The future of online commerce is now/Opinion

Laveta Brigham

Star Trek fans like me are familiar with wormholes. They’re tunnel-like passages through space and time, similar to the tunnels bored by worms through apples. Until recently, they only existed in science fiction fantasies and in highly theoretical constructs of Einstein’s theory of general relatively. But it feels as if […]

Star Trek fans like me are familiar with wormholes.

They’re tunnel-like passages through space and time, similar to the tunnels bored by worms through apples. Until recently, they only existed in science fiction fantasies and in highly theoretical constructs of Einstein’s theory of general relatively.

But it feels as if we’ve all just passed through a wormhole, doesn’t it?

In the past few months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve jumped 10 years into the future of online commerce, according to analysis from McKinsey & Company, the global consulting firm.

McKinsey also estimates that in just two weeks, telemedicine saw a 10-fold increase in virtual appointments. Remote working drove a 1,900% increase in video conference calls. Online learning welcomed 250 million new students in just 14 days. And it took only five months for Disney+ to attract the number of online movie streaming subscribers that Netflix signed-up over seven years.

What McKinsey describes feels like a rift in the space-time continuum to me.

I think most of us are desperate to return to some semblance of normalcy, especially as it relates to moving about without fear, safely gathering with friends and family, offering a warm embrace and leaning in for a peck on the cheek.

But we’re on a gravity-defying journey from which we will never fully return. Because wormholes have a nasty reputation for collapsing upon themselves and leaving travelers stranded on the other side.

So, given that our digital world has just catapulted a decade into the future, it’s critical that your company revamp its online presence. There are still far too many websites out there that seem more like static brochures than dynamic, engaging, up-to-date platforms for online commerce.

Now, more than ever, your website’s homepage is your front door.

It’s where most of your new customers will form their first impression of your business. If your site looked a bit long in the tooth before the pandemic, it’ll come across as downright ancient and out of touch today.

According to the digital marketing gurus at Hubspot, nearly 40% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive. Admit it, you wouldn’t go on a blind date wearing something you pulled from the back of your closet. You’d put on something fresh, clean and wrinkle-free; something that conveys your personality and your values.

They say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But that doesn’t apply to website homepages.

Better to get rid of old, outdated content. If the most recent event in your activities calendar is from 2019, if your most recent blog post is from 2017 and if your current promotion expired six months ago, people will think you’re out of business.

Also, re-evaluate your site’s navigation. Links that land on “page not found” don’t instill confidence and come across as amateurish. It’s as if your company doesn’t care and isn’t paying attention.

Be “mobile-friendly.” Most customers these days think your website should work on their smartphones as well as — or better than — it does on their desktop computer. A mobile friendly website is designed to fill the screen on any device in a way that is legible, simple to navigate and that makes it easy to place an order. Be advised: More than two-thirds of online retail orders are placed from a smartphone.

Make sure you have a clear, easy to find call-to-action. If you want people to place and order, request a call, or watch a video, provide a nice, big button for them to click.

When it comes to digital online commerce, there’s simply no way back through the wormhole. The only path is forward.

Adam Snitzer is a revenue strategy expert and president of Peak Revenue Performance, a consulting firm that specializes in designing and executing innovative pricing strategies to increase revenue and generate cash. [email protected]

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