6 Important Aspects of E-Commerce Websites

Web development is an intricate process as there are multiple aspects to keep in mind. There are several things to consider like appealing design, user-experience, performance and easy navigation. E-commerce website development is a challenging process. Discussed here are certain important qualities that every e-commerce site should have.

Responsive Design:

Smart phone users are growing constantly. Most of the people prefer to shop online. It is due to this reason that a virtual shop should be responsive. It should be able to adapt itself as per the screen of the gadget in which it is accessed. Right from the basic navigation to checkout and payment, every platform of e-shop should be made available to the mobile phone users so that people on the move can buy.

Should Support Guest Checkouts:

The users should be able to create an account to book orders and purchase. A follow up communication often leads to future sales and hence this aspect of e-commerce website is important. Notifications for the upcoming items lead to the sales and hence a virtual shop should have this feature.

Site Search Feature Must be There:

30 % of the customers visit e-commerce sites to search for the products. It is important to ensure that the search functionality should be there in the site. Auto complete features help the users to find their popular products. Also, the visitors should be able to narrow their search in several ways.

Security is Important:

All the e-commerce website should support SSL to encrypt the information requires to remain secure. This is so because the payments are done through credit cards and the bank details are furnished. If your site is not secured, customers will not purchase from you.

Should Contain Multiple Modes of Payments:

People like to pay as per their convenience. It is due to this reason that ever e-commerce website should have multiple modes of payments including the most commonly used Cash-on-Delivery method. Most of the customers run away from the sites that do not have COD payment mode.

Should be Well-Optimised:

With an increasing competition for selling products and services online, there are more people than ever that are in the race. If you cannot be found easily on the search engines, you will be at a loss. An e-commerce website should be well-optimised and easily found. A majority of people leave your website if it does not load easily.

These are a few important features that an e-commerce website should have. If you want to have a roaring online business, you need to hire a reputed and reliable website development company that can take care of all the important aspects.

How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

Restaurant Training – Waitress & Waiter Training Role Play Tips For Hospitality Education & Learning

Lights, Camera, Action!

Incorporate Role Play for a Winning Training Program

Take one…take two…take three…ready on the set?

Are your teams providing their best performance with every guest that walks through your doors? Incorporating role play into your training programs will help your guests receive an encore performance every time.

Role play is one of the most effective tools in the trainer’s toolbox where participants can experience real life situations and “learn by doing”. Role play can be used to train any level of company personnel including staff, managers, and even company executives.

Role play allows teams to experience real life situations in a simulated and controlled environment. With participants playing the roles of guests, employees, and managers, they can be better equipped to handle situations.

Because of the controlled environment, role play allows the trainer to assess an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and devise an action plan for growth and development. When used to master a skill, role play builds confidence as the skill is practiced and coaching is administered by a trainer. Since the trainer is side by side with the learner, they can easily determine whether the learner has mastered the newfound technique and is ready to work their position solo. When role play is used to emphasize with another person’s feelings, it allows the teams to recognize those feelings and understand the effect of their or other’s behaviors. For example, role playing a guest situation will allow teams to better understand how a guest feels. As a result, they will learn the level of service that should be provided to deliver a quality experience. Another benefit from role play is helping team members understand the consequences of breaking policies, such as, arriving late to work and the stressful impact it may have on the entire team. As a result, they will learn the importance of arriving on time.

How to get started

Prior to the scheduled training date, company assessments should be performed to determine the specific areas of performance/improvement to be addressed. Then, the company facilitator should determine the overall results to be accomplished and how the issues will be best addressed. For instance, the trainer should determine if the issues are related more to emphasizing feelings or strengthening a skill.

Next, the company facilitator should determine the specific characters associated with the issue and the particular roles they will play. There are many roles that can be played such as a guest and service representative, a manager and team member, a service representative and kitchen team member or similar combinations.

Finally, the company facilitator, armed with the necessary scripts and scenarios, can then develop training aids and other training tools to address the overall goals of the program.

As a head start, we have listed some suggested scenarios that will help you role play with your teams. Before starting the role play, always ask for volunteers so the shy or less experienced teams can watch others first to help build their confidence.

