Author: Jennifer Williams

New comment by raoulbhatia in "Ask HN: Who is hiring? (April 2021)"

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The Trump Impeachment Evidence

He might be acquitted, but he won’t live down his disgraceful conduct.

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Want to Move to the Countryside?

The pandemic offers a unique opportunity to fix the housing crisis plaguing rural America.

Ecommerce Consulting

In 2019, ecommerce sales were $3.53 trillion worldwide. 

According to Statista, that number is projected to grow to $6.54 trillion by 2023. Online shopping was a popular past time before the pandemic, but ecommerce has grown by 20 percent in 2020 alone. 

Are you ready? 

With the right preparation, ecommerce retailers can achieve double-digit conversion rates and consistent, year-over-year growth. Not sure how to achieve these results on your own? An ecommerce consultant can provide you with the step-by-step support you need to achieve these amazing results. 

3 Ways an Ecommerce Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business

The pandemic hasn’t been good for everyone. 

CB Insights found that the retail apocalypse that started in 2015 actually accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Small, local businesses that neglected ecommerce suffered the most. Large companies with well-known ecommerce stores filed for bankruptcy in 2020. 

These are brands you’d probably recognize. 

Brooks Brothers, GNC, Neiman Marcus, Hertz, J. Crew — these companies were all leaders in their market at one point or another. But now, 30+ of these companies are on life support. 

Online customers are pessimistic and highly skeptical. They’re choosing to work with established companies like Amazon who are willing to offer free two-day shipping. 

How’s a consultant supposed to help you survive that? 

Here are three ways ecommerce consultants can help retailers address the problems they’re facing. 

1. Precise customer targeting

In many cases, 80 to 90 percent of your marketing work is done here. This is also the most difficult part to sell to you, the client. The response is typically along the lines of: “Oh, we know that already.” A good ecommerce client knows how to test that claim. 

They do it by asking questions.

Who’s your customer; how familiar are you with their desires, goals, fears, frustrations, and problems? What are their demographics and psychographics? Do you have the answer initially, as most sellers do, or consistently?

Customers change. 

What’s okay today won’t be tomorrow. 

Here’s why that’s important. Everything your ecommerce consultant does, the effort they invest to help your business grow, it all depends on this step. You can’t create a persuasive product offer or shopper incentive if you don’t know your customers as well as you think you do. 

Your ecommerce consultant will refine your audience. 

They’ll help you find the people who are willing to spend more money with your business over time. 

2. Creating profitable offers with features and benefits

CBInsights shared a list of the most common reasons for startup failure. They listed more than a dozen categories, but most of them weren’t all that important. Don’t get me wrong; they were important, just not the most important. Here’s what was the most important thing. 

No market need. 

Forty-two percent of startups failed because they created a product with features and benefits no one wanted. Those are startups, though; things are different with ecommerce stores. 

Only they’re not. 

Research shows 90 percent of ecommerce startups fail in the first 120 days; of the remaining businesses:

  • 36 percent fail in year two
  • 44 percent fail in year three
  • 50 percent fail in year four

The biggest reason? 

Ecommerce stores focus their attention on the wrong product. Customers refuse to buy those products, so eventually, the business fails. An ecommerce consultant helps you create the right product. If they’ve enabled you to do the upfront work needed to target your customers, you should have a pretty good idea of the products customers actually want. 

3. Use Customer Pessimism to Increase Sales and Average Order Values

You’re going to have two types of customers. Optimists and pessimists. Optimists are easy to sell to but harder to keep. Pessimists, on the other hand, are harder to sell to but easier to hold.  

A meta-analysis by Bart S. Vanneste shows how this works. 

  1. Trustors (your customers) start a relationship with trustees (you). 
  2. Trustors use what scientists call “perceived trustworthiness.” That’s the fuel or spark you need to take a risk. 
  3. Afterward, trustors change their impression of you to match reality.

Here’s where it gets tricky. 

  • Optimist trustors overestimate trustworthiness. At first, they give you more than you deserve. As they’re disappointed, their trust in you decreases over time. If they’re not happy with the results, their trust continues to fall. 
  • Optimist trustors overestimate trustworthiness. At first, they give you more than you deserve. As they’re disappointed, their trust in you decreases over time. If they’re not happy with the results, their trust continues to fall. 

