Alexa, ask how long until Thanksgiving?

DSA Factors has created a new Alexa skill that tells you how many days until a given date or holiday.There are 77 days until Thanksgiving, which falls on November 23rd. Thank you for using the Birthday and Holiday Countdown presented by DSA Factors. Have a nice day!

So it may not be about factoring, but as the number one factoring company in creating new Alexa skills, we have created an Alexa skill that tells you how long until a certain holiday or date. All you need to do is ask Alexa, ask how long until… and from there you can choose just about any holiday or give it a date such as your birthday. We won’t bore you with a list of every holiday available in the skill, but lets just say it is a lot! It can tell you how long until any American holiday, as well as Christian, Jewish, and Chinese holidays. That’s right, it even knows when holidays based on a lunar calendar will occur.

So what are you waiting for, find out how many days are left until your birthday, until you go on vacation, or until you get to go trick or treating! As a bonus, if you ask Alexa the day before or the day of some holidays, she might even have a special message for you!

Alexa, open invoice factoring

Alexa now has a new Invoice Factoring skill.Alexa just got a whole lot smarter. Earlier in the month we introduced our Accounts Receivable Factoring skill which would tell you exactly how much it will cost to factor an invoice, and it was so popular it even got written up on the Small Business Trends blog. So DSA Factors is proud to introduce our newest Alexa skill, Invoice Factoring. Simply tell Alexa to open invoice factoring, and then start asking anything you have questions about.

You can ask simple questions such as what is factoring, or more complex questions about recourse vs. non-recourse, purchase order financing, credit checks, submitting invoices, and virtually anything else. Of course, you can’t expect Alexa to be able to give you the personalized service that you have come to expect from DSA Factors. Furthermore, Alexa can only answer questions about general knowledge and not about your accounts. That is why you can still give DSA Factors a call anytime at 773-248-9000 and one of our principals will be available to speak with you over the phone.

Alexa, open accounts receivable factoring.

DSA Factors introduces a new accounts receivable factoring Alexa skill.DSA Factors is proud to announce that we have published our first skill for Amazon’s Alexa service. If you own an Echo, Dot, Tap, or any other device that supports Alexa, you are no longer just limited to playing music, turning on lights, asking how to spell words, listening to a news report, or asking about the weather. You can now ask Alexa to open accounts receivable factoring and learn exactly how much it will cost you to factor an invoice. That’s right, DSA Factors has created the world’s first ever factoring skill for your smart home, and there is no telling how this skill may revolutionize the world.

You will of course have to tell Alexa how much your invoice is for and what you factoring rate is for the invoice. After that Alexa will do the rest for you and will tell you exactly what the factoring fees will be and how much will be held in reserve (assuming it is 10%), so that you can know exactly how much funding you can expect to receive.

So go ahead and make your smart home even smarter by activating the accounts receivable factoring skill today.

P.S. If this news wasn’t exciting enough, we have more skills in the works… stay tuned!

How Would an Amazon Furniture Store Impact the Furniture Industry

Amazon is expanding into brick and mortar retail.Amazon is already a retail giant, but up until recently all of their sales have existed only online. However, that is slowly changing. In November 2015 Amazon opened its first brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle, and has opened a handful more across the country in the last year. They also started experimenting with cashier-less grocery stores at the end of last year. Of course the big news came a couple of weeks ago when Amazon announced they would be purchasing Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. While Amazon is yet to open a brick and mortar furniture store, there have been reports that they are looking into doing so. If, or when, they do open a furniture store, you can bet that it will have some pretty dramatic effects on the furniture industry.

