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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

Learning from the Past: KikScore’s Top Twelve Blog Posts of 2011 for Small Businesses and Startups

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

It’s been a great year for KikScore! We’ve gained partners, garnered press, interviewed tons of great startups, and released our first white paper. Sounds like a winning year to me. That’s why we put together a list of our top blog posts for 2011. By highlighting some of our beloved posts, we can reflect on what KikScore has accomplished through the year as well as go over some information that we believe is important enough to bear repeating for small business. We hope you enjoy!

#12: 5 Ways to Develop a Killer Brand for Your Small Business and Startup

If you are looking to establish a good brand name for your business, then this post is for you. Although it’s daunting to see big businesses with huge budgets for marketing and advertising, there are cheaper and more effective ways to build your brand. This post goes over the different ways in which you can deal with your customers and make their experiences so great that your brand will practically build itself.

#11: 7 Questions A Small Business or Startup Should Ask Themselves Every Day

It’s critical to ask yourself important questions. Even if it is just to make sure that you know the answer instead of just thinking you know the answer. This post discusses several questions that you need to ask to make sure that your business is headed in the right direction.

#10: The Day in Pictures & Tweets at the 2011 SmallBizSummit

Just as the title says, this post is a compilation of pictures and tweets from the 2011 SmallBizSummit. Here you can find great quotes and images that focus around how all small businesses should act and what they should do. Take a look and feel like you were there yourself.

#9: 5 Reasons that Startups & SmallBiz Must Engage Their Customers

If you think that this list is already beating up the idea of paying attention to customers, then you aren’t thinking like a business should. This next post builds upon the ways to really engage customers and see results. Give it a read and try the advice for yourself. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

#8: Web Design Contracts – Protect Yourself & Your New Business

This guest post, written by Gregg Hand, is of vital importance when preparing to set up a website. We’ve all heard the speech about why we have to read the fine print before signing a contract. However, now that you’re helping to make a contract with a web designer, you must be twice as cautious. If you’ve never had to make this type of contract, this post can help you with a set of helpful advice on what to look out for.

#7: Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail Series

(Procrastination; Competition; Marketing; Clients; Employees; Versatility; Location; Cash Flow (Followup); Closed Mind; Planning)

Here is a series of posts that we’ve worked on throughout the year in an effort to help small businesses understand what they must avoid. Some say that learning from the past is one of the best ways to prevent certain future events. There’s at least some truth to this saying, so we hope that this series will help your business avoid the easily avoidable.

#6: KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs (Part I and Part II)

These posts use quotes from businesses that KikScore has interviewed in the past regarding lessons they’ve learned and challenges they’ve faced. Each quote has years of experience in ingrained in it, so they’re worth the reading.

#5: Championship Sports Teams…What Do They Teach Us for the Small Business & Startup Arena

Bringing together two seemingly different dynamics, this post talks about how the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Boston Bruins’ respective teamwork reflect how teams in small businesses must act. Just as in sports teams, the members of your business must be willing to work together and take risks. Take a look and see for yourself just how true this is.

#4: 3 Tools for Boosting Your Business’ Image

This post goes over some tools that all businesses can use, so we think it is worth making the cut. Each tool is free and KikScore utilizes all of them. What are they, you ask? Well there would be no point in referring back to the article if we just said it here, so you’ll just have to look at the post for yourself.

#3: Nonprofit or Going for Broke: Ways to Demonstrate Your Business is Legitimate & Trustworthy

Rather than discussing all small businesses, this post gives advice to nonprofits. Whether for profit or not, all businesses suffer from trust issues. If you are having issues with your nonprofit or even just looking for a way to make it better, this post can help.

#2: #SmallBizChat Highlights – Tips on How to Make Your SmallBiz Website Look Trustworthy and Credible

Here we recap our great experience of being the guest of honor for #SmallBizChat on Twitter. It was a great way for us to take and answer different questions about how small businesses deal with online trust. A slideshow is included in the post, so feel free to check it out.

