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Neiman Marcus is adding in-store charging stations in all stores, making it the first luxury retailer to offer the service to its customers nationally.
Since they launched in 2014, Reserve has always been known as a ‘dining concierge’ and now they look ready to do more as they recently unveiled two new tools: Reserve.com, a website for users to find restaurants and make reservations, and a table management software Reserve for Restaurants.
“Our table management system, Reserve for Restaurants, is built around a simple philosophy — technology should facilitate hospitality and not stand in the way of a restaurant’s relationship with its guests. Restaurants deserve a better reservations platform — one that they love, and their guests love, too. So we do a few things differently,” co-founder and CEO Greg Hong said in a blog post.
For $99 per month per location, restaurants can install the table management software Reserve for Restaurants.
The platform closely resembles OpenTable, but with marked differences. Beyond offering analytics, reservation capabilities and wait list management, the app does away with any additional fees such as cover costs for reservations made through the system. These are significant savings and Reserve adds that the savings could be anywhere between $0.25 and $7 per person.
Another distinguishing feature of the table management software Reserve for Restaurants, is its Salesforce-like capabilities that gives restaurateurs data on their frequent and loyal diners. The app doesn’t use information that customers provide Reserve’s system directly, but rather uses more organic means. This is a great benefit of the app, restaurants can now track things like what table diners prefer, favorite food and drinks, allergies they may have, visit history, and other preferences. It’s about providing a more hospitable experience for diners.
“Restaurateurs never need to say no to guests — if guests don’t see the time they want on the restaurant’s website or Reserve.com, they can always make a request via the Reserve app and the restaurant can offer alternate times or seating options, or place them on the waitlist,” Hong explained.
As a companion to the Reserve app, Hong also introduced Reserve.com — a new destination for finding restaurants and making reservations. The website offers users with details of more than 500 restaurant partners across the country. These partners are specially curated and selected based on their service, ambiance and food. Visitors can now sort and filter restaurants based on vibe, cuisine, neighborhood as well as by restaurants that offer Instant Bookings online.
Reservations made on the app or website are free for users.
This article, "Book The Best Seat In The House With Reserve for Restaurants" was first published on Small Business Trends
Macy's has been beset with a series of quarterly losses but its chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren promises a comeback.
Apple unveiled its newest store design this weekend and the realization of retail chief Angela Ahrendts' vision for Apple's stores going forward. That vision includes becoming a bigger part of the local environment.
There are now more than 11,000 sales tax jurisdictions across the U.S.
Complying with this complex jurisdictional matrix, each with its own set of rates, regulations and forms can be nothing less than a nightmare for smaller ecommerce businesses.
To make online retailers aware of the most important considerations, Small Business Trends conducted an exclusive interview, conducted by phone, with Chris Livingston, Director of Operations and Product Management at VertexSMB, a company that provides sales and use tax automation software for small to medium-sized businesses.
Livingston outlined the following nine considerations in this sales compliance checklist:Sales Tax Compliance Checklist 1. Know Your Nexus
The most important compliance factor comes with knowing your “nexus.”Nexus Defined
Nexus — also known as “sufficient physical presence” — is the term used to determine whether or not a business selling products in another state is liable for collecting sales or use tax in that state.
Nexus is required before a jurisdiction can impose taxes on an entity. Therefore, it is vital that ecommerce businesses know the states in which they have sufficient physical presence.
Determining where nexus exists can be tricky, but non-compliance can be costly, in the form of audits, penalties and interest.What Constitutes ‘Physical Presence’
The physical presence nexus requires can include things like having office space, employees, a warehouse, affiliates, inventory or drop shipping from a third-party vendor in another state. In some jurisdictions, even having a billboard alongside the highway could constitute nexus, Livingston said.
“In the days before ecommerce, knowing your nexus was simple and straightforward,” he said. “You owned a local brick and mortar store where customers purchased products and paid the sales tax. Now, you must consider where your billboards are, the states where your salespeople live and where you have inventory.”Click-through and Affiliate Nexus
With the onset of ecommerce, many states have passed “click-through nexus” and “affiliate nexus” legislation to impose taxes on sales made by online retailers.
