3 Reasons Why the Future of Ecommerce Is Looking Bright

Ecommerce is enjoying one of its biggest booms ever. Events in 2020 and 2021 drove people to buy products and services online in record numbers.

In Q1 2021 alone, online sales climbed by a staggering 39%, and that's after a banner year for the industry.

While some people are concerned that ecommerce numbers will drop as life returns to normal, we believe that the industry will continue to see record sales across the field.

We're not just basing that on intuition either. There are clear signs that point toward a bright future for ecommerce.

In this article, we'll break down the three top reasons why we believe that it's a fantastic time to invest in ecommerce solutions or adopt them for your business. In fact, let's start by talking about adoption!

1. Ecommerce Adoption Isn't Slowing Down

The pandemic forced many businesses to open online channels so they could continue to sell their products. As life around the world returns to “normal”, many retailers and customers may once again focus on face-to-face sales.

While that's possible, industry analysts are convinced that the ecommerce boom is far from over. Online sales are expected to reach $5.4 trillion in 2021.

Let's compare that to the last few years:

  • 2018: $2.98 trillion
  • 2019: $3.35 trillion
  • 2020: $4.28 trillion

To be fair, ecommerce sales have been on an upward trend at least since 2014. As more users gain access to mobile and desktop computer devices, it's expected for them to start moving some of their shopping online.

The big change that 2020 brought is that many users were forced to adapt to ecommerce as a regular part of their lives. If you used to make a couple of online purchases (or none) per month pre-pandemic, chances are that number is now a lot higher.

In the US, 9% of ecommerce users in 2020 said they'd never bought anything online before the pandemic. Of Japanese customers, 8% said the same, as did a surprising 15% in the UK.

2020 bought a massive wave of new users for online stores. A lot of those customers are finding that they prefer the convenience of online shopping over face-to-face purchases.

That applies even if they can now get out of the house and buy what they need in person.

2. A Younger Demographic is Spending More Money Online

It should come as no surprise that younger generations are more accustomed to online shopping than their older peers. As we mentioned before, 2020 bought a massive influx of new customers to the ecommerce market.

It's also key to point out that two out of three new customers happened to be in the 18-34 age range.

Ecommerce adoption in older demographics still grew significantly, but by a much smaller margin than with younger consumers. At the same time, purchases via mobile devices reached $2.66 trillion in 2020.

That means 56% of all ecommerce transactions in 2020 came from mobile users.

There's a direct correlation between younger customers turning to online purchases and increased spending from mobile users. Of U.S. residents aged 18-29, 96% own a smartphone, but that percentage decreases as the age group rises:

Percentage of US adults that own a smartphone
Image credit: Pew Research Center

Ultimately, increased ecommerce adoption among younger customers means all the growth that we've seen during the past couple of years is unlikely to reverse.

Younger age groups are much more comfortable making transactions online. Additionally, they're likely to be loyal customers for a long time if you succeed in engaging with them.

3. Recessions Lead to New Business Ventures

Historically speaking, recessions and downturns in the job market usually lead to spikes in entrepreneurship.

The pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs due to cost-cutting and companies shutting down. For some people, that was the push that they needed to try and launch their own business ventures.

That spike in entrepreneurship is excellent news for the ecommerce market. It's never been easier to launch an online store using ecommerce platforms and software (such as our own Buy Now Plus plugin).

In many cases, all you have to do is sign up for an account, and you can start selling online right away:

Signing up for a Stripe account

Although some new ecommerce businesses might not succeed in the long term, more competition is always good. Some companies that might have never considered going online before made the jump because they needed that lifeline.

If you run such a business, you'll find that the jump to ecommerce can be a lot easier than you'd imagined, depending on what platform or solution you choose.

Even if you're entering a competitive market, it's always possible to carve out a niche for yourself and increase sales by adding new online channels.

Conclusion

Physical shopping isn't going anywhere, but ecommerce's growth can't be stopped. Year after year, the market keeps breaking records.

New businesses launch online stores, new customers make their first online purchases, and online shopping becomes more normalized for different types of products.

To recap why the future of ecommerce is looking bright, we can boil our opinion down to three points:

  1. Ecommerce adoption isn't slowing down.
  2. A younger demographic is spending more money online.
  3. Recessions lead to new business ventures.

What do you think about the state of ecommerce in 2021? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

4 Top Tools for Small Businesses Just Starting Out

Finding the right tools is the best way to set your company up for growth and success. However, as a small business, it can feel like your options are limited.

Fortunately, there are plenty of world-class tools that cater to the unique needs (and budgets) of brand-new businesses. By being a savvy shopper, there’s no reason you can’t access the same features and firepower as established enterprises.

In this post, we’ll share advice on how to find the best software for your startup. We’ll then suggest four of our favorite tools for small businesses just starting out. Let’s dive in!

How to Choose the Best Tools for Your Small Business

As a new business, it’s essential that you catch the attention of potential new customers, convert them into qualified leads, and ultimately secure your first sales. To achieve all of this, you’ll need the right tools.

However, as a brand-new business, you may initially be working to a tight budget. To minimize your running costs, you might want to try free software over premium options. Some proprietary tools even offer entry-level or free plans with usage restrictions.

For example, the popular Mailchimp marketing automation platform is free for up to 2,000 contacts:

Mailchimp's range of subscription plans.

Another example is the Hootsuite social media management platform. This marketing tool has a single-user plan that’s perfect for solo entrepreneurs.

For small businesses just starting out, these plans provide access to professional tools without requiring you to pay top dollar for features you don’t currently need.

And the majority of these tools are scalable. As your business grows, you can upgrade to a more expensive plan without the added stress and worry associated with learning a new tool or migrating all of your data.

With almost 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., it’s no surprise there are plenty of tools specifically catering to startups. To make sure you’re getting exactly the features you need, you may want to opt for tools that target smaller businesses rather than a general user base.

4 Top Tools for Small Businesses Just Starting Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of startups don’t make it to their first birthdays. Let’s give your business the best possible chance of bucking the trend!

