Wednesday, January 7, 2009

E-commerce: Trust through implementing security measures

It is true that trust is the greatest aspect in having transactions in the web. Trust is something that one could not easily be given to people that he doesn’t know completely. As I was being introduced to online transaction in my early years as an IT student, I am amazed to how people transact and some questions arises: Do the people have the assurance that the owner or developer of that site they are subscribing be truthful to their contracts? Why does people easily and fully trust these people? Do the government have any laws for these? Are they sure that the site is not a fraud or something? Something that only gets money and then disappear in an instant? These are just the few questions that came into my mind as e-commerce had been initiate to my understanding.
Trust is a major challenge to the consumer acceptance of e-commerce: the lack of trust is an important reason for the hesitant growth in e-commerce and for the reluctance of consumers to engage in online buying transactions. Communicating trustworthiness is therefore a major challenge, companies encounter.

Trust is a concept everybody understands at some personal level, but most people will have trouble enunciating a specific definition of the concept. Some people will have strict measures they use to evaluate their level of trust in a person or company, while others rely on a more subjective "feel" for determining whether to trust somebody.
There are many different ways to which department of the government act upon the need of security in terms of trust issues when it comes to transactions being done over the net. An example of this is in an article by Eric Enge, Search Engine Watch, He had spoken about this issue at length with Nigel Ravenhill, Director of Marketing Communications at ScanAlert, the people who offer the HackerSafe service. This service audits and certifies your Web site's e-commerce infrastructure as being secure. Putting their logo on your site assures the consumer (or your B2B customer) that the information they submit to your site will be protected from, well, hackers.
Some of the cues a user may look for while evaluating trustworthiness in a commerce site:

Is the site professional?
Have the designers taken care to create a coherent interface, or is the site the apparent product of somebody learning how to code HTML? Does the site have typos, grammatical errors, useless animation, or any of a slew of other problems that indicate that the designers or implementers don't know what they are doing? If they can't design a good site, why expect them to be able to handle commerce transactions and fulfillment? Personally, I won't deal with any site that uses the Comic Sans font face because it shouts "built by an amateur" to me.
Does the information architecture make sense?
If the organization of information doesn't appear to have been carefully designed, why expect the site designers to have thought much about fulfillment and payment systems?
Is the site easy to navigate?
Can I find the product I want to buy? Is it easy for me to browser the site looking for interesting things I might want to buy? If the designers can't make the site easy enough to navigate around, why would I trust them to have made a backend that works?
Is the site easy to use?
Can I access and use the site and its offered functionality? Can I search, browse, and purchase from the site? If I can't, because of my browser and preferred browser configuration, then the site designers are telling me that they don't want my business.
Are my questions answered?
If I'm concerned about security or privacy, can I find information that addresses these concerns without having to email a faceless answer-bot? If the designers didn't think about my possible needs before I made my purchase, why expect them to handle my needs after they have my money?
Do other people trust this site?
What's the word about this site? Have customers received their orders correctly?
Am I familiar with this company?
Have I had good experiences with this company before, on or off the web?
Are the prices reasonable?
Is the price realistic or just too cheap? Will they hit me with an outrageous shipping charge to balance the low price?


Ensuring Web Site Security

People do not usually trust some sites that present amazing offers. To ensure these information as well as that of the information of the consumer, servicers are being used. Among these are the following:

HackerSafe
has been subjected to A/B testing by a large number of retailers, where half of their visitors see the HackerSafe certification, and half do not. Visitors who saw the HackerSafe logo converted at a 14 percent higher rate on average. Pretty significant.

ScanAlert
has published additional research that provides further visibility into shopping behavior on the Web. What ScanAlert did was examine in detail the elapsed time between a user's first visit to an e-commerce Web site (measured by setting a cookie), and the visit in which they purchased something (latent conversion delay). To make this more interesting, they started measuring this back in May 2005, and have continued to measure it through May 2007, allowing to see how this behavior has changed over time. ScanAlert has participated in 480 tests by 470 organizations covering a wide range of e-commerce activities.

A few interesting points emerge immediately:

1. Purchases taking less than 1 hour dropped from 50 percent to 43 percent. These are the purchases that may have taken place on one visit.
2. Purchases taking longer than 3 hours grew from 40 percent to 44 percent. The majority of these purchases were probably multi-visit in nature.
3. 30 percent of all purchases took more than one day. So if they are an e-commerce site, know that there is a lot of money on the table when it comes to capturing people for multiple visits to your site.
4. People requiring more than three days went up 23 percent (from 21 percent to 26 percent).
5. 18 percent of purchases took more than one week, a 28 percent increase from 2005.

Arguably, most of e-commerce purchases are based on more than one visit to an e-commerce Web site. Why would this be? Most likely, it's because of comparison shopping in action. More and more consumers have the Web savvy to understand how to compare options, and they look at other places where they can buy the same goods.

