Amazon.com has trained us well. Today’s consumers expect every retailer, from the big boxes to local independent retailers, to provide easy and secure online checkout. If your site doesn’t offer this convenience — or makes the process uncomfortable in any way — you risk losing your best business to competitors that do. Set your online store up for e-commerce success by following these 10 important guidelines:
In the Spirit of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Safety First
Safeguarding consumer information should be your No. 1 priority. Your customers trust you with their most private information; make sure their trust is justified by taking these critical steps to protect their data.
- Only use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to communicate information. This establishes an encrypted link between the web server and user’s browser to ensure sensitive information is sent over a secure, private connection.
- Comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) to ensure all entry, processing, storage and transmission of sensitive data are secure. Ask your e-commerce provider to supply an Attestation of Compliance to prove they meet these standards.
- Encrypt and purge credit card information. Be sure any credit card information your site collects and stores is encrypted using PCI-compliant standards. Fully purge old information in a timely manner.
- Carefully control who can see credit card information. Not everyone that works on your website should have access to credit card information submitted via online orders. Ensure you can control what each user can see and keep these permissions up-to-date whenever roles change or employees leave your company.
Next: Robust Software
In addition to these safety measures, choose software that allows you to provide a convenient and customized checkout experience. Look for these specific capabilities:
- Confirm credit card information via Luhn validation. This alleviates consumer frustration by immediately indicating if the card number is invalid (typos happen!). It also saves you from wasting time on orders that don’t include valid payment information.
- Use interactive delivery calculation. Your cart should allow you to create rules that automatically vary delivery fees according to items purchased, delivery location, total order price and other important choices made during checkout.
- Prompt for add-ons. Asking customers to add related accessories, warranties and/or complementary products to their order saves them aggravation and maximizes order sizes.
- Auto-complete forms. Your cart should auto-populate all information consumers have previously entered, even if that information was provided outside of the shopping cart.
- Out-of-cart pricing. Some vendors allow certain discounts inside the cart only. Make sure your site supports showing a different price outside vs. inside the cart, and adds appropriate verbiage around these prices to make consumers aware of, and comfortable with, this variation.
- Robust and variable distance restrictions. Some vendors only allow online transactions within a specific distance from your physical retail location. They may not allow items to be added to a cart without first confirming the delivery address is within the accepted radius. Make sure your cart can handle these restrictions and vary them by brand.
Don’t assume all software providers are able to provide the secure transactional cart experience your customers expect. Use this list to ask specific questions and require demonstrations of all capabilities you know your business will require.
Jennie Gilbert is the chief operating officer of Retailer Web Services, a company that builds e-commerce websites.