Acquiring data about your consumers is a double-edged sword: on one hand, having it there can help tremendously with the way you market to them, but on the other, things can get very messy if your system is hacked (and small third party sellers and ecommerce merchants have a harder time recovering from it than big ones). RepricerExpress takes a look at some of the questions and issues you should be thinking about before you collect, and if it’s really worth it for you to do so.
Do You Really Need the Information?
At the most basic level, the only thing you really need from your consumers is their money. But this is akin to saying that the only things you really need in life are food, water and air. This is technically true, but there’s so much more to life—and ecommerce—than just the bare essentials.
One of a consumer’s biggest pet peeves is getting a generic response to everything (how many times have you called up the cable company and could practically see the script they were reading from?). It makes them feel like just another dollar sign, when all they really want is to know they matter. You at least owe that much to them because they are your lifeblood after all, and collecting their data can help.
Think Wisely Before You Ask
Once you have your buyer’s personal information in your hands, you’re dealing with a very precious commodity, both financially and psychologically. A person’s name is a one-word representation of their entire life, and it took them a long time to construct it.
Knowing this places them in a position of vulnerability, and the responsibility is on you to keep it safe from unscrupulous people, like hackers. One way to limit this happening is to hold onto the information for only as long as you need it (i.e. an actual date), and then destroy it.
Ask for Only What You Need
Think about your ecommerce business for a second: do you really need to know what they had for breakfast, or can you build up an adequate profile on less than that? Finding the right balance is a tricky proposition, but it’s always better to ask for one piece of information at a time instead of ordering a five-course dinner all at once.
Surround Yourself with Some Muscle
As mentioned in the intro, smaller businesses and third party sellers have a more difficult time keeping data secure than their bigger counterparts (even if they are selling on Amazon, eBay or Rakuten’s Play.com). It’s not that they lack intellect or skill, but just sheer manpower. Imagine if Heartbleed infected your database: how would you fix that quickly whilst also managing the normal day-to-day operations? Something has to give, and it’s either your business or the data.
But if you turn to a company like PayPal or Stripe for credit card information, or Pipeliner or Zoho for general customer relationship management, you’ll be making the smart decision to let heavyweights protect it. At the very least, you should encrypt everything they give you, but it’s really better if you hire someone skilled in the area. And remember, every time you enlist the help of a third party, verify that they’re using the highest level of encryption possible. Ask them if they’d be able to keep their mother’s data safe, and the answer will tell you everything.