Here are four tools that can set your brand-new venture up for success.

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a top tool for small businesses just starting out.

When you launch a business website, your traffic will be a flat zero. The quickest way to get off the starting block is to appeal to search engines.

With over 53% of all web traffic originating from organic search, a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can take you from zero to hundreds (or even thousands) of eager customers.

Yoast SEO has everything you need to optimize your business website for those all-important search engines. Every time you add a new page or post, you can use Yoast SEO to specify the keyword(s) that you want this content to rank for:

The Yoast SEO tool for small businesses.

Yoast will then provide actionable advice on how to optimize the web page for the specified keyword or phrase. In this way, Yoast SEO can increase your chances of scoring Google’s coveted number-one spot.

Features:

  • Readability and SEO analysis
  • Tools to optimize your Google previews
  • Automated technical SEO improvements
  • Ability to boost your branding with title and meta description templating
  • Full control over your site’s breadcrumbs

Pricing: The plugin is free, with a premium version available.

2. Mailchimp

Top tools for small businesses include the Mailchimp platform.

The number of email users is forecast to reach 4.6 billion by 2025, and those people are spending a lot of time in their inboxes.

According to Adobe, the average American spends over five hours a day checking their inboxes. This makes email marketing a powerful way to promote your startup.

You can use Mailchimp to design beautiful, engaging messages using a straightforward drag-and-drop editor. This is ideal if you don’t have access to a graphic designer or a programmer:

The Mailchimp email editor.

You can also use Mailchimp to create automated email campaigns. This can be a life-saver for busy small business owners, who may not have the time to send a personalized message to every contact.

Features:

Pricing: Various subscriptions are available, including a free plan that’s perfect for small businesses.

3. Google Analytics

The Google Analytics platform.

Google Analytics provides detailed insight into the people who are visiting your website. This can be invaluable for understanding your audience and the kind of content that generates the most engagement.

Armed with this information, you can fine-tune your marketing and advertising strategies, and optimize every part of your site to drive conversions:

The top tools for small businesses include Google Analytics.

Google Analytics can also reveal how people find your site (for example, via organic search or by following a referral link). You can then focus your efforts on the channels that are proving the most lucrative.

Alternatively, you might decide that it makes more sense to focus on the channels that are currently underperforming.

Features:

  • Custom reports
  • Event tracking
  • Site speed report
  • Site search tracking
  • Ecommerce tracking

Pricing: The core Google Analytics platform is free. There’s also a premium Analytics 360 subscription available.

4. Buy Now Plus

Buy Now Plus is one of the top tools for small businesses.


In 2020, worldwide ecommerce sales totaled $4.28 trillion. If you want to tap into this lucrative market, you should aim for a seamless shopping experience.

Buy now buttons can be powerful tools for providing a stress-free purchasing journey and boosting your sales. Today, these simple-but-effective buttons are widely used by some of the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon:

A buy now button on the Amazon website.

If you want to learn from Amazon’s success, you may want to take a look at Buy Now Plus. You can use our free service to quickly and easily create an Amazon-style buy now button:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

You can then deploy this button across multiple platforms. This includes all of your social media accounts and your email marketing messages.

Features:

Pricing: You can sign up for free. Note that Buy Now Plus charges a minimal 2% fee for each sale.

Conclusion

Starting a new business is never easy. However, the right tools can help you secure those all-important first customers and sales, and set your business on the path to success.

If you’re not sure where to start, let’s quickly recap our top four tools for small businesses that are just starting out:

  1. Yoast SEO: Make sure your site is appearing in relevant search results with this free WordPress plugin.
  2. Mailchimp: Use a popular mailing platform with a focus on automation that is perfect for the busy small business owner.
  3. Google Analytics: Get insight into your audience and learn how to drive more people to your site with this widely-used analytics service.
  4. Buy Now Plus: Ensure that the purchasing process feels effortless by creating buy now buttons for your website, social media accounts, and email marketing campaigns.

Do you have questions about any of the tools mentioned on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How to Start Your Own Affiliate Marketing Program (In 3 Steps)

It might seem like influencers are everywhere these days. However, you're not just seeing things – working with these representatives is a popular and effective way to promote a brand.

You might be wondering how to leverage this power by starting your own affiliate marketing program.

Fortunately, the process doesn't have to be difficult. By following a few best practices and focusing on the essential elements, you can build a profitable affiliate program for your brand.

In this article, we'll cover a few reasons you might want to consider starting an affiliate marketing program. Then we'll show you how to create your own in three simple steps. Let's get to it!

Why You Might Want to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program

An affiliate marketing program is a network of influencers. You connect with respected people within your niche, and they promote your products to their followers. In return, you pay them a commission from any resulting sales.

There are many benefits to running an affiliate program. For one thing, it's a simple way to spread the word about your products. You also don't have to pay unless a sale is made, so using influencers is cost-effective.

Influencers also get a lucrative deal. On top of commissions, affiliate links can be a passive and flexible income stream.

That means these marketers can promote your content even if they've shifted to remote work. Additionally, the influencer's audience might appreciate an informed recommendation.

With advantages for all parties, it's no wonder that affiliate marketing is a booming business. Statistics show that this market is expected to reach a value of nearly $8.2 billion by 2022. That means getting started now will be an investment in your brand's future.

How to Start Your Own Affiliate Marketing Program (In 3 Steps)

We'll now use this simple guide as a kickstart for affiliate marketing. If you're interested in promoting your business with affiliate marketing, chances are you already have a website up and running.

If not, you'll need a basic WordPress site ready before you get started with the Easy Affiliate plugin, which we'll be using in this tutorial.

Step 1: Install and Activate Easy Affiliate

Starting an affiliate marketing program can be a bit complex. It can be hard to juggle links, payments, and ads.

That's why we highly recommend you use an affiliate program management product, such as Easy Affiliate, to take care of everything for you:

Easy Affiliate homepage.

Easy Affiliate enables you to host your affiliate program on a WordPress site. It's a simple way to integrate referral marketing infrastructure into your page.

