Agricultural Lubricants: The Vital Facts

AgricultureWe all know that for many industries, large machinery is a must in order to ensure efficient operations which, is why whenever we think of factories we envision row upon row of scary looking machinery that is crucial to the manufacture and production of products. Machinery makes the world go around and that doesn’t stop at factories; they play just a crucial role in farming too.

From tractors to ploughs and combines; modern-day farming has developed and is now far more efficient and productive thanks to a range of machinery. For farm owners, within today’s competitive market it is increasingly important to ensure that constant care is provided in order to keep these machines in working order. From regular maintenance to annual checks and services, a lot of attention is given to these machines including the use of agricultural lubricants.

Designed to ensure the efficient and smooth operation of machinery; agricultural lubricants play a great part in the success of today’s modern-day farms. With numerous oil companies throughout the country alone providing a range of lubricant products, it has never been easier to look after machinery

Whether you’re new to it all or curious as to just what agricultural lubricants are and can do, below are the basic facts…

There are a range of lubricants available but they all operate with the same functions in mind; to protect and seal. By reducing the friction between different parts, agricultural lubricants will allow a machine to easily function without issue.
The engines of large machinery can be subject to rigorous use which is where agricultural lubricants come in as they are designed to help in today’s operations by minimising the risk of wear and tear.
The right agricultural lubricant can both optimise the performance of the machine and maximise the component service life.
The majority of lubricants can be used in a number of environments and natural settings.
Lubricant oils can vary by viscosity; this refers to the physical ability of the fluid to maintain lubrication under different speeds, temperatures and pressures. The more powerful the machinery, the higher the viscosity of lubricant oil you will need.
Lubricant oils are classed by grades (grades are given depending on the viscosity of the oils as mentioned in the above point). Different machines will require different grades; this can be determine by the make and model number.
The majority of lubricants will have been tested and approved by major machine manufacturers.

Large farming equipment requires a number of different components, not just the engine, to work efficiently but like all machinery; wear and tear is unavoidable. With the use of the right agricultural lubricant, components can be protected from damage and the capability and general operation of the machinery in question can improve.

7 Levels of Recurring Revenue

Recurring RevenueThe most successful companies put tremendous emphasis on having recurring revenue streams. Are you looking at recurring revenue in the right way? Which level of recurring revenue drives most of your revenue? The higher the level of recurring revenue, the more predictable your revenue stream becomes. The more predictable your revenue stream, the better you scale your operations. The higher the level and greater the volume, the higher you valuation goes. Every company should be constantly asking “How can we strengthen our recurring revenue position?”

Not all recurring revenue is equal. Think of it as pyramid-shaped. The higher up the pyramid you move, the more valuable your company becomes. Think of the pyramid as a way to first increase consistency and predictability, then business scalability, and ultimately market-share dominance, where customers find switching providers more costly or problematic.

Level 1 – Basic Repeat Customers

At this level you have customers that like doing business with you and come back to you repeatedly even though there is no contractual obligation to do so. A good example is a supermarket or gas station. The problem with level one is the barriers and switching costs are usually limited. So, while having repeat customers is far better than not having them, your revenue stream remains risky because you can’t count on your customers sticking with you. Many firms in this mode have built loyalty programs or personally branded products in an attempt to create stronger brand preference and make their offers “stickier”.

Level 2 – Network Effect

What this means is that the more someone uses the company’s product or service, the more each individual customer gets out of the experience. This “network effect” creates a barrier to that customer leaving, namely, the perception that no other network is as good. Automobile Association of America Membership is a good example. You may consider joining other networks, but for anyone who is already a member, it makes no sense to switch because their membership bases are so large that their value streams have pay their members back in multiples. With that said, the cost of switching is still low, and while you can differentiate who is in your network, everyone has access to multiple networks that can provide similar benefits.

Level 3 – Capital Investment with Consumables

In this case a customer has made an investment in a product, and now they need to keep buying consumables to support their investment. The longest standing product and stickiest product in this category is the copier. Later followers to take advantage of this strategy have been desktop printers and coffee machines. However, these later examples failed to really be as sticky because the price point to buy new ones at the consumer level is not high enough to prevent someone from jumping ship. And when it comes to coffeemakers, if they like your coffee, you still get to provide the consumables, just in a different machine. Consumables are usually a high-profit recurring revenue item.

Level 4 – Capital Investments – Subscriptions

Customers make a sizable investment in capital equipment and then pay subscriptions to use the equipment. In this case, they usually do not buy the equipment. They lease the equipment due to the significant expense for the equipment, software, maintenance, and upgrades required. Great examples are WestLawNext or Bloomberg which are staples in the legal and investment communities, respectively.

Level 5 – Sequenced Product Purchases or Service Subscriptions

The idea behind this approach is to create recurring income by encouraging your customers to consistently upgrade to new product and service offerings. Consider the example of Google Drive. It starts out as free. As you begin to use it more and more to store your data, you must pay to upgrade for more storage. Next thing you know, you are using Google Photos, and they have captured another revenue opportunity. Even if the company can convert just a fraction of its customers over to the premium service, it can create an extremely valuable recurring revenue stream. This revenue stream tends to be stickier because your customer prefers (knows how to use) your product, and the cost of switching in terms of time, effort, and costs outweighs the simplicity of staying with the current vendor.