#1: Shoppers Trust Businesses Who Share More Information – KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds

Another important hallmark of KikScore’s year is the recent issuing of our first white paper, which is discussed in this post. It took a lot of time and a lot of research, but it came out great. If you are interested in online trust and how it impacts small business, take a look at this post and KikScore’s white paper.

We’ve had a great year all-in-all and we anticipate that 2012 will be even better! We appreciate everyone who has worked with us and taken the time to help us this year and we hope you all have a great 2012!

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

Shoppers Trust Businesses Who Share More Information – KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

We are excited to announce our first KikScore Online Trust Survey.  Since we are a business that serves the small business community we wanted to learn first hand what shoppers and website visitors are saying about their browsing experience, especially how it relates to small business websites. The KikScore Online Trust Survey provides an overview for small businesses, shoppers and the greater community about trust and reliability trends. It especially focuses on how consumers approach the trust and credibility issue as they perform local searches for small businesses in various search engines.

The Context and Background for the KikScore Online Trust Survey

Really since the inception of the internet, small businesses have faced the constant challenge of proving that they are trustworthy and reliable online businesses and website visitors should trust them.  Lacking the large marketing budgets and brand names, small businesses face the battle of demonstrating to website visitors that they are legitimate and trustworthy businesses.  This online trust challenge has resulted in billions of dollars in losses for small businesses.

Recently, to add to this challenge that small businesses face is the rise of local search.  As more consumers perform local searches on Google and Bing, search results are returning more and more small local businesses.  Website visitors have the increasing opportunity to visit small business websites of plumbers, realtors, contractors, lawyers and local stores such as dry cleaners and transact on many online small business websites.

We set out to study what are the trends for shoppers as well as small businesses for demonstrating trust through both local search and online shopping.

The KikScore Online Trust Survey & Report Findings

Here are some of the key findings from our report:

  1. The fear of being defrauded or a victim of an online scam has led more than 90% of consumers that shop online not to complete a transaction;
  2. 87% of website visitors feel safer buying from websites that feature information about the business and the track record of the business;
  3. 85% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to hire a small business service provider that has a trust seal on their website;
  4. Over 60% of website visitors are more likely to buy from a website that posts information and details about the management of an online business; and
  5. More than 90% of website visitors that perform local searches are more willing to trust a service business that posts information on their website about their business history and track record.


Key Implication from the Online Trust Survey for Small Businesses – More Information Means More Sales

The main takeaway from the Survey is that website visitors want to know who is “behind the online business” and information about the business itself.  Further, the data indicates that one way to combat the online trust challenge for small businesses is to address the information asymmetry that exists between website visitors and small businesses.  The recurring theme through the data from the report is that local searchers and shoppers want transparency through reputational information when they reach a small business website. This finding tends to makes sense from a layperson’s psychological approach to approaching something unknown.  From a human relations perspective, once a person finds out more information about a previously unknown subject/person, that person then can make a much better assessment about the credibility and trustworthiness of that subject/person.  The same approach generally holds true for a website visitor to an unfamiliar online business.

From this key finding, the KikScore Report provided these following recommendations for small business to act on to start addressing the information asymmetry:

  1. Start providing key information about your small business on your website;
  2. Important information to provide can include, details about the management team, financial history, location information, website history and security information, customer service and privacy policies, certification and awards and introductory videos;
  3. Display real customer feedback and testimonials about a shopping experience or your customer’s experience hiring your small business to provide a service; and
  4. Using and displaying a trust seal(s) that help you show website visitors that your business has been validated and provides information about the reputation of your small business.

The important point for small businesses from this report is to use these four steps outlined immediately above as a way to use information about your own business, your management team, your own track record and make that transparent to website visitors.  These steps will help small businesses address the online trust challenge and directly help balance the information asymmetry between website visitors and small online businesses.