Some other powerful features that you'll unlock with Easy Affiliate include:

  • Detailed progress reports to help you perfect your approach
  • Email marketing to spread the word about your program
  • One-click payouts to make commissions easy for you and your influencers

Additionally, Easy Affiliate doesn't charge any transaction fees. Once you purchase your plan, there are no additional hidden costs. The only per-transaction fee you'll pay is to PayPal, which the plugin uses to process payments.

The program also carries a 14-day money-back guarantee, so it's safe to give it a try if you're on the fence.

First you'll want to decide on your pricing plan. The options are Basic, Plus, and Pro. We suggest starting with Basic if you're new to affiliate marketing. However, Plus and Pro might also be worth considering if you have a few sites.

After you've made your choice, download Easy Affiliate. Be sure to grab your license key as well, because you'll need it to receive crucial plugin updates. Then install and activate the plugin.

You might also want to take some time at this point to consider your strategy. Understanding the essential elements for affiliate beginners can set you up for success.

Step 2: Customize Your Main Settings

Before you get started, there are a few settings you'll want to adjust. We'll take you through the most important ones. However, you might want to thumb through Easy Affiliate's helpful articles for more information.

Let's begin with the basic settings. You can find them in your WordPress dashboard under Easy Affiliate > Settings. Your screen will differ slightly depending on your plan:

The main settings for Easy Affiliate.

If you'd rather use the built-in setup wizard, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page to find that option. You can also add elements such as your basic business info.

If you keep scrolling, you'll find an option to decide which pages will act as your affiliate pages. These pages will generate automatically when you add Easy Affiliate. However, you can also edit them from this area.

Next up, we'll take a look at the Commissions tab:

The Easy Affiliate commissions tab under settings..

Here you'll decide on your affiliate program commission structure.

You can choose to pay out commissions as a percentage of sales or as a fixed rate. Your payout settings are also in this tab. Feel free to take your time here – payments are essential for both you and your influencers.

If you want to add integrations, check out the Ecommerce and Integrations tabs. For example, you can set up one-click PayPal functions under Ecommerce.

Finally, head over over to the Advanced tab:

The Easy Affiliate advanced settings tab.

It has several useful fields, but we'll focus on the essentials for now. We encourage you to set up email notifications to keep affiliates in the loop.

Additionally, you'll need to adjust international settings if you work on a global level.

Step 3: Prepare Resources for Your Affiliates

Finally, let's get to the heart of your program: your affiliates! Supporting your influencers is the best way to help them succeed.

On top of showing them how to do things like accept credit cards without a website, you can also provide other resources.

Remain on the page from the last step. This time, navigate to the Affiliates tab:

The Affiliate tab for Easy Affiliates.

First up is Registration Type. This is where you'll determine whether affiliates can join automatically, will need to apply, or will need direct administrative approval.

For your first program, we recommend requiring an application. This will help you screen for the best candidates directly.

The Form Fields section enables you to decide what information you'll collect from influencers. You can also make it so that users are automatically added as affiliates – which is perfect if you've built your WordPress site solely for your program.

Finally, you can change the affiliate dashboard. We suggest that you take the time to add your brand's colors and a custom welcome message. Doing so is a simple yet essential part of any new website branding checklist.

Next up, we'll change gears. Easy Affiliate enables you to expand your brand with professional-looking links and banners. Go to Easy Affiliate > Creatives > Add New:

The creative creation screen for Easy Affiliates.

Simply fill in the fields to create your new link. If you'd like to add a visual element, choose Banner from the Type drop-down menu. You'll then see an option to upload an image.

Try to make several links and banners. This can help make your marketing varied yet consistent. Once you've made a few creative assets, you can provide them to affiliates so they can advertise your business in places such as their social media accounts.

Conclusion

Affiliate marketing spending is on the rise. That means there's a lot of potential for using influencers to advertise your company. Fortunately, starting your own affiliate marketing program can be simple with the right tools.

In this article, we showed you three steps to begin your affiliate program:

  1. Choose and install a pricing plan from Easy Affiliate.
  2. Customize the main settings, such as the commission structure.
  3. Help your influencers succeed with a clear structure and dynamic assets.

Do you have any questions about starting your own affiliate marketing program? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

4 Tips From Successful Small Business Owners

Many people dream of becoming their own boss. However, with 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., your new venture will likely face some stiff competition.

By making smart decisions early on, you can give your business the best possible chance of finding a place in today’s crowded market.

Regardless of your entrepreneurial idea, there are several universal best practices that can set you up for success.

In this post, we’ll share four tips from successful small business owners. We’ll look at how to drive more customers to your website, reduce those sky-high cart abandonment rates, and even explore how your closest competitors can actually help your business succeed. Let’s get started! 

1. Prioritize Customer Support

Customer service is the direct connection between you and your customers. Get it right, and you’ll have no problem transforming one-time buyers into loyal repeat customers.

When it comes to delivering five star customer service, speed is everything. According to research, 66% of shoppers state that valuing their time is the most important factor in customer service. In fact, when they reach out for help, 82% of consumers expect a response in ten minutes or less. 

If you’re going to meet these expectations, it’s vital that you make customer service a priority. However, as a busy business owner, it may not always be feasible to respond to support requests immediately, especially if you don’t have a large customer service department. 

If the ten-minutes-or-less rule feels impossible, a chatbot may be the answer. With the help of a bot, your customers will have instant access to support at any time of the day or night. 

These bots can be a lifesaver for overstretched small businesses, but they also appear to be popular among consumers. According to research, over 67% of shoppers used a chatbot in 2019. 

There are various WordPress chatbots to choose from, including the Tidio plugin. This popular chatbot is customizable, so you can update its User Interface (UI) to reflect your company’s branding:

Many small business owners choose to use a chatbot plugin.

Alternatively, you can create your own chatbot. This may sound complex, but there are services to help you build your bot, including the Botsify platform and HubSpot’s marketing plugin:

The HubSpot WordPress plugin.