A great ecommerce consultant knows how to build trust with skeptical or pessimistic customers. They’re able to use your customer’s natural distrust to increase sales and revenue using helpful tactics like warranties, return policies, guarantees, and promises. 

They’ll show you how to convert this trust to revenue, increasing your sales, upsells, and average order values. 

How to Get Started With an Ecommerce Consultant

Your ecommerce consultant should be a specialist with deep expertise in retail or ecommerce. Think about your needs and the specialty and experience of the consultant. Will you be working with an individual or a team? You are looking for proven knowledge and expertise that has produced successful outcomes for other clients. You want your consulting team to be able to generate the same results for you.

They should also have experience across a broad range of marketing disciplines and channels, including:

  • Analytics
  • Email marketing
  • CRM
  • Content
  • Branding
  • Direct Response
  • Email
  • Marketing automation
  • Market research
  • Mobile
  • Sales
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Website

Once you’ve decided on the consultant you’d like to work with, ask them to answer these questions:

  • What do you need from me?
  • When do you need it?
  • What’s your role, and what’s my role?
  • Will I have a dedicated rep to contact?
  • What’s your process for communication?
  • How can we ensure a smooth experience?

You’ll want to see that your consultant follows a process. They should provide you with clear answers to each of these questions.

Measuring the ROI of Ecommerce Consulting Services

Measuring the ROI of ecommerce consulting is pretty easy. 

If you’re tracking the right metrics, you’ll be able to measure your ROI. While there are hundreds of metrics you can track, only a few of these metrics are essential. Ask your consultant to start with the essentials, then build from there. 

Here’s a shortlist you can use. 

  • Traffic (unique visitors): The number of qualified prospects who visit your site. If you’re using a tool like Google Analytics, you’ll want to make sure you’re filtering out traffic from bots or spam. Your visits should be focused on generating traffic from qualified traffic sources.
  • Conversion rate: It’s the number of conversions divided by the number of users. You can have several different conversion goals (e.g., leads, ecommerce, likes, etc.).
  • Revenue by traffic source: This shows you which traffic source is most profitable and clarifies where you should spend your marketing and advertising dollars. 
  • Cost per action: This tells you how much it costs to generate a lead, make a sale, or upsell a particular customer. It’s an important part of your breakeven calculation used to determine whether you’re profitable (or not).
  • Ecommerce churn rate: Churn measures the number of customers leaving your business in a particular period. It’s typically a SaaS metric, but it’s now commonly used as a metric for ecommerce. If your churn is going up (i.e., customers are leaving), your revenue is declining.
  • The number of returning customers: The formula is returning customers / by total customers * 100. Returning customers have a conversion rate of 60 to 70 percent. The more repeat customers you have, the greater your revenue. 
  • Average order values: This is a formula, it’s your total revenue divided by the number of orders taken. You can increase average order values using upsells, downsells, and cross-sells. 

Your ecommerce consultant should be able to help you track these metrics. If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to focus your attention on these seven essential metrics. 

7 Point Checklist For Finding the Right Ecommerce Consultant

What should you look for in a consultant? 

If you’re looking for high-quality consultants, what sort of questions should you be asking? Are there specific details you’ll need to focus on to make sure your store attracts the right people? 

Here’s a list of the qualities and characteristics you need to find the right consultant for your business. 

  1. A good reputation: You’ll want to look for reviews, references, and testimonials. You’ll want to find a consultant with positive reviews from the majority of their clients. If your consultant doesn’t have an established reputation, you’ll want to look for content that establishes credibility and authority. 
  2. No ethical grey areas: Your consultant shouldn’t have any issues with black hat SEO or questionable tactics. There shouldn’t be a history of unethical behavior, cheating, or suspicious behavior. 
  3. Clear goal setting: Your consultant should be comfortable working with your goals and objectives. They should understand your business well enough to be able to track and manage the key metrics and KPIs you need to grow. The right consultant should be able to help you set goals, objectives, and KPIs. They should be able to help you develop your goals and objectives.
  4. Consistent ROI: Your ecommerce consultant should be able to show you that they achieved consistent results over a three to five year period. Asking for case studies and the references that go along with them is a good start. But you’ll want them to provide you with detailed figures or evidence showing that they’ve either been able to do this for themselves or other clients just like you. 
  5. Experienced ecommerce sellers: You’ll want to focus your attention on consultants who have owned, managed, or grown an ecommerce store successfully. They need to have familiarity or experience with ecommerce. They should be able to show you the store, provide you with case studies, or outline the work they did for the ecommerce brand. 
  6. Focus on customers’ first, search engines second: Consultants should create high-quality content for customers first, search engines second. The emphasis should be on attracting the right customer at the right time, for the right price, whether you’re speaking to a cold audience, subscribers, customers, followers, fans, or a combination. 
  7. Deep ecommerce expertise: Your consultant should have experience in the same industry or space. Look for in-depth knowledge and expertise with your industry, business, product, or service. If they don’t have the expertise you need, they should be able to demonstrate that they have experience with a similar ecommerce topic or niche.

