Stay Safe Series – Securely Purchasing Online

Purchase Anxiety

In the fifth installment of our Stay Safe Series, today’s Volusion blog post discusses methods to ensure secure purchases online. This information benefits online shoppers and online business owners by identifying warning signs, discussing the importance of a SSL certificate and providing a checklist of credentials to verify a secure ecommerce site.

This past Friday I was flipping between three of my favorite movies at once, thanks to the glorious invention that we call cable. About halfway through the movie marathon I realized that I didn’t own any of these flicks on DVD and could watch them all commercial-free if I did. Thus, I grabbed my laptop and began a bargain-hunting search.

I found a DVD discount site that was offering all three movies for $5.99 a piece with free shipping. Sounds like a steal, right? Unfortunately that was the problem – although the prices were great, the website made me feel that they were going to steal my information and never send my order. I opted for another site that looked more legitimate and paid double, all in the name of security.

Have you ever had an experience like this? If so, we’re not alone. According to an eMarketer report, 21% of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts at the last minute due to security concerns. This is bad for your customers and for your online business. If you’re a wary consumer, pay attention to the following tips for safety – and if you’re selling online, utilize this advice to help boost customer confidence and conversions.

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Look for a SSL certificate.

Every site that is accepting payment is required to have a SSL certificate. This security feature encrypts your sensitive data (name, contact info, credit card numbers) as it travels across the information superhighway. This is important because it prevents identity thieves from stealing data at one of the most vulnerable points of the transaction.

Once you’re checking out, look for a SSL certificate logo.

Just seeing a logo or a “secure checkout” link isn’t necessarily enough – you need to click the link to make sure the storeowner hasn’t simply copied and pasted one. And if you’re a storeowner, make sure this logo is prominently displayed on your online store.

 

Take a look at the URL before you purchase.

Secure sites have an immediate change in the URL once you navigate into the checkout area. Instead of the standard “http://…” it should change to “https://…”

 

 

Find the padlock icon.

Another quick way to make sure you’re securely submitting information, whether you’re making a purchase or not, is to take a glance into the bottom right corner of your browser. There you should find a padlock icon that indicates necessary security measures are in place. Then, double click on the icon and you’ll be able to receive site-specific security information. (Pay close attention to the encryption level – if it’s less than 128 bit then think twice.)

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Look for contact information.

Legitimate online businesses want you to contact them with questions or concerns. Look around the site to find a phone number or e-mail address where you can reach out. This is often in the footer of the site or within the company’s “About Us” or “Contact Us” section. Feel free to get in touch with the business owner to quell any fears or suspicions you might have.

Note to online merchants: Make sure your contact information is readily available. This is also a prime opportunity to leverage your Live Chat software to reinforce customer confidence.

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Go with your gut.

Like with my DVD purchase, I didn’t have a true reason to doubt the credibility of the website. However the site was poorly designed and didn’t instill a sense of professionalism. Make sure to check for spelling errors throughout the site and don’t be afraid to trust your instinct when it comes to making purchases. And for online storeowners, site design and reputation is critical here.

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Although these measures are pretty basic, they have been proven to help ensure valid, secure transactions when buying online. Shoppers have a reason to be a bit hesitant when making purchases, so be sure to help them along the way.

And once Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion safely arrives on my doorstep, I’ll be satisfied to know that I stayed safe out there. Here’s to responsible online shopping!

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Happy (and safe) selling!
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate


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Have you ever been the victim of a fraudulent order? What do you do to protect yourself when shopping online? What are your thoughts on the advice provided above? Anything else you’d like to add? Comments? Leave below!


About 

Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

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