Target Restock Takes On Amazon

Target Restock Takes On Amazon

access_time Jun/30/2017

Target Restock is taking on Amazon Prime Pantry with the launch of its next-day delivery service. Target REDcard holders who live in the Minneapolis area can now fill up a 45-pound box with home essentials. Target Restock fills your box up from nearby store locations and has a flat rate of $4.99 instead of Amazon’s $5.99.

The dating app Hinge is creating a more authentic dating experience with the launch of a new video feature. Hinge users can add video clips to their profile from Facebook or Instagram, or make one on their phone. By letting your personality shine via a casual video, the creators of Hinge hope to bring your profile to life, instead of the traditional, one-dimensional dating profiles.

NBA superstar Chris Paul has invested in WTRMLN WTR. The Denver-based startup is the pioneer in healthy, cold-pressed juiced watermelon. It takes watermelon waste and turns it into a delicious, healthy sports drink. The beverage company is also backed by Beyonce and Michael Strahan. Since the company's launch in 2013, WTRMLN WTR has made it into over 15,000 stores nationwide in all 50 states.

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3 Things You Should Consider Before Listing Your Products on Amazon

Amazon is one of the biggest ecommerce marketplaces in the world. But, if you’re thinking about listing your products there, you may be wondering what the experience will be like.

Related: 10 Steps to Selling Your Product on Amazon (Infographic)

The good news is that you can get a good idea by asking the right questions first. Those questions can help you estimate your sales per month and know beforehand how to best fulfill orders and calculate how much you’ll be paying the ecommerce behemoth.

Let’s dive right in:

1. How many sales can you expect to see per month?

Amazon’s daily sales volume is extremely high, but that doesn't mean your own sales volume will be high just because you've listed on the site.

To get some idea what to expect if you offer your product on Amazon, there's a sales estimator tool to estimate how many transactions you’ll do per month. Tools that estimate sales volume look at the category your product is in and cross-reference that with the sales volume of similar products.

Of course, you'll have to take this estimate with a grain of salt. There are many reasons why competitors may do better (or worse) than you. The estimator really just lets you know if there is already interest in your product on Amazon.

Related: 6 Steps to Launching Your Product to Amazon's Best-Seller List

As long as there is demand for your product or similar products, you'll know that with the right marketing and branding campaign, you can win some of those sales for yourself. Amazon offers its own ad marketplace, where you can purchase ads that show throughout the ecommerce site.

You are also free to do your own advertising through Google, Facebook and other ad networks. In that case, you would just point your ads to your Amazon page. You could also conduct marketing campaigns through social networks like Instagram and Twitter to build brand awareness.

Instagram is of particular interest to Amazon sellers because it is visual, allowing you to show off your product's looks. If you’re just getting started and need help getting Instagram followers, there are many free resources that will show you how to do it.

2. How will you fulfill orders?

If you decide to list your product on Amazon, you will need to choose from among the fulfillment options available. If you have a large supply of your product on hand, it may make sense for you to use the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) option. With FBA, as a seller, you eliminate a lot of logistical headaches for yourself:

  • You don’t have to rent a warehouse.

  • You don’t have to pay employees to pick, pack and ship products.

  • You don’t have to worry about lost packages.

  • You don’t have to worry about shipping, period.

  • Products are automatically eligible for Amazon Prime, which customers love.

  • Amazon provides customer service support.

  • Amazon sends transactional emails for you.

Of course, Amazon charges a fee for these services, but in many cases the total comes out to way less than you'd have paid to rent your own warehouse and hire employees  to manage these tasks

If you don’t have a lot of inventory, or don’t want to use FBA for some other reason,you can fulfill products sold on Amazon, yourself. Going this route isn’t ideal, but it’s not a deal-breaker either.

Going this route is less of a problem, too, if you have no competitors. However, if you do, and their products are FBA and offered with free Prime Shipping, you may lose out because consumers love Prime’s two-day shipping option.

3. How much will you pay to Amazon?

As mentioned above, selling your products on Amazon is not free. The company has invested money into building up a world-class ecommerce site and wants sellers to pay to use it.

That said, there are two different types of seller accounts based on the volume of sales you anticipate: an Individual plan and a Professional plan.

The Individual plan is for sellers who expect to sell fewer than 40 items per month. There is no monthly subscription fee here. However, you will have to pay $0.99 per item plus a referral fee and a variable closing fee to Amazon whenever you make a sale.

