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Word of mouth has always been the most powerful form of marketing. It is human nature to trust the recommendation of a friend or family member over any other type of advertising: It’s honest, it’s personal, and it’s reliable. But what if you could get that same level of personal recommendation from a complete stranger? That’s the power of online customer reviews. In the article you’re about to read, we’ll discuss why online customer reviews are the ultimate salesperson for eCommerce businesses and how you can make the most of them. What Are Online Customer Reviews? At its simplest, a customer’s online review is a written testimonial about a product or service purchased and used by an actual customer. These reviews can be left on the website of the business in question, on a third-party review site, or even on social media platforms. There are two main types of online customer reviews that businesses should be aware of: 1. Ratings and Reviews These are the most common eCommerce product reviews, and they usually take the form of a star rating (from one to five stars, for example) along with a written comment. Customers will often be asked to rate their overall experience and specific aspects of the product or service they purchased. 2. Testimonials Testimonials are similar to ratings and reviews but tend to be more extensive. They also usually include the customer’s full name, location, and headshot. Many businesses will showcase testimonials prominently on their websites. We can also differentiate between private and public reviews. Private Reviews Clients review a product or service and share their reviews directly with the business through email, phone calls, or direct messages. Public Reviews Public reviews are those that anyone can see; they are left on a website or third-party review platform. Public reviews are more important for businesses because they are more likely to be seen by potential customers and impact their purchase decisions. How Customer Reviews Affect Businesses Both positive and negative reviews customers post online can have a major impact on your business. If you’re still wondering why online customer reviews are the ultimate salesperson for eCommerce, note that statistics show that 89% of B2B buyers search online for product or service reviews and photos before making a purchase decision. The impact of customer reviews is evident in both the short and long term.  In the short term, they can help (or hurt) your business by influencing the purchase decisions of potential customers looking actively for information about your products or services. In the long term, customer reviews can also help you improve your business by giving you insights into the areas where you need to make changes or improvements. Of course, the effect of online seller reviews is not always positive. Businesses have been known to crumble due to negative reviews, especially when such reviews go viral. This is why it’s so crucial for companies to manage their online reputation. What Can Positive Customer Reviews Do For Your Business? Positive and authentic customer reviews can have many benefits for your business. Here are just a few examples: 1. They Can Increase Sales and Conversions This is probably the most obvious benefit of positive customer reviews. If potential customers see that others have had a good experience with your product or service, they’re more likely to purchase it themselves. Higher conversion rates mean more sales and more revenue for your business. 2. They Can Help You Attract New Customers In addition to increasing sales and conversions, positive eCommerce reviews can also help you attract new customers. After all, potential customers are more likely to trust a business recommended by someone they know and trust. This powerful marketing tool is called “social proof.” With real customers’ words and sentiments about your product or service, your marketing campaigns will be more effective, and your advertising budget will go further. 3. They Can Improve Your Search Engine Ranking In recent years, Google has increasingly used customer reviews as a ranking factor in its search algorithms. Businesses with positive reviews of their online stores are more likely to appear higher up in search results, which can lead to even more sales and conversions. The SEO factor is becoming increasingly important for most top-rated e-commerce platforms. 4. They Can Build Trust and Credibility Positive online reviews can help build trust and credibility for your business. After all, if customers are willing to leave positive reviews, they must be pretty happy with your product or service.  This can encourage potential customers who are on the fence about your business to give you a try. Finally, potential customers are more likely to trust a business recommended by someone they know and trust. 5. They Can Improve Customer Retention Positive online business reviews can also help to improve customer retention. If customers are happy with your product or service, they’re more likely to stick around and continue doing business with you. This is especially important for businesses that rely on repeat customers or subscriptions. How To Get Authentic Positive Reviews - Our Tips There’s a common misconception that happy customers will automatically leave positive reviews and unhappy customers will bad-mouth your business to anyone who will listen. This is not always the case. In fact, getting positive customer reviews requires an active effort. You need to reach out to your customers and ask them for feedback. Luckily, there are a few ways you can do this and improve your online reviews section: 1. Send a Follow-Up Email After a customer has made a purchase, send them a follow-up email and ask them to leave a review of their experience. This is a great way to get honest feedback about your product or service. You can include a link to the comment box or a star-rating system in your email, attach a short survey, or even ask for video testimonials. 2. Use a Pop-Up or Sidebar Widget Another way to encourage customers to leave reviews is to use a pop-up or sidebar widget on your website. These widgets can be triggered after a customer has made a purchase or spent a certain amount of time on your site. This makes leaving a comment more convenient for customers, encouraging them to do so. 3. Get Social Media Reviews Online businesses’ reviews can be solicited via social media platforms. You can post about your product or service on your company’s social media page and ask customers to leave their thoughts in the comments. You can also run social media ads that link to review pages or use hashtags to encourage customers to post about their experiences. 4. Leverage User-Generated Content Another way to get positive customer reviews is to leverage user-generated content to resonate with your target audience. UGC is any content created by customers, such as product photos, videos, or reviews. Once you create your eCommerce website and add UGC, you can use it for your social media pages or marketing campaigns. 5. Incentivize Customers To Leave Reviews One of the best ways to get online reviews for your business is to offer an incentive. This could be a discount code, a free product, or entry into a contest. Customers are more likely to take the time to leave a review if they know they’ll get something in return. How To Deal with Bad Reviews No company is perfect, and even the best businesses will get the occasional negative review. The important thing is how you deal with those bad reviews. Companies need to consult online reviews daily and take the good with the bad. When you see a negative eCommerce review, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and remember that not every customer will be happy 100% of the time. Here are a few tips for dealing with negative reviews: Respond to All Reviews, Good and Bad It’s important to respond to all customer reviews, both positive and negative. This shows that you pay attention and care about your customers’ experience. A simple “Thank you” is usually sufficient for a positive review. For a negative review, you’ll want to take the time to address the customer’s concerns and offer a solution. Thank them for their feedback: This will show that you take shoppers and their reviews and concerns seriously. Apologize for the inconvenience: Even if it wasn’t your fault, an apology goes a long way. Offer a solution: Let the customer know what you’re going to do to fix the situation. Follow up: Make sure to follow up with the customer after you’ve implemented your solution. Don’t Take it Personally It's important to remember that negative reviews are not a reflection of you as a person. They’re simply feedback about your business. Try not to take it personally and stay focused on finding a solution. Use Negative Reviews as an Opportunity To Improve Your online store reviews, even negative ones, can be a great opportunity to improve your business. Use the feedback to identify areas where you can make changes. Maybe there’s a problem with your product, or your customer service could be better. Whatever the case may be, use negative reviews as an opportunity to make your business even better. Monitor Your Online Reputation Finally, it’s important to monitor your online reputation. This means regularly checking review sites, social media pages, and other online platforms for mentions of your business. If you see a negative review, reach out to the customer and try to resolve the issue. If you see a positive review, share it on your social media pages or website. Final Thoughts Even though it might be tempting to buy positive reviews, it’s not a good idea. Not only is it unethical, but it can also lead to long-term damage to your business. It’s much better to focus on earning positive reviews through excellent customer service and offering incentives. You can turn online customer reviews into a powerful marketing tool for attracting new customers. Just remember to be professional, respond to all reviews, and use negative reviews as a growth opportunity.

