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Shopify well placed to weather economic fallout from COVID-19, say analysts

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Despite losing nearly US$25 billion in market cap from its peak last month, e-commerce giant Shopify is well placed to avoid the worst effects of an economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic — and it could emerge from the outbreak ready to make deals and win business away from legacy technology providers, company and technology analysts say.

Shopify shares are down more than a third from their mid-February high amid a market-wide swoon, but the company still has a strong balance sheet to make deals and survive revenue slumps. It closed out 2019 with US$2.46 billion in cash and marketable securities on hand, following three secondary share offerings in two years.

The company’s executives have been active on social media during the outbreak, soliciting suggestions for ways to help merchants and compiling a list of government-support programs for small businesses. The Ottawa-based firm’s software and services were historically mostly used by small merchants, but big-brand division Shopify Plus now accounts for an increasingly important share of its business.

Those two groups are likely to be affected by a downturn at different times, according to Ken Wong, director of Guggenheim Partners and an analyst who covers the company. “The smaller [ones] will probably be okay, near- and medium-term, but hurt more long-term if this is protracted,” he said. “The big [ones] have a larger per cent of the wallet, [so] they’ll probably see some pain upfront.”

Shopify Plus contributed 27 per cent of the company’s US$53.9 million in monthly recurring revenue as of the end of 2019, up two percentage points from the previous year. The company also said the number of merchants doing more than US$1-million worth of business on the platform rose 44 per cent last year.

“More established businesses can probably weather the storm a little bit better than your average entrepreneur or [small- or medium-sized business],” said Ygal Arounian, vice-president of equity research at Wedbush Securities. A Plus merchant could lose a large share of sales, but “if they’re still around when all this wraps up and they have a demand backlog, that can come back really easily, versus a smaller merchant that has to close up shop.”

Big-brand clients of the company, which did not respond to The Logic’s request for comment for this story, include consumer packaged-goods giants like Nestle, General Mills and Heineken. Shoppers continue to stock up on these firms’ staple products during both recessions and outbreaks, and earlier this month, Nielsen predicted online sales will grow in the U.S., still by far Shopify’s largest market.

Businesses selling less essential items — clothing brands and furniture retailers, for example — could be harder hit by a downturn, as people avoid buying things they don’t feel they need. “We don’t have a really good sense of how much of Shopify’s exposure is to consumer discretionary,” said Wong, noting that the company doesn’t report its merchants by category. But a June 2019 company report identifies shirts and tops, shoes, books and mobile-phone cases among the most sold products on Shopify stores globally.

Shopify primarily makes money by selling subscriptions for its platform and through fees for add-ons like payment processing, shipping, loans and cash advances. Wong said growth in both is likely to “soften” in a downturn. The second category, which the company calls merchant solutions, contributed almost 60 per cent of its US$1.58 billion in 2019 revenue, and it’s growing faster. That income will “fluctuate with however much the economy is spending,” said Joe Cicman, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Arounian said it’s harder to quantify the effect of a downturn on Shopify than, for example, ride-sharing firms Uber and Lyft, which have seen demand drop off directly as a result of consumers socially isolating to avoid viral transmission.

In February, CFO Amy Shapero said 2020 would be “a year of heavy investment” for Shopify, including in its fulfillment network — warehouses and software that will handle shipping and delivery for merchants — as well as international growth and improvements to the Plus product. The firm forecast revenues between US$2.13 billion and US$2.16 billion, and said it would spend some US$80 million on capital expenditures, mostly for new office space.

It has not issued any additional guidance in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, but neither Wong nor Arounian expect Shopify to retreat materially from its 2020 growth plans. “Maybe some of the bigger product releases that we would have expected to see mid-year get pushed back a little bit,” Arounian said, noting that the company has called off the in-person part of its annual Unite conference in May.

Wong said technology companies with long-term growth plans are often able to accelerate in downturns. “They typically are able to buy [other companies] when a lot of these privates that thought they were multi-billion-dollar companies all of a sudden realize that the window might have closed,” he said, adding that public firms with valuable equity are particularly well placed to make acquisitions.

