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  • The 2018 Online Holiday Shopping Season: Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready?

    Wednesday, August 8, 2018 by

    prepare your online store for the holiday shopping seasonYes, It's Already Time to Get Your Online Store Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season

    No matter how hot it is right now where you live, it's time to start thinking about the winter holidays. That's because you have several weeks to set the stage for strong Black Friday weekend sales. Now's the time to make your site more mobile-friendly, plan your holiday-sale merchandise offers, hatch a gift wrap plan, and find out how your small business can offer same-day delivery. best dedicated server hosting

    Make Your Store as Mobile-Friendly as Possible

    We write a lot here about the importance of mobile-friendly websites because the mobile channel is a large and growing part of e-commerce success. Most shoppers use their phones to browse and they'll complete their purchases on their phones if checkout is user-friendly enough. Otherwise, they'll move on to more mobile-friendly competitors or (maybe) switch to their computer to finish their order. How can you streamline the checkout process to keep shoppers from abandoning their carts? Offer the online payment methods your customers like most and don't make them key in a lot of data during checkout. PayPal is the best-known payment method for this type of convenience and popularity, but Amazon Pay and Google Pay are other options to consider. Now's the time to research and compare payment methods in terms of processing fees, ease of use, and popularity with your customers so you can get everything set up, tested, and ready for Black Friday sales.  

    Create Exclusive Black Friday Weekend Promotions

    Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday are the biggest US shopping days of the year. What do people buy? Everything. Electronics, toys, clothes, and video games are always popular. But your customers are going to be looking for deals from your store, so you need a custom game plan. Think about what sells well all year long and what's been most popular with your customers during past holiday seasons.
    • How much of a discount can you offer—or do you even need to offer—on popular items?
    • Can you create limited-time-only product bundles?
    • Is it possible to debut a new product similar to your bestsellers for Black Friday weekend or offer a bestselling item in a new color or style only during the sale?
    Plan your offerings in detail now so you can have your products and promotions ready to go well before Black Friday crunch time arrives.  

    Consider Adding a Gift-Wrap Option

    When your customers snap up your Black Friday deals, they may want them gift-wrapped. Offering gift wrap for a small charge, or for free on expensive orders, is a way to set yourself apart from the competition. Both online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores have been dropping their gift wrap services, leaving shoppers to deal the task themselves. However, before you commit to offering gift wrap, it's important to understand why so many retailers have bailed on it. First, gift-wrapping orders takes time and can create holdups in fulfillment—no small issue when so many shoppers want same-day delivery (and we'll look at that below). Also, gift wrap isn't free, and it can be hard to estimate how much you'll need. Run short and you might disappoint customers. Overbuy and you're stuck storing it. If you have the budget and space to proceed, think about how you can wrap orders as efficiently as possible. For local orders that you'll deliver the same day (see below), consider gift bags and tissue paper rather than paper, tape, and bows. Or you can bake the gift wrap into your packaging, delight your shoppers, and skip the wrapping stage—a search for “holiday product packaging” will turn up more than enough ready-to-order and DIY options. Whatever gift wrap option you go with, remember to promote it along with your Black Friday deals. Show shoppers what their gifts will look like when they're delivered and show them that you're ready to help save them time.  

    Find Faster Deliver Options

    In 2017, Amazon raked in 40% of all US e-commerce revenue, according to Forbes. One reason? Fast delivery, including same-day service in many cities. Because many shoppers are now used to same-day delivery from Amazon and grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt, they expect that option whenever they shop. One local-delivery startup found that 78% of shoppers plan to look for same-day delivery when they do their holiday shopping this year. And it's now possible for local businesses in many cities to give these customers what they want. same day delivery for online holiday shopping Companies like Deliv and Dropoff were founded to help local businesses provide same-day delivery. These companies serve dozens of US cities and help level the playing field between giant e-retailers with their own delivery infrastructures and small businesses. If these companies don't operate in your area, research local courier services or consider hiring a seasonal employee to make daily deliveries. Before you write off the idea of same-day delivery as too costly for your business, remember that major carriers may add holiday surcharges again this season, as they did in 2017. The difference in cost between same-day and rush shipping may be smaller than you think. Whatever shipping options you go with this holiday season, be sure to build the cost into your pricing if you offer free shipping. When you have a same-day delivery plan in place for the holiday season, make sure your customers know about it well in advance of Black Friday.
    • Create a same-day delivery map and notice for your site. Share the news on social media.
    • Craft an email for the local segment of your customer email list.
    • Have a brick-and-mortar store? Post the news there, too, so your in-store shoppers will know they have options during holiday crunch time.
     

