business

10 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know

We’ll be back with more Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know January 6th. Happy holidays!

 

1—How Green was Green Monday?

Green money paid off for many retailers and e-tailers, according to data just released from Bazaarvoice. Here are some of their findings:

  • Average order value:$115.37
  • Average mobile order value: $107
  • Percent of mobile revenue: 40.20%
  • Page views:151,524,435 (a 12% YoY increase)
  • Total shoppers:48,269,954 (a 17.7% YoY increase)
  • Total orders:3,348,824 (a 5.9% YoY increase)
  • Total revenue:$386,364,580 (a 2.6% YoY increase)
  • Mobile orders:1,456,041 (a 7.2% YoY increase)
  • Mobile revenue:$155,472,071.56 (a 1.5% YoY increase)
  • Percent of page views on mobile:1% (a 3.2% YoY increase)

According to Joe Rohrlich, Global Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) at Bazaarvoice, “Last year on the Bazaarvoice Network, [Green Monday] was the third-largest order day during the holidays in the U.S., behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year saw even more traffic, with an almost 18% increase in shoppers and 12% increase in page views year over year, ending with a whopping $386 million in total revenue across sites in our network. Just like on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mobile page views surpassed desktop, with 55% of all page views coming from smart devices.”

 

2—Creating Dynamic Emails

Want to transform your static email messages to “dynamic webpage-like experiences”? Now you can—regardless of your technical ability, thanks to AWeber, a leading small business email marketing and automation platform, which just incorporated AMP for Email-powered drag & drop elements into its message editor.

The AWeber Image Carousel, powered by AMP for Email, enables you to create far more dynamic email messages. By simply dragging the element into your email template and adding the images you want to present in the carousel, you can provide more visual context without occupying additional space within an email.

“The AWeber Image Carousel is the most recent instance of us fulfilling our mission to provide powerfully-simple email marketing solutions for small businesses,” says Rob Patterson, AWeber’s Chief Marketing Officer. “By sending messages leveraging AMP for Email content, AWeber users can elevate their email marketing programs by creating more interactions with their audience directly inside the inbox.”

While there’s more draggable elements to come in 2020, additional AMP for Email capabilities are available through AWeber’s HTML editor and its API. Other interactive and dynamic components include inline forms, accordions, live-updating polls and countdowns. Email recipients can perform personalized tasks directly inside an email, such as RSVP’ing to events, leaving product reviews and responding to quizzes.

“AMP for Email is part of the future of email,” says Chris Vasquez, AWeber’s Director of Product. “We’re constantly developing new, innovative features to bring the power of AMP for Email to our customers and make it simple for them to use. With each evolution of AMP for Email in AWeber, we’re another step closer to making fully dynamic and interactive inboxes a reality.”

 

3—Making Payroll Easier

Wish payroll were easier to run? Intuit Inc. just launched an expanded suite of QuickBooks Online Payroll offerings to help you do just that. The suite enables small businesses to run payroll and file taxes automatically, while receiving tax penalty protection and gaining access to essential services like on-demand HR, health benefits, and workers’ compensation. There are three options for small businesses offered in the suite—CorePremium and Elite.

The new QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite offering includes Tax Penalty Protection that guarantees if a customer receives a federal, state, or local payroll tax penalty from an error made while using QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite, QuickBooks will help resolve it with the government and pay all fees and interest up to $25,000 per year. Intuit is the only company to offer this protection to customers.

According to research from QuickBooks, 41% of small business owners say it typically takes a week or more to prepare payroll. The new tool helps small businesses pay their employees in a short amount of time, allowing them to focus on more pressing business needs.

And, with the ability to time track powered by TSheets (which is built into QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium and Elite and included at no extra cost) workers’ hours will automatically appear for small businesses to view and approve, enabling faster payroll runs with better accuracy.

