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Are we set for ‘Shop Out to Help Out’?

It’s to no surprise that when the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme came about, the nation went wild. Every restaurant and pub were filled to the brim with people fighting for the last plate of pie and chips. Financially, the scheme generated a massive revenue with over 100 million meal claims, so we can only call it a success in terms of boosting the economy during such a hard time. Now, retailers are calling for a similar ‘Shop Out to Help Out’ scheme to encourage consumers to spend.

There are many big retailers that are convinced that this type of Government measure to enhance sales will help independent businesses to thrive and succeed alongside the larger brands. Following the reopening of non-essential shops on April 12th, the scheme would be set to cover 50 percent of the shoppers’ costs up to £10 on Mondays and Wednesdays. This would last for a month, and would apply only to physical stores that have up to 10 staff members.

It’s inevitable that without the scheme put in place, independent businesses will face a dramatic loss of sales as the public hit the streets to head to the big stores. According to the British Retail Consortium, non-essential retailers lost roughly £22 billion under lockdown restrictions. Independent businesses were hit particularly hard with the closures of thousands despite them being the stores that were there to support the public when in need during the first legs of the pandemic.

Regardless of this being merely an idea, it’s clear that the benefits that would be seen following the implementation might be just what we need to survive the unravelling of lockdown rules and it’s a worry that without this help, independent businesses will be forgotten about. We’re yet to see whether the scheme will be discussed by the Treasury, but we hope to be updated with the news soon.

Are these new stamps the Royal Mail Revolution?

The beloved postal service Royal Mail has been going for over 500 years now. You’ll have your own personal experiences with the service, whether it’s sending a card using one of their stamps, receiving a parcel from their little red vans, or having a friendly chat on the doorstep with your local postie. This delivery service has served the nation well, but maybe it’s time for some upgrades…

With the intention of providing customers with convenient and modern servicing, Royal Mail are now trialling the use of barcodes on stamps. Queen Elizabeth’s face has been the icon of the stamp for as long as we can remember, with a peel and a stick then your post is usually ready to go. But how would you feel about a unique barcode number being added alongside your 2nd class stamp?

Retailer Viking Direct will be behind the pilot scheme of around 20 million stamps which are now available to buy both through the retailer and via Royal Mail itself. The idea behind this scheme is to create more transparency for the customer of the process behind the mail delivery; they pride themselves on doing whatever they can to meet customers’ ever-changing needs. However, all we know is that this barcode will be sitting next to the perforated line, but we aren’t aware of the exact function behind it which we’re guessing will be released depending on how the trials go.

Most likely, the barcode will make it more efficient for when customers have a missing parcel, act as an easier delivery location tracker or just be a form of confirmation. Either way, we’re intrigued by these new stamps and are excited to hear feedback of whether they’re here to stay.

Record number of start-up businesses during lockdown

The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t brought about much good at all, but we can say thanks to it for setting up the UK to come out of the national lockdown with more businesses than ever.

It’s no doubt that the impacts of Covid-19 have been detrimental to lives, businesses, the economy and the all round well-being of the population. Businesses in particular seemed to think that they had no hope when the closure of over 396,000 firms struck – with more soon to follow. However, what about all of the businesses which have started since the first lockdown?

Businesses both big and small have struggled throughout this past year with the hospitality and travel and tourism sectors facing some serious wrath. We’re all aware that our local pubs have been back and forth like a yo-yo with their ‘eat out to help out’ schemes, 10.p.m curfews and for some, complete closures.

Despite so many not making it through the final push of lockdown and ultimately resulting in permanent shut downs, there’s also thousands that have managed to find the funds and will be lucky enough to come out of the other side once it hits April 12th.

Many businesses have used this time to thrive with the introductions of online deliveries, creations of prominent social media presences and making new products that may not have been possible prior to having all of these spare hours.

Alongside all of the companies that have been upping their game, the number of new businesses has sky rocketed and reached an all-time high. Over 407,000 start-ups have launched over lockdown which we can only put down to an increase in free time, a growing passion for learning about e-commerce and the inspirations of social media gurus.

These launches are set to thrive post-lockdown as we see a plethora of creative start-ups and an evident love amongst society to focus on helping small and local businesses grow.