    Prep Now for 2018 Online Holiday Shopping

    The more planning and prep work you do now, the more value you can offer your customers during the holiday season. Want more e-commerce holiday tips? Get inspired by these marketing campaigns.
  • Which Payment Methods Should Your Small Business Offer?

    Wednesday, August 1, 2018 by
    which payment methods should your small business offer

    Choosing the Best Payment Methods for Your Small Business

    Your online store is filled with great merchandise, your social media accounts and ads are driving traffic to your site, and your mobile user experience is first-rate. So why aren't more visitors buying what you're selling? Maybe you're not letting them pay the way they want to. If you only offer one or two ways to pay, even if they're popular methods like PayPal or Square, you may be losing customers who expect a convenient checkout, especially when they're shopping on their phones. register domain name

    Do Visitors Want to Use Your Payment Options?

    How do you know if you're losing customers because they don't like your payment options? They probably won't tell you but if they do, consider it a gift you can use to learn more about what do they want. You can also survey your customers, but you're not guaranteed to get responses. One of the clearest indicators that shoppers don't like your payment options is your store's shopping cart abandonment rate, which is the percentage of carts with items in them that get ditched before payment. Overall, the e-commerce cart abandonment rate hovers around 70%, according to the Bayard Institute, which compiles data from dozens of sources. The range is anywhere from 60% to 78%, meaning that at best, more than half of shoppers choose items and then don't buy. Of course, your store's cart abandonment rate may be higher or lower. It's one of the metrics to track so you can see how well your checkout process meets your customers' expectations.  

    Is It Worth Your Time and Effort to Add New Options?

    Bayard found that 19% of shoppers who've abandoned a cart say they didn't trust the site with their card information. Another 8% said there weren't enough payment options. why customers abandon shopping cart So, let's do some quick math: If your store is average, 70 out of every 100 shoppers who add an item to their cart will bail. By adding digital wallet payment options so they don't have to give you their card number, you could convert up to 13 (that's 19%) of those 70 shoppers. And if you add the payment methods your target audience prefers, you could convert another 5 or so (the 8% who want other options). Earning up to 18 more conversions per 100 carts seems like a worthwhile use of your time. Let's look at some methods to consider.  

    Amazon Pay makes discount deals with some merchants

    Amazon announced in May that it's offering Amazon Pay processing-fee discounts in exchange for long-term deals with some merchants. Even if you're not among the big-name merchants to be courted by Amazon with the fee discount, adding Amazon Pay to your store can make it easier for Amazon customers to shop with you without having to key in their payment data in your checkout. Why court Amazon customers, who seem very loyal to that site? The company told trade site PYMNTS.com that 33 million consumers in 170 countries already use Amazon Pay, and about a third are mobile shoppers with an average ticket value of $80. Getting even a sliver of those customers into your store could translate into more sales, especially if they can pay easily.  

    Google Pay now works with Firefox, Safari, and iOS

    Google Pay, meanwhile, also made a big announcement in May. It's now compatible with Firefox and Safari browsers and—importantly, given the number of iPhone users—iOS. Previously, only Google's Chrome web browser and Android devices supported Google Pay. The change means shoppers who visit your store via Firefox, Safari, or their iPhones can use their Google wallets to buy your merch. However, unlike Amazon Pay, which provides customer billing and shipping address information in merchants' checkouts, Google Pay only autofills that information in Chrome. Having to key in data can increase cart abandonment, but the extra convenience and security of not having to enter a card number might make up for that. Google Pay also lets retailers set up loyalty programs, digital gift cards, and deals for customers so everyone can skip the paper and plastic cards. And Google Pay works with PayPal and Visa Checkout for added reach. Perhaps the biggest advantage Google Pay has over Amazon Pay is that it's free. Neither merchants nor shoppers pay extra processing fees to use the service. (Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are also free for merchants to use.)  

    Snapchat's a social media payment tool to watch

    Although these aren't payment processing methods, there's a social media payment tool you may want to keep an eye on for the future. The one to watch is Snapchat's new in-app ticket buying feature, which debuted in June. The soft release with SeatGeek lets users book event tickets within Snapchat stories for the Los Angeles Football Club and the International Boxing Federation. Snapchat's also been trying out in-app branded merch sales and swipe-to-buy features. The features aren't widely available yet, but these tests are worth watching, especially for merchants whose target audience is teens and young adults.  