Amazon and the Book Industry

Amazon of course started off as an online book store back in 1995 and didn’t turn a profit until 2001. The impact that Amazon has had on the book industry has been dramatic. They drove Borders, a 500+ store chain and former Amazon partner, out of business in 2010. Barnes and Noble has survived but is struggling. So it is interesting that the company that has been responsible for closing hundreds of bookstores around the country, and has no problem selling books online, would want to open up their own bookstores. Of course, for a company like Amazon, the cost of opening up a bookstore is insignificant, and it could be worth it to Amazon to open these stores even if the stores themselves are not profitable since they can be used as market research and for marketing Amazon’s other services such as Prime. The fact that these bookstores are popping up slowly and only in several cities may indicate that indeed the stores are not profitable on their own.

Amazon and the Grocery Industry

Groceries, however, unlike books, have been a much bigger problem for Amazon. While non-perishable foods can be shipped, they are also heavy and shipping them can be expensive. Of course fresh produce is much more problematic, not only does it have a short shelf life, but most consumers wouldn’t want someone else picking out which bananas or cut of meat they are purchasing. Then you have refrigerated or frozen foods, if it took Amazon two days to deliver your milk, it would go bad long before it arrives at your doorstep. At the end of last year Amazon started experimenting with several grocery store concepts in Seattle. Amazon Go offered cashier-less convenience stores. You simply walk in, take the food you want, and walk out, with your credit card automatically getting billed. Amazon Fresh Pickup allows customers to order food online and then pick it up at a nearby drive-thru. While Amazon Fresh Pickup still doesn’t address the issue of allowing consumers to pick their own produce, it at least addresses the issue of short shelf life and refrigeration. But just like with bookstores, which also started out in Seattle, these stores are being rolled out slowly and Amazon still has an insignificant market share of the grocery industry.

That of course has all changed with Amazon’s buyout of Whole Foods and its 460+ stores across the nation. In a matter of seconds Amazon made a major move not just into the grocery industry but into brick and mortar retail. They instantly gained hundreds of locations around the country where customers can pick up orders, drop off returns, and do their shopping all at the same time. They also can roll out some of their new technologies on a much larger scale than they have done so far.

Amazon and the Furniture Industry

The Challenges of the Furniture Industry

With Amazon apparently solving their grocery problems, that leaves only one other industry where Amazon is struggling to get their foot in the door, the furniture industry. While furniture may not go bad like fresh fruit and vegetables, it has its own challenges. First of all, it is a major purchase, even the cheapest pieces will cost you at least a hundred dollars, and if you are updating a room you can expect your bill to be in the thousands. When making such a large purchase consumers are going to take their time to shop around to make sure that they are getting exactly what they want. In the case of upholstery and bedding, consumers need to touch and feel the product to make sure that it is comfortable. Furthermore, many furniture purchases are custom orders where the consumer picks the colors and finishes they want. As a result retailers are not able to stock the merchandise but instead need to order it, meaning it could take anywhere from 4-12 weeks for the consumer to receive the merchandise. This doesn’t work well with Amazon’s goals of reducing delivery time from two days to two hours. But of course the largest problem with furniture is delivery. Furniture is bulky, heavy, and easily damaged. While it can easily be transported to distribution centers and stores, it is delivering it the final mile into the consumer’s home that presents the greatest challenge, along with assembly for items such as beds that would not be able to fit through doorways if they were delivered fully assembled.

How does Amazon Enter the Furniture Industry?

So of course the next question is what will Amazon do? Amazon has committed to selling furniture; they have opened up showrooms in both Las Vegas and High Point. While it is possible that Amazon may experiment with opening its own stores, it is likely that when they are ready to make the jump into brick and mortar furniture, they will buyout a furniture retailer. Of course, there are very few furniture retailers that have locations nationwide like Whole Foods, but Amazon doesn’t necessarily need to purchase a furniture retailer. Purchasing a department store might make greater sense as they are larger, have more locations, and would allow Amazon to sell other merchandise that is difficult to sell online, such as appliances and clothing.

If you start looking at department stores, Amazon has a lot more opportunities as many of the department stores are struggling, mainly due to having to compete with Amazon and other online retailers. Purchasing Macy’s would give them access to 800+ locations around the country. JC Penny would give them over 1000 locations. But most interesting is perhaps the department store that has told its investors that it may not be able to keep its doors open. If Amazon were to buyout Sears, not only would they be able to purchase it at a bargain price, but they would immediately have access to over 1500 retail locations and a wealth of real estate all around the country.

