Archive for the ‘SaaS’ Category

For businesses that are looking to accept credit card payments online,
security is always an issue. You want to be able to reassure your clients
that their important financial numbers are not going to be misused, but if
you have the numbers stored on a computer, they are vulnerable to a hacker
attack. The solution? A payment gateway company.

What It Is

These companies provide a method of verifying credit cards in real time by
sending the information immediately to a bank. There is no information
stored anywhere since it is simply transferred. If the card is not reported
stolen or wanted for fraud, then the transaction will be continued.

There are numerous benefits to using this technology. For one, no stored
credit information means that the client’s payments are as secure as they
can be, something the business can promote when encouraging sales. Many
people are wary of paying online and the assurance of secure processing
tends to help them make a decision to buy.

Another advantage to the business is a large reduction in the number of
stolen or fraudulent card numbers being used, which protects the business
from monetary loss, as well. While it isn’t possible to completely eliminate
the use of invalid card numbers, using a system like this will definitely
keep the problems to a minimum.

Not all companies are the same. While all process the information in a
similar manner, online businesses need to ensure that they are choosing the
right payment gateway company for their business. It’s a good idea to check
out several companies and read reviews if possible so you can get a better
idea of what to expect from each one.

One of the most important areas to look at when choosing a payment company
is which shopping carts they support. For companies that are just getting
started, this isn’t a big problem because they can set up a shopping cart
that can be easily integrated with the payment service of their choice.
However, if the business already has a shopping cart and has set it up with
their products, chances are, they will want to find a company that will work
with the cart the business is already using.

It’s important to check the rates and fees, as well. Some companies charge a
fixed rate per transaction, others will charge a percentage. Compare prices
to be sure your business is getting the best deal for the number and type of
payments that your company will be receiving. For example, if the majority
of a business’ products are under $10, a fixed fee of $1 per transaction
will be more than a percentage of 2.5% per transaction, but if the majority
of the sales are over $50, the fixed fee is far more economical.

Payment gateway companies are not required in order to do business online,
but they should certainly be considered. Choosing the right one is very
important, since it can affect the future of your business.

Empty office space litters skylines, freeways and office parks. Once-busy
hives of cubicles have become empty steel and concrete caverns. Their
previous occupants met with a variety of fates: Some were victims of a deep
recession; others were washed away by tsunamis of cheap labor in foreign
lands; still others were unleashed by virtual technologies. Only the last
group of former office dwellers have freed themselves willingly. They did so
by exchanging their physical presence for a virtual existence.

“My partner and I have run the business from a lakeside dock in Canada and a
hotel in Barcelona, for around US$200 per month for all the necessary
tools,” Stephanie Pakrul, cofounder of TopNotchThemes, told the E-Commerce Times.

Virtual Gets Real

“Our virtual assistant wakes up on the East Coast, checks the mail, checks
for voicemail, answers support emails, and I get a report of anything
pressing by the time I’m awake in Pacific time,” explained Pakrul.

The TopNotchThemes team uses the following tools to make their virtual
existence concrete:

* Earth Class Mail for digital mail
* RingCentral for phone/virtual PBX
* Quickbooks Online for
portable bookkeeping
* Bank of America’s (NYSE: BAC) online
banking and bill pay to send direct deposit, wire, or checks to anyone
* RescueTime for tracking tasks and
project work
* Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Docs for online
document creation and storage

“There are some huge benefits to Earth Class Mail in particular, in that you
can get an actual street address, not just a P.O. box,” said Pakrul. “Plus,
with your mail scanned quickly online, you don’t need to re-ship everything,
and often can just have the paper copies shredded and keep the scans, which
keeps down the cost and paper.”

A Place to Be or Not to Be

If, however, your business is the type that needs the occasional meeting
room and all snail mail as original hard copies, then opt to be a virtual
tenant in any number of actual offices.

“We have a virtual tenant who is actually in China,” Jeremy Wolf, owner of
Wolf Commercial
,
told the E-Commerce Times. “We box his mail and ship it to him once a week.”

Many of Wolf’s virtual tenants, however, are attracted to the common areas
— namely, boardrooms and fancy lobbies with highly skilled receptionists.
Still others like the faux caller ID.