    Which Payment Methods Are Right for Your Small Business?

    Ultimately, any payment method or tool that makes it easier for your customers to buy from you is worth exploring. As you consider which ones to add, look at their fees (if any), customer base, countries in which they operate, security and fraud prevention, and popularity with your target audience. And be sure to track your cart abandonment and conversion rates to measure the performance of any new methods you add. 
  • 5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses

    Thursday, July 19, 2018 by
    summer tech initiatives for small business

    5 Summer Tech Initiatives for Small Businesses

    The summer is a slow time of year for most businesses, with many customers and clients out enjoying the longer days and extended vacations. This makes summer the perfect time to implement new technology. With your business and employees less stressed by pressing deadlines and client demands, you can finally tackle some of those technology projects or updates that have been put on the back burner. Bolster your tech before this season ends with these tech initiatives. HostGator Website Builder

    1. Digital Security

    Big, high-profile business aren’t the only ones being attacked by cyber criminals. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, small businesses represent 58 percent of data breach victims. Per the report, the majority of breaches (73 percent) came from outsider threats, while 50 percent came from organized criminal groups and 12 percent involved nation-state or state-affiliated actors. To protect your business from expensive and damaging cyber attacks, it’s important to implement improved digital security. For example, if you don’t have an IT team, consider hiring consultants who can mitigate threats and monitor regularly for you. Use the summer months to educate your employees as well. You may even want to start a cyber security series, sharing a new digital security tip for employees to learn and then follow each week.  

    2. Mobile Responsive Website

    More and more consumers are accessing information and purchasing goods via their mobile device. According to eMarketer’s estimates, smartphone retail mcommerce sales in the U.S. increased more than 50 percent in 2017, to total $102.14 billion. mcommerce sales In order to successfully compete, it’s important for small business owners to have a mobile responsive website. This makes it easy for customers to find and purchase your products or services, or simply read about what you have to offer—which is, of course, step one in the buying process. To do so, start with your development team. Is your website already mobile responsive? If so, head online and test it with a number of mobile browsers. What’s showing up wrong? What’s not working properly? Better yet: do what the big tech companies do and “eat your own dog food.” In this case, that means requiring employees to only use your app or website via mobile for an entire week. You’ll be sure to come up with a long list of issues that need to be addressed.  

    3. Better Developer Training

    Employee training is valuable for all employees, but especially those in tech-focused roles, like your development team. With technology changing at what feels like the speed of light, and more and more tasks on their plate each day, it’s crucial that they stay up-to-date. As you look to improve your online training for this team, start by asking them what they want to learn about. “If you haven’t asked your technical talent what they want to learn, you could be missing an opportunity to customize your learning strategy, and more importantly, to build your business. Your technical talent is often closest to problems that will produce cost savings and or increase sales, service or efficiency if solved. Therefore, they often know what they need to learn—so ask,” suggests DeveloperAcademy.io. Use their answers, in addition to tech leadership preferences, to start searching for a better tool to implement the training they requested. Look for platforms that allow for customized lessons, dedicated implementation and ongoing development support, and gamification. All of these features make it more valuable for your employees, and easier to manage from your end.  

    4. Collaboration Tools

    With so many companies choosing to hire remote employees, it’s become imperative to implement better collaboration and communication tools. This is the only way for teams to work together without being in the same office, and luckily, technology makes it easy to facilitate. There are likely a number of collaboration and communication needs between your various employees. Consider onboarding a variety of the following tools to mitigate those woes:  

    5. Chatbots

    Chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to converse with with customers or website visitors. They’re becoming increasingly popular within the small businesses community because they can help you save both time and money. The experts at BusinessTown explain: “Hiring a developer to build a basic bot is remarkably easy and affordable … Chatbots are [also] an affordable means of providing a better customer experience. They don’t take time away from otherwise busy employees and don’t cost much money to use.” With chatbots, your business can run 24/7 without ever having to pay an employee overtime. What’s more, chatbots can help improve customer engagement and satisfaction as their needs and questions are being answered any time, day or night. Check out Impact’s list of chat bots to check out in 2018 to find the best one for your needs.  

