Gate Customer Newsletter
Issue: September 2015

Why Small Businesses Need Application Hosting

Companies of all sizes benefit from application hosting. Removing the complications of on-site equipment and infrastructure management is attractive to even large enterprises with robust IT teams. However, the sector helped most by this approach is small businesses.

Advantages of managed application hosting

Small businesses tend to have one common hurdle to overcome as they grow and develop: the lack of support resources. When it comes to application hosting, many small businesses need an easy solution to help them with time-consuming tasks such as patching software or upgrading hardware. The needs of small businesses don’t stop there, and neither do the benefits of application hosting.

Hosted applications of all types

The software-as-a-service industry has grown considerably in recent years, particularly as business managers become more comfortable with cloud technologies. Now, SaaS companies have a full range of offerings, including a variety of popular applications that can be hosted in the vendor’s data centers. This means small business administrators don’t have to look far to find the hosted application services they need.

Filling resource gaps for small businesses

When comparing IT resources, small businesses typically have a long way to go before they catch up with larger enterprise that have larger IT budgets and can devote more time and effort to their technology. However, smaller companies don’t have to stay in the dark ages.

Application hosting removes the worry of building out an IT department. Because the service provider makes the required applications accessible via its own infrastructure, users are able to utilize these resources in the same manner as a large enterprise.

“[B]ecause many small businesses don’t have an on-site IT team, web hosting services provide technical support that can help get a site up and running should any problems occur,” BusinessNewsDaily contributor Chad Brooks pointed out.

In this way, the small business has a partner in place to assist with the establishment of services, as well as resources to fall back on should any problems or concerns arise.

Boosted IT security

Service providers can also ensure that small businesses have the proper security protocols in place. Data protection is often a main concern for this industry, as many smaller organizations don’t have the robust safeguarding resources needed. This is where a partnership with a SaaS vendor can become valuable. Instead of scurrying to guard against the latest threat, small business owners can rest easy knowing their sensitive data is protected by the service provider.

Capital savings with managed application hosting

Establishing and hosting the infrastructure required for today’s business processes is an expensive endeavor. This makes managed application hosting even more attractive for smaller companies that may not have the capital needed for such an undertaking. SaaS can help a small company save considerable time and resources, enabling administrators to devote this money and effort to other important areas of the organization.

Shifting the internal focus

Overall, managed application hosting is often the most beneficial for small businesses with less IT resources as it allows administrators to focus on mission-critical projects and initiatives while still ensuring that application needs are met. This approach not only helps fill resource gaps and save funds, it can also boost operational efficiency and guarantee that employees have all the tools they need to complete important tasks. In today’s business environment, the ability to arm staff with robust, affordable technologies is paramount.

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In This Issue
Why Small Businesses Need Application Hosting
Good Impressions, Better Profits: Top E-commerce Strategies
Please Pay Here: How Digital Payments Can Benefit Your E-commerce Company
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Good Impressions, Better Profits: Top E-commerce Strategies

E-commerce is about more than offering products and services. The marketplace is more competitive than ever, with online companies and brick-and-mortar brands boosting their e-commerce capabilities every day. Now, these businesses must focus not only on increasing profits and carving out a niche, but also on making an impression on their customers.

But how can brands drive revenue and connect with their client base? There are a few key strategies:

Bring user experience and customer service to the forefront

With so many technological systems at their disposal, e-commerce companies need to ensure that user experience is not an afterthought. When establishing or updating the website, business leaders should consider the possible pain points users might have when utilizing the platform, and address these to offer the best user experience possible.

The same idea can be applied to customer service. Nowadays, businesses have an array of available channels to leverage. Offering consumers several contact options helps ensure they use the channel that best suits their needs. In addition, this strategy can go a long way toward guaranteeing a positive user experience.

“It is expected that online stores will place greater focus on providing excellent customer service to distinguish themselves from the rest,” TechCocktail noted. “There is a need to create a smooth shopping experience to prevent customers from going to a competing online store as they enjoy better experiences.”

Always open: Can your services keep up?