In the longer term, it could win business from other vendors whose customers are looking to grow their online business or reduce their technology costs. “If this slowdown goes longer — [say] a year or two — Shopify is actually in a pretty good position to capture replatforming from some of these really big companies that are lumbering under very expensive and old monolithic e-commerce infrastructure,” said Cicman.

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Robots in the Workplace: How Employees Can Work Safely With Them

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As businesses look for ways to remain in operation safely and minimize human contact in the workplace,  robots have emerged as a viable solution, taking over some of the roles previously carried out by human workers and, in some cases, working together with them. Walmart, America’s largest retailer, is already using robots to scrub floors, while the Royal Palace restaurant in the Netherlands has replaced human waiters with robots that greet customers, serve food, and clear the tables. There’s no doubt that  robots are the future of the workplace, but just like any other technology, they present a safety risk especially when working alongside human workers. While employers bear most of the responsibility of keeping the workplace safe when introducing robots, employees have a role to play as well. 
Knowing the risks 
There are various risks that employees must always be aware of  when working with robots. For example, impact or collision accidents may result from component malfunctions, unpredicted movements, or unpredicted changes to the robot’s arms or peripheral equipment. Crushing and trapping accidents may also happen when an employee’s body part is caught between the robot’s arm and other peripheral equipment. Mechanical part accidents can also lead to the release of robot parts, failure of end-effector tools, or failure of gripper mechanisms, all of which may lead to employee injuries. Accidents from arc flash, metal spatter, leaking high-pressure lines, and dust are also a possibility depending on the type of robot. 
How employees can stay safe 
Working with robots can be intimidating for employees, but by following safety guidelines to the letter, employees can ensure that there are no incidents. For starters, employees who operate, program, maintain, or repair robots and robot systems must get adequate safety training to ensure that they’re competent enough to perform their jobs safely. During the training, they can pinpoint any foreseeable hazards that may arise during operation and determine the appropriate functional safety controls to eliminate such hazards. When necessary, employees must also wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, face shields, respirators, hard hats, hearing protection, and safety glasses to provide a final layer of defense against injuries. 
What to do when injured 
Even after learning the risks and taking strong measures to mitigate them, employees may still get injured when working with robots. In fact, a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that the  rate of employee injuries in Amazon’s robotic warehouses is higher than those warehouses in which robots are not yet in use. As such, employees must have a plan in the event of robot-related injury. Following an injury, the first thing an employee can do is make a worker’s compensation claim. However, in some cases, the employee may also need to hire a  personal injury lawyer after an accident, for instance, if the employer does not provide worker’s compensation insurance. A personal injury lawyer may also be necessary if the employee has a reason to believe that the employer did not take adequate measures to ensure that the robot is safe during installation. 
While robots are expected to deliver great efficiencies to the workplace in the near future, their complexities introduce serious workplace hazards; crushing, collisions, electrical shocks, and unexpected restarts, to name a few. It is up to employers and employees to work together to ensure robots operate safely whether they’re working alone or alongside their human colleagues.

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Top Technologies That Are Making Driving Safer

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he most  common causes of accidents in the U.S. are distracted driving, DUI, breaking speed limits, driving in poor weather, not stopping when the red light is on, and driving at night – as found in research conducted by insurance company, Cheap Quotes Auto Insurance. What many of these risk factors have in common is that  they can be avoided with the help of cutting-edge safety technology. If your job or personal life involves spending numerous hours on the road, what safety features should you be looking at when buying your next vehicle?

Safety Shield Systems
Over the past few years,  car safety features to attract buyers and lower road accident statistics have abounded in different models of cars. For instance,  automatic emergency stop assistance envisions a situation in which the driver suddenly feels so ill they cannot steer and brake the car. This system is far more complex than simple emergency braking. It works in various steps. First, it tries to warn the driver through visual and audible signs. It then sharply applies the brakes, then decelerates, turning on the hazard flashers and coming to a safe stop. This, combined with other technologies, such as driving assistance, forward-collision warnings with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, and even rear cross traffic warnings, are now part of safety shield systems or safety ‘packs’ that feature various systems working synergistically to reduce accident risks.

