Gate Customer Newsletter Gate.com
Issue: August 2015

Make Visiting Your E-Commerce Site More Tempting Than a Cinnabon

We all have our favorite foods that, try as we might, we simply canít resist. Mine happens to be the ooey-gooey, sweet goodness that is the Cinnabon. Itís not just the warm, flakey cake smothered in cinnamon, itís the sugary frosting that really ties it all together. The e-commerce industry could learn a thing or two from these masters of pastry about enticing consumers.

The world of e-commerce is more competitive than ever before, with mom-and-pop shops now able to access tools that level the playing field with industry giants. Itís increasingly important to attract new and existing customers and encourage interactions, so businesses are looking for strategies to make these connections possible.

So how can you harness the temptation factor of your favorite food and apply it to your e-commerce business to stay top-of-mind for consumers? Letís take a look at how to make your company as tempting as a Cinnabon:

1) Tailor, customize and personalize

One way to become irresistible is to offer customers a more personalized experience using product recommendations and customized deals. Give the shopper something they wonít see anywhere else. This boosts the chance that theyíll not only visit more often, but make more planned and impulse purchases as well.

Practical Ecommerce contributor Armando Roggio pointed out that personalization in the e-commerce industry is similar to dating Ė the brand has to be willing to take a few risks to capture the attention of its clients. Roggio recommended working to understand the interests of each consumer, and being available to their clients when they need assistance.

2) Reach out on a frequent basis

When I see a Cinnabon Ė especially the one thatís mere blocks from my house Ė itís hard not to crave the cinnamon-y goodness. E-commerce brands can use a similar approach to make their customers crave an interaction with the brand.

Instead of waiting for shoppers to come to you, tempt them with regular communications, including email campaigns, mobile app notifications and social media posts. Email messages are another opportunity for the brand to tailor content for customers by including names, product recommendations or special deals on items in the shopperís wish list. Frequent communication with the brand makes an interaction Ė and an eventual purchase Ė hard to resist.

3) Offer deals on the items your customers want

Discounts are tempting, but not as enticing as a deal on a specific item that a customer has been eyeing. If your favorite restaurant offered 20 percent off your favorite entrťe, wouldnít it be difficult not to eat out that night?

Take personalization a step further by offering specials on items that shoppers have viewed before or have added to their wish list. Notifying a customer that the price of a product has changed or that shipping has been discounted encourages an interaction with the brand that will likely lead to a transaction.

4) Ensure they donít have to wait

Once youíve attracted the customer to the website thereís one last piece to the puzzle: Ensure they donít have to wait for slow-loading pages.

KISSmetrics noted that a slow website can directly impact customer interactions. In fact, companies stand to lose a staggering 25 percent of their business if pages take more than four seconds to load.

Considering that the average e-commerce site took nearly double that to load in 2014, itís possible that your brand has some work to do.

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In This Issue
Make Visiting Your E-Commerce Site More Tempting Than a Cinnabon
Preparing Your Online Store for More Traffic
Why Small Businesses Need Application Hosting
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Preparing Your Online Store for More Traffic

Recently, industry leader Amazon blazed a trail with its Prime Day event, promising specials and discounts that were unavailable to customers on Black Friday. While it came and went with mixed reviews from customers, Prime Day did showcase one way retailers can make a splash Ė so long as theyíre prepared for the resulting influx of customers.

Many brands host events like this, offering deep discounts and other incentives to customers to boost their client base and revenue. However, one important aspect to keep in mind here is preparation Ė the companyís online platform, in particular, must be ready to handle the large number of consumers rushing to take advantage of these deals.

Learn from the past Ė Prepare for additional traffic before online sales

It may seem obvious to have extra support and resources in place to handle the increase in customers during a large event. However, some companies get caught unprepared.

CDNetworks reported that there were several notable website crashes during the 2013 holiday season in particular, where retailers simply didnít have adequate support to account for the considerable boost in demand. Big names including Walmart, Motorola and Canada-based Future Shop were all inundated with customers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and some customers were unable to access the discounts they were promised.

This can be considerably damaging for the brand, and have a negative impact on the companyís reputation. But itís not just a website crash that can cause business to suffer Ė if a website isnít performing as quickly or optimally as it should, shoppers will likely seek out a competitor. For this reason, itís imperative to ensure ahead of time that the platform is ready to support clientsí needs during a large event.