According to an article on the Sales Tax Institute website, click-through nexus legislation typically requires that a remote seller “meets a minimum sales threshold in the state in question resulting from activities of an in-state referral agent.” The seller must be “making commission payments to the in-state resident for any orders that come about as a result of the click-through referral from the resident’s website.”
Affiliate nexus legislation typically requires that a remote retailer holds a “substantial interest in, or is owned by, an in-state retailer and the retailer sells the same or a substantially similar line of products under the same or a similar business name,” the article said.2. Obtain Sales Tax and Business Licenses
Once sellers establish nexus, they need to obtain sales tax and business licenses.
“Nearly every state requires retailers to register or be licensed to collect sales tax,” Livingston said. “Once sellers decide their store has nexus in a given state, they will need to register to collect sales tax for that state.”
According to Livingston, each jurisdiction has its own method for obtaining licenses.
“Merchants will need to file different forms with the various jurisdictions,” he said. “Some require fingerprinting while others will use the seller’s social security number, for example. Also, because some licenses are renewable, merchants will need to stay on top of when renewal periods occur.”3. Know the Tax Rates
To avoid over or under collecting sales tax, ecommerce businesses must know the correct tax rates in the states and jurisdictions where they have nexus.
Some states get so granular that the rate changes almost to the street level, Livingston said.
He cited one example of a business that had loading docks on two separate streets on different sides of the building, each with a different tax rate.
“The business had to stay constantly mindful on which dock merchandise was being off-loaded,” he said.4. Understand Product Taxability Rules
Most items sold are considered tangible personal property (TPP) and are taxed at the standard sales tax rate. That is not always the case, however, said Livingston.
“Things can change when you get into product taxability,” he said. “There may be special rules around heavy machinery, for instance. It is considered TPP in some jurisdictions but, depending on its use, could be exempt in others, or taxed at a different rate.”
Livingston also pointed out that “Software as a Service” (SaaS) is actually considered a service for tax purposes and, depending on the location of where services take place, could have different tax consequences.5. Recognize Difference Between Origin Vs. Destination
When it comes to intrastate transactions (those which occur within the same state), there are two types of jurisdictions: origin and destination.
Some states tax based on where the product originated while others tax based on its destination, according to Livingston.
“States such as Pennsylvania, Arizona and New Mexico charge tax based on origin,” he said. “For example, a sale that originates in Tempe (AZ) for a product sent to Scottsdale, will be taxed using the Tempe tax rate. Other states, such as New Jersey and Louisiana, determine the tax rate based on where the invoice lands. It’s not synonymous across the board. ”6. Maintain Exemption Certificates
Sellers can issue exemption certificates to a purchaser for various reasons, including resale, 501c3 status, products used in the manufacturing process or used in farming.
“The seller must request and hold that certificate on file to prove the reason for not taxing a transaction,” he said. “Different jurisdictional rules exist around that. Buyers need to store and maintain the certificate in the event they are ever audited.”
Livingston also mentioned another area where tax exemptions exist: enterprise zones.
“An enterprise zone is a geographic area designated as a special exemption for economic advancement, such as building a new mall,” Livingston said. “In that case, exemptions serve as incentives to get businesses to come in.”7. Charge Proper Tax Type
Sales tax (intrastate transactions) and seller’s use tax (interstate transactions) can differ, so it’s important to know the type of tax being charged.
“Different transactions require different tax types, either sales tax or seller’s use tax,” Livingston said. “Sales tax relates to intrastate transactions and may have one rate while seller’s use tax, which relates to interstate transactions, could have another.”
Based on the tax type, merchants have to charge the correct rate and complete the proper form when it’s time to remit the tax.
“Merchants can sometimes use the same form for both tax types but may have to use different forms, depending on the jurisdiction,” Livingston said. “It’s important that they file correctly, to avoid penalties and interest.”9. Know the Risk on Returns
“There are sales tax-specific returns, seller’s use tax specific returns and consumer use tax specific returns,” Livingston said. “Finding, using and properly submitting these forms is a daunting and arduous task filled with potential error and risk. Electronic filing and electronic payments just add more risk and work to the process.”
