Shopping cart security: How small online businesses can build customer confidence

data security Large scale data security breaches are becoming increasingly common. No matter how technically sophisticated we become it seems hackers are always hot on our tails.

Indeed just recently eBay suffered a massive cyber attack on its 145 million users. And of course it is only natural that as data breaches grow so to will consumer concerns over how their personal and payment information is stored and managed online.

It’s not just large corporations like eBay that experience security breaches, an increasing number of SME’s are also vulnerable.

“The total number of data breaches increased 62 percent during the last 12 months, amounting to more than 627 million sensitive records exposed…We all know that large corporations continue to be the targets of these attacks, but what we have seen in the last 12 months is that small and medium-sized businesses are experiencing the largest number of breaches.” Internet Security Threat Snapshot Summary — 2014: Data Breaches Grow Significantly

So in addition to implementing adequate security measures, what can you as  a small online business owner do to build consumer confidence and reassure customers about the  security of your online store?

30% of consumers are increasingly concerned about the loss of personal data

New research by Software Advice* into the impact data breaches have on consumer confidence found that nearly one-third of consumers are increasing concerned about their personal information being stolen. The study found that:

  • 30% of consumers are increasingly concerned about data loss
  • 35% of consumers would stop shopping at a company where their personal data had been stolen
  • 53% of consumers would be somewhat more or much more likely to shop at a store where they were confident their personal data was secure.

In summary, the Software Advice research highlights that consumers are increasingly concerned about data security, would avoid shopping in stores from which their personal data was stolen and would look to shop somewhere where they felt confident their personal data was secure.

How to build customer confidence online

In all likelihood the majority of us are probably unfamiliar and uninterested in the highly technical aspects of data security.  Although implementing solid security measures is an absolute essential, in isolation it is not enough. You also need to work on building brand trust so that your customers feel secure and confident imparting personal and payment information when they shop at your store. We look at some best practice tips for a safe and secure online presence that will help foster trust amongst your customers.

1. Secure, PCI compliant e-commerce

The first thing is to make sure is that the e-commerce software solution that you choose offers secure data storage and is PCI / DSS compliant ( this is the payment card industry’s security standard).  Your shopping cart solution should be protected by  a PCI approved scanning vendor such as McAfee , VeriSign or PayPal and it should protect you against credit and debit card fraud and other threats such as identity theft and spyware.  So it is really important you spend time doing your research to make sure the e-commerce software you choose helps protects you and your customers against data security breaches.

2. Implement appropriate data-protection legislation

When you are storing and managing a customer’s database make sure you are familiar with and keep to relevant data-protection legislation. In the UK this would be the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation Act. Following best practice and appropriate  legislation will ensure  less risks to the data you are managing and build customer confidence.

3. Build trust signposts

There are other ways to help build trust amongst your customers. Research indicates that simply announcing all your great security credentials is not enough. You also need to implement  ‘trust signposts’ to help build customers confidence in the safety of your online store. Large and established brands like John Lewis have ingrained such a sense of brand trust over the years that customers are rarely concerned about parting with their money or personal information. However, small businesses and start-ups don’t have this luxury so you have to work harder to build trust.

Website. Ensure your website is professional looking, up-to-date and easy to navigate. Customers won’t feel comfortable parting with payment or personal details on a site that is confusing to navigate around, has errors or is full of out of date content.

Customer service. Good customer service can only reflect positively on your brand image. Customers will be reassured with helpful, flexible and polite customer service. Make sure that all your contact and company details are clearly visible and easy for a customer to find.

Trustmarks.  Trustmark security logos can help reassure customers that the website they are on has the appropriate security protection. So whoever your security vendor is make sure you display their trustmark somewhere visible.

Customer testimonials. Client and customer testimonials, independent reviews, membership to industry organisations and links to relevant associations can all add kudos and  help reassure customers that your site is trustworthy.

4. Communicate to your customers

It won’t do any harm to remind your customers about how they can protect themselves against online fraud, such as by regularly checking their credit and bank account statements and properly managing their passwords. It can help show that you take the security of their personal information seriously. For example remind them that good password practice includes:

  • Not using the same email password for every site they register on.
  • Mix up letters, cases, numbers and special characters when creating a password.

So in an era of increased data breaches and sophisticated cyber-attacks, don’t assume that as a small online business or start-up you won’t be effected. Don’t underestimate the importance of secure e-commerce and follow good practice to ensure you are keeping you and your customers’ personal and payment information as safe as possible.

