Advances in Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems

Advances in ASRS improving workplace safety and efficiency

Automated storage and retrieval is advantageous for warehouse operators who have a lot of inventory to move and need an efficient, easy process to do so. Automated storage and retrieval systems cut expenses, reduce labor costs, and increase both productivity and safety. They have been around for several decades, with the first system focusing mainly on heavy pallets. But as the years progressed, the scope of applications for automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) have been greatly enhanced. In this article, we’ll discuss new, cutting-edge technological advances in ASRS technology, and where we can expect to see these developments applied.

The difference between the vertical lift model and the horizontal carousel

When it comes to ASRS, there is no “one size fits all” way to store something. Different items require different storage mechanisms, and a major innovation in ASRS is the vertical lift and horizontal carousel models for moving and storing inventory and materials, speeding up both manufacturing and fulfillment operations. Vertical lifts are high-reaching in order to get the most out of a facility’s vertical storage space. They are board-controlled, and inventory is kept in front and rear trays or rails. An extractor travels vertically through the two tray columns to retrieve inventory and parts as requested.

Horizontal carousels are generally lower and consist of a group of bins that revolve around a track. The bins can be configured to fit different formations and applications, and an automated system allows you to input the bin number and location, and the inventory will be rotated to deliver it to you. Horizontal carousels are especially beneficial for those looking to minimize floor space.

An example of new, innovative use of ASRS is the University of Nevada library in Reno

The University of Nevada Library uses an ASRS system called “MARS,” which stands for the Matthewson Automated Retrieval System. MARS allows students and staff to retrieve books from a huge temperature-controlled, space that houses government documents, Special Collections material, the Permanent Reserve Collection from Getchell, journals that are more than one year old, and books that were published before 1950 and have been checked out less than eight times in the past two decades. MARS keeps these documents from depreciating, and users submit a request into the library catalog for any materials they request. A robot then retrieves the item from MARS’ storage bin and sends it to the circulation desk. The whole process only takes five to ten minutes. Other, larger, libraries looking for a way to increase their efficiency would do well to emulate MARS and the University of Nevada’s adoption of this cutting-edge technology.

Kiva Systems—now known as Amazon Robotics

We’ve all ordered things from Amazon, an online goods provider that has a net worth even larger than Walmart’s, and their robotics system is unsurprisingly very intricate and impressive. In order to store its huge amount of inventory, Amazon bought out Kiva Systems for $775 million and renamed it Amazon Robotics. Amazon Robotics’ orange robot fleet retrieves items from a highly organized system. Recently, Amazon has announced in the past year that they want to further integrate machinated deep-learning tech and computer-vision in order to pick and pack items one at a time, as opposed to in sets. Amazon Robotics has a material-handling software that includes a custom wireless network, as well as a system that controls and configures their free-form shelving.

Fetch and Freight by Fetch Robotics

Fetch Robotics is a California-based startup company that has designed a system based on the open-source robotic system. Fetch and Freight’s ASRS has a mobile “Freight” base that is attached to a mobile manipulator—“Fetch.” Fetch and Freight work together in the warehouse to autonomously find and utilize a charging dock and pick and pack inventory.

ASRS have been making peoples’ and businesses’ lives easier by both cutting labor costs and increasing storage efficiency and safety. As technology progresses, expect more warehouses to look to ASRS to fulfill their storage needs.

Article Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

Guest Post

Article marketing, also known as content marketing, can make or break any business. One of the best places to advertise for your business is the internet, especially if you are trying to reach new customers and foster growth. Unfortunately, if you make these article marketing mistakes, you will not be able to do this.

#1: Ignoring the Big Picture

You will need a very clear marketing strategy for content marketing to be successful. What is your goal? Do you want to reach new customers, or to encourage repeat customers by improving your business-to-customer relationship? Regardless of your intended outcome, you need to know it. You also need to determine a method to use along the way to check the effectiveness of your article marketing. Setting goals and checking progress will give you a good idea as to how well your campaign is performing.