Livingston also pointed out that a customer who bought something from an online retailer that didn’t have nexus and failed to charge tax may be liable to pay consumer use tax on the purchase.10. Understand Audit Triggers
The last item on the list has to do with audits, something no ecommerce merchant wants but, according to Livingston, will have to undergo at some point. As such, retailers need to understand what type of actions trigger an audit.
“A significant percentage of exempt sales, large changes (increase or decrease) in sales tax and late filings can all trigger an audit,” Livingston said. “It’s not a matter of if you get audited but when. The tax man cometh.”
Livingston advised small ecommerce businesses to work with a trusted tax advisor — either a CPA or sales tax expert, to gain a better understanding of the compliance process.
“Sales tax compliance is a very complex issue that requires the help of someone with know-how,” he said. “Merchants would be wise to get advice from a trusted advisor.”
Print out this sales compliance checklist to keep the most important considerations top-of-mind:
This article, "Avoid Sales Tax Surprises: 9 Point Compliance Checklist" was first published on Small Business Trends
Online marketplace Minted has opened its first brick-and-mortar location, joining the ranks of digital merchants entering the physical space.
CVS Pharmacy is launching digital receipts for loyalty club members, and announced the change on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where the famously long printed versions have been mocked.
Colossal overhead can be enough to kill even the most promising of small businesses – and staff-related costs tend to be one of the biggest culprits.
When starting up a new business, quite a few entrepreneurs will inevitably fail to budget in mandatory employee benefits like medical insurance. Worse yet, a lot of business owners are actually over-spending on these sorts of benefits.
Firms like Core Employee Solutions are working to eradicate needless expenditures.
According to co-founder Christian Brim, clerical errors account for over four percent of the total costs that businesses spend on employee benefits. That means a small business with a health insurance bill of $5,000 per month could be losing around $2,400 every year in overcharges or missed employee deductions.
But health insurance isn’t the only place where companies are running into trouble with their accounts.
Typical errors include termed employees not being dropped from insurance coverage in a timely manner, rate changes not being adjusted in an employee’s payroll deduction or employees being given payroll deductions for benefits they aren’t even enrolled in. Business owners also often fail to communicate changes in eligibility status to their workers.
That’s why Brim and his Oklahoma-based team have launched a brand-new app designed specifically with small businesses in mind.The Core Reconciler App Spots Errors, Saves Money
The Core Reconciler app is geared at businesses with up to 50 employees that provide any type of benefits to those employees. Planned integration includes payroll, time and attendance, 401k and various types of insurance.
Coming in at a cost of just $1 per active employee per month, the Core Reconciler app ensures employees are notified of their eligibility status changes, confirms that only eligible, active employees are being covered and confirms all payroll deductions match the benefit invoices. Business owners are then sent alerts whenever the app spots a potential error.
“This app will save the employer money on employee benefits and maintain goodwill with employees,” Brim says.
“By making sure that the employee is getting all of the benefit coverage that they are entitled to, and not paying for something they didn’t receive, it not only builds trust with the employer, but saves them the potential legal problems of discrimination claims.”
This Core Reconciler app is only the latest development to come out of Core Employee Solutions.
Last year, the company launched its flagship Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, which allows business owners to review and manage all of their employee-related services under the same roof.
According to Brim, contemporary small business owners benefit hugely from consolidation – which is why the entire employer services industry is headed for this simple, one-stop-shop model.
“Virtually all of the other providers, large and small, are trying to do a one stop shop and provide all possible solutions to the small business owner,” he said. “We believe that the market is much better attuned to meeting those needs, while we will provide a place to integrate those individual solutions as well as provide additional value through custom features we develop.”
Image: Core Employee Solutions
This article, "Manage Payroll Effectively with Core Employee Solutions" was first published on Small Business Trends
What is the best city in America for small business growth?
According to a newly-released survey from Biz2Credit, it’s San Jose, Calif., which edged out New York City to achieve the number one ranking.
Biz2Credit, an online marketplace for small business funding, analyzed more than 55,000 businesses across the country in its annual Best Small Business Cities in America survey. To qualify for inclusion, businesses had to have fewer than 250 employees, less than $10 million in annual revenues and have been in operation for more than one year.
