3 Ways Technology is Changing the Car Insurance Industry

 

You’re probably familiar with the many ways technology is changing how you drive – whether it’s driver assist technology helping you make decisions behind the wheel, built-in cameras giving you a 360-degree view of the road, or energy-efficient advances helping you spend less on gas. But new technology isn’t just changing the way you drive, it’s also changing the way you’re insured. Read on to learn about three advances in technology that are revolutionizing the auto insurance industry.

Telematics devices

What if you could prove to your insurance company that you are a safe driver – and reduce your premium as a result? That’s exactly what insurers are offering with Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) plans. Under this type of plan, drivers install a telematics device in their car to record information about their habits behind the wheel. In return for their data, drivers qualify for a small discount to their premium upon signing up for a UBI plan, and a potentially larger discount when they renew – depending on their habits. If you’re hesitant to share this much information with your insurance company, read these news stories:

  • One insurer reports that 70 percent of drivers with this type of plan earn some kind of discount.
  • A study by the University of British Columbia showed that real-time driving feedback resulted in better habits for most participants.
Something to also be mindful of is that insurance companies are not allowed to use the information they collect to raise your premiums or deny you coverage – only to offer a discount.

Machine learning

Thanks to the internet, shopping for insurance is easier than ever. There are many sites online that will allow you to quickly compare multiple quotes from insurers so that you can find the best – and most affordable – plan. When it comes to servicing clients online, one company that is leveraging machine learning to raise the game is Kanetix Ltd.

Machine learning refers to a type of artificial intelligence in which computers are programmed to “learn” by themselves as they are exposed to more data and new experiences. In this case, Canadian firm Kanetix Ltd. partnered with Integrate.ai to offer customized buying experiences to their users. Leveraging their website’s deep pool of data, they were able to predict a customer’s likeliness to purchase insurance – and tailor the next steps of their buying experience based on the information. The result? A win-win scenario for Kanetix, which saw an increase in lead generation and marketing ROI, and their customers, who benefited from an improved online experience.

Autonomous vehicles

Experts have predicted that self-driving cars could save Canadians $65 billion a year in reduced fuel costs, fewer collisions and decreased congestion, making autonomous driving technology an exciting trend. Even self-driving cars, though, will require human co-drivers who are paying full attention, otherwise, they’ll still be susceptible to collisions – like in this case where a Tesla Model S that was in autopilot mode caused a fatal highway accident. So what does this mean for the auto insurance industry? Insurers will need to have policies in place to determine who is liable for an accident that involves an autonomous vehicle: the maker of the vehicle or the human driver. U.K. lawmakers have proposed a vehicle technology bill that suggests the manufacturer of a self-driving car could be liable in some instances, rather than the ‘driver.’ Under the bill, insurance companies would need to offer two types of insurance for autonomous cars: one to account for when the car is operating on its own, and one to provide coverage when the driver takes over.

For the most part, these trends are just emerging, so it’s impossible to say for certain what the car insurance industry will look like as technology advances. It’s safe to say, though, that as we change the way we drive, there will be many new opportunities and challenges for insurers in the future.

 

 

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Four Fintech Trends to Watch in 2019

FinTech In The Near Future

Financial technology continues to witness accelerated growth, giving a lot of people excited. So far, advances in fintech have changed the way we carry out transactions and created a vibrant, productive, and robust fabric that serves as a springboard for further development.With more technologies emerging and more areas ripe for fintech disruption, this trend is set to continue in 2019, giving us plenty of exciting possibilities to look forward to.

  1. Faster and Safer Payments

The payments ecosystem is set for unprecedented transformation in 2019, thanks to the emergence of new technologies such as contactless cards, which allow shoppers to tap the plastic at the point of sale to complete a transaction. With this technology, consumers do not have to swipe, sign, or dip to pay for goods.