Benefits of QuickBooks Online Payroll include:

Core: Previously known as QuickBooks Online Self-Service Payroll, QuickBooks Online Payroll Core is QuickBooks’ simplest solution for reliable, automated payroll and includes:

  • Full-service payroll includes automated tax and forms
  • Auto Payroll
  • Next-day direct deposit
  • Automated federal and state payroll taxes (including year-end filings);
  • A Workforce Portal for employees
  • Product support from U.S.-based experts
  • Health benefitsfor employees powered by Simply Insured

Premium: Previously known as QuickBooks Online Full-Service Payroll, QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium includes all the features of QuickBooks Online Payroll Core, as well as:

Elite: This new, top-tier offering was designed specifically for growing businesses. In addition to all the features provided in QuickBooks Online Payroll Premium, QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite customers receive:

  • Manage projects and track time on the go
  • White glove customized setup by U.S.-based specialists
  • Tax Penalty Protection
  • An on-demand HR advisor powered by Mammoth

“The expanded QuickBooks Online Payroll suite focuses on three benefits for our customers—automation, accuracy and additional services,” says Laurent Sellier, Vice President and Business Leader of QuickBooks Online Payroll. “By automating payroll and tax filing, and by offering access to additional on-demand services, the expanded QuickBooks Online Payroll suite helps meet the end-to-end needs of small businesses.”

Automation: Small business owners spend on average 4.5 hours each pay period preparing, calculating, and filing payroll taxes. By automating paying employees and taxes, as well as tracking time on the go with TSheets, the new QuickBooks Online Payroll suite saves small business owners valuable time each payroll cycle by eliminating manual data entry and reducing errors.

Accuracy: With the expanded QuickBooks Online Payroll suite, small businesses can automate filing and paying payroll taxes with accuracy. New to the suite, QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite now offers Tax Penalty Protection, which uses an Onboarding Expert Review to proactively spot problems. This guarantees that if a customer receives a federal, state, or local payroll tax penalty from an error made while using QuickBooks Online Payroll Elite, QuickBooks will help resolve it with the government and pay all fees and interest up to $25,000 per year.

Additional Services: 70% of business owners report they have HR questions they don’t know how to handle. QuickBooks Online Payroll is giving small business owners access to an on-demand HR advisory team and HR support center packed with useful insights. QuickBooks also recognizes the importance small business owners place on taking care of their growing teams, which is why QuickBooks Online Payroll now brings together additional services to help small businesses grow, including workers compensation powered by AP Intego and recently added health benefits.

 

4—Workplace Burnout Runs Rampant

O.C. Tanner’s 2020 Global Culture Report highlights just how real and present a threat workplace burnout is. Measured through the following framework, burnout is a combination of exhaustion (physical and mental exhaustion measured in the reporting of both aspects), futility (cynicism and a perception the employee cannot produce a useful result) and avoidance (intentional distance between the employee and their work; includes dread, absenteeism and avoiding everyday situations).

The data shows significant burnout is becoming increasingly common—40% of employees experience moderate-to-severe burnout. Women feel it more than men, but it’s felt fairly evenly across generations. Non-managers are more burnt-out than managers, and those in customer service appear to be the most heavily impacted. With all this burnout, what’s the cure? One element could be providing more recognition, as there’s a direct correlation between the last time a respondent received recognition at work and their burnout level.

After decades of being ostensibly isolated to a small number of specific industries, many global companies now realize that burnout is more pervasive than previously thought. Burnout not only affects the organization and its people, but also the larger communities to which they belong. This precipitates a wider ripple effect of elevated anxiety levels and other psychological and physiological health issues (including death).

On top of all of that, burnout is costly. Businesses with employees suffering moderate-to-severe burnout experience a 376% decrease in the odds of having highly engaged employees. For the sake of their employees’ livelihoods and their bottom lines, businesses need to take a closer look at measuring burnout, identify workplace cultural preconditions that foster burnout, and take active steps to mitigate it.

Key findings 

Groups experiencing moderate-to-severe burnout 

By gender:  

  • Female: 40%
  • Male: 37%

By generation

  • Millennials: 39%
  • Gen X: 39%
  • Baby boomers: 37%
  • Gen Z: 36%

By job: 

  • Managers: 35%
  • Non-managers: 44%
  1. Customer Service: 47%
  2. Other: 43%
  3. Sales: 41%
  4. Operations: 37%
  5. IT: 37%
  6. Executive/General Administration: 35%
  7. Human Resources: 36%
  8. Training/Learning: 36%
  9. Finance/Purchasing: 35%
  10. Marketing: 27%

The impact of burnout 

Companies with moderate-to-severe burnout experience a:

  • 376% decrease in the odds of having highly engaged employees
  • 87% decrease in likelihood of employees staying
  • 41% decrease in the perception of the employee experience
  • 22% decreased work output

Read more about burnout.