Preparation checklist: Website Security

What should retailers prioritize as part of their preparations? KISSmetrics advised putting security at the top of the list, especially in advance of a big sale. In addition to regular shoppers, an online sale could also attract the attention of cybercriminals with malicious intent.

When examining security, KISSmetrics recommended performing an audit with the help of an expert consultant to pinpoint any weak spots in the companyís infrastructure. In addition, retailers should also run cyberattack scenarios to see how their platform would react to an infiltration. These activities will provide a blueprint for protection improvements, illuminating specific areas in need of patches or better safeguards.

Itís also important that the security in place provides peace of mind for the customer, as well as the brand. Itís common practice Ė and required by industry guidelines Ė to have SSL protection in place. KISSmetrics suggested ensuring that the trust seals associated with the certificate are prominently displayed so customers know their sensitive information will be protected.

Test for traffic spikes before an online sale

In addition to website security, itís also essential to test the website to see how it will react to the target influx of customers that will come to take advantage of the online sale or event. Hosting providers recommend a few best practices when it comes to load testing, including pinpointing testing goals and initial benchmarks, as well as deciding on the data collection methods, scripts and testing environment that will be used.

Tests will often uncover common issues including needs for improved compression, a content delivery network, more efficient code or full page caching to enhance performance. Once the problems are pinpointed, the IT team can work to mitigate these problems to help ensure the best experience possible for shoppers.

Scale hosted resources to account for boosted demands

The final, and perhaps most important, piece of the puzzle concerns hosted resources. A robust hosting partner can help the company scale its environment appropriately to ensure the proper support is in place for the rise in customer demand. This will not only prevent the website from crashing, but will also ensure that the platform is as responsive as possible and performs at its best.

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Why Small Businesses Need Application Hosting

Companies of all sizes benefit from application hosting. Removing the complications of on-site equipment and infrastructure management is attractive to even large enterprises with robust IT teams. However, the sector helped most by this approach is small businesses.

There are a number of reasons smaller organizations need application hosting services. Letís take a look at what makes managed application hosting so advantageous for this group.

Hosted applications of all types

The software-as-a-service industry has grown considerably in recent years, particularly as business managers become more comfortable with cloud technologies. Now, SaaS companies have a full range of offerings, including a variety of popular applications that can be hosted in the vendorís data centers. This means small business administrators donít have to look far to find the hosted application services they need.

Filling resource gaps

When comparing IT resources, small businesses typically have a long way to go before they catch up with larger enterprise that have larger IT budgets and can devote more time and effort to their technology. However, smaller companies donít have to stay in the dark ages.

Application hosting removes the worry of building out an IT department. Because the service provider makes the required applications accessible via its own infrastructure, users are able to utilize these resources in the same manner as a large enterprise.

ď[B]ecause many small businesses donít have an on-site IT team, web hosting services provide technical support that can help get a site up and running should any problems occur,Ē BusinessNewsDaily contributor Chad Brooks pointed out.

In this way, the small business has a partner in place to assist with the establishment of services, as well as resources to fall back on should any problems or concerns arise.

Boosted IT security

Service providers can also ensure that small businesses have the proper security protocols in place. Data protection is often a main concern for this industry, as many smaller organizations donít have the robust safeguarding resources needed. This is where a partnership with a SaaS vendor can become valuable.Instead of scurrying to guard against the latest threat, small business owners can rest easy knowing their sensitive data is protected by the service provider.

Capital savings

Establishing and hosting the infrastructure required for todayís business processes is an expensive endeavor. This makes managed application hosting even more attractive for smaller companies that may not have the capital needed for such an undertaking. SaaS can help a small company save considerable time and resources, enabling administrators to devote this money and effort to other important areas of the organization.

Shifting the internal focus

Overall, managed application hosting is often the most beneficial for small businesses with less IT resources as it allows administrators to focus on mission-critical projects and initiatives while still ensuring that application needs are met. This approach not only helps fill resource gaps and save funds, it can also boost operational efficiency and guarantee that employees have all the tools they need to complete important tasks. In todayís business environment, the ability to arm staff with robust, affordable technologies is paramount.

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