Shipping is Your Best Customer Touch Point

Verizon-Galaxy-Unboxing

Lots has been written about how e-commerce is taking over traditional retail and that all commerce is moving online. But the truth is, as an e-commerce retailer, you’re inherently at a disadvantage against all the stores at your local mall. They have something you’ll never have – a tactile, real-world product experience. Walk into Nordstroms and you can touch, feel, and try on the merchandise. You speak with a friendly sales person. All of this comes together to create a cohesive, high-fidelity shopping experience. You don’t have any of these advantages online.

There are plenty of ways to improve your customer experience as an online retailer, but nothing touches your customer quite as strongly as the experience they have when they first open their shipping box and find the products they ordered inside. Is there a better feeling in the world? You research a purchase, order it online, and wait days (or weeks) for it to arrive. You track the package online. You wait by the door for the UPS guy.

Most online stores neglect the first (and usually only) physical interaction they have with the customer – their shipping and unboxing experience.

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Entrepreneurship, Skydiving, and Inertia

The hardest part of skydiving is jumping out of the airplane

How is entrepreneurship like skydiving? As they say, the hardest part of skydiving is jumping out of the airplane. I think entrepreneurship is the same way.

I believe that the key to success in life is overcoming your fears and eliminating the excuses that keep you in your comfort zone. Action almost always brings more fulfillment than the status quo. “Ready Fire Aim” is an expression of that ethos. I also believe it’s very applicable to entrepreneurs thinking of starting a company – the starting is often the hardest part.

Think of all the “armchair entrepreneurs” in the world – everyone has an idea. And yet nobody executes. There always seems to be a reason to delay actually starting an entrepreneurial venture. I don’t have enough startup capital. I need to refine my idea a little more. I should save some more money first. I need to finish college first. I don’t know if anyone will use it. There are one thousand and one excuses for putting off starting until tomorrow.

So why do we do this to ourselves? What is it about human nature that makes us manufacture endless justifications for inaction? I want to mention two authors who’ve written about it specifically, one classic and one contemporary.

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The Ferriss Experiment – 4 Hour Fact or Fiction?

Tim Ferriss doing kettlebells

Many of you are familiar with Tim Ferriss, author of the excellent “4-Hour Work Week“. Tim is a personal hero of mine (one of his productivity tips is mentioned previously in my post “The Urgent vs. Important Matrix“) so naturally I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of his sophomore effort “The 4-Hour Body“. The new book promises to be “An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman” – a bold claim indeed.

Tim has written about fitness before, posting two articles with similarly outrageous headlines on his blog – one called From Geek to Freak: How I Gained 34 lbs of Muscle in 4 Weeks and another titled How to Lose 20lbs of Fat in 30 Days – Without Doing Any Exercise. These two posts together give us a glimpse of the principles Tim fleshes out in “The 4-Hour Body”. Is it really possible that Tim has cracked the code on fitness? One year ago, I decided to find out by combining Tim’s published writings into a comprehensive fitness plan and measuring my results. My goal – to determine whether Tim’s methods actually work in real life. This is what I discovered.

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Get Financially Organized – A 20 Something’s Guide to the Real World

saving-for-college

My younger brother just graduated from college this year and is getting settled into a new job, life on his own, and financial independence. Along with his first paycheck, he’s also been bombarded with a lot of new financial choices and a lot of acronyms (IRA, 401k, etc). Everyone knows they should be saving money, but the reality is that nobody ever tells you exactly how to go about it short of stuffing cash under your mattress. This post isn’t going to be an in depth discussion of what stocks to buy or how much of your net worth to put in bonds – rather, I want to focus on the mechanics of how to organize your finances as a single, newly independent young adult in order to set yourself up for prosperity and success.

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The Six Principles of Influence

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

I recently made a personal commitment to read more books, so I turned to the lengthy “Saved Items” cart on Amazon that I had been filling with friends’ recommendations for the past 18 months and ordered several titles. The first to arrive was Dr. Robert Cialdini’s fascinating and bestselling book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, which had been recommended to me by several friends, acquaintances, and subject matter experts, including Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, and Noah Kagan.

In is book, Cialdini (formerly a nationally renowned professor of marketing at Arizona State University) describes Six Principles of Influence which encompass every negotiation tactic and act of persuasion utilized in board rooms, living rooms and farmers markets the world over. That is to say, these are the six “puppet strings” that all of us tug at to gain compliance from those around us. They are vastly and widely applicable, from business negotiations to marketing to disagreements with your spouse. If you look closely, you’ll notice that all of us employ them every day to achieve our goals and influence those around us. Many of them are particularly applicable to entrepreneurs, so I’ve attempted to crystallize the essence of the six principles and share them below.

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