Self-help resources can be another way to provide around-the-clock support. Online documentation, FAQs, knowledge bases, and video tutorials are all popular self-help methods.

2. Learn From Your Customers

No matter how much time and effort you invest into your small business, there’s always room for improvement. To keep moving forward, you'll need to be willing to learn from your customers.

This may involve asking consumers for their feedback. Wherever possible, it’s smart to integrate these feedback requests into your normal workflows. For example, you might use your email automation software to request a product review every time a customer makes a purchase. 

Some customer-focused tools can even request feedback automatically. For instance, it’s not uncommon for chatbots to ask the customer to rate their interaction when they try to exit the chat window. This can generate valuable information, which you can then use to improve your small business. 

However, this information can be biased. Humans are subconsciously influenced by social conventions, and may tailor their feedback to align with the expected response. 

For this reason, you may also want to monitor your audience using a tool such as Google Analytics. This can provide an insight into subconscious customer behavior, and how users respond to your content and campaigns:

Many small business owners use a tool such as Google Analytics.

By deploying these two techniques simultaneously, you can gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. This is essential for improving the overall customer experience and optimizing your business website.

3. Spy on Other Small Business Owners

Chances are your business has several close competitors. While these organizations may feel like the bane of your existence, they can also be a valuable learning tool. 

With over 40% of revenue for most stores originating from organic traffic, it’s important to get your SEO right. You can set yourself up for SEO success by using a tool such as Keyword Explorer to discover the terms your competitors are ranking for.

You can then analyze those high-performing keywords and identify any that are relevant to your business:

The Moz Keyword Explorer tool.

By targeting these keywords, you may be able to improve your search engine rankings.

Backlinks are another valuable way to boost your traffic and secure extra sales. You can identify competitor content that has generated lots of backlinks using a tool such as Link Explorer:

Link Explorer can be a useful tool for small business owners.

This can help you pinpoint topics that generate the most buzz. If you can produce similar content to a higher standard, then you stand a good chance of earning valuable backlinks.

Once you’ve refined your SEO and content marketing strategies, it’s time to turn your attention to social media. With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook can be an effective way to reach new customers.  

If you’ve created a Facebook page for your small business, you’re off to a good start. However, it’s not enough to simply post content and hope for the best. It’s also important to identify the days and times your customers are online, and the content that generates the most engagement.

You can use Facebook’s Pages to Watch to record when your competitors post, how often they post, and the subsequent engagement. You can then use this data to create a more effective social media strategy, without having to learn through trial and error.

4. Simplify the Purchasing Process

Cart abandonment rates are a serious problem for online businesses. Some industries even report a 96.88% abandonment rate! There’s also evidence to suggest that some customers may fill their baskets with no intention of completing the purchase, making it the digital equivalent of window shopping

This is where buy now buttons come in. These simple-but-effective buttons completely eliminate the add to basket stage, and whisk the customer directly to the checkout. This gives the consumer less time to reconsider their purchase, which is great news for your conversion rates:

Am example of a Buy Now button.

You can create a range of high-converting buy now buttons using our free Buy Now Plus service.

To create your first buy now button, just register for a free Buy Now Plus account. If you already a existing Stripe account, you'll be prompted to connect the two accounts in the sign up process. If you don't have Stripe yet, you can automatically create a new one during the signup process.

Then, just create your buy now first button to publish on your online store, website, or even your social media platform. One of the best things about Buy Now Plus is that you don't even have to run a website to use it!

Conclusion 

Launching a new business isn’t easy, and the line between success and failure can be fine. However, with the right tools, techniques, and know-how, you can achieve start-up success.

Let’s quickly recap four tips from successful small business owners: 

  1. Prioritize customer support by using chatbots.
  2. Learn from your customers by requesting feedback.
  3. Spy on other small business owners by doing keyword research.
  4. Simplify the purchasing process by using Buy Now Plus.

Do you have any questions about how to grow your small business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How Stripe Protects You From Fraud (5 Ways)

Enabling debit and credit card payments is one of the most effective ways to sell products online. However, it can also put your business at risk for fraudulent purchases.

Fortunately, you can use a reliable ecommerce platform like Stripe to ensure that you and your customers are safe. Stripe has many checks and balances in place that can help prevent fraud and alert you to suspicious activity.

In this guide, we'll take a closer look at Stripe and how it works with Buy Now Plus. We'll then look at five ways Stripe protects you against fraudulent payments. Let's get started!

An Introduction to Stripe

Stripe is one of the most popular ecommerce payment platforms on the market. It offers a complete suite that enables you to receive payments, send invoices, track your business analytics, and access financing:

Stripe homepage

Stripe is also very flexible, and you can use it with most application programming interfaces (APIs). It has pre-built integrations with leading ecommerce systems, so you can easily adapt it to your business' needs.

Buy Now Plus actually runs on Stripe. That means when you use it, you get access to all of the fraud protection and secure payments Stripe offers. Additionally, Buy Now Plus has a 3% flat fee for transactions and is incredibly user-friendly.

To get rolling, all you need to do is click “Start Selling” on the homepage.

Buy Now Plus homepage

When you enter the signup process, you'll get the option to login to your existing Stripe account, or you can create a new free Stripe account, all from within the BNP signup interface.

Getting back to the point at hand… online payment fraud is unfortunately common. In 2020, ecommerce businesses worldwide lost approximately $17.5 billion due to fraud. In addition, experts predict this amount will increase to more than $20 billion in 2021. Therefore, it's in the best interests of your business to choose a platform with fraud protection, like Stripe.

How Stripe Protects You From Fraud (5 Ways)

As we've seen, Stripe helps protect your business against fraudulent payments. Next, let's look at the strategies that it uses to do this.

1. Stripe Chargeback Protection

Stripe Chargeback Protection can be an essential tool for ecommerce sites. This service can protect your business if a customer issues a payment dispute:

Stripe Chargeback Protection page

For example, a customer may claim that you have falsely charged them or overcharged them. Whether the claim is fraudulent or not, Stripe can cover the disputed amount and any associated fees.

