5 Security tips for retailers

Have you noticed that warm and cozy, almost fairytale-like feeling coming our way? Your customers have. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just around the corner, gift shopping season is about to take off and online retailers have to be ready!
Earlier this month, Adobe issued a press release stating that all European countries together will spend $1.7 billion U.S. dollars on online Christmas and New Year shopping. Online retailers that want to maximally benefit from this online shopping spree need to ensure their brand is perceived as trustworthy by the consumer. But how do you do that?

Make your customers feel safe

Optimizing conversion rates and minimizing cart abandonment rates are key when running a successful online retail business. But there’s a third parameter retailers need to consider: Security.
A recent study by KPMG indicates that more than 63% of online shoppers are concerned about the security of their personal information. Since potential customers have the choice between thousands of online shopping alternatives, you’ll need to make sure you offer them a secure online shopping experience if you want to win their trust and their repeat business.

Don’t be a “Target”

Retail executives need to first and foremost protect the brand and ensure that cyber security is prioritized.Last Christmas, Target – a big American retailing company – suffered a data breach which compromised the credit and debit card information of 110 million customers. On top of suffering public embarrassment, Target’s credibility and brand reputation took a hit as customer trust fell as much as Target’s stock value. In the aftermath of the breach even the CEO had to step down.
Sadly, Target is not the only company that suffered such a breach. US retailer Home Depot had to spend $43 million in one quarter on investigations, identity theft protection services, increased call center staffing and more. Also Kmart had to cope with a breach last month.
What’s important to keep in mind is that once a company has suffered a breach, it’s hard to regain customer trust. The earlier mentioned study by KPMG confirms that cyber-attacks impact purchase behavior, with 27% of shoppers indicating they will only buy from a store that previously experienced a cyber-attack if they cannot find the product elsewhere. This means that companies who previously suffered a security breach will pay a financial penalty.
In a recent article on net-security.org, Tony Buffomante, Partner and retail cyber security lead at KPMG, mentioned, “Retail executives need to first and foremost protect the brand and ensure that cyber security is prioritized based on the evolving threats of today and the risk of the company. Cyber security isn’t just an IT department issue anymore – it has become a boardroom issue.”

5 security tips to increase customer trust and brand reputation

There are a number of security related measures you can take to increase customer trust as well as your brand reputation:

1) Use HTTPS-protocol on your website

A very basic but useful measure is implementing an SSL-certificate on your website. An SSL-certificate contains small encrypted data files which activate the HTTPS-protocol. HTTPS establishes safe connections between your webserver and your customer’s browser.

HTTPS establishes safe connections between your webserver and your customer’s browser.

Websites that use the HTTPS-protocol will get a lock symbol next to their URL in the browser. This small change might just have a big impact on visitors because it creates more trust between you and your customer a greater sense of security. Implementing HTTPS is a no-brainer for every e-commerce website.

2) Enforce the usage of strong(er) passwords

When a customer registers on your website, it is important they create a complex, hard-to-attack password. It’s wise to force visitors to compose a password that is mainly a mixture of letters – upper- and lowercase -, numbers and symbols. Make sure the customer feels safe. Install a password strength verification tool for instance or, even better, implement a secure login with two-factor authentication.

When a customer registers on your website, it is important they create a hard-to-guess password.

Since this method takes a little more time, it might negatively impact conversions and abandon rates. But two-factor authentication has come a long way. There are new convenient solutions out there enabling you to embed two-factor authentication natively into your m-commerce app or simply to scan a QR-code with your smart-phone in order to securely order a product online.

3) Build a secure mCommerce app

Mobile or m-commerce is gaining more ground every day. In Europe it’s even growing at a quicker pace (38%) than is in the United States (25%). Make sure you offer your mobile visitors the same consistent user experience as you do on desktop computers by implementing a responsive design, or even native m-commerce applications, while keeping in mind the security measures listed above. For native applications this tends to be challenging but there are security toolkits out there, like VASCO’s DIGIPASS for APPS, that enable app developers to natively integrate security measures, such as two-factor authentication, into the m-commerce app itself.

4) Be transparent about user data usage

As we have stated before on our blog, users find it frustrating realizing that they lack the transparency needed to protect their online information and finances from fraud. Your visitors want to see on your website which security measures have been taken and what exactly you will do with their personal data. Users usually don’t like too many steps in a check-out process, but an extra security step is more of a reassurance than it is a hurdle. Being transparent about these matters will increase their faith in you.
There’s even an extra business benefit to being transparent about how you use your customer data. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group shows that consumers who are able to manage their online privacy are up to 52% more willing to share information than those who aren’t.

5) Use a secure payment provider

The party providing the online retailer’s payment security is usually another company than the shop operators themselves. This company provides a payment service. Recently, the European Central Bank (ECB) issued new recommendations it will enforce as of February 1st 2015. The ECB requires two-factor authentication for all browser based transactions. Similar guidelines to secure mobile app based transactions are already in the pipeline as well, so it’s only a matter of time before they are passed and enforced.

Trust as a competitive differentiator

Trust as a competitive differentiatorThe above mentioned security tips will go a long way in helping you to establish a trusted and long term relationship with your online customers. After all, people still buy from the merchants whom they trust. In that respect, trust is a competitive differentiator that will help you stand out from the crowd and enable you to attract new online customers much faster.

One Response to All I want for Christmas… is brand reputation – 5 security tips for online retailers
  1. The Belgian government has also launched this campaign: E-Shop Defense

Leave a Comment