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April 16, 2016

Never before has the ecommerce field been more exciting. Having a shop that never closes, has little need for operational overhead (as in a brick and mortar business) and potentially open to sell to any person on the planet (and maybe on the moon in fifty years!) sounds like the perfect recipe for success.

However as most of you already know, more channels for selling mean more channels to look out for, reply to and service customers with.

social media management
In the past, if you sold washing machines in your town, all a customer had to do to get a washing machine repaired was to drive up or call your store to set a service appointment. Maybe if a certain special part wasn’t in your inventory, you’d call in the manufacturer’s hotline and wait several weeks to have it sent over.

For the longest time in history the face-to-face model of buying and selling was the norm. It was pretty hard—and sometimes still is, to get out of the traditional mindset when it comes to watching your store.

Having an ecommerce shop as many of you have experienced, requires eyes in the back of your head just to keep up with multiple channels of consumer engagement.

So how do you stay on top of Twitter, facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and whatever else may come up in the future? Will the original promise of the ecommerce business model prove to be ultimately superior to the regular mom-and-pop stores we’ve set aside?

management social media
Social media management refers to how a business owner keeps up with their multiple channels of consumer engagement. Many businesses now have a dedicated social media manager whose job is to reply to customer questions and feedback, pass it on to their other colleagues back in the business, and maintain a seamless transition from website to social media platform.

In many ways social media management intersects with marketing, customer service as well as a general familiarity with the ins and outs of the business.

Together with that, a strong knowledge of various tools such as Hootsuite for managing Twitter accounts and organizational ability will ensure all social media channels are taken care of on an ongoing basis.

Use your social media analytics to determine when the best time is to post a new blog, for instance. And then build your weekly schedule around the data. Once in a while tweak your engagement. Throw a curve ball and see if deviating from what the data suggests makes a difference or not.

A good rule of thumb to use is that the shorter the number of characters involved in the social media channel, the sooner your customer expects a response. Twitter rules this arena. Tweets are exchanged on an almost-real time scenario. Witness how many celebrities send out tweets that are hastily deleted!

Depending on your ecommerce niche, you might not actually need to have multiple social media channels. Going back to the washing machine analogy, if you sold washing machine parts online, having a facebook account or a Pinterest page might be a diversion of your business resources better used elsewhere.
Before jumping on the bandwagon and setting up social media accounts for your business, the question we all need to ask first is: Do I need this for my business?

Take Pinterest. The best pages that are repinned and shared multiple times are the pictureworthy posts. Again if you sell washing machine parts, spending hundreds of dollars to make a spare motor look sexy with professional photography and lighting would be out of the question.

If on the other hand you sell good looking items, having an Instagram account may bring in 25% of your sales. Decide which social media channels bring in the most bang for buck and devote resources to each accordingly.

As your feel for your market matures, you might even want to remove one social media channel if it doesn’t perform as well as you’d like. Don’t be afraid to deactivate your business’ facebook account for instance, if it’s been a year of posting already and nobody has really gotten on to like it beyond your employees and immediate family.

Stay smart, use data as a guide and keep it lean. If you only have time for one social media platform and can’t hire a dedicated social media manager, then keep it focused for the time being on the single platform, rather than risking spreading yourself too thin just to capture all channels.

About the Author:

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Catherine is president & executive director of 20four7va, a global eCommerce virtual assistance service provider. She is into strategic planning, product development, brand management, and digital marketing. http://20four7va.com

February 27, 2016

We all seek to obtain the dream car without getting ripped off in the process. Discerning whether the vehicle is worth the buy is not easy, and it is even harder to achieve when looking for a second hand car or buying online. This is a tough gig, because you never know who might be looking to trick you. To make things worse, dealing with a private seller also means you have less legal protection. Finally, one must not take anyone’s word on the condition of the vehicle, and inspect it in person. There are many things to keep in mind, and no telling what you might find.