Of course all of this is just speculation, what isn’t speculation is that Amazon is going to do something in the furniture industry. There is talk of them using technologies such as virtual reality or augmented reality so that you can picture what a particular piece of furniture would look like in your home. Another possibility is offering delivery windows within hours of when you make a purchase in their store. But whatever they do, it is going to be big and everyone is going to have to keep up with Amazon if they don’t want to lose out.

What will be Amazon’s Impact on the Furniture Industry?

Furniture Retailers

While retailers will face stiffer competition, they may also benefit from the new technologies that Amazon brings to the industry. If existing furniture stores are able to adopt Amazon’s technologies, they too could use those technologies to increase sales. Of course, the real advantage to traditional retailers comes in the area of customer service. A company like Amazon will never be able to provide personalized service and most likely wouldn’t have trained salesmen who know about all the products in their store, instead they will probably rely on Amazon reviews like they do in their bookstores, and perhaps a specific customer’s buying trends. While Amazon may already know if a customer is looking for a more traditional or contemporary look based upon their online purchasing patterns, a traditional salesman can simply ask the customer what they are looking for and forget about all the algorithms. By offering exceptional customer service and a knowledgeable staff, current furniture retailers should be able to compete with Amazon and would definitely do better in customer retention.

Furniture Vendors

From a vendor’s point of view, Amazon stores can potentially open up more possibilities. Smaller vendors, who have trouble getting floor space in the showrooms of larger furniture retailers, may have an easier time getting floor space in an Amazon showroom. While certainly Amazon could offer everything online, it will be limited in what they can display in their showroom by the amount of real estate they have. Unlike traditional furniture retailers who buy from a handful of vendors, Amazon purchases from everyone and that of course is what sets them apart.

If Amazon’s bookstores are any indication of how they do business, products that perform better online will have the upper hand. At Amazon bookstores there is a very limited selection of books, and the selection is not based on which books Amazon’s buyers feel should be on the shelves. Instead the book selection is all determined by algorithms which look at sales volume and customer reviews of each book. As a result, a category that has a more limited selection but sells modestly well may get more shelf space than a hugely popular category that offers a much wider variety of books to choose from. For example, Amazon bookstores have an excellent selection of recipe books which individually sell well online, but a very limited selection of fiction, a category that performs incredibly well as a collective group, but not as individual titles. Furthermore, where a traditional bookstore will feature every book that Dr. Seuss ever published in their children’s department, Amazon bookstores would probably only have one or two of his books that sell extremely well online, if any. There is no reason to believe that Amazon wouldn’t take the same approach in a furniture showroom.

This could be huge for niche manufacturers. While overall your sales volume may look insignificant when compared to someone like Ashley, if you have a single unique product on the market that sells very well, it is quite possible that it would get floor space in an Amazon showroom. While Ashley may offer 1000 different products, it means that each product only gets a thousandth of Ashley’s overall sales volume, and your single product receives 100% of your sales volume. As a result, your single product would have better sales numbers than any individual Ashley product, and if it receives positive customer reviews, it would perform better in Amazon’s algorithms.

If there is any lesson to be learned from this, it is quite simple, online matters. If you don’t want to get left behind, you need to bring your business online, and the more you offer the more you have to gain. Getting sales and positive reviews right now on Amazon could result in even greater sales volumes in the future when Amazon starts opening brick and mortar stores. If you are looking to get your product for sale online, DSA Factors is here to help.  We provide factoring for Amazon receivables, as well as Wayfair, Hayneedle, One Kings Lane, Zulily, and many other online stores. Give us a call today at 773-248-9000 to learn more about how DSA Factors can help you grow your online business.

Is Amazon Lending Right for My Business?

