QR Code Based Virtual Shopping is the Future of Shopping

QR Code Based Virtual Shopping is the Future of Shopping

 

If you can’t get customers, who are too busy to shop, to come to your store then take your store to them. With this mindset comes the future of shopping using QR Codes.

 

An increasing number of companies are creating virtual stores, that are made up of posters displaying the products with quick response (QR) codes, rather than having physical merchandise. Customers are able to scan the matrix barcodes with their smartphones, pay for the items in their virtual carts and then have the items delivered to their home within hours, depending on the items. For the person who doesn’t have time to shop, it is the advantage of window shopping without the hassle of waiting in a checkout line.

 

For the last four years, virtual stores have been popping up around the world, in countries which include South Korea, Canada, The United States, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Chile and Argentina. Walmart teamed up with Mattel to open a virtual toy store at Union Station in Toronto for a month of Christmas shopping. The virtual toy store is positioned so that 200,000 commuters a day pass by it. The hottest toys of the season are displayed to catch the commuters’ eye as they head to and from work.

 

Even though most companies offer online stores for shopping, the ability to browse is what is making these virtual stores more popular. Mobile devices limit the number of products that can be seen because of the size of their screen. The merchandise posters, however, allow the store to display dozens of products at a time.

 

These displays catch the consumer’s attention and help them find items quickly, which also allows them to avoid having to use keyword searches in an online store which isn’t as quick because they may have to figure out the correct keyword to find what they need. These virtual stores are also capitalizing on prior shopping experiences by including products on shelves, which encourages an immersive shopping experience that they can’t find from a mobile online store.

 

The concept of a virtual store began in 2009, when the British grocery chain Tesco launched its HomePlus service in South Korea. They installed posters that looked exactly like a grocery store aisle onto the walls of subway stations. When a commuter made a purchase, the items would be delivered to their door within hours. A similar type of service is now being offered in Chicago by Peapod, with several train stations having virtual stores in them.

 

QR codes have been around since the 1990s, however, the surge in smartphones has made them incredibly popular for gathering information, whether it’s for shopping, travel or anything in between. Besides Walmart, other major retailers have their own virtual stores in highly populated areas including Sears, JCPenney, Kmart and Staples.

 

This isn’t really a new concept, in fact, companies have been doing it for years in the form of mail order catalogues, dating back to when Montgomery Ward mailed out the first in 1872. Back then, item descriptions were combined with an item number that could be added to an order page and items were received through the mail weeks later. Today, images of products give a visual representation of the item, QR codes have replaced the item number and delivery times have been slashed to days, and in some cases even hours.

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. If you enjoyed this article, let me help you with any of your professional content needs. Including professional and original blog articles, website content and all forms of content marketing. Please contact me at michael@mdtcreative.com and I will put my 10+ years of experience to work for you.

Why Project Management is Important

Project management is a field which is increasingly growing among businesses of all sizes. With the daily responsibilities of managing an organization, entrepreneurs and company executives alike, are finding it important to use dedicated project managers to handle the management of individual projects from start to finish. When organizations command a sound understanding of effective project management techniques they can complete large projects on time, within budget and with less disruption to the balance of the business operations.

While the business as a whole is an ongoing operation, a project is a separate and temporary undertaking that is focused on creating a unique product, service or process. This type of venture usually means that it is unique to the company and there aren’t any plans in place that will guide the project to completion. Project managers possess the knowledge and experience to create a plan, organize the materials needed and manage the personnel required to bring the project to completion.

A lot of business projects involve large-scale planning that affects all the departments or areas of a business. Executing a major project could mean there is a need to deal with human resources, budgetary and supply constraints. Professional project managers are skilled in project management techniques which are capable of dealing with one-time projects. They can devise plans to manage and control interdependent activities and address resource conflict. Businesses that use project management to monitor and control the total process and schedules can more effectively complete their projects on time and on budget.

An invaluable tool for projects that deal with creating a product or even ones that require materials to complete is Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC). AIDC is the process of automatically identifying objects and collecting the data about them so that the data can be entered into a computer system. The technologies involved in AIDC include barcodes and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).

