How Does Shopify Work?

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If you’ve just begun looking into shopping cart software, chances are you’ve run into Shopify (see our review). Shopify is an all-inclusive online selling platform. For one monthly rate, you can create and develop an online store from which you can promote, sell, and ship your products.

Shopify is popular due to its low startup cost and easy-to-use interface. It’s possible to run a complete online store for as low as $29/month, and you can have everything online in less than a week!

Shopify is an excellent solution for many merchants, though it’s not perfect. Keep reading for more information about what comes included in a Shopify subscription, the merits and disadvantages of the software, and how to set up a Shopify store.

Table of Contents

What Does A Shopify Subscription Include?

Shopify is a cloud-based, SaaS (software as a service) shopping cart solution. A monthly fee gives you access to an admin panel where you can enter store data, add products, and process orders.

In addition, you’ll be able to choose from a rich selection of free and for-purchase design templates. These themes are clean and modern, and Shopify provides a variety of editing tools which you can use to make your chosen theme fit your brand.

What’s more, a subscription with Shopify includes secure, reliable hosting for your website. You don’t have to worry about your site crashing during peak traffic or hackers hijacking your transactions. With 99.9% uptime and a free SSL certificate, Shopify has you covered.

Finally, your monthly payment entitles you to comprehensive 24/7 customer support. You’ll be able to contact support via phone, email, and live chat. And you can also use Shopify’s knowledge base to solve smaller problems on your own.

Shopify boasts that they’re an all-in-one solution. With a Shopify subscription, you should have everything you need to quickly begin selling on your very own site.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Shopify?

As you may expect, while Shopify is an excellent option for many merchants, it isn’t for everyone. Here’s a brief list of the reasons merchants choose Shopify, followed by a list of common customer complaints.

Pros

  • Easy To Use: This is by far the biggest reason merchants love Shopify. Shopify is built for the technically illiterate. It’s simple to add products, create discounts, and process orders. Web design is user-friendly — and even easy — with the new drag-and-drop editing tool.
  • Low Startup Cost: Shopify’s relatively low monthly fees make setup affordable. The basic plan costs $29/month and the mid-level plan is priced at $79/month.
  • Beautiful Themes: Subscribing merchants can choose from a variety of free, mobile responsive themes. Premium (paid) themes are also available for merchants who want more options.
  • Good For Dropshippers: Shopify is the platform of choice for many dropshippers. Integrations with Ordoro and Oberlo make dropshipping from your Shopify admin a lot simpler.
  • Lots Of Support Options: You can access technical support every hour of the day through phone, live chat, or email. Self-help options are available as well. Customers like that support is available outside of regular business hours.

Cons

  • Limited Functionality: Shopify comes pre-loaded with almost all of the features smaller merchants need to build an online store. However, every business has some specialized requirements, and Shopify typically does not have the features to meet those specific needs. This is where add-ons come in. Many merchants end up needing to purchase a handful of add-ons to make this shopping cart work the way they need it to.
  • Costly Add-Ons: As I’ve said, while Shopify offers almost every basic feature, the software is lacking many advanced features. You’ll have to find these features in the form of add-ons, which are not free. The cost of adding just three add-ons can double your monthly fees.
  • Transaction Fees: Although most shopping carts have dropped their transaction fees entirely, Shopify has retained their 0.5% to 2.0% fees (depending on your pricing plan).
  • Strained Customer Support: While in the past Shopify has been known for responsive customer support, it seems their support team has experienced increased strain this past year. Shopify’s client load is increasing exponentially, and support is struggling to keep up. Hold times of up to thirty minutes are not uncommon.

How Do You Make Shopify Work For You?

The way to get the most out of your Shopify subscription is to play to the software’s strengths. Shopify offers a few feature modules that you can use to boost your administrative power and expedite daily processes. Here are a few of Shopify’s strong points;

  • Shopify Shipping: Shopify’s brand new shipping modules allows you to integrate with major shipping carriers in order to calculate real-time shipping rates. You can purchase and print shipping labels directly from your admin panel. You should note that this shipping module does not let you display calculated rates in your customers’ shopping carts.
  • Dropshipping Apps: Shopify allows you to integrate with a handful of dropshipping applications, including Ordoro and Oberlo. I have seen numerous reports of success with these applications in combination with Shopify.
  • Mobile Management: Shopify offers a mobile app, which lets you manage your store from anywhere.
  • Integrations With Amazon & eBay: Connect your Shopify account with two of the internet’s biggest marketplaces. Process orders from all of your sales channels in Shopify. It should be noted that while we’re glad Shopify has bothered to create these integrations, they have not garnered good reviews with Shopify’s user base. Read our article on the two integrations to learn more.

How Do You Start?

If you’re considering Shopify, take the first step to getting started and sign up for their 14-day free trial. You won’t have to enter any credit card information to access the trial; they’ll just need you to submit contact information and answer a few questions about your business.

During your trial, make sure to test every aspect of Shopify’s software. Add products, create marketing campaigns, change your storefront design, and add on an application or two. Make sure Shopify can handle all of your daily operations. Look for any advanced features you may need, like filtered search, abandoned cart notifications, and pop-up promos.

Once you’re sure Shopify is the right choice for you, choose your appropriate pricing plan, and get moving.

If you didn’t already do so in your trial, you’ll need to begin by adding your company’s basic information. Providing an accurate location will help estimate shipping rates and taxes.

You can then head over to the products section to upload your wares. Make sure to list weight and dimensions for each item as this will help Shopify accurately calculate shipping rates in Shopify Shipping.

As you add your products, you should keep in mind your ultimate vision for the design of your site. Take a look at Shopify’s selection and choose a theme that fits your brand and accommodates the number of products you plan to offer.

For example, don’t choose a theme that does not include drop-down menus if you plan to list 500+ products. With so many items, you’ll need to be able to create subcategories.

As you explore your new platform, don’t forget about Shopify’s vast App store. Shopify offers over 1500 extensions and applications which can help fill in any gaps in features you may find.

And when you run into trouble, you can always reach out to Shopify’s support team. At this time, you can expect hold times of up to 30 minutes, so I would first look into Shopify’s knowledge base before calling.

Final Thoughts

Shopify is an excellent shopping cart for many merchants. Its easy to use interface, reasonable pricing model, and beautiful themes make it one of our favorite eCommerce solutions, and we recommend it frequently to readers.

But as always, I suggest you continue your research before you commit to the software. Head over to our full Shopify review for complete information on the pros and cons of the platform. Then, sign up for a free trial to test out the software yourself. Our reviews are just a place to begin. Your own experience with the software is more valuable than any advice I can give.

Best of luck and happy researching!

Liz Hull

Liz is a recent college graduate living in Washington state. As of late, she can often be found haunting eCommerce forums and waiting on hold with customer service representatives. When she’s free, Liz loves to rock climb, watch Spanish dramas, and read poorly-written young adult novels.

Liz Hull

“”

Business Credit Card Rewards: Everything You Need To Know

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One of the biggest perks offered by business credit cards, other than convenience, is rewards. Gamed correctly, business credit card rewards can be a way to save money on your biggest expenses.

Not sure which rewards are right for your business? Wondering what kinds of expenses to use your card on? Not even sure what’s out there? Read on!

Table of Contents

What Are Business Credit Card Rewards?

Simply put, they’re incentives to use your card to make purchases. When you make a purchase on your card, you’ll be awarded points or cash for each dollar you’ve spent. The number and type of points awarded vary by card. In many cases, where you’re spending it matters too.

How Many Types Of Rewards Are There?

A lot. In fact, many business credit card rewards cater to a specific type of spending. Overall, you can break them down into two broad categories.

  • Cash: This is the simplest, and oldest, kind of reward program offered by business credit cards. Cash rewards accumulate as you make purchases on your credit card. You may, for example, earn 2 percent back on every purchase you make. Depending on your carrier, you’ll have the option to redeem the rewards automatically at specific times of year, when you reach reward thresholds, or when you request them. Cash rewards can be redeemed as checks, statement credit and, in some cases, as gift certificates.
  • Rewards: Other business credit cards don’t return cash, instead awarding points or frequent flyer miles to cardholders. These cards tend to cater to specific types of business. For example, businesses whose staff frequently travel may choose a card that awards flyer miles. A business that spends a lot on telecommunications, on the other hand, may choose a card that rewards expenditures on those expenses. Other reward programs are more general, presenting you with a diverse (but limited) array of rewards to spend your points on.

What Are Reward Tiers?

Not all business credit cards have reward tiers. Cash cards almost never have them, for example, but many reward cards do.