    It’s Time for Tech Initiatives

    Now’s the time to get started on the projects that make the most sense for your business. Pick the tech initiatives that will help you work faster and more efficiently, while mitigating issues you’re currently experiencing. When your busy season comes around, you’ll be glad you took the time to make these updates now—and your employees will thank you too.
  • 3 Digital Security Tips for Your Small Business

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018 by
    digital security tips for small business

    3 Simple Tips to Keep Your SMB’s Digital Assets Secure

    While most news stations report only on the attacks and data breaches of large organizations, your small business is just as much at risk, if not more. In 2017, 61 percent of SMBs have experienced an attack and 54 percent have experienced a data breach, according to a report from Keeper Security. Your company may be small, but that’s what makes it more vulnerable. To an attacker, that means you're less likely to have a solid security strategy in place, and even less likely to have a cybersecurity team monitoring your digital assets. Just because your business is small doesn't mean you have to accept this potential security threat. Instead, protect yourself against an attack or breach with the right insurance, knowledge of what’s most vulnerable, and better employee security management.  

    1. Identify Vulnerable Assets

    Only 37 percent of small businesses feel very confident about the security of their digital asset storage. In such a remote and collaborative culture, assets need to be readily available to a large number of employees, if not most or all of them. This makes keeping them secure challenging. The good news is, not all assets should be of concern. An old press release or recent product photos aren’t likely a target for hacking or breach. The following assets are vulnerable to attack, however, and should be protected as such, according to Leonardo Cooper, CEO of VaultOne: Domain name registrar: You may not even consider your domain name as an asset, but it is, and it’s one of your most vulnerable. “Management should put access to the domain name credentials in a vault or safe place, and never discuss passwords or usernames via email with colleagues. Access should be limited to a select few team members whose role dictates they need access to the DNS, and passwords should be changed frequently following basic password safety rules,” suggests Cooper. Backup systems: Cloud storage is extremely vulnerable, with some of the largest corporations worldwide experiencing breaches to data stored here. Your best method of protection for this is twofold: make a regular habit of backing up all assets in the cloud to an external hard drive and create an emergency plan, in case the worst happens. Secure your HostGator website with daily, automatic backups from CodeGuard. Third party payment services: While it may seem safer to use a third party payment processor, it’s hard to be sure what their security practices actually are. Don’t let your data, or that of your customers, fall into the wrong hands by using one simple technique: two factor authentication (2FA). This adds one extra layer of security by requiring another password, a specific code, or the use of an app like Google Authenticator, making it harder to hack.  

    2. Bolster Your Cyber Defense

    There are many ways to ensure you have a strong defense to protect your business in case of an attack. Here are two simple ways to bolster your current security measures. Cyber Liability: You insure your business to avoid expensive legal issues with employees or customers, but do you have insurance for cyber liabilities as well? Update your current insurance plan to protect your digital assets: “Some general business owner policies will include specific provisions protecting a business in the case of a cyber attack. Depending on your specific policy and business, you might need errors and omission insurance, which protects your company from liabilities arising from mistakes made by you or your employees, or even specific cyber security policies,” explains the guide, Cyber Liability: How to Protect Your Business. This added protection can likely be included with your current policy, making it easy to update quickly. Better Protection: If you don’t have a security team, your next best option is to work with a service provider who can monitor your domain and assets for breaches or vulnerabilities. Choosing a service provider can be confusing. Steve Bassi, CEO of PolySwarm, shares some suggestions for vetting products and teams: “Companies shouldn't look at any one tool, rather how is the service provider protecting them with defense and response in depth. Put another way, how does the service provider plan to layer defenses and man them with experienced technical folk?” Don’t forget to ask the right questions, referring to specifics like automated monitoring and threat detection. Bassi continues, “A good provider here will provide tools that automate the detection of attackers on employee's machines and across servers. Good examples of this are tools like Carbon black, which does something very simple: if it sees an application executed that has never been seen before in the enterprise it reports it. That's one layer of defense but a good service provider should analyze any foreign applications and see if they look malicious.” Protect your website from malware and digital threats with SiteLock: HostGator SiteLock Malware Protection

    3. Address Your Biggest Threat: Employees

    Your greatest cybersecurity threat is not outside attackers, but the people working for you—or former employees. While in some cases their intent is not to harm the company, employees have access to a wide range of assets that can be breached or attacked due to lack of strong passwords or poor sharing and security management. In many cases, even former employees may still have access to these assets. In fact, the 2017/18 Kroll Annual Global Fraud and Risk Report found that 71 percent of businesses that reported a security incident cited insiders as the perpetrators. More importantly, they found that 39 percent of those perpetrators were junior employees and 37 percent were former employees. There are two ways to combat this in your small business:
    • Create a culture of security, where all employees are empowered to be safe in their interactions, and requirements like 2FA for all employee logins are enforced.
    • Follow a specific procedure when employees are fired or quit. Even when leaving on good terms, your assets are vulnerable if that employee can still access them.
    In general, it’s wise to create a culture of security within your small business, which encourages employees to take ownership of their security and that of the business. TechBeacon shares six great tips for making this happen with your team:
    • Remind employees: security belongs to everyone.
    • Focus on awareness.
    • Create a secure development lifecycle.
    • Reward employees that do the right thing for security.
    • Create a security community.
    • Make security fun and engaging.
     