As a bonus, Stripe doesn't require you to submit evidence against chargeback requests. This means that you won't need to waste time or money on resolving these issues.

Stripe can thus protect your business against fraudulent claims. In turn, it can prevent you from losing money on legitimate transactions. You can add Stripe Chargeback Protection by enabling it in your Stripe Checkout.

2. Device Characteristic Signals

Stripe has an in-built fraud detection service called Radar. It uses machine learning to analyze billions of data points on payments made across the globe. By doing so, it can identify potentially fraudulent transactions:

Stripe Radar feature

Device characteristic signals are some of the key data that Radar analyzes. This information refers to signals that come from customers' internet browsers, screens, and mobile devices.

This device characteristic data can tell Stripe what typical browsing behavior is for users. If a transaction and its associated signals fall outside of this behavior, it could signal fraudulent activity.

Radar collects this data continually in order to improve its understanding of consumer behavior. If it notices a high-risk fraudulent purchase, it blocks it automatically. With elevated risk payments, the payment goes into a review process for further investigation.

3. Activity Indicator Signals

Stripe's Radar also analyzes activity indicator signals. This data looks at how long users spend on pages, and how long they take to complete transactions or fill out the information in forms.

For example, a bot can navigate pages a lot faster than the average person, and often inserts card details with the copy-paste function. If Stripe picks up that a potential purchase is being processed too quickly, it can identify that it is a bot and not a real person.

Like with device characteristic signals, Stripe's Radar continually collects and analyzes activity indicator data. In this way, it can identify new patterns and protect your business from fraud.

4. Card Verification Code Checks

Cards have various details that a customer must provide in order to complete a purchase. One of these is the Card Verification Code (CVC), which you can find on the back of a debit or credit card. Customers need to enter this number when they complete a transaction, as well as the card account number and expiry date.

Radar protects against fraudulent purchases by automatically denying any transactions that have the incorrect CVC. Therefore, it can stop payments made from leaked card information.

5. Address Verification Checks

Stripe's Radar also verifies the address attached to a card account. It checks the data held by the card issuer and determines if the postcode and street address are consistent with the account details.

Radar automatically denies payments that don't have the correct postcode. It can thus prevent fraudulent payments with stolen cards.

It may also block legitimate purchases where the customer has entered the address incorrectly. You can opt-in or out of this verification check by enabling or disabling it on your Stripe dashboard.

Conclusion

Stripe is one of the most secure ecommerce platforms available. It has various checks and balances to prevent fraud and notify you of suspicious purchases. Moreover, Buy Now Plus is totally powered by Stripe.

Let's quickly recap the five ways that Stripe can protect your business:

  1. It prevents fraudulent chargebacks with Stripe Chargeback Protection.
  2. It identifies unusual browsing behavior.
  3. It analyzes activity indicators and identifies bots.
  4. It runs CVC checks.
  5. It performs address verification checks.

Do you have any questions about using Stripe with Buy Now Plus? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

5 Small Businesses You Can Start for Under $200

If you're tired of working for an employer, you may be looking to start your own business. However, this can be expensive, with many small businesses costing at least $2,000 to set up. If you don't have that kind of capital, you may be looking for more affordable options.

Fortunately, there are plenty of business ventures you can explore without spending a lot of money. You can tap into your creative side, share your professional expertise, or coach other people.

By identifying your skills and strengths, you can monetize them and start generating income.

In this guide, we'll take a look at five different small businesses that you can start for under $200. We'll also outline the skills and resources you will need for each one. Let's get started!

1. Consulting

Many companies hire experts to help them with their business strategies. If you have expertise in a particular area, like finance or law, you can offer your consulting services to different companies in your industry.

For instance, Bain & Company is an international consulting firm that works with organizations in various industries, including finance, healthcare, and retail:

Homepage of a consulting company called Bain & Company

In the United States, freelance consultants make an average salary of $78,922. Therefore, if you have the skills and knowledge to offer, you could potentially set up a very profitable business.

To get started, you'll need to set up a website to promote your services. WordPress equipped with a membership plugin is a great option.

You'll also have to spend some money on a domain name and web hosting service. However, many hosting companies offer very affordable plans for first-time buyers.

2. Tutoring

Tutoring can be a lucrative business if you're qualified in a particular field. For example, you could teach a foreign language to students or professionals.

Tutors make an average of $18 per hour. However, if you have a degree you may be able to charge much more.

To get started, you can sign up with an established tutoring company, such as Tutor.com:

Homepage of tutoring website Tutor.com

You could also create your own website to advertise your services. Remember that you'll need to pay for a domain name and a hosting service to keep it running.

As a tutor, you can create your own lesson plans and host your lessons online or in person. You don't need a large investment to set up this business, and you can purchase additional resources like textbooks as your company grows.

3. Freelancing

Freelancing is one of the most flexible businesses you can start. Rather than working for one company, you can deal directly with different clients and work on your own terms.

There are many freelancing options, including writing, blogging, graphic design, programming, and working as a personal assistant. You can also draw upon your skills and experience from previous jobs .

Freelancers make an average of $21 per hour. However, if you are an expert in your field, you may be able to charge much higher rates.

There are various ways to find jobs as a freelancer. For instance, you can join an established freelancing marketplace like Fiverr:

Fiverr homepage

Alternatively, you could try to source your own clients through advertising and reaching out to your personal network. You might also want to set up a LinkedIn account and pitch your services to potential clients.

4. Selling eBooks and Other Digital Products

If you have writing talents and great ideas, you could make money by publishing ebooks or other digital materials. You can write in any genre, from short novels to travel guides, depending on your interests.

As the creator, you can set your own prices for your ebooks. In 2020, customers purchased more than 191 million ebooks in the United States, so there's a large market for this material:

The eBooks homepage

Creating and selling ebooks doesn't have to be expensive. You can create the template for free through an application like Canva. Then you can approach publishers or use a self-publishing service like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.

