An advertising watchdog’s report found dozens of claims that it says were false and deceptive. Wal-Mart blames suppliers.
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Yet, the checkout page should still have the seal. “It’s important to have the seal on the checkout page in order to avoid buyer’s remorse. Seeing the seal on the checkout page is reinforcement to the customer that he or she made a good decision,” Callan says.
What the seal should look like is also in dispute. The Hacker Safe logo is available in different sizes and colors to allow retailers to tailor the logo to fit the desired graphic look. “The larger, more colorful logo may not be fitting on some sites,” says Leonard. “On the other hand, some sites are visually more active and they need a larger logo that will stand out.”
But VeriSign believes retailers should all use the same size and color seal. “You should not tamper with the mark by shrinking it down in size or changing its colors,” Callan says. “The mark should always look the same so that customers recognize it regardless of what site they are on.”
Still, having another company’s logo on a retailer’s site is not easy for some retailers who are concerned that other company’s logos may take away from their own brand identity efforts.
“We had always shied away from using logos from third-party companies before,” says Lazarchic. “We thought the Petco site should be all about Petco and our logo.”
But the ability to increase sales allayed those fears. One question that remains is whether the increase in sales in coming from customers who might otherwise browse at the web site, but then shop at the chain’s offline stores or if they are all-new customers.
Lazarchic says there was no way to tell whether the increase in conversions came from existing Petco customers or new customers. “But my gut tells me that the higher conversions are the results of people who were not Petco shoppers before. I believe they would be more likely to be influenced by the certification of an outside security company.”
And while some retailers get the certification merely to increase sales, some end up finding out better ways to improve security in the process.
The decision for Petco to hire ScanAlert to check out its site was more a “marketing decision than an IT one since we believed our site was already secure,” Lazarchic says. “But now that we’re working with the company, our IT staff is interested in what they have to say about improving our security.”
Indeed, Leonard says his firm deals with a number of retailers who come to his company to get a logo that will increase sales and end up finding out a lot more about what is needed to make their sites safe. “We talk to the IT staffs and find they are often feel that security is under-budgeted,” he says.
Once these companies have an outside company look at their site for security, however, they often find there were security breaches that they had been blind to. “A lot of retailers think their site is safe so they focus on sales and revenue. Security is something that is done to put out fires or repair damage rather than planning ahead.”
Lauri Giesen is a Libertyville, Ill.-based freelance business writer.