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FOUR DIGITAL THEMES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

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The web host STRATO sees sustainable action, data protection, new EU regulations for e-commerce, and a competitive user experience as top topics for small businesses this year.

Claudia Frese, CEO of STRATO AG, believes that four topics will be particularly relevant for small companies this year, namely sustainable action in the online world, protecting sensitive information from cyber threats, and the new EU law on digital markets increased consumer expectations.

More focus on sustainable action

Sustainability is the buzzword of the 21st century and is no longer only relevant for large companies. Smaller companies are also taking their impact on the environment more and more seriously – for good reason because many customers are also paying more attention to sustainable action when making their purchasing decisions. There are numerous ways for companies to improve their ecological footprint – from using green electricity to recycling and promoting sustainable mobility solutions. However, some adjustment screws, for example, in the supply chain, are difficult to turn yourself, which is why companies should consider “green” service providers. If, for example, the web host is climate-neutral, a sustainable online presence is guaranteed.

Data security and data protection remain the top priority.

Regardless of size or industry, every business is a potential target for cyber attacks. The economic consequences are often severe and range from disruptions in business operations and the loss of essential data to a complete standstill. Most recently, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) issued the highest warning level due to a critical vulnerability in the widely used “log4j” Java library. Many online services worldwide were affected by this vulnerability, which again underlines the urgency of data security. The more data is processed and stored, the higher the risk that criminals will siphon off and misuse sensitive information. Small companies and the self-employed are also popular targets for hackers.

In addition to technical data security, data protection in the legal sense continues to play a central role. Companies that want to take advantage of cloud services such as a shared online hard drive should therefore address the question of the provider’s location. The major US providers are subject to the Cloud Act and are obliged to release data if US authorities request it, and the regulation also applies to data stored outside of the USA. To protect cloud data from this type of access, one should consider domestic providers who rely on data protection according to GDPR and European data centers.

New EU rules of the game in e-commerce

Small retailers compete with the global heavyweights in the market regarding online shopping. According to the HDE Online Monitor 2021, every second euro that Germans spend online will be on Amazon. The significant marketplaces dominate the e-commerce segment in terms of sales, and they also dictate the conditions for their customers, i.e., the online retailers. The law on digital markets (or “Digital Markets Act”), which the EU Commission has just launched, is intended to limit the power of the so-called gatekeepers. This includes internet platforms with a turnover of more than 6.5 billion euros a year and a market capitalization of over 65 billion, which determine the access conditions for their dealers and consumers like “gatekeepers.” The new law prohibits corporations from certain behaviors that hinder fair competition. For online retailers, the large platforms of the gatekeepers are often an essential mainstay for offering their products in the domestic market.

Digital customer experience is gaining in importance.

Online retail has experienced a boom during the pandemic. At the same time, consumers’ expectations of companies have increased: Various communication channels for advice and service, a personalized customer approach, more digital offers, and a consistent user experience (UX) on all media are increasingly becoming the standard. In these points, even small webshops have to compete with the big players in the industry and adapt their processes accordingly. In addition, customers prefer a provider with good ratings – positive customer reviews automatically generate trust, and a good reputation on the Internet ensures a company’s long-term success.

“The digital transformation in German companies has picked up speed due to the Corona crisis. Large and small companies are increasingly dealing with digitization topics such as online shops, social media marketing, or mobile payments. In doing so, they meet the demands and expectations of their customers, who are networked, well informed, and digitally demanding,” explains Claudia Frese, CEO of STRATO AG. “However, small companies in particular only have limited resources and often have reservations about their digital skills. They, therefore, need simple, modular solutions that can be implemented quickly, which the market also offers them.

 

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