Level 6 – Good-Until-Canceled Revenue

The best examples are bank accounts and credit cards. What makes this model powerful is when it’s based on an “opt-out” model where the customer has to terminate your relationship with them. For instance, I hate my bank. They send me a new credit card almost every 4 months because of their so-called “fraud protection” department’s suspicions. So every 4 months I have to change every recurring payment to come from the new account number. It is a nightmare! Plus, they send policy changes every 6 months, usually raising fees and reducing benefits. But do we change providers? No!, because of the trouble and loss of credit history. How often do people cancel their credit cards or close a bank account? Credit cards or bank accounts are an extremely powerful way of keeping customers over the long haul.

Level 7 – Longer-Term Contracts

The longer the contract the better! Think about the contract you signed when you got your new cell phone. I do not know about you, but I feel like when I signed on with Verizon I married the mob! Not only did you agree to pay a certain amount of money each month depending on the plan you select, you usually agree to keep paying for two years. If you are like me, each family member starts at a different time, so to get out gets prohibitively expensive, becomes a family debate, possible new phones get involved, and tons of time dealing with it. I just got chills thinking about it. This is an extremely valuable model because you can predict with a higher level of certainty what your recurring revenues will be both in the short-term, as well as over the longer term.

Navigating Retail’s Last Mile

Business 1To serve online shoppers effectively, companies need to make complex trade-offs among speed, variety, and convenience.

Nearly two decades ago, just as e-commerce was taking off, a group of players emerged to claim their share of the home-delivery market. Remember Webvan, Urbanfetch, Kozmo, and HomeGrocer? In 2000, in this magazine, we analyzed these and several other startups and found they faced insurmountable hurdles. Limited online sales, high delivery costs, entrenched competitors, and an unacceptable trade-off between speed and variety would combine to doom many of the early home-delivery companies (we called it “the last mile to nowhere”). And in fact, most flamed out in spectacular fashion.

Many of the same challenges persist today, often with added complexities. By 2014, Internet sales in the U.S. had reached US$300 billion, an impressive growth rate averaging 18 percent for 15 years. Yet e-commerce accounts for just 7 percent of total U.S. retail sales — the physical store is still alive and well. Delivery costs continue to be driven by variable labor costs, delivery density, and average order size. The established competitors (UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service) have become increasingly dependent on e-commerce to replace the business lost from the digitization of letters and other documents. And their position has been further complicated by companies that use crowdsourced delivery models.

But the most important change since our earlier analysis has been the evolution of the trade-off between speed and variety. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, home-delivery startups focused on speed at the expense of variety: They could get you a small selection of goods relatively quickly. Today, when retailers approach the last mile, they make more nuanced trade-offs among speed, variety, and convenience. The right combination entails a complex set of compromises that depend on the product type, consumer segment, shopping occasion, and retailer positioning.

That said, the fundamental economics of the last mile haven’t changed. Companies have to offer a solution with costs equal to or lower than the customer’s willingness to pay (the “cost to serve”). It’s easy to delight customers with a free offering, and it’s not hard to cover your cost by charging a high premium. But finding the sweet spot that resonates with consumers and drives sales growth proves far more difficult. If retailers can get that right — admittedly, a big challenge thus far — they can make the last mile a competitive advantage.

To help companies better understand these complexities, we conducted a bottom-up analysis of the cost-to-serve for an array of retail models, including traditional store-based sales, curbside pickup, crowdsourced shoppers, “white glove” delivery, and pure-play e-commerce. We also surveyed 2,000 online U.S. shoppers to determine their willingness to pay for each of those last-mile options for a variety of goods purchased online. The results revealed some of the winning approaches in categories such as groceries, durable goods, and apparel.

Grocery Moves Online

Until recently, the math for home delivery of groceries by brick-and-mortar stores didn’t seem to add up. The cost of typical items — for example, a can of soup — is on average far less than the cost of items in categories such as consumer electronics, or even books. As a result, the pick-and-pack costs (that is, the cost of an employee pulling an item off a shelf and putting it into a box) run disproportionately higher for groceries than for other categories. Groceries are also heavy and bulky, which makes shipping expensive. But recently, new models have emerged that are changing the calculus.

For our analysis, we measured the cost-to-serve across a range of options for a sample basket of 23 grocery staples totaling $100. For the traditional retail experience — in which the shopper travels to the store, pushes a cart around, and then drives it all home — the cost-to-serve totaled $21. Overhead and labor to manage the physical store accounted for the bulk of the cost (more than $19), and the remainder was attributable to shipping truckloads of goods from a regional distribution center to the store.

For click-and-collect models — in which customers order in advance items they will pick up themselves later — the cost-to-serve jumped to $32. The additional store employee labor to pick items from shelves adds roughly $10, which the customer needs to pay or the grocer needs to absorb into its razor-thin margins. This analysis assumes store employees have no free time for picking orders and that fixed costs in the store cannot be eliminated easily. But even on a marginal cost basis, stores face the question of whether the sales represent incremental revenue or mere cannibalization.

