Depending on which study you read, 63% to 75% of the world’s population have mobile phones. That’s a range of 4.7 to 5.6 billion people globally! Either way, it’s a massive number that PR and marketing people can’t ignore. Because of the speed at which digital communication and marketing are moving, there are many challenges and questions that follow.
The omnipresence of mobile phones and the migration of our younger generations to shopping and connecting virtually may be a time-saver, but it also has created some challenges for consumers and marketers alike.
Alternatively, it’s convenient and allows customers the ability to compare merchandise and prices quickly. It permits consumers to go beyond the walls of a store by locating and buying something that may not be carried in a store because of low demand, but available online. Consumer reviews are also often helpful and there’s less pressure to buy in an online environment.
However, if you have a question about a product you’re interested in, you may not get an answer right away. Clothing sizes can also vary between manufacturers so a medium in one brand may be large in another. You can’t try on any merchandise online.
Like it or not, online buying is not only here to stay but likely to grow even bigger.
How To Prepare
If you sell products online, some precautions are obvious. You should be using a secure HTTPS site and backing up all your data at a secure and separate site. Although some companies accept debit cards, consider allowing just credit cards. If the customer does a lot of banking where the debit card is from, it’s highly likely that all or most of their accounts are linked. If that’s the case and your site gets hacked, every account linked to that debit card is likely in jeopardy.
As a PR or marketing person, you want to ensure that a customers are confident about your site’s security. There are reports of hackers getting into sites of large companies and gaining access to personal and confidential information. Consider posting a padlock symbol before the HTTPS in your URL as an added and visual measure of assurance to your customers.
We’ve Been Hacked! Now What?
As with any communication crisis, there should be a plan in place beforehand. If not, this is what needs to be done immediately.
As soon as a data security breach has been confirmed, email your customers and anyone else in your database. If the magnitude is not yet known, don’t take any chances, don’t wait, but assume the worst. In such a case, the wording of your email should say something like, “Your data may have been….”
Be clear and open with your customers. Share with them what information may have been taken, how it may have happened, and what actions your company has taken since the breach. It would also be wise to suggest that customers alert their credit card companies and ask the major credit reporting companies to insert fraud alerts in their files.
Maintain frequent and clear contact with your customers until everything is resolved. Be sure to alert them to any stronger precautions you’re taking and be sure to thank them for their patience and understanding.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations