Quality, low-volume Products are a growth market

There’s an increasing concern for the environment. Conserving resources is gaining popularity. Have you ever considered how your company can help the environment and make money whilst doing this?

First, evaluate your goods. For those who have a choice of providers, pick the one which uses less plastic (assuming the cost is equal ) and explain why. Think about cutting back on single-use or limited-life goods and focus on items which will last longer or may be recycled. That’s not a gimmick. Consumers will probably proceed in this direction and will seek items that last longer. The era of planned obsolescence is finished.








The era of planned obsolescence is finished.


Some suppliers provide a choice in packaging. When I began trading 20 years back, products were created for physical stores. They tended to be encased in plastic and hung from hooks or placed on a shelf.

With the development in ecommerce, some providers now provide warehouse-friendly packaging where things are stackable. This helps optimize storage space and may also reduce fulfillment costs because the things are easier to consume. See if your providers have considered this.

Another obvious area is in postage packaging. Many companies use standard-sized boxes and void fill to compensate for the dimensions of the product and the size of this box. I try to not use void fill since it’s a waste. I prefer to cut down the box to size.

Recently however I have begun using recycled boxes. Each week I go to a local shoe store and receive a few sacks of boxes. Many clients leave the boxes after purchasing the shoes. Shoe boxes work well for many items I sell. They’re free, and I am reducing waste.

Likewise, I try to reuse delivery boxes, including from other neighborhood shops. This, again, reduces waste and enhances my packing expense.

There are drawbacks, but to reusing boxes. They aren’t standard sizes, so it can take more time to find a suitable box and therefore pack an order. Also, some clients complain!

When I first began using shoe boxes, a small proportion of my U.S. customers complained. One U.K. customer called, confused, demanding the sneakers with the box. Finally, I started adding a paragraph in the bottom of each receipt describing our coverage of recycling, reducing waste, and doing what we can to help the environment. This appears to be working.

Lately Amazon has begun using plastic bags rather than boxes. There’s a growing backlash to this. Independent merchants can benefit from it by encouraging our use of recycled boxes, or, if needed, recycled cardboard.

Volume vs. Price?

Selling environmentally friendly goods, however, could indicate a change in company strategy. Better equipped, longer-lasting products will inevitably mean lower sales volume. To endure, merchants will need improved margins and higher prices.

The food sector has experienced a similar problem with customers who seek organic, healthy choices. Grocers have improved their marketing of these products and succeeded in persuading customers to pay more — providing higher margins and greater earnings.

Sooner or later all retail customers will search for quality products that last more . As merchants, we have to follow this trend by changing our product lines, marketing, and indeed our whole ethos. We’ll earn money by selling fewer items at a greater profit.

Retail has changed in the last couple of years. Firms are moving away from physical stores and migrating to the net and ecommerce. Whilst this trend will last, it’s approaching saturation.

The massive box shifters such as Amazon will continue to focus on large volumes, low margins, and squeezing costs. However, the requirement for quality, and environmentally-friendly products is growing. It’s likely the biggest growth industry. So join in.

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‘California Consumer Privacy Act’ Impacts Ecommerce Firms

The California Consumer Privacy Act raises the bar for privacy protection in America. The act serves up penalties for companies that fail to comply or that incur a data breach.

Passed and amended in 2018, the CCPA takes effect on January 1, 2020.

The law was known as”GDPR lite” because of its similarities to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. While it doesn’t go so far as the GDPR in some places and is less complicated, the CCPA does provide relatively comprehensive definitions in different locations, like expanding the GDPR notion of the right to delete information.

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The law was known as”GDPR lite” because of its similarities to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

The CCPA is a substantial step toward protecting consumer information, including the private information most every ecommerce provider collects.

Beyond California

An ecommerce business doesn’t need to be found in California to be subject to the CCPA. Rather, the legislation covers California residents even if they purchase online. Thus, an ecommerce store based in Michigan would still be subject to the CCPA if it offered goods to a shopper living in California.

You will find comparable precedents in both the GDPR and in U.S. online sales taxes. In the case of the former, even U.S.-based sites have to comply with the GDPR for E.U. residents. And at the latter, a Wisconsin-based omnichannel merchant, as an instance, may still must collect sales tax for the state of California when a California resident purchases online.

So it is not surprising that an ecommerce company that sells to California residents is subject to some California laws.


The CCPA sets thresholds to protect small and midsize businesses. A company is only subject to the CCPA if It’s for-profit and if it matches at least one of the following three thresholds:

  • Annual earnings above $25 million,
  • Handles”the private information of 50,000 or more customers, households, or apparatus,”
  • “Derives 50 percent or more of its yearly revenue from selling customers’ personal information.”

The thresholds function to exempt many ecommerce companies. Most don’t derive half or more of the revenue from selling shoppers’ personal information. Likewise, many ecommerce companies have less than $25 million in annual sales.

The threshold which may impact ecommerce businesses most often is your 50,000-consumer rule. This could apply to each site visitor, irrespective of whether he made a purchase. And the amount, 50,000, translates into an average of just 137 unique visitors each day. An ecommerce firm with vigorous pay-per-click advertising campaigns could easily drive more than 137 daily unique visitors.

See also:







Privacy Rights

The”Californians for Consumer Privacy” site makes salient points concerning the purpose of the CCPA.

  • California’s customers own and control their personal information.
  • Firms are responsible for protecting personal information.
  • Large businesses are accountable (may pay penalties ) for failure to protect private information.

These theories lead to five personal information rights. Especially, a California resident has a right to:

  • Access their personal information,
  • Have personal information deleted,
  • Know what personal information a company has accumulated or marketed,
  • Opt-out or opt-in, and not be emptied after picking out,
  • Not having their personal information revealed.

Each of those rights may require businesses, including ecommerce companies, to alter or adapt notifications, reporting, and answers.

GDPR Precedent

Complying with the CCPA might be relatively easy due to the GDPR. When there are differences in definitions and requirements, companies that have worked to obey the GDPR ought to be well-positioned to follow the CCPA.

By way of instance, an ecommerce company that has established the means for receiving and responding to complaints under the GDPR might just have to make minor changes for the CCPA. Likewise, these companies should have policies to report the personal data collected in compliance with the GDPR. While the CCPA has a wider definition of personal information compared to GDPR, the procedure for reporting is comparable.

Even ecommerce companies which did not need to abide by this GDPR will benefit from related software tools and services because lots of these services and tools can be readily adapted to the CCPA.

Ecommerce companies should take some opportunity to ascertain whether the CCPA applies. In that case, do further research. Learn what the CCPA requires.

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For 2020, Utilize pre-orders to avoid dead Inventory

Now that January sales are underway, now is the time to reflect on the previous quarter and plan. For retailers, the fourth quarter is generally the most rewarding. A lot people use that cash for re-stocking and living the quiet period.

After their credit card bills arrive in January, consumers stop spending. Sales plummet. Holidays like Valentine‘s Day, Mother’s Day, and Easter can generate a little revenue, but what matters for most of us is the way we did over Christmas, and the way we need to perform in the new year.

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…it’s time to reflect on the previous quarter and plan.