The cheapest option eliminates the retail store entirely. In a pure-play e-commerce model, the customer orders online, professional pickers assemble orders from a dedicated fulfillment center designed for operational efficiency, and the order gets shipped to the customer’s home via two-day ground shipping by UPS or FedEx. Total cost-to-serve for $100 worth of groceries? Just $19, which is lower than putting the goods out on the shelves of a physical store. As this model expands, grocers will see sales of many goods that make up the “center of the store”— shelf-stable items such as cereal and pasta — move online.

Such a shift would have huge implications for the grocery category, particularly among established grocery chains, which compete primarily on price and the convenient locations of their stores. Most of the store labor costs stem from customer service for the perishable items around the edges of the store — produce, meat, fish, and dairy (for example, cheese). The self-service, “center-store” staples contribute incremental margin with little cost. But if those goods move online, the total store cost must be spread over a smaller revenue base, creating potentially unsustainable economics. The old “pile it high and sell it cheap” strategy will not work when a pure-play Internet retailer can offer the convenience of online shipping, home delivery, and lower prices.

For example, Amazon’s Prime Pantry presents a significant threat to the center store. Members of Amazon Prime (who pay an annual $99 membership fee) pay a flat fee of $5.99 per box for ground shipping, and the items typically arrive within four business days. Each box can hold 45 pounds or four cubic feet of items — of which several thousand are available, enabling customers to put large or bulk purchases in the box and still take advantage of the flat shipping fee.

Walmart is experimenting with a different online model. Rather than only shipping products to a customer’s home, the company is testing a click-and-collect model that features same-day, curbside pickup at a mini-fulfillment center located on a convenient commuting route or co-located at a supercenter. Similar to Prime Pantry, the Walmart offering includes several thousand items, but unlike Prime Pantry, it extends to perishable items such as bananas — which would not fare well traveling two days on a UPS truck. Walmart’s model is not only faster than Prime Pantry but also cheaper, because there’s no per-box shipping fee.

Yet another model cuts out the retailer entirely. For bulky, cumbersome items that consumers go through at a predictable pace, a brand-loyal customer seeking regular replenishment cares little about the shipping lead time as long as the new order arrives before the last one runs out. Take Purina’s online offering of Just Right pet food. Consumers can create a custom blend of dog food unique to their pet and subscribe for auto-replenishment shipments directly to their home. For manufacturers of many product categories, it could be more profitable to sell directly to consumers online than to distribute products to the store shelves of a grocer — provided that the average order size is big enough to justify free shipping. And branded-products companies tend to be skilled at offering personalized content to complement the physical delivery experience.

“White Glove” for Durables

Durable goods, particularly furniture and household electronics, are often heavy and complicated to assemble. As part of our study, we analyzed the cost-to-serve for a $399 flat-screen TV. For the standard retail model (in which the customer buys the TV in a physical store), the cost-to-serve was about $22. As with grocery staples, store labor and overhead account for the bulk of the cost. However, the pure-play e-commerce model does not fare as well in comparison, because the cost of shipping a big TV adds around $15 to the cost, for a total of $39. (The potential for returns exacerbates the shipping cost differential for an online retailer.) Curbside pickup of online items was right in the middle, at $31.

Part of our survey included a conjoint analysis, which uncovers the trade-offs that consumers make among competing variables such as speed and cost. Our analysis found that for large, expensive products such as TVs or furniture, customers value predictable convenience more than speed. For example, consumers had no problem waiting two days for so-called white-glove service — having a store employee deliver the TV, take it out of the box, and set it up. Furthermore, our respondents found the white-glove service option much more attractive than standard e-commerce. And customers indicated a relatively high willingness to pay for such service. For example, on average consumers would consider a $62 fee to deliver a $1,000 piece of furniture a “great buy” and indicated they would consider the option up to a charge of $108.

These findings suggest a fundamentally different response to the problem of “showrooming” — the phenomenon in which customers check out products in person at stores and then buy online (at whichever retailer offers the lowest price). Most retailers fear showrooming, and it has hurt chains such as Best Buy that sell branded products that are easily searchable by model number or key characteristics such as screen size. Customers like seeing the product firsthand before making a big purchase, but there’s little advantage to buying in a store given the inconvenience of having to get the item home. Best Buy responded to this showrooming trend by price matching, which has minimized lost sales but also squeezed margins.

An alternative approach would be to embrace the showrooming phenomenon, which Restoration Hardware is now doing. Between 2009 and 2012, Restoration Hardware scaled back the number of its retail stores by 25 percent by closing smaller locations in malls (typically less than 10,000 square feet). Then, starting in 2012, it opened new locations in much larger spaces, ranging up to 55,000 square feet spread over multiple stories, often in renovated historic buildings. Rather than the old model of a small, cluttered mall store stuffed with knickknacks arranged for self-service shoppers, the new “galleries” display the company’s products in room-like settings.

