Wanted: an established Web presence for a floundering SMB

Tackling Cyber-Monday can seem like a big feat for small businesses. But with a social, speedy Web presence, small businesses can compete in the big leagues, says Steven Power, chief revenue officer of small business e-commerce platform provider Bigcommerce. In fact, Bigcommerce boasts that its more than 30,000 small to midsize clients accumulated an average of 3,400 orders per second on Cyber Monday.

“An online presence allows small businesses to better compete for customers and increase sales substantially,” Power says. “It can give a business on Main Street USA a global presence in just a few days.”

Small online retailers also need to get in the social conversation if they want to put their businesses on the online map. In preparation for Cyber Monday, as well as during the rest of the holiday selling season, Power advises small businesses to flaunt their products on social sites—including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter–and to gain customer insight by using them as marketing, customer service, and sales tools.

“The lead-up to and day-of Cyber Monday is a critical time to monitor social channels for customer inquiries, while also tracking keywords for possible sales opportunities,” Power says. “Small business online retailers should be sure to have their social profiles updated with the most current links, photos, or videos of featured products, plus contact information, to make the engagement experience for potential customers as simple as possible.”

Power also urges small online retailers to consider offering free shipping, as well, during the holiday season.

“Free shipping is something else small online retailers need to consider, as studies have shown that consumers are 96% more likely to shop on a site that offers free shipping.” Power says. “In fact, 79% of consumers would reather have free shipping than they would a discount.”

According to Bigcommerce’s recently surveyed global SMB clients, 9% describe Cyber Monday as the most critical moment in their holiday season, and 41% expect December to be when they ring in the majority of their sales. However, Power says that having an outdated supply chain management system can dash these dreams.

“The quickest way to frustrate customers and doom your e-commerce brand is by having poor supply chain management, which can lead to late shipping, errant order fulfillment, or items that never make it to their destinations,” Power says. “In preparing for Cyber Monday, online retailers need to confirm that their inventory is up-to-date and that their fulfillment house, if they’re using one, is ready to handle their projected increases in sales and volume.”

Power acknowledges that implementing back-end technology for a site can be a challenge and often one of the last items on an SMB’s to-do list. Nevertheless, he says that speed is of the essence and encourages SMB’s to incorporate the technology sooner rather than later.

“The back-end technology that keeps a site up and running and doing so quickly is often one of the last updates made to websites, but speed wins—without it, online SMBs might be left in the dust. That’s why the most successful e-commerce platforms have a solid CDN (Content Delivery Network) that helps ensure their site loads faster with higher availability and higher performance,” Power explains. “These are especially important if your site requires significant content load times such as large product image files or videos.”

Power says having a slow system can jeopardize a business’s sale. “Nothing leads to sale losses quicker than slow page-load times,” he says. “In fact, a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.”

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