Data breaches are making shoppers more wary about providing payment and personal information to retail websites. Here are three ways retailers can minimize risk and increase customer comfort during the peak shopping season.

Michelle Fischer, chief customer officer, Kibo

Michelle Fischer, chief customer officer, Kibo

It’s no secret that—now more than ever—consumers are concerned about their security while they browse and shop online. And, who can blame them? In the past six months, a handful of leading brands – NeweggMacy’s, and Adidas among others – have reported consumer data breaches. Add to this the 30% spike in omnichannel fraud attempts during the holidays, and consumers become understandably wary as they head into the busiest shopping season of the year. In a 2017 Accenture report, 62% of holiday shoppers said they were concerned about online shopping security, and 30% said they would avoid brands that had recently experienced breaches.

To correct the disparity, not only should merchants ensure their security protocols comply with industry standards, but they should be talking about security with their customers early and often. As such, merchants need to make online security a top priority. But for the most part, sellers seem content with the status quo: According to technology researcher Forrester, e-commerce checkout and payments made the list of top 2018 priorities for just 5% of merchants. And despite the growth of mobile shopping, just 17% of merchants report having a mobile-specific fraud prevention strategy, according to payment firm Braintree.

To step up security efforts for the holidays, merchants should begin by considering the following three tips:

  • Ask vendors the right questions. Sellers should investigate whether their e-commerce and fulfillment platforms are Level 1 PCI compliant across touchpoints, including for mobile. The depth of third-party security integrations also deserves a close look. Available upgrades or updates should also be undertaken now to ensure any and all security patches are in place.
  • Adopt best practices for customer-facing security features. Merchants should message data safety across all touchpoints with third-party certifications and links to privacy statements. Implementation of alternative payment methods enables shoppers to skip entry of credit card information. Sellers should also test their mobile presentations to ensure messaging remains prominent on smaller screens. A good example of this would be a company whose mobile site highlights “secure checkout” and prominently promotes alternative payments from the cart onwards.
  • Proactively establish customer service channels for fraud claims. Merchants should incorporate language on the customer service section of their site that explains how to dispute charges and purchases. They should also have plans on standby for reaching customers proactively in the event of a data breach.

This holiday season is going to be one for the books, and with US retail sales expected to increase by 4.1%, and US retail e-commerce spending expected to rise by 16.2%, 2018 may see some of the best growth rates in years. However, with all of this success comes greater threats to the security of your business and valuable customers. So, before the whirlwind that is the holidays hits your website, ask yourself—what steps are you taking to reassure shoppers about security this holiday season? How you answer this question may determine whether you’re on your customer’s naughty or nice list.

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Kibo provides e-commerce technology and order-fulfillment services to online retailers.

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