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The State of Green Ecommerce in 2018

renewable plastic bag for business

renewable plastic bag for business

When it comes to going green there is a lot of noise out there and this sort of ‘greenwashing’ has turned off a lot of customers to the very concept.  However, all is not lost and the fact is that companies large and small are harnessing the concepts of closed-loop supply chains and reduce, reuse, and recycle to not only make money but to also make the world a better place.

Given this, the Trump administration’s war on the environment may be a losing fight at this point.  Yet, this should mean that we can take going green for granted as the risk is rising temperatures and extreme weather are already starting to impact our lives.  As such, here is everything you need to know about the state of green ecommerce in 2018.

Commitment to Change

In many ways, businesses are continuing to pursue the greening of their supply chains without waiting for politicians to get their act together.  Maybe this is due to pressure from investors or maybe it is the fact that many companies are gaining advantage by reducing waste.  Either way, the trend is one in which companies such as Apple and Walmart are continually raising the bar.

But it is not just the mega companies getting into the act.  In fact, many small businesses are also showing their commitment to change.  This can be seen by the number of retailers on Etsy and other marketplaces who are flexing their muscles when it comes to being green.  As such, green ecommerce has become so much more than just big companies using the concept for marketing and it is extending to a way of doing business.

Packaging, Packaging, Packaging

If you really want to be green when it comes to ecommerce, then one area you need to focus on is the all the packaging that comes with the things we buy online.  Sure, packaging is a problem throughout retail, but it is more acute in ecommerce as retailers don’t have the option of shipping in bulk.

As such, ecommerce giants such as Amazon are beginning to set their sights on what these boxes mean for the earth.  In fact, they are going so far as to encourage customers to reuse their boxes.  The program is seeking ways to reduce packaging waste through reuse and recycling.  To date, the program has helped to eliminate more than 215,000 tons of packaging material, and it is just getting started.

But it is not just the big guys who are getting into the act and some ecommerce players are not only seeking to eliminate packaging waste in how they deliver products but they are also offering items such as wholesale jute burlap tote bags online.  In this way, ecommerce sellers are not only offering ways to reduce packaging in how they ship their products but also for brick and mortar retailers to offer a way to reduce their reliance on plastic bags.

Handle with Care

Another issue with the greening of ecommerce is shipping.  However, many sellers are taking steps to tackle this as well.  Options include offering carbon offsets to ecommerce shipments to finding ways to incentivize two- or three-day shipping over express options.

Beyond this, another green ecommerce shipping trend is the option to pick up the package at a local retailer or rally point.  While this does not fit in well in suburban areas where customers will need to drive to pick up their packages, it does work in urban areas where customers can walk or ride to get what they bought online.

In addition, to these new shipping options, the trend to integrate online shopping with brick and mortar outlets are helping to breathe new life into traditional retail.  Not only does this give shoppers a reason to go into their local stores but maybe they will spend the time to get something else they need – at least that is the hope.

Powering the Way

While this last trend is not consumer-facing it is extremely important as the machine which make ecommerce possible require a lot of energy.  In the past, this used to mean data centers which were powered, and cooled, by coal and natural gas.  However, many of the companies in the business of managing these data centres, are turning to wind and solar as their energy sources of choice. And it doesn’t stop there, Entrepreneurs like Alex Dembitzer have also realised they too, have a role to play, in educating on new energy and why it’s important to harness greener energy sources to reduce the impact of traditional energy on the environment.

This trend will have a big impact on the greening of ecommerce going forward.  Not only will reliance on wind and solar power help to reduce carbon emissions but it also allows the opportunity to collocate the data centers and energy production – something which reduces the need for transmission lines and increases resiliency.

As you can see the greening of ecommerce is more than just marketing, it is a series of tangible operational advantages which will remake the industry and our world.

Innovation

Tips For Starting Your Own T-shirt Printing Business While At University

start a t shirt business

start a t shirt business

When student Ben Francis started selling screen printed clothing from his garage 6 years ago, he would never have thought his startup would grow into one of the biggest brands in fitness. Today, Gymshark is supported by millions of social media followers and boasts customers from over 130 different countries.

