Sales & Marketing

Here’s everything growing businesses need to dominate the world of online retail

6 min read

04 March 2019

Getting involved in e-commerce is a sure-fire way to grow your sales outreach as an SME, but don't get distracted by trying to compete with the likes of Amazon to do it.

It’s no revelation that the internet has opened up a world of possibilities to businesses. Merchants can now sell to consumers from every corner of the world.  However, the endless opportunities the internet provides can be a false friend to small and medium-sized businesses if they don’t know the avenues to take.

Engaging in e-commerce as an SME might mean you get caught up trying to stand out amongst a crowd of household names and online giants like eBay and Amazon, but you don’t need to. Let me explain why…

The smaller picture

Mobile commerce is a tricky game, and many merchants know they could be utilising the platform better. In an Ingenico-InternetRetailing report, 93% of merchants admitted that mobile innovation impacted customer satisfaction and profitability, but just 39% described themselves as being mobile-first.

A word of advice: get mobile and make sure your sites are completely functional and user-friendly

No one wants to be hunting high and low for descriptions, prices and checkouts. So check if your payments provider can offer a mobile responsive checkout, that way your customer doesn’t have to fiddle with credit card numbers when they’re trying to pay. Really, there’s no better way to reap the rewards of mobile commerce than by investing in the platform properly to begin with.

Going international

To gain an international presence, you can jump on sales days to begin promoting your business in new markets. It’s a leap, but a worthy one – our recent pan-European study found that nearly half of Belgian consumers opt to shop internationally during peak sales periods like Black Friday. Whereas 40% of French consumers are eager to explore foreign retailer stores online.

“If that doesn’t whet your appetite, up to a quarter of online shoppers choose to shop with small or niche retailers during the sales, instead of turning to larger players. So, big shopping periods like Black Friday, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the perfect way to attract new global consumers.”

There are also several industry-specific days that you could get involved in. Take Record Store Day, for example – a day celebrating the unique culture of independent record shops across the world that’s grown in popularity in recent years.

Competing in the e-commerce industry isn’t just about price

Less than half of UK respondents cited discounts as their top attraction to sales. Two thirds were sceptical of the authenticity of discounts, while over a quarter favoured other incentives such as unique products, loyalty and referral bonuses, an extended returns/exchange window period, or free next-day shipping.

That’s where SMBs can compete globally – focus on the offering, not slashing prices.

Compliance

Every business, large or small, groans at the mention of the seemingly endless rules and regulations that impact them. But by building compliance into your plans from the start, you can instil consumers with the trust that you’re operating with their best interests in mind.

By now, you’ll *hopefully* be GDPR-compliant and understand the ways of PSD2. But there’s another big security parameter that’s set to hit this September: Secure Customer Authentication (SCA).

SCA

SCA will require your customers to authenticate themselves with at least two of the three following methods on every electronic transaction within the EU. It may seem daunting, but it’s coming for the right reasons. If you reach out to a payments partner like Ingenico for support, they can make the process super simple.

  1. Something they know (e.g. pin number)
  2. Something they possess (e.g. a mobile device)
  3. Something they are (e.g. fingerprint).

The conversation has begun on automation

It’s also looking likely that chatbots will be one of the front-runner technologies this year; so if you’re in retail, hospitality, leisure or travel, this is one for you.

The automated sales assistant has evolved from simply offering product advice to easily accepting payments, displaying advertising, and offering human-like customer support. By paying through the chatbot environment, consumers are much less likely to abandon their purchase compared to when they’re transferred to external web browsers.

“A worthy investment; our retail partners have seen a six-fold boost in conversion when piloting chatbots, versus a mobile website.”

Back to basics

Sales days, mobile stores and chatbot assistants are a great way to get consumers through the digital door, but a convoluted checkout is a better way to send them right back out with an empty basket. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a trusted provider who can help you achieve the smooth checkout that you want to be known for.