Case Study: PaybaQ Proves the Importance of Displaying Reputational Information

As a part of the Report, KikScore included a case study from a small business that had already implemented the recommendations above to provide an illustration of how one small business owner successfully tackled the online trust challenge.  The case study is of Brian J. Esposito the CEO and founder of PaybaQ.

Shortly after launching PaybaQ, a peer-to-peer lending site, Mr. Esposito faced low signups, abandoned shopping carts and abandoned registrations.  Mr. Esposito, being a prior Inc5000 listed business owner, sought to use his own reputation as a way to show website visitors his website was trustworthy and reliable.  After Mr. Esposito signed up for KikScore and started using the KikScore Confidence Badge to provide more information about his track record as a business owner and also offer a way to provide feedback, PaybaQ experienced a 20% increase in conversions.

As seen from the increase in PaybaQ’s conversions after using the KikScore Confidence Badge to display reputational information about the business owner, management team, website and policies, information transparency is the fundamental method for small businesses to demonstrate trustworthiness and achieve success online.  Mr. Esposito noted: “Immediate access to information and transparency into any company is crucial, especially startup small businesses.  Implementing a seamless solutions on PaybaQ.com gives my potential users exactly what they need, a quick snapshot of my company, team members, and even myself.  This tool helps show browsers who find our site through Google and Bing that they are on a safe credible site that they can trust.”

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

6 Steps to Protecting Yourself When Shopping Online This Upcoming Holiday Season

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It’s holiday season again and I’m sure people are already starting to shop for gifts. If you’re buying online, check out these 6 tips to help you out and increase your chances of having a “safe” shopping experience:

  1. Research the company. Who are the owners? Is it a successful businesswoman from Texas or a teenager living in China? Take a few minutes and check out on the website who is actually behind the business and who operates the website.  Click to the “About Us” page or “Contact Us” page and see if there are some actual names listed on the website.  Then drop some of those names quickly into Google or Bing and search on those names.  What comes up about them?
  2. Find out where their servers are located. Are they based in France, but have a server in Ohio? (You’re probably alright with a company like this) or are they based in England and have a server in Somalia (this should send up a red flag.)  Also, make sure to check out where their website is hosted. Here is a great tool to use to look up domain owners here. It is called Domain Tools. I use it all the time when I am shopping.
  3. Check their website thoroughly. Is there anything in their wording that seems fishy? Are there typos on the website or does the footer of the website say copyright 2002? Does calling that phone number give you someone asking for your pizza order? Confirm that the business is legitimate before buying that scarf for Aunt Joan. Perhaps this post on how to make online websites look credible will help you see what to look for when you are reviewing the four corners of an online store or service business?
  4. Is the business on any Social Networks? Being on social networks like Twitter and Facebook can show that a company is willing to have some transparency when dealing with customers. What type of personality does the business have online? Does it come off as a company that you don’t want to do business with?  Check their Twitter stream or Facebook page and see do they respond to customers or is there just a username set up and just “dead air.”  If you see some level of engagement, that is a good sign.
  5. What are people saying about the businessonline? Most companies will have some type of reviews of them online.  What are people saying about them in these reviews? How about their products, customer service and delivery times?  Can you really trust those reviews? If the reviews sound fake, you might want to check into the company a bit more. Remember our post on how to spot fake reviews? It’ll help!
  6. Do they have a trust seal or an ssl certificate? When you are reviewing a website you are about to buy from check out whether they have an SSL certificate meaning that your communications of your credit card information is encrypted from your browser to the company’s browser.  Also look to see if the business has any trust seals and in particular click on those trust seals and see what they say about the business.  The sites that have trust seals that actually give you more information about the business management team, their track record of financial health and information on customer service, return and privacy policies will give you even more transparency into who you are buying from over this holiday season.

Good luck and stay safe when shopping online!  Also let us know if you have any safe shopping tips.