#2: Selling to Everyone

The problem with the Internet, sometimes, is that it is used by so many people. How can you possibly sell your content when so many irrelevant people may view the page? The key is to profile your typical customer. You want the people looking at your content to actually be interested in what you are selling. To do this, think about keywords that people would search for if they were looking for something in your niche.  Use these keywords to direct people to content on your website when they perform a search engine query. However, be sure that you do not over-stuff the keywords, as this can have a negative effect on your search engine ranking.

#3: Being Too Salesy

A major mistake that businesses often make when it comes to article marketing is trying to sell at every step. Content marketing should not only be used to sell your product to customers. You can write about related topics as well. For example, if you are writing for an air fryer blog, it would be good to appeal to people who use deep fryers as well. Instead of just offering information on air fryers, you can write about how to clean a deep fryer, the differences between the two, etc. Appearing as if your company is an expert in the area that you work in is equally as important as selling your product. Also, when you are too salesy, it makes you seem desperate.

#4: Forgetting about Calls to Action

Calls to action are a critical part of content marketing. However, this does not mean that you should tell your customer to contact you at the end of every article. Think of the call to action as a way to keep a potential customer thinking about your content. Instruct them to do the next step of the process, or to check out a separate article on what they can do if they need additional information. You can direct them to contact you in some articles, but do not over-do it.

#5: Producing Bland Content

For an article marketing campaign to be successful, you need to be sure that your content is not the same as everyone else’s. Always check for originality using a plagiarism checker. Also, be sure that you do not write articles stuffed with the same boring information as everyone else. Think about what your customers might want to know or be interested in. Then, think of interesting topics using these ideas and write articles.

Being wary of these 5 common content marketing mistakes will help you sell your business’ ideas better. Avoid these mistakes to ensure your article marketing strategy gets you the results that you want.

Joining an online marketing community, like Kreativa, where you are able to start conversations and ask questions, is a great way to advance your skills.

Lautaro Martinez, loves marketing and is always looking for new ways for companies to market their products. If you would like to learn more about Lautaro, you can check out his google+ profile.

5 Industries That Can Be Helped By The Defend Trade Secrets Act

In the technology world, there are vigorous defenses of aggressive attempts to steal patented or copyrighted materials or processes. There have been several famous technology lawsuits in recent years, most noteworthy was the battle between Apple and Samsung over several iPhone patents that Samsung was found to have infringed in its Galaxy smartphones.

Patent, copyright and trademark litigation is a multi-billion-dollar industry by the time the dust settles every year, and that is especially true in the various tech fields. There has been so much innovation in tech that every company who has a portfolio of patents will fight for them no matter how long it takes or how expensive the litigation becomes.

But what about those things called trade secrets? Many of these are just as important to some companies and industries as patents, but they don’t have the same legal protections. In fact, there was a row in the Apple vs. Samsung case in which one company claimed trade-secret protection when it came to revealing its process in making a patented item, and even a revelation of financial records and/or vendor and customer lists.

Trade secrets are vital to many companies, but there has not been any legitimate legal protection for companies to keep those secrets; if a court demands that information because it is germane to a case, companies are usually forced to give up that trade secret as part of discovery. Therefore, the “secret” no longer exists.

However, there is legislation introduced in Congress that has bipartisan support, called the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which is designed to give companies some legal avenues by which to defend and protect trade secrets from public disclosure. Supporters of the legislation say that protecting trade secrets will encourage and drive more innovation in the industry. Some who oppose it are concerned that the law doesn’t address what it was designed to address, and thus can’t see how it is an improvement over existing law.