AIDC consists of gathering external data through analysis of images, sounds or videos. A transducer is used to capture the data and then converts it into a digital file. The file can then be stored for analyzation by a computer, or compared with other files in a database to verify identity or to provide authorization to enter a secured system. Materials used in a project can be tracked throughout the different phases of the project to ensure that everything is accounted for and data is recorded effectively. It can also ensure all materials needed are received from the supplier and implemented effectively.

Creating a project timeline requires coordinating activities in conjunction with ongoing business activities. A project manager will organize and detail activities which are required in each step of the project and oversee teams made up of the company personnel to carry out each step. Working within the boundaries of a project management plan, a schedule plans target dates for completion of tasks within each phase. The timeline is directly correlated to the scope of a project.

Project management is most important in businesses that consist of a wide range of projects all running simultaneously. The scope of the project refers to how much of the business the project will affect. The bigger the project, the more details and planning are required to successfully bring it to completion. Carrying out a wide-scale business venture requires careful coordination to ensure minimal impact for the ongoing sales and production.

A good project manager will help to keep projects on budget. A good project management plan will identify anticipated costs early in the development stage and create a realistic budget. With the use of resource conflict solutions, project managers can minimize the effect of funding a new project on operating capital by optimizing the allocation of workers. Coordinating tasks and clearly identifying goals or deliverables within phases reduces inefficiencies in time management that can result in the project being over budget.

Implementing project management across the organization helps create a strategic value chain that gives companies an edge on their competitors, particularly in high-risk sectors and markets. Being able to deliver projects on time and within budget often determines whether a company will get the next job or whether its new product hits the market.

Ninety percent of global senior executives ranked project management methods as either critical or somewhat important to their ability to deliver successful projects and remain competitive.

As the practice of project management evolves from individual projects to widespread large projects, the connections between organizational project management and business value become clearer. And the more involved the executive team is, the better the results.

What Your Industrial Spill Kit Should Consist of

What Your Industrial Spill Kit Should Consist of

 

A spill kit is an all-in-one kit which stores all of the equipment you need to clean up any type of hazardous material spills your business may encounter. The government requires any business that handles hazardous material needs to have a kit available to handle a spill in case of an emergency to lessen the damage that may occur.

 

Spill kits are a precautionary measure whose contents will differ depending on the type of material you handle on a regular basis. However, there is one basis that is standard for all spill kits.

 

You need to have available any type of products and equipment necessary to handle the type and quantity of spill that is possible.

 

Different Types of Basic Spill Kits

When broken down, there are three different categories of spills:

 

It’s important for business owners to carefully identify their specific needs in the case of a spill, when choosing a spill kit that will best suit their needs. Here is an idea of some of the basic spills that can occur.

 

General Purpose – As the name suggests, a general purpose spill kit is designed for both water-based liquids as well as hydrocarbons. General purpose spill kits will be made up of grey absorbents that make them effective for cleaning up water and hydrocarbons.

 

Oil Only – A spill kit for only oil will contain white absorbents that are designed for cleaning up hydrocarbons such as oil and gasoline. The absorbents found in this kit float on water for more effective clean up.

 

Hazmat – The third type of spill kit is a hazmat kit, which is designed for spills that involve highly corrosive acids and solvents. Hazmat spill kits will contain yellow colored absorbents.

 

The Contents or a Spill Kit

The exact contents of a spill kit will depend on each company’s specific needs to handle an emergency spill. However, there are some basic items found in most spill kits.

 

Some of the more common items found in spill kits will include safety equipment, to protect the people involved in the cleanup. These items usually include safety goggles, gloves, disposable bags and pads.

 

Before purchasing a spill kit, you need to carefully check its contents to ensure it will handle the specific requirements of your company.

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. If you enjoyed this article, let me help you with any of your professional content needs. Including professional and original blog articles, website content and all forms of content marketing. Please contact me at michael@mdtcreative.com and I will put my 10+ years of experience to work for you.

5 Reasons Why Your Business Card Is Still Your Most Effective Marketing Tool

Even in today’s “digital age” you’re still better off doing some things “old school”. One of those things is handing out your business card. Even though it’s very hard to find a business person who doesn’t email, call or even hold meetings using a conference call, instead of flying half way around the world to hold a meeting in person. Handing out a business card should never be done away with.