Reward-based cards use tiers to influence your spending habits. For example, the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit card breaks its reward point system into two tiers. For each $1 you spend on travel, shipping purchases, telecommunications, and social media advertising, you’ll earn three reward points. Any other purchases you make will be compensated with one point per $1.

Most cards that use tiers will have two or three of them. The lowest tier almost always represents miscellaneous purchases.

How To Choose The Right Reward

Business credit cards, ideally, reward a specific kind of spending behavior. With that in mind, it’s best to consider which rewards best sync up with your expenses.

This means you’ll probably want to itemize your monthly business expenses to see where you’re spending your money. You’ll also want to get the cash value of the reward points offered by any rewards cards you are considering (expect a value somewhere around a cent or two).

To make a comparison, pretend you’ve put all of your monthly expenses on the credit card and calculate the cash value of the points (or cash back) you would get for making those purchases. So if you have $800 of expenses that qualify top tier points (3) and $1,000 of miscellaneous purchases, you’d be earning $34 worth of rewards each month or $408 per year.

If your expenses aren’t concentrated in any specific area, consider cash rewards. You may not get as big a multiplier on specific purchases, but you’ll often recoup a better value on your miscellaneous purchases. Not only that, but you can spend your cash return on whatever you want. Consider cash as “breadth” to rewards’ “depth.”

What Else Should You Factor Into Your Reward Calculations?

You didn’t think it would be quite that easy, did you? Business credit card terms feature a large number of asterisks and footnotes. Here are some things you should also consider when calculating a card’s reward potential:

  • Sign-up Bonus: Many business credit cards will offer an initial sign-up bonus. This is a one-time offer and usually requires you to spend a minimum amount of money in order to qualify.
  • Annual Fee: Some business credit cards charge an annual fee to keep the card active. You’ll want to deduct this amount from your yearly reward value. Note that many cards will waive the first year’s fee.
  • Reward Limits: While it might be fun to think of ways to earn an endless torrent of reward points, your carrier is one step ahead of you. Some carriers will limit the number of top tier points you can earn. Others may stop rewarding points or cash for the year after you hit a spending threshold of, say, $150,000.

Final Thoughts

Remember that your business credit card should match your existing spending habits. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you should have a specific card just because it’s popular or even well-reviewed.

Need help getting started? Check out our 2018 business credit card comparisons.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

10 Tips For Building A Winning Patreon Campaign

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patreon success

It used to be that if you wanted to try crowdfunding as a means of monetizing your physical and/or creative output, you had to set up a campaign on a site like Kickstarter (see our review) or Indiegogo (see our review). That’s all fine and good — after all, these sites have raised billions in funding for creative business ventures of all kinds. But what if you want to crowdfund on a continuing basis and have your fans support you with monthly (or per creation) payments? Platforms like Kickstarter aren’t set up to facilitate that — not until Drip becomes open to all, at least.

Enter Patreon (see our review). Patreon enables you to draw an ongoing income from The Crowd by soliciting donations from patrons on either a per-month or per-creation basis. It’s an ideal crowdfunding model for podcasters, YouTubers, musicians, journalists, artists, and anyone else who creates content on a regular basis and would like to be compensated for it.

Just remember: Crowdfunding isn’t Field Of Dreams, and you’re not Kevin Costner. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You have to go in with the mindset that building up your Patreon is a job and your patrons are customers who will require content of value in return for their investment. Rewards crowdfunding isn’t charity — it’s business, albeit with a strong human element.

Here’s what you need to do to ensure you have the best possible chance at Patreon success.

(If you are, in fact, Kevin Costner, I apologize.)

Table of Contents

1. Have An Existing Fan Base

Some people may see popular Patreon creators who pull in several thousand dollars a month and come away thinking that Patreon built their fan base. This line of thinking gets it backward. Patreon is just a platform for your work — it’s not going to generate interest in what you do if the interest isn’t there in the first place!

A successful Patreon campaign requires that you have a base of potential patrons — not necessarily a huge base, but one that exists — who are already inclined to support you financially in exchange for access to your content. In reality, the path to being a winning Patreon creator starts long before you sign up with Patreon. Typically, people don’t browse randomly through Patreon creator pages looking for unknown creators to support. They seek out the campaigns of creators they already know and appreciate.

Before you start with Patreon, acquire a following of people who are willing to drop at least a dollar or two per month on your content. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your time.

2. Post A Video. Be Concise!

Building a personal connection with your followers is key in inducing them to open their wallets for you. There’s no more direct and efficient way to bolster this connection than with a killer video.

Don’t use your video to appeal to the consciences of your fans and plead for support on moral/charitable grounds. Regardless of the merits of such a case, it just doesn’t work. Approach your introductory video as if you were making an elevator pitch to investors because essentially, that is what you’re doing.

Appear personally in your video. Be passionate and sincere. Make sure to explain how the rewards system works and what patrons will receive at different tiers of support — some of your followers likely don’t know how Patreon works. Also, don’t post a video longer than three minutes (or so). People’s attention spans aren’t getting any longer.

gamer chair GIF

Nobody’s going to expect to see a video with Hollywood-level production values. Just be direct, sincere, and explain exactly what patrons will get in exchange for their support.

3. Examine Other Patreon Campaigns

If you’re trying to raise money by applying for a bank loan, you don’t get to study the loan applications of other applicants to see what works and what doesn’t. Crowdfunding platforms, however, are much more transparent. With Patreon, you can check out every active campaign on the site, along with the number of patrons each has acquired. And while creators don’t have to make their monthly (or per-creation) earnings public, about half of them do.

This is tremendously valuable information! Before you launch, do your homework and study the Patreon campaigns of other creators in your field. Take note of what characteristics successful campaigns have in common, along with the commonalities between campaigns that generate less interest.

This campaign data is too valuable to go unexamined. Take advantage of it!

4. Set Goals

With Patreon, you don’t have to set funding goals, but I highly recommend it. When you set a goal, you’re telling your patrons that you’ll be able to complete a certain project or make some campaign-related purchase once you’ve hit a certain level of funding. It’s both a way to demonstrate that you aspire to grow your operations and a way to inspire more patronage by letting people know what they stand to gain should your goals be met.

You can set as many goals as you like, but stick with a few at a time so as to not inundate people with information. Once you reach a goal, consider setting a new one so you’ll always have a few goals laid out in front of you. These goals can serve as inspiration for both you and your patrons.

5. Create Several Reward Tiers

In general, it’s a good idea to offer some kind of reward to patrons at the $1-$2 subscription level to appeal to the broadest possible swath of the populace. Many people divide their support among numerous Patreon creators at $1-$2 per month/creation, and you’ll want to appeal to this type of subscriber. However, you also want to set higher reward tiers for the bigger spenders, because a certain percentage of your supporters — and it can be a small percentage — will likely jump at the chance.

Patreon has posted data indicating that as your number of reward levels increases, so too does the chance that you’ll process at least $100 in your first month.

The key is to offer your potential patrons several options for supporting you in exchange for rewards so as to appeal to both the big spenders and the small spenders. Offer a lil’ something for everybody.

6. Promote Your Patreon On Social Media

If you have a social media presence and you’re not using it to promote your Patreon, you’re doing it wrong. People who know you and are familiar with what you do are more likely to support you. This goes back to my first point regarding tapping your existing followers for support.

You might be a bit squeamish about annoying your social media followers with requests for crowdfunding support. Do it anyway! Otherwise, you’re effectively leaving money on the table. Plus, if your campaign is unique or unusual enough, it might just go viral, thus getting you all the more attention — and more attention leads to more patron moolah!

7. Be Mindful Of Shipping Costs When Offering Rewards

It’s great to offer cool rewards, but if you’re not careful about who you’re offering physical rewards to, you could end up blowing your budget on shipping costs. This is particularly true if you have lots of overseas backers.

hovering stop motion GIF by Reuben Armstrong

Make sure that the rewards you offer at lower levels of support are either digital in nature or are the sort of thing that can be sent in a simple envelope. If you’re sending packages overseas to people who support you at $5/month, you may well find yourself in deep doo-doo.

8. Create Continuously

This one may be a bit obvious, but it’s true — particularly if your Patreon campaign offers per-month subscriptions. If your content releases are few and far between, patrons are going to realize they’re not getting much bang for their buck.

If you’re focused on offering major works a few times a year, platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are probably better suited to you. Patreon’s crowdfunding model requires that you continuously release bits of content on a regular basis. If you’re building up to publishing a novel or something along those lines, you can always launch a Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign and run it alongside your Patreon campaign.

