Welcome to CO—'s news feed for small businesses. We bring you all the news you need to run a successful business and keep on top of the latest trends. Updated regularly and always found right here... all in one place.

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All the news you need to run your small business.

Experts on the tech altering how we shop for food and fashion to beauty and travel

Digital tech is reshaping how we buy food and fashion to beauty products, home goods, and more.

As pandemic-changed consumers want their food delivered in a New York minute, a patchwork of players, from legacy retailers like Albertsons to unlikely partnerships such as Amazon Prime and Grubhub, are tapping tech to drop off groceries in as little as 15 minutes.

Augmented reality tech — which enables shoppers to try on clothes without stepping into a dressing room via virtual avatars or visualize how a retailer’s couch will look in their living room — is becoming more widely available.

The work-from-home movement has given rise to hospitality and real estate tech startups like Sonder and Casai that cater to remote employees with office amenities and apartment features such as a full kitchen designed for long-term stays.

Experts discuss the digital solutions changing how consumers shop for these goods and services here.

How startup Chloe’s Pops gained major market share in the frozen treat grocery aisle

Nondairy frozen desserts are a booming category, with 8.7% compound annual growth forecast in the next eight years.

Leaning into that growth, Chloe’s Pops worked to fill a need in the market for great-tasting, better-for-you nondairy treats for the whole family.

Strong relationships with manufacturing partners helped the company thrive during the pandemic, fueling 28% year-over-year growth.

Learn from co-founders Chloe Epstein and Michael Sloan on how they grew the business and earned shelve space alongside big, legacy frozen treat brands here.

How Evite’s entrepreneur CEO made the online invitation site profitable with a strategy that holds lessons for businesses large and small

Evite was a pioneer in electronic invitations, but as a small part of a big conglomerate it hadn’t made a profit in 10 years.

Digital entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to revive the company when the pandemic caused both party hosts and Evite to hit pause.

Evite replaced an outdated revenue plan with a revamped strategy that included investments in technology; adding premium designs for paying members; and replaced banner ads with affiliate marketing that moved the brand out of the red and into the black.

Learn more on how Evite CEO/entrepreneur David Yeom turned a profit at the 24-year-old brand — in a pandemic, no less — here.

Meta introduces a new digital marketing platform for small businesses

Meta, the tech company behind Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, recently announced its launch of Meta Boost Small Business Studios. This platform is a small business hub that supports both virtual and in-person initiatives, such as training, workshops, peer networking, and marketing support. Through Meta Boost Small Business Studios, entrepreneurs can attend the “Build Your Brand” workshop, where they’ll learn about tools and strategies to market their business through Facebook and Instagram.

In addition to the virtual hub, Studios is hosting in-person events to educate small business owners on building their online presence. Starting in July, Studios will be coming to Detroit, Columbus, Kansas City (Missouri), Austin, and San Diego. You can find registration information for these events at Meta Boost Small Business Studios’ website.

How Airbnb, Michaels, and Coach tap text-messaging to drive business

Texting provides a natural platform for brands to build their customer databases, executives from tech companies that work with brands such as Airbnb, Michaels, and Coach told CO—.

E-commerce brands can drive sales by sending personalized product recommendations or follow-up texts to customers who have abandoned shopping carts, for example.

Brands can also provide instant, personalized customer service using text messages, including connecting to live associates, executives said.

Learn how top brands are turning text messaging into a bona fide sales channel here.

How retailers from Walmart to Williams-Sonoma are tapping the self-care and WFH trends to generate newfound sales

The work-from-home trend appears to be here to stay: More than two years after COVID upended our daily routines, the average office occupancy rate in 10 major U.S. metro areas was just 44%, down from 95% pre-pandemic.

At the same time, consumers have prioritized self-care amid the pandemic, giving rise to the growth of the $44.5 trillion global wellness market. Against that backdrop, mental health services are turning up in new spaces, such as Walmart Health Centers, where shoppers can book a session with a behavioral health counselor.

To monetize the remote work trend, home furnishings retailers like Lowe’s and Williams-Sonoma are tapping strategies that include enhancing their digital businesses with curated content and offering home design classes.

Learn how big brands are leaning into work-from-home and the quest for mental wellness — catering to consumers’ pandemic-changed lifestyles and psyches — here.

Want your videos to go viral? Get free small business training from TikTok

In an effort to encourage small businesses to use their platform, TikTok recently announced a new training program called “Follow Me.” This training experience is designed to educate small and medium-sized businesses on how to use the platform, as small businesses have seen an uptick in success after their products or services go viral in videos on TikTok.

The series includes a guide to setting up a free business account, access to the Creative Center for content inspiration, and insights into how to use TikTok's Ads Manager and Promotion features for business campaigns. The program runs through August 19 and it’s free for business owners to enroll.