Large retailers will pour over their sales data, exploring customer trends and, already, planning for another holiday season. Smaller merchants can’t afford to invest as much money in research, nor will we allow significant retailers take all of the business.

But we smaller merchants can still analyze our earnings for trends. Who are our clients? What did they buy? Be dispassionate and ruthless here. It doesn’t matter how much we enjoy our inventory lines or how long we spend in descriptions and photographs. If products don’t sell, why keep them?

Dead stock

So as soon as you concentrate on simpler sellers, you need to dispose of the dead inventory. You could attempt to sell everything at a deep discount to some trader, or on auction platforms. It’s a chance to use the fundamental no-reserve auction on eBay. Just insert a delivery charge to make certain that you don’t drop money. But the secret is to be callous. Dead inventory is costing you money. It is tying up capital and shelf space.

There are, however some important points to take into account. First, the inventory has been on your warehouse for some time. It might have gathered dust and endured shelf damage. Your description on eBay must reflect this. Otherwise you risk receiving negative comments on a small sale.

Otherwise you risk receiving negative comments on a small sale.

Secondly, assess the finishing date and time of your auction. This can be overlooked; it can decrease your selling price. The last time I attempted to buy something on eBay, I noticed several watchers but few bids. No doubt some were waiting until the last couple of minutes for a fast bidding war, which may lead to a low or higher price, based on the excitement. In my case, the auction ended at 1 a.m. on January 1, an insane time to complete the procedure! The other bidders did not turn up, and I bought it for much less than it was worthwhile.

As soon as you’ve sold the dead inventory, now is the time to plan for the new year as well as next Christmas. Consider offering pre-orders. It is a subject by itself — exploring appropriate products, marketing to potential clients, and then communicating with these prospects about their needs.


In the excellent retail world, we would only carry what sells. Pre-orders can be a terrific help.

In the excellent retail world, we would only carry what sells.

By way of example, the regional Star Wars fan group wishes to purchase the new action figures once they’re released. So the members have an agreement with a merchant wherein they place advance orders at a discount. The retailer knows precisely how many action figures to purchase. He’s paid when the stock arrives. This situation can apply to other market merchants. A large retailer wouldn’t do it. Imagine how profitable your business would be if each purchase was completely sold and fully paid for.

It’s an exceptional example of a smaller merchant prevailing over a major company that spends millions on research due to a lot of clients and an extensive stock range. A tiny independent with a limited selection and fewer clients can spend little on research and wind up with better information.

The first step in establishing pre-orders would be to resolve the payment procedure. Credit card companies don’t enjoy a very long delay between collecting money and delivering the goods. Nor do they enjoy an elongated delay between authorizing payments and getting money from the cardholder. Learn what these limits are for your chip. If you plan for pre-orders that extend beyond those limits, work out the way you would be compensated.

I used to keep customers‘ credit card information and process them as soon as the order was prepared. This is not a fantastic idea.

Some payment processors provide pre-payment processing, which can be acceptable for recurring payments, like subscriptions. The processors offer a token that securely encrypts card information and processes at the appropriate moment. Superior processors will even upgrade the card details as needed. Be certain that you use this type of chip.

See also:







Other key pre-order factors include:

  • Consider accepting deposits. Clients are less likely to cancel if they’ve paid a deposit.
  • Limit the amount of orders to make certain you’re not overextended.
  • Establish realistic expectations with your clients regarding delivery dates.
  • Finalize contracts with providers as soon as possible.
  • Always have sufficient cash to settle disputes or refunds.
  • Finally, communicate. Keep customers informed.

The previous one — communication — is the most significant. When things go wrong (and they will) inform clients. Tell them what you are doing to resolve. The more you involve them, the better chance you hang on to them.

A Guide to Payment Tokens for Ecommerce

Advances in electronic payments has always balanced risk and advantage. Generally, a payment system that is suitable for customers is insecure for merchants. The use of “tokens” can reduce that risk by protecting credit card details.

In this post, I will explain how tokens can secure payment transactions and databases — and enhance your ecommerce business.

The use of “tokens” can reduce that risk by protecting credit card details.

Tokens Described

A token is a representation of something else. In payments, a token represents a credit card number.

Tokenization converts a credit card number to a string of arbitrary characters which have no value. Just one party can then convert that token back to a usable card number.

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When a credit card payment has been converted into a token, a payment system such as Visa utilizes its protected keys to decode it and pass the card number to the standard electronic payment processors.

Importantly, merchants themselves can’t decode a token. Converting a token back to a card number requires access to the encryption keys, which are generally stored in military-grade security.

Moreover, merchants themselves don’t create tokens. Industry providers — again, Visa, Mastercard, payment gateways — offer the service of converting card numbers to tokens. Generally, a merchant will embed on a checkout page an externally hosted iframe, including boxes for customers to enter credit card numbers. The token service provider supplies the code for this iframe. The credit card details transmit directly to the supplier and don’t”touch” or interact with the merchant’s site.

Because of this, merchants do not manage sensitive credit card details.

I need to add that merchants could, theoretically, create tokens. However, the merchant would then become responsible for protecting the encryption keys, which means building Fort Knox-like physical and electronic defense systems.

Moreover, the merchant would need to coordinate key exchanges (and a number of other security systems) with each party in the payment-processing chain. This type of payment-token ecosystem is more-or-less impossible for any thing other than the biggest financial and technology companies.

Tokens can be stolen, but they can’t be used to make a payment with no important cryptographic info. Absent that pre-arranged and pre-approved payment stream, a token could be rejected immediately.

Use Cases

  • PCI compliance. Since the merchant doesn’t have access to credit card information, the reach of Payment Card Industry compliance is significantly smaller. Generally, merchants using a respectable token service provider automatically comply with PCI standards.
  • Client convenience. Retaining tokens allows merchants to execute customer-convenience features like one-click checkouts. Since they’re easy to store in databases, tokens can be fetched to complete payments fast, without asking the client to re-input credit card details. If a token expires (and it may, like a credit card), most suppliers can upgrade it without bothering the client.
  • Subscriptions. With saved tokens, merchants can provide friction-free recurring payments for subscriptions and installment purchases.
  • Refunds and returns. Tokens can be fetched quickly and then utilised to reverse transactions — online or in person. Tokens therefore expedite processing of yields and refunds.
  • Post-purchase selling. Tokens are a simple way to provide post-purchase updates and cross-sells. Merchants can use the token to process follow-on transactions without asking the client for the credit card information.
  • Custom mobile pockets. Merchants can use saved tokens for payments in a mobile app, thus creating a mobile wallet. Tokenization is vital for omnichannel payments.

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Best 13 Mobile Productivity Apps of 2019

Here are my favourite new mobile productivity apps of 2019. There are apps for picture editing, secure browsing, graphic design, note-taking, job management, language translation, and much more. The majority of the apps are free, though many also offer premium add-ons.



Tonic provides a personalized choice of daily reads for an information alternative to social media and nonstop breaking news. Just choose a few articles that interest you, and Tonic uses those inputs to construct a daily, personalized selection of five things to peruse. Easily correct inputs, or personalize the time to work with your program. Available on iOS. Price: Free.

