Online shopping security is a concern for everyone who makes purchases on the Internet, but it is also an important issue for business leaders — and not just those in the retail sector. Firms also go shopping online, and their employees frequently make business purchases on the company credit card. Enterprise partners involved in online retail can connect a firm with what happens when customers wheel their virtual shopping cart to the checkout lane or decide not to, uneasy about entering their credit card numbers online.

The most significant online shopping security issues for businesses closely mirror those of consumers. Many revolve around personal information, primarily financial data and details about payment cards, whether credit or debit. While businesses can follow some basic guidance given to individual online shoppers, such as keeping browsers updated, there are more these organizations must take into account. Consumer behavior trends due to online shopping security concerns have the ability to make or break a firm’s e-commerce efforts.

Online Shopping Security Concerns

As Ben Rossi reported at Information Age, a recent study by payment handling firm Worldpay finds that, worldwide, 24 percent of online shoppers worldwide will not proceed through the stages of an online purchase unless they receive assurance that their security is being safeguarded along the way. These steps extend from visiting the website and browsing product information to making the purchase and getting a confirmation.

A popular mythology is that consumers are careless about security, but as the Worldpay study finds, at least a quarter are mindful of it. This holds across developed and emerging markets, and it can be expected to grow with every high-profile retail security breach that makes headlines.

Winning Over the Security-Wise Customer

Savvy consumers look for security signals at each step along the online purchasing journey. Smart businesses will make sure they provide these controls and educate employees to observe them when making company purchases online.

A consumer security guide by Mike Homnick at PCWorld highlighted some of these security measures. As in all retail, brand reputation is the first marker for security-savvy consumers, influencing their behavior even before they come in the virtual door.

The next is the little yellow lock symbol on the website’s address bar, which denotes the presence of HTTPS. This indicates the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption of data passed to and from the site. Firms that have not yet adopted SSL are not only losing conscious customers, but also putting their existing customers at risk.

Once on a website, consumers are urged to provide as little personal information as possible. Enterprises should respond by not asking for information unless necessary. Engaging customers is good; engaging their uneasiness, not so much. Transparency is crucial. At the end of the online shopping journey, customers need to know that their purchase is confirmed — and what to do if anything goes awry or the product does not arrive.

Mobility and Evolving Technology

The online shopping security landscape is constantly evolving as firms improve their security measures and especially as online shoppers go mobile. Mobile is not only transforming the technological details of security to suit mobile devices and their operating systems, it is transforming the entire retail world, blurring the distinction between online and brick-and-mortar shopping.

On the technology front, payment card systems are at center stage of security developments. As Ian Barker noted at BetaNews, the payment card industry (PCI) is steadily upgrading its framework to meet new data security standards, called PCI DSS. Enterprises are becoming steadily more effective at complying with PCI DSS, but compliance is still far from complete, and firms not in accordance with the standards are placing themselves and their customers needlessly at risk.

Online shopping security is essential to providing a good retail experience not only for the customer, but for the retailer and for every firm involved even indirectly in online commerce. What is good security advice for consumers also acts as a basic guideline for firms seeking to navigate the e-commerce world with success.

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