The entire payment process only takes a few seconds, making it more convenient and faster than EMV cards. While contactless payments are sometimes perceived as riskier than their older, slower predecessors, the New York Times noted that they are significantly safer than magnetic stripe cards. This is because they are equipped with multiple layers of security that help keep cardholders safe from fraudsters.

  1. Voice Technology in Banking

Another innovation that is expected to have an impact on the financial services landscape is voice technology. Currently, voice technology is still in its nascent stages, as it is presently used only for simple tasks like bills payment, checking balances, and tracking spending.

However, it is widely believed that 2019 will mark the period when people become increasingly accustomed to giving spoken commands to banking tools. As the mass public feel more comfortable with this technology and fully embrace it, it is only a matter of time before it is used in executing more critical tasks such as transferring money.

  1. Mobile Banking Will Keep Rising

The advent of mobile devices has completely revolutionized how brands and consumers interact with each other. The convenience, functionality, and accessibility of smartphones make them increasingly important in the financial arena, especially in today’s busy world where customers barely have time to visit a physical bank location.

So it is expected that financial institutions will continue to capitalize on the huge consumer appetite around mobile devices to build closer relationships with their clients in 2019 and beyond.

  1. The Arrival of Cloud and Quantum Computing

As far as financial services firms are concerned, the most efficient approach to banking is that which allows them to compute a transaction or come to a decision as fast as possible. Enter Quantum Computing, the technology based on the principles of quantum theory. This innovation enables institutions to process transactions, trades and other types of data as fast as possible.

As a result, it is increasingly attracting the interest of financial institutions seeking to leverage its high computing power to solve problems that require the use of complex algorithmic models to determine a possible outcome. Hence, experts believe the quantum computing will be increasingly important going forward.

Currently, use cases of quantum computing are in the area of investments, where banks are increasingly relying on the technology to improve risk analysis and assessments so that they can better predict how portfolios will perform under different circumstances.

Cloud computing enables banks to build new applications and introduce internet services that will help improve the customer experience. We expect this trend to continue in 2019.

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The Successes and Failures of Fintech

The global fintech market is characterised by a booming digital payments industry valued at $3,403,168 million in 2018, with a total transaction value projected to increase by 13.2% by 2024. Among the largest sectors of the fintech industry are the personal finance sector and the burgeoning Robo-Advisors sector. According to market research (Research and Markets), the total market’s transactional value for 2019 through 2024 is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6%. Fintech’s rise to prominence was facilitated to a large degree by the failure of central banks and established financial systems following the global financial crisis. A growing demand for workable financial solutions, structures and frameworks yielded innovative fintech solutions for improved efficiency, better management, and enhanced cost effectiveness.

Financial Tech Companies

The leading financial technology companies have set the standards high, with ambitious objectives aimed at solving real-world problems. Sometimes these incubator solutions have prospered, at other times they have failed. The rationale for ongoing R&D into Fintech solutions is to replace redundant, expensive financial frameworks and entrenched systems with leaner and more efficient solutions. Fintech’s advances have not been without the occasional stumbling block. One such area of concern is small business lending. Predatory pricing techniques and invasive business practices have tarred this particular segment of the fintech industry. Greater regulatory compliance and oversight are needed to establish credibility among users.

Challenges Ahead for Sectors of the Fintech Industry

So, what’s really going on in the Fintech space? What are the notable failures and what are the possible bright spots on the horizon? It appears that the most significant losses are attributable to banking companies and online lenders. Several big-name enterprises like CAN Capital, OnDeck and even Lending Club have suffered acute losses, as reflected in their stock prices. For example, LendingClub Corp stock has dropped from over $25 per share in 2014 to just $3.60 per share today. This begs the question: Why are online lending companies failing while traditional financial institutions are enjoying incremental growth? An interesting insight is provided by acclaimed investor, J. Christopher Flowers. His analysis of fintech companies is revealing. Fintech companies don’t follow the narrative of financial companies. Fintech is geared towards massive growth and dominance in double-quick time. Financial enterprise is typically slow and steady, with incremental growth over time.

