18 Products to Carry as Distance Learning Continues

Distance learning is upending everything we know about back-to-school shopping. School reopening plans are changing constantly, while students are learning remotely, outside, and in person. This year’s back-to-school shopping season won’t have a clear end date, creating an opportunity for many retailers.

With students learning in so many different ways, the back-to-school products you need to keep in stock will look different, too. We looked at Square sellers’ transactions* from August to September to see the items that sold well — and those that didn’t — during the beginning of this year’s back-to-school season.

Even if you don’t sell educational products, this list can help you rethink and repackage your product mix as distance learning stretches on and continues to evolve.

18 distance learning products to add to your catalog

We’ve grouped these items based on four educational scenarios that students, teachers, and parents are finding themselves in as a result of the pandemic.

In-home classroom setup

Whether students are in elementary school or college, a comfortable home classroom can ease some of the difficulties of remote learning. That means many people are purchasing basic office gear, like office chairs and desks. According to our data, sales have risen 115% and 45%, respectively, since last year.

Some folks are enhancing their setup with distance learning supplies like desk organizers, exercise balls, and desk pads to make the remote classroom setup more organized and ergonomic. So far this year, desk organizer sales have risen 4.4X, exercise ball sales have gone up 3.7X, and sales for desk pads climbed 29%, according to our research.

What to do next: Think about the items you sell that could make a remote classroom more comfortable. Whether it’s desk plants, organizers, or artwork, rebranding your inventory for home offices and remote classrooms can help you get your products in front of more students.

Remote learning support

Educational aids can also help students absorb new information more effectively. That’s why our data shows that printer sales have risen by 70% this year compared to last, dry erase board sales have grown by 53%, and flashcard sales have soared 5.5X.

Some unconventional products are also experiencing a spike in sales. Fidget spinners, which can help people with ADHD focus better, have seen sales rise by 61% compared to last year.

Remote learning also means many students are now on video calls. To help improve video quality, shoppers are stocking up on ring lights, which can make lighting more flattering. Ring light sales have ballooned 11X since last year, while sales of webcam covers, which help with privacy, have grown 6X. – Read more

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A Jargon-Free Cybersecurity Glossary for Small Businesses

Cybersecurity threats are an ever-present risk of doing business online, and they’re getting more frequent during COVID-19.

In March 2020, scams increased over 400 percent from the previous month and Google blocked over 18 million daily malware and phishing emails in April. But to protect your business, you need to know what each of these cybersecurity terms mean.

Our cybersecurity dictionary tells you what you need to know and how it applies to your business. Unlike a traditional dictionary, we listed the terms in the easiest order to understand, instead of alphabetically, to help you build your cybersecurity knowledge as you read.

Small business cybersecurity terms

Network

Your business most likely uses a network, which is a group of computers virtually connected together, to share files, data, and applications. Cybersecurity centers around protecting your company network and data.

Breach

Each time a person or application accesses your network without permission, it’s referred to as a breach. If they also steal data while on your system, cybersecurity experts call it a data breach.

Hacks

When someone hacks your network or a device, they are essentially breaking into your system. They take action that allows them into something they don’t have permission to access. Hackers usually have malicious intent, like stealing data, manipulating data, or releasing malware.

Endpoint

Every device connected to your networks — like laptops, printers, mobile devices, and point-of-sale hardware — is an endpoint that allows access to your network. Because cybercriminals and viruses use endpoints to gain unauthorized access, protecting each endpoint with unique passwords and anti-virus software is an important part of securing your business.

Vulnerabilities

This refers to the weaknesses of your connected devices, network, and security systems, and the software that runs on them. These holes in your defense allow intruders to access your network, applications, or systems. As a business owner, you want to proactively identify any vulnerabilities and take action to protect your server.

Common mistakes include:

  • Devices (such as laptops) without antivirus software
  • Software not updated with the latest version
  • Missed firewall security updates

Fraud

When talking about online purchases, fraud usually refers to someone trying to get goods or services without paying, or trying to get money from you that you don’t owe. A fraudster can use a stolen credit card or try to get a refund for a product they didn’t purchase from you. – Read more

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Are Your Current Marketing Communications Striking the Right Tone?

As the pandemic continues, business owners and sellers alike have cycled through periods of uncertainty, anxiety, and acceptance of the new normal. This period of highs and lows has changed the way people connect with one another. For sellers, this means striking a careful balance with their tone and messaging to customers. Businesses have to walk the line between acknowledging the current challenges of the COVID-19 crisis while avoiding fear-mongering language.

While we are not yet back to business as usual, there are some ways to craft your messaging that encourages customers to engage with your business.

The Challenge of Finding the Right Tone

When COVID-19 first became categorized as a global pandemic, brand communications struck a uniformly earnest note with concern for businesses, messages of hope and encouragement, and thanks to our frontline heroes. But as conditions improved, brands needed to update their messages. A recent Market Dive study found that aAs early as May, more than 40% of consumers said they were ready to hear from brands about topics that weren’t related to the pandemic.

If you’re unsure of the right tone, you can’t go wrong with empathy, which a recent study from Ipsos one survey finds is more important than ever. ItThe study further revealed that the top three ways that consumers expect brands to express empathy are through being supportive, hopeful, and comforting. The bottom three ways were amusing, humorous, and emotional. And take note that nearly 70% said that brands’ response during this pandemic would impact future engagement.

If your tone is off, you obscure the message. The key is to examine the nuances of your messaging and if it will elicit the response you intend. Learn more about finding the right tone for your communications in Square’s Voice and Tone guide.

Marketing Communications vs. Crisis Communication

Many brands have increased the cadence and frequency of their customer communications as there are so many audiences who need to hear from them, all of whom may require subtle nuances in voice and tone. – Read more

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