You can’t compete with a brick and mortar store alone; small businesses need e-commerce sites, too. And unless you sell toilet paper, you may have already noticed that your foot traffic is slowing down as more and more people avoid public spaces. However, we all still need goods and services. Ensuring that your customers can still get your products is now more important than ever.

You may already have a website and e-commerce capabilities, but it may not be as up to date as what customers expect. Here’s what you need to build a dependable e-commerce site so you can keep your business competitive even as more people are hesitant to leave home.

An attractive, reliable website

Every business should already have their own website, but many don’t. In fact, more than a third of small businesses don’t have a site at all. If you’re planning to start one this year (as many are for the first time), know that not all websites are created equal. Your website absolutely must be enticing and incredibly easy to navigate. Ideally, it should be even easier to navigate on mobile than on desktop. Most e-commerce purchases now come from mobile (or m-commerce) , and these numbers are only set to increase dramatically. Make sure your pages also load and refresh quickly. Most customers will readily abandon websites entirely if they’re designed in an unappealing way or if you can’t move through them swiftly.

Give them options

It will take time to break down all your products by possible search terms and keywords, but it’s worth it. Customers should have the ability to easily search your e-commerce site for specific products as well as filter for features. The more options you can give, the more seamless the user experience will be. Allow filters to sort through options like color, size, style, occasion, price range, etc. Another amazing function to consider adding to your website is AR, or augmented reality. I’ve discussed this before as being one of the biggest tends in the retail space today.

However, it’s not just futuristic tech that can sway customers to buy from you, the human element is incredibly important. Small businesses need e-commerce so that customers can leave reviews. Most of us read and trust user reviews and they are quite often what will make or break a sale. Finally, you’ll want to give them incredibly simple and hassle-free return options. Products should be returnable in store, but also easily sent back by having a return label in the original packing. Gone are the days where customers will put up with having to take a trip to the post office and pay again for packaging, a mailing label, and return shipping.

Secure payments

One thing that still dissuades some people from ordering online is a nervousness about how secure their financial information is. The data hacks of recent years have made customers wary, but they’re still shopping. They just avoid less trustworthy looking e-commerce sites. You need to make sure that the payment processing component of your e-commerce business is completely secure and backed by reliable institutions.

Payment gateways, much like websites, are not all created equal. Many have limited options when it comes to payment acceptance and many are not fully backed and insured by reliable partners. Your company’s choice of payment acceptance and its ability to not only process payments within seconds, but to avoid fraud, is of immense importance. Customers don’t just look to reviews for products, they look to verify security. And nothing scares people away faster than unreliable handling of their private financial information.

If you’re ready to expand your reach and thrive even as industries change, contact Holman Business Services today! I’ll provide you the expert partnership required to develop the trusted and secure e-commerce platform your business needs.