Simultaneously, Restoration Hardware has simplified the supply chain to reduce complexity and shipping times and increase the level of in-stock merchandise ready to ship quickly. White-glove delivery is the default service option, with no surcharge. The company’s implicit message with these moves: We know you’re going to buy online. We want you to. But come to the store and see the products in person beforehand. Since the company began this strategy, its overall sales have more than doubled (from $600 million to $1.9 billion) and the percentage of revenue from online sales has grown from 25 percent to nearly 50 percent.

Curated Convenience in Apparel

Clothes are relatively light, and thus inexpensive to ship. In fact, our cost-to-serve analysis for a $120 apparel order that consisted of four shirts or blouses showed that it incurred $30 in cost-to-serve when sold through a traditional store — again, the costs were driven largely by labor. By contrast, a pure-play e-commerce retailer needed to spend only about $12 for that same order to be shipped to a customer’s home. However, apparel poses an additional challenge. It is unlike a can of soup in that customers worry about the fit, color, and overall aesthetics of apparel items, especially when they are expensive. Not surprisingly, apparel has a far higher return rate for goods purchased online than do other categories.

Rather than trying to fight the problem of returns, Zappos (which is owned by but operated independently from Amazon) has differentiated itself by offering free shipping and free returns on everything for 365 days after purchase. Zappos got its start selling shoes, but by 2009 clothing represented 7 percent of its sales. Today the company offers more than 1,000 brands in categories as disparate as eyewear and wedding ensembles and racks up $2 billion in annual sales. Because returns are so straightforward, many customers buy multiple items in different colors and sizes. They keep the one they like and return the rest. Zappos can handle returns in such high volume because it allocates a significant portion of its fulfillment center to an extremely efficient returns operation and factors the cost of returns into its pricing. Its customers are willing to pay more for the convenience the company offers.

Meanwhile, some startups have recognized that time-starved customers don’t necessarily want to sift through an endless product assortment, either online or offline, and are offering curation services in response. For example, Trunk Club (which was acquired by Nordstrom in late 2014) and Five Four Club, both clothing services for men, allow customers to provide their measurements and clothing preferences through a conversation with a stylist (Trunk Club) or an online tool (Five Four Club). Trunk Club doesn’t charge for the curation service or for shipping, and allows the shopper to return any item free. Five Four Club requires a $60 monthly membership fee and does not accept returns. Both claim quality comparable to that of a high-end department store: Trunk Club features designer brands, and Five Four Club has its own private label (allowing it to price at a 50 percent discount to similar retail).

It remains to be seen how mainstream curation will become. But in our survey, the average online shopper considered a $9 fee for curation of a $100 clothing order a bargain — and admitted that at $16 the curation fee seemed marginally expensive, but he or she would still consider the option.

Speed: Still the Holy Grail?

The pursuit of speed without an understanding of cost led to the demise of many of the early last-mile players. Yet consumers have come to expect greater speed over the years. Back in 2000 there were no smartphones, and only 38 percent of the U.S. population even had a mobile phone. Now, there are more wireless subscriptions than people in the U.S. — and 75 percent of the population have smartphones (and the Internet constantly at their fingertips). Of course, not all of them are willing to pay for speed, but in some niche areas, such a focus can be effective.

For example, delivering directly to households within hours instead of days makes economic sense only in cities with high individual incomes and population density. Even then, however, retailers need to scale back the variety of goods they offer. For example, Uber recently launched a delivery service experiment called Uber Essentials, which offers a few dozen items, such as candy, beverages, aspirin, and eye drops. Because the drivers carry the inventory with them all day, Uber can deliver to customers in as little as 10 minutes. A similar experiment in selected cities called Uber Eats delivers takeout meals from restaurants. The incremental sales of Uber Essentials supplement the driver’s base business as a taxi replacement — and, of course, Uber takes a cut. The model costs almost nothing, in that the cars are already out on the road anyway, and they make deliveries between passenger rides.

Another startup, Instacart, applies the speed principle to grocery delivery and has made some slight improvements to the same-day service models used by Kozmo and UrbanFetch. Instacart uses smartphones and crowdsourced shoppers, who sign up to shop for customers of various grocery chains in exchange for a fee. The service costs a minimum of $3.99, and goes up to more than $10 for small orders during busy periods. And it’s fast — deliveries come in just two hours. Crowdsourcing transfers the labor-utilization risk to the workers, and because these individuals pull goods off the shelves of existing grocery stores, Instacart is able to offer a reasonable variety.

But as our grocery cost analysis demonstrates, this model still faces the challenge of inefficient, store-based picking (ordinary shoppers pushing a cart around a retail store, filling individual orders, and waiting in checkout lines), along with the incremental travel distance to the customer’s home. In March 2015, the Wall Street Journal quoted Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx, saying, “I think there’s just an urban mythology out there that the app somehow changes the basic cost input of the logistics business.… That’s just incorrect.” In other words, Instacart offers a unique trade-off among speed, variety, and convenience, but at a cost that most consumers cannot afford. Both Instacart and Uber Essentials represent niche offerings, which will remain limited to a narrow segment of high-income individuals in urban areas. They don’t solve the fundamental challenges of the last mile.
Training Your Customers

Back in 2000, when we predicted that early attempts to conquer the last mile would fall flat, we also offered a caveat: New models would likely emerge as companies attempted to find the optimal trade-offs to meet consumer needs. The solutions took much longer than the failures, but innovations by industry leaders are finally starting to show promise.