By Danica Djokic

The eCommerce landscape is constantly evolving. What was popular last year may not be so hot this year, and what’s trending now may be totally different a year from now. In the aftermath of the pandemic, we’re seeing even more changes in the way people shop online. To stay ahead of the curve and nail your strategy, you need to stay up to date with the latest eCommerce trends. We've put together a list of factors that will shape eCommerce in the next few years so that you can make the necessary changes to your online store and outdo the competition. B2C ECommerce Will Overtake B2B Traditional in-person shopping may never be the same again. The pandemic has pushed people to shop online out of necessity, and many have found that they actually prefer it. Convenience, safety, and a wider selection are all big selling points for eCommerce. It’s no wonder that 52% of people who switched to online shopping for groceries said they wouldn’t switch back. As a result, we expect to see a continued increase in online shopping even after the pandemic is over. This shift will have a big impact on the types of products that are being sold online. We can already see new trends in eCommerce - a move away from heavy, bulky items that are difficult to transport and an increase in sales of smaller items that can be easily shipped. This trend is likely to continue as people become more accustomed to shopping online for items that they would traditionally have bought in-store. Another big trend that we’re seeing is a shift from business-to-business eCommerce to business-to-consumer eCommerce. The rise of B2C over B2B is being driven by the fact that many small businesses have had to move their operations online in order to make it through the pandemic. Even traditional businesses that relied on in-person sales are now turning to eCommerce to reach their customers. Manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, and insurance are just some of the industries that are starting to sell directly to consumers online. This new approach and innovative trends in the eCommerce industry might bring some new challenges. However, the benefits are likely to outweigh the drawbacks in the long run. ECommerce Companies Lean More on Augmented Reality The rise of augmented reality has been a game changer in the eCommerce industry, especially in fashion and home furnishing. This technology is being used by some of the biggest names in retail, including IKEA, Dulux, Lego, Sephora, and Nike. AR allows shoppers to see how products would look in their homes before they buy them. This is particularly useful for items like furniture and home décor, where it can be difficult to visualize exactly how something would look in your home space. Following the new eCommerce trends, AR has recently been used to create virtual showrooms and allow customers to try on products before they buy them. This can benefit the clothing and makeup industries, where you need to see how something looks on you before you make a purchase. We expect to see even more retailers using AR in the next few years as the technology becomes more widespread and available to everyone. AI Will Further Personalize the Shopping Experience Artificial intelligence is already being used by many top-rated eCommerce platforms to personalize their customers’ shopping experiences. This is one of the latest eCommerce trends, and it helps businesses learn about customers’ individual preferences and use that information to recommend products based on a customer’s past purchases, browsing history, and search queries. This technology is also being used to create dynamic pricing models that automatically adjust prices based on demand, competitor prices, and other factors. AI can also be used to help businesses manage their inventory and fulfill orders more efficiently. In the future, AI is likely to become even more involved in the eCommerce experience. It will be used to provide customer support, process orders, and handle returns. We may even see robots being used to pick and pack orders in warehouses. The use of AI will enable eCommerce shoppers to have a more personalized and convenient experience. It will also allow businesses to save money on labor costs. Chatbots Will Become More Common Today, customers expect their online shopping experience to be streamlined, so when they encounter a bottleneck or poor customer service, it’s very easy for a potential customer to abandon their cart. This means that eCommerce businesses need to find ways to speed up their fulfillment process. One way to do this is by using chatbots to automate customer service tasks. A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation. Ever since the first chatbot, ELIZA, was created in 1966, the service has been used to provide customer support, answer questions, and make recommendations. Many eCommerce businesses are already using chatbots, and we expect future trends in eCommerce to make them even more common.  For example, a chatbot can be used to answer common customer questions, provide order status updates, and take care of returns. This frees up customer service representatives to handle more complex issues.  In the future, we expect chatbots to become even more involved in the eCommerce experience. They will likely be used to handle a wider range of tasks, including processing orders and payments. As AI becomes more sophisticated, chatbots will become more realistic and able to hold natural conversations with customers more easily. Voice Search Will Become a Big Deal As voice-activated assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home become more common, we expect voice search to become more prominent in global eCommerce trends. Voice search allows for voice input, which is faster and often more convenient than typing. As statistics indicate, about 75% of US households will own at least one smart speaker by 2025, making voice search an important factor in eCommerce.  As the use of voice-activated assistants grows and as they become an integral part of eCommerce’s future, we expect businesses will optimize their eCommerce sites for voice search. This means using natural language instead of keywords, including long-tail keywords that are more likely to be spoken than typed, and making sure that product pages are listed when someone searches for relevant keywords. It will also become more critical for businesses to provide concise and accurate information on their product pages. This is because people are more likely to get frustrated with a voice-activated assistant if they have to keep asking for clarification on product descriptions. Conventional Payment Options Will Take a Back Seat As the world becomes more digital, we expect to see a shift from traditional payment methods to newer, more secure methods such as mobile payments and cryptocurrencies. Unlike recent B2B eCommerce trends, this one will have a more profound and lasting impact on the way businesses interact with customers.  With a variety of ways to pay for goods and services online, customers will have more choice and flexibility when it comes to how they make purchases. We expect mobile payments to become more popular as people become more comfortable using their smartphones to make transactions. Contactless payments have become common during the pandemic, and established players such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are likely to benefit from this trend. Cryptocurrency is another payment method that is gaining popularity, particularly among younger generations. Bitcoin payments, one of the major new trends in eCommerce shopping, have been on the rise lately. As more people become aware of cryptocurrency and how to use it, eCommerce customers will have more options when it comes to how they make payments. Headless and API-Driven Commerce is Gaining Momentum Headless commerce is an architecture that decouples the back-end systems from the front-end. This allows businesses to build their eCommerce store using any programming language and framework they want. API-driven commerce is a similar concept, but it takes things one step further by allowing businesses to connect their eCommerce store to any third-party service using APIs, a type of software that allows two applications to communicate with each other. This eCommerce industry trend is gaining momentum because it gives businesses more flexibility and control over their stores. Companies can also get the advantage of the incorporated SEO, content marketing tools, and digital experience features. Finally, back-end developers and front-end developers can work independently of each other, which speeds up the development process. Product Videos Will Become More Popular As broadband speeds continue to increase and more people watch videos on their smartphones, customer engagement through product videos will continue to grow. Short video content is a great way to show off your products in a way that is more engaging than traditional product photos. They are also a great way to showcase how your products can be used in real-world scenarios directly from your eCommerce store. Unlike photos or descriptions, video content can quickly grab a viewer’s attention and give them an idea of what your product is all about. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to start thinking about how you can use video content to showcase your products or services effectively. Conversion Strategies Will Focus on Building Trust In order to convert leads into customers, businesses need to focus on building trust. Multi-channel selling, Facebook advertising, and Instagram marketing are great ways to convert leads into customers, provided you focus on building trust with your target audience.  As recent online sales trends indicate, consumers are more and more skeptical of advertising and are looking for brands they can have confidence in. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as by displaying customer testimonials and reviews, social proof, and security seals. Another way to build trust is to offer a money-back guarantee or free shipping. This shows that you are confident in your product and that you are willing to stand behind it. Finally, focusing on transparency (e.g., disclosing your business practices, the manufacturing process, etc.) and building a strong social media presence can also help any business in the eCommerce industry build trust with potential customers. Big Data is a Game Changer Big data is a term used to describe the large volume of data that businesses now have access to. This data can come from a variety of sources, such as social media, website analytics, CRM systems, and more. Big data can be used to improve the customer experience in a number of ways, such as by personalizing the experience, identifying customer pain points, and improving customer service. We've all experienced seeing suggestions on shopping platforms or search engines, and most of us have found them to be pretty accurate. The more data a company has, the better it can cater to its customer's needs, and this will become increasingly important in future eCommerce trends. However, big data carries big challenges as customers are more and more concerned about data privacy. So, businesses need to make sure they are handling customer data responsibly and transparently if they want to keep using it to boost profits. Mobile Commerce Will Continue To Grow Mobile commerce is expected to continue growing in the coming years. According to statistics, mobile devices are used for over 40% of online transactions, their rising popularity indicates that this is one of the trends in online shopping that’s here to stay. Mobile commerce offers a number of advantages for businesses, such as increased reach, shorter buying cycles, and improved conversion rates. It also offers many advantages for customers, including the ability to shop anywhere at any time. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, it’s important to make sure your eCommerce platform is mobile-friendly. This means having a responsive design that looks good on all devices, as well as providing a smooth and easy-to-use mobile shopping experience. Omnichannel Selling Will Become the Norm Omnichannel selling is a term used to describe the practice of selling products through multiple channels, such as brick-and-mortar stores, online stores, mobile apps, and more. This eCommerce trend and approach allows businesses to reach more potential customers and provides a more seamless shopping experience. In the past, businesses have often treated each selling channel as a separate entity. However, this is changing as more and more businesses are adopting an omnichannel approach. This shift is driven by the increasing popularity of online shopping and the need for businesses to provide a more cohesive customer experience. As omnichannel selling becomes more common, it’s important for businesses to make sure they’re building eCommerce websites that can support it. This means having a platform that is integrated with all of your other selling channels and that provides a consistent experience for customers regardless of how they shop.  Environmental Sustainability Will Play a Big Role As we become more and more aware of the impact our consumption has on the environment, sustainability is becoming an important factor in purchasing decisions. Customers that follow new online shopping trends want to know if the products they’re buying have been ethically sourced and if the company they are buying from is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint. In order to stay ahead of the competition, businesses need to make sure they’re considering environmental sustainability in all aspects of their operations. This includes everything from the sourcing of materials to the packaging and shipping of products. Customers are now more willing to pay extra for sustainable products, so there is a big opportunity for businesses that are able to meet this demand. How To Make the Best Use of ECommerce Trends ECommerce is constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to keep up. However, by staying informed and making sure your eCommerce platform is up to date, you can ensure that your business is able to stay ahead of the competition. To make the most of the latest eCommerce developments, consider the following: 1. Keep Up With the Latest Trends To stay on top of your game, you must be proactive and regularly seek out new information. There is a number of ways to do this, such as reading industry news, following relevant blogs and industry influencers, and attending eCommerce conferences. You can get to know what’s going on in the industry and find inspiration for your own business.  Read up on the research data and statistics that are available on eCommerce growth trends. This can help you understand the current landscape and make informed decisions about where to focus your efforts.  2. Take Advantage of Digital Tools There are a number of digital tools that can help you improve your eCommerce business. From marketing automation software to customer relationship management systems, there’s a variety of features that can make it easier to run your business and provide a better experience for your customers. Check the data and sales figures, and invest in analytical tools so you can understand where your customers are coming from and what they are looking for. 3. Learn From Your Competitors It’s important to keep an eye on your competitors to see what they are doing and how they are reacting to the latest eCommerce retail trends. You can learn a lot from observing their strategies and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Should they fail, you can learn from their mistakes. If they succeed, you can try to replicate their success. Final Words As the global eCommerce ecosystem continues to grow and evolve, it's important to stay on top of the latest trends. Instead of leaning on traditional shopping methods, more and more consumers are turning to the internet to purchase items. Mobile phones play a big role here, as they provide a convenient way to shop on the go. What's more, consumers are getting more comfortable with new technologies such as AI, AR, chatbots, and voice search. These eCommerce trends in technology are changing the way we interact with eCommerce platforms and retailers. With all that said, we're confident that you now have a solid understanding of the current eCommerce landscape. Just remember to keep your eyes peeled for new trends so you can stay ahead of the curve.

By Danica Djokic

As a business owner, you are likely responsible for overseeing all aspects of your company’s operations. This includes setting your own salary. This decision can be difficult to make, especially if you’re not sure what’s standard or how to determine what’s appropriate for your situation. In this article, we’ll discuss some factors you should consider when deciding how much to pay yourself as a small business owner. What To Consider When Setting Your Salary Setting your own salary can be daunting, especially if you’re a freelancer or small-business owner. After all, you need to make enough money to cover your expenses and earn a profit, but you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. So, what factors should you consider when paying yourself from your business? Business Structure One of the first things you should consider is your company’s business structure. Are you a sole proprietor? Do you have a business partner? Are you an S corp? Your company’s business structure will affect how much money you take home and how much in taxes you need to pay. For example, if you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll likely take home less money than if you’re running a corporation because you’ll be paying taxes on both your business income and personal income. On the other hand, if you’re running a corporation, you’ll only be taxed for your corporate income. This means that more of your business profits will stay within the company, which can be reinvested or distributed to shareholders. Business Expenses Another factor to consider when paying yourself as a small business owner is your business expenses. How much does it cost to run your small business? You should consider expenses like rent, utilities, payroll, and marketing. You’ll need to make enough money to cover these costs, plus your personal living expenses. One common mistake small business owners make is not accounting for all of their business-related expenses. Make sure you have a clear understanding of all the costs associated with running your business before you start setting your salary. Personal Living Expenses In addition to business-related expenses, you also need to account for your personal expenses, such as housing, food, transportation, and health care. Again, one common mistake people make is not accounting for all their personal expenses when calculating the business owner’s salary. Industry Standards Another factor to consider is industry standards. What do other businesses in your industry pay their employees? This will help you determine a reasonable salary for yourself as the business owner. Of course, you don’t want to undervalue your services.  Ultimately, setting your salary comes down to determining what you need to earn to cover your costs and make a profit and then finding the right balance between pricing yourself too high and too low. By taking the time to consider all the relevant factors, you can ensure that you set a fair and competitive price for your services. How to Calculate Your Owner’s Pay You should consider a few balance sheet items when calculating your salary as a small-business owner. These include your monthly net income, all business-related taxes and fees, and business expenses.  According to some small business revenue statistics, 86.3% of small business owners earn less than $100,000 a year. However, this does not mean you must stay within this bracket. Below are some steps you can take to get a clear picture of a small business owner’s salary and how to calculate it yourself. Calculate Your Monthly Net Income Your monthly net income is the total revenue your business brings in minus any taxes or fees. This number can fluctuate from month to month, so it’s important to take an average over a period of time to get an accurate number.  Next, you’ll need to subtract all business-related taxes and fees. This includes income taxes, self-employment tax, and any other business-related expenses. Once you have your monthly net income minus taxes and fees, you’ll be left with your profit.  Calculate Your Tax Savings The next step in calculating owner pay is determining your tax savings. This includes any deductions you can take for business expenses, home office expenses, and health insurance premiums. You can consult with a tax professional or use a tax calculator to get an accurate number. Once you have your tax savings figured out, you can add this amount to your monthly net income to get your total monthly compensation. Calculate Your Business Expenses The final thing you’ll need to consider when setting your salary is your business expenses, including office rent, utilities, supplies, and employee salaries. Once you know how much it costs to run your business each month, it will be easier to calculate how much to pay yourself as a small business owner. One mistake many small business owners make is not accounting for their salary when calculating their business expenses. This can lead to severe financial problems down the road, so be sure to include yourself in the equation. By following these steps, you should be able to come up with fair and reasonable compensation for yourself as a small business owner. Remember to avoid common mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to success.  Ways To Pay Yourself As a business owner, you have two options: Either pay yourself a salary or take distributions from your small business. Here are the pros and cons of an owner’s draw vs. a salary.  Paying Yourself a Regular Salary To pay yourself a regular wage, just like you would an employee, you’ll need to set up payroll for your business and withhold taxes from your paycheck. One advantage of this method is that it can help you separate your personal and business expenses and make it easier to track your business expenses come tax time. The downside of drawing a salary is that it’s subject to payroll taxes, which can eat into your earnings. Additionally, if you have a slow month or two, you may find yourself struggling to cover your personal expenses if you’re relying solely on your business income. An Owner’s Draw If you are self-employed and paying yourself a salary, an owner’s draw is another method you can use. This method is often used by small business owners with irregular or variable income. With an owner’s draw, you simply draw money out of your business bank account as needed to cover your personal expenses. One advantage of this method is that you don’t have to worry about payroll taxes. Additionally, it can give you more flexibility regarding how much money you take out of your business each month. However, one downside is that it can be challenging to track your small business expenses come tax time. So, which method is right for you? How to pay yourself as a sole proprietor? Ultimately, it depends on your circumstances and the needs of your business. If you have a stable and predictable income, having a regular salary may be the best option. However, if your income is variable or unpredictable, an owner’s draw may be a better option. Final Thoughts Paying yourself as a business owner can be a tricky task. And there’s no universal rule on how much business owners should pay themselves. However, by following some simple guidelines, you can ensure that you are fairly compensated for your work without putting your business finances at risk.  What’s most important is to find a method that works for you and your business. And, of course, to avoid any common pitfalls.