“You can either plug one of our phones into your computer or install some
simple softphone software. Either way, the receptionist can transfer calls
to you anywhere without the caller knowing you’re outside the premises,” he
added.

“You can also call anyone and the caller ID will show your ‘office’ number,
not the number where you actually are,” he said.

The result: A small business can appear much larger, and workers never have
to set foot in an actual office again. On the downside, it’s much easier to
set up a scam operation these days!

The costs for a virtual tenant is “roughly 25 percent or less than a regular
tenant,” said Wolf. The lowest rent Wolf offers regular tenants is $1,000 a
month. By comparison, virtual tenants pay $250 a month, on average.

Joomla, WordPress or Drupal CMS? Confuse to determine what you’ll choose?
There are many applications to make website. Some of them are Joomla,
Wordpress, and Drupal. They are three major CMS (Content Management System).
Many bloggers have made comparisons of these three major CMS. From that
comparison, we can see the best one. However, all of them have superiorities
and weakness. They are fit people purposes in different ways. Let’s us make
some comparisons of these three CMS, that may help you to choose the best
one for your purposes.

Here we will discuss Joomla versus WordPress versus Drupal. Firstly, we see
the Joomla. Joomla is CMS that is more powerful for full-blown CMS. Joomla
CMS is a piece of cake or very easy to install. It is also fairly easy and
straightforward in using it. About the administration, Joomla has very
graphical and intuitive administration and the selections of themes also
good. Joomla requires openSEF or SEO (Search Engine Optimizations) extension
and it may offer security risks due to SEO changes. However, you can create
blog easily with Joomla. Web 2.0 of Joomla still has the older content
driven aspects and less community focus. It is lack of permissions control,
decent scalability, and has no multisite. The categorization is limited and
its SSL requires some programming. The speed of Joomla is very fast with
rendering pages but also can slow down when features are added. The download
size is 878 kb.

Secondly, we talk about WordPress. WordPress CMS is an application to build
blog with various selections of themes. Like Joomla, WordPress is easy to
install and to use. Everybody can do it. Moreover, it is very easy to
administer the site. Comparing with Joomla, WordPress has excellent and
large theme selections. The SEO is very fantastic. All contents have unique
page with an SEO friendly and title and URL. WordPress is the best blogging
software. It is very web. 2.0 and has permissions control. It has limited
scalability, no multisite and SSL. The download size is 802 kb. The last is
Drupal which is great for blogs. It is easy to install. The theme is lacking
when we compare with those two. The SEO is fantastic. It has pure web. 2,
built in SSL, very granural permissions, and great scalability. The speed is
very efficient and the size of download is 728 kb.

They are some comparisons of the three CMS that may help you in choosing the
best one for you. You can also choose them based on your purposes. However,
if you are challenged to try the difficult one, you can choose Drupal.

1. Collectors: You must prominently display the signup for your noozles if
you want people to sign up. This should be automated using email service
providers like Aweber, Feedblitz, Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.

2. Content: To attract subscribers you must offer valuable content (not just
promote your own products).

3. Curate: You don’t have to write all your email content yourself.
Instead you can find and select the best stuff in your field from around the
web for sharing. (This also draws attention to your list from bigger
players and potential promotional partners (two fer!).

4. Coupons & Contests: To convince people to sign up for your email list,
bribery is definitely an option. Incentives like discounts, ebooks, and
access to exclusive information can help a lot.

5. Customer Case Studies: Talking about your customers both demonstrates
how to actually use your products/services successfully, plus it makes your
best customers feel important. (another two-fer!)

6. Concise: Everybody is in a hurry these days. Keep your content short to
increase its appeal.

7. Controversy to Attract Comments: Getting people talking – whether its by
forwarding your emails, Tweeting, “liking” it on Facebook, or commenting on
your blog – is good publicity.

When times are not great, every business should reevaluate their overhead and cut any unnecessary expenses that do not have a big impact on the bottom line or day to day operations. One of the most common areas business owners cut is advertising & marketing. Granted, this may be a very big expense, but it probably should never be cut. Instead, you may want to consider increasing this particular expense. Without new customers, your business will not be able to thrive and make it through the tough times. Customer service is another common area that usually finds itself cuts but probably should not. Customer service and advertising are some of the most important areas to any business. You must continue bringing in new customers while taking care of the ones you have.

