It’s difficult to imagine a time when shopping meant going to a physical store, inspecting products in person, choosing the most suitable ones, paying in cash at the counter, and carrying them back home. Although this seems like a distant memory now, it was just the norm three years ago.
The pandemic rapidly and drastically changed the way consumers buy products. While many people already had a smart device with internet access, the pandemic-related restrictions on movement and gatherings made it difficult to shop in the traditional way. As a result, online nearly doubled since early 2020.
The online world offers a wealth of opportunities for growth, connectivity, and productivity, but it also comes with increased responsibilities. With access to massive amounts of data stored in both public and private clouds, companies can gain valuable insights to develop personalized experiences for their customers, which can lead to increased revenue and return of investment (ROI). But as we dive deeper, we must pay attention to some important concerns, such as: What kind of data are we operating with? How should we protect this data? What are our obligations when operating with sensitive information?
Many data classification frameworks, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO, distinguish between types of data based on the severity of the consequences if that data is compromised. The level of protection applied to information should be correlated with its sensitivity. Data that is regarded as confidential could have serious consequences if it is compromised. For example, a breach of financial data could lead to financial losses, identity theft, or even bankruptcy. A breach of personal data could lead to identity theft, medical fraud, or even physical harm. Non-sensitive data, on the other hand, is data that would not have serious consequences if it were compromised. For example, a breach of newsletter data would not be as damaging as a breach of financial data.
E-commerce businesses are vulnerable to data breaches due to several cybersecurity challenges. Here are some guidelines when defining a strategy to minimize the chances of something like this happening:
1. Protecting customer data:
Online retailers collect a lot of customer data, such as names, addresses, credit card numbers, and browsing history. This data is a valuable target for hackers, so online retailers have a responsibility to protect it using strong security measures including:
- Using a secure connection (HTTPS) for their website
- Encrypting sensitive data, such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers
- Using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication
- Regularly updating their security software and systems
- Training employees on cybersecurity best practices
2. Preventing fraud:
Online retailers are vulnerable to a variety of fraud schemes, such as chargebacks and identity theft. Companies have a responsibility to implement fraud prevention measures to protect themselves and their customers, for example:
- Using fraud detection and prevention software
- Verifying customer identities and shipping addresses
- Monitoring for suspicious activity, such as multiple orders from the same IP address
- Having a clear and concise return and refund policy
3. Complying with regulations:
There are many requirements with regards to how data should be stored, operated, transferred, and they might be different from one region to another. For this reason, organizations should comply with regulations by:
- Hiring a qualified compliance officer
- Regularly reviewing their policies and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance
- Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits
- Conducting regular audits to ensure compliance
4. Providing excellent customer service:
Online shoppers expect a high-quality customer experience, so it is important for e-commerce businesses to provide them with one. Customer service is important for all businesses, but it is especially important for e-commerce businesses because shoppers cannot see or touch the products they are buying. Good customer service can help to build trust and loyalty with customers. It can also lead to repeat business and positive reviews. This can be achieved by:
- Having a clear and concise return and refund policy
- Offering multiple ways for customers to contact them, such as email, phone, and social media
- Responding to customer inquiries promptly and efficiently
- Resolving customer issues quickly and fairly
5. Maintaining a secure website:
Online retailers need to make sure that their websites are secure and that customer data is protected. This includes using a secure connection (HTTPS) and installing regular security updates. Additionally, it is important to use a firewall and other security measures to protect the website from attacks and to regularly test the website for security vulnerabilities.
Besides these general responsibilities, online retailers may also have specific responsibilities depending on their industry and the products they sell. For example, online retailers that sell food or medical products may have additional regulations that they need to comply with.
Online retailers have a responsibility to customers, to themselves, and to the broader community to operate their businesses in a responsible and ethical manner. By taking steps to protect customer data, prevent fraud, comply with regulations, and provide excellent customer service, online retailers can build trust with their customers and achieve long-term success.
Here are some additional tips for online retailers to meet their increased responsibilities:
- Be transparent with your customers. Let your customers know how you are using their data and how you are protecting it. Be clear about your return and refund policy and your customer service procedures.
- Be responsive to customer feedback. Listen to your customers’ feedback and use it to improve your products, services, and policies.
- Be proactive in addressing security risks. Stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity threats and take steps to protect your website and customer data.
- Be ethical in your business practices. Avoid deceptive marketing practices and sell products and services that are safe and high-quality.
- By following these tips, online retailers can meet their increased responsibilities and build successful businesses that customers can trust.