 

5— Sales Tax Report Highlights Major Changes for Nexus and Marketplace Law in 2020

Avalara, Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based tax compliance automation for businesses of all sizes, recently released its fifth annual sales tax changes report. Key findings in the report point to the continued impact of economic nexus laws, escalating tensions around marketplace facilitator laws, an increase in online cross-border sales, and the growing role of technology in tax compliance heading into 2020.

In today’s global, omnichannel business landscape, accurate sales tax collection and remittance are essential for businesses of all sizes seeking to stay compliant and competitive. Avalara’s 2020 sales tax changes report reveals major changes in legislation and consumer preference that are poised to disrupt ecommerce in 2020.

“2019 was another landmark year for sales tax in the United States with broad adoption of economic nexus and marketplace facilitator laws,” says Scott Peterson, vice president of U.S. tax policy and government relations at Avalara. “As 2020 progresses, we can expect to see more changes take place domestically and abroad in the form of marketplace laws and global compliance. This report should serve as a resource for business leaders and tax professionals to better understand the tax landscape and make more informed decisions that keep businesses compliant and improve efficiency.”

Notable highlights from the 2020 sales tax changes report:

  • Many states are approaching remote sales tax differently. Economic nexus is old news and the new norm, but businesses continue to struggle with understanding their liability in each state and how to craft their tax strategies accordingly.
  • Economic nexus laws will continue to change. Louisiana is set to begin enforcing economic nexus by July 2020. A bill recently filed in Florida, if approved, will make it the 44th state to adopt economic nexus. If passed, Missouri will then be the only state outside of those with no general sales tax that has yet to enact a similar rule.
  • Marketplace facilitator laws are creating a “Wayfair 2.0” scenario. More than 36 states have adopted marketplace facilitator laws that require online marketplaces to collect and remit sales tax on behalf of third-party sellers. But major marketplaces aren’t accepting this without a fight. For example, Amazon is “vigorously” fighting a sales tax assessment for marketplace sales tax in South Carolina. Other states, like Hawaii and North Carolina, are expected to enact marketplace sales tax laws in 2020.
  • International selling will take center stage and bring new challenges. Forecasted to reach $1 trillion in sales by 2020, by 2022, cross-border ecommerce sales could account for more than 15% of the world’s online retail market. Major events around the globe will impact international gain for businesses, including Brexit, fraud, global marketplace laws, and shifting tariffs.
  • Technology is responding to growing sales tax complexity. Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and cloud computing are expected to reach a tipping point for practical application for sales tax in 2020. States are also embracing technology with 24 states participating in the Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) program and providing tax technology to businesses at no cost.

For additional information on state sales tax changes, please visit the Avalara sales tax rates resource. For more information on marketplace facilitator laws, please visit the Avalara state-by-state marketplace facilitator guide.

Download the 2020 sales tax changes report here.

 

6—Who’s Creating Websites

Is there going to be a surge of website building in a few weeks? That would seem to be the case, based on findings from Wix.com, Ltd. in its review of 2019 website creation behavior.

The data shows the decision to create a website is the result of many New Year’s resolutions. Wix found almost 50% more websites are built during the first week of the year, than the week before. However, in 2019, the most popular day for building a website was in the spring, on April 30. Wix also learned that:

Top 5 cities overall for website creation: (highest number of websites created overall by city)

  1. New York City
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Miami
  4. Houston
  5. Chicago

Top 5 cities per capita for website creation: (highest ratio of websites created per population for cities with over one million residents)

  1. San Jose
  2. Dallas
  3. Austin
  4. Houston
  5. Philadelphia

There’s lots more information in this infographic.

In other information from Wix, if you’re part (or want to be) U.S. fitness industry—which is estimated at $30 billion and growing, Wix has launched Wix Fitness. In addition to utilizing many of the one-stop-shop offerings from Ascend—workflow, invoicing, etc.—Wix Fitness is optimized for mobile use and allows fitness entrepreneurs to manage their businesses on the go, and their clients to book and pay for classes, and even build their own communities, via the Wix app. This, says Wix, is especially useful for fitness enthusiasts just getting their business started, teaching classes as a side hustle, and increasingly the many trainers not affiliated with a mega gym or national chain and need to compete by offering their clients easy tech solutions without a hefty investment or laborious back-end management.