Given the various last-mile approaches at play, retailers — as well as CPG companies with direct-to-consumer e-commerce aspirations — need to be proactive. Consumer behaviors continue to evolve in response to new, dynamic offerings. Rather than reacting to those behaviors and trying to give people what they seem to want, companies should instead determine the right model for last-mile delivery of their goods, and create a value proposition that builds on their strengths. In other words, they should stop following customer behavior and start leading it, by “training” their customers in the behaviors that make economic sense using digital engagement that builds on their brands.

Admittedly, training consumers is easier for startups, because their customers have not yet built up any preconceived notions or ingrained behaviors. Some companies may be hesitant to try to shape the behaviors of their customers, thinking that technology changes so rapidly that any model that works today could be obsolete in three months. And although it is true that behaviors and technology evolve quickly, the same can’t be said of fundamental economics. The underlying drivers of success in retail, and particularly in the last mile — speed, variety, convenience, and cost — still depend on the physical supply chain, not merely the ephemeral zeros and ones employed in the world of digital engagement. The physical elements of those trade-offs move far more slowly than the technological shifts. The bottom line for companies? Get the structural elements of your last-mile approach right, build digitally engaging technology to capitalize on it, and train your customers to behave to your advantage.

What is an Ecommerce Platform?

Business 3

Ecommerce has emerged as the single biggest growth driver in the worldwide marketplace. eMarketer, a leading independent market researcher, predicts global B2C ecommerce sales will reach $1.5 trillion this year, a 20 percent increase from 20131. And according to Forrester Research, B2B ecommerce spending in the U.S. alone reached $559 billion in 20132. If ecommerce is important to your business then the solution you choose is arguably one of the most important business decisions you will make.

At its simplest form, ecommerce software enables a business to sell products and services online. Traditionally, businesses had to purchase on-premise, standalone ecommerce software that required extensive IT setup and in-house management with specialized development teams. These solutions were generally costly, not scalable, challenging to work with, and time consuming to customize and integrate with other systems.

Ecommerce software provides the customer facing front end component of an online business. Online businesses, like all other businesses, need additional software to manage back end functions such as accounting, order management, inventory management, and customer service. Piecing together different software solutions to create a complete ecommerce business platform is complicated, requires frequent maintenance and rarely functions efficiently.

Fortunately, a new breed of business software integrates all the needed commerce and business functionality into a single ecommerce platform via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. With an infrastructure that unifies business applications and the data that feeds them, it is possible to create relevant, engaging and personalized online experiences.

Imagine an ecommerce platform that allows customer service reps to have a single view of a customer across all channels, a centralized order and inventory management system that can efficiently fulfill orders from all your sales channels, including brick and mortar stores, or utilize a customer’s order history data to provide personalized and relevant offers. The possibilities brought to light with the advent of a complete ecommerce platform for business optimization and improved efficiencies as well as deepened customer engagement and satisfaction are limited only by one’s creativity.
Key Features of an Ecommerce Platform

Any viable ecommerce software will enable customers to buy your products and services from your online store. Where solutions differ is the degree to which they can unify and leverage both front and back-office applications with both their unique and shared data. Ecommerce platforms provide the unification of core business processes, where businesses can gain complete visibility across their company and ultimately meeting their most discerning customers’ expectations. An ecommerce platform should:

Run on a single, unified platform. Eliminate integrations between separate systems with natively unified ecommerce, accounting, POS, inventory and order management, marketing, merchandising, customer service and financials on a cloud-based platform.
Provide a 360° customer view. Deliver consistent and personalized cross-channel experiences, targeted marketing and superior customer service with a single view of all customer interactions and transactions across all touch points and channels.
Intelligently managing orders. Exceed and set new customer expectations for buying, fulfilling and returning purchases, both online and in stores. Maximize profitability by centralizing order management and having a single view of inventory across all channels and supply chain business units.
Deliver innovative customer experiences. Rapidly create unique, personalized and compelling mobile, web and in-store experiences to differentiate your brand and exceed customer expectations.
Support unlimited expansion. Quickly deploy sites for multiple business models, channels, brands, countries, currencies and languages all on the same platform.

A Comprehensive, Integrated Approach

An ecommerce platforms include all core business functions, integrated into a single solution; it fosters improved collaboration, aligns operational processes and provides real-time data visibility across entire organizations. This integrated platform drives the following functions in a cohesive manner:

Analytics and reporting
Customer support
Order and inventory management
Procurement
Content management
Marketing
Pricing and promotions

The ecommerce platforms of today have moved beyond single purpose software that enables people to simply buy products and services online. Today’s best cloud-based ecommerce platforms integrate both the front- and back-office systems to provide a unified business environment that is easily scalable, endlessly customizable and provides timesaving automation functionality. Such a platform enables businesses to meet their customers’ demands for providing a seamless shopping experience across all channels, and provides the flexibility and adaptability needed to keep up with the pace of business, reduce operational costs, increase efficiencies and eliminate the hassles of managing hardware and software.

