How to prepare your small business for a cyber successful Black Friday

With the opportunity to significantly increase online revenue, is your business and its website ready to handle the potential extra traffic and orders?

Black Friday (Nov 27) and Cyber Monday (Nov 30) are almost upon us. These two days are firmly embedded in consumers’ and retailers minds as the official start of the Christmas shopping season. The opportunity to create special offers and generate increased online revenue should be a priority for all small businesses that have products and services that appeal to consumers over this special event.

In 2014, UK consumers spent £810m online on Black Friday (according to IMRG) and Royal Mail research found that 60% of consumers are preparing to shop online for this year’s event. Research suggests most small and growing businesses are underprepared, despite this being a clear opportunity for small businesses to increase sales and revenue. The Royal Mail’s research describes the main concerns for what is likely to be the busiest few days in the Christmas retail calendar:

“Last year, the biggest challenges faced by small businesses on Black Friday were: coping with increased website traffic (48%); managing stock (44%); delivering their orders on time or quickly enough (33%) and distributing orders from their warehouse (31%). While small business owners are preparing for an influx of web visitors (39% arranging extra IT capacity), bringing in more staff to prepare orders (40% are employing additional staff) and improving the availability of products (55% ordering more stock), nearly two thirds are not preparing for the distribution and delivery of customer orders.”

Small businesses need to ensure they are prepared: one key task is to make sure their website can handle the extra traffic and that orders can be processed and delivered safely and securely in good time.

Here’s a few tips to help you get your website into shape:

  1. Make it mobile friendlyhere’s a list of 19 items to consider, not all will be relevant to every small business but some will.
  2. Make it ultra-fast to loadGoogle’s mobile-friendly checker and page speed checker will show you where any problems lie and how to fix them.
  3. Make it easy and secure – customers want to find details about products, price, availability, delivery, returns, and feel confident their personal details are safe.

Scaling up your IT: Security by design

Extra staff and increased IT resource will help manage the increase in traffic and orders so that your business can make the most out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The added pressure of additional orders could mean that things get missed. New team members may not know how things work or might not have been inducted in company policy and procedure, IT security can be a victim of this.

What you don’t want is to have your best ever year for online sales and then a hacker sneaks in and steals your customer data or deletes all your orders. It’s worth spending extra time to make sure your IT system can process the increased volume and orders and that security processes are being followed to keep your customer data safe.

Nine out of 10 large UK businesses said they had suffered some form of information security breach in the last year according to a survey this year. Small businesses are as much of a target as enterprises so we need to stay focused and alert to the potential issues. Cybercriminals target websites and IT systems they think might have weak security.

The solution?

If you’re concerned your website and IT systems aren’t as secure or prepared for Black Friday as they could be, get help. There’s a whole host of free resources for small businesses across the web to help you understand how healthy and secure your IT system is. For example, AVG’s free Small Business IT Security Health Check  is a good starting point if you’re not an expert. It’s offers straightforward tips for how to improve your IT security and should not take too much of your valuable time to complete.

The UK government is also offering Innovation Vouchers worth £5,000, which can be used to pay for advice to help protect and grow your business by implementing cyber security processes and technology.

There’s a hidden opportunity too: It’s not just about Christmas

Not all of the extra visitors coming to your website will buy something, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become a customer on another day. This is Christmas and the desire to find that special something could bring them back to your site if they have a quick and easy way of knowing you have something to offer.

Invite people to stay informed by signing up to your email newsletter by placing a sign-up box on your homepage. Make sure there is a clear call to action stating what a subscriber stands to gain by signing up: last minute offers, early bird deals and sales for example. Make sure you use a secure system for email newsletters, that you comply with your local email regulating laws, that you are protecting their personal information and send only relevant offers. Another great use for email is to let a visitor know when a certain item is back in stock, this can increase sign ups and sales.

Make the most of it

Preparing your website for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday bonanza by making sure your IT system is secure, capable of processing and protecting customer orders will ensure that you and your business will benefit from the opportunity these special events present.

Tony Anscombe is senior security evangelist for AVG Technologies. Read more from Tony on his blog here.

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