New tech platforms help small businesses partake in the hot resale market, as consumers increasingly turn to more affordable goods and less wasteful buying practices

Rising prices and merchandise shortages are driving the growth of the resale market today — and digital tools are helping small businesses easily get in on the action.

The sale of merchandise ranging from used clothes to furniture is one of the fastest growing segments of the retail economy. That’s because more consumers are saying they are willing to buy secondhand, with interest in categories like furniture, appliances, and electronics growing.

Meanwhile, online resale platforms have spurred the growth of hundreds of small businesses specializing in secondhand goods. Read how the cost-of-living increases that are making Americans more budget-conscious, combined with easier ways for businesses large and small to sell used goods online, are driving the next wave of resale here.

How Ritual, Bugaboo, and Genexa are plotting expansion strategies that capitalize on the health-and-wellness and sustainability trends

Direct-to-consumer vitamin startup Ritual, stroller brand Bugaboo, and “clean medicine” disruptor Genexa are plotting expansion strategies that tap into two big consumer trends: sustainability and health and wellness.

Ritual is seeking to translate the core attributes it’s known for online, such as ingredient transparency, into a physical retail experience; upscale stroller brand Bugaboo is tapping into the demand for sustainable business practices, such as launching a resale collection, to woo millennials and Gen Z; and Genexa is eyeing opportunities in new over-the-counter drug categories to leverage the patented processes it has developed for alternative pain relievers, courting the burgeoning ranks of health-and-wellness-minded consumers.

Learn from executives at these buzzy brands on how they’re capitalizing on these trends to drive growth here.

Shopify’s Vice President of Product on how the platform is helping small businesses grow

Shopify, the e-commerce platform used by millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs to sell goods online, has an ambitious goal for its future: It wants to be the primary retail partner for small businesses no matter where they sell — online, in stores, or even in the metaverse.

It recently released more than 100 product updates to its platform and says those updates contain tools with the potential to have as much impact as when Shopify, in 2007, began making it easier for small businesses to create online stores.

Learn from Shopify’s Vice President of Product Glen Coates on how new tools, including a Twitter shopping platform and a B2B feature, can help SMBs drive business online and offline here.

LinkedIn’s Global Diversity VP discusses DEI strategies that work and unlocking opportunities for BIPOC entrepreneurs

Rosanna Durruthy, the Global VP of Diversity and Belonging for LinkedIn, is leading the nation’s biggest professional network’s efforts to create access to opportunities for marginalized groups, including small business owners and entrepreneurs.

At LinkedIn, she’s leveraging solutions ranging from DEI training sessions on topics like unconscious bias to grants for entrepreneurs of color.

LinkedIn’s mandate underscores what Durruthy, whose decades-long career leading DEI at companies ranging from Cigna to Merrill Lynch, says is foundational to an effective diversity strategy: leaders that are skilled to create “psychological safety” for underrepresented groups and who manage from a place of “cultural humility,” she told CO—

Watch to learn actionable insights from Durruthy on how LinkedIn is advancing diversity within its own ranks, the core elements of an effective DEI strategy, and what it takes for entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups to succeed in business today here.

SBA surveys small businesses on COVID relief programs

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is asking for feedback from those who received grants and loans as COVID-19 relief. The survey is for any organizations and small businesses that received SBA funding through programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), SBA Express Bridge Loans, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

The purpose of the survey is to gauge customers’ satisfaction with these programs and understand how the SBA can improve when rolling out similar programs in the future. In addition to how the programs impacted business, the SBA is also requesting feedback on its customer service and communication efforts.

Fossil Group’s Global VP unpacks the key tenets of a successful DEI strategy

Last year Fossil Group, a global design firm known for its watches, brought on Sheri Crosby Wheeler as Global Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, to take the company’s DEI efforts to new heights.

An employment lawyer who’s spent the last six years leading DEI initiatives at firms such as JP Morgan Chase, Crosby Wheeler says developing a diversity plan informed by employees’ concerns, so you know where to make improvements, while embracing transparency and accountability to maximize results, are key to a successful DEI strategy.

Crosby Wheeler shared her thoughts with CO— about what does and doesn’t work in creating a DEI strategy that generates results here.

Execs from Albertsons, Omaha Steaks, and TRUFF hot sauce on monetizing pandemic-fueled, at-home eating trends and the rise of online grocery shopping to grow business

The pandemic forced Albertsons, Omaha Steaks, and hot sauce disruptor TRUFF to pivot fast to fulfill the sudden surge in both food demand and online grocery orders from consumers sheltering in place, executives from the brands told CO—.

Albertsons’ digital transformation tapped tech to help in-store associates expedite online orders and customers populate digital grocery lists more easily, wooing new e-commerce shoppers to the supermarket chain.

Omaha Steaks leaned into its upscale food assortment, such as Butcher’s Cut filet mignons, boosting purchasing frequency and customer retention rates.

