Internet security has become one of the most important factors that determine which online retailers they shop with. With the holidays coming closer and closer, it's important for online retailers to take steps to ensure their consumers trust the retailer with their payment information.

A recent article on Inc examined the ways that simple marketing tactics could actually be turning away customers. This article will examine the inverse, several things that retail website owners can use to make consumers more trusting on the e-commerce systems.

A recent survey from MarkMonitor showed that consumers are becoming more mindful of the things that indicate whether a website has better online security. Ensuring that your site has the trust-building features are essential for strong holiday sales.

Right now, consumers have mixed feeling about the institutions they trust their personal information to. According to consumers surveyed by MarkMonitor, about half of shoppers find their bank or digital shopping channels 'trustworthy'. Half may not seem encouraging, but compared to the feelings consumers have for social media, where only 14 percent believe social network channels keep their data safe

"Cyber crime is affecting both brands and consumers, and is only set to rise as our use of the Internet increases," said Mark Frost, CEO, MarkMonitor according to media reports. "As a result there needs to be a multi-layered approach to online brand protection, to ensure customer trust, reputation and bottom line are maintained...As the sophistication of cyber attackers rises and criminals make more use of underground sites, such as those found on the Dark Web, it is critical that brands look at every method of protection and consider all threat vectors in order to ensure they can protect every aspect of their business and keep their customers safe."

While cyber-security has never been a matter to take lightly, recent evidence shows just how serious the problem has become. According to the MarkMonitor research, nearly half (45 percent) of consumers surveyed have been the victim of some sort of cyber attack.

That is bad in itself, but it's even worse for the sites that have become the target of a cyber attack that costs consumer their personal information. Even if it the cyber-criminals who commit the cry, nearly three out of four (71%) consumers believe businesses lose reputation points when they are the victim of a cyber security issue.

All of this goes to underscore how important is for businesses to do things to ensure the safety of their online retail portals. It takes effort to move one's server from a traditional HTTP to a HTTPS (i.e. more secure) version, but it's worth the investment in the mind of consumers. Nearly nine out of 10 (87%) of the consumers surveyed said they understand the threat of cyber crime and take precautions to protect their information.

Consumers taking efforts to prevent cyber crime and security breaches can have a negative impact on the marketing efforts of smaller brands. For example, getting data from consumers that can be used to create more personalized experience or lead to better product innovation/selection is harder when people don't trust the site. Even when visiting websites they buy from, 54 percent selectively share personal information with digital brands to protect themselves.

There isn't anything a brand can do to make themselves completely secure from hacking, DDOS attacks, and phishing attempts. But by installing the best and most up-to-date security measures can greatly reduce the risk. And by making it known to consumers on your site that extra precaution has been taken to protect their data can lead to more sales and greater flow of freely-given consumer data.

As reports of security breaches become more common (because they will grow in prevalence and they make great clickbait), consumers are going to become even more concerned about these security issues, and even more mindful. So business owners need to get ahead of the problem as soon as possible.

For more data on how web design can affect the effectiveness of a retail website, read this article on metrics you can use to measure the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns.

Published on: Oct 31, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.