Whether you do business in the B2B or B2C realm, your ecommerce platform needs to do more than just facilitate transactions if you want to be competitive in fast-moving and hyper-competitive markets. In the end, a complete ecommerce platform can provide significant advantages over competitors not leveraging similar technology.

Being a Leader

Business 2Over the past several years, one of the most important contributions psychology has made to the field of business has been in determining the key traits of acknowledged leaders. Psychological tests have been used to determine what characteristics are most commonly noted among successful leaders. This list of characteristics can be used for developmental purposes to help managers gain insight and develop their leadership skills.

The increasing rate of change in the business environment is a major factor in this new emphasis on leadership; whereas in the past, managers were expected to maintain the status quo in order to move ahead, new forces in the marketplace have made it necessary to expand this narrow focus. The new leaders of tomorrow are visionary. They are both learners and teachers. Not only do they foresee paradigm changes in society, but they also have a strong sense of ethics and work to build integrity in their organizations.

Raymond Cattell, a pioneer in the field of personality assessment, developed the Leadership Potential equation in 1954. This equation, which was based on a study of military leaders, is used today to determine the traits which characterize an effective leader. The traits of an effective leader include the following:

Emotional stability: Good leaders must be able to tolerate frustration and stress. Overall, they must be well-adjusted and have the psychological maturity to deal with anything they are required to face.

Dominance: Leaders are often competitive, decisive and usually enjoy overcoming obstacles. Overall, they are assertive in their thinking style as well as their attitude in dealing with others.

Enthusiasm: Leaders are usually seen as active, expressive and energetic. They are often very optimistic and open to change. Overall, they are generally quick and alert and tend to be uninhibited.

Conscientiousness: Leaders are often dominated by a sense of duty and tend to be very exacting in character. They usually have a very high standard of excellence and an inward desire to do their best. They also have a need for order and tend to be very self-disciplined.

Social boldness: Leaders tend to be spontaneous risk-takers. They are usually socially aggressive and generally thick-skinned. Overall, they are responsive to others and tend to be high in emotional stamina.

Self-assurance: Self-confidence and resiliency are common traits among leaders. They tend to be free of guilt and have little or no need for approval. They are generally unaffected by prior mistakes or failures.

Compulsiveness: Leaders are controlled and very precise in their social interactions. Overall, they are very protective of their integrity and reputation and consequently tended to be socially aware and careful, abundant in foresight, and very careful when making decisions or determining specific actions.

Intuitiveness: Rapid changes in the world today, combined with information overload result in an inability to know everything. In other words, reasoning and logic will not get you through all situations. In fact, more and more leaders are learning the value of using their intuition and trusting their gut when making decisions.

Empathy: Being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes is a key trait of leaders today. Without empathy, you can’t build trust; without trust, you will never be able to get the best effort from your employees.

Charisma: People usually perceive leaders as larger than life. Charisma plays a large part in this perception. Leaders who have charisma are able to arouse strong emotions in their employees by defining a vision which unites and captivates them. Using this vision, leaders motivate employees to reach toward a future goal by tying the goal to substantial personal rewards and values.

Leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Circumstances and persistence are major components in the developmental process of any leader, so if your goal is to become a leader, work on developing those areas of your personality that you feel are not up to par. For instance, if you have all of the basic traits but do not consider yourself very much of a people person, try taking classes or reading books on empathy. On the other end, if relating to others has always come naturally to you, but you have trouble making logical decisions, try learning about tough-mindedness and how to develop more psychological resistance. Just remember, anyone can do anything they set their mind to.

Dependable Investment Advisors- A Search for a Needle in the Haystack.

There are reasons why most people tend to depend on their friends and relatives while taking decisions about their investment option. Since it is hard to find a dependable source that could deliver professional advice regarding where to invest and exactly how much, people tend to make some apprehensions going through the reports in the business dailies or take suggestions from the friends about the investment options where they have already tried their hands out. There isn’t dearth of firms to take financial advices from, but before taking such a crucial decision in life, one must take sufficient amount of information and then entrust the responsibility of one’s own financial career.

According to Patrick Dwyer financial advisor, who has already had his share of experience in the industry, there are different types of advisors in the market, who cater to the specific domains of investments.

  • The first group is termed as the financial advisers who are professional firms or even act as individuals giving advice to the clients regarding the investment options available in the market. They might very well manage the trust funds, pension funds, and even personal investment products like stocks, and mutual funds on behalf of their customers.
  • Next are the financial planners, who provide advice to their clients regarding the taxes, savings, estate planning, insurance options, and retirement planning as well. They basically make a thorough study of the current financial position of their clients and hence move on with the planning as well.
  • And the last, but not the least are the brokers, who focus only on buying and selling stocks, bonds and mutual funds on behalf of their clients.

At times, the line of difference between the financial planner and brokers might get thinner, but that will never merge together into one. The investment advisors are generally paid either a percentage of the asset value that they handle, or are charged at an hourly rate, or might be a combination of both. They have the fiduciary responsibility to act in the best of your interest while taking any major decision on your behalf. It makes complete sense to partially compensate him based on the performance, since everyone provides any specific service only for money.

