There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. Personal lives, work lives and our businesses are likely changed forever. It’s becoming a cliché, but a “new normal” is emerging forcing people to reevaluate their lives in many ways. One of the most obvious ways is spending habits.
With many businesses closed when the virus first hit, people became very aware of how much they were spending, and where their money was going, prior to the pandemic. The realization of how much money people could save is going to impact how we research and shop for products and services in the future in both positive and negative ways.
An excerpt from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) Internet Factbook 2020 report says that while over half of Canadians go online before going to a physical store, “…fewer do the reverse, with only 17 per cent saying they always or often visit a store to browse but then make their purchase online – sometimes referred to as “showrooming.” People in some provinces are more likely than others to do showrooming. In BC, 21 per cent say they’ll do it. In Saskatchewan, only 10 per cent do so. There is no question how important your website is to shoppers and it’s only getting more so.
According to Google, “71% of Canadian shoppers will shop more at local small businesses” this holiday season. For businesses, the old saying “Be Prepared” is a good philosophy to adopt right now. If you still don’t have a website, it’s time to get one. Call us. We’ll set you up. If you do, it’s time to update it, polish the design and add features like online chat and e-commerce.
While most people think of e-commerce as Amazon, and a lot of e-commerce research is focused on retail products, many businesses can adopt “e-commerce” by using a broader definition. Appointment bookings, deposits to book your services, any online transaction that your business may be involved with could be considered e-commerce. But you’re going to lose out to a competitor if potential customers do not have a good experience. And it all starts with trust.
People are much more savvy online shoppers now. They recognize poor design, curse broken links, quickly leave if they can’t find what they’re looking for. But some of your visitors will also notice technical details like whether your site is SSL encrypted meaning data moving between the visitor’s browser and your site is secure. Google now penalizes sites that aren’t SSL encrypted by moving them much lower on the search results. And that’s bad for an online business.
If you’ve already got a site and it’s hosted by another company, it’s time to ask them about their technical infrastructure. Directwest has spent a lot of time building out a secure, redundant infrastructure for our website customers. If you’re concerned about your site then call us and we can answer any questions you may have. We’ve supported local Saskatchewan businesses reliably for 100 years and now we do the same in the digital world. Be prepared for holiday shoppers and ensure your site is ready.
– Andrew Clarke is Vice President of Brand & Digital Platforms at Directwest
Note: This article references Directwest’s Google Premium product and Website product that has now been discontinued.