Who is who?

buying used car
The first thing to muse on is not the car, but its owner. You must know who you are buying from because there are many shady sellers praying on the naïve and incautious. What you want is a reputable source, so avoid fraudulent ads and demands for advance payments. Steer away also from aggressive emails and offers that seem too good to be true.

It is a good idea to view the car on business premises or home of the seller. That way, if something goes wrong, you know where to find the one responsible. When searching online, use webmaster tools to get a hold of the website’s source and host. Finally, see what the real value of the car you are interested in is, so that you can compare it with the seller’s price tag.

Checking the car

You cannot expect from used cars to be in prime state, but nobody wants to drive a vehicle that could fall apart any minute either. Taking a trusted expert with you for inspection is a sound course of action, unless you possess the necessary knowledge and skills yourself. It is pertinent to pinpoint any concealed wear and tear, as well as car modifications. If possible, access a full history of the car, and ensure that it is not stolen or written off.

Ask for as much paperwork as you can, and do not be lazy to go through the details about title, registration, insurance, service records, etc. If the detected issues do not bother you, use them as a point of negotiations. Just remember that driving a car is the best way to gain insight into its condition. Ask for a test drive and probe manual or standard transmission, brakes and steering.

Further inspection

Keep your eyes open for recently repaired parts, water damage and signs of fluid leaks around the car. You might want to bring a paper towel for checking the engine oil as well. A small flashlight, on the other hand, will help you inspect under the car for corrosion and other problems. The body colors should match, and you can use a magnet for gauging body work.

Do not overlook the tires and see if there is an uneven wear, which could indicate that suspension and alignment are faulty. Note that some owners decide to clock the vehicle to increase its value. Unsuspecting buyers may end up buying and driving a potential death trap, which is why checking on MOT details and previous mileage rating is advisable. The interior is just as vital, so make sure that stereo, alarm, heater and air conditioning are working properly.

Payment options

credit card payment
Many buyers are looking for a safe way to make a purchase, since paying in cash and sending money abroad is risky business. There are many digital payment solutions, but there are legitimate safety concerns linked with most of them. Sophisticated scams and frauds are not uncommon, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.

The most important thing is to choose a solid payment method such as PromisePay, which provides a fast and efficient payment system for car buyers, but also dealers and private sellers. Moreover, it is easy to track all payments this way, so there are no hiccups. This is due to the fact that financial instruments like escrow eliminate the risk involved in the transactions, and overcome trust issues between the parties.

Old gold

Before embarking on a car buying adventure, make an effort to do a proper research. Purchasing online and second-hand involves some extra risks, and without taking safeguards you could end up being a victim of a fraud. Arm yourself with a scrupulous mindset and keep attention to detail. Do not let the seller push you into making a bad deal. Be ready to negotiate, but also prepared to walk away. Make a thorough examination of the vehicle and take it for a spin. It should enable you to find an old gold, not something that is fit for the junkyard.

October 10, 2015




The technology and fitness industry has blown up over the last several years. Phones, watches, and accessories can now do everything from tracking your steps, estimate your calories burned, and even let you know if you have increased in altitude. Fitness apps on the market help to do even more for your fitness tracking and goals. However, with so many apps available it can be challenging to find the apps that are right for you. Here are 10 of the best fitness apps that will help you live a happier, healthier, and fitter lifestyle than ever before.





1. Nike+ Training Club

You will feel immensely motivated and ready to workout anywhere with Nike+ Training Club. The app provides a large amount of visual workouts from popular athletes and trainers like Serena Williams, Amy Nunez (personal trainer of Rihanna), the Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, and much more. This app also gives you the option of making your workout your own. You can take any lesson on your own or join one of the apps month-long structured programs if you desire more guidance or motivation.

2. Lark

Lark is not just a workout and calorie tracker, but a personal weight loss coach and nutritionist. With Lark you can simply text chat with your coach, and they will provide advice, tips and motivation to help you reach your goals. The app continues to make staying healthy easy by automatically tracking your food, exercise, and sleep through your phone or through several of the smartwatches on the market. Lark is as easy to use as texting a friend, making it an incredibly fun and easy way to live a healthier lifestyle.