Success stories like Gymshark’s demonstrate that setting up your own business at University is definitely possible and may lead to massive success. Being at University is a great time to set up your own business- University students have more free time, fewer commitments and there are a wealth of resources and organisations designed solely to support young entrepreneurs.

Selling t-shirts online has become a popular business model and offering a customisable aspect by printing personalised designs is a great USP. For University students, starting a t-shirt printing business is an inexpensive way to start a business while studying.

Here are 5 tips for starting a t-shirt printing business while at University:

Educate yourself

Don’t worry if you’re not currently taking a business or marketing course, as there may be optional entrepreneurship classes you can take at University to train you for the world of business and give you startup advice.

There are many resources on the web to learn how to run a t-shirt printing business and more pointedly how to create customised prints, including this insightful blog post on how to embroider logos on workwear.

For setting up a t-shirt printing business it is important to do research into the industry and competitors as well as into the potential market. When it comes to the t-shirt printing industry, there are a wide range of potential customers so be sure to think about who exactly you want to be selling to.

Create a business plan

Creating a business plan is an important part of setting up a new business as it is a good way to explore the feasibility of your new business and is essential if you will be seeking out external financing.

As part of planning for the business make sure to:

  • Establish the mission of your company
  • Know where you will obtain your raw materials from
  • Analyse the competition and know how will you make your brand stand out from other t-shirt companies
  • Think about how you will market the business
  • Identify your target market
  • Do some financial projections, for example a sales forecast

Secure start-up funding

There are many ways to raise startup funding including business incubators and accelerators, angel investors and venture capital firms, and investment from friends or relatives.

Consider researching into small business grants as there are thousands of grant schemes in action across the UK and many will be eligible for University entrepreneurs.

The main sources of grants are from the UK government, the European Union and your local authority but they are also offered by Universities, charities and corporates. It is worth researching into all of these before making a decision.

Another great source of funding is the Prince’s Trust which is the country’s leading youth charity programme, who offer financial help and business support for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Another financing option is The Start Up Loans Company which is a government-backed scheme helping individuals start or grow a business in the UK. The Start Up Loans Company allows you to borrow up to £25,000 to start a business for a low fixed interest rate of 6% per annum.

Create a support network

Search out support channels such as your University’s business resources and alumni network. You could also reach out to other entrepreneurs and local businesses to gain advice on entrepreneurship and useful contacts. Research into any meetup groups and network/ startup events in your area to widen your network.

Use free resources

To save you money be sure to make use of any free resources, including those provided by your University. Your University may have databases, contacts, workshops, and more that you can use while still studying.

Another great asset is the people around you- fellow students, lecturers, tutors etc. Reaching out to others for advice or opinions can be of great use when setting up a business and you may even find a business partner.

There are also a few charitable organisations which you can use such as the The National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE). The NACUE is an organisation for students in enterprise and has a UK network of over 260 students and enterprises. They support and connect student entrepreneurs through student-led enterprise societies, practical programmes and events.

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Innovation

Trends In New Business Ownership In America

America

America

New business ownership is a great indicator of how the country is doing, right? Surely the more entrepreneurship going on the better?

Well it’s not just that simple, we need to look at what types of start-ups are happening, how successful they are and what they do once established.

It’s been reported that 90% of start-ups fail and this is due to a whole host of reasons, many businesses haven’t been researched properly, don’t have a market for their product, funding issues or any other thing can kill off a new start-up.

What Types Of Start-Ups Are Happening now?

What are the types of businesses that are starting up in America today and how does this differ from the past? It’s no surprise that online is where business trends are going with companies utilising freelance remote workforces more and more, communication and online marketing etc and even manufacturing and industrial businesses are concentrating more and more on automation and technology based solutions.

The small scale start-up, the spare room or garage success looks like becoming more of a distant memory as even new start-ups are having to come in funded and prepared to compete with the big boys.

High Quality Start-Ups That Are Fuelling The Economy

The number of start-ups are down overall but high growth start-ups are on the increase and a good indication of what the quality of these start-ups are is that the amount of new trademarks are growing each year and this shows that these firms are taking protection of their intellectual property, and therefore growth, more seriously and that is good news for the overall economy and for employment.