 

7—Is Worrying About Digital Transformation Keeping You Up at Night?

A new report shows that while 80% of C-suite execs think about digital transformation at least once a week, they’re being “kept up at night” by the fact their digital costs are more than anticipated and the pressure to implement new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), mobile and cloud native. The report from Rangle.io, a leading strategic technology and digital consultancy business, conducted online with third-party research firm YouGov, uncovered not only stressors of digital innovation on budget and technology, but the specific fears company leaders have in investing in new projects and talent that impact a company’s ability to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve.

What keeps you up at night?

Technology, budgets and single-minded approaches to digital transformation are keeping the C-suite up at night. For many companies, a new approach to their digital initiatives is likely required in order to keep costs down and lessen the risk of being overtaken by another company who is getting it right when it comes to digital experience expectations.

“What our Up All Night Report tell us is that many companies still have a very compartmentalized approach to digital transformation and delivering digital experiences to their end users. On top of that, many of these companies are feeling pressured from an internal perspective—where to invest dollars, be it technology, teams or on a certain project. Our view is that companies need to shift to a focus on outcomes and what those outcomes mean for users. That could be everything from the employees to drive engagement and productivity, or customers to positively help improve their lives of the community as a whole.” says Mark Tiainen, VP of Digital Strategy at Rangle.io.

Technology 

There’s pressure to drive innovative customer experiences that leverage new technology such as AI, IoT, augmented reality (AR) and chatbots—13% say their company can’t even agree on which technologies are best for digital transformation. However, the technologies biz leaders most commonly felt the pressure to implement are:

  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning – 46%
  • Internet of things (IoT) – 42%
  • Mobile – 42%
  • Cloud native – 41%
  • Methodology design systems – 32%
  • Augmented reality/mixed reality/virtual reality – 31%
  • Voice – 30%
  • Chatbots – 27%
  • DevOps – 26%
  • Lean agile delivery – 27%

Budgets 

There’s pressure to continuously deliver value through technology investments, with increased focus and minimized risk—26% admit the cost of digital transformation is more than they anticipated.

  • 16% fear there is too much risk with new technology
  • 24% fear wasting money on a project that doesn’t work
  • 18% can’t agree which departments need to be prioritized for digital transformation
    • However, the most commonly agreed departments that need to be prioritized included IT, sales, and advertising/marketing

Talent 

There’s pressure to bridge the talent gap through digital tools and bespoke business applications that enhance employee and customer experiences—25% think their companies have trouble finding the right talent to help with digital transformation.

  • 19% fear they haven’t hired the right people for digital transformation to be successful
  • 18% fear their teams don’t understand enough about digital transformation to be successful
  • 13% say they can’t find the right talent for digital transformation
  • 15% fear repeating mistakes they already made when previously undergoing digital transformation
  • 20% need more help understanding what digital transformation even means

Learn more about the pressure of digital transformation.

 

8—2020 State of Retail Delivery Report

The Bringg Barometer 2020 State of Retail Report looks at the delivery offerings of 50 top U.S. retailers and sheds light on the gap between consumer expectations and retailers offerings, and how retailers can meet and exceed them in the future.

Key findings:

  • To shoppers, speed and convenience (41%) are now almost as important as free delivery (56%)
  • 5+ day delivery is unacceptable to 76% of shoppers, yet 1 in 5 retailers list this as their default option.
  • Only 11% of shoppers start directly on a retail site—53% of shoppers start their online shopping journeys with Amazon, while 22% start on Google.
  • 60% of retail deliveries fail to meet customer expectations for speed

According to Bringg, “While retailers continue to struggle to meet customer expectations, 2020 offers a bright future to those who make the strategic investments necessary to adapt. While offerings such as free standard shipping are now more a matter of survival than a differentiator, leveraging retail inventory for faster, well-priced local delivery can set retailers apart. Closing this gap will set retailers apart and pave the way for greater competitiveness and market share.”

Guy Bloch, CEO of Bringg adds, “Our report reflects what we’ve been seeing in the field for some time. Retailers and delivery providers that are connecting, digitizing and optimizing their supply chains are able to offer better delivery experiences. The imperative is clear. Retailers that address the gap between their delivery offerings and customer expectations in 2020 will enjoy stronger revenues, customer loyalty and sustainable growth.”

