Who doesn’t love a good success story? We’ve decided to post an EPIC success story every week, highlighting the trials, tribulations, and eCommerce success’ achieved by hard-working individuals like yourselves. This week we’ll share the start-up story from Kustom Koozies, an eCommerce Biz that makes insulated beverage coolers with super cool screen-printed designs. They started out small and now take care of about 6,000 weddings every year among other things. They’re kind of awesome.
The nature of the internet has created new challenges for business owners. One of the most difficult challenges has been overcoming the distance and anonymity that make the internet both convenient yet questionable and seemingly unsafe. While shoppers are able to order a wedding dress from their cell phones while running to a meeting, that very convenience also takes away their ability to verify the people whom they’re conducting business and socializing with online. Oftentimes, a shopper’s suspicion gets the best of them. This lack of trust required business owners to come up with a way to build trust between themselves and potential clients without having a physical encounter with them. This is how the trust seal was born. It’s a way for business owners to verify their businesses to the world, put shopper anxiety to rest, and have a fighting chance in a platform where news about security breaches, hackers and fake sites are a daily occurrence.
If you want to create epic posts and increase the quality of the content it’s a good idea to hire an editor. A real editor. An editor who will chop your story up until it’s a smooth version of it’s previous self. If you can’t afford to hire a professional editor (they can be expensive) we recommend learning how to self-edit. Professional bloggers Ric Dragon, Chris Ducker, Gary Bembridge, Dino Dogan, and Rich Brooks offer their advice on editing your blog like a pro in this great article by blogworld.com. In this article they go over the do’s and don’ts to make your articles shine and sublime all by yourself.
The War Is On: How This Happened
There have been thieves since the dawn of humanity. Where there is an opportunity for free gain there will always be someone there to take advantage of it. Our technological advancements in the past few decades have created even more possibilities for thieves, giving way to hacking as a full-time job, and making theft anonymous and difficult to trace. It doesn’t help that thieves and maniacs seem to be far ahead of the game. The US lazily uses outdated credit cards that the rest of the world moved past years ago. Customers are becoming too comfortable with handing out their data without checking for security measures. Companies like Target and a multitude of others overlook simple security measures, like point of sale or POS scanning, that could prevent hackers from getting inside in the first place or at the very least could stop hackers before they’ve harvested 40 million credit card numbers. Let that sink in just a little: 40 MILLION. 40 Million people who were probably out Christmas shopping from November 27th to December 15th are now at risk of identity theft, losing their savings, going bankrupt, or dealing with a damaged credit score.
The Security War Is On: And Why We’re On The Losing Side
James Wester, research director of IDC Financial Insights said in an interview, ”…[it] is kind of mystifying at this point,” Wester said. “It seems like from a security standpoint, Target was doing all of the right things, and somehow this code was put on the POS system, which isn’t a normal access point for hackers.” But was Target doing all of the right things? If maleware was put into the check-out terminals to steal data, as experts believe, it could have been caught with POS security scanning. This form of scanning sweeps the check-out terminals or point-of-sale terminals for security holes and vulnerabilities. Another problem is that Americans are still using the outdated magnetic strip credit cards instead of the micro-chipped cards which are much harder to recreate and use.
Five Ways To Fight Back And Protect Your Family In The Future
1. Ask your bank to switch to more secure credit/debit cards that use a microchip instead of a magnetic strip. Check your credit card statements multiple times every month for strange chargers.
2. If you’re a merchant make sure that you are PCI Compliant and have all possible security measure in place online. If you have a traditional brick and mortar store make sure that you have POS scanning. If you’re a customer always check security measures before swiping your card at a checkout terminal or providing sensitive data online. There should be a sticker that says who scanned the site/terminal.
3. Beware of email alerts that ask you for any personal information. It doesn’t matter how real or convincing it appears. Real companies do not ask you for your credit card information. This is an identity theft scam, don’t fall for it.
4. If you shopped at Target during the security breach it would be wise to change your PIN immediately. Target announced that PIN’s were stolen too.
