On the Right Path: Path App Review


As a small business owner, you’re always looking for new ways to connect with your customers via social networking. There’s now yet another possible avenue thanks to Path, the social journal for smartphones created by former Facebook employee Dave Morin.  This site’s app for both iPhone and Android has a small town feel with an emphasis on the quality of your network rather than the quantity. 

Each Path page is formatted like a timeline, allowing you to post comments, pictures and locations as they happen. The application also offers an Automatic feature, which updates your location as you move from place to place. 

Calling Path a social journal is no mistake. Not only are you capped at 150 friends, but it lacks the stark, business-like layout of both Facebook and Google+. The Path layout feels more personal thanks to a cover photo of your choosing which displays at the top of your page, as well as a smaller profile picture that appears in a bubble shape each time you post on your timeline. The lack of friend lists, social circles and networks gives your Path page the vibe of a personal blog, rather than a social networking site. 

Posting on Path is easy. Simply click on the plus symbol at the bottom left corner of your page to post music, photos, comments and your location. All of the above can also be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare via Path. Going to sleep? Click the moon icon to show your friends you’re offline for the evening without logging out. 

While you can comment on friend’s posts and pictures just like on other social networking sites, Path also offers a variety of comment icons like a heart or a surprised face. This detail is great because it’s much more personal than the “Like” option on Facebook. Although for some, the cute quotient may be too high. 

This all makes Path a great choice for solo entrepreneurs without a store, looking to keep a small client base updated on new products, retail locations and special deals. However, when it comes to small or medium-sized businesses, it’s not the best way to get the word out. The site is fairly new, with only about 1 million users, and the friend cap keeps your audience small. 

Instead, small businesses may want to consider using Path as a way to keep employees in the loop. The timeline layout as well as the site’s online journal quality is a great way to keep staff in touch with each other and updated on daily happenings, new stock, policy changes and meetings, without all of the extra distractions that sites like Facebook and Google+ provide. 

Do Door Busters Work?


By Simit Patel

Simit Patel is a trader, writer, and technology entrepreneur. Simit blogs via Contently.com.

A “door buster” is a loss leader. The idea is to sell a product at or below cost, as a way of getting customers into your store. The expectation is that customers will then purchase additional goods and services that are selling at a higher profit margin. From this perspective, door busters can be a winning marketing tool to help businesses grow their customer base and increase their profits. 

Sadly for merchants, though, door busters don’t always work. Some people only purchase the loss leader, and don’t return, so there are no purchases of additional goods or services to generate profits for the business. Door busters, in these cases, can actually be dangerous, as companies take losses that they may have failed to foresee.  

There are ways to get the most out of door buster strategies, through. Here are three easy and effective tactics store owners can use to both bring in and build business.

Make your door buster deals social

The concept of happy hour in bars is perhaps the quintessential example
of a social door buster, and one that has worked well enough to have
succeeded for decades across generations and cultures. 

To make your door busters social, make your promotion an event so
people will be happy to come, and bring friends or colleagues as well.

Make upselling easy

Restaurateur Cary Friedman found that a door buster he ran was his most successful advertising venture in his more than 29 years of owning a food service business. The key to the success was that his menu made it easier to upsell dessert on the discounted main courses.

Amazon is now using its new tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, as a door buster to draw customers into the Amazon system. Once purchased, it’s making it as easy as possible for buyers to use the tablet to buy additional products. 

Find recurring customers 

Door busters can also be a successful way to secure recurring customers. When planning a door buster deal, it makes sense to know who your ideal customer is, and then, what makes that customer come back when there is no deal available. Applying that information to a special sale will ensure its success.


Merchants who do the necessary market research, and  structure their offers to provide additional sales in conjunction with the door buster deal, as well as return sales from purchasers of loss leader items, will find this an effective way to do business. They’ll penetrate new markets and increase their share of the customer’s spend. 

Cloud Computing and the Future


By Dan Rafter

Dan Rafter is a freelance writer and editor with 15 years of journalism experience. Dan blogs via Contently.com.

Succeeding as a retailer is no easy task in today’s challenging economy. The national unemployment rate refuses to fall under 9%. Housing foreclosures continue to rise as home values keep falling. Consumers are more cautious than ever with their dollars. This means that they’re spending less at their local hardware store, beauty salon, grocery store or bakery.

Retailers who want to survive in this tough economy must cut their costs. One way to do this, and one that is growing in popularity among savvy retailers, is to rely on cloud computing services.

When businesses rely on cloud computing, they are simply removing their business computing programs from their own in-house computers to offline hosts. Most computer users are already familiar with cloud computing even though they might not realize it. Users who get their email from services such as Yahoo! or Hotmail, for instance, are using cloud computing.

For retailers, the benefits of cloud computing are many. Instead of investing in a copy of Microsoft PowerPoint, retailers can log onto the home page of a company that gives them access to a program that works in a similar way.

It’s easy to see more small retailers switching from hosting their own in-house software programs to relying on the cloud to do it for them.

For one, such a move makes obvious financial sense. Instead of paying for an expensive piece of software, businesses simply pay a host company for the amount of time they spend using their software. As a recent post on the Microsoft blog puts it, retailers who commit to the cloud won’t waste financial resources on software they use infrequently

That’s the obvious benefit of cloud computing services. But taken alone, however, it’s not enough to create a future in which cloud computing is the norm. But there are many other benefits that might do this.

