Why Online Retailers MUST make their Web Site "Secure" for E-Commerce.

  Secure a web site for E-commerce
  About the author:
   Herr Heinrich D.Rosberg is the Gewerblicher Direktor at the offices of VectorInter.Net in Deutschland.
   He uses his "digital certificate" to raise and lower the draw-bridge at the family castle on the Rhine River, near Bonn Germany.
  Send any questions about improving and streamlining your sales cycle to Director.DE@VectorInter.Net, or speak with your local Team Leader.
   Read more about "How Things Work" in the VectorInter.Net archives. 
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   VectorInter.Net LLC, is an internet services and technical consulting corporation, with offices in the USA, Australia and Europe (Germany).
   Our staff is very diverse, with expertise in many areas. You can find more articles like this one, and learn "How Things Work" in the VectorInter.Net newsletter archives.
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This newsletter was originally posted in 1996, as we advised clients on the fast growing trends in E-commerce. Online customers were just becoming aware of the need to look for "secure" ways to make transactions. Then as now, most credit card fraud can be traced to dishonest employees or to "social engineered fraud", not to online transactions. ADVANCEMENTS IN SECURE ONLINE TRANSACTIONS FOR RETAILERS HAVE MADE THIS PAGE COMPLETELY OUT-DATED. It remains posted for historical purposes only.

    As security becomes a "front-page" issue, surveys are showing that customers are willing to do business with a web site only if they are confident that the information given is "secure". 

    Some independent analysts believe that financial transactions on the Internet will reach usd$30 billion/year by 2005. Can you afford to ignore a marketplace that is growing that fast? E-commerce is a great business model with a very low cost per sale number, if itís done properly. The downside is a unique set of security issues, which businesses must address to minimize risk. To attract customers, you must contend with the findings in a Yankelovich Partners study. It reported that 85% of experienced internet users indicate that a "lack of security" made them uncomfortable completing a retail sale with a credit card number. Security will increasingly become a "front-page" issue. Fewer customers will be willing to submit personal information to a web site, unless they are confident it is "safe". If your business plan includes accepting credit or debit cards, sharing any financial data, medical history or other personal information during transactions on the internet, it is critical to resolve this issue in the minds of your customers. The merchants who can win the confidence of these customers will gain their loyalty and an enormous opportunity for expanding market share. 

    Your web site can address these concerns with technology solutions that minimize your risks, and calm customer fears of completing the transaction. In a face-to-face retail transaction, a customerís "comfort level" is based on physical cues. Consumers use credit cards in retail stores because they can see and touch the merchandise and make judgments about the store. On the Internet, without those physical cues, it is much more difficult to assess the legitimacy of a business. We read about the serious security threats that have emerged on the internet. Never forget that your customers have those worries too. VectorInter.Net can show you proven, low cost-per-sale solutions to secure online transactions. We donít publicly endorse any outside product, but when asked, we recommend a VeriSign brand product. This companyís "digital certificates" are used by virtually all of the Fortune 500 companies in the USA and their counter-parts elsewhere in the world. As E-commerce grows, so will the use of these security products. 

    When you secure your web site with a digital certificate, your customers are assured that your site is legitimate, and the information sent either way remains private. Even if someone could intercept it, the data is in scrambled or is in ďencryptedĒ form. That data is useless to anyone except the intended recipient. Even another web site with a digital certificate canít unscramble your web site data. 

    A common question is "How does this secure process look to my customers?" Interestingly, both the Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers have built-in security mechanisms to prevent users from unwittingly submitting their personal information over insecure channels. If a potential customer tries to submit credit card information to an unsecured site, the browsers will, by default, show a warning, which can make the purchase process seem threatening. Does this pop-up box give you the confidence to send your credit card number over the internet?

    In contrast, if a user submits private information to a site with a valid digital certificate, the warning does not appear. The secure connection is seamless. there is no disruption to the online shopping experience. In addition, your customers are visually reassured that they are shopping on a secure site. Each company providing digital certificates does it in a slightly different way. The most common indicator is the small padlock icon, with the lock open or closed. The VeriSign brand digital certificate allows you to display their "TRUSTe" logo too. Itís good "brand building" on VeriSignís part, but again, we are only trying to gain enough consumer confidence to complete the transaction. 

    A secure web site can provide your business with a competitive advantage too. Spur of the moment online sales, or streamlining the process for products like subscriptions, memberships, insurance quotes or credit card applications can mean a huge growth in sales. A digital certificate on your site provides a safe online transaction that protects your customers, but also your business interest. You are assured of receiving accurate information that the customer cannot later refute. This documentation is valuable in business disputes with customers and has been supported/accepted as evidence in court proceedings in most jurisdictions around the world. 

    Digital certificates are an established, proven solution to the very real security concerns of your customers. They are in place and working on more than 750,000 web sites, worldwide. Why not yours? Contact the VectorInter.Net office nearest you. We will assign a Team Leader to show you how we can expand your marketing opportunities and build customer loyalty with a digital certificate. Give your customers a secure place to do business with your company, and they will.

   We have more to read about "How web hosting works" or The "Common Traits of Successful web sites." Visit the VectorInter.Net newsletter archives.

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