9. Keep Creating Things For Non-Patrons

If you’re earning Patreon money for your work, that’s great. Just don’t make all your content exclusive to patrons. You want to continue to grow your casual audience and spread awareness of your work in order to expand the pool of people inclined to become a patron of yours in the future, and you can’t do that if you put everything behind the paywall.

Freebies make for good patron-bait. Give people just enough to leave them wanting more.

10. Send Patrons Personalized Messages (Particularly When Starting Out)

It always helps your cause to make your patrons feel loved and wanted, and while it may not be possible to send personalized thank-you messages to your every patron once you’ve hit it big, it’s definitely worth doing when you’re starting out. Patrons may feel like they’re taking a chance on you in your early days, so why not go the extra mile to thank them for having faith in you?

Show patrons some extra TLC when you’re starting out, and they’ll be more likely to stick with you. It’s just common sense.

Final Thoughts

It would be nice if good content sold itself. Unfortunately, with Patreon, just as in meatspace, this just isn’t how things work. You’ve got to be methodical and strategic when devising your Patreon campaign if you want to draw significant funding. Most people don’t have the disposable income to support every creator they like just out of the goodness of their hearts. You have to make your patrons feel emotionally invested in your success while simultaneously offering them tangible benefits in exchange for their patronage.

Remember, your followers don’t owe you anything. They’re struggling too! However, if you can enrich their lives with engaging content while making them feel as though they have a stake in your success, your Patreon campaign can be a winning proposition for everybody.

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

“”

How To Add Vendors In QuickBooks Pro

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How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

When you’re setting up your QuickBooks Pro software, it’s easy to remember to add customers (since that’s the bread and butter of your business), but it’s important not to forget about your vendors.

We already explained one method adding vendors in How to Import Vendors Into QuickBooks Pro, but you can also add vendors manually.

If you already read How To Add Customers In QuickBooks Pro, then this process is going to be a piece of cake. If not, don’t worry. We’ve broken everything down into 16 simple steps.

Table of Contents

Create A Vendor

To add a vendor in QuickBooks Pro, begin by going to Vendors>Vendor Center>New Vendor…

Vendor Information is divided into five sections: Address Info, Payment Settings, Tax Settings, Account Settings, and Additional Info. The only required field is Address Information, but we’ll go over the others as well.

Step 1: Enter Vendor’s Name

Type your vendor’s name.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 2: Add An Opening Balance (Optional)

You can add the opening balance you owe your vendors.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

If you add an opening balance, you’ll also need to select an “as of” date. You can click on the blue “How do I determine the opening balance?” link for more details.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Add Address Information

Step 3: Enter The Company Name

Add your vendor’s company name.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 4: Write Vendor’s Full Name

Enter your vendor’s full name and title.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 5: Add Vendor’s Job Title

Fill in your vendor’s job title.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 6: Record Vendor Details

Use the drop-down menus to save eight fields of vendor details, including:

  • Main Phone
  • Home Phone
  • Work Phone
  • Mobile
  • Alt. Phone
  • Alt. Mobile
  • Main Email
  • CC Email
  • Alt. Email 1
  • Alt. Email 2
  • Website
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • URL 1
  • URL 2
  • URL 3
  • URL 4
  • Skype ID
  • Other 1
  • Other 2
  • Other 3

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 7: Add A Billing Address

Edit your vendor’s address information.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 8: Add A Shipping Address

If the vendor’s shipping address is the same as their billing address, click “Copy>>.” If not, fill in the proper shipping address now. Then click the blue “OK” button.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Adjust Payment Settings

Step 9: Add An Account Number

Add an account number for your vendor (if applicable).

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 10: Select Default Payment Terms

Select the proper default terms for this particular vendor. You can choose between:

  • 1% 10 Net 30
  • 2% 10 Net 30
  • Consignment
  • Dues on receipt
  • Net 15
  • Net 30
  • Net 60

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 11: Edit Print Settings

Choose how you want your vendor’s name printed on checks (in our case, we chose the company name rather than the name of an individual at the company).

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 12: Set A Credit Limit

You can set a credit limit if desired.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 13: Set A Billing Rate Level

Much like customer pricing levels, it’s possible to create billing rate levels in QuickBooks. You can add one now or click the blue question mark to learn more about this feature.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Edit Tax Settings

Step 14: Enter A Vendor Tax ID

If applicable, enter a vendor tax ID. At this time, also mark whether the vendor is eligible for a 1099 tax form (1099’s are used for freelancers and independent contractors).

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Edit Account Settings

Step 15: Attach Vendors Expenses To An Account

Tell QuickBooks where you want vendor bill transactions to be recorded. Choose an expense account from the chart of accounts drop-down menu.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Add Additional Info

Step 16: Specify A Vendor Type

Use the drop-down menu to note where this customer came from. You can choose:

  • Consultant
  • Service providers
  • Suppliers
  • Supplies
  • Tax agency

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 17: Create Custom Fields

You can create a custom field for your vendor. Click the “Define Fields” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Then write a label for your custom field and select whether that custom field applies to contact, vendors, or employees.

How to Add Vendors in QuickBooks Pro

Step 18: Save The Vendor

Finally, save your vendor by clicking the blue “OK” button on the bottom of the screen.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

You can view your vendor list or go back to the Vendor Center to make sure the vendor saved correctly. Repeat this process as many times as needed until all of your vendors are successfully added to your QuickBooks account.

If you have any troubleshooting issues, check out the QuickBooks Community or call QuickBooks directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

How Does Shopify Shipping Work?

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If you operate an online store, you’re familiar with the everyday challenge of printing postage and shipping your packages on time. Because managing logistics is needlessly complicated, I often advise merchants to integrate full shipping software into their shopping cart system. Using a shipping software can help streamline your fulfillment process and prevent headaches caused by incorrect postage.

In the past, Shopify customers had to look elsewhere for shipping support, but Shopify recently made significant improvements to their shipping features. In fact, Shopify has rolled out an entirely new shipping system, Shopify Shipping, to help you simplify fulfillment.

Shopify Shipping is a built-in shipping suite that gives merchants access to calculated rates through USPS, UPS, and DHL. With Shopify Shipping, you can process orders and print shipping labels in bulk without worrying about a third-party integration. What’s more, Shopify has made arrangements with major shipping carriers that allow you to save on shipping costs.

Unfortunately, there are a few bugs in the works. Most importantly, while you (the merchant) can view real-time shipping rates, your customers cannot. In order to let customers view real-time rates, you’ll have to pay for an add-on or subscribe to Shopify’s Advanced plan.

Nevertheless, Shopify Shipping is worth considering. Keep reading to learn more about Shopify Shipping and how you can implement it in your business.

Table of Contents

Setting Up Shopify Shipping

Because shipping features are now included in every Shopify platform, implementing Shopify Shipping is a breeze.

You can find Shopify shipping options in your admin by navigating to “Settings” and then clicking “Shipping.” Or, to make things simpler, you can click this link to your Shopify admin.

This page allows you to connect with shipping carriers, set up shipping zones, and add dropshipping services.

In order for Shopify Shipping to really work for your business, you’ll have to make sure you have listed dimensions and weights for all of your products and product variations.

Once you have set up your carriers and double checked your products, you can start fulfilling orders. Here’s what your order fulfillment page will look like:

You’ll notice several shipping options listed below the product information. You can choose to leave your customers’ selected shipping speed or upgrade them to a faster or cheaper service.

You should note that while you are able to select from a wide range of shipping speeds, your customers will not be presented with these options. Rather, customers will see only the flat or calculated shipping rates that you manually set up in your Shopify admin. In order to display real-time calculated rates, you’ll either have to pay for the Advanced Shopify plan or purchase an add-on for $20/month.

Basic Features

Shopify Shipping doesn’t offer the most robust shipping features. However, their shipping suite should fit the needs of most small businesses.

Here are a few of the features you can find already built in:

  • Integrations With Major Carriers: Get real-time shipping rates from DHL, USPS, and UPS.
  • Bulk Order Fulfillment: Set up shipping rules to process your orders in batches. Purchase shipping labels right in your admin.
  • Bulk Label Printing: Print multiple shipping labels at a time. You can use a thermal printer or a regular desktop printer for these labels.
  • Shipping Insurance: Insure your packages so if something goes wrong, you’ll be covered.
  • Flat Rate Or Calculated Shipping Options: You can choose to set flat shipping rates or calculate rates based on weight and dimensions.
  • Better Customer Service Features: Provide customers with real-time updates and tracking information.
  • International Features: Shopify Shipping will identify your international orders and create customs information.
  • Review & Update Shipping Selections: Review your customers’ shipping preferences. Upgrade customers to cheaper or faster services in your admin.

