The world is opening up in waves, and while businesses try to find their new normal, one thing is certain – the way we did business prior to COVID-19 is forever changed. Six feet away. Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS). Curbside pick-up. These terms are common nomenclature for businesses these days, yet less than half of small businesses have an online presence. With social distancing measures still in place in most areas, consumers are demanding new digital and touchless commerce experiences and businesses must embrace these expectations to maintain their customer base.

For small businesses, particularly those with a brick and mortar footprint, pivoting to meet new requirements while grappling with the onslaught of other issues brought on by the pandemic is no small feat. The first step small businesses must act on is establishing (or refining) a digital presence and ensuring they protect their business and customer’s information.

There are a few strategies you can put into action to transform digital capabilities, whether you are a retailer, yoga studio or automotive shop.

Digitize Your Business

73% of U.S. adults say they would be more or much more likely to use digital payments or digital banking services amid social distancing measures. Overhauling your digital strategy while simultaneously managing a new operating environment places extra work on small business owners. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken and resources available to implement and fast track various digital solutions:

  • Prioritize Remote Commerce: There are turnkey digital solutions available to send payment requests for products or services and get paid with one click. According to CyberSource and Authorize.Net data, on average 70% of paid digital invoices are paid within 48 hours, compared to the 60 days it can take via mail. A simple switch like this provides a safety net for merchant transactions and ensures that cashflow is available.
  • Embrace Touchless Commerce: There are safe methods to collect in-person payments without having to pass a credit card back and forth. Businesses can take an order over the phone and process the payment using a virtual point of sale, and for in-person purchases, they can use a mobile POS app to skip the signature. For example, an automotive retailer created a solution where customers can book services and pay via a link sent to their phone while they wait in their car, making the commerce experience easy and safe.
  • Offer Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) or Curbside Pick-Up: E-commerce payments and fraud solutions can enable the option for customers to buy online and pick-up in store (or curbside). This has been critical for retailers of all sizes to help with inventory flow when stores have been closed, allowing them to maintain employee and customer social distancing.

Protect Against Fraud

Amid the consumer shift to digital, fraudsters are finding more sophisticated ways to take advantage of  businesses. Small businesses may think they’re too small for fraudsters to take interest, but often fraudsters use this to their advantage, assuming small businesses are easier targets. It’s important to have a comprehensive fraud strategy in place and the right tools to handle attacks, no matter your business size.

  • Customer Authentication: As touchless and e-commerce experiences increase, incorporate ways to identify customer credentials and purchases. Ask for a secondary email or mobile phone to confirm account creation or verify unusual purchases directly via phone.
  • Detect at Checkout: Ensure your online checkout and card validation pages include detection technologies to defend against card testing and automated scripts. If you notice dormant accounts are placing orders or adding multiple shipping addresses, this is likely a fraudster in action.
  • Contactless Protection: Contactless deliveries are the best solution to protect delivery workers and consumers’ health and safety, but can also encourage “goods not received” disputes. Have delivery workers take a photo upon delivery or call customers upon arrival to combat any false claims.

Looking Ahead

Taking a few measures to digitize existing processes and protect against fraudulent activity can help prevent one less hurdle on the path to recovery. The pandemic has forced small business owners to think differently and make big decisions quickly, but there is no better time than now to pivot toward a digital-first future and focus on long term safety and sustainment.

Michele Herron is the SVP of Strategy, Marketing & SMB Solutions for Visa’s CyberSource and Authorize.Net.

Digital invoice stock photo by