What Are The Greatest Changes In Shopping In Your Lifetime

What are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime? So asked my 9 year old grandson.

As I thought of the question the local Green Grocer came to mind. Because that is what the greatest change in shopping in my lifetime is.

That was the first place to start with the question of what are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime.

Our local green grocer was the most important change in shopping in my lifetime. Beside him was our butcher, a hairdresser and a chemist.

Looking back, we were well catered for as we had quite a few in our suburb. And yes, the greatest changes in shopping in my lifetime were with the small family owned businesses.

Entertainment While Shopping Has Changed
Buying butter was an entertainment in itself.
My sister and I often had to go to a favourite family grocer close by. We were always polite as we asked for a pound or two of butter and other small items.

Out came a big block of wet butter wrapped in grease-proof paper. Brought from the back of the shop, placed on a huge counter top and included two grooved pates.

That was a big change in our shopping in my lifetime… you don’t come across butter bashing nowadays.

Our old friendly Mr. Mahon with the moustache, would cut a square of butter. Lift it to another piece of greaseproof paper with his pates. On it went to the weighing scales, a bit sliced off or added here and there.

Our old grocer would then bash it with gusto, turning it over and over. Upside down and sideways it went, so that it had grooves from the pates, splashes going everywhere, including our faces.

My sister and I thought this was great fun and it always cracked us up. We loved it, as we loved Mahon’s, on the corner, our very favourite grocery shop.

Grocery Shopping
Further afield, we often had to go to another of my mother’s favourite, not so local, green grocer’s. Mr. McKessie, ( spelt phonetically) would take our list, gather the groceries and put them all in a big cardboard box.

And because we were good customers he always delivered them to our house free of charge. But he wasn’t nearly as much fun as old Mr. Mahon. Even so, he was a nice man.

All Things Fresh
So there were very many common services such as home deliveries like:

• Farm eggs

• Fresh vegetables

• Cow’s milk

• Freshly baked bread

• Coal for our open fires

Delivery Services
A man used to come to our house a couple of times a week with farm fresh eggs.

Another used to come every day with fresh vegetables, although my father loved growing his own.

Our milk, topped with beautiful cream, was delivered to our doorstep every single morning.

Unbelievably, come think of it now, our bread came to us in a huge van driven by our “bread-man” named Jerry who became a family friend.

My parents always invited Jerry and his wife to their parties, and there were many during the summer months. Kids and adults all thoroughly enjoyed these times. Alcohol was never included, my parents were teetotallers. Lemonade was a treat, with home made sandwiches and cakes.

The coal-man was another who delivered bags of coal for our open fires. I can still see his sooty face under his tweed cap but I can’t remember his name. We knew them all by name but most of them escape me now.

Mr. Higgins, a service man from the Hoover Company always came to our house to replace our old vacuum cleaner with an updated model.

Our insurance company even sent a man to collect the weekly premium.

People then only paid for their shopping with cash. This in itself has been a huge change in shopping in my lifetime.

In some department stores there was a system whereby the money from the cash registers was transported in a small cylinder on a moving wire track to the central office.

Some Of The Bigger Changes
Some of the bigger changes in shopping were the opening of supermarkets.

• Supermarkets replaced many individual smaller grocery shops. Cash and bank cheques have given way to credit and key cards.

• Internet shopping… the latest trend, but in many minds, doing more harm, to book shops.

• Not many written shopping lists, because mobile phones have taken over.

On a more optimistic note, I hear that book shops are popular again after a decline.

Personal Service Has Most Definitely Changed
So, no one really has to leave home, to purchase almost anything, technology makes it so easy to do online.
And we have a much bigger range of products now, to choose from, and credit cards have given us the greatest ease of payment.

We have longer shopping hours, and weekend shopping. But we have lost the personal service that we oldies had taken for granted and also appreciated.

Because of their frenetic lifestyles, I have heard people say they find shopping very stressful, that is grocery shopping. I’m sure it is when you have to dash home and cook dinner after a days work. I often think there has to be a better, less stressful way.

My mother had the best of both worlds, in the services she had at her disposal. With a full time job looking after 9 people, 7 children plus her and my dad, she was very lucky. Lucky too that she did not have 2 jobs.

