Happy Friday, everyone! Seasonal changes are right around the corner and it’s about time to begin shifting your customer messaging and your available products to cater to the new climate. While you’ve likely been strategizing marketing and merchandising for your brand, the rest of the ecommerce industry hasn’t slowed down –– and we’ve gathered this week’s top news to keep you up-to-date.
Below are the top three ecommerce news stories to surface this week, including increased outlets for small business loans, how Google’s #Mobilegeddon may have affected your online store, and information on new cybersecurity legislation and potential education that can save you and your customers from data breaches.
Angie’s List, Sam’s Club to Offer Small Business Loans
Angie’s List, an online listing service on which users review businesses, announced a collaboration with OnDeck Capital Monday to give small businesses access to loans up to $250,000. The financing will be available to service providers on Angie’s List and the money can be used to drive business growth or fund subscriptions to the Angie’s List’s platform. The businesses will also have access to business lines of credit up to $20,000.
This announcement comes on the heels of news that Sam’s Club will be offering small business services to its members, one of which is a partnership with Web.com, which states that 50% of small businesses have no online presence whatsoever.
Adding a digital presence to an already existing brick-and-mortar business can increase revenues by at least 28% in six months, help small businesses tackle commerce’s new omnichannel environment and compete against the big box brands.
What’s more is that recent news suggests that this data is not falling on deaf ears within the small business community –– at least in New York City. For the first time since 2010, small business loans are up. As recent Federal Reserve surveys have indicated, banks have loosened lending standards as the economy improves and the financial crisis recedes. Capital One, for example, now offers no-doc loans for $50,000 and less to well-qualified small-business borrowers.
Though most loans are still expensive, some lenders offer rates of about 6% to their best borrowers, along with more generous payment terms.
“We’ve seen a lot of our practice move in the direction of those lenders,” said Ami Kassar, chief executive of MultiFunding, a loan brokerage and consultancy. “That’s a positive evolution in the online lending space over the past year or so.”
For small businesses, these are all positive developments.
“The days of either getting a bank loan or using a credit card appear to be over,” said Chris McDonnell, managing director at Greenwich Associates, a Connecticut based banking consultancy.
Mobilegeddon May Most Affect Small Businesses’ SEO
On April 21, Google altered its algorithm to favor sites that are mobile-friendly (i.e. ones with large text, easy-to-click links, and that resize to fit whatever screen they’re viewed on). This shift in algorithm reflects a worldwide move toward mobile shopping and mobile internet consumption. In response, many sites have long been moving their templates over to a responsive design –– one that scales based on screen size. This option often means that a site only needs to be designed once, rather than creating different website experiences for different devices as previous mobile-dedicated sites required only a few years ago.
For legacy brands and big box retailers, this shift has been relatively easy and a well-funded investment in the future of their businesses. For smaller businesses, however, especially those looking to stay afloat during the Great Recession, moving to responsive design has fallen lower on their priority list.
As a result, many feared that Google’s algorithm update, termed “Mobilegeddon” by internet users, would ultimately most harm smaller online businesses.
“I think the people who are at risk are those who don’t know about it,” Itai Sadan, CEO of website building company Duda, told Business Insider. “Come April 21, a lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web.”
If your site is experiencing a significant traffic drop this week, look into upgrading to a responsive design site. If you are a Bigcommerce merchant, you can easily do so here.
Experts Call for Education Component to Cybersecurity Measures
The United States Congress considered legislation this week that aims to better protect government and organizations from cyber attacks, but many experts are concerned that the bill doesn’t do enough to protect small online businesses.
“Cybersecurity has emerged as a significant problem and concern for the small business community,” Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, said during a hearing held by the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday. “Sharing cybersecurity information is useful, but what small businesses really need is to know how to use that information.”
McCracken, along with a slew of other small business experts, says that online businesses outside of those that are household names are the most vulnerable to cyberattacks, given that many cybercriminals know how unprepared many of those small online businesses are. Hacking attempts and data breaches are inevitable, according to the experts, and small business are ill-prepared to defend themselves.
“There needs to be an education component to all this,” Dan Berger, president of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, said during the hearing. According to the Washington Post, his group has long called for a national set of data security standards for retailers and merchants, which would give business owners clear direction for how to store and protect their information, as well as uniform guidelines for responding to a data breach.
According to Jane LeClair, chief operating officer at the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College in Washington, D.C., “Often, small businesses don’t even know they have been attacked until it is too late.” She says that many small businesses are under the illusion that they are too small to be hacked, given the national attention afforded to the breaches at Target, Home Depot and Sony.
“A disconnect clearly exists between the reality of the situation and the cyber threat perception” of small employers, the researchers wrote.
In all, small businesses need to be prepared in the case of a breach. For merchants utilizing SaaS ecommerce platforms like Bigcommerce, you can easily utilize an SSL to protect yourself and your customers. An SSL certificate is a certificate issued by a trusted third party that verifies that a secure webpage (such as a checkout page) is properly encrypted. All Bigcommerce stores use the Bigcommerce shared SSL by default, which means your customers’ transactions are encrypted and secure.