Considering the rate at which Shopify has built this shipping system, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more features continually added on in the coming year.

Reduced Shipping Rates

One of the main reasons to consider Shopify Shipping is the reduced shipping rates they offer through USPS, UPS, and DHL. All Shopify customers can benefit from this discount, but merchants on higher plans will save more on shipping.

Discounts are available on select services. You can look at Shopify Shipping’s full knowledgebase for in-depth information and example rates, or you can view a brief list of services below.

USPS

The USPS is an online seller’s best friend when it comes to shipping small, lightweight products. Their partnership with Shopify Shipping will let you save up to 46% on your shipments. View Shopify’s example rates for a more detailed breakdown.

Here are the USPS services you can access with Shopify Shipping:

  • Domestic rates
    • Priority mail
    • Priority express mail
    • First class package service
  • International rates
    • First class package international rates
    • Priority mail international rates

UPS

Specializing in fast shipments and guaranteed delivery, UPS is often the best option for time-sensitive shipments. You can save up to 52% on UPS rates, depending on your Shopify plan. View the details in Shopify’s knowledge base.

Here are the UPS services you’ll have access to:

  • Domestic rates
    • UPS Next Day Air
    • UPS Next Day Air Saver
    • UPS Second Day Air
    • UPS 3 Day Select
    • UPS Ground Rates
  • International rates
    • UPS Worldwide Express Rates
    • UPS Worldwide Saver rates
    • UPS World Expedited rates
    • UPS Standard to Canada rates

DHL

If you ship internationally, you should consider DHL for your fulfillment. Global logistics is what they do best. While I couldn’t find a percentage stating DHL’s discount, Shopify does say that DHL offers “Special DHL Express rates, exclusive to Shopify.” You can view a few examples of those special rates in that knowledge base I keep mentioning.

A Few Limitations

While Shopify Shipping supports most packages, it does not support all. Here’s a brief list of unsupported shipment types:

  • Letter
    • Flat envelope thinner than ¼ inch
  • Large package
    • Total dimensions (total of the package’s length, width, and height) greater than 84 inches
  • Irregular package
    • Non-rectangular package

Final Thoughts

As you set up your online store, be sure to tour Shopify Shipping. You may find it fits all your needs, or you may discover you need a couple of add-ons to fill things out.

Either way, we’re happy to see Shopify make this improvement, and we hope to see continued progress in the future. In particular, we’d like real-time calculated rates to be available for every storefront. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for this feature!

Take a closer look at Shopify Shipping on their page or navigate to our full review of Shopify to learn more about the platform as a whole.

Liz Hull

Liz is a recent college graduate living in Washington state. As of late, she can often be found haunting eCommerce forums and waiting on hold with customer service representatives. When she’s free, Liz loves to rock climb, watch Spanish dramas, and read poorly-written young adult novels.

Liz Hull

“”

How To Add Customers In QuickBooks Pro

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How To Add Customers In QuickBooks Pro

One critical aspect of setting up your QuickBooks Pro accounts is adding contacts. Without contacts, you’ll have no customers to invoice.

We already explained one method of adding customers in our How to Import Customers Into QuickBooks Pro post, but you can also add customers manually.

Follow these simple steps to add customers into QuickBooks.

Table of Contents

Create A Contact

To add a customer in QuickBooks Pro, begin by going to Customers>Customer Center>New Customer.

Customer Information is divided into five sections: Address Info, Payment Settings, Sales Tax Settings, Additional Info, and Job Status. The only section that is truly required is Address Information, but we’ll go over each. We’ve divided this post to reflect these categories for easy navigation.

Step 1: Enter Contact’s Name

Type your contact’s name.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 2: Add An Opening Balance (optional)

You can add an opening balance for pre-existing customers.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

If you add an opening balance, you’ll also need to select “as of” date. You can click on the blue “How do I determine an opening balance?” link for more details.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Add Address Information

Step 3: Enter The Company Name

Add the company name associated with your contact.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 4: Write Contact’s Full Name

Enter your contact’s full name and title.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 5: Add Contact’s Job Title

Fill in your contact’s job title.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 6: Record Contact Details

Use the drop-down menus to save eight fields of contact details. You can choose to save the following contact information:

  • Main Phone
  • Home Phone
  • Work Phone
  • Mobile
  • Alt. Phone
  • Alt. Mobile
  • Main Email
  • CC Email
  • Alt. Email 1
  • Alt. Email 2
  • Website
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • URL 1
  • URL 2
  • URL 3
  • URL 4
  • Skype ID
  • Other 1
  • Other 2
  • Other 3

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 7: Add A Billing Address

Edit your contact’s address information.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 8: Add A Shipping Address

If your contact’s shipping address is the same as their billing address, click “Copy>>.” If not, fill in the proper shipping address now. Then click the blue “OK” button.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Adjust Payment Settings

Step 9: Add An Account Number

Add an account number for your contact (if applicable).

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 10: Select Default Payment Terms

Select the proper default terms for your customer. These terms will appear on every estimate or invoice you send to your customer (though the defaults can be overridden or changed at any time). You can choose between:

  • 1% 10 Net 30
  • 2% 10 net 30
  • Consignment
  • Dues on Receipt
  • Net 15
  • Net 30
  • Net 60

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 11: Select A Preferred Delivery Method

Choose a preferred delivery method that will be used when you send estimates and invoices to your contact. You can choose between:

  • Email
  • Mail
  • None

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 12: Set A Credit Limit

You can set an optional credit limit for your customer if desired.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 13: Select A Price Level

QuickBooks allows you to create price levels, which are basically a means of offering custom pricing for customers or jobs. You can add one now or click the blue question mark to learn more about this feature.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 14: Record Contact’s Credit Card Information

QuickBooks Pro gives you the option to save a contact’s credit card information if desired. You can add the credit card number, expiration date, name on card, address, and zip code.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 15: Enable Payments

You can opt to let your customers pay you via credit card or bank transfer. You’ll need to create a QuickBooks Payments account first. Once you’ve created an account, click the appropriate boxes for how you want your customer to pay (or come back and edit this later).

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Edit Sales Tax Settings

Step 16: Include A Customer Tax Code

In order to save a default sales tax rate to your customer, you’ll need to select “Tax” from the Tax Code drop-down menu. If you don’t want to charge sales tax to this customer, select “Non.”

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 17: Select A Default Sales Tax

Select a default sales tax to charge your customer (you can override the default when creating estimates and invoices).

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 18: Add A Resale Number

You can choose to add a resale number if you’d like.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Add Additional Info

Step 19: Specify A Customer Type

Use the drop-down menu to note where this customer came from. You can choose:

  • From advertisement
  • Referral
  • Retail
  • Wholesale

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 20: Link To A Sales Rep

If you want to link this customer to a specific sales representative, choose the appropriate employee using the drop-down menu.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 21: Create Custom Fields

You can create a custom field for your contact. Click the “Define Fields” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Then write a label for your custom field and select whether that custom field applies to contact, vendors, or employees.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Record Job Info

Step 22: Enter A Job Description

Add a job description for the project attached to your customer.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 33: Choose A Job Type

Choose whether this job is commercial or residential.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 34: Set A Job Status

Set a current status for this project. You can choose between:

  • None
  • Pending
  • Awarded
  • In progress
  • Closed
  • Not awarded

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 35: Mark The Start Date, Projected End Date, & End Date

Use the calendars to set a project start date, projected end date, and end date (if available).

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

Step 36: Save The Contact

Finally, you can save your contact by clicking the blue “OK” button on the bottom of the screen.

How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Pro

You can view your customer list or go back to the Customer Center to make sure the customer saved correctly. Repeat this process as many times as needed until all of your customers are successfully added to your QuickBooks account.

If you have any troubleshooting issues, check out the QuickBooks Community or call QuickBooks directly. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

Small Business Sales Tax Guide

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Before you started your small business, you probably only thought of sales tax as a pesky total on the bottom of your receipts—the thing that changed your nice round price into something bizarre. (The Dollar Store doesn’t really work when it’s the $1.07 Store.) But now that you’re a small business owner, understanding sales tax is necessarily a lot more complicated.

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of small business sales tax and what you need to do to get your company legally set up to collect sales tax. By using this article as a starting point, you’ll understand the confusing concept of small business sales tax in no time.

Table of Contents

Understanding The Basics

Before we discuss how to set your company up to collect sales tax legally, we wanted to cover a couple of important basics and some common FAQs about sales tax. If you’ve ever had questions about sales tax, you’ve come to the right place.

What Is Sales Tax?