By Nikolina Cveticanin

We've all fantasized about becoming our own boss at one point or another. But for most of us, the idea of having our own business is just that—an idea. We don't act on it because we think we need too much money to get started. But how much money do you really need to start a business? The truth is, you don't need a ton of cash to start your own venture. In fact, many businesses can be created with very little up-front investment. Of course, the amount of money you'll need will depend on several factors, such as the type of company you want to start, the equipment and inventory you'll need, and whether you plan to rent or purchase an office or retail space. The Cost of Starting a Business The first step in starting any business is to calculate the initial costs. These can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars and are needed to get your business up and running. First off, this figure depends on your idea and geographical region. Since these are different for every aspiring business owner, nobody can tell you exactly how much money you need to start a business. Therefore, we’ll do the next best thing and tell you how to determine your start-up costs. To get an accurate estimate, you'll need to consider everything from the cost of office supplies to the price of any necessary licenses or permits. Once you have a good handle on the basics you’ll need to cover, you can begin looking for ways to finance them. Start-Up Costs for a Business According to the US Small Business Administration, the estimated starting cost can be divided into two main categories: pre-start expenses and asset expenditures. On top of these, you've got to be able to cover all the ongoing costs your business will incur before it’s capable of standing firmly on its own. There are one-time costs, ongoing costs, necessary costs, optional costs, fixed costs, and variable costs. Pre-Start Expenses are the one-time costs associated with getting your business off the ground, and they can range from legal fees to market research expenses. Asset Expenditures represent the cost of any physical assets you'll need for your business, such as office furniture or manufacturing equipment. Ongoing costs represent rent, utilities, and employee salaries, which you'll need to cover on a regular basis. Fixed costs, such as rent or business loan payments, stay the same each month. Variable costs, such as inventory or advertising expenses, can fluctuate monthly. Essential costs, such as licenses and permits, are absolutely unavoidable when running a legitimate business. Optional costs, such as consultants or workplace decorations, are not necessary but can be helpful. These are all types of expenses to consider when starting your business. You'll need to sit down, do meticulous research, and write an estimate of all the expenses and income you anticipate. To stay safe, plan for the worst-case scenario, but hope for the best. Common Start-Up Expenses Whether you are planning to start a bookkeeping business or a candle-making company, success doesn’t come cheap, especially in the beginning. Here is a list of outlays practically every venture needs to take care of: Business licenses and permits Office space or equipment rental Inventory cost Insurance Advertising and marketing Accounting and legal fees Employee salaries Utilities Website design and hosting fees Depending on your business, there may be other one-time or ongoing costs that you’ll need to consider. To get an accurate number, remember to factor in additional costs, such as inventory, shipping, marketing, and a fund for unforeseen expenses that may pop up along the way. Ways To Finance Your Business It’s encouraging to know that 58% of small firms began with less than $25,000 and one-third with less than $5,000. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll know if you’re among them. Once you know how much capital you need to start a business, it’s time to figure out how to finance it. It's ideal if you can do it out of your own pocket, but that isn't always possible. Depending on your situation, you may need to consider creative funding methods to turn your idea into reality. Bootstrap: This means you’ll use personal savings to finance your company. This is a good option if you have a low-risk business that can be opened with little to no money. Crowdfunding: With crowdfunding, you’ll solicit small amounts of money from a large group of people. This is a suitable choice if you have a brilliant company concept but don't have the money to fund it. It used to be next to impossible to get funds in this manner, but today there are several excellent platforms devoted to crowdfunding that can help you quickly reach your objective. Small-business loan: A small-business loan from a bank or credit union is the traditional source of funding for startups. However, this avenue will only be available if you have good credit and need a significant amount of money to get started. Some banks give small-business loans to people with bad credit, but their interest rate is substantially higher. Friends and family: You may be able to cover business startup costs by asking your friends and family members to invest in your venture, either with interest or without. If you don't want to take out a loan and trust the people you're asking to support you, this is a fantastic choice. The final three options are more appropriate when your business is already up and running, but you’re struggling to keep up with the costs or are looking to expand the scope of your operations. Venture capitalists: If you have a high-growth business, you may be able to get funding from venture capitalists, who will finance your business with money pooled from third parties, such as investment companies or banks. If you need a lot of money and are ready to give up a portion of your company in exchange for cash, this is an excellent alternative. Angel Investors: Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest in businesses in exchange for equity, but unlike venture capitalists, they are using their own funds. As you can see, angel investors and venture capitalists are similar, but not exactly the same. The amounts you can get from angel investors are often smaller than those from venture capitalists, too. Grants: You may be able to get funded by the government or other organizations. This is a good option if you have a low-income business or are working in a field that benefits the community. No matter how you finance your startup business, it’s wise to plan for the worst-case scenario. Once you've done your research and secured funding for your idea, you'll be all set to launch your new business... or are you? How Do You Know If You're Ready To Start a Business? The thought of being in complete control of our work lives—and incomes!—is incredibly appealing. Luckily, it's now more possible than ever to make that dream a reality. But before you quit your day job, here are four things to think about before becoming your own boss: 1. Are you prepared to work hard—really hard? Running your own business is not a 9-to-5 job. It's more like a 24/7 job. You'll have to put in extremely long hours to get your business off the ground, and even once it's established, you'll still need to work constantly to keep it afloat. So ask yourself—are you prepared to work hard? 2. Do you have what it takes to be a leader? As the boss, you'll be responsible for guiding and managing your team (if you have one). This means you'll need to have strong leadership skills. Are you up for that challenge? 3. Can you handle the stress? Running a company is stressful, and we're not just talking about procuring the money needed to start and operate a business. Things won’t always go as planned, and you'll have to constantly deal with challenges and setbacks. So ask yourself—can you handle the stress? 4. Are you prepared to take risks? Starting a business is a risk. There's no guarantee that you’ll be successful, no matter how well you plan or how talented you and your team may be. So ask yourself—are you prepared to take risks? If your answer to all of these questions is "yes," then you just might be ready to become your own boss. But remember, it's not a decision to be made lightly. Be sure to do your research and plan carefully before taking the plunge. Conclusion Once you’ve done your research, created a detailed business plan, and factored in additional costs that may pop up along the way, you should know how much money you need to start a business. Remember that this is just a general guide, and your specific situation may require more or less capital. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your dreams a reality! Who knows, you could be the next big success story on the cover of Forbes.

By Julija A.

Recent from Small Business Stats & Facts

Thomas Jefferson once defined coffee as “the favorite drink of the civilized world.” Tea-lovers might disagree with Jefferson, but coffee industry statistics are clear: Millions of people today can’t imagine starting their day without a cup of the stimulating beverage. Coffee Industry Facts - Key Findings Brazil is the largest coffee producer (33%) and the largest exporter in the world. In 2020, 15 countries imported 76.4% of all coffee. An average American drinks 3.1 cups of coffee daily. By 2030, global coffee consumption is expected to grow by one-third. The US imported $5.7 billion worth of coffee in 2020. In 2020, Starbucks had the largest share of the coffee market - 40%.  General Coffee Industry Statistics Wondering where your daily cup of coffee comes from? And whether there will be enough coffee for all coffee-lovers in the future? These statistics will provide the answers.  With 33% of all coffee produced, Brazil is the largest coffee bean producer globally.  (Statista) Overall, about 50 countries worldwide produce coffee. Brazil takes first place by producing nearly a third of all coffee - about 69 million 60-kilogram bags. It’s followed closely by Vietnam, which produces almost 29 million bags annually. Even though coffee originated in Africa, this continent contributes only 12% to the world’s total production. Small farmers still produce 60% of the world’s coffee. (Carto.com) Considering how popular coffee is, you might expect that growing it is a fully mechanized process that takes place on vast plantations. However, the reality is that only 21% of all coffee is produced on farms more than 50 hectares in size. The majority of producers still pick coffee by hand in an intensive, once-a-year harvest.  Global coffee consumption increased 2% between 2019 and 2021. (International Coffee Organization)  On the other hand, the production went slightly downward in the same period, which led to minimizing the gap between production and consumption to 1.2 million bags.  By 2030, global coffee consumption is expected to grow by one-third. (Bloomberg) The estimates show that by 2030, the world will need an additional 200 million bags to keep up with the growing demand. The main causes of this growth are the expected wage growth and increase in population.  In 2020, 15 countries accounted for 76.4% of all coffee imports.  (World’s Top Exports) The five countries that import the most coffee are the US, Germany, France, Italy, and Canada. In 2020, these countries imported 47.7% of the worldwide total. Between 2019 and 2020, Germany increased its import volume by 9.4%, while Italy and the US reduced it by 7.5% and 2.8%, respectively. Brazil holds the top spot for coffee beans export.  (Statista) Brazil is prominent in our coffee statistics not only as the largest coffee bean producer in the world but also as the number one exporter. In 2020, Brazil exported almost $5 billion worth of coffee. Switzerland was the second-largest exporter, with $2.85 billion.  Europe accounts for 33% of the global coffee market. (International Coffee Organization)  It seems like Europe has the most coffee drinkers altogether. It’s closely followed by Asia and Oceania, with a market share of 22%, followed by Latin America (20%), and North America (19%). The coffee market in Europe is expected to stay stable throughout 2025 and beyond.  The average price of a cup of coffee ranges from $0.46 in Iran to $7.77 in South Korea. (Global Coffee Report)  The average price of a cup of coffee varies drastically worldwide. Recent studies have determined South Korea is the most expensive country to drink a cup of coffee in, with the average price being $7.77. On the other hand, the cheapest is Iran, where the average cup of coffee costs $0.46.  Only about 10% of coffee is roasted before being exported.  (International Coffee Association) Essentially, 90% of all coffee is exported green, which means that roasting actually takes place in the importing country. Since roasting technology differs from country to country, it also affects the overall taste of the coffee. The United States Coffee Market Statistics In this section, we take a look at the US coffee industry size, information on consumer behavior, and imports and exports. In 2020, an average American drank two cups of coffee per day. (National Coffee Association) One of the most interesting coffee drinking facts from the 2020 National Coffee Association report is that the average American coffee-drinker consumes 3.1 cups of coffee per day. Sixty-two percent of Americans drink coffee every day, while seven out of 10 Americans drink coffee at least once a week. The US imported $5.7 billion worth of coffee in 2020. (World’s Top Exports) Americans are among the most avid coffee consumers in the world, with more than 400 million cups of coffee drank per day. 67% of Americans purchased their coffee from the supermarket in 2019. (Statista)  Since a considerable percentage of Americans prefer gourmet coffee, one would expect them to shop for their favorite blend at their local coffee roastery or other specialty coffee shop. Still, it appears that customer retention levels in this segment of the industry are not particularly high - only 9% regularly choose this option. The majority of consumers purchase their coffee at the supermarket, 14% order coffee online, on Amazon, or elsewhere, while 13% buy it at their local coffee shop, according to the specialty coffee industry statistics. Almost 60% of all coffee served in the US is brewed from premium beans. (National Coffee Association) While gourmet coffee is rising in popularity, traditional coffee consumption has decreased 10% from 2019 to 2020.  In 2020, Starbucks had the most coffee shops in the US.  (Statista) With 15,444 stores in the US, Starbucks holds 40% of the US coffee shop market. Dunkin’, the food franchise that made history with 3 million customers daily, holds the second spot with slightly more than 9,000 stores. Tim Hortons, in third place, has 630 stores in the US. When translated into coffee sales, Starbucks generated $21.31 trillion in 2019, while Dunkin’ had $9.2 trillion. 41% of Americans used a drip coffee maker to brew coffee in 2020. (Statista) The second most popular method was the single-cup brewer with 27%, while 12% used an espresso machine to make coffee at home. Only 10% of respondents prefer cold brewing, 8% purchase ready-to-drink coffee in a can or a jar, while 7% purchase instant coffee in a can or a jar. Bean-to-cup brewer is used by 6%, while the remaining methods account for less than 5%.  Coffee Consumption Statistics Worldwide - by Demographic  Who are the people behind all these coffee-drinking facts and figures? Let’s find out. 72% of people over the age of 60 drink coffee every day. (National Coffee Association)  But it’s not just older adults who drink coffee regularly: More than half (54%) of Americans between the ages of 25 and 39 consume coffee, along with 40% of those aged 18-24. The latter group has, in fact, seen a 14% increase in coffee consumption since the beginning of 2021. In the US, women spend on average $400 more on coffee than men. (Perfect Brew) An average American woman spends approximately $2,327 each year on coffee, while an average man spends $1,934. Still, it seems that men simply drink cheaper coffee - if we were to compare coffee consumption per capita by gender, men take the lead with 2.22, compared to women’s 1.79.   Hispanic Americans are the most likely demographic group to drink coffee every day. (Perfect Brew) The survey conducted by the National Coffee Association looking to uncover coffee facts and statistics showed that Hispanic Americans are 65% more likely to consume coffee daily than members of any other ethnicity. 41% of millennials spent more money on coffee than on retirement plans in 2017. (Acorns Money Matters) In an Acorns study conducted in 2017, 41% of nearly 2,000 respondents born between the 1980s and early 2000s admitted to spending more on coffee than on retirement. Unsurprisingly, 39% also admitted to feeling anxious about their financial future.  Scientists and lab technicians are the heaviest coffee drinkers. (Perfect Brew) Among the top 15 professions that consume the most coffee, scientists and lab technicians take the top spot. Marketing and advertising professionals are second, while education administrators take the third spot. Writers and editors hold the fourth spot, while healthcare administrators take the fifth, according to a recent coffee industry analysis by Perfect Brew.  People aged 25-34 spend $2,000 in coffee shops yearly. (Amerisleep) There’s a stark difference between this age group and people over 65, who spend only $7 in coffee shops per year. People aged 18-24 spend $172 per year on average, while the 35-44 age group doesn’t shy away from spending $1,410. These figures could partially be the result of the shift toward remote work, as many remote workers find coffee shops to be more conducive to productivity than their homes.