Some possible areas you can cut could be: Technology – Most of us can live without all the latest gadgets & cool toys. Start focusing on all the new technology purchases and eliminate anything that is not really necessary. Telephone – because VOIP has been rapidly growing these last few years, traditional (analog) phone service companies are becoming more competitive. Call your phone company and see if they will cut you a deal or give you a discount. Energy – many areas have a choice in electricity companies. If you are in one of those areas, do some shopping around. Switching electric providers can be a very easy task. Supplies & Inventory – consider keeping smaller quanities of your office supplies and try to keep a tighter control on inventory. Just like what many retail merchants are doing today, keep as little quantity of a product as possible. You want enough inventory on the shelf to sustain sales, but not anything excessive that will be collecting dust. Lastly, credit card processing fees. We are receiving numerous calls lately on merchants wanting to switch to reduce their processing costs. Last week, we received a pricing proposal from one of the Trump International hotels, so merchants of types & sizes are looking at their processing costs.

When people are looking for information about almost any topic, they turn to
Wikipedia. This encyclopedia project is written collaboratively by
volunteers around the globe. Any visitor or user can edit a Wiki. MediaWiki
is a free Wiki software package. It is written in PHP and originally was for
use on Wikipedia. The scope of Wikis has broadened to offer a variety of
options for webpreneurs.

Today MediaWiki is used by other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation, the
non-profit company that funds and manages them. Many people who work on the
Wikimedia projects also work on the MediaWiki software. The result is the
best possible software for wiki sites so you can build a robust, interactive
website. Users can update content, participate in development and become an
ongoing participant in your website.

A MediaWiki website can handle millions of hits every day. It is very
powerful software with great scalability. The wiki implementation has many
features. MediaWiki uses PHP to process and display the information in its
database.

A major benefit of building a Wiki with MediaWiki is the pages can be easily
edited without any special html or coding knowledge. When a user edits a
page, MediaWiki will write it to the database but doesn’t delete the former
version. Reverts are easy if a page is spammed so your content is always
valuable and fresh. Users don’t need advanced technical savvy to make
changes, revisions or additions to Wiki pages.

Images and multimedia files are easily stored in the MediaWiki file system.
If your Wiki has a lot of users, caching is supported. Pages can be modified
with no programming skills. MediaWiki makes it easy to create updated pages
for your website and allow others to update them as changes and new
information becomes available. The result is the most accurate, updated info
possible.

MediaWiki offers a variety of useful options for users. They are able to
supply and edit the summary when they are editing a particular Wiki page.
This snippet of text is typically one line and summarizes the changes made.
While it is not inserted in the article itself, it is stored with the page
revision. Users can then explain what was done and why. With every version
of the page stored, the most accurate article can be developed very. Each
revision is viewable and accountable.

Building your own Wiki is a streamlined process even if your computer
knowledge is very basic. MediaWiki software offers prompts to make your Wiki
exactly what you want it to be. Include visuals, graphics and meaningful
content to attract targeted traffic to your online offerings. With editing
that shows you exactly what you get, you know what it will look like right
away to make necessary changes immediately. Add links to boost your targeted
traffic even more. Get into the Wiki wave is a breeze with MediaWiki.

A few years ago, I decided to give my six nieces and nephews something
different for Christmas. Instead of the usual Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes, I
gave each of them their very own e-commerce account. The lesson was simple:
When you have an online store open for business, you see the world through
the lens of an opportunist. From that point on they would see a problem as
an opportunity, and every item as a potential SKU. Despite my good
intentions, the children looked disappointed and some suspected this was
just a lame cover-up for losing the kid’s wish list that year. I explained
that this was their very own store they could design and manage in any way
they wished. And that I would be there helping them through every step.
After several “Won’t it be cool to be the only second grader with a store”
pitches, their confusion turned to anticipation of opening their stores-or
perhaps their next Christmas gifts.

