Lurking in the shadows of the biggest online shopping season ever recorded is a foreboding truth that makes ecommerce marketers clinch their teeth in frustration: people are still afraid to shop online.
Survey data from the National Cyber Security Alliance indicates that 64% of US online consumers say they have changed their minds about making a web purchase because of concerns over the security of their personal information.
Review of the data also reveals that consumers:
1. Are getting smarter about purchasing online, and as a result are more cautious.
2. Want a clear understanding of how their personal information is going to be used.
3. Don’t want to provide information that’s not required to complete a transaction.
This revealing data indicates that trust in online security hasn’t really improved much in the last few years. And while online shopping is no doubt an increasingly popular activity, people are not going to relinquish information or pull out their credit cards unless they feel safe on a site.
So what do ecommerce professionals do to win the confidence of that wary segment? The clear answer is to not only embody high values for security, but also make sure site visitors know about those standards.
Educate Consumers, Establish Trust
There are lots of piranhas in the water, and the importance of site security is more prevalent now than ever before. Savvy online shoppers are getting smarter about how to protect themselves, but ecommerce stores have an opportunity to expand a customer’s security knowledge by supplying useful suggestions to new online shoppers, and those who might be skeptical.
There are simple, preventative measures that any person can make to improve the safety of their personal information, but do they know what those things are? I might venture to assume that most people don’t carry a deep knowledge of SSL encryption technology, so enterprise ecommerce sites might be wise to help customers wrap their heads around some security basics, and win points, by developing a security resource page.
Simple tips like reminding users to always operate on the most current version of a browser, run antivirus and antispyware, and check URL’s to make sure they begin with “https” rather “http,” can help reiterate the fact that in addition to everything a site does to make sure they are safe, when it comes to improving online security there are a lot of things they can do to protect themselves. In return, you might just earn a loyal customer who trusts your commitment to safeguard their information.
Promote Online Security
There’s something regal about a Seal of Approval, Authentication Certificate or First Prize Blue Ribbon, and luckily most security choices provide an identifiable icon of some kind. Whether its PayPal, VeriSign, Authorize.net or any other, posting a badge of authenticity on your site is a good start in helping consumers identify the methods you’ve adopted for security. But is that enough?
Online stores are investing more and more in advanced encryption technology designed to provide greater protections for end users, and a great way to diminish the value of that investment is to not tell potential customers about the steps that have been taken to ensure their protection.
Internal Marketing departments may shudder at the thought of devoting some promotional space on the home page to site security, but keep in mind the 64 percent of shoppers who might get spooked if it’s not obvious you’re providing adequate protection.
Don’t give anyone a chance to second-guess the security you offer, and how seriously you take it. Establish your protection efforts and then make sure visitors have a clear understanding that you go to great lengths to ensure their safety every time they visit.
It just may be the ray of light that lures the cautious consumer out of the shadows.
Jared Matkin is a staff writer for HotWax Media with a background in PR, Branding and Marketing. He’s also a light-hearted and an opinionated character who will join other HotWax Media employees and advisers in periodically posting his thoughts on topics ranging from enterprise eCommerce to business and technology.