Amazon Lending vs Accounts Receivable FactoringYou may have noticed Amazon Lending in the news recently. According to Bloomberg, Amazon has given out more than three billion dollars in loans since the inception of the Amazon Lending program in 2011, with one billion of those dollars being lent in the last twelve months. They have reportedly given loans to 20,000 businesses throughout the US, UK, and Japan in amounts ranging from $1000 to $750,000. Their loans supposedly carry a very modest APR between 6% and 14%, which would make them cheaper than most other Fintech lenders out there. But just like with PayPal Working Capital, there is a catch. While the APR may be low, Amazon makes up for this by taking a large sales commission. As a result, Amazon Lending may work for very small businesses, but if you’re ready to take the next step in growing your business, accounts receivable factoring may be the better option.

Who qualifies for Amazon Lending?

You can not request a loan from Amazon Lending, rather Amazon makes loan offers to sellers on Amazon Marketplace, and those sellers can either accept or ignore the offer. It is unknown what criteria is used to determine when a loan offer is made, how much the loan offer is for, what the term of the loan will be, or what the APR on the loan will be. However, Amazon bases the loan on the seller’s sales history on Amazon Marketplace, so you can probably assume that if you don’t have large and steady sales figures, you probably won’t be offered a loan. Furthermore, if you sell directly to Amazon, then you do not qualify for these loans.

What is the difference between Amazon and Amazon Marketplace?

While shoppers who use Amazon will see all the products available from both Amazon and Amazon Marketplace every time they search for something they want, the platforms are very different from a wholesale point of view. If you sell direct to Amazon, it is like selling to any other retailer. They give you a purchase order, you ship the merchandise and invoice them, and when the invoice is due Amazon pays you. However with Amazon Marketplace, it is kind of like selling your product on eBay. Amazon will list your product on their site, and will take a commission for each sale you make. If you would like your product to qualify for Amazon Prime, then you need to ship your product to Amazon warehouses, pay storage fees, and when the product sells, you are charged a shipping fee as well. Basically you are giving Amazon merchandise on consignment, and you may be paying them additional fees as well.

How much are Amazon Marketplace commissions and fees?

Commissions are based on what type of product you are selling. Commissions can be as low as 6% if you are selling computers, and as high as 45% if you are selling an accessory for an Amazon device, for example a Kindle cover. In general, commissions are typically around 15%. In addition to these commissions, Amazon may charge you either a monthly fee or a transaction fee on each sale. If you let Amazon warehouse your product so it qualifies for Prime, you will be paying storage fees and shipping fees as well. If you ship yourself, then you are responsible for paying for shipping. Additionally, Amazon will also charge you a closing fee for each item sold.

Should I accept a loan offer from Amazon Lending?

Only you can decide whether or not a loan is correct for you. If you sell your merchandise on Amazon Marketplace and wish to continue doing so for the term of the loan they offer you, then you are already paying their commissions and the loan may carry an attractive APR. The loan gets repaid automatically as you sell more merchandise through the Amazon Marketplace, so as long as sales volume remains steady you won’t need to worry about paying off the loan. However, if you would like to start selling directly to Amazon or any other retailers, then this loan probably isn’t right for you.

Are there other options for financing my small business?

Accounts receivable factoring is another form of alternative lending that works with small businesses. Unlike Amazon Lending, accounts receivable factoring works with companies who sell directly to Amazon or other retailers, both online and brick and mortar. With accounts receivable factoring you get funded for your receivables the same day you invoice your customers. Plus, since your factoring company is purchasing your receivables, you aren’t taking on any new debt.

What’s my next step?

Amazon Marketplace may be a great way to introduce your product to the market, and Amazon Lending might allow you to purchase more product to increase your sales volume. However, if you really want to grow your business and want to take the next step, you will have to start selling direct to Amazon and other retailers. If you are ready to take that next step, then give DSA Factors a call today at 773-248-9000 and find out how we can help you fund your growing business.