By Vladana Donevski

Anyone who has ever been on a hunt for unique handmade items, vintage treasures, and local artisan products has most likely heard about Etsy. This creative online marketplace started out in 2005 as a project by a group of enthusiasts from Brooklyn, New York. Etsy has soon become an online refuge for artists and artisans from all over the world.  The platform has grown into a $33.75 billion business from very humble beginnings. If you're interested in learning more about this eCommerce giant and its journey to the top, check out our Etsy statistics below.   Top Etsy Statistics: Editor’s Choice With a market cap of over $17 billion, Etsy is the 12th largest online marketplace globally. Etsy’s annual net income in 2021 reached $493 million. As of 2020, Etsy has 1,209 employees. 97% of Etsy sellers run their shops from home. 62% of sellers on Etsy are from the United States. In 2020, 81% of Etsy sellers identified as women. With a 25% seller share, Home & Living is the most popular category on Etsy. 71% of Etsy sellers consider it important to grow their business sustainably and responsibly. General Etsy Stats To better understand this eCommerce platform and its users, we've compiled a list of some general Etsy statistics. Read below to learn about the number of active buyers and sellers, the revenue Etsy has generated over the years, and the best-seller categories of products available for sale. With a market cap of over $17 billion, Etsy is the 12th largest online marketplace globally. (CompaniesMarketCap) With a market cap of $17.90b as of March 2022, Etsy scores above JD Health, Zalando, and Rakuten, to name a few prominent companies.  Etsy traffic statistics have increased majorly during 2020, boosting profits significantly. Nevertheless, the market is still dominated by eCommerce giants such as Amazon, Alibaba, Meituan, Jingdong, and Shopify. There were around 7.5 million active sellers on Etsy in 2021, a nearly 75% increase on 2020. (BussinessOfApps) Back in 2019, there were almost $2.7 million active sellers on Etsy. Only a year later, the figures went up over 60% to around 4.3 million people worldwide, only to balloon by nearly 75% to 7.5 million in 2021. As testified by many Etsy sellers, statistics have never looked so good. The reason behind such a steep surge is most likely the COVID-19 pandemic which forced many people to start selling online exclusively.  The number of active Etsy buyers reached 96.3 million in 2021. (BussinessOfApps) Compared to 2019, when some 46.3 million people bought goods on Etsy regularly, 2020 has brought a surge of over 75% for a record 81.8 million active buyers on the platform. This was then followed by a smaller but still impressive 17% increase to 96.3 million users in 2021. Judging by the Etsy buyer statistics, people have heartily embraced the online shopping model forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 2020, Etsy has 1,209 employees. (Backlinko) We can get valuable insights by tracking workflow within a company. Etsy has been growing steadily over the past few years, and the growth was followed by an increase in the number of employees. The 2020 sales boom saw the workforce increase by 14.49%. These Etsy updated statistics do not include an additional 205 workers employed at Reverb, its daughter company. Most of the employees are based in the United States, but the company also has offices in Ireland, Germany, Canada, Australia, and more. Etsy Demographics Let’s take a closer look at the demographic stats and facts, as they provide insights into the target market for a product or service. Additionally, they can help identify new markets or assess the potential impact of changes in the economy or population on a business. By understanding the demographics of its customer base, a company can make better decisions about where to allocate its resources to maximize growth.  62% of Etsy’s sellers are from the United States. (Statista) Etsy seller statistics show the distribution of its sellers on a global level. As of June 2020, some 62% of Etsy's merchants were from the United States, while the remaining 38% come from other countries. The majority of them are from the UK (30%), followed by Canada (11%), Australia (7%), and  Germany (7%). Most of Etsy’s US sellers come from California (14%). (Statista) The figures from June 2020 indicate that 14 percent of the US Etsy sellers are located in California. During the measured period, Florida and Texas both contributed 7%, while Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Washington had a 4% share of the total US seller market each. As of December 2020, 47.7% of Etsy employees were female. (Statista) We highly appreciate Etsy’s gender awareness and diversity politics, especially nowadays when women were only 5% of the CEOs appointed globally in 2020. Namely, the eCommerce giant has been trying to increase the number of women in leadership positions and on its Board of Directors. As of December 2020, 47.7 percent of its employees were female, along with 45.3% male workers and 7% that were classified as ‘other.’ Statistics on Etsy's global corporate demography indicate that the board positions are equally occupied by both males and females, with a 50-50% ratio.  In 2020, 81% of Etsy sellers identified as women. (Statista) (Etsy) The figures certainly show how one-sided the sellers’ market is, probably because women dominate the handmade arts & crafts niche. When it comes to Etsy users, statistics on the sellers used to favor women even more in the past. According to a report from 2015, as many as 86% of the sellers on the platform were female. 71% of Etsy sellers consider it important to grow their business sustainably and responsibly. (Etsy) Sustainability and value-driven manufacturing practices are essential to Etsy's community, as reflected in the items being sold on the site. This new approach to business resulted in self-organizing into online support groups. Nearly a quarter of Etsy sellers worldwide joined one of more than 10,000 Etsy Teams worldwide, where they can seek and provide support and collaboration opportunities.  97% of Etsy sellers run their shops from home. (Statista)  2020’s  Etsy statistics reveal that 97% of sellers run their shops from home. At the same time, 69% of respondents had started their Etsy shop as a way to supplement their income. For many Etsy sellers, their businesses are their primary source of income, and 69% of them consider their shop a business. More than half (55%) are multi-channel sellers.  Revenue and Sales Statistics Although Etsy's sale statistics recently didn't quite match the boom in 2020, the company is still going very strong. The pandemic has brought about a renewed interest in handmade and vintage items, increasing the platform’s popularity significantly in recent years. With a 25% seller share, Home & Living is the most popular category on Etsy. (Statista) Looking at the best-selling items on Etsy and their generated revenue, Statista compiled a list of the most popular categories among handmade Etsy sellers worldwide as of June 2020.  According to Etsy sales statistics by category, home and living is on the top of the list with a 25% seller share. This is followed by art and collectibles, which accounted for 21%, jewelry with 15%, and clothing with an 11% share.  The least popular group of products were pet supplies, electronics & accessories, and shoes, which accounted for only 1% of sellers each.  In 2020, Etsy was the eighth largest retail website in terms of online traffic. (Statista) The big dog among eCommerce websites, Amazon.com, had almost 3.68 billion visitors per month in 2020 followed by eBay.com with 1.01 billion visits on average each month. eBay, Rakuten, and Samsung also scored highly on the list.  With a monthly traffic average of 289.33 million visits, Etsy statistics had even top sellers jealous, contributing greatly to the platform’s huge revenue increase during that year. In 2020, Etsy generated $1.7 billion in total revenue. (Statista) The revenue of the online marketplace amounted to $1.7 billion in 2020, which represents a surge of more than 100 percent compared to the year before. Etsy had a market capitalization of $7.46 billion in 2019, just seven years after its official launch. According to industry experts, marketplace revenues (including sales listing and transaction fees), third-party payment processor fees, and seller service revenues are the company's main revenue streams.  Etsy’s annual net income in 2021 reached $493 million. (Statista) Looking at the Etsy sales statistics for 2021, there was a massive increase over the $349 million it made in 2020, which itself dwarfed 2019’s $95.89 million. The company is clearly doing something right, and at this rate, the future of eCommerce on the platform is looking very bright. Top sellers on Etsy earn $10,000 per year or more. (The Verge) Amid the many stories from Etsy's sellers regarding their earnings, the conclusion is that the most successful merchants earn $10,000 or more on the platform. Etsy shop statistics vary wildly between the various categories on the site, though. According to some top sellers, they get charged a flat 12% advertising fee that they cannot opt out of. This fee is 15% for other sellers, but that charge is optional.

