More businesses than ever are offering their goods or services through online transactions. Most consumers expect to be able to purchase directly from your site, especially if they’ve found you through an online review or one of the many social networks they might be active on. Unless it truly makes no sense to offer your goods online, then you should try to make them available to your website visitors. If they’re in buying mode, you don’t want to lose that sale.
However, just putting up an order form is not enough. Consumers are well aware of phishing, hacking and online fraud. Today, security risks are high and it only gets riskier with each passing day. That means you will have to ensure that their information is safe and make it clear to them that their information will never be at risk or misused. You’ll need to make sure they feel safe purchasing from your site. The very first thing you’ll want to do is start using an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate.
Even if you run a very small business consisting of 3 employees (or even just you), you have to remember that online you aren’t only competing with similar-sized businesses. You’ll be competing with any other business offering similar goods regardless of their location or size. And you can bet that some of them are using SSL and other measures to ensure visitors feel safe purchasing. If you aren’t doing it, you’re almost guaranteed to lose potential customers to them.
How Does SSL Protect Customers?
By implementing an SSL certificate, you’re providing the user a secure environment. Hackers never have a chance to see the information that they enter while on your site, such as their personal identification info or credit card numbers. When a user inputs information where an SSL is present:
- The information is encrypted on their PC by a hidden key before their information is ever sent
- The key is what’s sent out instead and by using a different encryption system, the receiving computer is able to decode the information that was sent hidden in the key.
How Do You Get an SSL Certificate
There are many companies that are well-known for their SSL certificates. They offer them with a variety of security levels and can be purchased in different security packages. There are also sites that act as a gateway for your payment, such as Paypal. But that requires the user to normally leave your site, make payment and be redirected back to your site (which you have to set all up). The best route is getting your own SSL that can be installed within your own site, branded and make checkout easy.
Most good hosting companies will have SSL available. Either as free or a small add-on. For example, at HostWinds we offer you your own SSL certificate for a mere $35 and will even install it for you to make sure everything is set up correctly. If you buy one from somewhere else, that’s ok too. There’s simply a $10 installation charge.