Image: George Hodan Image: George Hodan

The popularity of online shopping continues to grow, and competition amongst online retailers is intensifying as more and more businesses battle for a share of this lucrative market. Barclaycard spending data shows that online spending grew 14.5% in the last year, whilst in-store spending increased just 0.1%. In 2015, e-commerce sales in the UK totalled £114bn, and this is predicted to rise to £126bn this year.

To make the most of this opportunity, retailers must deliver the best possible online experience to attract and retain customers; yet, many businesses are still missing simple tricks to help them succeed online. With 50 years of payments expertise, helping merchants sell their goods and services, Barclaycard knows that a few small changes to an ecommerce site can make a world of difference to consumers.

1. Put mobile first

Shoppers are increasingly browsing and purchasing goods ‘on the go’: mobile commerce (m-commerce) now accounts for almost half of online sales in the UK.

M-commerce transcends borders, widening the potential market for businesses if they optimise their online experience, with forecasts suggesting that growth in mobile shopping will be particularly prevalent in Latin America, Europe and China.

To succeed, retailers should be aware that international consumers have higher expectations of the mobile shopping experience. In the US, consumers increasingly expect retailers to offer an app to enable quick and convenient purchasing, and shoppers in China and Latin America also favour this method to purchase online. While this does not mean every retailer needs to create their own app, focussing on how to build a mobile-optimised shopping experience is vital to winning over local and overseas customers.

2. Cull your clicks

There’s a common theme amongst businesses that succeed in driving sales online: speed.Retailers should think about how many clicks it takes for a customer to go from finding a product to buying it. Every additional click to complete a purchase reduces the likelihood of that purchase being made.

Payment providers are on hand to help retailers understand how they can effectively reduce the number of clicks without impairing fraud and security measures. This will make the journey to a sale much quicker, generating that all-important revenue and driving repeat custom.

3. Prioritise your payments system

When a customer reaches the payments page, retailers must ensure the process is slick and simple to secure the sale, and this is where the right payment solution is vital.

The best payment systems will smoothly integrate the customer’s browsing experience with their payment experience, reducing the chances they’ll be put off if a website is too difficult to navigate: according to F5 networks, over 30% of consumers said a poor online experience would prevent them from completing a purchase.

It may cost a bit more to implement a customised solution that allows a seamless process – one which consumers easily transition from browsing to paying – but that upfront investment can make an important difference.

4. Fight fraud

Cyberattacks can have a debilitating impact on any business, whatever its size. Barclaycard research shows that almost half of small businesses have been hit by an attack in the last year, whilst separate research has found that two-thirds of large businesses were victim to an attack in the same period.

A secure online payment solution, implemented by an external payment provider, can help to protect businesses from fraud. This means the merchant holds no card data, and the risk of the business losing data is minimised.Retailers should also monitor for suspicious activity online. This could include a high frequency of orders with the same delivery location, customers that keep returning to the site in a short space of time and any unusual activity around high-risk (or expensive) products.

Through our experience of working with businesses in the UK, we know that consumers expect a quick, safe and efficient service – whether they’re shopping online or in store. To stay ahead of the competition, retailers must ensure they are delivering this experience across all channels. Following these simple steps will go a long way towards helping businesses succeed online.

By Paul Clarke, product director at Barclaycard