The Professional plan is for sellers who expect to sell more than 40 items per month. Professionals pay a monthly subscription fee of $39.99 to Amazon, but the $0.99 per item fee is waived.

If you’re wondering how much the referral fee is, you can check Amazon’s fee chart here. The percentage is based on the category that your product falls under. In most cases, the minimum referral fee is $1, which means you'll pay that to Amazon for every item you sell.

The variable closing fee is applicable only to media (books, music, videos, DVDs, video games, consoles and software). The closing fee is $1.80 per media item sold.

Getting started

Now that you have more insight into how much it costs to make your product available on Amazon, you have some thinking to do. Is Amazon the right place for you?

Related: 5 Myths About Selling on Amazon

If your profit margins are enough to absorb the fees Amazon charges then it probably does make a lot of sense to list your items.

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7 Reasons Why Startups Need to Embrace Agile Marketing

Some flavor of this conversation happens every single day: "We'd love to help you with your marketing efforts. We'll go off and in XX weeks (or months) we'll come back to you with the solution. Don't worry, it'll be just what you need. Let's just agree to a big, fat price (or retainer) up front and just trust that your money will be well spent!"

Since the beginning of marketing, this is the way agencies and clients have done the dance. Leaving most decision-makers with an uneasy feeling in their gut, but motivated to reluctantly move forward. This is just how marketing has to be, right? Well, not exactly.

Related: 8 Rookie Marketing Mistakes I Made but You Don't Have To

Particularly in the first few years of the growth of a business, every dollar spent is critical. Every moment your message isn't in market is a moment that your competition is winning over your audience. Startups, by nature, must do more with less on a daily basis, and when it comes to marketing, many have a dip-your-toe-in-the-water mentality.

There is a solution to the old, traditional mentality and methodologies of marketing. It's called Agile Marketing. The relentless pursuit of iterating and scaling to bigger, better ideas with efficiency and speed. A model much better suited to keep pace with the entrepreneurial spirit of companies today.

Here are seven reasons why Agile Marketing is tailor-made for startups:

1. Minimizes risk

The Agile Marketing approach calls for quick validation of ideas. Before launching full-scale campaigns, Agile allows you to learn early if the concept resonates. Its foundation is built on placing lots of small “bets” vs. one large one. First, decide on an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) -- this is the simplest essence of your final output. Then, get it in front of your audience. Your MVP might be a social post or an email, but its purpose is to gather immediate learnings. Ideally, test several versions in order to fail fast on the ones that don’t work and scale the ones that do. This process takes the opinion and subjectivity out of the equation, because crossing your fingers and hoping a concept will work for the market does not protect your investment, or guarantee success.

Related: How to Come Out on Top in a Competitive Market

2. Drives results that lead to better ideas

One of the tenets of Agile Marketing is to start small, learn and scale. Once you understand what a customer responds and relates to, how you improve your output is critical. The Agile process allows teams to apply their learnings to a better and smarter version of their MVP -- that’s when the real iteration begins. This fundamental approach allows you to keep up with and stay ahead of the rapidly changing marketplace. These days it’s a necessity to stay competitive, and one that traditional marketing simply doesn’t allow.

3. Builds collaboration and trust

The Agile Marketing process inherently builds stronger teamwork between internal and external teams. While a deep hierarchy is not normally an issue in startups, the only way an Agile process works is if upper management is either an active participant in the process, or you empower someone on your team to make decisions on your behalf. It’s about making decisions quickly and not about watering down the ideas through internal gatekeepers. Success depends on the ability to get raw (but polished) ideas out to consumers quickly. Daily stand-up meetings keep the momentum going and foster an environment of self-regulation and responsibility. Key team members gather every day for 15 minutes to discuss three things: What did you get accomplished yesterday, what will you accomplish today and what barriers are in your way to accomplishing those tasks? This constant contact and collaboration creates true “community” within the workplace. Agile Marketing requires trust, face-to-face discussions, decisiveness and a general feeling of ownership across the teams.

Related: Email Marketing Is Nearly 40 Years Old. How Can We Keep It Thriving?

4. Fosters a “culture of doing”

While you hope that all employees have the same entrepreneurial spirit you do, Agile Marketing encourages a sense of urgency among all employees to “get it done.” If the right people are empowered, there are fewer meetings, less wasted time and fewer roadblocks.