Funding For Technology

With tech funding, investors plough huge amounts of money into new ventures with a short-term perspective. In financial circles, trust needs to be built, reputations established, and market penetration achieved. All of these things take time to process. With fintech it’s about who gets to market first in a rush for dominance. Fintech enterprises in the online lending industry are all about pushing sales, first and foremost. Proof of this dash towards rapid growth and dominance in the online lending market is evident in the high cost per click with keywords on Google. To cut a long story short, advertising campaigns with many online lenders are geared towards growth at all costs. By working with established fintech enterprises, fintech newbies fall into the trap of stagnation. The reason d’etre of fintech is disruptive technology, while incumbent enterprises are set in their ways. This makes it rather difficult to gain traction.

Fintech Success Stories to Rebalance the Scales

Fintech has a place in today’s fast-paced world, particularly in areas where clunky processes hamper the efficiency of important business functions. One striking example of fintech at work is in the area of global payroll payments processing. Payroll costs are a major bugbear for companies all over the world. Global payroll operations across multiple territories and jurisdictions typically cost companies substantial sums of money and they are associated with significant security concerns, legal complexities, and compliance-related issues. Fintech companies offering sophisticated solutions in the form of automated payroll processing solutions are having an impact on the profitability and efficiency of company operations. Many companies have touted solutions for global payroll, but only a select few generate the types of results that are needed to validate their adoption. The hallmarks of effective global workforce management platforms are cost-reducing solutions, fully automated payroll systems, and full compliance with GDPR. By eliminating email dependency in the payroll function, it is possible to improve data security and coverage for employees and the company.

 

A big part of the inefficiency problem with global payroll management is compliance. Each country, territory or jurisdiction has specific rules in place regarding payroll management. With automated payroll solutions, compliance is guaranteed. Thanks to local verified experts in place, it is easy to enjoy complete control and transparency of all payroll-related activity. Automated payroll solutions run on autopilot, without any complexity. By connecting with local suppliers, companies can enjoy best-in-class payroll management through secure, efficient and compliant payroll solutions. Many other promising areas are ripe for fintech development. Innovative technologies are giving rise to systems, products and services making it easier to manage finances for businesses and individuals, secure payments channels, and facilitate greater efficiency across the board. Digital banking is slated to double in size within a few years, and mobile payments are expected to reach $275 billion by 2021 (Statista). Various other fintech fields are being cultivated, including biometric banking identifiers, insuretech, regtech (fintech regulatory compliance systems), blockchain, and concepts such as ‘Social Money’. Each of these fintech markets is enjoying substantial investment, and adoption of these new technologies is quickly gaining traction.

The Future of FinTech

The future certainly looks bright for fintech and all its applications. New developments are being brought to market at breakneck speed. While some concepts will inevitably fail, but offer solutions to existing challenges.

 

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4 Things You Need to Digitize Corporate Training

 

Corporate eLearning has grown by a whopping 900% over the past decade and this market is predicted to surpass $243 billion in revenues by 2022. It helps to know that digitization of corporate training is much more than just a transfer of your learning materials to the cloud. It requires the right strategy, the right tool, and the right team. If you want to transform your corporate training, get ready to embrace this trending training strategy for enterprises.

Here are four elements you need for achieving successful digitization of corporate training:

1. Corporate training strategy

A proper strategy is indispensable for effective digitization of corporate training in any organization. Training strategies build the foundation for successful eLearning programs and ensure that both instructors and trainees get all the benefits out of every training. The first thing to do is to set your goals. This could be virtually anything that you want to achieve, right from higher knowledge retention rates by delivering more engaging learning materials to increasing the number of employees enrolled in the program.

