[News] Yelp Adds Video Feature to Reviews

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Listings News] Yelp Adds Video Feature to Reviews

News Source: Business Insider

Last week, Yelp announced that it will be adding a new video upload feature to its app. Reviewers will be able to include a 3-12 second video clip and caption along with their review, similar to its current photo upload feature.

The idea is to help convey the atmosphere of a restaurant, store, salon, or other small business to readers—something that can’t be done effectively with photos alone. Yelp’s mobile product manager Madhu Prabakar says, “[The feature] will be a reward for businesses that go to great lengths to achieve a certain ambiance, whether by having a certain lighting or the music at just the right level.”

Elite Reviewers will be able to start uploading videos in early June, with the feature rolling out to the rest of users sometime this summer.

Key Takeaway: Yelp’s video feature will provide patrons with a way to highlight local businesses in a more dynamic way to other app users. Make sure your business is camera-ready by cultivating the kind of ambiance you want your customers and mobile consumers to experience.

[Tech News] Google to Offer Discounted Wi-Fi for Small Biz

News Source: Venture Beat

This week, a leaked report on Information.com indicated that Google is planning to continue its investment in the small business sector by providing discounted Wi-Fi hardware and software for SMBs. The release timing of these new offerings is still unknown, but rumored to be as early as this summer.

It appears that, by providing better networking options for small and medium businesses, Google hopes to promote the adoption of some of its other web-based services such as Docs, Apps, and cloud storage.

Key Takeaway: If you’ve struggled to find reliable, affordable Wi-Fi hardware or software for your business, Google’s new offering might solve your problem. However, you’ll likely be sold on the idea of trying a few of Google’s other products as well during the process.

[Payments News] Square Launches Cash-Advance Program for Small Businesses

News Source: Mashable

Mobile payments company Square announced this week that it will be branching out into the lending space with Square Capital. This new cash-advance program provides Square users with a loan that is paid back incrementally as a percentage of future sales (on top of the base transaction fee associated with each charge).

Unlike other business loans, Square Capital has no set time period for repayment, allowing businesses to pay back more when sales are strong and less when sales are down.

The program has been piloted by companies since last year; an exit survey showed that 85% of participants would recommend the program to other businesses.

Key Takeaway: Square has been expanding its offerings over the past year to provide a broader suite of services that will help small businesses succeed and grow. Square Capital is a natural outgrowth of this evolution. Whether this lending model works or not remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting approach that removes much of the pressure of traditional loan repayment from small businesses’ shoulders.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know! 

[News] Apple Launches iBeacon Technology

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Retail News] Apple Launches iBeacon Tech to Target in-Store Shoppers

News Source: Digital Trends

Shoppers in every U.S. Apple store will now receive informational messages on their iDevices via iBeacon, Apple’s new location-based technology. iBeacon can be used to send product details, reminders, or event invites depending on a consumer’s location in the store.

Some messages are general to the store itself; others are specific to a particular product aisle, wall, or demo table.

Macy’s has also begun to pilot iBeacon technology in its New York and San Francisco stores to present discounts, recommendations, and other information to its shoppers.

Key Takeaway: This type of location-based targeting may become the future of in-store shopping. iBeacon and other similar technologies will provide businesses with the ability to give additional guidance and information as shoppers browse, thereby improving engagement and conversions.

[Payments News] Square Releases Thinner, More Accurate Card Reader

News Source: Entrepreneur

This week, Square released a new version of its credit card reader that’s more accurate and twice as thin as the previous version.

The updated device also comes with an audio jack that makes it compatible with more mobile devices.

New users who sign up for a Square account will automatically get the new reader; it will be available for purchase in-store sometime next year.

Key Takeaway: Mobile credit card reader companies are making strides to provide a better user experience for small businesses, offering enhanced functionality and performance for their percentage of earnings. If you aren’t accepting credit cards currently, you may want to look into your options again in 2014.

[Advertising News] New Google+ Ads Won’t Run on Google+

News Source: Mashable

On Monday, Google announced a new type of display ad called +Post ads. These ads are based on Google+ posts, but will not run on Google+ itself; rather, the ads will run in Google’s extensive display network of over 2 million sites. Social annotations such as Comments and +1s will be displayed as part of the ad.

+Post ads can be based on any type of Public Post a business creates, including photo, video, or even Hangout Posts. This type of format goes head to head with Facebook and Twitter’s Sponsored Post ads.

A handful of businesses, include Toyota and Ritz, are beta testing the format right now; all businesses will have access starting in January.

Key Takeaway: Businesses advertising on Google now have an additional format to try. If you have an active Google+ Page and are running Google ad campaigns for your business, you may want to consider throwing this new social format into the mix.

[News] Microsoft Links Daily Deals to Credit Cards

Here’s a highlight of some of the top local-business-related news of the week:

[Daily Deals News] Microsoft Pilots Program Linking Daily Deals to Credit Cards

News Source: GeekWire

Microsoft launched a pilot program this week on its Bing Offers site that connects daily deals directly to a user’s credit card. The goal is to eliminate the “friction” caused by requiring users to show or print a coupon when redeeming a daily deal at a business.

This program stems from Microsoft’s participation in the CardLinx Association, a new industry group that aims to create standards for connecting daily deals with consumers’ payment cards.

Microsoft says of the program: “When you use your card to make a qualified purchase at a participating local business, […] you are immediately notified about your savings, and you will receive the discounts directly on your card statement.”

Key Takeaway: Getting consumers to convert on daily deals may become easier without the hurdle of having to show a coupon. But the higher volume of conversions may require businesses to rethink their discount strategy to prevent undercutting profits. 

[POS News] GroupOn Updates Breadcrumb POS App to Include CRM Features

News Source: StreetFight 

On Wednesday, GroupOn released updates to its Breadcrumb point-of-sale (POS) app to include Customer Resource Management (CRM) capabilities such as storing a customer’s contact information and purchase history.

This new functionality allows businesses to connect payment and transaction data to a traditional customer list used for email marketing and other communications. For each card transaction, a new customer record is created; cash transactions aren’t automatically tracked, but can be manually assigned to a customer record post-sale.

Key Takeaway: If you use Breadcrumb as your POS system, this is a huge win for your business. Not only will this integration allow you to connect with customers after their initial purchase, but it will also provide the information you need to develop highly personalized communications, offers, and rewards. GroupOn is one of the frontrunners with this type of integration, but other POS systems are sure to follow suit. 

[Location App News] Foursquare Rolls out Push Recommendations for iPhone App

News Source: CNET

On Thursday, Foursquare began rolling out updates to its iPhone app to automatically push recommendations for nearby things to eat, see, and do.

The feature, which Foursquare refers to as “real-time recommendations,” works in the background on a user’s smartphone, tracking the device’s movements to estimate location. The app then sends a push notification when it finds a location-based bit of information to share.

The majority of Foursquare users on Android already have this functionality, which began to roll out in August.

Key Takeaway: If your business isn’t on Foursquare yet, or if your information is out of date, now is the time to log on and take control of your listing. Real-time recommendations will increase your business’s exposure to Foursquare users in your area.

Other news catch your eye this week? Leave a comment and let us know! 

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