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If you still don't think your small business needs to be offering your products or services through eCommerce, this should be a wake-up call. According to Global Web Index, about 8 out of 10 adults are shopping online each month. As of June, Small Biz Trends revealed that nearly ¾ of small businesses still weren't using their sites to sell online, which could easily give you an advantage if you do.
Sure, you can't compete with the likes of Amazon if the same products you sell are available there (Well, possibly, if you were able to intertwine the local community with your brand and somehow stand out). But if you offer something unique or at least something not widely available, then there's good news.
Online shoppers like the convenience and good deals, but they appreciate the value in finding something unique, too. Over 90% of shoppers browsing online will visit local retail sites, and more than half of them say they find these more unusual items by doing so. Nearly half enjoy the fact that they're supporting their community.
The future is wide open when it comes to eCommerce. But so is the changing landscape of cyber-security. So before, and as you take your business online, security is a big issue that should be a central focus – not put on the backburner. Here are just a few ways to be proactive about ensuring the safety and security of both your business and your customers.
I'm sure you've heard of encryption, but that's likely not enough anymore. Ask your credit card processor if they offer tokenization. Instead of just encrypting credit card numbers and sensitive data (that then has to be decrypted to be of any use), it ultimately will replace the information with what's called a token. The token is only valid for that single transaction, so if a hacker were to get in somehow and steal the information, it would be useless to them.
Pay attention to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DDS). Not only is it a big step in the right direction for protecting your customers, but if you aren't PCI compliant, you're just asking for costly fines and penalties. An important thing to note is that your site needs to have SSL compliance, which is rarely found on cheap shared web hosting plans.
It doesn't matter how strong and secure a site or network you build if it isn't continually monitored for vulnerabilities. Software and systems release new patches and updates all the time, and if you aren't keeping up with them, then you're cracking open the door for trouble. Keeping an eye on everything can also help you identify potential risks and potential problems that haven't been fully developed yet.
Very few small businesses have the funds or the IT personnel to build their network. So you're probably hosting with a virtual web host. Please don't assume they're constantly monitoring it all. Ask questions now and find out if, how, and what they observe. Do they have 24/7 monitoring, watching for all problems to ensure your site's security and stays online? Do they have DDOS mitigation available if your site were to come under attack?
It may be too late to get into eCommerce for this holiday season. But getting your business online and offering your products through eCommerce in a secure atmosphere is something that you should probably be working towards for 2017.
Did you know? PC Mag ranks Hostwinds as one of the top small biz hosting companies!
Written by Hostwinds Team / December 21, 2016