5. Debit cards have a liability of $50 if the suspicious behavior is reported within 2 days. After 2 days it jumps up to $500 dollars. Even if you report the problem immediately it can take weeks for the bank to investigate the issue so you could be without money until it’s resolved. Prevention is the way to go in these cases.
Bonus Tip: Use cash when possible. When it’s not possible be as cautious as possible. Remember, unchecked technology is the bees knees of thieves.
- Are You A Victim? 40 MILLION Credit Card Numbers Stolen From Target This Month Are Being Sold On The Black Market (epicecommercetools.com)
- Did Target hackers steal encrypted bank PINs? (bizjournals.com)
- Websites Now Selling Credit, Debit Card Information Stolen In Target Breach (pittsburgh.cbslocal.com)
We’ve been covering the Target security breach since news of it first broke over a week ago. Customers are demanding action from Target and even credit card companies are sending out notices on their bills asking for everyone to keep an eye on their bill for strange charges. My credit card company sent out a notice that read, “If you’ve shopped at Target you are at risk. Alert us immediately if you see a strange charge on your bill.” This security breach affected 1 in 7 shoppers between black Friday and the first half of December. 1 in 7 is a lot of shoppers when there are 40 million credit cards stolen. The security breach is costing around $680 million to date.
Discover, Chase, Citi, Capital One, Wells Fargo and Bank of America all confirmed that they are actively monitoring accounts for suspicious activity and will contact cardholders if they believe their account has been compromised. However, that doesn’t mean that customers should be depending on credit card companies to watch their accounts. For more information check out this article on the Target Breach.
- Target Admits Encrypted PINs Were Stolen During Massive Security Breach (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- Stolen Target customer data flooding black market (myfox8.com)
- Colorado Shoppers File Lawsuit Against Target Stores (denver.cbslocal.com)
Are You A Victim? 40 MILLION Credit Card Numbers Stolen From Target This Month Are Being Sold On The Black Market
Between November 27th and December 15th Target suffered a security breach and 40 million credit cards and debit cards were stolen and are reportedly being sold on the black market. This is the second largest security breach since the 2005 TJX Cos (TJ Max stores) that affected 45.7 million card holders.
An article on the Target Security Breach by the Associated Press wrote, “Customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on back of the card.”
Every year companies spend millions of dollars on security to ensure their customers have a safe and secure shopping experience. A breach can mean bankruptcy for a smaller company or a massive financial setback to even large corporations. Victims of theft can take decades to recover financially after something like this happens. Luckily you can prevent this from happening. Customers should always look for a sticker showing that the checkout terminal is security scanned. Trust Guard, for example, is a well-known name in security that scans card terminals or (POS) Point of Sale terminals for security holes. Scanning prevents theft like this from happening so customers can have a Christmas without falling victim to credit card theft.
In 2012, global credit/debit card fraud losses skyrocketed to $11.27 billion, up 11. 4 percent over the previous year, according to The Nilson Report, which tracks global payments.
Facebook has changed it’s algorithm to bring posts with the most interactions to the top of the news feeds. It might work against business’ who are trying to flood Facebook with quantity over quality. However, for business’ providing quality content posts with organic interactions it will boost their visibility by giving them a higher rank in the news feeds thus more visibility for a longer period of time. Another reason to provide followers with genuine, useful information and build real relationships with current and future customers. This is a great article on Facebook Bumping And The Influence On Business Pages
- How Facebook Decides if Your Posts Are Naughty or Nice (blogs.constantcontact.com)
- A Facebook Insider’s Guide to Posting Perfectly Share-able Images (shutterstock.com)
- Why You Need To Refresh Your Facebook Marketing Strategy. (themrsite.com)
Do your employees love coming to work everyday? Do they enjoy what they do, and do they want the company to succeed? If your answer is “no” you might want to reconsider your company’s culture. Employees who love their job, who feel appreciated and who enjoy being in the office are more productive. Great company culture also attracts talent, and employees who are customer-focused. Successful companies are companies where the employees want the company and their clients to succeed and they do everything they can to make it happen. If being in the office is miserable, if relationships between workers and management is bad, it’s impossible for employees to care about clients. They simply want to do their job AND GET OUT. Clients know when they are cared about and they usually prefer working with companies with dedicated, happy employees over a miserable office environment. Next time you think about “improving” productivity, why don’t you ask employees what would make them more productive at work?
