takes Detroit By Storm With Sold Out Small Business Conference – #Gateway17

Alibaba Takes Detroit By Storm With Sold Out Gateway 17 Small Business Conference - #Gateway17

Gateway ’17, an inaugural small business event aimed at businesses interested in exporting goods or otherwise expanding their customer base in China, took Detroit by storm this week.

The sold-out event features big name speakers like Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma, CEO of UPS David Abney, and style-maven Martha Stewart.

This conference is not so much about sourcing manufacturing of goods in China (although there’s some of that represented). It’s mainly about helping small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs in attendance to network and learn more about tapping into the hundreds of millions of Chinese middle-class consumers.

Jack Ma decided on Detroit for the event because, according to company officials, he and Alibaba are committed to the heartland. And Detroit has recently become revitalized and has a strong entrepreneurial base. According to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, “the Creative Class is here” (giving a nod to the book by Richard Florida called “The Rise of the Creative Class”).

The event opened last evening, and among the speakers was Ma, who was interviewed in a fireside chat format by media personality Charlie Rose. In inspirational and surprisingly candid remarks, Ma outlined the struggles of starting Alibaba in 1999, at a time when the Internet was new in China. “Everything I did before Alibaba failed — everything,” he said, highlighting the need to have an entrepreneurial vision and believe in it.

Alibaba Takes Detroit By Storm With Sold Out Gateway 17 Small Business Conference - #Gateway17

Entrepreneur and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers Dan Gilbert, who has been a driving force behind Detroit’s comeback, also emphasized how failure is a part of achieving success. He urged the small business owners and entrepreneurs in the audience, “Don’t be afraid to fail.”

The event kicked off with a bang with a team of drummers. But these were not ordinary drummers. They wore lighted suits and drummed to a light show — while being suspended in the air on wires. Ecommerce entrepreneur John Lawson, who attended the event, said after the opening evening, “As soon as I saw that opening drum show, I knew Alibaba had kicked it up to a higher level than your typical conference.”

Tina Yuan of Co.Media, who attended the event, counts Ma as her business role model, saying “He started out as a small business. He says you have to give back. He wants to make others successful and that’s his strength.”

And in fact, helping small businesses is a message that Ma repeated during his opening remarks. People sometimes call Alibaba an eCommerce company, Ma said, but that’s not really a good description. “We’re not an eCommerce company. We help small businesses become eCommerce companies.”

After listening to the keynote speakers, attendees will have the opportunity to drop in for breakout sessions on everything from exporting specific items like clothing or food to China, to learning about the specific offerings of platforms like Alipay (Alibaba’s payment platform). The event also features casting sessions for CNBC reality shows “The Profit” and “Billion Dollar Buyer,” along with customer spotlights and success stories.

The focus of the event is to help small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs explore growth opportunities in China and learn about marketing to Chinese consumers. China is one of the fastest growing consumer bases in the world. So learning how to market and sell to this growing group could provide a major boon for small businesses, likely one of the reasons Gateway ‘17 has drawn in thousands of registered attendees.

About 3,000 people registered to attend the event at the Cobo Center in Detroit on June 20 and 21, 2017. The opening evening appeared filled to capacity.

Anita Campbell, also in attendance at the event, contributed to this report.

Images: Small Business Trends

This article, “Alibaba Takes Detroit By Storm With Sold Out Small Business Conference – #Gateway17” was first published on Small Business Trends

Alibaba Takes Detroit By Storm With Sold Out Small Business Conference – #Gateway17