Consumers have been shopping online for so long that it's easy to forget that in many ways e-commerce represents the wild west of retail. There are a lot of new technologies and shopping methods being experimented with and while this creates tremendous opportunities for business owners, it creates a seemingly equal amount of opportunities for bad actors to try and take advantage of retailers.
While the existence of cyber threats is nothing new, business owners are often unaware of the scope of the problem. A recent Nielsen study noted that the majority (57 percent) of online consumers have doubts that eCommerce sites will keep their personal information secure and confidential. Recent reports from Google and other organizations highlight the level of danger and what business owners can do to make their sites more secure.
A report from ACI Worldwide cited data that showed how fraud has grown along with the amount of transactions that happen online. The number of e-commerce transactions grew by 21 percent year over year for the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Years. However, fraud attempts grew by 8 percent during the same period. .
If the recent holidays are an indication of what's to come this year, business owners should be on guard for scammers who are trying to take advantage of new technology. The report notes that click-and-collect programs saw a 47 percent year over year increase in fraud. Similarly, overnight and next-day orders saw a 50 percent year over year rise.
For business owners, there are multiple benefits to recognizing potential e-commerce threats. The primary benefit is preventing expensive losses. According to one estimate from the National Retail Federation, organized retail crime cost businesses over $30 billion every year. Preventing that level of loss to business is reason enough to keep on top of web security.
Another benefit comes from improved consumer relations. As the never-ending ads about cyber security remind us, people are increasingly wary of having their personal or financial information stolen online. Sites that lack the common safeguards can see their traffic decline as people seek out more secure domains.
One way Google has tried to encourage better security online is by promoting HTTPS. In an unusual move, Google has told webmasters they will get an SEO benefit for switching their sites to more secure servers. According to a recent report from Backlinko, there was a clear benefit for sites using HTTPS.
Another way Google has been doing their part to help remove cyber threats by removing ads that are deceptive or linked to banned content. An annual report from Google states the company blocked more than 780 million bad ads during 2015. They also caught and rejected more than 17 million 'trick to click' ads, these are the ads that look like system warnings, virus protections and other things that trick online consumers into downloading malware, visit phishing sites or worse.
For the most part, illicit ads shouldn't concern legitimate business owners and marketers, since most businesses aren't trying to make money by stealing information. However, there is the risk of having your site hacked to display banned ad content. Google has issued warnings to webmasters about this risk in recent postings.
What marketers and content creators should be concerned about it web and app design choices that can lead to Google blocking their ads from showing on their site or app. During 2015, more than 25,000 different apps were blocked from showing Google ads due to poor design. This could be issues like ads being placed too close to a button which could lead to an unintended click.
"Bad ads can ruin your entire online experience, a problem we take very seriously," writes Google's Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP, Ads & Commerce, on the company blog. "That's why we have a strict set of policies for the kinds of ads businesses can run with Google-and why we've invested in sophisticated technology and a global team of 1,000+ people dedicated to fighting bad ads."
As business owner move into the new year, being mindful of security issues is necessary for maintain consumer trust. For more information about e-commerce and security, read this article on factors that can erode a customer's trust in a website.