2020 saw more of us turn to buy online to overcome store closures, reduced opening times, and the inconvenience of social distancing rules, so it’s not surprising the pandemic has drastically changed people’s shopping habits. Australia Post reveals that August 2020 was a record-breaker for online shopping with digital sales growing nationally by a massive 85.3% year-on-year.  

On the other hand, it’s probably more accurate to say that COVID-19 has accelerated our journey to a future that was destined to be more reliant on digital shopping experiences. While a survey shows as much as 50% of consumers plan to increase online spending even after the pandemic, nearly half (44%) of Australian retailers are now making eCommerce a top priority.

Off the back of a bumper Christmas, there’s no doubt small businesses all over Australia will be focusing on their online store experiences in 2021, or even making the shift online if they haven’t already. But just like anything else in the digital world, business owners need to do their checks and balances around the security risks online to protect their valued customers.

According to the ACCC, online shopping scams accounted for over $8.4 million in lost revenue for 2020 alone, with August’s online boom driving the highest number of monthly reports. Doing what you can to ensure customers have a positive experience when visiting your online store is a must, otherwise, your business could face the risk of losing sales and damage to its reputation. Here are three key steps to protect your eCommerce business and its customers.

Make sure your site has an SSL certificate

The first thing to note is that Google marks all websites with an SSL certificate as “Secure”, while sites without the certification are flagged as “Not secure”. So, your customers will be able to see from the outset whether you’ve taken steps to protect their information, which could impact their decision to buy from your store.

Essentially, an SSL certificate tells your online customers that your site is using a secure HTTPS connection to transfer their data and payment information. Most importantly, this secure connection uses SSL technology to scramble information – known as encryption – so it can’t be intercepted by hackers on its way to the server.

An SSL certificate is typically easy to purchase through your web host and plays an important role in giving your customers the peace of mind they need to transact with your business. Many hosting services (such as Siteground and Bluehost) provide SSL certificates as part of their subscription plans, at no additional cost.

Implement PCI-DSS compliant payment processes

Any Australian business that processes payments online must ensure their site is PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant. The Standard governs how you take payment online to ensure your customers’ card details stay safe and secure.

There are several requirements for PCI-DSS compliance including building and maintaining a secure network and systems, protecting data, maintaining an Information Security policy, and regularly monitoring networks – but satisfying PCI-DSS compliance requirements doesn’t have to be hard work and you don’t need to be tech-minded either. Your eCommerce business can easily meet data security standards by partnering with a trusted payment gateway that meets all the requirements for PCI-DSS compliance.

To help meet safety and security obligations, Live eftpos is PCI-DSS compliant and certified by the Australian Payments Clearing Association.

Reduce risks with solutions that promise accurate transaction decisions

Measures to tackle online fraud are critical, but they can also bring about another unintended consequence known as ‘false declines.’ Believe it or not, false declines take place when a legitimate customer transaction is mistaken and blocked for fraud by the fraud prevention technology used by an online payment gateway.

As you might expect, false declines which result in lost sales can hit SMB cash flow hard – especially if a business relies on fewer but higher value transactions – and there’s also the customer experience to think about too. Consumers who have a poor buying experience will usually resort to competitors and they’re less likely to return in future. A payment gateway, such as eCommerce with Live eftpos, that accurately uses behavioural data to facilitate frictionless real-time transaction decisions is essential for striking the right balance between minimising fraud risks and maximising online sales.

With more businesses going online, the steps you take to protect your customers are likely to make your brand stand out in a marketplace that’s becoming increasingly aware of the growing security risks. It truly is a win-win situation. While your customers’ data will stay protected, your business could benefit from increased sales and repeat business driven by more reliable shopping experiences.

Aaron Camilleri is product director at Live group