2013: The Year Small Business E-commerce Sites Strike Gold

e-commerceTechnologies from the 1990’s are nearing extinction. Just think, how often do you see people using pagers, flip phones and dial-up modems?

Regardless, many businesses still handle transactions with point-of-sale systems that look no different than they did over a decade ago. Payments are one of the last core business technologies that’s still begging for the mainstream adoption of a more mobile and user friendly alternative, and e-commerce has swooped in to alleviate the cashier’s pain.

Early returns from the 2012 holiday season indicate that e-commerce’s demand and potential is going exponentially. Cyber Monday pulled in a hefty $1.46 billion last year – more than any other year in history.

A reality where our nation does the vast majority of its shopping on screens is not far off, and we’re seeing systematic industry shifts that prove e-commerce will soon be ubiquitous. Almost all major corporations are already on board, but 2013 is teed up to be the year small businesses untether themselves from dated POS systems and bring their businesses to where their customers are most – online.

And here’s why:

Mobile Payments Open a New Realm for E-commerce

2012 yielded an explosion in the mobile payments services. This busy space is pioneered by Square, but apps like Google Wallet and ISIS are also popularizing the idea of ditching cash and plastic in droves of paying by screen. Many have speculated that the mobile payments space is fragmented and cluttered (and we can’t say we disagree), but there’s no denying that this new avenue for displaced purchasing has brought e-commerce further into the mainstream.

As major brands like Starbucks and Walgreens continue to push their remote payments solutions, the sheer prevalence of online purchasing will eclipse small businesses relying solely on the cash register. Customers are more comfortable than ever paying remotely, increasing the demand for e-commerce options across all businesses selling goods and services.

Sophisticated – Yet Simple – Web Tools

Developing a money-maker site is now easier and cheaper than ever. A host of online marketing technologies now offer freemium versions, and thanks to advancements in tag management, adding a ‘Pay Now’ button to your website is as easy as adding an app to your smartphone.

With simple website applications available at little to no cost, small businesses are running low on excuses for dated, stagnant sites that don’t serve their businesses. A few tools that make implementing e-commerce options fast and easy include:

  • Shopify: With monthly fees starting at $30, Shopify provides the features needed to build your own complete online store, including beautiful design templates, hosting and marketing and SEO.
  • Volusion: $15 a month gets you Volusion’s basic set of services, including e-commerce software for those starting an online business or already actively selling online, mobile compatibility and built in social media tools.

A Leveled Playing Field

We are now entering our third decade of the Web, and it continues to evolve at a neck-breaking pace, generally set by enterprises like Amazon. These companies continue to set the standard for the consumer online experience by enlisting strategies that not only drive traffic, but conversions.

This year will be the year that the small business takes advantage of these strategies in order to stay competitive. Website personalization, which includes tailoring the website based on things like age, location and interests; loyalty programs and unique offers will be easier and cheaper to implement than it ever has before. All of these strategies are important to a strong Web presence, and in unison, help you build a brand as professional and compelling as the giants in your space.

A few great options for getting started include LevelUp and Belly, great loyalty program apps, and personalization / optimization solutions Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer.

While taking your business online was once a complicated process, we’ve reached a tipping point in website technology where it’s easier than ever for small businesses to have a robust, personalized online presence. These industry developments and the democratization of e-commerce tools have poised 2013 to be the year the emerging businesses meet their customers on the screen with a digital presence as dynamic as their storefront.

Gold Photo via Shutterstock

9 Comments ▼

Phillip Klien


Phillip Klien Phillip Klien is CEO and Co-Founder of SiteApps, a website personalization platform for small to medium-sized businesses. His expertise in creating website technologies has grown SiteApps into a powerful, globally adopted tool and paved the way for its expansion to the U.S. in 2012. With SiteApps, Phillip fulfills his vision of democratizing cutting-edge technology by making advanced digital marketing solutions for small to medium-sized businesses accessible and easy to use.

9 Reactions

  1. For many SMBs the technology doesn’t necessarily need to change what they do, but it gives them the flexibility to do it more efficiently.

    It used to be that just accepting credit cards was the gold standard for increasing average transaction value, but now you can effectively have your business running 24/7 online as well as accepting payments away from the POS system installed in your physical location(s).

  2. Thanks Phillip. I can very much relate to the point you make about companies being far advanced in other areas of technology, but still using decade old point of sale systems. In the accounting world, I’m always surprised at how smart, tech-savvy business owners do their books. They may be developing a mobile app to automate appointment scheduling, yet still stuff their receipts in a drawer and manually keep track of everything on Excel.

    Both payments, as you mentioned, and the back-end accounting – which are inter-related – are certainly areas where businesses have to make the mental shift that these to can be brought up to date. With an advanced point of sale system that links directly into your accounting software, huge amounts of hours, money, and headaches are saved in the long-run. Accountants are no longer just number crunchers, but rather technology experts. If business owners want to see their businesses thrive in the future, the earlier they modernize their payment systems and backend accounting systems, the better position they will be in to grow.

  3. Great post, Phillip. It’s great to see small businesses getting more ROI for their eCommerce sites. This speaks to the hot points of business platforms – going online. Thanks for sharing.

    Ti

  4. New e-commerce systems may help older small businesses sell online and increase sales, but as a small business tech consultant, I’ve rarely seen a “one size fits all” approach allow an established business completely drop its old methods of accounting and operation in favor of a new streamlined, generic system. Technology today indeed makes it easier for a small business to function online and enter the marketplace, but its much more difficult for the older entities to make the transition.

  5. Philip, thank you for the article. You make a lot of good points! I also agree that mobile payments at this time are fragmented and cluttered. Also, there are very potentially dangerous security hazards with it as well. But yes, there is no denying their potential and I am sure we will have a very different future technologically when it comes to payments. I wonder when we will be completely cashless.

  6. The ability to charge credit cards using a smartphone or tablet is HUGE and I see even brick and mortar businesses using this option. As far as e-commerce is concerned, there are tons of great options but it depends on the needs of the business as to what works best and most of them don’t need much. Many of the e-commerce website builders out there offer way more features than most people ever make use of. Using a basic service to the fullest is more productive than paying for a high-end solution that is underutilized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Compare your business to the industry - Try our new tool