By Sydney Ivey

Today’s shopping experience looks vastly different from how it did even a few years ago. Having the internet at our fingertips allows customers to begin their purchase journey by researching a product or business, and end their journey with a digital payment – all through a mobile device.

As more people rely on smartphones throughout their purchase journey, digital technology can be the easiest way for you to reach new customers and retain the ones you already have.

How do you get started? Here are a few key strategies.

1. Maintain an updated, mobile-friendly website

More than a fifth of small business consumers research a product or service on their mobile device before making a purchase. If you’re about to build a website or are looking to update your current one, ensure it’s mobile-friendly.

How many times have you looked up a local restaurant to see what time it closes or the best place to park when you arrive? Shoppers have likely wondered the same question about your business. Make sure your website includes essential details like hours of operation, contact and location information, and products or services provided. And help your website visitors out with simple, intuitive site navigation so they can quickly find the information they seek.

2. Promote your business with online marketing

One of the benefits of digital marketing is that you don’t need to spend much to have a strong online presence. Social media can be a great way to promote your business and interact with customers who engage with your account, and it gives them another way to find your business’ website or location. Posting and sharing new content can also help keep your business’ name top of mind.

Another way to catch an online consumer’s attention is through email. But how can you start collecting email addresses? Consider offering a loyalty program where customers can enjoy discounts or rewards for making purchases. Bank of America Merchant Services’ research shows 80 percent of consumers will provide their email address to join a loyalty program.

Once you’ve established a distribution list, start sending emails about store events, special offers, new product or service announcements, or links to your business’ social media accounts.

Consider enlisting a local graphic designer or web specialist to make your outbound emails as polished and inviting as possible.

3. Accept and use digital payments

Digital payments don’t require shoppers to carry a wallet or cash, which could help explain why nearly a quarter of small business consumers want to be able to pay with a mobile device or digital wallet. But the benefits are passed on to owners, as well.

On average, small and medium-sized businesses reported an 8 percent increase in revenue after accepting digital payments. They also noted faster check-out times – owners estimated that it takes 542 hours to process $100,000 in non-digital payments compared to 189 hours to process the same amount in digital payments.

With nearly everyone carrying a mobile device, digital payments are readily accessible to most shoppers – as are millions of websites and social media accounts. Implementing digital strategies can help you put your small business in front of consumers and better align the digital realm with the “real world.”

Sydney Ivey serves as Bank of America Merchant Services’ General Manager for Small Business. In this role, he manages all aspects of the company’s Small Business segment sales, service and retention, and guides the development and delivery of critical business priorities for the small business team. Ivey joined Bank of America Merchant Services in 2018 after 12 years with Bank of America, where he supported the relationship between Bank of America and Bank of America Merchant Services.

Customer stock photo by mavo/Shutterstock