By Danica Djokic

Call centers are an inescapable element of running almost every customer-centric business. Regardless of whether you are offering a product or a service or using a call center to market them, you need to provide a line of communication with your customers.  Not all support and call centers actually require a phone line. Call center statistics show that the industry has moved online to a large degree, and many other trends are emerging as companies strive to provide a better customer experience.  Let’s see some of the most important stats about the call center industry in 2022. Call Center Industry Statistics - Key Findings The global market value of call centers is estimated to reach $496 billion by 2027. 87% of employees in call centers report high-stress levels at their job. The contact center software market will be worth $149.58 billion by 2030. Businesses lose approximately $75 billion yearly because of poor customer service. 35% of customers want customer support agents to help them resolve issues in one interaction. General Call Center Operation Statistics Call centers are an essential industry nowadays, especially as many people turn to customer support. After all, the world has made a significant shift toward performing most of its daily life online. So let's check some of the most important stats about this industry. The global market value of call centers is estimated to reach $496 billion by 2027. (Report Linker) Research suggests that the industry's value will keep increasing at a projected CAGR rate of 5.6% between 2020 and 2027. In-house call center solutions have a 5.5% projected growth rate during the same period, while outsourcing will grow by 5.9%. In 2020, US call centers accounted for 29.49% of the global call center market. (Report Linker) The overall global market was valued at $339.4 billion in 2020, with the US share at approximately $100.1 billion in 2020. Other notable markets worldwide were China, Japan, Canada, and Germany, all with strong growth estimates.  Almost a quarter of all call centers in the US made less than $250 million in 2020. (Statista) 24%, to be precise. 13% earned more than $25 billion. 4% made between $15 and $25 billion, while 19% earned anywhere from $5 to $15 billion, and another 19% made between $1 and $5 billion. The contact center software market will be worth $149.58 billion by 2030. (Grand View Research, Inc) According to call center statistics for software, the industry's market size is $28.09 billion in 2022, up from $23.9 billion in 2021. If it continues following the estimated CAGR of 23.2% between 2022 and 2030, it should reach a staggering $149.58 billion by 2030. In 2020, US call center businesses employed 2.83 million people. (Statista) The number of employees in the call center businesses grew steadily from 2014 when 2.51 million people worked in this industry. This trend changed in 2020, though, which saw a drop in the number of employees in the contact center industry compared to 2019’s 2.92 million. Businesses lose approximately $75 billion yearly because of poor customer service. (Forbes)  Based on research in NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” report, Forbes announced in 2018 that many customers were abandoning companies due to poor customer service. Recent research conducted by Salesforce shows that 91% of customers will make another purchase at the same company after a good customer service experience.  In comparison, 70% said they would not buy a product from a company with long wait hours for customer support. If your company is struggling with similar issues, consider investing in call tracking software. Call Center Stats on Customer Satisfaction  Customer support is an essential part of providing a quality service, and companies need to pay close attention to customer satisfaction in this area. The following stats tell us more about customer preferences regarding call centers and support. 77% of customers appreciate proactive customer service. (Zippia) On top of wanting instant support, customers also expect customer representatives and sales reps to anticipate their needs and address them accordingly. Companies that can do that are much more popular with customers. 76% of customers prefer using different support channels depending on context. (Salesforce) According to the call center analysis by Salesforce, email is still the most popular customer support channel, followed by phone and in-person support. Online chat and mobile apps take fourth and fifth place, respectively. 78% of customers don’t like support agents that sound like they are reading from a script. (Zippia) Personalized sales and support communication has been the key for a while now. 52% of customers expect custom-tailored offers at all times, and 66% want the companies “to understand their unique needs and expectations.”  This is no small feat, especially for the largest call center companies serving thousands of customers. Ensuring your company uses good call center software is only half the battle. You’ll still need quality support agents who can convince your customers that their needs are important to your company. 50% of customers believe that the customer service and support from most companies need a major overhaul. (Salesforce) While half of the customers expect better customer support, 60% agree that companies need to improve their trustworthiness, and 55% think companies should work more on their environmental practices. Statistics show that companies focusing on “making the world a better place” always do well. Surprisingly, improving the product was ranked lower, as was using better technology and working on the overall business model. 35% of customers want customer support agents to help them resolve issues in one interaction. (Microsoft’s 2020 Report) Quick problem resolution should be one of the most important call center metrics. Over a third of customers in a Microsoft survey from 2019 said that resolving issues in one interaction should be a priority for the customer support team. 31% claimed that getting a knowledgeable agent is the most important, and 20% said that not having to repeat the same information is crucial. The latter seems like a growing problem, as more than half of customers felt that the departments providing support are not always in sync.  These are definitely the key call center metrics that every company should pay attention to. 92% of consumers hesitate when buying a product if it has no customer reviews. (Fan & Fuel) Worse still, 35% might not buy a product at all after reading just one negative review. According to Zendesk, word of mouth is also extremely powerful: 95% of customers will tell others about a bad experience, and 87% will share good ones.  Unfortunately, another survey shows that 79% of consumers who shared their poor online experience with customer support got ignored. Companies making this mistake should consider hiring a good reputation management service, as it will help improve their sales in the long run. Must-Know Information About Call Center Workers Despite the push toward automatization, live agents are still the pillars of any good customer support team. Here are some stats about the call center workforce. There were approximately 286,696 call center agents employed in the US in 2021. (Zippia) The majority of call centers are located in Texas, or more specifically in Dallas and Houston. The average age of a call center employee is 40 years. Furthermore, 67.2% of all agents are women, while 27.9% are men. 87% of employees in call centers report high stress levels at their job. (Cornell University) Handling customer requests every day is not an easy job. Customer support agents are typically the first line of defense against angry customers, leading to very alarming call center stress statistics. 80% of agents experience angry customers blaming them for things out of their control.  Undefined expectations, lack of incentives, and boredom with mundane, repetitive tasks cause agents to be miserable at work, which, in return, translates into poorer customer experience stats across the board. The average salary of a call center employee is $27,765 per year. (Zippia) Salaries for new agents start at around $20,000 per annum. Those of the 10% top-performing agents can go up to $36,000 or more. The turnover rate for call center agents is over 40% globally. (ICMI) (Mercer) When these call center turnover statistics are compared to the 22% average turnover rate across all industries in the US, it’s easy to see that job satisfaction levels in call centers are troublingly low. Companies need to look into ways of making the job less stressful for their employees and using modern technologies such as AI bots to help facilitate communication with customers. Call Center Technology Trends Good implementation of modern technologies is essential for improving call center statistics and metrics. Let’s check how big of a role software plays in customer support these days.   90% of businesses that use it find live chat software helpful for streamlining call center operations.  (Zippia) According to Zippia’s findings published in December 2021, 29% of all businesses and 61% of those in the B2B sector already use live chat software. 32% of businesses are implementing CRM systems to boost sales and enhance customer relationships. (Zippia) Customer Relationship Management software has an excellent track record of increasing customer engagement. Unfortunately, according to customer service and call center metrics, only a third of businesses make use of it currently. Considering that 31% of customer support teams think that their companies see their work as an expense rather than an opportunity to increase sales, this is not all that surprising. 87% of global organizations that implemented AI did so believing it would give them an advantage over the competition. (Statista) According to Statista, almost 90% of the organizations that implemented AI did so to keep up with the competition, while only 63% did so due to customer demand. Pressure to reduce costs was also a major factor (72%), along with the ability to move into new business spheres (78%). In 2020, 37% of all messages to brand social media accounts were related to customer service issues. (Sprout Social) (Statista) However, most messages (59%) were positive, as customers wished to express their happiness with an excellent experience they’ve had with the brand.  Call center statistics show that in 2020, 75% more customers used  Instagram to message businesses, while Facebook saw a 20% growth in this category. If you are considering implementing social media into customer support options, keep in mind that 18% of customers expect an immediate response; it might be worth investing in social media management tools to help your support team out.

By Vladana Donevski

While some workplaces are more dangerous than others, any workplace can be hazardous. Every year, millions of workers get injured on the job, and many of these injuries are severe. The cost of workplace injuries is huge, not just in terms of medical expenses but also in terms of lost productivity and lost wages.  Keep reading our workplace injury statistics to find out how often these accidents occur and what the most common ways workers get hurt are.  Top Work Injury Stats - Editor’s Choice: In 2020, there were 3.2 million workplace injuries and illnesses in the US.  Sprains, strains, and tears were the most common injuries, with 266,530 cases recorded in 2020. Healthcare and social assistance was the most affected private sector, with 806,200 workers injured or sick.  There were 4,764 workplace fatalities in 2020. Most worker deaths happened in transportation incidents, with 1,778 cases recorded in 2020.  The total economic cost of workplace accidents and fatalities in 2019 was estimated at $171 billion.  The state with the most workplace fatalities in 2020 was Texas, with 469 cases.  With 355,200 cases, California was the state with the most occupational injuries and illnesses in 2020. OSHA’s most breached standard is for fall protection in construction. General Work Injury Statistics The latest Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of workplace injuries in 2020 was lower compared to the previous years, but does that mean workplace safety conditions in the US have improved and that the workers have become more safety-aware? Not exactly. The main reason for the drop in preventable workplace injuries and deaths can be found in the decreased number of working hours. The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the working hours by 9% for the latest survey period. There were approximately 3.2 million recorded cases of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in the US during 2020.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)  Workplace accidents, statistics inform us, resulted in days away from work in 62% of cases.   Worldwide, about 340 million work-related accidents happen yearly.  (International Labour Organization) A further 160 million workers suffer illness at work. In the private sector, 2.7 per 100 full-time workers suffered nonfatal injuries and illness.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)  Furthermore, 1.7 out of 100 workers had to take days away from work because of accidents or illness.  The most common causes of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the private sector that resulted in days away from work were sprains, strains, and tears, with 266,530 cases recorded in 2020. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)   Workplace back injury statistics show that such accidents are common. They are followed by soreness and pain caused by work activities, fractures, while cuts, lacerations, and punctures are in a close third place.  Slips, trips, and falls are the most common workplace injuries, accounting for 33% of all cases.  (Thomas Marchese) Water or oil spills, iced walkways and steps, cables, wrinkled rugs, and poor lighting are the main culprits of slips, trips, and falls, statistics tell us. Thankfully, they are also among the most easily preventable causes.  Nonfatal injuries and illnesses were most common in healthcare and social assistance, affecting over 800,000 workers in these industries in 2020.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) Other private sectors with high case numbers were manufacturing and retail trade. Statistics for retail show that 341,100 workers were sick or injured in 2020, along with 373,300 workers in manufacturing.   Healthcare and social care are high-stress work environments with the highest injury rate - 5.5 per 100 workers.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) Workplace safety statistics also list agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting as sectors with frequently occurring accidents - 4.6 per 100 workers. They’re followed by transportation and warehousing at 4 per 100. Fires and explosions account for 3% of workplace injuries. (Thomas Marchese) Unfortunately, these types of incidents also have the highest casualty rate across workplace accidents.  Workplace Death Statistics Unfortunately, death is still part of workplace injury statistics, despite the improved safety regulations and protocols implemented to avoid preventable fatalities. The reason for hope is that fatal workplace accidents have declined from 2019. In 2020, there were 4,764 fatal work injuries in the US.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) This is a 10.7% drop from the Bureau’s 2019 report, which recorded 5,333 deaths. Furthermore, this is the lowest annual number since 2013.  The fatal work injury rate in 2020 was 3.4 per 100,000 full-time workers. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) As mentioned, the work injury rates haven’t significantly declined. They merely reflect the fact there were fewer jobs and work hours in 2020 due to COVID-19. According to previous BLS workplace injury statistics, the rate in 2019 was 3.5 full-time workers per 100,000.  One worker died in the US every 111 minutes in 2020.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)  This number may seem staggering, but it’s significantly lower than in the period before the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was implemented. At 1,051, most fatalities were in the 55 to 64 age group.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)  The age group with the second-highest number of fatal workplace injuries are 45 to 54 year-olds. As the smallest portion of the US workforce, underage workers also had the fewest deaths - 26 in 2020. At 1,778, transportation incidents were the leading cause of death for workers in 2020. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) Most often, these are roadway incidents involving a motorized land vehicle. Workplace fall statistics show that drops from higher elevations are also among the main causes of fatal occupational injuries.   22% of all fatal work injuries were suffered by Hispanic or Latino workers. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) The Latin-American community in the US has seen increased rates of fatal work injuries. There were 1,088 deaths in 2019 and 1,072 in 2020. Despite the reduced work hours in 2020 and fewer preventable deaths, the rate actually increased by 2% since 2019.   Workplace Injury Cost Statistics It’s hard to estimate exactly what kind of an impact workplace injury had on each individual worker. However, the loss of work hours and wages are measurable indicators of the economic impact of occupational injuries. The total economic cost of work-related injuries in 2019 amounted to $171 billion.  (National Safety Council) The total includes more than just worker compensation and insurance. The most significant elements of the economic cost are wage and productivity losses ($53.9 billion) and administrative expenses ($59.7 billion). Medical fees and employers’ uninsured costs stood at $35.5 billion and $13.3 billion, respectively.  The average cost per worker was $1,100.  (National Safety Council) This figure represents the value of goods or services that each worker would have to produce to offset the cost caused by the accident. The expenses for a medically consulted injury were $42,000, while the expenses of a fatal workplace accident stood at $1.22 million in 2019. (National Safety Council) These numbers include estimated wage losses, costs of medical treatments, and employer expenses minus the damage to property or vehicles.  Injuries and fatalities in 2019 resulted in 70 million lost workdays.  (National Safety Council) However, if you include injuries that happened in the year before that prevented employees from attending work in 2019, the number of workdays lost rises to 105 million. Workplace Injury Statistics by State Texas had the highest number of fatal work injuries in 2020 - 469 recorded cases.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) This is still a significant drop compared to 2019, when 608 people lost their lives on their job. California comes in at a close second place with 463 cases, and Florida is third with 275 fatalities.  The state with the highest number of work injuries and illnesses in 2020 was California, with approximately 355,200 cases.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) This is almost twice the number of cases recorded in Texas during the same year (178,600). Workplace accident stats place the state of New York in the third position with 129,000 cases. States with the highest rates of nonfatal work injuries and illnesses are Maine, Vermont, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Minnesota.  (US Bureau of Labor Statistics) Maine had the highest rate of cases, with 4.3 per 100 full-time workers. The second state on the list is Vermont, with 3.6 per 100.  OSHA Injury Statistics The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a federal agency that regulates workplace safety. It also keeps a record of what safety regulations are most often breached.  OSHA employs 1,850 inspectors.  (OSHA) These inspectors are in charge of the health and safety of more than 130 million workers across approximately 8 million workplaces in the US.  One compliance officer is in charge of approximately 70,000 workers.  (OSHA) OSHA has 10 regional offices and 85 offices in local areas. The federal organization conducted approximately 33,000 federal and 42,000 state inspections in 2019. Fall protection for construction workers is the most frequently breached OSHA standard.  (OSHA) Apart from fall protection, OSHA workplace injury statistics show that the Hazard Communication standard, Respiratory Protection, general scaffolding requirements, and requirements for the use of ladders in construction are the most commonly breached OSHA standards.  Since OSHA’s inception in 1970, worker deaths have dropped from 38 per day to 13 in 2020. (OSHA) OSHA had a significant impact on the safety and health of the US workforce. After it was established, illnesses and the most common workplace injuries have dropped from 10.9 per 100 workers to 2.7 in 2020. Closing Thoughts  Safer work practices and adhering to regulations have helped reduce the numbers in workplace injury statistics. In addition to having a good insurance plan for your business, it’s important not to dismiss caution and best practices, no matter in what sector your business operates.

By Dusan Vasic

Recent from Knowledge Base

Word of mouth has always been the most powerful form of marketing. It is human nature to trust the recommendation of a friend or family member over any other type of advertising: It’s honest, it’s personal, and it’s reliable. But what if you could get that same level of personal recommendation from a complete stranger? That’s the power of online customer reviews. In the article you’re about to read, we’ll discuss why online customer reviews are the ultimate salesperson for eCommerce businesses and how you can make the most of them. What Are Online Customer Reviews? At its simplest, a customer’s online review is a written testimonial about a product or service purchased and used by an actual customer. These reviews can be left on the website of the business in question, on a third-party review site, or even on social media platforms. There are two main types of online customer reviews that businesses should be aware of: 1. Ratings and Reviews These are the most common eCommerce product reviews, and they usually take the form of a star rating (from one to five stars, for example) along with a written comment. Customers will often be asked to rate their overall experience and specific aspects of the product or service they purchased. 2. Testimonials Testimonials are similar to ratings and reviews but tend to be more extensive. They also usually include the customer’s full name, location, and headshot. Many businesses will showcase testimonials prominently on their websites. We can also differentiate between private and public reviews. Private Reviews Clients review a product or service and share their reviews directly with the business through email, phone calls, or direct messages. Public Reviews Public reviews are those that anyone can see; they are left on a website or third-party review platform. Public reviews are more important for businesses because they are more likely to be seen by potential customers and impact their purchase decisions. How Customer Reviews Affect Businesses Both positive and negative reviews customers post online can have a major impact on your business. If you’re still wondering why online customer reviews are the ultimate salesperson for eCommerce, note that statistics show that 89% of B2B buyers search online for product or service reviews and photos before making a purchase decision. The impact of customer reviews is evident in both the short and long term.  In the short term, they can help (or hurt) your business by influencing the purchase decisions of potential customers looking actively for information about your products or services. In the long term, customer reviews can also help you improve your business by giving you insights into the areas where you need to make changes or improvements. Of course, the effect of online seller reviews is not always positive. Businesses have been known to crumble due to negative reviews, especially when such reviews go viral. This is why it’s so crucial for companies to manage their online reputation. What Can Positive Customer Reviews Do For Your Business? Positive and authentic customer reviews can have many benefits for your business. Here are just a few examples: 1. They Can Increase Sales and Conversions This is probably the most obvious benefit of positive customer reviews. If potential customers see that others have had a good experience with your product or service, they’re more likely to purchase it themselves. Higher conversion rates mean more sales and more revenue for your business. 2. They Can Help You Attract New Customers In addition to increasing sales and conversions, positive eCommerce reviews can also help you attract new customers. After all, potential customers are more likely to trust a business recommended by someone they know and trust. This powerful marketing tool is called “social proof.” With real customers’ words and sentiments about your product or service, your marketing campaigns will be more effective, and your advertising budget will go further. 3. They Can Improve Your Search Engine Ranking In recent years, Google has increasingly used customer reviews as a ranking factor in its search algorithms. Businesses with positive reviews of their online stores are more likely to appear higher up in search results, which can lead to even more sales and conversions. The SEO factor is becoming increasingly important for most top-rated e-commerce platforms. 4. They Can Build Trust and Credibility Positive online reviews can help build trust and credibility for your business. After all, if customers are willing to leave positive reviews, they must be pretty happy with your product or service.  This can encourage potential customers who are on the fence about your business to give you a try. Finally, potential customers are more likely to trust a business recommended by someone they know and trust. 5. They Can Improve Customer Retention Positive online business reviews can also help to improve customer retention. If customers are happy with your product or service, they’re more likely to stick around and continue doing business with you. This is especially important for businesses that rely on repeat customers or subscriptions. How To Get Authentic Positive Reviews - Our Tips There’s a common misconception that happy customers will automatically leave positive reviews and unhappy customers will bad-mouth your business to anyone who will listen. This is not always the case. In fact, getting positive customer reviews requires an active effort. You need to reach out to your customers and ask them for feedback. Luckily, there are a few ways you can do this and improve your online reviews section: 1. Send a Follow-Up Email After a customer has made a purchase, send them a follow-up email and ask them to leave a review of their experience. This is a great way to get honest feedback about your product or service. You can include a link to the comment box or a star-rating system in your email, attach a short survey, or even ask for video testimonials. 2. Use a Pop-Up or Sidebar Widget Another way to encourage customers to leave reviews is to use a pop-up or sidebar widget on your website. These widgets can be triggered after a customer has made a purchase or spent a certain amount of time on your site. This makes leaving a comment more convenient for customers, encouraging them to do so. 3. Get Social Media Reviews Online businesses’ reviews can be solicited via social media platforms. You can post about your product or service on your company’s social media page and ask customers to leave their thoughts in the comments. You can also run social media ads that link to review pages or use hashtags to encourage customers to post about their experiences. 4. Leverage User-Generated Content Another way to get positive customer reviews is to leverage user-generated content to resonate with your target audience. UGC is any content created by customers, such as product photos, videos, or reviews. Once you create your eCommerce website and add UGC, you can use it for your social media pages or marketing campaigns. 5. Incentivize Customers To Leave Reviews One of the best ways to get online reviews for your business is to offer an incentive. This could be a discount code, a free product, or entry into a contest. Customers are more likely to take the time to leave a review if they know they’ll get something in return. How To Deal with Bad Reviews No company is perfect, and even the best businesses will get the occasional negative review. The important thing is how you deal with those bad reviews. Companies need to consult online reviews daily and take the good with the bad. When you see a negative eCommerce review, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and remember that not every customer will be happy 100% of the time. Here are a few tips for dealing with negative reviews: Respond to All Reviews, Good and Bad It’s important to respond to all customer reviews, both positive and negative. This shows that you pay attention and care about your customers’ experience. A simple “Thank you” is usually sufficient for a positive review. For a negative review, you’ll want to take the time to address the customer’s concerns and offer a solution. Thank them for their feedback: This will show that you take shoppers and their reviews and concerns seriously. Apologize for the inconvenience: Even if it wasn’t your fault, an apology goes a long way. Offer a solution: Let the customer know what you’re going to do to fix the situation. Follow up: Make sure to follow up with the customer after you’ve implemented your solution. Don’t Take it Personally It's important to remember that negative reviews are not a reflection of you as a person. They’re simply feedback about your business. Try not to take it personally and stay focused on finding a solution. Use Negative Reviews as an Opportunity To Improve Your online store reviews, even negative ones, can be a great opportunity to improve your business. Use the feedback to identify areas where you can make changes. Maybe there’s a problem with your product, or your customer service could be better. Whatever the case may be, use negative reviews as an opportunity to make your business even better. Monitor Your Online Reputation Finally, it’s important to monitor your online reputation. This means regularly checking review sites, social media pages, and other online platforms for mentions of your business. If you see a negative review, reach out to the customer and try to resolve the issue. If you see a positive review, share it on your social media pages or website. Final Thoughts Even though it might be tempting to buy positive reviews, it’s not a good idea. Not only is it unethical, but it can also lead to long-term damage to your business. It’s much better to focus on earning positive reviews through excellent customer service and offering incentives. You can turn online customer reviews into a powerful marketing tool for attracting new customers. Just remember to be professional, respond to all reviews, and use negative reviews as a growth opportunity.

By Danica Djokic

The eCommerce landscape is constantly evolving. What was popular last year may not be so hot this year, and what’s trending now may be totally different a year from now. In the aftermath of the pandemic, we’re seeing even more changes in the way people shop online. To stay ahead of the curve and nail your strategy, you need to stay up to date with the latest eCommerce trends. We've put together a list of factors that will shape eCommerce in the next few years so that you can make the necessary changes to your online store and outdo the competition. B2C ECommerce Will Overtake B2B Traditional in-person shopping may never be the same again. The pandemic has pushed people to shop online out of necessity, and many have found that they actually prefer it. Convenience, safety, and a wider selection are all big selling points for eCommerce. It’s no wonder that 52% of people who switched to online shopping for groceries said they wouldn’t switch back. As a result, we expect to see a continued increase in online shopping even after the pandemic is over. This shift will have a big impact on the types of products that are being sold online. We can already see new trends in eCommerce - a move away from heavy, bulky items that are difficult to transport and an increase in sales of smaller items that can be easily shipped. This trend is likely to continue as people become more accustomed to shopping online for items that they would traditionally have bought in-store. Another big trend that we’re seeing is a shift from business-to-business eCommerce to business-to-consumer eCommerce. The rise of B2C over B2B is being driven by the fact that many small businesses have had to move their operations online in order to make it through the pandemic. Even traditional businesses that relied on in-person sales are now turning to eCommerce to reach their customers. Manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, and insurance are just some of the industries that are starting to sell directly to consumers online. This new approach and innovative trends in the eCommerce industry might bring some new challenges. However, the benefits are likely to outweigh the drawbacks in the long run. ECommerce Companies Lean More on Augmented Reality The rise of augmented reality has been a game changer in the eCommerce industry, especially in fashion and home furnishing. This technology is being used by some of the biggest names in retail, including IKEA, Dulux, Lego, Sephora, and Nike. AR allows shoppers to see how products would look in their homes before they buy them. This is particularly useful for items like furniture and home décor, where it can be difficult to visualize exactly how something would look in your home space. Following the new eCommerce trends, AR has recently been used to create virtual showrooms and allow customers to try on products before they buy them. This can benefit the clothing and makeup industries, where you need to see how something looks on you before you make a purchase. We expect to see even more retailers using AR in the next few years as the technology becomes more widespread and available to everyone. AI Will Further Personalize the Shopping Experience Artificial intelligence is already being used by many top-rated eCommerce platforms to personalize their customers’ shopping experiences. This is one of the latest eCommerce trends, and it helps businesses learn about customers’ individual preferences and use that information to recommend products based on a customer’s past purchases, browsing history, and search queries. This technology is also being used to create dynamic pricing models that automatically adjust prices based on demand, competitor prices, and other factors. AI can also be used to help businesses manage their inventory and fulfill orders more efficiently. In the future, AI is likely to become even more involved in the eCommerce experience. It will be used to provide customer support, process orders, and handle returns. We may even see robots being used to pick and pack orders in warehouses. The use of AI will enable eCommerce shoppers to have a more personalized and convenient experience. It will also allow businesses to save money on labor costs. Chatbots Will Become More Common Today, customers expect their online shopping experience to be streamlined, so when they encounter a bottleneck or poor customer service, it’s very easy for a potential customer to abandon their cart. This means that eCommerce businesses need to find ways to speed up their fulfillment process. One way to do this is by using chatbots to automate customer service tasks. A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation. Ever since the first chatbot, ELIZA, was created in 1966, the service has been used to provide customer support, answer questions, and make recommendations. Many eCommerce businesses are already using chatbots, and we expect future trends in eCommerce to make them even more common.  For example, a chatbot can be used to answer common customer questions, provide order status updates, and take care of returns. This frees up customer service representatives to handle more complex issues.  In the future, we expect chatbots to become even more involved in the eCommerce experience. They will likely be used to handle a wider range of tasks, including processing orders and payments. As AI becomes more sophisticated, chatbots will become more realistic and able to hold natural conversations with customers more easily. Voice Search Will Become a Big Deal As voice-activated assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home become more common, we expect voice search to become more prominent in global eCommerce trends. Voice search allows for voice input, which is faster and often more convenient than typing. As statistics indicate, about 75% of US households will own at least one smart speaker by 2025, making voice search an important factor in eCommerce.  As the use of voice-activated assistants grows and as they become an integral part of eCommerce’s future, we expect businesses will optimize their eCommerce sites for voice search. This means using natural language instead of keywords, including long-tail keywords that are more likely to be spoken than typed, and making sure that product pages are listed when someone searches for relevant keywords. It will also become more critical for businesses to provide concise and accurate information on their product pages. This is because people are more likely to get frustrated with a voice-activated assistant if they have to keep asking for clarification on product descriptions. Conventional Payment Options Will Take a Back Seat As the world becomes more digital, we expect to see a shift from traditional payment methods to newer, more secure methods such as mobile payments and cryptocurrencies. Unlike recent B2B eCommerce trends, this one will have a more profound and lasting impact on the way businesses interact with customers.  With a variety of ways to pay for goods and services online, customers will have more choice and flexibility when it comes to how they make purchases. We expect mobile payments to become more popular as people become more comfortable using their smartphones to make transactions. Contactless payments have become common during the pandemic, and established players such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are likely to benefit from this trend. Cryptocurrency is another payment method that is gaining popularity, particularly among younger generations. Bitcoin payments, one of the major new trends in eCommerce shopping, have been on the rise lately. As more people become aware of cryptocurrency and how to use it, eCommerce customers will have more options when it comes to how they make payments. Headless and API-Driven Commerce is Gaining Momentum Headless commerce is an architecture that decouples the back-end systems from the front-end. This allows businesses to build their eCommerce store using any programming language and framework they want. API-driven commerce is a similar concept, but it takes things one step further by allowing businesses to connect their eCommerce store to any third-party service using APIs, a type of software that allows two applications to communicate with each other. This eCommerce industry trend is gaining momentum because it gives businesses more flexibility and control over their stores. Companies can also get the advantage of the incorporated SEO, content marketing tools, and digital experience features. Finally, back-end developers and front-end developers can work independently of each other, which speeds up the development process. Product Videos Will Become More Popular As broadband speeds continue to increase and more people watch videos on their smartphones, customer engagement through product videos will continue to grow. Short video content is a great way to show off your products in a way that is more engaging than traditional product photos. They are also a great way to showcase how your products can be used in real-world scenarios directly from your eCommerce store. Unlike photos or descriptions, video content can quickly grab a viewer’s attention and give them an idea of what your product is all about. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to start thinking about how you can use video content to showcase your products or services effectively. Conversion Strategies Will Focus on Building Trust In order to convert leads into customers, businesses need to focus on building trust. Multi-channel selling, Facebook advertising, and Instagram marketing are great ways to convert leads into customers, provided you focus on building trust with your target audience.  As recent online sales trends indicate, consumers are more and more skeptical of advertising and are looking for brands they can have confidence in. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as by displaying customer testimonials and reviews, social proof, and security seals. Another way to build trust is to offer a money-back guarantee or free shipping. This shows that you are confident in your product and that you are willing to stand behind it. Finally, focusing on transparency (e.g., disclosing your business practices, the manufacturing process, etc.) and building a strong social media presence can also help any business in the eCommerce industry build trust with potential customers. Big Data is a Game Changer Big data is a term used to describe the large volume of data that businesses now have access to. This data can come from a variety of sources, such as social media, website analytics, CRM systems, and more. Big data can be used to improve the customer experience in a number of ways, such as by personalizing the experience, identifying customer pain points, and improving customer service. We've all experienced seeing suggestions on shopping platforms or search engines, and most of us have found them to be pretty accurate. The more data a company has, the better it can cater to its customer's needs, and this will become increasingly important in future eCommerce trends. However, big data carries big challenges as customers are more and more concerned about data privacy. So, businesses need to make sure they are handling customer data responsibly and transparently if they want to keep using it to boost profits. Mobile Commerce Will Continue To Grow Mobile commerce is expected to continue growing in the coming years. According to statistics, mobile devices are used for over 40% of online transactions, their rising popularity indicates that this is one of the trends in online shopping that’s here to stay. Mobile commerce offers a number of advantages for businesses, such as increased reach, shorter buying cycles, and improved conversion rates. It also offers many advantages for customers, including the ability to shop anywhere at any time. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, it’s important to make sure your eCommerce platform is mobile-friendly. This means having a responsive design that looks good on all devices, as well as providing a smooth and easy-to-use mobile shopping experience. Omnichannel Selling Will Become the Norm Omnichannel selling is a term used to describe the practice of selling products through multiple channels, such as brick-and-mortar stores, online stores, mobile apps, and more. This eCommerce trend and approach allows businesses to reach more potential customers and provides a more seamless shopping experience. In the past, businesses have often treated each selling channel as a separate entity. However, this is changing as more and more businesses are adopting an omnichannel approach. This shift is driven by the increasing popularity of online shopping and the need for businesses to provide a more cohesive customer experience. As omnichannel selling becomes more common, it’s important for businesses to make sure they’re building eCommerce websites that can support it. This means having a platform that is integrated with all of your other selling channels and that provides a consistent experience for customers regardless of how they shop.  Environmental Sustainability Will Play a Big Role As we become more and more aware of the impact our consumption has on the environment, sustainability is becoming an important factor in purchasing decisions. Customers that follow new online shopping trends want to know if the products they’re buying have been ethically sourced and if the company they are buying from is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint. In order to stay ahead of the competition, businesses need to make sure they’re considering environmental sustainability in all aspects of their operations. This includes everything from the sourcing of materials to the packaging and shipping of products. Customers are now more willing to pay extra for sustainable products, so there is a big opportunity for businesses that are able to meet this demand. How To Make the Best Use of ECommerce Trends ECommerce is constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to keep up. However, by staying informed and making sure your eCommerce platform is up to date, you can ensure that your business is able to stay ahead of the competition. To make the most of the latest eCommerce developments, consider the following: 1. Keep Up With the Latest Trends To stay on top of your game, you must be proactive and regularly seek out new information. There is a number of ways to do this, such as reading industry news, following relevant blogs and industry influencers, and attending eCommerce conferences. You can get to know what’s going on in the industry and find inspiration for your own business.  Read up on the research data and statistics that are available on eCommerce growth trends. This can help you understand the current landscape and make informed decisions about where to focus your efforts.  2. Take Advantage of Digital Tools There are a number of digital tools that can help you improve your eCommerce business. From marketing automation software to customer relationship management systems, there’s a variety of features that can make it easier to run your business and provide a better experience for your customers. Check the data and sales figures, and invest in analytical tools so you can understand where your customers are coming from and what they are looking for. 3. Learn From Your Competitors It’s important to keep an eye on your competitors to see what they are doing and how they are reacting to the latest eCommerce retail trends. You can learn a lot from observing their strategies and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Should they fail, you can learn from their mistakes. If they succeed, you can try to replicate their success. Final Words As the global eCommerce ecosystem continues to grow and evolve, it's important to stay on top of the latest trends. Instead of leaning on traditional shopping methods, more and more consumers are turning to the internet to purchase items. Mobile phones play a big role here, as they provide a convenient way to shop on the go. What's more, consumers are getting more comfortable with new technologies such as AI, AR, chatbots, and voice search. These eCommerce trends in technology are changing the way we interact with eCommerce platforms and retailers. With all that said, we're confident that you now have a solid understanding of the current eCommerce landscape. Just remember to keep your eyes peeled for new trends so you can stay ahead of the curve.