These are details that high-caliber consultants, including agencies like NP Digital, provide. If you’d like your company to grow, choose consultants who meet these criteria. 


Ecommerce sales continue to grow rapidly. 

You can achieve double-digit conversion rates and consistent, year-over-year growth. An ecommerce consultant can provide you with the step-by-step support you need to achieve these results.  

With precise customer targeting, good products, profitable features and benefits, and some customer pessimism, your ecommerce consultant can help you achieve double-digit conversion rates and consistent, year-over-year growth.

The post Ecommerce Consulting appeared first on Neil Patel.

From Cocoa to Coffee and Sugar, Soft Commodities Stage Simultaneous Rally

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When You Travel, be Aware Of The Exchange Rates

When You Travel, be Aware Of The Exchange Rates

, if you take a trip regularly to the very same location it might be sensible to acquire a bigger amount of cash reliant on the existing money exchange prices.


The prices can rise and fall as well as if you familiarize a beneficial price it is an excellent financial investment to acquire even more cash back then.

, if you’re preparing on taking a trip to one more nation you’ll discover on your own asking yourself regarding present money exchange prices.. When you obtain to your location, it’s crucial to recognize just how much your bucks will certainly go.

You just require to perform a search searching for existing money exchange prices. When you’ve selected a website the remainder is extremely simple.

You placed in the quantity that you would certainly suched as transformed and afterwards select the nation whose money you have as well as the nation whose money you intend to.

These websites have the existing money exchange prices and also you’ll see precisely what your cash deserves.

If you attempt to trade cash at a monetary establishment in the nation you are going to, it can likewise be perplexing. Many international financial institutions have English talking partners that will certainly describe the present money exchange prices to you, some do not.

, if this is the situation as well as you do not talk the language of the nation you are seeing it can be irritating trading your cash there.


One approach of learning existing money exchange prices is to see your neighborhood financial institution. They will certainly have one of the most approximately day prices. Your financial institution can additionally trade your cash for you before your journey.

Numerous financial institutions additionally provide this solution over the phone. They will certainly price quote the present money exchange prices in messages that are videotaped daily. The financial institution’s consumer merely calls an automatic system as well as can pay attention to the existing money exchange prices at their comfort.

A lot of these sorts of suppliers in fact bill a considerable service charge for this. Although the present money exchange prices might be beneficial the solution charge might make your journey a lot more pricey than you had actually intended.

Many individuals wait up until they get here in their location nation prior to trading their cash. In lots of airport terminals there are suppliers that will certainly do this for you. This is a really practical technique of trading cash it can likewise be expensive.

, if you are taking a trip at some time in the future as well as desire to make sure that you obtain the ideal worth for your buck you can examine out existing money exchange prices on the web.. There are numerous web sites that supply this details free of charge.

One approach of discovering out existing money exchange prices is to see your neighborhood financial institution. Your financial institution can likewise trade your cash for you prior to your journey.

They will certainly price estimate the existing money exchange prices in messages that are videotaped daily. The financial institution’s consumer merely calls a computerized system as well as can pay attention to the existing money exchange prices at their benefit.

Lots of individuals wait till they show up in their location nation prior to trading their cash.

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5 Disastrous Blunders to Avoid When Applying for a Small Business Loan

And What to Do Instead

When it comes to applying for a small business loan, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.  The problem is, no one really tells you the wrong ways.  There is not a class that tells you what not to do.  There are directions given, sure.  However, there is much room left for mistakes when someone is only telling you what you should do.

