“What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?” “Play a Rolling Stones song” “What meetings do I have today?” These are just some of the most common requests made to smart voice assistants such as Amazon Echo (Alexa) and Google Home.
But we should not forget that Amazon is first and foremost a marketplace. That’s why Alexa is not just a meteorologist, DJ or personal assistant, but also a salesperson. Do smart voice assistants have the potential to revolutionise the world of European retail?
Roger Niederer, Head Merchant Services of SIX Payment Services, give us a much-needed reality check.
Check 1: Does shopping via a Smart voice Assistant have a future?
Shopping using voice commands is already possible, even if it is only used to a relatively modest extent. However, experts predict considerable growth in this sector in the next few years. According to a survey of 1,500 owners of smart voice assistants in the USA by OC&C Strategy Consultants, the US market will expand from its current value of $2 billion to $40 billion in the next five years. Currently, 66 per cent of adult Americans use smart voice assistants or chatbots, 21 per cent even undertake e-commerce tasks such as paying bills and online banking through these devices, as illustrated in a recent study by Mastercard and retailer Mercator.
Voice shopping, also known as Conversational Commerce, creates a faster, more convenient and seamless consumer shopping experience. Instead of typing and clicking through multiple links, the user asks a question and promptly receives an answer.
Check 2: How will this trend affect European merchants?
Worldwide trends do not go past European countries, although some may hit some countries a little later. Online shopping has been well established for some time and continues to grow with Amazon dominating the sector. According to the German industry association HDE, Amazon already accounts for 40 per cent of all orders placed online in Germany with the Amazon “Marketplace” particularly popular with merchants. As the trend towards extended use of smart voice assistants continues, Amazon will continue to expand its leading role in online retail. This should be of particular interest keep to merchants when they consider their online strategies for the next few years.
Check 3: Is competition distortion pre-programmed?
The problem with buying goods using voice commands is the final product selection. If, for example, a customer searches for cleaning detergents in a traditional online shop, they will be shown a wide variety of products to choose from. But how do Alexa, Siri & others deal with a request to “order detergent”? Below are two suggestions for merchants to consider in order to remain competitive and relevant:
- Voice requests tend to be longer than typed enquiries. For example, a customer types ‘shoe shops near me’ into Google, but when making the same request by voice command, the enquiry might be ‘Which shoe shops are open now in the city center of Hamburg?”. It is this crucial difference that merchants must understand in order to reconcile business, product and payment information to the new way that consumers search for goods.
- To date, Amazon, Google and others have developed more than 15,000 so-called ‘skills’ apps that can be accessed using smart voice assistants. What initially served as a means of contacting customers and answering their questions has moved on and outgrown a pure customer service initiative. Banks and financial institutions are currently working to provide personalised services that make payment processes even easier, faster and more convenient than sending a message online. American Express, Capital One and US Bank have developed skills for Alexa, while Barclays, ICICI, ING and OCBC are working on systems using Apple Siri.
Conclusion: Comfort is trendy
New technologies always succeed when they make life easier for us. Smart voice assistants have the potential to significantly influence consumer purchasing behaviour. For online merchants, this is both an opportunity and a challenge. Merchants can differentiate themselves from the competition with compelling offers, but they must also provide the necessary technical support and a selection of convenient payment options supported by the right payment service partner.
When the processes in the back office are efficient and reliable, merchants will have the time to focus on what is really important – creating a seamless shopping experience for the customer across all their sales channels.
Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery
BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa is adding more holiday destinations to its summer flight schedule from Germany in anticipation of a strong rebound in bookings, it said on Thursday, betting COVID-19 vaccines and testing will soon make vacation travel possible.
Germany’s largest airline said it was planning to add around 20 new destinations from Frankfurt and 13 from Munich to locations such as the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and Greece.
COVID-19 vaccines and testing, along with strict hygiene rules at airports and on planes, will be prerequisites for travel this summer, it said.
“We expect many countries to relax travel restrictions towards the summer as more and more people have been vaccinated,” Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister said in a statement.
