Small Businesses: Manage Today, 
Plan for Tomorrow

The smart approach to business today is different - and more elusive - than it has ever been before. COVID-19 restrictions have rocked every industry. As a result, many small businesses have been pushed into figuring out their eCommerce plan. This may be a stressful change for some, but there’s a lot of good that can come from it, as well. Here’s how to embrace the transition and find success through - and after - the pandemic:

Get Your Bearings

Before you can figure out how to make the most of this moment, you need to accept and adjust to it. Many small business owners have been so busy adapting that they haven’t given themselves time to reflect. However, that time spent in reflection is absolutely crucial for moving forward. Designate a specific time each day to journal or practice a meditation designed for small business owners. This will give your mind space to fully process your business’s current state.

You should also set aside time in your day for research and continued learning. The market is changing rapidly right now, and you need to stay well-informed to keep up. Whether it’s updates on ecommerce business and statistics or business news in general, find and follow trustworthy sources to make sure you have all the info you need to nurture your business through this moment.

Evaluate Changes You’ve Made

At this point, your company has already started to adapt. You may have enhanced your eCommerce presence, or boosted your online marketing. Perhaps you started a delivery service or have implemented a curbside pickup service. These gut-check changes may have helped you get over the initial COVID-19 hump, but it’s important to look at them critically, as some may not serve you well in the long run.

For example, say you expanded your delivery fleet. Eventually, traditional shopping will be safe again. When that happens, will your fleet still be profitable, or will you be sinking money into infrastructure you won’t actually use? Something like curbside pickup, which requires fewer resources, might be easier to phase out down the line.

Pay close attention to any business decisions you’ve made since the pandemic began. If a change isn’t serving your business, you have to be decisive about whether it’s worth clinging to. Don’t fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy: decisions aren’t right just because you’ve already made them, and the savvy business owner knows how to recognize - and fix - mistakes.

Looking Down the Road

On the other hand, some changes may actually carry you into the future. For example, setting up an online shop through a platform like AbanteCart allows you to expand your customer base as far as you’re willing to ship items. And digital marketing efforts, especially targeted advertising, will get your service or products seen by exactly the people who need it most.

However, creating an online business isn’t enough. Once you have it, you have to use it, and use it well. Inventory tracking mishaps, poor user experience, low social media engagement, and other online mistakes can do more harm to your business than good. If you have the budget for it, consider hiring a dedicated individual or team to oversee your digital efforts.

The pandemic is changing the way we do business, and companies have to keep up. What you do now will absolutely define your company’s future. By staying informed and looking critically at the changes that are - and aren’t - helping your business thrive, you can be a post-COVID success story.

Change Up Your Freelance Hires for Better Business Solutions

If you’ve run a business for any length of time, chances are you’ve already contemplated hiring freelancers to tackle mundane tasks like bookkeeping and scheduling. However, freelancers are a diverse pool of talent these days, and selecting someone who brings something new to the table can mean taking your business to the next level. Read on as we explore a handful of worthwhile freelancers and how they might contribute to your organization.

Cyber Security Consultant

Businesses that conduct their affairs via the cloud, e-commerce retailers, or any company that handles personal information should consider engaging a cyber security consultant. Fraud is running rampant, cyber attacks are closing doors, malware is on the rise—and as Thomson Reuters explains, businesses are increasingly responsible for what happens to the data they handle.

With that in mind, it might be time to engage the services of an expert in cyber security. These professionals can evaluate your systems and processes, identify weaknesses, and recommend solutions. And in the event a breach should occur, you’ll have an established relationship with someone who already knows your situation so they can remedy it as quickly as possible. You’ll not only protect your data, but you’ll protect your business from potential losses and perhaps even from closing your doors due to unscrupulous cyber activity.

Link Building Specialist

Websites are key to getting customers these days. Consumer behavior is increasingly internet-dependent—we look to the web to find products and services, learn about them, order them, rate them, and so forth. But even if you build a fabulous website, that doesn’t mean it will show up when a customer hops on Google to find you. That’s where link builders come in.

Link builders develop traffic to your website by establishing links that search engines approve of, and then distributing those links through blog posts, email campaigns, posts on forums, and the like.

When you hire a link building specialist, look for someone who both understands your industry and offers appropriate project experience. You should also consider things like marketing experience and the candidate’s communication skills, creativity, and organizational ability. The right candidate will turn content into customers, broadening your traffic and ultimately enhancing your bottom line.

Social Media Manager

Social media is a low-cost and effective way to expand your audience. At the same time, juggling accounts on various platforms gets complicated quickly. Fortunately, a social media manager can do all that—and a whole lot more.

As CoSchedule explains, these professionals specialize in crafting posts that are tailored not only to your brand, but also to your target audience and to the specific social media channel where the post is published. On top of that, they monitor comments, respond to them, and track engagement to influence the direction of future posts. It’s more than a solution to staying on top of social media posts; it’s a smart way to expand your customer base and ultimately make more money.