The truth is, it can be just as useful to know what not to do.  Knowing what the common mistakes are and how to avoid them is vital.  Here are 5 common mistakes that can mean disaster for your application approval odds.

1.      Not Having a Complete and Professional Business Plan Before Applying for a Small Business Loan

Any traditional lender is going to need to see a business plan as part of the loan application process.  The problem is, many business owners have no clue what this should look like.  There is so much more to it than just filling out a few lines to answer questions on the application.  It is much more than writing answers in a template.

Learn business loan secrets with our free, sure-fire guide.

A complete business plan is really a combination of a number of reports that need to be researched and written.  It is rare that a business owner has all of the knowledge and skill needed to sufficiently put together an entire business plan on their own.

A complete business plan should include the following:


  • An Executive Summary

This is a complete summary of the business idea.

  • Description

The description goes into further detail than the summary, describing the business. What type of business is it? What product or service will it offer? This is where you work to get others excited about your business. Note that this is important even if your business is already operating.  It will just be in the present rather than the future tense.

  • Strategies

Layout your plan for getting started. Do you have a marketing plan, area in mind for location, or idea of how many employees you will start with? What is your ramp up plan? Again, already operating businesses will state the current operating strategy.

Market Research

  • Market Analysis

 This actually includes two parts:

o             Analysis of audience:

What need will your business fill, and for who? Explain the need you see in your market and how your business will fill that need.

o             Competitive Analysis

Is there already a business working to fill this need? Is there room for more? How do you plan to compete with them?

If you are not a new business, this will be a market analysis that supports your need for funding, or that shows your business is strong and growing.

Plan and Financial Information

  • Plan for Design and Development

How is all of this going to play out, from start to finish. What steps are you going to take? This part should be more detailed than your strategies section.

  • Plan for Operation and Management

Who will own or does own the business and who will run or currently runs it from day to day. This could be as simple as stating that you are the sole owner and operator.  It could be as complicated as laying out a complete partnership plan or board or directors’ chart. It just depends on how your business works.

  • Financial Information

This section includes current financials, projections, and a budget plan for the loan funds you are applying for.  Lenders need to see that you know how to handle any funds they may give you, including paying them back.

2.      Trying to Put Together Your Own Financials When Applying for a Small Business loan

While it may be possible for a business owner to handle writing a budget for loan funds, it is unlikely that a business owner can provide sufficient financial statements and tax returns on their own.  It is much better to have an accountant prepare all financial statements to be included with the business plan, and any others that lenders may ask for, to ensure completion and accuracy.

The same is true for tax returns.  A professional tax preparer will be better able to ensure accuracy and answer any questions the lender may have.

3.      Not Being Willing to Pledge Collateral When Applying for a Small Business Loan

While it is often not a requirement, it is always helpful to pledge collateral.  Loan terms will be better, interest will be lower, and you will likely end up being eligible for more money. In addition, not being

Learn business loan secrets with our free, sure-fire guide.

willing or able to pledge collateral sends up a red flag from the beginning.  If you aren’t willing to take a risk for your business, why should a lender be willing?

4.      Not Knowing or Understanding Your Credit Scores Before Applying for a Small Business Loan

Before you begin applying for a small business loan, you need to know your credit scores.  Where do they come from?  What do they mean?  If you do not know what your credit score is telling your lender about you, you are going in blind.

Most understand their personal credit scores and where they come from.  Fewer understand their business credit score, where it comes from, and what it tells lenders.

It is way more involved that personal credit, and much less cut and dry.  There are many more options for reports and scores, and each business credit reporting agency calculates the scores a little differently. Furthermore, some business credit reporting agencies allow the lenders to weight certain information.  This means two lenders could end up with a totally different credit report with a different score on the same borrower based on how they asked for the information to be weighted.  It definitely much harder to get a grip on your business credit score.  Let’s break it down to gain a better understanding.

Business Credit Report from Dun & Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet offers a number of business credit report options. In fact, there are 6 various reporting alternatives in all. They all supply various info relating to business credit history and credit worthiness. The result is, it takes all of them for a lender to get the complete picture.

However, some lenders only use Dun & Bradstreet to get the PAYDEX. This is probably because it is the easiest to comprehend.  It is the most like the consumer FICO rating, determining how promptly a consumer makes payments on a scale from 1 to 100. Ratings of 70 or higher are good. For more information on Dun & Bradstreet and their other business credit scores and reporting options go here.

