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Use Smart Phones and QR Codes to Increase Sales

QR codes are specialized barcodes that can be read by SmartPhones to take people to a website, a video, a telephone number, or a text-message. SmartPhones give people instant access to the Internet. Businesses are using QR codes to help potential customers instantly find more information about their products and services.

For example, grocery stores can have a QR code with a bottle of wine that goes to a website to help them choose great food to go with their wine. They have found that sales of products using QR codes have increased their revenue over 10%.

If your product is complicated and needs instant customer service, you can have a QR code that goes to your customer service phone line for instant help.

If your product or business has a "story" that makes it unique or interesting, you can include a QR code on the product or in the marketing materials that sends people to a video.

You can also have a QR code go to a video interviewing satisfied customers.

Salespeople can supplement their sales presentation with QR codes connected to videos - without the hassle of pulling out a computer and finding Internet access.

QR codes can be set up by anyone - and require no training and are free. You do need to connect the code to something (a phone number, website or a video posted on the Internet) or have a text message. If you are connecting the QR code to a website, make sure it is compatible for mobile devices (look at your website on a mobile device and make sure it looks good).

Click here to make a QR code.

Click here for a short video on QR codes.

Selling to Large Companies

Many small businesses would love to sell to large companies - and most large companies would like to support small business. So why doesn't it happen more often?

Selling to large companies involves two steps: paperwork and marketing, and both take time. Large companies usually have approved vendor lists, which means small businesses must contact their procurement offices, obtain the required paperwork, complete and return it.

To complete the paperwork a small business will often need to provide a DUNS number, which you can obtain for free at https://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/companylookup.htm. This will be the number that businesses will use to report credit history with your business. You will also probably need to provide your SIC (standard industrial code) so that they can put your business in the right part of their database. You can find your SIC code at http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/sicsearch.html If you have multiple products or services, you can have multiple SIC codes.

The large company may also require you to have EDI. This is electronic data interface, which basically allows them to submit purchase orders electronically. You obtain EDI through a private EDI provider. This provider will send you the purchase orders via fax or email. Usually if a company uses EDI for purchase orders, they will also require you to submit invoices through your EDI provider also.

Finally, some large companies have programs for small businesses, so be sure to ask. These programs do not guarantee you business, but they may have benefits such as a faster turnaround for invoices and priority on approved vendor lists.

Once you are done with the paperwork, the marketing stage begins. You need to let people within the company know that you are on their approved vendor list. Sometimes the company will have a small business procurement specialist to help you identify the departments to contact. If not, research on the internet, talk with employees and talk with other providers to find out the best way to market your product.

There are downsides to selling to large companies

  • Long length of the sales process. Large companies have procedures and usually are in no hurry to make decisions or changes. They are on salary and view time differently than a business owner.
  • Payment cycle. Some large companies may use their size to stretch out payment times. Be sure to put incentives for fast payment or penalties for slow payment.
  • Different priorities of decision makers. The decision makers have to deal with internal politics, which may distort decisions.

In a nutshell when you sell to large companies: patience, persistence, good research, and proper paperwork will pay off.

Although not required by the government, most resellers require products to have universal product codes (UPC) or ISBNs for published items. These are displayed on packages in number and barcode form.

UPC

Universal product codes (UPC) are issued by the Uniform Code Council (UCC). Manufacturers receive a company code and a series of numbers (Item Reference Numbers) that are placed at the end of their company code. Each distinct product is assigned a number and it is registered on the UCC system. The company code and product number are placed on the product in number and bar code format. This allows resellers to order products using these codes and scan the products when they are purchased for price accuracy and inventory control.

Becoming a member of the Council is expensive ($750 initial with annual renewals). Fortunately, there are companies online that will sell a few numbers to you (10,100,1000) for lower cost. YOu will need a code for each product that you make, plus any combinations of products (i.e. one code for 1 wigit; another code for a package of 6 wigits). If you want, you can also joint the Council directly by visiting http://barcode.gs1us.org/

Publishing books, audio or videos? ISBN and ISSN

ISBN numbers were developed to create "Books in Print," a tool for book resellers to use to order publications. ISBN numbers are placed on books, audio tapes, videos, and bibles. ISSNs are similar numbers, but are for recurring publications (serials) that have years, months, or a sequence on their cover or title. Each publisher applies for their own ISBN prefix and a series of ending numbers. The fee is based on the number of ISBN ending numbers that you want. The minimum is 10, for $225.

Before you obtain an ISBN number, talk to your publisher (if any) to determine whether they will get the ISBN number or you will. To obtain an ISBN number, visit http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp or call (877) 310-7333. Please note that ISBN numbers are maintained by the Bowker agencies, so you may see that name on the website or emails. They are the official, and only issuer of ISBN numbers.

If you are acting as your own publisher (who will accept orders and ship to resellers), you will also need an SAN number so that resellers know your address and contact information. The SAN number can be obtained at the same website or phone number.

Finally, if you expect your book to be purchased by libraries, you or your publisher need to obtain a Library of Congress Number (LCCN). Not all published books can obtain an LCCN number; the application must be approved. This can be done before a book is printed through the Library's Pre-Assigned Control Number Program. For information, visit http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/ or call (202) 707-5000.

Bar codes

Bar codes are just a specialized font that converts numbers into lines. Once you get a UPC or ISBN number, you can get a bar code made for a small price ($10-25 is common). There are many bar code providers available through a web search. Some contact numbers are:

http://www.barcode-graphics.com/ (800) 662-0701

http://www.bar-code.com (800) 368-3737

Banks Seeking Minority, Women, and Disabled Owned Businesses

The Community Reinvestment Act requires all banks to invest in disadvantaged areas in their community. These banks have developed programs to assist the growth of minority, women, and disabled owned businesses.

Bank of America - Click here

Citibank - Click here

Comerica Bank - Click here

HSBC Bank - Click here

U.S. Bank - Click here

Wells Fargo Bank - Click here