    Get Serious About Digital Asset Security

    Cybersecurity is no joke for small businesses. With so many digital assets being created, used and shared, this is an important vulnerability to address. Luckily, there are a number of ways to protect your business from breach or attack, including working with a security consultant, creating a culture of security and identifying and protecting the assets that are most vulnerable. Learn more about securing your small business website with our free Website Security Checklist.
  • Why Your Business Should Be Using A Virus Removal Tool

    Monday, June 18, 2018 by
    why your small business should be using a virus removal tool

    Why Your Small Business Should Be Using a Virus Removal Tool

    As a small business owner, you need to take steps to protect your business. We’re not just talking about insurance or even legal stuff, but something else entirely—your business website. If your website isn’t properly protected with an anti-malware software and a supportive web hosting service you’re leaving yourself susceptible to viruses that can make using your site difficult, and even compromise your website as a whole. Finding a solid virus removal tool will help protect your website from hackers and ensure it’s always safe and secure. Below you’ll learn why your small business needs to use a virus removal tool and the steps you can take to get started. HostGator SiteLock Malware Protection

    A Virus Can Harm Any Business, No Matter How Small

    When your computer has a virus, its consequences can range from being a slight inconvenience to making your computer completely non-operational. Plus, some forms of malware can steal sensitive information like credit card or banking information. As a result, you probably already have some form of anti-malware protection installed on your computer. But, what about your website? If you’re using your website for business, then this is an asset that needs to be protected, just like your computer. A lot of website owners think that just keeping their website, themes, and plugins up to date will be enough. Although this will protect you against past security holes it won’t protect you from newer security risks, which is why you need an antivirus program in place.  Most software is updated only after security vulnerabilities are found. Don’t let your website be the testing ground for finding these leaks and security holes. A virus can not only harm your website but, it can ruin your reputation as well. For example, if your site is infected, any sensitive customer information might be compromised. If a user visits your site, and they have anti-virus software installed, then they’ll be warned to leave your site. This makes you come across as spammy. They won’t have any idea of knowing who installed the virus, and the chances are high that they won’t return to your site. As a result, you suffer an immediate loss in user trust and a drop in traffic as well.  

    The Overall Cost of a Virus

    A virus removal tool can be a small investment compared to the overall damage it can wreak on your small business. Instead of having to reach out to customers to let them know their data has been compromised, or having to essentially restart your website from scratch, you can simply invest in a virus protection and removal tool. A virus does more than just take down your website. It can potentially ruin your business. Think about the cost of losing your customers for life. Or, the cost of qualified traffic that lands on your infected website and never comes back again. You’ve spent a lot of time and energy designing your website. It’s time to protect it, just as you would your home.  

    What Does a Virus Removal Tool Do?

    A virus removal tool will not only scan and remove any kinds of viruses that may be installed on your site, but it’ll keep you protected from it ever happening in the first place. You’ll get access to different features depending upon the tool you choose, but it’ll generally be equipped with the following:
    • A regular malware scanner to detect and delete any malware or viruses
    • A firewall to prevent any DDoS or other forms of attacks
    • A feature to help prevent website blacklisting (this could destroy your search engine rankings)
    • An alert system to let you know of any potential risks, or out of date software
    Overall, virus removal tools are easy investments to make, and your website and visitors will be protected over the long run.  

    How to Pick the Right Virus Removal Tool for Your Website

    There are a variety of tools and anti-virus software that will help your website stay safe and secure online. If you’re a WordPress user, there are numerous security plugins like: However, if you’re currently using HostGator to host your site, then you should consider the SiteLock service. As an add-on to your hosting package, you’ll get regular malware scans and removal, along with features to help prevent website blacklisting.  

    It's Time to Protect Your Site

    Most small business owners understand the need to protect their personal and business computers, but hopefully, you now see why protecting your website is also a must. Remember, it’s a good idea to invest in a virus removal tool before it’s too late. When it comes to online security prevention, it is always the best route to take.