Experian Business Credit Scores

Experian uses what it calls Intelliscore. There are greater than 800 different variables that they make use of to forecast a company’s credit risk. With Intelliscore, a score of 76 or greater indicates a reduced risk of default or late payment. If a score drops between 51 to 75, it indicates a reduced to medium threat. Scores from 26 to 50 are medium threat. Lastly, from 25 down to 1 is average high to high risk.  Find out more about Experian credit scores here.

applying for a small business loan Credit Suite2

Equifax Business Credit Score When Applying for a Small Business Loan

Equifax gets its business credit report information in methods comparable to D&B as well as Experian. Like D&B, they have a sharing contract with the Small Business Finance Exchange.

They combine monetary information with industry  information, and they include utility and telephone payment data as well. Public records are also a source of information. Find out more about Equifax business credit scores here.

How Can You Know Your Score Before Applying for a Business Loan?

Just understanding your business credit score is not enough.  You need to know what you can do about it if it isn’t helping you get funding.  That’s where monitoring comes in.  Unfortunately, you cannot get a free copy of your business credit reports like you can with your personal credit reports.  It costs money to see your business credit score.

For example, the big three charge close to $50 or more for each report:

  • Dun & Bradstreet reports range in price from $61 to $229 per report.
  • Experian reports are $49.95 per report.
  • Equifax is $99.95 per report.

You can monitor your credit with D&B and Experian at a fraction of these costs by going to

Don’t forget personal scores  matter as well, for a couple of reasons.  First, most if not all traditional lenders will check your personal credit score before they even consider business credit.  If your personal credit isn’t the best, then good business credit can help you get the loan anyway.  If your personal credit is okay but not top notch, good business credit can help you when it comes to rates and terms.  However, another reason personal credit  is still important is this.  Some of the business credit reporting agencies use your personal credit score in their business credit score calculation.

5.      Not Considering Other Types of Financing Before Applying for a Small Business Loan

Sometimes, applying for a small business loan isn’t the best option.  There are other options, and in some situations, they may be best. Some other options include:

SBA loans

While these are loans still disbursed by traditional lenders, they are guaranteed by the federal government.  This means two things.  First, some business owners may be eligible for SBA loans even if they are not eligible for other loans from a specific lender.  Next, it means that these loans have a much more involved and lengthy application process.

However, if your credit score is on the cusp of what is needed and you meet the other eligibility requirements, then an SBA loan may very well be what works best for you.  Don’t forget to research this option when applying for a small business loan.

Alternative lenders

These are lenders other than banks and credit unions.  They typically operate online.  Due to this, they usually have a faster application process.  These lenders also tend to have less stringent eligibility requirements.  What’s the catch? They generally have higher interest rates.  However, if you are aware of where your credit scores are, you can know on the front end to just skip applying for a small business loan with a traditional lender and head straight to these types of lenders.  It could save you a lot of time and hassle.

Invoice Factoring

If you need money fast, invoice factoring might be a better option than a traditional loan.  Lenders that factor invoices will pay you a portion of what they are worth immediately.  Then, when the funds come in, they will send you the difference less their factoring fee.  You don’t end up with all the funds from the invoices, but you definitely get fast cash.

Merchant Cash Advance

This is an advance against future credit card sales.  The lender averages your daily credit card sales and lends funds against what is expected in the future, at a premium.  This is another way to get cash fast, and while the premium may be higher than the interest rates on some loans, it is a much more convenient option in some cases.

Learn business loan secrets with our free, sure-fire guide.

How Do You Avoid These Blunders When Applying for a Small Business Loan?

So the best first step is to check your credit.  That can help you avoid a lot of mistakes by simply guiding you toward the right type of lender. Once you decide between a traditional lender, an alternative lender, or some other type of financing, you can determine what the requirements are.  If you need a business plan or financials, you can find a professional to help with these items before you even start the process.

Don’t forget to consider collateral. Take everything into consideration.  Your business is the first and most obvious option.  You could also use any land that you or the business owns.  Even company automobiles can be used as collateral.  Explore all your options. It can make a huge difference in terms of interest rate and the amount of money you are eligible for.




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