In such a pay structure, the investment advisers gain some commissions, based on how efficiently he manages to reach to your financial goal. Often these advisors play the trick to engage you in investment policies that require huge amount of upfront fee and lock you in a situation where there’s a huge sufficient amount of penalty for withdrawal. Try avoiding such scenario, since these are forcefully created situations by these advisors to earn some extra benefits at your expense.

Each of these advisors has their performance chart ready, which help them to attract potential advisors towards themselves. Make sure you go through them, verify his academic credentials, and license that he holds. These are very necessary precautions that you must take. Experts like Patrick Dwyer financial advisor have spent years in the industry, and his client base speaks of his reputation in the market. It’s the trust and dedicated service for his clients that have made him this famous.

Facts and Fiction Surrounding Ocean and Its Study

Though 70% of the earth is ocean, people know very little about it. The knowledge of earth is vast and more in-depth when it’s compared to the ocean. Even the knowledge of Mars and Venus can dominate the facts that most know about ocean. However, it is important to study ocean. Alex Potoczak holds great interest in the subject. He has spent a lot of time studying ocean and the lives underwater. He has explored this topic ling enough to understand that oceans hold the key of lot of problems which earth faces. The earth’s climate is depended on the oceans and its relation with the earth. To study the ocean and the lives underwater oceanography is used. This is a branch of earth science. It deals with various topics including physics, chemistry, biology and geology.

The study of ocean has changed with time. In the past the researchers used ships to study the ocean. They did not have any tools to explore further. Also, in the beginning, study of ocean was limited to the surface only. As the time passed, science and technology improved. Now, the scientists use various types of tools to study the ocean and the lives that are underwater. Not every researcher uses ships any longer. Different scientist has different ways of exploration. This Alex has noticed in his time during the research.

The artic scientists have created their base in the North Pole. They use ice breakers to study the ocean. They also create hole in the ice and use helicopter to study everything related to the underwater life. However, oceanography is not only a study of water and life underwater. It is more than that. Alexander Potoczak says that the in-depth study can help people properly predict the climate change on earth.

With time the study of ocean is becoming important. It is because, the scientists have seen that the sea level is rising. The cause of this is the increasing level of carbon monoxide. Due to the carbon monoxide growth on the, the earth is getting heated. The increasing heat making the ocean level to rise. This eventually leads to hurricanes and other calamities like this. Now, with the study of ocean people can foresee and predict changes in the climate.

Also, ocean products are used to manufacture medicines. You will be surprised to know that most of the medicines of cancer are created from the ocean products. If that does not convince you about the importance of oceanography, you might be interested to know that oceanography has touched a lot of issues of people’s everyday life. It is a vast resource of fish. It also helps in producing gas and oil.

This is a demanding profession. Alex Potoczak says if you are considering this as your career option, you should first know the pros and cons the profession brings along with itself. The oceanographers have to send long time away from family and friends. The situations are not always comfortable either. You might not have any idea where you will be posted to study ocean. Therefore, keep your expectation at check.

 

 

A Firm That Helps in the Financial Revival of the Entire Region

Geoffrey Morell along with Sally Fallon Morell established the famous P.A. Bowen Farmstead in the temperate hills of Maryland’s Prince Georges County with the motive of providing best quality; grassland fed animal products, and to help in the financial revival of the entire region. Mr. Morell and Sally Fallon Morell restored this lovely looking farm in order to cater to the people of the U.S.A. Proprietors Mr. and Mrs. Morell ensures that the farm tours help the visitors to know, understand and implement the integrated farming techniques when producing the products.

Geoffrey Morell is associated with The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) where his spouse Sally Fallon Morell acts as a Founder, President and Treasurer. The foundation issues a periodical journal called “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts” and a yearly shopping guide which provides the names of products that are made from biological, non-Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and are prepared using traditional and artisan methods.

Mr. Morell’s farm P.A. Bowen Farmstead ensures that the animal products are free from the harmful pesticides, GMOs and antibiotics and hormones. He also supports the teachings of the foundation which states that consumption of loads of fat, meat, and unpasteurized dairy is healthy as natural things are better than “artificial” or the processed and refined ones. P. A. Bowen Farmstead offers a vast range of healthy products such as:

  • Artisan raw milk cheese making which is controlled by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or MDHMH. Some of the significant cheeses include Prince George’s Blue Cheese, Dreamy Creamy (DC Cheese), Aquasco Jack and Chesapeake Cheddar
  • Pastured beef and veal, chicken and eggs and seasonal turkey
  • Traditional bacon and ham and nitrate-free sausage and bacon
  • Pastured dry-aged beef, as well as organ meats

In addition, the firm sells crafts that are made by the artisans of Maryland as well as books and educational materials for the customers. The firm encourages people to visit the farm to learn more about their process with the captivating guided farm expeditions and curriculums. The farm can be hired for hosting various events such as fund-raisers, corporate eat outside and marriages.

Geoffrey Morell has also been related with the well-known WAPF or Weston A. Price Foundation which has been founded in the year 1999 by his wife, Sally Fallon Morell, along with the nutritionist Mary G. Enig. The foundation is based on the researches done by Dr. Weston A. Price, an eminent dentist. Mr. Morell desires his farm, ‘P.A. Bowen Farmstead’ to assist other farms and farmers to yield a plenty of naturally raised produces and bring great quantity to Southern Maryland and across the entire U.S.A. He has written various articles and blogs based on the importance of the grass fed livestock and why people should buy grass fed animal product.