A robust online presence doesn’t just mean that customers can locate your online platform anytime. They must also be able to make purchases and arrange for services at all hours. This “always open” strategy is a main reason clients interact with e-commerce brands over brick-and-mortar facilities. However, Shipwire contributor Nate Gilmore pointed out that the company’s service must be able to keep up. This includes the overall supply chain, fulfillment centers and customer service capabilities. Even the United States Postal Service makes deliveries on Sunday – your brand should be able to respond to customers’ needs just as quickly and efficiently.

In order to effectively fulfill these needs, a brand’s available channels must be unified to allow consumers to interact with different channels during their purchase journey. This is particularly key now that services like buy online, pick up in store are becoming increasingly popular.

“Retailers are evolving the in-store experience so that you can browse online and use the store as your personal pick-up center,” Gilmore wrote. “[It] all comes down to being faster, cheaper and more convenient.”

Mobile is a must

For years, experts have been harping on the importance of a robust mobile presence, ensuring that consumers are able to use any device they please to connect with a brand. Now that the mobile platform has considerably developed, having mobile capabilities is now an absolute must.

“For online sellers, the need to serve the needs of those who do their shopping on the mobile platform will no longer be just an option,” according to TechCocktail. “As more and more people rely on their mobile devices to do various things. it will be illogical not to optimize shopping experiences for mobile users.”

TechCocktail noted that those that refuse to optimize will likely fall behind their competitors.

Overall, these strategies will not only serve to improve the customer experience, but can help boost the brand and its revenues.

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Please Pay Here: How Digital Payments Can Benefit Your E-commerce Company

Years ago, the only way to pay for goods was with cash, check or credit. Consumers had to travel to stores with payment in hand and pick up their items. With e-commerce, all this has changed.

Nowadays, all you need to complete a transaction is a click of a button and a few key pieces of information. Digital payments enable shoppers to sidestep purchasing forms while paying for their goods.

There are many options when it comes to digital payments. Let’s take a look at a few of the top payment options accepted by e-commerce companies today, and how these payment avenues can benefit your business.

What are today’s top payment options?

What technologies enable today’s shoppers to purchase items from their favorite brands without a credit or debit card, and how do they work?

Digital payment platforms save a consumer’s payment information for later use. PayPal largely blazed the trail for these services.

Small Business Trends contributor Joshua Sophy pointed out that PayPal has become an industry standard for digital payments. The platform is integrated with a retailer’s online store and directs shoppers to a PayPal checkout page, where consumers can log in to their PayPal account and use a saved debit or credit card, money order, or other forms of payment to purchase goods. According to Search Engine Journal, more than 137 million shoppers have PayPal accounts, which they utilize in 193 markets across 26 different countries.

Another popular digital payment option is Google Wallet, which works similarly to PayPal. Google Wallet enables shoppers to utilize their stored account information to pay for items. Google also announced that they are creating a physical card for consumers to use at physical store locations.

Apple also created its own payment platform, Apple Pay, which is integrated into users’ Apple devices, enabling them to purchase apps, music and more from Apple’s store. This payment option is becoming more popular in e-commerce, and comes with the added benefit of a fingerprint scan to confirm payments, noted About Payments.

What are the benefits of accepting digital payments?

Digital payments can create a better, easier shopping experience. Consumers no longer have to fill out lengthy forms for every transaction. With digital payment platforms like Google Wallet and Apple Pay, users are able to create accounts and save their payment information. Even when a person’s debit card isn’t accessible, they can still use their digital account to pay.

These systems also boost security for both users and retailers. Having shoppers log in to their digital wallet accounts adds an extra layer of protection, making it much harder for a cybercriminal to intercept or otherwise disrupt the payment. Apple has upped the ante here with the fingerprint scan, implementing an additional safeguard that makes it nearly impossible for a third-party breach to occur.

Digital payments also help support an increasingly mobile world. Today’s shoppers are increasingly leveraging their smartphones, tablets and laptops to browse and make purchases. Being able to utilize a payment portal that is supported on these devices streamlines the transaction process.

Overall, accepting digital payments is about providing choices and enabling customers to pay for goods in a way that best suits their needs. Many consumers are beginning to appreciate the ease that comes with digital payments as opposed to repeatedly entering their credit or debit information. Supporting these technologies can help a company maintain a favorable position in the marketplace as they seek to address customer pain points related to paying for goods and provide for shoppers’ needs.

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