In just about every industry, customers rely on e-commerce for some or all of how they shop for products and services. The main reason is convenience, so they expect smooth, easy experiences. It’s no longer enough for businesses to offer great products; they need to make online shopping quick and easy. If it’s cumbersome or slow, customers will switch to companies that do it better. To stay competitive, businesses need to continually optimize their e-commerce—especially the following aspects.
Speed and reliability
What defines a smooth e-commerce experience? Fast-loading web pages, efficient and intuitive search, 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 if 100% fiber optic internet is available in your area, consider upgrading to fiber when adding bandwidth—Gig Fiber if possible.
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 network providers and services. Download speed is important for fast-loading sites but upload speed is what powers instant transactions. Dedicated Internet Access is the gold standard. It delivers guaranteed symmetrical upload and download speeds along with the ability to add bandwidth in increments almost instantaneously, without downtime.
With today’s average online shopping cart abandonment rate of 70%, you’ll want to do everything you can to optimize your site design for “stickier” customer experiences. In addition to boosting bandwidth, simply reducing the number of pages and clicks needed to get through the checkout process will help increase conversions and prevent abandoned carts. Offering to create customer accounts and/or store customer information lets you auto-fill details and provide one-click checkout for the ultimate convenience.
Finally, with so much of your business dependent on your website and e-commerce store, don’t settle for less than 99.99% overall network reliability, industry-leading speeds and consistent connectivity even during peak times. It’s the only way to ensure positive experiences 24/7/365—and with Dedicated Internet Access, it’s guaranteed and backed by a stringent SLA.
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, optimizing your website for small screens is critical. Going forward, all website development should be mobile-first from the get-go. At a minimum, you need a responsive site that adapts to the size of the user’s screen, scaling the content smaller for cell phones while keeping it legible and easy to engage with. Another option is to create a mobile app.
Either way, customers are more likely to have a poor connection on a cell phone, so optimizing for speed is the best way to reduce bounces, increase conversions, retain customers and improve your search engine page ranking. 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 search features, clickable CTAs, customer service, click-to-call and chatbot options.
Secure transactions and data
Only 55% of adults trust online companies with their personal and financial information and just 37% of 18-to-25-year-olds say they do. To build and keep customers’ trust, do everything you can to secure your data. Complying with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCC-DSS), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and state personal privacy and data protection regulations may not be enough.
Consider working to achieve ISO/IEC 27001 certification to let customers know you prioritize and invest in the most advanced security measures available and meet the most stringent requirements for storing and processing data. Or use a SaaS e-commerce platform that maintains the certification. If you manage your own e-commerce platform, use SSL for authentication so you can switch from HTTP to HTTPS, signaling to customers your site is secure. And boost your defenses with additional layers of security like protection against DDoS attacks and a Managed Firewall service.
If your enterprise hasn’t already migrated operations to the cloud, you’ll want to at least use a cloud-based e-commerce application and store customer data on a cloud-based server for security. You can then access your cloud applications and data securely through a connection like Connect Cloud, which is a private line free from the risks of the public internet.
Omnichannel sales and social commerce
Omnichannel sales are expected to be more than $491 billion in 2022. To take advantage of the opportunities, find out where your customers spend their time and create a customized brand presence for each channel. Though you’ll want to tailor the content for each platform, it’s important to maintain a consistent brand identity across all channels, and include customer service contacts through live chat, click-to-call, email or text.
A simple way to get started with multi-channel sales is by offering the popular “buy online, pick up in store” option. As you expand further into omnichannel marketing and social commerce, be sure to integrate channels so customers can seamlessly transition from one to the other. For example, a customer might start researching a product on your app 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 ultimately take advantage of a promotion in their social media feed or a push SMS text to finally close the sale.
Another way to engage customers at multiple touchpoints is by distributing links to livestream and recorded video on social media, YouTube, digital ads and email. Whether live or pre-recorded, video is ideal for explaining and demonstrating product features, sharing testimonials and delivering tutorials and webinars. Just make sure you have enough dedicated bandwidth and upload speed to ensure smooth viewing.
Personalization, automation and immersion
Once your e-commerce site is optimized for speed and mobile, take it to the next level with data analytics and immersive experiences powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).
For example, AI and machine learning tools can analyze customer information to fine tune search results and make personalized recommendations. They can also provide automated, instant customer service through voice, virtual assistants and chatbots to deliver content and promotions that change in real time according to past behavior and predictive insights about future actions.
It’s also becoming more affordable and cost effective to incorporate AR and VR into your e-commerce platform
simulate an in-person shopping experience, letting customers interact with your product virtually. For
with AR a customer can “try on” a hat by looking at it through their phone camera. With VR, they can touch
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 enterprises do business. It’s an exciting, opportune time to market online—as long as you have a reliable network with ample, dedicated bandwidth.