The Benefits of Online Sales

Product Reviews may be the main benefit of selling your product through online retailers.As a manufacturer you may think that online retailers are simply another retailer who you can sell your product to, however, there may be a lot more to an online sale than just the sale itself. It’s quite possible that making one online sale could lead to many more sales both online and in brick and mortar stores. The reason for this is because of the importance that consumers place on online product reviews.

When consumers use their phones to go shopping at home or on the road, you may be surprised that the most common things that they look for our store locations and hours. That’s right, 75% of internet users at home and 80% of internet users on the road want to find a brick and mortar store to shop at. Other popular uses of the internet include some more obvious benefits such as comparing prices, looking for coupons, making actual purchases, checking on the status of orders, and of course reading product reviews.

Of course, once these consumers get to an actual store their use of the internet changes. Once in the store the most popular use of the internet is searching for and redeeming coupons, an activity that 55% of smart phone owners do. 51% of smart phone owners will compare prices at other stores to make sure that they are getting the best deal. Then the next most popular activity is looking at product reviews which is done by 47% of smart phone owners.

Over three-quarters of Millennials and Generation Xers state that product reviews are very influential in the decision making process when purchasing something. Nearly six in ten Baby Boomers feel the same way, and almost half of all seniors also take consumer product reviews very seriously. Of course these product reviews are online, and the only way you are going to get them is if your products are available from online retailers.

While it is true that anyone can write a review of a product online, what makes a review most valuable is that it comes from a verified buyer, meaning that a person bought the product from the same online retailer that they are writing a review on. If you look at reviews on Amazon, you will notice that many of them will say “Verified Purchase” meaning that the person who left the review purchased the product on Amazon. While it may not be important to consumers that a product was purchased on Amazon, it is important that the writer of the review actually did purchase the product, and isn’t just someone in the manufacturer’s office trying to brag about how great their product is to improve sales.

Other important features on reviews are the amount of detail included in the review, the more detail the better. If you reviewers include pictures then the review can become really influential. Also, consistency is very important as well. If five different reviewers say the same thing about a product, then it must be true.

Of course, as a manufacturer it may seem like all of these factors are out of your control, it is up to the consumer, whom you do not know, to leave a review out of their own good will. However, in many ways you do have control when it comes to leaving reviews. First you need to make sure that your product is available online so that consumers can leave reviews of it. Of course, it can’t just be available from any online retailer, it has to be available from reputable online retailers where consumers look at reviews such as Amazon, Wayfair, Target, and Walmart.

Another option is to offer an incentive to consumers who leave you a review. One way of doing this is by offering consumers a chance to get a free product for leaving a review. Ask consumers to fill out a registration card that asks for their Amazon profile so you can see the review that they left for your product, as well as other products. Then select several consumers who gave valuable detailed reviews on both your product as well as other products to receive a free product. You can also look at how many other people found these reviews helpful as these are people who are highly influential in others purchasing process. You can assume that the recipients of the free product will also leave you a quality, detailed review on this free product as well.

If you need to start selling to online retailers, or need to start offering incentives for leaving product reviews and find that some improved cash flow will help, why not try accounts receivable factoring. At DSA Factors we make solving your cash flow problems easy by funding you for your receivables the same day your merchandise ships. You no longer need to worry about waiting 30 days or more to get paid for a large order, so what are you waiting for, call us at 773-248-9000 and start factoring today. At DSA Factors we have money to make your company grow.

Where do you buy your bedding?

Mattress SalesThere are a large variety of types of stores selling furniture these days, but when it comes to bedding, how old you are probably determines where you shop.  A recent study in Furniture Today revealed which generations purchase bedding at different types of stores.  Overall, Millennials and Generation X each have a 35% share of the market, while Baby Boomers have a 26% share, and Seniors a 4% share.