I kept my promise and helped each of them find products to sell, find a
market, design a store for it, and merchandise, advertise, and monetize. One
sold custom book covers, another wooden boats made by her 4th grade class to
fund a whale watching trip (we made sure to advertise this point), but my
favorite was a store that sold anti-bullying gear. Items included
self-defense and child psychology books, as well as ‘kid-recommended’ hats,
shoes, and shirts guaranteed to make any would-be wimp appear too hip,
unbalanced, or well-connected to be bullied in the first place (we had to
look up the legal limitations the term ‘guarantee’ on this one). Two of the
young entrepreneurs even started a forum and blog for their products. What
started as a fun web project quickly became a lesson in social bookmarks,
wikis, hyper-niches, pay per clicks, conversion rates and capitalism.

Though none of the stores made a profit, the return on investment was beyond
our expectations. None of the stores exist today, but the lessons we
learned together live on. I learned how much I liked being their uncle;
they learned how much they liked being entrepreneurs. In truth, my gift was
no accident. It was my attempt to grow closer to my nieces and nephews
through a shared purpose. I wanted them to experience the satisfaction and
pride creating a business brings and more importantly how the process itself
can enrich their lives. Simply put, I create businesses to express myself
and connect with those that share my passion.

If animals are judged by their ability to survive, then entrepreneurs are
better animals. I have always respected those that took charge of their own
Fate. To resist the allure of job security and question the conventional
wisdom that promotes it. To me, opportunism and risk was a form of raw,
natural expression. Instead of fearing it, I wanted to teach the kids how
to embrace and control it. I wanted to teach them how to survive in the
world of business and take charge of their lives. I wanted to give them
enough confidence to adapt, persevere and succeed even after failing over
and over. In an increasingly competitive world, the ability to find and
create your own opportunities as though second-nature is the new security.
Leading others through it is the new Fortune 500.

“People and purpose,” my father always said. This is why I love building
businesses. The camaraderie and sense of purpose I feel when helping others
succeed in their business is the main reason I do it. The process of taking
an idea and turning it into a reality is the reason I keep doing it. I
suppose meaningful relationships are forged through meaningful endeavors. Or
as the kids would say, “the store gives me a reason to keep bugging you
Uncle G”. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I lost the kid’s wish list that
year.

There are a number of handy tools to help you target and monitor relevant online conversations. Here are several:

You may set up Pipes to create one RSS feed that aggregates results from Flickr, Digg, YouTube, Technorati and other social media sites. Yahoo Pipes is a widely used resource to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web.

Social Mention is a social media search engine that searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and microblogging services. The results are aggregated from the top social media
sources, such as Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Delicious, Twitter and more. Like the other services, you can subscribe to your results by RSS or email.

BlogPulse is a specialized search engine that helps you patrol the blogosphere with four tools – (1) Trend Search, (2) Featured Trends, (3) Conversation Tracker and (4) BlogPulse Profiles. Use them to track the conversation about you or your competitors.

Trendpedia is a buzz-monitoring service that allows you to search the world of blogs by keyword, brand or topic to see whose blogging about the target topic and what they’re saying. Moreover, you may compare one keyword vs. two
more related keywords or brands.
Keotag offers a simple search tool for single-word tags or combinations of them. It allows searching for tags across several search engines and social media sites, including Google, Technorati, Del.icio.us, Twitter, BlogPulse,
Newsvine, Digg, YouTube and others.

Summarize is a search tool designed for Twitter that allows you to search by keyword to find out who’s tweeting on any topic and what they are saying.

The battle is on, which credit card processing pricing plan should your business be using? 3-Tiered pricing or Interchange plus? This is the question many larger merchants may be asking themselves, including merchants that process $10,000+ a month in volume. Before we go into the details, here are the basics: Visa & MasterCard have several dozen rates known as Interchange that determines the rate a merchant must pay for a particular transaction. The applicable Interchange rate is determined by various circumstances, such as was the card swiped, keyed-in with(out) AVS, is a business, corporate or reward cards.

About GordonGus
"Whether selling products, services or information I have helped others succeed online by clarifying goals, simplifying technologies, motivating players and executing tasks. My energy and perseverance has helped others reach their goals. Of course, some wanted to shoot me in the process."
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