For instance, many retailers rely on the work of employees who spend much of their time on the road. Salespeople, consultants and photographers can’t do their jobs while shackled to their desks. Retailers who connect to cloud computing services, though, can give these employees the freedom they need to survive.

As the Microsoft post says, these desk-less employees can log onto shared servers — hosted offline — from wherever they happen to be. They can read email messages from the airport and update PowerPoint presentations from their hotel rooms, saving the results in shared files that their co-workers can easily update from wherever they happen to be.

By using cloud computing, retailers can save money during those times of the year in which their business naturally lags.

Landscaping companies, for instance, see their business grind to a halt during the winter months. Instead of paying full price for presentation software or accounting programs that they’ll rarely use during certain months, retailers can instead “rent” these programs from cloud computing sites for those periods in which their business is actually booming. 

In a recent paper, consulting firm Accenture wrote that retailers can rely on cloud computing services to focus more on the needs of their customers, reduce their own costs of doing business and reach a wider net of customers. The company wrote, too, that no leader in business today can afford to ignore cloud computing.

That’s a bold statement coming from an established consulting firm such as Accenture. It’s also a message that retailers need to hear. With the amount of money that retailers can save by going with cloud computing, it’s easy to picture a time in which businesses who rely solely on the cloud for their computing needs are the norm, and not the exception.

Google+ Brand Pages Overview


Brand pages might be the next big thing for your business.

Google+ booted businesses and brand names off its service last summer. But in doing so, officials at Google promised that it would welcome businesses back shortly. It also promised that the wait would be worth it.

Did Google make good on its promises? That depends. Businesses and brands are now welcomed back on Google+. But there’s some debate as to whether the wait was, indeed, worth it.

One prominent tech writer, Robert Scoble, who runs the Scobleizer blog, doesn’t think it was. In a post titled “I wish I had never heard of Google+’s brand pages,” Scoble lists several problems with the new service.

Scoble is most upset that only one person can own or post to a Google+ brand account. As Scoble explains, this means that there is currently no way for a social media team or a customer-service team to split up posting duties on the site.

Scoble also points to how easy it is to post something on your company account that you really wanted to post to your personal Google+ page.

Search Engine Watch writer Miranda Miller also had few positive things to say about Google+ brand pages.

She points out that the owners of Google+ brand pages can’t run any promotions or contests on their pages. This means that the owner of a hardware store can’t advertise that his business is selling hammers at half price or that the car dealer can’t promote her lot’s 0% interest offer.

Google+ brand pages are also lacking a page analytic feature, Miller writes. This means that small business owners can’t determine who’s looking at their page and for how long.

In fact, according to this survey by Adweek writer Ki Mae Heussner, the majority of reviews for Google+ brands have been negative.

That isn’t to say that Google’s effort has all been in vain. As the SearchEngineLand website explains, Google+ for brands does have some nifty features.

Nifty Features

Business owners can create several Google+ pages promoting different facets of their enterprise. The owner of a financial services firm might have a Google+ page advertising her financial-planning services, a second promoting her tax-preparation work and a third promoting her estate-planning work.

Then there is the circles concept. With circles, business owners can create separate groups of Google+ customers, and then send custom messages to each group. Currently, entrepreneurs can split their audience members into three categories, VIPs, customers and team members.

Search Engine Power

There’s another benefit to Google+ brand pages that could mean all the difference to business owners. As the Business2Community website says, Google is the undisputed king of online searches. Google+’s main competitor, Facebook, is the king of social media.

For business owners, the power of search outweighs Facebook’s advantage in social media.

If Google+ brand pages are indexed by the search crawlers — which Business2Community columnist Alex Wall says will more than likely happen — then users seeking information through search will soon find a related Google+ brand page. This provides incredible power to the owners of these pages, and makes them a great marketing tool for their business ventures.

While it’s clear that Google still has plenty of kinks to work out before its Google+ brand pages meet all the needs of business owners, it’s equally true that the pages concept already boasts some features that savvy business owners will want to use.

And the best news? Google officials have said that its brand pages are a work in progress. Hopefully, Google technicians will be able to address the concerns that business owners across the web have voiced.

Dan Rafter is a freelance writer and editor with 15 years of journalism experience.

Online Point of Sale System


When someone refers to an online point of sale system, they’re usually referring to cloud based point of sale software. This means the POS system runs online and doesn’t require an installation on your local computer or specialized hardware (other than the point of sale machine itself). The majority of systems being programmed these days are cloud based because it’s easier for retailers to use and doesn’t require on-site maintenance or repair.

Additionally, online point of sale software is automatically updated with new features and doesn’t require an manual installation. You just connect your device to the online software and a merchant gateway and you’re ready to process a transaction! This makes it easy to use even complicated features, like inventory tracking, and makes customer service faster.

From a developer’s perspective, online pos software is beneficial because it allows you to make big improvements to your software without requiring a software update on every user’s computer. This makes it easier to tweak your programming and user experience without interrupting service.

Roderick Campbell is the owner of Brevity Works, a boutique marketing agency, and a frequent business development blogger at ChiroHosting.com

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