No retailer is immune to data breaches. Macy’s, Adidas, Best Buy, and Saks Fifth Avenue are only a few that have been impacted this year. Not only can these incidents be extremely costly, but they also bruise your reputation and obliterate customer relationships. So needless to say, keeping customer data as secure as possible is paramount.
Use these strategies to keep sensitive consumer information where it belongs.
General practices and before the sale
Ensure your e-commerce website is iron-clad
Website security is a crucial (and worthy) investment that will give your customers the peace of mind they need to purchase items online.
The Cost of a Hack
According to a report from Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity company, the average cost of a data breach in North America is $1.3 million for enterprises and $117,000 for small and medium-sized businesses.
Most larger retailers have a team of IT whizzes responsible for finding and fixing vulnerabilities in e-commerce websites. But for smaller businesses, keeping a site secure might be a collective responsibility. If you fall into the latter category, check out these resources to get a handle on what it takes to keep sensitive information safe from hackers.
- Safety First: The Basics of Website Security for Ecommerce Retailers – Hubspot
- 9 Quick Ecommerce Security Tips for A Safe Holiday Sales Season  – Cloudways
- 4 Things to Look for When Hiring a Cybersecurity Expert – BenefitsPRO
Emphasize the importance of cybersecurity daily
Every employee is a potential avenue for a cyber attack, so it’s critical for everyone on the payroll to be versed in and consistently employ cybersecurity best practices.
But don’t pull out that soapbox just yet — building a culture of cybersecurity doesn’t need to hinge on fearmongering. Keep things light by sharing resources like videos and infographics, actively participating in cybersecurity training, or rewarding people with excellent habits.
After your employees realize the benefits of protecting sensitive customer information, it’ll become second nature for employees to keep a sharp eye out for suspicious activity, use work email and internet responsibly, and more.
- Free ESET Cybersecurity Awareness Training – ESET
- How to Get Your Staff to Take Cybersecurity Seriously – CNET
- Cyber Security for Retail Services: Strategies that Empower your Business, Drive Innovation and Build Customer Trust – Symantec
During the sale
Only collect necessary data
We all know that customer data is vital for informing business decisions, from what promotions to run during the holidays to what products to mark down next. But when you make a sale, don’t make the mistake of requiring your customers to share everything plus the kitchen sink.
Not only does asking for a lot of information result in a poor user experience (who wants to fill out endless boxes when you’re buying a pair of jeans?), but every piece of data you collect could potentially be stolen. So stick to the basics: credit card information, name, and address. You might even consider destroying credit card information — AKA the Holy Grail of hacking — after each transaction.
- What “Big Data” Should Retailers Collect? — Medium
- 10 Questions to Ask When Collecting Customer Data — Entrepreneur
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) FAQ — ControlScan
Delivering the sale
You’re not in the clear once customers place an order. The last mile is about protecting data and a physical product.
Keep click and collect orders under lock and key
Click and collect, or buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) is on the rise and is sure to be a popular order fulfillment choice this holiday season. But with this newer delivery method comes unprecedented concerns about protecting customer data.
To keep customer information secure during this last-yard delivery process, install smart package lockers that will keep everything — including the item itself — locked up until the purchaser retrieves it. This strategy ensures that any sensitive billing information is safely stowed, the package ends up in the right hands, and sales associates will have more time to focus on the customer experience rather than keeping an eye on a pile of packages and packing slips.
- Unbeatable Benefits of Package Lockers for Retail Stores — Smiota
- Half of Retailers Find BOPIS Adds Fraud Concerns — Questex
- Take Cues from These Retail Giants to Boost Your BOPIS Game — Smiota
Ensure you’re partnering with reliable carriers and have a thorough understanding of what they do to protect customer data
The rise of e-commerce is forcing traditional carriers like UPS, USPS, and FedEx to adapt to overwhelming demand. Plus, new carriers and last-mile delivery collaborators (e.g., Instacart) are coming out of the woodwork to help pick up the slack. Since the world of last-mile logistics is changing so rapidly and more players are entering the game, do your research about your carriers.
- How do they protect customer data?
- Do their privacy policies align with that of your business?
- Is any customer information shared with third parties?
Answer these questions to formulate a truly holistic view of the exchange of goods and how customer data is handled along the entire supply chain.
- The Rise of the Last-Mile Exchange – strategy+business
- What is the “Last Mile” and Why Does it Matter? – Medium
No matter what, have a contingency plan
Despite what measures you take to protect customer data, you still need a contingency plan. There are endless ways you can handle a breach, but the sooner you disclose potential data loss, the better off your company will be.
- Data Breach and Incident Response Plans | 2017 Templates & Resources — GoAnywhere®
- Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business — Federal Trade Commission
- Data Breach Response – A Guide for Business — Federal Trade Commission
Keep your customer data safe during the last mile with smart lockers powered by Smiota.