Trade secrets can be as much the lifeblood of a company as any of its patents, and that applies to many industries. Here we can give you five industries in particular that could very well benefit the most from the Defend Trade Secrets Act:

  • Semiconductors. Silicon wafers have their own trade secrets. The process of making wafers is generally the same, but there may be secrets in how the transistors are made, the circuitry, locations that may make certain wafers operate better or more effectively than others. Vendor and customer lists may also need to be protected.
  • Financial services. Many of the investment instruments are the same, but not all brokerage or investment firms operate the same way – their processes for selecting investments may vary widely, but much of it is not guesswork. It is usually a process that makes one investment firm unique from another one.
  • Mobile hardware.  Whether it’s a tablet, “phablet,” or smartphone, every company has a particular design or feature that it wants to protect, even if it’s not patentable. Perhaps there is a particular secret in how an iPhone is designed, or something about the shape of a Samsung Galaxy that can’t be protected by a patent, but the process should be protected.
  • Food service. This can seem pretty obvious – there may be six Italian restaurants in a city and they all may have very similar menus, but each of them has their own unique recipe for each dish that makes one restaurant different from the other. Or maybe it’s the design of the restaurant that should be kept secret.
  • Automotive. While many features in a vehicle are patentable, automakers can have different processes for making the vehicles, and those are not patentable but may need to be protected because of any competitive advantage that process may provide.

These are just five prominent industries that would likely see benefit and increased innovation should the Defend Trade Secrets Act be passed into law. There is little doubt that businesses have secrets to their success which separate them from failing businesses in the same vertical, and to maintain that success it may well be necessary to treat those secrets with as much legal value as a patent or copyright. 

Beyond the Square: Advantages of Other Mobile Payment Solutions

Mobile payment solutions are all the rage these days. Organizations, brands, small and large businesses are constantly looking for mobile payment solutions that can make their business processes easier, help clients pay faster and make tracking all those payments a breeze.

Now, one of the more popular mobile payment options is Square. But, is this the only option? Not at all. Fattmerchant for instance is a leading mobile payment service that offers even more benefits than the more popular ones.

In fact, their services are so in-demand that leading global brands like, Verifone and NCR consistently use their services. The benefits of seeking alternative mobile payment solutions to Square are huge. They include:

Access to Direct Cost

This is done by eliminating hidden and markup fees. Companies like Fattmerchant that do this, help make sure that the entire process is transparent.

They won’t hide anything from you, trap you into long term contracts using bait and switch methods, or even increase your costs without informing you. Processing fees shouldn’t be astronomical and downright brutal. They should be reasonable and fair. This is what you get with some other alternative services.

Excellent Customer Service

Unlike Square that has no dedicated phone lines or customer desk for customers, Fattmerchant does. This is a pretty big deal if you ask us.

We believe that merchants and customers should be able to reach their payment processing service as quickly as necessary –even if it’s for them to yell and scream at them- to resolve any problems that they might have with their terminals.

So, if you’re looking to have your issues resolved as quickly as you can spot them, using services like Fattmerchant which has a 24/7 technical support team is often the best choice.

Cheaper Costs

Square currently not only charges a standard rate of $275 a month and/or 2.75% processing rate across the board but also raises its rates depending on certain conditions –usually transaction volume.

There are other restrictions too that point to the fact that clients would have to frequently pay more. Other mobile payment options, however offer both lower monthly and transactional fees. The costs of these vary. You would have to compare pricing really to decide on the best option for you, though.

Faster Access to Your Funds

When you do a lot of high volume/low ticket or high ticket/high volume transactions, you need the funds to clear quickly so that you can fast track your customers’ orders and have their goods to them.

But when you are unable to do this because it takes a while for your credit card processing service to release your funds, it can cause a bit of a logistical nightmare. You need a service that provides next day funding.

Square is currently lagging behind when it comes to next day funding, yet other mobile payment services routinely provide this service. Therefore, if you don’t have the patience to wait for days before your funds are available, you should try out alternatives like Fattmerchant that offer next day funding. 

Sudden Freezing of Funds

If you do a lot of large volume or high ticket transactions, Square is not the best option for you. The company has a reputation for randomly freezing funds without informing merchants, resulting in a lot of inconvenience for both the merchants and their customers.

Admittedly, this is more of a security measure seeing as they don’t do any credit check on the merchants who use their service. But still, when you compare this inconvenience to that of other mobile payment solutions that don’t hold on to their merchants’ money and allows them free access to their funds, the latter seems like a very sensible choice.