It is important to know that these goals do not materialize just by themselves without a clear-cut plan. You have to pay attention to several factors when you set the goals. At the start, you have to identify exactly where your business is heading towards, what are your business goals, and what do you need to achieve them. After that, you need to assess your existing workforce in terms of their skill and knowledge levels. This will help you get a precise idea of the gap between your company goals and the current level of skills and knowledge. You need to get all the job descriptions and required skills for all your employees ready before you can identify the training & development needs for each one of them.

2. LMS Software

Once you have outlined your training strategy, it is time to move forward and adopt a LMS software. Some of the fastest growing industries today such as healthcare, information technology, eCommerce, education and construction are top adopters of LMS software, which has become an essential tool in their corporate eLearning process. In layman terms, it is a software platform specifically built to disperse knowledge to employees in an engaging way. But it goes far beyond just that.

LMS software is designed to track learners’ progress, engagement, and score as they take their courses online. Online training software literally transitions the Classroom to the cloud and allows employees to access courses from anywhere they want. They can learn from the convenience of their homes, while on the break, or when they are commuting. Your training strategy determines the type of online learning software you should choose to meet your specific needs. For instance, if you want to enable your employees to learn on the go, you should look for a mobile-ready LMS platform. On the other hand, if you want to keep track of all the learning efforts of your employees, you may go for Tin-Can enabled ProProfs LMS solutions.

3. Learning & Development Team

The next thing you’ll need is a learning & development team. If you already have one, you may revisit it and see if it needs an overhaul. Don’t worry, you can do well by adding a new key player to the mix – a digital learning manager. He/she acts as the head of the corporate training digitization project and oversees the digitization of employee training. The digital learning manager’s role is vital for the success of the digitization process, and it helps to create the post in your organization if you are yet to do so. It would be a step in the right direction as it will help in implementing the right digitization strategy for your online training courses.

Further, your learning & development team needs to identify your business objectives and the skill level of employees right from the start is essential to finetune your strategy and execute it. However,, most importantly, the team has to ensure the learning strategy is sustainable and help personalize the training experience to improve knowledge retention. Your learning & development team has to facilitate the digital transformation process, thereby helping your organization leverage new eLearning opportunities and achieve the training goals.

4. eLearning Community Manager

The success of any learning & development team hangs on the ability of an eLearning Community Manager to communicate the importance of online training to your employees. This person holds the responsibilities of encouraging employees to participate in online courses, and moderating the communication that takes place both on the LMS platform and elsewhere in the organization. He/she also needs to take feedback on online training and learning materials. eLearning Community Managers add to the quality of interaction for online learning and help employees adopt new learning methods in an efficient way.

Wrap Up

When they have a detailed training strategy, a versatile LMS software, a dynamic learning & development team, and eLearning Community Manager, enterprises stand to see positive results in their efforts towards digitization of corporate training. Such a well-planned and executed process tends to hand over full control to instructors to ensure they reach their training goals in a delightful manner.

Author Bio:- Robin is a Technical Support Executive. He is an expert in various LMS and employee training software. Currently, he is a resident learning management expert at ProProfs. In his free time, Robin enjoys cycling and sky diving.

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Three Ways to Turn Negative Publicity Into Something Positive

As the classic saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity. But while there is something to be said about having people discussing your company, even if it’s not in a positive light, it is still a stressful experience to deal with negative stories, especially when they are not true. With that in mind, let’s look at a few examples of negative publicity, and how company owners should address each situation:

False Rumors

What do Amway and Nutella have in common? Being the victim of false rumors and, in both cases, swiftly addressing the untruths and correcting them. In the case of Amway, there has been a prevalent myth surrounding the company that they are basically a pyramid scheme. This type of misinformation may prevent people from purchasing cleaning products, beauty products and supplements from the company, as well as signing up to work for them. To quash this myth, Amway got busy posting the truth about their company on their website. In the case of Nutella, in 2016 rumors began to fly that the tasty chocolate-hazelnut spread contained carcinogenic palm oil. Ferrero, the company that makes Nutella, launched a campaign that explained how safe Nutella is; as a result, their sales began to flourish again.