To determine the top cities for small business growth, Biz2Credit uses a weighted average that includes annual revenue, credit score, the age of business (in months), cash flow, debt-to-income ratio and the business owner’s personal credit scores.
The site crowned San Jose with the envious title of Best Small Business City in America because it scored in the top five in average credit score, average annual revenue, and Biz2Credit’s proprietary BizAnalyzer score, which takes into account local economic factors, such as operational costs and tax rates.
“There is so much money being made in San Jose and the rest of the Silicon Valley,” said Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora, in a prepared statement announcing the survey results. “Even non-tech companies are benefiting because they provide goods and services to technology companies. The overall growth in the region’s industries, including construction, logistics, restaurants and hospitality, owe their success to the booming tech sector.”
Arora cited San Joses’ GDP growth as another factor.
“At 6.2 percent, its GDP growth far outpaces the national GDP growth of 2.4 percent,” Arora said.New York Finishes Second; Growth Likely in Miami
Although New York City led other cities in average annual revenue, it finished second due to the high cost of doing business, according to Arora.
“What prevents New York from achieving the top ranking, despite high average revenues, is the high cost of doing business, especially high rents, real estate and construction costs in Manhattan,” Arora said. “Because it is expensive to live in the New York metro area, salaries have to be higher for small firms to be competitive for talent.”
Other cities finishing in the top five include San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.
Arora sees Miami holding a unique opportunity for growth, thanks to the burgeoning relationship between the United States and its neighbor to the south, Cuba.
“Miami is thriving because of the construction boom and its growth as a tourist destination,” Arora said. “Additionally, it acts as a gateway to Latin America. If relations continue to normalize with Cuba, its strategic importance will only continue to grow.”Top Cities for Small Business Growth in 2016
The Top 25 Cities for Small Business in 2016 are:
The Top 10 metro areas by Annual Revenue are:
Philadelphia ranked first based on the category Age of Business (in months), followed by Memphis, Tenn., Riverside-San Bernadino, Calif., Orlando, Fla. and Charlotte, N.C.
Indianapolis, Ind., San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver and Detroit rounded out the top ten.
Of interest, Biz2Credit looked at 500 companies in Philadelphia that applied for loans and found that nearly 70 percent (336) came from start-up companies — a percentage much higher than any other city on the list.
“The growth of new businesses is a reflection of Philadelphia’s resurgence, particularly around the bustling walkable Center City district,” Arora said. “Center City is a hub for office and retail business, dining, arts and culture, entertainment, healthcare, education, hospitality and tourism. Philadelphia also benefits from its proximity to top schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova, and Temple, which can provide entrepreneurial-minded talent.”Top Cities by Credit Score
San Jose was first on the list when sorted by Credit Score, followed by New York, Chicago, Orlando, Fla., Miami-Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco-Oakland, San Diego, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., Los Angeles and Houston.
“Small businesses in areas where the technology sector is booming, such as San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, tend to have higher credit scores,” Arora said. “There is also a correlation between higher credit scores and businesses with longer tenure. Many of the cities in the top 10 were represented by longer operating businesses.”
View an infographic showing the survey results.
This article, "Biz2Credit Ranks Top Cities for Small Biz by Revenues, Credit Score" was first published on Small Business Trends
Finding the right job is a challenge today. Pay is not great, competition is tough and job satisfaction is low. All these factors are encouraging more people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. And one trend that has gained momentum in the past few years is solopreneurship.
But what is the definition of a solopreneur and how are solopreneurs different than entrepreneurs?Definition of Solopreneur
A quick search on Google will tell you that the term solopreneur has been around for quite some time.
Macmillan dictionary defines a solopreneur as a business owner who works and runs their business alone. Going by this definition of solopreneur, about a third of the American workforce comprising freelancers and consultants fit under category.
Solopreneurs have an inherently entrepreneurial mindset, and they prefer single-handedly managing their business.
