Consumers have flip-flopped and
now perceive online shopping as
safer than brick and mortar from a
data security standpoint.
Dating back to when online shopping was still in its infancy, brick-and-mortars were always considered much more trustworthy by consumers. Online, there were fears that the store may be illegitimate or that weak encryption and defenses could lead to their data being stolen by computer hackers. On the flip side, physical retail stores had been around for ages and people were confident in their ability to protect customer information.
However, recent events have shaken consumer confidence in brick-and-mortar stores, which has tipped the scales in the other direction and driven many shoppers online. For example, the highly publicized Target breach made it quite clear that even some of the biggest names in the retail industry were vulnerable to attack. Moreover, people are becoming more cognizant of the fact that credit cards aren't as safe as they once were, which further fuels fears of shopping at brick-and-mortar locations.
"Online security measures have improved tremendously, and consumers are much more savvy when shopping online than they used to be," Craig Borowski, editor at Software Advice
, told Internet Retailer. "They know what to look for to shop safely online. Add to that the fact that the hackers have come up with increasingly clever ways to steal data from brick-and-mortar shops and all the high-profile success they've had doing so, and the tables are now turned."
Data safety drives shoppers online
Safety of data is key, and if customers feel their information is safer with online merchants than it is with brick-and-mortar entities, that is where they are going to be spending their money. A report from Software Advice found that 33 percent of respondents said they would be much more likely to shop where they were confident their data is safe, while 20 percent said they were somewhat more likely.
Conversely, 35 percent of respondents said they would stop shopping with a company if their data was compromised, while three-quarters said they would be less likely to buy products from merchants that put their data in jeopardy.
For online stores, the message is clear: Data protection is key, but for now, greater security encryption has made eCommerce a more attractive option for many.
"Many consumers are more hesitant to swipe a card in person than online," Borowski added. "It seems now that the brick-and-mortar stores and traditional point-of-sale software need to catch up to the level of security seen on most online retail sites."
Offering customers an array of payment options
Payment flexibility is crucial to any merchant, and the more ways they allow customers to pay, the better off they'll be in the long run. Flexibility and convenience are important to the shopping experience and that's part of the reason why many brick-and-mortar merchants allow people to pay using a variety of different payment types, ranging from checks to credit cards to mobile apps. The same can be said of online stores, with shoppers having a variety of options at their disposal, including credit cards, PayPal, and at some retailers, even digital currency such as Bitcoin.
Regardless of how they pay, retailers need to ensure these transactions are secure. This starts by utilizing an eCommerce platform that features payment and fraud prevention tools that utilize everything from secure shopping carts to payment transaction reporting. This allows merchants to incorporate a variety of different payment solutions, all while maintaining a level of safety and security to protect their customers from fraud.