 

9—Everything is Tech

Tech innovation moves at a dizzying pace. Today’s businesses have more consumer engagement channels available than ever before. However, exploring and integrating new technology takes a sizeable investment, so knowing which innovations will drive consumer interest and improve brand perception and reputation is a question every company striving for relevance in today’s crowded media landscape must be prepared to answer.

To shed light on the issue, Diffusion decided to investigate how adopting, implementing and experimenting with emerging technology affects consumers’ perceptions of brands and purchasing patterns in the 2019 Everything is Tech Report. They found that both legacy brands and disruptors can no longer afford not to explore emerging technologies, with these new engagement channels impacting brand perceptions at a staggering rate, as well as impressively pushing the needle on consumer likeliness to purchase from and recommend these brands to friends and family.

Legacy Brands Have More Skin in the Game: Investing in new technologies can be costly, but the data shows that the costs of not innovating can be much higher. The report found 46% of Americans had a higher expectation of legacy brands to be actively experimenting with new technology compared to direct to consumer and startup brands.

In the Eyes of Consumers, Not all Emerging Technologies Are Made Equal: Every business wants to reach its audience more impactfully, but where to start and which technologies to focus on can prove a daunting decision. The 2019 Everything is Tech Report shows Augmented Reality (AR) is the way to go. Over a quarter of Americans chose AR as the tech most associated with being perceived as innovative. AR is flexible, interactive and engaging, and implementing it is a surefire way to show consumers a commitment to chasing the cutting edge. Other technologies, such as chatbots, proved far less effective in impacting consumers’ perception of innovation for a brand.

The Bottom Line Perception: Increased interest, relevance and profits come with the territory when consumers perceive a business as being innovative—especially in today’s super-competitive business climate. In fact, 16% of consumers are more likely to spend money with businesses they perceive as being innovators, and even more were more likely to recommend an innovative business.

Get more information about the Everything is Tech report.

 

10—Using Technology to Increase Employee Engagement

The Next Concept Human Resource Association (NCHRA), and Waggl, a leading platform for real-time feedback powered by Employee Voice, recently released their newest Voice of the Workplace pulse on the subject of technology and engagement.

Using Waggl’s transparent engagement platform, thousands of HR professionals from organizations of all sizes, including attendees of NCHRA’s HRTechXpo 2019, were invited to participate in the pulse.  Of those who participated, 92% agreed with the following statement: “I would like my organization to create a strong internal culture that impacts results.” In addition, another 81% agreed with the statement, “If my organization invested in people-focused programs and skills such as onboarding, performance, and employee engagement, we would have a more positive impact on revenues and profit margins.” By way of contrast, only 45% of participants agreed with this statement: “My organization is using technology to improve employee engagement.”

NCHRA and Waggl also posed the open-ended question, “Do you view employee use of social media and gamification platforms as tools to increase employee engagement?” Crowdsourced responses were distilled into a ranked list. The top three responses:

  1. “I think both those tools can be beneficial, but it also needs to be based on the type of company, demographics and how agreeable employees are to change or something new.”
  2. “Yes, creating a community online and showing off our team and company culture not only makes the work environment feel comfortable but also attracts others to want to know what our ‘secret sauce’ is that makes working for our company the best.”
  3. “Social media interaction used for employee engagement is a positive.  Gamification of interaction could also have a positive impact as long as it is not viewed as a nuisance and a distraction from accomplishing job tasks.”

“From the responses to this pulse, it’s clear HR practitioners recognize the value of creating a strong internal culture and want their organizations to invest in people-focused programs and skills,” says Alex Kinnebrew, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Growth Strategy, Waggl. “Although technology is no substitute for one-to-one human interaction, it can be beneficial for boosting employee engagement and performance by giving everyone in the organization a voice. In order for employees to be truly engaged, they need to feel free to express their ideas, share their knowledge and know that their opinions matter. When organizations give employees an opportunity to participate in the dialogue about topics that matter (e.g. culture, experience, vision and execution), they feel more connected to the workplace and empowered to drive change.”

For additional information, please visit Waggl and NCHRA.

A downloadable copy of the full report can be found here.

Business stock photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock