According to E-Commerce Times, approximately 145 million Americans (half the population of the United States) were affected by the recent data breach at Equifax. Unfortunately, incidents such as this are just a small portion of the many data breaches that continue to be reported.

“Consumer confidence is at an all-time low,” says Paige Schaffer, COO of Generali Global Assistance‘s identity and digital protection services global unit. In fact, an ORC International study found that 40% of consumers believe businesses aren’t doing all they can to protect their personal information.

Here are some key ways you can reassure skittish shoppers and potential customers that it’s safe to buy from your online store:

1. Multifactor Authentication (MFA)

You can give your online shoppers peace of mind by requiring several layers of verification. For example, if a buyer forgets his/her password, your site can require various security questions before sending an email to the customer’s email address. The buyer then clicks on the link in the email to verify their information so more information can be shared. Requiring several authentication steps will ensure that your company doesn’t supply private information to a third party.

Ebba Blitz, CEO of Alertsec, also advises having multifactor authentication for any users accessing sensitive information or anyone in the company handling money-related data to make breaches hard for hackers.

Additionally, you should ensure that data storage is on a secure server like Amazon Web Services. If the data is stored in-house, it should be encrypted at every entry point, as well as having a personal firewall.

2. PCI Compliance

Regardless of the size your e-commerce site, if your company plans to accept card payment, as well as store, process, and transmit cardholder information, it’s essential that your data be hosted securely by a PCI compliant hosting provider.

Payment Card Industry compliance lets customers know that you have taken every possible precaution to ensure that their credit card information is safe.

Many e-commerce sites choose to work with third-party processing site in order to keep business moving. Although this can lift some the responsibility from your shoulders, it may also cause other problems to occur.

PCI compliance should be promoted as part of your company’s culture and customer data protection should be reflected in all aspects of what you do.

3. SSL Security

Shoppers are afraid to buy online because of potential financial and/or identity theft.

As HubSpot explains, “A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts their information the moment it’s entered to make a purchase. When consumers see that your URL begins with “https,” they can be assured that your site is “secure.” A shield or badge on your website— such as those from VeriSign and GeoTrust—will provide an extra level of confidence.

Make sure you don’t just buy the cheapest SSL certificates you can get. You’ll want to choose a well-known and trusted vendor that offers full authentication and encryption between 40-bit and 128-bit (although 256-bit is becoming the norm).

Make sure that your SSL certificate is always up to date. When your SSL certificate expires, shoppers will receive notifications informing them that proceeding with a purchase on your site could put their information at risk. This could result in a loss of customers.

Remember, when shoppers feel secure, they’re more likely to buy from you.

4. Avoiding Redirects

Another way you risk losing potential buyers is by submitting them to redirects that trigger a warning from your SSL certificate authority.

This occurs any time a shopper clicks a link to buy something and is sent to another site to do so. A warning will pop up, letting them know they’re now dealing with a site other than your own.

Whether it’s a third-party credit card processing site or a redirect to purchase from another vendor, shoppers may become spooked and decide not to go through with the sale.

5. Payment Options

Believe it or not, some shoppers prefer not to make online purchases with credit or debit cards, especially when they hear about major breaches such as Zappos and eHarmony.

But as HubSpot points out, you don’t have to lose those buyers just because they prefer not to use credit cards. Options like PayPal or Verified (by Visa) allow consumers to shop at multiple sites without sharing credit card information with each one. PayPal also accepts bank account information, expanding the shopper’s options.

Providing consumers with additional payment options, other than just credit and debit cards, may mean more work for you, but it will increase your potential to capture part of the 30% who are anxious about shopping online, as well as the 20% who don’t shop online at all.

Conclusion

Information on HubSpot indicates that 20% of consumers won’t shop online because they’re afraid, and 22% only use well-known e-commerce sites.

A key part of building a sustainable business that can compete with sites like Amazon is making sure shoppers feel comfortable sharing their financial information with you, not your competitors.

The risk of financial and/or identity theft on the Internet is a stumbling block for potential buyers. That’s why your website should implement several safeguards to ensure that both your prospects and current customers get the absolute safest and most secure shopping experience possible.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a novelist and voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.


Also published on Medium.

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