E-commerce has become a huge market that is growing rapidly. Thanks to the increased popularity of online shopping, many people are choosing to run their online stores, especially since setting up an online store has become a relatively simple undertaking. There are many tutorials on the Internet on how to set up an online store, sales platforms are friendly, and you only need a computer to operate it.
However, as online business grows and becomes more demanding, there are many key aspects that e-commerce owners sometimes overlook or forget to include in their stores. In this article, I will discuss those issues that are worth keeping in mind to successfully run an online store but which are not always remembered.
Security is one of the most important aspects of e-commerce operations. Proper protection of both customer data and the site itself is crucial to avoid potential problems and threats.
One of the first aspects that online store owners often forget about is website security. Make sure your site is secured with HTTPS, which guarantees encrypted communication between the server and the customer’s browser.
Security is extremely important for both customer data and the integrity of the site itself. A few basic aspects of site security include:
Make sure your site is secured with an SSL certificate. An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is essential to ensure secure communication between the client and the server. Without it, data sent between the client’s browser and the server, such as login and password, can be vulnerable to interception. Don’t forget the importance of updating it regularly to maintain a high level of security.
Outdated software can be prone to security vulnerabilities. That’s why it’s important to keep your operating system, e-commerce platform, and any plug-ins up-to-date. Make sure your system automatically checks for updates, and always make backups before deploying them.
An application firewall and protection against DDoS attacks are indispensable to protect a site from attacks. DDoS attacks can cause interruptions in access to the site, which can lead to financial losses. Choose a hosting provider that offers such protection.
Both employees and customers of your e-store should use strong, unique passwords. In addition, managing access to different areas of the site is crucial in case of staff changes.
Strong passwords are the cornerstone of protecting user accounts and access to administrative panels. Encourage both customers and employees to use passwords that contain combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters. To create a password that is strong and difficult to crack, while also being easy to remember, follow a few rules. The password should be long (preferably 14-18 characters), contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It should not be a word from the dictionary or a simple key combination. An example would be a password consisting of several unrelated words that together, with the help of associations, form a unique and memorable sentence, such as:
Control who has access to certain store functions and data. Limit access to key functions and data to authorized employees only. Access to administrative panels should be secured, and permissions should be assigned taking into account the employee’s role in the organization.
Blocking mechanisms after multiple failed login attempts help protect accounts from hacking attacks. Limit the number of attempts that can be made before blocking access to make attack attempts more difficult.
Monitoring is a key aspect of keeping an e-commerce site secure. There are tools and procedures to help track site activity and respond to suspicious activity.
Monitoring site activity is a key part of ensuring security. There are many tools and services available to track who visits your site, what actions they take, and where they come from. Use monitoring tools that allow you to track activity on your site. They can detect potential threats, such as failed login attempts or suspicious activity, allowing you to respond immediately. Examples of tools include Google Analytics, which offers analysis of site traffic, or server log monitoring tools, which allow you to identify potential attacks.
Monitoring is not just an observation, but also a reaction to suspicious activity. This can include analyzing server logs (logs) to detect invalid login attempts, SQL Injection attacks, attempts to gain access to server resources, etc. It is worthwhile to have procedures in place to respond to potential threats, which allow you to react quickly to emergencies. Implementing such procedures helps secure your store from attacks.
In e-commerce, fraudulent transactions can be a serious problem. It is worth investing in anti-fraud systems and monitoring suspicious customer activity.
Online stores are often targeted by scammers making fake transactions. Implementing anti-fraud systems, such as transaction risk assessment systems, can identify suspicious online payments. These systems analyze various factors such as customer location, credit card type, transaction value, and others to determine the risk.
In addition to anti-fraud systems, it’s a good idea to monitor your store’s customer activity for suspicious behavior. This could include suspicious orders, payment attempts from different locations over a short period, or other activity that may indicate fraud attempts.
Backups are crucial for any company or individual doing business online. Server failures, server room fires, or hacker attacks are just some of the unpredictable events that can lead to the loss of valuable data. As the OVH server room incident shows, even the most important and advanced data centers are not immune to such events.
In the digital age, where data is one of a company’s most valuable assets, regular backups are essential for business continuity and security. It is worth knowing that the mere fact of storing data in the cloud does not eliminate the need for backups. That’s why it’s important to back up your data regularly, as well as to see if it can be recovered. As your business grows and changes, your Disaster Recovery documentation should be kept up to date so that in the event of an incident, it is an effective tool for restoring normal service operations.
