Thanks COVID for the eCommerce Boom? - Paycheck

Thanks COVID for the eCommerce Boom?

  • How’s America’s online shopping economy going? (surprise: it’s booming)
  • Tips for brick-and-mortar stores going digital - How to make your online business last.

To say it’s been a rough year for America’s small business owners is a bit of an understatement.… especially for those who didn’t have an online shopping presence before COVID and weren’t able to take advantage of the 49% jump in online sales that happened in April.

The pandemic brought a lot of uncertainty and stress with it, but "it also brought opportunity." Many store owners made their business more resilient by adding the one thing that keeps you afloat when everything shuts down: an online store!

What does America’s eCommerce economy look like after COVID?

If there’s one part of the economy that’s still breaking records and increasing in double digit percentages, it’s eCommerce. With over 300 million Americans affected by stay-at-home orders, and the urge to shop still looming large, it’s no wonder that more than 50 percent of consumers said they were buying more online than they were before the virus hit

The best part is that the eCommerce boom isn’t just for Amazon - small businesses can get in on the action too. Shopify’s CEO, Tobi Lütke, said small businesses on their platform “have experienced a surge in e-commerce orders from customers living within 15 miles of their stores.” This is a good sign that small businesses may actually come out stronger on the other side of this pandemic, because they’ve established an online presence and shown customers a new, trustworthy online shopping experience. 

Tips for starting an online store

The foundation of any good online store is very similar to the foundation  of any good brick-and-mortar store: you need good quality, and good service. So, when it comes to an online store, that service is obviously digital--meaning you gotta think about the customer’s digital experience first and foremost.

"The first step in making your customer's experience simple and easy is to actually make sure you have a streamlined checkout process. (Begin at the end as they say...ha ha ha)" As Paul Paradis, co-founder and CRO at Sezzle explained, “a sale is never final until a customer clicks that final button.” Here are a few tips  to make sure customers click on the final button Spoiler Alert: don't waste your customer's time 

  • Only ask for essential information like name, email, payment and shipping method, so the customer is more likely to complete their purchase. You don’t need to know their place of birth or age to make a sale. 
  • Don’t ask customers to log in to complete a purchase or they might leave your site
  • Offer discount codes and incentives to complete checkout
  • Follow up with customers who put items in their cart but don’t complete their purchase

One of the best and easiest ways to make sure you get the checkout process right from the start is to build an online store with an end-to-end eCommerce partner like Shopify, who not only helps you create an online store, but also helps you find customers and manage day-to-day operations.

How to secure your online business for the future

The second most important thing to think about beyond a good digital shopping experience with a seamless checkout process is security. A beautiful online store won’t result in beautiful sales if you have a security breach that causes you to lose customers. 

Securing your online business for the future is to make sure you’ve partnered with a secure eCommerce platform. Whether you build a site on Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify, make sure you have an SSL certificate installed on your website. An SSL certificate is basically the ‘s’ in the ‘https’ that comes at the beginning of all websites. A website that starts with “http” is not secure, while a website that starts with “https” is. Always make sure your website has an SSL certificate to give customers peace of mind that their information is being protected.

You also need to make sure your site is PCI DSS compliant, which is a set of rules you must follow when accepting someone’s credit card information online. Again, the easiest way to ensure you have checked all the security boxes - SSL certificate, PCI compliance, etc. - is to choose a secure eCommerce platform to do the work for you.    

The bottom line

If you’re fortunate enough to be considering an online store, aka you’re still in business after COVID, remember the two most important parts of moving your sales online: a simple and easy digital shopping experience, and a secure website that follows all the necessary rules. If you can master selling online, you’re going to be much better off the next time someone or something comes along and forces you to close up shop. 

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