Jenny Scott, owner of Cheshire-based gift shop ‘Ruby & Harry’, gives her opinion on how the business sector is capable of benefiting during these uncertain times.

“Now more than ever, companies are doing deliveries, they’re using this time to expand their menus or create new products, and people are creating online platforms to entice customers.”

“This is the time to have a fresh outlook on your business. People can’t go into work so they’re having to think outside the box and are planning ahead. For most business owners I know this has been a positive time that they have used to build on themselves and it’s realistically the best time to start your next business venture.”

Do you need to pay data protection fees?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent body which was created to ensure that information rights are upheld in the interest of the public. They’re a body who you’re unable to avoid during your time as a sole trader as data protection fees are to be paid by all businesses and organisations unless exempt....

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The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

Finding the perfect brand name

Tell me, have you ever had this experience… you’ve been browsing on a site and you’re pleasantly surprised with the selection of items that they have to offer. After a day of adding to your basket, you then close your tabs and think about all of the money you’ll be spending when it reaches payday....

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The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

Brexit: What are the rules of origin?

Post-Brexit, the UK have been made aware that trading, customs and duties are expected to have a slight twist with fees despite the Brexit free-trade deal. You can see more about the effects in our article ‘Brexit: How will this impact my business?’. But for now, I’m going to discuss the rules on goods that are set to cross the border.

The ‘rule of origin’ is a new key feature of trading which essentially determines whether an export is considered British or not. Sadly, it seemed that goods sold into the EU wouldn’t face custom duties, but it turns out that doesn’t apply to all goods, making it quite costly where this new set of rules is concerned.

All products must be made entirely in the UK or EU or transformed in such a substantial way that some type of value is added. An example would be if a British retailer imported goods from somewhere outside of the EU – we’ll use Asia as an example – then the retailer would need to pay a customs charge if they were to then export it to the EU again to sell.

Considering a huge proportion of sellers import from outside the EU for better quality and costs and then export to EU destinations, if they’re going to continue then they’ll have to pay custom duties.

Businesses do have every right to be miffed as they have essentially been blindsided by the rule of origin; they now have a major disadvantage when it comes to selling in the EU and had no time to prepare.

Amazon extends returns window

It’s to no surprise that during the pandemic, the entire consumer population has been going crazy purchasing from their neverending list of things that they just don’t need. Amazon has of course been the pinnacle of selling points with its prime benefits and widespread range of items. Even Tik-Tokkers have been creating videos such as ‘things from Amazon you didn’t know you needed’ which is a top viral trend. Some might say the multinational company dominates the world. 

At last, Amazon has reacted to current issues surrounding Covid-19 and extended customer return windows. This applies to all orders purchased on the Amazon UK website that were shipped between October 2020 and January 31st 2021, which people now have until February 28th to return. 

The company has grown on the back of laser focused customer service as they’ll accept a return for practically any excuse for a refund. This isn’t exactly good news for FBA sellers for the same reason that it’s a major cost factor in selling on the platform. But it is their sandpit and they make the rules so what can you do?

To be honest, Christmas returns would have been requested by now so it’s not the biggest issue, but say worst case scenario you will get a few people asking to return something which you normally wouldn’t be needing to refund. Technically, it’s still your decision with the duration of the returns window, but to keep yourself looked upon favourably, we suggest you go along with it.

Tips: Naming your website

So you’ve been creating your business plan for several years now and you’re ready to execute. You go to insert your website name…and it’s taken. Someone else already has the name that you’ve associated with your brand associated to their brand. Brilliant. Now what? Below I’m going to give you a few ideas of how...

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The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.

Klarna, Clearpay and others face new regulations

Sites such as Klarna and Clearpay have been set up to make shopping ‘easier’ by introducing post-payment plans. The concept is being constantly glamourized by social media influencers who encourage the use of the instalment plans that are an alternative to credit cards – supposedly preventing you from facing hidden fees or interest on payments.

These types of payment plans are easy ways to pay and can be considered virtually essential for young fashion fanatics and consumers. However, it was inevitable that the status quo could not be left as it is and change is now stated to be a matter of urgency.

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have, to no surprise, sent online shopping sales booming alongside the usage of buy now, pay later services.

According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), nearly five million buyers have used these instalment plan services, totalling around £2.7bn in the last year.