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Jumbo is an app to maximize your privacy and security. Jumbo scans the apps and sites you use, providing actionable recommendations. Increase the safety of your social networking accounts and decrease your digital footprint by eliminating old posts. Monitor dark web for information breaches, and decrease unwanted robocalls. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.



Ablo is a language-translation app for text chat and live video calls. Meet new people and make friends around the world. Show your individuality and your nation. Video chat is interpreted with live subtitles. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.



Masse is a Q&A platform for men and women that wish to keep current on the best brands and products without being exposed to sponsored articles and paid endorsements. With Masse, people are able to share information about the products they use in their everyday lives. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.

Picture AI

Envision AI

Envision AI is an app that translates the visual world into spoken words, helping blind and visually impaired people to lead more independent lives. Instantly read texts in over 60 languages. Easily scan files with audio-guided border detection. Describe visual scenes around you by taking a photograph. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.



Craigslist has launched an app for iPhone and is beta-testing for Android. Users may buy and sell items or services, save favourite postings and searches, place alarms, and post, edit, and renew listings. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.



Duet provides a retina screen at 60 frames per second with zero lag. It works with tablets tablets, and laptops. Increase your productivity by decreasing the opportunity to switch contexts. Available on Android and iOS. See site for pricing.

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Flow is an app that brings the Moleskin notebook experience to iOS. Create simple drawings, complex designs, and beautiful notes on your iPad or iPhone. Make your own set of tools, such as a digital pencil case, which means you don’t have to correct colours, size, and style. Have five markers in colors of blue or only a single black pencil in the perfect size. Available on iOS. Price: Free.



Wisdo is a social network to get information from others and share your own experiences. Discover individuals to associate with based on shared experiences. Then, become a guide to other people. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.



Spectre is a camera app which uses artificial intelligence to make long-exposure photographs. Spectre can also remove audiences, turn city roads into rivers of light, make waterfalls look like paintings, and much more. Take countless shots, save in an accompanying live photograph, and apply live-photo consequences. Available on iOS. Price: $2.99.

Microsoft To Do

Microsoft To Do

Microsoft To Do has been around since Microsoft acquired Wunderlist in 2015. However, this year, To Do released a large upgrade. To Do now offers increased design options, dark-mode. Wise lists using a personalized daily planner, platform syncing, multi-factor authentication, and broad Microsoft 365 integration. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.



The Post-it app from 3M published an upgrade that includes handwriting recognition. Capture up to 200 individual square Post-it notes at one time with your camera. Collect and combine ideas from across boards. Share to your favourite apps. Syncs with your devices. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.



Brave is a brand new browser that provides rapid performance as it blocks ads and videos which slow your internet experience. Additionally, it rewards you for advertisement browsing. Brave intends to alter the online ad ecosystem using micropayments and a brand new revenue-sharing solution for publishers and users. Available on Android and iOS. Price: Free.

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Apply a ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ for Objective Business Decisions

A 2004 publication,”Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant,” describes markets as red oceans, bloody from fierce competition, or blue waters wherein a company can successfully sail toward growth and profitability without a lot of competition.

The writers, W. Chan Kim and RenĂ©e Mauborgne, are world-renowned professors of business plan. They wrote in the publication that company strategists had”developed an impressive array of tools and frameworks to compete in red oceans,” but comparatively tools existed for blue oceans. To deal with this imbalance, Mauborgne and Kim”studied businesses around the world and developed functional methodologies in the pursuit of blue oceans”

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One of those methods is to use a blue ocean strategy canvas. “The plan canvas is both a diagnostic and an action framework for building a persuasive blue ocean strategy,” Mauborgne and Kim wrote.

The Strategy Canvas

To draw a plan canvas, a company leader should first identify the variables customers are very likely to take into consideration when choosing competing goods. Think of these variables as product characteristics or customer purchasing criteria.

In”Blue Ocean Strategy,” Kim and Mauborgne use the illustration of the U.S. wine sector in the 1990s, identifying factors like price, above-the-line (mass media) advertising, and aging caliber as established purchasing standards.

These variables are usually organized in a perceived order of importance and are always positioned on the strategy canvas’s horizontal axis.

This picture shows the strategy canvas for Yellow Tail wines taken from the book”Blue Ocean Strategy.”

The y or vertical axis represents degree or performance. Thus a high priced wine could have a scatter high on this axis over”Price” while a budget wine could be relatively low on the vertical axis. A business or industry segment that spent a lot in advertising would, similarly, be high on the vertical axis.

Points positioned on the vertical axis aren’t supposed to be guesses. Instead where they are located ought to be linked to marketing data, focus group results, or similar information.

The resulting graph shows the position of companies or sections in the current marketplace — as an instance, premium wines versus budget wines.

Using this information, a company should next employ what Mauborgne and Kim call”the Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create grid” This grid encourages business leaders to remove some of the purchasing variables, reduce some, increase others, and even make new ones to discover a viable blue ocean marketplace.

Thus”Blue Ocean Strategy” can help companies identify market opportunities. However, the strategy canvas could be misused — in a good way — to detect brand characteristics, solve tactical conflicts, and assist a company see itself from a client’s perspective.

See also:







I’ll handle those misuses in this post.

1. Identify Brand Characteristics

This first misuse is useful in the next scenario. Say you’re responsible for advertising or new strategy for a privately held, successful company that’s been guided by a strong, charismatic leader or founder.

Ecommerce and marketing consultants or recently hired supervisors of advertising often find themselves in this position. The provider’s brand and marketing strategy are embodied in its own leader, and they might be tough to articulate. This leader could be focused on tactics instead of strategy. So it’s tough to know how she would like to position the corporation. Here’s the solution.

  • Describe in basic terms, the strategy canvas and how it can identify priorities.
  • Request the charismatic leader to describe the business’s customer purchasing criteria.
  • Ask the leader to draw a plan canvas for her company based on these purchasing standards. This is the present state.
  • Next, have the chief draw plan canvases for five opponents.
  • Finally, ask the leader to draw a picture that shows where she’d like the company to be. This is the desirable state.

Now compare the”current state” and”desired state” In so doing, you’ll have identified which brand attributes are most important to this leader.

A pair of plan canvases showing the current state and desired state for a small business.

2. Resolve Internal Conflicts

Imagine you’re on the logistics team in a mid-market ecommerce enterprise. You and your peers are arguing over the particulars of choosing and implementing a new pick-and-pull system. A number of your colleagues prefer a”this is how we’ve always done it” approach.

You will need to transform this debate into a constructive dialog about capabilities. To attain your end, you can abuse a strategy canvas.

  • Define the services that your department’s clients — internal and external — desire. These are the variables on the x-axis.
  • Next, plot every pick-and-pull choice on the canvas according to your group’s collective experience, discussing how each option performs relative to a given variable.
  • Use the subsequent canvas to determine which option is best.

The act of talking and ranking the services that you want with objective data can defuse the conflict.

See also:

3. Customers’ Perspective

The president of a multichannel merchant with physical retail shops, a growing online store, and robust industrial sales chose to celebrate the firm’s upcoming 60th anniversary. He wished to divert a significant part of the provider’s advertising budget for the year to cover special 60th-anniversary promotions.

This retailer’s advertising team thought it was a terrible idea to take cash from ongoing high-performing programs to cover 60th swag and anniversary occasions.

To convince the business president, the marketing team ran several focus groups and polls. Clients were asked to create a strategy canvas to represent the merchant and its competitors. The process went something like this.

  • Ask customers to specify their purchasing criteria. When they don’t contain something like”the provider’s history,” encourage them to do so.
  • Then have them draw a plan canvas in which the vertical axis represents the significance of each factor.

In comparison to price, customer support, stock selection, and place, a 60th anniversary was immaterial from the clients’ perspective. The plan canvas proved it.

Primer on Merchant Accounts, Part 1: Functions and Functions

The payments industry isn’t easy to comprehend, even for professionals. My 3-part show on credit card processing demystified the jargon, pricing models, and fees.

This post will clarify merchant accounts.

It is normal to be confused about payment processing, gateways, and merchant acquiring. The industry possibly relies on confusion to levy charges that may otherwise be contested.

Much like card processing, knowing how merchant account fees are made and charged can help you pick the best merchant account provider for your company.

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Merchant Acquiring

“Acquirer,””merchant acquirer,” and”acquiring bank” refer to the exact same thing: a bank which has been registered and approved by at least one of the card brands (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) to accept card payments on behalf of a merchant.

Many acquirers are banks, but not necessarily. Some non-banking financial institutions have become acquirers, and a few independent organizations that work on behalf of acquirers call themselves acquirers.

Many acquirers are banks, but not necessarily.

An acquirer can perform numerous functions. Some perform all the following; others just a few.

  • Marketing and sales. Acquirers are companies with clients — merchants, in this situation. Acquirers promote their services and participate in sales activities to sign up merchants.
  • Underwriting. Obtaining banks basically provide loans to their merchant customers. The banks must assess the borrower and execute risk-mitigation strategies, as with any loan.
  • Create and handle merchant accounts. A merchant account isn’t a checking or savings account. Rather, it is a special kind of bank account that temporarily holds the proceeds of credit card and debit card payments.
  • Interact with payment processors. This function generates much confusion. An acquirer isn’t necessarily a payment processor. However, acquirers can provide many services, such as payment processing. By way of instance, Bank of America Merchant Services offers both merchant accounts (acquiring) and payment processing. Some acquirers have partnered with numerous suppliers (e.g., processors, payment gateways, point-of-sale equipment) to provide one solution for merchants.
  • Authorize transactions. Merchant acquirers also take part in authorizing (approving and declining) payment transactions. Though other organizations also approve transactions (chips, card brands, and issuing banks), the acquirer has the last approval. Here is how it works.

When a customer purchases using a credit card, the payment gateway (supplied from the payment processor) sends the transaction to the card manufacturer (e.g., Visa). Before that, however, the processor typically checks for fraud and offers initial approval. The card manufacturer verifies the transaction (again, typically a fraud check) and, if approved, passes to the issuing bank (provided the charge card into the paying client ), which verifies the cardholder’s account has sufficient funds. If so, the issuer approves then informs the merchant acquirer. The acquirer, again, has the last say: deposit funds into the merchant’s account or decrease the transaction.

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The acquirer carries the financial risk. If it approves a transaction that turns out to be invalid (usually, a chargeback), the acquirer must refund the issuing bank, which will then reimburse the cardholder. Deposits to merchant accounts come from the acquirer, not in the issuing bank. Thus deposits to merchant accounts are like short-term loans from the acquirer to the lender.

  • Arbitrate disputes. When a merchant fails to supply the customer with the goods or services as promised, it is the acquirer who’s financially responsible. This is true for chargebacks and for merchants that go out of business (or disappear) without fulfilling orders. For chargebacks, the acquirer will draw money from the merchant’s merchant account, when the merchant hasn’t vanished. But occasionally chargebacks are enforced incorrectly. Clients can be erroneous or fraudulent. Accordingly, acquirers provide dispute management, mediation, and resolution services.

Merchant Accounts

Card brands won’t permit anybody to accept credit card payments without a merchant account.

A merchant account temporarily retains the proceeds of debit and credit card transactions. It’s, again, a form of bank account, but it is not a savings, checking account, or money-market account. A merchant account can’t be used to cover expenses, fund citizenship, etc.

When it approves a credit or debit card payment, the acquirer will deposit the proceeds, minus the processing fees (interchange, evaluations, and markup) to the merchant account. Each obtaining bank has its own deposit program. Some acquirers make deposits in close real-time. Others take up to three days or more.

Merchants can usually assess their accounts within a day of a sale and affirm they are scheduled to get the profits and transfer them in a different business account.

Where do acquirers get the money to make deposits into merchant accounts? It is via a process referred to as”settlement and clearing” — a nightly reconciliation among acquiring and issuing banks which owe each other money. Acquirers owe issuers for chargebacks; issuers owe acquirers that the profits of the day’s sales.

Why can not business owners deposit debit and credit card profits directly to their checking accounts? Without different merchant accounts, it would be hard (and a legal nightmare) for the issuing banks and card brands to draw funds and penalties from a standard bank account in the event of chargebacks or inadequate merchant behavior.

Therefore merchant accounts mainly benefit the acquiring and issuing banks, who will hold a merchant’s money to protect against chargebacks and other dangers.

Kinds of Merchant Accounts

Stripe is a good example of a payment facilitator, which generates one master merchant account and then assigns individual companies to sub-accounts.

While acquirers offer various kinds of merchant accounts based on risk, transaction volume, access to capital, and pricing, there are two key categories: committed and aggregated (shared).

Dedicated merchant accounts serve just 1 company with one account number. Leading suppliers of committed merchant accounts in the U.S. comprise FIS (such as Worldpay, a recent acquisition), Chase Merchant Services, Fiserv (previously First Data), Bank of America Merchant Services, and International Payments (like TSYS, an acquisition).

Aggregated merchant account providers are payment facilitators. Examples include PayPal, Square, and Stripe. Payment facilitators create one master merchant account with an acquirer and assign merchants to sub-accounts. Just like committed merchant accounts, the rules for payment facilitators are made, maintained, and enforced with the card brands.

Payment facilitators have become popular for a couple reasons.

  • Cost savings. Payment facilitators setup and maintain only one merchant account. The proceeds of each merchant’s transactions are deposited into this account. Payment facilitators can pass those savings to their merchant customers.
  • Quicker approval. Clients of payment facilitators experience less scrutiny and underwriting compared to dedicated accounts. Participating merchants get up and running fast with fewer obstacles, less paperwork, and easier contracts.
  • Simple fees. Merchants of payment facilitators are always billed flat-rate transaction fees, which are simple to comprehend and predict. The downside is that flat-rate prices could be more expensive overall. (I addressed processing charges at”Part 2” of my previous series.)
  • Fewer restrictions. Clients of payment facilitators generally avoid long-term contracts and excess early-termination fees. Merchants can take their payment-acceptance business elsewhere (and quickly), if needed.

Given the benefits of payment facilitators, why would any merchant need a dedicated merchant account? The answer has to do with services and fees. Payment facilitators offer merchants an easy, cost-effective way to begin. But for merchants with higher transaction volumes (greater than $4,000 a month, approximately), flat-rate pricing will probably be more costly than other pricing models, for example interchange-plus.