By Danica Djokic

As a business owner, you are likely responsible for overseeing all aspects of your company’s operations. This includes setting your own salary. This decision can be difficult to make, especially if you’re not sure what’s standard or how to determine what’s appropriate for your situation. In this article, we’ll discuss some factors you should consider when deciding how much to pay yourself as a small business owner. What To Consider When Setting Your Salary Setting your own salary can be daunting, especially if you’re a freelancer or small-business owner. After all, you need to make enough money to cover your expenses and earn a profit, but you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. So, what factors should you consider when paying yourself from your business? Business Structure One of the first things you should consider is your company’s business structure. Are you a sole proprietor? Do you have a business partner? Are you an S corp? Your company’s business structure will affect how much money you take home and how much in taxes you need to pay. For example, if you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll likely take home less money than if you’re running a corporation because you’ll be paying taxes on both your business income and personal income. On the other hand, if you’re running a corporation, you’ll only be taxed for your corporate income. This means that more of your business profits will stay within the company, which can be reinvested or distributed to shareholders. Business Expenses Another factor to consider when paying yourself as a small business owner is your business expenses. How much does it cost to run your small business? You should consider expenses like rent, utilities, payroll, and marketing. You’ll need to make enough money to cover these costs, plus your personal living expenses. One common mistake small business owners make is not accounting for all of their business-related expenses. Make sure you have a clear understanding of all the costs associated with running your business before you start setting your salary. Personal Living Expenses In addition to business-related expenses, you also need to account for your personal expenses, such as housing, food, transportation, and health care. Again, one common mistake people make is not accounting for all their personal expenses when calculating the business owner’s salary. Industry Standards Another factor to consider is industry standards. What do other businesses in your industry pay their employees? This will help you determine a reasonable salary for yourself as the business owner. Of course, you don’t want to undervalue your services.  Ultimately, setting your salary comes down to determining what you need to earn to cover your costs and make a profit and then finding the right balance between pricing yourself too high and too low. By taking the time to consider all the relevant factors, you can ensure that you set a fair and competitive price for your services. How to Calculate Your Owner’s Pay You should consider a few balance sheet items when calculating your salary as a small-business owner. These include your monthly net income, all business-related taxes and fees, and business expenses.  According to some small business revenue statistics, 86.3% of small business owners earn less than $100,000 a year. However, this does not mean you must stay within this bracket. Below are some steps you can take to get a clear picture of a small business owner’s salary and how to calculate it yourself. Calculate Your Monthly Net Income Your monthly net income is the total revenue your business brings in minus any taxes or fees. This number can fluctuate from month to month, so it’s important to take an average over a period of time to get an accurate number.  Next, you’ll need to subtract all business-related taxes and fees. This includes income taxes, self-employment tax, and any other business-related expenses. Once you have your monthly net income minus taxes and fees, you’ll be left with your profit.  Calculate Your Tax Savings The next step in calculating owner pay is determining your tax savings. This includes any deductions you can take for business expenses, home office expenses, and health insurance premiums. You can consult with a tax professional or use a tax calculator to get an accurate number. Once you have your tax savings figured out, you can add this amount to your monthly net income to get your total monthly compensation. Calculate Your Business Expenses The final thing you’ll need to consider when setting your salary is your business expenses, including office rent, utilities, supplies, and employee salaries. Once you know how much it costs to run your business each month, it will be easier to calculate how much to pay yourself as a small business owner. One mistake many small business owners make is not accounting for their salary when calculating their business expenses. This can lead to severe financial problems down the road, so be sure to include yourself in the equation. By following these steps, you should be able to come up with fair and reasonable compensation for yourself as a small business owner. Remember to avoid common mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to success.  Ways To Pay Yourself As a business owner, you have two options: Either pay yourself a salary or take distributions from your small business. Here are the pros and cons of an owner’s draw vs. a salary.  Paying Yourself a Regular Salary To pay yourself a regular wage, just like you would an employee, you’ll need to set up payroll for your business and withhold taxes from your paycheck. One advantage of this method is that it can help you separate your personal and business expenses and make it easier to track your business expenses come tax time. The downside of drawing a salary is that it’s subject to payroll taxes, which can eat into your earnings. Additionally, if you have a slow month or two, you may find yourself struggling to cover your personal expenses if you’re relying solely on your business income. An Owner’s Draw If you are self-employed and paying yourself a salary, an owner’s draw is another method you can use. This method is often used by small business owners with irregular or variable income. With an owner’s draw, you simply draw money out of your business bank account as needed to cover your personal expenses. One advantage of this method is that you don’t have to worry about payroll taxes. Additionally, it can give you more flexibility regarding how much money you take out of your business each month. However, one downside is that it can be challenging to track your small business expenses come tax time. So, which method is right for you? How to pay yourself as a sole proprietor? Ultimately, it depends on your circumstances and the needs of your business. If you have a stable and predictable income, having a regular salary may be the best option. However, if your income is variable or unpredictable, an owner’s draw may be a better option. Final Thoughts Paying yourself as a business owner can be a tricky task. And there’s no universal rule on how much business owners should pay themselves. However, by following some simple guidelines, you can ensure that you are fairly compensated for your work without putting your business finances at risk.  What’s most important is to find a method that works for you and your business. And, of course, to avoid any common pitfalls.

By Nikolina Cveticanin

We've all fantasized about becoming our own boss at one point or another. But for most of us, the idea of having our own business is just that—an idea. We don't act on it because we think we need too much money to get started. But how much money do you really need to start a business? The truth is, you don't need a ton of cash to start your own venture. In fact, many businesses can be created with very little up-front investment. Of course, the amount of money you'll need will depend on several factors, such as the type of company you want to start, the equipment and inventory you'll need, and whether you plan to rent or purchase an office or retail space. The Cost of Starting a Business The first step in starting any business is to calculate the initial costs. These can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars and are needed to get your business up and running. First off, this figure depends on your idea and geographical region. Since these are different for every aspiring business owner, nobody can tell you exactly how much money you need to start a business. Therefore, we’ll do the next best thing and tell you how to determine your start-up costs. To get an accurate estimate, you'll need to consider everything from the cost of office supplies to the price of any necessary licenses or permits. Once you have a good handle on the basics you’ll need to cover, you can begin looking for ways to finance them. Start-Up Costs for a Business According to the US Small Business Administration, the estimated starting cost can be divided into two main categories: pre-start expenses and asset expenditures. On top of these, you've got to be able to cover all the ongoing costs your business will incur before it’s capable of standing firmly on its own. There are one-time costs, ongoing costs, necessary costs, optional costs, fixed costs, and variable costs. Pre-Start Expenses are the one-time costs associated with getting your business off the ground, and they can range from legal fees to market research expenses. Asset Expenditures represent the cost of any physical assets you'll need for your business, such as office furniture or manufacturing equipment. Ongoing costs represent rent, utilities, and employee salaries, which you'll need to cover on a regular basis. Fixed costs, such as rent or business loan payments, stay the same each month. Variable costs, such as inventory or advertising expenses, can fluctuate monthly. Essential costs, such as licenses and permits, are absolutely unavoidable when running a legitimate business. Optional costs, such as consultants or workplace decorations, are not necessary but can be helpful. These are all types of expenses to consider when starting your business. You'll need to sit down, do meticulous research, and write an estimate of all the expenses and income you anticipate. To stay safe, plan for the worst-case scenario, but hope for the best. Common Start-Up Expenses Whether you are planning to start a bookkeeping business or a candle-making company, success doesn’t come cheap, especially in the beginning. Here is a list of outlays practically every venture needs to take care of: Business licenses and permits Office space or equipment rental Inventory cost Insurance Advertising and marketing Accounting and legal fees Employee salaries Utilities Website design and hosting fees Depending on your business, there may be other one-time or ongoing costs that you’ll need to consider. To get an accurate number, remember to factor in additional costs, such as inventory, shipping, marketing, and a fund for unforeseen expenses that may pop up along the way. Ways To Finance Your Business It’s encouraging to know that 58% of small firms began with less than $25,000 and one-third with less than $5,000. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll know if you’re among them. Once you know how much capital you need to start a business, it’s time to figure out how to finance it. It's ideal if you can do it out of your own pocket, but that isn't always possible. Depending on your situation, you may need to consider creative funding methods to turn your idea into reality. Bootstrap: This means you’ll use personal savings to finance your company. This is a good option if you have a low-risk business that can be opened with little to no money. Crowdfunding: With crowdfunding, you’ll solicit small amounts of money from a large group of people. This is a suitable choice if you have a brilliant company concept but don't have the money to fund it. It used to be next to impossible to get funds in this manner, but today there are several excellent platforms devoted to crowdfunding that can help you quickly reach your objective. Small-business loan: A small-business loan from a bank or credit union is the traditional source of funding for startups. However, this avenue will only be available if you have good credit and need a significant amount of money to get started. Some banks give small-business loans to people with bad credit, but their interest rate is substantially higher. Friends and family: You may be able to cover business startup costs by asking your friends and family members to invest in your venture, either with interest or without. If you don't want to take out a loan and trust the people you're asking to support you, this is a fantastic choice. The final three options are more appropriate when your business is already up and running, but you’re struggling to keep up with the costs or are looking to expand the scope of your operations. Venture capitalists: If you have a high-growth business, you may be able to get funding from venture capitalists, who will finance your business with money pooled from third parties, such as investment companies or banks. If you need a lot of money and are ready to give up a portion of your company in exchange for cash, this is an excellent alternative. Angel Investors: Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest in businesses in exchange for equity, but unlike venture capitalists, they are using their own funds. As you can see, angel investors and venture capitalists are similar, but not exactly the same. The amounts you can get from angel investors are often smaller than those from venture capitalists, too. Grants: You may be able to get funded by the government or other organizations. This is a good option if you have a low-income business or are working in a field that benefits the community. No matter how you finance your startup business, it’s wise to plan for the worst-case scenario. Once you've done your research and secured funding for your idea, you'll be all set to launch your new business... or are you? How Do You Know If You're Ready To Start a Business? The thought of being in complete control of our work lives—and incomes!—is incredibly appealing. Luckily, it's now more possible than ever to make that dream a reality. But before you quit your day job, here are four things to think about before becoming your own boss: 1. Are you prepared to work hard—really hard? Running your own business is not a 9-to-5 job. It's more like a 24/7 job. You'll have to put in extremely long hours to get your business off the ground, and even once it's established, you'll still need to work constantly to keep it afloat. So ask yourself—are you prepared to work hard? 2. Do you have what it takes to be a leader? As the boss, you'll be responsible for guiding and managing your team (if you have one). This means you'll need to have strong leadership skills. Are you up for that challenge? 3. Can you handle the stress? Running a company is stressful, and we're not just talking about procuring the money needed to start and operate a business. Things won’t always go as planned, and you'll have to constantly deal with challenges and setbacks. So ask yourself—can you handle the stress? 4. Are you prepared to take risks? Starting a business is a risk. There's no guarantee that you’ll be successful, no matter how well you plan or how talented you and your team may be. So ask yourself—are you prepared to take risks? If your answer to all of these questions is "yes," then you just might be ready to become your own boss. But remember, it's not a decision to be made lightly. Be sure to do your research and plan carefully before taking the plunge. Conclusion Once you’ve done your research, created a detailed business plan, and factored in additional costs that may pop up along the way, you should know how much money you need to start a business. Remember that this is just a general guide, and your specific situation may require more or less capital. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your dreams a reality! Who knows, you could be the next big success story on the cover of Forbes.

By Julija A.