Hohmeister said the airline, which secured a 9 billion euro ($11 billion) state bailout last year, expects a sharp increase in demand once restrictions are lifted.
Concerned about more transmissible coronavirus mutations, many European Union countries have reinstated border controls in what is normally a passport-free travel zone.
“There is a great yearning for travel and we believe that the summer months will reflect this,” Hohmeister added.
In Britain, holiday bookings soared this week after the government laid out plans to gradually relax coronavirus restrictions, giving battered airlines and tour operators hope that a bumper summer could come to their rescue.
Plans for relaxing coronavirus travel restrictions have not been announced yet in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss lockdown options with the head of the regional governments next Wednesday.
Lufthansa, which said in January it was losing a million euros every two hours, is due to publish its fourth quarter results on March 4.
($1 = 0.8187 euros)
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Ilona Wissenbach. Editing by Mark Potter)
TRUiC Evaluates The Latest Additions to Registered Agents in the US
The US is still the top choice for new businesses that have a global focus. That is not to say that they are all physically located there. Despite the pandemic creating challenges for startups seeking investment, many are still steaming ahead. More and more, companies from Europe and Asia dominate Amazon and other distribution chains in the US via a US registered entity that relies on a registered agent. What should you know about registered agents?
When forming an LLC, there are a few additions to registered agent services in 2021 that could be extremely helpful to ensure that you always maintain your privacy, never miss important mail, and make you aware of legal obligations that may occur without being too costly or complicated. When you are launching a startup as an entrepreneur, it is vital to decide which registered agent service as they act as a point of contact between a business and a state and will greatly benefit your small business in the long-term.
In short, a registered agent will primarily act as your business’s main channel of communication with your states’ government. A non-profit, corporation or LLC can appoint a registered agent service to receive government correspondence, compliance documents on behalf of the business, and service of process – which is arguably the most important role of a registered agent as this informs an entity or individual of an impending lawsuit against him/her or the company.
Suggested video – What is a Registered Agent by TRUiC:
Next will be a review and comparison between the features of the best online business services of 2021 to see which is the top registered agent service when forming an LLC:
Assisting in the formation of over 800,000 businesses, partnerships with experienced legal professionals like Rocket Lawyer makes for a great option to serve as your registered agent service, all thanks to their 100% satisfaction guarantee. Although their services cost slightly more, they can still provide a full year for free if you subscribe to their Accelerate legal service plan for $49.95/month. Additional benefits include:
- The company is supported by Google Ventures
- Norton Web Security Protection & Information website
- Legal Services Pan which includes consultations with business attorneys
Classified as high-quality registered agent services and boasting over 150,000 customers served since 200, Incfile offers lower prices and a free subscription for one year with any incorporation filing purchase. They also provide their clients with a user -friendly website, that is protected by Norton Web Security, and free information available in their Learning Centre.
Northwest Registered Agent
If industry experience and premium customer support are important to you then the following might be the best service for you. Established in 1998, Northwest Registered Agent has made a name for themselves and is one of TRUiCs’ top picks as they are known to being the most friendly LLC service available. Not only do they provide the best email/phone support, but they also locally scan every document you receive, ensuring that you will never miss paperwork and eradicating surprises.
Whilst getting great customer support and a unique dashboard, Harbor Compliance’s registered agent services will also offer discounts to their customers who pay up-front for multiple years and service to those in multiple states. Plus:
- Website protection by Norton and Trustwave
- Free compliance guides and whitepapers
- Document delivery and scanning on the same day
After careful consideration of many other registered agent services, ZenBusiness has been rated best. This small business formation service was founded in 2015 by a team of entrepreneurs who cracked the code to the barriers that others continue to face today and help their respective clients launch their businesses successfully.
Not only will the start of your enterprise go smoothly, but they will also help you stay compliant with government laws, accept service of process and other tax and legal documents, and provide you with an overall peace-of-mind so you can focus all your time and energy on running your business.
Although LegalZoom is the costliest of these options, they had to be mentioned as this registered agent service has extensive experience and capabilities with an informative and North Secure Website and a broad range of business services. Boasting with a large platform of nearly 4 million customers, LegalZoom may be more convenient for you if you have other legal services operating through them as well.