Here are some Benefits of committed merchant accounts:

  • Pricing. Many dedicated merchant account providers encourage the interchange-plus pricing model, which generally gives the very best and most transparent pricing for payment processing.
  • Quicker withdraws. The underwriting and risk-mitigation policies are much stricter for devoted merchant accounts. Thus acquirers usually allow merchants to draw money from committed merchant accounts much earlier than payment facilitators — normally two days for dedicated accounts versus four to seven days (usually) for payment facilitators.
  • Better support and service, possibly. One would anticipate that dedicated merchant accounts get a higher level of support from the acquiring banks. However, I have seen outstanding service from payment facilitators and horrific support from acquirers that offer dedicated accounts.

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25 International B2B Exchanges for Supply Chain Diversity

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted supply chains, forcing retailers and sellers to find alternative product resources. International B2B exchanges have existed for ages. Some are for certain companies. Others are people, for many companies.

In a post many years ago, I explained 20 leading public worldwide B2B exchanges. That list has changed radically. What follows is an updated version.


25 Leading B2B Exchanges

ECPlaza launched in 1996 in South Korea. It now has approximately 1 million members, 4 million offers, and more than 40 product categories. Product prices aren’t shown but are available by calling the provider. Suppliers can register at no cost.

ECVV began in 2006. It’s 2.2 million buyers (mostly in Arabic countries) and 950,000 China-based suppliers. The website focuses on machines, equipment, hardware, building materials, lighting, transportation, electronic equipment, and appliances. Buyers and sellers can register at no cost.

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Fibre2Fashion is an India-based B2B market focused on the textile industry. It started in 2000. It has over 1,800 products in 13 categories with an electronic presence in over 190 nations. Registration is free.

Exporters India is a marketplace that connects buyers to producers, suppliers, exporters, wholesalers, traders, and service providers. The website receives roughly 600,000 sourcing asks monthly. Free registration.

Go4WorldBusiness is an India-based market that began in 1997. The website has 800,000 suppliers and manufacturers offering a huge number of product categories. Six-thousand daily queries are generated on the website between sellers and buyers. Suppliers may register for free.

Beldara supports wholesale trade across 40 product categories. It’s based in India, with millions of users from 127 nations. Suppliers register at no cost.

BaloTrade is a market with thousands of buyers and providers. It has offices in the U.K., U.S., and Nigeria. Suppliers may register for free. Most providers are from India, China, Nigeria, and the U.S.


Merchant Showroom is a worldwide wholesale market focusing on apparel, fashion accessories, wellness, beauty, and arts and crafts. The platform comprises original-manufacturer order facilitation, wholesale auctions, one-of-a-kind craft classes, approximately 100 integrated shipping companies, product comparisons, and a number of other features. Suppliers can register at no cost.

Alibaba is the world’s largest B2B market with countless millions of merchandise sold in 190 nations. The market allows sellers to enroll either as international sellers or China-only. Global vendors can create free listings of up to 50 products. This exchange has countless visitors and receives approximately 280,000 daily product queries.

Amazon Business has approximately $10 billion in yearly earnings. The market offers delayed payment provisions, tax-exempt buying, multiple payment procedures, and guided purchasing, among other useful features. Small companies can link to a Amazon Prime membership to the consumer website to allow benefits. Suppliers can register at no cost.

ThomasNet.com has over 500,000 providers and countless monthly buyers. Thomas Register has been helping companies for more than a hundred years. The internet exchange includes many tools that help with product sourcing and discovery. Suppliers can list their company at no cost.

EC21 began in South Korea in 1997. It currently operates globally, with more than 2 million suppliers, 7 million goods, and 3.5 million buyers. The exchange makes it possible for suppliers to register free of charge and provides them with a home page which may add up to 15 products.

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IndiaMart is India’s largest B2B exchange. The site has approximately 98 million buyers, 5.9 million providers, and 66 million products. Sellers may register for free. The website provides instant pay, leads from buyers, 24/7 customer support, among other useful features.

EWorldTrade is a B2B market with approximately 500,000 registered members from 200 nations. It transacts products in approximately 40 categories. The website is available in English and Chinese. Free sign up for providers

TradeIndia started in 1996 and today has almost 80 million registered buyers and sellers across 2,200 merchandise categories. The website processes roughly 2.5 million per week interactions. Suppliers may register for free, listing up to 50 products, and get digital marketing aid.

DHgate is a China-based B2B market with approximately 2.2 million worldwide sellers, 26 million buyers, and 22 million product listings. The Website supports multiple languages — English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Korean, Turkish, and Spanish. Suppliers may register for free. DHgate integrates with Shopify websites.

FGmarket Vendors launched in 2003 for retail store owners to contact suppliers and wholesalers. Normally, buyers implement 20,000 daily searches searching for products. Providers pay $449.99 annually to record their goods.

FGmarket Vendors

Wholesale Central is a directory of wholesale-only providers. Roughly 1.7 million buyers utilize Wholesale Central every year. Providers pay $399 for six months.

Joor is a retail-focused exchange situated in 2010. Its principal focus is on fashion, beauty, and home. The website works with over 200,000 retailers and 8,600 brands across 144 nations. Joor is based in New York with offices in Paris, Milan, London, and Los Angeles. Interested brands may apply online.

GlobalSources facilitates trade between buyers and suppliers using events and an internet marketplace. The website has over 1.5 million worldwide buyers, including leading retailers. Suppliers may register for free and record up to 100 products.

OFweek is a China-based exchange centered on the high-tech business. It is made up of 25 sites for product categories like Iot.ofweek.com (net of things) and Medical.ofweek.com (medical devices). Suppliers may register for free. Buyers can complete an online sourcing form to get the ideal products.

TradeKey is an electronics-focused B2B market that started in 2006. It has operations worldwide and supports multiple languages — Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and English. Providers register for free.


Made-in-China started in 1998 to give China-based product and supplier information to 10.3 million global buyers. It offers products in 27 classes and supports 11 languages. Suppliers may register for free.

Zoodel enables B2B transactions in Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Iran, China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Oman, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The site supports English, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish languages and contains approximately 22,000 providers and 100,000 buyers. Suppliers may register for free and import their entire catalog.

MakersRow helps small businesses identify producers. The site has approximately 10,000 manufacturers that have generated 2 million products. Manufacturers may register for free for a basic account. Buyers have to register and pay $35 per month.

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5 Content Marketing Ideas for June 2020

In June 2020, your articles advertising could feature martinis, selfies, cookouts, live-streaming, and security.

Content marketing is the act of producing or curating content, publishing that content, and distributing it all with the purpose of attracting, engaging, and retaining customers.

What follows are five articles advertising ideas your company can utilize in June 2020.

1. National Martini Day: June 19

Gin or vodka. Shaken or stirred. The martini is a prince among cocktails, and June 19, 2020, is National Martini Day at the U.S.

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A martini with three olives are a fantastic way to celebrate Martini Day. Photo: Stanislav Ivanitskiy.

For June 2020 content promotion, you could publish an article regarding the history of the martini. You can relate stories about how the martini influenced important figures in the industry you serve.