 

 

What Should You Expect From a FBI Agent?

A federal law administration job is positively for somebody searching for a job that can offer him thought-provoking, gratifying, breathtaking and enough chances to help other people on a daily basis. Apart from the great benefits and salary that go with this job, forecasts for development are also uncountable. This is not a tedious job because every day you will be facing new trials and challenges. In addition, deliberate on the number of people who would be depending on you for their security and protection.

FBI agents are liable for investigating the sensitive security investigation, federal violations and solving several crime cases. They are the chief investigators of the management. The FBI agent may monitor business records, examine court write-ups, track the criminal and perform surveillance on who has stolen property. An FBI agent also takes part in hidden assignments. Authorized private investigator Adam Quirk FBI’s arenas of expertise include solving violent crimes and leading drug diversion, local and state law enforcement agencies, facilitating effective collaboration with both internal partners and translating methodical subject matter effectually to lay audiences.

Duties of a FBI Agent

Some of the accountabilities of the FBI ae as follows:

  • Protecting the Civil Rights,
  • Struggling against violent, huge and white collar crimes,
  • In accomplishing any mission, helping them to improve technology,
  • Affording help to municipal, federal, county, international or state partners.

Being a Law Enforcement Agency, the FBI is responsible for protecting and securing USA from any kind of hazard whether local or international. They carry this out by providing leadership assistance to their partners and even to other agencies and also by defending criminal laws. To be certain their jobs are very risky, demanding and oftentimes they need to work for prolonged hours to assist the agency in fulfilling their objectives. This job completely demands the greatest hard work and commitment.

How Can You be Associated with FBI?

According to Adam Quirk FBI, attaining a federal law enforcement job is not a simple thing. Nevertheless, by being an associate of FBI you will have more career prospects and have doors open to you, similarly you will be taught leadership traits that are useful personally and even professionally. Those individuals whom the FBI look after, show them admiration and kindness and this can always be seen in their very presence. Truthfulness and equality best describe these people.

An outstanding way of trying to contact a FBI agent is by attempting to search and locate a local FBI field office and try communicating one of the agents and have a meeting with him about the life of an FBI agent. Write down all the queries you have in mind regarding this job and once you have the opportunity interview them. This is certainly one of the best method to know if this occupation is appropriate for you, this will make it stress-free for you to make a practical judgment. Do as much investigation as you want, but having an admittance to a personal information right from an agent’s mouth would show you grander things about this career.

Tax Resolution With The IRS!

People who have to face the brunt of tax issues know how daunting and confusing it is especially when the IRS imposes a tax lien on their property for non-payment of back taxes. In such a situation, it is prudent for such people to hire the services of tax resolution professional to assist them in reaching an agreement with the IRS to lift the lien.

Taxes are an issue that most people have to deal with as both the federal and local authorities impose this levy on the income these people earn. However, even competent people find tax codes can very confusing and tricky to navigate, which inadvertently leads to mistakes and in the extreme case, individuals not filing their tax returns or paying taxes. The dilemma is that an improper filing of a tax return or inadvertently failing to file a tax return shows up as a red flag on the IRS radar.

Eventually, the tax authorities will come to collect these back taxes, impose penalties and interest, if necessary. For individuals who owe that tax authorities back taxes but do not have the money to pay for them, the authorities have the legitimate right to engage other alternative means to collect such back taxes. One such legitimate method of collecting back taxes is tax lien. In order to effectively deal with such a tax issue, it is imperative for people to know what a tax lien is and how it is possible to reach a settlement with the IRS to resolve the issue.

The professionals at Omni Financial at Vero Beach are experts in the above matter and they help their clients during every stage of the tax resolution process. In legal terms, a lien implies a legitimate claim by one party upon a defaulting party’s property is settlement of an outstanding debt. In the context of taxes and the IRS, a tax lien is a legitimate claim, which the tax authorities have on a defaulting taxpayer’s property in order to collect outstanding taxes. This implies that if a person owes back taxes, the IRS has the right to claim the person’s real estate, automobile and other property to settle the taxes that person owes.

While tax penalties like tax liens are awful enough for a defaulting taxpayer, the fact that such liens appear indefinitely in their credit report makes the situation even worse. This implies that if a person has tax problems with the authorities and the IRS imposes a tax lien against such a person, the lien will follow that person that moment the IRS imposes it. If in future such a person tries to purchase a property, open a bank account or even apply for a loan, the lien will appear on his credit report and prevent him/her from doing such things. This is in spite of the fact that the person’s financial conduct remains faultless until then.

This is the reason why it is necessary to hire a competent tax resolution professional to negotiate an amicable settlement with the IRS to lift the tax lien and resolve the issue. Tax resolution professionals like Omni Financial are taxation experts who assist people by negotiating with the IRS on their behalf to find a workable solution in the form of a compromise offer or payment plan to resolve tax debt.

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