Lead Generation Specialist

Is it time to scale up? A lead generation specialist can be the key to netting the next big fish. These professionals cultivate leads through data analysis and targeted campaigns. While that might sound somewhat simple, it involves heavy information sifting and profiling to find the customers who meet your target niche. This can come from website traffic, email campaigns, social media posts, and so on.

Your lead generation specialist will need a clear understanding of your industry, your ideal customer, your personal brand, and your goals. They can take these aspects, pair them with the information they glean, and hone in on customers waiting to be found.

When it’s time to look to freelance hires, rethink your direction. It’s great to pass humdrum tasks to freelance bookkeepers and admin assistants, but there are highly skilled professionals who can bring unique opportunities for growth and development to your business. By diversifying the talent on your team, you can strengthen your bottom line.

4 eCommerce Fraud Trends for Store Owners to Pay Attention to

With the increased emphasis on digital sales and online communication, the rise of the eCommerce industry was bound to happen. Whether you act as a reseller or an eCommerce platform with original goods and products, online fraud is something to keep an eye out for.

According to Business Insider, only 42% of businesses consider themselves “digitally mature” when it comes to the latest eCommerce trends, payment methods and fraud protection. Hot on the heels of data why shows that 17% of all global sales will go through eCommerce platforms by 2022, such data is worrisome.

Additionally, to maximize your revenue and ensure a safe space for customers, you should stay on top of eCommerce trends through platforms such as AbanteCart. With that, let’s look at some of the most damaging and dangerous fraud trends out there and the ways to minimize their impact in 2020.

1. Bank Account Takeover

Fraudsters that rely on stolen credit card information to make eCommerce orders do so within 24/48h of the card being stolen – and for good reason. Legitimate card owners typically rush to their bank’s representatives to cancel the card and signal that yes, the card and its information was indeed stolen. However, many times, customers are unaware of that being the case, mainly by inputting bank account information on unsecure websites and online platforms.

If that happens, credit cards are often taken over by the fraudster who simply changes a few minor details in the account holder’s personal info. This data is then quickly used to make eCommerce orders before the bank or card owner is aware of anything being out of place. As an eCommerce platform owner, you can mitigate the risk of such account takeovers by introducing different ID confirmation prompts during checkout. Introduce SMS, e-mail, limited-time codes and other security methods to your checkout and bank account takeover attempts will have a nullified effect on your platform.

2. Scrambled Address Input

One of the ways to confirm whether or not the customer is legitimate is to ask them for additional personal address information during checkout. However, hijackers with stolen credit cards or phishing information often input blank spaces or special characters into the boxes to confuse the eCommerce platform.

Given that these addresses are more formal than necessary (since they only serve to confirm the payment method); fraudsters can easily fake the information. To ensure eCommerce fraud protection on your platform, introducing Clear Sale software or its equivalent is a reliable and trustworthy long-term option for your customers. Honest typos and mistakes can still happen during checkout, but mismatched personal address information typically happens in fraud and leads to losses for legitimate customers.

3. Spoofed SMS Confirmation

While eCommerce relies on online services, end-users often rely on their smartphones and SMS confirmation to approve final transactions. The so-called Two-Step Authentication system is a viable solution for eCommerce platforms – however, it can be abused without the store owner’s knowledge. Hijackers and fraudsters often target less tech-savvy individuals such as minors and the elderly by sending fake SMS messages to their phones, imitating their bank representatives.

Such individuals might be inclined to give personal info such as their bank account login information, social security numbers and other highly sensitive information. You can mitigate the risk of SMS spoofing on your eCommerce platform by introducing a second layer of protection connected to the individual’s e-mail account. That way, the SMS confirmation itself will never be enough to hijack your customers’ data and will effectively stop them from fraudulent action going forward.

4. Retail Pickup Fraud

Placing an eCommerce order under one address and identity only to ship it to another is nothing new – after all, that is how gifts work. However, fraudsters have found a way to use this system to their advantage and pick up goods that were paid for via stolen credit cards. If your eCommerce platform serves as an online channel for your retail business which offers personal pickup – remain vigilant of your incoming customers. While it’s not appropriate to suspect each customer of fraud, it’s good practice to ask for additional ID information and e-mail confirmation during physical pickup. You can standardize the practice by rewriting and formatting your online terms of service via the best website for paper writing to avoid future fraud. That way, fraudsters who attempt to pick up goods from your store personally will have a hard time doing so without legitimate IDs present.

A Watchful Eye (Conclusion)

The best way to prevent fraudulent behavior on your eCommerce platform is to simply stay vigilant at all times. Make sure to audit your website at least once a month for any malicious behavior or attempts to hijack sensitive information through back-end access. When it comes to autonomous malware and fraud bots, no eCommerce platform is spared, so it’s important to keep such a scenario in mind. Take care of your customers’ data and in turn, they will be more than happy to place additional orders and advocate for your platform.

About the author: Jessica Fender is a marketing consultant, blogger, and a professional writer. Currently, she is focused on creating innovative and customer-friendly strategies at the websites ratings resource AllTopReviews. You can follow Jessica on Twitter.