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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Keep your customer data safe during the last mile with smart lockers powered by Smiota.

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