But given the massive and exponential growth in the volumes and reach of online trade, it seems there’s a lot of small businesses that should be doing more.
And while medium-sized Australian businesses are more likely to have their e-commerce houses in better order, a website that might have done the job a few years ago may now be holding them back. Here are the top five signs your e-commerce platform and website may need an upgrade.
1- Straining during busy periods
On one level, a dramatic surge of activity that crashes your website is evidence your marketing activities are working. Whatever special offers, promotions or other marketing activities you have are clearly attracting a flood of potential customers. But success can still turn into failure if your website can’t keep up with demand. To maintain and grow your online sales – and brand value – you need to have a scalable platform that lets you weather the storm while providing a reliable and consistent customer experience.
2- Unable to scale
It’s not uncommon for smaller businesses to only have limited range and number of products available on their website. This may be due to the limitations of an outdated e-commerce platform, making it more difficult or time consuming to expand the range or add new features. What might have made sense when you were starting out may now mean you are forfeiting opportunities to properly market your business – as well as forfeiting sales, which are most likely going to your competitors.
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3- Manual processing and duplication
When programs like Dreamweaver first started emerging in the late ‘90s, they represented a great opportunity for smaller, cash-strapped businesses to create some worth of web presence, enabling them to tick a box and buy time while they went back to the day-to-day running of the business. The problem with something like Dreamweaver – still used by many businesses – is it isn’t so much a website content management system (CMS) or e-commerce platform than it is a code editor. Directly editing the code every time you want to make a change to the site can be laborious, typically requires a lot of duplication, and requires much greater skill. Plus it can dramatically increase the risk of human error introducing new bugs and mistakes into the site.
Other older programs might not be quite as code-heavy, but may still lack the ability to automate processes or implement the latest website features customers expect.
4- Poor systems integration
As e-commerce has become more sophisticated over the past several years, it has evolved to become arguably the most important sales channel for many businesses. But to be truly successful, companies must have their sales and customer management systems integrate seamlessly with core business systems, be they legacy applications or a number of the many cloud-based applications gaining in popularity and importance.
5- Going ‘global’ feels too hard
All businesses start out with a plan to grow and succeed. And for many Australian businesses, expanding into international markets is a sign they’ve really made it.
But when small businesses start exploring overseas opportunities, many discover their websites aren’t quite ready to receive their passports. The e-commerce platform may lack the features international customers will need or might struggle to deliver the same speed, performance and smooth online shopping experience enjoyed by locals
An important first step is checking that it details and supports reasonably-priced, reliable and prompt delivery options while making it easy for customers to calculate accurate postage costs to their location. Next, how will people pay? Your site should also provide access to the main payment gateways, as well as support multiple currencies.
Ultimately, online customers will buy from a website that can provide exactly what they want, at the price they want, and when they want it.
Having the right website and digital e-commerce platform in place will help you meet customer expectations.