The UK is currently the largest market for digital advertisement spending in Europe, with marketers expected to spend more than double the amount in digital channels and strategies than in any traditional form of media, according to a global report by eMarketer. Whether it is in customer acquisition using social media channels or by launching targeted marketing using automated customer emails, e-commerce and digitalisation will continue to impact the way businesses operate and consumers make their purchasing decisions for decades to come. In fact, by 2021 e-commerce is predicted to be responsible for over $4.5 trillion in sales and an increasing number of businesses will expand their marketing budget with the aim of concentrating on their online presence. However, interacting with customers online also means securing and exchanging personal data in the digital world. As GDPR regulations settle in, the need for customer data protection online has never been clearer, or more needed.

The Need For Data Protection In The Digital Age

Having an online presence comes with both benefits and drawbacks. While an online presence widens the customer base for businesses and extends its marketing reach, it also leaves a business and consumers vulnerable to data and identity theft. In fact, consumer trust is now much more than the reliability of a brand; it has come to include a customer’s assurance that a company can be trusted to handle their personal data well. Recent years has seen some of the largest brands in the digital atmosphere become subject to some of the unexpected data breaches and left users of the brand or platform exposed and worried about the misuse of information such as their payment details and personal information.

In 2018, the Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust highlighted the trust barriers that exist for e-commerce companies. Around 22 percent of users avoid using the internet to shop due to their distrust while almost 75 percent continue to worry about internet companies when it comes to internet security. Thanks to these increasing concerns, the burden is now on those businesses with an e-commerce platform to combat these perceptions and assure customers their data is handled with care and importance.

Educate Your Customers When Signing Up For Communications

Data protection is everyone’s responsibility, businesses and customers included. Informing your customers about the importance of taking safety measures when shopping online (and possible measures they can take), shows your business is conscious about protecting your customer and you are also contributing to the education of society in online safety, as a participant of society. Ensure full transparency with your customers on your data collection policies and its storage and don’t forget to train company employees on the best ways to handle confidential data.

Invest In Encryption Software

Setting aside a part of your budget to invest in encryption software is also another way to protect data secured online. Start by encrypting passwords on customer accounts and credit card authentication codes. Additionally, be sure to stay up to date with any security and encryption software you do choose to install. Similarly, UK consumers can freely install encryption software to block their sensitive information when browsing online such as their location or IP address. Thanks to acts such as The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, the UK has propelled the increased usage of such network encryption software such as VPNs amongst consumers.

Outsource Your Data Handling To Specialists

There is much debate about the outsourcing of data handling tasks to specialists firms, especially for those firms focused on cost reduction. However, by opting to use contractors that are specifically trained in data collection, storage or even online marketing, you can be assured that they are trained with the pitfalls of their jobs in mind. Therefore, you can rest assured that both the company and its employees will be armed with the right tools and skill set to anticipate risks and correct missteps. Third party payment or data storage firms come with specifically trained employees and software to protect such sensitive data.

Boost Online Payment Pages With SSL

Another way to protect customers and boost their trust in your e-commerce platform is to include an SSL certificate specifically on pages that require customers to enter sensitive information such as payment details or addresses. Secure Socket Layer is now a standard security protocol so it is easily accessible but can also be highly effective. It provides a level of authentication which means both you and your customer can be confident they are transmitting their information to the genuine party and not an impostor. With an SSL certificate, any data passed between you and them is encrypted to anyone else that may attempt to hack the connection.

The increasing shift to life in a digital world has meant that both businesses and consumers now have to take additional precautions to protect themselves and their consumers from unseen threats. This applies to internet companies in particular as they attempt to mitigate the drawbacks that come with their virtual operation. While the need is increasing, it is a need that can be satiated.

Source: Katlyn Eriksen