3. Sworkit

With Sworkit you will be able to access plenty of workout videos and demonstrations from real personal trainers. You will find everything from yoga, Pilates, cardio, strengthening, to stretching. You can choose from a pre-built workout, or create your own. This flexibility allows you to fit in a long morning workout, or even a quick 5 min workout when you find the time. Sworkit makes it fun and easy to follow along to the workout of your choice.

4. Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K quite literally helps beginner runners get off the couch and start their journey towards a 5K. The app makes it easy for all levels. All it requires is simply 30 min a day, 3 days a week, for 9 weeks. You will start by alternating between running and walking and slowly work your way up to the more intense running workouts. The app allows you to track your distance and pace with GPS, and comes with an audio coach to help motivate you through each workout.

5. Map My Fitness

Map My Fitness remains to be one of the best fitness tracking apps out there. With this app you can easily map your route for your next run, track your workouts and activity, and even track your food all in one app. While there are other apps and tools that aim to do the same thing, users love Map My Fitness because of its easy to use interface. However, along with all other fitness apps that track your GPS, it is important to be careful of the information inputted on these apps. If someone was able to hack into the app they could know where and when you go running, or when you are on vacation. A VPN will help ensure your safety when using any app that contains personal information.

6. YOGAmazing

For all the yogis out there, YOGAmazing is the perfect app to practice yoga anywhere and anytime. You will find 25 minute yoga routines to fit every yogi’s style and taste. YOGAmazing will help you build a happier, healthier and stronger you.

7. Lifesum

Lifesum is not just a food tracker, but a lifestyle tracker and supporter. When starting out on Lifesum you do not necessarily enter your goal weight, but your lifestyle goal, whether that’s to be overall healthier, lose weight, or to build muscle strength. This app will give you feedback and advice to improve the quality of what you eat, will remind you to drink more water, show how you are progressing, and much more. You can also sync the app with fitness trackers to make tracking even easier.

8. Zombies, Run! 3

This app gives you a run for your life, literally! Zombies, Run! 3 takes a different approach when it comes to fitness motivation. Each workout consists of an epic adventure. You will be running from zombies, and helping to save the world. You will run to heart pounding stories, pumping music, all while collecting supplies to help save the world. There truly is no other fitness app like Zombies, Run! 3.

9. CARROT Fit

Looking for something a little different in your next fitness app, then CARROT fit may be the perfect choice for you. CARROT is a hilarious and slightly sadistic workout app that uses the approach of humor and prizes like cat facts and app upgrades to push you towards your fitness goal. You may even get an extra ab workout from laughing with possibly the strangest fitness app out there.


10. Fitnet

Fitnet may seem like another fitness app with short workout videos, but it has a few features that help it stand out from the crowd. Not only does Fitnet provide plenty of short workouts, but through your device's webcam, the app will give you real-time feedback of your performance and progress. You will never wonder again if you are doing a workout completely wrong. This app also provides you with a 7 day planner that allows you to create a workout routine that works for your schedule and life.

Have you used any of these fitness apps? What are your favorite fitness apps?

September 25, 2015

Eating in restaurants has become a socializing habit nowаdays. Everybody likes going out and having fun with friends. Since people are exhausted after working hours and often unwilling to cook their meal, they reach out for the restaurant food. Since food prices are not as affordable as they were before, people are struggling to find a place with good food, but with even better prices. While for many people this sounds like a luxury, others tend to overspend. Luckily, if you read carefully you will find out about tricks that can help everyone save money while having a nice time with their loved ones.





Think About Appetizers

Appetizer stands for food that you eat while waiting for your entree. They are pricey having in mind the fact that it is just bread or chips with some dipping sauce, and it is not recommendable to spend your money on it. Of course, if you can’t resist it, then you need to forget about dessert. Although with various discount cards or coupons that save a lot of money you will be able to get it for free and enjoy without any regrets. If not, wait for your birthday and hope for free meal.