Alternatively, you could sell your digital products on your site. We recommend using our Buy Now Plus service to add high-converting buy now buttons to your product pages:

The Buy Now Plus homepage

Our program is free to use and very easy to install. Moreover, Buy Now Plus is powered by Stripe and charges a flat 3% fee on your transactions.

If you want to maximize your ebook sales on the cheap, you might want to consider setting up an affiliate program. To do this, you can use a plugin like Easy Affiliate, which helps you create a self-hosted affiliate program and manage your affiliates from a user-friendly dashboard.

5. Fitness Coaching

If you love fitness or have professional accreditation, you could create an online fitness program. For example, you could upload videos of yoga routines and workouts:

The Glo fitness website homepage

At the end of 2019, the online fitness market was worth approximately $6 million. Analysts predict it will grow in value to $59 million by 2027, so there's an opportunity to make significant profits in this industry.

An effective way to make money from your online courses is to build a fitness membership site.

With this type of site, you can upload instructional videos and customize your subscription settings so that only paid members can access this content. Additionally, you can offer a discounted or free trial period to attract new business.

Conclusion

Starting your own business doesn’t need to cost a fortune. By capitalizing on your existing skills and interests, you could quickly set up a small business and start making money.

Let's recap our main ideas for starting a business for under $200:

  1. Offer your consulting services to other companies.
  2. Give online lessons to students and professionals.
  3. Freelance in your area of expertise, such as web design and photography.
  4. Write e-books and sell them on your site, using Buy Now Plus.
  5. Create an online fitness program and set up a membership site.

Do you have any questions about starting your own business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Join the Great Resignation (Start Your Ecommerce Business in 3 Steps)

In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record number of resignations. You may dream of joining the great resignation, but quitting your job is never a decision to take lightly.

Fortunately, there is an industry that’s going from strength to strength. By starting your own ecommerce business in 2021, you can finally become your own boss without feeling like you’re taking a massive gamble.

In this post, we’ll look at why more people are quitting their jobs than ever before. We’ll then show you how to start your ecommerce business in three easy (and affordable) steps. Let’s get started!

An Overview of the Great Resignation (And Why You May Want to Join It)

The number of people quitting their jobs is on the rise. There are many reasons why so many employees are joining the great resignation, including burnout.

While exhaustion has always been an issue within the workforce, 67% of employees feel that burnout has worsened over the course of the pandemic. For tired and overworked employees, a change of career may seem like the perfect solution. 

The seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many people to re-evaluate their lives, including their jobs. The historic rise in resignations could signify that employees are taking actionable steps to improve their work situation. 

Whatever the reasons for it, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. The job site Monster reports that 95% of US employees are currently considering a career change. If you’re one of these people, then it may be time to start your own ecommerce business. 

While the pandemic forced many physical stores to close their doors, it also sparked an online shopping revolution. In 2021, over 2.14 billion people are forecast to purchase goods and services online. That’s a lot of potential customers for your new venture.

In fact, with the global population expected to reach 7.87 billion people in 2021, these figures suggest you could be promoting your online products and services to around 27% of the world’s inhabitants. 

If you already run a website, you could add ecommerce functionality to your existing content. For example, if you run a successful membership site, you might consider creating a members-only store. This can be a way to monetize your audience and turn all of your hard work into profit. 

Join the Great Resignation (Start Your Ecommerce Business in 3 Steps)

According to Microsoft, 41% of people plan to change jobs in 2021. If you’re eager to join them, then starting your own ecommerce business may be the answer. Here’s how to become your own boss in three easy steps.

Step 1: Find Your Niche

Running an ecommerce business offers many opportunities, but there’s also lots of competition. With more and more online stores opening every day, you may get the best results by focusing on a specific niche. 

Choosing a niche immediately reduces the competition and gives you a stronger brand identity. In particular, it helps differentiate your venture from ecommerce giants such as Amazon, which already excels at being all things to all people:

The Amazon ecommerce site.

By promoting products that have huge appeal to a very specific audience, you can often achieve more conversions and a higher Return On Investment (ROI). With this niche approach, you can also tailor every part of your business to speak to the deep needs of your target audience

If you don’t already have a niche in mind, then the next step is identifying some products that you’re passionate about.

By specializing in items that you’re genuinely interested in, you can tap into an authentic drive and enthusiasm that will influence your business. For example, this passion can enhance your marketing and advertising campaigns.

While it’s a good idea to keep your business tightly focused, it’s important to find a big enough niche to generate healthy revenue.

Here, you can use tools such as Google Trends to evaluate the level of interest in the products you’re considering stocking:

The Google Trends dashboard can help you join the great resignation.

When crunching these numbers, keep in mind that you’ll want to grow your business over time. This means there should be enough interest to support your future expansion. 

Step 2: Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a written document that defines what your ecommerce business is, the activities it’ll perform, and its core objectives. It also details how you’re going to achieve those aims. 

By creating a business plan now, you can verify that your grand idea has the potential to be a viable ecommerce company before you start pouring time and money into it.

This document can also help you secure funding without a proven track record if you're seeking external investment. 

Every business plan is different, but most documents start with an executive summary. This outlines your ecommerce business and its mission statement. 

Next, you’ll detail your products and pricing, how your business benefits the customer, and your Unique Selling Point (USP). If you’re focusing on a niche, this is the place to stress that you’re offering a specialist, focused service.

This is also the perfect opportunity to demonstrate a deep understanding of your target audience and prove the demand for your products.

Even if this document is for internal use only, it’s a good idea to include a section on financial planning. This can help you budget and balance your cash flow. Otherwise, you risk negative cash flow completely derailing your operation.

3. Generate Buy Now Buttons

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that your new ecommerce venture requires a website. While many successful businesses do operate an online store, this isn’t a necessity. 

Designing, developing, and launching a digital shop requires a significant amount of financial investment. This includes purchasing web hosting, securing a domain name, and potentially even hiring specialist designers and developers.