5. Results in transparency and confidence

With daily stand-ups and project management tools (i.e. Trello, Slack, Jira, among others) designed to itemize tasks, assign owners and aid in real-time communication, all internal and external partners know:

  • Exactly what’s going on at all times during the project lifecycle
  • Who is responsible for what
  • How (client’s) money is being spent

An equally important piece to the workflow is splitting the work into two-week sprints. Assigning a deliverable at the end of every single sprint cycle also ensures that the team feels confident it is getting value out of the process.

Related: 3 Ways to Avoid Mediocre Marketing Content

6. Does more with less

Startups have limited resources, and Agile allows teams to focus on what’s important and impactful, letting busywork fall by the wayside. By breaking down all projects (large and small) into manageable deliverables, and creating a backlog of all tasks to be done, the team can work together to promote the most pressing or easily doable tasks into the sprints.

7. Utilizes data-driven, real-time results

Startups can’t afford to be slow to market, nor is there budget to outspend the competition. But, you can outsmart and outpace bigger, more cumbersome agencies and brands with Agile Marketing. It allows (more like demands) teams to stay on top of trends, and learn what customers think in real time.

Agile marketing methodologies allow teams to quickly get an idea or concept out to customers early with smaller budgets, less risk and better ideas. In today’s marketplace, being in front of your consumers with the right message, at the right time, before your competition is often the difference between winning and losing.

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Conferences: Are They Worth Your Precious Startup Time?

The summer solstice went by last week, signalling the (early) start for us all of shorter days, and, for entrepreneurs, the start of the fall countdown -- because entrepreneurs plan early, right?

Related: 10 Marketing Conferences Entrepreneurs Must Attend in 2017

But amid the preparations for the coming fall season's back-to-school, Fashion Week and final-quarter launches, the burning question for many entrepreneurs is their event schedule. This means, specificially, the conferences, conventions, trade shows and industry showcases they might choose to attend.

It's impossible to deny the impact of event marketing. According to the Events Industry Council, in the United States alone there are over 1.8 million meetings, trade shows, conventions and incentive events and other meetings held annually.

In the early stages of your startup journey, you may find it easy to be drawn into the hype of a conference, especially when its promoters promise networking and a level of brand exposure that you've never encountered. Who doesn't like a curated room full of potential buyers, investors or industry partners? At the least, if you attend, you're bound to find people who "get" what you do and are just as enthousiastic as you are about your vision or industry.

Unfortunately, though, these pricey events are not always what they're cracked up to be, so discerning the ones worth your time versus those which are better off to skip can be challenging.

What's more, if you're bootstrapping or running tight on cash flow, you'll find the pressure to secure a return on your investment even greater. From travel costs, to exhibitor fees, to booth materials and promotional items, conferences are not the most cost-effective events for a startup.

It's not uncommon, in fact, for an exhibitor booth to cost a company $3,500, and that doesn't include the supplementary costs like booth materials, lodging and wi-fii. If you are looking to attend the major conferences, expect costs to set you back five or six figures: To attend CES, for example,fees, lodging and extra expenses for one exhibitor reporting these sums (to Inc.) added up to over $150,000!

Related: Conferences Are Good for Networking but Great for Marketing

Rarely does a startup have the cash flow to cover outrageous exhibitor fees. Yet, early-stage startups can benefit tremendously from attending these events. Conferences, when they are a good fit, offer an entrepreneur a curated audience to test his or her MVP, and opportunities to network with key influencers that can help their startup to grow.

So, when you get an opportunity to attend a big industry conference, how do you know if it is worth your while? How do you pick out the events to make the most of your precious startup dollars?

Having personally attended more than 30 events over the past year -- the good and not so good -- here are some tips and tricks I've learned along the way for mastering the conference game and building a positive conference schedule:

Understand the attendee profile.

When looking at upcoming industry events, make sure they align with your customer profile and venture needs. Depending on the stage of your venture, you'll be interested in networking with different attendee audiences. One important distinction to make is to determine if you need a B2C or B2B audience.

For instance, if you have a clean-tech startup, attending some of the biggest environmental shows and conferences may seem like a perfect fit at first. If your sales are concentrated in the B2B market, however, recognize that many of these shows attract a consumer market made up of families and environmental enthusiasts, which won't be ideal for you.

Similarly, if you do have a B2C product or service, but are looking for seed funding, an attendee profile at a smaller clean-tech investment conference with a curated audience of angels and VCs may be more desirable than a consumer exhibition.

Picking conferences that will put you in front of your ideal audience should always be the first criteria in ensuring you get the best ROI for your time and investment.