The Top 10 Don’ts of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is the method of marketing in which we use various electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. It also entails the usage of software programs, apps and technological platforms such as email, websites, social media, etc. The world of digital marketing is a vast one in which we can easily get lost.Because of all the advances and changes in technology, it can be hard to keep up on all the latest trends and methods encompassed by digital marketing. Digital marketing strategies include visual marketing, mobile marketing, and online marketing techniques of various kinds so it can all get very confusing and overwhelming.We not only need to know what to do in the digital marketing world, we have to know what not to do. Below is a list of ten of the don’ts to hopefully help you trek through the massive digital marketing universe.1. Closing Your Eyes on Mobile Marketing – The number of people who spend more time on the web with mobile devices is growing at a astounding rate. If you own an online business, you can no longer resist mobile devices as part of your digital marketing arsenal. The first step would be to make your website mobile device friendly. Many site builder programs such as WordPress have plugins and automatic features to do that for you. You can also add a line of code to your site that will format your site to the device being used. Be sure to try your website on your mobile devices to find out exactly how people are seeing it. Go through the mobile shopping experience yourself so you have a full understanding of what you need to do.2. Too Much Social Media – Social media is so much a part of the internet these days it is impossible to expect to build a presence on all of the social sites. You need to pick 2 or 3 of the top sites and start building your brand and setting up your social presence. The most used social sites as of now are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I get most of my social traffic from Facebook and Pinterest. Next in line is Google+, Tumblr and Instagram. If you can understand your target market you can become a part of the social sites in which they would most likely participate.3. Information Overload – The digital marketing world is so vast we can easily become lost in the information. I, as well as many others, get caught in the trap of spending too much time gathering information from countless sources on various aspects of building an online business. We need to narrow our focus and learn only what we need to learn to successfully build our business. Find a few good sources for this information and stick with them to learn the ins and outs.4. Not Having a User-Friendly Website – Many of us are tempted to create the biggest, brightest, flashiest website possible but this is a big mistake. You want your site design to be simple, easy to navigate and very user-friendly. Add only what is needed to inform your customers. You do want to add some extra content to provide information to your visitors but make sure it directly pertains to what your site is about. Do not clutter up your site with countless ads, irrelevant information or extra steps to get to your call to action. Fancy features and flashy extras will just confuse your customer and possibly drive them to another site.5. Not Keeping Up with SEO Changes – SEO is very pertinent to your website but the rules and regulations are always changing. Find a good source of SEO information and follow it regularly to keep up with the changes so you can make any necessary revisions to your business website.6. Not Utilizing Visual Marketing – By using visual marketing, you could increase your conversion rate by as much as 86%. This is a phenomenal statistic. Place a video on your landing and/or homepage. Strategically place quality graphics in your blog posts and content. Use visuals as much as possible in your social media marketing. Create and use your own infographics for your blog and social media. There are free tools for making infographics. Use a compelling photo or graphic in your articles. It could mean the difference between your article being read or rejected. Look over articles with photos. Does the photo pull you into the article and make you want to read it or does it leave you flat. Take note of the type of image used and what emotion or action it brings out in you. Placing a well-made video on your homepage or landing page will make a substantial difference as well. People will get the message much quicker than by reading and could be the deciding factor as to whether they stay or go. Be entertaining in the video but be sure to deliver your message. Your image and voice will also help your potential customer bond with you. You also want to get started in a fairly new visual marketing technique called meme marketing. This combines humor and real life situations with amusing and/or heartwarming images.7. Not Testing and Tracking – Take advantage of Google’s free tools to study your stats and track your visitors. Google Analytics can help you tweak your site to its performance peak. Test ads, web pages, article resource boxes, etc. Find out what brings the best results and most response and stick with it.8. Not Establishing the Relationship – Doing business with people digitally is much different than being able to talk with them face to face. It is harder for people to trust a webpage than an actual person so be sure to do all you can to build that relationship of trust and respect. Answer all email inquiries quickly and appropriately. Be reliable – if you say you are going to do something, be sure to do it. Be consistent – if you are sending out a weekly newsletter do not get lax and start missing weeks. Update your blog and product information regularly. Do not let your site go stale. Be consistent in your social media. Respond to all questions and comments in a timely manner. Let people know you are available for them and can be trusted.9. Focusing too Much on Traffic and Not Enough on Conversions – Traffic is the lifeblood of an online business but you also need to focus on quality and targeted traffic. Getting 1000 visitors to your site doesn’t do much good if they are not interested in what you offer. Participate in groups and forums where people who are interested in your services might be. If you offer B2B products and services, join groups and forums of home business owners. We all want more traffic but we need to aim for the traffic to whom we can actually sell.10. Charging Blindly Into the Marketing Abyss – Starting an online business and charging headfirst into the digital marketing world is not a good idea. You need to do some planning ahead and research what you are getting into. Know who your customers will be and where to find them. Make sure you are offering a sellable product or service. Be somewhat prepared for your dive into the digital marketing world.These mistakes are very common but need to be addressed. If you are attempting to build an online business you need to be informed and constantly be adapting and learning. Digital marketing has come a long way since the early 90s and we need to grow and develop with it. It will be overwhelming at times but you can work to overcome and build a successful online business.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?