True Mistakes

In some cases, companies do make actual errors, ranging from minor to more cringe worthy. Lulumon, a successful yoga pants company, sold pants in 2013 that were quickly discovered to be see-through — not exactly what you want to see or wear when in a crowded yoga studio. Another error happened in 2014, when American Apparel posted a photo of the Challenger space shuttle explosion and labeled it as “fireworks.” In cases like these, the best approach is to acknowledge that an error in judgment or materials was made, apologize sincerely and then do what you can to make things better. In the case of Lulumon, they reacted quickly to recall the see-through pants and replaced them with new pairs. For American Apparel, removing the photo immediately along with a heartfelt apology was a good approach.

Negative Reviews

Thanks to the power of social media and online review sites like Yelp, any customer can potentially complain about your company online. When you pride yourself on providing outstanding products and services, some cranky pants who is falsely accusing you of doing something wrong can be frustrating. While it might be tempting to fire back a scathing reply to the Negative Nellie, it is best to wait until you have calmed down. Then, respond to the negative review in a professional manner; for example, apologize for the person’s bad experience, point out that this is rare in your business, and offer him or her the chance to come back so you can make things right. Other people who read the review and your reply will see that you truly appreciate your customers and want to make sure that they are happy.

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

If handled correctly, negative publicity can almost always be turned into something positive for a company. So while it is still jarring to realize your business is being talked about in a bad light, it is definitely possible to turn the situation around and use the opportunity to show your company in an outstanding way.

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How to Keep Up With Your Business Finances

When running a business, it can be incredibly difficult to understand your finances. However, keeping up with your business’s finances is of the utmost importance and should be one of your main priorities while running a business.

Although it can be easy to lose control of your finances, there are many ways in which you can be sure that you are able to track your expenditure, understand your taxes, and know your profits, some of which are explained below.

  1. Hire an Accountant

One of the most profitable steps that you can take if you struggle to understand your finances is to hire an accountant. Accountants can deal with all your finances for you, and prepare you for the tax year. Not only this, but chartered accountants such as Howlader & Co build a professional relationship with you that can help you to get the most out of your business financially and ensure that your business can be tax efficient. This helps businesses to ensure that they are paying the right taxes, know how much profit they are making, and organize their finances accordingly, taking away the stress of dealing with the complicated tax system alone.

  1. Understand Your Taxes

However, if you plan to control your business finances alone, you should first ensure that you understand your taxes as a business. Unlike during employment, when taxes are taken straight out of your payslip, running a business means that you have to maintain an understanding and submit your own taxes.

Income tax is based on the earnings of your business, and so calculating this is the first step to understanding how taxes work. However, there are many more implications which you need to consider, and these can affect how much tax you should pay.

  1. Track Your Expenses

To ensure that you are ready for the tax year, you should track your expenditure throughout the year. This will not only help you when it comes to submitting tax forms but also means that you will know how much money you have to spend and invest. The best ways to track your expenses include using apps and spreadsheet templates to create simple and yet effective methods of tracking your expenditure.

  1. Project Your Revenue

Not only this but when it comes to understanding your business finances, it can also be helpful to project your revenue. This will help you to adapt your business plan to the amount of money that you have available to spend, and will help you to prepare for any obstacles – or profits – you have in the future, allowing you to invest in your business accordingly.

  1. Write Invoices on Time

Writing invoices and sending these to your clients on time will ensure that you receive payment as soon as possible, reducing the number of outstanding payments that you have. You should establish a timeframe for payment in your invoice template, as this will give you a reference point so that you know when you will be receiving money and ensure that your money is not outstanding for long. If you have not received payment within a week, then you should ensure that you follow up on these invoices.

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Top 4 Technologies in Contact Centers in 2019

Contact center solutions have evolved from answering the phone to fully managing every aspect of operations including customer relationship management (CRM), data analysis, and market research. In spite of this, some still believe that contact center operations have failed to take full advantage of cutting edge technologies that could ensure better customer service delivery.

