Remember retail stores selling things other than staple goods? If you happen to have a short memory, it’s possible that you don’t: after all, there are people throughout the world who’ve only ventured outside the world of eCommerce for food since the COVID-19 pandemic sparked the first wave of lockdowns.
Stuck indoors and bored, many of us have turned to retail therapy, and top online sellers have reaped the benefits (even as other companies have suffered).
Today’s eCommerce dominance makes it crystal clear that the average shopper is totally fine with buying things online, so you might think it perfectly safe — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks.
Shoppers may be willing to trust established brands with well-rated support services, but that doesn’t mean they’ll trust your store.
If you want to thrive, then, you need to take steps to show that you’re invested in keeping your customers safe. Showing that you pose minimal risk will encourage shoppers to give you a try.
In this post, then, we’re going to cover five key online security tips. Let’s get started.
Use a highly-rated hosting solution
No matter what you do with the design of your store, a core part of your online operation — namely the hosting — is outside of your control in a significant way.
You can access a dashboard, make tweaks, and contact support, but you’re still reliant upon the hosting company: if that company suddenly makes a huge mistake, you’ll be left to deal with the consequences.
Due to this, it’s imperative that you find and commit to a well-regarded hosting solution intended specifically for eCommerce. This will cost more, yes, but it’ll also get you more stringent security protections (and likely better performance).
Aim to choose a service that has expertise with your selected CMS, too: if you’re using WooCommerce, we have expert WordPress developers. Invest in great hosting for a solid CMS with trustworthy payment gateways and you’ll be halfway there already.
Offer relevant advice through a blog
We just looked at one thing you can’t fully control (your hosting), but the list doesn’t end there, because you also can’t determine what your store users do. Why is this something you need to care about? Because you can only do much to protect them.
You can provide a store with superb security protections, but if they’re extremely cavalier with their personal data then they can fall victim to social engineering and see their accounts hacked.
And if one of your customers has their account hacked due to their carelessness, they’ll blame you. It won’t be your fault, but your brand image will suffer regardless. Accordingly, the onus is on you to steer your customers towards sensible choices, and the best way to do that is to create a blog and use it to build up security resources.
Consider the ever-looming prospect of phishing. If some scammers are able to convince your customers that they represent you, they can exploit them. Now, you should try to make it difficult for people to pose as you (more on this later), but you should also give them advice to help them disambiguate when unsure: knowing how to perform an email lookup (in other words, how to find and copy an email header) is smart, and you can provide a simple guide for managing it.
(Check our other blog posts related to commerce and digital marketing too!)
Implement two-factor authentication
As noted, you can’t prevent users from being casual with their account security, but you can require them to go through two authentication steps. In most cases, this comes down to logging in with a username and password, then confirming that step with a confirmation code sent to an associated phone number (or with a fingerprint submission).
This is so useful because it hampers social engineering efforts: a scammer can know almost everything about a customer’s account but be unable to access it.
Two-factor authentication may be baked into your CMS, in which case you can simply toggle it. Otherwise, you can invest in a third-party service like auth0. Make the process maximally convenient to avoid frustrating your shoppers, and — quite vitally — explain why it’s necessary.
If you don’t highlight the need for security, some people will inevitably decide that you’re inconveniencing them for the sake of it. (Related Article: Privacy and Security Concerns in Digital Marketing)
Stick to a clear set of style guidelines
Operating an online business calls for a lot of customer communication, whether you’re responding to a support ticket or sending out a marketing email to promote your latest goods.
Due to the aforementioned risk of phishing, though, you need to be careful — and in addition to showing people how they can check the legitimacy of their messages, you should make things easier by sticking to a clear set of brand guidelines.
In other words, every email you send should be unmistakably yours, featuring your preferred shades, shapes, tone, and layout. Getting people used to inconsistent design will leave them more vulnerable to phishing efforts. And though you might think that sticking to a formula will allow scammers to copy it, the truth of the matter is that scammers aren’t generally very good at doing this.
They’ll often include low-resolution images and slapped-together layouts. In short, they’ll lack the skill or will to make high-quality designs.
Invest in site penetration testing
Let’s say you’ve followed these tips, done everything you can think of to get your store secure, and returned to operating as usual. How can you be fully confident? What if that confidence is misplaced and there’s a huge vulnerability you’ve missed? Your assessment of the situation won’t tell you that much, which is why you need to look elsewhere.
Penetration testing is a service through which an expert security company makes every effort to access your store through illegitimate means (really putting it under a microscope) and identify ways in which it could exploit present weaknesses. Think of it as paying a reformed criminal to break into your building without stealing anything so you can see how they got in and act to prevent it from happening again.