Low Light Pedestrian Detection
Pre-collision and pedestrian detection are excellent aids in avoiding crashes, but it is vital that  vehicles are able to detect pedestrians, cyclists, and animals on the road,  even in low light conditions. One system developed by researchers at the Carlos III University in Madrid, Spain, enables vehicles to detect pedestrians up to 40 meters away, thanks to images captured via far infrared technology. Two thermal cameras identify the presence of individuals, even if it is too dark for the drivers to do so. Other light-related features include intelligent high beam systems, which ensure clear night vision but dim lights to lower beams if the head or tail lights of another vehicle are detected.

New Speed Limit Technology
Cruise control (and adaptive cruise control, which allows the driver to set both a specific speed and the following distance from the vehicle in front) has been in existence for various years, but car manufacturers such as Volvo are taking things a bit further in two ways. The first is  through a special ‘care key’ that allows extra limits to be placed on speed before an inexperienced driver (e.g. a teen driver) is allowed behind the wheel. The second is the introduction of a 112mph speed cap for all its cars as part of a thorough safety plan to bring road deaths down to zero.

Car manufacturers are making driving safer every year, offering safety packages that include a medley of features – including cruise control, automatic braking, and declaration in emergency situations. They are also avoiding collisions through innovative lighting technology, which enables vehicles to avoid pedestrians and cyclists in poor lighting conditions. Finally, limiting speed enables manufacturers to eliminate one of the biggest risks for accidents: driving above the speed limit. The quest for safety is never-ending, however, and it will hopefully continue at this frenetic pace until deaths on the road are completely eliminated.

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The Benefits Of Being A Cam Girl

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When it comes to becoming a webcam model, many look at the potential to earn money and that alone. Would you be surprised however to learn that there are actually a plethora of benefits when it comes to being a webcam model?

Being a webcam model has never been more popular however with the right marketing and a strict business attitude toward your work, we guarantee you’ll start to see numerous benefits over time. Don’t believe us? Keep on reading…

The Potential To Earn Good Money

While competition is stiff, there’s huge potential to start earning some serious cash as a cam girl. All it takes is a little research. There are numerous niches and markets to aim for. Once you’ve established your demographic, it’s simply down to researching what they want to see and giving them exactly that. Throw in a little marketing on your own website, some social media posts and hey presto, you’ve got the perfect recipe to start earning more than you ever dreamed possible.

Expand Your Social Circle & Work With A Great Bunch

It’s always advisable to join social media communities within your industry. Not only will you gain a lot of support but you’ll actually get to meet some pretty great people. While webcam models do often work on their own, guest appearances are a common occurrence and help create incredible buzz. You’ll get to work with a great bunch and increase your social circle at the same time which is so important for people who spend their time working alone.

Gain A Lucrative Following

Work on your social media following. It won’t just lead to more traffic on your videos. It will lead to some pretty lucrative opportunities if you can increase your following into the thousands. This invites cash payments for posts or in the very least, some great freebies.

Gain Confidence

Ask any webcam model who’s made a successful career for themselves and we guarantee they’ll say one thing, ‘it’s increased my confidence massively’’. How can you not feel more confident as people tell you day in and day out how attractive you are?

Enjoy A Flexible Lifestyle

While your viewers will come to expect you at certain times, you will enjoy a certain level of flexibility especially as you become more familiar with the role. You’ll learn what you can and can’t do on the go and when you need to be in the studio, as well as which days you can give yourself more flexibility.

 

Contact Camiplay Today

Think life as a webcam model sounds like the perfect career choice for you? Then we suggest you take a look at camiplay.com, one of the freshest new webcam sites out there right now. Just head to their website and click ‘become a model’ to find out more.

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