Not all data is equally important, but the most important ones, such as accounting documents, SaaS system data, system and application settings, should be backed up regularly. The importance of the data determines the frequency of backups – for an online store, where transactions are carried out every day, backups should be performed much more frequently than for a static website.
It is also important to properly secure backups, including encrypting them. In the event of theft or unauthorized access, securing your data can be critical. It’s also a good idea to keep backups in different locations, which provides an extra layer of protection against data loss.
The 3-2-1 rule in backup is great here, which means having at least three copies of data stored on two different types of media, at least one of which should be in a different location. This minimizes the risk of data loss in the event of a failure of one of the media or a natural disaster.
The backup issue is not only a security issue, but also part of the Disaster Recovery policy, which specifies what steps to take in the event of serious technical problems. When a major incident such as a fire, flood, hacking attack, or system failure occurs, a Disaster Recovery policy becomes essential to restore your store to normal operation.
It is a key element in today’s business environment, where the availability and integrity of data and IT systems are critical to business continuity. DR is a comprehensive set of procedures, strategies, and tools that allow a company to quickly restore systems and data after a major incident.
The first step in creating a DRP is to identify the company’s most important systems, applications, and data and prioritize their restoration. Next, it is necessary to regularly back up these resources and store them in secure locations. With physical security and encryption of backups, the risk of data loss can be minimized.
Testing is another equally important consideration. Companies should regularly conduct emergency simulations to make sure that procedures are working as intended and that personnel are trained in their implementation. This can reduce downtime and minimize losses.
A Disaster Recovery Plan is not just about technology, it is also about proper procedures and management actions. It’s worth investing in a DRP because it allows companies to maintain business continuity even in the face of major incidents, which is key to maintaining customer trust, and company reputation and reducing financial losses.
In short, taking regular and secure backups and having an up-to-date Disaster Recovery policy are fundamental to managing risk and safeguarding your data from unpredictable incidents that can have serious consequences for your store.
Email is a key tool in online stores for customer communication, marketing, and transactions. However, its effectiveness can be limited by issues such as spam filters, which can incorrectly classify important messages as unsolicited mail. To increase email deliverability, it’s important to create content that encourages recipients to interact, like clicking a link or moving the message to another folder, which signals to email servers that the message is wanted.
Analyzing the content of the messages you send is key. High-quality content is better viewed by recipients and spam flitters. It’s best to avoid attachments, too many images, or links to external sites, which can lower the credibility of your messages. Instead, focus on creating an attractive preheader, which increases the chance that the recipient will open the email.
Recipient segmentation is another important element that allows you to send emails only to people who are interested and open the messages. Sending emails to people who don’t want them can lead to messages being marked as spam and lowering the sender’s reputation.
It is also advisable to monitor the subscriber list and remove inactive or unwilling recipients. Some of them can be used by email companies to create spam traps, or address traps, by which the provider can classify your message as spam.
To avoid spam problems, companies should follow good email marketing practices, such as:
Also, remember to distinguish between transactional and marketing emails. Transactional emails, such as purchase confirmations or password reminders, are better received and have a higher open rate. Therefore, consider using separate systems for sending different types of emails.
In summary, e-commerce email is a tool with many possibilities, but it requires conscious management to avoid deliverability problems and maintain a good sender reputation.
Another aspect related to e-commerce is server performance. Long page load times can deter customers. The right server, optimized for load, can significantly speed up page loading. Remember, a fast site means happy customers.
Choosing the right hosting or cloud is a key step in ensuring the reliability of an online store. The two main approaches are hosting on your server (on-premises) or using cloud services. Each of these solutions has its advantages and disadvantages. Hosting on your server can give you full control over your infrastructure, but requires investment in hardware, server administration, and ongoing care. Cloud solutions, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, offer flexibility and scalability but can generate costs that must be carefully controlled.
Also, don’t forget the need for 24/7 server or cloud administration. Unforeseen failures or technical problems can occur at any time of the day or night, so it is important to have a team or service provider that is available and ready to respond quickly. Server or cloud administration includes monitoring, security, backups, software updates, and quick response to any failures or unexpected traffic increases. It’s what keeps your online store available at all times and minimizes potential financial losses associated with business interruptions.
