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How the Internet Has Shifted Commerce into High Gear

By: SmallBizClub


With eCommerce sales on track for a 20% growth up to $1.5 trillion in 2014, it’s safe to say that the Internet has revolutionized the way we do business. Through the power of the web, a small business owner can reach entire countries, or, with the right logistics, the entire planet, using a single website. Simply put, the Internet has transformed the speed in which we do business. Transactions that used to take days or even weeks to complete now can be finished in a matter of minutes. Here we will examine how to survive the eCommerce Autobahn.

  1. The Information Superhighway
    The first way in which the web has sped up commerce is by providing a wealth of information right at your customers’ fingertips. No longer are product descriptions, prices, etc., hidden behind a wall of salesman secrecy. It’s up to your site to sell your product as accurately as possible, because if it doesn’t, the Google gods provide a wealth of other options for the picky consumer. This means you need to display 1) your product/services, 2) your prices, if possible, and even 3) contact information for your business in case customers have questions or need additional information. Not providing this content creates doubt in an online shopper’s mind, leading them to look somewhere else.

    Tip: Keep your site informative and transparent so customers can shop confidently.

  2. Check Out with No Pit Stops
    The key advantage of shopping online is comfort and ease. Rather than making the effort to go out and find a product, an online customer can get exactly what they need when and wherever they want. The good thing for eCommerce companies is that by providing a streamlined checkout process, it’s considerably easier to gain new conversions and ultimately long-term customers. Checking out on your site should be 1) simple, 2) fast, and 3) convenient. Convenient means you should have plenty of ways for customers to pay. From BillMeLater to BitCoins, the list continues to grow. That doesn’t mean every option is right for your needs, but at least stay in the know about new methods of payment available.

    Not sure if your checkout process is up to speed? Consider user experience tracking services such as ClickTale and UserTesting.com. These services provide you invaluable information from actual customers who use your site daily. You might be surprised at the results.

    Tip: Don’t weigh down your checkout process with unnecessary fluff.

  3. Turn on a Dime
    One of the initial weaknesses of online shopping was an increased turnaround time. Compared to shopping in a store, customers had to wait considerably longer to receive their purchases when ordering online, similar to ordering from a catalog. Mega “e-tailers” such as Amazon and Zappos have changed the game, however. To succeed in eCommerce, order fulfillment must be quick and easy, or, at the very least, you should offer a variety of turnaround and shipping choices. Customers who care about speed will pay for it, and customers who don’t want it cheap. It’s important to please both.

    Tip: Work through your logistics to ensure you fulfill orders as quickly and affordably as possible.

  4. Responsive Feedback at Every Turn
    You should expect to hear some sort of feedback from customers—this is the nature of the Internet. Thanks to the Yelps and Angie’s Lists of the world, it’s fairly easy to build an online reputation, so be proactive and ask your “initial adopters” to share their experience. The anonymity provided by the Internet produces a considerably more unfiltered response among customers, with 46% of online reviewers stating they can be brutally honest. To counteract this, make sure you’re aware of what’s being said about you online and direct those who love your products/services to review sites so that your company looks its best to prospective customers. This could be as simple as sending a personalized email to your first 1,000 customers thanking them for their purchase and requesting they post their opinion.

    Tip: Ask for feedback from your best success stories, and always be aware of how your business looks from an outsider’s perspective.

The fast-paced world of eCommerce changes almost daily, so though it has certainly gotten easier to establish a business online, you have to be agile enough to adapt at any moment. Just make sure to signal before you change lanes.
Author: Katherine Halek is a Marketing Associate at Signazon.com, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys blogging about retail, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Connect with her on Google+
Published: May 1, 2014

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