Selecting the Right Partner and Mobile Optimization Critical to Business Success in 2017

Steve Fusco, VP, GM Global Distribution, PayPal
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Steve Fusco, VP, GM Global Distribution, PayPal

According to Internet Retailer, online sales on Black Friday increased by more than 20 percent in 2016 and mobile sales passed $1 billion on a single day for the first time ever. M-commerce then broke the $1 billion barrier again just three days later, on Cyber Monday, as mobile sales surged by 34 percent compared with the previous year. At PayPal, we processed more than $2 billion in mobile payments during the five day shopping rush from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, representing a third of our total payment volume.

All of this gives credence to the BI Intelligence prediction that m-commerce will be worth more than a quarter-trillion dollars and account for 45 percent of the U.S. e-commerce market by 2020. And it makes clear that creating a mobile-friendly shopping experience is critical if your business is going to drive increased sales online in 2017 and beyond.

The Power of Marketplaces

The question, of course, is how. Creating an online retail presence is complicated enough given the need to account for everything from design to marketing, search optimization, payments, and fulfillment. Add in the requirement to offer a compelling mobile experience and it can feel like an overwhelming burden and a serious distraction from the real reason you are in business—to bring your products or services into the hands of customers.

Marketplace platforms can be an important part of the answer. They offer a great way to make your brand, products, and services available to an entire world of new customers—most of whom would never run across your company and the great things you sell. This alone can drive a jump in sales, much like opening a store in a high-traffic location.

  ​To harness the power of site building tools successfully, it’s critical to select the right platform for your business needs  

When you use an established marketplace such as eBay or Etsy, you can do all this without taking on the cost and complexity of creating your own platform. These marketplaces typically provide turnkey tools that will make you mobile-ready, with seamless checkout options, marketing and order fulfilment capabilities, and search engine optimization. And you can take advantage of all of this while using your brand name and logo so you won’t sacrifice the brand loyalty you’ve already built with your existing customer base.

Consumers are growing increasingly comfortable making large purchases via mobile and online, but a recent ComScore study revealed that payment security is still a significant concern for those consumers looking to make bigger, more complex transactions. Building your business within a Marketplace can instill consumer confidence around the payment process and allay these concerns through partnerships with reputable providers such as PayPal and Braintree. This can help drive conversions and reduce cart abandonment.

Using Site Building Tools to Tailor Your Online Offering

If building your own site makes more sense for your business than selling within the context of a marketplace, using site building tools to create your own online and mobile presence may be a better way to go. Today’s site building tools offer capabilities that can meet the needs companies of every size—from small single-product specialty retailers, to large companies generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales.

To harness the power of site building tools successfully, it’s critical to select the right platform for your business needs. When choosing between options such as Magento, BigCommerce, Squarespace, or others, you should be clear about what you need and what you are getting. Key things to decide are whether you want a turnkey solution to establish an online presence quickly or if you can take advantage of a more robust set of open-source tools for web developers and system integrators.

The control you gain from customizing your web and mobile offering to the specific needs of your business is just one of the benefits of using site building tools. They are faster, cheaper, and less complicated than assembling and managing a team of vendors to handle design, development, integration, and more. You can launch a website in a matter of hours, ensuring that sales aren’t lost while you wait for someone else to build your website. And the end-to-end nature of many site-building platforms makes it easy to offer mobile optimization and responsive design without treating each one as an entirely new project.

There is a tradeoff however—when you opt for site building tools, you lose the built-in access to international markets and new customers that marketplaces provide.

Key considerations for retailers heading into 2017

Whether you decide to reach out to the world through a marketplace or use site building tools to create a customized digital presence, I want to share three trends with you to keep in mind as you explore your options for unleashing the power of mobile commerce to drive sales growth in 2017:

• The upward rise of m-commerce makes enabling your customers to buy from you on their mobile devices essential to your success. This means you must plan with a mobile first mindset. If you don’t have a mobile strategy for 2017, you are already behind.

• Consumers now expect an exceptional online shopping experience. Friction during the payments step is one of the most common reasons shoppers abandon their carts. Through payment innovations such as One Touch, PayPal is enabling online businesses to offer a faster, more seamless checkout.

• Contextual shopping experiences

Offer powerful ways to reach your customers in situations that have a high likelihood of driving sales. This is creating new opportunities—and pressure—to go beyond websites, apps, and stores. PayPal’s recent Facebook messenger integration is an example of this.

It’s not as complicated as it seems. While this period of far-reaching transformation in retail comes with great promise and plenty of uncertainty, the good news is that excellent tools and commerce platforms exist so that you can take advantage of emerging opportunities in mobile commerce and beyond. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of picking the right technology partners for your company.

They can help you drive new sales in minutes. Rapid change in online commerce is unavoidable but with the right strategy and partner, you will be prepared for the changes that still lie ahead.

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