Why does shopping online raise more privacy concerns than shopping in a store?

The Rising Concern Around Consumer Data And Privacy

Companies have always been collecting data on their customers, even before computers. On our company podcast, we spoke with one of the co-founders of Starbucks, and he explained how they used to write down the order of every single person who came into the store and add it to a filing system. That way, when the customer came back, they were able to tell them what they ordered the previous time to better cater to their needs when they came back for a repeat purchase.

A History Of Consumer Data

A History Of Consumer Data

With news stories breaking like the Cambridge Analytica Scandal or the 4,395 data breaches resulting in over 832,000,000 records being exposed from 2017 to 2019, as reported by Statista, it’s hard for consumers to ignore the importance of protecting their data. As consumers continue to learn and become more informed about their data rights and how their data is currently used, I expect we’ll see more and more calls from consumers to have their data protected.

When people often hear the word data, they often think of big data: “large datasets analyzed computationally.” But lets travel back to simpler times, before big data.

Do You Care About Privacy as Much as Your Customers Do?

So how should you put these findings to work?

Third, address the transparency gap that privacy actives have called out. Simplify and shorten your privacy policies so people can access, read, and understand them quickly — in no more than two minutes. Clarify the compensation customers and users may expect in exchange for their data, whether in money, discounts, or services, and make it easier to opt in or out.

That approach may soon prove short-sighted. A 2019 survey conducted by Cisco of 2,601 adults worldwide examined the actions, not just attitudes, of consumers with respect to their data privacy. (Robert led the work, Tom advised.) The survey reveals an important new group of people — 32% of respondents — who said they care about privacy, are willing to act, and have done so by switching companies or providers over data or data-sharing policies. We call this group privacy actives and, to our best knowledge, this is the first time such a group has been identified.

Third, address the transparency gap that privacy actives have called out. Simplify and shorten your privacy policies so people can access, read, and understand them quickly — in no more than two minutes. Clarify the compensation customers and users may expect in exchange for their data, whether in money, discounts, or services, and make it easier to opt in or out.

Until recently, there has been little compelling reason for companies to embed privacy considerations deeply into their larger business strategies. While consumers say they care about privacy, few have placed any real value on protecting their data. Further, while many privacy laws call for severe penalties, it appears that actual fines will be considerably lower and only the worst offenders will be impacted. The costs to fully meet all privacy requirements can also be quite high for most companies.

Translate legalese

Almost all companies have that “I Agree” button that must be checked to move forward in their account creation process. The document attached contains a lot of very specific contractual obligations laying out what the user promises to do and not do while utilizing the site.

Online privacy practices are indispensable for internet users and generally laid out in this document, but only 33% of users know to look for it, and less than 20% have actually read it.

What this means is that you can’t rely on users reading your highly detailed legal statements to understand your privacy practices.

Instead, lay them out simply. For example: • Promise not to share or sell data • Promise not to retain unnecessary data • Tell customers what they need to do to delete their information.

44% of consumers believe that customer awareness improves online safety. If more customers expect clear statements of privacy, they are more likely to continue to use online services in the way businesses need and want them to.

Use Familiar Websites

Start at a trusted site. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are its less likely to be a rip-off. We all know Amazon.com carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy to Home Depot. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, sales on these sites might look enticing, but thats how they trick you into giving up your info. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty s)

Look for the Lock

Never buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesnt have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. Youll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS—instead of just HTTP. An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically to the left of the URL in the address bar or the status bar down below; it depends on your browser. HTTPS is standard now even on non-shopping sites, enough that Google Chrome flags any page without the extra S as “”not secure.”” So a site without it should stand out even more.

Don’t Overshare

No online shopping e-tailer needs your Social Security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them and your credit card number, they can do a lot of damage. The more scammers know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up as little personal data as possible. Major sites get breached all the time.