E-commerce took by storm our society years ago. Everybody with a name (and not) has an e-commerce site so purchases and transactions can be done on-line. There is no need to visit a physical shop so all is needed is to pick an item, put it in your virtual trolley, check it out and use your credit card…and that is the moment where all the “fun starts”. How can we make our customers use our e-commerce site if they dont trust us? Will we secure their transactions properly?
We have to be very serious about this. Some studies mention that from every 1000 transactions around 30 are fraudulent. Furthermore, 66% of those fraudulent transactions involve credit cards.
Also, keep in mind that cyber-crime is not as it used to be, some “funny” hackers just wanting to make themselves know changing the main page of a site. Now we have to comfront professionals that are experts on every simple fraud, as I already mentioned in my article Crime-as-a-Service (CaaS).
No wonder that there are so many people that dont consider purchasing using credit cards. What they do instead, in many cases, is to look in our web site for a specific product, gather all the details and then go to an physical retailer (street store) and buy the product. Needless to say this is a waste for the e-commerce as so many resources, time and effort are used to make the site efficient and interesting.
Using a credit card to do purchases over the internet
Let’s start from the beginning: using a credit card does not have to be insecure. Furthermore, companies doing e-commerce should ensure that it is not only secure but also easy for the customer to buy, pay and go. However, finding the balance is where many people struggle. If a customer does not feel that the transaction that is about to make is 100% secure (to say the least) it will just not happen. Then, once this basic point is achieved, if you make it easy in general for your customer to trace the transaction and the products (handling and delivering, return policy and insurance, etc) then you will have a buyer who will use your services more and more often…and then word of mouth will do the rest. The best thing that can happen to you is to have a happy customer who will bring more customers. If the “customer experience” is positive you will have gained more adepts to your site. Make a mistake and dont resolve it and you will have the opposite effect.
Making a customer for the first time is ease: Retaining it is the difficult part.
Customers don’t trust
This is a reality. Purchases are not made in many occasions simply because the customer does not feel comfortable introducing the credit card number in a web page. You have to ensure that the overall site, to start with, is clean and “crispy”. Links have to work, products have to be catalogued properly and the overall look and feel of security has to be there (alongside the mechanisms themselves, of course).
Have an online & offline strategy
This is the killer point in your e-commerce strategy. People don’t want just to have a site where they can purchase but they also need a “helping hand” when problems arise. You may have a perfect web site with beautiful products with fantastic prices. However, should your customer have a doubt about a product or with any process of the transaction that the initial interest will not be converted into a sell.
It is as important to have a very good web site as to be able to help your customers in any possible way. Technology is bringing a number of mechanisms that can easy this point, from chat boxes to click-to-call will assist. The key is to be able to take your customer’s hand if needed towards the satisfying results for the two of you (bringing together what is known as the “customer journey”).
Don’t ever let your customer alone.
Protect your clients: Cover their purchases.
As simple as this may seem many companies still think that e-commerce and credit card fraud is a “customer thing”. I am afraid it is not the case. The number of e-commerce frauds that can happen are not just related to accessing the credit card details, it goes from purchasing to not having the goods delivered. How many times have you recieved calls in your call centre or help-line from a customer claiming they have not received the goods? That may seem extreme but many companies will just refund or even provide the good again before loosing a customer over a transaction.
Also, there are occasions in which the purchased items are not delivered at their “best fit”. As a retailer you should not fall in the trap claiming to your customer that the delivery is responsability of a third party and that they should have chosen better.
It is also important to “educate” customers. It will not matter all the efforts that you put into securing and improving your e-commerce. Should the customer fall into some scam like phising or false phone calls (asking to discluse some data for verification) that they may claim they were not informed enough about it.
Little can be done other than making awareness campaings against fraud and the different sort of scams they can find. It is not your fault that customers fail to see what is a real campaign from an unreal campaign, but you can help there…remember, the people that may be scammed are your customers and you surely want to protect them. It is in your own benefit.
Inviting your customer: Your marketing campaing.
You can spend millions of dollars securing your web, bring the best experts you can find in the market and offer the best products. If your customers dont trust you are doing enough to prevent them from scam, then it is like if you were doing nothing.
Just as you publicise your products, your sales, etc part of your strategy should aim at how well you are doing things: how you are improving in your organization, how you are taking security as a business priority and everything you are doing to ensure your customers feel well when using your web and making all the transactions with you. The more services you are offering, if there is an interelation between them, the more secure your overall business will have to be. Fraud can pass from one service to another.
Not because you are doing all these things well means that everybody knows it. Dont take anything for granted: your marketing should also target your security and will be your best weapon.
Go the extra mile for the customer: Clear and easy return policy.
Whether it is the wrong article or your customer wants to return the product as he/she does not like it, should not present a problem…and again, under a safe environment. If your customer accept returns or not or, maybe, only certain circumstances, the customer should have the certainty that it will be an easy and straight forward process. Tracking delivery and returns, safe packaking, etc will be part of your logistics. Not knowing what, how or when the product will be picked up and what will happen next after it sets a very clear example (and precedence) of something your customer does not want to know about…something will not want to repeat again. If you customers is having problems sending something back then he/she may think that sending things back is not worth buying in the first place.
Use anti-fraud mechanisms
There are many anti-fraud mechanisms that can be used in your company so the “customer experience” is complete. It is NOT only about your web-site, it is about everything that may involve your company:
- CVV (Card Verification Value): Do not only ask for the “front” number. Asking for the CVV gives an “extra” security measure. This will make sure than when a purchase is made the person making it will have the card phisically with him / her. E-commerce companies do not keep the complete credit card number neither do they keep the CVV.
- Additional security factor (multi-factor authentication): Many companies send a message with a code to be inserted at the time of paying over the internet. This will verify that the person purchasing does not only have the credit card but also has the registered mobile. Too many things for the bad guys to have at the same time.
- Finger print: There are e-commerce companies that allow their customers to register their finger print so it can be used also as a security measure when purchasing.
- Geolocation: Just as in the previous point, this can be done from mobiles with GPS or location enable. The customer may have opted for this feature as they do not plan to purchase, for instance, from abroad.
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Data-Mine your customers: Not only do you keep track of what your customers want, you have to keep in mind what they may have purchased in the past as this, normally, sets the future. If a customer normally buys goods worth 300 $ maximum the purchases abnormally high should be spotted inmediately and customer called inmmediately for verification. Same goes for abnormal purchase location or delivery. Abnormal patterns must be analysed and control as they happen. Should you let go the items it will be too late. You and your legitamate customer will be on-trouble.
- Use all technology you have at hand: Think and act quick before the thiefs have time to react. Using technologies like Blockchain, AI (Artificial Intelligence) or extrancting data to be used as soon as possible will push the boundaries against the possible fraud.
Know how to help your customers and you will know how to help your business.
Think like the bad boys: your anti-fraud department
You probably have done it all or at least as far as you can think in order to secure your e-commerce site and your customers, but you can always do something else. Let’s be clear: anti-fraud is a prevention activity NOT a reactive activity. If you are only doing reactive anti-fraud then you (and what is more important, your customers) are already at risk.
I would make sure you are ahead of the game with your very own anti-fraud department. These will be the guys that will be in the front-line looking for all the different gaps that your security systems may have, look into ways to access customers data or ensure your packages are delivered to the right customers instead of the bad guys, look into the payment process and try to address any possible situation that may come up and will convert your customer experience into a nightmare.