Entrepreneurial

Why do customers shop at local small businesses?

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Despite hard times and shrinking profits, Americans still shop at locally owned, independent retailers.

A new small business survey from American Express polled 1,000 consumers aged 18 and older. Ninety-three percent of respondents believe that it’s important to support local small businesses. And on average, they spend about one third of their monthly discretionary income at these stores.

How can you capitalize on this information?

Survey respondents primarily shop at small businesses because of friendly employees and product knowledge.

Additionally, 87 percent of respondents share favorable opinions about a business, while only 69 percent share negative feedback. The majority use word of mouth and social media. Only 13 percent use sites like Yelp! and Citysearch.

Startup Toovio offers “Minority Report”-type ad service for retailers

Big Brother has the capability to watch – and respond to – your every spending move. That’s the premise behind Toovio, a startup that has created technology to help retailers and other consumer-facing companies market personalized offers to their customers in real time.

Think of the scene in the film “Minority Report”, when Tom Cruise’s character is walking through a mall while his eyes are getting scanned and he is being bombarded by a slew of personalized 3D ads.

“We call it offer orchestration,” said Toovio’s CEO Josh Smith, 31, of the capabilities that allow companies to communicate custom offers over a range of channels that include checkout, website, kiosk and customer-service call centers.

New credit card regulations a big step forward

– Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group, Inc., is a nationally-known expert on consumer behavior and the retail industry. The views expressed are his own. —

These new credit card regulations should be viewed as a big step forward… and they are indeed a big step forward for consumers, especially as they are forced to confront the realities of their credit cards.

As these new credit card regulations go into effect, I hope that they will in fact help consumers manage their credit card debt more effectively. Yes, these changes are a step in the right direction, they inform and empower consumers to manage their credit better. But they still don’t replace the importance of ensuring consumers fully understand how credit cards work.

Twitter-based shopping website seeks retailers

imshoppingBuying something online can be a frustrating process. The shear numbers of websites offering the same product can lead to endless hours of surfing to try to find the right deal. Consumers often become overwhelmed and end up not buying anything at all.

Prashant Nedungadi (see Nedungadi’s personal five-day entrepreneur journal, exclusively for Reuters.com) has been one of those people and decided to use that frustration to launch IMshopping.com, a website that utilizes a combination of software and sales experts to direct buyers to the precise product they’re looking for. What Nedungadi has dubbed “human-assisted shopping” is a network of retail experts, or guides, and the broader community of IMshopping’s more than 30,000 registered users.

IMshopping leverages Twitter to help allow consumers to pose shopping-related questions around the clock.

Experts weigh in on Twitter-based shopping site

IMshopping's Twitter pageYesterday we presented entrepreneur Prashant Nedungadi (read his entrepreneur journal) and his startup website IMshopping.com, which offers a platform whereby consumers can ask specific retail-related questions, through the website directly or via Twitter, and have them answered by an online community of retail experts. (click here to read Nedungadi’s pitch)

Nedungadi launched his website last April and has already received $4.7 million in venture capital investment from SK Telecom, but now needs to find retailers willing to pay to utilize his virtual sales force instead of going the traditional route and hiring their own sales people.

Our panel of experts have watched Nedungadi’s pitch video and gave us their reaction to IMshopping and Nedungadi’s business model.

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