by Russell Jones, General Manager, First Data UK
In 2017, just short of 6,000 high-street shopsclosed their doors for good, more than any other year since 2010.As you might expect,small and mid-sized businesses like clothing retailers, shoe shops and estate agents, make up a large part of this sum. These businesses are but a handful affected by the rise of the pure-play online retailer, which have been able to capture customer market share through increasing demand for ecommerce, and by being able to provide cheaper goods due to lower operating costs.
Though times may seem bleak for the high-street, it is by no means end times. In order to survive they must adopt a fresh outlook on the way they do business, adopting fresh processes and innovation in order to remain relevant. By doing this they will be able to unlock their winning trump card: superior customer service.
Brick and Mortar Stores vs. Virtual Stores
eCommerce will continue its rapid growth –customers will be wooed by quick, effortless shopping experiences from the comfort of their living room, or mobile phone. It’s not all doom and gloom for high-street businesses, though, as research shows physical shops still play a vital role in which the internet can’t. Customers continue to be receptive to personalised shopping experiences and knowledgeable shop staff, which help inform their in-store purchases.
High street shops can also use their physical presence not just as a place to drive sales, but also as a platform to build and nurture real –face-to-face – relationships with customers. However, smaller businesses need to improve in certain areas – ensuring their queues are short, always providing value for money and having a variety of payment options to hand. Whilst high street survival might not be simple, there’s opportunity to implement these innovative solutions, which ultimately could prove to be the winning formula for those willing to work for it.
Giving Queues the Hard Shoulder
According to data from First Data UK, three-quarters of customers are only going to tolerate standing in a shop queue for six to ten minutes. Anything beyond that and you’ve practically lost them for good. That’s why it is essential for shop managers to understand the effect waiting times at the till will have on overall sales. A five-minute wait might seem like nothing when you are tied up processing sales at the checkout, but this is enough time for a customer to ditch their goods and head to the door, for good.
One way to curb the queues is by accepting mobile and proximity payments, which allow businesses to checkout customers on the shop floor. As well as reducing the frustration that comes with queuing, such tools can actually help businesses encourage more impulse sales with their customers. Integrating different mobile payment platforms can give a competitive edge.
It will always be a challenge to compete with large chain stores, particularly when it comes to price and stock, after all it is often a numbers game. However, where smaller retailers can succeed is by hitting them where it hurts; providing a personal approach to customers that larger businesses cannot. High-street retailers are often one-man-bands whose roles cover a number of titles from Manager to Shelf-stacker. For many it is a labour of love. But, it can be time consuming and stressful. Incorporating innovative software can be beneficial – not only does it help alleviate time constraints and stress, but it can also collect data on how your customers shop, when they purchase certain items and what the bestselling items are, helping you bridge the gap between vendor and customer.
Tools also exist today that help high-street shop owners use their business and customer data to create more accurate sales and marketing strategies from season to season, personalising these on an individual basis. These same tools can be put to use picking up mundane tasks such as taking stock and accounting, allowing store owners to spend more time engaging with customers over products or getting to know them on a personal basis to encourage loyalty.
No matter the state of the UK high street, businesses can be confident that there are steps that can be taken to ensure survival. Embracing innovation will be a key success factor, as with it new measures can be introduced to replace tired old retail processes with much better ones. New processes will in turn help high-street businesses reduce overheads, spend less time on mundane tasks, and ultimately take advantage of their one true USP: face time with customers.
On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a ‘zero waste’ future
By Natalie Thomas
LONDON (Reuters) – Heralded by the whirr of its underpowered electric engine and the clink of bottles stacked in crates on the back, Ella Shone’s ‘Topup Truck’ started life ferrying morning milk to the doorsteps of bleary-eyed Londoners.
Twenty years on, and the light vehicle known as a ‘milk float’ – once a ubiquitous sight on British streets – is enjoying a second career selling a range of goods and serving the 32-year-old’s quest to rid the city of single-use plastic.
“The fact that I’m driving around in a milk float does a lot for raising awareness in the local area,” said Shone, wearing a black beanie during her rounds in the borough of Hackney last week. “So now I’m operating at almost full capacity.”
Furloughed from her sales job during the coronavirus pandemic last spring, Shone used savings to start her new business, aiming to meet growing demand for household goods free of the plastic packaging used in supermarkets.
Customers book a visit from the ‘Topup Truck’ online and then purchase goods such as lentils, pasta, olive oil, shampoo or washing up liquid using their own containers.
From a low base a decade ago, the market for such unpackaged bulk goods could hit at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by 2030 in the European Union, according to a report https://zerowasteeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020_06_30_zwe_pfs_executive_study.pdf by Zero Waste Europe, an anti-waste network.
While handling the logistics can be a challenge, Shone calculates that her service has eliminated the need for at least 12,700 pieces of plastic since it launched in August.
Planning a crowdfunder to retrofit her milk float to enable her to serve a greater range of products to more communities, Shone hopes her novel approach will inspire others to find creative ways to tackle waste.
“If we want to have real change, it has to be a collective effort,” she said.
($1 = 0.8218 euros)
(Writing by Matthew Green, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
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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