While brick and mortar businesses certainly still exist, their influence in the marketplace is certainly beginning to wane. This is definitely in part due to the emergence of online businesses. According to projections, e-commerce will grow to a market value of $27 trillion by 2020.
It is true that online businesses are run quite differently from brick and mortar stores. However, certain key principals from the brick and mortar business model still apply to online businesses. One of the most important of these is the fact that employee training is essential to short-term and long-term success. Below are some of the reasons why employee training can make or break an online business.
Cyber Security Is in the Hands of Employees
There’s one big difference between purely brick and mortar businesses and online businesses that you should be very cognizant of. Due to online businesses’ direct link to the open internet, they are far bigger targets for hackers, identity thieves, and other cybercriminals.
If you aren’t preemptive regarding your cyber security, you will certainly be attacked. Such an attack could result in your customers’ credit card information being stolen. After they are defrauded, you could end up being sued for millions in a class action lawsuit. The average cost of a cyber attack on a US company is $1.3 million.
However, investing in cybersecurity software and services isn’t necessarily enough to save you from a cyber attack. Employees are responsible for more than half of all security breaches for companies. You need to train your employees on how to maintain cybersecurity in the workplace and on the company network at all times. Even simple things such as not properly scanning email attachments can lead to your company losing millions of dollars.
Customer Service Is Key to Ecommerce Success
Employees also need to be trained on how to provide excellent customer service to online shoppers whether that is provided via email, chat or over the phone. While people tend to think of online businesses as lacking the human element, the human interaction between customers and company representatives is still vitally important to the overall customer experience. An average of 3 out of 5 online shoppers abandon online purchases they would have made due to poor customer service.
A poor customer experience due to poor interactions with online or phone service representatives can also have far-reaching implications beyond losing that one customer. Today, many people choose where to shop due to online reviews. If your online store has poor reviews that outline poor service experiences, you could end up losing a large chunk of the market. The threat is very real. Serious customer complaints could also be seen by many more people due to social media.
Social Media Outreach Can Make or Break You
If you really want to reach the largest customer base possible, you need to go beyond regular digital advertisements for your online business. Trends market research shows that social media presence is integral to driving online sales in today’s environment. You need accounts on the most popular social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
However, your social media representatives also need significant training on how to properly manage your social media accounts. While viral advertising and social media can reach hundreds of thousands of people, you need to be aware that things can also go wrong and go viral as well. For example, if your social media representative retweets or likes something critical of the president, you could end up losing half your customers after the knowledge of that like or retweet is circulated. You may never get that business back and lose millions. It’s that serious.
Overall, a business of any kind needs to invest in proper employee training to succeed. This is no different for online businesses. In fact, in certain cases, not training the employees of an online store can have even more serious consequences than if you only had a brick and mortar operation.
Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s most likely with his beautiful wife and three children.