Many areas of the U.S. closed non-essential businesses, which, depending on the state or county, included businesses such as shopping malls, liquor stores, office supply stores, jewelry shops, florists, and furniture stores. And virtually all states ordered restaurant dining rooms to close. Consumers, the vast majority of whom have shopped online or ordered food for takeout, knew how to get what they needed while observing social distancing. They shopped or ordered online.
As a retail or restaurant solutions provider, were you confident that your clients had what they needed to stay in business?
E-Commerce Solution Must-Haves
There are countless ways to implement an e-commerce solution, but there are some essential components and features that businesses need to do business online successfully:
- Adequate web hosting
Merchants will turn to you for advice on a web hosting plan that is capable of reliable performance even when traffic is high, whether on Black Friday, during a coronavirus rush for supplies, or at other peak times.
- Robust content management system
An e-commerce solution should give merchants the ability to manage catalogs and menus, enable search, optimize pages for search engines, and be flexible enough to display items, images, and information in engaging ways.
- Shopping cart and wish lists
This function gives customers a place to organize the items they want to purchase before proceeding to payment. Shopping carts and lists that contribute to frictionless shopping experiences can improve conversions.
- Promotions engine
Your clients should have the ability to create and manage discount codes, offer discounted or free shipping, and set timeframes during which promotions apply.
- Email marketing integration
Merchants have an unparalleled opportunity to collect customer contact information and to have customers opt into receiving marketing messages. Using that data to create marketing lists based on purchase history, demographics or other criteria can keep customers engaged with relevant offers, even during a brick-and-mortar shutdown.
- Reporting tools
Top e-commerce solutions provide merchants with an easy-to-use dashboard with the information that’s most important to them and the capability to download the reports they need.
- Integration with the point of sale (POS), retail or restaurant management system
Integration enables keeping inventory updated in real time, effective order and fulfillment, and streamlined accounting.
- Full-featured payments platform
An e-commerce solution should take customers to an easy-to-navigate payments page where they can use their preferred payment methods. Consumers should be able to apply discounts, use gift cards, and earn or redeem loyalty points. The payments page should also give customers the convenience of automatically calculated shipping costs and taxes. With the right payments solution, merchants can tokenize data so that customers don’t have to re-enter information each time they make purchases, to make refunds on returns easier, and to quickly ID customers for curbside pickup or other cross-channel processes.
Be a Trusted Advisor
Brick-and-mortar merchants with no online presence had little choice but to shut their doors and send their employees home during the coronavirus crisis. As a trusted advisor, make sure you’re discussing business continuity with your clients — and how e-commerce can be an important part of that strategy.
Merchants will probably never again think of e-commerce as only a way to stay competitive in an omnichannel world. They now have first-hand knowledge that it can keep business, if not the doors, open, no matter what the future brings.