Bedding specialty stores get a large variety of customers, but they also tend to have the highest prices with the price of their average queen set costing $699.  As a result Generation X makes up their largest share of customers at 37%, followed by Baby Boomers at 34%, Millennials at 23%, and Seniors at 6%.
Traditional furniture stores also seem to receive a fairly evenly distributed clientele.  While not as expensive as bedding specialists, their prices are still up there with the average queen set costing $599.  Millennials make up their largest share at 36%, followed by Baby Boomers at 33%, Generation X at 30%, and Seniors at 1%.
Beyond these two types of stores, things get a little more lopsided.  There are the manufacturer branded furniture stores whose average queen set costs $599, department stores where the average queen set costs $499, warehouse membership clubs have the average queen set at $479, online retailers where the average queen set is $325, discount department stores where the average queen set is $275, and finally lifestyle furniture stores where the average queen set will only set you back $155.
It should come as no surprise that Millennials prefer to shop at the cheaper places.  They hold a 58% share of sales at lifestyle furniture stores such as IKEA, a 43% share at discount department stores such as Walmart, and a 59% share at online retailers such as Amazon.  But what may surprise you is that they also hold a 53% share at the pricier manufacturer branded furniture stores such as Ashley Home Stores.
Generation X prefers to shop at department stores such as Macy’s where they hold a 55% share of the business.  They also hold a 43% share at warehouse membership clubs such as Costco, a 40% share at discount department stores, and a 31% share at manufacturer branded furniture stores.
Baby Boomers do most of their shopping at the bedding specialty store and traditional furniture stores.  Warehouse membership clubs are next, but only 21% of their business comes from Baby Boomers.
For Seniors who only hold a 4% share of the overall market, they take a large 14% share of business at warehouse membership clubs.  They also hold a 7% share of the business at department stores.
If you are targeting your mattresses towards a certain demographic, make sure you are selling to the stores they shop at.  If you need help selling to those stores, give DSA Factors a call today at 773-248-9000 and with our accounts receivable factoring you can get paid today for your net 30 day invoices.

Online Furniture Sales are Booming

Online Furniture SalesOnline furniture sales for 2014 reached $9.7 billion, an over 14% increase from 2013’s $8.5 billion according to Furniture Today.  Leading the pack were Amazon who experienced 19.5% growth, Overstock with 14.8%, Wayfair with an amazing 44% sales growth, and Zulily with a whopping 72.% sales growth over 2013.  All four of the companies had sales volumes in the billions.  However, overall furniture sales only increased by 3% over this last year.  This online sales growth can be accredited to the fact that 8 out of 10 consumers in the US have bought furniture or bedding online in the past year.

Now it may not surprise you that most of the people buying online were young, but you might be surprised by how affluent online shoppers are.  Well over half of the households that bought bedding online this past year were under the age of 35 and make over $75,000 a year.  22% of households were under the age of 25, with 34% of them between the ages of 25 and 34.  When it comes to household income, 32% of households that bought bedding online make between $75,000 and $100,000, with 12% making between $100,000 and $150,000, and another 12% making over $150,000.  This might explain why only 59% of consumers agree that online retailers carry affordable furniture.

To further explain these numbers, 61% of online furniture consumers own their house, and 59% have a full time job.  When it comes to education, 33% of consumers hold a bachelor’s degree with another 20% holding a master’s degree or higher.

The average consumer will visit five different web sites when shopping for furniture online.  However, only 56% of shoppers will start their search online, the rest still start their furniture search in more traditional brick and mortar stores.  The main reasons why consumers are ultimately buying online is because of the large product selection available through online retailers, and online retailers provide them with design ideas.  Many of these retailers will help out consumers with design ideas by maintaining active blogs.

If you aren’t selling your merchandise to online retailers you are missing out on a lot of business.  Let DSA Factors help you by factoring your online retailer accounts.  We have lots of experience working with Amazon, Overstock, Wayfair, and Zulily, as well as with One Kings Lane, Hayneedle, Gilt, Hautelook, and many more.  Give us a call today at 773-248-9000, don’t let these sales opportunities slip away.