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

There is no such thing as a malware free smartphone

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

It’s true.  All smartphones are vulnerable to malware.  However, some phones get targeted more than others.  Here are 5 of the most common smartphones and this is how secure they are.

  1. iPhone: This is the one that most people use. Due to the new iOS for the iPhone, malware is often in the background. It is most commonly found on jailbroken phones.  Since jailbroken phones often contain apps that are not approved by Apple, it’s much easier for malware to get onto the phones. Also since many users do not change the passwords on their jailbroken smartphones, malicious attackers can create worms and infect the operating devices.
  2. Windows Mobile: This is as bad as the computer version.  This is probably due to the fact that there are many similarities between the computer OS and the mobile OS.
  3. Blackberry: …This is actually pretty good, in that there is not much malware that targets blackberries. This is probably due to the fact that the Blackberry OS is kept under wraps. No one knows the details of how the system is programmed. However, the multitasking ability of the Blackberry makes it easy for malware to run unnoticed.
  4. Symbian: This is popular outside the United States. It is also the oldest of the smartphones. There is a lack of information on malware for this smartphone.
  5. Android: Since this is based on the Linux operating  system, there is not much information about malware for this phone either. 3rd party applications are not regulated for this phone.

Many of these phones have  common vulnerabilities. Things such as not changing your password and your settings can cause your phone to become vulnerable. When downloading apps, be careful of where you get the application from and try to download and install apps from reputable sources. Also, be very careful if you decide to jailbreak your phone.

Anyone got any other tips?

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

False Positives: The Problem of Fake Customer Reviews

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Psst..hey have you heard? Someone’s putting fake positive reviews for companies. There’s a black market for people who are willing to write fake positive reviews of products, places or services. Since more and more people are looking online for reviews of products, places and services, the demand for good reviews is growing.  As more and more positive reviews are being written, the demand for more positive reviews increases. It’s a positive feedback cycle.

How to tell if a review is fake or not

So what about these fake reviews? Well most of them are hard to spot. Luckily for businesses, a team of researchers have come up with an algorithm to determine if that review you got on Yelp is fake or not.  So, how did they determine the algorithm? Well the long answer’s in the link I gave you. The short answer is this. The fake reviews tend to be more narrative, have vauge descriptions about whatever they are reviewing and tend to use the words “I”‘ and “me”‘ often.

So why need an algorithm at all? Well take a look at this. Don’t read the descriptions and ignore the highlighted words for a minute. Just read the review. Could you tell it wasn’t real? No? Well neither could I. The Cornell researchers have an explanation for this. Since humans have been communicating face to face for about 60,000 years, it’s much harder for us to pick up clues about deception in things such as reviews. You know this to be true, if you’ve ever had a misunderstanding over email.

So how do you prevent fake reviews? You can try setting up a review guideline. Try asking your customers to put the name of the person who helped them, describe the product or service in detail and point out the parts that they liked the best or had some problem with. If the review has passion, chances are it’s a real review.

A brief bit about negative reviews

Then there’s the flip-side, negative reviews. These are often posted by competitors or people who really don’t like the business. Surprisingly,  the trend is more towards writing positive reviews. But, that’s not to say that negative reviews aren’t important too.  Negative reviews can help you figure out what went wrong with that new pasta recipe you were trying out last Friday night. So keep an eye on those too. Also, if you answer negative reviews really quickly and fix/compensate for the problem, your bad review might just change to a good one!

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

#SmallBizChat Highlights – Tips on How to Make Your SmallBiz Website Look Trustworthy & Credible

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Tonight we were honored to have been the guest on the #SmallBizChat! We would like to thank everyone for participating and sharing their opinions  on the chat and would like to especially give a special thanks to Tai Goodwin and Melinda Emerson for providing us with this great opportunity. Hope you all enjoyed the chat and benefited from learning all about how to make your small business trustworthy online! To find out more information about online trust and the KikScore solution, check out our presentation regarding the topic by clicking the link below:

After reading about the importance of trust seals, we would like to offer you a 90 day free trial at KikScore. When signing up  with KikScore, use the promotional code SMALLBIZCHAT to start the free trial and publicly demonstrate your trust on your homepage!

