The world of e-commerce is always changing. Today’s consumers expect to find what they want, at the lowest price, quickly and without hassles.
With so many consumers heading online to shop these days — according to the U.S. Census Bureaus, nearly 7 percent of all retail sales, totaling more than $250 billion, are online sales — it only makes sense that retailers want to have an online presence. However, with such growth comes competition, and online retailers that want to grow in 2016 need to focus their efforts on a few key areas. Investing capital for your business into the following three areas will give you the most bang for your buck.
If there is one thing that anyone who does anything online is worried about, it’s security. The sheer number and size of data breaches, and the costs associated with them, is enough to keep any entrepreneur up at night.
Payment security is one of retailers’ top priorities, and has been for several years now. However, given the recent liability shift to retailers with the adoption of EMV or “chipped” credit cards, the need for advanced payment protection has moved to the forefront. Smart online retailers also understand that consumers will only purchase from sites where they have confidence that their personal and financial data will be kept secure, therefore investing in better security needs to be a priority. This might include:
- Implementing end-to-end encryption for all transactions
- Upgrading payment processing and gateway services to ensure more compliance with Payment Card Industry regulations
- Implementing address and card verification (AVS and CVV) services for all transactions
By making security a priority, not only will you attract more loyal customers, but also you’ll avoid the costs of a breach or fraud.
The use of mobile devices for shopping has skyrocketed in recent years. By some accounts, retail spending in the 2015 holiday season will approach 30 percent of all sales. Even if customers don’t complete their purchases on their mobile devices, they are still using them to do research and compare prices. In fact, mobile traffic to retail sites increased by more than 50 percent on Thanksgiving Day in 2014, and those numbers are expected to increase even more this year.
So what does this mean for you, the online retailer? You must be mobile friendly, and have a site that is optimized for mobile devices. Not only will optimizing your site for mobile have an effect on your mobile sales numbers, it can also improve (or maintain) your performance in search engine results. With Google’s recent announcement that mobile-friendliness is now a consideration in page rankings, it’s more important than ever that you make the investment in a mobile site, and stop relying on your existing site and user’s willingness to scroll and tap their way around to find what they need.
Finally, speaking of search engines and sales percentages, online retailers are well-served to invest in more analytical tools in 2016. Not only do you need to analyze your site’s performance for SEO and site design purposes, but also many retailers are turning to analytics to better define and understand their customers’ buying journeys and determine how to serve them better.
The growing field of predictive analytics is also changing the face of retail, with e-commerce entrepreneurs looking for patterns and trends in customer behaviors to streamline and improve operations. Now is the time to invest in the tools you need to more thoroughly analyze your website and it’s performance, and if necessary, the training you need in order to use those tools effectively.
According to one survey, retailers are putting a priority on personalizing shopping experiences for customers, using their browsing and shopping histories to not only remarket, but to introduce new products and services to a welcoming audience. With the right analytical tools in place, even small retailers can take advantage of greater customer insights and increase sales.
Choosing where to focus your attention when trying to grow any business can be challenging. For small online retailers with limited capital, those challenges only increase. However, understanding the trends in the industry and the ever-changing expectations of customers will allow you to allocate your funds more effectively for the greatest benefit — and the greatest profit.