E-commerce is growing exponentially as customers increasingly rely on online shopping for routine purchases. But many small businesses still don’t offer it. If you have an online store, you’re at an advantage. If your e-commerce experience is convenient and easy, you’ve got an even bigger advantage. Because it’s no longer enough to sell great products. If the online shopping process is cumbersome, customers will switch to a company that makes it simple. You don’t need to be a technical wizard or marketing professional, but it’s important to pay attention to the following aspects.
Speed and network reliability
What defines a smooth e-commerce experience? Fast-loading web pages, easy navigation, quick checkout and responsive service. It’s a lot to maintain, but it all rides on one thing: bandwidth. Add as much as you can and as makes sense for your business. If 100% fiber-optic internet is available in your area, consider upgrading to fiber when adding bandwidth—up to future-proofing with Fiber 2 Gig.
Bonus: Search engines like Google prioritize websites that load fast, placing them higher on results pages. What’s a good page load time? Less than two seconds. Time yours and check your connection speed here.
Also remember to look at upload as well as download speeds when comparing internet providers and services. Download speed is important for fast-loading sites but upload speed is what powers instant transactions. Fiber 2 Gig internet is game-changing with upload speed up to 50x faster than cable.
In addition to boosting bandwidth, you can streamline your website for better customer experiences. Simply reducing the number of pages and clicks needed to get through the checkout process will help increase sales and prevent abandoned carts. Offering to create accounts and/or store customer information lets you auto-fill details and provide one-click checkout for the ultimate convenience.
Finally, with more and more business moving online, don’t settle for less than 99.99% overall network reliability even during peak times, like you get with Frontier Fiber. It’s the worry-free way to provide positive experiences 24/7/365.
How does your site perform on cell phones? Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out. With 72.9% of retail e-commerce taking place over cell phones in 2021, adjusting your website for small screens is critical. Most
Because cell phone connections can be spotty, improving speed is the best way to get and keep people on your mobile site. Start by compressing photos and removing unnecessary plugins and pop-ups, which drag loading time and waste valuable space on screen. Then prioritize real estate and bandwidth for mobile-responsive buttons, customer service, click-to-call and chatbot options.
Secure transactions and data
Only 55% of adults trust online businesses with their personal and financial information, and just 37% of 18-to-25-year-olds say they do. To earn and keep trust, make security a priority, otherwise you’re putting your business and customers at risk.
Start by complying with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and state personal privacy and data protection regulations. Add mlaultiple yers of protection against viruses, spyware, ransomware and malware. Train employees how to protect against breaches and make sure they access, share and store information securely with a cloud-based application. Choose e-commerce software with the strongest built-in security features. Or subscribe to a hosted e-commerce platform that stores your data securely in the cloud. Either one should allow for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protection, which switches your web address from “http” to "https," signaling to customers your site is secure.
Omnichannel sales and social commerce Omnichannel marketing is an approach that connects with customers in multiple places: online on their phone and computer, in social media applications, in physical stores, and by phone, text and email. For example, a customer might start researching a product on their cell phone, continue shopping on your website from a laptop, stop by a physical store to try it out, learn more through emails and then take advantage of a coupon in their social media feed to finally make a purchase.
Omnichannel sales are expected to grow to more than $491 billion in 2022. To get started, put on your market research hat and find out where your customers spend their time. Then begin to create a presence on each channel. A simple first step is the popular “buy online, pick up in store” option. As you expand further into omnichannel sales and social commerce, tailor the content for each platform and include customer service options through live chat, click-to-call, email or text.
If you can find time, you might consider adding live or recorded video to demonstrate and promote your products. All you need is your cell phone camera. You can use real people—employees and customers. Then share the links on social media, YouTube, digital ads, texts and emails. Just make sure you have enough bandwidth and upload speed to ensure smooth viewing.
Personalization, automation and immersion
Advanced technology is becoming more affordable for businesses of all sizes. You can subscribe to applications powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), for example, to sharpen your marketing with data analytics and immersive experiences.
AI and ML tools can analyze customer information and provide personalized recommendations. Or provide automated, instant customer service through voice and virtual assistants and chatbots. Even distribute content and promotions that change in real time according to current and past behavior and predictive insights about next actions.
In the near future, you might use AR and VR to simulate in-person shopping experiences, letting customers interact with your products virtually. For example, with AR, a customer can “try on” a hat by looking at it through their phone camera. With VR, they can “touch and feel” the hat’s material with specialized gloves.
And that’s just the tip of the e-commerce iceberg. Online shopping is changing rapidly and transforming the way people shop and companies do business. It’s an exciting, opportune time to sell your products online—as long as you have reliable internet with ample bandwidth.