The good news is that we are in the era of technological breakthroughs that will change contact center operations as we know it. In this article, we provide insights into some of the technologies that will benefit contact centers in 2019.

  1. Call recording and voice analysis

Quality customer service delivery is a key prerequisite for ensuring customer satisfaction. Capturing, storing, and analyzing data about every interaction a client has with your call center allows you to react promptly and tailor your customer service program in a way that increases loyalty.

This is because collecting information about your customers provides you with the data you need to understand what they like or why they were not satisfied. Call recording and speech analytic programs like Recordia enable you to collect and interpret data so that you can improve the customer experience.

Technologies such as speech analytics enable call centers to process speech/audio to understand what a customer wants and how they feel when they call the customer care.

  1. Omni-channel technology

Today’s modern, tech-savvy consumers are very demanding in their quest for a great customer service experience. They expect to be able to reach businesses on any platform, anywhere, and from any device.

To increase customer loyalty, sales, and overall profitability, more and more companies are deploying omnichannel customer service techniques that provide clients with seamless interactions across all channels including telephone, email, social media, chat, text, etc.

  1. Chatbots

Chatbots are increasingly being implemented by companies in contact centers to raise the level of customer service, stay in touch with anyone who shows interest in their products or services and convince them to buy.

A chatbot is typically used in dialog systems to provide some human feel to automated communications to build a rapport with the client and ensure better sales. Also, it allows organizations to automate customer service live chat conversations and conducts conversation through both audio and text methods, allowing for personalized customer service that creates engagement at a higher level.

Chatbots complement human agents by responding quickly to simple queries online, freeing human agents up.
  1. Business Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence

AI-powered digital solutions are one of the essential technologies that are gradually making their way into contact centers. More and more businesses are incorporating these technologies in an effort to transform customer service interactions to improve the customer experience, loyalty, brand recognition, and the bottom line.

AI-powered intelligence agents, through their pre-emptive problem-solving approach, ensure customer satisfaction and increase in sales, thanks to their ability to continually digest data from dozens of information streams to make sense out of prior interaction and customer preferences.

This enables them to deeply understand the clients and serve up personalized content and product recommendations that will boost sales.

 

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Financial Security: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials Face Mixed Fortunes

 

Baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials have very different financial experiences. When compared to baby boomers or Generation Xers, millennials have it rough when it comes to finances. They enter the labor force when full-time jobs are few and far between, making the strive for financial independence, marriage, or retirement even harder.

In addition, they have an overwhelming student loan debt that prevents them from achieving their financial goals. Even worse, those who are already working are barely making enough money to cover their bills. Never mind savings. Data from Smartasset show that the average salary of the millennial today is about 20 percent lower than the average salary that a baby boomer earned at the same age.

These unique set of financial challenges make it difficult for millennials to build up rainy day savings or establish themselves financially. For instance, a study by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that 66.2% of working millennials have no retirement savings because they hold off savings in favor of paying off student debt or buying homes.

In contrast, prior generations, Gen Xers and baby boomers exhibit far more financial confidence, thanks to their higher salaries, employer-sponsored retirement plans, and years of soaring markets, which enabled them to plan their financial future.

A Sea of Financial Traps

Another reason why the financial prospects of millennials are less than those of their parents is that they often make bad investments. The quest to live in the here and now and to enjoy life to the fullest has millennials spending money they don’t have to buy items they don’t need.

For instance, some millennials consider buying a new car as against a used one a status symbol. Same goes for luxury cars, expensive houses, premium cable package, leased cars, etc. It’s either these or they are overspending or living a frivolous lifestyle that makes it harder for them to put money toward their top priorities.

The lack of basic financial education also comes at a cost, as does lack of financial goals, their spending without a plan, falling for scams, taking on more student loan than is necessary, rushing into investing or not investing at all. All of these issues delay the ability millennials to secure their financial future. Even worse, it makes them more susceptible to economic vulnerability.

