Consumers can now order their morning coffees with a few taps, swipe to get a ride across town, and pay for their purchases by scanning their mobile phones.
The rules of retail and business as a whole have shifted dramatically, and consumers now have radically different expectations than they did just a few years back. With technology constantly at our fingertips, the internet has become the first place consumers look for fast finds like the perfect gift as well as for major decisions like purchasing a home.
Yet with so much potential to reach customers and drive sales, nearly half (46 per cent) of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) do not have websites.
For many, setting up a website can feel like an imposing challenge. Between building out an online inventory, accepting payments and communicating their unique brand, creating a website with all these functions can seem daunting.
Luckily, it’s now simpler than ever for SMBs to get up and running online with easy to set-up e-commerce solutions.
Whether you’re ready to launch your website or are just getting started, keep these three things in mind to make the most of your online presence:
1. Build on your brand
From decades-old bakeries with heirloom recipes to companies preparing to open their doors, every business has a unique story to tell. Just as you’d stamp your logo on a product or order business cards to match your color scheme, your website should reflect your brand and your business as a whole. For SMBs that sell goods, selling online through a third-party site may seem like an effective workaround; however this often means compromising your brand to fit within set parameters. Building a customised site enables you to offer the same tailored experience to customers online as you would in-store, without toning down your brand’s personality or letting someone else take the reins.
2. Make it mobile-friendly
In addition to building a dedicated web presence, SMBs across sectors should also be mindful of the mobile experience for customers. Last year, mobile commerce, or sales made via mobile devices such as phones and tablets, accounted for an estimated 30 per cent of all U.S. e-commerce, totalling upwards of $100 billion. For retail businesses, mobile has a clear stake in potential sales and revenue, but those in other industries should also take note. Through cloud-based software services like Booker, which offers an integrated management solution to SMBs, customers can seamlessly book appointments right from their mobile devices, making it easier than ever for customers to schedule their next visit.
3. Stay secure
Equally important as connecting with customers through your website, taking steps to protect those customers’ personal information should also be a top priority. Consumers are mindful of security, and expect an equally safe payment experience online as they do in-store.
E-commerce now makes up a greater portion of commerce than ever before – during last year’s holiday season more than a fifth of shopping occurred online. If you’re looking to grow your business, reach new customers or simply better serve your regulars, it’s time to go online and set up shop.
This article was contributed by Bruce Dragt, SVP of Global e-Commerce at First Data, and first published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2016/05/27/3-ways-to-make-most-of-company-online-presence.html