Oscar King is small business owner and freelance writer who enjoys sharing tips and insights into running a company smoothly and effectively. If you would like to learn more about Oscar, you can check out his google+ profile

5 Key Elements Of A Quality Document Translation

Guest Post


Finding someone to translate a document for you is easy, but finding someone to provide a quality document translation is difficult.

Before sending hundreds (or thousands) of documents to be translated, it’s always a good idea to do a trial run with a few different translators. You’ll quickly find that not all translations are created equal when you end up with several finished documents that look different.

There are several factors that you must consider before approaching an agency or freelancer to translate your documents for you. These are the elements that you will use to judge the quality of translation and help you decide which translator to use in the future.

In this article, we’ll discuss the five elements of quality document translation for you to look out for.

1. Accuracy

This is probably obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. One guaranteed way to find out if your translator is not actually fluent in the target language is when you notice several words or phrases that don’t match their true meaning, are mistaken for names (or anything else that doesn’t need translated), or they’ve been replaced with the wrong word entirely.

Translation software is relatively accurate for getting the general message across, but documents translated with software don’t read well. That’s why you have to have a human come in and polish it up.

Some translation agencies are more strict than others on quality control for their employees — just like every business in every industry. There are a lot of translators out there who claim to be fluent in several languages, but they would wouldn’t actually be able to carry on a complex conversation with anyone.

The difference between good and great is steep when it comes to translation. The downside is that great translation comes at a price. When it comes to document translation, you really do get what you pay for.

2. Consistency

Another common issue regarding document translation is consistency.

Have you ever received a translated document that looks like it was written by three different authors? Unfortunately, this happens and it’s a strong indicator of low quality translation.

There are several scenarios that cause this to happen. The first one is where the human translator goes in to polish up the document after running it through a translation software and their edits don’t blend well with the content that the software translated sufficiently.

Another common scenario is when you have multiple translators working on the same document and it is glaringly obvious that their writing styles are very different.

3. Relevance

Just because a translator can speak the language fluently, that doesn’t necessarily make them the most qualified person to translate your document. Something you have to consider is the type of document that you need translated and what the translator specializes in.

Some agencies and freelancers will translate any document you need, either because they just need the business or they aren’t interested in specializing. In some cases, this might work out just fine.

However, generally you are better off working with a translator that specializes in the type of document you need translated. So, if you need technical documents translated, you don’t want to work with an agency that specializes in fictional literature.

4. Thorough Editing

The actual translation of the document is only part of what leads to a quality finished product. You don’t want to have to go in and clean up after the translator because you’ve found a bunch of spelling errors, grammatical errors, or anything else that indicates poor editing.

Good translation agencies will typically have employees or contractors who only focus on editing. That means your document will be translated by someone who specializes in that and then touched up by someone who specializes in editing.

This extra level of service might cost you a little bit more, but the final product will be professional and thorough, leaving nothing for you to worry about.

5. Customer Service

Perhaps the most overlooked element to be considered is customer service. If you are going to need translations done on a regular or semi-regular basis, customer service should be big concern for you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How quickly does the translator respond to questions?

  • What’s the average turnaround time for completed documents?

  • How does the translator handle my concerns or complaints?

Doing business with any company over a long-term basis requires a healthy relationship. The best translation services will treat you with respect and strive to earn your business.

Don’t feel trapped by a translator who produces good work, but is impossible to communicate with. The truth is, the translation industry is very competitive and there are plenty of great translators available to choose from.

Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to find the best translator for the job. Good luck!

Kyle Stout is a freelance writer based out of Tulsa, OK. This article was prepared on behalf of Pemex English Library.

Ideas for Spending the Money Saved by Going Paperless

Going paperless can save even smaller companies tens of thousands of dollars each year. Majestic Invites, for example, an eight-employee company saves approximately $50,000 annually since going paperless. Moreover, these are the savings for a smaller company. A larger company, Suncoast Medical Clinic (they have 370 employees), believes it will save $1 million yearly by making the decision to go paperless. These statistics show that going paperless can save your company big bucks—but how should you spend it? Here are a few ideas for spending that extra cash that will be laying around after your company makes the decision to go paperless.

