Some new research just came out from Toluna Research for web.com about consumer perceptions of big and small retailers this holiday season. Because of the recent spate of big retailer security breaches, consumers are expressing great concern.
- 69% are concerned about security when shopping online this season
- 25% are likely to change their online shopping behavior
- twice as many consumers (27% vs. 12%, respectively) are concerned about online security at large retailers than small retailers
The big box retailers' reputations will clearly feel the heat this season if consumers are concerned about their security privacy. To keep their reputations intact, they will need to reassure consumers that their credit history and information is iron-clad. Communications will be key to getting shoppers back into the stores and online with confidence. Information about what they are doing to protect consumers, such as special chips in their cards, and beefed up security technology can help. Additionally, communicating from the CEO on down about consumer concerns and acknowledgement that they are aware of a confidence gap in shopping would be beneficial. Having the senior executive team visibly active during the holiday season at the stores or online using social media might send the right message that they are on alert. Perhaps having senior executives shop in the stores for their holiday gifts and video-ing the transactions could help send a "trust" message. Training all employees about how to answer shoppers' questions about cyber breaches is important. In addition, employees need to know that they should not give out their passwords under any circumstances and the same with vendors since this is such a high security risk and easy way to get into retailer systems. One of the things I learned when working on our Employees Rising study was that one of the reasons that companies train their employees in the use of social media is to educate them about not giving out passwords because it only enables cyber thiefs to do ill.
Reputation is everyone's job during the holiday season and making that loud and clear this year will help. Let's wish for a non-cyber-hacking holiday in 2014.