By way of instance, a rare book dealer could note that writer Ernest Hemingway contributed to the titles of two martinis.

First, there’s the Hemingway martini, which includes a combination of vodka, Giffard Vanille de Madagascar (a liqueur), vermouth, maraschino liqueur, pink grapefruit, and a Luxardo maraschino cherry.

Second, there’s my favorite martini called an insult to British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Hemingway reportedly said he enjoyed the gin to outnumber the vermouth in his martinis in about the same ratio (based on Hemingway) Montgomery needed to outnumber his enemies until he would attack. Many bartenders create the Montgomery with 15 parts gin to one part vermouth.

2. National Selfie Day: June 21

A disc jockey in Texas supposedly created National Selfie Day on June 21, 2014. Folks — that may or may not need encouragement — are encouraged to take a photo of themselves and discuss it on social networking. Anyone using Snapchat will wonder what is the big thing. However, this pseudo-holiday could represent a fantastic content promoting opportunity for a number of businesses.

June 21, 2020, is the best time to have a selfie. Photo: Christina Zaragoza.

By way of instance, an ecommerce business could publish a critical article about the selfie. The guide might discuss how the iPhone first enabled selfie-takers. It could discuss several renowned selfies, and finish with an assortment of selfie best filter or practices recommendations.

Once printed, the company could use its selfie day article to spur a selfie competition, asking customers to post selfies (possibly with the company’s products) to get an opportunity to win a prize.

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3. Summertime Cooking

Cooking changes in the summer; it has a chance to write about food. Photo: Nicholas Peloso.

Many online and omnichannel retail companies might have the ability to write about summer cooking. This includes companies that don’t directly sell food or cooking products.

By way of instance, a workwear retailer could publish a collection of blog posts or videos about the most stain-inducing, job-site meals.

Great, old-fashioned chili served in a thermos might be a yummy worksite meal. But when the chili is fatty and ends up on a employee’s Carhartt pants, the blot could last forever. The workwear retailer could receive several articles from the idea.

  • First, publish the primary article, such as”10 Lunchtime Meals Guaranteed to Stain Your Jeans.”
  • Afterward, publish a recipe for all the 10 meals.
  • Finally, publish a post about workwear stain removal tips.

Similarly, an internet shop selling medical scrubs could publish an article about barbeque leftovers. The post would explain how to transform the leftover brisket to a meal a nurse, physician, or dental hygienist could bring into the workplace.

4. Live Stream a Seminar

The stay-at-home orders that began in March generated a surge in live-streaming and video meetings.

Continue this trend in June. Schedule an informative and enjoyable seminar.

By way of instance, imagine an internet stationery and writing accessories retailer. The business could generate a conference about journals, such as”7 Ways Kakeibo Journals Can Save You Money.”

Kakeibo is a Japanese way of keeping track of household financing. It requires writing financial targets and expenses by hand in a paper diary.

For this example, the live stream subject is Kakeibo, but your company can discover lots of good subjects for a live stream convention. Photo: Hannah Olinger.

The stationery retailer could:

  • Use a platform like Zoom to conduct the demonstration,
  • Live flow on YouTube or Facebook (Zoom connects to both),
  • Use a service like Eventbrite to catch registrations,
  • Post on social networking and send emails to promote registrations.

Following the live streaming event, post the movie on YouTube. A transcription of the broadcast (from Rev or similar) would make a fantastic blog post.

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5. Summer Safety

From June 2020, hopefully, the majority of the coronavirus lockdowns will have finished. Your clients and prospects will have fallen into somewhat normal summer routines.

They’ll be getting outdoors more. They are driving more or swimming more. All these tasks are a fun and welcome relief after spending too much time inside. But they also represent security concerns.

For your June content promotion, provide summer safety tips which make sense for the business segment your company serves. Below are some examples.

  • Online auto accessories merchant:”10 Summer Driving Safety Tips.”
  • Toy merchant:”The 5 Laws of Pool Safety for Toddlers.”
  • Hiking and camping supply store: “20 Ways to Make Your Backcountry Adventure Safer.”

Facebook Shops Are an Ecommerce Game Changer

After the world’s biggest social networking system decides to become an ecommerce platform, you can bet it will affect the business and make a difference long-term.

On May 19, 2020, Facebook additional ecommerce Shops into Facebook company pages and Instagram business profiles.

To be sure, Facebook had been dabbling in trade before the announcement. The organization had its Craigslist-like Facebook Marketplace and the ability to record and market products on both Facebook and Instagram. However, this is different. It’s an important step, and it might even be a disruptive type of social ecommerce.

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Facebook and Instagram Shops will provide small companies a new ecommerce station. Source: Facebook.

The new Facebook and Instagram Shops include a store tab and a product catalogue managed, respectively, through the Organization’s Commerce Manager and Catalog Manager.

At least initially, Facebook isn’t charging merchants for sales made on the platform unless they utilize the corporation’s checkout procedure. In the latter scenario, sellers will pay a flat 40 cents for orders up to $8 or a 5-percent selling fee on orders over $8.

“Facebook has always been about connecting you to everything you love. That means family and friends, but also brands, products, and companies,” the company said in its official Facebook Shops announcement.

“For decades, people have utilized our apps to buy and sell items, from the first days of posting a photograph of a bike with the caption’available,’ to selling your coffee table Marketplace and now shopping fashions from your favorite brands and influencers on Instagram. It was the men and women using our apps who pictured social trade. We are helping them make it a reality.”

The”reality” of Facebook taking a significant step into ecommerce could have a minimum of five repercussions.

1. Headless Commerce

Facebook has opted to utilize several existing ecommerce providers. Here’s a portion of Facebook’s statement:

We are also working more closely with partners such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor, Cedcommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Feedonomics to offer small businesses the support they need. These organizations provide powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and operate their businesses and move online. Now they will help small businesses build and expand their Facebook Shops and utilize our other trade tools.

In effect, the connection between, say, BigCommerce and Facebook Shops is headless commerce. It’s a move toward a new type of ecommerce technology stack.

A very simple explanation of headless trade is that product information is kept in a means that is agnostic to its demonstration. The identical ecommerce backend could supply product descriptions, prices, pictures, and videos to an ecommerce site, a mobile app, or even a Facebook Shop.

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If Facebook and Instagram Shops are powerful (and they probably will be), start looking for additional ecommerce platforms to incorporate and partner with Facebook via headless commerce. Also, start looking for other platforms — social or otherwise — to make their own trade integrations.

Headless trade will make ecommerce omnipresent, and Facebook Shops is a good example.

2. More Analysis, Automation

Many of the major ecommerce platforms closely bunch catalog management, product information management, and demonstration.

Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, and 3dcart are well-known examples of ecommerce platforms that produce, if you will, an ecommerce site. There’s a tight connection between ecommerce features and introducing products on a web site.

These companies already understand the need to go headless. BigCommerce has probably made the most strides thus far, but they all are searching for ways to offer a headless commerce backend. Facebook Shops will accelerate the trend.

As headless trade evolves, ecommerce platform suppliers will need new strategies to differentiate their solutions. The site will not matter as much. Apps and integrations will not matter as much because the headless approach means that those add-ons are essentially commodities.

