Fears about online security could keep shoppers from buying from some online retailers this holiday season, but there are tactics that sellers can use to attract buyers.
“Consumers are clearly aware of cyber threats and this perhaps plays more heavily on their mind during holidays when people are likely making a larger volume of online transactions,” says Jill Standish, Accenture senior managing director of global retail. “In this year’s holiday shopping survey, 62% of shoppers said they are concerned about the security of their personal information when making online purchases.”
Additionally, the study finds that 64% of consumers plan to shop only at sites that they already know or feel are reputable. That may make it hard for retailers to acquire new customers during the busiest shopping time of the year, but Standish says there are a few ways sellers can make buyers feel more secure.
Standish said that open, transparent data practices can help shoppers feel more secure. That includes making it clear what data is collected and what benefits users are getting from retailers having that data.
Accenture’s study found that consumers are more willing to share data if they can save money in return. For example, 72% of consumers are willing to share data for discounts and coupons, while just 43% will share data in exchange for more relevant marketing promotions.
“The attitude of ‘If I give you consent this is what I will gain’ will start to drive how consumers think about sharing and how they select the brands they share with,” Standish said. “Make data policies transparent via different channels. Explicitly mention how customer data is being used and what customers receive in exchange for providing their data.”
Implementing modern security solutions and keeping up with patches may not be obvious to consumers, but coming back from a hack can be a hard task. 30% of consumers said they would avoid brands that recently had a data security breach.
Additionally, protecting against breaches will help in the long run, especially as sellers in the European Union prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation that will be required in May. These new regulations strengthen consumers’ ability to give consent for data collection and require more stringent data protection of consumer data. They also require clearer language around data collection, reducing the legalese put forth by many companies today.
“Under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) retailers will face new requirements that will compel them to completely review their approaches to customer data security and privacy as well rethink the value exchange,” Standish said. “As retailers’ collection and use of data evolves at pace, the response to GDPR may need to include a plan for ensuring that future activities are compliant, too. Many will need processes that guarantee that new initiatives do not fall foul of the regulation.”
Even for retailers who don’t have to worry about GDPR, the new regulations can be a guideline for improving collection and use of consumer data. Additionally, Standish urges online retailers to test their systems heavily for potential avenues of attack.
“Organizations should not rely on compliance alone to enhance their security profile but undertake extreme pressure testing to identify vulnerabilities more rigorously than even the most highly motivated attacker,” she says.
Despite a high level of concern for online safety, consumers are expected to increase yet again this holiday season, with the National Retail Foundation estimating a 15% increase in nonstore sales.
“Very few consumers will actually avoid shopping online due to security and privacy concerns, but they will take more precautions to ensure that their data is safe,” Standish says. “To build trust, retailers need to be transparent and responsible about the use of customer data and use it in a way that clearly provides a better experience or more value.”