Why should you designate a registered agent service for your business?
By appointing a suitable registered agent service you will be able to maintain your privacy, be alerted to legal obligations that may crop up without breaking the bank or complicating things, and these registered agent services will ensure that you never miss a beat when it comes to crucial paperwork and delivery of important documents. There really aren’t many downsides to working with an online registered agent service provider, and the penalties for not having a registered agent heavily outweigh the cost.
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Transatlantic startups 2021: How To Choose a US Incorporation Specialist
- Start-ups created over 3 million jobs in the U.S. alone in the past 12 months.
- The highest five-year survival rate for new businesses is mining, at 51.3%.
With the high rates of US startups and the pandemic-imposed inability to travel abroad to take care of business in person, company formation services have seen peak demand. Below we discuss the latest about this trend and how the market responded.
An Incorporation Specialist (which can often be referred to as a registered or statutory agent depending on your state), is a corporate entity or professional individual that voluntarily and overtly accepts to undertake personal responsibility over a plethora of legal documents and formalities on behalf of your business.
This is commonly carried out during the official filing of your business’s Articles of Organization and- as further analysed below, can provide a plethora of benefits for you and your business. Such benefits include ensuring that a sufficient level of corporate and legal compliance is always being carried out by your business’s practices, and can save you a significant amount of both time and effort. Consequently, choosing the right incorporation specialist is extremely important.
Suggested video – LLC Formation in the US:
US Start-ups: A Quick Overview
Most commonly, persons erroneously associate the word ‘start-up’ with businesses of a relatively small business size- operating with a team of maybe just 5 different employees and often involving a prolific amount of chaos and disorganisation. In fact, however, a corporation can go on to operate for several years before evolving into a larger-scale business type- a matter further analysed below.
The ‘definition’ of a start-up can encapsulate a surprisingly large number of corporation types, and businesses tend to predominantly ‘evolve’ into large-scale business modules by either: a) opening more than just one office, b) becoming acquired via an acquisition or a takeover, or c) encompassing a total revenue of over $20 million.
Despite the rather ‘loose’ definition of a start-up, the fact is that over 90% of such aforementioned companies end up going bankrupt within their first five years of operation. This is one of the key reasons that make choosing an effective incorporation specialist for your business a crucial task. A prolific, eminent incorporation specialist can provide a plethora of commercial and structural benefits, and undeniably bring in the best llc services for your business start-up.
Choosing the Right Incorporation Specialist
As briefly touched on above, choosing the right incorporation specialist can go a long way in securing both: a) peace of mind, and b) a sufficient level of legal compliance for you and your business.
In ensuring you pick the right incorporation agent for you and your business, always ensure you:
- a) Choose an eminent, nation-wide provider– this is particularly essential if your business operates in several states as working with a variety of different specialists can commonly yield inefficient results- due to an abundance of unnecessary paperwork and a significantly increased risk of a legal document or a potential annual renewal falling ‘through the cracks’ and being missed.
- b) Choose a professional service- this can go a long way in ensuring you do not have to constantly worry about having to file an update with a relevant government agency every time your contact information or office location changes- saving you a prolific amount of irreplaceable time. Additionally, by picking a professional service to represent your company, you are much more likely to see a consistent level of document filing and legal compliance and avert any legal crisis where your legal documents are not made available to you in time.
- c) Evaluate the service’s software– your incorporation specialist needs to offer a reliable operating software that can consistently ensure a timely and efficient transmission of your relevant legal documents is available in the format of your preference. This way, you are likely to see a holistic reduction in your business’s paperwork and significantly improve your company’s overall internal communication.
As touched on above, your incorporation specialist can serve as a crucial part of your business. Picking the wrong service provider can lead to disastrous results- especially in relation to missed subpoenas or late annual renewals. Multiple US states should be considered and their respective benefits ought to be compared. Given the potential risks, it is absolutely essential to ensure you accord an adequate amount of time and effort into choosing the best incorporation specialist for you and your business and consequently save a prolific amount of time and effort in the long run.
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