Employee Retreat

Employees need an opportunity to relax. Studies have shown that employees who have the chance to relax feel less stressed in the workplace. If tensions are running high at your place of business, having a retreat day (or weekend) may be the perfect way to reduce stress and improve productivity in the workplace. As a bonus, an employee retreat is the ideal time to bond with employees and build work relationships.

Amusement Park Outing

An amusement park outing is the ideal way to build employee relationships, as well as the perfect way to include your employees’ family! If you are worried about bankrolling a day out to the amusement park for your employees and their families, consider purchasing a large number of tickets in bulk. Many amusement parks offer discounts for group tickets. You can even sell the tickets to your employees for the lower rate. Then, you can take the extra money to have an employee raffle for prizes and provide lunch. You can even include the children of employees if you choose.

Improve Office Technology

Have your employees been complaining about how slow the office computers run? Have you had difficulty finding software compatible with the older technology in your office? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you might want to reserve some of the money you save for upgrading office equipment. The bonus of improving your office technology using the extra cash is that it may improve the level of efficiency among your employees, which will save your business even more money.

Employee Bonus

An employee bonus is the perfect way to spend the money you have saved if you are looking to reward employees. This is especially true if they have put in much work as your company was switching over to paperless. This is a good option if your company is too busy for a retreat or outing, or if you do not believe your employees would be interested in either of their options. Reward them for their hard work by giving them money to spend how they please.

Jazz Up the Break Room

The employee break-room should be a relaxing, stress-free environment. After all, lunch is the only time that your employees have personal time to unwind during the work day. One way you can spend the extra money from going paperless is to make the break room a better environment. If the employee fridges are overcrowded, consider purchasing a new refrigerator. If the microwave is slow and outdated, buy a new microwave for the break room. If neither of these things are problems, then you can also consider buying more comfortable chairs, new decorations, or even a fun video game or air hockey table that the employees can use to unwind. If these ideas are not appealing, consider decorating the break room as a theme for a day and purchasing lunch for all of your employees.

Lautaro Martinez is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in business and business related topics. For a business looking to start their paperless transition, he recommends making use of Filecenter by Lucion for making the switch and management. You can learn more about Lautaro on Google+.

Beginners Guide to Business Advertising

Excellent products and services are good. But you know what is even better? It’s knowing how to connect those products and services with the people who need them. In the past, you could simply build it and they would come.

Nowadays, that doesn’t work as well as it used to. In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the most effective business advertising methods that you can use to make your business more popular and gain more customers.

Print Advertising and Marketing

Print advertising alone is huge. There are so many categories that it would be almost impossible to master everything while still trying to run your business. In print advertising, you have newspaper ads, banners, signs, flyers, brochures, direct mail, catalogues, posters, and billboards.

The key to making any of these tools work for you is identifying your target demography and putting out an ad in the medium that will offer the highest return on investment. For instance, most businesses need banners and signs.

These are proven methods for driving traffic and generating sales for your business. The key to making banners and signs work for you is to make sure that the design, copy and materials are excellent whether you design them yourself or consult with a service like Quality Sign Designer.

Digital Marketing and Advertising

If you have been around for a while, then you’ve heard about digital marketing some form or other. Even if you don’t know it as digital marketing, you might have heard terms like social media marketing, Facebook advertising, search engine optimization, media buys, pay-per-click advertising and so on.

These are all broadly grouped under digital marketing. When used correctly, they can generate impressive results. You must, however, “know your onions” well, as it can get pretty expensive, pretty quickly.

Many businesses have been able to take advantage of these channels with great results to show for it. You can too. But we would recommend hiring an expert first or learning everything you can before taking the plunge.  The major advantage of digital marketing is it doesn’t require huge amounts of money to get started.

TV Advertising

An oldie but a goodie, TV advertising has been popular since the ‘50s and continues to sustain its reach. There’s a lot of rumors regarding the fact that TV ads are dying. But the truth is that even internet-based companies are taking out ads on TVs.

