In today’s technologically advanced society and market, having an online presence is not only wise but essential to reaching an audience and gaining a solid customer base. However, even online businesses carry risks that business owners should be aware of, so that they can best counteract or prevent those issues for the most “successful” online business experience. Here are a few of those risks and what you can do about them!
Intellectual Property Infringement
Intellectual property includes any creations or designs or anything that you have created solely for your business. Unfortunately, the world wide web is arguably the easiest place to access other people’s ideas—including yours—and “steal” them. And because the internet is so vast, you may be unaware of someone else stealing your intellectual property for a significant amount of time! You can prevent this kind of infringement by trademarking everything under your brand, and patenting your products and business operations. This ensures that every part of your “intellectual property” or creation remains fully yours!
An online presence guarantees (invites, even,) opportunities for frustrated or grumpy customers to leave less than pleasant reviews of your business for the rest of the world to see. Every single review has an impact on your general visibility (as good reviews will boost your spot on search engines) as well as your positive visibility, as each review is viewed by potential or returning customers. “Reputational risk” is a concern of every business. You could even say that the success of a business hinges on its reputation with customers. Online businesses, then, have an increased need to make this risk an intentional part of their customer service and planning!
Online business also comes with a whole new set of legal issues that business owners need to know. A good rule of thumb is “if you wouldn’t want it done to your business or yourself as an individual, do not do it.” Stay far away from copyright infringement, and hold customer data completely private. Be honest in your marketing messages, pay your taxes as expected, and perform business fairly. Being a good online business starts with being a good business in general!
As mentioned, you have a duty to your customer data, to keep it private and protected. Every transaction between you and customers puts their credit card information and some personal information into your systems. This makes you an appealing and effective target for bad-intentioned hackers that can steal and sell your customer information. In fact, more than 80% of IT breaches happen at small to medium-sized businesses! Make cybersecurity a primary concern of your business. Don’t cut corners or justify weak defenses. Establish secure firewalls and invest in reliable cybersecurity software to keep your customers’ and your business’s important financial or personal information well guarded, so you and they can feel confident about its safety in your hands.
Everyone has experienced bad website problems. For some companies or individuals this isn’t the end of the world—they have storefronts to fall back on, or their pages may be content driven rather than commerce centered. For you, however, your webpages are everything. They are your means of business after all! An unreliable webpage that is constantly in need of maintenance, that freezes up or shuts down under heavy traffic (which should be a good thing!), that glitches constantly, is a web page that customers will be not only unable but unwilling to spend time and money on. Enlist the expertise of a specialist in the webpage development field as you set up your page initially, and routinely utilize similar expertise to check up on your page for bugs and improvements that will keep it “healthy” and strong, so it can keep up with your customers’ needs!
The visibility of your website largely depends on its ability to be found on search engines. You need your page to pop up when potential, curious customers type in a few key words. This means that your search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be as optimized as possible. However, search engines can change up or revamp their algorithms in a moment, causing your webpage to drop substantially down the list, and therefore further out of customer view. Look into ways you can create solid, reliable SEO content so that even a change in algorithm won’t heavily impact your visibility and placement. Use keywords in your page urls, make sure you don’t duplicate your content throughout your subpages, and double check that your links and images and tags are all actually working! This will present a clean and strongly linked website to the search engine that it will credit as solid and promising for searchers.
If your business is doing well—and we hope it is—you may have floods of orders coming in at a time through your online platform. This is wonderful! It is also a lot of information for you to juggle all at once. While software and organizational tools can manage the transaction information well, your logistical side may have a hard time keeping up! And you do not want to be caught in a situation where an excited customer has to wait extra long, because you don’t have enough stock to uphold every order. Invest in software that can predict your need for ordering stock before you run into a situation like this, so that you are sufficiently prepared and your customers are always happy with your service.
Overall Complexity or Wariness
Make your website too simple, and customers may be wary of its security. Make it too complex, and they may not be able to figure out how to navigate it well! Again, the assistance of a professional web developer is extremely effective in getting you the perfect, accessible and aesthetic webpage you need to draw customers in and help them get the most of your business, so you can get the most of theirs!
Even with these risks, e-commerce is an extremely worthwhile way to get your products or services out to a wide audience in an accessible and (if created well) reliable way. Work through these potential risks, and you can feel confident in your company’s place online!
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