Earn Cash Back When You Shop Online

Cashback shopping is a growing Internet shopping experience, you not only get all the online discounts, promotional giveaways, free trials & special offers that the company you are buying from normally offer, but you also earn money back, for things that you would be buying anyway!

Cashback websites pay the money earned to members via various payment options (BACS, PayPal or cheque) within a stated time period and this is in cash, not points, so the member can use the money to buy anything they like, not just what a particular retailer wants to offer them, such as you would get with a Nectar Card or Clubcard, or a site that offers you points towards items in their “gift catalogue”.

Cashback shopping in the UK is relatively new, but it is growing, with more sites appearing every week. As 1 in every 10 retail purchases in the UK is now made over the internet (according to figures published by the Interactive Media in Retail Group), there are certainly good sums of cashback available to claim by clued up consumers.

Cashback sites have clickable links to online retailers that are provided by the retailers through companies called affiliate networks. Many cashback sites have over 1000 links, meaning there’s a great choice of retailers, in many different categories, for you to get cashback from. Many of the well known high street brands are available on cashback websites.

Merchants advertise their products on websites & when a surfer clicks on the ad & then buys the product or service, the retailer pays a fee (commission) to the website owner. You will see these ads all over most of the websites you browse everyday. Cashback Shopping sites act as an interface in between retailers and online shoppers, offering to share that payment with their members. Once an online shopper clicks on the links of the retailers listed on these portals he is redirected to the retailer’s website as normal and upon buying the product, gets the cashback percentage, or flat rate payment promised by the portal for that particular retailer.

You register with your chosen cashback site; the registration allows the website to know which member made which purchase & match the cashback paid from the retailer (via the affiliate network) to their account. You will need to be logged in to the cashback site & choose a retailer you want to buy from. The cashback offer for the retailer will be displayed against the link & will generally be a percentage of your purchase total, (e.g. 5%) or a set amount, (e.g. £30) for a contract mobile phone, or for opening a bank account.

When you click the link to a retailer, you are taken to their site and you make your purchase in the normal way. From the moment you click, the affiliate network will be tracking the transaction using (cookies stored on your PC), which identifies that you clicked on a link from a particular website (i.e. the cashback site). Commissions paid to other websites such as MSN, Yahoo etc. are tracked in exactly the same way, so don’t be wary of the tracking cookie.

Usually within a day or two, the affiliate network reports the transaction back to the cashback site and states how much commission is due to be paid to them. The cash back site then credits your account with a share of this commission (see the site for exactly how much – some sites pay around 50% of the commission earnt, whereas others pay 100% of the commission, but charge an administration fee).

The money becomes payable to you when the commission has been received by the cashback site from the retailer via the affiliate network, but only when you have reached the minimum payout level for the cashback site (again, this varies from site to site). Once both these things happen you can claim your money from the cashback site.

Typically your cash-back from purchases will become confirmed/payable about 2-3 months after the transaction. This is to allow for return of goods etc so that retailers don’t get stung. Uncleared payments usually show as “pending”.

The prices you get via cashback site links are the same prices that everyone else gets. The only difference is that you are getting money back on top & as well as this, you’re usually able to use retailers’ online discount codes in conjunction with cashback offers, making for even greater savings! Most sites will display lists of the special offers & codes that each retailer is offering, without you having to go hunting through the site.

Most of the UK cashback sites are free to join and even give you a sign-up bonus to get you started! They may also pay you an additional bonus if you get friends and family to join up, using a referral link that they give you. There are some sites that don’t do this, but they do claim to pay 100% of the commission they receive from the retailers!

The only restrictions are those the cashback sites set in terms of minimum payout levels, but with just one big-ish purchase (e.g. insurance policy or mobile phone contract) you may exceed this in one go.

Why else might you shop online, other than just for cash back? Well, the top reasons for shopping online include avoiding crowded stores, the availability of lower prices and the wide selection of goods and services available. Basically, you can sit at home, not get stressed by the crowds, still buy what you want, but get it cheaper and choose from a wider selection, not to mention if you use a cashback site, get some of your money back too!

Finally, there’s no limits on the amount of cashback you can earn with cashback sites and with 98% of retailers you can make repeat purchases and get cashback every time!