Look at the numbers.

Many conferences advertise awesome stats and attendee numbers. And getting your ideas in front of 30,000 people may seem like too good of an opportunity to pass up. But these numbers can be deceiving if you don't look into them with a deeper lens.

Yes, 30,000 people may attend a conference, but this is a total figure, meaning that there will be 30,000 attendees across two or three days. Broken down, that's 10,000 or so per day, which is certainly a lot of people, but still a far cry from what the promotional materials are advertising. Then there are family head counts to consider -- a family with two kids counts as four even though that foursome counts as one customer to you!

Spread that number out over an eight-hour event and you are down to 1,250 people at any given time, spread out across what's likely a large physical venue. Don't be surpised if the venue is not as crowded as you originially imagined.

Study the conference set-up and schedule.

Even when you find a conference that connects you with the right market influencers and has a proven track record of good turnout (with the numbers to back it up), the results you are looking for aren't always guaranteed. One hidden factor that took me a few less-than-desirable conference experiences to understand is the importance of event set-up and schedule.

How is the event structured? Are there breakouts/workshops, main stage keynotes, and, most importantly, a scheduled exhibition time?

I have attended several conferences that boasted fantastic turnout, but was taken aback at how attendees never found time between keynotes and seminars to schedule exhibitor-booth visits. If you are investing in a booth, make sure that time has been allotted for attendees to browse the exhibition and talk to you.

Related: 10 Conferences You Should Attend As A Business Owner

The key to a successful event experience, then, is research and taking the time to dig deep enough to make an objective decision.

This task may take some extra time, but putting in that time before you book your flight or take the day off for a conference -- will save you an incredible amount of time and money. Running a startup is hard. Attending conferences and events doesn't have to be.

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The 6 Rules of TV Advertising for Small Businesses

With exciting opportunities opening up at a dizzying pace, businesses are sometimes uncertain how best to maximize their local TV advertising. The essence of advertising still rings true: Advertising is about branding -- and converting viewers into paying customers. Here are my basic rules any buyer needs to know about today’s video advertising landscape:

1. Target the right audience.

The American marketing pioneer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” Most successful advertisers have a fairly strong sense of their audiences but until recent years have not had sophisticated tools enabling them to reach customer prospects via specific demographic, psychographic and “behavior-graphic” targeting. Advancements in digital targeting have been well-documented; you may be less familiar with the latest audience-targeting innovations in TV targeting enabled by the combination of the latest set-top box and consumer data. 

Related: The Most Thought-Provoking Ads of 2017 -- So Far

2. Know your options.

Local advertisers are best served when there is a robust complement of multiple local cable operators from which to select. In such a marketplace, advertising rates and placements are driven by local competition. The less competition, the higher the cost. The good news is that there may be more options available than many people realize. 

3. Use digital to complement a TV campaign.

Practically every study we’ve seen about cross-platform video campaigns reveals this: Marketers who invest in multiple media outlets enhance the effectiveness of their advertising. Earlier this year, for example, the Interactive Advertising Bureau cited a new auto model campaign for which a combination of desktop, mobile web and TV advertising led to a 211 percent lift in unaided brand awareness. 

While digital-only advertising represents approximately 11 percent of our company’s total revenue -- as an example – today, we are seeing more than 70 percent of our clients using online advertising (and about 50 percent of them using mobile) as a complement to local TV ad buys.

Related: 4 Podcasts That Offer Great Advertising ROI for Entrepreneurs

4. Go ahead, use social media -- but with caution.

Social media has been plagued with well-documented issues such as gross audience overstatement, highly undesirable ad juxtaposition and general lack of accountability. The horror stories of lapses in social media messaging are legion. However, social media’s power -- especially in helping you reach younger customer prospects -- in undeniable. Ask social media marketers tough questions about how best to protect your business’s brand. Have a strict social media policy within your organization as well. Social media should be seen as a piece of your overall marketing campaign, though not the centerpiece of it, and it needs to be monitored.

5. Liberate the gold in your company’s data.

Whether you realize it or not, your own customer data file -- however large or small -- is a critical asset in building an effective ad campaign. This data can be cross-referenced with census data to define the demographic profiles of prospective customers. You can then match your data and census data with cable set-top box viewing patterns and even offline purchase behavior. And lastly, you can use the combined data to create a media plan to find the right audience by targeting your customers’ favorite TV shows, and even reach them directly with a targeted message.

