Loss Prevention Strategies for Small Businesses in the Age of eCommerce

In today’s world, eCommerce is growing tremendously with small businesses adopting online technology. In 2020, only 66% of small businesses even had a website. Now small firms are shifting from brick-and-mortar stores to eCommerce since the outbreak of COVID-19. The shift into online sales is irreversible as small businesses have realized the benefits of eCommerce, considering that many of their customers are not able to come to their stores for in-person shopping.

Despite hope for herd immunity and vaccination, businesses are still looking down the business barrel (so to speak) of hard times. Record small business closures in 2020 is a grim premonition for businesses that cannot adapt to what we hoped was a brief voyage into tumultuous waters and is looking more and more like a crash landing on a new frontier. New frontiers come with new opportunities that require entrepreneurs to adjust their thinking.

The eCommerce landscape will be a proving ground for a lot of retailers who face stiff competition from long-practiced and successful shipping giants like Amazon. While many independent restaurants have had the benefit of a pre-made delivery infrastructure because of platforms like UberEats, GrubHub, and Doordash, many retailers are just barely learning eCommerce fundamentals.

The in-person and personable approach to retail sales does not work the same on the internet, and while you have less to worry about in terms of shoplifting when your doors are closed and the foot traffic around your store is gone. The ways you lose money in an eCommerce environment are different, and you have to adjust your strategy to compensate for these changes.

The following are loss prevention ideas for small businesses involved in eCommerce:

Cultivating a Positive Online Reputation
The reviews your business gets on the internet are the bread and butter of your reputation once you shift to eCommerce. You need to be aware of how your business is rated on the largest review sites, search engines, and relevant databases. Google Reviews and Yelp are at least two of the biggest resources that your consumers will check before clicking the link that takes them to your store page. Beyond that, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others will all curate content to their users to allow them to review your products and services. These are some of the things you should consider for your online business:

-If you are a part of the 33% of small business owners without your own dedicated website, get one immediately

-Integrate an internal feedback system and advertise your best reviews on your website

-Regularly check and respond to feedback and address negative feedback quickly

-Register as the owner of your business on Google and the other large review sites so you can keep tabs on positive and negative reviews around the internet

-Keep your response rate on social media sites like Facebook as quickly responsive

-Engage with your customers online when you can, and remember that a response to negative feedback can win you customers if you do it right

-Post content on your social media sites frequently

Your online reputation is the first thing that eCommerce consumers see. You want a lot of reviews and you want them positive to give you preference over your competitors. Cultivate your online presence properly and you will carve a profitable niche in the crowded online marketplace.

Tracking Deliveries/Delivery Insurance
So, you have your website and online shop set up. Customers are visiting the shop and making orders. One of the things that you can do to empower your customers is to offer shipping tracking services for orders that you send out. Small businesses should create avenues where both the business and clients can track deliveries using a proof of delivery app to create a remarkable customer experience. The delivery method has to be cost-effective for small businesses that don’t have the established logistics of a company like Amazon. The business needs to track its deliveries to avoid delays, mistakes, damages, or loss of items. Customers are likely to shop from a firm that tracks deliveries since they will have peace of mind as they wait for their item(s). While product theft in your store may be down, package theft is a bigger problem than ever. Giving your customers peace of mind so they can be in control of their deliveries not only helps them be prepared to receive a package, it also arms you with information so you can seek proper compensation for mishandled or lost packages.

Training Yourself and Employees for Online Communication
The way you talk to people in person is challenging enough, but online communication is more challenging because it lacks the facial expressions, nuance, and cues that you pick up on in a normal conversation. That said, you can still maintain a business-appropriate attitude in online communications if you train yourself on effective and clear communication skills. Friendly and helpful attitudes by business staff can be a practical approach to enhancing customers' trust. Business workers should offer concise, down-to-business responses to customer enquiries. Flowery language and superfluous jargon make it harder for customers to read the answers to their questions.

Often, they are contacting you to enquire about how they can find information about available products, email about how to order items, or send in refund requests. Keeping your communication forthright and direct saves you the trouble of re-stating. Small firms should train their employees on how to handle every aspect of customers' requests professionally and in keeping with the image of your business you are trying to build. Be ready for cranky customers, unreasonable requests, and misinterpreted answers. Respond to all of them honestly and with dignity and you can build respect even with people contacting you to resolve a problem. Building trust among online shoppers will create a robust customer base for the company, while poor customer service will dissuade customers from shopping with you.

Guard Your Business Against Internet Fraud
As technology advances, internet fraud becomes a challenging factor for small businesses. Criminals are identifying new ways of stealing from companies, domestically and internationally. Small firms should integrate fraud-fighting tools into their systems and should be willing to invest in security features for their websites that not only protect their site from being hacked or shut down, but also to protect customer information. While payment information is always a prime target for scammers and fraudsters, compromised customer personal information (i.e., name, address, email, account password) can cause a chain reaction of theft and identity fraud that can ruin customer lives, and if your system was not adequately protected then there is the possibility that upset customers will seek compensation from you via litigation. Other fraud-fighting tools include verification services and IP geolocation. Multi-factor authentication for accounts on your web store can help ensure that your customer’s information remains private. Paying for robust security on your business devices can help protect you and your customers from internet scammers.

E-commerce is here to stay. Small businesses should apply the above measures to ensure they remain at the top of the game. Every new idea comes with challenges, but there are always ways of dealing with them. However, as businesses prevent losses, they should tailor their loss prevention solutions.


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