Save It on the Wine

There are few simple ways to save money on drinks. For example, you can drink wine on tap since it’s very cheap and that way nobody will notice how many drinks you had. The only thing cheaper than that are free drinks. Yeah, you got it right! There’s an awesome app that helps you find a restaurant where you can have dinner and get a free wine to complement your food. This way you will not just have a go with trying something new but also save up money. And if it’s a date night, maybe you leave a good impression.

Big Entree

how to spend less in restaurants
Sharing a portion is turning into a common thing among friends and couples. Since portion sizes are becoming bigger and bigger it would be unreasonable to take food home when you can make two reasonable portions out of one. Sometimes it’s healthier to order two salads and an entree because you will feel full but not overeaten. Also, some foods are overpriced and you ought to choose carefully because if you are in a restaurant, try out something new rather than a simple pasta or a pizza. Chinese, Maroccan and Vietnamese cuisine are very tasty, yet affordable and exciting.

With Or Without Dessert

ways to save money while dining out
When it comes to desserts, restaurants have an increasing problem since cakes and ice-cream don’t bring that much money. Hence, since they don’t have a pastry chef desserts are sometimes tasteless or sugary and there is no good reason to have them at all. Instead, you should save your money and eat someplace else. Homemade ice-cream or muffins bought in a pastry shop can often be flavorful and cheap. And it’s always a good thing to have a long and relaxing walk home after dinner.

Save Money

easy ways to save money dining out
At any rate, the best bargain would be to stay at home and cook a meal that would be twice as cheap as the one in restaurant. For big families eating out can seriously damage a food budget. On the other hand, for many people restaurants are an immense pleasure. As we spend time in restaurant to indulge ourselves and people we care about, it would be the best not to think about the bill. Therefore, with these tricks you should save enough to eat out more, hang out with friends and make the most out food.

July 07, 2015

Nobody is unaware of the online car buying scams. If you are a buyer or a seller, one or the other day you might have fallen prey to such online scammers. If not, try not to in future. Online car selling is a massive industry and even after cross-checking all the essentials, one can fall in the trap. Here's today's reality about the perils of online curbsiding and online car-buying scams.





Escrow Account Car Scam

This is the most common type of online car selling scam, sellers lure used car buyers by advertising a car on an online classifieds website keeeping the price very low. The price ie typically too good to be true for that matter. The seller may claim hardship to meet, he may claim to be located abroad, and may even offer to pay shipping fess to strike a deal.

In some cases, scammers even go too far by duplicating the logo and website design of a legitimate car dealer and advertise irresistible prices. The seller may ask the buyer to deposit funds into an escrow account not of your own choice. This could cost you thousand dollars if the deal hasn't been established by thoroughly verifying all the details.

The Title Car Washing Scam

online car car sales scams
This scam is related to the reality of the car. When a car is wrecked and repaired , when a car is damaged by a natural disaster like a flood, or when a car is stolen and recovered, it is referred to as salvaged vehicle, and the vehicle's title will reflect this status.

Therefore, this title car washing scam hides the actual status of the car from the buyer. However, the rules and regulations exists to wash a title, but vary from place to place. Some sellers remove this stigma of salvaged car status to gain profits. Because the entire resposibility of the car is on the buyer after he owns it.

So, it is important to get the history of used car for sale from a reputable source.

The overpayment scam

When the seller posts his car for sale, he is contacted by a prospective buyer who offers a cashier's cheque immediately along with additional funds to cover shipment of the car overseas. When the cheque arrives, the seller is asked to deposit it and wire coverage to the “shipper.” When this is done and the wire transfer picked up, the “buyer” breaks contact and the seller is left on the hook to their bank for the fraudulent check and the missing funds.

