April 12, 2021 Blog, Toronto, Canada

How to Secure Your Shopping Cart

Ecommerce has become a significant force in the retail industry and the selling of products and services. Digital buyers have increased exponentially over the past few years. Digital sales have contributed to 14% of total retail sales worldwide. This number is expected to increase by 23% in 2023. Although physical stores are still making more sales, e-commerce stores are steadily on the rise. 

Any owner or company that runs an e-commerce store knows that security is an essential aspect of your e-commerce store. The main hesitation that customers have about online stores is the security aspect of online shopping. Customers want to be assured that their personal information and payment details will be safe and secure when buying from your online store. Fears surrounding online shopping include buying ‘fake’ items that you will never receive and your account credentials being stolen (your login and password information). That, apart from the biggest fear of them all – your credit card and banking information being used by hackers. The main avenue hackers tend to steal credit cards, and other valuable data such as banking information is through the shopping cart process. 

A shopping cart is software that is used to record the items that a buyer has selected to purchase from your e-commerce store. The shopping cart feature facilitates the customer’s purchasing a product or service from an online store. The shopping cart works as a bridge between the buyer and the merchant. It distributes the customer’s information to the payment processor, the merchant, and other third-parties. The shopping cart will build customer’s trust in your online store’s security and safety. A shopping cart has three main functions: 

  1. It is used to store information on products. 
  2. Displays product data, site information, and categories for users.
  3. It is used as a gateway for customer management, orders, and catalog. 

There are two main types of shopping carts. A hosted shopping cart is managed by a third-party, which is the company that created the shopping cart software. You can use pre-made templates for your shopping cart. All you will need to do is sign up with the company that hosts the shopping cart platform. The second type of shopping cart is called a self-hosted shopping cart. These are shopping carts hosted on your own e-commerce server, and they are fully customizable to your preference. 

An online shopping cart has many more functions compared to a physical shopping cart customers use at a physical store. It is important to have good shopping cart software because of the importance the shopping cart has on your e-commerce store’s function. Shopping cart software is the tool that makes it possible for buyers to purchase, select, and reserve items in their shopping cart before the stage of checkout. Examples of shopping cart software include Shopify, Volusion, BigCommerce, and Wix. A research study done by Baymard Institue showed that 17% of abandoned carts were due to the distrust that customers had about the site having access to their banking details and credit card information. 

Tips to Secure Your Shopping Cart 

Digital Certificates 

A digital certificate is a certification that your e-commerce business receives to prove that your business is legitimate. Digital certificates are signed off by a third-party and can be viewed on your website. An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a standard certification that ensures your shopping cart’s security. An SSL encrypts customers’ data that they have filled in on your site in the shopping cart process to ensure that the data is protected from online threats. The information that gets encrypted is transferred straight through to the payment processing gateway. Having this certification will give your customers confidence in purchasing products or services from your online store. If you want an added security layer, you can use HSTS or HTTP Strict Transport Security which restricts web browsers from reverting to non-secure HTTP. This will prevent any SSL attacks from the man in the middle. 

Implement Advanced Verification Requirements 

To ensure safety and security on your website, you can add advanced verification requirements for users who would like to purchase a product or service from your website. Although the checkout process might take a bit longer, customers will be assured and confident in buying from your website, as they can see you are taking the necessary security measures to ensure a safe checkout procedure. Some of the verification information you request can include the account holder’s name, the CVV (Credit Verification Value) number, the expiry date, and the cardholder’s address. Requiring this additional information will also reduce the chargeback amounts. 

Use Site Policies 

Some online shoppers are not aware of the threats that come with online shopping and will not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from online threats. Educating users on your website about these things could reduce the number of hacks and breaches that occur. The site policies you should consider having are privacy policies, terms of use policy, a refund policy, and a security policy. A privacy policy lets users know what information you are collecting and what you are using the collected data for. A security policy guides the user on how to protect their information from cyber-attacks and threats. A terms of use policy, also known as terms and conditions, help you set the engagement rules between you and the customer. This is what you can use to protect your e-commerce business from any legal implications. If something is clearly stated in your terms of use and a customer agreed to those terms, then a customer cannot take legal action against that agreement. Draw up your policies with a lawyer. 

