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How to Find High Risk Merchant Services for Ecommerce Stores

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20 years ago, it was amazing to have a book come right to your door from a little online store called Amazon.

Today, what’s even more amazing is that you can run your own little online store and send your own crafts and other products to your customers’ doors. Online services like Shopify and Miva have made it easy to open stores, bringing in side-hustle level money or even creating full-time gigs.

Collecting money is a critical aspect in online business success. Luckily, the ecommerce platforms make it easy to connect with merchant processors to make accepting credit, debit, PayPal and more payments simple. You will need both a merchant service provider and a payment gateway. It may be a few steps, but accepting a wide variety of payments only takes filling in fields online. You the ecommerce platform about the merchant service and payment gateway you want and follow the instructions to connect both to your bank account and website.

The good news is that technology has progressed to the point where vendors can have a store without a website. Google Shopping, Facebook Stores and Instagram shops sidestep the need for a website. Merchants simply list their inventory on their ecommerce platform and feed it out through a line of code.

Even better, most ecommerce platforms accommodate any merchant service provider you choose. To pick the right one, consider your business’s potential expansion and make sure your plan will accommodate that growth. Also, ask the merchant account service what specific features they offer for ecommerce shops.

Test All Software and Hardware

Quality software and hardware require a trial run before unleashing your business upon a market. It also gives you a chance to check out the customer service that comes with your ecommerce platform and your merchant account. Run through some experimental purchases. Get this done because when a glitch occurs in real-time with a real customer, you want to be able to get it taken care of quickly and with little thought or research. You risk not only alienating customers but ending up with chargebacks and returns.

Understand Fees Involved

Merchant account service charge a percentage for all transactions plus a flat rate for each transaction and a fee for each month. If the merchant service is asking for application, setup, programming, annual or termination fees, be wary. These fees are often considered unethical, and the competent providers do not require them.

Depending on the type of ecommerce business you run, you may be better off paying more up front but allows you to have a greater number of transactions each month. You have to look at your business and crunch the numbers to see what works best for you.

Finally, look in the fine print for “transaction volume caps,” or other charges. These can eat into your profits. Set daily or monthly transaction caps could prompt your provider to shut your account down. That’s the last thing you want if a surge in sales arises during a promotional or holiday offer.

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How Smart Borrowers Will Leverage Credit Cards in 2020

man with empty walletTechnology continues its forward charge and no aspect of our lives is left untouched. Even credit cards are changing based on advances in coding, competition and rewards. When you know the innovations unfolding in 2019 from the best credit card issuers, you can hold out for the best perks, the most iron-clad safety and the best in customer service.

First, understand that that Gen Z, the generation born between 1995 and 2015 uses Google, Amazon and the social networks like the rest of us use laptops and texting. Gen Z will be 40% of of all US consumers by 2020, so credit card issuers will be catering to them as well as the Millennials. That means the rest of us must push ourselves to understand the newest bells and whistles that come with new credit cards. Most of all Gen Z wants highly personalized credit card experiences . . . a good thing, as card issuers will deliver more relevant offers to each of us as the years go by. Keep in mind, too, that GenZers use mobile banking apps more than desktop or tablet access. That could mean that card issuers will spend more money on their apps than on their desktop/laptop interfaces. Getting proficient with every issuer’s mobile app will ensure you get all the convenience available.

Mobile Payments Will Continue to Evolve

Up to now, consumers have dealt with clunky mobile credit card payment options. With advancing APIs and open banking, card issuers will begin to offer more valuable, customer-centric payment experiences. These will include immediate rewards, card balance alerts coming to smartphones and more, as issuers work to bring true value beyond simple credit card transactions.

Better Rewards

American consumers have embraced rewards cards. It’s no wonder. In 2018, they got a total of $15 billion in rewards value through airline miles, cash back and other perks. While the rewards enticements are raising marketing costs for card issuers, they must continue them to keep up with the competition. In fact, these marketing costs have doubled from 2008 to 2016. Still, they’re all the better for the consumer, who consistently demand more rewards. If a rewards program isn’t robust enough, consumers don’t hesitate to switch.

Another rewards-related development is real-time rewards delivery. While today rewards get redeemed after a month or so, experts predict they could come through with every purchase soon. Look for that advantage as you review your options in the coming year!

Credit Cards Getting Even Safer

Chipped cards did help with credit card safety, but even more safety measures are coming down the pike. “Tokenization” is a system that creates a unique code for each customer and purchase on each website. If this code is stolen, it won’t work for any other transaction. Listen for the term, tokenization as credit cards advertise to you via the internet and live streaming.

Cards used everywhere

Babyboomers remember when only department stores accepted credit cards. Now Etsy vendors, salsa makers at the Farmer’s Markets and ecommerce stores ALL accept credit cards. This trend will grow to include service providers as well. This means, soon, you won’t have to stop for cash to go to the resale shops or roadside stands. PayPal, Venmo, Stripe and Square will enable even the smallest businesses to accept payments. Universal acceptance is on its way!

Be alert to these changes and demand them from the credit card issuers you are considering. In the customer-centric era, they will be competing with each other to give you the lowest rates and the best rewards.

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How to Pay Off your Cash Advance with a Crafty E-commerce Side-Hustle

hands knitting
Craft your way to paying off bills and cash advances.

 

Did you think those oven mitts and coffee cozies were just heart-felt gifts for family? Think again! By selling your crafts online, you can get ahead financially and even pay down credit cards or a cash advance due soon.

Yes, 55% of all retail shopping happens on Amazon, but that’s the place people get products from the brands they’re always familiar with. Generic, dull products! Big brand electronics, books, tin foil, toilet cleaner. Nothing made with love and unique vision.  