This begs the question that if TVs weren’t as effective or didn’t have massive reach, why would internet-based companies advertise on them? If you have the budget and can afford it, take advantage of the additional marketing channel. It works.

Radio Advertising

Right after TV is radio advertising. Recent studies have shown that many people still listen to the radio and take action on ads aired there. Luckily, radio has not remained offline.

There are lots of online radio stations — some are offshoots or just online versions of your local radio station. Some are hosted only online. But they work today, just as they worked in decades past.

Know your options and don’t discount any path between your message and the people it needs to reach — advertising, like many other pursuits, benefits from a combined-arms approach. Keep the above in mind to maximize your reach.

Oscar King is a freelance writer and small business owner who contributes articles and insights about the challenges faced by the business community, and all the latest solutions that exist for them.

Most Common Myths About Safety Programs

Guest Post: OSHA, better known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was founded in 1971 for the purpose of worker wellness and workplace safety, specifically in high-risk industries where injuries and health risks arise on a daily basis. Providing the proper training for employees is essential for organizations interested in lowering workplace accidents and avoiding fines from OSHA, as well as other government-sanctioned agencies.

In order to properly train workers and managers on essential principles of hazard management, safety professionals must understand the mistakes and myths commonly held regarding these processes so as to maximize the benefits of the relevant training. Below are a few of the practical myths taught within safety programs for workers seeking proper certification and compliance with OSHA and other government agencies. By understanding a few of the main myths about safety in real-world situations and applications, employees and their leadership can better apply their training to create and perpetuate safer environments.

Five Key Myths about Safety Program Training

The Complete Elimination of Risks – 100% risk-free, 100% of the time is impossible. While various safety software systems and communication tools such as and are great for eliminating human error due to a lack of communication and accountability, total safety in every workplace is ultimately impossible. Business and operations, particularly in high-risk industries, must balance productivity, profit, and safety equally on a daily basis. The use of heavy machinery and the presence of hazardous materials will always carry with them a certain assumption of risk. Rather than seeking perfection in safety, workers should train in the prevention, mitigation, and compensation for potential safety risks that occur within the workforce.

OSHA is not the Final Standard – All companies within an OSHA regulated industry must comply with standard safety procedures that include evacuation plans, contingency plans, workers’ proper safety equipment, and safety signage. The requirements placed on companies and organizations are the absolute minimum training required for operations – true safety grows beyond those standards. Companies that are truly committed to safety will use OSHA’s rules as a starting point, and add their own training and practices to further enhance the safety of its job sites.

Proper Safety Training Increases Costs – Although investing in safety training is an extra cost associated with doing business, companies that invest in safety benefit themselves in the long run. Some companies sidestep strong safety programs due to the mistaken belief that they’ll become less competitive due to these increased costs. On the contrary, companies who invest in safety have proven to be more efficient in the long-term and more reliable for customers and suppliers. Relationships only strengthen when your partners understand your commitment to quality in all things. In addition, lower worker turnover and less waste due to proper safety training create a positive environment for day-to-day operations, which ultimately lowers overhead costs, insurance costs, and worker’s compensation costs. In the short-term, safety is an investment, but in the long-term, companies stand to lose much more in terms of resolving individual incidents, as well as larger impacts on the reputation of the business.

Falls are not an Issue on Flat Surfaces – One of the most prominent safety risks plaguing companies in all sectors is worker falls. More workers are injured each year due to slip-and-fall accidents than any other type of accident, but many companies believe if elevation is absent, they do not need to invest time in proper safety training. In reality, falls can occur from obstructing objects or spills on the surface of production floors. Proper signage, barriers, and guardrails are needed for job sites or production floors where any threat is eminent, even if that threat is not on an elevated surface.

Equipment Cause Most Injuries – Unfortunately, most accidents in the workplace are preventable and simple human error is often to blame. Although broken equipment and machinery cause accidents, workers’ safety is ultimately a product of proper training and focus.

