Shopping online can be a nerve-wracking experience these days. Even when you shop with major retailers, the little voice in your head asks whether it’s safe to give out your credit card number. Between hackers stealing passwords and other data breaches, hackers breaking into routers to spy on Wi-Fi networks, and the threat of ransomware, sometimes it just seems safer to forgo the convenience of online shopping and use cash at a brick-and-mortar store.
As an online small-business owner, then, it’s especially important for you to establish trust with your customers and assure them that it is safe to share their personal and payment information with you. As consumers become more savvy about cybersecurity, they will be looking for telltale signs that your business takes security seriously, and if they don’t find them, will most likely take their business elsewhere. Take the time to review your site for these important security reassurances, and make changes where necessary.
1. Maintain a Professional Looking Site
Does your website look like it was designed by a teenager in his parents’ basement back in the late 1990s? Or does it look fresh, polished, and up-to-date? Think about how you feel when you walk into a brick-and mortar-business: An office with outdated wood paneling, stained carpet, and a lumpy couch isn’t going to inspire confidence. A building that’s bright, clean, and well maintained? That’s a different story.
This doesn’t mean you have to keep up with every design trend that comes down the pike. Frankly, that’s almost impossible and prohibitively expensive, not to mention it creates confusion. However, don’t let your site become the online equivalent of an abandoned house. Keep it tidy, update when necessary, and make it easy for customers to find what they want and make a purchase. When you show you care about the site, customers will feel confident you care about security too.
2. Develop a Security Statement
When your customers land on your site, they should know right away that you take security seriously. Accomplish this by developing a security statement, and telling customers exactly how you are committed to the security of their information. Tell customers that you take their privacy and security seriously, and what steps you’re taking to protect them, in general terms. Security savvy-customers will be looking for this information, so make it easy to find and give them the reassurance they need.
3. Display Security Certifications
Any time customers are sharing information with you, they should be doing so through a website that begins with an https://, or a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that encrypts their information. To supply this layer of protection, you’ll need to become certified with one of the major security providers, such as VeriSign, Thawte, or GeoTrust. When you achieve this certification, not only do you gain access to a secure link, but you can also use a badge on your site to notify customers that you have SSL protection.
You might also consider adding a badge or notice indicating that you are PCI DSS compliant. Banks work with the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council to ensure that vendors have the proper security measures in place to protect customer data. Many payment processors provide this certification, but it doesn’t hurt to provide that information to your customers.
4. Use Multiple Layers of Protection
Because hackers and cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways to steal information, you need to employ multiple methods of web security to thwart them. Implement multiple layers of protection for your customers. For example, use two-factor authentication when possible, require customers to follow password best practices, and follow all protocols for confirming payment card data on the back end. Some customers may not like having to enter passwords and go through the authentication process, but most will understand that you’re trying to protect them and their valuable information.
Recent research shows that the majority of people (77 percent) do not feel confident about making online transactions. As you try to build stronger relationships with customers, it’s important that you provide your customers with the information they need to feel more confident buying from you. When they know you’re doing everything you can to protect them, they will be more likely to buy from you — and recommend your business to others.