Headless ecommerce platforms, however, could differentiate themselves around automation and analysis.

What form it takes is unclear. I suspect it could consist of forecasting demand, identifying market gaps, and automating aspects of product and order management.

3. Consumer-to-consumer Commerce

Facebook Shops are directed at small businesses. In some ways, these societal stores lower the barrier to entry for many prospective merchants, including consumer-to-consumer”small company” sellers.

Etsy’s remarkable sales growth throughout the coronavirus pandemic has reminded me of the effect CTC side hustles have on ecommerce.

Etsy reported a 26.4 percent year-over-year increase in active vendors throughout the first quarter of 2020 and a 16.4 percent YoY growth in busy shoppers. The provider’s YoY revenue rose 34.7 percent to $228.1 million in Q1, generating some $145.6 million in gross profit.

While small-to-midsize businesses are available on Esty, lots of the platform’s merchants are manufacturers — CTC sellers. Many, at least in Q1 2020, were selling pandemic masks.

Facebook Shops provide CTC sellers another low-cost, easy-to-use means to market their wares.







4. Blockchain Currency

Facebook and Instagram Shops provide a superb platform for the mainstream adoption of blockchain-based Libra digital money.

Libra or the Libra Association is a company, payment arrangement, and cryptocurrency from Facebook that will launch in 2020.

Libra members comprise Facebook, Shopify, and Uber. And the money aims to be a secure, instantaneous, and low-cost means to move money. After Facebook Shops become popular, the business could incentivize both buyers and sellers to trade in Libra.

By way of instance, the selling fee for a Facebook Shop with Facebook’s checkout could be 5% in U.S. dollars or two percent in Libra.

5. DTC Sellers

Facebook and Instagram Shops could offer direct-to-consumer companies with a new sales channel.

Amazon has been shown to be a superb platform for many DTC companies. The business’s massive marketplace reduced the overall costs associated with starting and running a DTC brandnew.

A savvy merchant could research products on Jungle Scout, find an opportunity, have it fabricated, and promote it to a waiting audience of shoppers on Amazon. That might now be possible on Facebook and Instagram, also.

Facebook will most likely use what it knows about its customers to provide relevant product suggestions, either as advertisements or Shop promotions. Regardless, the business will have the ability to present an audience of shoppers.

If, as is the case with Amazon, DTC sellers can create tools to identify market opportunities, Facebook and Instagram Shops could spur new DTC ecommerce development.

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Can New Ecommerce Sellers Squeeze Present Merchants?

The coronavirus pandemic has forced some brick-and-mortar companies to concentrate on ecommerce, but this change in focus is unlikely to prevent many permanent closures.

“If this is not the retail apocalypse, I do not know what could be,” said Sarah Wyeth, the lead writer for restaurants and retail in S&P Global Ratings, according to a Wall Street Journal article on May 14, 2020.

Wyeth has estimated that 19 big retail companies are a coin toss away from going out of business due to mandatory shutdowns and Covid-19 general financial effect.

What is more, some 100,000 retail stores could close in the next five decades, according to The Wall Street Journal, as a consequence of customer interest in ecommerce as well as the pandemic-induced recession.

One could say that there’s a parallel between the virus and its economic impact: physicians and companies which are already in poor health are far more likely to die from the disease.

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Ecommerce Impact

As brick-and-mortar chains, shops, and boutiques function to survive (or, sometimes, flourish ) post-coronavirus, they might be focusing on ecommerce and its near cousin click-and-collect trade or, as it may be called, buy-online-pick-up-in-store.

The coronavirus pandemic and its affiliated shop closures have driven several brick-and-mortar companies to refocus their attention on ecommerce. Photo: Charles Deluvio.

When asked if he believed some brick-and-mortar companies that hadn’t had a strong ecommerce existence prior to the Covid-19 pandemic were more likely to invest more in online selling, eCommerceFuel creator Andrew Youderian, responded,”Absolutely, 100 percent.”

“I chatted with several neighborhood retail sellers last few weeks that are scrambling to pivot to internet as best they could. This will be ideal for SaaS companies and people helping sellers function as well as for clients who will have more boutique choices on the web. If a significant number of those merchants pivot online efficiently, it may also result in a more competitive market, particularly in the short term,” Youderian stated.

Data from some ecommerce platforms support Youderian’s assertion.

By way of instance, in a May 6, 2020 press release, Shopify said new shop creations on its own platform grew 62 percent between March 13, 2020, and April 24, 2020. At exactly the exact same time, the business reported $470 million in first-quarter earnings, up 47 percent in the exact same 2019 quarter.

Likewise 3dcart, another SaaS ecommerce platform supplier, saw new account activations increase 34 percent in April compared to first-quarter 2020 averages, based on Jimmy Rodriguez, the corporation’s chief operating officer.

“We are seeing a combination of brick-and-mortars just beginning to research ecommerce and retailers who currently had an ecommerce presence changing resources in order for this to become their chief source of earnings,” Rodriguez said.

“In most cases, we are seeing the need to rapidly serve their existing customer bases more than investing in online marketing to capture new clients, so it would be difficult for all these’newer’ companies to catch up with more experienced ecommerce retailers.”

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Small Retailers

A vital question is whether heightened interest in ecommerce, especially if it comes from recognized brick-and-mortar merchants, will pose a substantial competitive threat to existing ecommerce vendors.

There are numerous possible scenarios.

Room for everybody. Ecommerce could flourish in the”new normal” after the pandemic, making room for everybody — or many — merchants to sell online.

This is the best-case scenario. But it may also be the least likely. BigCommerce, by way of instance, reported on May 12, 2020, that”pandemic panic-buying is leveling out, and people have started to return to a lot of the normal spending habits.”

Gross merchandise volume on the BigCommerce ecommerce platform needed, as of May 12, climbed only 1 percent from the previous week. Earlier in the pandemic shutdown, BigCommerce merchants experienced substantial week-over-week GMV gains in transactions. And some business segments saw triple-digit year-over-year increases.

Weak brick-and-mortar efforts. In a different scenario, many smaller brick-and-mortar retail companies will create significant and new investments in ecommerce, but only in the short term.

“While some [brick-and-mortar SMBs] will use this as a springboard to internet success, I’d guess the vast majority of them don’t wind up with a meaningful online presence longterm,” stated eCommerceFuel’s Youderian.

“Success online requires a whole lot of deliberate time, effort, and research and is a very different company from [bodily ] retail. I’d guess many smaller merchants will go back to focusing on the retail side as soon as they open back up to the general public, though there will undoubtedly be a little halo effect from merchants who will be doing .”

If this were the case, little pure-play ecommerce vendors, especially established ones, would not believe much of an impact from new competitors. Those pure-play companies would still must take care of the coronavirus’s influence on the market as well as their business — but not with inexperienced competitors.

Small shops become squeezed. Finally, a substantial number of conventional brick-and-mortar retailers migrating online might squeeze little ecommerce operations.

Asked if smaller brick-and-mortar retailers that hadn’t paid much attention to ecommerce prior to the outbreak posed a possible threat to smaller, pure-play ecommerce company, 3dcart’s Rodriguez stated,”It will definitively have an effect since among the new requirements is the ability to give in-store pickup inside the ecommerce site, and for shoppers preferring this shipping method over conventional shipping the new brick-and-mortar-ecommerce-hybrid version would win over shops offering ecommerce-only.”