Further Reading

Matthew Hall is a Los Angeles resident and freelance writer contributing on topics of operations management and business law, adding the benefits of his experience and perspective on the moral responsibilities of the business world to the general dialogue.

Revisiting the Online Marketing Funnel

Guest Post


Even offline sales benefit from revising this old canard.

Traditionally, people making money online cast a wide net. They’d identify some prospective customers through various contact processes and then try to draw an ever smaller number of them into a “trap”: the hole in the bottom of the funnel where a sale was to be made.

That model makes some of us shiver now, because, to put it bluntly, we’re not spiders.

Our customers aren’t flies and we don’t wrap them up once and then feed off of their drying husks till they’re all gone.

On the contrary, we encourage them to live and to prosper. We might think of them sometimes as aphids being tended by ants, but by and large the insect analogies and the farming analogies only further separate us from what we’re really doing.

Long Term Relationship Marketing

We’re not prospecting or hunting or farming. We’re selling products and services within long-term relationships.

That realization helps not only your sales and your business – but it should extend into your marketing life, and the way that you conduct your business. You should be getting more from each sales prospect and at each point of contact between your business and every customer.

Very often, offline sellers will look exclusively at how online-only sellers are doing it.

This is a relatively grave mistake, because unbeknownst to lots of offline sellers, online-only sellers have learned the really important tricks of the trade from offline sellers – not the other way around.  We’ll look more closely at human sales people below but first, take a look at what the stone age of Internet selling looked like. Bring your club.

“Ye olde sales funnel”

  1. Website site visit
  2. Inquiry email
  3. Follow up email
  4. Purchase

And maybe sometimes, they’d include something more after the sale.

Sales funnels can be a lot more elaborate, but ye olde sales funnel is entirely focused on a one-time sale. You miss out on all the good stuff including repeat sales and 99% of the people who wanted to buy but weren’t ready to do so quite yet.

One-time sales cost a fortune compared to second, third and repeat sales.

And even hesitant, or not-ready-to-buy now customers (99% of your contacts?) go right back to being cold-call, expensive-to-reach nobodies. That’s not a good sales and marketing plan.

The Sales Funnel in the Age of the Repeat Customer

It’s also the age of the repeat visitor, the acquaintance and the only passively interested customer. That’s where your sales are, not in the cold-call stratosphere of the Internet and the mass market.

Repeat customers (and all of the above) are the secret to offline selling that Internet seller had to learn. What those offline sellers had expertise in – and that online sellers have studied endlessly – is one thing: environment!

Marketing is always about establishing and maintaining an environment of trust. Even lots of experienced marketing people never learn this. Sales people may do it – but many of hardened sales pros don’t know that what they’re doing is “marketing.” But many sales people are the very best marketers in the world, far better than marketing teams and commissions and departments. Sales people live and breathe marketing, and that’s precisely why some industries continue to rely on a human sales team. No one does it better.

Sales people do marketing by talking, asking questions and listening.

The new re-conceptualization of the sales funnel is designed to listen better, communicate better and to draw customers into a pattern of repeated use, inquiry and value exchange. The more you learn about your customer the more you can contribute to that customer’s well-being. Maybe not surprisingly, bricks and mortar stores had – and have – a distinct advantage when it comes to establishing the environment where that can happen.

Think about it. Customers come in, they ask questions and they learn about solutions. Sales people ask questions and provide answers and strengthen human relationships, and the good ones know that their customers will come back.

Duplicating that kind of sales funnel online can mean a lot more simple interactivity.

It can mean more informative content – and it can quickly grow into programs or apps that help your site to make suggestions based on past purchases or inquiries.  The more important goal though is to always keep prospects and past customers in a circulation, living and prospering, but stopping back in from time to time and always remembering your name and recommending your business.

Your personality, that is, your brand should be more attractive than an ant picking up aphids and herding them around. But filling out your brand – so that it lives and breathes like a personality – can take a lot more involvement. Such a strategy requires that involvement.