As Amazon.com, Walmart.com and others continue to take over the retail space for generic products, American consumers are craving handmade, unique items for themselves and for gifts. Even better, several online platforms offer websites (LINK to other post) where crafty types can put up their own stores (beyond selling on Etsy.) These platforms have made selling online simple, even fun.

You may be even more encouraged by knowing the biggest issue ecommerce entrepreneurs face: uncertainty about what products to sell. As a craft artisan, you HAVE the rare skills to create the products  that will appeal to shoppers.

Here, we’ve listed 20 low-cost, do-it-yourself crafts that you can shape with your own color, texture and creative skills. None takes advanced skills, but they do take originality, which if you’re reading this post, you most likely have in spades.

Bath Bombs

In today’s go-go culture, who doesn’t need a bathbomb pampering. You might be surprised to learn that the ingredients of bathbombs are just: baking soda, epsom salts, food coloring, citric acid, and a bath bomb mold (~ $5).  Ambitious crafters can also add products like dissolving glitter and essential oils. These inexpensive ingredients amount to about $2 to $3 per bomb. Sell them for $5 each and you have a 100% mark-up. More, unlike crocheted or knitted items, bathbombs can be made quickly and in bulk. There are countless websites describing exactly how to make bathbombs, but more, how to make money making them.

Candles

While candles are everywhere, no one turns them down as a gift. And unique, quality candles can provide months of pleasure for the gift recipient. Crafters who make candles for birthdays, anniversaries and even unusual holidays like Opposite Day know their customers need them all year.

They key is to diverge from the low quality candles one finds in the large retail stores. With high mark-ups, these generic candles burn rapidly, often with little to no scent. Quality candles, often fashioned with essential oils, fill a room with rich ambiance and fragrance.

Getting started requires a website (and/or Farmer’s Market tables), raw materials costing under $200 and your hard work. People have made livings from creating candles infused with the spent grain from local craft breweries, excess grapes from wineries and more. Often, candle crafters can sell their company-inspired candles right to the company. Now that’s smart entrepreneurship.

Pet Toys

You thought the kids were bad? Pets go through toys fast, both by getting bored with them and destroying them at a high rate. Each year in the United States, pet owners spend $60 billion on their pets. If you can convince a dog or cat owner that your product will make their beloved happy, you should go online with it. After all, impulse buys made on emotions tend to have higher profits.

Adding an extra twist to your pet toy can push your sales even further. For instance, using eco-friendly materials can lower a shopper’s resistance, as can stating that a percentage of your profits goes to animal charities. You can create toys just for large dogs, senior dogs or puppies going through teething. Consider, too, creating toys from materials that come to you at the lowest cost. Get them online, promote them on social channels and you have a new income stream!

Handmade Soap

The power man-made chemicals unleashed astounded us . . . until we realized the damage their overuse could cause. Consumers are attracted not only to organic food, but organic cleaning compounds as well. These include mixtures made of vinegar, baking soda and other common household item. Handmade soaps have the added benefit of being less expensive and potentially plastic-free.  

With the amazing varieties of scents and dyes available, it’s easy to develop products for specific markets. In the United States, one woman makes a living using the spent grain from breweries to make soaps the brewery then brands and sells as keepsakes. Hostesses, parents and friends feel spoiled when they get to use lovely soaps that smell far better than grocery store brands.

Printed Throw Pillows

You may have gotten a deal on that new couch, but putting coordinating pillows on it will cost you another $200. If you have a sewing machine and an eye for distinctive fabrics and trims, maybe your future is in pillows.

American’s spend $62.5 billion each year in home decor. Keep up with decor  styles and colors through the design magazines to get an edge on the slower-moving corporate brands. For 2019, people are talking about bright “jewel tones” which really means just bold primary colors. Grays are out (finally!). Take photos of your creations, don’t be afraid to mix stripes with polka dots. Eclectic is in! (as long as the colors coordinate). Fabric stores constantly have sales. If you go shopping knowing with an idea of what you’re looking for, you can get your raw materials at low prices.

Resin Jewelry

With a special plastic called resin, hardener, dyes, glitter, photos and whatever you can think of, you can create beautiful pieces to sell online. Don’t forget the silicon or metal molds of course. Make a quick photo keepsake by pouring clear resin into a mold and then covering it with a carefully trimmed, small photo. Cover the photo with a sealant (like ModgePodge) and then let your masterpiece rest for 24 hours. Once it dries, pop it out of the mold and your photo sits behind a glass-like substance. Some artists like to layer in different pieces like beads, natural objects before putting a final backing on the piece. They even finish it with a layer of glitter.  Once the piece is finished, you can adorn it with wooden elements, silver or gold wire as well.

Keychains

The keychain never goes out of style. Today, keychains come in the forms like initials, animals and scenes from tourist attractions. All of these shapes indicate the user’s identity. People can’t resist items that reflect their egos. If you can shape leather, canvas, plastic, or cloth into pieces that reflect interests and habits, you have a winner. Sell to both men and women, keeping your market large. Bonus: keychains’ small size ensure your materials go a long way.

 

Ceramics

Don’t you just get fascinated by people shaping clay on a wheel with muddy hands? A pinch here and a squeeze there reshapes the piece entirely. Ceramics amy seem challenging but you can start with a simple bowl. If this tactile hobby feels irresistible, you could be on your way to a whole new side-hustle.  Adding acrylic paint, glitter, and even nail polish can further hone your brand.

Whichever of these craft avenues you choose, rest assured you can find a market for your work. Reaching your market is easier than ever with an online store and social advertising. Don’t let money worries overtake you. Use your spare time to create something beautiful and profit from it!

 

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