E-commerce is ahead of schedule—and here to stay.
The rise of e-commerce and social commerce is unmistakable. What was once viewed as an alternative shopping method for a select few is now the preferred shopping method for a significant portion of consumers. A report by Statista forecasts that by 2025, the online e-commerce sector will make up close to a quarter of total global retail sales, suggesting robust growth in the years ahead. A separate report by Insider Intelligence states that U.S. e-commerce sales will cross $1 trillion for the first time by the end of 2022, significantly sooner than pre-pandemic projections that forecast reaching that milestone in 2024 at the earliest. E-commerce is ahead of schedule—and here to stay.
But more importantly, the transformation of the payments landscape as a result of the e-commerce wave has signaled a shift in the behavior of almost every consumer. Even if a customer is not inclined to transact via an e-commerce store or a mobile channel, there is an innate understanding that optionality should still exist should they desire it. This shift is a complicated one for merchants, unloading new sets of challenges on the shoulders of small businesses already jugging proactive and reactive attempts to navigate the omnichannel demands of today’s consumers.
Meanwhile, social commerce and live commerce represent a natural evolution to the kind of convenience that e-commerce offers, introducing an entirely new wrinkle to what consumers have come to expect from their checkout experience. The ability to transact directly via social channels that are designed to be mobile-friendly has conditioned the buying public to expect easily accessible online and mobile checkouts more than they ever have before. A 2022 study reported that 92% of active mobile users access the internet through mobile devices, but mobile users have a cart abandonment rate of nearly 86% — compounding the need for merchants to optimize their e-commerce websites for mobile. But while optimizing e-commerce platforms for mobile should be a given for any merchant dedicated to meeting their customers where they want to purchase, harnessing a unified payment system can alter the relationship between merchants and consumers in an even more rewarding way.
An e-commerce platform optimized for multi-channel purchases creates the strategic, competitive advantage that merchants can anticipate will eliminate future pressure point and reshape how their customers interact with their businesses. Baymard Institute reports that 18% of customers abandon checkout pages that are too complicated or long. If merchants want to take this advantage a step further, wielding an e-commerce platform that is directly integrated into the website of their business rewards them with a seamless payment system consumers can use to transact cleanly in one fell swoop. Consumers can completely circumvent the friction, security risks and worry associated with maneuvering between merchants and separate third-party websites to complete payments. Conversely, merchants that present a streamlined system with expedited checkout flows across channels and minimal steps in the sales funnel are rewarded with more loyalty and trust from their customers.
Ultimately, businesses must do more than just accommodate flexibility as the payments landscape continues to evolve. Prioritizing and leveraging the right e-commerce solution can do more than just keep businesses upright—it can aid them exponentially in adding more customers (while retaining more of their own), improve the efficiency of operations and management of customer data, and promote the kind of scalable growth required for businesses to soar.
Small businesses may feel like they’re at a disadvantage searching for a viable e-commerce option that is built to handle future growth. One 2022 study reported that one in four small businesses still lack an online store of any kind. However, the kind of e-commerce technology that was once only available to large businesses with larger budgets is not as unattainable as some of the bigger payment providers may suggest.
APEXOnline is an all-in-one e-commerce platform built for small businesses, and a feature product of the APEX Omnichannel payment processing platform. APEXOnline is a cost-effective solution that allows retailers to sell their products online through a visual shop builder. This builder allows complete drag and drop control, with thematic templates that quickly enable business owners to create beautiful e-commerce sites. This powerful platform is optimized for mobile site viewers with an unlimited number of products that can be uploaded for purchase. APEXOnline easily integrates with shipping vendors to include automated shipping fee calculation and automates structured dats and sitemaps for search engine optimization. With customizable gift and loyalty features combined with integrate newsletters, blogs, and other consumer outreach capabilities, APEXOnline is uniquely positioned to aid business expansion.
Finally, all transaction data from APEXOnline is processed through APEX Gateway and is combined with transaction data for retail sales through APEXNow. This offers business owners the ability to meet consumers where they are ready to transact and consolidate all of that data to easily interact with consumers to address questions or add to existing sales — the optimal omnichannel solution.
For a limited time, all merchants using AFS’ payment processing will be able to access the APEXOnline platform, including custom drag and drop website templates, for free.
For more information, reach out to AFS representatives at go-afs.com.