Staying on Track

Millennials will do well to consider measures that will help them climb out of debt quickly, especially if they are to make progress towards their financial goals of building a stable future. Good thing is, they have time in their favor, and so can make the most of that time to improve their finances.

To stay on track, one should first of all design strategies that will prevent them from falling into the bad habit of spending too much or living beyond their means. If you’re the kind of millennial who doesn’t have much or is in debt, your goal should be to earn more and spend less.

This means cutting costs, saving a certain amount every paycheck, establishing a side hustle, having a realistic budget, and buying only the things you need. Also, you should consider hiring a finance expert to help you set financial goals and advise you on how best to invest your money.

About investing, you might want to avoid investing in depreciating assets like cars, which tend to lose 75 percent of their original value within the first 3-4 years. Don’t put a brand new car in your garage if you think that will strain your budget. Instead, consider getting a used car and saving the balance or investing it in a profitable venture.

 

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Essential Information For Real Estate Investing

Where To Begin Investing in Real Estate

There very well may be more pieces of advice pertaining to real estate investing than there are pieces of property available. While land is limited, opinions are not. Because dumb luck isn’t dependable, the best piece of advice is to make sure you understand the basic principles of a good real estate investment. Here are some essential tips to increase your chances of profiting.

Learn Everything You Can About the Location

Emerging neighborhoods or established areas that are growing or becoming trendy represent good opportunities. Don’t get swept up in hype and overpay if you’re late on the scene, however — prices may have peaked. Still, location typically is even more important to investing success than the condition of the actual property. Also research income, employment and age demographics — and even local crime rates.

Adhere to the 1 Percent Rule

If the primary objective of your investment is to generate rental income, the monthly rental income should be no less than 1 percent of the purchase price (e.g., a $250,000 property should rent for at least $2,500 a month). This will create an annual 12 percent return — minus overhead, of course (repairs, taxes, etc.) — and typically lets you recoup your initial investment in a reasonable timeframe.

Understand Taxes and 1031 Exchange Opportunities

Taxes are complicated. Property taxes will offset some of your revenue. Your income taxes may be further reduced by a property depreciation write-off. An investment strategy called a 1031 exchange also has tax implications, allowing you to defer capital gains taxes when you sell one investment property and re-invest the proceeds in a subsequent investment property. Consult a tax professional for help with these scenarios.

Here are more basics that are less complicated, but still important:

  • Understand the big picture. Track the performance of the U.S. economy as a whole. The best real estate opportunities may present themselves during a recession or the initial stages of recovery.
  • If you have a real estate investment portfolio and not just one property, spread the risk among different industries and locations.
  • Have a plan. Outline both short- and long-term goals before getting started. Have a budget and an ownership timeline in mind, especially if you are rehabbing a property.
  • Trust experience. Talk to other investors, join real estate investment groups — just don’t rely on any sources making get-rich-quick promises.
There are no guarantees when it comes to real estate investing, but sticking with tried-and-true principles beats flying blind. For more tips, see the accompanying infographic.

 

Author bio: Dalton Sullivan is Associate VP at Precision Global Corporation, a venture capital company. Sullivan has vast knowledge of 1031 exchanges as well as senior housing investing. He has a passion for business development, real estate investing and building lifelong, professional relationships with investors.

 

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3 E-commerce Trends You Must Prepare for in 2019

 

So what’s new in 2019?

Apart from a few technological novelties, the main prediction for this year is that there will be no big surprises in the industry. The journey will be smooth for both retailers and their customers, and we’ll finally get to reap the results we’ve started predicting a couple of years ago. In other words, this is your last chance to jump in on the trends established in 2018. Wait for the new ones to emerge, and you’ll be missing a huge opportunity.

Here’s what to invest in ASAP.

