As we settle into a new year, online retailers are bound to be met with new challenges to overcome. While a positive outlook is always preferable, it’s understandable to feel an underlying sense of anxiety about what’s in store.
The best way to prepare for these challenges is to educate yourself on what might be ahead. While every business will face a unique set of challenges to navigate, there are common hurdles that everyone in the online retail industry would do well to anticipate.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors to keep in mind as we set a course for 2022, as well as what you can do to be ready for them.
How long it takes to get your money
It is typical for payments into your business to take between 3-5 working days to reach your bank account, which works for some small businesses. In industries like hospitality, where payments are taken in the evenings and weekends, it could take even longer.
If you need your money faster, same day payments can be set up by your merchant account provider. Getting your money faster could lead to a number of additional benefits:
- Better customer service. With your revenue finding its way into your account more quickly, you’ll likely spend less time focusing on the management of the financial side of your business. This allows you to pay more attention to your customers and their needs.
- Quicker reinvestment. The sooner your money is with you, the sooner you can reinvest it in your business. Whether you’re low on stock, looking to hire new people, or just need to do some office renovations, having funds immediately available gives you more freedom and flexibility.
- Reduced debt. Interest rates and late payment fees are less of a concern when the money arrives faster. You can budget and plan, safe in the knowledge that you’ll have the cash in your account when you need it.
- Pay suppliers faster. Suppliers might have a specific day they want or need to be paid on in order to maintain a good working relationship. Having the money available to pay them quicker can help build trust and improve their service to you.
Make sure to utilise same day settlement to help your business grow to the fullest.
The suitability of your current payment partners
While the old adage goes “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, that doesn’t necessarily translate over into the world of business. It could be that you’re satisfied with your current payment provider, but feel you might outgrow them if your business continues to thrive online
The last thing you’ll want is for your growth to be halted, or your plans to be forced to change as a result of incompatibility between your technology and that of your partners. Take a moment to question whether you’re with a payment provider that works for you.
Some useful questions to ask yourself include:
- Does the way I take payments work for all of my customers?
- Does the way I take payments restrict my business at all?
- How good is the terminal and connectivity of my card machine?
- Am I able to get my money on the same or next day?
- Are there other products that my payment provider offers that I might be able to make use of?
- Is my PCI compliance taken care of?
Protecting data from cyber attacks
Cyber security has been at the forefront of most brands’ minds since the early days of the internet. With online attacks usually targeting personal and financial data, online retailers are amongst the chief targets of these kinds of criminals.
Falling victim to a cyber attack can:
- Damage your customer relationships
- Create problems that are not easily resolved
- Result in financial losses for your company
- Damage your brand reputation
- Impact the trust customers have in buying your products or services online
- Result in legal action if your negligence resulted in the breach
Other than being incredibly careful and constantly vigilant, other steps to take here would be to use security plug-ins that protect your data. These will scan your site at regular intervals, alerting you to any odd behaviour which might be a result of an attack. In some instances, it might also be able to automatically block the attempted data breach.
As well as this, other smart steps to take include:
- Getting an SSL certificate
- Ensuring your PCI is up to date
- Using difficult to guess username and passwords
- Regularly backing up your website
A lack of versatile options for growth
Growth, if desired, is at the core of everything a company should be thinking about. Even corporate giants like Apple or Amazon are always thinking about the next step to help their business grow and become even more profitable.
Whether it’s a result of a poor payment solutions provider, financial challenges and pressures you’re facing as a business, or even a general lack of interest in your product, there are always alternatives to help you adapt and overcome. Some things to keep in mind would be:
- Make sure your payment solutions are optimised and secure. To build and grow you need to ensure your payment setup is capable of adapting to the needs of not only your customer but also your business. Sudden unexpected influxes in orders might seem like something to celebrate in the moment, but handled incorrectly they could cause problems.
- Use A/B split testing. Testing your website is one of the best ways to work out what you’re doing well, as well as what isn’t working. Experiment with page layout, pop-up chats, interactive elements and core functionality. By working out what appeals to most of your customers, you’ll be able to grow and adapt accordingly.
- Gather data and analyse it. Understanding as much information as possible about your business is one of the best ways to help it progress. Tools like Google Analytics are a good way to do this, and you can benefit from free online courses on how to use them.
They’ll show you a number of metrics that can help you learn more about customer demographics, your most popular pages, where people are entering and leaving your website, keyword terms people are searching to land on your pages, and several other important factors for understanding where you’re doing well or stunting your growth.
- Learn from the past. One of the best ways to grow as a business is to look at what you did wrong in the past and learn from it. Have there been times where you made the wrong call or didn’t utilise something to its fullest potential? Examine these errors and see what you can do to make improvements.
Your customers are what makes your business a success. Without them, your business is pointless. As such, you need to do whatever you can to make sure you’re retaining their business. Here are some of the best ways to keep them happy and coming back for more:
- Connect with people. If your business is positioned as friendly and customer-facing, it can help to engage with people through social channels. Adding a personality (or even a face) to your business is a great way to instil trust. Even if they’re not the ones you’re directly connecting with, other customers will notice and appreciate this personal touch.
- Introduce a loyalty program. One of the best ways to keep the same customers coming back is to introduce a loyalty scheme that sees them rewarded for continually shopping with you. Popular options include earning loyalty points which can be used to get discounts, exclusive promotional offers, and even a small percentage cashback on monthly spending in the form of credit.
- Optimise your customer service. It’s perhaps no surprise that having a good customer service setup will keep people happy and loyal. Sometimes unforeseen issues will occur that are beyond your control. Having outstanding customer service is essential when handling issues that your customers experience, so responding to them efficiently and amiably goes a long way in the eyes of consumers.
- Ask for feedback. Make sure to regularly give people the option to give you valuable feedback about how your site is performing. This is a great opportunity to notice something isn’t working which you might not have realised on your own.
No matter how well things are going, there’ll always be stumbling blocks. Using this guide as a springboard, take the time to pause, assess and then overcome challenges when they come your way.
Are you an online retailer looking for ways to improve your business?
We have extensive experience in the retail space, and you will find lots of information on our website aimed at helping retailers.
Our retail POS system is designed for small retailers and will take the hassle out of multi-channel retail with a single system that integrates stores, eCommerce, stock management, payments and insight-driven data.