Suggested Scenarios

1. Cashier talking on the phone and not acknowledging a walk-in guest

2. Server being abrupt and rushing a guest while taking an order (asks questions in a curt, quick manner and displays rushed body language)

3. Server being overly friendly and talking too much with a group of business guests having a meeting

4. Server scolding a kitchen worker about an order made incorrectly

5. Host/Hostess being sarcastic and short tempered when a guest is asking for menu information

6. Host/Hostess defensively telling a guest “I told you the wait was 20-25 minutes and you only waited 10 minutes”

7. Bartender being cold and unfriendly while a sole diner is looking for attention and conversation

8. Bartender chatting with some regulars and ignoring a guest who obviously needs something (beverage refill, a napkin, condiments etc.)

9. Two bus persons talking about personal issues while ignoring a guest’s signal for service

10. Kitchen team member loudly demanding a server to pick up an order

11. Dishwasher being disrespected as servers throw dirty dishes without scraping them first

12. A problem team member causing coworkers to do extra work; creating disagreements among the staff; undermining management; constantly being late; and similar situations.

13. Manager telling the guest “no” or “we can’t do that” without apologizing, adding an explanation, and offering options

14. Manager pointing his/her finger and arguing with a guest when handling a complaint

15. Manager threatening a team member’s job

Alkis Crassas, President of EVOS USA, Inc., a healthier fast food chain, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, routinely uses role play and says, “Although role playing pushes the envelope by placing participants in the limelight, after the butterflies disappear, it will smooth out and your team will begin to see the big picture goals of your restaurant”.

If role play is designed properly and effectively executed, it can be very valuable to the success of any company. Most important, when role play is interactive and fun, your training goals will be retained and result in a high return on your investment. Role play adds to the life experience of each participant and when people experience something, they will take that away with them more so than any book, video or lecture could ever replicate.

Overcoming Communication Barriers in Organizations

Although all communication is subject to misunderstandings, business communication is particularly difficult. The material is often complex and controversial. Moreover, both the sender and the receiver may face distractions that divert their attention. Further, the opportunities for feedback are often limited, making it difficult to correct misunderstandings. The following communication barriers in organizations and ways to overcome them will be the main topic of this article.

1. Information Overload. Too much information is as bad as too little because it reduces the audiences ability to concentrate effectively on the most important messages. People facing information overload sometimes try to cope by ignoring some of the messages, by delaying responses to messages they deem unimportant, by answering only parts of some messages, by responding inaccurately to certain messages, by taking less time with each message, or by reacting only superficially to all messages.

To overcome information overload, realize that some information is not necessary, and make necessary information easily available. Give information meaning rather than just passing it on, and set priorities for dealing with the information flow. Some information isn’t necessary.

2. Message Complexity. When formulating business messages, you communicate both as an individual and as representative of an organization. Thus you must adjust your own ideas and style so that they are acceptable to your employer. In fact, you may be asked occasionally to write or say something that you disagree with personally. Suppose you work as a recruiter for your firm. You’ve interviewed a job candidate you believe would make an excellent employee, but others in the firm have rejected this applicant. Now you have to write a letter turning down the candidate: You must communicate your firms message, regardless of your personal feelings, a task some communicators find difficult.

To overcome the barriers of complex messages, keep them clear and easy to understand. Use strong organization, guide readers by telling them what to expect, use concrete and specific language, and stick to the point. Be sure to ask for feedback so that you can clarify and improve your message.

3. Message Competition. Communicators are often faced with messages that compete for attention. If you’re talking on the phone while scanning a report, both messages are apt to get short shrift. Even your own messages may have to compete with a variety of interruptions: The phone rings every five minutes, people intrude, meetings are called, and crises arise. In short, your messages rarely have the benefit on the receivers undivided attention.

To overcome competition barriers, avoid making demands on a receiver who doesn’t have the time to pay careful attention to your message. Make written messages visually appealing and easy to understand, and try to deliver them when your receiver has time to read them. Oral messages are most effective when you can speak directly to your receiver (rather than to intermediaries or answering machines). Also, be sure to set aside enough time for important messages that you receive. Business messages rarely have the benefit of the audiences full and undivided attention.

4. Differing Status. Employees of low status may be overly cautious when sending messages to managers and may talk only about subjects they think the manager is interested in. Similarly, higher-status people may distort messages by refusing to discuss anything that would tend to undermine their authority in the organization. Moreover, belonging to a particular department or being responsible for a particular task can narrow your point of view so that it differs from the attitudes, values, and expectations of people who belong to other departments or who are responsible for other tasks.