Here are five reasons why every business person should always keep a good supply of business cards on hand at all times:

Sending contact information digitally is impersonal

Networking has always been, and will always be extremely important to any business. Even though sending your contact information digitally, through an email or a text, will always be quick and convenient. However, it will also be very impersonal.

 

If you want to make a solid connection with someone (which should be your goal), the only effective way to do this is in person, with eye to eye contact, a firm handshake and the presentation of your business card. Genuine connections are still made the old fashioned way, in person and with an actual conversation.

Still the most effective tool for effective marketing

Search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing and social media marketing are extremely important marketing tools for all businesses. However, nothing is effective for attracting solid leads then a meeting in-person, with eye to eye contact, a firm handshake and the exchanging of business cards.

 

An effective first impression of your brand

A properly designed business card is an excellent first impression of your brand. No one wants their businesses’ first impression to say “I’m cheap and incompetent”. This is why you should always provide a business card, however, it should be properly designed.

Having a poorly designed business card is the same as writing your contact information on a napkin with a crayon, it’s not only ineffective it makes you look incompetent. An effective business card should do more than provide your contact information, it should say this is me and I guarantee I’m not only up to the challenge, I will succeed.

When I pass out my business card, I want to make a great first impression, I want to be unique and I want people to remember me.

Unique business cards get shared

A business card is a physical object that has the potential to be passed around and shared with other potential clients. If you have one that is unique, the chances are far greater for this to happen regularly.

A business cards says “I’m prepared”

We have all met the person who scrambles for a scrap piece of paper and a pen (or sometimes a crayon) when asked for their contact information. I don’t even have to explain what kind of first impression this person leaves me with. Not a good one, and I promise you I usually file their info in the “circular file”.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I sincerely hope that my blog entertains, helps and gets you thinking. Please take a minute to leave a comment to start and interesting conversation, or add your interesting thoughts to an existing conversation.

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Predicting Economic Bubbles

Predicting Economic Bubbles

 

Economic bubbles can be extremely profitable and equally devastating, depending on where you sit. An economic bubble is when asset prices run up in value rapidly, followed by a major contraction, as in the case of the housing bubble of 2007-2008 or the Tech Bubble of 2000-2002.

 

What is an Economic Bubble?

Economic bubbles are created when there is a surge in the prices of assets, not in line with the fundamentals of the asset, but rather by an excited market behavior. When there aren’t any investors willing to buy into the elevated prices of the assets anymore, a major selloff occurs, causing the bubble to burst.

 

Bubbles occur in economies, securities, stock markets and business sectors because of a major shift in the behavior of investors. Economists have debated whether bubbles can be identified, or even stopped, before they can cause widespread damage.

 

Dutch Tulip Mania

However, spotting bubbles isn’t easy, as in the case of the Dutch Tulip Bubble of the 1630s. At the peak of Tulip mania, as it was called, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. For a flower, for Pete Sake!

 

Spotting a Bubble

For many investors, more important than spotting a bubble, is whether it’s possible to avoid getting sucked into a bubble at its top end and suffering dramatic declines as the case of the 80% drop in technology stocks in 2002.

 

It’s notoriously difficult to time the stock market. As a result, there were several occasions, during the last century, when the markets doubled over three years. After the rise in these cases, the markets then dropped by half in the following year on less than one in 20 occasions.

 

The market dropped by half of their value over the next five years around one tenth of the time. And in a fifth of these occasions, the market went on to double again. With this in mind, a sharp rise in the market is a buy signal, rather than a sell signal. This explains why investors find it so difficult to get out of the market at its peak.

 

Financial Definition of a Bubble

One of the problems with spotting economic bubbles is economists don’t agree on the actual definition of a bubble in the first place. One concept to defining a bubble is that it occurs when the price of an asset rises by more than two standard deviations above its previous long-term trend.

 

Another approach is to look at the fundamentals. Typically, asset prices are expected to reflect the current value of future cash flows. In theory, a doubling in the market could reflect a sudden improvement in the outlook for that asset class.

 

One reason there a several different opinions on what is the start of an economic bubble is that bubbles aren’t usually obvious until they’re underway, or more to the point, when they have already taken a turn.

 

What could seem like the “next big thing” may not reveal itself to be a catastrophic economic bubble until it bursts, as in the case of the tech bubble that occurred at the beginning of the new millennium.

