Reassuring customers about information security must be top of retailers’ shopping lists

Reassuring customers about information security must be top of retailers’ shopping lists

In the lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and ahead of the busy Christmas shopping season, retailers are preparing for a stampede by shoppers ready to grab online bargains. But just how much are retailers doing to reassure these shoppers that information security is their number one priority?

According to a recent House of Commons Briefing Paper[1] on the UK retail sector, online sales now account for nearly one fifth of all retail sales, up from just 5% 10 years ago. More than any other sector, retail has put transformation at its core, developing its online capabilities and digital platforms, as well looking at as new advancements in IoT, big data, robotics and AI, to help it continually adapt to meet changing consumer behavior and shopper needs.

But a greater online presence brings greater risks and, as a result, retail has become an attractive target for cyber criminals – often with high profile consequences like information security hacks. With the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) 2017 Retail Crime Study[2] showing nearly half of respondents seeing a rise in the number of cyber attacks, retailers must reassure shoppers that not only are they protected, but also that while data breaches do occur, they have the right processes and policies in place to deal with them and are transparent in the way they communicate with online shoppers.

However, a Twitter poll conducted this month by Infosecurity Europe 2019 suggests that more needs to be done by retail firms. When asked if they felt reassured that retailers are doing enough online to protect them, the overwhelming majority of respondents said ‘no’. Just a quarter currently feel reassured that retailers are doing enough to protect against cyber hacks.

Educating users about information security and privacy is crucial and has to be integral to the shopping experience, especially when nearly one in five of the Infosecurity Europe poll respondents admit they would be more willing to compromise their confidential information in the pursuit of the ‘ultimate bargain’. While the vast majority of us are not tempted to do something risky when shopping online, there are always those who are prepared to put convenience and the desire for a bargain ahead of security considerations.

As we approach the first big online shopping days of the year with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the coming days, retailers can be reassured to some extent that nearly half of respondents (45%) would continue to be a customer if a retailer (or brand) they buy from experienced an information breach.

Certainly we have seen retail brands bounce back from major data breaches in recent years with little or no impact to their trading, but it’s the 55% who would go elsewhere if a breach occurred that should really worry retailers.

The fact that over half of customers are prepared to vote with their feet – or fingers – is a stark warning to retailers. Poor security is no longer tolerated. By making information security central to your brand and adopting a transparent approach when communicating with customers, while also educating them about their own security responsibilities, will not only help foster customer loyalty, but also reassure shoppers that they are being protected.


The Infosecurity Europe Twitter poll, which attracted almost 10,000 responses across three questions, was conducted on 8-9 November. The press release announcing the results can be read here.




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