You can literally start saving money right now, in the next couple of minutes. It won’t cost you anything at all. And you just go on saving year after year. Just think how much money you are going to get back over the next year, the next 5 years, the next 10 years, just for using a cashback site to buy what you were going to buy anyway!!!

We would suggest that you register with at least one cashback site & then use a comparison site like Kelkoo or Price Runner to find the lowest price, or in the case of insurance confused.com, comparethmarket.com or moneysupermarket.com, but then return to the cashback site to click through to the retailer; that way, you are getting the best price & cashback too!:o)

Beware! As mentioned earlier, the cashback site relies on a tracking code (also sometimes known as a cookie) to record which site you came from & who is entitled to receive their cashback. If you initially visit a retailer through one site & then return to it through the cashback site, you may not get the cashback you expect, because the first cookie is the one used by the affiliate network.

Therefore, before using your cashback site, we recommend removing cookies from your browser, using the tools already built in to your browser, or by using an excellent free piece of software: CCleaner! This ensures that the “click” through the cashback site is the one registered by the affiliate network, not one from a comparison site, who would then get the money & not share it with you!!

The Five Levels of Employee Motivation

Employee motivation can be quite a challenge. The decision on how committed an employee will be towards the organization, division or team, depends entirely on the individual. Therefore, the first step to employee motivation is to engage with each individual. Find out what makes him/her tick. The purpose of this article is to know what to look for when you engage with the individual.

Many leaders make the mistake of applying a single motivational strategy to all their employees. The fact of the matter is that different things might motivate different employees. So how do you find the right formula for each employee?

The Loyalty Institute at Aon Consulting did extensive research on employee commitment. They came up with the five drivers of employee motivation, also known as the performance pyramid.

It works a lot like Marslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where the first level of motivational needs first need be satisfied, before a need arise in the next level. It wasn’t intended that way. It just happened to work out like that.

The performance pyramid can provide some wonderful guidance to know what to look for when you engage with your employees. Let’s have a look at the five levels and see how it can help you to find ways to motivate employees.

Level 1: Safety and Security

Along with a physical sense of well-being, there must be a psychological belief that the environment is free of fear, intimidation or harassment.

Level 2: Rewards

Yes, you knew it. Most people won’t come to work tomorrow if they win a big lottery today. This is the perception that the organization attempts to satisfy the employee’s compensation and benefits needs.

Level 3: Affiliation

This is a sense of belonging. It includes being “in the know” and being part of the team. This is also where a difference in personal and organizational values can have a big impact on motivation.

Level 4: Growth

Employees want to have the belief that achievement is taking place. I might feel safe, get all the money I want and feel part of the team. But if there are no growth opportunities, I might think about leaving the company.

Level 5: Work/Life Harmony

This term speaks for itself. Someone might have all the rewards that he/she wants, but he/she will burn out sooner or later if they don’t have the time to spend it on the other things they want.

What Should You Do With These Drivers Of Employee Motivation?

While all five levels are important, the key is to pinpoint where the individuals and the workforce are not having their needs met. Start by offering a safe, secure work environment and equitable compensation and benefits packages. This is the foundation. However, before you launch those new and trendy benefits, engage with each individual and take a good, hard look at the basics. The young smart upstart employee might not be as exited about that benefits program. His needs might be to use that money to buy a new sport scar. The opposite might be true for the 40 something baby boomer.

Some other pointers to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of the five levels of employee motivation when you engage with your employees.
  • Make your own assessment of what the needs of each individual are.
  • Engage with each individual. Explain the different levels and ask them where they find themselves on the pyramid. What are his/her biggest needs?
  • Engage with bigger teams and eventually with the whole organization about these levels of employee motivation.
  • Do something about it. If someone wants growth, give it to him or her. If they want work/life harmony, make a plan. And Ditto for the rest of the drivers.

Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).

For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.

Branding Strategies For E-Commerce Businesses

By having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.

E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.

The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?

E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance

1. Your Brand Image - A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.

2. Customer Satisfaction - Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.

3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition - As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

4. Utilize All Channels - Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.

E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.

Overcoming Communication Barriers in Organizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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