With over half of American consumers now doing most of their shopping online (51%), having a web presence is crucial for any business. And, according to comScore, 44% of smartphone users made purchases through their devices last year, proving that creating a mobile-friendly website will play an important role in the success of businesses going forward.
It’s not enough to simply have a website, however. Creating an efficient platform that allows customers the opportunity to purchase goods from your store’s site is the key to increasing sales while growing your footprint on the world wide web. Building a viable e-commerce site that’s also optimized for mobile commerce (m-commerce), should be at the heart of your business strategy as well.
The Effect of E-commerce
In order to compete in today’s digital world, merchants are finding that increasing convenience for their customers is a great way to ensure sales and develop loyalty. The best way to do this is by creating an e-commerce website for products and making it easy for anyone to buy them, whether it’s from a desktop or mobile device.
When a store goes online, the goal is to ultimately broaden its reach while creating additional opportunities. National Merchants Association’s Director of Risk, Pablo Nuñez, says of businesses going online: “it’s usually to increase sales and to expand the target audience. Online sales allow every merchant the chance to expand their operations beyond their physical borders.” It’s quite effective when done correctly, especially since an ever-increasing number of consumers are buying online and e-commerce is bigger than ever, with sales expected to grow 16% this year, according to eMarketer.
Despite the opportunity to bolster sales and grow a business, a surprising number of merchants choose to not offer their products and services via the internet. But why? For starters, the cost of doing business online can be expensive, mainly when products are promoted and ads are purchased for them or other marketing efforts are undertaken to drive traffic to specific product pages within a website.
Another big reason some merchants are hesitant to go online is the issue of widespread card-not-present fraud and the damage it can do to a small business. Despite increased security measures on a global scale, some business owners remain wary of potential fraud issues and being held responsible for any losses incurred. “Not having the proper tools in place can cause lots of damage to a business. Damages range from monetary, reputational or even a permanent blacklisting from credit card processing,” according to Nuñez. He continues, “The safety and security efforts a merchant chooses to implement in an online store are extremely crucial to ensure the success of that business.”
Perhaps the most substantial explanation why business owners don’t have e-commerce websites capable of selling their products online is the simple fact that they may not have the technical understanding of websites nor do they fully grasp how the internet works. Whether it’s personal pride getting in the way or a case of not wanting to spend additional money to have someone help, either way, the lack of an online presence means that a merchant’s products are going unnoticed by literally millions of people.
Mobile commerce is on pace to pass desktop commerce transactions – and soon. In a recently-released retail and e-commerce report, eMarketer showed that not only will ecommerce grow 16% this year, more than one-third of those sales will come via m-commerce devices. This means that mobile commerce transactions will grow by 35% over last year and 65% of those purchases will be made on a smart phone.
If the trend continues (and it most certainly will), it’s just a matter of time before a majority of people will be making digital purchases with their phone. To keep up, smart business owners who already have e-commerce sites are optimizing those sites for m-commerce.
The benefits of m-commerce are numerous for merchants of all types and tie heavily into marketing, new customer acquisition, customer retention, and future sales opportunities. There are other important benefits and among the biggest and most unique is the fact that m-commerce “allows customers to shop while they’re out in the real world, either at a retail space for comparison, at an event etc. A call-to-action for a customer to make a purchase can prompt them to shop right then without having to wait until they return home to buy something online.”
Payment Gateway Basics
So you’ve got an e-commerce website and you’re ready to sell. But how do you do it? How can you start accepting payments? Payment gateways are the answer. With a primary function of facilitating communication within banks, gateways also provide much more than just software that accepts payments.
A gateway is a third party-hosted payment software solution that allows for the transfer of payment information between a payment portal (such as a website or smart phone) and a bank. It’s essentially a merchant service provided by an e-commerce service provider that authorizes payments by credit cards, debit cards, or direct payments for any business, whether it’s online or brick and mortar. Furthermore, all merchants are required to have one if they accept payments besides cash and checks.
The payment transaction process begins when a user submits an order. Software then begins communicating with the processor, the card company, and the banks involved. Even though the bulk of this process takes only a few seconds, exchanging the necessary personal information includes many steps, such as verifying the availability of funds and the authenticity of the user, ultimately resulting in a payment transaction being accepted or denied.
Gateways utilize industry-standard encryption software to protect sensitive information, resulting in safer transactions and helping to protect both merchants and consumers from fraud or other data breaches. The added security of an up-to-date and PCI compliant payment gateway gives merchants peace of mind when doing business online, which can also aid in expanding a customer base, especially with customers living in other countries.
Advantages of an advanced payment gateway are numerous and include the added convenience of allowing an online store to remain open at all hours giving customers the opportunity to shop day or night. Additionally, faster transaction processing is another advantage of payment gateways, as they are much quicker than manual processing methods.
In order to keep pace with technology and the shifting ways in which consumers are making purchases, merchants are urged to ready their businesses for e-commerce and the emerging trend of m-commerce. That means increasing web presence and preparing to sell products online with the help of a payment gateway. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business!