Thanks again!

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

Verisign vs. KikScore: An Overview of Online Trust Seals and How They Differ

Monday, June 27th, 2011

VS.

If you follow the KikScore blog, you are most likely well versed in the general subject of small businesses and online trust.  You most likely even have one or two pop culture references under your belt that relate to topics such as security and e-commerce.  I would go as far as to say that you probably know a good bit about trust seals.  But do you really understand the different features that are provided by different companies?  A little research could really make the difference for your small business.  Lucky for you, the research has already been done….in this blog post I’ll provide an overview comparison of the KikScore Trust Seal and the popular Verisign Trust Seal.

Let’s start with what we know.  Just to review: a trust seal is a type of validation for an online site that is provided as a service from a third-party business.  Current popular providers include: Trust Guard, BuySAFE, Verisign, Better Business Bureau, TRUSTe, and McAfee SECURE.  These companies typically provide services that range from bonding transactions to services that may aim to prevent hacking or identity theft,  scanning services for websites or display privacy policies for businesses.

For this post, I am going to use the Verisign Trust Seal in comparison with the KikScore trust seal.  The Verisign Trust Seal is the probably most wide publicized in the market today.  If you are a small business with an online presence, you probably have heard of Verisign.  So why KikScore?  Why would you need the KikScore Trust Seal if there are so many other companies out there who provide what look to be similar services?

ANSWER: KikScore provides services to small businesses that you will not find anywhere else and here is why.

  • Multi-Dimensional Approach to Demonstrating Trust for a Small Business.
    • The Verisign trust seal has its benefits.  It possesses an impressive methodology that screens sites for certain malware and enables online businesses to identify a subset of security issues, as well as provide solutions and support.  KikScore takes a different take on yje trust and information standpoint for small businesses and uses an approach to incorporate and consolidate key information about a business’ track record that a website visitor would like to know about such as: customer satisfaction, financial responsibility of the business, management information location of the business, customer service and return policies, website history and reliability.  This information is then compiled into format that is easily accessible to website visitors from the website of the small business owner.  KikScore then creates a unique trust score based on all of this information about a business and displays it on the small business website.  So while other seals scan a site, KikScore focuses on information and data about a small business and whether that small business has a record of reliability and trustworthiness.
  • Merchant Report Card.
    • All of the information compiled on a small business is then consolidated into an interactive and continually updating report card for that business.   Both the KikReport and the trust score are continually updated as more information becomes available.  This is a feature that cannot be found in companies such as Verisign and is unique to KikScore: the merchant report card evaluates and displays information about merchants and small businesses on areas such as reliability and trustworthiness so that customers can further evaluate the trustworthiness of a site.  The KikReport allows a small business to take information about itself and display it in one place to website visitors, leads and shoppers.
  • All-Inclusive and Customized Using the Small Business Brand & Reputation Not Someone Else’s.
    • Verisign heavily advertises the fact that they are an already well-established service.  In fact, the Verisign logo even shows up in search engine results, for example, Google.  While this is a nice feature, this approach relies solely on the Verisign name and reputation and ignores the small business’ reputation and their owners trackrecord and history.  KikScore provides a unique trust score to each of its clients and allows the small business to use its own reputation and track record of reliability through the KikReport to demonstrate trust to website visitors.  Also, the KikScore trust seal is not simply a trust seal – it provides actual information about the business, its history and reliability so website visitors can make their own informed decision about the trust and security of a small business.  Which brings me to my next point…
  • Transparency.
    • The KikReport includes website history, store locations, services provided, and customer testimonial.  All of this is in addition to the basic Trust Seal and Trust Score.  This creates a solution for small businesses that allows website owners to be more transparent and open about themselves to shoppers and website visitors.  There is such a wealth of information about a small business that they can use to convey a track record of reliability and trustworthiness, KikScore simply enables a small business to take this existing information about a company and makes it easily available to potential customers and website visitors at the point of purchase.
  • It’s A Dynamic 2-Way Street!
    • KikScore also helps small businesses further develop a relationship with its customers.  Merchants have the option of providing an informational  video on their own KikReport as a way to introduce themselves to website visitors.  Additionally, the trust seal facilitates  real time interactions for small businesses with their own customers through the feedback platform that is built into each small business KikReport.