The FCA also reported that it’s become increasingly easier to build up the debts owed to these companies to £1,000, all without realising. Worryingly 1 in 10 people that are using these services to avoid upfront payments are reportedly already in debt elsewhere.

Before any type of regulations were introduced, the online retailers were benefiting drastically because the checks were minimal, hence why it has been known to be a fast and easy checkout. But with the risks of consumers (especially those that aren’t as educated in the subject) drowning so far in debt, action is needed. 

Affordability checks will now be implemented before lending the money and there will be fair treatment ensured for those that are struggling to repay their debts.

Government talks are currently underway to bring in legislation as soon as possible following consultations with the heads of the companies who also agree it’s time to regulate. 

iOS14 Update: are facebook ads changing?

Article credit to Velstar Shopify Plus Agency 

Over the past few months, advertisers on Facebook have been made aware that changes are coming to Apple’s privacy policy in their next iOS 14 update that will mean iPhone users will be explicitly required to consent to app publishers being able to track them across their apps and the websites they visit.

To shed some light on what the iOS 14 update means for your ecommerce business and how you can prepare, our Paid and Organic Social Media Manager, Rob Watts, shares his thoughts.

What will the iOS 14 notification look like?

The notification expected to land on all devices using iOS 14 once launched will look something like this…

What does it mean for businesses running ads if a user has decided to opt-out?

If users decide to opt-out, we expect to see fairly drastic changes to how we report on the data provided. This includes shorter attribution windows, zero demographic data in breakdowns when reporting, only eight standard and custom optimization events and more than likely smaller retargeting audiences due to higher prioritised events now being noted.

In short, this will mean that we will see less reported conversions overall, not ideal!

Back in 2015, a similar update was introduced to iOS 13 that gave iPhone users the option of allowing/giving Facebook & other apps access to their geographical location when the apps were not in use.

This change saw an opt-in rate plummet from 100% to less than 50%, which we think you’d agree, is a drastic drop! Could this latest update follow suit?

Maybe, but it’s not all doom and gloom as Facebook is reportedly working on something that will help with the loss of attribution we as advertisers are expecting.

Facebook has been rather vocal about their stance on the changes, both on their owned platforms, as well as more traditional platforms like newspapers and forums. This is just one of the newspaper ads they’ve taken out to express their feelings on the matter.

Alongside the newspaper ads, they have also released a statement saying:

‘In testing, we’ve seen more than a 50% drop in Audience Network publisher revenue

They go on to say…

‘Our studies show, without personalised ads powered by their own data, small businesses could see a cut of over 60% of website sales from ads.

Now, we do have to point out that the figures Facebook has used are only precautionary, and at this stage, we’re all completely unsure of how close or far away the actual numbers will be. However, it’s worth noting that Facebook has released this statement to express concerns and put pressure on Apple to reconsider the decision. As this update could potentially have severe consequences on smaller businesses and agencies across the global. 

So, what can you do to prepare for the changes? 

  • Verify your domain

Although there’s not much information as to why, Facebook has hinted that verifying your domain will be beneficial in the long run, so get your domain verified, the sooner the better! To help, Facebook has a list of steps you can follow.

  • Conversion tracking events

The update will mean only 8 conversion events per domain will be allowed. This includes standard events like purchase or add-to-cart, as well as your custom events! If you are currently using more than 8 events, it’s time to take a look and see which ones you need to keep and which ones you may have to drop.

  • Email database

Focus a percentage of your current Facebook ad efforts on increasing your email database to rely less on the Facebook Pixel optimisation for retargeting. As an agency, we’re currently seeing an incredible return on email for clients, many of which had never looked at email prior. If you’ve neglected emails before, now is the time to start thinking about them! 

  • Analyse your current data

Start understanding how many purchases/conversions/leads currently come from iOS devices. The breakdown report tab in Facebook Ads Manager is great for this! From here, you can start to gauge how your reporting figures may be affected and come up with a contingency plan.

So, that’s all we know for now. As the situation unfolds and more information is released, we’ll continue to keep you updated as best we can.

This isn’t the first big change in the marketing world, and it won’t be the last!

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The Ecommerce Club is designed to mentor members and enable collaboration between all parties. Not just help on your ecommerce journey but help on your business journey.