If you want to minimize your running costs, then you can operate an entire ecommerce business and sell anything from anywhere, thanks to Buy Now Plus:

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

You can use our free online service to generate a wide range of buy now buttons. Buy Now Plus operates on top of the popular Stripe payment gateway, so you can even accept credit card payments without an online store:

The Stripe checkout can be useful tool for joining the great resignation.

After creating these buttons, you can post them to any location that accepts text, including all major social media platforms.

You can even sign up for an email automation service such as ActiveCampagn, and run email campaigns featuring your buy now buttons.

Conclusion

Quitting your job is never a decision to take lightly. However, if you’ve always dreamed of running your own ecommerce business, then now may be the perfect opportunity. 

Let’s quickly recap how to launch your own ecommerce venture and join the great resignation:

  1. Find your niche.
  2. Create a business plan.
  3. Generate buy now buttons, using a tool such as Buy Now Plus.

Do you have any other questions about how to start a successful ecommerce business? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How to Grow Your Profits With 3 Sales Tips From Neuroscience

As an online store owner, you’ll find plenty of advice on how to convince potential customers that your products are the best on the market. However, people don’t make purchasing decisions based on logic – they hit that buy now button due to an emotional reaction.

Thankfully, there’s an entire science dedicated to understanding the way people think and feel. By applying cutting-edge neuroscientific principles to your ecommerce site, you can create an experience where the customer feels compelled to make a purchase. 

In this post, we’ll discuss what neuroscience is and the role it can play in boosting your profits. We’ll then share three tips on how to leverage the power of the human brain in order to secure more sales. Let’s get started! 

An Introduction to Neuroscience (And How It Can Boost Your Sales)

There are various ways to gather information about your target audience. For example, you might ask customers for their feedback, perform interviews, or conduct a survey:

WPForms survey builder
With the WPForms survey builder, you can customize your customer surveys.

However, people have a tendency to seek approval by providing socially-acceptable answers. This can reduce the accuracy and usefulness of your data.

There are also many impulses, emotions, and motivations that happen subconsciously. Since your target audience isn’t aware of how these factors influence their decisions, they rarely feature in the input gathered from surveys and other popular methods of customer research.

This is where neuroscience can give you an advantage over the competition. Neuroscience is the multidisciplinary, scientific study of the brain and its impact on cognitive functions and behavior, including subconscious decision-making.

Essentially, it’s the study of how people think, which makes it a powerful tool for understanding your audience and what truly pushes them to convert.

Neuroscience teaches us that people make decisions emotionally. Armed with this information, you can optimize your marketing strategies in order to inspire an emotional reaction that will encourage conversions and maximize your profits

How to Grow Your Profits With 3 Sales Tips From Neuroscience

Sales is often referred to as an art, but it’s also a science. Using scientific principles in your business strategies can help you tap into powerful psychological and emotional cues.

Here are our top three tips for growing your profits using the power of the human brain. 

1. Become an Influencer 

Humans are wired to make decisions emotionally, and then attempt to justify those decisions with reason. According to Dan Hill in Emotionomics: “Emotions process sensory input in only one-fifth the time our conscious, cognitive brain takes to assimilate that same input.”

This means that the best way to close a sale is to trigger a positive reaction among your target audience.

Influential people tend to inspire more powerful emotional responses. However, this doesn’t mean you need to turn into an Instagram sensation or launch your own YouTube channel (although depending on your brand and your target audience, those things may help).

Instead, we recommend building a reputation as a trusted source by consistently creating useful content

A blog can be a great way to position yourself as an authority in your chosen field. Once you’re regularly publishing five-star content, you can use this to deepen your relationship with your audience.

Responding to blog comments is a good start, but it’s also smart to actively seek out online communities and platforms where your target audience already congregates. 

Different social media platforms appeal to different people. For example 80.9% of LinkedIn users are aged 24 or over. By contrast, 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24. When you’ve identified which platforms your target audience prefers, you can post your content to those networks:

The LinkedIn social network.

By performing these simple actions, you can create the public perception that you’re a helpful, engaged, and approachable business. This can ensure that when your target audience does encounter one of your products or services, their initial reaction is a positive one. 

2. Encourage Impulse Purchases 

The average American spends more than $2,100 a year on impulse purchases. This spending peaks during the holiday season, when one in three purchases are spontaneous. 

Physiologically, humans are prone to buying products and services on a whim. However, cart abandonment rates are also high, with evidence suggesting that 69% of customers fail to complete the checkout process.

Although customers are psychologically primed to add items to their basket, it seems that they’re just as prone to changing their mind.

To capitalize on this psychological phenomenon, it helps to simplify the checkout process. By giving customers fewer opportunities to rethink their purchases, you can harness the full financial potential of impulse buying. 

This is where a buy now button can be your secret weapon. You can create high-converting buttons using a service such as Buy Now Plus, and then deploy these buttons across your website: 

The Buy Now Plus dashboard.

You may even want to add your Buy Now Plus buttons across third-party platforms, using the provided sharing buttons and embed codes. This includes time-sensitive sites such as Twitter, where the additional pressure can further encourage impulse shopping.

3. Sell the Benefits, Not the Features

Many organizations fall into the trap of selling their products and services based on their features. However, as we've previously mentioned, decisions are initially influenced by emotions, not logic.

To trigger a stronger emotional response, it's important to focus on the benefits of your product.

Although benefits and features are related, they aren’t interchangeable. Features are what your product can do. For example, a security camera might automatically upload recordings to the cloud. But the benefit is what the customer can do with the product, such as keep their family safe:

The sales tips from neuroscience encourage you to focus on the benefits.

If you’re unsure which benefits to promote, you can first try to identify your audience’s pain points. Then, you can position your product or service as the solution.

To really tap into those emotional triggers, make sure you emphasize how much better the customer will feel after investing in your product and receiving the associated benefits.

Conclusion 

Neuroscience reveals that people initially make purchasing decisions based purely on emotions, and only later try to justify their choices with logic. By leveraging the power of this subconscious decision-making, you can create a persuasive, high-converting online store. 

