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  1. The Rise of E-Commerce

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    The rise of e-commerce has had powerful ripple effects throughout our increasingly digital society. Let’s take a quick look at the growth of e-commerce, and what it means for your business.

    Current e-commerce statistics are eye-popping. According to Big Commerce, almost all Americans (95%) shop online at least once yearly– but 80% of us do so every single month. What’s more, 51% would rather shop online than in person. We’re shopping on the go more and more, too. In 2015, only 40% of all online purchases were made via a mobile phone, a share that will increase to 70% this year.

    Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are suffering as a result – several famous chains have closed in the relatively recent past, and many more have downsized dramatically. This has had a profound effect on real estate market as well, as you might imagine. In 2010, there were 35 million visits to malls, according to the real-estate research firm Cushman and Wakefield. By 2013, there were just 17 million visits. Obviously, it’s significantly more expensive to maintain a physical store than a virtual one — and further, people often shop at physical stores, and then order the item online wherever they can get the best deal.

    Some stores, like Macy’s, J.C. Penney’s (which both recently shuttered multiple locations), Kohl’s, Target, and even Walmart saw double-digit percentage growth in online sales last Christmas. But it remains to be seen whether these retail giants can keep pace with e-commerce giants.

    A side beneficiary of all this e-commerce activity is shipping companies, including the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx. Amazon is exploring ways to circumvent these companies with drone delivery service, which is capable of delivering packages weighing five pounds or less to a customer in 30 minutes or faster. However, regulatory changes would have to occur for large-scale drone delivery to be feasible — currently, drones must remain in sight of the operator, and there are privacy issues related to flying drones over private property. But the prospect is tantalizing, and it will be fascinating to see if drone delivery becomes commonplace.

    Further innovations in the world of e-commerce could be related to the Internet of Things, and autonomous agents and things. Connected IoT objects could provide information that then enables businesses to give you personalized offers, while autonomous, self-driving cars deliver the parcels! But warehouse robots are already automating order fulfillment in e-commerce warehouses, increasing efficiency considerably.

    E-commerce is growing 23% per year, so it’s somewhat surprising that 46% of American businesses still don’t have an e-commerce website. If your business is planning to get into e-commerce, there are many different platforms, depending on your needs – everything from internet bazaars like eBay and Etsy designed for individuals to sell a few items, all the way up to enterprise solutions.

    If you sell items in a physical store and want to sell a few of them online, Amazon can list your products even if you don’t have your own e-commerce site. But if you’re ready to invest in your own e-commerce site, a variety of different platforms are available, depending on the size and scale of what you have in mind. Shopify, Big Cartel, 3D Cart, and Woo Commerce are a few of the most common for small to mid-size businesses. Enterprise-level solutions include Intershop, IBM Websphere, and Oracle’s ATG.

    In addition to delivering a superior user experience, an online store must be carefully marketed, integrated with Amazon and Google Shop, and the SEO must be effective. It’s a major challenge to get the word out about a new store – for most, e-commerce is not an “if you build it, they will come” proposition.

    Many factors influence where a customer will choose to shop online. But the three top influencers are price (87%), shipping cost and speed (80%) and discount offers (71%). To be successful, e-commerce sites must feature intuitive navigation, good photography, and ease of checkout with multiple payment options.

    Further, e-commerce sites require significantly more bandwidth than content-only sites. DQE can help by providing scalable bandwidth that keeps your site operating cleanly and quickly, which has a direct impact on sales – site slowness is a top reason shoppers say they would abandon a purchase.

    Reliability is critical. If your site is down, you’re missing potential new customers and turning off returning customers – they will shop somewhere else instead, and won’t return. Count on DQE for scalable, reliable bandwidth solutions to support your growing e-commerce business needs.

  2. High-Speed Fiber: The Power Behind E-commerce

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    DQE Takes Time for a Q&A about the Power Behind E-Commerce

    Businesses today need the fastest data speeds possible, the highest level of service reliability, and the most dependable support. We know that your data network is a critical element of your operation.

    DQE explains the benefits of high-speed fiber, specifically in the e-commerce industry in the following Q&A.

    Q: Recently, Google’s High-Speed Fiber Network has gotten a bad rap for being unreliable at times. How do companies like DQE Communications achieve the happy medium of providing speedy, yet reliable Internet service?

    A: DQE’s fiber is inherently fast and reliable. But it’s not just about delivering fast Internet service. The key is that providers also have to deliver on how to effectively and efficiently manage the network correctly. Being Pittsburgh-based means that we can provide the fastest installations possible, with local customer service, with support and operations teams on call 24x7x365.

    In addition, we provide reliable service through our superior design and network infrastructure, completely designed with redundancy for exceptional reliability.

    Q: E-commerce has become a $220 billion industry and online retail sales are on track to hit $370 billion by 2017. How has this growth of e-commerce affected DQE Communications?

    A: We’ve seen a demanding growth for the need for speed. And with this, bandwidth requirements keep increasing each year. Primarily, advancements in technology and mobile applications are creating the bandwidth demand to skyrocket.

    We currently serve customized Internet connectivity to some of Pittsburgh’s largest retail providers. DQE provides these businesses with Highly Available Internet Access service, giving them connectivity they can rely on for the success of their business. By hosting their servers in two different locations, we enable them to maintain business continuity via physically diverse, reliable fiber rings.

    The growth of the e-commerce industry gives us more opportunity to provide highly reliable Internet connections so people can successfully do their online business-to-business transactions.

    E-commerce was once a luxury for people, but now it’s a necessity. To achieve customer satisfaction and better user experiences for the e-commerce side of your business, you need a network infrastructure that keeps you connected and available at all times. You don’t want your server to time-out or users to get stuck on web pages. If you’re betting on selling your service online, you’ll need a reliable provider like DQE.

    DQE’s total fiber miles now add up to 280,000+, constructing 281 miles of fiber in 2014 alone.

    Q: For businesses that view Internet access as imperative to their success, what DQE Internet service should they choose?

    A: DQE’s Highly-Available Internet solution. This tier of Internet Service leverages dual-homed upstream routers and 100% CIR provisioning. Plus, it increases the level of reliability by providing options for a standard redundant switch at your premise, as well as redundant BGP sessions.

    Customers with all tiers of DQE Internet Services enjoy 100% symmetrical upload/download speeds, customizable from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps to fit their individual business needs.

    Reliability is in our design. We install two switches at the end of each connection to point traffic to multiple upstream providers. The purpose behind this design is to remove any single points of failure. So, if any issues within the network arise, your business remains connected.

    Q: What are the benefits of High-Speed Fiber?

    A: Data needs to move at higher speeds and greater distances than ever before. Fiber provides more bandwidth to enable the speed and distance to happen, with its scalability and standardized performance of up to 10+ Gbps.

    Again, reliability is naturally built into it.  DQE’s redundant ring architecture offers extraordinary reliability, unmatched by any traditional telecommunication network service.

    DQE is directly connected to 5 Tier-1 upstream providers: AT&T, Sprint, Cogent, Level3 and CenturyLink. These trusted relationships provide you with maximum reliability and network flexibility, ensuring best path routing. This ability means our routers will point the connection directly to the network you need to reach, improving design, latency, and your network performance.

    Rest assured, by choosing DQE Communications, you have the fastest data speeds possible, the highest level of service reliability, and the most dependable support for all of your business’ networking needs.