Tiny business that only employ the owner or family which account for 75% of start ups are not the answer to growing the economy these days.

What Kind Of Companies Manage To Grow?

From the nations’ point of view growth is really what we want from as many as our start-ups as possible as this fuels jobs, wealth and happiness for citizens. This guide to sustainable growth shows how to not only gain the growth needed but to sustain this to be able to flourish and be the kinds of companies America needs.

Companies that will last need to have a solid direction, this may sound obvious, but it’s shocking how many companies don’t have an adequate business plan or if they do don’t refer back to it to see if they are on track and adjust if not.

The business needs to have a strong brand identity so that customers know it and what it stands for. Most importantly this strategy needs to be long-term and so sustainable growth should be realistic and achievable.

So in many ways business start-ups are changing in that they are focused more and more on technology, automation and the internet. But in many other ways nothing has changed, businesses still overwhelmingly fail and those that succeed are what drives the economy forward.

So long as we have the 10% of success stories driving the economy forward then progress will be ensured long term.

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General

Love Pets? Top Startup Ideas for You

pet care industry

pet care industry

The domestic animal (pet) industry is buoyant with pet care said to be one of the most recession proof sectors around. Maybe this is why there are many successful franchises operating, from short stay and daycare centres, to training and exercise gyms and speciality stores.

In business, we’re told to do something we love and if we do and do it well, we’ll be successful. Well, here’s your chance. If you love pets, consider a business in one of these areas:

1. Pet training services

The great thing about domestic animals and birds is they have a brain so we can train them, and not just for our entertainment. In fact training an animal for our pleasure is somewhat frowned on so focus on training for drug and bomb detection, or search and rescue.

Plus there’s also the specialist field of recovery particularly after a major event.
Cadaver dogs do an amazing service using their nose of which their sense of smell is way better than humans.

Animals also provide support and company for the elderly, and the disabled so there’s a lot of opportunity in animal training.

A pet training camp can be a great way to turn what you love into a sustainable business.

Law enforcement agencies, for instance, need police dogs to undergo training. Normally, police departments have their own dog training academies, but those in smaller town will have to get contractors to handle the training. K9 units often undergo obedience and agility courses, so you may as well include these in your curriculum.

Another great idea. albeit more left field, is, bird training. Not just any bird but Psittaciformes, which include parrots, cockatoos, parakeets. This is definitely a specialty area. If training is just not your thing, consider short stay pet accomodation or a daycare center.

2. Daycare centers

In America, ‘pet sitting’ while you’re on vacation or out for the evening, has always been an important tradition among suburban families, however pet hotels and daycare facilities now reign. It’s not just for Hollywood celebrities, everyday homes are using these businesses to mind their previous pets rather than leave them alone while the children are at school and the adults are at work.

So are a dog daycares profitable? K9 Franchise, did their research, and found it’s a multi-million dollar industry! So with the right business model and support systems it’s a sector that growing and is highly successful, and that’s due to us.

As our lifestyles have changed over the time, so too has our desire for pets. We’re having children later in life, so the pet comes first, and of course they’ve ingratiated themselves so they are around when the children come and go. Even non animal owners have turned to pets to avoid empty nester syndrone, as it’s proven that domestic animal ownership alleviate loneliness.

Taking on a daycare franchise, may be the way to move forward in your own business. The huge investment needed to get your daycare business started, plus the cost of support services like marketing, tech, and operational procedures are shared among the all franchisees, so the franchisee model works well in this sector.

3. Boutique and specialty stores

People love to pamper their pets. Pampering them is a surrogate to pampering a child or us.  So there’s no limit applied to how often toys and accessories are purchased to keep pets comforted and entertained.

This is an exciting business with lots of innovation in this sector. There are boutiques and specialty stores that sell items from costumes, aquarium decorations, hamster cage setups, baked goodies, and other nifty things that cater to every pet lover.

However we say: caveat emptor aka ‘buyer beware’. Do your homework before venturing too far into the unknown when it comes to speciality products and services. There’s a risk, there will be a lack of demand, or you’ve entered a crowded marketplace with too much supply. However with more risk there’s more upside when offering a unique proposition. Word will get out among pet lovers and there’s no distance too far to go, when it comes to pampering pets.

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