Related: 4 Video Advertising Hacks Powerful Enough to Change Your Company

6. Ask tough questions of your ad partners.

Whether it’s your agency or your media partners, learn from them the relative strengths and shortcomings of various media platforms. Digital advertising’s strengths include geo-fencing, re-targeting, reaching a highly engaged audience and the ability to measure ROI. But, digital’s limitations -- including click fraud, viewability issues, ad-blocker technology, imperfect targeting algorithms and inappropriate content environments -- all underscore why many marketers choose not to use digital advertising in isolation. Radio advertising remains ideal for reaching consumers in their cars, but is known for frequency of message and limited branding power. TV advertising is evolving to encompass digital-style targeting and ROI capabilities with the advantages of sight, sound and motion but remains nominally the most expensive medium. Have a frank discussion with your marketing advisors about the best mix for your objectives and your budget. 

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What Is Schedule I and Why Is Marijuana on the List, Anyway?

Almost every media report on marijuana legalization at the state level references the fact that cannabis remains listed as a Schedule I illegal drug in the U.S.

In another words, despite 29 states legalizing medical marijuana and eight states legalizing adult-use marijuana, the United States government still considers marijuana an illegal drug with no health benefits and a high potential for abuse.

But what exactly is a Schedule I illegal drug? Who does the scheduling and why? What are some of the other drugs on the list?

The following answer those questions and provides an overview of the five federal government drug schedules -- including the fact that the U.S. ranks marijuana as having a higher potential for abuse than cocaine, Vicodin and methamphetamines.

Related: Mexico Joins Canada In Making Cannabis Legal, Leaving the US Far Behind in Marijuana Policy.

The who and the why.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) handles enforcement of the drug schedule and oversees any changes. President Richard Nixon established the DEA in July 1973 to consolidate the federal government’s efforts in “a full-scale attack on the problem of drug abuse in America.” Until then, anti-drug policy was carried out by a number of federal agencies such as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control. 

Nixon created the new DEA agency by executive order No. 11727, signed July 7, 1973. He had talked about the problem of drug abuse and trafficking since taking office in 1968, including a 1971 “special message” to Congress.

“The problem has assumed the dimensions of a national emergency,” he said in that message. The agency started with1,470 agents and a budget of less than $75 million. It now has about 5,000 agents and a budget of more than $2 billion.


Nixon’s executive order also gave oversight of anti-drug efforts to the attorney general. John Mitchell, who held the position at the time, created a “schedule” of drugs as part of the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. Mitchell, later disgraced during the Watergate scandal, included marijuana on the list of drugs with no medical benefit and a high probability of abuse and addiction.

Congress approved the measure. It’s stayed there ever since.

Interestingly, marijuana had been listed as a legal medicine in the U.S. up until 1942. Even the American Medical Association initially opposed prohibiting its use, according to Scientific American, which also reported that by 1944 the La Guardia Committee report from the New York Academy of Medicine questioned making marijuana illegal.

Related: The 11 Most Important Moments in the History of the American Marijuana Industry

Officially, the prohibition against marijuana was supposed to be considered after debate on its medicinal possibilities. However, the secret tapes that Nixon made during part of his time in the White House make it clear he strongly opposed marijuana legalization.

Nixon asked for a "strong statement on marijuana” against legalization. He also said, “By God, we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss…I want to hit it, against legalization and all that sort of thing.”

Schedule I

Against that backdrop, the drug schedule was created. Drugs can be rescheduled by petitioning the DEA but the agency has ignored repeated petitions to remove marijuana from Schedule I for decades.

The schedule is divided into five sections. Inclusion in each section depends on the drug’s potential medicinal uses and the potential for dependency and abuse, according to the DEA.

Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and “the potential to create psychological and/or physical dependence,” according to the DEA. That potential decreases with each subsequent schedule.

Schedule I

Considered drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” They include marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote.

Schedule II

These drugs are “also considered dangerous” with a high potential for abuse. They include Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin

Related: Science and FDA Say Cannabis Is Medicine but DEA Insists It Isn't

Schedule III

The DEA describes these drugs as having a “moderate to low potential for physical or psychological dependence.” They include products with less than 90 mm of codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

Schedule IV

These drugs are listed as having a low potential for abuse or dependence. They include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Valium, Ativan and Ambien.

Schedule V

 Basically, products that contain low levels of narcotics, such as cough syrup. 

Follow on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.

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