Odometer Fraud

Digital odometer meant to be less susceptible to meddling, could be even easier to manipulate. A buyer can lose as much as 80% of the money spent buying a car with an odometer rollback. The seller fraud the buyer by manipulating the the number of miles his/her car had travelled. NHTS estimates that consumer lose billions of dollars to odometer fraud each year and upto 1 in 10 used car sold may have had their ododmeters tampered with. Buyers must check in advance, the history of the car and potential odometer rollback, if done by the seller.

Curbstoning Car Scam

Curbstoners are car dealers that pose as private individuals in order to defraud consumers or skirt the FTC rules pertaining to selling used cars. Such frauders post ads in various classified sites such as Craigslist and pretend to be the owner just ryting to sell their vehicle. It may not seem as serious as a problem, but these curbstoners are not only breaking the law, but are ususally selling vehicles with hidden problems that can affect its safety and value. Basically, they sell vehicles that no reputable dealer would touch.

Always make sure to get the history of vehicle for sale. You must also ask to see the seller's driver'sd license along with the car's title. Don't buy the vehicle if the names don't match.

The Low Payment Car Scams

This scam works on the basis of EMI, if you are buyer and you depend on monthly payments for buying the car, the dealer may take its benefits. He will add profit by inflating the price of the car, asking for bigger down payment, and by extending the length of the loan or lease to make the payment fit your requirement.

Always focus on the price of the car, the down payment, the interest and the loan terms. You could always count the amount you need to pay for the car. Better yet, arrange your financing ahead of time so that the dealer cannot pull this scam.

This phenomena of buying and selling cars online is not going to stop because of these scams, but you could always try to be safe in order to keep yourself safe.

July 05, 2015

Split system air conditioners continue to be the most popular systems used worldwide since they can be installed in any room in the house. Therefore, they help save power costs and maintenance costs, as well. A split air-conditioner is designed in a manner that allows for it to be installed on the wall, with minimal usage of space in the room.
Here are 6 ways in which you can ensure that your split air conditioning system works efficiently:





1. Ensure that the air conditioning system is cleaned regularly

Any exposed surface should be wiped clean, both inside and on the outside. Debris, vines, pine needles and leaves can clog the exterior part of the central air unit while dust may affect the operation of the split system air conditioner.

2. Change the filters on a regular basis

The system’s filters play a critical role in the functioning of the system as they trap the dirt and contaminants in the air that passes through. Therefore, it’s of paramount importance that they be changed twice a year. You should inspect your filters every month to ensure that they are not clogged or damaged. A damaged filter will cause the dirt in the air to bypass the filter; as a consequence, this can cause the dirt to build up on the other components of your system. This will eventually cause your entire system to fail. Changing your filters regularly will save you the agony of having to live with a faulty system, and will also ensure that you don’t spend a lot of money working on repairs that could have been prevented.

sure ways to ensure split type air conditioner works perfectly
3. Be aware of any abnormal sounds or smells

It’s advisable to turn your split AC on well before the upcoming summer season and check for abnormal behaviour, smells or sounds. A knocking or rattling sound could mean anything from a dislodged fan belt or a burnt blower motor. In any case, you should consult a professional to ascertain the fault in your system and get it repaired or replace the faulty part at the earliest.

sure ways to cut and save cost of electricity and power on split type air conditioner
4. Check the accuracy of the thermostat

The thermostat of a central air conditioning unit may fail to function effectively and it’s critical to have its accuracy checked regularly. You can buy another thermometer and compare the temperature readings that are displayed. The batteries that are used in programmable systems should be changed once a year as this helps to ensure a high level of consistency, proper cooling and heat control.

perfect solution to maximize power of split type air conditioner
5. Ensure that your home is sealed

The air inlets in your home should be sealed properly to prevent hot air from entering the system and the cool air from escaping. Ensure that any cracks are fixed, gaps blocked and windows closed completely. Also, spaces that are located below the doors should be closed completely.