When choosing a hosting or cloud service provider, it is worth considering not only the price but also the quality of service, availability of technical support, and scalability. The final choice should be tailored to the specifics of the online store and its needs, and 24/7 administration is an integral part of ensuring its reliability and security.
IT failures and interruptions are an inevitable part of running an e-shop. Today’s world of technology is not free of incidents that can cause unavailability of services. Examples of such situations, such as messenger crashes or cloud services not working, are unfortunately quite common.
Unavailability of IT systems is natural, which should come as no surprise. Many service providers offer assurances of uninterrupted availability, but it is important to realize that even in the best systems, failures can happen. Often, they are caused by planned interruptions to update software or infrastructure, which are necessary to keep the system up and running. However, it is not only planned interruptions that generate unavailability. Incidents resulting from software bugs, an increase in unexpected site traffic, or hardware failures can occur when least expected.
It is worth remembering that incident resolution is a constant part of working with information systems. Even with careful planning, it is impossible to avoid all problems. That’s why it’s important to be prepared for such situations, to understand the causes of failures, and to document procedures that prevent them from recurring. For many companies, it is also crucial to estimate incident-related losses and approach this from a practical perspective. Complicated and costly solutions may not always be the best choice, so it is important to analyze what downtime costs are acceptable in the context of an online store’s current resources and needs.
Incident management is not only about responding quickly to incidents but also identifying problems and resolving them to prevent future problems. It is critical for IT service providers, both large and small, to prepare customers for possible unavailability and provide adequate support and information. Best practices also include storing backups in independent locations to minimize the risk of data loss in the event of a hardware or server room failure.
In conclusion, failures and unavailability are part of reality in the IT world. It is crucial to be prepared for such situations, both by responding quickly to incidents and by eliminating the sources of problems. With the right approach and procedures, you can minimize losses and keep your e-commerce stores up and running, even in the face of failure.
Monitoring website statistics is not just about marketing, but also a matter of server performance. Data helps you understand customer behavior, and server load analysis can help you adjust your resources to meet actual needs.
Monitoring server load is crucial to ensure the smooth operation of your site and maintain the high availability and performance of your online store. Regularly collect server load data, such as CPU usage, amount of available RAM, disk load, and network bandwidth. Monitoring tools allow you to constantly monitor and detect possible problems. For example, if you notice that the server is reaching its maximum capacity, it could mean that you need to expand your infrastructure or move to more efficient hosting. It’s also worth considering migrating to the cloud, which encourages with its scalability.
Each online store has its unique requirements in terms of server resources. Some online stores need more processing power and memory than others. It’s important to tailor your server to your actual needs to avoid excessive costs and loss of performance. Hosting providers often allow flexible scaling of resources as the business grows.
The e-commerce industry needs to stay on top of the latest technologies and solutions. Investing in technology development allows you to provide better services and encourage customers to return. Consider how much money you are willing to invest in developing your store and make sure you have a well-thought-out strategy.
Investing in new features, advertising, and customer service can help you succeed, but don’t forget to invest in your server infrastructure. Plan to invest in technologies that will help your store grow. This could include developing a mobile app, integrating with new payment platforms, or expanding your product offerings.
When planning IT investments, you also need to pay attention to scalability. As your business grows, your store may need more server resources, as well as new IT solutions. Choose technologies and solutions that allow you to flexibly adapt your infrastructure to meet your needs and requirements as your customer base grows.
Every employee plays an important role in maintaining site security. Therefore, it is important to provide security and IT training. Education helps employees understand what actions are necessary to ensure security, and what each employee’s role is in the process.
Employee security and IT training is an investment in protecting your e-store. Employees should be aware of potential threats, such as phishing attacks, malware, or hacking attempts, and know how to respond to emergencies. Everyone should understand their security and IT roles and responsibilities.
Running an online store is a task that requires consideration of many aspects, both technical and business. It is worth investing time and resources in providing security, backups, customer service, and marketing. Emphasizing the importance of IT security issues in managing an online store is key. Ensuring adequate security and monitoring is an ongoing process. Constant attention and education of employees helps avoid problems and loss of customer trust. Remember, a secure online store means satisfied customers.
Security and technology must be a priority to avoid problems and reputational damage. Taking care of these aspects helps keep your online store on the path to success. By keeping the above points in mind, you increase your store’s chances of success and growth in today’s competitive e-commerce world.