Scenarios, Just

Will a heightened interest in ecommerce pose a substantial competitive threat to the smaller ecommerce vendors? Maybe. It may be a variant of one of the three situations above. Or it might be that none of them come to fruition.

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Covid-19, NFC, and the Future of Contactless Payments

Once touted as the future, contactless payments never achieved mass popularity. Shoppers preferred the familiar swipe, dip, PIN-entry, and touch. The Covid-19 pandemic will probably change that as customers are now more aware of what they touch.

In this guide, I will discuss NFC (near field communication), the technology that powers almost all in-store contactless payments. I will explain how NFC functions and how its payments are secured. I will also examine the benefits of NFC together with challenges to overcome before such payments are anything other than a novelty.

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Contactless Payments

A contactless payment doesn’t require the client to touch a merchant’s point-of-sale equipment. Rather than touching PIN-pads and pens to authorize transactions, a contactless payment permits customers to wave their payment method alongside a payment reader. This is usually known as tap-to-pay, but”tap” isn’t the best description. A tap isn’t required. It is enough to move the payment method near the reading device.

NFC eases many contactless devices. The most common are NFC-enabled credit cards and smartphones, but non-payment devices such as key fobs, watches, fitness trackers, wristbands, and other wearables may also contain NFC chips, commonly called NFC tags.

To check whether a device is enabled, start looking for the contactless payment emblem — four curved lines forming a wireless signal. As a result of Covid-19, we’ll be seeing much more of those symbols.

To check whether a device is enabled, start looking for the contactless payment emblem.


Near field communication is a method for two devices to communicate over radio waves. The term”near field” is used since the signal range is extremely small — no longer than two inches, typically. For NFC payments, both devices are generally a smartphone which stores credit card information along with a contactless-enabled point-of-sale terminal. Just about all new credit cards have embedded NFC tags, also.

Communication between NFC apparatus is either active or passive.

Passive NFC transactions require just 1 apparatus to provide electrical power. The passive device (commonly a plastic credit card) receives its power from the radio waves emitted by the scanning device. For payments, the NFC point-of-sale terminal continuously emits radio waves while waiting for a passive device to enter its area. When that happens, the credit card details are transferred to the reader.

Interestingly, if you were to disassemble a contactless credit card, then you’d get a very thin wire antenna wrapped around the outside of the card. It is this tiny antenna that transmits your credit card details on radio signals into the NFC terminal.

An active NFC transaction happens when every system provides its own electricity. A smartphone is an excellent example of an active device. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and several other payment apps use NFC to execute active transactions. Both devices in an active transaction can transmit and read data over the near area.

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3 NFC Modes

There are 3 ways of NFC communications: reader, peer-to-peer, and card emulation. Each may be used for payments.

  • Reader mode. A sort of passive NFC transaction where the scanning device provides power and reads the info on the NFC tags. For payments, contactless-enabled credit cards are the principal example of passive transactions.
  • Peer-to-peer mode. In peer-to-peer style, two active devices communicate over the radio-wave field. Typically, NFC peer-to-peer style is used for sharing files and images rather than payments, though there’s nothing that prevents payments over peer-to-peer relations. It just has not caught on. Most peer-to-peer payment solutions (e.g., Venmo) rely on cloud-based internet communications to initiate cash transfers, not NFC.
  • Card-emulation mode. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and a lot of the tap-to-pay smartphone apps utilize NFC card-emulation mode where one of those devices emulates a payment card. Really, when Apple Pay is installed and activated, your phone becomes your card. Card-emulating devices contain an NFC antenna (usually wrapped around the battery on the back of the phone) and an embedded NFC tag which may transmit the card’s details. Due to security requirements, credit card details aren’t saved in NFC tags but in protected areas called”secure elements” (see below). Just when the sensitive information has to be transmitted does the NFC tag play a part in card emulation.


Several layers of security protect NFC contactless payments.

  • The near field. The space between two devices in an NFC transaction is no more than two inches. Thus it is impossible for a person to scan your contactless card unless he’s within your near area, which would be two inches or less in the card or device.
  • Cryptography and tokenization. If someone entered your two-inch near area in an effort to scan your contactless card (and you did not notice), the card details remain encrypted and tokenized. He couldn’t use the information because he couldn’t decrypt it.
  • No magnetic stripe data. Information stored on a credit card’s magnetic stripe isn’t secure. Magnetic stripes can be scanned, copied, and used everywhere. Luckily, NFC payments are secured by a standard called EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa, the three firms that made it), which, unlike magnetic stripe technology, constantly requires card information to be encrypted and tokenized.
  • Safe components. In NFC card-emulation manner, credit card details are kept in a safe element, a protected, encrypted, and tamper-proof location. Access to the secure element is extremely restricted and protected by many layers of cryptography. Additionally, trying to break into the secure element will make it to self-destruct. (A microscope and highly specialized equipment are required.)
  • Spending limits and PIN entry. The card manufacturers (e.g., Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover) along with acquirers and merchants can implement additional limitations on contactless payments. By way of instance, each card manufacturer mandates spending limitations for contactless payments. When a customer tries to cover an item through contactless payments that exceeds the spending limit, the point-of-sale device will require the client to enter her PIN.

Merchants and their acquirers (i.e., merchant account providers) may also configure their contactless terminals to prompt for a PIN if the contactless card is used for multiple purchases in a short period.

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Benefits and Challenges

The Covid-19 pandemic will probably force brick-and-mortar merchants to decrease crowding, particularly around high-traffic checkout lines, and to limit physical connections, like managing merchandise, opening doors, and pressing PIN-pads and self explanatory computer stations. Contactless payments aid as they need fewer touches. An extra benefit is quicker in-store checkouts.

But before they become universally accepted, contactless NFC payments must be overcome several challenges, including:

  • PIN entry. Again, PIN entry guarantees that the payee is the person who owns the contactless card or device. However, PIN entry defeats the purpose of no-touch payments. Biometrics like facial recognition could become the next PIN. That is unlikely, however, due to the privacy problems with facial recognition and the costs of buying and installing the equipment. Meanwhile, during the pandemic, merchants will probably have to sanitize their PIN-pads after every transaction.
  • Spending limits. Contactless payments were designed for rapid, low-value, low-risk payments. Purchasing a cup of coffee is a fantastic example. However, what if a consumer wishes to buy something more expensive? Current rules don’t allow high-value contactless transactions.
  • Poor standing and fear. NFC has a reputation for being insecure. NFC payments are usually more secure than other procedures, however. (Money and wallets may be stolen; ecommerce websites and databases could be hacked; identities can be stolen and forged) NFC must shake its not-for-commerce standing to go mainstream.
  • Insufficient merchant acceptance. Regardless of the ease and checkout rate, many merchants haven’t updated their point-of-sale terminals and PIN-pads to be NFC-enabled. The method is costly and, pre-pandemic, there was not an urgent need. Until physical shops broadly accept NFC payments, most customers won’t likely pay with their telephones or contactless cards.

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