As reported by Forbes.com, consumer trends are rapidly changing. And with online retail commerce increasing by as much as 20% this year, it’s become apparent that successful companies must “double down on digital” if they want to thrive in these technologically volatile times.
Visa recently released an annual report called “The Future of Commerce,” providing valuable insights into how small businesses can improve their customer experience through technology. According to the report, 85% of the U.S. population go online at least once a month. That’s about 280 million people, in case you’re wondering. And of those people, 81% will use their time online to browse, research, or compare products. And then 70% will actually pull the trigger on a purchase.
This increase in and diversification of online activity demonstrates that cross-channel buying is on the rise. Visa reports that 25% of purchases that begin online are completed in a store. On the flipside, 25% of purchases that begin in a store are later finished online.
With the fluidity of modern commerce, it’s never been more important to have a strong online presence that syncs smoothly with your brick-and-mortar store (if you have one). Visa’s research shows that 80% of customers are motivated to shop at businesses that have an easy-to-use website. Additionally, 52% of people will visit the business’s website before visiting a new business.
This focus on convenience helps explain why credit cards are now used more often globally than cash. Last year, there were $23.3 trillion in total card transactions, compared to $20.4 trillion in cash. In the report, 78% of respondents ranked a digital payment method as their most preferred payment option.
Visa’s research shows that when small businesses accept digital payments they see an average revenue increase of 8%. And 65% of small businesses report that customers spend more with cards and other forms of digital payment than they do with cash.
Despite the importance of digital payments and online commerce, Visa found that less than half of small businesses sell their products or services online. So there’s major work to be done. After all, small businesses make up 99% of all companies in America and employ nearly 60 million people. So we’re talking about a massive number of businesses that aren’t leveraging digital commerce.
The best news from the report is that small businesses fit perfectly into what modern customers are seeking: experiences that improve and simplify their lives. It’s not always about price or selection. It’s about integrated shopping that doesn’t require a tutorial to figure out.
Small businesses are nimble enough to adapt so they can deliver in these ways. And customers are more than happy to respond with purchases. After all, 87% of consumers reported to Visa that they believe it’s important to support their local small businesses.