At the same though, this kind of sales and marketing plan doesn’t have to be extremely expensive. It doesn’t even need to be very technological. Some of the best and most cost-effective sales and marketing strategies involve a better mix of incentives to visit a physical location with incentives to return online – or to stay in touch. In most cases, it will involve a lot more communications, information and information exchange.

If you’d like to revisit your own Online Sales and Marketing Funnel to include more prospective leads and customers, and to keep them closer longer, we’d be happy to consult on many of the most advanced methods and technologies. Contact NettSolutions and we’ll be happy to share a variety of the most interesting projects we’ve most recently been working on.

How To Care For Your Leather Office Furniture

Guest post

There really is no substitute for the smell of fresh leather. There is something intoxicatingly luxurious about it. For good reason, leather is not the cheapest material for your office furniture. However, it does make for a quite comfortable waiting room or conference room chair. You can also impress visiting clients with having the nicest office furniture in town.

One of the major downsides to leather furniture is its upkeep. After spending all of that money on nice leather office furniture, you better darn be sure you are going to keep it for a long time. That is why caring for your leather office furniture is so important.


The first way to care for your leather office furniture obviously has to do with cleaning. How many times have you reached down on a piece of leather furniture to assist yourself in seating only to find a crevice filled with crumbs and dust? Yea, we’ve all been there.

Leather office furniture should be brushed frequently with a soft brush. This should be done regularly and softly. Too much pressure can cause the crumbs or other debris to scratch the leather, tarnishing your lovely office furniture.

Spills should be cleaned immediately. Some people assume that leather cannot be stained easily. While it is an upholstery that is typically harder to stain, it still can be. Real leather will soak up any liquid spills through the seams. Soakin leather has a tendency to become discolored, usually darker than areas that have not been soaked.

Dry blotting with a paper towel or an absorbent sponge will do the trick for most liquid spills. If need, you can use a damp cloth for stickier substances like chocolate or pop. However, avoid using a damp cloth of any grease stains. Unfortunately you may need to leave the grease spills to professional cleaners.

Finally, for cleaning, you can use a leather specific cleaner once every couple of months. Prior to using this cleaner on a scheduled basis, try using on a portion of the leather that is not seen to make sure it does not negatively affect your furniture.


In order to keep your leather office furniture looking fresh longer, you need to perform maintenance on it. Leather will lose its natural oils overtime, causing it to dry out and crack. There are a number of products at your disposal to perform the conditioning and nourishing of your leather furniture, preventing it from cracking.

One of those products is Saddle Soap, although there are conflicting theories behind if it helps or hurts. It does help to condition your leather furniture however it may also prevent your leather from breathing, which can also cause cracking.

Regardless of the product you use, the application process is simple. You simply wipe the product over the leather with a soft cloth, making sure to work it into the natural grooves. Just as you did with your cleaning product, you will want to spot test any maintenance product prior to using it over the entirety of your furniture.


Another simple way to care for your leather furniture is to prevent people from sitting on it with sharp objects in their pockets. This may be an awkward request to make of a prospective client, however it should be something that your employees are well aware of. Keys, pens, and pencils can all cause puncturing to your leather office furniture.

Salt Stain Prevention

Another preventative measure for caring for your leather office furniture is to avoid sitting on it if any of your clothing is damp. Damp clothing can cause salt stains which require a special solution to clean. If a salt stain occurs, a mixture of vinegar and water wiped over the seat with a cloth can usually do the trick.

Another way to prevent salt stains is to cover the furniture. Wait, wasn’t the point of the leather furniture to show it off? Yes, yes it was. However, during winter months it may be best to cover the furniture due to the sheer volume of potential rain, snow, and salt that is tracked into the building.


Lastly, another preventative measure for caring for office leather is to avoid standing on it. This may seem like common sense as standing on chairs or couches is generally an office hazard to begin with. However, there may come a Christmas party where someone gets a little too festive and decides to dance on the leather couch or the office handyman (or woman) decides to use it as a step ladder. Standing on leather furniture can cause the leather to stretch beyond its normal capacity. This will cause the upholstery to become loose and no longer as luxurious looking as it once was.

Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.