 

The Tech Bubble

The tech bubble, or dot-com bubble, was a purely speculative bubble that occurred around 1995 – 2001 when the stock markets in industrialized countries saw their equity value rise rapidly, and extraordinarily, due to the growth in the internet sector and related fields.

 

Since the tech bubble was caused by the recent rise in the internet it seemed that it was a result of the current times and the ever increasing use and value of the World Wide Web itself. People figured that there was nowhere to go but up.

 

The Birth of the Day Trader

One factor that fueled the bubble to greater and greater heights was the introduction of easier, less expensive stock trading. This allowed anyone the ability to easily and affordably trade stocks. This lead to “day trading” by inexperienced investors. People were buying stocks and holding them for a day, or even a couple of hours and then selling them. When the great sell off came in 2001 it was catastrophic.

 

Timing the Market

None of this is very encouraging since there really isn’t one effective way to spot a bubble until it’s too late. However, it makes sense because if timing the market were possible, major price swings wouldn’t be an issue in the first place.

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I sincerely hope that my blog entertains, helps and gets you thinking. Please take a minute to leave a comment to start and interesting conversation, or add your interesting thoughts to an existing conversation.

 

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Why EMV Implementation is Important

EMV was implemented to provide a worldwide standard for the interaction between integrated microprocessor (chip-based) “smart cards”, approved payment devices and ATMs. The standard includes credit, debit and contactless payment transactions.

A wide range of applications can be supported by these chip-based cards, but performing payment transactions that store encryption data for authentication is the most common use around the world. For more than ten years, encrypted data on chip cards has been used to prevent cloning of payment cards. If it is combined with PIN, consumer authentication and the prevention of non-repudiation are achieved.

An EMV terminal reads data stored on the chip card for offline transactions and authenticates that the data is legitimate for general payment applications. This prevents the use of stolen or cloned cards. Strong cryptographic` functions are used to authenticate the card and the cardholder to ensure validity and authenticity.

However, magnetic stripe cards do not have the same kind of data storage. They also do not have a microprocessor, therefore, magnetic stripe cards can’t contain the same security features as chip cards because there isn’t a dynamic data element and the cards are easily cloned. In the case of magnetic stripe cards, the cardholder’s data is encoded on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card. This is similar in theory to a tape recorder.

When the card is swiped, all of the cardholder data, including the account number, name and expiration date is sent in one direction from the payment terminal to the authorization network. The authorization network checks the information, authorizes the charge and provides a payment guarantee to the merchant.

For the most part, since magstripe has worked well, risk is relatively well managed and consumers are happy with the status quo, there has been reluctance all around for bearing the cost of the migration.

Rapid consumer adoption of mobile phones and smart phones is the driving force for new forms of communication, social media, which is widely expected to lead to quick adoption of mobile payment capabilities.

Mobile technology, and more specifically NFC (Near Field Communications), is dramatically tilting the playing field and easing retailer resistance to investing in innovation at the point of sale (POS). Instead of viewing NFC as only another payment acceptance technology, retailers view this as a technology providing a converged solution for integrating payment with applications that increase traffic and sales.

Customers will be driven into stores with the emerging online services such as digital couponing, loyalty rewards, location-based social media and value-added applications. However, those shoppers will expect merchants to integrate these new services with their payments in one transaction.

NFC is a radio-based interaction protocol compatible with existing contactless payment standards which is increasingly being incorporated into mobile smartphones to bridge the previously dissimilar worlds of the internet and the brick & mortar retail environment.

NFC-enabled phones will allow consumers to get information instantly and pay for products or services from their mobile phone-based electronic wallets with just a tap or wave at any NFC-enabled payment device. Additionally, because NFC supports two-way communication, merchants can lure consumers with digital coupons and promotional messages sent directly to their smart phones or interactive loyalty solutions.

Interest in NFC soared in 2011 with the introduction Google Wallet and three wireless service providers, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, formed a joint venture called Isis with a similar concept that has since won support from MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover.

NFC may be the main driver in making EMV viable in the U.S. However, there are many business factors that are converging to make EMV more relevant to the U.S. payments industry.

While the relative cost of card fraud has been mainly consistent and has been built into the fees structure for card acceptance, it still represents a huge sum of money and the issuers are eager to transfer liability for those costs to the merchant.

