As my wife was leisurely surfing the web one evening she discovered some vintage coffee mugs almost identical to the design used by her family when she was a little girl. She was thrilled and immediately pulled out her card to purchase these sentimental mugs that sang of yesteryear. But when she reached the purchase page of Shop’s website, something wasn’t right. She didn’t feel comfortable making the payment. Something stirred up feelings of unease, and her gut feeling about this checkout was right. This ecommerce site wasn’t secure.
chaos

Would you walk into this store?

How did she know the website wasn’t secure? A few subtle design details tipped her off, so it even felt like the site was a bad neighborhood. And in that moment, she moved on to browse other locations and the Shop lost her sale forever.

How do we know when our own shopfront is secure and can be trusted with our potential customer’s bank information?

First, there’s the infrastructure security to build. This includes working with the host provider to ensure the site has it’s own server for processing credit cards that doesn’t store info and that no other parties can access for the brief second it exists. Once all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, you are able to advertise these fulfilled parameters on your website.
In most cases, you will see three visual cues in the browser’s very own interface while at the merchant’s website that will let you know the information being sent over the internet highways is indeed secure.
1. The https in the website address advertises this is a Secure http site.
https

One letter goes a long way to calm anxiety

2. A clickable seal containing the merchants Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. Most companies proudly advertise some variant of this seal in the footer of their homepage.
ssl

SSL is the most widely used technology for providing secure communication between a consumer’s computer and a shopkeeper’s server.

3. A closed padlock symbol in your browser window.
lock

SSL is the most widely used technology for providing secure communication between a consumer’s computer and a shopkeeper’s server.

When you see all three of these important visual cues populating the merchant’s website, the site should be secure. If you want to learn a little more about how SSL Certificates work, this video is the best, quickest explanation on the web.

The second requirement in fulfilling your identity as a secure, trustworthy shopfront is to have a clean, simple design that flows seamlessly as the customer sails through the checkout. The more elegant and refined your checkout experience, the greater your chance at converting a visit into a sale and securing repeat business.

example

You don’t want to show up at the party like this »

apple

Apple knows how to build the shopfront experience beautifully.

No one understands the importance of masterful user-experience design more than the current kings of industry, Apple and Amazon. If I see a product I want, the first thing I do is check Amazon for the same product. Why? Because I trust them and they already have all my purchasing information saved under my account along with my confidence in their checkout. All I have to do is click a button and my product is either downloading or en route to my front doorstep. Now that is everything a wonderful customer/company exchange can be.
E-commerce is a fascinating experience that highlights just how important building a solid foundation with an elegantly designed shopfront is to the success of a company. The desired end result can’t be faked. And if attempted, the marketplace doesn’t take long to dig up every single weakness and flow money elsewhere. Look no further than the recent Target story for the cost of not investing enough cash in secure infrastructure.
Businesses need to employ design thinking more than ever when it comes to the intricate dance of e-commerce. Luckily, tons of content have been created on the topic. Smashing Magazine offers a helpful collection of guidelines. If you ever doubt the importance of investing in your shopfront, just recall the amount of money on the line if it’s ignored, and even more importantly, maintaining your reputation as a trusted shopkeep. So let’s work to build better experiences when customers visit our shopfronts.
And remember, come back and see us soon!