Saturday, 3 December 2011

Website Security-Shopping Online This Christmas–What you should be Looking For.

We’re all going to be shopping online this Christmas – it’s just so much easier than schlepping out to the shops by train or by car, braving the queues, battling for that gift with everyone else, waiting at the tills………………………….I could go on, but I’m not going to bother as I’m sure you know it all already.

On a radio interview last week I was asked, for those not sure, what they should be looking our for to make sure that the website they’re about to spend all their hard earned cash from was secure.   Website security has always been an issue, and as the number of e-commerce sites grows like topsy there are certain ways some, particularly smaller online retailers can differentiate themselves from others to make you aware they recognise just how important this issue is and make it as obvious as they possibly can that they are trustworthy.

The web has made it possible for every store, large and small, to open it’s virtual doors online, most honest, a few unscrupulous. You need to be awake when you shop online, and hesitate before clicking on ‘buy’. 

Most of us don’t have a problem in ordering from a household name, such as John Lewis, Selfridges or Debenhams.  These are huge, multi channel retailers you will almost certainly have shopped from offline, so there’s no reason not to do so online.  Then there are those with a large online presence (some of whom are now venturing into bricks and mortar) such Astley ClarkeBoden and The White Company, again we’ve all shopped from them enough to know that they are trustworthy.

The retailers you should stop and think about are usually small to medium sized, frequently with very attractive websites, and products that are different enough from the run of the mill that you’re going to be interested in buying from them.  These are the ones where, if they don’t demonstrate that they are secure, will lose out.  Here are two examples of smaller retailers who have done the right thing, Accessories Online, and The Wychwood Deli.

Accessories Online Website Security Wychwood Safety Banners

So look out for the following:

Accredited security badges such as Internet Delivery is Safe (which you can see above), and make sure that they click through to the relevant website and are listed there.

You should see clear contact details in their ‘contact us’ section, not just a form for customers to fill in.  Address, Telephone number and email address are best practise. 

All payment methods accepted should be listed on the Home Page.

In the browser bar HTTP should change to HTTPS when you are making your payment, and in most browsers a small padlock will appear.  This will show that your payment is encrypted and others cannot see it.

There are more hints and tips on shopping securely here from IMRG.

Without the above, shop from household names, or where you have had a recommendation.  If you go through from a price comparison website and find the best price being offered by a retailer you have never heard of think carefully before you buy.  Although you have your normal online shopping rights and extra security when you use a credit, rather than a debit card, who needs the hassle of goods not arriving or your card being charged when it should not have.  None of us do, at any time of year but at Christmas?………………………….

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