Cataloging the precise losses from card fraud in the U.S. is difficult, however according to a report by a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, it amounts to more than $3 billion annually. This amount is spread among card issuers ($2 billion), point-of-sale merchants ($837 million), and mail order, telephone and Internet merchants ($900 million).

Organized crime efforts to exploit payment cards have resulted in increasingly sophisticated efforts that have included large heists such as a crime ring in 2008 that was charged with stealing 45 million credit and debit cards from a number of national retailers, and in January 2009 an assault on Heartland Payment Systems that comprised an estimated 130 million card accounts.

More recently, New York City law enforcement officials charged “members of five organized forged credit card and identity theft rings based in Queens County and having ties to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East” with stealing the personal credit information of thousands of unwitting American and European consumers “and costing these individuals, financial institutions and retail businesses more than $13 million in losses over a 16-month period.”

The Benefits of Using Hosted Inventory Management Software

Accurate inventory and up-to-date sales tracking are both vital to operating and succeeding with your business. Choosing the right software is one of the most important business decisions you will make.

When broken down, inventory management software is a computer-based system for tracking inventory levels, orders, sales and deliveries. It can also be used in the manufacturing industry to create a work order, bill of materials and other production related documents. Companies use the system to avoid product overstock and outages. Companies also use inventory management software for organizing inventory data that was usually stored on hard-copy form or spreadsheets in the past.

Inventory management software includes several key components that all work together to create a combined inventory for several systems. These components include:

Order Management

When a product reaches a certain predetermined level, the company’s inventory management system can be programmed to prompt managers to reorder that product. This greatly helps companies avoid running out of products or tying up too much capital in inventory.

Asset Tracking

When a product is in a warehouse, enroute to a client or in a store, it can be tracked with its barcode or other tracking device. Inventory management currently utilizes barcode, RFID or wireless tracking technology.

Service Management

Companies that are primarily service-orientated rather than product-oriented can use inventory management software to track the cost of the materials they use to provide the services they offer. This allows them to add prices to their services that reflect the total cost of performing them.

Product Identification

Data on products and orders is usually inputted into inventory management software by using barcodes. A barcode reader is used to read the barcodes and look up information on the products they are attached to. RFID tags and wireless methods of product identification are also growing in popularity.

There are several advantages to using inventory management software in a business.

Cost Savings

A company’s inventory, in most cases, represents one of their largest investments. Inventory management software helps companies cut expenses by minimizing the amount of unnecessary parts and products in their operation. It also helps companies avoid lost sales by having enough stock on hand to meet demand.

Increased Efficiency

Inventory management software allows many inventory-related tasks to be automated. For example, software can automatically collect data, conduct calculations and create records. This not only results in time savings and cost savings, but also increases the efficiency of the business.

Warehouse Organization

Inventory management software can help distributors, wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers optimize the use of their warehouses. For instance, if specific products are usually sold together or are more popular than others, those products can be grouped together or placed near the delivery area to speed up the process of selection and shipping.

Updated Data

Another advantage to inventory management software is up-to-date, real-time data on inventory conditions and levels. Company executives can access the software through a mobile device, laptop or PC to check the current level of inventory, which is automatically updated and allows businesses to make informed decisions.

Data Security

With the help of restricted user rights, company managers can allow several employees to assist in inventory management. They can grant employees just enough information access to receive products, make orders, transfer products and do other tasks without compromising company security. This can speed up the inventory management process and save the managers’ time.

Information on Trends

Inventory management software makes it possible to track where products are stocked, which suppliers they come from and the length of time they are stocked. By analysing this data, companies can control inventory levels and maximize the use of warehouse space. This also allows businesses to be more prepared for the supply and demand of the market, especially during special circumstances such as a peak season on a particular month.

Inventory management software is not necessarily simple to learn. A company’s management team must dedicate a certain amount of time to learning the new system, including both software and hardware, in order to use it effectively and efficiently. Despite the apparent complexity of inventory management software, it offers a large degree of stability to companies. For example if an IT employee in charge of the system leaves the company, a replacement can be comparatively inexpensive to train compared to if the company used several different programs to store inventory data.

This is proof that the advantages of having inventory management software in place far outweigh the complexity that may be involved in learning to use it and training your employees to use it.