1. Interns. Not enough business’ utilize the power of interns. They’re fresh from college, eager, and with an array of skills that they’re just burning to use. Interns can easily be your goldmine. Social media is not a “learned” thing for them like it is for the rest of us. Interns are in their early twenties which means that they grew up with it. They have a massive “friend” market that is totally untapped. Best of all, if you get an intern with a writing degree or a business degree, they might actually be able to teach you something. It doesn’t hurt that interns also work for free because they are also gaining the experience that they need to enter the job market. Why is everyone not doing this? Everyone wins!
2. Utilize employees and their social media platforms. Companies are so obsessed with productivity that they keep their employees in a chokehold and more often than not ignore their suggestions assuming that “they’re just employees.” The truth is that employees could be working for you in ways you didn’t even think of. Instead of punishing people for using social media why don’t you encourage it? You can sparingly use FB if you promise to send out at least two positive posts about our company or another employee every day. Totally fair trade and they’ll be thankful for the opportunity to take small mental breaks throughout the day.
3. Have a solid business plan. Your unique selling point should be on all of your social media stuff all the time. Everyone should know all the time why you’re different.
4. Be yourself. The more you are yourself the easier it will be for others to connect with you, hence, connect with your business.
5. Demographic. Look at your existing customers and try to aim for that exact same demographic. The more you know your demographic the less time you waste and the less money you need.
6. Social media. Facebook, Twitter and wordpress.com are all free. Three huge platforms for selling your products or services are free.
7. Make friends. Online and in real life being in business means being social. The more people you befriend the further your business will travel. Word of mouth advertising is the strongest and it doesn’t cost you anything.
8. Don’t be selfish with social media. Don’t spam people to death. Tweet, Update, Post blogs regularly but don’t make it all about you. Provide info that is also really useful to others.
9. SEO. When you’re blogging make sure you use the same 5 keywords regularly as “tags” or within the text. Link to outside sites. If you do this regularly in no time you’ll be coming up in search engines.
10. Keywords. Choose keywords wisely. If your blog is about Italy don’t pick “Italy” because ten billion other people already use it. Try, “moving to Italy” or “Living in Italy” or something still relevant but not necessarily in direct competition with the world.
11. Never stop learning. It’s never a smart idea to decide that you’re an expert. The moment you do that it’s likely that you’ll stop learning. In todays world you always need to be learning and you always need to be listening to other people.
12. Share the love. Online there is no “competition” in the same way that exists with traditional marketing or business. In fact, making friendly with your competition will likely bring more people to your own site. Link to them, share their updates, “like” them, and soon enough their customers will see you too.
- Social Media for Businesses: What You Need to Know (business2community.com)
- 10 Best Hashtag Tools To Increase Your Social Media Exposure (blogussion.com)
- How Employers Use Social Media For Job Recruiting (Infographic) (business2community.com)
A lot of employers ban the use of social media at work worried that it will interfere with productivity and create problems in the workplace. However, monitoring employees every move and watching cell phone use to avoid time wasted and lost could be tiresome and possibly counterproductive. Did that just say counterproductive? Yes, yes it did. The thing with social media is that it’s hard to be “fake and social” so why not utilize employees interest in social media by allowing them some wiggle room and letting them do some “work” for you that won’t feel like work at all. Set up rules, like these 12 Do’s And Don’ts For Employees Regarding Social Media, but let them be social. Tell them that they can use social media as long as it also includes some kind of work slant. For example, “Yes, you can casually check FB throughout the day as long as you post at least two positive status updates about our company.” Instead of making rules for what not to do maybe make rules for what TO DO that will also benefit your company. Plus, a happy employee is a productive one!
- Social Media for Businesses: What You Need to Know (business2community.com)
- 10 Killer Tips for Social Media Optimization (business2community.com)
- Social Media in the Workplace (meghanhilary.wordpress.com)