  1. Social Media Conversion

87% of customers say that social media help them decide what to buy. Though other social commerce statistics are just as staggering, you don’t really need them to confirm what you already know. You are a customer yourself, the same as you are a social media user. 2.77 billion of us are. But just in case you are a rare social media ghost (SMG), here’s another crucial fact: 90% of followers try to reach out to brands via social media. And why wouldn’t we? Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are already such an important part of our everyday lives. We use them as communication channels, news sources, collaboration tools, and entertainment platforms, all at the same time.

Why wouldn’t we use them for shopping too?

Convenience, real-time accessibility, and 24/7 availability are the three fundamental pillars of social commerce. They allow us, as customers, to browse products and services without tab-switching. To e-commerce brands, they offer a clean, split-second, on-the-spot conversion. It’s a no-brainer, really. If you’re not selling on social media, you’re not doing e-commerce right.

Here’s how to leverage social commerce in 2019:

  • Add a Shop Now Button to Your Facebook Page

The most popular social network now allows you to list products directly on your Facebook page, along with a convenient Shop Now button for instant conversion. You’ll need to connect your PayPal account as well, but all this takes minutes to complete.

  • Post Shoppable Content and Stories on Instagram

Because Instagram has been acquired by Facebook back in 2012, the on-site conversion options are pretty much the same on both networks. You can add a Shop Now button to the images and videos you post, as well as on your carousel ads and stories.

  • Use Buyable Pins to Boost Pinterest Conversions

A Shop the Look Pin on Pinterest doesn’t differ much from Facebook’s button. Only instead of Shop Now, it says Buy It. The CTA is very effective in both cases, but the payment system is not the same. On Pinterest, customers can use Apply Pay and credit cards.

Immersive Experiences

The power of social commerce lies in engaging visual content and CTAs. When taken together, these two elements offer unmatched convenience. But one thing social media cannot provide is a lifelike experience that enables you to try products and services. You know, like in brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, the inability to see, touch, smell, test, and try out products pre-purchase has long been the only disadvantage of e-commerce. Until now. With the advent and commercialization of VR and AR technology, online shopping has taken a huge leap forward. Take IKEA, for instance. The company’s Place app relies on AR technology to provide customers with a sneak peek of how IKEA products would look in like in their own homes. This fully immersive customer experience is pretty revolutionary stuff that you’ll need to compete with in 2019.

  1. Amazon Advertising

The third e-commerce trend for this year indicates that you’ll need to include an Amazon Advertising course to your corporate training software and that you’ll need to that soon. For 68% of customers, surveys say, Amazon is the only online shopping site that matters.

Not enough to convince you? Then consider this:

80% of online shoppers scroll through Amazon reviews before they make a purchase. You can hardly succeed on Amazon if you don’t get serious about advertising on this platform first, which is why we’ve compiled a short list of three tips for implementing this marketing strategy into your overall e-commerce goals. Pay close attention:

  • Follow Amazon’s Best Practices

Make sure to meet Amazon’s guidelines when creating content for your brand’s product detail pages. Avoid heavy blocks of text and use attention-grabbing imagery to boost your conversion rates. Also, conduct a competitive analysis and borrow the most effective practices.

  • Use Multiple Amazon Ad Types

There’s AMG, AMS, AAP/DSP, and ACoS. Other Amazon ad types include sponsored ads, display ads, and video ads. Use as many of them as you can to increase your daily Amazon sales, as this will get your products ranked higher on Amazon’s product listings.

  • Master Amazon Search Terms

Forget everything you know about keywords and Google-based SEO because these rules don’t apply on Amazon. The platform has its own searchability system based on so-called search terms. Learning how to use them is crucial for effective advertising on Amazon.

Wrap Up

Social commerce, mixed reality technology, and Amazon Advertising will rule online shopping in 2019. As e-commerce concepts and trends, they are not new. The only novelty is if you don’t learn how to use them now, you may not get another chance in a year.

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