Use Hosting Systems That Have Intrusion Detection Systems Built-In 

Choosing a web hosting company with IDS (Intrusion Detection System) will help protect your website from any malicious activity from hackers. This system monitors your site for any suspicious activity and notifies you of the activity detected. 

Use a Virtual Private Network 

When you are using a public network to handle sensitive customer information and data, you need to be extremely careful. Public networks can be a risk as malicious attacks and hacks can access them. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) removes the fear of any malicious activity, as they offer an encrypted connection to an offsite server.

Use A Shopping Cart Software

Shopping cart software protects the data of the customer during the checkout process. Many small e-commerce businesses cannot create their shopping cart software, but user-friendly shopping cart software is available to use. If you are using a third party for your shopping cart, make sure to use a secure platform. The shopping cart software should have extensive security measures in place and should be under the PCI. 

Benefits of Using Shopping Cart Software

  • It is convenient for both the merchant and the buyer. Shopping cart software has an administration panel for merchants to easily update products, set different permissions, and store data. The panel is easy to navigate and has an easy-to-use design. For buyers, they can store their selections and not have to undergo the whole selection process again on their browser. It saves them time and energy. 
  • Shopping cart software helps manage important shopping data. It collects customer’s information, translates it into patterns and trends, and calculates shopping statistics that the merchant can use to their advantage. 
  • Simplifies the payment process for merchants and buyers. Customers will not have to go to multiple platforms to complete the checkout process. It provides an immediate transfer, invoices, and billing. 
  • Provides the option of customer feedback. After each transaction, whether successful or failed, customers can provide feedback on their checkout experience on your website. The feedback provided by customers will give you valuable information and help you improve your website. 
  • Shopping cart software can also be set-up to include a chat support option. This will support your customers during the checkout process and guide them if they have questions. Customers will feel supported and are more likely to proceed with their purchase. 
  • Your business will look more professional with shopping cart software. The software can often allow customers to view other related pages that may be of interest to them. The software can quickly adapt to the browsing preference of users. This will build confidence in your website and encourage users to make a purchase. 
  • Shopping cart software will increase the chances of previous buyers buying from your online store again. The software is integrated with great marketing features. It collects a database with your customer’s information and allows you to send them special discounts and offers to encourage them to buy from your store. 

Issues with Using Shopping Cart Software

  • The reduced amount of interaction between the buyer, the store, and the product often works against the merchant. This discourages customers from buying online and is more comfortable buying from a physical store. 
  • Another issue that customers have is the lack of price disclosure. Most e-commerce stores only show the product’s full price at the last step of the checkout process. There are also other hidden additional costs such as shipping costs and taxes that are not disclosed until the checkout process’s final step. 
  • The biggest issue with shopping cart software is the security gap. It does not provide the same certainty and security assurance as a physical store would, as you are not physically present for the checkout procedure. Fraud issues are a possibility for e-commerce transactions. If your website is not adequately secured, you could risk customer information being stolen. 

The Impact of Your Shopping Cart Not Being Secured

Implementing safety features for your e-commerce business is a must-do for all e-commerce business owners. Securing your shopping cart will save your business money and the overall reputation of your business. If a hack were to happen, it could be a significant expense for your business, and it could also cause significant legal problems. 

The Payment Credit Card Industry (PCI) has several standards that companies need to abide by, and if you violate any of these standards, you could have a lawsuit brought up against you. A hack or threat on your shopping cart can result in the following: 

  • Your customers will lose trust in your store and look for other e-commerce stores to purchase from. Your business’s reputation will be tarnished, and no customers would want to buy from your website. 
  • The sales in your business will decrease and result in a loss of revenue. 
  • You will have to pay additional expenses for fraud, legal costs, and settlement payments. You could also be subject to paying fines and penalties. 
  • Your website could be banned from processing credit card payments in the future. 
  • The most significant consequence is that your business could go out of business altogether. 

Hackers and data thieves can be taken from many different places on your website. If your card reader is comprised, that could access sensitive card information from your customers. Suppose hackers gain access to the Primary Account Number (PAN) and other authentication data, such as the expiry date and CVV number. In that case, they have the ability to impersonate the cardholder and use the card. 

How to Know if Your Shopping Cart is Secure If you have implemented the above steps into your website, you can check if your website is safe and secure. If your website starts with https://, then your website is secure. If it begins with http://, it is not secure. There should also be an icon of a locked pad on the URL browser.

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