Ecommerce Myths Exposed

The internet is full of advice on how to build successful ecommerce websites, some of it bad and some of it useful. Whilst it is easy to disregard the bad advice, unfortunately the sheer amount available only encourages bad practice during ecommerce development. We are going to dispel some of the myths that surround ecommerce to ensure that you or your website developer only build ecommerce websites that are full of the good stuff!Myth Number 1 – You can never provide too much informationOne of the most common ecommerce myths is that you can never provide your buyers with too much information. Buying decisions hinge on information gathering, in theory the more information you provide potential customers the more you enable buying decisions. In reality however too much information is overwhelming and can prevent buying decisions from being made. Filling up your product pages with countless choices and unnecessary information only causes confusion and choice paralysis. Encourage users of your site to become customers by providing them with simple product information, and if you really want to provide technical specifications for your products present them as separate downloadable documents.Myth Number 2 – Security badges inspire confidenceMake no bones about it, online security is paramount. Thanks to a surge in media interest, the security of online shopping has taken a bashing of late and many would-be customers are still wary of engaging with ecommerce. As an owner of an ecommerce site you need to inspire confidence in your users, but simply adding a McAfee or VeriSign badge to your checkout pages does nothing to allay the fear of internet shopping! You need to convince potential customers that your site is trustworthy and secure through effective written content; a feeble badge just won’t cut it!Myth Number 3 – Cross-sell at every opportunityWalk into any supermarket and it’s a guarantee that you will be exposed to cross-selling at every aisle and checkout. Even something as simple as purchasing a newspaper from a supermarket subjects you to a range of other products to purchase…chocolates, magazines and supermarket brand credit cards! Cross-selling works in shops, but it doesn’t translate very well online. In a bid to follow the Amazon template many online retailers attempt to introduce cross-selling at every stage of a user interaction including checkout processes. Some website owners even try to cross-sell products which are completely unrelated. This is just wrong wrong wrong! Online buying processes are user driven and checkout procedures need to be fast, focused and efficient. Bombarding your customers with extra choices and additional products when they are in the process of buying from you is off-putting and will simply encourage them to visit your competitors’ websites. Keep all cross-selling and promotional techniques away from the checkout, don’t give in to temptation!Myth Number 4 – Successful ecommerce depends solely on the websiteYour ecommerce website development agency has probably only concentrated their advice and attention on building you the ecommerce site of your dreams, after all “if we build it, they will come”! That’s a nice sentiment but sadly the success of your ebusiness doesn’t rely on the website alone. The real success of your ebusiness is in the service that you provide to your users and customers. User experience is improved by appealing and well design websites, but there are other important components which make up the full experience such as: open communication channels, returns policies, order fulfilment and dispatch, email notifications and complaints handling. Providing excellent customer service online is as important as providing it offline.Myth Number 5 – Ecommerce is easy, anyone can do it!The final ecommerce myth is that setting up and running an ecommerce business is easy. And it’s not just the internet that conveys this message; it’s even on our television screens. Take the current crop of “junior” apprentices vying to be Lord Sugar’s dogsbody for example, at least two of these adolescents claim to be CEOs of ebusinesses. Proof then surely that ecommerce so easy that 16 year old children can do it? Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that! Yes setting up an ecommerce website can be easy, but as we have discovered successful ecommerce relies on so much more. Successful ecommerce is a long term process which incorporates all the elements which are found in bricks and mortar businesses – product, functions, customer service, communication and effective marketing strategies. Now how many 16 year-olds can get their heads round that?!

Looking Good – Ladies Golf Clothes

In regards to most sports, looking good while playing the game does not have a great amount of importance attached to it, as most require a uniform. Golf is the exception. Ladies golf clothes have come such a long way over the past several years and because of this we now have the option to be very stylish on the course. I’ve certainly seen ladies on the golf course in outfits that I would enjoy wearing out to a casual dinner and feel pretty good about how I looked.In an article written by Julie Burton called Raising The Bar – Ladies Golf Apparel, she writes “Ladies golf apparel makes a statement that sums up your personality and your confidence.” I think this is very true. When I feel good in my golf clothes, I feel better about being out there on the course and my confidence is higher. Conversely, if the outfit I have chosen is frumpy and dull, I just don’t feel good about myself and therefore lower self esteem and confidence.Although the selection of ladies golf clothes in stores and pro shops is still often meager compared to the men’s selection, it’s getting better every day. However, I’ve found that the best source for finding ladies golf clothes by shopping online. You can find a vast array of ladies golf clothes, and shop for good prices as well. If you type in “ladies golf clothes” or “ladies golf apparel” in whatever search engine you are using, you’ll get numerous results. Findings that will give you a huge assortment of ladies golf clothes from high end to more moderately priced fashions. Another plus is that most of these sites (even the high end ones) will have a section on specials and sale priced items they are running.Manufacturers of ladies golf clothes have done a good job of combining comfort and style. Breathable, moisture wicking fabrics are quick to dry and are incorporated in many styles of ladies golf apparel. These flexible fabrics make it easier to swing the club and pull the moisture away from the skin keeping us dry and comfortable.Versatility is key. From long pants to capris, shorts and the ever popular golf skort we’ve got much to choose from. The fun and unique details applied to ladies golf apparel on the golf shirts of today make them a far cry from the old-fashioned blouses of former times. I also love the colors, from bold to pastels, stripes, plaids, and a continuous variety of prints.In short, my suggestion to you is if you cannot find what you are looking for in retail stores and pro shops check out what’s online. The possibilities are endless.So ladies…let’s go shopping!

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?