Sales tax is a government tax on the sale of goods and services.

In Which State(s) Do I Have to Collect Sales Tax?

You must collect a sales tax in any state where you have a nexus.

What Is A Nexus?

We’re glad you asked. In the original sense of the word, a nexus is a connection. When talking about sales tax, a nexus is a legal term that means you’ve created a sufficient physical presence in a state. Once a nexus is established, you are required to pay sales tax on any items sold in or shipped to that state (with the exception of Oregon, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and New Hampshire, which do not impose a sales tax).

How Is A Nexus Created?

You may have a sales tax nexus in states where:

  • You have an office or other property
  • You have a storefront
  • You have employees (including salespeople and remote workers)
  • You have a warehouse
  • You attend a tradeshow (or other events)
  • You use drop shipping

For example, let’s say my company is headquartered in California, but I also have an inventory warehouse in Washington. That means I would have a nexus in both California and Washington and must collect and pay sales tax in both states.

Each state has slightly different rules about what constitutes a sales tax nexus, so be sure to contact a state’s sales tax authority directly if you think you may have a nexus there.

If you’re still confused about what constitutes a nexus, you can read about it in more detail in the Tackling Taxes section of our Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Store ebook.

How Do I Determine Which Sales Tax Rate To Charge My Customers?

Sales tax rates vary by state, county, and even city. And some states—Oregon, Alaska, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Montana—don’t even have sales tax. So how do you know which rate to use?

First, you have to determine the address on which to base the sales tax rate.

If you are selling items from a storefront, your sales tax rate will be based on your store’s address. If you are shipping items, the sales tax rate will be based on the address you’re shipping the items to (not the address you ship goods from).

As we mentioned above, you only have to charge sales to customers when you are selling items in or shipping items to a state where you have a sales tax nexus. So if you are shipping items to a state where you don’t have a sales tax nexus, then you don’t have to worry about sales tax.

Once you’ve determined the proper address to use, all you need to do is consult the state’s sales tax agency to find the sales tax rate for that state, county, and city. (Most states offer a tool that allows you to look up sales tax rate by address online.)

Here is a list of all 50 states’ tax agencies. For most states, the appropriate tax agency will be the Department of Revenue. If you operate out of California, you’ll want to go to the Board of Equalization.

How Much Sales Tax Should I Charge My Customers?

Once you’ve determined the proper sales tax rate (as explained in the section above), you can use this formula to calculate your actual sales tax:

Total Cost x Sales Tax Rate = Sales Tax Total

Let’s do an example. My customer spent $49.95 at my store in California. The sales tax rate is 7.5%. How much sales tax do I charge?

I’ll put the total cost and sales tax rate into our formula.

$49.95 x 7.5% = ?

Since we’re working with a percentage, we have to move the decimal to the left two spaces. So we’re calculating:

$49.95 x .075 = ?

Multiply.

$49.95 x .075 = $3.746

Round to the nearest ten. Now you should have $3.75 as your sales tax amount. Simply add this amount to your total cost (in this case $49.95) and voila! You have the correct price to charge your customer.

$49.95 + $3.75 = $53.70

Luckily for you, you don’t need to manually calculate sales tax. While knowing the principles of sales tax calculation is important, almost all POS and accounting programs do the math for you, and there are plenty of tax software options that can help too. We’ll cover these in more detail later.

What If I Sell Products Online?

Things get trickier when it comes to online sales tax. The sales tax laws for each state were originally created with the brick and mortar store in mind, so figuring out the correct procedures for online sales tax can be a bit difficult.

Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to make this easier. In our eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Store, we devoted a whole section to the basics of eCommerce sales tax. We also recommend TaxJar’s complete Sales Tax Guide for eCommerce Sellers to online sellers who want to learn the nitty-gritty details of online sales tax.

Preparing Your Company To Collect Sales Tax

A lot more goes into charging sales tax than just figuring out the appropriate sales tax rate. You’ll need to take the proper legal measures to ensure your small business is set up to collect and pay sales tax.

Here are four simple steps you’ll need to follow before you can legally charge sales tax:

Step 1: Learn Your State’s Sales Tax Rules

Above all else, be sure to learn the sales tax rules of every state in which you have a nexus. Each state has different laws, which makes this research imperative. Go directly to your state’s official sales tax agency for the most accurate information.

Again, here is a list of all 50 states’ tax agencies. As I mentioned above, for most states, the appropriate tax agency will be the Department of Revenue. If you operate out of California, you’ll want to go to the Board of Equalization.

Take note of the state sales tax rate, county sales tax rates, city sales tax rates, and sales tax exemptions. Check and see if your state offers an online “lookup sales tax by address” tool. And don’t forget to make sure you’re up-to-date on your state’s specific sales tax laws.

Many of these cites will also have small business learning resources about sales tax. Be sure to take advantage of the resources offered by each state.

Step 2: Register For A Sales Tax Permit

You’ll need to register for a sales tax permit everywhere you have a business nexus. To register for a sales tax permit, go to the appropriate tax agency.

Some states may charge a fee for a sales tax permit. Read this post, Which States Charge A Fee to Register for a Sales Tax Permit?, to get an idea of how much you’ll be expected to pay.

If you need additional help, TaxJar has a comprehensive How to Register for a Sales Tax Permit post where they break down the registration process state by state. The post covers how to apply, the information you’ll need to apply, the cost of the application, the state’s sales tax permit renewal policy, and more.

Step 3: Collect & Record Sales Tax

Once you’re officially registered to collect sales tax in a state, you can start collecting and recording sales tax. We recommend talking to your accountant about using accounting software to keep track of your sales tax records.

Accounting software can help you:

  • Keep good records
  • Charge sales tax to customers
  • Automatically calculate sales tax totals on invoices
  • Provide important sales tax reports

Many accounting software programs also integrate with key tax software players like Avalara and TaxJar.

If you need help deciding on an accounting software, check out the top-rated accounting software programs in our accounting comparison chart or visit our comprehensive accounting software reviews for more details.

Step 4: Pay Your Sales Tax

Depending on the state(s) in which you’re registered to collect sales tax, you may be paying your sales tax monthly, quarterly, or yearly. After you complete your Sales Tax Permit registration, you should receive information about when sales tax payments are due and where to go to make these payments.

If you are unsure, contact your state’s sales tax agency directly.

Final Thoughts

We know that was a lot of information, but sales tax is one topic you don’t want to play fast and loose with. That’s why, when it comes to sales tax, we recommend that you consult your accountant.

While online resources and accounting programs can help point you in the right direction, your professional accountant is the ultimate authority on sales tax. Your accountant knows how to properly prepare your small business to collect sales tax and will ensure that you’re charging the appropriate rate.

We hope this overview gives you a basic understanding of sales tax and a clear idea of how to get started collecting it. Best of luck and happy selling!

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

Homepage Best Practices, Ideas, & Examples

Ah, the homepage. If you’re like most website owners, you’ve put massive thought into making your front page look amazing.

But there’s a rhyme and reason behind homepage design… at least, there should be. Your homepage likely attracts the most visitors of any page on your site. It’s the front door to the rest of your content — and the rest of your business online.

Think about your own browsing habits. What happens when you have a bad homepage experience on someone’s website? You likely hit the back button ASAP.

So let’s talk about getting your homepage where it needs to be. Here are five homepage best practices you should follow, from how your copy should be written to how to give visitors next steps (with examples)!

Your homepage should…

Highlight Who You Are and What You Do

For many (but certainly not most) visitors, your homepage is their very first interaction with you. This means it needs to answer these two questions immediately: Who are you and what do you do?

There should be no doubt in a visitor’s mind that they’re in the right place when they hit your homepage. If they can’t identify who you are and what you have to offer in a matter of seconds, they’re going to bounce (and probably head to your competitors).

Dropbox

Who does it well: Dropbox

Vibe with Your Audience

There’s no point in dropping tons of bucks to design a homepage if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience — no matter how beautiful it is.

Your homepage should be all about your users, which means it needs to read the way they speak and have a design that gives off the right perceptions about your brand.

Keep your copy clean, straightforward, and rid of jargon that could confuse your audience. You’ll also want to make sure your design is clean, offers a great user experience, and gives off the emotions you want associated with your business.

For example, a bank may want to have a more professional feel and use colors that portray trust and reliability (like blue). In contrast, a doggy daycare may want to be more playful and fun and use bright colors, creative fonts, and animations.

Ellevest

Who does it well: Ellevest

Help Users Find What They’re Looking For

While your homepage is a huge source of new traffic, most of the time your homepage visitors come to your site knowing what they’re looking for. Why not give it to them in as simple a way as possible?

