Having the best internet connection can be crucial in helping your business make an impact, particularly for those that trade online. For mosaic picture retailer Kaamar, it’s helped triple visitors to its website and has left the business well equipped to deal with future growth.
As we come out of the longest economic downturn since World War 2, UK businesses trying to get ready for growth already know the importance of keeping costs down.
They’ve learned to work ‘lean and mean’. Dependable access to the global online marketplace has been critical, too.
But as entrepreneurs concentrate on making and selling great products and services online, they may not have the time to focus on getting that vital connectivity as fine-tuned as it could be.
Yet, not thinking about what your connectivity needs might look like in the future could hamper your business going forward.
BT Business Insights research found that for forty percent* of customers, unreliable connectivity is their biggest cause for concern. Fifty-six percent say slow connection speeds are their single biggest barrier to getting and trading online.
Recent research also shows that SMEs still say they find the web challenging. In a survey by website Bdaily, 67percent of respondents stated a lack of expertise, confidence or understanding of online opportunities as the main reason for not having a proper web presence.
One business that cites smart web connectivity as a major contribution to its success is Lichfield-based family firm Kaamar, a supplier of custom tiled pictures.
Like many other businesses, it uses the internet as its main sales outlet due to its relatively low operating costs, massive customer reach and potential for growth.
Keith Morrigan, co-founder of the company, says: “We are continually developing our multiple websites to add new features. For example, we are currently finalising new product ranges of mosaic mirrors and accents – small framed colourful patterns – as well as the ability to design customers’ mosaic, accent or mirror online with a simple paint-like program.”
But with ongoing and complex website development, it soon became clear that we needed more flexibility and control than most web hosting would allow. So we invested in our own web server connected via broadband.”
Most broadband is optimised for web browsing, says Morrigan, where you receive a lot of information from the internet but send very little, so you’ll get high download speeds but very low upload speeds.
To run Kaamar’s web server efficiently he needed to be able to receive online requests and large picture uploads quickly from the web. “We provide unique functionality on our site, in that customers can upload a picture to our site, then process it to produce a mosaic design of their own,” Morrigan says. “As we guide people through this multiple-step process, it is important that each stage follows seamlessly on to the next – or they might give up!
“But we also needed high upload speeds so we could send our web pages and designed images out to the internet at acceptable speeds.”
Kaamar’s customers need to be able to fully customise their mosaic before buying it.
So whether they are browsing through Kaamar’s gallery of mosaics designs, viewing the pictures and details of each design, customising or resizing them for their own wall sizes, or even creating their own from a photograph, the website must provide a smooth service.
Morrigan says that by introducing fibre connectivity into their BT network, much faster speeds were both achievable and affordable.
“For a relatively low investment, our upload speed shot up, with a guaranteed minimum of 4MB – usually much higher!” he says. Most users should have a typical page download speed – even of the most complex pages – of around half a second.
“The end result was a noticeably faster and improved user experience on our sites,” says Morrigan. Visitor numbers have grown three-fold since implementation – without any loss of performance.
“Our end solution with a dedicated fibre connection works very well and is secure,” he adds. Morrigan stresses the importance of security for Kaamar.
He says the business uses BT Business Infinity as a dedicated broadband for its public web and email traffic.
That way, only carefully filtered data is allowed through and the other ways that malware or hackers may use to compromise security are blocked. Customer details – such as addresses and credit card information – are kept secure in transit through the use of SSL security that creates a safe connection between customers’ computers and Kaamar’s server.
Based on his experience with fibre, Morrigan emphasises the importance for businesses of being able to offer a consistent, reliable website experience all the time.
“Our sites need to be online 24/7 for a worldwide audience, and our product listings on Google Shopping must be available at all times, or else they will be banned or removed!” he says.
“It is crucial your website infrastructure can cope with demand.”
You never know how many visitors you will have, or which ones will turn out to be important customers. So every available visitor must be able to access your site with good performance – otherwise all your time, effort, skills and investment will come to nothing.”
BT Business Infinity isn't the only internet option. If your business needs completely guaranteed bandwidth, then you might want to consider a BTnet leased line. A leased line is an internet connection entirely dedicated to your business; a private connection that you don't share with anyone. That mean's the speed doesn't fluctuate at busy times and you get the bandwidth you pay for. For maximum peace of mind, it comes with a 100% service availability target and in the unlikely event we fail to meet this target, it's backed up by a money-back Service Level Agreement.
So regardless of whether it's superfast broaband or a leased lone, the verdict’s clear. As the economy slowly returns to normality, now may be the ideal time to step back and look at how your business operates now and where you want to be in say 12 months’ time.
Ask yourself, will your connectivity get you there? If not, now’s the time to look at the options available. If you’re still not sure, we’d love to help, why not give us a call, or leave us a comment below?
(Source) *BT commissioned research, August 2012 (Sweeney Pinedo)
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