Whether they’re big or small, no eCommerce brand is immune to a disaster. There’s no question that businesses should be prepared for all eventualities and have built-in strategies to minimise loss if the unthinkable were to happen.
As organisations rely more and more on various forms of technology and electronic data for their daily operations, they must have plans set out to recovery following theft of inventory, hardware failure, or a severe cyber-attack.
Incidents like these can lead to a huge loss in revenue, dissatisfied customers, and unrepairable damage to a brand’s image. The longer it takes to recover, the harsher the impact will be, so a good plan is imperative in ensuring that your company’s reputation won’t be damaged beyond repair.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A disaster recovery plan is a formal document outlining detailed instructions on how to respond to unplanned incidents and how to ensure business continuity.
It will usually include all the necessary steps that need to be taken, the employees assigned, and a clear final objective. Employees should be able to follow and understand the plan easily, and it should be customised to meet the individual needs of your organisation.
Without a solid plan in place, businesses run a considerable risk of putting valuable data in jeopardy, being unable to continue selling to their customers, and ship the correct products out on time. The effectiveness and speed at which you can implement the plan are crucial to covering your assets and making sure a business isn’t permanently damaged.
What are the Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan?
The most obvious benefit of having an effective disaster recovery plan is business continuity. Knowing for sure that your eCommerce business can keep running through a crisis and remain stable will be invaluable to its future growth.
But there are other benefits that you might not initially consider:
The longer an eCommerce business is not able to shift products, the more potential there is for a financial loss. Regular innovative hardware and software changes and a robust plan could potentially save a business a lot of money in the long run.
2) Customer Retention
Consumers expect the places they shop to be reliable and won’t be forgiving of unexpected downtime or failures. To match their lofty expectations, ecommerce businesses need to maintain a high level of service and keep them running smoothly. A simple IT malfunction could result in customers forever tarnishing a brand as unreliable and not worth their time.
3) Edge Over Competitors
Being able to get your business quickly moving again following a disaster will go a long way in showing you’re the best in your field. Consumers like to know they are shopping with a superior brand and will trust a business with proven reliability.
How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Business
Understanding the typical elements that make up a disaster recovery plan will help steer your brand through unexpected bumps in the road.
To get your plan underway, you’ll need to:
1) List and Categorise Critical Functions
Several business functions are critical to the day-to-day operations of an eCommerce business. For example, breakdowns in supply chains, inventory theft, and sales websites going down at any time and could all bring the running of the company to a grinding halt.
Take some time to list all of the potential disasters and outcomes that could come from them to understand better how you’ll recover and the resources you’ll need to cope. Assume that everything will go wrong at some point and plan for all eventualities.
2) Draft a Plan
Carefully put the plan into place considering all the crucial functions you’ve listed and highlight the procedures to take when disaster strikes. Working closely with your IT personnel, you’ll need to establish how you will recover from unplanned disruptions and integrate them as part of an overall business strategy.
3) Present your Plan and Get Feedback
No plan is fool-proof on its first draft. Be realistic about what you can attain and make sure that the plan considers the thoughts and recommendations of employees across the business. A rock-solid strategy for preventing disasters will take time and a lot of reworking to get right.
4) Review your Backup Options
Many of the procedures in the plan will outline what to do if a critical loss of data were to occur. That’s why it is good to keep a backup using physical, virtual, or cloud-based disaster recovery software.
Just some of the documents that most eCommerce businesses ensure to keep backed up are the company’s latest financial statements, tax information, inventory records, and a current list of all current and former employees.
By reviewing your existing backup options, you’ll potentially be saving the business money, protecting the servers, and minimising any downtime in an emergency.
5) Create a Disaster Recovery Team
Putting together a well-rounded team responsible for developing and implementing the plan will help ensure that it is continuously maintained and considers all potential new threats to the business. The team will be those who will be contacted in the event of a disaster and will know how to mitigate each risk to the company.
However, all employees should still be aware of and understand the importance of the disaster recovery plan. It will be a good idea to incorporate test runs of potential disasters into training days and introductions for new starters.
Be sure to schedule regular meetings with top-level managers and the disaster recovery team to review the plan’s effectiveness and update where needed.
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