The Real Value of Data to eCommerce Brands (and How to Keep It Safe)
eCommerce runs on data – questions like “Who’s the right customer?”, “What are they looking for exactly?”, and “How much are they willing to pay?” are just a few out of the millions business owners ask each day to determine the course of their brand’s future.
This is, of course, nothing new but the data available to eCommerce teams today is exponentially greater than in the past (even just a few years ago). This trend shows no sign of slowing down in the future and it’s clear that the most successful companies are obsessive about their users’ data.
In this article, we’ll explore what data means to eCommerce brands, the differences between how it was used before compared to now, and why keeping it safe should be top priority for your online store.
What does data mean to eCommerce brands?
Without data, eCommerce would be a guessing game. Marketers and merchandizers wouldn’t know who the ideal customers are, designers and developers wouldn’t know what users would want to see on the site, and so on – nobody would have a clue of where to begin or which direction to go in.
Data cuts through the chaos of opinion and carves a path to success for teams to follow. Here are just a few examples where data is key:
- How you make sales
- Where to optimize your site
- Marketing campaigns
What does success mean for eCommerce businesses? It’s knowing what to sell, to whom, at what time, and at what price. This essential information, which may seem deceptively simple, is the difference between a struggling business and one worth billions.
Data is everything – it’s content, design, strategy, and perhaps most importantly of all, it helps brands make better, more informed decisions.
What are the most valuable kinds of data to merchants?
When a visitor arrives at your site, anything and everything can affect their decision to buy (or not buy). How products are shown, popups, copywriting, site performance, and reviews are just a few examples of the millions of elements that could affect a customer’s behavior.
In the early days of eCommerce, there weren’t as many ways to analyze these subtle changes and how they affected overall revenue. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case.
Observing top brands and how they approach catering to individual shopping experiences can reveal surprising insights – without data, we don’t know what we don’t know. The most valuable data to merchants is what makes a visitor become not just a customer, but a customer who keeps coming back. The only way to know this is through analysis.
There are many ways to analyze your eCommerce store, from Google Analytics to apps that focus on specific areas such as Checkout Zen, but what remains important is getting control over the data on your site. Without knowledge of what content your customers want to see, how they prefer to pay, what makes them abandon their carts, and other critical information, you may be leaving considerable amounts of potential revenue up to chance.
Why is data security so important? What’s at stake?
Data is our guide – it helps us get to know our customers, create better products, and adapt to the increasingly competitive market. It also takes lots of hard work and time to obtain quality data that lets your business thrive.
Naturally, as with anything of high value, you want to keep it safe. Data loss can happen for a wide variety of different reasons, some of which can be unexpected, but the damage is almost always costly.
Shopify only protects you at the platform-level. If Shopify has a problem with its servers, for example, they’d be able to recover the entire platform. This does not necessarily recover your store data. https://t.co/mCOlzWWdyt pic.twitter.com/ejIXzhN05f
— Ilana Davis (@IlanaDavisHR) September 24, 2020
One of the most common ways brands lose data is site downtime. Back in 2015, Gymshark’s site was down for 8 hours on Black Friday, which ended up costing them over $150,000.
You can’t make sales if your site is out of commission and losing valuable data during high-traffic periods like the holidays can continue to hurt your brand for years.
eCommerce can be unforgiving with even the smallest of mistakes, like when Rx Smart Gear lost 100,000 SKUs with a botched spreadsheet upload. While leading platforms Shopify, BigCommerce, and others are powerful when it comes to building and managing an online store, they still don’t come with an ‘undo’ button.
If you’re handling sensitive data manually on a regular basis, you may want to think about what’s at stake because human error is inevitable. Apps like Rewind provide an insurance policy for your data so you can rest assured that your business is safe from a potential catastrophe.
Should you be worried about your eCommerce platform’s data policy?
Almost all cloud service providers offer platform-level backups, not user-level backups. These protect the platforms against disasters and offer platform-wide recovery, but do not offer account/user-level backups.
That means there’s not much to worry about in terms of incidents on their end such as a data breach, but when it comes to 3rd party app errors, malicious data deletion, and other issues that could occur on the merchant end – they’re not responsible.
Be aware of what data protection measure are in place for your eCommerce platform and make sure all your bases are covered.
How can merchants keep their data safe?
Thoughts of having to recover from massive data loss keep business owners up at night – thankfully, there are plenty of ways to obtain peace of mind.
First, we recommend using an automatic backup app like Rewind. If your brand is on Shopify, you’re in luck as they have some of the some of the best apps to ensure your store is secure.
Here are some other products that have also received excellent reviews:
- Automatic Backup by Talon Commerce
- Data Backups & Recovery by Warely
- Backup by BackupMaster.io
Next, a password manager like 1Password or LastPass is essential for not only tightening security, but also increasing productivity. Most of these apps offer faster ways to access important accounts without having to remember countless passwords, freeing up more time for other tasks while your data remains secure.
Checking if an email you use has been compromised at haveibeenpwned can also help keep user data safer in the future by knowing which red flags to look out for.
Generally, a review of who has access to your store should be done on a regular basis – contractors or part-time staff should have access removed if they are no longer working on the store. Apply the principle of least privilege (a cybersecurity best practice) by providing only what’s necessary to a user, program, or process to perform its function.
Secure the future of your eCommerce brand
Security as a whole should never be a set-it and forget it part of your store operations. Some parts might be, but it’s best to schedule monthly or at least quarterly security audits.
If you’re unsure of how high priority the safety of your data is, ask yourself:
- What would a downed site cost me in time and money?
- How would a data breach affect my customers and brand?
- When is the last time I verified my data?
Security should be looked at differently than other investments in your store which are mostly invest X to get positive ROI Y. Instead, it’s about taking necessary action ahead of time to avoid the pitfalls of losing something you worked so hard to build.
Henry Brown is the Digital Marketing Manager at Rewind, the leading solution for automatic backups and easy recovery of SAAS apps like Shopify, BigCommerce, and QuickBooks Online.