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7 trends all eCommerce businesses should know

Learn the best ways to maximize the effectiveness of your online presence.

Having a website is like having a 24/7 employee at your service. You can potentially make a sale at almost any time in the day or night. Sounds pretty great, right? What small business owner doesn’t want that kind of boost?

While the benefits can be outstanding, keeping a website consumer-friendly, up-to-date and as effective as possible does take some work. To help you focus on the most important issues, we’ve summarized seven key eCommerce trends from the Small Business Payment Spotlight and how you can respond to them.

Step 1: Get into eCommerce now! (If you haven’t already).

Small businesses are becoming very competitive online. With 44% of consumers having made a purchase from a small business website in past month, it’s not just the big retailers making sales.1

And if you’re thinking you’re way too busy to think about eCommerce, just know that a majority of small businesses (your potential competition) already have a web presence. According to our recent data, 72% of small businesses currently offer online sales.1

The basic advice goes a little like this: If you’re not online, you’re behind.

Step 2: Ensure your site has the functionality customers want

Websites can be a lot like theme parks. There’s no point building a new ride (aka, website feature) if customers will not use it. Luckily, there are a few online shopping trends that customers tend to love. Hint: they’re largely focused on research and convenience.

First off, your website should have all your basic business information, including store hours, location and contact information. That is crucial for any potential shopper who’s doing research online about your business. According to our data, 24% of consumers have used a small business website to look up basic business information.1

Next, put product details online. With 29% of consumers researching a product or service on a small business website, this is a big one to tackle.1 Think product images, descriptions, specs and of course pricing.

Lastly, offer a range of purchase options. Order ahead, pay and pick up is an increasingly popular way to shop (16% of consumers report doing this on a small business website).1 It sounds simple enough, but it requires a little back-end logistics on your part to ensure timely order fulfillment.

Step 3: Reduce consumer shipping costs

Thanks to a few large online retailers (who will not be named), free and fast shipping is a huge feature that consumers now expect, and it can be tough for small businesses to compete. Looking at the numbers, 42% of consumers think small business shipping costs are too high, 23% think shipping takes too long and 33% don’t like being charged for shipping at all.1

That is a tough reality when you don’t operate at a scale large enough to negotiate with package delivery services. So what can you do to get costs down?

Like we mentioned above, pick-up in store is an increasingly popular option. While just 16% of consumers report doing this on a small business website, a full 47% of consumers like to pick up online purchases in-store.1 This suggests a functionality gap between consumer preference and the number of small businesses offering this service.

Also, in the hunt for cheaper shipping, don’t discount carrier packaging and pre-paid shipping, which are viable options if your inventory fits standard package sizes and your shipping volume is predictable. You should also research third-party logistics providers that cater to small businesses to see if there’s an affordable option that meets your needs.

Step 4: Take online security seriously

Consumers worry about protecting their financial data from fraudsters, and they have the perception that small business websites are riskier to use. Forty-one percent of consumers say they feel more comfortable purchasing online from a large business rather than a small one.1

As long as you’re on a secure platform with a secure gateway and follow all their security recommendations, your customer's payment data should be as safe as the big guys. Any payments you accept will be encrypted and tokenized according to industry standards. Check with your providers if you have any questions.

Don’t forget to communicate to consumers that you’re safe. Include messages about your commitment to security throughout your site. This can go in the shopping cart, on an About Us or FAQ page, or it could be as simple as a reassuring sentence next to a buy button. Explore your options.

Step 5: Be mobile friendly

In the simplest of terms, this means your website works flawlessly on a mobile device. Pictures and layout all adjust to accommodate the smaller screen sizes of phones and tablets so that mobile shoppers can easily navigate your site. Try loading your website on a mobile device to see how you stand. If all the images are scaled to fit the screen and all the text is inline, that means it should be easy to navigate.

You might think, what’s the point? Who shops on their phones? Perhaps not unsurprisingly: young people. Forty-four percent of consumers younger than 30 use their mobile device while shopping more often today than five years ago.1

Keeping all your customers happy should be fairly easy if you’ve built your website on a full-featured website platform. Most of their templates are designed to be mobile-friendly. What can get hard is if you hired a web developer or if you built your site with an older service. Check with your provider for more information.

Step 6: Make checkout as convenient as possible

To help tackle cart abandonment and improve sales, you should consider increasing the amount of payment types your website accepts. Based on recent data, 34% of consumers report being annoyed when they can’t pay in their preferred way, and 17% say they would completely abandon their purchase.1

These days, payment acceptance means more than just accepting a range of credit and debit cards, though. Third-party payment providers like PayPal make it extremely easy for customers to make purchases online. That’s why third-party payments went up 2.5x for online purchases from 2017 to 2019. Digital wallets are also growing in popularity.

Step 7: Be strategic about your platform

Your platform is what helps you build your website in the first place. But these days, some of the top platforms can do way more than just build a website for you. In fact, they can even help you with some of the other problems mentioned in this article, from improving security to offering customers more ways to pay.

Here are the top 4 capabilities small businesses look for when selecting a platform:1

  • Compatibility with your POS system – You will save yourself much time and effort by having a seamless integration between your point-of-sale system and your eCommerce website. When the systems share data, you can easily compile sales reports, tackle inventory across the board and a number of other useful features.
  • Accepting multiple types of payment – Like we mentioned above, by offering more ways to pay, you reduce the number of hurdles customers have to overcome to make a purchase, which can have a positive impact on your sales.
  • Support that is available 24/7 – You never know when you’re going to have a question, so make sure the experts will be around as much as possible.
  • Offer a secure shopping cart – Again, we’ve covered this, but it’s important to reiterate that your platform can be an instrumental tool in securing your eCommerce business. Check on any and all security measures they offer.

Interested in seeing more helpful data?

Check out the 2019 Small Business Payment Spotlight, where the majority of these trends emerged. You can download the report here.

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