Verisign as a company has a reputation for generally providing a reliable and useful service to its clients.  But, if you are a small business who already subscribes to the Verisign service, you might want to consider adding the KikScore Trust Seal and Score to your website.  Another option to consider is the KikScore Service Seal: a product that is targeted towards businesses and websites who do not sell physical products online.  People who run service businesses such as bloggers, contractors, plumbers, lawyers, and movers can use the KikScore Service Seal, which is a confidence badge tailored specifically towards these types of companies.  The Service Seal is unique to KikScore; this type of seal cannot be found anywhere else in the market.

KikScore provides online businesses with the opportunity to extend their approach to online trust and security through greater transparency which ultimately should help a small business become more accessible and successful by clearly and convincingly demonstrating their trustworthiness!  Check us out and for more information about KikScore here are some recent articles about the KikScore trust building service for small business: Dealing with Shopping Cart Abandonment, Customers Unsure They Can Trust Your Business? Consider Trust Seal Provider KikScore and this article on A New Wave of Online Trust Scores.

Disclaimer: Product names, logos, and services are the property of their respective trademark holders.

Photo Credits: http://verisign.com, http://kikscore.com

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

Sealing the Deal (Part II of II): Earning Reputation

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

As I discussed in Part I of this post, service seals are a great way to help ensure your business’ legitimacy through your non-ecommerce website. However, while I have explained how service seals are helpful, I have yet to explain how your business can utilize and benefit from KikScore’s particular service seal.

Show ‘em Who’s Boss

Ever lost business to a bigger company in your industry? It’s not unlikely that many (if not all) of us have at some point. To be honest, increasing website visitors and getting more clients is about more than just proving that you’re trustworthy; it’s about providing great service and showing others that you can compete with the “big dogs.” Every business, regardless of size, has its edge. Maybe your business is made of highly reputable people with past experience in the field. Maybe your customer base is more loyal than those of bigger businesses. Whatever the perk, it’s essential that potential and current customers know it.

KikScore’s service seal aims to highlight what makes your business stand out through several factors, such as:

  • Financial and public records
  • Security
  • Visitor Traffic
  • And more

Let’s face it, you’re stronger than you think. Isn’t it time to let your business show it? Through our service seal, we intend to help you fight that good fight and highlight any aspects of your business that website visitors want to know.

Power to the People, Power to You

At this point, it definitely goes without saying that KikScore’s service seal focuses on proving to potential customers that your business can be trusted. The data that goes into creating your business’ unique service seal can say a lot, but why stop there? After all, referrals are the best way to get more business. That’s where our service seal’s feedback platform comes in handy.

Your service seal will not only be a place to show off your business’ information; it will also be an open environment in which previous and current customers can discuss their experiences of working with you. By doing this, website visitors can see a testimonial page that is ever-expanding. One happy customer’s praise goes pretty far, but the feedback platform is there to do wonders.

KikScore’s service seal is thorough for one reason: educated people make educated decisions. If you can prove both your business’ trustworthiness as well as its competitive advantage(s), you won’t have trouble earning your reputation.

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

Sealing the Deal (Part I of II): Ensuring Legitimacy

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

You Know You’re Not a Thief, But Do They?