The Importance of Trust and Safety

ScanAlert also did some additional tests of the impact of its HackerSafe service on these latent conversions. ScanAlert's data show that for those people requiring more than three days to buy (24 percent of all purchases measured), the HackerSafe logo resulted in a 34 percent lift in purchases, as compared to a 14 percent lift overall. What this suggests is that trust and safety are major factors in the behavior of these more hesitant shoppers. So price is not the only issue at hand.

This suggests online retailers should look at strategies for projecting trustworthinessWill it frighten users away or convince them that you are the real deal? Nigel also suggests that offering users an option to provide you with an email address is a smart idea. Users who are not ready to buy may be willing to hear what you have to say, and may well provide you with the opportunity to get back to them. Following up with an email containing a special offer is an excellent way to increase that latent conversion rate.

E-Commerce Security
When someone is shopping for something over the net, what assurance could they get to know that it is not a fraud? How do you know that the data you enter will be protected as it flies across the Internet?
The de facto mechanism for ensuring e-commerce security is the digital certificate.
In fact, the sole goal of digital certificates is to make sure online shoppers feel secure, by authenticating the legitimacy of the certificate owner and by protecting your sensitive data.
Digital certificates are issued by a third-party certificate authority. The certificate authority will only issue a digital certificate after they have thoroughly checked out a company.
Once you get a digital certificate, you can post a logo on your website. Presumably, customers who see a digital certificate logo prominently displayed on your site will trust you considerably more than if you didn't have the digital certificate. They know that you've gone through a vetting process and that the personal data they submit to your site will be encrypted.
This is one of the ways to which organization or individual customer have a strong and assured bind to the site they are purchasing to. A digital certificate to be able to check the reliability of the site and knowing that the information you have given them would not be used by others or be hacked.
Privacy in E-Commerce Transactions

There are also issues after the customer had done inputting their information. Does the merchant sell those information to others? What assurance does the customer have to know that their privacy are being protected?

E-commerce companies can show prospective customers that they take privacy seriously by applying for a displaying a TRUSTe privacy seal.

The TRUSTe seal tells customers that the company practices good privacy policies. In order to obtain the seal, the e-commerce site must have a privacy policy that complies with TRUSTe's privacy guidelines.

E-Commerce Reliability
If you've taken care of your e-commerce security issues and assured customers that you are a trustworthy partner who will protect their privacy, what's left to prove?
The last frontier of building e-commerce trust is conveying to customers that you are a company that delivers on its promises.
Surprisingly, there are e-commerce companies out there who have digital certificates and TRUSTe seals but who completely fail the reliability test. For example, maybe they promise an order will be delivered in a few days and then they take weeks to deliver instead.
If you believe your service levels are excellent and want to convey that to customers, check out these programs.
Here are also components of a commerce site that suggest trustworthiness from the article of Derek Sisson entitled A thoughtful approach to web site quality. ecommerce | Trust & Trustworthiness:

1. Seals of Approval -- Symbols, like VeriSign and Visa, designed to re-assure the visitor that security has been established. The companies that provide these seals of approval are referred to in this report as "security brands.
2. Brand -- The corporation's promise to deliver specific attributes and its credibility based on reputation and the visitor's possible previous experience.
3. Navigation -- The ease of finding what the visitor seeks. If the information architecture of your site doesn’t make sense, customers will doubt your ability to serve them. In the same way that cleanliness and layout affects a brick and mortar experience, problems such as poor navigation, broken links and broken images erode customer confidence in your brand.
4. Fulfillment -- Clearly indicates how orders will be processed, and provides information on how to seek recourse if there are problems.
5. Presentation -- Design attributes that connote quality and professionalism. Even if customers don’t have any artistic inclinations, they intuitively know if your website design sucks. Your website doesn’t have to do a fancy song and dance, it just needs a professional, clean design that instills confidence in your brand.
6. Technology -- State of the art connotes professionalism, even if it's difficult to use.

These are just steps to which customer can assure that the site they are buying to would meet their agreed transaction. Having a transaction online without seeing the one you are doing business to requires a great deal of trust. E-commerce also requires this kind of deal to its customers, steps should be followed by buyers to ensure that the site is not a fraud. E- commerce replacing the traditional way of purchasing should be taken seriously because of its impact in the society. Organization must have appropriate law or regulation to protect customers from hackers lurking in the depths of the internet waiting for someone to a victim of their nasty works.

Reference:
http://searchenginewatch.com/3626363
http://www.gaebler.com/Conveying-Trustworthiness-in-E-Commerce.htm
http://www.philosophe.com/commerce/trust.html
http://www.palmerwebmarketing.com/blog/helping-customers-trust-your-website/

Reactions:

2 comments:

i love the web.!! nothing seems to be impossible with it..though that doesn't mean that all its effect are good. Security "is" an issue..

Its really important to incorporate some good security mechanism for an e commerce website. Because its the security measures that helps in building trust. So many tools and mechanism are available which promises to offer security.
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