Reducing the Risks for Online Retailers
It has never been easier to set up a business, however, it takes more than a great website and a spare room full of stock. From efficient e-commerce fulfilment to customer service, this article explores three core essentials that reduce the risks for online retailers.
It may seem straightforward to set up online, however, around 80% of e-commerce businesses fail within the first two years of trading. Establishing core processes and procedures may not be as exciting as selecting stock or creating a company logo, however, with the right set up it is possible to avoid many of the common pitfalls.
Avoid Cutting Corners when it comes to E-commerce Protection
When you operate online, it is imperative to protect your website, your brand and your customers from cyber threats including hacking, phishing and counterfeiting.
Your website needs to be built with multi-layered security and an SSL Certificate. You have to use a trusted payment gateway and install updates when they become available. It is advisable to have a non-storable CVV. As cyber-attacks are often a result of human error, any staff with access to your website should be trained on the importance of operating securely.
It might be tempting to take product descriptions from other websites, but be original. Write your own, ideally based on your experience of the product. Look into protecting your logo, brand and product descriptions with an Intellectual Property Patent.
Arrange Professional E-commerce Fulfilment to Meet Expectations
Customers like the speed and convenience of shopping online and they expect a fast turnaround on their orders. They expect the goods to match the product description, the be in perfect condition and to be precisely what they ordered. Delays, high shipping costs and errors will be detrimental to your brand reputation.
In order to meet expectations, you need a clean, dry and secure warehousing facility, strong stock management processes and tracking facilities. Orders should be confirmed on receipt and immediately sent to the fulfilment team.
Ideally, the e-commerce fulfilment team will use a warehouse management system to receive, pick and pack and ship orders, as this supports tracking, accuracy and stock management. Few online retailers can afford to invest in this technology, which is why it makes sense to outsource warehousing and fulfilment to specialist companies such as Fulfilment Matters.
Outsourcing e-commerce fulfilment also makes it easier to grow the business in the future.
Remember that Customer Service is much more than a Tick-box Exercise
No business will exist without customers. With e-commerce, you may never meet your customers in person, which makes it takes even more effort to build trust and generate sales. From a quick loading and an easy to navigate website, to quick and low cost (or free) delivery and a simple returns policy, it is important to provide exactly what the customer wants.
The more specialised your product range, the easier it is to meet the needs of a target audience. It is then possible to provide what they want, personalise your marketing and even create an online community.
Make sure you use technology to automate standard processes, this will free up time to provide personalised responses. Be transparent, engage with customers, encourage feedback and reward loyalty.
Being responsive to feedback and returns is essential. Returns handling is another area where your e-commerce fulfilment company can take a weight off of your shoulder. With a warehouse management system, it is easy to keep track of returns, send out a replacement and have accurate, real-time stock updates.
E-commerce Processes in Summary
By establishing robust processes to manage online security, e-commerce fulfilment and customer service, you have the foundations on which to build a successful online shop. There will be many other considerations along the way, yet good processes will help you to adapt and grow your online shop in response to customer feedback, technological advances and market trends.