Your website’s navigation should be clearly visible at the top of your homepage and have logical paths to guide users to the next step. You can also include a website search, which gives users direct access to exactly what they’re looking for without having to click through multiple pages (this can be especially handy for ecommerce businesses who have tons of products).

Au Lit Fine Linens

Who does it well: Au Lit Fine Linens

Be Responsive

It’s not enough to have a homepage that looks great on a desktop. In today’s day and age, your website must be optimized for every type of device. A 2016 study by Hitwise saw mobile search made up approximately 58% of search queries — which means a significant portion of your traffic is coming from mobile devices.

But optimizing your homepage for mobile means more than just making sure your design fits the screen dimensions — it means the entire experience needs to be user-friendly for mobile users.

Your mobile homepage should be rid of anything that makes it cumbersome to navigate and use your site (like annoying pop-ups that are hard to close on a small screen). It should also load quickly and feature clear and simple navigation.

Kong

Who does it well: Kong Company

Tell People What to Do Next

If users get stuck on your homepage, it’s not doing its job. The page should be logical — which means it should have primary and secondary calls-to-action (CTAs) that help your users take the best next step depending on what they came to do.

Your primary CTA (the main action you want users to take) should be “above the fold”, which is designer jargon for “above where the page cuts off and a user has to scroll down”. Your secondary CTAs can sit lower on the page.

Keep in mind that while you don’t want users hanging out on your homepage forever, that doesn’t mean you should go into CTA overload. Stick to a few actions that your audience may want to take and make sure you cover all stages of someone’s “journey” with you (i.e. have an action for those who are ready to convert, and one for those who are simply looking to learn more about you).

HupSpot

HubSpot2

Who does it well: HubSpot

Need extra inspiration? Here are three more examples of homepages that hit it out of the park:

Design and User Experience

Milwaukee Ballet

The Milwaukee Ballet homepage immediately catches the eye with a beautiful video of dancers performing. The entire homepage hero slideshow is video, but it doesn’t overwhelm. In fact, it hits just the right vibe a ballet-lover would love: elegant, sophisticated, and fluid.

But perhaps the best part of this homepage is that the user experience doesn’t take a backseat to the design. The navigation is easy to find and use (search bar included), and the CTAs over the video slideshow are logical and clear.

Clear Value Proposition

KIND Snacks

KIND Snacks gets full marks for its amazing tagline and value proposition. A visitor immediately understands what sets KIND apart as soon as they land on the homepage. Plus, the use of contrasting colors makes the whole page pop and immediately draws your eye to the product photo and tagline. Speaking of product photos… the KIND bar photo and secondary CTA photos are the level of quality homepage designers should be looking for. They do a great job of making the snacks look ultra-appealing.

Less is More

Lululemon

Remember that your homepage doesn’t need to be all things for your website. In fact, it needs to be one thing — the gateway to the rest of your site. Sometimes this means less is more, as is the case with Lululemon.

This minimalist homepage balances bold photos and colors with a clean design and straightforward navigation. There’s no doubt about what actions a user with a specific goal should take. Lululemon covers everything from trends, to different clothing categories, to gifts. They also do a great job of throwing in a value proposition at the top of their site to help reassure uncertain buyers: free shipping and free returns.

A great homepage draws in visitors and then keeps them on your site. This means the focus of your homepage shouldn’t be just a cool design — it should be on clearly communicating your value and next steps to your audience.

But keep in mind your homepage isn’t set in stone. In fact, it shouldn’t be! Your homepage should always be fresh to keep users engaged.

To be sure your homepage is delivering, keep an eye on how your it performs in Analytics. Look especially at the Bounce Rate to determine if people are leaving immediately after landing there. If the bounce rate is high, it could mean visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, or you haven’t sold them on your value proposition.

Most importantly, be flexible! If you think something isn’t working, hop in there and fix it. In fact, try that now. Head over to your homepage and identify one thing you could change, and do it.

“”

USPS, UPS, or FedEx: Which Shipping Carrier Is Best?

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With the holidays quickly approaching, online sellers and postal workers alike are bracing for the sudden rush of packages from the holiday buying frenzy.

USPS, UPS, and FedEx workers everywhere are pulling out their gloves and strapping on their lumbar support. Winter is coming, and they are prepared!

Merchants, on the other hand, may feel a little less ready for the holiday rush. Not only do they have to maintain inventory and process orders, but they have to navigate the complex role of fulfillment.

With three major shipping carriers to choose from, it can be difficult to know which service you should use for your shipments.

Never fear! We’ve researched the advantages and disadvantages of each of the three major shipping services, and we’ve asked merchants to tell us their own experiences with each carrier. Keep reading to learn what each shipping carrier does well and where they can improve. We hope you’ll keep this information in mind as you explore your fulfillment options.

Table of Contents

USPS

The United States Postal Service is a public shipping carrier, subsidized by taxpayers. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” will keep the postal service from delivering letters and packages to Americans’ mailboxes (though in my experience, freezing rain does the trick).

The USPS is the #1 shipping option for many merchants, especially those who ship small and light products. However, USPS is not perfect by any means. Here’s what you should keep in mind as you consider USPS for your business:

Pros

There are a lot of praises to sing about USPS. Here’s what merchants love most about the postal service:

It’s The Most Inexpensive Option For Small Packages

The USPS is, hands down, the most affordable option for merchants who ship small items. Because taxpayers subsidize much of USPS’s expenses, it is able to ship small objects (letters and bubble mailers) for incredibly low rates.

The USPS provides the cheapest shipping for many packages under two pounds, and USPS simply can’t be beat for packages under 13 ounces. Let me state it clearly:

If you’re shipping products under 13 ounces, you should use USPS.

In addition, many merchants benefit from USPS’s flat rate options through Priority Mail. For one price, you can ship products of any weight across any distance; it just has to fit into USPS’s box.

Merchants also save by utilizing USPS’s free packaging material. Priority Mail boxes are available for free, and you can even arrange to have them delivered to your place of business.

If you’re trying to cut costs, USPS may be the way to go.

It’s More Reliable Than In The Past

While in the past, USPS was infamous for misplacing packages or delaying shipments, in recent years, they have greatly improved their reliability. Here’s what Allen Walton of SpyGuy.com had to say about the USPS’s improved delivery rates:

Deliverability is pretty solid. We very rarely have lost packages. Occasionally there are hiccups in their system that make it seem like a package hasn’t moved in days, and that can sometimes cause annoying issues, but getting better tracking means way more money using UPS or FedEx, and those guys have their own tracking issues.

Dr. Eugene Emmer from RehaDesign uses USPS to ship from his store in Europe into the United States. He reports:

In 10 years, only 2 parcels have been lost. Both times, all costs were fully refunded.

If your concern is lost packages, it seems that concern is now unfounded. Merchants often state that their savings from using USPS more than covers the very few packages that go missing.

It Delivers To Mailboxes and PO Boxes

The USPS has a monopoly on mailboxes and PO boxes. They’re the only shipping service that does not have to drop off packages at customers’ doorsteps.

Zondra Wilson of Blu Skin Care lists these perks well. She says:

By far the best option when it comes to price, USPS also offers insures overnight delivery. USPS also delivers to most locations such as post office boxes, has pick-up options, a wide array of packaging (some free), and offers insurance for Priority Express mail and Priority Mail as well as tracking for various services.

Because the USPS routinely delivers across the country, it excels in getting packages to out-of-the-way destinations. According to Jim Milan of Auto Accessories Garage:

They’re definitely the king of the lightweight package, and since they try to prioritize every address equally, they’ll occasionally surprise us with how quickly they can ship something to “the middle of nowhere,” so to speak.

If you’re looking for a service that will allow you to deliver your packages along with customers’ daily mail, USPS is the only way to go.

Cons

While USPS is great for many purposes, it is by no means a perfect solution. Here are a few of the downfalls you’ll have to look out for:

There’s No Guaranteed Delivery

It’s common wisdom that if a service is cheap and good, it cannot also be fast. This holds true for USPS.

The USPS will not guarantee delivery for express shipping. Kristin Anthony, CEO of Anthony’s Ladies Apparel, shared her experience with me:

We do use UPS for all of our express packages (Next Day, 2-Day or 3-Day shipping options) because UPS guarantees delivery within those time frames and USPS will not guarantee it.

If you absolutely need a package to arrive within a brief window, you’re better off going with UPS or FedEx.

Tracking Is Not Great

While USPS has improved their reliability in recent years, packages still go missing from time to time. The USPS’s less-than-perfect tracking system does not help matters when deliveries are delayed or lost.

