By Simon Black, CEO, Sage Pay

Online retail has never been more central to the success of a business. As the recent 20th anniversary of ecommerce showed, it is an ever-expanding market in both turnover and user-popularity.

In today’s society, more and more consumers are looking for convenience and efficiency in their shopping experiences which ecommerce offers in abundance. We all know that if there’s ever a time of year when we all, as consumers, value convenience over all else, it’s at Christmas time. From decorating the house to getting the turkey ordered in time, it’s stressful. Yet, online Christmas shopping helps to alleviate some of that stress.

This year, as the UK emerges from an eight year recession and consumers regain their spending confidence, ecommerce looks set to peak during the festive season. Research predicts that online spending in December will top £13bn for the first time. Therefore, it’s vital that businesses of all sizes are ‘online-ready’ in advance of the Christmas rush in order to capitalise on the anticipated windfall.

Many retailers across Britain are already gearing up to make the most of the forecasted online spending spree. In fact, the big names in the retail industry, such as Selfridges, started getting ready for Christmas earlier this summer. Although this might seem strange, it is actually incredibly business savvy. In 2013, eBay recorded some 2.7 million searches for the word ‘Christmas’ throughout the month of August. So as much as we might think it odd to see mince pies already gracing the supermarket shelves, businesses are already preparing for the Christmas rush and SMEs need to be doing the same.

For independent businesses to not only survive, but thrive this Christmas, they need to start preparing now. At Sage Pay, we are aware that most SMBs probably don’t have the same resources as the big players in the industry. Therefore, we have devised some easy and efficient steps that businesses can be taking to help ensure they are ‘online-ready’ for the Christmas period. In the run up to Cyber Monday, the busiest day in the ecommerce calendar, we will be issuing fortnightly advice and tips around what SMBs can be doing to become ‘online-ready’ for Christmas.

Look out for the next article focusing on the best way to creatively market your business in the run up to Christmas, including advice on using social media effectively.