Bonus Tip! Get Experienced Installers to evaluate your system prior to installation

sure ways to cut and save cost of electricity and power on split type air conditioner
Size is of great essence when choosing a split system air conditioner. A small system cannot serve a room that’s larger than its recommended capacity. An overworked system can overheat and lead to breakdowns which will reduce its operating efficiency and increase its running costs. Before choosing the air conditioner, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration: the room’s size, the number of windows and their exposure, the floor space, the positioning of the room in the house and even the heat generated by the other appliances that are installed in the room. This is why you should engaged experienced installers to ascertain if your system of choice will deliver the results suitable for your home. 

Conclusion

Ensuring that your split air conditioner works eff.iciently shouldn't be a hard thing. Just like other systems, they are prone to wear and tear and their operation can be hampered by dust and debris deposits. However, you can ensure a smooth operation if you take the above tips into consideration both while choosing and operating your AC


About the Author:

Oscar Cardenas who hails from Melbourne, is one of the Directors at All Climate Solutions and an authority when it comes to advising and implementing heating or cooling solutions best suited to your needs. With years of experience in the industry, he has deep knowledge of various products in the market and can assist in projects of all sizes.

June 03, 2015

Many people think that buying a lock is as easy as going to a hardware store and buying the first lock that they see. In reality, this is much more complicated as there are many types of locks that you can buy and also because there are innumerable needs for which you will use the locks. It is because of all of this that we are writing this little guide into buying locks for different needs.





What do you need the lock for?

The first question that you will need to ask yourself is what you will be using the lock for. For instance, you may be securing your apartment or your house. Or, you might be looking to enhance the security of your business (a place where you keep a lot of valuables). Perhaps, you are only trying to secure some private documents in your home and you wish to put a lock on your cabinet.

Depending on what the lock will be securing and where it will be placed, you will want to choose carefully. For instance, if you are securing your business, you will want to go with something really sturdy and resilient as businesses are more likely to get broken into. Conversely, if you are simply putting a lock on your cabinet, you will not need something industrial-strength and a simple lock will be enough.

How safe is the neighborhood

This is also a huge factor when choosing a lock for the door. For instance, there are neighborhoods that are considered very safe and where burglaries almost never happen. If you live in such a neighborhood, you will most likely do well with a simple, standard lock. However, if it is a bad neighborhood, and especially if there have been break-ins recently, you may want to go with something sturdy like a deadbolt lock that locks the door into cylinders in the door frame.

In commercial areas, especially if you are a business owner, you will need to go with the best locks you can afford. Experts from a Sydney locksmith firm have recommended vertical deadbolt locks for businesses, as they provide the most security against purely physical break-ins. Of course, you will most likely wish to secure your business with something more than just a good lock.

Electronic locks – yes or no?

how to buy lock for home & office?
Electronic locks have their good sides and their bad sides. Their biggest advantage is that they do not have a keyhole, which means that a burglar will not be able to pick the electronic lock. Instead of keys, these locks use various other ways of identification, such as keycards, passwords or even fingerprints of the people who have access to the home. Some electronic locks can also be synched to the smartphone, unlocking when the owner is in the vicinity.

However, and experts will be quick to tell you this, electronic locks do not provide much more in terms of physical safety than regular commercial locks. They are not sturdier and if the burglar decides to use brute force, an electronic lock will not do much more than a regular lock. Still, they are very interesting and can be perfect for certain situations.

The Money and the Hassle

Of course, when purchasing a lock, you will also have to worry about the money. Some locking systems are extremely
expensive and they can take ages to install. Sometimes, the locksmith might need to have the entire doorframe removed and a new one installed when putting in a lock. Some locks you can install yourself, especially if you are skilled with tools.

In the end, however, it will all be about how much security you need and want from the lock. For the outside locks on your home and your business, you can never go wrong with the best on the market. Paying premium prices for a lock is a small price for the peace of your mind.


About the Author:

health insurance
James D. Burbank has been in business and marketing for more than a decade and he is currently on hiatus, pending time with his family and blogging about business, NBA and WWII history. You can find James on Twitter - @JBurbank2019.

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