Although Milan from the Auto Accessories Garage emphasized that pricing is an important consideration for his company, he still has a few complaints regarding the USPS’s tracking methods:

…while USPS may often be the cheapest choice, they can never guarantee a delivery date, and rarely if ever provide accurate tracking. This can be very frustrating to our customers, and frustrating for us when we can’t provide more information about a shipment.

For better tracking capabilities, you’ll have to look into more expensive alternatives.

Poor Customer Service

Merchants report that when packages do inevitably go missing, it can be difficult to have them located and to get the refund you’ve been assured. Here’s what SpyGuy.com’s Walton has to say to that:

Their customer service is garbage. Impossible to find lost packages, and they don’t make it easy for the customer to do the legwork themselves – it’s always on the business that shipped it out. When they put you on hold, it’s just a dead silence for like 30 minutes and you never know if someone will get on the line….Getting refunds is not easy. Sometimes they don’t deliver on time and the process for requesting refunds is antiquated. Really wish they would make it easy.

In order to get the affordable shipping rates USPS offers, it appears you’ll have to sacrifice a bit in terms of customer service.

The Low-Down

While the USPS is not the ideal option for every merchant (or every shipment!), it still is well worth considering as a part of your fulfillment strategy. Those super low rates for light shipments are impossible to beat.

UPS

UPS is a private shipping carrier specializing in secure, speedy delivery. eCommerce merchants love UPS for its reliability and comprehensive tracking system. However, UPS’s services tend to come at a higher price. Here are the top pros and cons of the brown van shipping service:

Pros

There’s a lot to love about this service, but here are the primary reasons online sellers choose UPS:

It Offers Guaranteed Express Shipping

If you need a package delivered ASAP, UPS is the way to go. UPS provides services like same-day delivery and next-day delivery.

Guaranteed delivery gives you the peace of mind that your packages will arrive on time, keeping your customers happy and your business moving.

It’s Affordably Priced (At Times) For Heavy Shipments

While the USPS is the cheapest option for light shipments, pricing increases dramatically for heavier shipments. If you’re shipping packages heavier than two pounds, you should take a look at UPS’s shipping rates. They may be able to deliver your packages more quickly (and securely) at a lower price.

What’s more, if you ship large volumes through UPS, you should be able to lower your rates through negotiation. You’ll have to have proof of your previous shipments, but the discounts are worth the effort.

It Provides Unbeatable Tracking

UPS offers comprehensive tracking services. Customers will be able to see where their packages are from start to finish. UPS’s detailed tracking gives your customers a sense of security, and it’s also great for you! The UPS will be able to tell you at any point exactly where packages are. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll lose a package while shipping through UPS.

Cons

While UPS is a great service in many ways, it isn’t perfect. Here are a few areas in which you’ll have to sacrifice if you ship with UPS:

It’s More Expensive

While this is not true in every case, UPS’s services can cost a bit more.  There are a few reasons for this, but two of the main culprits are the fees and surcharges that UPS adds to their base rates. These include residential surcharges, extended area surcharges, and more.

You’ll want to consider these surcharges, especially if you’re shipping internationally. as they can be rather steep.

There’s No Free Package Pickup Service

Although the USPS offers scheduled pickups free of charge, you’ll have to pay a flat rate for the same service from UPS.

One of our contributing merchants, Mark Aselstine from Uncorked Ventures, explains how this affects his business:

…our packages are pretty heavy-a standard 2 bottle shipment of wine runs about 7 pounds. Since we often have dozens to ship, we prefer to have them picked up. Fedex charges some extra amount per pound for a pickup in our area whereas UPS charges a flat fee.

In this case, UPS is actually the best option as it offers the lower pickup fee when compared to FedEx. It’s just a bummer that UPS doesn’t offer this service for free like USPS.

There Is No Free Saturday Delivery

UPS is the only carrier on this list to not offer Saturday delivery as a part of their basic services. This can slow down your shipments by up to two days. Instead, Saturday delivery is offered as a “value-added service.” You’ll have to use qualifying shipping services and pay extra to extend your delivery window one more day.

The Low-Down

UPS is a great carrier for larger shipments. While it isn’t as inexpensive as USPS, UPS tends to be a bit faster and its tracking capabilities are much better.

FedEx

I’m going to be honest: From what I’ve seen and heard from online sellers, FedEx isn’t too different from UPS. I know I’m going to get loads of protests about this in the comment section below, but in my opinion, the two are pretty similar.

Merchants often cite location as their main reason for choosing FedEx over UPS. However, your experience may prove quite different. Regardless, here’s our list of what FedEx does well and where it could improve:

Pros

As a private shipping carrier, FedEx has many of the same advantages that UPS does, including a great tracking system and speedier delivery. Here’s what you can expect from FedEx:

A Precise Tracking System

FedEx offers customers a robust tracking system. You can view your shipment’s progress every step of the way. You can also use FedEx’s delivery manager to hold packages at a FedEx office or schedule delivery for a specific time. Watch FedEx’s Ways to Track video to learn more.

Saturday Delivery

Unlike UPS, FedEx offers Saturday delivery as a part of their basic shipping packages. Mark Tyrol, president of Battic Door Energy Conservation Products, names Saturday delivery as one of the reasons he chooses FedEx for shipments:

For most other orders we use FedEx. FedEx delivers on Saturdays so some items shipped mid-week that would arrive on Mondays via UPS arrive the Saturday before via FedEx. So we use FedEx for these shipments.

Delivering products just two days earlier through FedEx can make a huge impact on customer satisfaction.

Negotiable Pricing

If you’re shipping large volumes of packages through FedEx, you may be able to negotiate for lower shipping rates. You may find that FedEx offers competitive rates for packages up to 50 pounds.

Cons

Of course, as you consider FedEx, you’ll have to also keep in mind its downsides. Here are a few of the most notable:

Higher Shipping Rates

Due to the highly variable nature of shipping costs, it’s impossible to label one carrier as definitely more expensive than another. However, from what I’ve seen with sample calculations, it appears that FedEx often charges more than its competitors. Of course, this won’t be true in every case (especially for merchants who negotiate their rates), but it does appear to be a trend.

No Free Package Pickup Service

Like UPS, FedEx does not offer a free package pickup service. That does not mean, however, that you cannot schedule a package pickup. You’ll just have to pay a fee.

Fewer Offices

There are over 1,900 FedEx Offices worldwide. In comparison, UPS provides over 5,000 UPS Stores. Merchants should be able to find a FedEx Office nearby; however, it’s probable that office won’t be quite as convenient as UPS.

The Low-Down

FedEx is an excellent option for merchants who are looking for fast, dependable shipping. As always, you should compare shipping rates with UPS and USPS to make sure you’re getting the best service for your money.

Finding The Perfect Balance

As you choose shipping carriers for you business, it’s important that you don’t limit yourself to just one shipping provider. Most merchants use a mix of two or even three services to offer customers the fastest, cheapest shipping every time.

You may, for example, choose to ship light packages with the USPS and heavy packages with UPS. Or you may ship everything through the USPS, with the exception of expedited shipments, which you send through FedEx. It all depends on your business model, your average order weight, and your shipping destinations.

Are you already successfully shipping with one or more of these carriers? Let us know in the comments which carriers you prefer and why. We love to hear from you!

Liz Hull

Liz is a recent college graduate living in Washington state. As of late, she can often be found haunting eCommerce forums and waiting on hold with customer service representatives. When she’s free, Liz loves to rock climb, watch Spanish dramas, and read poorly-written young adult novels.

Liz Hull

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How To Setup A QuickBooks Pro Account

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How To Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

QuickBooks Desktop Pro generally is one of typically the most popular accounting solutions available, but it isn’t always probably the most intuitive. That is why we’ve produced a QuickBooks Desktop Pro 101 Series which walks you thru all you need to know. From establishing your account to adding contacts to delivering the first invoice, we’re here to assist all the way.

To start this series, we’re going for a leaf from Julie Andrews’ book and beginning in the beginning (it’s an excellent starting point). In the following paragraphs, not simply will we take you step-by-step through creating your bank account, we’ll also explain the important thing preliminary steps you need to consider before you begin while using software to operate your company.

This primary article is extended, but we promise it’s worthwhile. Lounging a powerful foundation is integral for your business’s success lower the street.

Table of Contents

Install QuickBooks Pro On Your Pc

Firstly, you’ll need to download QuickBooks Pro on your computer. Before you decide to do that, consider the QuickBooks Pro hardware needs to make sure your pc helps make the grade.