And buzzy hot sauce disruptor TRUFF scaled its inventory management functions to handle bigger orders to meet heightened demand, fueling product expansion and the brand’s growth in 15,000 retail doors.

Learn the insider strategies that helped the trio of brands capitalize on pandemic-fueled, at-home eating trends and the growing popularity of online grocery shopping here.

Google’s legacy free business G-Suite “end date” is approaching as of June 27

Earlier this year, Google announced that small businesses on its “legacy free” G-Suite plan would no longer be able to use its customized email service and other workplace apps free of charge. Google will automatically move businesses to a paid Google Workspace service on June 27. If billing is not set up by August 1, Google will suspend the user’s accounts and associated email addresses.

The monthly charge, around $6 for each business email address, may be more of an annoyance than a hard financial hit for businesses. However, affected small business owners feel Google could have better handled the situation, telling the New York Times that it’s “unfair” that Google is now forcing them to pay for a service they’ve enjoyed for free for over a decade.

How startups Filteroff, Frameable, and Lingokids tapped video dating and tech tools that enable remote work and online learning to create lasting businesses in a pandemic-transformed landscape

The pandemic created hardships for many businesses, but it also revealed opportunities for new areas of focus as consumers embraced digital technologies for work, school, and social activities, a trio of startups told CO—.

Children’s learning app Lingokids expanded its content and added social-skill development tools in response to the increase in remote schooling; video speed-dating app Filteroff enabled singles to connect online via video at a time when consumers were often isolated; and Frameable created an immersive virtual office platform that seeks to capitalize on the shift toward more remote work.

Learn from top executives from these startups on the pandemic pivots yielding long-term wins here.

Big metaverse players like Roblox reveal how they’re working with brands from Forever 21 to Chipotle to drive business in this new virtual dimension

Big tech companies are investing heavily in the metaverse — defined as the next iteration of the internet and an immersive, virtual reality where people and businesses can interact —which is expected to grow at a 39.4% compound annual rate through 2030.

Brands that succeed in the metaverse offer unique experiences for customers by delivering authenticity and creativity in various forms, including music, artwork, videos, or redeemable real-world bonuses, experts from companies that work with brands from Forever 21 to Chipotle told CO—.

Learn top tips on monetizing the metaverse from big brands’ tech partners, including gaming platform Roblox, here.

Supply chain experts reveal how retailers can mitigate costly product returns while boosting brand loyalty

Online shopping surged with the pandemic, but online purchases generate more returns—30% versus 8.9% for brick-and-mortar stores.

Returns are costly for retailers, but when executed right, they can actually boost sales by increasing brand loyalty and creating more interactions with consumers.

For example, according to Invesp, 92% of consumers are more likely to buy again from a retailer if there is a flexible return policy.

Learn from supply chain experts on how retailers are tapping product descriptions and video to order-tracking tech to mitigate costly returns while boosting customer engagement here.

Leaders from three very different businesses reveal strategies for generating B2B growth

Startups offering everything from software platforms to personal care products are unlocking opportunities helping other companies deliver enhanced customer experiences, resulting in notable growth via business-to-business (B2B) transactions, a trio of startup executives told CO—.

They are finding newfound growth via partnerships with established, complementary businesses to help drive scale, and by offering B2B clients a value-added twist on an existing service, such as providing e-commerce-only businesses a “buy online, pick up anywhere” (BOPA) option, rather than just the standard “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) perk, for example.

Learn more on how sustainable home essentials brand Public Goods, third-party fulfillment company Via.Delivery, and corporate spending management platform Airbase leveraged B2B opportunities that led to positive results for both their clients and their own companies here.

Thumbtack’s global head of diversity shares 5 insider tips to crafting a successful DEI strategy

In 2020, Thumbtack hired its first global head of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) Dionna Smith, who’s implemented new DEI strategies that are yielding rich rewards for the home management platform, she told CO—. These include leveraging data insights to shape Thumbtack’s diversity programs and implementing DEI initiatives that extend beyond employees to the customers and communities the app serves.

Smith shares her DEI strategies for Thumbtack and five critical elements of a diversity strategy that drives real results here.

Klarna’s CMO on how its live virtual shopping platform is designed to help retailers large and small boost e-commerce sales

A survey of consumers found that 64% said not being able to see products up close was their top complaint about online shopping, and 72% said they would be more likely to buy if they could interact with a product expert, store associate, or other trusted person.

Against that backdrop, Klarna’s 400,000 retail partners can now use the buy now, pay later payment platform’s new virtual shopping tool to connect store associates and product experts with online shoppers.

The tool makes it possible for independent stores, direct-to-consumer brands, and influencers, as well as big retailers, to interact directly with their customers via two-way video chats and product demonstrations. Klarna’s Chief Marketing Officer David Sandstrom shares how retailers large and small can leverage the virtual shopping platform to grow here.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

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