Solopreneurs are often criticized for not generating jobs for others. What critics do not take into account is that while solopreneurs may work alone, it doesn’t mean they don’t collaborate with other entrepreneurs. To give an example, a freelance writer may work closely with a designer on various projects. In this way, solopreneurs generate work for others.Pros and Cons of Being a Solopreneur
Solopreneurship as a career is tempting for several reasons. To begin with, solopreneurs have the flexibility and freedom to choose their work. The work-life balance that solopreneurship offers is, in fact, one of the key factors behind its growing popularity.
Solopreneurship also works for those who want to be their own boss. By choosing to run their businesses single-handedly, solopreneurs avoid boardroom politics and other hassles that come with dealing with too many people. Solopreneurs call their own shots and are accountable for the business decisions they make.
In the present market scenario, solopreneurship is an idea worth exploring because demand for self-driven, skilled specialists is on the rise. There are plenty of opportunities that solopreneurs can consider to achieve success.
On the flip side however, solopreneurship is not for those averse to taking risks. While working alone as an entrepreneur, you may face challenging situations that demand patience and quick decision-making.
It’s also important to remember that as a solopreneur you will be on your own, without the support of your team members. You may face situations where you need to multi-task and do many jobs all at once.
Plus, a growing number of people are jumping on the solopreneurship bandwagon today, making it a really competitive place to be. To get business, you have to find new ways to set yourself apart and communicate your unique brand story. What special value do you bring? Why should your customers choose you over your competition? These are some questions you need to answer before you choose a career in this domain.
Solopreneurship is an exciting opportunity to consider also because there are some really fun ideas you can explore. With the right strategy and vision, you can get started in no time. You can find useful tips and advice on how to start your journey as a solopreneur in this article.
What is your definition of solopreneur?
Definition Photo via Shutterstock
While new digital financial solutions have changed the way we bank and pay our bills, there is still a large percentage of the population that prefers to use checks, brick and mortar outlets, and cash. But this doesn’t mean companies like Plastiq are not trying to sway this group and everyone else by providing solutions that can really simplify financial transactions.
The new Plastiq online payment service lets users make any payment regardless of recipient acceptance. With this platform, you can use your MasterCard, Visa, and American Express credit cards for almost all Plastiq payments.
But the wrinkle is that the new service helps you pay your bills by taking a picture or screenshot of an
invoice or ebill. Plastiq will then remind you of the due date via push notifications.
This feature is not new. There are many applications from financial institutions and other service providers that use the cameras of smartphones to deliver the same capabilities. For example, an application called Expensify gives its users the ability to capture receipts in this way.
One of the many financial institutions that also provides this feature is U.S. Bank. Its Picture Pay was rolled out in 2013, making it one of the first banks in the U.S. to provide this option for its customers.Plastiq Online Payment Service
But that’s not all. Plastiq processes card payments so recipients can accept them with electronic bank transfer or check. And the recipient you send the payment to doesn’t have to have an account with Plastiq to accept card payments submitted through its service.
Anyone that provides goods and services in the U.S. and Canada can receive money from someone that uses Plastiq online payment service, even if they don’t accept credit cards. The company charges a processing fee of 2.5 percent of each payment for the service, and if the payment is late for any reason, the company says it will cover 100 percent of the late fees incurred on that payment.
All you need to pay someone is their name, address, and email or phone number. This information is automatically saved as part of your archive chronologically and you can use it for a single or recurring payments.
The payments can be filtered by payee name, card brand and amount along with real-time status updates for specific payments at any time.
With security being one of the biggest hurdles to wider acceptance of digital payment systems, Plastiq has benchmarked its security measures with the same solutions used by major financial institutions and governments. This includes 256-bit Extended Validation (EV) Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology, certified Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance, user authentication and security scans by Trustwave.
The Plastiq online payment service platform goes beyond taking a picture of an invoice and making a payment. With busy lifestyles, especially among small business owners, keeping track of everything that needs get done can get overwhelming. As long as you capture the invoice you want to pay as soon as you get it, Plastiq will remind you, make the payment and archive the transaction for your records, all from your smartphone or computer.
You can download the free Plastiq app on iTunes.
This article, "Plastiq Lets You Pay a Bill — Just By Taking a Photo" was first published on Small Business Trends