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Customer Experience

Is your website hurting your business?

David Binning
Smarter Writer

David Binning is a media advisor and journalist with more than 20 years’ experience covering the digital and innovation sectors in Australia and throughout the world.

David Binning
Smarter Writer

David Binning is a media advisor and journalist with more than 20 years’ experience covering the digital and innovation sectors in Australia and throughout the world.

Highlights
  • Outdated information, bad user experience, and inability to handle online sales can push customers away from your website.
  • Increased mobile connectivity and social media engagement in the e-commerce space means there is more competition than ever.
  • New, low-cost content management systems allow your website to handle greater complexity with ordering, payments and inventory.

Many small businesses in Australia may find that their websites could actually be doing them more harm than good.

Running a small business means juggling many balls at once – and one of the most niggling can be the company website.

At first, just getting ‘something up’ and running is often the best you can manage amongst all your other priorities. Maybe you hoped to find more time to perfect things later or maybe it becomes increasingly neglected as other opportunities demand your attention.

Woman using laptop looking concerned. An outdated website can push customers towards your competitors.

Problems like outdated information, poor look-and-feel, and an inability to properly handle online sales and queries are among the many reasons potential customers might choose to click-away from your website and seek a competitor’s offer.

And with so much innovation in the e-commerce space – particularly from mobile connectivity and social media engagement – there’s every chance it won’t be long before they find one. Indeed, recent research reveals that online consumers are more fickle than ever when it comes to engaging with online merchants.

According to e-commerce specialists Web Marketing Pros, 60 per cent of consumers won’t buy from SMB websites that appear outdated or neglected, with a quarter making this criticism of sites not updated in the past month. Almost 30 per cent of consumers said they would click away immediately if it seemed six months had passed since anything had been updated or changed.

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But it’s not just the customer-facing front-end of websites companies need to pay more attention to. In fact, it’s poor work at the back-end that can do the most serious damage to a company’s digital fortunes.

Web Marketing Pros also reports that many small businesses still use superseded programs such as web code editor Dreamweaver to manage their websites. This is despite the rapid improvement and lower-cost of modern content management systems (CMS) designed to handle greater complexity – especially around ordering, payments and inventory – while integrating with core business systems such as accounting or point-of-sale. 

Many consumers now also expect websites to offer a more personalised experience; for instance, presenting pricing and delivery information based on their location and preferred currency. If you can’t offer these increasingly standard features then you need to review your website.

The term ‘future-proofing’ may be overused, but it’s important that your online presence is aligned with your plans for growth. Otherwise you run the risk of forfeiting future opportunities that may not yet be apparent to you.
 
You’ll also be limited in your ability to quickly adapt to new market and/or technology trends, as your more-agile competitors continually improve their website and e-commerce experience, ultimately achieving better sales. 

Businesses running their websites with outdated software are also at far greater risk of security breaches. A common reason for this is that older software programs tend to no longer be supported by the vendors that developed them, which means worrying vulnerabilities can go unchecked and therefore unpatched.

It’s critically important then that small businesses commit to regular reviews of their websites and online strategy, including conducting frank assessments of the technologies they’re currently reliant on, and exploring what other options might be appropriate and available.

In most cases it should be clear that the benefits of switching to a newer, more feature rich CMS far outweigh the effort – and fear – associated with doing so.

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