Should you haven’t done this yet, it’s important to buy a QuickBooks Pro license. There’s two methods to purchase the software:

  1. From the QuickBooks Pro website (for $299.95, cost usually discounted)
  2. From the local office supplies store like Staples (cost varies by store)

Step One: Begin The Download

Should you purchased your QuickBooks Pro license from Intuit’s website, you will be provided permission number and product number. It’s important to have these figures handy to create your bank account.

After you have these figures, see your order confirmation and then click the “Start using Quickbooks Pro now” button or visit this download connect to install QuickBooks Pro on your computer. Make certain you’ve selected the best form of QuickBooks Pro prior to starting the download.

Should you purchased your license inside a store like Staples, you’ll discover the license and product number on the rear of your QuickBooks Pro box. After you have these figures, open the package and insert the disc to your computer to start the download. Following this point, cellular phone and setup processes are identical, whichever way you purchased the program.

Note: The download will require quite a while.

Step Two: Accept The License Agreement

When the download is finished, you’ll automatically get to a screen that appears such as this (except it’ll say 2018):

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Click “Next” then accept the QuickBooks Pro License Agreement.

Step Three: Enter Your License & Product Figures

Next, go into the license and product figures we pointed out earlier.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Four: Select Your Setup Process

Finally, select your setup process. Choose either “Express” or “Custom and Network Options.”

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

QuickBooks Pro recommends Express, that is what we should chose for the sample company, however, you can click on the question mark icon towards the bottom left-hands corner from the screen to learn which method fits your needs.

Once you’ve selected the proper setup option, QuickBooks Pro will finish installing.

Make Your Account

Once you’ve installed the program, you can start creating your QuickBooks Pro account.

How to Setup A QuickBooks Pro Account

You may either begin with scratch or convert your overall software data. With this publish, we will produce a completely new account so we’ll select “Start Setup.” But if you wish to convert data, click on the “Other Options” drop-lower menu and make reference to QuickBooks’ Getting Began Help guide to learn to convert software files.

Step One: Incorperate Your Company Name

Key in your company’s company name.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Two: Select Your Industry

Select your organization industry. Click on the “Help me choose” link for any drop-lower menu of choices.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Three: Select Your Company Type

Pick the appropriate business type in the drop-lower menu. You need to know this, but you may use the “Help me choose” link for further help.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Four: Incorperate Your EIN

Key in your Worker Identification Number. Click the question mark icon to acquire more information relating to this step.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Five: Enter Your Company Address

Incorperate your business address such as the proper city, condition, zipcode, and country.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Six: Incorperate Your Company Telephone Number

Finally, incorperate your company telephone number.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Once all this information continues to be completed, click on the “Create Company” button towards the bottom right-hands corner. You’ll know your organization file was effectively produced because you’ll automatically get to a screen that appears such as this:

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Familiarize Yourself With QuickBooks Pro’s Organization

When you initially open QuickBooks Pro, it’s really a little overwhelming. Within this section, we’ll break lower the fundamental organization so that you can be navigating the program very quickly.

First, you will see a home screen.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

After I saw the house page initially, it appeared as if a lot of random icons. There’s a rhyme and need to the madness, however. Each icon represents a vital feature in QuickBooks Pro. These icons are sorted into five sections:

  • Vendors
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Company
  • Banking

Additionally towards the Desltop, there’s a menu around the left-hands side from the screen that reads Home, My Opportunity, Earnings Tracker, Bill Tracker, Calendar, Snapshots, Customers Vendors, Employees, Bank Feeds, Docs Reports, Order Checks, Add Payroll, Charge Cards, Services, User Licenses, and Feedback.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

These menu options (or ‘shortcuts,’ as QuickBooks calls them) are totally customizable. Clicking one of these simple shortcuts will give you right to the correlating feature.

Underneath, you will see My Shortcuts, View Balances, Run Favorite Reports, and Open Home windows.

While both Desltop and shortcut menu will give you to features in QuickBooks Pro, the region you’ll wish to understand probably the most may be the Fast Access Toolbar towards the top of the screen. The toolbar reads File, Edit, View, Lists, Favorites, Company, Customers, Vendors, Employees, Banking, Reports, Window, which help.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

You’ll make use of this toolbar similar to you would employ the toolbar in Ms Word or Google Docs. Each toolbar tab goes to some drop-lower menu having a comprehensive listing of features connected with this tab.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

I understand it’s a great deal to consume, but take it easy. There’s an opportune search bar within the top left-hands corner which you can use to get where you’re going around.

Edit Preferences

The Preferences section is QuickBooks Pro’s form of Settings. You’ll wish to spend a significant chunk of your energy filtering through settings and editing the countless preferences options in QuickBooks Pro.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

The preferences you need to choose will be different considerably from business to business, therefore we won’t take you step-by-step through each step this time around, but we can provide you with a concept of a few of the settings you are able to alternation in your organization preferences:

  • Accept multiple currencies
  • Let the inventory feature
  • Let the time tracking feature
  • Add integrations
  • Accept online payments
  • Edit bill defaults
  • Set automatic invoice reminders
  • Add florida sales tax
  • Select a default shipping method
  • Switch on 1099 filing

Make sure to always click on the blue “Okay” button within the top right-hands corner of the screen in order to save your requirements. You have access to Preferences by visiting Edit > Preferences, then choosing the category you need to edit in the menu around the left-hands side from the screen.

Incorperate Your Company Information

Once you’ve edited your requirements, there’s some critical company data it’s important to add before you begin while using software.

Gather and go into the following data into QuickBooks Pro:

  • Your contacts
  • Your vendors
  • Your products (or services)
  • The employees

You can include these details by hand or import existing files into QuickBooks Pro directly. We cover how you can Import A Chart of Accounts, Import Customers, Import Vendors, and Import Products step-by-step.

Make Your Chart Of Accounts

Establishing a chart of accounts is among the greatest secrets of having your finances so as. Based on Merchant Maverick’s How To Setup A Chart Of Accounts publish:

A chart of accounts provides a method to organize financial information. It is almost always split into five groups: assets, liabilities, equity, earnings, and expenses.

There’s two methods to make your chart of accounts in QuickBooks Pro. You may either export an existing chart of accounts or produce a completely new chart of accounts.

For those who have a current chart of accounts, you are able to import it by visiting Lists>Chart of Accounts>Accounts>Import from Stand out. Then stick to the stages in our How You Can Import A Chart of Accounts Into QuickBooks Pro publish.

If you’re developing a chart of accounts the very first time, take it easy. QuickBooks Pro has your back. Remember long ago whenever you were establishing your bank account coupled with to pick a business type?

QuickBooks Pro makes use of this industry to produce a default chart of makes up about your organization. For the sample landscaping company, Gaffer Gardening, the default chart appears like this:

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Now, this doesn’t mean your work is performed. It’s important to delete unnecessary accounts, edit existing accounts to higher match your business, and add accounts that aren’t present.

You’ll find choices to delete, edit, or add accounts under List>Chart of Accounts>Accounts.

To find out which kind of accounts you’ll need, or to understand more about developing a chart of accounts generally, read How to setup A Chart of Accounts.

Connect With Your Accounts

You’re so near to having the ability to move ahead out of this lengthy publish and start running your company, but there’s yet another factor you must do. Finally, you’ll wish to connect your QuickBooks Pro account and your money. (You may choose to by hand import your banking information rather of choosing live bank feeds, but live bank feeds seriously make existence simpler).

To connect with your money, visit Banking>Bank Feeds>Set up bank Feed to have an Account.

Step One: Select Your Bank

Find your banking provider.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Two: Sign In To Your Money

Next, you will be requested to sign in for your requirements making use of your banking password.

How to Set Up A QuickBooks Pro Account

Step Three: Connect To Your Bank

Each bank handles this method just a little differently, so stick to the directions in your screen for instructions.

You’re Ready For Business!

Congratulations! You’ve formally setup your QuickBooks Pro account. Since you’ve produced your bank account, learned how you can navigate the program, and added all your company information, you can begin using QuickBooks Pro to effectively run your company.

For those who have any question on the way, don’t overlook the Help tab in your QuickBooks toolbar. You may also look into the QuickBooks community for added help or leave us a remark below. We’re always here to assist.

Talking about help, still follow our QuickBooks Desktop Pro 101 Series to learn to handle fundamental features like delivering invoices, tracking time, and managing projects.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is really a author, enthusiastic readers, and investigator. Additionally to loving writing, she grew to become thinking about accounting software due to her constant need to learn something totally new and know how things work. When she’s no longer working or daydreaming about her newest story, she are available consuming obscene levels of coffee, studying anything compiled by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files together with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

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