To help grow your profits, let’s quickly recap three sales tips taken directly from neuroscience: 

  1. Became an influencer.
  2. Encourage impulse purchases, using a service such as Buy Now Plus
  3. Sell the benefits, not the features.

Do you have any questions about how to boost your revenue with the power of neuroscience? Ask us in the comments section below!

The Evolution of Buy Now Buttons (In 3 Stages)

Buy Now buttons have become a mainstay of online stores. However, this familiar little button also has an interesting backstory.

By delving into the history behind this ecommerce favorite, you can develop a better understanding of how the Buy Now button became an internet staple. It can also draw attention to the platforms and services that no longer support this button natively, but that may benefit from bringing it back.

In this post, we’ll introduce you to Buy Now buttons, explain their importance, and discuss their evolution in three distinct stages. We'll also explain how you can add this feature to sites that no longer offer built-in options. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Buy Now Buttons (And Why They’re Important)

A Buy Now button is a call to action (CTA) that promises to streamline the purchasing process. This simple-but-effective element typically takes shoppers to a product page, their shopping cart, or your checkout page:

A Buy Now button shown on the McAfee website.

By removing multiple steps from the traditional checkout process, Buy Now buttons can help drive conversions and reduce cart abandonment rates. Since evidence suggests that 69% of customers fail to complete the checkout process, you’ll want to do everything in your power to simplify the purchasing workflow. 

If you create your buttons using our Buy Now Plus solution, you can place them across multiple platforms. This includes your online store, your next email marketing campaign, and all major social media platforms

Buy Now buttons can help you create additional revenue streams by enabling customers to start the purchase process from various locations.

For example, if you post your Buy Now button to Facebook, your followers will be able to access your checkout page directly from the popular social networking platform. This is excellent news for your conversion rates and your bottom line.

The Evolution of Buy Now Buttons (In 3 Stages)

Today, Buy Now buttons are so widely used that you might expect to see them on every e-commerce site. However, it wasn't always this way.

This button has evolved over the years, and has even triggered the occasional lawsuit. Let’s look at the backstory behind this ecommerce staple by breaking it down into three major stages. 

Stage 1: Amazon Is Granted the 1-Click Patent

In 1997, ecommerce giant Amazon applied for a U.S. patent for its “1-Click” technique, also known as “one-click” and “one-click buying”. This tactic enabled customers to make purchases without having to use shopping cart software.

Assuming that the shopper had previously entered their payment and shipping details, they could complete a purchase without having to manually input any information – a feature that's still available today in the form of the Buy Now button:

An Amazon product page displaying a Buy Now button.

In September 1999, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued US5960411 (A) to Amazon.com for the 1-Click technique, along with the trademark.

A few years later, in 1999, Amazon sued Barnes & Noble over its similar Express Lane buy button. A judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering Barnes & Noble to stop offering Express Lane until the case was settled. This lawsuit was settled in 2002, although the terms of the agreement were never disclosed.

Amazon also filed EP1134680 with the European Patent Office (EPO) in an attempt to patent the 1-Click in Europe. The application was rejected in 2007 due to obviousness, defined as “that which does not go beyond the normal progress of technology but merely follows plainly or logically from the prior art.” This decision was upheld in 2011. 

The Federal Court of Canada held that the 1-Click patent couldn’t be rejected as a pure business method since it had a physical effect. In 2010, the Court remanded the application to the Canadian patent office for a reexamination.

On 12 September 2017, Amazon’s 1-Click patent expired. Since then, there has been a dramatic rise in checkout experience platforms using similar one-click features. 

Stage 2: Braintree Releases Venmo Touch and Is Acquired by PayPal

In 2013, web payment specialist Braintree released an iOS buy button named Venmo Touch:

The Venmo Touch website.

The solution offered customers a streamlined, secure way to authorize credit cards they'd previously used with a Braintree partner or Venmo itself. This enabled shoppers to perform one-touch payments across all Braintree-powered applications.

Ultimately, PayPal would acquire Braintree and use Venmo Touch as the basis for PayPal One Touch:

The PayPal One Touch service.

This popular service enables PayPal users to skip signing in with their email addresses and passwords when purchasing from eligible merchants. After activating One Touch, you're taken directly to the PayPal payment page whenever you opt to purchase a product.

You only need to authenticate and authorize the use of One Touch once per device or browser. When you activate this functionality with one seller, it becomes available across every other eligible merchant, making One Touch a quick and convenient payment method. 

Stage 3: Social Media Platforms Launch Their Own Buy Now Buttons

In 2014, social media titan Facebook tested a Buy button for third-party retailers. This enabled customers to purchase products and services without leaving the social network.

Shortly after, Facebook expanded on this concept. In 2015, it released a set of CTAs, including a Shop Now button, which performs a similar function to Buy Now: 

The Facebook Shop Now CTA.

In 2014, social platform Twitter launched its own Buy button, followed by Collections. Online influencers could use Collections to curate products, ready for their fans to browse and purchase.

However, three years later, Twitter announced that it was removing the Buy button for business users – and it has yet to make a reappearance. 

The good news is that you can restore Twitter’s missing Buy Now button using Buy Now Plus. Our simple service has everything you need to build a wide range of high-converting Buy Now buttons:

The screen to create a new button with Buy Now Plus.

After creating yours, you can post it across all major social networking platforms, including Twitter. We even provide a share button, which posts your button directly to Twitter:

The evolution of buy buttons.

To help maximize click-through rates (CTRs), you may want to consider transforming this post into a pinned Tweet. This ensures that Buy Now is the first thing followers see when they visit your profile. 

Conclusion 

The Buy Now button is an important tool for driving sales and conversions. However, as an internet staple, it’s easy to overlook the interesting history behind the Buy Now phenomenon.

Let’s quickly recap the three major evolution stages of this useful feature:

  1. Amazon is granted the 1-Click patent. 
  2. Braintree releases Venmo Touch and is acquired by PayPal.
  3. Social media platforms launch their own Buy Now buttons.

Do you have any questions about the Buy Now button, or how to add one using Buy Now Plus? Let us know in the comments section below!

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