To overcome status barriers, keep managers and colleagues well informed. Encourage lower-status employees to keep you informed by being fair-minded and respectful of their opinions. When you have information that you’re afraid you boss might not like, be brave and convey it anyway. Status barriers can be overcome by a willingness to give and receive bad news.

5. Lack of Trust, Building trust is a difficult problem. Other organization members don’t know whether you’ll respond in a supportive or responsible way, so trusting can be risky. Without trust, however, free and open communication is effectively blocked, threatening the organization’s stability. Just being clear in your communication is not enough.

To overcome trust barriers, be visible and accessible. Don’t insulate yourself behind assistants or secretaries. Share key information with colleagues and employees, communicate honestly, and include employees in decision making. For communication to be successful, organizations must create an atmosphere of fairness and trust.

6. Inadequate Communication Structures. Organizational communication is effected by formal restrictions on who may communicate with whom and who is authorized to make decisions. Designing too few formal channels blocks effective communication. Strongly centralized organizations, especially those with a high degree of formalization, reduce communication capacity, and they decrease the tendency to communicate horizontally thus limiting the ability to coordinate activities and decisions. Tall organizations tend to provide too many vertical communication links, so messages become distorted as they move through the organization’s levels.

To overcome structural barriers, offer opportunities for communicating upward, downward, and horizontally (using such techniques as employee surveys, open-door policies, newsletters, memo, and task groups). Try to reduce hierarchical levels, increase coordination between departments, and encourage two-way communication.

7. Incorrect Choice of Medium. If you choose an inappropriate communication medium, your message can be distorted so that the intended meaning is blocked. You can select the most appropriate medium by matching your choice with the nature of the message and of the group or the individual who will receive it. Face-to-face communication is the richest medium because it is personal, it provides immediate feedback, it transmits information from both verbal and nonverbal cues, and it conveys the emotion behind the message. Telephones and other interactive electronic media aren’t as rich; although they allow immediate feedback, they don’t provide visual nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, eye contact and body movements. Written media can be personalized through addressed memos, letters, and reports, but they lack the immediate feedback and the visual and vocal nonverbal cues that contribute to the meaning of the message. The leanest media are generally impersonal written messages such as bulletins, fliers, and standard reports. Not only do they lack the ability to transmit nonverbal cues and to give feedback, they also eliminate any personal focus.

To overcome media barriers, choose the richest media for no routine, complex message. Use rich media to extend and to humanize your presence throughout the organization, to communicate caring and personal interest to employees, and to gain employee commitment to organizational goals. Use leaner media to communicate simple, routine messages. You can send information such as statistics, facts, figures and conclusions through a note, memo or written report

8. Closed communication climate. Communication climate is influenced by management style, and a directive, authoritarian style blocks the free and open exchange of information that characterizes good communication.

To overcome climate barriers, spend more time listening than issuing orders.

9. Unethical Communication. An organization cannot create illegal or unethical messages and still be credible or successful in the long run. Relationships within and outside the organization depend or trust and fairness.

To overcome ethics barriers, make sure your messages include all the information that ought to be there. Make sure that information is adequate and relevant to the situation. And make sure your message is completely truthful, not deceptive in any way.

10. Inefficient Communication. Producing worthless messages wastes time and resources, and it contributes to the information overload already mentioned.

Reduce the number of messages by thinking twice before sending one. Then speed up the process, first, by preparing messages correctly the first time around and, second, by standardizing format and material when appropriate. Be clear about the writing assignments you accept as well as the ones you assign.

11. Physical distractions. Communication barriers are often physical: bad connections, poor acoustics, illegible copy. Although noise or this sort seems trivial, it can completely block an otherwise effective message. Your receiver might also be distracted by an uncomfortable chair, poor lighting, or some other irritating condition. In some cases, the barrier may be related to the receiver’s health. Hearing or visual impairment or even a headache can interfere with reception of a message. These annoyances don’t generally block communication entirely, but they may reduce the receiver’s concentration.

To overcome physical distractions, try to prepare well written documents which are clear, concise, and comprehensive. When preparing oral presentations try to find a setting which permits audience to see and hear the speaker clearly.