E-commerce security, at least from the consumer’s side, is often reduced to one facet: data security. No one wants to be on the target end of a data breach, and the resultant bad press can be even worse than any financial damages. But while data protection is a major concern for SMBs, it’s hardly the only security issue at play.
Particularly for luxury brands, there’s a growing concern about ensuring product integrity and authenticity along the supply chain, as well as warehouse management concerns. Tackling these appropriately will require companies to take more aggressive steps to secure their products, but luckily new technology is making this easier than ever before.
There are countless small ecommerce businesses that never have to think about warehousing – think drop shipping companies that basically act as middlemen for cheap overseas manufacturers. And, on the other hand, there are luxury brands that deal in such small amounts of inventory at a time that they rarely have to worry about secondary storage. Of course, most businesses are somewhere in the middle and those are the SMBs that need to focus on burglary prevention.
Burglary prevention has a few key rules, most of which are common sense. For example, you should change entry codes and safe combinations regularly. You also want to ensure that you’ve invested in a quality alarm system and lighting throughout the facility. The biggest concern, of course, is with hired security staff; there’s always a chance you’ll encounter a problem with outside workers. However, if you’ve set up clear protocols and have video cameras throughout the facility, you shouldn’t encounter too many problems.
Counterfeit goods have always been a major problem for luxury markets, as well as for more accessible, but collectible goods. Just look at the luxury handbag market; everyone knows someone carrying a knock-off Louis Vuitton or Chanel bag. But while no one blames these fashion houses for the fact that websites and street vendors sell counterfeits, small businesses can’t afford that risk. Accidentally sell a counterfeit item and your reputation can go down the drain.
There are a number of ways to prevent counterfeits from entering your sales stream. If you’re a producer, the primary step you need to take is to make it clear that you only sell through certain venues. That may mean selling directly or through authorized vendors; make this clear to all buyers.
If you’re part of the growing secondhand market in luxury goods, you’ve got a harder job. Your primary responsibility is to authenticate all items using an in-house expert who knows the product inside and out. For example, if you deal in antique jewelry, you should not only have robust authentication procedures, but you also need to ensure that you have accountability processes in the event that something slips through the cracks. Buyers need to know that they can trust you to address any problems with their purchase, should they arise.
You’ve secured the warehouse and made sure everything in it is authentic. You’ve got great digital security protecting buyer data and credit card information. What else is left? The final leg of the journey: delivery. While it may seem unlikely, products can always be intercepted during the delivery process. To address this concern, a growing number of businesses are implementing tamper-proof packaging. Ecommerce has made it much more difficult for sellers and buyers alike to ensure that a product hasn’t been interfered with during the sales process, but innovative packaging can make a big difference.
SMBs are actively strategizing around security, whether that means building blockchain systems designed to prevent counterfeiting or reengineering the classic QR code to track a product’s authenticity. By learning to think differently about security – beyond cameras and locks, though these remain important – luxury SMBs are demonstrating their commitment to customers. The fact is that businesses can build trust in many different ways. This is just the 21st century’s answer to knowing your local shopkeepers and knowing they’ll do right by you.
Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.