By nature, people are cautious about who they associate with. As if this wasn’t enough, people become even more wary of others when in an online setting due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Many people can be very extroverted in online settings such as Facebook and Twitter, but what about when they want to find a trustworthy business? This issue can make the seemingly simple task of promoting oneself very complicated. However, looking at this through the customer’s point-of-view, can we really blame them for being skeptical? Of course not. No one wants to do business with a complete stranger.

According to this alarming statistic, “90% of the users would leave your website within 5 minutes if they won’t find any kind of trust seal – especially if your business is unknown and new.” No business begins with popularity and definitely not with legitimacy. However, this issue of trust doesn’t mean game over. Instead, it is simply a break in communication that must be connected. To mend this break, those in new businesses must understand this: Although customers may be unnecessarily worried that your business can’t be trusted, you don’t necessarily have the credibility to refute such a claim. Because of this unfortunate fact, new businesses must make it a top priority to show customers that they are making safe and appropriate choices when paying for your products and services. This has brought about the need for online trust seals.

Why Use a Service Seal?

We all need help sometimes, and growing a business is no exception. That’s why a concept known as a service seal has quickly become so popular. Service seals, which function as trust seals for non-ecommerce websites, are useful because they show customers that a business has been impartially evaluated and deemed reliable by a third party.

We all enjoy seeing billboards that advertise various products and services, but many times we need more than a catchy slogan or an inspiring picture. When a business agrees to put a service seal on its website, it is making a powerful statement that says, “We have nothing to hide.” Such a statement provides assurance to customers and makes them feel safe. In fact, we have found that 86% of customers feel safer using a website that features a trust seal or similar mark of authenticity than one that doesn’t. Where establishing legitimacy through online networks has become a serious problem, many people have come to see service seals as a new and innovative solution. What do you think? What, if any, experience have you had in dealing with service seals and the websites that use them?

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Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

Identity Theft is at a Record High: What This Means in the World of Online Commerce

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

The News:

According to the Government Accountability Office, taxpayer identity theft has increased fivefold since 2008.  This has become an absolute nightmare for the IRS, especially its criminal investigations division, the division responsible for investigations of of identity theft.  However, even the IRS admits that they “pursue criminal investigations of suspected identity thieves in only a small number of cases.”  In other words, the majority of identity thieves are not prosecuted.  Identity thieves are faced with far too few obstacles and therefore, their crime rates will continue to rise.   And indeed they have risen: there were 248,357 incidents in the 2010 fiscal year, in comparison to the 51,702 in 2008.

The Implications:

The identity theft counts are more than just a mere statistic: these numbers make up a trend that affects more than tax returns.  The rise in identity theft rates mirrors that of other cybercrimes.  Online trust concerns are a direct result of the inability of security solutions in keeping up with rapidly developing technology.  The changing face of technology and cyber commerce make security much more complicated than the situation shown in the comic above.

Giving away any information at all online can pose a risk.  The recent Sony Network breach is proof that even larger, established companies can’t always protect customers’ information.  Personal information obtained from Sony included the names, addresses, email addresses, birthdays, PlayStation Network and Qriocity passwords and user names, and online user handles, of over 70 million customers.

Naturally, people have become more protective of their financial and personal information.   This poses unfortunate challenges for small businesses who are trying to make their mark in the seemingly endless web of the internet.  Customers are extremely reluctant to give away their personal information to lesser-known companies, and therefore, online businesses suffer.  In fact, more than 63 percent of shoppers leave transactions uncompleted because they are concerned about online security.  At an average of $109 in abandoned goods per transaction, online businesses lost $21 billion in the year 2008 alone.

Recent events make it even more imperative that small businesses, consumers, and the government all work together to create a safer shopping environment.  The practice of online commerce is here to stay, so we must all take steps to protect our own information and the information of our customers.  What are you doing to improve online trust concerns?

Image: BrickHouse Security Blog

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