 

*New research on how data breaches can hurt retailers courtesy of Software Advice:

Software Advice helps buyers choose the right software. As a trusted resource, our website offers detailed reviews, comparisons and research to assist organizations in finding products that best fit their current and future needs. We have a team of software experts who conduct free telephone consultations with each buyer to shortlist systems best suited to their company’s specific requirements. Having a real conversation with our buyers allows us to fully understand their needs so we can match them with the right software vendors—eliminating weeks from the research process. Our software experts have advised more than 160,000 software buyers to date across various and niche software markets. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Software Advice employs a team of 100, as well as an engineering team in Cordoba, Argentina.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’d love to hear you thoughts and experiences on this topic, so please do leave a comment

 

Advertisements

Shopping cart security: why Trustmarks still matter for small online businesses

trustmarks, online trust marksAs a growing nation of online shoppers I’m sure most of you are familiar with some of the Trustmark security logos placed on websites, such as VeriSign, McAfee and PayPal.  These Trust logos help reassure customers that it is safe for them to shop on a particular website. It means he website will have passed a number of security tests that protects customers from threats like  credit card fraud and identity theft.

So how effective are Trustmark’s in reassuring customers that a website is a safe place to carry out financial transactions or impart personal information?According to The European Consumer Centres’ Network Trust Mark Report 2013, Trustmarks can be defined as:

  Electronic labels or visual representations indicating that an e-merchant has demonstrated its conformity to standards regarding, e.g.,security, privacy, and business practice.”

Consumers have become far more confident shopping online and certainly where a brand is well-known and long established, I suspect  Trustmarks probably make little difference. For example so full of trust  am I in John Lewis’s brand, I don’t think that I have ever looked at or checked their security credentials. However on a site I am new to or unfamiliar with, security reassurance is one of the first things I would check.  Online security is still high up on people’s list on concerns and for smaller online businesses with less established brands reassuring customers with your security credentials is essentails. Indeed research shows:

  • 84% of online shoppers are “concerned to very concerned” about shopping at websites they have never heard of before (McAfee)
  • 69% are concerned about buying at websites where they have not shopped in the past (McAfee)
  • 76% of survey respondents had not purchased something because they hadn’t recognised the logo  (Actual Insights)
  • 61% of participants said that they have at one time not completed a purchase because there were no trust logos present. (Actual Insights)

 How can trust marks help?

For most small businesses it is important to reassure your customers as much as you can about the security and trustworthiness of your site. As we mentioned earlier small businesses and start-ups can’t rely on having an established and recognisable brand to convey trust and therefore need to work harder to convey the credibility of their online business.

Alongside other trust building activities (which we’ll come onto in a moment), Trustmarks can be used to help give  customers confidence that undertaking online payments and transactions involving  personal data is safe and secure.

This can help reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase conversions. Indeed, according to research:

  • 58% of consumers have abandoned their shopping carts over concerns about payment security (Econsultancy)
  • Research by McAfee shoes that showing a McAfee Secure Trustmark can significantly increase sales conversion by an average of 12%

Use Trustmarks as part of a ‘trust package’

Using Trustmarks in isolation won’t work when it comes to getting customers to part with personal information or complete a financial transaction. Rather, Trustmarks should be looked at as one part of a number of wider activities that you need to undertake to give your site credibility. For example:

  • Your website needs to be well designed. It needs to look professional, be easy to navigate and have up-to-date, relevant content. Make sure you contact details and registered address are present and easy to find.
  • Client testimonials, independent reviews and links to official associations can all help convey trust.
  • Your shopping cart and checkout process should be easy to use, linking to a number of PCI DSS compliant payment gateways. And it’s security partner will guard against credit card fraud, identity theft, spyware, and other threats
  • Customer services should be helpful and professional at all times – dealing with queries quickly and efficiently

Trustmarks in combination with the factors listed above will help convey trust and reassure visitors to your site.

 Make sure your Trustmark is recognisable

Choose an online shopping cart solution that is  affiliated with a recognisable Trustmark . A Trustmark should be one that people recognise. Otherwise,  in terms of recognition and it won’t immediately establish as much trust with the consumer as an instantly recognisable one can. Indeed, 64% of people surveyed said an unknown (unrecognisable) Trust logo would affect their sense of trust for a specific website.

In a Trustmark Survey by Actual Insights, the top three most recognised Trust logos were:

  • McAfee 79%
  • VeriSign 76%
  • Paypal 72%

So in summary….

  • Ensure you choose an ecommerce solution that supports and utilises a Trustmark logo
  • Use an online store with one of the most recognisable Trustmarks- For example McAfee
  • Don’t use Trustmarks in isolation but alongside other ‘social proof’ to build trust package 

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. So please do take a moment to leave a comment.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net